Sunday, November 10, 2019

DOE Ignores Academic Fraud

Councilman Robert Holden has asked the federal government to investigate the ramped grade fraud at the New York City schools.  The clearly frustrated Councilman has tried to convince DOE officials, including Chancellor Richard Carranza to seriously investigate the academic fraud but was ignored.  I have written many posts on the widespread academic fraud and you can find those posts under "academic fraud". 

Why doesn't the DOE investigate or punish schools for academic fraud?   Simple, the DOE rather have a higher graduation rate and an illusion that academic progress is being made when the truth is far different. The DOE allows schools to cheat by ignoring the use of easy credits, blended learning, and allowing principals to require that teachers pass as much as 85% of their students.

Will the Federal government investigate the academic fraud?  I doubt it but if they do, it will be easy to prove.  Read James Eterno's ICEUFT blog for the actual letter to the U.S. Attorney..

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Time For Charter Schools To Dump Unwanted Students

On October 31st, school funding for the year is based on student enrollment as of that date.  Once November sets in, the school funding is set.  Its in November that charter schools will start to expel unwanted students and dump them into the public school system since the money is already allocated to the school..

Because of a quirk in how schools are funded, charter schools will do everything possible to retain all their students up to October 31st to get their funding.  However, after that date, charter schools will start to push out misbehaving and or academically challenged students to the public schools.  That also includes Special Education and English Language Learners who need extra services.

Obviously, New York State's school funding must be changed so as to discourage student dumping that the charter school get away with and still retain the funding as if that student is still in the charter school.. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The New York Post's Misleading Editorial

The New York Post has an editorial that blames the De Blasio administration for keeping alleged misbehaving teachers on the payroll indefinitely.  The problem is that some of those teachers cited in the article were put in their predicament by ex Chancellor Joel Klein, a decade before Bill de Blasio became Mayor of New York City, but don't let the facts get in the way of an editorial.

Furthermore, the statistics used in the editorial is like comparing apples with oranges. The 2012-13 school year showed that 13% of educators charged under 3020-a were terminated.  While only 6% were terminated in the 2018-19 school year.  The problem with the comparison is that the 3020-a hearings take six months or longer for the arbitrator to write up the decision.  Therefore, many of the 2018-19 3020-a cases have not been completed until this year and are not included in the 2018-19 statistics.

Finally, with a more teacher friendly Chancellor in Richard Carranza, the DOE has been more careful in charging teachers under 3020-a (227 compared to 443 in 2012-13) and that is the reason why there are fewer (47%)  educators charged under 3020-a from the last year of the Bloomberg era..

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Highlights Of The Chicago Teachers Contract

The Chicago teachers will average a 3.2% raise for five years with the first three years getting a 3% raise and the last two year gettingg a 3.5% raise.  Moreover, for teachers who have 14 or more years in service, they will be getting a bump in their pay s cale which can average another 3% raise.

There will be hard class size caps and all schools will have a school nurse and social worker.

There are more improvements, like more sick days that can be banked and frozen health insurance premiums.  The contract summary can be found in the article Here

Friday, November 01, 2019

Warren Leads As Biden Fades In Tight Iowa Race

It appears that Joseph Biden's money troubles and the negative press due to his son has seen him drop to fourth in the tight Iowa poll for the Democratic Presidential elections.

By contrast, Elizabeth Warren leads at 22%, followed closely by Bernie Sanders at 19%, Peter Buttigieg at 18%, and Joseph Biden at 17%.  The rest of the Democratic field is polling at 4% of less and it looks like a four person race to be Donald Trump's opponent in the Presidential primary.

The New York Times has has an article that fully explains the Iowa poll and can be found-in today's paper.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

One Out Of 10 NYC Students Are Homeless

The amount of homeless in NTC schools stayed stubbornly high at 114,000.  This is nearly the same as the previous year with 85% of the homeless students are either Black or Hispanic and that indicates that Mayor De Blasio's homeless policy has failed to put a dent in the homelessness.. Here is what the Mayor said about it.

It's common knowledge that homeless students have lower academic performance, higher absentees, and are more likely to be associated with behavioral problems.  Moreover, the lak of a permanent home usually results in the student to move from school to school and cannot establish a stable social structure which also negatively affects academic achievement.  Finally, many homeless students lack financial support and am involved faster which is associated with academic success.

Reducing the student homeless population is essential to improve student academic performance, especially in many of the Bronx and Brooklyn schools.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Chicago Teachers Strike Continues

The Chicago Teachers Strike continues for a third week and according to the Chicago City Government they are 100 million dollars apart, which is quite significant.  Moreover, the City has not agreed to a contract stipulation to lower class sizes and for every schol to have adequate support staff.

Already, Monday classes have been cancelled and things are not looking goiod since the Mayor's office has not joined the negotiations.  Historically, when negotiations are close to completion, then the Mayor's office gets involed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Joe Biden And The UFT Leadership

Joe Biden showed up to the Teacher Recognition Day Conference, run by the UFT, and tried to claim he was a pro public school teacher and promised to increase teacher salaries and school funding.  However, most of the teachers at the conference gave him a lukewarm reception despite the warm reception given him by the UFT leadership and rightly so.

 We all remember that Joe Biden was the Vice President under pro charter school and blame the teacher when students fail academically,  Barack Obama.   The originator of the teacher evaluation system that required student test scores to be tied to teacher effectiveness.

Joe Biden and Barak Obama both claimed to have a bromance and for Joe Biden to claim he had little influence over Obama's education policy is hard to believe. Hopefully Joe Biden continues to do poorly in the debates and is out spent by the others.

