Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why The NYC Public Schools Will Continue To Fail As Long As Joel Klein & His Non-Educators At Tweed Are In Charge

I am truly sick of reading those subway signs that say that the NYC schools are improving when the truth is otherwise, Under Chancellor Klein's rule it has become increasingly difficult to effectively teach in the classroom and much needed money is used for a bloated overhead, a failed computer system, and the flavor of the day Charter/small schools. Under our anti-teacher Chancellor and his non-educator minions at Tweed all the alleged academic advances are based upon "smoke and mirrors". When the data is scrutinized, it is obvious that these phony academic advances are based upon dumbed-down New York State tests, restricting learning of other subjects outside of Math & English, and continuous test preparation. Even then there is still no academic improvement according to the national NAEP and SAT tests. Let's look at why I believe under Joel Klein there will be no improvement in real academic achievement in the New York City Schools.

Recruitment over Retention of Teachers: It is a well known fact that Joel Klein has encouraged schools to hire "newbie teachers" and uses the "fair student funding" formula to limit Principals in hiring experienced and highly paid teachers. Many of the small and Charter scho0ls are known to have staff that is almost entirely staffed by first and second year teachers.
The learning curve for these teachers are steep and combined with classroom management and curriculum problems make these teachers ineffective. Further, according to statistics less than 50% of the teachers will be in the New York City school system by their fifth year. Combined with the alternate certification programs such as "Teach for America" and "Teaching Fellows", many of these teachers are clueless in the classroom and the result is a poor student learning environment.

Leadership Academy Principals: Gone are the days when many Principals rose through the ranks from senior teacher, to become an Assistant Principal, and finally as a well-respected Principal. Now many of the Principals have little or no classroom experience and fail to understand what it is like in the classroom. These Principals cannot or will not work collaboratively with their teaching staff and with the Principal now having total control of their schools, it is run more as a dictatorship than as a smooth working relationship that improves both student and teacher morale.

Workshop Model and other One-Size-Fits-All Programs: Once the classroom was the teacher's domain. Only the teacher could decide the best way to reach her students academically. Now Treed treats the students as widgets and the teachers as cogs as if the schools are an assembly line. Many experienced teachers are forced to follow these wasteful and unimaginative programs under threat of insubordination or incompetence charges.

Large Class Size Problems: The New York City Schools have the largest class sizes in the State and despite winning a lawsuit to reduce class size. Klein has used the budget crises to ignore the court order. Rather than reduce class size, Tweed has continued to waste money on the $81 million dollar AIRS system that still doesn't work right, increased his accountability staff, and added more lawyers to file 3020-a charges to terminate teachers for alleged incompetence. An example of this is the $1 million dollar plus Teacher Performance Unit.

Small & Charter Schools: The start up costs for these schools wastes precious money when the school system is desperately short of funds to retain their existing programs and staff. In the long run most of these schools are destined to fail once the excluded students (ESL, Special Ed, and level one discipline problems) are required to be accepted by the school. These schools already experience high teacher turnover and lack experienced teachers with good classroom management skills.

Phony Graduation Rates: The DOE high school graduation rates do not reflect the real graduation rate. The DOE graduate includes the "credit recovery system" that allows students who fail to go to classes to give a couple of essays for a passing grade. Furthermore, today's Principals have changed many a failing grade to passing without the teacher's permission or knowledge to increase the school's graduation rate. Finally, these very same Principals pressure the teacher in giving a failing senior a passing grade to get the student out of the school.

Lack of Transparency at The DOE: It is well known that the DOE lacks transparency and accepts no input from parents, students, or teachers in their decision making. This lack of transparency allows the non-educators at Tweed to decide which of their pet programs can be pushed onto the schools and it does not matter that these programs don't help the students academically and costs the school much needed funds.

Poor Teacher Morale: Under Chancellor Joel Klein teacher morale is at an all time low with the Chancellor's Regulations restricting the disciplining of students while allowing student accusations to cause the removal and possible termination of the teacher. Further, the increase in paperwork allows the classroom teacher with little time to work on new and innovative ideas, even if they were allowed. Finally, the lack of a grievance threat allows the administrators to write as many Letters-To-The-File (LIF) without consequences.

Obama or no Obama, with Chancellor Joel Klein in charge, don't look for any improvement in improving the academics in the New York City Public School system.

Children Last continues......


Pissedoffteacher said...

Obama is not going to do much to change education either. Look at his poor choice for secretary of education.

he ahs no idea what it is like to be in a school like the ones we teach in.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a comprehensive list of what is wrong with the NYC Department of Education.

The problems all stem from our leaders- they should take the following advice--
A leader should have the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, and the compassion to lead us with generosity. This is what is expected of teachers when they walk into any classroom, of administrators when they interact with the personnel in their building, and of the masters in Tweed when they work with all the members of this organization, regardless of level or rank.

As we have witnessed in the last eight years, no one in any position of authority has heeded this advice and lived to tell about it, much less be promoted for it.

Anonymous said...

You are all a bunch of whiners

Anonymous said...

Hi, Chaze:

Just an idea for comments..

Michelle Obama will focus on employment discrimination issues as I heard from the news.

Obama said on many occasions that If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. ...

We all know that DOE and UFT have not afforded the full due process rights to the teachers who have been brought of 3020a proceeding as stipulated by NYS 3020a law.

The charged teachers face one arbitrator instead a panel of three, the arbitrators sit on the cases for years on end instead of on rotational basis, as the law clearly states. It makes the 3020a prceeding a steady stream of income for the arbitrators, which influence the impartiality of their decisions.

I suggest that we start a pertition among the rubber room teachers to Obama administration to have the laws enforced as it was written. We demand a panel of three arbitrators instead of one, and the arbitrators are on the rotational basis as the 3020a law states.

Chaz said...

Pissed off: I agree with you about Obama.

kidsfirst: Either you are ignorant of what really goes on in the schools or you are one of Joel Klein's children last advocates. In any case it is obvious that your children don't go to our schools. Otherwise you would be commenting differently.

anon: right you are. Now only if these leders would just come forward..

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time that we actually LET the Mayor know of our displeasure with his policies?

Obviously, what the man is trying to accomplish here is the DEATH of public education, and to turn the public schools into mini corporations.

Do we REALLY want this man to be in office for another term? Let him KNOW how you feel..



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