Saturday, December 31, 2011
The Different Standards On Teacher Behavior Between The Suburbs And The City. - Which Is Appropriate?
Yesterday, the Daily News reported on a teacher that may or may not have made some inappropriate frivolous comments to a couple of female students and was also accused by a less than credible student of showing her his cellphone with a cartoon picture of a couple doing the "old one, two" which the teacher denied. The 53 year old teacher with a 30 year unblemished record was presented with 3020-a charges by the DOE and hit with a token $1,500 fine for inappropriate comments by the independent Arbitrator who found the students testimony less than credible and now the teacher is an ATR. Can you imagine that the DOE wasted all that time and money on such frivolous charges? Worse, why would those wonderful and biased investigators from SCI substantiate the obviously frivolous charges of less than credible students over the 30 year unblemished record of the teacher? Do you believe the Principal might have something to do with it since he is the one who probably called SCI in the first place and was in the room when SCI questioned the frightened students?
By contrast, in Newsday today we have a middle school teacher who actually brags about his dancing with middle school girls, go ice skating with them and attend their personal parties an yet nothing is wrong with what he does. Living in the suburbs, I always see teachers being overly friendly with students, especially coaches with players. That included kissing and hugging that is usually reserved for family and best friends and thought little of it except that such behavior in the New York City Public Schools is not only frowned on but if the Principal so chooses can get a teacher terminated. In the New York City Schools if you touch a student on the hand or shoulder, it could lead to disciplinary action. While hugging and kissing in the suburbs are tolerated as part of teacher/student interaction.
The question is why are there different rules for the school districts? Should all school districts follow New York City DOE in a "zero tolerance" policy that treat touching a shoulder or hand the same as touching a student's "you know what". Even joking with students are frowned upon and can be taken out of context and be charged with verbal abuse of a serious nature. On the other side of the spectrum, is it appropriate for teachers to have close physical contact with students, even if it is innocent and affectionate and not sexual? Is a kiss on the check the same as a kiss on the lips? Does a coach who pats his players on the backside for making a good play an appropriate action? How about going to a student's party? Do these actions cross the line? The problem here is there are no uniform standards to regulate teacher/student relationships. Of course sexual misconduct is always unacceptable and should be prosecuted but in New York City, the teacher listed above was probably charged with "sexual misconduct" by the DOE which any reasonable person knows is not. Therefore, the term "sexual misconduct" is defined differently for different school districts.
On one hand school districts want teachers to connect with their students but as soon as the teacher makes that connection he or she puts himself or herself in danger of crossing the ever moving line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. In New York City, the result is that teachers have been warned to "do not touch the students" and "stay out of their lives". The result is that teachers cannot or will not connect with their students for fear of violating the Chancellor's regulations and be brought up on 3020-a charges and terminated. Is it any wonder why NYC teachers have trouble connecting with their students ? By contrast, how far can teachers interact with students? Is a reassuring hug or a squeeze of the shoulder appropriate? A kiss on the check? Dancing with a student? I don't know what the answer is but when I was a teenage student if a teacher or coach put his or her arm around my shoulder, I felt reassured and knew the they cared about what I thought and who I am. Being a NYC schoolteacher I cannot imagine doing the same thing to a student for fear of being brought up on charges of inappropriate touching or physical contact and that is too bad because it makes my job much more difficult to connect with the very students who can use a reassuring hug or hand around the shoulder.
I do not know what the answer is but I do know the NYCDOE's policy is wrong and needs to be relaxed if they really expect teachers to connect with their students and if an occasional interaction results in a student being uncomfortable, it should not result in 3020-a charges but in a more reasonable meeting with school administrators to resolve the issue. Maybe one day there will be a uniform code of conduct for teacher/student interaction but until that day occurs it is up to individual teachers to decide how far to reach out to students without threatening their jobs and that is a real pity, especially for those students who need an adult role model in their lives.
By the way how hypocritical was the DOE about their no touching policy. Besides the picture in the article, the ex-Chancellor always seemed to be putting his hands on students. I guess that the now ex-Chancellor Joel Klein was exempt from the DOE policy. Remember these pictures?
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
At the end of the 2010, Mayor4Life Michael Bloomberg decided that Chancellor Joel Klein was a liability to him after New York State re-cut the state test scores which showed that improving student academic achievement was all "smoke and mirrors". Moreover, the academic achievement gap based upon income and race was wider than ever. Even the newspapers were now skeptical of Joel Klein's boasts of academic improvement and questioned the improved graduation rates which appeared to be strongly influenced by bogus "credit recovery programs". The Mayor4Life, Michael Bloomberg, was also very aware of the unpopular Chancellor's low approval ratings and his antagonistic approach to the State legislature. For the Mayor4Life, he needed to have a more subservient Chancellor. A Chancellor that would follow his every order without questioning them. One night at a cocktail party with his closest friends and other elites, he spotted Cathie Black and asked her would she like the job as Chancellor of the New York City schools? Cathie Black was flattered but told the Mayor4Life she had no experience in education. She explained that she went to an elite private school and her children were sent to boarding school, what did she know of the public schools? The Mayor4Life said I need somebody like you who socializes with the elites and that your staff will take care of the day to day issues dealing with the schools. Cathie Black accepted the Chancellor position and this is how the story begins on why Cathie Black was good for the New York City Schools.
First, Cathie Black's selection as Chancellor showed even his media supporters how Mayor4Life Michael Bloomberg didn't really care who was Chancellor as long as he controlled the schools. The result was the general public actually started to disapprove of the Mayor's education policy.
Second, Cathie Black becoming Chancellor resulted in almost 50% of the leadership at Tweed to leave. Since these were all non-educators with anti-teacher policies. This has to be looked as a positive development for the public schools.
