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 gwt 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 ! 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,

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Carranza Hypocrites

Chancellor Richard Carranza's prime objective is to integrate schools, by any means possible.  However, the Chancellor's integration policy seems not to apply to his top level cronies.  According to columnist, Susan Edelmen, of the New York Post, two of his cronies, Deputy Chancellor, Cheryl Watson-Harris and Executive Superintendent Meisha Ross-Porter got DOE zoned waivers from their majority Black and Hispanic schools to a more Asian and White schools outside their zone.

Deputy Chancellor Cheryl Watson-Harri's younger child was zoned for PS 170 an elementary school; that largely serves immigrant children. Its 1,000-student body is 24 percent white and 58 percent Asian, with 32 percent of students learning English. In contrast, PS 185’s 650-student body is 68 percent white — the kind of school Carranza would blast as “segregated.” Only 7 percent are English language learners.

Moreover, Deputy Chancellor's  Watson-Harris' older child was given an exemption to get in the highly selective IS 187 schools which is  91% Asian and White, despite not going through an academic screening committee like everyone else

Supervising Superintendent, Meisha Ross-Porter who took in a friend's child, using her connections she, Instead of enrolling the child in her zoned Mott Hall Community School — which is 90 percent Hispanic and black and 8 percent white — Porter requested a seat at MS X101, which offers advanced classes for gifted kids. Its student body is 67 percent Hispanic and black and 15 percent white.

What a bunch of hypocrites!

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Comparing An Apple To An Orange

District 9 of the Bronx, a high poverty and minority neighborhood, saw over 50% of the students fail the Algebra I Regents.  Moreover, only 2% reached the top tier scores   By contrast  Success Academy 2 in the Bronx had a 100% pissing rate and all were in the top tier.  However, on further inspection its like comparing apples to oranges.

If you read only the New York Post you would think that the above paragraph is all there is,  Sure, District 9 has academically struggling schools but that's due to high percentages of Special Education, English Language Learners, homeless, and family dysfunction, both financially and the lack of a two parent household.  By contrast, Success Academy 2 of the Bronx have few Special Education students or English Language Learners, and homeless students.  Furthermore, the family situation is much more stable than in District 9.

A closer look at Success Academy 2 of the Bronx show what the New York Post failed to include.  the 30% of students who dropped out (pushed out?)  of the school since 6th grade when there were 72 students.  That left only 53 students to take the Algebra 1 test.  I strongly suggest that you read Gary Rubenstein's blog who did a deep study of the data and showed how poorly Success Academy students did on the Geometry and Algebra II Regents..

Monday, July 01, 2019

Schools Still Practicing Academic Fraud

I have been posting about academic fraud for years, you can read them Here.  Now the esteemed columnist, Susan Edelman of the New York Post, wrote an eye opening article about the grade inflation tha goes on in most of the New York City public schools.

As a high school teacher, I used to get many of these middle school students who could not do simple Math and had no clue what commonly used words meant.  Even worse, because these students were academically unable to do high school course work, they would act up and become discipline problems.

Of course the Department Of Education (DOE) would blame the high schools and the teaching staff for their failure to improve student academic achievement when these students do not have the academic tools to succeed in yhe first place.

Teachers have often complained that school administrators pressure teachers to pass undeserving students and the DOE supports school administrators in artificially inflate grades and passing rates. In the high schools many poorly performing schools require teachers to have a "scholarship requirement" that forces the teacher to pass up to 85% of their students.

Unfortunately,  if the teacher is not tenured, the teacher will not go against the administrator and pass the students, despite their academic failure.  Let the next teacher or school deal with the low performing student.

Despite a new Chancellor who is attempting to "clean house", the DOE mentality is to still punish schools who have low graduation rates. Therefore, principals are encouraged to pass and graduate students despite their academic shortcomings.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

New York City Cannot Retain Teachers

City Controller Scott Stringer held a press conference that criticized the Department of Education for the low teacher retention rates in the New York City schools.  According to Mr. Stringer 40% of all new teachers  leave the New York City public schools within five years.

