Monday, May 20, 2019

Is Chancellor Richard Carranza A Racist?

Susan Edelman of the New York Post writes many insightful articles and is my favorite columnist.  However, I must disagree with her latest article which she seems to side with four White female DOE administrators who are planning to file a lawsuit that Chancellor Richard Carranza is a racist

One must look in the history of the DOE and see that many of the high level administrators were selected during the Bloomberg/Klein era.  These administrators were mostly Black and White, with very few Hispanics and Asians..   When Carmen Farina became Chancellor she failed to "clean house". and kept 80% of the Bloomberg era administrators in place.  This made sense since Carmen Farina was part of the "old gang" as a Deputy Chancellor under Chancellor Joel Klein before being pushed out by Joel Klein in favor of Eric Nadelstern.

For example she kept her close friend and incompetent Superintendent Amiee Horowitz, despite her repeated failures.  She also kept Dorita Gibson as a Deputy Chancellor, despite her sickness and couldn't perform her duties. Carmen Farina was part of the problem and not the solution to cleaning up the DOE.

If I was the Chancellor and decided to clean house, many of the people that I would ask to retire, resign, or be demoted would be the Black and White high level administrators and replace them with a more diverse talent pool.  That means that there would be less Black and White administrators and more Hispanic and Asian administrators.

Chancellor Carranza is not anti-white as the article seems to insinuate but simply a changing of the guard from the Bloomberg era administrators to what the present administration represents.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

DOE Paid 303 Million Dollars To Settle Special Education Lawsuits

The DOE practice of "penny wise and dollar foolish" policies has resulted in the City paying out 303 million dollars to settle Special Education lawsuits.  It appears the DOE practice of  "Education on the cheap" has resulted in a 185% rise in payouts since Bill de Blasio took office back in 2014 and a 8% rise since last year.

According to the Education committee of the City Council 22% of the estimated 250,000 students with an IEP do not receive their required services.  Parents are frustrated with the DOE's inability and or unwillingness to provide the Special Education services required by federal law.  The result was an uptick of lawsuits that the City needed to settle.

I suspect that the DOE's Fair Student Funding is a major contributing factor as principals, subject to tight school budgets, try to save funds by withholding needed services for their Special Education students. Moreover, the high administrative costs for paying for the bloated Central Bureaucracy at the DOE also is a problem.  Finally, the lack of accountability at Tweed immunizes the managers to escape consequences when their decisions hurt the child.

Will anything change?  I highly doubt it.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Hypocracy Of The Chancellor And His First Deputy

Chancellor Richard Carranza has pushed for integrating schools by eliminating the screened and specialized schools, especially for the middle schools.  However, it appears that his First Deputy Chancellor, Cheryl Watson-Harris was able to get her two children into selective middle schools, despite the fact that the admissions window for the two schools had closed.

Acceding to Susan Edelman article, Ms. Watson-Harris children were enrolled late and it appears the DOE has different rules for well-connected people.  Ms. Watson-Harris being a Deputy Chancellor, was able to place her two middle school children into schools that were closed to other parents. A real double standard, common with the DOE.

Unlike most parents, the DOE gave Ms. Harris-Watson a "placement exemption request" for her two middle school children.  It just goes to prove that the Chancellor and his DOE minions have different rules for their administrators and are hypocrites.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The DOE's ATR Incentive Program Is A Joke.

We have a new Chancellor, Richard Carranza and he has claimed he will change the ideology at the DOE.  Presently, he has done little to achieve it.  School based Fair Student Funding (FSF) continues to discriminate against veteran teachers.  Most of the Bloomberg era policymakers at Tweed are still in place, and the ATR situation continues unabated.

The ATR incentive program has been a joke.  It has proven ineffective as few ATRs have achieved permanent positions unless, the ATR is a bilingual special education certification or an ATR is willing to go to the Bronx.

The ATR incentive program allows schools to hire an ATR for a vacancy and not pay the ATR's salary for the first year.  The second year the school only pays half of the ATR's salary and the third year the school pays 75% of the ATR's salary.  However, in the fourth year the school is responsible for the entire ATR salary and if it's a small school the ATR's full salary will mean a significant increase in the school's budget expenses.

Further complicating the problem is if the school hires an ATR for a vacancy provisionally and gets an effective rating.  The school must select the ATR to permanently fill the position, unless the Principal convinces the DOE that there are exceptionally circumstances of why the ATR shouldn't be selected.

Finally, the DOE has offered ATRs $50,000 to either retire or resign since the DOE's FSF and their inadequate incentive program has not reduced the ATR pool as there are still 1,000 ATRs in the pool.

If the DOE wants to significantly reduce the ATR pool then they should go back to the incentive program they had for 2010 where the ATRs hired to fill a school vacancy where only charged to the school as a "newbie teacher".  The school would then then be charged for the ATR's salary as if  the ATR started at step 1-A, then 1-B, 2-A and so on.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Why Doesn't Michael Mulgrew Go After Vindictive School Principals?

Michael Mulgrew took over the UFT Presidency from Randi Weingarten and one of the few changes he did was to stop the UFT from going after vindictive principals.  Under Randi Weingarten, the teacher paer would publish articles on selected principals that need improvement, they were called PINI principals.  Once Micheal Mulgrew took over, those articles disappeared. 

Moreover, when parents, staff, and students picketed school policies, the UFT leadership was nowhere to be found.  Its been ten years since the UFT leadership has participated in a walkout and that was William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens and run by Namia Dwarka, who still continues to run her school despite all the articles written about her, Here, Here, and Here.

Why doesn't UFT President Michael Mulgrew support parents, staff, and students, who protest vindictive principals?  The answer is that he rather keep good relations with the CSA, the union that school principals are part of then the membership that elected him.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Why Is Forest Hills High School Principal, Ben Sherman, Still In Charge?

Despite all the uproar and staff vote of no confidence, Principal Ben Sherman, is still in charge of Forest Hills High School.  He walks the halls, observes teachers, and runs the school as he pleases, despite the bad publicity and calls by parents, staff, and students for his ouster.