There is no way I will vote for either Joe Biden or Cory Booker if they gets the Democratic nomination.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Will The DOE Finally Place ATRs?

The DOE has finally taking steps to place ATRs.  In schools that have a history of hard to fill certain subjects and retain teachers , the DOE has decided to allow principals to hire an ATR free of charge, as long as the school keeps the ATR.  This has resulted in some ATRs getting a position since the Principal will no longer be responsible for the ATR's salary.

According to Susan Edelman of the New York Post, there are 930 ATRs and this is a slight reduction from the previous year as 170 ATRs took the $50,000 buyout,  Regardless, the DOE is still paying over $100 million dollars yearly for ATRs..  It should be noted that the ATR number only include teachers and excludes Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, and paraprofessionals.

The only reason that there are ATRs at all is that the Bloomberg policymakers are still in charge and have resisted the Chancellor's goal to place ATRs in vacancies.  This year the schools hired 4,800 new teachers as nearly a thousand ATRs languish without a position. .However, as the Chancellor has slowly  removed or pushed out the Bloomberg policymakers, the DOE has loosened restrictions   to hiring ATRx such as allowing select principals to hire ATRs, free of charge.

In 6he next few years I see the ATR issue fade into history.  At least I hope so.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Chicago Teachers Strike

The Chicago teachers went out on strike today after the City refused to put in writing lower class sizes and assurances of hiring adequate support staff for the schools.

The teachers have asked for a 15% raise for three years and the City proposed a 16% raise for five years, or 3.2% per year.  Moreover, the union is demanding that every school have a full time nurse, a social worker, and a librarian.  Finally, the 25,000 teachers and 8,000 support staff are asking for affordable housing.

The Chicago school system is nearly broke and it will be interesting to see what the City finally agrees to once the teachers contract is settled.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Blame Principals For Not Having A School Nurse On Staff

Some New York City public schools lack a school nurse, despite many children having health issues like diabetes and asthma.  The blame can be placed on the doorstep of the Principal, who has total control of the school's budget. Rather than allocate funds for a school nurse, they rather rely on the undependable DOE to supply and pay for a school nurse to save money.

The principals will claim, and rightly so, that the blame lies with the DOE, since they are responsible for providing a school nurse, free of charge to the school.  However, when the DOE fails to do so, then the Principal should be using their funds to do so.   True, the DOE's imposed school based fair student funding and their refusal to fund the schools at 100% of their fair funding (most schools are receiving only 90%) affects the decision to hire a school nurse with school resources.   However, it must be pointed out that the DOE gives principals full discretion on allocating funds.  Therefore, lacking a school nurse lies with the Principal.

To me, lacking a school nurse is a health crisis and with the many students who have health issues, principals are practicing educational maleficence and parents should demand their removal since they are not putting their students first..

Friday, October 11, 2019

All Social Security Retirees Will Get a 1.6% Cost Of Living Increase In 2020

All Social Security retirees will receive a 1.6% cost of living (COLA) increase for 2020.  For the average retiree that is an increase of $24 monthly.  The COLA will be in the January Social Security checks.

Democrats and advocates for seniors feel the COLA does not take into account health care costs and should be higher but its highly unlikely that Congress will pass any adjustments beyond the COLA as they did last year.

Newsday has an article about the Social Security increase Here..

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

New York State Will Allow School Districts To Evaluate Teachers

The New York State Board of Regents will no longer require school districts to evaluate teachers, based upon State tests.  Obviously, the 20% statewide opt out rate had greatly influenced the decision.
Moreover, the State gave the school districts the authority to use collective evaluations rather than an individual evaluation for the teachers.

How does that affect New York City teachers is still in question since the DOE has shown no inclination to change the teacher evaluation system. Moreover, will our union demand that Charlotte Danielson be eliminated and a fairer metric be used to evaluate teachers.  Finally, will teachers be collectively evaluated since the State now allows it and most suburban school districts have already implemented it for this school year.

Will the NYC teacher evaluation system change enough to be appropriate for the majority of teachers?  Only time will tell.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Tale Of Two School Districts

The Ward Melville school district has set up a teachers room with soft lighting, piped in music, a large television, high speed computers and printers and nice furniture in their high school.  They call it a wellness room..   By contrast New York City teacher rooms are usually associated with discarded furniture, inadequate space for the staff, and obsolete computers. In fact, one Queens school saw their teachers room taken away and are now screened into a small room with little ventilation.

The Ward Melville school district realized that happy teachers result in better student academic achievement.  Too bad the New York City DOE rather use money on themselves than improve teacher working conditions and improved student academic achievement.

The Chancellor is slowly replacing the Bloomberg holdovers but there are far too many left in the DOE and as long as school-based fair student funding and school administrators that obtained their job on political connections and not by merit. Is it any wonder that the New York City public achools are resource poor and staff has low morale.

Maybe the DOE will one day fully fund the schools, eliminate fair student funding, and put the schools first rather than there bloated bureaucracy.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

When Will Class Sizes Decrease?

One of the legacies of Michael Bloomberg are large class sizes.  The ex Mayor saw no problem in large class sizes as he refused to spend money on more teachers and if it was up to him, class sizes would double and reduce the teaching staff by 50%.

When Bill de Blasio became Mayor one of his campaign promises was to reduce class sizes.  However, he has failed to live up to his promise and class size are as high as under Mayor Bloomberg.  New York City has the highest class sizes in the State.

