Friday, February 29, 2008

How Do We Compare To Paterson New Jersey?

New York City politicians are always calling us the best and the brightest. However, the real truth is the Kleinberg administration is always trying to do "education on the cheap". The result is that the New York City teacher is overworked, under appreciated, disrespected, and underpaid. Underpaid? Yes, underpaid. Many of the surrounding school districts are head and shoulders better paid than us. As for days worked, the average Long Island school district works 184 days a year and less, if snow days are not used. However, instead of comparing the New York City Teacher work and pay scale to the surrounding Long Island or Westchester schools districts (which we are inferior to), I decided to compare a typical working-class, blue collar school district in New jersey to our work and pay scale. The area I selected is Paterson New Jersey. A city that is heavily minority (82% black & Hispanic with many Middle Easterners making up most of the rest) and has a household income of $33,000, compared to $41,000 in New York City. A much poorer city indeed. However, they treat their teachers better than New York City treats us.

First, the Paterson, New jersey teacher works a maximum of 185 days compared to the 192 days the New York City teacher works this year. Further, the Paterson New Jersey Teacher has 5 half-days compared to "0" for the New York City teacher.

Second, the Paterson teacher pay scale ranges from $47,000 to $97,000 compared to our present-day pay scale of $43,000 to $95,000

Finally, the Paterson New Jersey teachers are allowed to attend workshops and professional development programs during school time. Rarely, can a New York City teacher leave the classroom for these sessions.

While I'm sure that the Paterson teachers suffer from similar afflictions as us such as gangs, unmotivated students, parent disinterest, poor classroom supplies, and vindictive administrators. It certainly appears that for a city always on the brink of bankruptcy, they seem to treat their teachers better than New York City treats us.

Who is the blame for allowing the city to disrespect us and for subjecting us to the shoddy treatment? I give you one guess. You want a hint? The First letter starts with an "R" and the last letter ends with a "i", with two letters in between.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

DOE's Children Last Program Cobtinues -it's About The Money

There is a discussion going on in District 75 that the DOE wants to reduce it's size or even eliminate it. For the few people who don't know what District 75 is, it's the special education district. Therefore, this district is a very expensive part of the DOE since special eduction students need more and expensive services.

Already the DOE has proposed separating the deaf and blind program from District 75 and give it to the local school principals.
Now there are discussions about removing site 7 & 8 students from District 75 and send them to the local schools. What's interesting about sending the site 7 & 8 students back to local schools is that these students were sent from these very same schools because of their emotional disabilities. Why would they do better back in those schools from which they were sent from?

Makes no sense? Why bring students who were in a self contained restricted environment into a less controlled environment which they couldn't handle it previously? The reason is money. It can cost almost three times the expenses than for the general education student. Therefore, if you can dump these District 75 students into the general education population you can save money. So what it may cause classroom chaos with these special needs students getting frustrated and causing disruptions in the classroom. True, some special education students can be mainstreamed. However, at present, that is a case by case basis. not the proposed mass inclusion of these students.

By giving the local school district responsibility for the special education student this will allow the DOE to reduce funding since the local school principal will fight tooth and nail to put the special education student in the least restricted environment as possible (mainstreaming and inclusion classes). Thereby, saving precious budget funds for enrichment and after school programs rather than spending the money on paras, and other support personnel for the special education students. The result is less money for the local schools than was given to the District 75 schools.

I hope that District 75 doesn't follow the fate of District 79 and I don't believe it will. However, look for Tweed to squeeze any money it can out of the schools and if it hurts the children? So what, it is the DOE's children last program.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Updated Blogger List

I was finally able to update my blogger list, thanks to NYC educator's help. The updated blogger list was created after a serious investigation of the articles of these bloggers. The bloggers I selected may or may not have me on their blogging list. However, my final cut was based upon how well they represented the classroom teacher environment. My blogroll has some new and very interesting blogs. Newly added to my blogroll are:

Have a Gneiss Day - A very interesting blog that cuts to the truth and stakes out positions similar to mine.

Under Assault - One of my favorites with the articles providing insight to the problems of the New York City classroom.