Now I hear that his eleven Assistant Principals voted 11-0 of no confidence joining the Forest Hills High School staff in how they feel about Principal Ben Sherman.

Despite the no confidence votes, the DOE continues to keep Ben Sherman in his position as Principal of the high school.  The question is why?

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Queens High Schools Students Should Avoid

The 2md Round of 2019 high school student vacancies are now available and you can see the complete list   What is quite obvious is that the most student vacancies are in schools with a 90% or more Black and Hispanic student population.  Moreover, these high schools are academically struggling and many students are subject to poverty.  In addition, these schools have high ELL and Sp Ed populations as well as having high teacher turnover.  Finally, some high schools refused to show vacancies by claiming they are continuing to recruit students. To check other years from 2015 to 2018 you can find them Here, Here, Here, and Here.

This is the list of Queens High Schools with the most student vacancies in the 2nd round.


Long Island City.......................................505
John Adams.............................................395
Grover Cleveland.....................................350 
August Martin.........................................170
Martin Van Buren....................................165
Humanities And Arts...............................165

William Cullen Bryant..............................145
Mathematics, Science, and Tech..............100
Pathways Collegiate Prep Academy..........95
George Washington Carver......................95
Excelsior Preparatory ............................90
HS of Law Enforcement...........................80
International HS For Health Sciences.......60 
Queens Preparatory Academy.................60  
Rockaway Park.......................................60
Rockaway Collegiate..............................60
Fredrick Douglas Academy VI.................60
Benjamin Franklin.................................50
Richmond Hill........................................50

If you look at the list you can see many of the schools are in Southeast Queens and the now disbanded Renewal Schools.

It needs to be noted that these vacancies are the minimum available since the DOE list stops at 40 vacancies.  Some of these schools might have double or even triple the amount of vacancies listed on the DOE website.

Read my other posts that list the Queens high schools that students avoid 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.. Here, Here,  Here, and Here.

Friday, April 26, 2019

How Many Votes Did Educators 4 Excellence Receive In The UFT Election?

Micheal Loeb, a Bronx teacher and Chapter Leader is a national board member for the education deformer organization, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) ran on the UFT integrity line and received a whopping 25 votes!   That's right, only 25 votes and I guess many of those votes came from his Teach For America dominated Bronx school.

This should prove to most educators that Educators 4 Excellence has no support from the rank and file at the UFT.  Moreover, its time for the UFT leadership to stop acting like E4E is a legitimate caucus and  admit that E4E does not represent the union or our interests.  Finally. E4E is simply a front for education reform organizations and are funded by the likes of Bill Gates and other anti-teacher groups.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Why I Cannot Support Cory Booker For President

Corey Booker is one of two dozen Presidential candidates for the Democratic nomination.  However, based on Mr. Booker,s history, I cannot support him for President and here's why.

Support for Charter Schools:

As Mayor of Newark, Mr. Booker supported charter schools and was the darling of the education reform movement.  He was also anti-teacher and supported merit pay and weakened tenure laws. Remember what Barack Obama did?  Teacher evaluations, support of charter schools, and a champion for Teach For America two year wonders.

Support for the Palestinians:

Cory Booker was seen holding a sign that supports the Palestinian cause.  He also refused to attend the AIPAC convention.  While Mr. Booker is not anti-Israel, it does bring back how Barack  Obama poorly handled US Israel relations.

Do Nothing Senator:

Mr. Booker as Senator has done little of consequence  except support an education reformer agenda.

While one well respected blogger may support Cory Booker as President he might want to remember that when it comes to education, Cory Booker is another Barack Obama and remember how that worked out?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Will Solidarity Become The Dominant Opposition Caucus?

As expected, the Unity caucus swept all the positions as the opposition caucuses could not agree with each other to form a united front.  The biggest loser was MORE, who lost their moderate supporters and 58% of their vote as they moved to the extreme left.  While the biggest winner is Solidarity which is becoming less of a one man show and more of a legitimate opposition.  Retirees made up 46.6% of the total UFT vote.

For Solidarity to evolve into the primary opposition caucus,  they must get better candidates for the mid level positions and to reach out to the retiree community.  Otherwise, Solidarity will continue to spit into the wind when it comes to winning seats in the next election.

The table below are the election numbers for your information.

2019 UFT Election

New Action...1,382

Read the JD2718 blog for a complete breakdown of the votes. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

For Experienced Teachers The Open Market Transfer System Is A Joke

The Open Market Transfer System (OMTS) is now open.  However, if you are a veteran teacher, the OMTS is simply a joke since principals are only looking for cheap and "newbie" teachers.  This is because the DOE inspired Fair Student Funding penalizes principals who hire veteran teachers.

While the DOE and UFT will not admit it, the OMTS is only successfully used by untenured teachers.  Few veteran teachers can use the OMTS to transfer to another school.

Ask any veteran teacher if they were able to transfer to another school, using the OMTS  if they have ten or more years of teaching experience and you will find out that the numbers are few.  Many veteran teachers can't even get a simple interview least a job offer!.

The OTMS is only useful for inexperienced and untenured teachers, experienced teachers need not apply.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How Respected Is Teaching Worldwide?


A survey produced by a think tank found that China has the highest respect for teaching while Brazil has the lowest.  The study was done for 35 countries worldwide and the top five countries that respect teachers are as follows:


By contrast, the lowest five are as follows:


The United States is about in the middle at number 16.

The top three countries, China, Malaysia, and Taiwan show teachers the same respect as doctors wile the lowest five countries treat teachers as social workers, the lowest professional occupation. The United States and most European countries equate teachers with librarians.