The Bronx had the lowest teacher retention rates with 21.5%  leaving within a year in the 2017-18 school year..   he worst retention rate was District 12 in the Bronx with 26% of the teachers leaving after one year.

According to Scott Stringer, the problem is the DOE failed to provide appropriate support to new teachers.  He believes that a teacher's first year should be a residency program while having a veteran teacher mentoring the teacher before being permanently hired the next year.

While I agree with Scott Stringer, it will still  not solve the teacher retention problem and unless you improve the quality of school administrators, solve the many student discipline issues, and improve the classroom environment by respecting teachers, the retention problem will remain..

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mayor Bill De Blasio Retains Too Many Bloomberg Policies For Our Schools

When Bill de Blasio ran for Mayor he claimed he was to fully fund the public schools and reduce class sizes.  He also pledged to "clean house" of the Bloomberg ideology at the DOE and reduce the administrative bloat at Tweed.  Instead, he appointed a Tweed insider, Carmen Farina, as Chancellor and she retained 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers and failed to reduce the administrative bloat, especially lawyers..

The Mayor and Chancellor failed to fully fund the public schools, giving them only 90% of their fair funding, despite a 6 billion dollar surplus..  Further, the Mayor and Chancellor has repeatedly refuse to reduce class sizes, despite a CFE court case that allocated State money to do that.  Finally, the Chancellor continued the tricks that reduced the need for more teachers by reducing class time and limiting classes to three days for physical education, art, and music.and reduces Science from six classes to five.

The ATR pool still exists with a thousand ATRs rotating from school to school.  The discrimination against senior teachers continues, and the school based fair student funding which penalizes principals who hire veteran teachers and financially incentives principals who hire inexpensive "newbie" teachers.

Now Bill de Blasio has hired an outsider as Chancellor and while the new Chancellor is starting to clean house at the DOE .  However, the Chancellor's racial policies are very disturbing and are inappropriate.  The well respected.   Ed the Apple blog gave the Chancellor a APPR ratting of developing and to me, that's being kind.  Unfortunately,, Chancellor Carranza has not tackled the problems identified above.  Instead he is selecting people with questionable or no credentials to run the DOE, while not changing the policies that are damaging the NYC public school classroom.

Friday, June 21, 2019

District 28 In Queens Tries Integrating Their Schools

I read the article in Chalkbeat that District 28 in Queens is going to try to integrate their schools. While the policy of integration is a worthwhile goal, I believe that the unanticipated consequences will lead to the middle and upper middle class parents taking their children out of the public school system or send their children to relatives who live in the adjoining District 25 or 26 schools.

While District 28 is a highly diverse school district which includes the relatively wealthy White and East Asian communities of Forest Hills and Kew Garden Hills in the far north of the District and the poor Black neighborhood of South Jamaica in the South.

The schools are highly segregated and the school district is going to try to start integrating the schools.  How they will achieve integrating the schools has not been spelled out but I cannot see it succeeding without integrating the communities involved.

First, most parents will not allow their children to take public transportation (two buses) and a commute of an hour or more from their homes in the northern part of the school district to schools in South Jamaica and adjoining communities, where the schools are academically low achieving and through dangerous neighborhoods.

Second, most parents want to send their children to neighborhood schools, rich or poor, Black and White.  These schools are the social gathering place f0oor families and their children make life long friends through the neighborhood schools.. Integrating the schools destroys the social fabric of the neighborhood schools.

Finally, many families do not own a car and if a problem occurs at the school they cannot easily get to the school to pick up the child.

While District 28's goal is noteworthy I cannot see it succeeding without losing the middle and upper middle class..

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Should Richard Carranza Resign As Chancellor?


When Mayor Bill de Blasio hired Richard Carranza as Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools and I was somewhat pleased.  Hiring a well qualified outsider, with no ties to the Bloomberg era, I expected the new Chancellor to "clean house" and to some degree he has.

The problem is that Chancellor Carranza is playing racial politics, replacing White female administrators with lesser qualified minorities.  At first, I supported the Chancellor as he was pushing out Bloomberg holdovers, mostly long term White females an to a lesser degree Black females.  However, it is quite obvious that he is appointing his cronies, some without proper credentials to lead highly sensitive positions at Tweed.

