Friday, July 27, 2012

New York State Education Department Finally Agrees That The NYC DOE School Selection Policy Puts Low-Performing Students In Selected Large Comprehensive Schools.

Over the years educational critics have complained that the DOE's school selection policy that put high needs and low-performing students (Special Education, English Language Learners, Behavioral, and Attendance issues) into the few, selected large comprehensive schools while allowing the small Bloomberg created schools to exclude them. From the time of Chancellor Joel Klein to the present the DOE would boldly deny that their school selection program was biased.  Now the DOE has reluctantly admitted that their school selection program was discriminatory, after the State Department of Education Commissioner John King sent a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott complaining about the DOE's school selection policy..  The Chancellor committed to change the system by October  2012.

In all cases the DOE's school selection process forced selected large comprehensive schools to increase their number of high needs students.  Now that the State SED has told the DOE to change the school selection process, the DOE has informed the State that it will changed it for the 2013-14 school year. 
All I can say is "seeing is believing".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There Is No Excuse Mayor Bloomberg And Chancellor Walcott For Your Failure To Narrow The Racial Achievement Gap. Instead It Actually Widened!

With the release of the 2012 test scores for the elementary and middle schools the data shows that the student  racial achievement gap has widened since 2006.  As Mayor Bloomberg's ed deformer friends would say, there are no excuses for the widening of the racial achievement gap if his educational policies were working.  Therefore, the Mayor and Chancellor must take the blame and the "accountability" for their failure to narrow the racial student achievement gap between whites and minorities.  

In 2006 the ELA racial achievement gap between Blacks and Whites was 30.5% which has widened to 32.1% in the latest 2012 results.  The differences between Hispanics and Whites in 2006 was 30.7% and widened to 33.1% in 2012.  The racial achievement gap also widened between Blacks and Whites for Math.  In 2006 the racial achievement gap was 29.4% and in the 2012 results widened to 31.6%.  One bit of good news is that the achievement gap between Hispanics and Whites actually narrowed a little..  The entire report can be found on the DOE website.

Malsie McAdoo has taken apart the entire report and her conclusions, which I share, show that the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott reforms have been a failure and even the miniscule rises in the school report are questionable.  Her analysis is in Edwize and can be found here.

To read and hear the Mayor's press releases, one would think that the schools were improving.  However, these statements are higher distorted truths and downright lies.  In other words the Mayor's claim of significant improvement of student academic achievement is a "bunch of crap" The bottom line is that the local news media must hold the Mayor and Chancellor "accountable" for the widening racial student achievement gap and question the failed policies of this Administration that has put their political motives first and the "NYC public school children last.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Bogus 18D Interview Process And Why Did The UFT Even Participate In This Travesty?

As you all know for 24 "turnaround schools", teachers were forced to reapply for their jobs and in almost all cases the results were very predictable.  The most senior, lead teachers were retained and many of the untenured etchers were as well.  Moreover, the younger and less expensive you were, the better the chances that you would be rehired by the new school. What was laughable was the union's participation in this travesty and how they claimed, very unconvincingly, that all the teachers had an equal chance to be rehired.  According to the union, the teachers who had the most effective interviews would be rehired and not on anything else.  Yeah right, and I have a Bridge in Brooklyn to sell you if you really believe it is true..

To prove my case, I bring you a young, female, and untenured foreign language teacher who told her colleagues, while crying,  that she froze in her18D interview.  According to the teachers in her Department she couldn't answer even the simplest question and her fifteen minute interview took over 35 minutes to complete as the 18D committee had to ask her time and again the same questions and gently push her to say something.  After gently trying to prod her for answers, the 18D committee finally gave up and thanked her for coming in.   On the other hand, I decided to interview for a position and was well-prepared for the interview.  I answered all their questions clearly and concisely and even did an impressive simple science demonstration.  In other words  I "aced the interview"  and left the room after my allotted fifteen minutes.

Who did you think received a job offer?   The frozen in fear female foreign language teacher where there are many ATRs and outside language teachers available or me in a hard to fill "Earth Science" position with little competition?  You guessed it, the former.  Of course what I forgot to tell you is that she is in her 20s and I am in my 60s and I make $40,000 more than her.  Get the message?

