Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The National SAT Decline Under Kleinberg - The DOE Cannot Spin This

The 2008 nationwide SAT results have just been published and it showed declines of 3 points in Reading and 2 points in Math for the New York City Public School high school students . Here again, another national test which the State and City does not control, shows no progress in the academics of New York City students. In fact, the statistics show that the SAT scores have declined 12 points in Math and 5 points in Reading since 2003, during the Kleinberg administration! Both the Daily News and New York Post have published the data and were less than kind to the DOE about the results.

Most interestingly was the DOE response to the decling scores. Tweed stated "that more students were encouraged to take the SAT's". Really? Nationwide the same thing happened and there was no nationwide decline in SAT scores! I guess the DOE has chosen to ignore that fact as they try to spin the unspinable data.

As school starts and the Bloomberg administration has decided to cut teachers parking permits by 82%, forced teachers to start before Labor Day, and we still have an ATR crises as well as overcrowded "rubber rooms", the Kleinberg anti-teacher crusade keeps on going.

Kleinberg's "children last" program continues into the 2008-2009 school year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Mench And The Wuss

Congratulations to Patrick Lynch, head of the PBA who stuck to his guns (no pun intended) and refused to give Bloomberg significant givebacks in the last four contracts. In fact, in the last contract, agreed to yesterday, the PBA got back the paid day for their gun training and the newbie police officers will get their full vacation days. The PBA also received larger raises over the contract than the Randi Weingarten-led UFT. Previously, I compared the two in a post Here. Unfortunately, my opinion has not changed.

Patrick Lynch, unlike Randi Weingarten, refused to sell out the existing members and forced the City to try to recruit newbie police officers at an annual salary of $25,100 with reduced vacation days. The result? The Bloomberg administration finally cried uncle and this new contract reflects the City surrender to the PBA. Randi Weingarten, on the other hand caved in to the Bloomberg administration insistence of massive givebacks (you can see them in my post here) for a salary increase of 3.28% annually for the last two contracts while the average rate of inflation for the NYC Region was 4.1%. The PBA annual salary increase averaged 4.5% for a similar time period. Furthermore, Randi has negotiated no takebacks since she has negotiated contracts for the teachers. In fact, Randi's actions has shown that she cares more about recruitment than retention of teachers (you can see some of her actions in my post here). Under her watch the ATR crises has exploded and the "rubber rooms" are bursting at the seems.

Is it any wonder that I believe Patrick Lynch is a Mench and Randi Weingarten is a Wuss?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Are The NYC High School Graduation Rates Real? Or Just "Smoke & Mirrors"?

The Bloomberg Administration proudly announced that the NYC high school graduation rates rose to 52% for the four year graduation rate and if you included summer school 56%. While this is an improvement over previous years, there is a more telling factor associated with the City statistics. The most telling factor was that 30.2% of the graduates received a local diploma, compared to Long Island's 9%! That means that almost 1 out of every 3 graduates could not meet the minimum requirements to get a dumbed-down Regents diploma. Tweed depended on some very questionable methods to increase the graduation rate. For example the New York Times article pointed out how the State was concerned with how the "Credit Recovery Program" was being used to push students through the system. I wrote about this program previously Here. Further, educational experts found this and other methods as a problem as well. Here is an what one of these experts on New York City Schools had to say.

An education professor at Brooklyn College, David Bloomfield, said the gains in graduation rates may be artificially inflated by principals trying to raise their figures, which are tied to prizes such as higher report card grades and salary bonuses.

Mr. Bloomfield named two practices that he called "gimmicks": local diplomas, which are being phased out by the state but now allow students to graduate with lower scores on Regents exams, and credit recovery programs, which allow students to earn credits from classes they failed by completing last-minute makeup work.

I read the Daily News Article on how Jamaica High School, a once proud institution being dismantled by DOE, increased their graduation rates by 10%! However, what was the Regents diploma increase? 10%?, 5%? less than 1%? In other words was the 10% increase in Jamaica's graduation rate real, or more gimmicks? It's hard to know because of the lack of transparency in the DOE statistics. Regardless of what the DOE statistics say. It is evident that with dumbed-down Regents, local diplomas, and administrative pressure to graduate "not ready for the adult world" student. The increase in high school graduation rates most be taken with suspicion.

I'm happy that the DOE claims that the graduation rate is rising, and maybe it is. However, to me it's just "smoke and mirrors".

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why Didn't The UFT Demand An Independent Investigation For Alleged Teacher Misconduct?

