In my continuing series of the awful "givebacks" that our union handed to the City in the terrible 2005 contract., I have zeroed in on the amount of time and days we were forced to give back in exchange for a raise that barely beat the City inflation rate.
First, we were forced to work an extra 37.5 minutes, almost an extra period, by working with the most needy children who stayed after school. While I do not have a problem with working with a select group of children (a maximum of 10), I do have a problem how administrators would stuff 20 children with two teachers in each classroom and think that they can actually observe you in the process. A far different situation than Randi Weingarten said it would be. Randi claimed the extra 37.5 minutes would be used as "office hours". Meaning students would make an appointment with the teacher to work on specific issues in the allocated time. This became a 10% increase in a teacher's work day and this increase in time should have resulted in a 10% increase in pay annually by itself. Of course it didn't even come close.
Next, we also gave up the two days before Labor Day and if you work in Brooklyn and Queens, a third day. To many teachers, giving up the two days before Labor Day was unacceptable and now we find out that the two days equal 0.58% of a salary increase. This is the reduction in whatever pay raise we get in the next contract. The question is why would our union give up these two valuable days for a mere 0.58% in the first place ? This is yet another question that our union has failed to answer.
Yes, we now have obtained the two days before Labor Day back but it cost us 1.25% on our TDA (from 8.25% to 7.00%), a de facto Tier V retirement plan, and a reduction of 0.58% raise in our next contract for days we shouldn't have given up in the first place. "here comes the clowns" once again.
In my encounters with many of the teachers I meet at workshops and from other schools, I am stunned how little they know about the terrible consequences of the 2005 contract. While I do understand that the newer teachers really have no way of knowing what we gave up in the "giveback" laden 2005 contract. It was the lack of knowledge from more veteran teachers, especially the elementary school teachers who were actually clueless about the 2005 contract, except that they obtained a raise. Even the Chapter Leaders didn't seem to understand the things we gave up and I can only shake my head in disbelief at the lack of knowledge that New York's "Brightest" have. Is it any wonder why only 22% of the members actually voted? However, I need to remind the members what we gave up in the terrible 2005 contract and why it is important to the members. Part two deals with the elimination of grievances when given a disciplinary Letter-To-The-File (LIF).
Elimination Of Grievances For LIF:
The union has maintained that very few grievances were successful and that giving up the right to grieve was not a major loss. and that all disciplinaryLIF would be removed after three years unless used in a 3020-a hearing. However, the grievances procedure actually was an effective check against vindictive principals who had to hear grievances and the DOE who found the three part grievance procedure wasteful and encouraged principals to be selective in issuing disciplinary LIF. Moreover, the few that the union took to Arbitration put a check on the Principal who could be identified as being too zealous in giving LIF to his or her teachers since the DOE had to pay their share of the Arbitration process. However, even one successful grievance was well worth it and stops principals from filing 3020-a charges within the three year period by using the LIF.
While the union has not published the increases in LIF since the terrible 2005 contract, it is a very good bet that principals have significantly increased LIF to their staff since there are no longer any checks on the principals. I am quite sure that the UFT research department know what this increase in LIF is, but are afraid to show these statistics., except to the leadership who approved the elimination of grievances. Remember, the leadership doesn't want to be shown that they made a terrible mistake, especially during an election year.
Therefore, while principals no longer fear giving their staff more and more LIF, the union professes to ignore the situation since they are not subject to getting LIF themselves. "Here comes the clowns" once again.
This is the first part of a five part series on the damage the 2005 contract did to the New York City teaching profession and the lasting impacts that affect us today. This series was sparked by a "Unity" member telling me why I should vote "Unity" since they are experienced in negotiating with the City. I reminded the "Unity" member about the terrible 2005 contract and was met with a blank stare. I also told him that these "bunch of clowns" at "Unity" have permanently hurt the teaching profession.His response was "really"? "I didn't know that"? Therefore, it is time to remind people of the 2005 contract disaster that has made an older and highly-paid teacher an endangered species. Part one of this series deals with the elimination of the seniority transfer rights.
