Sunday, January 20, 2019

Arthur And Mike Join The Unity Caucus

The big buzz on the blogsphere is Arthur Goldstein and Mike Shirtzer joining the Unity caucus.  According to Arthur, Unity reached out to both of them and apparently agreed to a couple of conditions.  These conditions are that Arthur and Mike will not have to take the "Unity Oath" and can be an independent voice within the caucus.

Some feel that Arthur and Mike sold out to the Unity leadership.  However, I disagree.  I believe that the Unity leadership, fearing the effects of Janus down the road, and feeling the resentment members have on how the Unity caucus puts their own political interest above the member needs, realized that they must pretend to reach out to the members by giving an independent voice on the executive board,

By putting Arthur and Mike on the Unity ticket, they allow the two of them to vote as they please and oppose the Unity consensus, without changing the final outcome.

The bottom line is I support Arthur and Mike's decision to join the Unity caucus and will vote for them.. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Bronx And Brooklyn Have The Most Struggling Schools According To The State.

New York State Education Department (NYSED) has listed 124 New York City Public Schools as struggling when it comes to academic achievement.   Most of the struggling schools in the lowest tier are in the Bronx (37) and Brooklyn (28).  By contrast, Manhattan has (13), Queens (5), and Staten Island (1).

 Queens, schools in need of academic improvement are as follows:


Interestingly, many of the schools listed are in the Renewal program.  Moreover, in the lowest tier these are the Queens schools.


According to New York City, they will do the following to get these schools off the struggling list.

  • Curriculum changes.
  • Alternative discipline methods.
  • Paying teachers more
 Missing are what's really needed:

  • Lower class sizes.
  • Experienced teachers.
  • More stringent student discipline. 
  • Prohibit student cellphone use in schools.
  • Better school administrators.

An entire list of struggling schools can be found in Chatkbeat

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Why Are The Los Angeles Public School Teacher Union Striking?

The Los Angeles Public School Teacher Union called a strike against the LAUSD for better wages, lower class sizes, and more librarians, nurses, and guidance counselors.. If you read the newspapers, the teachers' union want higher pay as the main driver for the strike.  However, the truth is far different.  The teachers' union is striking for the following improvements for the Los Angeles public schools.

  • A 6.5% raise for the three years, effective immediately.
  • Lower class sizes of up to 40 student to a maximum of 34.
  • All schools should have a guidance counselor, nurse, and a librarian.
  • A cap on charter school growth.
  • Evaluations not linked to State tests and reduce that testing..

By contrast the LAUSD has proposed the following:

  • A 6% raise for three years, with 3%  immediately and the reaming 3% next year, contingent on the school district having the funding.
  • A commitment to reduce class sizes by 1 to 4 students in high poverty schools.
  • Add a "highly effective" category to teacher evaluations.
  • Making it easier to terminate teachers.
  • Expand categories that can get a waiver from hiring excessed teachers.
Look for this strike to last for a while since the two sides are far apart.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

NYC's Version Of Professional Development Is A Waste Of Time.

Over the last two decades, the sellouts,  consisting of Presidents  Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew, has traded time for money and our school day was lengthened from 6 hours and 20 minutes to 6 hours and 50 minutes, while receiving puny raises that barely kept pace with inflation.  At first the union claimed that the extra time would be used as "office hours" like colleges do.  However, the union lied to the members, and the extra time was used for teaching.

At first, the extra time was used to teach or tutor an extra class of up to ten students but some devious principals took advantage of the extra time and made an almost full class lumping together two teachers per classroom and treated it as a class with an attendance sheet and giving an academic credit, while observing the teacher for evaluation purposes.  After numerous complaints by the members to this abuse, the union negotiated with the new De Blasio administration in 2014 to use the extra time for professional development.  The exception was for multi-session and District 75 and 79  schools who were allowed to simply extend the extra thirty minutes in classroom periods to accommodate the extra time.

The problem was that few school administrators were collaborating with the staff on the professional development activities.  Worse. the DOE imposed their own professional development activities that were a colossal waste of time. It was so bad that many teachers wished they were teaching an extra class that sit through this torture week after week, with no end in sight.  In some schools the 80 minute Monday professional development lasted so long that teachers did not leave the school until it was already dark.  Even the Tuesday 75 minute professional activities portion were simply another form of professional development.

By contrast, in the suburbs, most school districts have a six hour and 30 minute school day and the teacher is usually excused from the classroom for the day to attend professional development at the district office.  Moreover,  when the school does professional development in-house, students are either dismissed early (half a day) or its defined as a non attendance day with no students present.

In my many years of teaching, I have never, yes never, been to a school based professional development activity that made me a better teacher.  Our union should renegotiate the contract to eliminate the school-based professional development activities and simply extend the classroom periods or go to "office hours" that were originally intended to be.  Maybe, the union should follow the lead of the suburbs and do what they do when it comes to professional development.  Then again, the union leadership does not have to suffer through relentless professional we do

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Annuls The Unfair Termination Of A Teacher.