To be fair, I never intended to come back to the school and the only reason I interviewed was to experience the 18D committee process first hand and to prepare a portfolio since it seems that all schools want teachers to present a portfolio..  Had they unexpectedly hired me, I would have declined the invitation as the school is overcrowded with  real discipline problems that made me uncomfortable and frustrated as a teacher.  In fact one of my CTT classes was short a teacher and nobody seemed to care.  Seriously, I rather be an ATR than land a position in the school where there are few deans, students are allowed to show up as they pleased and all the "accountability " is placed on the teacher and not anybody else.

The Principal of the school was just arrested for possession of "crystal Meth" by the police near the school and his  future is uncertain. However, unlike teachers, I do not see the Principal being terminated by the DOE under Section 3020-a but be quietly given an office job in a network like all the other problem principals until the fuss dies down and he reappears as a new Principal in another  unfortunate school.  The double standard that applies to disciplining principals is alive and well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Nominate Mayor Bloomberg & Chancellor Walcott For The Knucklehead Award As They Lose $58 Million Dollars In Their Ill-Conceived Turnaround Policy.

I have nominated Mayor Bloomberg & Chancellor Walcott for the "knucklehead award" for their risky and ill-conceived  "turnaround policy" that was thrown out by the Arbitrator.  The "turnaround policy" was a result of the Mayor having a temper tantrum when he failed to get his way on the  appeal process and stopped negotiating with the teachers' union.  In fact the Chancellor unwisely ordered the DOE negotiators to cease negotiating with the teacher union on the teacher evaluation system that resulted in the impasse we have presently..

It was at this point that the Mayor and Chancellor decided to follow through with the "turnaround policy", despite deep reservations from many education observers had about the strategy. including the State.  These education experts questioned the City's version and the many adjustments to the federal requirements that are required for a school to qualify for "turnaround". However, the Mayor and Chancellor refused to listen to these education officials and selected 33 schools for the City version of "turnaround".  Interestingly some of the worst schools were spared "turnaround" because of political reasons an example was Boys and; Girls high school which is one of the worst schools in the NYC system and was given an "F" on the DOE's report card.

The union took the City to court and to Arbitration and in Arbitrator ruled that the City's "turnaround policy" was simply a method to get around collective bargaining rights and get rid of unwanted staff.  In fact the Arbitrator used the Mayor's own words against him as the basis for his decision.  Now the City had to tell the new principals that they must rehire the teachers they wanted to get rid of.  If morale was bad before what will it be for the 2012-13 school year where teachers will be looking over their shoulders waiting for the Principal to "U" rate them.  I foresee chaos at these schools and all because of the ill-conceived and vindictive policy by a Mayor who did not get his way.

For the Mayor and Chancellor it is "children last"....always. as they lost $58 million dollars and put the 24 schools into utter chaos and that is why they are worthy nominees of the ":knucklehead award".

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Christine Rubino Facebook Decision And Why The Arbitrator's Award Is Excessive.

As many of my followers know, Christine Rubino's case has made the newspapers.  She was charged by the DOE for her Facebook comments that, were to say the least, ill considered and wrong.  However, this was Christine's private Facebook page and only her friends should have been able to see it.  Unfortunately, for Christine she had a falling out with one of her teacher friends who ratted her out to the Principal.   Despite the DOE having no policy on social media at the time and no students were hurt by what she said on Facebook, Christine was charged under section 3020-a anyway. In fact, she continued teaching until her 3020-a charges more than five months later!

She was assigned an Arbitrator, Randi Lowett, who people in the 3020-a hearing process believed was reasonably even-handed in her "awards".  However, according to Betsy Combier in Christine's open and public 3020-a hearing, this one was different.  The DOE seemed especially interested in terminating Christine for her Facebook comments and in many of the sessions the head of the "Administrative Trials Unit (ATU), Teresa Europe, showed up.  According to Betsy Combier who has been in many 3020-a hearings, this was a rare event to see the head of the ATU show up on more than one occasion.   The question must be asked did Teresa Europe showing up at Christine's 3020-a hearing influenced Arbitrator Randi Lovett's decision?  Furthermore, since Christine had fired her NYSUT lawyer, did this make it easier for the Arbitrator to terminate Christine?  I do not know the answers but I have my own suspicions.  The Arbitrator's original decision can be found here.