Third, Cathie Black's popularity hit an all-time low at 17% just before she was fired. Her nasty attitude to parents and her elitist ways alienated many parents. In that same survey only 28% of parents with children in the NYC Public Schools thought the Mayor4Life was doing a good job. The result was the State Assembly and Governor were dismissive of the Mayor's LIFO bill without any political fallout due to the unpopularity of both the Mayor and Chancellor.
Finally, the Chancellor's attempt to take money from the principals was not only ill-advised but when she followed that up by failing to disclose where the returned money will be spent on was the last straw for the principals. The result was an almost universal disdain of Cathie Black by parents, principals, and teachers who closed ranks to protest to the State about the New York City Schools and received a sympathetic ear. It was obvious to all that Cathie Black was not only incompetent but the Mayor's puppet and her appearance at the State legislative hearings were not taken seriously by the politicians.
Yes, Cathie Black was incompetent and unpopular. However, she single-highhandedly allowed diverse groups to work together to stop her destructive policies and made the Mayor4Life so unpopular that his LIFO bill was not even addressed by the State Assembly or Governor's Office and the usually obedient City Council refused to agree with teacher layoffs. In other words, Cathie Black was so bad that she was good for the New York City Public Schools.
Monday, December 26, 2011
How Santa Claus Survived The DOE Termination Process Only To Became An ATR In The New York City School System.
In my rounds of going from school to school as a weekly ATR, the one common theme was that all the ATRs I meet were 40 years old or older. However, the oldest ATR I encountered was none other than old Saint Nick himself. Yes, Santa Claus is an ATR. After surviving a biased Special Commissioner of Investigation report requesting his termination and an Arbitrator who believed every word the DOE lawyer said, a State Appeals judge reversed the termination and reinstated him to the schools. However, because his school was closing , Santa Claus found himself as an ATR. Santa Claus thought no problem, I am a "quality teacher" and with a world of experience with children and beloved by all (except by the non-educators at the DOE and SCI). Therefore, it should be no problem to obtain another classroom teaching position. Alas, how wrong he was. Poor Santa went to four "job fairs" and applied to fifteen vacancies on the Open Market Transfer System and did not receive one interview, not one! One sympathetic Administrator at a job fair whispered in his ear that maybe he should shave off his beard dye his hair brown and loss some weight to look younger.
Poor Santa, he could not understand why he wasn't getting interviews. Was it his age as many of the ATRs claim? How about the budget? Was it the red suit and cap he likes to wear or was it that the principals were discriminating against him for being "reassigned"? Don't the principals want to hire the "best teachers"? What was the union doing for him? He spoke to his District Representative, "the non-swimmer in deep water" and he was of course, no help. He then spoke to the union's Special Representative known as the "General" because if he really was a General during the Revolutionary War , we would still be British subjects. No help there either. He even tried to contact Cleo Lacy but he was called a "punk" on the phone by Cleo who hung up on poor Santa. Finally, Santa tried to talk to the union leadership but nobody will talk to him since he is an ATR and the ATRs are treated as second class citizens by both the DOE and UFT.
For Santa, traveling weekly to schools is a piece of cake since he is used to traveling the globe and making 3.6 billion house calls. What upsets him the most is that he is treated as an unwanted appendage to the schools he is assigned to. Instead of milk and cookies, what awaits Santa is bathroom duty, cafeteria patrol, and manning the SAVE room. He also has been shocked that the students treat him as a substitute teacher and refuse to do their assigned work or behave. Even when he tells them that they will get coal in their Christmas stockings instead of presents. Some schools don't even give him a bathroom key and the Chapter Leaders never introduced themselves!
For Santa Claus, this Christmas is not the ho, ho, ho, it should be but a "bah humbug"as being a weekly ATR is not what Santa Claus expected to be in the New York City Public Schools. It is a sad time for Santa Claus and the children who cannot benefit from his presence in the classroom.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The DOE Is Really Acting The Part Of The Grinch As They Are Moving Reassigned Teachers Out of Their Borough.
Yes, it is true, the day of the "rubber room" is gone. No longer are there 800+ teachers reassigned to various TRCs throughout the City. However, for some teachers accused of serious misconduct or criminal issues The DOE Grinch is back as these two dozen or so reassigned teachers that were removed from the schools are being reassigned out of their Borough and in one outrageous case a Queens teacher was sent to Staten Island! Yes, Staten Island until his 3020-a hearing is completed.
It appears that the DOE does not care to follow the contract when it comes to these reassigned teachers, knowing full well that by the time the union files a successful grievance, the teacher will either be sent back to the school or terminated. Previously, only those teachers under Chancellor's discretion were sent out of the Borough. Now it seems that the DOE is trying to make it as difficult as possible for the reassigned teachers who are sent out of their schools.
For those reassigned teachers during this Christmas the DOE is certainly acting the part of the Grinch by punishing them with long commutes and disrespect to their personal situations..
Friday, December 23, 2011
The Doublespeak Administrators Use When They Tell Teachers To Use "Differentiated Instruction" Methods. In The Classroom.
One of my closest friends was observed the other day by an Administrator and was informally told that while his lesson and presentation in the classroom was satisfactory, he needed to work in "differential instruction" into his classroom lesions. Dumbfounded, my friend spoke to some of the other teachers in his department about how they handled "differential instruction". To his surprise none of the other teachers knew how to work "differential instruction" into their classroom routine.
Some of the teachers think that "differential instruction" was giving easy questions to academically weaker students and more difficult questions to the higher achieving students. Others though that you should have different lessons for each group of learners and a few thought that you put them in groups of four (cooperative learning) with a mixed academic group. Therefore, I looked at some Administrators who have informed teachers on how to use "differentiated instruction" in the classroom. The first example is Here. Another example can be found Here. Finally, I was able to find a good one Here.
What is "differentiated instruction"? Simple, "differentiated instruction" is as described right Here! Furthermore, why should you use "differentiated instruction"? Here is why!
