Monday, January 29, 2018

Fair Student Funding Shortchanges Schools And The DOE Does Norhing About It.


One of the great policy disasters that the DOE has implemented is the school-based Fair Student Funding policy.   The immediate effect was that principals were incentivized to hire "newbie" teachers rather than hire the best teachers for their students.  While sixty school districts across the country use some version of the fair student funding policy, only New York City makes it school based.  The others implemented it District wide and is not school based.  By making it District wide, no one school is penalized for hiring veteran teachers.

New York City's school based fair student funding is also the reason that veteran teachers are being targeted by principals as teacher salaries make up the bulk of a school's budget.   Eliminating a high salaried teacher and replacing her with a "newbie" can save the school $50,00 or more and lower the average teacher salary for the school the next year, with the savings going into the principal's budget.  Moreover, under school-based fair student funding teacher longevity raises are not factored in and once a teacher completes ten years, the school must swallow the raise in their budget.  That's why veteran teachers become a target for termination.

Finally, most schools do not receive their fair share of funding, averaging between 87%-92% of the money they should be receiving.   That's another reason that principals are looking to remove veteran teachers from their budget.

Charkbeat wrote an article that lays the blame on everybody except the DOE in using the fair student funding formula in the first place and you can read it Here.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

How Much Income Do You Need In Retirement?

Most people believe that they must save enough money to replace 100% of their pre-retirement salary to achieve a secure retireent income.  The truth is that the recent retiree only needs a percentage and is based upon their last year's salary.  This is called the retirement replacement ratio.

Empirically, your replacement ratio is inversely related to your pre-retirement income. The higher your income before retirement, the lower your replacement ratio. Social Security serves as the counterbalance, covering a larger proportion of post-retirement income for those who made less pre-retirement. This makes sense, as people with higher paying jobs had proportionally more of their income going to retirement, job-related expenses and taxes before retirement, rather than necessities.

Marlena Lee at Dimensional Fund Advisors found median replacement ratios by income level:  The table below shows the replacement ration, based upon the pre retirement income.

Salary............Replacement Ratio...........Retirement Income





*The $119,472 was used since it represents the maximum teacher salary as of June 2018.

Obviously, if a teacher reaches his or her full retirement age, they will have a pension, social security, and TDA savings that , combined, will exceed the retirement replacement income. The reason the retirement replacement income is less than the final salary is that the retiree no longer pays Social Security and Medicare, communing costs, and , everyday job expenses like clothing, food, and materials.

Sounds like teachers should have little problem having a secure retirement income,  However, remember,NYC teachers  who reach full retirement age is the vast minority, even just reaching vesting time to qualify for a pension is difficult with only 33% of Tier IV NYC teachers reaching that mark. I suspect for Tier VI teachers it will be significantly lower.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

It Appears The DOE Is Trying To Push Veteran Teachers Off Payroll By Claiming They Committed Major Misconduct In A Probable Cause Hearing.

Over the last fifteen years the DOE's Office of Legal Services has slowly expanded the "probable cause" actions of major misconduct that can take teachers off the DOE payroll. Originally, it started in the terrible 2003 contract that allowed the DOE to demand a "probable cause" hearing in front of an arbitrator for teachers accused of sexual misconduct and corporal punishment that seriously injured a child that usually led to the student going to the hospital.  As the years went by and new contracts were negotiated, the major misconduct, category was expanded to include most felonies and criminal actions. Now, it seems the DOE's Office Of Legal Services is trying to expand the major misconduct definition further to include any corporal punishment that resulted in a child being bruised, scratched, or hurt. Even if the school nurse was not contacted!

The DOE's overreach by including actions not covered under the major misconduct provisions in the contract, just to  get teachers off payroll has not been challenged by our union and this is just another example of our union leadership failing to protect their members  while allowing the DOE to target veteran teachers by any means possible.

Here are the three section of the contract dealing with the probable cause provisions,  21g-5, 21g-6, and 21g.

5. Serious Misconduct 
The parties agree that certain types of alleged misconduct are so serious that the employee should be suspended without pay pending the outcome of the disciplinary process. Serious misconduct shall be defined as actions that would constitute: • the felony sale, possession, or use of marijuana, a controlled substance, or a precursor of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in Article 220 or 221 of the Penal Law, or • any crime involving physical abuse of a minor or student (crimes involving sexual abuse of a minor or student are addressed in paragraph 6 below.), or • any felony committed either on school property or while in the performance of teaching duties, or • any felony involving firearms as defined in Article 265 of the Penal Law. If an employee is accused of committing serious misconduct, the employee shall be removed from payroll for a term not to exceed two (2) months after a finding by the “probable cause arbitrator” that there is probable cause to believe that the actions alleged were committed by the employee and that they constitute “serious misconduct” as defined above. Probable cause exists when evidence or information which appears reliable discloses facts or circumstances making it likely that such conduct occurred and that such person committed the conduct. To establish probable cause, the investigator assigned to the matter must be present and testify under oath before the arbitrator. The Board may also be required to produce signed statements from the victim or witnesses, if any. Thereafter, the Respondent shall have an opportunity to respond orally to the offer of proof. The arbitrator may ask relevant questions or may make further inquiry at the request of Respondent. The hearing shall not require testimony of witnesses nor shall cross-examination be permitted. Said probable cause hearing usually shall not exceed one half of a hearing day