The UFT spin machine is at it again as they proclaim in their propaganda rag, The New York Teacher, about how they won a great victory for the "rubber room" teachers. I have already commented on this phony UFT victory here. However, what was wanted by all teachers was a truly independent investigation procedure. Presently, all investigations are done by SCI, OSI, and the principal. In all cases the investigators either work for and are paid by the DOE. They assume that the teacher is guilty and their job is to get enough evidence to embellish, pervert, or to change the information to substantiate the alleged misconduct. Regardless of guilt or innocence, the teacher is removed from the classroom and is unable to defend his or herself as the DOE investigators interview potential witnesses against the teacher. How fair is this? Not fair at all! The collateral damage done to the students while the DOE "witch hunt" against the teacher goes on is well known.

What the UFT should have demanded is an independent investigator, that is paid by both sides, to interview the teacher and witnesses at the school to determine if the teacher should be removed. This is a much fairer way and eliminates the need for many of the 3020-a hearings that cost the DOE money, the students their teacher, and the teacher his or her reputation. However, we are talking about Joel Klein's anti-teacher DOE and Randi Weingarten's uncaring UFT. I'm not holding my breath for a fair and impartial investigation process to appear in the near future, not with these two clowns running the show!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Joel Klein's DOE Response To Teacher Independence - "Resistance Is Futile"

During my relaxing summer off from the stress of being a teacher and disrespected by the administration I was watching an old Star Trek series on the Scifi Channel and one of the evil villains were a species called the "Borg". Half living, half mechanical, this species worked as a collective intelligence and assimilated other species it conquered. Any individual thought is stamped out and the drone that dares to think independently is terminated. I couldn't help to think about the similarities between Joel Klein's DOE and the "Borg".

Joel Klein's DOE, like the "Borg", does not allow for independent thought. Any teacher that tries to stand up to the DOE finds themselves in the "rubber room", facing termination. The new administrators that are increasingly coming from the "Leadership Academy" with little or no teaching experience, are told how to treat their drones, oops I mean teachers. They are taught that all collective thought originates and end with them. Except when it comes from Tweed of course. Any independent thought by the drones, oops teachers, I did it again, shall not be tolerated by these newly-minted DOE Principals and insubordination charges leading to termination will be filed. For the newly assimilated drones, I mean teachers, when these Principals yell jump and when the teachers don't jump high enough, they will be denied tenure, hence termination, just like the Borg drones.

I used to think we were just cogs and the students were the widgets in the failed business model but I now realize we are only a species to be assimilated and become a drone for Joel Klein's DOE. Joel Klein's DOE may think that "Resistance Is Futile" - but I and other education bloggers will be fighting on until Joel Klein's Borg are defeated, just like in Star Trek.

I will end this post with an old Vulcan saying to the teachers "Live Long and Prosper".

Sunday, August 03, 2008

McCain Or Obama? - What Is An Independent Moderate To Do?

As of today it appears that John McCain and Barak Obama are tied for the presidential vote. However, we still have three months to go and Vice Presidents to select. Since I am a registered independent I couldn't vote in the primaries. If I could, my choice would have been Democrat Bill Richardson, the Governer of New Mexico, who is politically closest to my philosophy. However, with the Democratic Party captured by the left wing and the Republican Party by the right wing, it makes it very difficult to choose the right candidate for an independent moderate voter.

Both McCain and Obama are attractive to me. However, to decide which candidate to vote for I need to look at their voting history, not what they are saying today. Most importantly, as an educator I am very unhappy with McCain's support of those so-called phony education reforms identified here at the NYC Public School Parents blog and his Daily News Opinion page article It's obvious to me that he has no clue of what the classroom environment is like. His support of Vouchers and Charter Schools are a real negative in my book. While Obama has seemed to be more supportive, if vague, of the teaching profession. He did support merit pay, ugh! If education was the only issue, my vote would be a no-brainer; Obama by far. However, I need to think of the big picture and have found Obama to have a paper-thin history of accomplishments and what little data there is shows that he has a strong liberal voting record. I also don't like his flip flopping of his positions to attract the moderate voter. Examples of his flip flopping are: Troop withdrawals from Iraq, off-shore drilling, and Israel.

I also have problems with John McCain. Yes he is a maverick and works well with Senate Democrats on many issues. I give him credit on the Finance Reform legislation that he co-authored and his failed immigration reform compromise that was defeated by the Republican right wing and the Democratic left wing. I also like the fact he does not take earmarks and will veto any earmarks that pass his desk as President. However, I don't like his pandering to the Republican right, his change in position on immigration or his stance on Roe v. Wade. His age also concerns me and his choice of Vice President will be more important to me than Obama's choice (unless it is Bill Richardson).

Presently, I am undecided and will wait and see how the campaign goes before I decide who to vote for.