Confusing and the "doublespeak" is quite funny. Unfortunately, the use of "differentiated instruction" is the new slogan for education reformers who believe quality teachers are the only thing that affects student learning. Therefore, if an Administrator asked me to include "differentiated instruction" into my lesson I would ask him to please model an actual lesson in my classroom that includes "differentiated instruction". Of course, I will not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I have gone to many schools this year and watched the different ideas on how to improve student academic achievement. These ideas range from pretesting students with a test before giving them the same test two days later (I call this cheating) to fudging scholarship grades of students who don't even come close to passing the dumbed down entry level Regents and endanger not only the next group of teachers who now have to explain to the Administration why these students who were given undeserved grades in the 70's and 80's aren't passing the harder course the next year but also allows students to believe that they don't need to work hard to graduate high school. Moreover, too many schools use technology as a crutch and not an aid to student learning. Just look at the explosion of "credit recovery programs" that artificially increase the school's graduation rate while having an abysmal "career and college readiness" percentage.
One of the most overriding issues is the lack of student discipline in many of the schools and that must be blamed on the school's Administration. I have seen first-hand when the Administration takes charge how the school tone changes and the academic improvement that results from it. Too many schools allow cellphones, ipods, and thuggish clothes (hip-hop pants with the underwear showing) and students who fail to go to class as an acceptable or tolerated practice. The result is that the school academics eventually fail. However, if you look at the better schools, student discipline is not an issue. Strict enforcement of student discipline is part of the answer to improving student academic achievement.
Just as important in improving student academic achievement is putting teachers and students together in groups, when possible. For example all 136 students have the same core course teachers (English, Math, Science, Social Studies) who meet in their professional period to discuss their students. How is the student progressing? Is the student only acting up in one class or all four? Is the student having personal issues that one teacher knows about and can alert the others? This four teacher group can better work with the student and the parents to bring out the academic potential. In some cases, after freshman year it can be a logistical nightmare. However, if done properly, the student will have a knowledgeable corps of teachers who can readily design a program to improve the student's academic achievement.
For those students that are having academic or behavioral issues that are beyond the capability of the core teachers, they will receive specific counseling services from Guidance, the Social Worker, and other professionals who work with problem students. While my approach is not a solution to an increasingly vexing problem in the New York City High Schools, it is certainly worth a try in my version of "children first".
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Since the April 15th 2010 "rubber room agreement" little has been written about reassigned teachers. In fact only two articles have referred to the reassigned teachers. Here and Here. The reason that little has been written about the plight of the reassigned teacher is that the rules have changed. True there are no more "rubber rooms" but there is a temporary teacher reassignment center at 49-51 Chambers Street for teachers accused of potentially serious or criminal charges. What have the changes been?
First, principals can no longer dump teachers out of their school and get them off their payroll in sixty days as before. Previously principals could remove a teacher based upon an unfounded accusation or frivolous actions. This is especially true of principals targeting higher paid senior teachers and the "rubber room" reflected this. Now the teacher stays at the school and may even continue teaching during the 3020-a process. This is a disincentive for principals to remove teachers since not only they no longer get budget relief but would have to hire a replacement to cover the classroom. The result is that fewer teachers are being charged under 3020-a. However, any "serious misconduct" as defined by the contract will result in the teacher being removed from the school.
Second, the 3020-a process is definitely moving faster. Most cases are done within 180 days, start to finish and the Arbitrators are seriously trying to meet the more stringent time limits.
Third, with no "rubber rooms", the free exchange of information has slowed to a trickle as both the DOE and UFT/NYSUT maintain absolute secrecy of the goings on in the 3020-a process. Therefore, the charged teacher is totally at the mercy of the NYSUT lawyer and is not informed enough to ask hard questions or take this advice.
Finally, with less frivolous cases concerning misconduct going to 3020-a hearings, anecdotal evidence suggests that Arbitrators are more inclined to terminate teachers. Remember, unlike the State, the DOE and UFT select a panel of Arbitrators who depend on pleasing the two parties if they want their position on the board renewed yearly. Since the DOE is more aggressive in exercising that right, you can guess that the Arbitrator decisions will lean heavily toward the DOE position. As for teacher incompetence? Nothing has really changed there with teachers who were foolish enough to take PIP+ have a 90% chance of being terminated.
It would appear, based upon the information above, there are less settlements and an increased termination rate from 25% back in June 2010 to close to 50% now if you take into account resignations and retirement. I would like to give you real numbers but the two groups keep everything top secret.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Even The General Public Realizes That The Mayor's Poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott Is Doing A Poor Job Educating The City's Children.
A new Qunnipiac poll found that more New Yorkers disapproved of the job Chancellor Dennis Walcott has done then approve his job performance. The poll showed that 34% of the general public disapprove of the Chancellor's job performance and that 45% of New York City public school parents gave the Chancellor poor marks. Disturbingly for the Chancellor, both numbers have increased by 13% since May of 2011 when Dennis Walcott became Chancellor. By contrast his approval rating only inched upward to 33% (from 31%) over the same time period.
The data from the Quinnipiac poll suggests that as more people get to know Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the less they like his job performance. The Chancellor's overall approval rating is actually 4% lower than when the increasingly arrogant and despised ex-Chancellor Joel Klein was Chancellor and only beats the incompetent Cathie Black's 17% approval rating.
Obviously the general public increasingly sees the Chancellor as a puppet for the Mayor and has shown not one ounce of independence from the Bloomberg agenda of ignoring parents, closing neighborhood school, and strongly supporting privately funded Charter schools. The Quinipiac poll shows that the more you get to know Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the less you like his policies on education which is simply Mayor Bloomberg's "children last" education policy.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
While I watch the once great comprehensive High Schools close (Jamaica, Beach Channel, Christopher Columbus, Washington Irving, etc), I am sent to the small schools that has replaced them. Being an ATR, I have a unique perspective of the small schools that have popped up throughout Queens and have found why many of them are destined to fail in a decade.