As for NYC teachers?  If you ask me, the DOE thinks of teachers as replaceable widgets and probably thinks of them the same way as they treat the mail room employees at Tweed.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio Needs To Revamp DOE's Teacher Hiring Process

Back in 2005, the UFT under President Randi Weingarten negotiated the worst contract in NYC education history by giving up seniority transfer and Civil Service protected bumping rights.  By doing so, it allowed  the DOE to impose school based Fair Student Funding (fsf).  The result was that it incentivized principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school. Consequently, student academic achievement suffered due to the influx of cheap "newbie teachers" who lacked classroom management. curriculum expertise, and the experience to handle different student learning styles.

To fix the problem, the Mayor and Chancellor needs to eliminate school based fsf and restore District-based hiring as it was before fsf.  Moreover, all vacancies must be filled by excessed teachers in their content specialty before "newbies" can be hired.  This will eliminate the 1,000 strong ATR pool that drains the DOE coffers, help reduce class size, and eliminate the need for offering a $50,000 bribe to retire or resign from the DOE.

Until the Mayor and his Chancellor restores the old hiring process,   the DOE will continue to pay 1,000 teachers and other educators to babysit classrooms and that's a shame.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The "Hit Squad"- DOE's Office Of the General Counsel

The Department Of Education (DOE) has a group of lawyers who's only job is to terminate teachers by any means possible.  The lawyers are from the DOE's Office Of Legal Services (OLS), now known as the Office of General Counsel (OGC).  The OGC is divided into four departments, two departments primarily go after teachers .  One is the Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) that prosecutes teacher misconduct and the other is the Teacher Performance Unit (TPU) also known as the "gotcha squad", that prosecutes teacher incompetence.

If you ask DOE management the OGC only goes after teachers that commit serious misconduct or are incompetent.  The truth is far different, the OGC will willingly aid and abet unscrupulous  principals to get rid of veteran teachers by any means possible.   Principals know that if they claim that the teacher either committed misconduct or are incompetent, the OGC will eagerly help the Principal charge the teacher under section 3020-a.  Even if the independent State arbitrator finds the DOE charges to be untrue, the arbitrator will still give the teacher some penalty and this allows the Principal to jettison the teacher into the ATR pool and out of the school.

DOE has two main investigative units, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), who investigate corporal punishment and verbal abuse cases, while the semi-independent Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) investigate sexual and criminal complaints .   Both  OSI and SCI investigators are not fair minded.  Both investigative agency's mission is to substantiate the allegations against the teacher.  Read my corrupt investigations posts Here.

An example is the lunch teacher, a 20 year veteran, that South Bronx Schools is writing about.  The teacher is an elementary school teacher and she was giving an untimed State Common Core test last year.  She noticed that one of the students was struggling and hungry,  the teacher decided since it was lunch time so she told the students to hand in their tests and she collected them and locked them up.   After lunch, she gave the student who hadn't finished the test to complete.

The Principal found out that the teacher stopped the students from completing their tests and took them to lunch  The Principal contacted OGC who accused the teacher of test cheating and failure to follow instructions.  This resulted in 3020-a charges against the teacher.

There was no cheating and at worst, the teacher should have given a counseling memo not a 3020-a charge.  However, with the Bloomberg era ideology that still dominates at the DOE,  veteran teachers are targeted and this is just one case among many.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Long Island Students Continue To "Opt Out"

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) had hoped that by eliminating the time limit and to make the high-stakes tests shorter, more students would take the tests.  However, when it came to Long Island, a hotbed of the "opt out" movement, almost half of the students (45%) refused to take the State English Language Arts test.

On Long Island the demographics continues to show that the mainly White, middle class school districts have the highest "opt out" rates, while the majority poor and minority (Blacks and Latinos) school districts have the lowest "opt out" rates.  Interestingly, the high income and East Asian school districts in Nassau County also has relatively low "opt out" rates.  This is probably because East Asian parents support testing and send their children to after-school academic programs and Saturday school.

The table below shows the top school districts with the highest "opt out" rates.

School District............................"Opt Out"  

Rocky Point...................................79.4%
Shoreham-Wading River................77.0%
East Islip.....................................71.4% 
Eastport-South Manor...................68.8%
Miller Place...................................66.1%

By contrast, here are the school districts with the lowest "opt out" rates.


School District............................"Opt Out"  

East Hampton.................................9.9% 

Other school districts with low "opt out" rates are  Central Islip and Elmont but did not report their numbers.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

There Is No Such Thing As A Good Education For Excellence Member.

Another UFT election is approaching and the pseudo-education group called Educators For Excellence (E4E) has, once again, decided not to run a slate of mandates, fearing how little support they would receive.

For people unfamiliar with E4E, this is a so called teacher education group that is simply a front for education deformers.  E4E gets their funding from Bill Gates, and other anti-teacher union education reform organizations who's only purpose is to destroy teacher unions and make teaching a temporary position.

New York City has between 50 and 100 E4E members and less who are full time members.  One of the reasons that E4E does not field candidates is they know how unpopular their organization is and would be embarrassed by their potentially low vote totals.  Apparently, there is one exception to  E4E's failure to  join the UFT election.  His name is Michael Loeb, a Chapter Leader in one of those E4E schools in the Bronx that are dominated by Teach For America "newbies".  Mr. Loeb  a national board member of E4E is running under the UFT Inspire heading and I will be interested on how many votes he receives.

While one blogger may be impressed by Mr, Loeb's tone.  I'm not, and let me remind people of what Mr. Loeb and E4E stands for:
  • Supports anti-teachers union organizations.
  • Supports the firing of all ATR after two hiring seasons in a school year.
  • Supports converting our pensions to a less reliable contribution fund..
  • Supported Michael Bloomberg's elimination of  "Last in, first out".
  • Supports merit pay.
  • Supports Fair Student Funding that discriminates against veteran teachers.
  • Supports "mutual consent" that gives principals sole power to hire teachers.