Snytactac Gymnastics - I admit at first I didn't like the blogger articles, too light and too much like another popular blogger who seems more concerned with the blogger's personal life and not the classroom. However, I started to appreciate this blogger more as the articles became more focused on the school environment. Now one of my favorites.

Norm'snotes/ed notes humor - Let's say it's good reading and quite funny at times.

Life After The Rubber Room - A very interesting and detailed account of a survivor from the "Rubber Room". A must read.

Ed the Apple - A very in-depth and serious discussion on how the DOE affects the NYC public schools. A must read for teachers who want to see the big picture. Yes, I know the blog is(was) Unity flunky Peter Goodman's blog. However, he was the only one on Edwize that spoke the truth about Tweed and, unlike Leo Casey, had readable and interesting articles.

Untamed Teacher - A teacher at war with the administration, certainly not a suck up.

Diane Ravitch Articles - One of the best education writers who usually has opinion articles in the New York Sun.

NYC Public School Parents - These bloggers see past the Tweed "bullshit" and cuts to the chase.

I am sorry to see Edzup go. I think it was really funny and the authors should really consider it's revival. It must have been a happy day for Unity when it disappeared. I also took off other bloggers who no longer interest me and have lost their way in the classroom.

Finally, I would like the following people start their own blog.

17 years to go (or is that 15)?

Schoolgal (I know she is part of NYC educator's blog, its time to go solo)


Thanks to NYC educator for being there and keeping Unity on their toes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What Will Really Happen TO The ATR's?

One of the questions the union gets. Can ATR's be terminated? Not likely, even under Randi's giveback contracts. Further, it is highly unlikely that she will ever agree to an ATR time limit (18 months in Chicago)? However, it is not impossible that an ATR time limit will be negotiated based upon her past performance as president of the UFT. Will teacher tenure be negotiable? Not a chance. Even Randi the sellout wouldn't stand for that. I hope.

However, the DOE budget changes will sharply limit the chance of experienced (highly-paid) ATR's from, obtaining a classroom teaching position. That is because the DOE will no longer adjust the school budget based upon teacher salaries. Presently, if a principal hires a highly-qualified teacher who makes $80,000 a year and that person replaces a $50,000 a year teacher, the budget for the school is increased by $30,000.

Under Fair Student Funding (FSF) that won't be true anymore. In In the 2008-09 school year if the principal decides to hire a $80,000 a year teacher to replace a $50,000 a year teacher, the school budget would have $30,000 less to pay for other school priorities. Further, the school will be accountable to fund any future raises. Therefore, the school would have even less money for other activities.

While the DOE may delay the FSF budget until the 2009-10 school year by adjusting the schoolwide average teacher pay, eventually, it will result in financial pressure for principals to hire newbie (cheap) teachers. Yes, the DOE claims that since school principals can never pocket any surplus funds, there is no incentive not to hire experienced teachers since the principals are graded on their student achievement. However, what the DOE fails to understand is that many principals will be happy to fund their "pet projects" at the expense of the classroom teacher. For example, the principal can hire one of those highly paid consulting firms to run after school learning and staff development programs. Therefore, if the principal wants to fund these expensive "extras, they will be inclined to hire cheaper teachers to ensure the money is available.

The UFT should have immediately filed a lawsuit to protect excessed teachers and ensure that no newbie teacher can be hired in their content specialty area until all excessed teachers are placed. Instead the UFT begged the DOE to reconsider and Kleinberg appeared to throw Randi a bone by delaying the implementation of FSF for a year. Big deal, what happens after that? Many principals look long-range and don't want to add more salary. Therefore, look for the ATR crises to worsen under FSF as Randi becomes the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president.

Thanks Randi for protecting the classroom teacher. With friends like you we don't need enemies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

DOE's Children Last Program Continues

According to Peter Goodman in Edwize (yes I do read Edwize even though I no longer leave comments on them) the actual budget cuts are closer to 4% than the 1.75% claimed by the DOE. Because most of the money are spent by the schools early in the school year, the schools have very little, if any excess funds. Take into account the loss of students in the high schools by the 2nd semester and you have a potential disaster in the making.