The reasons that this Bloomberg schools fail is that eventually the small schools end up with the same student population as the closed and closing large comprehensive high schools they replaced. Or as some would say it's like "rearranging the deck chairs". However, there are many more reasons that the small Bloomberg schools are destined to fail. Let's look at them.
- Poor Administration lead by a "Leadership Academy Principal".
- An inexperienced teaching staff with poor classroom management skills.
- Limited academic electives or extra-curricular activities.
- Pressure to keep student numbers up to ensure a continuous funding stream.
Let's look at each one of the problems.
Poor Administration: Many of the small schools have had "Leadership Academy Principals" in charge and quite a few of them lack the necessary classroom skills and mentoring to help their teaching staff. Furthermore, these principals have been taught to not collaborate with the teaching staff and will use intimidation tactics to get their way. The result is high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment. Finally, many of these principals tend to ignore student discipline issues and staff morale suffers. More than one Principal has told their staff that they will call in any student accusations to the investigative agencies OEO, OSI, and SCI no matter how frivolous it may seem to be.
Inexperienced Teaching Staff: Many of the small schools suffer from inexperienced teaching staffs, many of them untenured. Worse, a majority of these teachers come from the Teach For America and Teaching Fellows alternate certification programs and are not even certified! Is it any wonder that these small schools fail within the decade? While many of these teachers are enthusiastic, enthusiasm is not as important as curriculum knowledge and classroom management which these teachers lack.
Limited electives and extra-curricular activities: These small schools have limited or no electives that attract the well-rounded student and is usually the biggest complaint, even in the small specialized schools. The same goes for extra-curricular activities and many students feel cheated of a total high school experience without these necessary and important additions to the core subjects of the school.
Pressure to keep student numbers up: Many of the small schools are increasingly competing with each other for the diminishing amount of high achieving students. To ensure that the schools keep up their student numbers and funding, these schools are taking increasing number of students that are less than academically inclined. With only a few remaining large comprehensive high schools available, the high need and academically challenged students are finding their way into the Bloomberg small schools and the "student screening" that was allowed previously by the DOE is increasingly frowned on and those wonderful academic gains are rapidly disappearing and in some cases have disappeared altogether.
The UFT's Jackie Bennett did a study that showed that the "college readiness" of the small Bloomberg schools were lower than the larger schools and this shows very conclusively that the Bloomberg small schools are a failure and the sooner we go back to giving the children of New York City a total learning environment the better.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The DOE has decided to close an additional 25 schools over the next couple of years for so-called poor performance. However, they gave a reprieve to a terribly performing Charter school that should have been the first in line to close. This Charter school has a myriad of problems including major violations of Charter Policy and State Law. This school has already seen the Principal replaced in May and the Operations Director this school year. The Charter school is called the New York French American Charter School and is located in Morningside Heights. The DOE, despite finding many different violations, a few of them major, has decided to put the Charter school on probation. Gotham Schools has a more detailed analysis of the DOE report Here.
Major Violations identified in the probation letter are as follows:
- An astounding 60% of the teaching staff are not certified!
- Giving a parent keys to the school despite never being fingerprinted.
- The same parent was found sleeping in the school overnight.
- Missing or inaccurate student attendance records.
- Financial irregularities.
- Operational disarray.
- Lack of books and other classroom materials.
- Poor student discipline procedures.
The school suffers from an inexperienced staff with the majority having no certification and have classroom management issues as a commenter reported on Insideschools.
You would think that with the litany of violations, the DOE would be closing this school. However, because it is a Charter school they fall under different rules and are given many more chances then the public school has.In other words "different strokes for different folks".
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Up until now the UFT has refused to disclose who is on the ATR Oversight Committee and what issues have been discussed, if any. Why the secrecy? However, I have managed to get an exclusive interview with the one and only Cleo Lacy. Yes the very same Cleo Lacy who hijacked my blog back in 2006.
Chaz: It is my understanding that you are on the ATR Oversight Committee. Is that correct?
Cleo Lacy: Somebody must represent those “lazy and bad teachers” who are ATRs, It might as well be me.
Chaz: Why are there no ATRs on the ATR Oversight Committee?
Cleo Lacy: Because their opinion does not count and only our union leaders know how to negotiate with the DOE.
Chaz: You mean like the 2005 contract that caused the ATR crisis in the first place?
Cleo Lacy: Grrrrrrrr. We got them a raise didn’t we?
Chaz: Have you met with the DOE on the problems associated with the ATR Agreement?
Cleo Lacy: What problems? There are no problems. Everything is running smoothly. Look how many “lazy and bad" ATRs found jobs?
Chaz: Many of those placements are provisional and in terrible schools in a different Borough.
Cleo Lacy: “So what”. A job is a job.
Chaz: Did you meet with the DOE?
Cleo Lacy: I did but I can’t remember what was discussed.
Chaz: How can you not remember what was discussed?
Cleo Lacy: The meeting was so boring that I fell asleep.
Chaz: Didn’t the UFT bring up the ongoing problems like Principals not hiring ATRs for their vacancies? The insane commutes for High School teachers In District 76. How about the failure of the DOE to live up to the ATR Agreement?
Cleo Lacy: I don’t see any problems and neither do the rest of the ATR Oversight Committee.
Chaz: Did you come to any agreement?
Cleo Lacy: Yes, we all agreed the ATRs are a pain in the ass!
Chaz: You think it is fair for the teachers in District 76 to travels two hours to Get to their weekly assignment in Brooklyn or Staten Island?
Cleo Lacy: When I did teach in the classroom decades ago, I walked 6 miles uphill in the snow to and from the school and never complained.
Chaz: What do you hope happens to the ATRs?
Cleo Lacy: I wish they would retire or resign. Their complaining gives me a headache.
Chaz: What about the age discrimination issue and the data that appears to support it?
Cleo Lacy: There is no age discrimination. Look at me, I am older than dirt and ugly to boot. The union just worships me. The senior ATRs are not being hired Because they are not “quality teachers” ask Mayor Bloomberg & Chancellor Walcott.