Based upon the Arbitrator's decision to terminate Christine Rubino for her Facebook comments it would seem that the "award" was excessive and Christine rightly appealed the case under section 75-11. The Supreme Court Judge, Barbara Jaffae, ruled that the "award"  was shocking to the conscious" and sent it back to Arbitrator Randi Lovett, for a less severe "award".  In the meantime the DOE has appealed the Judge's decision to the Appellate Court and since they were required to follow the Judge's decision for a lesser "award", the DOE arbitrarily asked that the Arbitrator rule that a two-year suspension would be appropriate.  This type of severe penalty has not been "awarded" since the turn of the century to any one's knowledge.  Either the educator gets a one year suspension or is terminated.  The last two year suspension issued by a NYS Arbitrator is in the 1990's and that was based upon more serious charges.

Shockingly, but not surprisingly, the Arbitrator Randi Lowett agreed with the DOE and issued a two year suspension without pay or health benefits in what reads as a very angry decision.  Christine is appealing again against the excessive "award" issued by the Arbitrator and  hopefully, the Judge will once again send it back to a different Arbitrator, this time, for a decision that does not "shock the conscious".

I really know how Cristine feels about her persecution by the DOE.  I spent 1567 days in the "rubber room" on false and frivolous charges and even this year the Mayor's poodle, the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott proclaimed me guilty even after the real evidence showed otherwise. Read the following blogs for more information on the DOE's crusade against Christine Rubino, a teacher with a fifteen year unblemished record.  Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

According To A Former Stooge Of Bloomberg And Klein All Educational Decisions Are Now Based Upon Political Considerations Than What Is Best For The Children.

Last week the former Deputy Chancellor, Eric Naldestern wrote an article that stated that all the educational decisions needed to be vetted on what was best for the Mayor's political ambitions and not what was goods for the children.  In his working paper he concluded the following:

 The city Department of Education is politically motivated, riddled with waste, and making policy choices that won’t lead to improved student achievement.

Worse is what he said about the Mayor's education practiced by his ex-buddies at Tweed.  Mr Nadelstern said the following:

 (they see] their primary role as creating opportunities for Bloomberg to step onto a national political stage after he [leaves] city government. Education reforms [are] now...evaluated on the basis of whether they contribute capital to the mayor’s political aspirations.

Of course, Mr Nalderstern was no educational crusader himself and as far as I was concerned he quit the DOE because the Mayor did not see fit to make him the next Chancellor and selected the incompetent Cathie Black instead.  In fact, many of Eric's flunkies also left the DOE in this period of Cathie Black.Under Eric Nalderstern's tenure at the DOE and as Joel Klein's Deputy Chancellor,   he implemented many disastrous policies.  His whining about the DOE is just like the hypocrite he is. Remember, wasn't it Mr. Nadelstern who said that two thirds of NYC teachers need improvement? While in charge, everything was just fine even when the same political issues were present at the DOE during this time. Here are just some of what he was responsible for.

  1. The creation of 62 useless Networks, that became a dumping ground for principals and other unwanted administrators who were removed from their schools, while keeping the 32 Superintendent lead Districts.  A complete waste of money. and duplication.
  2. The formation of the ATR crises as he allowed principals to hire who they pleased while the DOE had to pay 160 million dollars yearly for teachers with no classroom positions.
  3. The explosion of reassigned teachers (rubber room) as Mr. Naldelstern allowed principals to remove teachers for the most frivolous and bogus reasons.  The total reached a peak of 800+ and cost the DOE 100 million dollars annually.
  4. The dismantling of the large comprehensive highs schools by starving them of resources and dumping a high percentage of Special Education and ELL students into the schools.
  5. The development of the small themed schools that included a business manager, a program developer, and a resource coordinator, all non-educators.  While not enrolling Special Education, and ELL students to artificially raise student achievement at those schools.
  6. Finally, it was under his supervision that the DOE wasted millions of dollars on consultants and the money never seemed to make it to the classroom and the children.
In a nutshell, Eric Nalderstern policies at the DOE was "the problem and not the solution" when it came to improving student outcomes. I say good riddance and stop crying since you were a major Architect for the ongoing present-day disaster at the DOE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Mayor Loses Yet Again As A Judge Refused To Issue An Injunction Stopping The Rehiring Of Teachers In The Turnaround Schools.

The Mayor loses yet again as a Supreme Court Judge refused the City's request to issue an injunction to stop the rehiring of teachers in the 24 "turnaround schools" that the new principals "pink slipped" .  According to Gotham Schools, the judge, Joan Lobis of the New York Supreme Court ruled against the City and her refusal to issue an injunction was based upon the City failing to meet the two requirements that allows for the issuance of such an injunction. 