E4E is a cancer in the UFT body and nothing about the organization's white paper on the UFT's 2014 contract changes my opinion.  For more information about E4E read them Here and Here.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Under Chancellor Carranza The DOE Double Standard Continues

Teachers were hoping that Chancellor Richard Carranza would eliminate the "double standard", when disciplining principals.  After a couple Principal dismissals that reached the newspapers, the Chancellor has continues the DOE's long standing double standard. Just ask the Forest Hills High School staff who see Principal Ben Sherman day after day, walking the halls and Namia Dwarka who still in charge at Bryant High School.,

In today's New York Post, we see another example of the DOE's double standard when it comes to principals.  In this case it's a male Assistant Principal who experienced alleged sexual harassment by his female Principal, Ana Zambrano-Burakov at Arts and Business High School in Queens.

 According to the Assistant Principal, he was subject to unwanted and inappropriate touching, hugging, and forced kisses by the Principal.  Furthermore, the Assistant Principal claimed that when he filed a complaint  with the DOE back in 2015, the Principal retaliated by getting SCI involved and they found that the Assistant Principal had traveled overseas (Nicaragua?) while on legitimate  sick leave.  Consequently, the DOE filed 3020-a charges for theft of services but the independent arbitrator give the Assistant Principal a slap on the wrist, with a $1,000 fine that tells me that his reason to go overseas was probably medically related and is now an ATR Assistant Principal.

What happened to the Principal?  Nothing, nothing at all and she is still the Principal at the school.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

My Vote In The UFT Election

In the UFT election I voted for the person and not the caucus and that meant that I spent an hour  picking and choosing.  Here are my selections for the power positions on the ballot.

President:  Lydia Howrilka of the Solidarity Caucus

Lydia Howrilka  is a tireless worker and has made the Solidarity caucus relevant and no longer a one man show.  She was rubber roomed because she stood up for her rights and was discontinued before winning in Court and received a new position at another school.

By contrast, present UFT President Micheal Mulgrew is disconnected and arrogant.  He rather suck up to the Mayor and the Chancellor than give his members an adequate raise. The MORE candidate does not reflect UFT membership with MORE turning sharply left with it's Socialist/Communist social justice philosophy.

Executive Board: Arthur Goldstein and Micheal Shirtzer UNITY caucus and Johnathan Halabi New Action caucus. All three have demonstrated their ability to effectively advocate for the members and I'm proud to call them friends.

Secretary: Francesco Portelos Solidarity caucus.

Treasurer: James Calantjis Solidarity caucus.

I also voted for Janella Hinds  of UNITY for High School Academic Vice President and Michael Sill of UNITY for Assistant Secretary.  In addition, I voted for Jay Werner of Solidarity for Assistant Treasurer and Jia Lee of MORE for the Special Education position.

Obviously, for the useless and patronage delegate positions, I only selected the candidates I knew.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Should You Annuitize Your TDA?

One of the options teachers have is to annuitize the TDA when you retire.  There are two ways to annuitize.  The first, is to give it to an insurance company, which under current yields, give you approximately 6% for a 65 year old but be prepared to pay State and City taxes on the annuity.  The second,  is to leave the money with TRS which can give you an annuity, based on your retirement age and with no State and City taxes to pay.  The following annuity interest rate by TRS is as follows:

Age.......................Interest Rate


The difference between a private annuity of 6% and the TRS annuity of 10.42% for a 65 year old educator shows that the difference is due to the profit the private annuity charges while TRS does not charge for the annuity.

Most retirees do not annuitize but put the bulk of their TDA in the Fixed Income option that gives a guaranteed 7% annually.  By not annuirizing the TDA, the educator retains control of their money while annuitizing the TDA means the educator loses control of their savings and once the educator dies, their is no money available to their beneficiaries except for that money that remained from the educator's contributions, minus the money already paid out in the annuity.

Should you annuitize your TDA contributions when you retire?   That decision is up to the educator.  If you choose the annuity option then keep it in the TDA where you will get more for your money as long as you live a long life since when you die, so does the annuity.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Real Reason Black And Latino Students Have Low acceptance Rates For The Specialized High Schools

Black and Latino students only had a 10.6% acceptance rate for the specialized high schools.  The question is why so low?  According to Susan Edelman's article, education experts cited three reasons.

  1. The reduction and elimination of gifted and talented programs in minority neighborhoods.
  2. The influx of East Asian immigrants who emphasized education.
  3. The introduction of test preparation courses.
Add to the above three reasons was the elimination of academic tracking that allowed high achieving students to benefit being in with other high achieving students, be it the gifted and talented classes in elementary school and Special Program classes in middle school.. These students were given advanced academic instruction and more academically difficult work to challenge their ability.

In the eighties, student advocates pressured the Board of Education to eliminate academic tracking and the result was that potentially high achieving students in poor minority schools no longer were given advanced academic courses since schools needed to pass as many students as possible and dumbed down the curriculum in both elementary and middle schools to achieve that passing rate.  This resulted in that poor, academically proficient Black and Latino students were at a disadvantage when it came to competing with manly middle class White and Asian schools.

Add to the disadvantage that poor Black and Latino students had due to the elimination of academic tracking, was the overall poor academic performance of their schools,  when compared to the middle class Asian and White schools in the better neighborhood where more academic challenging coursework were offered.  Then there was the test preparation courses that were offered and costs a thousand dollars or more that was not affordable to poor families.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza want to integrate the specialized schools, using the Texas model. (top ten students of each middle school are automatically accepted), not all middle schools are the same.  Adding more Black and Latino students will result in less Asian and White students who are academically superior to those accepted and that's not fair either.

My solution would be to bring back academic tracking by having all elementary and middle schools to have gifted and talented and special programs that have academically challenging coursework that will increase Black and Latino acceptance rates in the specialized schools.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Inexperienced Teachers Are Correlated With Low Student Academic Achievement

It's no secret that the New York City Public School's hiring process incentivizes principals to hire cheap and inexperienced teachers under the discriminatory Fair Student Funding (fsf) program. Despite various studies that show that the more experience a teacher has, the better students perform academically.  Unfortunately,  the DOE ignores these studies and rather shortchange schools of funding (89% of fsf) and resources and push  to "HIRE THE CHEAPEST AND NOT THE BEST TEACHERS FOR THEIR SCHOOL".

