Monday, January 15, 2018

How Much Should A NYC Teacher Be Saving Yearly For Retirement?

Being a NYC teacher can result in a very comfortable retirement, if the teacher invests wisely and makes it to full retirement age.   We have a pension, a 403(b) plan, and Social Security.  All three are exempt from New York State and Local taxes.  Assuming a teacher works 25 years and retires at 62, they will receive 50% of their Final Average Salary (FAS), less if they select a spouse to get part of the pension (about 40%).  NYC teachers will also get Social Security, starting as early as 62 (reduced benefit).  The combination of the two will probably account for 50% or more of the teacher's retirement income.  The remaining 50% will come from the teacher's various savings accounts.  For NYC teachers that may be primarily their TDA,

A July 2011 study by Financial Researcher Wade D. Plau showed that if a person saved an average of 16.62% of their salary annually, that person will have saved the equivalent of 50% of his or her necessary retirement income. Add that to our pension and Social Security and the NYC teacher can expect to achieve a 100% replacement income in retirement  Therefore, if the NYC teacher can last to their full retirement age of 62 or 63, they can expect a financially conformable retirement.

Of course there are a couple of cavorts.   First, how many NYC teachers will reach their full retirement age?  According to a study which I used in a previous post, only 33% of Tier 1-IV teachers in NYC reached that goal.  With the punitive teacher evaluation system and Charlotte Danielson being used to determine teacher effectiveness and the vastly inferior Tier VI pension plan, the percentage of teachers reaching their full retirement age is probably closer to the teens for newer teachers.

Another issue is the improving economy.  Fewer college graduates are going into the low paying education field and even less want to be a classroom teacher. Moreover, many existing teachers leave the high stress classroom environment for greener pastures, be it to the suburbs or outside of the education field.  Finally, the poor quality of NYC school administrators and the lax student discipline rules makes teaching in the NYC classroom a hostile environment.  Consequently, few newer teachers will stick it out for the long term despite the rewards of a comfortable retirement 20 to 30 years down the road.

The bottom line, if you can make it to full retirement age, the NYC teacher will have a financially comfortable retirement but realistically we are talking about the minority of teachers that can stick it out and are  smart enough to save at least 16.62% of their paycheck.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The DOE's Double Standard Continues - The Case Of Principal Emmanuel Polanco of JHS 80.

Susan Edelman of the New York Post penned a scathing article about how Principal Emmanuel Polanco has bullied the students and staff and that under his administration one teacher was quoted as saying.   “It’s not about the kids,” she said. “It’s about administrators who lie, cover-up the violence, and don’t provide proper supervision.”.

This is the same Emmanuel Polanco, who had limited classroom experience but was promoted to principal through the Leadership Academy program who made a racy video, ending with him in bed with a women.  What kind of role model is he?   As expected, the DOE buried the investigation and quietly allowed Mr. Polanco to continue to run his school.  Please read my previous post for the link to the video and Mr. Polanco's alleged misdeeds.

Now it seems that Mr. Polanco is being accused of bullying students and staff.  This explains why the majority of teachers are untenured, strongly suggesting that the school suffers from high teacher turnover.  Moreover, Mr. Polanco  has allegedly shoved a student against a stairway wall and jabbed his fingers into the student's chest.  He and or his administration also authorized that the student be handcuffed, behind his back,  by school safety when he questioned a procedure during a fire drill.  Mr. Polamco was also accused by others as well.

From what I have read and heard Mr. Polanco has apparently violated Chancellor's regulations A-420, corporal punishment and A-421 verbal abuse.  Yet, Mr. Polanco remains Principal at the school.  If Mr. Polanco was a teacher he would have been removed from the school and sent to a reassignment center waiting for his 3020-a charges.  However, Mr. Polanco is a Principal and the DOE presumes him innocent as they continue with their investigation which has probably been predetermined to find him innocent or if substantiated, will be once again buried as he remains Principal.  In other words, the DOE's "double standard" when disciplining teachers and administrators continues.

How bad is JHS 80 in the Bronx?  They have dismally poor test scores in English and Math and just read the letters to the New York Post that a teacher encouraged her seventh grades to write.  The letters contain numerous misspelled words, poor grammar, and vulgarity.  You can read them Here.

Update:  The City Council is now investigating the Principal and the school and wants to know why the DOE closed the investigation of Mr. Polanco's actions.

Friday, January 12, 2018

When Statistics Lie.

Mark Twain once said "there are lies, dammed lies, and statistics".  The DOE, principals, and teachers have taken that saying to heart to falsely show student academic progress.  Let's look at how each group uses statistics to show student academic achievement when the truth is otherwise.