Chaz: Why didn’t you leave to Washington D.C. with Le Gran Fromage?
Cleo Lacy: Because she wanted me to spy, eh, I mean be her “eyes and ears” in NYC.
Chaz: If you were to become UFT President. What would your priorities be?
Cleo Lacy: Global advocacy of teacher rights like Durfur, Somalia, and Mexico.
Chaz: How about ATR rights?
Cleo Lacy: They have a job don’t they? Nobody is putting them in jail.
Chaz: Would you allow the DOE to impose a ATR time limit?
Cleo Lacy: Let the DOE fire them. I am not Michael Mulgrew and I am not bound to protect those “lazy and bad” ATRs
Chaz: Wouldn't that violate civil service protections and start a "slippery slope" to destroy tenure and teacher rights?
Cleo Lacy: Who gives a shit! Hmmmmm maybe I need to rethink my answer on that issue.
Chaz: How do you feel about the DOE pilot program to evaluate ATRs in Brooklyn?
Cleo Lacy: Great idea. I would have approved it myself, except I fell asleep at The last meeting when it was discussed.
Chaz: Finally, what was your reaction on what Mayor Bloomberg said about teachers and class size?
Cleo Lacy: We need more teachers, not less so we can collect more dues and I can raise my already bloated salary and fund our pet projects. However, I have no objection to increasing class sizes since I no longer teach in a classroom with those horrible kids.
Chaz: How do you feel that many members believe you are loyal to the union Leadership and not to the members in the trenches?
Cleo Lacy: Screw them, screw them all. They are just jealous about my double pensions, air conditioned private office and six figure salary. Punks! I hope they all die.
Chaz: Thank you for your time and for letting the public know what the real Cleo Lacy is like. I wish the other UFT Leadership Committee members would step forward and out of the shadows to inform us of what is really going on behind closed doors.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Here it is December and I finally was given the UFT 2011-2012 teacher planning book titled "We Are One" by a sympathetic Chapter Leader. Reading the UFT's motto I had to laugh since the union Leadership has treated the ATRs as "second class citizens". It is bad enough that the DOE treats the ATRs as some "tool" to be used and abused weekly by principals but it is something else when our union allows the DOE to ignore the ATR Agreement and close their collective eyes to the principals who fail to interview or hire an ATR to cover their hidden or listed vacancies.
Why do I believe the union has treated the ATRs as "second class citizens"? Lets look at what the union leadership has failed to do for the ATRs.
- ATRs must go to 65 Court Street to receive their paychecks, not the school they are placed in.
- ATRs no longer get paper pay stubs.
- The union refuses to give ATRs a voice in determining their future.
- The union failed to place an ATR on their oversight committee and to make matters worse refuses to identify who is on the committee and what has been discussed.
- Many high school ATRs are subject to insane commutes, especially in District 76 and the union remains silent about this hardship.
- Schools continue to treat ATRs differently from teaching staff. No parking permits, no keys, and many of the Chapter Leaders fail to meet with the ATRs.
Remember, it was both the DOE and UFT that caused the ATR crises in the first place and it is time to restore the old excessing rules if the ATR crises is to be resolved and that the ATRs are not treated as "second class citizens". For the UFT to ignore this issue and the only action they do is propose "toothless resolutions" rather than publicly show how the DOE continues to violate the ATR Agreement is unacceptable.
Update: The DOE is setting up a pilot program for the Brooklyn schools to evaluate (terminate) ATRs. You can read the complete letter below.
From: Atrassignment <Atrassignment@schools.nyc.gov>
Subject: Important Update on Supervision
Date: Monday, December 5, 2011, 10:37 AM
The Department of Education is piloting a new model for supervision of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR). This pilot will be implemented for most ATRs assigned to community school districts in Brooklyn as well as the Brooklyn High School superintendency, District 73; you are receiving this email because you will likely be included in the pilot. Under this initiative, you will be supervised by a licensed administrator, called a Field Supervisor, who will periodically observe your practice and provide you with feedback to support your professional development. The Field Supervisors are aware that as an ATR you do not have a regular program and that you rotate school assignments and they will take this context into account in their work with you.
At some point in the next two months, you should expect your Field Supervisor to visit your assignment site to meet with you in person. At this initial meeting, the Field Supervisor will work with you to develop a plan to support your professional growth and job search process. The Field Supervisor will make an effort to contact you via your DOE email in advance of the initial meeting to give you a sense of when you can expect him or her; however, he or she may not always be able to provide advance notification.
NYC Department of Education
Sounds like bullshit to me. What has been the union's response to this outragouis attempt to go after ATRs? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Maybe this is what the union and DOE agreed to in their secret meetings to screw the ATRs,
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Mayor Bloomberg Believes That Seventy Students In A Classroom Will Be A Win For The Students - How Clueless He Is About What Goes On In The Classroom.
Mayor Bloomberg has shown how clueless he is about what goes on in the classroom when, on Tuesday, he gave a speech at MIT that his idea of a good education would be to fire 50% of the teachers and weed out the "ineffective teachers" from the remaining 50%. Furthermore, he sees little problem that teachers would have class sizes of 70 and that a "quality teacher" who is highly compensated and come from the top colleges is all that is needed to improve education. How clueless the Mayor is when it comes to the classroom. His entire speech is on Gotham Schools and can be found Here. He also said that the teachers union is the blame for his failure to change the NYC Schools. The mayor's ill-advised speech on teachers and class size must be looked as a further "nail in his coffin" claiming to be the "Education Mayor" and as UFT President Michael Mulgrew correctly called the Mayor's speech a "Cathie Black moment"
If you follow his speech carefully he never defines what a "quality teacher" is. Except that teachers should be recruited from the top colleges. Sounds like Teach For America to me. However, we do know how the Mayor thinks and in Mayor Bloomberg failed bid to get rid of "last in, first out" LIFO he targeted senior and highly paid teachers who may have been out of favor with principals for termination. Therefore, it is very likely that the Mayor's purpose would be to have a young, replaceable, and untenured teaching staff. Consequently, it is a reasonable assumption that the Mayor idea of a "quality teacher" is a teacher that works hard for the few years they are in the classroom and leave before they are vested for retiree benefits or even long enough to achieve tenure. A tip off of the Mayor's disdain for experienced teachers was this speech he made during the height of the LIFO fight and reported Here.