Elimination Of Seniority Transfer Rights:
Prior to the terrible 2005 contract, principals were required to list half of their openings and teachers from other schools with seniority could bump "newbie" teachers out of these vacancies. During this time all excessed teachers must be placed in the subject area before principals would be able to hire a "newbie teacher". Finally, teachers who were from closing schools were given priority in placing them in the available vacancies. All this changed in October of 2005 as our crack "Unity" negotiators sold out the members by eliminating seniority transfer, bumping, and the ending of priority placement of teachers from a closing school. The result was an explosion of excessed teachers, many of them older and highly salaried. This explosion of excessed teachers is now known as the ATR crises and it is expected that in the next school year there could be 2,500 ATRs because our union gave up the cherished seniority transfer rights.
The union after first denying the problem existed. Then they thought that Tweed would wary of paying 60 million dollars annually for the ATRs. Finally the union realized the folly of their ways and tried to negotiate with the DOE and came up with the ATR agreement which the principals have widely ignored. Now it is projected that there could be 2,500 ATRs and more if the State cuts the budget This could cost the DOE upwards of 100 million dollars annually,
Now "Unity" wants me to trust them with contract negotiations after they caused the ATR crises with there inept negotiations with the DOE back in 2005. Maybe I would feel better if there were new leadership but the very same cast of characters that were responsible for the 2005 contract are in the very same positions except for one or two. I just dread what wonderful "givebacks" that our union has in store for us in the next contract. Hopefully, a new world order will appear and our union will hold the line. However, I will not hold my breath waiting for it to happen with these "bunch of clowns" running the show.
Thanks to ednotes online for the use of the picture.
A veteran teacher told me a real horror story about how her "Leadership Academy" Principal's dislike of an applicant was more important than what was best for her special needs children. While I cannot confirm the story, I have no doubt that the essence of the story is probably true.
The story starts with a recently appointed "Leadership Academy" Principal with two years of actual classroom experience (yes, not even tenured) found herself appointed as the Principal of a small special education school. She was not popular with the staff who believed the Principal was not qualified to run the school and was out of touch with the staff. However, the Principal would tell the staff that she ran the school based upon what was the best for the children. In other words, its "children first". When the Superintendent came to investigate the problems at the school the Principal complained that her staff did not care about the children and she did. Therefore, she said the problems were with some disgruntled teachers not her management style. The Superintendent left the school without taking any action and left the Principal in charge despite many staff members approaching the Superintendent with various improper actions they alleged the Principal did.
The veteran teacher was not one of the disgruntled teachers but kept to herself and did her job. She became one of the very few staff members the Principal trusted and was asked to sit in on the interviewing of Speech Therapists to fill a position in the school. Many of the people interviewed had worked under a contract for a period of weeks or months at the school and were not only familiar with the school but were known by the staff,including the Principal. One applicant stood out among others, she was an older women (in her 40s) who had come back to the field after staying at home to raise her children and seemed to have a real connection with the students in the school. Every teacher raved about her and even many of the autistic children seemed to respond to her and even asked for her when the contract was over. Quite a breakthrough for any teacher to get autistic children to respond that way. However, this Speech Therapist had a problem, the "Leadership Academy" Principal. It seemed that he Principal had interfered with the Speech Therapist's session at a time when she was achieving a critical breakthrough with a child. The Speech Therapist let the Principal know as nicely as possible that this was not a good time to have a talk as this was a critical moment in her session and she would speak with the Principal later that day. The Principal was obviously not happy about it but agreed to talk later. Fast forward to the interview process and the Principal, remembering her unsatisfactory encounter with the Speech Therapist saw this as a perceived slight and hurt feelings, she decides that this Speech Therapist is not appropriate for the position and another Speech Therapist gets he job.
The result is that the "Leadership Academy" Principal did what was best for her and not what was best for the special needs children of her school. Tweed would be proud of her as she is a shining example of the DOE's "children last" program.
In my previous post I have decided to vote for James Eterno of ICE/TJC for the reasons outlined here. However, I am not a ICE/TJC member and I vote for the person not the party. Therefore, of the five people I will be voting for four are ICE/TJC members and one New Action member. My explanation for voting for the five are as follows:
Arthur Goldstein ICE/TJC: One of the most intelligent and active high school Chapter Leader who is a Gotham News contributor and has taken on the DOE time and again. Arthur is always in the forefront of getting the UFT to protect their members. His influence goes well beyond his High School and he is a tireless advocate for the teachers in he trenches.