Now that Mayor De Blasio is in his second term and has had two Chancellors, don't look for any class size reductions for the Mayor's final two years in office.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Academic Fraud At Maspeth High School - Part 2

It seems that Mayor De Blasio was informed of the academic fraud at Maspeth high school and failed to take action.  Worse, the Mayor did not remove the school administrators before the school year started but told the district councilman not to go to the press if he wanted to be on the Mayor's good side.   Susan Edelman of the New York Post wrote an article that explains it all.

Can you imagine if a teacher was caught committing academic fraud?  He or she would be removed from the school and the DOE would file 3020-a termination charges.  Yet, despite the many whistle blowers and their allegations, the DOE kept all the school administrators and only reluctantly started an in house investigation, while dragging their collective feet. This is just another example of the DOE's double standard.

You can also read the article of why a teacher quit Maspeth high school due to alleged corruption.

To read more about Maspeth high school read my blog Here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Mayor De Blasio Backs Away From Eliminating The SHSAT

According to the New York Post the Mayor threw in the towel about eliminating the SHSAT for the specialized high schools and will start from scratch to come up with other ideas to diversify the specialized high schools.  The Mayor scrapping his diversity plan for the specialized high school puts him at odds with the Chancellor who claimed the 1971 State law requiring the test as "racist".

The Mayor is not giving up and he will try to come up with a diversity plan for the specialized high schools that is acceptable both to the State and the various racial groups. This time he will include the East Asian community that he deliberately excluded previously.  As expected, the Chancellor, Richard Carranza, was mum about the Mayor's changing his mind about the specialized schools but he is very unhappy since diversity is a top priority of his administration.

More bad news for the Chancellor and Mayor is that District 15 has delayed their school integration plan due to parental pressure and it looks like it will not be implemented until the 2021-22 school year, if at all.  Further, parental resistance to the ill-advised and  proposed District 28 diversity plan has forced the Superintendent to back down and asked for parental input.   Finally, District 3 has also quietly reexamined their proposed diversity plan as there is a fear that they will lose their middle class students if they are bused into Harlem,

With Mayor Bill de Blasio becoming more and more unpopular as his 0% for President showed,  his already difficult job to diversify the public schools becomes almost impossible to fully realize his diversity plan..

Sunday, September 22, 2019

NYC High Schools Practice Academic Fraud To Jack Up The Graduation Rate

Most high school teachers in New York City know that academic fraud is practiced in most, if not all the schools.  Be it scholarship requirements, easy credits, blended learning, grade inflation, or administrative pressure to pass failing students.  The New York Post has an article dealing with the widespread academic fraud practiced in the New York City high schools.

Maspeth high school is just an extreme example of the common practice of academic fraud.  If your an untenured teacher and you dare fail too many students, look to be discontinued.  For tenured teachers, look for poor observations and a 3020-a termination hearing. It doesn't matter that these students did not deserve to pass, they want you to pass them anyway.

The DOE will claim that they do not tolerate academic fraud but they put intense pressure on school administrators to pass as many students they can or risk negative consequences for the Principal and the school.  Hence, academic fraud is encouraged while the DOE looks the other way. No wonder there is a disconnect between the graduation rate and being "college ready" at many of the NYC high schools..

Rather than going into detail of the academic fraud that goes on in the New York City high schools please read my academic fraud articles from my blog.  In addition, you can also read my numerous graduation rate articles as well and they will give you a complete understanding how academic fraud is practiced in the New York City high schools.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

What Do Oklahoma And New York City Teachers Have In Common?

CBS Morning News did a story on Oklahoma's trouble recruiting and retaining teachers and you can find it Here.   Oklahoma not only experiences a severe teacher shortage, they cannot retain teachers they recruit. Many  of the red states have similar problems recruiting and retaining teachers.

While New York City does not suffer from a teacher shortage like Oklahoma is, except for the Bronx.  Like Oklahoma, many teachers in New York City don't make it a career in the New York City schools.  Some go to the higher paying and better resourced suburbs.  Others leave teaching, and of the recently hired Tier VI teachers, few will make it to their vesting year for a pension and retiree health benefits.

Whether you teach in Oklahoma or New York city, teachers complain about the same things.
  • Lack of respect
  • large class sizes
  • Inadequate pay
  • Under resourced schools
  • Too much paperwork
  • Lack of independence
  • Too many useless meetings and time consuming and unnecessary Professional Development.
The bottom line:  Teaching is one of the lowest paid professions and politicians have a field day blaming teachers for society's ills.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Maspeth High School Cheats For The Illusion Of Success

Maspeth high school has been accused of cheating to jack up their academic success.   This Queens high school has been written about previously in my blog and others  for the high percentage and abuse of untenured teachers along with financial shenanigans.  Now columnist Susan Edelman of the New York Post has written an article that exposed the school's manipulation of the school's graduation rate and Regents passing percentage..

Despite the various issues at Maspeth High School over the years the DOE has never bothered to seriously investigate the founding Principal, Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir or his assistant principals despite the various questions about how the school is run by parents, students, and teachers.   I was at Maspeth High School for a month a couple of years ago and read my experiencel Here. 

Maspeth high school will cheat to continue the illusion of success and the DOE will do nothing about it.  Read the New York Post Editorial Board opinion.

Read one student's story how the school graduated him six months early despite hardly attending class.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Repost: Teachers, Not Administrators Dictate The Lesson Plan Format

The Lesson Plan

It has come to my attention that many principals are telling teachers what must be in their lesson plan.  Let me clarify what the school administrators can demand from the teacher.

