Friday, February 27, 2009

While The Schools Are Forced To Cut Their Budget by 5%, Tweed Just Continues To Increase Their Head Count.

The economic crises have forced the schools to reduce their budget by 5% for the Spring semester. No exceptions. However, the proposed 10% cut from the DOE outside the schools do not come from Tweed but primarily come from the District Offices or the Integrated Service Centers. In fact, the head count at Tweed has increased by almost 100 people since January of 2008 and 22% since October of 2004. Most of these increases come from the Office of Accountability, Budget, Legal Services, and The Chancellor's Office. How can Tweed justify increasing their head count while the rest of the DOE and schools must suffer cuts of between 5-10%? The answer is quite simple. It is because Tweed's bloated bureaucracy is not held accountable for their actions by the Bloomberg Administration. Interestingly, the only real reduction at Tweed is at the Deputy Chancellor's Office of Teaching and Learning where the staff has been reduced from 133 in 2004 to 23, the one office where education practices are actually understood.

The Daily News reported on how some of Tweed's programs saw an almost fivefold increase of bureaucrats while forcing the students to have fewer staff or services in the schools. That is unconscionable and just shows how much contempt Tweed has for the students in the school system, A graph by Gotham Schools also show the increase in the Tweed headcount while the Field Offices were forced to reduce staff.

While the school system suffers devastating cuts the Central Bureaucracy at Tweed just seems to keep increasing. "Children Last" continues.....

Monday, February 23, 2009

DOE Continues To Put Unqualified Non-Educators In Charge Of Education

District 75 is a very expensive district in the New York City Public Schools. The district provides services for the most needy of special education students and these services can result in a tripling of costs for these students. So what did Tweed do to District 75? It put one of their non-educators in charge of it. Garth Harries, a Tweed insider, who has been previously in charge of the disastrous small schools program and class size issues is now in charge of District 75 despite having no experience whatsoever in special education. In fact, the only experience Garth Harreis has in special education was his directive that the small schools did not have to take special education students in for the first two years of their existence. Hence, a policy of exclusion of the most needy students. Now Tweed has put him in charge of these very students he excluded from the small schools.

The placing of Garth Harries, with no special education credentials and now in charge of District 75 smells to high heaven and just raises suspicions that the DOE's marching orders are to reduce the cost of services to the most needy students. How this will be done I cannot say but since we are in a budget crises I'm sure Tweedy have some ideas about how to cut the District 75 budget. Already some District 75 teachers have been told by Administrators not to remind parents that their children are eligible for a mini bus. If the parent does not request one the student will be assigned a regular school bus at less cost. I suspect under Garth Harries many more cost cutting programs will be developed at the expense of the special education student.

"Children Last" continues......

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Under Klein & Bloomberg Class Sizes Continue To Increase

It is one of the most important items when it comes to getting a quality education, that is class size. It is well documented that small class sizes result in improved academic achievement. However, in the seven years of the Bloomberg administration class sizes have not been reduced significantly despite money from the CFE lawsuit. This year class sizes have actually increased and New York City suffers from the largest class sizes in the State.Furthermore, under Klein & Bloomberg do not look for class size relief anytime soon. Despite parents, teachers, and education experts who have linked smaller class sizes to academic improvements the Bloomberg administration rather spend their money on suspect data collection programs and a one-size-fits-all classroom instruction project without teacher input. Further, under Klein & Bloomberg there is an increasing reliance on non-educators and in particular lawyers to implement the many dubious programs that has increased paperwork threefold and worsened the classroom environment. In the New York Times article the DOE put the blame on Principals for the increase in class sizes. If that is the case then why haven't Tweed removed those Principals that allowed for an increase in class sizes? The reason is quite simple the "Fair Student Funding" formula and DOE imposed budget restrictions on the schools limited the options many Principals have. Moreover, the Principal's own poor choices exasperated the situation such as spending precious funds on unnecessary Professional Development programs, hiring of "F" status administrators, and hosting costly functions that drain the school's budget. Where is the accountability to the parents, students, and teachers on what is best for the children? The real story is that the Principals are only accountable to Tweed and few Principals are reprimanded when they piss off the school population as long as they are in the good graces of the DOE. The UFT press release discusses the class size issue further.

Instead of reducing class size Klein & Bloomberg have found a way to waste $140 million a year in CFE funds and increase class size and with the proposed budget things can only get worse."Children Last" continues.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The DOE's Rigid Use Of The "Worshop Model" Has Resulted In Poor Student Preformance And Charges Of Teacher Incompetence

The not so great minds at Tweed have mandated that classroom instruction should rigidly follow the "Workshop Model" with little or no adjustments to account for the teacher style or student population. In many schools the Administrators actually micromanage the teachers to ensure complete compliance to the "Workshop Model". In the diverse NYC Public school system to use a "one-size-fits-all- approach" is dangerous for student learning. Remember, students are not widgets and teachers are not cogs. Different learning styles should be approached with a variety of teaching techniques. However, in today's DOE this opinion cannot be found, especially among the top bureaucrats.

What is wrong with the "Workshop Model"? Let me count the ways. The workshop model was developed with a moderate sized class sizes and with a homogeneous academic group of students. A very different reality then what we have in our schools where academically poor students are intermixed with ELA and academically proficient students..The UFT back in 2005 wrote about its problems in the secondary schools Here! Further, the "Workshop Model" has some very real weaknesses. First, it is not geared to individualized learning which makes its use for ELA and special education students a serious problem. Second, the "Workshop Model" allows for too much socialization within the student groups and classroom management issues. Finally, the "Workshop Model" inhibits creative learning and individualized instruction, the neediest students are left behind!

The DOE's blind rigidity to the "Workshop Model" is not what the author intended. In a statement at a teachers workshop Lucy Calkins [one of the leaders of the balanced literacy movement] dropped in to talk to us at a recent workshop. She said the workshop model was not to be used for all teaching and thought it was crazy to teach a social studies lesson in 10 minutes. She also restated that balanced literacy is based on teachers making their own decisions about what their students need. The suggested mini-lessons were only meant to help teachers until they learned the balanced literacy methods." The quote was found in the newspaper article Here . I guess the DOE forgot that part of it.

What is even more nefarious is how the Workshop Model" is being used to determine veteran teachers incompetent. There is a directed movement by the TPU to bring incompetence charges on these teachers based upon the "Workshop Model". It is almost laughable that a misused educational program is being used to determine teacher incompetence. However, it is true.

The union should immediately attack the rigid application of the "Workshop Model" and tear apart the DOE in trying to pin teacher incompetence by its use. No other respond is acceptable.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Take Of The Upcoming City Budget On Education

The draconian NYC budget by Mayor Bloomberg and the cronies at Tweed tried to make the case that it would lay off 15,000 teachers. Of course since these teachers would be "newbie teachers" the Bloomberg Administration was just shouting empty threats. However, what is real are the cuts to the schools. Already Principals are looking. to find out which teachers are retiring or leaving the system and what programs to eliminate.

Look for teacher positions who have non-classroom duties to be eliminated and yes, those "F" status people to be few as Principals just can't afford them. Finally, per-session activities will be vastly reduced and many clubs will cease to exist. The result is a bare bones school environment and even less enrichment programs that keep studens on the right path to adulthood.

However, these cuts will not affect Tweed where the Central Administration will continue requiring more paperwork using a poorly run computer system that costs millions of dollars and costly, time-consuming mandates by non-educators. Like usual it is "children last" when it comes to either cutting the school budget or the Bureaucracy at Tweed.

Sorry, I have not blogged for three weeks but issues beyond my control required my full attention.