JonathanHalabi New Action: Jonathan is a tireless advocate for the teachers and wears many hats in his school. He has no problem representing the union when asked to go to devastated cities like New Orleans and is a real asset to the teaching profession. I was especially impressed with his defense of the bloggers against Leo Casey and accurately predicted the problems with the 2005 contract. If only the union had listened to him.
Michael Fiorillo ICE/TJC: An aggressive Chapter Leader and is in the James Eterno mode of what makes an effective Chapter Leader. Very few Chapter Leaders are as effective as Michael Fiorillo who has the respect of almost all the school staff.
Kit Wainer ICE/TJC: A founding member and past Presidential candidate who has been in the forefront of many union actions and is a tireless worker for the members.
You may disagree with my selections but I believe I am voting for the best teachers to represent the members in the classroom.
Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, I do not belong to any UFT caucus and will vote for the person and not the caucus. However, after seeing some very encouraging signs that Michael Mulgrew was not that appeaser, Randi Weingarten, I have become disappointed that Michael Mulgrew, despite the rhetoric, represents the same old "Unity" caucus politics. Therefore, I now have decided to vote for James Eterno to lead our Union back to the militancy of Albert Shanker and away from the appeasers that inhabit the "Unity" leadership. Here are the three tests the Michael Mulgrew has failed and made my choice for me .
No Change in the Failed Leadership:
I was shocked to see that the same old tired and disconnected leadership surrounds Michael Mulgrew despite private assurances that significant changes would be made. In particular, the retention of the "Unity" apologist and propagandist Leo Casey who cares more about Darfur and Mexican teachers than his own teachers in the trenches. It was Leo Casey who tried to bully and insult teachers who objected to the disastrous 2005 contract that resulted in the ATR crises, overcrowded "rubber rooms", loss of seniority transfer, three month unpaid suspensions based upon hearsay, and lack of grievances to Letter-to-the-File (LIF). For people who forgot Leo's defense of the indefensible 2005 contract you just need to read his article and the responses here. While I do admire and respect some of the "Unity" leadership I found their culture of unquestioning loyalty at the expense of the members is wrong, very wrong.. Therefore, Michael Mulgrew has failed test number one.
The Secretive Nature When Bargaining With The DOE:
When Randy Weingsrten was President of the UFT she would negotiate with the DOE and not include the affected members. Only a small group of her loyal inner circle were included and the result was usually not in the best interests of the members. Examples of this was the terrible 2005 contract, the ATR agreement, the "rubber room" agreement, the pension changes and the "fair student funding" problems just to name a few. Randi did realize that she needed to open up the next contract negotiations by including all caucuses and this has resulted in a more determined negotiation climate with no union givebacks. However, the Gotham News reports that Michael Mulgrew has secretly been negotiating with Tweed to streamline the disciplinary process. Were any of the people who deal with the "rubber rooms" consulted? Not to my knowledge. Here again Michael Mulgrew has retreated to the secretive negotiating process that has been a disaster for the teachers. . Therefore Michael Mulgrew has failed test number two.
Failure to Protect Member Rights:
Finally, I have asked Michael Mulgrew to have the UFT file a PERB complaint when principals fail to allow teachers take an "official business" day when meeting with their NYSUT attorneys that are related to DOE initiated legal action. The granting of the day has been a "long standing past practice" and PERB has already ruled in another union's favor on this issue. His response is to pass the buck and have his lackeys ignore the issue. Therefore, Michael Mulgrew has failed his third test and in my book three strikes and your out, as the President of the UFT.