One arbitrator, agreed to by both parties, shall be assigned to hear all probable cause matters for a period of one year. If the parties cannot agree upon one arbitrator, each party shall select one arbitrator who together will select the probable cause arbitrator. Should the Board meet its burden of establishing probable cause of serious misconduct, the employee shall remain suspended without pay during the pendency of the disciplinary action, but in no event shall such period exceed two months except as set forth herein. The parties expect that these cases shall be completed within two (2) months. However, where it is not possible to complete the hearing within the two (2) month period despite the best efforts of all parties, and where the arbitrator believes that the evidence already presented tends to support the charges of serious misconduct, the arbitrator may extend the period of suspension without pay for up to thirty (30) days in order to complete the proceedings. If the Respondent requests not to have the case proceed for a period of thirty (30) days or more and that request is granted, during the period of this adjournment, the Respondent shall remain in non-paid status. As noted above, however, the parties are committed to having these cases heard in an expeditious manner. For this reason, absent extraordinary circumstances, arbitrators are not to adjourn hearing dates. While suspended without pay pending the arbitration hearing on serious misconduct charges, the Respondent may continue his or her existing health coverage, except that in no event shall the Respondent be entitled to continue his or her existing health coverage for more than six (6) months while on non-paid status except at the absolute discretion of the Chancellor. In the event that the Respondent is exonerated of all serious misconduct charges, the employee shall be restored to his or her position and be entitled to receive back pay and be made whole for the amount of time he or she remained off payroll. In the event that the arbitrator finds the employee guilty of the serious misconduct and imposes a penalty less than termination, the arbitrator shall decide whether and to what extent a reinstated employee shall be entitled to receive any back pay for the time the employee was suspended without pay. The parties agree that these types of cases shall receive the highest priority, and, upon the Board’s request, hearings may be held on such matters during any days previously committed by a rotational panel to other employees, as set forth above. In other words, hearings for serious misconduct take precedence over other disciplinary matters, and the Board may require adjourning other cases previously scheduled before the assigned arbitrator during that time frame in order for that arbitrator to hear serious misconduct cases within the two-month time frame.

6. Sexual Offenses Involving Students or Minors 
A tenured pedagogue who has been charged under the criminal law or under §3020-a of the New York State Education Law with an act or acts constituting sexual misconduct (defined below) shall be suspended without pay upon a finding by a hearing officer of probable cause that sexual misconduct was committed. A rebuttable presumption of probable cause shall exist where the Special Commissioner of Investigations (“SCI”) substantiates allegations of sexual misconduct, or a tenured pedagogue has been charged with criminal conduct based on act(s) of sexual misconduct. 117 A report from the Chancellor’s Office of Special Investigations (“OSI”) substantiating allegations of sexual misconduct is relevant evidence of probable cause but does not create a rebuttable presumption of probable cause. In §3020-a proceedings, a mandatory penalty of discharge shall apply to any tenured pedagogue a) found by a hearing officer to have engaged in sexual misconduct, or b) who has pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of criminal charges for such conduct. The §3020-a hearing should be completed within two months, but the suspension without pay shall be extended one additional month if the hearing has not been completed, unless the Board has received an adjournment or otherwise delayed the proceeding. The suspension without pay shall also be extended until a criminal action is resolved and any §3020-a proceeding is also completed. If the §3020-a hearing results in a dismissal of the charges or if the criminal proceeding ends in an acquittal or dismissal (and the Board has decided not to prefer charges), the pedagogue shall be entitled to back pay with interest for the entire period of the suspension without pay. For purposes of this section, sexual misconduct shall include the following conduct involving a student or a minor who is not a student: sexual touching, serious or repeated verbal abuse (as defined in Chancellor’s Regulations) of a sexual nature, action that could reasonably be interpreted as soliciting a sexual relationship, possession or use of illegal child pornography, and/or actions that would constitute criminal conduct under Article 130 of the Penal Law against a student or minor who is not a student. A letter of agreement dated October 2, 2005 regarding sexual misconduct is attached in Appendix G.

7. Other Felony Offenses 
Tenured pedagogues who have been convicted of, or who have pled guilty to, any felony not addressed in paragraph 5, above shall be suspended without pay pending the final outcome of the Education Law §3020-a disciplinary proceeding. The §3020-a hearing should be completed within two months, but the suspension without pay shall be extended one additional month if the hearing has not been completed, unless the Board has received an adjournment or otherwise delayed the case.

Leave it to the DOE to try to terminate as many veteran teachers as possible and by any means necessary. while our disconnected union leadership does nothing about it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Michael Mulgrew Finally Admits That Carmen Farina's Failure To Clean House At The DOE Is A Problem.