Department Of Education::
The DOE is the biggest abuser of false statistics.  For example, the DOE budget increases every year but more and more of the money goes to the Central Bureaucracy and not to the students.  The schools still suffer from the recession era budgets and are underfunded by between 10%to 13% of their fair funding, while the DOE's budget increase every year.  Until recently, they had a motto called "children first...Always" when the truth is the schools are starved for resources and many schools are overcrowded with the largest class sizes in the State.  Moreover, the DOE will falsely claim that all their teachers are certified but far too many are teaching subjects they are not certified to teach.  Finally, they will loudly program they have the highest graduation rate ever but they ignore the fact that only one in five ever complete an associates degree in college and even less for a four year bachelor's degree.

Probably the biggest abuser of fake statistics.  They are the reason so many students graduate unprepared for higher education or the adult world.  They run "diploma mills" where many students are pushed out by massive doses of credit recovery courses, pressuring teachers to pass failing students with a 65%, or change grades, despite objections from the teachers. Academic fraud by these principals are ignored by the DOE and most principals realize their are no consequences for their actions.

Teachers in many of these diploma mill schools must meet scholarship goals, passing 80% of their roster and must show that they kept a running log to demonstrate how hey contacted the parent and other steps taken to get the student to pass the class.  This administrative pressure forces the teacher to take the easiest road possible to achieve an effective rating, that is to pass as many st6udents as possible to meet the school's administrative goals.  Furthermore, in many Living Environment classes, teachers can artificially raise their Regents passing rate by barring struggling students from taking the Regents.  The result is that many of the students pass the class but gets no Regents credit.  Finally, in some schools teachers will pass the student if they just show up to class since the teacher must meet the above mentioned scholarship goal.

Can statistics lie?  you better believe they can.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Michael Bloomberg's Failed Education Policy.

One of the great fictions are that the general public was made to believe that Michael Bloomberg improved education in the New York City Public Schools.   Even last week I heard a reporter ask the ex-mayor what was his greatest achievement and Michael Bloomberg replied that he changed and improved the school system.  He cited an increase in graduation rates, removal of teachers who were either incompetent or committed some form of misconduct, allowed principals to hire who they pleased,and the closing of failing large comprehensive schools and replacing them with more successful small schools. What Michael Bloomberg failed to mention was how he starved the schools of money.  In his third term most schools were only funded at between 82% to 85% of the resources they were allocated to receive. By contrast, his new small schools were fully funded at 100% of there fair funding and even one school received 150% of what they should have received.  Rather than rehash all the negative issues.  You can read my post Here.

If you are an education deformer or a charter school operator,, Michael Bloomberg was a great education Mayor.  However, if you are a public school parent, student, or teacher, then Michael Bloomberg was a terrible education Mayor.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The History Of The ATR Pool.


Before the implementation of the terrible, "giveback laden" 2005 contract, excessed teachers were given priority and must be placed in vacancies in their District before principals can hire from the outside.  In fact, most excessed teachers were give a list of up to six vacancies and could select the one the best suited them.  Moreover, since, all teachers were considered units, salary was not a factor.   Hiring a veteran teacher had  advantages since they possessed classroom management skills, curriculum knowledge, and institutional memory.  the schools were happy to get them  Sure, principals tried to hide vacancies, sometimes in vain, and waited until all excessed teachers in the District were placed, before filling the vacancies.  However, the bottom line was, except from obsolete titles like a typing teacher, all excessed teachers were placed in the vacancies as permanent employees of that school.

Thanks to our disconnected union leadership, they negotiated away two vital programs that allowed the DOE to create the ATR pool.  The first was the seniority transfer system that allowed veteran teachers to bump untenured teachers if they wanted the position.  The second and most important program the union agreed to eliminate was the right to bump less senior teachers if the veteran  teacher's job was eliminated.  This is a basic program for all Civil Service employees and the union agreed to this on the condition that the newly created ATR cannot be fired for not having a classroom position.  The DOE eagerly agreed to the condition and from day one in every contract negotiation the DOE has tried to renege on the deal by asking for an ATR time limit.  Failing to achieve their goal of obtaining an ATR time limit, they have gone to great lengths to tell the media that the ATRs are "bad" or "unwanted " teachers.   Now that the DOE is sick and tired of shelling out $150 million dollars annually for the ATR pool, the DOE's decade long disparaging of the ATRs has made it difficult to place them.

Fast on the heels of the terrible 2005 contract was the implementation of the destructive school based fair student funding (fsf) that penalizes schools who hire veteran teachers since under the fsf the average actual salary of the school is used and it incentives principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school. Moreover, with schools funded at 85% of their fair funding, raised to 90% (apparently its only 87%( this school year, this further pushes principals to hire as cheap as possible.  The union leadership know full well what fsf meant to the ATR pool as an influx of veteran teachers were excessed due to the 162 closing schools and reduced programs as the new small Bloomberg schools that replaced the larger schools hired mostly a "newbie" teaching staff and few veteran teachers were selected.  At it's peak the ATR pool was close to 2,400 educators.