This just in and is an exclusive by Chaz. Mayor Michael Bloomberg & Chancellor Joel Klein have decided to close down the large and overcrowded "rubber rooms" in New York City and will allow their well-connected friends to open up for-profit mini reassignment centers where there will each have two "Leadership Academy" administrators and a carefully selected group of reassigned teachers (no more than 25 per site) who will be worked to exhaustion with the tremendous amount of paperwork generated by those non-educators at Tweed. The motto for these mini "rubber rooms" will be "work will set you free". Where did I hear that before? hmmmm. Anyway the CEO's who run the for-profit mini "rubber rooms" will be allowed to select up to 25 reassigned teachers of their choice after interviewing them. Excluded from the interview process will be those teachers subject to felony charges, whistle blowers, union representatives, bloggers, teachers who dare read the blogs,and teachers who have time and attendance charges filed against them.
The teachers selected must expect to work an expanded day from 7:30am to 6:00pm with only a half hour lunch. Further, the selected reassigned teacher must "volunteer" his or her services two Saturdays a month to handle excess paperwork generated by Tweed in their ever failing attempt to get it right but always getting it wrong. Failure to show up on voluntary Saturdays will result in the reassigned teacher to be transferred to the large holding cell being built by Tweed under their building. Moreover, any teacher that fails to meet their quota will be further charged with "neglect of duty" and "insubordination". Finally, if the teacher does not meet the Administrator's arbitrary definition of quality, an "incompetence" charge will be added to the reassigned teacher's 3020-a charges.
Teachers excluded from the mini "rubber room" selection process or not selected will have a special place set up for them. These reassigned teachers will be put into the large holding cell in the basement of the Tweed building and shovel coal to keep the Tweed building warm. Any teacher that refuses to shovel coal will be removed from the payroll and forfeit their health benefits.
Oh god! What a nightmare I had. No teacher due process rights. "arbitrary & capricious" judgement by administrators who never taught in the classroom and clueless & vindictive non-educators running the system. Wait a minute it was not a nightmare it is really happening. It is real. God help us all in the New York City teaching profession.
In a March 1, 2010 decision by a PERB Administrative Law Judge, ElemaCacivas, ruled that a "long standing past practice"cannot be changed unless it is through collective bargaining and not through the actions of a government agency. The reason this is important is that the UFT and NYSUT can now go to PERB and demand that all teachers who must respond to their 3020-a charges should be given the time off as "official business". This has been the "long standing past practice"until recently when many of the principals, probably with the the urging of Tweed either stopped paying teachers for seeing their lawyers or making the teacher take a pre-approved "personal day" that is subject to the Principal's approval. However, with the March 1, 2010 PERB ruling the UFT and NYSUT should file similar PERB complaints against Tweed for changing the"long standing past practices" without union approval.
In 2008 the Town Of Islip decided to take away government cars for non-emergency personnel for commuting purposes without negotiating with the union. The town employees union, Local 237 challenged the move and appealed to PERB. Since this practice was going on for 20 years, the PERB Administrative Law Judge said it meets the legal threshold of a"long standing past practice" and can only be removed through collective bargaining. This legal threshold should apply to all State and Local government contracts with their unions, including our contract.
Consequently, the UFT and their NYSUT lawyers have no excuse but to file a PERB complaint and show that it has been a "long standing past practice"to have teachers check "official business" as a paid day without using days out of their CAR. I previously wrote an article that detailed how the principals were informed by Tweed that they did not have to pay teachers to meet with their NYSUT lawyers despite the "long standing past practice" to do so. No longer will the UFT or NYSUT offer excuses that it is the Principal's discretion and they cannot do anything about it.. PERB has spoken and our union must file a similar PERB complaint against the DOE for every teacher who was denied the "official business" checkoff by their Principal.. I'm waiting to see if the UFT takes some real action and file the PERB complaint they need to do or is it just more empty rhetoric by our union. Michael Mulgrew I am waiting for your response.
There is little doubt that student academic improvement is highly correlated with teacher quality. However, there is a real debate about what is a quality teacher? Most studies believe that a quality teacher has at least five years experience, has manageable class size, and is innovative when it comes to the classroom. Now compare this to what Tweed wants and see if Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel really wants quality teachers in the New York City Public School System?
Class Size: New York City has the highest class sizes in the State and both the Mayor and Chancellor have used CFE money that the State allocated for class size reductions for other uses. In fact class sizes have actually risen over the last year. The result was that in January of 2009 the UFT, NAACP, the Hispanic Federation, and Class Size Matters filed a lawsuit accusing the DOE of violating the State mandate to reduce class size. The large class sizes is not consistent with good teaching practices.