 The administrators can RECOMMEND not tell the teacher what should be in his or her lesson plan.  Moreover, the lesson plan must be made available to the administrators when being observed.  That means a hard copy on the teacher's desk or a digital copy in the teacher's open laptop.  Finally, the administrators can make sure the lesson plan represents the lesson observed, as long as it complies to the unit and topic being taught.  Under no circumstances can an administrator dictate to the teacher what format the teacher's lesson plan should be.

Remember, the administrator can only evaluate the teacher, based on the actual lesson and not the lesson plan.  The lesson plan is the teacher's guide to the lesson and not part of the administrator's observation.

A simple one page lesson plan that uses bullet points of the lesson being taught, with a introduction, body, and conclusion, with an exit slip should be sufficient to cover any one lesson.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Federal Employees Will Get A 2.6% Raise

The Trump administration will approve a 2.6% raise for federal and civilian employees. This is less than the 3.1% that the House of representatives approved but it seems that the 2.6% raise will eventually be approved by the Congress.

The 2.6% raise is higher than the UFT negotiated 2% raise for its members but then again our union leadership rather play nice with the Mayor than fight the City for a better raise   Compared to other teacher contracts, our union leadership cannot negotiate an adequate raise.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Stop Dumbing Down The High School Diploma Requirements

For the last decade New York State Education Department (NYSED) has weakened the requirements for achieving a high school diploma.  Since 1995 NYS Regents was the "gold standard" that showed if high school seniors were academically proficient to succeed in college and the workplace.  However, under political pressure to graduate more students and reduce the racial achievement gap, the NYSED has dumbed down the Regents by grading the gateway Regents of Living Environment (known as Biology lite) and Algebra on a curve that makes the passing rate as low as 29 correct answers to pass, rather than the 65 that was the case in the 1990's.

Despite the dumbing down of the Regents and the curve to get more New York State students to pass, only 38% were considered "college ready".  By contrast, the State graduation rate has risen every year and was 80% as of 2018.  What happened to the 42% who graduated high school but were not college ready?  They were required to take no-credit and expensive remedial courses in colleges and few ended up with a 4-year college degree.

Now it seems the NYSED wants to dumb down the Regents testing requirements even more and approve alternate academic ways for high school students to legitimately graduate. New York State has had the Regents for high school students since 1865 and if there is no push back, the Regents will become optional and only for the academically proficient high school student.,

Some educators suspect that the elimination and weakening of the Regents testing requirements is due not only by political pressure to pass more students but the cost of developing and printing the Regents exams.  Moreover,the educational materials associated with those exams plays into the NYSED''s approving the downsizing the Regents exams. This "education on the cheap" policy only weakens New York State's reputation for academic excellence.

Will the Board of Regents continue to weaken the Regents testing equirements?  Only time will tell.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Theoretically A Discontinued Teacher Does Not Mean That Teacher Cannot Get A Position At The DOE, Practically They Can't

A teacher cannot achieve tenure until they put in a minimum of three of the four years of effective or higher ratings and quite a few teachers need five years as the Principal or Superintendent may want to delay tenure by giving the teacher an extra year for a myriad of reasons.  if a teacher gets a developing or ineffective rating for the fourth year, the Principal or Superintendent can discontinue the teacher.  Usually, if a teacher needs a second year of the extension of probation, his or her days are probably numbered.  I know of many New York City teachers who were discontinued when they received a second year of probation.

A teacher who was discontinued in one New York City district can theoretically get another position in a different New York City district or has a license in another subject but few have dual licenses .  However, there is a problem.  The DOE will tell the principal of that district not to hire the discontinued teacher and to ensure that happens the DOE puts the discontinued teacher on a "do not hire list" and places a problem code on their file.  What Principal would go against the DOE?  None that I know of.

Therefore, once a New York City teacher is discontinued, forget about getting a teaching job in the New York City public school system.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

No Change In The Gifted And Talented Programs This Year

After receiving intense push-back from parents and the Asian-American community, the DOE has decided not to change the gifted and talented program for this year.  The gifted and talented program was drastically reduced by the Bloomberg administration by requiring 4 year olds to take an entrance test to qualify for the program.  The result was the City's gifted and talented programs were reduced from 60 to 10 as the low income, minority communities had few entering students that can qualify for the program.

The existing gifted and talented programs have only a 21% Black and Hispanic component, despite the two minorities making up 85% of the City's student body.  Finally, the 10 gifted and talented programs are found in the more diverse neighborhoods, like Districts 2(Manhattan),15(Brooklyn), and 26 (Queens) where there is enough middle and upper income families that attend the public schools to fill the classes. 

If the City eventually adopts the crazy proposals by the diversity advisory group  that wants to eliminate the gifted and talented program and diversify the Borough's schools, upper and middle class flight would follow.  Just imagine you live in Little Neck Queens and the City forces your child to be sent to South Jamaica by a 2-hour forced busing to integrate the school.  You would either sell your house and move to Long Island or send your child to private school and who can blame them?

I highly doubt that Mayor Bill de Blasio will agree with the diversity advisory committee's recommendations but you never know since the Mayor is more progressive than practical.  However, I do see that the City will try to increase the gifted and talented programs throughout the City but the question is how?

Sunday, September 01, 2019

The Two Worst Academic School Districts On Long Island

Long Island is known for their high quality and expensive school districts in the nation.  Many middle and upper income families who live in New York City will wait for their children to become school age and move to the suburbs for their excellent schools.  The flight of middle and upper income families to the suburbs may accelerate with the Mayor's and Chancellor's ill-advised integration plan. Moreover, most Long Island school districts have a full plate of academic courses and extracurricular activities that most school districts don't or cannot offer.  Finally, the Long Island school districts have strong parent involvement, because of the high school taxes they must pay, and that's a very important aspect when it comes to excellent schools.

