Thursday, May 24, 2018
Over the last twenty years. Bill Gates has used his vast fortune, reputation, and celebrity to push an education agenda that radically changed the landscape. His ideas was must sought after by education reformers, politicians, and even the AFT. Remember Randi Weingarten , President of the AFT invited Bill Gates to be the keynote speaker at their convention. His many ideas were adopted by various administrations and States. Most have proven to be failures and his latest idea is the Obama imposed teacher evaluation system is rapidly falling into disfavor and in some states has been eliminated. Here are some of Bill Gates ideas that are no longer used in education.
First, was the small high schools that Bill Gates pushed and a decade later he admitted that it was a failure as they failed to show improved academic achievement. Next, was making teachers accountable for student growth which was based on "junk Science" and high-states testing. Now more and more Sates are moving away from this failed model. Bill Gates also proposed that cameras be installed in the classroom. However, this idea was blocked by teachers who realized that the cameras would be used by administrators to spy on them and not to help students Finally, Bill Gates convinced the Obama Administration to push a teacher evaluation system on the States by bribing them with federal money during the height of the recession. Here again the teacher evaluation system is failing students and discouraging teachers from staying in the low paying profession.
Presently, Bill Gates has decided that all students need a quality teacher. However, when it comes yo defining a quality teacher, Mr. Gates is strangely silent. Maybe because he knows that many urban and rural school districts hire "newbie" teachers and despite his "children first" statements, he knows that these teachers have a steep learning curve that makes their students guinea pigs. He also believes that the graduation rate is a measure of success even when he admitted that far too many students graduate unprepared for the adult world.
Bill Gates may spend a billion dollars on public education (most go to charter school networks) but when it comes to teachers, he is the reason that their is a teacher shortage as they are being held unfairly accountable for student outcomes.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
The DOE claims they have a "zero tolerance" policy when a teacher is accused of sexual misconduct against a student. The presumption is that any sexually based allegations against a teacher requires their removal from the school and reassigned to a "rubber room" until their 3020-a termination hearing is scheduled. In fact, any sexually based charges usually results in the teacher receiving a "probable cause" hearing within a month of the DOE substantiating the charges, usually based on merely hearsay evidence and the word of the student. The result is that the teacher is taken off salary and health benefits for up to 90 days and usually results in the teacher's firing if the 3020-a arbitrator upholds the sexual misconduct charges.
By contrast, principals who are accused of sexual misconduct by a teacher or other subordinates will retain their position and any lawsuits brought by the teacher will be fought "tooth and nail" by the DOE in the courts and when the DOE finally loses, the lawsuit, the court case has lasted five or more years. Therefore, by the time the DOE decides to take action against the Principal, they no longer can file 3020-a charges since there is a three year "statue of limitations" between the sexual misconduct and the DOE initiating charges against the Principal. This is done purposely by the DOE since they practice a "double standard" when they assume the Principal is innocent until proven guilty, while teachers who are assumed guilty and removed from the classroom.
The New York Post identified five principals who were accused of sexual misconduct and some of them are still principals while the rest were either demoted to an assistant principal position or reassigned to an administrative office. None of them faced 3020-a charges. Mona Davids President, of the NYC Parents Union said it best
“Clearly the DOE is protecting these principals by running out the clock on the statute of limitations,” Davids said. “They’re not good leaders, and they’re a danger to our kids. If an adult is not safe around that person, what makes you think a child is?”
If the principals were subject to the same DOE rules as teachers, the principals would be reassigned , pending substantiation of the charges and be subject to a 3020-a hearing within the three year statue of limitations. No longer will the DOE's "double standard" protect principals who comment misconduct, sexual or otherwise, by running out the clock and retaining their salary and benefits despite being guilty of the charges.
For additional information read the NYC Public School Parents blog.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Being an ATR, I have first hand experience of the many disadvantages of the small school experience. Unfortunately, for the students of these small schools they soon realize that the propaganda that the small high schools allow for a more family-like atmosphere and better academics (not true) pales in comparison of the many disadvantages associated wit the small high school experience. Let's look at the many disadvantages of the small school experience.
Now that the small schools are under the same monetary limitations as all other schools which is about 90% of their fair funding, they cannot offer enough Advanced Placement or higher level courses to better prepare the student for college and students who do not like the teacher is stuck with him or her, . Moreover, they lack flexibility and have limited choices beyond the State required courses. Finally, in these small schools only one teacher may be certified to teach the subject.