Innovative Teaching: It wasn't too long ago that teachers had control of their classroom and based upon the varied learning styles of their students tailored the lessons to maximize student academic achievement. Along came Tweed with its "one-program-fits-all "Workshop Model" that treated the students as widgets and teachers as cogs as if it wasa business model, which it is not, and ssumed all student learning was the same. It didn't matter that this program was not applicable to English language learners or special eduction students. All the children's learning style is the same and any deviation by the teacher would result in disciplinary action against the teacher. Gone was he academic enhancements and storytelling that made learning fun. So many teachers have complained about the Tweed domination of the classroom the UFT started a media blitz called"let teachers teach". However, the UFT quietly put this program to rest and the classroom teacher has found the classroom increasingly hostile with a tripling of useless paperwork. Teaching techniques that have been proven to work in the past is now not only frowned upon but can lead to disciplinary charges against the teacher as they struggle to control the classroom without the innovative teaching that made learning fun for the child.
Experience: One of the most important factor in having a quality teacher is experience in the classroom. It takes a minimum of five years to acquire the classroom management skills to be an effective teacher. Furthermore, the experienced teacher can adapt to the ever changing classroom dynamics and tailor academic programs to best help the students academically. However, Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel practices "education on the cheap" where it is more important to hire "newbie" teachers that cost less money and leave before they are vested than hiring an experienced teacher. In fact to encourage principals to hire cheap teachers the DOE instituted the "fair student funding" formula that actually will penalize principals who hire experienced teachers. It is little wonder that many of the small schools are populated by untenured staff hired by the Principal (usually a leadership Academy Principal with limited classroom experience) so he/she can fund their favorite projects. Finally, the DOE encourages recruitment of "newbie" teachers over retention of experienced teachers and for Tweed it is not about the children but the budget as they practice their "children last" policy.
In conclusion, Mayor Mike and Chancellor Joel are quite happy and encourages the principals to hire the "young and dumb" teachers in their schools. It is not about the children it is about what the money saved for Tweed to more easily fund theirno-bid high priced consultants for their pet projects that have little or no effect on the classroom.
In today'sNewsday and tomorrow'sNew York Post and the Daily News, New York State in an attempt to save money has a proposal to eliminate 13 of 17 Regents exams and further dilute the once proud State academic standards that once made New York State the "gold standard" in education. This misguided proposal is estimated to save 13.7 million dollars because the State has proposed to cut the New York State Education Department's budget from 60 million dollars back in 2008 down to 43 million dollars. for the next school year.
Most educators have panned the knuckleheaded proposal and believe that it will further weaken already weakened academic standards and it was best described by Ms. Gloria Sessio who was quoted as saying " It's demeaning scholarship". The elimination of the 145 year old New York State Regents exams is educationally damaging and will result in increasingly lowered academic standards. Furthermore, it will subject teachers to increased Administrative pressure to raise grades as they find devious ways to increase the school's graduation rate. The result would be a further lowering of academic standards since a 75% in New York City may not be a 75% in Scarsdale. On the other hand, the Regents exam grade of 75% is the same whether it is in Rochester or Riverhead.
It is bad enough that over the decade the State has "dumbed down" their tests at all education levels and which was once the "gold standard" in education has increasingly becoming a joke when compared to the national tests. Now some " knuckleheads" in Albany has proposed to further weaken the State's academic ability to compete not only nationally but globally. These "knuckleheads" should be fired or at least be hired by Tweed where they will fit right in with their "education on the cheap" and "children last" policies.
Here will go again. Another clueless person who knows very little about the education budget decided it would be better to blame the victim (teachers) for the misguided and discriminatory Tweed policies that waste billions of dollars.
In today's New York Daily News there was an opinion piece from the research director of the Citizens Budget Commission, Charles Brecher, who claimed that if the ATRs and reassigned teachers were suspended without pay the City would save 200 million dollars in the budget. This is another case of a clueless person who does not or chooses not to understand how the DOE operates.
