Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Is Truly Clueless About What Goes On In The Classroom. His Proposal Is To Hire "Newbie Teachers" But Keep The Same Students.

Mayor4Life, Michael Bloomberg, shocked the education world with his State of the City Speech in which he laid out his highly distorted vision of how he will change the New York Public schools, starting in the 2012-13 school year. Behind his proposals were two themes: Keeping the $58 million dollar RTTT funds that the State is withholding and destroying the teachers' union. For the Mayor4Life this is his last chance to be taken seriously since next year will be his last year in office and "lame duck" Mayors have little power and influence as the Mayoral candidates ignore any controversial measures that can "piss off" the voters. Therefore, it is important for the Mayor4Life to show his failed legacy as the "Education Mayor". Up to now his education legacy has been all "smoke and mirrors" with flat student academic achievement, a large income/racial academic achievement gap, warehousing problem students in schools that he targets for closure only to see the small schools he championed eventually fail, and alienate school staff & parents with his "top down approach" of education reform that does not work. I could include the wasteful technology and consultant services that cost the City billions of dollars (Citytime) but you get the message.

The Mayor4Life has come out with an unworkable and poorly thought out education plan that includes the following items:

  • Change the 33 transformation/restart schools to the turnaround model which requires that 50% of the teachers be removed from the school and end up as ATRs. This is estimated to be 1,750 teachers and an additional $60 million dollars that the City would have to pay for teachers in the ATR pool. This will make the total cost of maintaining the ATR pool $100 million dollars or more. According to the union this cannot be done without their approval.
  • Give teachers who are rated "highly effective" for two years a $20,000 bonus. Notice, it's not a pay increase but a bonus so that it is temporary and does not affect the salary schedule. Moreover, who will pay the teacher the extra $20,000? The City, the DOE? or more likely will it come out of the school budget? If it is the latter, what Principal would give a teacher "highly effective" for two consecutive years if the money comes out of their budget? By the way doesn't Bloomberg know that all the studies ever done show that merit pay does not work?
  • Give the top 25% of college graduates $25,000 for student loan reimbursements if they last 5 years in the New York City Public Schools. Good luck to that. By the way who pays for that as well? Further, with 3,000+ ATRs roaming the schools, how can the City waste all that experienced talent while bringing in untested "newbie teachers". Wouldn't' you want your child to have an experienced teacher rather than a "newbie" who has a steep learning curve ahead of him or her? I certainly would not want my child to be the guinea pig with a "newbie teacher" who may never master the teaching profession.
  • The cost for all the Bloomberg proposals would be $100 million for the ATRs, $250 million for the "highly effective teachers" and another $100 million for student loan reimbursement for the "newbies". That means that the Mayor4Life is proposing to spend $450 million dollars to get the $58 million dollars from the State and he considers himself a financial genius?
  • Add 50 more Charter schools and increase the network for them. Who pays the cost? The City will and that is more money that will siphoned off from the Public schools to the 1% who runs these Charter school networks.

Back to the 33 restart/transformation schools. Will bringing in new teachers change the student academic outcomes in those schools? The answer is no. You cannot just rearrange the deck chairs and expect things to change for the better. The answer lies with the students. If you have the same type of students coming into the schools and the system continues to fail to provide wraparound services to these students such as family and community support, one to one tutoring, and adequate support services, how can you expect improvement? Moreover, not imposing a "zero tolerance policy" on student discipline is a recipe for failure. Changing the teaching staff in a school and doing nothing more as the Mayor4Life is demanding is the same thing as putting a bandage on an internal ulcer. it may look from the outside that you are treating it but in reality it does not cure the ulcer.

Most telling are the responses by UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Principals President Ernest Logan to Gotham Schools about the Mayor's education proposals.

From Mulgrew:

The Mayor seems to be lost in his own fantasy world of education, the one where reality doesn’t apply. It doesn’t do the kids and the schools any good for him to propose the kind of teacher merit pay system that has failed in school districts around the country. As far as the ‘turnaround’ model goes, the Mayor knows perfectly well that under state law these kinds of initiatives have to be negotiated with the union. If he’s really interested in improving the schools his administration has mishandled, he will send his negotiators back to the table to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation process.

And Logan:

At first glance, in the public eye, the Mayor’s remarks about schools may seem reasonable, but when you dig down, you realize how many of his proposals do little to help struggling schools. These schools are likely to continue struggling, not because 50% of the educators are supposedly incompetent, but because of the DOE’s student enrollment policies that place students who are over-age, under-credited, in temporary housing or dealing with involved special education needs in schools that are said to be low-performing. We must stop this kind of warehousing and give these children what they need to succeed.

Hopefully, when the city presents this plan to us and explains it fully, we will have fewer concerns.

In summary, changing a school's staff will not significantly change student outcomes and if it the same type of students go to the school, the academic achievement will, at best, remain unchanged and probably get worse. To my union. "stay firm and don't let the Mayor4Life lie and bully you in giving up teacher "due process rights".


Rod said...

I wrote this as a Comment at NYT in regards to Bloomberg's press conference:

100 years ago NYC educated immigrants and sent them to great city colleges. School discipline worked. Want reform? Remove disruptive children from classrooms of engaged students and group by ability. As children learn self-control move them up. Change elementary classes every half year and re-group by ability. Kids who come without pencils need their parents to come to school or they will be suspended until they take responsibility for their child's education. Bring back order and discipline. Life is hard and failure is a learning experience. Stop coddling our children.

