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?

20 comments:

Pissed Off said...

I was thinking the same thing when I read the article by that teacher. Those things are only bad if they are out to get you.

Have a happy new year. I hope things look up in 2012.

Anonymous said...

You do not have to think too hard to figure it out that the City schools is Bloomberg's dominion, while they are not outside of the city's borders.

veteran teacher said...

Let's call it what it is, Chaz, it's a difference in race. I'm a white male and have been called in or given a letter for raising my voice by telling a kid to 'shut his mouth' or to 'get out of my face' but have seen principals give say worse to kids or give latitude to other teachers for cursing, shoving kids etc.

This guy is white in the article. Do you not think that played a factor in all this? No one wants to hear that(although it is the truth).

veteran teacher said...

I know plenty of people that teach in the suburbs and they say some of the same stuff that we go through. You can get a thousand pats on the back for doing a great job, but one screw up or one kid who hates you and you're screwed. I don't know this Schachter guy, but I am going to assume that writing this Newsday article will get this guy under the radar of where he works in Glenhead. Someone will be out to get him now.

You do bring up a great debate though, Chaz.

Anonymous said...

Whats wrong with you? The students know that no one can touch them. They spout it as a mantra.

We are automatons and agents of the corporate fascist state involved in enhanced daycare and youthful offender holding facilities.

As an ATR you are a faceless debased and degraded cog in an incomprehensible broken machine.

You are shuffled from educational nightmare to educational nightmare.

What possible relationship could you have, as a transient sub-class glorified school aide, with any student?
I have absolutely no interest in forging any relationships on my tour of educational horror.

I know what the goons at tweed and the pinstriped thugs over at the uft have done to me and what they think of me. Just make it through the day and count your lucky stars that you have a paycheck and benefits.

The same tired line of shit that was told to you by the very same pinstriped thugs whom we pay to sell us out.
Get over your lack of a career. The truth is, since the little dictator bought his office we have had no career whatever. We have been used and abused bty the little tyrant and his step and fetch it types.

Embrace the isolation and the continual traveling from shithole to shithole.

Get over the fact that this is just a means to an end. The fact remains, not one of the sewers that I have had the misfortune to be sent to, is a sewer where I would want to become a stationary target.
Buy a kindle and a smartphone and amuse yourself. The actual lesson planning, grading, ais logs, tutoring and all the other shit they shovel at you, is over for now.

You can be a true civillian and not take home work with you.

Get used to the idea the nonentities from ivy league schools are getting their tickets punched on our backs.

The students are commodities and we stand in the way of the commodities being fully exploited.

Just relax and enjoy the ride. Who gives a fuck anyway? Certainly not the good tax payers of Bloombergville, or the parents.

The kids have had a decade of Bloombergian miseducation and are functional illiterates. They will take care of
you in an old age home and probably hurt anyone they attempt to help, because they have zero critical thinking skills.

Don't waste your time getting misty eyed over touching some gang member on the shoulder.

Actually. the thought of touching one of those unaccountable angels is rather repulsive. Just take your paycheck and exploit the shitty, the way they exploited you and continue to degrade you.

After all, one good screw deserves another.

Cheers,

Angry Nog

Chaz said...

Anon: 4:58

I am not talking about an ATR but a regular appointed classroom teacher. Of course ATRs cannot develop a relationship with students going week to week. However, you are correct in how the students know how to play the system. .

Anonymous said...

An independent neutral found the teacher guilty and imposed a $1500 fine. That teacher is lucky to have a job because he committed misconduct. If you don't like the decision, appeal it-otherwise accept the fact that your guilty and be happy for what you got.
And yes, I am a Unity supporter.

Anonymous said...

So we've reached a "Banana Republic" type situation in "cosmopolitan" NYC ,were the ordinary citzen gets used to being extorted by a little prick dictator like Mayor Scumberg....?

Tell me...exactly what is the purpose and/or explanation of this $1,500 fine...? What is this...like a moving violation...? Dis this poor guy also get points on his license? Does he now have to register as a sex offender? I mean...Mayor Scumberg...you REALLY R A SCUMBAG AREN'T U...?

Wow...how far we have fallen...

Chaz said...

Anon 9:06 pm

You obviously don't understand the 3020-a process. A $1,500 fine was not for misconduct but for "inappropriate comments". There is only a 4% acquittal rate because the Arbitrator must appease the DOE to keep their job. Therefore, the token fine is an acknowledgement that the DOE's case was frivolous.

Anonymous said...