A study by the Learning Policy Institute found that the more experience a teacher had the better academically the students did. In fact, the study found the following:

 Based on our review of 30 studies published within the last 15 years that analyze the effect of teaching experience on student outcomes in the United States and met our methodological criteria, we find that:

1. Teaching experience is positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career. Gains in teacher effectiveness associated with experience are most steep in teachers’ initial years, but continue to be significant as teachers reach the second, and often third, decades of their careers.

 2. As teachers gain experience, their students not only learn more, as measured by standardized tests, they are also more likely to do better on other measures of success, such as school attendance.

 3. Teachers’ effectiveness increases at a greater rate when they teach in a supportive and collegial working environment, and when they accumulate experience in the same grade level, subject, or district.

 4. More experienced teachers support greater student learning for their colleagues and the school as a whole, as well as for their own students.

Too bad, the DOE doesn't understand how important experienced teachers are to student academic achievement as they implement policies that encouraged the hiring of cheap "newbie" teachers.  The DOE give principals sole discretion in teacher hiring, while imposing severe financial limitations (fsf) is a colossal mistake and will only result in wide academic achievement gaps between different cohorts.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

No Bullying At Hillcrest High School - Yeah Right

Hillcrest High School is notorious for not reporting incidents and even received an award for being a "safe school".  Once again, Hillcrest High School has made the newspapers by not reporting one single incident of bullying, even when 18% of the student body admitted they were bullied by fellow classmates.

Hillcrest High School is not alone, 669 other schools joined them by not reporting any bullying incidents.  That is more than a third of the 1,600 schools in the NYC Public School System.

Hillcrest High School has been in the newspapers before.  One was an Assistant Principal who allegedly bedded female teachers in exchange for professional perks.  Another was the Principal who let students pass online courses without a teacher. Then there was the case of the "Vampire Girl", which was never reported since the Principal claimed it didn't happen in the building.

Hillcrest High School is only one of many schools that fail to report not only bullying incidents but other  other forms of violence and misbehavior as principals do not want their schools labeled as a problem school.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) Supports NYC Public Schools

We all know that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is a dedicated Democrat Socialist and I have little in common with fringe left and tea party politicians, be it AOC or Ted Cruz of Texas.  However, there is one place that I agree with AOC and that is public education.

Despite the misleading New York Post headline, AOC is a strong supporter of public education. According to the article, AOC talked about improving NYC public schools.  “This issue is structural and it is systemic which means we need a solution just like with the Green New Deal, we need a solution on the scale of the problem", said the lawmaker.

She recalled her own experience with the NYC public school  in the Bronx which she was a dual language student and was falsely labeled as needing special education services until she was tested out of the program.  AOC's family moved to Westchester for a better education and only moved back into Jackson Heights, Queens after completing college.

Interestingly, AOC could never have been recruited to the charter schools since they refuse to take Special Education and English Language Learners and AOC knows that  While I oppose most every policy AOC supports, we are in agreement when it comes to public education.

Friday, March 15, 2019

NYC Public School Student Climate Change Walkout Were Mostly White Elites

I was watching both Channel 2 (CBS) and Channel 7 (ABC) and noticed that the vast majority of students who were protesting climate change were White.  Few minority students can be seen at the student protest. Moreover, many of the students identified themselves as coming from the specialized high schools and some of the more selective screened high schools in the City.

Interestingly, the schools who had their students attend the climate change protest made sure that the students reported to school first and only were allowed to leave after attendance was taken in the third period.  Therefore, the schools get full credit for funding for the day.

The NYC Public School system that is only 15% White, based on the pictures and the two television stations, the student protest was primarily consisted of White students from the Specialized and screened high schools.  The bottom line is that the protest consisted of the White elites and are not representative of the student body of the NYC public school system.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Inconvenient Truth On Why The Renewal School Program Was A Failure

The Renewal Schools program will be discontinued at the end of the school year due to their failure to achieve meaningful student academic improvement.  The question is why did the Renewal Schools fail to significantly improve student academic achievement despite throwing money and additional resources at those schools?  To me, the answer is simple, the additional money and resources did not go into the classroom but ended up with the hiring of additional administrators, consultants, and questionable professional development programs.

I believe that these are the causes for the Renewal School program's failure to improve student academic achievement.
  • Large Class Sizes:  Despite various studies that show lower class sizes are strongly correlated to improve academic achievement, most Renewal Schools had class sizes that were at contractual limits. 

  • High Teacher Turnover:  Renewal Schools suffer from a higher teacher turnover than the rest of the NYC school system.  This results in an unstable school environment and lower student academic achievement.
  • Hiring of inexperienced teachers:  The Renewal Schools were still subject to the DOE's misguided "fair student funding" and hired only untenured or "newbie" teachers to stretch their budget.  In fact then Chancellor Carmen Farina prohibited Renewal Schools to hire ATRs, many of them veteran quality teachers.  Talking about cutting off their nose to spite their face!
  • Renewal School's Poor Reputation:  It didn't take long for middle school parents to make sure that their academically achieving students did not include Renewal Schools on their list of high schools to attend.  The result was the Renewal high schools were a "dumping ground" for academically struggling students that nobody else wanted.
  •  No Neighborhood Input:  Since the Renewal Schools were subject to citywide open admissions and many of their student body came from other neighborhoods, local input was lacking, both because of neighborhood disinterest and the failure of school administrators to reach out to the community.
  •  Poor Leadership:  Schools with strong leadership is a must for schools to improve.  Unfortunately, many, if not all, schools had weak or incompetent leadership.  That includes the Principal and the conflicting and confusing administrative directives from above.  Moreover, many of the administrators were failed principals who found themselves in a position to guide the Renewal Schools principals on how to best run their schools.  What a waste of money and resources. For example having Amiee Horowitz put in charge of the program.
  • Cellphones In The Renewal Schools:  The use of cellphones in the Renewal Schools serve as a distraction and hurts student academic achievement.
To truly improve the academically struggling schools, eliminate  citywide open enrollment, by bringing back neighborhood schools and give the community a say in the running of the school,  significantly reduce class sizes, and hire more veteran teachers by allowing academically struggling schools a waiver from Fair Student Funding.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Student Discipline Is Out Of Control In NYC Schools

The Blasio administration crowed that suspensions were down 50% and restorative justice programs were a success.  The truth is that if you ask the teachers, their school student discipline is out of control and that principals cannot suspend a student without the DOE's approval.  Moreover, the restorative justice programs are a joke as the misbehaving students quickly realize that there is little consequence for their misbehavior.  Finally, the allowing of cellphones bring chaos and distractions to the classroom.  Even the usually clueless UFT President Michael Mulgrew agreed that student discipline in NYC schools are out of control.