Over the years the DOE has tried to offer incentives to principals and buyouts to ATRs with limited success.  The two ATR buyouts were so inadequate only a total of 226 teachers actually took the buyouts and almost all of them were retiring anyway!  As for the incentives, the only one that had a significant impact was the November 2009 incentive that allowed principals to hire ATRs and only be responsible for the salary of a "newbie" teacher. This also coincided with a hiring freeze.

Over the years the ATR pool has slowly diminished as ATRs have retired and until next school year there were few school closings.  However, with two large high schools having staff reapplying for their positions and 14 school closings, the ATR pool will probably increase from the 1,202 at the beginning of this school year.  One negative change for the Caren Faina years was that the DOE set up three lists of ATRs.  The first were from closing schools and programs and were the only ones offered by the DOE to be hired by schools.  The second list where for ATRs who received unsatisfactory or ineffective ratings and the final list were ATRs who won their 3020-a hearings and were excluded from the hiring list by the DOE, unless there was no other ATR available in the subject are in the Borough.

What the future holds for the ATR pool is in question. Will the new Chancellor eliminate the fsf and force schools to absorb the ATRs or will it continue as is.  Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Leadership Academy Principal Emmanuel Polanco Is In The News Again.

The Leadership Academy Principal of JHS 80 in the Bronx, Emmanual Polanco, also known as "El Siki" in his racy video is in the news again.  This time staff members have contacted the UFT, DOE, and even the FBI to investigate his wrongdoings at the school.  Before I go into the New York Post article, Principal Polanco was previously highlighted by the New York Daily News and my post.  You can find both Here.  You can see his racy YouTube video Here.  Moreover, he was accused of trying to push out a veteran teacher by calling her "Shrek" and refused to provide training.  Finally, he was also accused of discrimination by favoring and hiring younger Hispanic teachers.

In today's New York Post there is an article that shows the various problems at JHS 80, many of them attributed to the Principal, Ennanuel Polanco.  Let's identify the issues at the school.

Student Discipline:
Violence and fighting are rampant;  unqualified cronies — including a paraprofessional who has acted as a dean — serve in key positions; disruptive students face few consequences.

Covering up assaults:
In one outrageous case The DOE says it is investigating a November incident in which two eighth-grade boys allegedly lifted a sixth-grader by his arms and legs, and dropped him on his head, causing him to pass out and convulse.

A staff member told the FBI and the DOE that administrators delayed calling an ambulance, then forced the eighth-graders and a teacher who witnessed the cruelty to give statements calling it an accident.  “They lied to the parents,” the distraught staffer told an FBI hotline. “Someone’s child is going to die if nothing is done.”  Kids have cut themselves and others — during class, the source said.

Discrimination and Favoritism: 
The Principal is known to discriminate against veteran and outspoken teachers and to favor young Hispanic teachers, giving a young Hispanic Paraprofessional a Dean's position when it requires that the position to be a teacher.  he majority of teachers at the school are untenured and teacher turnover appears to be high, am indicator of an unstable school environment.

Why does the school struggle academically?  Just look at the Principal since the buck stops with him. WCBS-TV did a story on the school and you can find it Here.

Friday, January 05, 2018

The New Chanceelor Will Need To Eliminate The Administrative Bloat At The DOE.

One of the major problems that the New York City Schools suffer from is that far too much money is diverted to the Central Bureaucracy at the DOE at the expense of the schools and the students. According to Leonie Hamson the Executive Director of Class Size Matters the number of top level administrators has doubled since the last year under the Bloomberg administration.  Moreover, the budget at the DOE's Central Bureaucracy has increased 70% since Mayor Bill de Blasio took charge of the schools,  Finally, there has been a 34% increase in the central staff expenses.

By contrast, the schools contimue to be underfunded.  The latest information from the IBO is that the average school only receives 87% of what "fair student funding" requires.  The planned increases to 90% has so far failed to materialized as money continues to be diverted by the DOE to other uses.  Furthermore, class sizes remain the highest in the State with far too many students, about 33%, in classes too large for proper instruction.  Finally, more than a half a million students, almost 50%, attend overcrowded schools and the DOE is falling behind in allocating funds to build new classrooms to accommodate the overcrowded schools.  With the expected influx of students from Puerto Rico,. the overcrowded can only get worse not better without additional funded to build more classrooms.