Another important consideration is peer pressure.  At the elementary school level its not that important since most elementary schools are parent and teacher dominated, especially at the lower grades.  However, by the time the students are in middle school and high school, peer pressure becomes the most important factor in student academic achievement. This is where the suburban Long Island school districts have an advantage since school taxes are expensive and range from $8,000 to $22,000 a year and the parents put pressure on their children to do well academically to justify paying such high property taxes.  Therefore, the peer pressure to succeed translates in academic achievement for the majority of the students.  By contrast, many urban schools, especially in low income minority communities, peer pressure is just the opposite as academic excellence is frowned upon, with many students doing as little work as possible to pass with a low academic average.

There are a few school district on Long Island that mirror many off the urban schools. In Nassau its the Hempstead school district and Suffolk its Wyandanch school district. Both school districts are considered poor and heavily minority with many immigrants who speak poor English and came from countries that had a poor education system.  The Hempstead school district is a majority Hispanic student population with most of the rest Black. While Wyandanch is about evenly divided between Black and Hispanic students. The table below show the passing rate of State tests for 3rd thru 8th grades for the two school district and the county as a whole.

Percent passing the State test

School District.......3rd.....4th....5th....6th.....7th.....8th

Hempstead  ELA    33%...31%...25%...23%.....13%...26%
Hempstead Math....36%...31%...28%...15%.....13%...0%

Nassau ELA...........66%...61%...51%...60%....52%...69%
Nassau Math.........67%...67%...61%...68%....58%...38%

Wyandanch ELA....34%...28%...12%...31%....15%...21%
Wyandanch Math...31%..29%...16%...18%....10%....4%

Suffolk ELA...........50%...44%...34%...45%...35%...44%
Suffolk Math.........50%...48%...42%...48%...43%...19% 

One noticeable trend is when peer pressure starts to become the most important factor as students advance in grades, passing rates decrease in the poor and minority communities and this is especially true in the two school districts.  On the other hand, in Long Island as a whole, except for 8th grade Math where many of the advanced classes take Regents Algebra instead of the 8th grade Math test., the passing rates remain static.

See all Long Island school district test results and opt out rates Here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Why The TDA's Fixed Income Fund Is So Popular

One of the best perks New York City teacher,s have is the Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) ,  Due to a quirk in New York State tax law, the TDA is treated as a public pension and is not subject to State and Local taxes which can be as high as 13% for most teachers who live in New York City and 7% for teachers living outside New York City.  This perk has become even more important since we now have a SALT limitation of $10,000 that can be deducted on our income tax for people who don't take the standard deduction.

The most popular fund in the TDA is the Fixed Income Fund which pays market based rates by guaranteeing a 7% dividend regardless of how the stock market does.  The only negative is that the 7% is not monthly compounded but is adjusted once a year in December to account for any changes in the TDA principal in the Fixed Income Fund (annual adjustment)  You can get a higher return if you annuitize the TDA but that means losing control of your TDA funds and is not recommended here.

Most participants in the TDA select the Fixed Income Fund to place their contributions in.  The latest data showed that70% of all TDA contributions were in the Fixed Income Fund and who can blame then?

an analysis by Financial Planner, Neil Frank of the Chief showed that if a teacher put in $100 monthly in the Fixed Income Fund for the last 30 years, that teacher would have amassed $135,089 in their TDA.  However, if the teacher put alll his or her money in the TDA's equity funds the amount would be $140,947.  The difference by taking a risk with the ups and downs of the equity market is only 4.3%.  For non UFT members like school administrators who receive 8.25% and that resulting in them receiving $147,696 or 4.8% above the educator who put all their money in the TDA's equity funds.  You can thank UFT ex President Randi Wiengarten for the TDA dividend being reduced from 8.25% to 7% for UFT members.

The age-old investment principle that those who take on greater risk are rewarded with greater returns has no application to this TDA Plan; at least for the past 30 years.

All teachers should strongly consider putting the bulk of their TDA contributions into the Fixed Income Fund and to account for inflation, buying equity funds outside the TDA..

Note:  Here is how TRS calculates the interest for the Fixed Income Fund.  Notice it's based on an annual 7% dividend.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Will The ATR Pool Change?

It's another year and while Chancellor Richard Carranza has made some administrative changes at the DOE, he has made no real changes when it comes to the ATR pool.  The DOE has tried to encourage principals to hire ATRs but since most ATRs are older and in the higher salary range, averaging over $98,000 annually, schools do not want to take on the hefty salaries associated with the ATRs.

Sure, the DOE has tried to set up an ATR hiring program like paying for the ATR's salary the first year, one half their salary the second year, and one quarter their salary the third year.  However, principals are not stupid and realizes that by the fourth year the school would be responsible for the full salary of the hired ATR.

Moreover, the DOE told principals that if they hired sn ATR to permanently fill a vacancy and they achieve an effective rating, they must hire the ATR,.  However, there is a loophole wide enough to drive a truck through if a savvy Principal knows how to manipulate the system and many do.   The loophole would allow the school to refuse to permanently hire the ATR and hire a cheaper alternative.

The DOE got so desperate in trying to reduce the ATR pool that every other year they offer ATRs $50,000 to resign or retire but only 170 ATRs took the offer and those ATRs who take the DOE incentive are probably resigning or retiring anyway.  With more schools closing or downsizing and teachers who win their 3020-a hearings the ATRs are replaced by others.