In last night's Executive Board meeting, UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, finally admitted that the middle management at the DOE is problematic and none of them are capable of being selected as the new Chancellor.  It took almost four years for our UFT President to acknowledge that the middle management at the DOE is a problem.  Maybe if Michael Mulgrew had pushed Chancellor Carmen Farina to "clean house" back in 2014, there would have been better collaboration between teachers and the Central Bureaucracy at the DOE.  If you have read my previous posts, Here and Here, you would read that Chancellor Carmen Farina had retained 80% of the policymakers at the DOE.  No wonder the DOE continues to be looked as the enemy by teachers.

Realistically, the middle management at the DOE still runs the operation.  Instead of collaberation, its confrontation,  paperwork reduction has been a mirage as mandates are sent out to schools for more data mining and accountability while they are not held accountable themselves. Finally, they divert much needed resources from schools who are funded at 87% to 90% of their fair funding while the Central Bureaucracy remains bloated with high priced consultants, questionable programs that have little educational value, and programs that incentives principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools while having the largest class sizes in the State,

Too bad it took four years for our union leadership to realize that the main problem is the DOE middle managers.  Most educators knew this in 2014.  Read nyc educator and ICEUFT blogs to read what Michael Mulgrew said at the Executive Board meeting.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Two Simple Charts That Compare Tier IV and Tier VI Pension Plans.

 Most New York City teachers are either part of two pension systems.  For teachers who were hired before April 1, 2012, they are under the Tier IV pension system.  The remainder, who were hired after April 1, 2012 are under the vastly inferior Tier VI pension system.  Because of the UFT contract, few, if any New York City teachers are under the Tier V pension plan.  However, teachers hired after December 10, 2009, while under Tier IV pension plan, have some aspects of Tier V.  See my post that explains this in more detail.

Both charts take into account an age reduction factor and its obvious under the Tier VI pension plan the age reduction factors makes for a greater reduction of a pension under Tier VI than Tier IV.  Moreover the Final Average Salary (FAS) is five years for Tier VI members rather than the three year FAS for Tier IV.  The use of a  five year FAS has the effect of lowering the average FAS for the Tier VI member.  Finally, full retirement age is 62 years for Tier IV members and in quite a few cases, as low as 55 years of age.  By contrast, tier VI members must reach to 63 years of age and there is no program that allow Tier VI members to retire early, unless they take a steep age reduction factor that will greatly reduce their pension.

For example if we take a Tier IV teacher that retired after 25 years of service.  He would receive 50% of his FAS.  On the other hand, the Tier VI teacher would only receive 43.8% of his five year and lower average FAS.   Even at 20 years, the difference is significant,  The Tier IV teacher would receive 40% of his three year average FAS, while the Tier VI teacher would only receive 35% of his average five year FAS, While reaching his or her full retirement age one year later.  Of course, I suspect that few Tier VI teachers in New York City will be vested, least not to make it to their full retirement age.  Maybe one out of seven or eight (12% to 14%) would be my best guess.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ballou High School Where The Graduation Rate Was All Smoke And Mirrors.

Ballou High School in Washington D.C. is a school with a deep poverty minority student body and has historically struggled academically, with a low graduation rate.  However, in 2017 Ballou High School dramatically improved their graduation rate and every graduate was accepted to college.  The school's success became a national sensation of how real education reform can improve even the worst academically struggling school.  However, NPR did an expose of the 2017 graduation class and found some very disturbing issues that questioned that success.

Unexcused Absences:
The majority of graduating seniors in 2017 missed more than six weeks of school due to unexcused absences.   Moreover,  33 students had unexcused absences of 90 days or more ot of 180 school days.  Of the 164 graduating seniors in 2017, only 23 students had less than 30 unexcused absences. The Washington D.C. public schools policy is that if a student misses class more than 30 days, the student should fail the course.  If the District followed it's own policy than 141 graduating seniors should have failed the courses and not graduate.

High Teacher Turnover:
Ballou High School suffered the highest teacher turnover in the City with 25% of the teachers leaving the school by the end of the 2016-17 school year, many of them in the middle of the term.  Most of the teachers who left cited low morale, administrative pressure to pass undeserving students, and poor student discipline.According to an internal memo only 57 seniors were on track to graduate in April.  The remaining 107 seniors were given massive amount of credit recovery and projects to meet their graduation requirements, despite the fact that many students did not qualify for credit recovery since they didn't bother to show up to their classes.

College Ready:
While its true that all 164 2017 graduates were accepted to college only 16 actually enrolled.  The main reason was the dismally low test scores. Only 9% passed the English test and 0% passed the Math test. Even the students realized that they were unprepared for college.

The Principal of the school has been reassigned and the school district has launched an investigation but will anything change?  Probably not, once the media scrutiny disappears.  Ballou high school will continue to graduate unprepared students where the graduation rate is all smoke and mirrors.

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.