His policies are so appalling that seven members of the City Council'  penned a letter to the Mayor objecting to what Chancellor Carranza is doing. Also another Cararnza aide hs been reported for alleged misconduct.

Just look at the latest selection, Abram Jimenez, who was hired for a newly created $205,416 position to improve schools.  It turned out that Mr. Jimenez had an extensive disciplinary history and was forced to resign due to mismanagement. Now it seems that Mr. Jimenez has taken some "personal leave" once the New York Post wrote an article about his disciplinary record.

While I don't think Chancellor Carranza is a racist, he appears to be playing racial politics and that is unacceptable and should resign.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Charter Schools Drain Resources From Traditional Public Schools

Charter advocates are trying to pressure the New York State legislature to expand the charter school cap in New York City and has the support of the Governor.  However, charter friendly Chalkbeat has an article on whether charter schools drain resources from traditional public schools and the answer is yes!.

The article looked at various studies and concluded that charter school expansion added to the financial stress of traditional public schools.  Moreover, an analysis of the Los Angeles and San Diego school districts found similar results.

Charter schools drain students and resources from traditional public schools and try to claim that they alleviate overcrowding  in school districts that see a population influx of students.   That might be true to some degree in Florida and Arizona but overall it causes financial stress for the school district.  These school districts must either raise taxes, increase class sizes, or reduce staff, usually a combination of all three.

The bottom line is that charter schools are a negative factor when it comes to funding traditional public schools in a school district as every student who leaves the traditional public school takes the funding with the student to the charter school.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

How Will The City Integrate The Schools Without Losing The Middle Class?

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza, the City is on track to integrate the public schools.  The student demographics and geography tell me that is an impossible task.

The City public schools are 70% Black and Hispanic and only 15% White.  How can you integrate the schools with so few White students?  Even if you included East Asian students, it only adds up to 25% of the public school cohort.  Moreover, I highly doubt the majority of middle class families will allow their elementary and middle school students to travel long distances into poor neighborhoods and poorly performing schools to achieve some semblance of integration.  Finally, the City has no control of the family environment, where many students are homeless, without a father, and financially insecure which affects student learning. This doesn't take into account the geographic isolation of many of the racial cohorts.

A retired middle school reading teacher wrote an article in the New York Post showing the racial disparity of different cohorts and according to the 2017 State test in Math,the racial breakdown for students who achieved the highest scores (level 4) was as follows.  Asians (52%), Whites (28%), Hispanics (17%), and Blacks (6%).  Why is there such a disparity between racial cohorts?

To me, the reason is that many of the inner city schools have a weak academic curriculum and lack student discipline to achieve a peaceful classroom that is necessary to improve education.  Further, peer pressure in the middle class and  East Asian community to excel in school is just the opposite of the peer pressure in the poor, minority schools that think education is for nerds.  No wonder there is a wide achievement gap between the racial cohorts.

Good luck integrating the schools without addressing the social-economic problems in the communities that the schools are located in.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

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.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Brooklyn Charter High School Forgot To Pick Up The Global Regents

On Monday sophomores and a few juniors and seniors showed up at their Brooklyn charter high school, only to find out that the school's administration failed to pick up the Regents and now these students must wait to August to take the Global Regents and some of the seniors will not graduate in June.

It appears that the school's administration are set to resign at the end of the school year due to their lack of an administration license, as the City is cracking down on both uncertified teachers as well as administrators.  Therefore, its possible the school administrators were either too lazy or simply incompetent for their failure to pick up the Global Regents in time to give it to the students.

This is the same charter high school where a 18 year old male student give brownies to a bunch of freshman girls that was laced with synthetic Marijuana   Most of the girls got sick and were throwing up and many of them ended up in the hospital.

Like most charter high schools most of the teaching staff will not be returning next school year as wel as the administrators.  This is due to a few factors like not being asked back, are not certified, or decided to go on to other schools or professions.The news media may love charter schools bu the truth is that the charter high schools are a very unstable educational facility with a transit teaching staff, unqualified administrators, and a student population that usually had trouble in their previous public schools before ending up at the charter high schools..