Previously, I wrote an article about the Mayor's disrespect for teachers Here. Now we have his speech at MIT that knocks teachers and wants to terminate a minimum of 50% of the teaching force. Even his education reformer friends must have cringed when he made this speech. I have noticed not one education reform group has supported the Mayor on what he said at MIT.
Interestingly, I did agree with the Mayor on one part of his speech where he said that technology has not materialized as an important component of better learning. He was quoted as saying the following:
Bloomberg also questioned the impact of technology in the classroom, despite rising spending by the Department of Education on technology and e-learning.
“It may be heresy in this day and age to say so, but there’s not a lot of evidence that when you introduce a lot more technology in the classroom the results are better,” he said, arguing that what really mattered was the quality of teachers.
Mayor Bloomberg is a typical hypocrite as he thinks class sizes of 70 is " a good deal for the students" while he sent his daughters to the private Spence school with class sizes of 16-18. His speech at MIT increasingly shows how clueless the Mayor is about the classroom and his disrespect for New York City Public School teachers.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Droopy Pants And Poor Academic Achievement In Male Students Seem To Have A Correlation, So I Have Observed.
In my travels as an ATR I have been in eight high schools and observed each school's culture. Being in the classroom and after speaking to many Deans and teachers there seems to be a correlation between how low male students keep their pants and the grades they receive.
Apologists will tell you that it is simply prejudice by teachers who give these boys low grades because they wear these droopy pants with their underwear showing. The reality is that many of these boys show disrespect to school staff and their peers and the droopy pants are simply an expression of that disrespect for others. Even some community leaders have expressed disgust of this prison-inspired dress. A few schools I have been in tolerate the droopy pants look and their tolerance of this dress and thuggish behavior is reflected in the school's poor grades and terrible academic performance. By contrast the better schools with good academic performance have very few male students that wear droopy pants and the few who do are told to pull up their pants. In the high-achieving specialized school I was at not one male student wore droopy pants!
The Deans tell me that the boys who wear their pants so low that their underwear show all the time are also the students must likely to "dropout" or need massive "credit recovery" to graduate. The CTT teachers echo this and add that these boys tend to sit in the back of the room, away from the teacher and instruction, and have to be reminded repeatedly to take off their hats and hoods. The same teachers say when they try to reach out to these students it is "like pulling teeth" to get them to participate in any academic activity and quite a few simply go to sleep. By contrast the honor classes in the same schools have no male students wearing droopy pants and are actually embarrassed when a fellow classmate points out that their low-riding pants are so low that the top of their underwear is showing (I saw it myself twice).
Yes, I know the apologists will claim that teenagers should express themselves and that teenagers are naturally rebellious. However, droopy pants are more than simply an expression of being a teenager. In this case, the male student's droopy pants is associated with disrespect of school staff, fellow students, and is correlated with poor academic achievement.
Think what you like but "the truth is the truth" that male students who wear these droopy paints with their underwear showing, are associated with poor academic achievement and schools that tolerate this type of dress are destined to continue to fail the students academically.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I Accuse NYC Principals Of Cowardice For Not Signing The NYS Principals Letter To The State Asking For A Delay In Using The Teacher Evaluation Plan.
Across New York State principals are signing on to a letter asking the New York State Department of Education to delay implementing the flawed and untested "teacher evaluation plan" until more data and a much needed "pilot program" is started and evaluated. The letter can be found here. Even the State admits that the "teacher evaluation plan" is "a work in progress" but because the Governor, Andrew Cuomo is pushing it, the NYSED shows no willingness to delay the implementation of the plan despite the rising chorus of complaints by Administrators. What is very interesting is that a NYSUT sponsored six school "pilot program" that had principals and Superintendents input as part of the program and is called the Teacher Evaluation and Development (TED) system has proven successful and fosters a collaborative atmosphere between school administrators and teachers.Yet the State has shown little interest in trying this superior approach in educator evaluation.
The principal revolt was led by some of the top principals on Long Island and as of November 27th has had 658 out of 4,500 principals (15%) throughout New York state signing on and more do every day . Their complaints are many: the evaluation system was put together in slapdash fashion, with no pilot program; there are test scores to evaluate only fourth-through-eighth-grade English and math teachers; and New York tests are so unreliable that they had to be rescaled radically last year, with proficiency rates in math and English dropping 25 percentage points overnight.
While more and more principals are signing the letter throughout New York State, conspicuous by their absence are principals from New York City. To date only 18 out of 1,500 principals have signed the letter, an incredibly miniscule 1.2%. The main reason for the lack of NYC principal participation is that they are afraid of what the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration, who strongly support the "teacher evaluation plan" might do to them. In other words they are cowards. To a lesser degree 19% of the NYC principals are "Leadership Academy Principals" who are clueless of what goes on in the classroom and cannot or will not question what they don't understand. Finally, there are many vindictive, insecure, and petty principals who look forward to the "teacher evaluation plan" as a way to remove a teacher they don't like or want. These principals are known as "principals from hell". Unlike suburban principals who are selected based upon merit, their long-term teaching career, and who learn to collaborate with staff for making a better school, many NYC principals are picked based on politics while some were never even tenured as a classroom teacher. Since Tweed has given these principals almost unlimited power to make decisions and many of those decisions are biased on what's best for the Principal and not for the school. Is it any wonder that they think and act differently then their suburban counterparts and another reason that few NYC principals have signed the letter.