When I first started teaching a student that curses at a teacher would be suspended.  A student threatened a teacher would be arrested, and a student who was insubordinate to a teacher would get after school suspension.  Now all three student actions result in no consequences.  Combine that with the DOE's "blame the teacher for everything" mindset and the poor quality of administrators, especially the Leadership Academy principals, and the result is a chaotic school environment.

Just read these articles Here and Here. and this teacher won a "substantial settlement" from the DOE because of misbehaving students and incompetent school administrators Here.

You can read some of my previous posts dealing with student discipline Here, Here and Here.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

NYC Reaches Its Charter School Cap

The remaining seven openings for charter schools in New York City has been tentatively filled by the SUNY's Board Of Trustees.  This means that, unless an existing charter school closes down, no new charter schools can be located in New York City.

With both the Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly Democrat, raising the charter school cap in New York City is out of the question and the existing 99 open slots for charters in New York State are not eligible to be located in New York City..   Even if Governor Andrew Cuomo supports raising the charter school cap, he will not get the State Legislature to agree to it..

Rather than rehash why charter schools are not the best environment for student academic achievement, just read my previous posts Here, Here, Here, and Here.

You can read all of my charter school posts Here.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Why Defined Pensions Are Great For Teachers.

One of the great benefits in being a teacher in New York State is the defined pension benefit we have.  For the 40% of state teachers that are vested for a pension, the pension benefit averages about $41,703 annually, that is 54% of the teachers final three year salary, not including Social Security and other retirement plans like a 403b program.  In other words, most New York State teachers can expect to enjoy a well funded retirement.

The defined benefit pension plan is mostly funded by the State's School Districts.  For most Tier IV employees, the vast majority of recent retirees, the employee only pays a 3% contribution for the first ten years and nothing thereafter.  That means the School Districts pay the lion's share to fund the pension.

The table below shows how much the School Districts are required to pay to adequately fund the teacher pension system.

Year.........School District Contribution


The estimated School District contribution is expected to be 8.86% for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The NYC teacher pension plan is separate from the New York State Teachers pension plan but have similar employer contribution percentages.  For the 2018-19 fiscal year its 11.11%.

 As the existing Tier IV teachers retire and are replaced by Tier VI teachers, who are less likely to be vested or reach full retirement age, the next decade should see lower School District pension percentages needed to cover the cost as these Tier Vi teachers will be paying from 3.5% to 6% in employee contributions to their pensions.

I suspect by the next decade, new teachers will be under a defined contribution plan, where the School Districts will no longer need to worry about legacy costs as teachers will be required to self fund their pension going forward.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Michael Bloomberg's Real Education Legacy

When Michael Bloomberg was Mayor of New York City, he wanted to be known as the "education Mayor". However, the truth is that Mayor Bloomberg used "smoke and mirrors" to artificially raise the bogus graduation rate while student achievement hardly budged.  He also claimed that his polices narrowed the racial/income student achievement gap, which turned out to be fiction and caused Chancellor Joel Klein to resign when the State admitted that their tests were too easy to pass and adjusted the passing rate to better reflect reality.

If you want to read Michael Bloomberg's education legacy then read my posts Here, Here, Here, and Here.  Here is what Chalkbeat says about Michael Bloomberg and while I don't agree with them on his alleged accomplishments, it makes for informative reading.

Under Mayor Bloomberg, class sizes increased, large comprehensive high schools closed, and charter schools were favored over the neighborhood public schools, who were starved for funds.  He was the education reformers shinning star while hurting public school students.

Many of the existing problems came from Michael Bloomberg's policy for the City schools.  Like the ATR crisis. the closing of most of the large comprehensive highs school, the exclusion of parents from the process, and the implementation of fair student funding that encouraged principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school. His legacy is still in force as many at Tweed are Bloomberg holdovers and the policies that made the DOE the enemy of the classroom teacher is still evident.

Michael Bloomberg's education legacy can be summed up in three words "children last...always".

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Renewal Schools Program - Rest In Peace.

Mayor Bill de Blasio finally threw in the towel and is terminating the costly and academically questionable school renewal program at the end of the school year.

The Renewal program cost the City $770 million dollars and despite the additional funding, 24% of the 94 schools were forced to close due to continued poor academic performance.  Only 22% of the schools improved enough to escape the Renewal program, while the remaining 54% of the schools did not improve enough to leave the Renewal designation.

Worse, that any school that was designated as a Renewal School was marked as poorly performing and many parents refused to send their academically proficient child to those schools.  Moreover, the Renewal High Schools lost more and more students over the last four years as few middle school students would apply to them due to the stigma associated with them.  Finally, the Renewal Schools suffer from high teacher turnover, large class sizes,  and has an inexperienced staff, not a good situation for academically struggling students.

In addition, the Renewal Schools had poor leadership and an an over abundance of administrators with conflicting and overlapping directives that only confused and dispirited the school staff.  Further,  many of these administrators were removed from their previous school for misconduct or incompetence.