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Principal Irene Sanchez Of PS 15 - White Teachers Need Not Apply


It appears that a Principal in Community District 1 sent out a help want-ad on Indeed.com that asked that only minority teachers need to apply for vacancies in the District.

The Principal, Irene Sanchez of PS 15,  sent this racially targeted want ad and this was an apparent violation of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is “illegal for an employer to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job” due to race, color, religion, sex or other characteristics".

The DOE had the Principal remove the help waned-ad the next day when the New York Post was given  the offending want-ad.

Since the apparent racially targeted want-ad by the Principal was removed under DOE pressure, what penalty will the DOE impose on Principal Irene Sanchez?   If she was a teacher, I have no doubt she would be subject to  3020-a charges and probably be fired.  However, my guess is that the Principal will simply get a reprimand, if that.

I will be very interested to see who Principal Irene Sanchez of PS 15 hires for the next school year. If no White teachers are hired then the UFT should use their resources and force the DOE to take corrective actions against the Principal.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Why Does The DOE Continue To Shortchange Schools?

   Since 2008, the DOE has shortchanged schools when it has come to funding.  According to the City budget for 2019, only the now discontinued Renewal Schools received 100% of their Fair Student Funding (FSF).  In fact, most schools received far less with a minimum of 87%,  To fully fund NYC public schools under FSF, it would cost an additional 750 million dollars.

The FSF is broken down as follows:

Fair Student Funding Fair Student Funding (FSF) is $6.1 billion this school year and is used by schools to cover basic instructional needs. FSF funding usually comprises between 60 to 70 percent of an individual school’s budget and Principals may spend it at their discretion, with the ability and flexibility to decide how much to spend on teachers and other instructional needs. 

 The FSF formula allocates funding to schools through five categories:  

1.Foundation, which is a fixed amount of $225,000 for each school and may be used at the principals discretion for administrative staff, teachers, or other services the principal would like to provide. 

 2.Grade weights, based on student grade levels; 

 3.Needs weights, based on students’ needs; 

 4.Enhanced weights for portfolio high schools, which include CTE and transfer schools; and 

 5.Collective Bargaining,related to increases for staff funded with FSF

 While Mayor Bill dr Blasio committed to fully fund the public schools and lower class sizes, he has failed to achieve either one despite a $4 billion dollar City surplus.

Obviously, the Mayor and his Chancellor rather use the money for other needs then to  help the students by reducing class sizes, hire more teachers, and fully fund the schools.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Chancellor Richard Carranza Is Simply Cleaning House AT Tweed

Susan Edelman and The New York Post have a series of articles that question Chancellor Carranza's staff shakeup at the DOE.  While I may not agree with the Chancellor's choices or the consultants he selected foe his ill-advised diversity programs, he has every right to choose the people and programs he feels most comfortable with running the DOE.  Considering that the DOE was toxic when it came to the classroom, any change is welcomed.   Is Chancdllor Richard Carranza a racist?  I don't think so.

All the high level executives at Tweed that he demoted were hired by Joel Klein and are part of the Bloomberg policymakers that are toxic to students and teachers,  As far as I am concerned, this "spring cleaning" is long overdue and should have been done by Carmen Farina.

It's about time that somebody started to get rid of many of the Bloomberg era administrators at Tweed and maybe the teachers in the trenches will see the DOE as a collaborator rather than the enemy of the classroom.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Age To Take The Required Minimum Distribution Will Be Raised To 72.

In what seems to be a rare case of bipartisanship the House passed an enhancement to retirement plans and the Republican dominated Senate is expected to pass it with little or no changes.  As part of the enhancement, the Required Minimum Distribution age will be increased from 70.5 to 72.

That means for our Tax Deferred TDA (403b), we will allow it to accumulate for another two years without paying federal tax.  Unless the IRS changes the longevity percentages, at age 72 the RMD will require that the TDA total to be federally taxed at 3.91%

The RMD table by age can be found here.

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.