Does Mr. Brecher subscribe to age discrimination since the majority of ATRs and reassigned teachers are over 50 years of age? Maybe Mr. Brecher believes that it is acceptable that over 30% of the DOE budget goes to non-classroom activities? Did Mr. Brecger look at the waste of money in the bloated central bureaucracy or the highly paid consultant services using a no-bid process and hiring of non-educators who provide little if any benefit to the schools? Of course not. How about the countless reorganization schemes (three in the last seven years) the DOE does that not only wastes money but makes the process inefficient as the people must learn their new responsibilities with the latest costly & unnecessary reorganization scheme going on now. What about the ever increasing central bureaucracy of non-educators at Tweed that contribute nothing to the classroom except increasing paperwork for their pet projects and "one size fits all" failed academic models? Of course Mr. Brecher somehow failed to investigate closely and found it easier to blame the victims of Tweed's discriminatory policies the teachers. Ask the ATRs and "rubber room" teachers do they want to teach in the classroom the answer would be a loud yes. Did he ask the teachers about how principals practiced "education on the cheap" by getting rid of highly paid older teachers so they can hire "newbie" teachers? Of course not. Does Mr. Brecher care about the children? I highly doubt it. "Children last" is the policy when it is about saving money.
Shame on Mr. Brecher and his faulty research by blaming the victims and not the aggressors who wastes hundreds of million dollars due to their failed policy and discriminatory activities..
The DOE leaked their September 10th, 2009 contract demands to the News Media and while the DOE's demands are outrageous and disrespectful to the teaching profession. One of the more ominous demands is to replace the "just cause" standard to "arbitrary & capricious" as the rule in Arbitrator decision making. Why would the DOE want to replace the "just cause" standard with the "arbitrary & capricious" term is very simple. The use of the "arbitrary & capricious" term allows the Arbitrator to find the teacher guilty of the accusations without sufficient evidence to show the charges against the teacher is true. Let's look at the difference between the "just cause" standard and "arbitrary & capricious" term to determine teacher discipline.
Thanks to South Bronx School, he included a condensed version of the seven tests that the Arbitrator must find to be true to terminate a teacher.
"Just Cause" generally means; "the arbitrator first asks whether the employee's wrongdoing has been proven by the employer, and then asks whether the method of discipline should be upheld or modified." However in 1966, arbitrator, Professor Carroll Daugherty expanded this into seven tests that are frequently used by arbitrators. They are:
Was the employee forewarned of the consequences of his or her actions?
Are the employer's rules reasonably related to business efficiency and performance the employer might reasonably expect from the employee?
Was an effort made before discharge to determine whether the employee was guilty as charged?
Was the investigation conducted fairly and objectively?
Did the employer obtain substantial evidence of the employee's guilt?
Were the rules applied fairly and without discrimination?
Was the degree of discipline reasonably related to the seriousness of the employee's offense and the employee's past record?
Therefore, the burden of proof is on the DOE to prove that the charges must meet all seven tests and that termination cannot be a discipline if all seven tests are not met. This makes it difficult for the DOE to achieve their ultimate goal in firing the teacher. Especially, if the teacher can show that the investigation was unfair and biased. I wrote about the corrupt investigations that go a long way in getting the teacher reassigned but also harms the DOE's case for termination against the teacher. On the other hand if the DOE gets their wish and only needs the "arbitrary & capricious " requirement, the burden of proof shifts from the DOE to the teacher since it is not based on actual evidence but on how the Arbitrator feels about the teacher. Arthur Goldstein wrote a piece on the DOE's contract demands which includes his take of the DOE's "arbitrary & capricious" demand and is a must read. South Bronx School also included the definitions of "arbitrary & capricious" and left in the hands of one person (Arbitrator) is quite scary.
Arbitrary is defined as;
depending on individual discretion (as of a judge) and not fixed by law
marked by or resulting from the unrestrained and often tyrannical exercise of power
Capricious is defined thusly;
sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action
a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes
In other words, the DOE can simply claim the misconduct happened and use hearsay evidence to meet the greatly diminished standard of "arbitrary & capricious" as the basis for terminating the teacher. This would greatly increase the termination rate and lead to even more teacher reassignment and 3020-a charrges. ,