Due to budgetary restrictions and DOE inspired hiring practices, many of the small schools have hired the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for the schools. For many principals it's how much they can stretch their tight budget and veteran teachers are just too expensive. Its common knowledge that there is a steep learning curve for "newbie" teachers and it takes 5 to 8 years for these teachers to master the Art of teaching. That includes classroom management, curriculum knowledge, and social skills to work with a student population. In addition, the small schools are subject to high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment.
Lack of Extracurricular Activities:
Many of the small schools lack space for sports programs, may don't even have a gym! Further, the limited funding means that schools must choose to offer either Art or Music but can't afford both, Moreover, physical education is limited to two or three days a week rather than everyday.Finally, programs like Dance, Literature, and clubs are almost non-existent in the small high schools.
Top Heavy In Administrators:
Many of the small schools are top heavy in administrators with each small school having a Principal and between two and three assistant principals. In the campus of a closed large comprehensive high school, the total amount of administrators to oversee 3,000 students was eight administrators, one Principal and seven assistant principals. Now the four small schools that replaced it has fourteen administrators, four principals and ten assistant principals. This does not include administrative managers (coaches and financial managers etc.) assigned to the school who must pay for their services. The small schools are usually headed by Leadership Academy Principal who have a reputation of not running a collaborative administration.
Ask any high school student who go to these small high schools and they will tell you that they made a mistake because of the restrictions and limitations of the small school experience.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
In Monday's New York Times there is an article on the lack of Music in many of the NYC small high schools that were created from the 69 large comprehensive high schools that Mayor Bloomberg closed. While the article was accurate on the lack of a Music program, it only scratched the surface of the problems with the small school miracle that Mayor Bloomberg and his education reformer administrators at the DOE claimed. Let's examine the issues:
The first thing the education reformers will bring up is the small school graduation rate increased substantially. However, when you consider that the average small schools that came from the large comprehensive large schools had only accepted a maximum enrollment of half the students of the closed large school, which students do you think were left out of the small schools? The answer was the self contained Special Education students, the English Language Learners, and the students who had academic, behavioral, or attendance issues. Moreover, the DOE ensured a higher graduation rate in the small schools by allowing these schools to exclude "high needs" students and while most large comprehensive high schools suffered from budget cuts that resulted in some schools receiving as little as 78% (Flushing high school for one) of their fair funding, the new small schools were fully funded at 100% and in some cases received extra funding of up to 50% more that their fair funding. Finally, the DOE allowed these newly created small schools to keep their number of students down by excluding the "high needs" students and still be fully funded. It's little wonder the first few graduating classes had a higher graduation rate. The cohorts were different from the cohort of the closed down large comprehensive high school it replaced.
As mention previously, the small schools that replaced the closed down large comprehensive schools were fully funded while the large comprehensive high schools were funded at between 78% to 82% of their fair funding.
To keep up their graduation rate after the small schools were eventually required to take "high needs" students after a couple of years of excluding them. The small schools were still allowed to exclude self contained students and English Language Learners who traditionally had low test scores and graduation rates. The student cohorts became increasingly more like the large comprehensive schools they replaced. Therefore school administrators resorted in "academic fraud" to jack up the graduation rate by giving struggling students "credit recovery" courses. and administrative inspired "scholarship guidelines" that linked a teacher's effectiveness to meeting the goal. For example most school had a scholarship guideline of 80% passing of a teacher's roster, including no shows. Failure to meet that goal could result in a teacher being rated "ineffective" or "unsatisfactory". Furthermore, some principals would change grades from the teacher's failing to passing and would intimidate teachers, especially the untnured teacher to accept the changed grade. Finally, some schools go a step further by implementing a "blended learning" scheme that allowed all students to use online instruction rather than having a teacher instruct the student, they developed a blended learning program that had one teacher in charge of 50 or more students and the teacher was usually not certified in the subject and failed to provide adequate instructor.
The bottom line is that the first few years of the Bloomberg small schools they had a student cohort that was academically superior to the large comprehensive high school it replaced because the schools had small class sizes were fully funded, and excluded "high needs" students. However, once the small schools had to accept the "high needs" students, have full class sizes, and were funded like every other school, the small school miracle became a mirage. Even Bill Gates realized the small schools did not improve academic achievement.
Monday, May 14, 2018
One of the first constructive actions the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza has tackled head on was the removal of John Bowne's horn-dog Principal Howard Kwait who's had numerous accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment lodged against him. According to the New York Post. Howard Kwait has cost the DOE $830,000 due to his inappropriate behavior told female subordinates. This does not include the $4,500 he personally paid to the City's conflict of of interest board when he acceptable a paid vacation with a female subordinate.