Beach Channel High School has to eliminate up to 10 teaching positions and increase class sizes. The budget cuts are as high as $447,000 for some large, overcrowded high schools. In the spirit of No Children Left Behind, no school is immune from these budget cuts. Where are the cuts at Tweed Central? How many managers, lawyers, and educrats (a dying breed at Tweed) were laid off? I venture not many, if any. Pushing paper is more important than classroom learning.

Time and again budget cuts are placed on the schools and translated to the classroom, while budget surpluses seem to be spent on the "flavor of the day" programs that highly-paid private consultants run that don't show any classroom improvement.

Teacher disrespect is evident, look at the reduce parking permit program by Bloomberg. It turns out that many of the reduced parking permits were to be from teachers, not the bureaucrats. Further, why not eliminate the ATRs? By placing teachers in the classroom instead of paying them as subs. you reduce class size and eliminate the need to hire newbie teachers.

It is a real pity that Kleinberg starves the classroom and disrespects it's teachers and gets away with it. If only the public, politicians, and the newspapers would wake up and smell the coffee.
Well the clock is ticking and Kleinberg will be gone in 2010, I hope.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

DOE Wants Essays From New Teachers- What Should The Essay Say?

According to the DOE all new teachers who want to work in the New York City public schools must write an essay on why they want to teach in the classroom. Therefore, I believe my essay would most certainly qualify for employment by Tweed and those wonderful Leadership Academy principals looking to hire me.

My name is Cleo. I am a 22 year old liberal arts major and have made it through the "Teaching Fellows" program. I am ready to make a difference in the classroom. I have heard about all the negative things about teaching in the New York City public schools and am ready for the challenge.

I'm happy to handle as many students that the school administrators see fit to give me. Thirty-four to a class? No problem, give me more students. Load me up with more non-teaching duties? I just love the idea, I don't need prep or lunch periods. I will even volunteer for after-school and Saturday programs without pay!

I have heard that there is a disrespect of teachers by the DOE. However, I believe if I work hard and respond to my school administrator's call to jump by saying how high? I will be respected. Student discipline? I know that my administrators will always believe me over the student. Everybody knows that kids lie. Right?

I will give that extra effort to interact with my students and be personable and engaging. I'm sure my administrators want me to work closely with my students. I will be a loyal employee to the school and earn my administrator's respect and loyalty in return. I'm sure my administrators will support me against student allegations.

I have such good ideas that my school administrators will just love my lesson plans as they will enhance the curriculum. I refuse to believe that my administrators will require me to "teach to the test". No right thinking educator subscribes to the "one-size-fits-all" approach. Right?

Come to think of it. What teacher would want to put up with teacher disrespect, lack of student discipline, large class sizes, a hostile working environment, and the unbelievable (but believed anyway) accusations of students. On second thought take this job and shove it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

DOE's Children Last Continues - School Budget Cuts

Here will go again. The DOE was told to cut the budget and instead of getting rid of highly-paid consultants, F status do-nothing administrators, or reduce managerial overhead, they have demanded a 1.75% cut of the school budget. Now a 1.75% budget cut may not sound like much. However, the budget cuts result in higher class sizes, fewer enrichment activities, and a vastly reduced after school program. Worse, many schools will have to fire teachers and combine classes. Children first? Try children last.

The school budget cut is as high as $400,000 in the big high schools and is going to be painful to students and staff alike. However, the DOE has decided to protect their cherished programs and the high salaried people running it. Therefore, the school budget cuts rather than managerial overhead reductions.

Remember, under Kleinberg there are thousands of ATR's who should be in the classroom teaching. Instead, Kleinberg encouraged principals to hire inexperienced (and cheaper) teachers causing the DOE to pay these ATR's for doing day-to-day substituting. This is a waste of between 100 & 200 million dollars a year. Further, add the nearly one thousand teachers removed or doing clerical work while waiting for 3020-a charges and you have another 60 million dollars wasted. While some people should have 3020-a charges filed most do not and having them detained in "rubber rooms" for over two years with full pay is a terrible waste of talent and money.

I can only hope that Randi & gang stop with their talk and start acting, like filing a lawsuit Of course I'm not holding my breath for that to happen,

P.S. Sorry about my blogger links I tried to update them and lost them all. I tried edit me and nothing doing. Anybody have any suggestions?