According to the judge, the City failed to meet the requirements for issuing an injunction.

To win an injunction, plaintiffs have to prove two things: that they would suffer “irreparable harm” while their case is pending and that they have a strong likelihood of ultimately winning their case. Lobis said today that she didn’t find the department convincing on either point.

The Mayor's third term has been an educational disaster.  First his educational miracle on student academic achievement turned out to be "smoke and mirrors".  Second, his claim that the graduation rate has improved was based upon massive and bogus "credit recovery programs" and a "college and; career readiness rate" of 20% and only 11% in the small school he created.  Third, he lost on the "last in, first out" where his LIFO bill died in the State Assembly and ignored by the Governor. Now it is his sham turnaround schools policy as the courts have ruled against him.

The educational legacy of Mayor Bloomberg will be as a loser!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Mayor And The DOE Put Their Collective Foot In Their Mouth According To The Arbitrator In His Ruling Against THe Sham Turnaround Policy.

The Mayor demanded what the rationale was for the Arbitrator to rule against the City i9n its sham "turnaround policy" of the 24 schools. Well, late on Friday the Arbitrator published his decision and he ruled against the City and the DOE based upon their own words. Talking about putting your "foot in your mouth". Gotham Schools reported the Arbitrator's decision and the actual document and it can be found here. The Arbitrator's reasoning was that the DOE's circular reasoning to close and reopen the schools was based not what was best for the students but what was best for the Bloomberg Administration's goal in getting rid of unwanted teachers (usually senior and expensive) from the schools.

The Arbitrator stated that the City can still pursue the "turnaround option" if they so choose, except they cannot use it as a method to remove teachers since the biases for the City to use the "turnaround option" was to remove teachers not to close the schools. Furthermore, despite the conditional approval the City received from the NYSED Commissioner, John King, the Arbitrator stated that in any definition "newmeans a school that does not exist" not just a name change. Finally, the Arbitrator used the Mayor's and DOE's own words against them as they both made statements that the "turnaround method" was based upon the removal of teachers and not what was best for the students. In fact here are some of the statements made by Mayor Bloomberg and the DOE that the Arbitrator used against them.

Mayor Bloomberg: ”Under this process, the best teachers stay; the least effective go.”

Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg also suggested that the school closings were inauthentic, the arbitrator concludes, when he wrote in a memorandum to principals shortly after Bloomberg’s speech explaining that their schools would be closed “as a technical matter”.

The Arbitrator also brought in the Mayor's dislike of the "last in, first out" (LIFO) laws and how he tried to get rid of it the previous year, He also criticized the Chancellor for wasting time and energy on removing teachers rather than obtaining funds for the students. Based upon what was said by the Mayor, the Chancellor, and the DOE he ruled that the closing of the 24 schools was a method to eliminate teachers and not to help the students or actually change the schools.

The Emperor and his royal Administrators lose yet again when they demand it's their way or the highway.only to get run over by a truck called the legal system.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Emperor Whines That His Decision To Close 24 Schools Was Not Subject To Arbitration After All Now That The City Lost. Boo Hoo!

Well it can now be said that the Mayor's transparent strategy to remove as many senior teachers as he could in one swift action has backfired dramatically and his sham "turnaround schools" ploy has cost the City not only significant money (58 million dollars) but what little credibility the Bloomberg Administration had in the first place. Now that the IINDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR has ruled against the City on the "turnaround schools" and put the 24 schools in utter choas , the Mayor came out and whined how the Arbitrator's logic was faulty and he hurt the children. In fact here was his quote after the City lost the arbitration.

I can just tell you, there are 24 schools, [and] almost all students there are minorities, single-digit-proficiency levels,” Bloomberg said. “These kids, if they’re there for one more year, will never recover in their entire lives.”

The  Mayor whining about how it hurts the children is a result of the Mayor's temper tantrum when he didn't get what he wanted in the teacher evaluation struggle and made a poorly considered and rash decision to punish the union by imposing the "turnaround model" on 33 schools. The Mayor took a gamble and lost and instead of starting over by using an approved method to change the 24 schools he know claims that the his decision was not subject to arbitration after all and that the City should not have to abide by it.  In fact all the teachers who were rejected in the 18D process are listed in the Open Market System as being in excess.  Despite the UFT win, the DOE acts as if the Arbitrator's decision never happened.

