Monday, November 12, 2012

The Excellent Teacher And The Clueless DOE.

The DOE has time and again claimed that education reform is necessary because they want only "excellent teachers" to instruct the City's students.  Of course the DOE is clueless to what an excellent teacher is.  The DOE's real motive is their "education on the cheap" policies. For Tweed an excellent teacher is an inexpensive and untenured teacher that will not be in the profession long enough to get a pension or retiree health benefits.  In fact Mayor Bloomberg discounted teacher experience by saying teacher experience is not important to student learning. If the DOE really wanted the best teachers in the schools, the first thing they would do is allow principals to hire the "best teachers" and not the cheapest teachers as they are forced to do now.  Previously principals were able to hire the "best teachers" because all teachers cost the same to the school.  The result was that the principals could hire teachers who they believed would be best for the school's students.  However, under Mayor Bloomberg's ex-Chancellor, Joel Klein, came "fair student funding" that hamstrung principals in who they can hire.

Before "fair student funding" fiasco teachers were units and schools could hire who they pleased as long as they didn't exceed the total units allocated to the school.  Therefore, many principals would try to recruit more experienced teachers to instruct the school's students since they know that the "best teachers" are experienced teachers.  The result was that the better schools would end up with the excellent teachers, while the poorly preforming and ineptly Administrated schools would see a merry-go-round of "newbie teachers" and poor student academic outcomes.  The solution of this teacher inequality would have been to encourage experienced teachers to end their stellar careers at these struggling schools by giving them a monetary motive. Chancellor Rudy Crew, the last Chancellor that actually was an educator, came up with the Chancellor's District that paid teachers 15% more money to teach smaller classes in these struggling schools in return for a slightly longer day and with greater teacher resources.  While it was not a complete success, it did bring experienced teachers to these schools and more importantly, did raise the academic achievement of the school's students. Unfortunately, the Bloomberg/Klein Administration in 2003 put an end to the Chancellor's District and these struggling schools and their students were no longer exposed to these top quality experienced teachers.  The result was a new merry-go-around of "newbie teachers" and student academic outcomes plumeted.  Now these schools are based upon a top-down imposed "drill and kill" strategy that replaced real learning with mind-numbing test preparation. Is it any wonder that these struggling schools are either now closed or in danger of closing?

Once, the "fair student funding" fiasco was implemented by Joel Klein's DOE, combined with the terrible 2005 contract that eliminated the requirement that all excessed teachers in a District must be placed before outside teachers can be hired, it became virtually impossible for a Principal to hire an experienced teacher without taking a significant budget hit.  Even replacing one experienced teacher with another could be tricky budget wise since the original teacher's salary may have been "grandfathered" while the replacement is not. This is especially true during the last few years with increasingly tight school budgets and DOE top-down requirements that schools spent a significant part of their budget for non-school based support systems such as the wasteful and unnecessary Children First Networks.

A prime example of the academic failure is the Bloomberg small schools that only seem to have "newbie" and untenured teachers that leave the schools in three to five years.  Many of these small schools are lead by  "Leadership Academy Principals" who have little classroom experience themselves and are encouraged by Tweed to hire the cheapest teachers to stretch their budget  The result is that parents and students who like the idea of small learning communities, instead found large class sizes, a rigid curriculum, and worse, untested and inexperienced teachers who suffered from a steep learning curve when it came to curriculum knowledge and had poor classroom management skills.  The over reliance of inexperienced teachers in these small schools  hurt student academic achievement and collectively the Bloomberg small schools have  terrible "college and career readiness scores" to show for it, averaging an abysmal 10 7% compared to 20.7% for the large comprehensive high schools.

It is too bad that the non-educators at Tweed cannot recognize what good teaching is but what do you expect when eighteen of the twenty top people at Tweed never taught in the classroom themselves?


Teachmy class MrMayor said...

Funny while those stats are accurate, NONE of those schools are really in any danger of being closed. How come no one in the fourth estate ever talks about the CFNs which are all managed by administrators from the "previously" closed schools" never get fired? Or get paid all of this money? Okay, I already know the answer to that question (they are all in the tank for Mayor Napoleon) but because of this, the parental outrage, while building is happening way too slowly. See in Chicago, the media hates their mayor, so, even if they agreed with his "reform" ways, they hate him more than they agree with him, so they are not anti-CPS & CTU in print.

The DOE is not clueless, they just do not give a damn about students, and care even less about teaching & teachers. We are the scourge of the earth.

Anonymous said...

I am very curious about your statement that 18 of the top Tweedies never taught in a classroom...can you list them up?

burntoutteacher said...

I have long been frustrated by the lack of press exposure of the network system. The public and, in fact, many teachers, have no clue how the networks are robbing the system of its resources, are skirting the conflict of interest laws, are generating income for test publication and staff development planning companies with which they have very real connections, etc. Small schools with inexperienced principals are being run not by those administrative newbies but by the network leaders, many of whom are failed DOE retirees, collecting a full pension and a full salary from the network as well.

Chaz said...

I cannot but this came from a union source that knows the inner workings of Tweed.

Tom Forbes said...

You would think the UFT would stand and fight. With Unity in charge, not a chance. This week an ATR teacher assigned to the same school as me, filed a grievance because a teacher in his subject area retired shortly after the start of the year. Instead of posting the vacancy, the principal wants to cover the class with a day-to-day substitute. Unless there is a strong chapter leader, these hidden vacancies make it difficult or impossible to an ATR to even know if a position is available. Imagine, he had to grieve because he wants to teach.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be quite interesting if a large amount of teachers emailed the Mayor, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, Chairperson of the Panel for Educational Policy, Chairperson of the City Council Education Committee, and the Chancellor correspondence containing questions such as the following:

What is your definition of...?

1) a "satisfactory" teacher/lesson

2) an "unsatisfactory" teacher/lesson

3) a "highly effective" teacher/lesson

4) an "effective" teacher/lesson

5) a "developing" teacher/lesson

6) an "ineffective" teacher/lesson

See what type of answers are received, if any, and share!