Thursday, October 11, 2012

You Get What You Pay For When You Practice Education On The Cheap Policies.

It is no secret that the DOE's "fair student funding" fiasco has encouraged principals to hire on the cheap when it comes to teachers.  Many of the Bloomberg small schools are populated with "newbie teachers" and at the high school level that is a real crime when it comes to the education of the students in those schools.  Is it any wonder that the "college and career readiness" rates for those small schools are 10.7%, compared to the 20.7% for all New York City high schools?

An example of this problem was played out in a recently created small school that is one of the small schools replacing a closing school that was targeted by the DOE.  In this school, only in it's third year of existence, the school had recently excessed an experienced Physics teacher because the teacher failed half the students and obtained poor Regents results.  Was he a terrible teacher?  Well, I taught with him for eight years and he always obtained good Regents grades in Physics and rarely failed students at the closing school that the new school now occupies.  The real answer was the students of this new Bloomberg small school.lack the academic ability to handle the math and scientific concepts necessary for high school Physics.  However, it is always easier to blame the teacher than the ill-prepared student body.

To replace the excessed Physics teacher, the school hired two "newbie science teachers", one in Chemistry and the other in Earth Science.  My friend, the ATR was assigned to the school for the first five weeks and the Principal had asked him to shadow the two teachers and help them adjust to the New York City classroom.  He did as he was told but found that both teachers lacked pedagogy, had poor knowledge of the curriculum, and had terrible classroom management skills.  The Chemistry teacher was foreign born and had trouble with the English language and made many grammatical errors when trying to explain Chemistry..  However, what was worse that he made science errors such as telling the students that Helium is la lighter gas than Hydrogen, despite what the Periodic Tables of Chemistry shows.   Moreover, his classroom was noisy and the students were distracted and not engaged.  My friend felt very sorry for those Chemistry students.  He believed they are in for a long and frustrating year.

The Earth Science teacher was a "wet behind the years" newbie who looked like she should be a student rather than a teacher.  Worse was her apparent lack of curriculum knowledge when she incorrectly told her students that latitude were vertical lines and longitude horizontal lines.  The opposite is true.  In addition, she could not run the lab and screwed up a simple density experiment.  Like the Chemistry teacher she had trouble controlling the classroom, seemed very frustrated,  and keeping the students engaged was difficult. My friend doubts she will be teaching next year.

My friend, who is a twenty-two year Science teacher, said to the Principal why did you hire the two science teachers when there are so many good science teachers without classrooms?  The Principal was blunt, she told him that her budget is very tight and she could not afford to pick up a higher salaried teacher, no matter how great the teacher may be.  She felt badly that she could not hire the "best teachers" but the budget made it impossible to do so.  Her parting words to my friend was that she wished she could keep him around to work with the two teachers but the DOE does not allow for it without picking up his salary which she cannot afford.

Is it any wonder why the small schools do so poorly when it comes to "college and career readiness"?  When teachers are selected based upon their salary and not on their ability, the future looks bleak for those students that end up in these small schools. 


Anonymous said...

so true - the newbies don't know the curriculum at all - In a school in which i was an ATR a newbie social studies teacher was spending days teaching freshmen global students about ancient Sumer. There hasn't been a question on Sumer on the Regents in the 17 years that I have been teaching. But there is a whole section on it in a textbook that the newbie followed. At this pace he will be on ancient Rome in January. The newbies do not know the Regents curriculum and they have no idea what topics to stress and which to mention for about one minute. (For the record, I gave ancient Sumer about 5 minutes in a class - not 5 days.) And yes we will be ATRs until a school is forced to hire us because no one will pay my salary now.

Pissedoffteacher said...

At least this principal admitted it was money. Most will claim there are no decent ATRs around. I heard a principal I thought I respected say this.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are exceptions but the truth is you are correct Chaz. How do I know? I was a first year teacher myself 15 years ago and I knew "jack" about the curriculum let alone how to really teach. The experience was humbling to say the least. Teachers reading this blog know what I am talking about.

On another note, I was just called and asked my opinions for a survey being taken on issues relating to the UFT and DOE. One thing I stated in the part where I had free voice to express what was on my mind was the following: For the life of me I cannot understand why Mulgrew cannot or will not just simply invite the Mayor to a debate of some sort and allow the people of the city to hear the simple truth of this. Yes - it is naive of me to think that such a thing would happen - then why not buy some ad space and in simple language (EMPHASES ON SIMPLE) let the people of the city know the truth. Why has this not been done in a local "rag"? And don't anyone tell me it has because I would have seen it.

Be well!

Chaz said...

I believe that many of the small schools maximize their budgets by hiring the most inexpensive teachers rather than the "best teachers". It is not what is best for their students but what is best for the Principal in charge of the small school.

Unknown said...

We can only hope that our new Mayor will improve teaching conditions and resolve the horrific ATR situation. Paying people all over NYC to sit around while classes are filled to the max or over flowing, schools are running without a guidance counselor and NYC has "excessed" counselors doing nothing -

Unknown said...

PLease, I hope our new future mayor is reading all the CHAZ blogs - please new mayor, please listen to the people in the trenches,,,please

Unknown said...

Its quite amazing to see these new smaller schools operate....You will see offices with a secretary in there, a counselor, a dean and some "community organizer" whatever that title is......all squished together in one office due to lack of space as there are several schools packed into one building -- This is what the DOE has created for its dedicated people managing the schools every day...sad

angry atr said...

Urgent for ATR's: Meeting at Bronx UFT Oct. 24

mportant information for city-wide ATR's (ALL TITLES)

Next week on Wednesday, October 24, there is a meeting for all ATR's at the UFT Bronx Office. Not surprisingly this meeting is buried on the UFT calendar:

ATR's of all titles are invited to attend this informational Q & A session on ATR-related issues and to meet the representatives of the Bronx Borough Office.

It has been suggested by an ATR who has assumed a leadership role, that ALL ATR's, including those on the GEM listserve attend the Bronx meeting in order to speed up the rapidly moving organization of ATR's.

Should the meeting turn out to be a performance by Amy Arandle whining, "you're lucky to have a job," then all attendees at the meeting can quickly retreat to the parking area to exchange contact information which will further strengthen the ATR movement.

It has been reported that a list of city-wide ATR's has recently surfaced. Hopefully, this list can be used to urge attendance at the ATR meetings.