One small change is that the DOE will no longer use the $2,000 fine or 30 day suspension limit to automatically put the educator in the ATR pool. .Teachers, unless they are considered a threat to students, will be sent back to their school, regardless of their or the Principal's wishes.  This change is expected to help reduce the ATR pool.  In addition, there will no longer be field supervisors who evaluate ATRs but the school principals will evaluate the ATRs

The result is that the ATR pool has remained relatively stable of around 1,200  over the last few years, despite the above DOE programs and the incentives.

Until the school-based fair student funding is changed and the DOE penalizes principals who refuse to hire ATRs, nothing will change and that includes the ATR pool,

Friday, August 23, 2019

Charter Schools Cause Cutbacks In Hempstead Public Schools

One of the poorest school districts on Long Island is Hempstead in Nassau County.  The heavily minority community is plagued with gangs, (MS-13) illegal immigrants, and a relatively high crime rate when compared to the County as a whole.  The result is that the schools have one of the lowest academic achievement results on Long Island.

Because of the poor academic results in the traditional public schools in Hempstead, many parents, who care about their child's education, decided to put their children into charter schools.  The result is that the three charter schools were able to cherry pick their students and since many immigrant families had no clue how to apply to these charter schools.  The charter schools have a low percentage of both English Language Learners and Special Education students.

The problem is that the charter schools require funding from the school district for tuition, food, and transportation costs for the 2,000 students enrolled.  This is 27% of the 7,300 students enrolled in the Hempstead public schools and that takes a significant chunk out of the school district budget.  This school year that is 44 million dollars and next year's projected budget it will rise to 55 million.

The result is that this school year Hempstead had to fire school staff, including teachers and next year the school district envisions more teacher layoffs as the charter schools expect an 11 million dollar increase in their budgets abd if the State does not issue a special grant for Hempstead, the school district will have to cut many programs.  Newsday has a nice article about Hempstead schools.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Can Teachers Lose Their Pension?

Detective  Daniel Pantaleo lost his pension because he didn't have 20 years in the pension system as a New York City police officer (he had 13 years).    Mr. Pantaleo can only recover the money he contributed to his pension and no more. The question is can teachers lose their pension?

The short answer is that teachers cannot lose their pension, once vested except for some extraordinary circumstances. For example, unless a teacher agrees to lose his or her pension, due to criminal charges in a plea deal or the teacher became vested for a pension but was not entitled to a pension due to fraud.  Otherwise, any teacher who resigns or are terminated, if they meet the vesting requirements, will receive a pension at age 55 at the earliest.

Unfortunately, 33% of New York City teachers (mostly Tier IV) are vested for a pension while the percentage is far lower for Tier VI teachers due to the good economy that encourages younger teachers to leave the profession and the lack of respect for teachers.  Add to that the poor school leadership, the reduction in pensions, and the overwhelming paperwork and the use of Danielson makes teaching in the New York City public schools an unappetizing job.

Therefore, teachers who meet the vesting requirements of between 5 and 10 years, depending when they started your teaching career,  have nothing to fear about losing their pension. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Chancellor Carranza's Cronies Grab Salary Raises As High As 35%

Chancellor Richard Carranza approved raises as high as 35% for his cronies while the teachers negotiated raises of a messily 2% this year.  How can the Chancellor justify such outrageous raises when he shortchanges school budgets by only funding 90% of their fair student funding?

Susan Edelman has an article that tells all and is a must read Here. The only question I have is that quoting Eric Nadelstern is questionable since he, as Deputy Chancellor under the infamous Joel Klein, implemented some of the more anti-teacher policies that still exist

What Chancellor Richard Carranza needs to do is eliminate the bloat at the DOE something which he has failed to do since taking charge.  In fact, he actually added an extra layer of Bureaucracy by appointing executive superintendents to oversee the 31 District superintendents.  Many of then political appointees from the Joel Klein/Carmen Farina days..

Thursday, August 15, 2019

DOE Finally Removes The Hillcrest High School Principal

It only took five years but the DOE  finally removed the Principal of Hillcrest High School.  The Principal, David Morrison,   was found to have committed academic fraud by passing and graduating students by giving them credit for phantom online courses.  The question is why did it take five years for the DOE to remove the Hillcrest Principal after an investigation substantiated the academic fraud?

Part of the answer is that we have a new Chancellor Richard Carranza, who owes no allegiance to the people at Tweed as Carmen Farina did.  Another reason is that under Farina, the District Superintendent protected principals while the supervisory superintendents have no such loyalty to principals.

In my opinion. any Principal caught doing academic fraud should be subject to 3020-a hearings and if found guilty, should be fired.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Poor Areas Losing Public And Catholic School Students To Charters

In the poorer sections of New York City many public schools are losing students to charter schools.  In fact, many private Catholic schools, that cater to low income families have closed or in danger of closing as charter schools have siphoned many of those student away.

As for the traditional public schools, while they also lose students to charter schools they tend to receive an influx of Special Education and English Language Learners as charter school tend to discourage their application due to resource issues and academic problems.

Bushwick Brooklyn is a prime example of this.    From 2010 to 2019, School Construction Authority data show the share of District 32 residents attending charters more than quadrupled—from 6 percent to 27 percent   While the Catholic schools in the area are closed or closing.  Father James Kelly, who was pastor of St. Brigid’s for nearly 40 years and still does immigration advocacy in the neighborhood, sees it too. “St. Martin of Tours is closed. St. Joseph’s. St. Barbara’s is gone. The Catholic schools are gone,” .