A Brooklyn high school teacher at the High School for Civil Rights with an unblemished disciplinary record,  was terminated by a State arbitrator when he was charged with corporal punishment and conduct unbecoming a teacher by the DOE.  The teacher named Shawn Browne tried to remove an unruly student from his Math class and the confrontation escalated to the point that the misbehaving student, who was playing cards instead of working in his Math class, was told to leave the classroom and refused to do so.  The student then throw a stapler and a towel at the teacher and, in response, the teacher tried to push the student out of the room.  According to the student and a school safety agent, the teacher allegedly punched the student twice in the face while trying to remove the student from the classroom.  The teacher denied punching the student and was backed up by other students in the classroom. However,  the arbitrator, Dean Burrell, chose to believe the student and school safety officer and ignored the other witnesses and the teacher and terminated the teacher. 

The arbitrator did not take into account the 15 year unblemished disciplinary record of Mr. Browne or the circumstances that lead to the incident.  Consequently, the arbitrator claimed that the teacher's conduct cannot be remediated.. Therefore, the arbitrators award of termination. 

The teacher appealed his termination to Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge,   Alexander Tisch, who ruled that the arbitrator's award "shocked the conscious" and sent it back to the arbitrator for a lesser penalty. According to Justice Tisch the arbitrator failed to take into account the teacher's unblemished disciplinary record, the circumstances that lead up to the altercation, and the lack of a co-teacher in a co-teaching class, a violation of State regulations when dealing with students with an IEP.  Moreover, Mr. Tisch found that an anger management course for Mr. Browne is a proper remediation for the teacher for the one time incident, along with a penalty short of termination.

Naturally, the DOE will appeal the decision to a higher State court.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Restorative Justice Policies Have No Impact On Academic Outcomes.

A major study showed that when restorative justice policies are properly implemented, it does reduce student suspensions but also results in lowers test scores for Black students. The study was done for the Pittsburgh public schools, a medium sized urban city, between 2015-17 and found that middle schools showed a worsening of academic outcomes when restorative justice practices were implemented.  The key findings from the study are as follows:

Effects of the Pursuing Equitable and Restorative Communities (PERC) program in Pittsburgh Public Schools

  • Implementation of restorative practices through PERC improved overall school climates, as rated by teachers.
  • Implementation of restorative practices reduced the average suspension rate: During the study period, average suspension rates decreased in both PERC and non-PERC schools, but rates decreased more in PERC schools.
  • Suspension rates of African American students and of those from low-income families also went down in PERC schools, shrinking the disparities in suspension rates between African American and white students and between low- and higher-income students.
  • Academic outcomes did not improve in PERC schools, and actually worsened for grades 6–8.
  • Arrest rates among PERC schools did not decrease.
In particular, Black male students saw significant reductions in test scores and middle school students showed lower academic outcomes when restorative justice practices were properly implemented at selected schools..

Does restorative justice work?  Yes. if the main goal is to reduce suspensions, especially,, when it comes to Black and low income students.  However, when it comes to improved academic outcomes, restorative justice polices have no impact and actually has a negative academic impact for middle schools and Black students.

Chalkbeat summarizes the report Here.

Friday, January 04, 2019

What Happened To Flushing Principal Carl Hudson Jr?

Back in March 2011, Carl Hudson Jr. was appointed Principal of Flushing High School by Superintendent Juan Mendez and promptly made a bad school worse with his inept leadership.  He was removed by the DOE the following year when he was arrested for Meth possession outside the school.  Read it Here.

After being removed by the DOE as Principal of Flushing High School, Mr Hudson was hidden by the DOE in their version of a "rubber room" for administrators and quietly parted company with the DOE, either voluntarily or pushed out.

Mr. Hudson resurfaced as a charter school teacher in Georgia and then a public school teacher at  the DeKalb County, School District making $45,000 a year as a high school Math teacher in 2016.  He quit in November of 2018. A pattern since he moved to Georgia.

Mr. Hudson was forced to quit once the local newspapers discovered his past. Interestingly, Mr. Hudson in his employment history to the school district never mentioned his tenure as a Principal at Flushing High School and his meth bust.  Where  will Mr. Hudson show up next?

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

What Chancellor Carranza Needs To Do This Year.

Richard Carranza has made a few positive changes since taking over as Chancellor of the NYC public schools..  He has pushed out Carmen Farina's favorite , Amiee Horowitz and has removed a couple of misbehaving principals.  However, he has failed to significantly change the culture at Tweed.  Just read the NYC Public School Parents Blog and you can see how. the pro charter and education reformers still dominate Tweed.

While the Chancellor is not anti teacher like the previous five Chancellors (Levy, Klein, Black, Walcott, and Farina), he has failed to make significant changes to the DOE that is still dominated by Bloomberg era policymakers.  What does Chancellor Carranza need to do?  Let me count the ways.he can tackle the issues.

  • Eliminate Fair Student Funding
  • Remove the Bloomberg policymakers at Tweed. 
  • Let teachers teach and control their classroom.
  • Stop schools from hiring "newbies" when ATRs are available for the subject area.
  • Fully fund schools.
  • Reduce the administrative bloat at the DOE.
  • Lower class sizes.
  • Eliminate Charlotte Danielson rubric for teachers.
  • Reduce paperwork.
  • Hire independent investigators for teachers accused. 
  • More rights for Chapter Leaders.
  • Stop discriminating against veteran teachers.
Come January 1, 2020, let's see if anything changes for the better.