Saturday, January 26, 2008

The DOE Must Save 324 Million Dollars In The Budget - Here Are Some Ideas

Bloomberg has told Joel Klein that he must find 324 million dollars in budget cuts. The question is how will the DOE do this.? Will they reduce administrative overhead? Eliminate no-bid inflated contracts? Maybe cancel consultant services? Not likely. Knowing the DOE, look for many of these cuts to find their way into the classroom as Kleinberg plays "rob Peter to pay Paul" game as they try to save their pet projects at the expense of the children.

However, I do know a way to save the money and improve the classroom environment at the same time.

First, stop hiring new teachers before all ATR's are placed. Millions of dollars are wasted as experienced, older (and yes higher salaried) teachers are used as substitutes, costing the school district not only money but wasting demonstrated teaching ability as well. Instead the DOE insisted on hiring newbies who are at the beginnig of a long learning curve at the expense of the children.

Second, stop pulling teachers out of the classroom, based upon frivolous charges. Only in New York City are teachers subject to 3020-a hearings based upon non-criminal incidents. Presently, many of these teachers can spend over two years in the "rubber rooms" being fully paid and end up with a small fine or a letter to the file. Meanwhile, the person who is replacing that teacher is also being paid a full salary. Talk about wasting money! A better way is to have an independent arbitrator who talks to both sides and decides if the teacher warrants removal. This procedure will greatly reduce the teacher removal rates and add money to the school budget.

Third, the dramatic increase in teacher incompetence cases are well documented. Not only is Kleinberg doing their best in trying to get rid of these teachers, they are spending a million dollars to setup a "gotcha squad" who's prime purpose is to fire teachers for incompetence. Here again a master arbitrator can be used to determine if the school has exhausted all remedies before the teachers is charged.

Finally, reduce the administrative ranks from the district and the borough offices. Many of these administrators exist because they are friends or family of big shots in the city and are a drain to the DOE budget. Just try to call these offices for guidance and see how you are shifted from one bureaucrat to another without getting an answer.

I believe that if the above items are implemented, the DOE will have more money for the classroom. Of cause what do I know, I'm only a teacher

Thanks to NYC educator for suppling me with his graphic on budget cuts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rubber Room Teachers Sue The DOE - Where Is The UFT?

The ever increasing teachers being reassigned to the "rubber room" have decided to fight back. On Monday January 21st, fifteen teachers have filed suit that the DOE's abuse of the contract has caused an unreasonable increase in reassigned teachers. While I'm not optimistic that the teachers will win their lawsuit, it's about time that somebody took on the DOE.

For the delusional who think the UFT is fighting for them. Guess again. The UFT reminds me of the Kennedy administration when they told the Cuban refugees that they will support them during the "Bay of Pigs" invasion. When the Cuban refugees landed on the beach and were subject to Cuban firepower, the Americans were nowhere to be found. Oops, did we say we had your back? I guess there was a misunderstanding.

The UFT allows the DOE to violate the contract when it sees fit. How many grievances are not heard in a timely fashion? How many teachers are not charged in the period specified in the contract? Finally, why does the UFT allow principals to remove teachers on frivolous charges?

Randi Weingarten, rather than supporting the lawsuit by the teachers, has stated that she is bringing her own proposals to the DOE. Nice try Randi. Talk is cheap and so far the only thing we got from you is talk, talk, talk. Results? None to my knowledge. The UFT reminds me of the doctor who said the operation was successful. However, the patient died.

It seems every month the DOE comes up with some anti-teacher initiative that surprises the UFT. Why?

Until the UFT becomes proactive, look for the DOE to continue to ride roughshod on the disrespected rank and file.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Why Aren't ATR's Placed First Before New Teachers Are Hired?

In the real world most companies want older and experienced workers. These workers are the most dependable and mentor the younger and inexperienced workers. Further, the experienced worker is associated with good work habits, loyalty, and trusted by the company. However, in the New York City school system the older and experienced teacher is treated with disrespect and are encouraged to retire or resign. Many of these teachers find themselves as ATR's in another school as their school has been closed and the newer schools don't hire them. In fact many of the small schools have very few teachers with at least five years of teaching experience. This is especially true of the schools run by the principals that came from Kleinberg's leadership academy.

Just look at the "rubber rooms" where most of the teachers are 45 and over with a minimum of ten years of experience. When an administrator wants to get rid of you, they only need to accuse the teacher of improper conduct and the teacher is removed. it doesn't matter if the teacher didn't do anything, just say the teacher did, that's all it takes.

When the teachers are released from the "rubber rooms" (and more are arriving every day) they are added to the ATR ranks. How does our union respond to this? Well they say you still have jobs. In the Kleinberg's DOE more and more experienced teachers are being replaced by newbies. Is it any wonder that despite the constant test preparation grades are flat?
Too bad our union does not go to court to stop this abuse. Instead Randi and gang just talk, and talk, and talk as the DOE marginalizes the experienced teacher.