As for the traditional public schools.  Bushwick is expected to lose over 45% of their students in the next decade as rapidly rising rents chase out families with children and increased charter school enrollment reduce the amount of children available to the traditional public schools..

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why Does Chalkbeat Believe That Educators 4 Excellence Represents Teachers?

Chalkbeat wrote an article that showed the 33% of New York City teachers have not made up their minds about Chancellor Richard Carranza.  However, the survey was done before the Chancellor came under fire for his ill-advised  diversity program and the alleged anti--Asian bias as he tries to eliminate the SHSAT.

However, what bothers me the most about the article is that Chalkbeat, rather than asking a respected  classroom public school teacher like NYC educator, his opinion.  Chalkbeat interviewed   the Executive Director, a non-classroom educator for Educators 4 if she represented the New York City Public School teachers. The truth is that Educators 4 Excellence represents significantly less than 1% of the New York City public school teaching force.  In fact, in the last UFT election the lone Educators4 Excellence candidate received 25 votes out of over 44,000 votes cast or 0.05%.  The group refused to participate in the UFT elections, fearing their unpopularity would be exposed.

Its hard to believe what Chalkbeat writes since they are  a pawn of the education reform movement as their interview with Educators 4 Excellence demonstrates.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The City Snookered The UFT On Parental Leave

Despite UFT leadership's claim that they negotiated a great deal with the City on parental leave for its members, the truth is that the City get the better deal as the UFT was forced to self fund the parental leave cost by extending the contract  73 days which effectively meant a 0% raise for almost three months. In addition, the City made out in other ways.

UFT members who took parental leave found out that the six weeks under parental leave IS NOT PENSIONABLE!  That's right, the six weeks are subtracted from the 52 weeks or 12% of the annual salary is not included for that year in the Final Average Salary if the UFT member retires or resigns within three years (Tiers III or IV) or five years (Tier VI) of taking parental leave.

Moreover, since the City does not directly pay for parental leave, it comes from the UFT welfare fund which is funded by the City.  Consequently, the City does not have to include the UFT member on parental leave on their payroll and therefore it does not need to be included in their budgeting to NYCERS, which saves the city money in the short-term.

Once again City negotiator Bob Linn has outfoxed the inept Michael Mulgrew.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Is The DOE Discriminating Against Jewish Teachers?

Chancellor Carranza and his DOE administrators are being accused of being anti-White and while I believe he and his top administrators are misguided, I don't believe they are anti-White.  Read my previous post Here.  However, there seems to be a disturbing trend that many school administrators are trying to force senior teachers to retire and many of them are Jewish.

Because of tight school budgets and school based Fair Student Funding, principals are targeting senior teachers who are eligible to retire by filing or threaten to file 3020-a termination charges.  The senior teachers are the "baby boomers" and generation X, the last cohort that had a significant amount of Jewish teachers.

While I don't believe the principals are anti-Semitic, I do believe the Bloomberg era policies that the DOE still employs encourage the principals to target their senior teachers and replace them with far cheaper and untenured "newbies".  The principals can then use the salary differential between the departing senior teacher and the entering newbie teacher for their own use in the school budget.

Included is a letter from one teacher who wrote her experience about being forced to retire after being put through a 3020-a hearing in an Israeli newspaper.  Here.. 

Is the DOE discriminating against Jewish teachers?  The answer is no but they are targeting senior teachers and many of them are Jewish.

Friday, August 02, 2019

DOE Must Get The Lead Out

An investigation found  938  NYC classrooms, which includes many of the youngest students, are in classrooms  that had lead paint levels that were considered a health risk.  High levels of lead are associated with mental retardation, inattentiveness, behavioral problems, and low intelligence as the lead interferes with the developing brain in young children.

Worse, parents of these children in lead contaminated classrooms were kept in the dark by the DOE Is it any wonder these young children are potentially exposed to lead paint chips and, air pollution that negatively affects their academic ability.

 I bet DOE headquarters have no lead problems. The DOE's children first policy is simply a joke.

Monday, July 29, 2019

This District 75 School's Students Are Treated Like S--T By The DOE

PS 9 in Maspeth Queens is a District 75 school that has students with severe disabilities.  These students can be autistic, emotionally disturbed, or mentally retarded.  Some have more than one severe disability. and need an environment of small classes,  .up  to date classrooms, and physical education facilities to help these student succeed.  However, at PS 9 only small classes are met and that is because of Federal regulations require it.
In the classrooms of PS 9 there are badly damaged chairs and desks and lack of appropriate technology to help the students master academic and behavioral programs. Further, there are too few bathrooms for the students.   Read the New York Post story Here

The school lacks a gym and uses the school cafeteria and kitchen as a gym which is a safety issue.  Moreover, the school is smack dab in the middle of an industrial area and the classrooms are subject to industrial pollution and truck noise.  Finally, the school itself needs to be modernized and despite the DOE's claim that they will spend $14 million dollars to upgrade PS 9, most people don't believe it and want a new and modern school that caters to the needs of this severally disabled students.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Union Must Negotiate With The Chancellor To Eliminate Danielson

New York City is one of the few New York State districts that evaluates teachers by using the Charlotte Danielson rubric. This evaluation tool, when used appropriately by fair-minded administrators, the Charlotte Danielson rubric is an efficient teacher evaluation tool.

However, there are far too many incompetent and vindictive administrators who use Charlotte Danielson as a weapon to rate teachers who are effective as developing or ineffective.  Moreover, approximately 33% of the principals are graduates of the infamous " Principal Leadership Academy".  These principals are selected, not by talent, but who they knew who can recommend them.  Finally, these Leadership Academy graduates are told that they should run their schools as a CEO and not as the instructional leader.