Howard Kwait is not the only Principal that the new Chancellor should remove, let's look at another High School Principal Chancellor Carranza should remove in Queens.
The Principal is Namita Dawarka from William Cullen Bryant High School. She has removed almost the entire veteran staff she inherited in 2012 by harassment, 3020-a charges, or forced retirement. Moreover, she has been accursed of grade fixing and changing and manipulating classes so some students received double credits for the same course. Finally, she was accused of teat manipulation. You can read her actions. Here, Here, Here, and Here. In addition, Principal Dwarka allegedly hid a sexual relationship between her handpicked Assistant Principal of Math and a student. Despite the allegations when the AP of Math was shockingly released from reassignment she was reinstated as the AP of Math by Ms. Dawaka.
Beyond Ms. Dawarka, you can find a list of the worst Principals in Queens in a previous post. Here. Then there is the biggest problem of them all. The Superintendent, Juan Mendez, who either selected them, despite opposition (Judy Henry) or protected them (Juan Cruz), despite their alleged misconduct. You can read it Here. Finally, the New York Daily News listed a rouges gallery of DOE administrators accused of multiple sexual issues and are still employed.
The bottom line, Chancellor Richard Carranza cannot stop at one. He must remove all those Principals that have low staff trust ratings and he must eliminate the "double standard" when it comes to disciplining administrators. Moreover, he must ensure fair and independent investigations from the investigative agencies like OEO, OSI, and SCI. Especially when a subordinate accuses an administrator that they were sexual harassed and was not taken seriously by the DOE.
Saturday, May 12, 2018
The final poll on Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor of the New York City schools, most New Yorker's believe she was a failure. In a Quninnipac poll 38% rated Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor as a failure, while 34% said she was successful. This was a drop of 10% of Ms. Farina's approval rating since October of 2017.and shockingly was below Joel Klein' final approval rating of 46%..
I also believe that Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor was a failure and here's why.
- Failure to replace 80% of the Bloomberg era managers at the DOE.
- Failure to change the DOE ideology that hurt teachers and students.
- Failure to reduce the DOE bloat that sucks up 24% of the budget.
- Failure to eliminate Fair Student Funding that hurts schools.
- Failure to reduce class sizes, in some cases they actually increased.
- Failure to fully fund schools with most being funded at 90%.
- Failure to remove incompetent and vindictive administrators.
- Failure to reduce 3020-a charges against teachers.
- Failure to resolve the ATR pool.
- Failure to end discrimination of veteran teachers.
- Failure to make schools safer.
- Failure to narrow the racial/income achievement gap.
- Failure to eliminate academic fraud.
- Failure to remove the Danielson rubric and the four observations.
- Failure to promote independent and fair investigations.
- Failure to properly address student misbehavior.
Note: It took a new Chancellor to force the DOE to reassign John Browne Principal Howard Kwait as Carmen Farina failed to have him removed. Read about him Here and Here.
The bottom line is that Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor of the New York City schools was a failure as she was part of the problem and not the solution when it came to improving the New York City schools.
Wednesday, May 09, 2018
Yesterday, NYC Comptroller, Scott Stringer, blasted the DOE for its spending 24% of their budget on administrative costs. This is over twice the national average of 11.1%. Mr. Stringer cited the large class sizes, lack of resources for schools, and lack of adequate teacher hiring as factors that resulted with the funding shortfall of schools. You can read it Here.
The almost recession era school budgets average 10% below their fair funding and the DOE inspired policies force principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best" teachers for their school. Further, to make ends meet, the principals will try to have the maximum amount of students for each class, the largest in the State.. Finally, many schools would rather use "newbie" teachers who are not certified in the subject they are assigned to teach, rather than hire a more expensive qualified teacher in the subject. This is widespread in the Bronx but many schools in the other Boroughs are also guilty of using unqualified teachers. You can read many of my posts about the bloated DOE Bureaucracy under Tweed Money.
When the DOE Bureaucracy claims its "children first" its not about the children in the New York City Public Schools but their own children who benefit from these DOE administrators high salaries and lack of accountability. In fact, here is what Comptroller Scott Stringer said about the allocation of funds sent to the DOE.
“The Department of Education is a spending boondoggle,” he said. “They spend 24 percent of the money on administrators instead of teachers instead of resources for the classrooms.”
See the ICEUFT blog for their take.