These are some of my past posts on the problems associated with the Renewal Schools.  Here, Here, Here, and Here.  To read all my posts on the Renewal Schools, this is the link on Turnaround Schools.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Problems At Forest Hills High School Makes The Newspapers While The DOE Expresses Little Concern

The problems at Forest Hills High School has reached the newspapers as the New York Post and the Queens Chronicle have articles dealing with the problems at the high school.

Add this to the articles written by the local education blogs and the question is will Chancellor Richard Carranza take action?  I will not be holding my breath waiting for the DOE to make positive changes since it's dominated by Bloomberg era policymakers. 

 One can only hope that removing Superintendent Juan Mendez and Leadership Academy Principal Ben Sherman  would be a start.  However, based upon previous history and the Bloomberg era ideology that permeates through Tweed,  I am not optimistic for that happening unless Chancellor Richard Carranza "cleans house at Tweed".  Here is what the Mayor said about the weed smoking at the school.

  Read NYC Educator's blog on his view of what's going on at Forest Hills High School.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Will The New Contract Stop Oversized Classes? I Hope So

One of the potential improvements of the new contract is the elimination of oversized classes in a timely period.  The new UFT contract requires that oversized classrooms must be quickly arbitrated.

Previously, schools could apply for exemptions for class sizes, which ranged from 16 for pre- kindergarten to 34 in high schools.  When the union did push for arbitration, the arbitration could take months to be scheduled and very little was accomplished. See the frustration NYC Educator had in his school.

Under the new contract the union can take the DOE to an arbitrator immediately.  If the arbitrator sides with the union, the decision is binding,.  The overcrowded class must be lowered to contractual limits within 5 days. First, any oversized class will be submitted to the Superintendent to resolve, if that fails, then there will be immediate arbitration to address the overcrowded classroom.  No longer can the DOE delay until the issue becomes irrelevant.

It looks like the union contract adequately handles the oversized classroom issue.  However, let's see if the DOE actually abides by it and if not, what will the UFT do about it?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

91% Of The Staff At Forest Hills High School Votes No Confidence Of Principal Ben Sherman

Can A terrible Principal destroy a great school?  Just ask the faculty at Forest Hills High School and they will tell you yes.  91% of the facility gave Principal Ben Sherman a no confidence vote in a poll conducted recently.  His failure to collaborate with staff, make questionable decisions detrimental to students and staff alike, and goes after teachers with a passion reserved only for the worst principals in Queens..

Principal Ben Sherman has a history of problems with school staff before he was given the Principal job at Forest Hills High School.  He was already despised by school staff in his previous school, East-West International .  You can read it on the ICEUFT blog Here.  You can also see that Principal Ben Sherman had one of the lowest teacher trust factor when it came to Queens high schools during the 2015-16 school year at East-West Here.

Ben Sherman, despite his problems with the staff at East-West, was promoted by Superintendent Juan Mendez who  always seem to select and protect the worst Principals in the Queens high schools.  Just read my posts Here and Here and who can forget this?

Now Principal Ben Sherman has made life miserable for the staff at Forest Hills High School and once again has one of the lowest trust factors in all of Queens high schools.  You can see my list Here. His teacher trust factor is lower than the infamous Judy Henry and Namita Dwarka.

Will Chancellor Carranza remove Ben Sherman?  Probably not unless the Forest Hills faculty can get Susan Edelman to published a New York Post article about the Forest Hills High School fiasco.

NYC Educator, Ed Notes online and the ICEUFT blog have also written about the Forest Hills fiasco..

Monday, February 18, 2019

What You Should Know About Claiming Social Security Benefits

Claiming your Social Security payments is a retirement milestone. But not everyone receives their Social Security check on the same date. Benefits are paid out on Wednesdays, and those with a date of birth early in the month receive Social Security payments before those who were born later in the month. Understanding the timing of your Social Security direct deposits can help you manage your retirement finances. Here is a breakdown of when to expect Social Security checks, how benefits are paid and guidelines about when to apply.

How do you apply for Social Security?

You can apply for Social Security online at, by calling 1-800-772-1213 or in person at your local Social Security office. You must be at least 61 years and 9 months old to submit an application for retirement or spousal benefits, and payments can start as early as age 62. Your age when you enroll plays a big role in determining your payment amount, so take care to see how much you will receive at various claiming ages.

How much Social Security will I get?

 You can get a personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefit by creating a My Social Security account at and viewing your Social Security statement. Your statement lists how much you are likely to receive in retirement if you continue working at your current salary until your full retirement age, age 62 and age 70. "If you look at your Social Security statement today, your estimated benefit is based on your previous year's income," says Ross Menke, a certified financial planner and founder of Lyndale Financial in Nashville, Tennessee. "If you do stop working earlier, that will have an impact on what you would be eligible to receive as a Social Security benefit." The statement also lists how much you will qualify for if you become disabled and what family members might receive if you pass away. Social Security statements are mailed to workers age 60 and older who don't have a My Social Security account.
What is the Social Security tax limit?

 Most workers pay 6.2 percent of their earnings into the Social Security system and employers match this amount. Self-employed workers contribute 12.4 percent of their paychecks. However, earnings that exceed $128,400 in 2018 are not taxed by Social Security or used to calculate retirement payments. Workers who earn more than $128,400 will see a bump in their paycheck when Social Security taxes stop being withheld.
Your Social Security payments might also be taxed in retirement. If the sum of your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefit exceeds $25,000 ($32,000 for couples), federal income tax could be due on part of your Social Security benefit. If these income sources exceed $34,000 ($44,000 for couples), up to 85 percent of your Social Security payments may be taxable. There are also several states that tax Social Security benefits.
What is the Social Security wage limit?

 You can work and collect Social Security benefits at the same time. However, if you are younger than your full retirement age, part or all of your Social Security payments could be temporarily withheld. Social Security beneficiaries who are younger than their full retirement age can earn up to $17,040 in 2018 before they will lose one benefit dollar for each $2 earned above the limit. The earnings limit jumps to $45,360 for those who turn their full retirement age in 2018, and the penalty decreases to one dollar withheld for every $3 earned above the limit. However, once you turn your full retirement age your benefit will be recalculated to give you credit for your withheld benefit and continued earnings. You can earn any amount without being subject to Social Security withholding after you turn your full retirement age.
What is the average Social Security benefit?