The failure of the NYC principals to sign the NYS principals' letter asking for a delay to a flawed, untested, and inferior "teacher evaluation plan" is just a cowardly action on their part.
Update: Gotham Schools reports that David Abrams, the Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Assessments, and Reporting since 2004 has abruptly resigned effective immediately. Mr. Abrams has been criticized for the inflated State test scores that had to be rescaled in 2010 and was held responsible for the NYSED's ill-advised advocacy in increasing student test scores to count for 40% of a proposed teachers evaluation system which helped spark a rebellion by principals to the teacher evaluation plan and a NYSUT lawsuit which is now tied-up in court.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I heard a rumor from an acquaintance that the Bloomberg Administration was very unhappy that Governor Andrew Cuomo did not support his bill to repeal "last in , first out", otherwise known as LIFO. In addition, it is becoming increasingly clear that the effects of the teacher evaluation system is at least two years down the road and maybe more if the increasing number of New York State principals (not NYC principals) can convince the State to delay it further. Therefore, his staff, with the cooperation of the DOE, are in the process of revitalizing a new LIFO repeal bill for the 2012-2013 school year. While my contact and I have no idea what the new bill will include. If it will be submitted, I do believe it is very likely a clone of last year's LIFO bill.
It is possible that because the Mayor is increasingly being seen as a "lame duck" and his legacy as the "Education Mayor" is shattered, the new bill, if the Mayor actually goes through with it, might, be more limited, such as getting rid of the ATRs or teachers who were "U" rated, etc. but I doubt it. It is highly unlikely that even the Republican Senate will fall in line this time since the Mayor's political power is rapidly disappearing as he faces the end of his unpopular third term. Furthermore, the ever rising class sizes, teacher attrition, teacher evaluation procedures, and an enforced City hiring freeze may make the rationale of a LIFO bill unnecessary. However, this might not stop Mayor Bloomberg from trying anyway. It even might be in his best interest to at least make an attempt to submit a new LIFO repeal bill to satisfy his ed deformer friends. What might the Bloomberg Bill contain? Well let's put it to the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller back in World War II.
First, Mayor Bloomberg wanted to terminate teachers who received "U" ratings in the last 5 years. I had not received a "U" rating.
Then he went after teachers guilty of disciplinary issues and 3020-a charges. I was never subject to discipline issues.
Then he went after the ATRs and I never was an ATR.
Than he went after teachers with lateness or absences and I am never late or rarely absent.
Then when I became older and was approaching my vesting date, he went after me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Yes, it can and will happen to you unless we stand together as a profession.
Friday, November 25, 2011
It is the day after Thanksgiving and it is time to give thanks to the people and organizations that have helped me through some trying years and the ones that should disappear forever.
I gave thanks to:
- My family who supported me throughout my ordeal.
- The many teachers and bloggers who were on my side.
- My Chapter Leader who is was always there and testified in my behalf.
- NYC Educator who convinced me to start my blog.
- The union who keeps telling me "we saved your job". First, when I was in the "rubber room" and second while I am an ATR. Thanks.
- The many students that contacted me and wanted to testify in my behalf.
- My NYSUT lawyer who always believed in my innocence.
- The State Arbitrator who found no misconduct on my part.
- My ex-Principal who was canned by the DOE for his poor decision-making and Administrative skills but not before he made sure to charge me with phoney 3020-a charges..
- The DOE Office of Legal Services who failed time and again, to realize what a frivolous case they had but still managed to keep me incarcerated in thee "rubber room" for 1567 days.
- The "scumbag teacher" who met with SCI secretly outside the school and lied to them. Thankfully, even the biased SCI investigator realized he was lying and he now finds himself as an ATR and ostracized by the other teachers who know the story.
- Ex Chancellor Joel Klein who demonized "reassigned teachers" and ATRs by calling them "bad or lazy" teachers.
- The Mayor's poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has not changed any of Joel Klein's failed and destructive education policies since taking over the position seven months ago.
- Mayor Bloomberg who has almost single handedly tried to destroy the New York City Public Schools and is ending up destroying his legacy as the "Education Mayor".
- The DOE and the Union leadership whom have allowed the ATR crises to exist in the first place.
- The fraudulent DOE algorithm which is simply a sick joke for the weekly ATR.
- The union's failure to allow ATR input in their failed, violated, and unenforceable ATR Agreements that makes a mockery of their advocacy for the ATRs and make them "second class citizens".
- Tweed's bloated Bureaucracy, Consultant contracts, and Technology, while they refuse to stop principals from violating the toothless "ATR Agreement".
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
More Evidence That Mayor Bloomberg's & Chancellor Joel Klein's Education Policy Is A Failure. Look At The 2-Year College "Dropout Rate"!
There is a growing body of evidence that the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration has failed the New York City Public School students. The latest news is the publishing of the two year community college "dropout rate" of New York City students. According to the Wall Street Journal an astounding 51% of the New York City students "dropped out" and only 28% have attained either an Associate of Bachelor degree. Image, that a majority of New York City students entering the two year community colleges "dropped out"!
When you place the two year community college "dropout rate" with the increase in students needing "triple remediation" (22.6%) and the explosion of "credit recovery programs", many of these programs were bogus, that artificially raised the New York City graduation rate, it is very obvious that the New York City students are unprepared for the real world after high school. This is evident with the low "college readiness" grades and is really the reason that the majority of students entering the community colleges dropout.
Combine all the above statistics with the widening income/racial academic achievement gap and you can see the Administration's Education policy is all "smoke and mirrors". In other words, a bunch of lies.
In summary, the community college "dropout rate" is just the latest piece of evidence to show that the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration's effort to improve the New York City Public School System is a failure and a fraud "Children First"? Not in this reality.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The DOE and The UFT Have Made The "ATR Agreement" A Joke As Principals Refuse To Hire ATRs For Their Vacancies And Are Not Punished For It.