The City has appealed the Arbitrator's decision and have little chance of the courts to reverse the Arbitrator's decision since it was the courts that sent it back to the Arbitrator for a decision and the City agreed only to claim, after the decision, that it should not have been subject to arbitration in the first place.

For the Mayor, when you play a high risk game by rolling the dice you can lose and now you cry about it?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Emperor Loses A Big One And Gets Royally Screwed As The Independent Arbitrator Strikes Back.

The arrogant Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, lost a big one on Friday when the INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR  ruled against the City on the Mayor's and Chancellor's sham "turnaround" proposal. The Arbitrator ruled that the City could not impose the "turnaround model" without following the Federal and State requirements and since the City had stated that  they will do their own version of the "turnaround model" the Arbitrator ruled it violated the contract with both the UFT and CSA  This is a total victory for the UFT and I congratulate them on their dedication and winning the battle.  While I have decided to move on from my terrible "turnaround school" many of my colleagues will be given back their positions.  However, how will  these teachers feel about working for a Principal that was instrumental in not selecting them for his or her new school?   That is for another post on another day, let's get back to the Emperor and his devastating loss.

Why did the Mayor and Chancellor decide on the City version of the "turnaround model" in the first place?  The simple answer was that the Emperor was angry at the UFT for fighting him tooth and nail on the teacher evaluation system and when the UFT pressured the Governor to intercede on their behalf to impose a compromise on the appeal process that made the Mayor and Chancellor very unhappy.  The compromise was to have 13% of the teachers rated "ineffective" have a three member panel evaluate whether the teacher was truly "ineffective" or was given the rating unfairly by a vindictive Principal.  As for the other 87%?  See you in your next career.   Even if we all believe that the City won a significant weakening of teacher "due process rights"   , the Mayor wanted complete victory and decided on his highly risky policy to get rid of as many teachers as he could to get revenge on the union who dared stop him from achieving total victory.

The "turnaround policy" the Mayor and Chancellor tried to impose was the quickest way to get 2,000 teachers out of the classroom and replace them with other teachers, 40% of them "newbies" to the classroom.  This model would have allowed the City to obtain the $58 million dollars from the Federal government while using the influx into the ATR pool as a weapon for the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration to whine to the news media of the hundreds of million dollars that the City is wasting on these "failed teachers".   Why didn't the Bloomberg Administration simply close the schools if these schools were so bad?  The answer is that it would have taken 3 to 4 years to close the schools, and there was no $58 million dollars to obtain.  Moreover, where would you send the freshman class of low academic achievers?  There are few large schools left to dump these academically struggling students that the Bloomberg small schools refuse to take?   In fact, my school is expected to receive an additional 331 students above  last year's freshmen class, almost all of them struggling academically and requiring a minimum of CTT class instruction.  Finally, by using the "turnaround model" the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration could maximize the removal of over 2,000 teachers from the classroom, many of them senior teachers and hope they retire or resign due to the humiliation and replace them with cheap and untenured teachers who will never last to recieve a pension or retiree health benefits.

Instead of victory the Bloomberg/Walcott Administration has screwed themselves royally.  Not only was their sham "turnaround model" thrown out by the INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR but they lost $58 million dollars that would have received had they stayed with the "restart" and "transformation" models. Further, the Danielson Framework that was being used in those schools and had resulted in many teachers being given an "ineffective rating" was stopped after January 1st and could not be used for the finally ratings of the 2011-2012 school year.Therefore, the few marginal teachers in those schools will be keeping their jobs until the end of the 2013-14 school year and when Bloomberg is no longer Mayor. Talk about screwing oneself?  Instead of eliminating teachers he must keep those teachers while losing much needed funds for the school system. Now that is what I call incompetence.

The result is the Mayor and Chancellor overreached and lost.  Now the question is will they lick their collective wounds and try next year something else or will they come up with another strategy that will eliminate senior teachers and hurt the students.  It is not called "children last" for nothing.

Before I forget, the union should be complemented on their win and I always thought they had a winnable case and I told my colleagues that, based on the facts, the union should win their arbitration case, As for the INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR? it is about time that they strike back against the Emperor and his pet poodle the Chancellor who has insulted and belittled the Arbitrators for their own political ends.