Anonymous said...

I guess the Reigning Queen wants MANY more why would that BE...?

Chaz said...


I agree with you completely. If schools fail to handle the student discipline issue, that school is destined to fail.

Anonymous said...

I think Bloomberg's plan is that after another 1,750 teachers are dumped into the ATR pool he will try to do a contract with the UFT that fires all the ATRs in exchange for a sizable raise.

Anonymous said...

If I had a nickel for every time a student solemnly says to me, "how come you can't stay at our school", I'd be very, very rich.
& Don't get me started with classroom management. I can get the kids to stay seated without resorting to hard-assed comments. But I'll never be placed.
--one bitter ATR

NYC Educator said...

It's kind of incredible that MSM gives such credence to the mayor's pipe dreams. Worse, their editorial boards aren't a fraction as critical as education bloggers, so very few New Yorkers really know what's going on. That, of course, includes the supposedly liberal New York Times. Where the hell are we supposed to go to find that liberal bias that has supposedly infected the media?

Chaz said...

Anon: 1:35

Call me naive but I take Michael Mulgrew at his word that he will not sacrifice the ATRs for a raise.

Remember, we did that in 2005 and that contract resulted in the ATR crisis we have now.

Anonymous said...

You may very well be right Chaz, but then what is Bloomberg's strategy here? I think it's an attempt to pressure the UFT to accept the DOE's no appeals clause in the new teacher evaluation plan. What do you think?

Chaz said...

Of course that is Bloomberg's plan but I expect it to fail. Just like his education policy.

Anonymous said...

Well since neither side wants to see 1,700 more teachers in the ATR pool does it just come down to a staring contest? What I also don't understand is how converting the transformation and restart schools into turnaround solves the Race to the Top problem of not having a new teacher evaluation plan.

Anonymous said...

Here is my solution to the problem of student discipline. Any student who is not following the rules must have there parent come and stay with the student while class is in session. Any student who's parent refuses to come will not be allowed admission in the class.

Rod said...

would bonus pay be pensionable and if so, retiring teachers will kill/cheat to bring up their final average salary. how does this apply to art, music, science and gym teachers?

Anonymous said...

Hey, you had to expect Princess Bloomberg to begin Teacher Hunting Season regarding LIFO-like matters. He didn't destroy LIFO OR tenure, so he's weaponizing and monetizing the assessment method.

Hmmmm...weaponizing and monetizing...where have we seen this before. sounds an awful lot like the methods of Wall Street and Haliburton...the 1 % is not only destroying is DESTROYING THE WORLD....evil bastards...the Wall St/banking/military industrial/media/Zionist/oil destroying the world...and we just happen to be in its way at the moment...may they rot in hell...

NY_I said...

The Friday Afternoon Massacre of 1/2 the teachers at 33 schools, many of which only got C ratings, should be the obvious war volley to more. It is a shame that one can only get an alternative view compared with the DailyNews/NYPost/NYTimes troika by going to the blogs. So much of the public, including teachers, are in the dark.
I addressed the toxic health affect of the stresses teachers will feel at these schools:
<a href="http://nycityeye.blogspot.comNew York City Eye</a>

NY_I said...

Right you are, Chaz.
A giant advance in student and school performance could be accomplished by removing the small fraction that establish a terrible tone for the school.
But instead, administrators shirk from that. They coddle the disruptive students, and load all the responsibility on the teachers.
Furthermore, these disruptive students are indispensable to Bloomberg, his allies and his apologists. For, they drive down student and school performance. Then, the school gets labeled as failing, and the teachers as lazy devils. The school gets shut down, and the Post/DailyNews repeat the Bloomberg Party Line that the mayor is taking the only wise move to save education for the neediest (actually, he's saving Geoffrey Canada, Eva Moskowitz and the like's butts).
NYCity Eye

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anonymous of 11:47 a.m.(the SECOND post at that time)--you must have signed up for Useful Idiot 101 at Columbia U., where they squander taxpayer dollars giving credit for courses like "Occupy Wall Street". You are just a pass-along parrot, repeating the last phrases someone taught you to say. You obviously haven't much of a brain to think things through yourself. Otherwise, you would never have referred to a "Zionist cabal" which only exists in the minds of anti-Semitic pinheads like yourself and whoever you're mindlessly parroting.

Chaz said...

Anon 11:47

Zionist cabal? I do not tolerate anti-Semitic statements. Take your conspiracy theories somewhere else.

veteran teacher said...

Every year, the mayor tries to enforce his will on education. he attempts to get the public on his side and feels that vilifying teachers and casting aspersions on the union is the way to go. Sadly, he also wants to create dissension and divisiveness within the teacher's union between young and old and that is working.

Most of the neophyte rookie teachers or younger teachers never should have been hired and the mayor knows that by contract, if there are layoffs, they are to go first. He also knows that most teachers are clueless as it comes to the ATR situation, thus creating more distance between 'real' teachers and what most principals, classroom teachers view as 'subs' which ATRs are not.

Mulgrew will not sell the ATR out. He is not dumb. If he sells out the ATRs for more money, he will face a major law suit b/c a union's job is to protect jobs and he may as well dissolve the union completely if he sells us out and gives up due process.

In my opinion, the ATR situation will get a lot worse in numbers before it gets better