Here we are approaching Thanksgiving and principals still fail to fill the many vacancies, hidden or advertised, that are available in the New York City Public School System. How does the failure to fill vacancies, hidden or not, help the children? It doesn't of course. In my travels I have found a minimum of eight vacancies in the schools I was assigned to. Of course, the union's position is "did I report them to the District Rep"? The answer is I did in my third school and nothing came of it. As for the other schools, I made sure that Chapter Leaders did report it to the District Rep. What has come from that? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! As one Chapter Leader told me "what is the use of reporting school vacancies when the union is doing nothing with it"?
With much fanfare the DOE and UFT came up with an "ATR Agreement" that would require principals to hire ATRs for their vacancies. Yeah, right, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you if you really believe this. Instead of hiring ATRs for their vacancies, the principals simply ignore the "ATR Agreement". Let's look at the many examples of what high school principals do as to not to hire an ATR.
- Flushing High School Principal hires a day-to-day substitute who is not certified in Earth Science to teach five Regents classes.
- August Martin High school fails to hire a Social Studies Teacher for their vacancy.
- Fredrick Douglas Academy VI in Far Rockaway does not hire an English teacher.
- Metropolitan High School ignores student complaints about not hiring a Chemistry teacher and apparently uses a Special Education teacher to teach Physics.
- Apparently the Principal at Queens High School of Teaching tries to hire a "newbie" Earth Science teacher by using Crag's list.
I am sure there are many more egregious examples of principals refusing to follow the "ATR Agreement" and not hire an ATR but these are the ones either I personally knew about or read it from blogs and news media. For example, I heard from another ATR that claimed an elementary school Principal had bragged how she has a Special Education ATR cover a class for the year without the school being required to pay for the ATR. Another ATR told me of a middle school Principal who refused to hire a Math ATR and has a day-to-day sub covering the Math position. I am sure there are numerous stories of the "ATR Agreement" and nothing appears to be done about it.
The reality is that the "ATR Agreement" is another case of the union negotiating with the DOE an unenforceable and violated agreement that the union fails to ensure the DOE abides by. How easy it would be for the union leadership to bring up the numerous violations of the agreement to the mass media and embarrass the DOE in requiring principals to follow the "ATR Agreement" or suffer the consequences that the DOE can enforce. Furthermore, the union can easily show that the principals failure to abide by the "ATR Agreement" is hurting the children and contrary to the DOE's "children first" policy. Instead the union appears to be silent on the issue. Why? I previously wrote about the lack of action and information about what is happening in the DOE/UFT Joint Oversight Committee meetings. Why the secrecy and the lack of transparency?
I can only assume that both the DOE and UFT wish that the ATR situation would just disappear but they can't since both the DOE and UFT created the ATR crisis in the first palace. Therefore, both the DOE and UFT treat the ATRs as second class citizens. Sure, they both claim that they want the ATRs to have their own classrooms but "actions speak louder than words". The actions are the ridiculous DOE algorithm that randomly sends ATRs weekly to different schools in the District and the failure to hold principals "accountable" for their willful failure to abide by the "ATR Agreement". The only way the ATR issue disappears is if the DOE requires Principals to hire ATRS and hold firm on the City "job freeze", no other solution is possible without negotiating a new contract which is not going to happen until Mayor Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott are replaced in 2014.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The DOE Continues Their Effort To Destroy The Remaining Large Comprehensive High Schools. However, The Small Schools Replacing Them Are Failing!
At one time the pride and joy of the New York Public School System was the large comprehensive high schools. Only the best principals and teachers found their way to these schools and the majestic buildings that housed them.These schools not only had a full menu of academic courses but also included a wide range of electives, clubs, and extracurricular activities. Almost every Advanced Placement course could be found in these schools and academic achievement associated with these schools can be found in the graduates that have become leaders of the present generation. These schools operated as a "home away from home" for the students. Then came Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein who had declared war on the large comprehensive schools and are winning that war.
The hallmark of the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration was to close the large comprehensive schools and open up small themed or charter schools to replace them. First, the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration started the propaganda offensive by claiming that the large comprehensive schools as "dropout factories". To ensure that the statistics verified their propaganda, they dumped increasing numbers of "English Language Learners" and "Special Education" students into the targeted schools. To further make their point, the recently opened small schools were allowed to exclude the "English Language Learners" and "Special Education" students for the first two years and were allowed to selectively exclude other students who had academic, attendance, and behavioral problems. This allowed the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration to claim that their education reform was working.
The Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration claimed that "small learning communities" were the wave of the future in education. These small schools could supply individual attention to struggling students and give a sense of community to the school. Given everything else being equal, there is some truth to it. However, the reality is quite different. The small schools opened by the DOE were usually lead by a "Leadership Academy Principal" with little or no classroom experience and an inexperienced staff usually populated by "Newbie" and untenured teachers. These teachers lacked classroom management skills and curriculum knowledge. To make matters worse, the class sizes were as large as what was in the large comprehensive schools they replaced. Look what happened to Erasmus High School. They closed it down due to poor performance and made four small schools out of it. They all failed and replaced by other failing small schools. Left unsaid, is that small schools have limited, if any electives, few extracurricular activities, and no Advanced Placement courses. One of the biggest complaints by students who go to these small schools are the very limited courses given by the schools.
Unfortunately, this has not stopped the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott onslaught on destroying the large comprehensive high schools. Even the few remaining "quality schools" in Northeastern Queens (Bayside, Cordozo, & Francis Lewis) have seen a doubling of students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). In other words a doubling of the amount of "Special Education" students. Eventually, as there will be few remaining large comprehensive high schools, the small schools will increasingly compete for students. This is already happening in the Bronx and Brooklyn. These small schools are now required to accept every applicant to keep their numbers up and their education success is now simply "smoke and mirrors". Look at the poor "college readiness" rates the NYC students have and it is even worse for the small schools.
The bottom line is that the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott Administration's small school policy is a failure but the damage to the few remaining large comprehensive high schools is everlasting and that is a shame.