 Social Security payments to retired workers averaged $1,410 per month in March 2018. The average spousal payment is about half that amount, or $735. Widows and widowers receive survivor's payments worth an average of $1,342 monthly.
What is the maximum Social Security benefit?

The maximum possible Social Security benefit changes depending on the age you retire. A worker who retires at full retirement age in 2018 could be eligible for up to $2,788 per month. The maximum benefit at age 62 drops to $2,158, while someone who delays retirement until age 70 in 2018 could get as much as $3,698 monthly. In order to qualify for these large payments you need to maintain a high income throughout a career of 35 years or more. "Those who receive the maximum benefit possible are those who've earned at or above the highest taxable wage base all of the years that are used in the benefit calculation," says William Meyer, founder and managing principal of Social Security Solutions, a company that analyzes Social Security claiming strategies. "That person would have exceeded the maximum taxable earnings in each of the highest 35 years."
How do I get a new Social Security card?

Many U.S. citizens with a driver's license or state-issued identification card can use their My Social Security account to apply for a replacement Social Security card online. You can also fill out a paper application and mail it in or take it to your local Social Security office.
How do I qualify for Social Security disability? 

 If you have a medical condition that significantly limits your ability to work and perform basic activities such as walking or remembering, you might qualify for Social Security disability payments. Be prepared to provide medical records documenting your condition and why it prevents you from working. Social Security disability payments won't start until six months after your disability began. There's also a several month wait time to process disability applications.
When will I receive my Social Security check?

Social Security beneficiaries are required to sign up for electronic payments. Social Security benefits can be directly deposited into a bank or credit union account or loaded onto a prepaid debit card. The payment dates vary based on your date of birth. If your birthday falls on or before the tenth of the month, you will receive your payment on the second Wednesday of each month. Those born between the 11th and 20th get their payments on the third Wednesday, and people born late in the month get their direct deposits on the fourth Wednesday.

When Social Security Is Paid

Social Security checks are normally paid on the second, third and fourth Wednesdays of each month. “The exact arrival date for Social Security checks depends on the recipient’s day of birth,” says William Lipovsky, CEO of First Quarter Finance in Lincoln, Nebraska.
If you were born:
  • On the 1st through the 10th: Expect a check to be paid on the second Wednesday of the month.
  • On the 11th through the 20th: Expect a check to be paid on the third Wednesday of the month.
  • On the 21st through the 31st: Expect a check to be paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
There is a slight change for holidays. “If the payment date falls on a public holiday, the payment will instead be made on the Tuesday just before the originally scheduled date,” Lipovsky says. You can view the schedule for payments during 2019 at

How Social Security Checks Are Paid

Beginning on March 1, 2013, Social Security checks are no longer mailed. You can receive your payment through two ways:
Direct deposit. You can choose to have the Social Security check deposited directly into your bank or credit union account.
Direct Express debit card. You can have the Social Security check loaded onto a debit card through the Direct Express card program. You don’t need a bank account for this setup. The card works for making purchases, paying bills or getting cash. However, there may be fees associated with some transactions.

What Time Frame the Amount Covers

Social Security benefits are sent out the month after they are due. “Social Security checks are paid in arrears, so any check received is for the month prior,” says Adam Beaty, a financial planner at Bullogic Wealth Management in Pearland, Texas. For example, your July payment is distributed in August.
Once you start receiving benefits, you might notice that at the beginning of the year your payment amount is different. The Social Security Administration adjusts payments each year to keep pace with inflation. As prices in the U.S. fluctuate, the benefits you receive could change to help cover the rising costs. The annual cost-of-living adjustment is calculated each October and paid out beginning in January.

When Social Security Payments Will Start

Some of the decision regarding when to start Social Security payments is up to you, but your payments could change depending on the age you sign up. “Currently, the earliest you can start taking Social Security retirement benefits is at age 62,” says Logan Allec, a certified public accountant and founder of Money Done Right in Santa Clarita, California. However, if you choose to start payments at age 62, you will receive a reduced benefit.
To receive your full benefit, you’ll need to wait until you reach full retirement age. Your full retirement age depends on when you were born. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, for instance, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67.
Whether you should take Social Security benefits early will depend on your situation. If you need to stop working earlier than your full retirement age due to health reasons, you might decide to start taking Social Security to help cover your bills. However, if you have a large amount set aside for retirement, you could choose to draw from those funds and wait until your full retirement age or up until age 70 to start Social Security payments. “This is why it’s essential that you budget for different scenarios,” Allec says. You can sit down with a financial advisor to look at your current plan and create backup strategies.

How to Start Your Benefit

To begin receiving Social Security, you’ll need to fill out an application. You can apply for Social Security online at or make an appointment at your local Social Security office. To avoid any surprises, it’s best to start this process early. “Don’t do it at the last minute,” says Tim Sullivan, a national Social Security advisor and owner of Strategic Wealth Advisors Group in Shelby Township, Michigan. You might begin the process three or four months before you want to start receiving checks. This will give you enough time to make sure you have all the right forms and aren’t missing out on any potential benefits.

Don’t Overlook Taxes

Depending on your financial situation, you may have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefit in retirement. “Many soon-to-be retirees assume that Social Security benefits are not taxable since, after all, they already paid taxes on the income they contributed to Social Security over their working years,” Allec says. “Unfortunately, that is not how the system works, and the method for determining the taxability of your Social Security benefits is not so simple.” Retirees who owe taxes on their Social Security benefit need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS or have federal taxes withheld from their payments.
If you plan to continue working in retirement or aren’t sure how taxes will work, it might be helpful to sit down with a Social Security advisor before retiring. You can go over your expected taxable income during the coming years, and then determine the right time to start taking Social Security payments in retirement. Research the Social Security process now to avoid any surprises in retirement.