Sunday, September 28, 2008

Changes In My Favorite Blog List

It is one month into the new school year and it is time for editing my favorite blogs list.

Education in Texas - Just not rel event to what is going on in the New York City Public Schools.

Life After The Rubber Room - This blog started out well but has become quite boring of late and the posts are sporadic.

New York City Public School Blue - My favorite post but he has left the teaching profession. A great loss to both the profession and the educational blogosphere.

Syntactic Gymnastics - Another loss to the profession.

Fidgety - Great post about life in the "rubber room". A must read!

Flowers & Sausages - An entertaining post about the special education classroom.

Edwonkette - Great post on how she takes the DOE statistics and shows the real story.

Detention - News items with a humorous twist. Quite funny.

Justice - He is currently on sabbatical but has interesting posts.

Proof Of Life: - A great blog about how an outspoken teacher must put up with administrative abuse and incompetence.

Blogs in danger of being dropped:
JD2718 - Once my favorite blog but lately he rarely provides any real information that is of interest to me. He seems to spend the majority of his posts on math puzzles and his trips. I have not taken JD2718 off my list because occasionally he does post a real interesting article about our union contract and bad schools to work for.

untamed Teacher - She has not posted since June and if there are no posts by next month. I will drop the post.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Would You Want A Novice Surgeon Or An Experienced Surgeon To Operate On You? For The DOE The Answer Is Obvious, The Novice Of Course!

The DOE has started their public relations campaign to vilify the ATRs by saying that they were discarded because of their lack of ability. Not ageism, not salary, and certainly not their knowledge to question stupid administrative dictates. According to the DOE, the ATRs are characterized by their lack of classroom ability. On the other hand, the DOE sees no problem when principals hire loads of cheap and inexperienced newbie teachers. despite documented classroom management and curriculum learning issues with these teachers. Education experts all know it takes a minimum of 3 to 5 years for a teacher to acquire the management and educational skills to handle the classroom. However, in the unreal world of the DOE, this seems to be ignored. In fact, the DOE actually encourages the principals to hire newbie teachers and uses the "fair student funding" program to make it difficult for principals to do otherwise.

This brings me to a simple question. "Would you want a novice surgeon or an experienced surgeon to operate on you or your child"? I would think the answer is obvious, the experienced surgeon. However, the DOE with their "children last" program and "education on the cheap" policy ignores what's best for the student. An experienced teacher can evaluate the various learning styles of her students and can most effectively get the most out of a child's developing brain. By contrast, the DOE seems to want newbie teachers that must follow a steep learning curve to develop as a teacher and are encouraged to use a failed one-program-fits-all curriculum model. Is it any wonder that despite the emphasis on test preparation over a more complete education, the NYC students have shown no improvement on the federal tests?

Only Tweed and their media lackeys, cannot see that it is more important to have a high quality experienced teacher in the classroom than an inexperienced novice teacher. Until the DOE disregards their failed ideology and bring the best teachers back into the classrooms, look for flat test scores to continue.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Recommendations To Tweed For Reducing The Budget Without Affecting The Classroom

New York City is facing a serious fiscal crises and Bloomberg has asked for cuts of $580 million for the next two years. This is serious money and I have some real suggestions how the DOE can solve the budget crunch without affecting the classroom.

First, freeze hiring of all new teacher hires until all excessed teachers are placed in their subject area. Savings; $148 for the next two years.

Second, let the DOE live up to their promise to review all reassigned teachers under 3020-a charges and send the 90% of them back to school. Savings; $116 million for the last two years.

Third, eliminate all F-status individuals that only drain the school budgets. Savings; $70 million, maybe more, for the next two years.

Finally, eliminate the no-bid, highly-paid consultant contracts that only eat into school budgets. Savings; greater than $ 250 million for the next two years.

In my world of real math, not Tweed's fuzzy math, these recommended actions would result in savings of $584 million dollars, More than enough to meet the city's goal of $580 million in budget cuts. Better yet, none of these cuts would affect the classroom.