Yet, the DOE rather spend money on the academically struggling Renewal Schools by allocating 50 million dollars annually to the program that pays for consultants and  administrative bureaucrats, many of them failed principals or other failed administrators that found a refuge in the Renewal program.  In addition, the DOE continues to protect incompetent and/or vindictive principals and resists efforts by parents, students, and teachers to remove them.  The latest examples were at Central Parlk East 1 and Townsend Harris High School, where it took the media to help removes those principals.  Finally, the new Chancellor will need to address the ATR situation and the policies like school based fair student funding that penalizes the placement of veteran teachers.

To resolve the above issues the new Chancellor must eliminate the administrative bloat at Tweed that is the root of  all the problems listed above.  Once the administrative bloat is eliminated, then money can be freed up for lower class sizes, the solving of the ATR crisis, and the schools receiving adequate resource to operate for the benefit of their students.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Why Mayor Bill De Blasio Has Been A Failure For NYC Schools.

Many educators were excited when Bill de Blasio came from nowhere to become Mayor of New York City.  After 12 suffering years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, we looked for better things down the road.  How wrong were were.

First, he appointed as Chancellor Carmen Farina who was a Deputy Chancellor under Chancellor Joel Klein and supported many of his and Mayor Bloomberg's anti-teacher programs.  Instead of "cleaning house" she kept 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE and she was more the problem then the solution when it came to fixing the New York City schools, Chancellor Carmen Farina's legacy is she maintained many of the destructive Bloomberg polices like school based Fair Student Funding, the Charlotte Danielson rubric used as a weapon by administrators, and  the targeting of veteran teachers using the 3020-a process to name a few.

Second, despite claiming he would reduce class sizes, it has actually increased during his first term and to make matters worse, he failed to reduced the extreme segregation of the schools due to the high school choice program that allowed the higher achieving students, mostly Asian and White, to be selected by the far too many specialized and screened schools.  The result is the lower achieving minority stuiden6ts are relegated to academically struggling schools, especially the Renewal Schools.

Third, his lax student discipline policy is a disaster as staff and students feel increasingly unsafe as the disruptive and violent students are simply given a talking to (restorative justice or a warning card) instead of being suspended or arrested.  Moreover, his lifting of the student cellphone ban is disrupting learning as students are distracted and instead of concentration on the teacher they are texting or looking at videos on their phone,  Finally,  the Mayor has failed to stop the flow of weapons brought into the schools by students as confiscations have skyrocketed during his first term as Mayor as these students no longer fear suspension or arrest..

Finally, he has failed to eliminate the bloat at the DOE Central Bureaucracy that eats up an every increasing budget while schools suffer from recession era budgets and are only funded at 90% of what they should be receiving.  Let's not forget that the ATR pool still exists and with 1,200, mostly veteran teachers, without a classroom and costing the DOE over $150,000 annually.  No other school system would tolerate the waste of money and the responsibility lies at the door of the Mayor.

The bottom line is that Mayor Bill de Blasio should spend his second term doing the following:

  • Eliminate the fair student funding formula for schools.
  • Reducing class sizes to the State average.
  • Place ATRs in vacancies before any hiring can be allowed.
  • Fully fund the schools.
  • Prohibit student cellphones in the classroom.
  • Drastically reduced specialized and screened high schools.
  • Eliminate school choice and encourage neighborhood schools.

Monday, January 01, 2018

My Predictions For 2018.

Last year I made my 2017 predictions and almost all of them were correct.  You can see them Here.  For example, the ATR situation remains unresolved, the targeting by the DOE of veteran teachers continued unabated, and the union leadership's inaction against vindictive principals.Now its time to predict what happens in 2018

Union leadership:
With the Supreme Court probably ruling that union dues are voluntary in the Janus case this Spring, look for our disconnected union leadership to  put extreme pressure on school Chapter Leaders to push their members to pay their union dues,  Moreover, they will falsely claim that members who do not pay their union dues will be losing valuable union services,  Finally, look for the union leadership to reduce their well- paid patronage jobs as the effects of Janus, the new tax system, and the discontent of the members will mean major belt tightening at the UFT.  Bye, bye patronage jobs.

Look for little change in the ATR situation as few principals are willing to hire veteran teachers when the school based fair student funding stays in effect.  There may be another failed ATR incentive and buyout that will result in few ATRs taking the buyout, unless they are retiring anyway.

The double standard in disciplining principals will continue as few principals will be removed, unless the media campaigns for their removal.  Furthermore, with our union not pushing for the removal of vindictive principals, they can continue to rule roughshod on their staff,  Finally, the DOE encourages the removal of veteran teachers by any means possible.  The DOE will still be the enemy when it comes to teaching in the classroom.  Collaboration between the DOE and classroom teachers is only a fantasy.

I suspect the new Chancellor will come from the ranks of Tweed  and that means the Bloomberg philosophy that permeates the DOE will continue with l;little change. While there may be some cosmetic changes at the top look for school based fair student funding and the Charlotte Danielon rubric to continue.