One Oh shit out weighs 1000 at a boys.

at a boy at a boy at a boy at a boy at a boy at a boy at a boy at a boy OH sit.

Anonymous said...

Maybe "that" teacher was fined $1500 because he is guilty. Maybe he was not guilty of everything, but he was guilty of something.
Yeah, do you expect anyone to "buy" that the arbitrator found you guilty to keep his job?? If that were true, then the teacher would have certainly appealed. He didn't and is now an ATR and is lucky at that.

Anonymous said...

The teacher is a physical education instructor who was harassed by principal Bernard Gassawy at Boys and Girls HS. The Amsterdam news has a very good story about Gassaway and how he has targeted older predominantly white teachers. Gassaway is a minister who previoulsy was principal at Beach Channel HS a school that was phased out by the DOE. Gassaway left a few years back as he was not favored by the Klein mob. He has enough clout within the minority community to have landed this position. The teacher was railroaded and the students were selected by the AP and Gassaway. There are several teachers in this predictament. The chapter leader is worse than useless and the UFT did provide counsel(NYSUT), the fact that the penalty was a mere $1500 shows the case was full of GASS as in GASSAWAY. Yet, the teacher is now penalized and must work as an ATR and not allowed to return to his home school. The UFT must push for language that affords recourse when administrators misuse their power and act against staff. This case is one on many that have occurred during the Bloomberg administration. There is a definite provable pattern that should be challenged.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:50

Re-read the article. He was not found guilty of any of the charges. Instead he was slapped with a fine that essentially ensures the arbitrator will work again for the DOE. This is the otherworldly 3020a process we know and love here in NYC. The fact that you thought the arbitrator was an 'independent neutral' shows you are unfamiliar with the entire game. Finally, the fact he was hit with a fine without being found guilty of any of the 3020a charges should be an eyeopener for independent and neutral observers. The words 'kangaroo' and 'court' should come to mind.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:50

"An independent neutral found the teacher guilty and imposed a $1500 fine. That teacher is lucky to have a job because he committed misconduct. If you don't like the decision, appeal it-otherwise accept the fact that your guilty and be happy for what you got.
And yes, I am a Unity supporter."

Did your Unity support stop you from reading the last line of the article? He IS appealing.

Chaz said...

Unless you have been through the 3020-a process, you have no idea the backroom deals the lawyers and Arbitrators work. Since the Arbitrator depends on both sides renewing his yearly contract and the DOE is much more aggressive in dismissing Arbitrators, the result is that the Arbitrator will give a small fine even to teachers who were not guilty of misconduct. As in the case in the Daily News.

Anonymous said...

Makes sense that this older, fatter, higher paid white teacher was bagged and tagged by the principal. I'm sure there's a black guy or gal in his place as we speak.

NY_I said...

People need to sober up and wipe the cheery smiles off their faces, and wake up to reality:
When you are working for the DOE in the age of Bloomberg, you are working in a vicious, authoritarian system.
I go by the rule that
1) anything anyone says about you will be used against you
2) you have no rights
3) due process is for students and administrators, not for teachers
4) Sure, there is a procedure for everything, but bear in mind, the DOE always wins. (Peter Lamphere not withstanding; in 999 out of a thousand cases, the DOE wins --4% sound kind of high)
5) Ergo, I act like a monk, no passion or hints that I ever would even think anything. e.g., don't hug kids back when they hug you, and gently protest when they hug you.

veteran teacher said...

so true, teachers have zero due process in this system.

the less you do, the less they see you, the more inept they think you are, the better your time will be in this system.

Having ambition and being pro-active in this system are bad!

Anonymous said...

Something I haven't seen addressed, particularly for those of us that work with SpEd students that are severely disabled and must be diaper changed or monitored while toileted, even at the high school level.

What protections are there for teachers and paras that, of necessity, must touch these students in order to change diapers on students or help them clean themselves, if one is accused of inppropriate touching?

Anonymous said...

Though not specially related, what do people think of this?

12:1:1 male student that is verbal and considered to be high functioning sexually harasses a female 12:1:1 student by making inappropriate remarks to her using graphic language relating to his sexual organ about how he would use it on the female student.

Teacher of male student finds out, and gives the student a writing assignment as a consequence. In addition, there were meetings with the student, his counselor and his parent about the incident. Principal of said teacher claims that this assignment constitutes "corporal punishment" for student. DOE upholds "U" rating given to teacher at end of year possibly in retaliation for giving this assignment.
Was the writing assignment given to the student corporal punishment in your opinion?