Of course, Tweed, in its ever continuing search to cut the school budget in their "children last" program will seek the bulk of the cuts from the schools and of course the classroom.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The DOE Causes The ATR Crises,Then Has Their Flunkies Blame The Teacher.

The newspapers are full of how it will cost up to 74 million dollars to pay teachers, who no fault of their own, have been excessed and are used as substitute teachers in schools for the 2008-2009 school year. The Daily News, The New York Times, and The Sun all have articles that report that the New Teacher Project , a wholly owned subsidiary of the Department of Education, has questioned the waste of money by allowing the ATR crises to get worse. However, instead of doing the obvious by freezing new hires until the ATR crises subsides, Mr. Timothy Daily, President of the company demanded that the ATR's be given a time limit, similar to Chicago (12 months) while encouraging the DOE to continue to hire new teachers.

Not surprisingly, Tweed was quite happy to agree that there should be a time limit of no more than 12 months before ATR's are taken off the payroll. However, for the DOE, the ATR time limit to get a classroom position requires the union to renegotiate the tenure provisions of the contract and amend State Civil Service Law, not even Ms. Sellout, Randi Weingarten, is going to do that. In fact, the ATR time limit is non-negotiable and no union leader will negotiate teacher tenure away. Not now, not ever! Therefore, to stop and eliminate the ATR crises, the following procedures need to be implemented.

  1. Freeze new hires until all excessed teachers are placed in their subject area.
  2. Eliminate the "fair student funding" formula that penalizes principals who pick up higher-paid teachers.
  3. Bring back the "seniority transfer system" that allows veteran teachers to have first choice of vacant positions.
Finally, it is time for our union to start their own media offensive and place the blame for the ATR crises squarely on the DOE and their "children last" program.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The ATR Crises Worsens As The DOE Encourages Principals To Hire Newbie Teachers

Just when the ATR crises can't get any worse, the New York Post reports that there was a 13% increase in ATR's to 1395 this year. Based upon last year's figures, the ATR crises will cost DOE over 91 million dollars for the next two years! Unconscionable during a fiscal crises in New York City, how can Tweed justify this misguided policy? Tweed can't and they don't bother to explain it to the public. Instead, Tweed continues to waste funds. Rather than saving money by placing excessed teachers into vacancies, Tweed encourages principals to hire newbie teachers. Posted below is a message that Tweed sent to school principals.

This is from this week's Principal Weekly

New Teachers Available
All schools

Newly-hired, certified teachers are available for you to consider for instructional vacancies. To find out more about these candidates, most of whom are in shortage subject areas, you can contact the Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality at (718) 935-4080 or contact your HR partner. You can also search and view resumes and essays of these and other qualified candidates using the New Teacher Finder.

Notice how Tweed did not mention the over abundance of well-qualified ATR's? The DOE's disrespect of older and experienced teachers just continues and it does not matter how much money its costing Tweed. Furthermore, the lack of experienced teachers in the classroom only hurts the students since even the best of the newbie teachers take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to achieve adequate classroom management and a real knowledge of how to teach the curriculum.

Kleinberg's misguided emphasis on hiring cheap, and inexperienced teachers as it tries to practice "education on the cheap" just ends up wasting even more precious money and the result is a continuation of their "children last" program.


The ATR crises is worse than I thought the Daily News reports that there are an additional 229 newbie teachers without a classroom. This brings the total number of teachers who are ATR's up to 1,424. However, this did not stop Tweed from hiring 5,400 newbie teachers this school year. What has our union done about this travesty of wasted talent and money? Nothing!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Both The DOE and UFT Agree - Teachers Have No Rights When Assaulted & Abused

I have brought up how the anti-teacher crusade of Tweed has wasted over $146 million dollars in removing teachers from the classroom, whether it is in the "rubber room" or as an ATR. I also showed that any teacher can be brought up on charges of corporal punishment, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment just on a word of a student and his/her friend she tells that to. However, what about teachers who are physically assaulted, verbally abused, and sexually harassed and assaulted? Not a thing. How many times has a student cursed you out and the only punishment is a slap on the wrist, if any punishment at all. Further, how many teachers had been threatened by students who received no punishment whatsoever. Even teachers who were physically and sexually assaulted by students were ignored by the administrators. Sounds unbelievable huh? Unfortunately, it is so often true.