These Leadership Academy principals are told they should demand staff cooperation and not collaborate.  In other words it's "my way or the highway".  In addition, due to tight school budgets and Fair Student Funding, these principals are sure to target senior teachers.  Since they can save money if they encourage the senior teacher to leave and replace that teacher with an inexpensive "newbie".  The difference can then be used by the Principal to put in his slush fund and use it as he or she sees fit.

Will the union push for the removal of Charlotte Danielson as a teacher evaluation tool?  Don't count on it since Michael Mulgrew and company are not in the classroom and are not subject to the Charlotte Danielson rubric. The union does not even try to remove these vindictive principals who make teaching a living hell in their school.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Will The Chancellor's Desegregation Plan Cause "White Flight?"

Chancellor Richard Carranza has proposed a school integration plan that will desegregate schools.  While the idea is goal worthy, the results may not be.  It may cause "White Flight" when they only make up 15% of the student population in the public schools as is.

Various studies show that Black and Hispanic students who are bused to integrated schools do better than those who remain in their segregated schools in minority neighborhoodsThese minority students who are bused to integrated schools have lower dropout rates, more likely to go to college, and have better job prospects which allows them to become a positive role model to the next generation family members.  So far, all this appears to be positive.  However, there are negatives as well.

The most negative is "White flight".  When a school district tried to integrate their schools by "forced  busing" like the federal government did in the South.  White families, rather than allow their children to be bused across the district to lower academic achieving schools,  either moved out of the school district, or enrolled them in private or religious schools..  The result was the public schools ended up to consist of high poverty, minority students with reduced political power and consequently, lower school funding.

Moreover, if the school district bused minorities to more White schools, those bused were usually the more academically proficient students, leaving the academically struggling students behind in high poverty and minority segregated schools. The result was that peer pressure of low academic expectations became the rule for those schools and their students.

Finally, by integrating schools it became extremely important to have fully credentialed teachers to  sell the unpopular integration plan which resulted in a lower percentage of Black male teachers and less positive adult role models for Black students.

While voluntary busing has a positive outcome for minority students.  Forced busing is extremely negative since it causes "White flight",  high transportation costs, involuntary school selection, and loss of the middle class in the urban areas.  In addition, there is a loss of neighborhood school pride and parent involvement.

Joe Biden is right, federally mandated forced busing was wrong and the negative outweighs the positive.  Will the Chancellor's desegregation plan work if there is forced busing across the district?  I think not unless he doesn't care about "White flight".

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Chinese-American Community Rise Up Due To The SHSAT Debate

Until Nayor Bill de Blasio and his Chancellor, Richard Carranza, pushed to eliminate the SHSAT by claiming it was a "racist" test and anybody supporting it was "racist",  the East Asian community was non-0political and accommodating.   The blowback to the Mayor and Chancellor was immediate and severe.  The Chinese-American community rose up and called their politicians and the Mayor's plan was never voted on in Albany.

The Mayor and Chancellor tried to get their allies to support his plan to eliminate the SHSAT and allow every middle school student who was in the top 5% to be automatically enrolled in the specialized high schools.  The problem was they deliberately excluded the East Asian community and it was so blatant that even many of the Mayor's allies saw the exclusion of the East Asian community as discrimination.

The Mayor's and Chancellor's ill-advised attempt to eliminate the SHSAT gave rise to a politically conservative Chinese-American group that has become politically savvy and media sensitive that resulted in the City's plan to eliminate the SHSAT to become dead on arrival when it showed up at the Democrat controlled State Senate.

Many of the Serrate Democrats were recently elected in previously moderate Republican districts and are not allies of the progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio and don't want to be associated with him when they try to get reelected in their districts.  The Mayor's integration plan, while not directly affecting their communities still will have negative consequences by giving their Republican challenger a talking point that they are a "rubber stamp" for the Mayor.

Obviously, the Governor is no fan of the Mayor and with the Senate Democrats shifting toward the middle of the political spectrum as reelection nears, he Mayor's plan to eliminate the SHSAT looks to be a goner in Albany.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

New York State Wants To Drop High School Regents Exams

After 150 years the New York Education Department gave an outline of a proposal to the State Board of Regents that is entertaining the notion of dropping the high school Regents exams and replacing it with different alternatives.  The reason is that fewer and fewer New York State students are academically eligible to obtain a Regents diploma, according to Newsday.

It seems that in the major New York State cities too many students end up getting a local diploma or a certificate of completion rather than a Regents diploma which hurts their chances of getting into a 4-year college. Too many of the students cannot pass four or five Regents exams to get a Regents diploma.

At one time the New York State Regents was the gold standard of final exams and over the last twenty years the New York State Education Department has dumbed down the exam and added a curve to the gateway Regents of Algebra 1 and Living Environment.  Now they are considering eliminate them altogether.

Soon the New York State high school diploma will end up to be a worthless piece of paper.

Friday, July 12, 2019

More Speed Cameras Rolling Out, More Money For The City

New York City will start rolling out more speed cameras and will have 720 by June of 2020.  The hours of operation will expand from 6am to 10pm weekdays.  This is an expansion from 7am to 4pm on school days.  This is part of Mayor De Blasio's vision zero policy.

Moreover,  the speed cameras can be placed in a 4 square mile parameter around a school.  This means that the City will maximize those locations where the can catch the most speeders and generate the most money.

While its true it will help school safety, the main purpose is to generate income for the City.  If it was simply a school safety issue, the City would install speed bumps around schools,