Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Dear Team Polazzo - Why Matt Polazzo's Article Is Wrong
On my previous post I received a student commenter from Team Polazzo who asked me why I and other education bloggers believe that their teacher Matt Polazzo was wrong and misguided in his article in the New York Daily News last Sunday. The student was respectful and asked me why we attacked their beloved teacher for speaking his mind. I thought about it and believe that they deserve an answer. Therefore, here is my response.
First, your teacher flatly stated that all the teachers in the "rubber rooms" are "bad" teachers and the ATRs are incompetent. If he really understood the issues concerning the two groups he defames he would have known that Chancellor Joel Klein and his non-educator cronies caused both problems with their anti-teacher policy. The increase in "rubber room" teachers and the ATR mess were caused by closing down schools and cutting school budgets to the bone while encouraging principals to hire inexperienced and ill-prepared teachers to replace the experienced teachers in Tweed's "children last" program.
Second, the DOE brought in a fair student funding program that was not revenue neutral as the program was intended to be. This forced principals to hire the cheapest teachers to balance their budget and as a result many of the worst schools have little or no experienced teachers, just those "Teach For America" two-year wonders who couldn't teach to save their collective lives while experienced teachers languished on the ATR list.
Third, Chancellor Klein gave the Principals power to remove teachers they don't like and kick them off the school payroll in sixty days. The sevenfold increase in teachers in the "rubber room" is not about what is best for the students it is what is best for the principals, many of them with limited classroom experience themselves. For your information 90% of these so called "bad" rubber room teachers are sent back to the classroom after an independent arbitrator hears the case against the teacher.
Finally, the DOE practices age discrimination, both in the "rubber room" and the ATR ranks. I just need to refer you to last year's survey on the Queens "rubber room" as evidence to this. If you consider senior, experienced, and highly paid teachers as "bad" then you should work for Joel Klein's DOE.
I am sure Matt Polazzo is a great teacher and the students just love him and deservedly so. However, his knowledge of what really goes on in the "rubber room" and the ATR issue is sorely lacking. Therefore, his article is misguided, unfair, and inaccurate and he deserves the criticism that he brought upon himself.