Let's look at what happened to classroom teacher Theresa Reel, who was sexually harassed, touched, and threatened and both the DOE and the UFT did nothing about it. In an August 15th article in the Chief, Ms. Reel described what happened and the lack of action by either the DOE or the UFT. In fact the administration told her if she continues with her complaints that if OSI is called in, they would treat her as the "guilty party"! Incredible isn't it?

The Chief in the Editor's opinion article "Razzle Dazzle" questioned why the teacher complaints of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual touching were not acted upon. The answer is quite simple. Teacher rights are not respected by the DOE and the UFT, despite Randi Weingarten's apparent outrage, allows this to happen time and again.

The union must lead the way to recapture teacher rights by ensuring that an independent investigation be done when the teacher and chapter leader inform them of abuse by students and administrators of the teacher. Presently, the union contract ignores abusive action against teachers as incredible as it seems. Was this omission in the contract deliberate or just more incompetent representation by our union? Whichever the case, this omission needs to be immediately corrected.

Is it any wonder that more and more teachers resign, retire, or just plain quit because of the abuse by the students and administrators, aided and abetted by Tweed. Our union? They just look the other way as their members are subject to an increasingly hostile work environment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Teddy Smith Saga - How A Biased SCI Investigation and An Arbitrator's Unfair Decision Resulted In An Innocent Teacher Being Suspended For A Year

Many bloggers, including this one, have complained that the DOE investigative process is biased and unfair and questioned 3020-a arbitrator decisions. Therefore, it is important to give an example when the two results in an one year suspension, without pay or health benefits, to an innocent teacher. It all started when Teddy Smith was harassed into teaching a part-time gym class with more than 65 children (often almost 100 at one time) at The Museum School on West 17th street in Manhattan. He also has a heart condition for which he asked his Principal (Lindley Uehling) to be accommodated – although he was and is able to perform his job - but was turned down and his needs were ignored. This started Teddy Smith's journey into the "rubber room" and 3020-a charges. In June Teddy Smith finally won a small victory as a State judge overturned the 3020-a arbitration decision. Betsy Combier's "rubber room news" talks about the case in detail.

The Teddy Smith saga clearly shows the abuse of the DOE investigative process and the closed-door agreements made without a teacher's knowledge. Betsy Combier's "Rubber Room Reporter" discuss how the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) failing to do a fair investigation and the arbitrator for not following 3020-a procedures in determining the penalty given to Teddy Smith.

To get a clearer picture of what happened to "Teddy Smith" it is important to see how SCI took their flawed investigation to the papers and damaged the reputation of the teacher. The Chief published the SCI press release information that smeared Teddy Smith and to the outside world that it would appear that he threatened an arbitrator. In reality, Teddy Smith did no such thing and now he must appear for yet another 3020-a hearing, while on his one year suspension!

The Teddy Smith saga shows that anytime a principal goes after you, the result could be reassignment and potential termination based upon a flawed investigation. Due Process rights? Don't make me laugh,

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The CUNY Remedial Course Work For Entering Freshman Really Shows That The DOE High School Graduation Rates Are Bogus!

The Daily News printed an article showing that the.students accepted at City University Of New York (CUNY) have to take more remedial courses to prepare them for college work. In fact about 83% of students entering the City of New York community colleges last year failed placement exams and had to take remedial courses in reading, writing or math - and most graduated from city high schools, records show. Interestingly Chancellor Joel Klein, using his usual fuzzy math statistics, stated About two-thirds of students graduating from city high schools will have to take remedial courses. He also claimed that this figure has went down from previous years. Reading the article the opposite seems to be true. In 1999, when CUNY stopped offering remedial courses at its four-year colleges. The number of first-time freshman taking remedial courses has since grown 20% to about 8,700 last year.This information questions the validity of the NYC public school graduation rates. Obviously, the DOE is graduating many "not ready for college. students " who must take remedial courses before they can do college work.

The rise in remedial course work at CUNY just proves that the high school graduation rates include too many students who graduate with local diplomas (30.2%), aided and abetted by the DOE's bogus "credit recovery program" , and principals pressuring teachers to graduate undeserving students so that the school's report card would reflect progress. Even students who receive a Regents diploma are suspect because of the State's dumbing-down the Regents in many of the subjects. Obviously, the decline in City SAT scores accurately reflect the increase in remedial course work for the entering class at the CUNY community Colleges.

The gimmicks that the DOE uses to artificially increase their high school graduation rates are reflected in the huge increase in students who needed remedial course work at the CUNY community colleges and shows how bogus the DOE high school graduation rates really are.

Monday, September 01, 2008

What Is The Teachers4Action Federal Lawsuit Against The DOE & UFT About?

There seems to be some confusion in the blogosphere about the Teacher4Action's lawsuit against the DOE and UFT. I hope to clarify this lawsuit to teachers and how important it is if the lawsuit is won. Teachers4Action is a large group of teachers who were reassigned by the DOE for various alleged offenses. This group which represents all the reassignment centers in New York City sued both the DOE and the UFT in State and Federal Court. Previously, Jeff kaufman on the ICE blog discussed the problems with regard to the State lawsuit. However, the more important federal lawsuit is alive and well and I hope to summarize the "cause of action" the best I can as an outsider looking in.

The basis of the lawsuit can be summarized with the group accusing the DOE of violating the 1st Amendment (Freedom of Speech), the 5th Amendment (Freedom of Association), and the 14th Amendment (Equal Rights and Due Process Protection) of the teachers. Further, the lawsuit accuses the UFT in aiding and abetting the DOE in violating teacher rights. Specifically, one of those rights was that the UFT failed to properly advise their membership of the impact of changes in Article 21g that was negotiated by the DOE and UFT in 2002 and 2005. The federal lawsuit is based upon the seven issues (cause of action) listed below:
  1. Violations/interference of the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendment rights of the teachers by the DOE.
  2. DOE harassment and allowing a hostile work environment for teachers who chose to stand up for their rights.
  3. DOE retaliation against teachers that complain about violating their rights to a safe and appropriate work environment.
  4. Breach of Contract by the DOE that ignores time lines and proper procedures as defined by the UFT/DOE contract.
  5. Failure by the UFT to do their duty of fair representation by teachers in the 3020-a proceedings.
  6. Negligence against the UFT who encouraged deals rather then to go through the 3020-a hearings.
  7. False confinement to "rubber rooms" causing physical, and emotional injuries.
I can't get into the specifics with each "cause of action" since I am not part of the lawsuit and some of the charges are particular to one or more of the plaintiffs. However, many of the charges are valid for all teachers. For example, the failure of the UFT to protect teachers from DOE retaliation by allowing DOE to have their own one-sided and unfair investigation. Further, the UFT allows the DOE to discriminate against tenured (older) teachers by imposing the fair student funding program and eliminating the seniority transfer system that led to the ATR and "rubber room" problems.

What also seems to be important about the federal lawsuit is how the UFT and DOE made side agreements that are not included in the changes to Article 21g. For example, the elimination of the right for a teacher to request a three arbitrator panel. Or Appendix "H" that allows the teachers to be suspended for up to three months without pay or health benefits simply on hearsay. The result, is the reduction of teacher "due process" rights which I have discussed previously.

Teaching for the DOE has become more and more difficult as Randi Weingarten and gang has negotiated many of our rights away and increased our workload, resulting in a worsening of the classroom teaching environment. If the Teachers4Action lawsuit is successful, it might lead to a more progressive and equal relationship between the teacher and administrator and reduce the teacher abuse that currently resides throughout the DOE.