Sunday, December 30, 2012

The State's Junk Science Exposed!

In the ever continuing teacher evaluation system conflict between the DOE and the UFT.  One aspect that both sides agree is the use of the New York State Value Added Measurement (VAM) algorithm to account for either 20% or 25% of the overall teacher evaluation.  In a previous pilot study using the VAM in New York City's teacher data reports had resulted in errors as large as 87% for English and 75% for Math!  Yet the State still insist to use this "junk science" to evaluate teachers. Unbelievable but true.

While a few people really understand the VAM algorithm, there is a consensus that teachers who teach in high poverty schools with English Language Learners and Special Education students will be at a disadvantage when the VAM is used to evaluate the teacher..

The teachers most negatively affected by the VAM will be those teachers who have "high needs students" which includes the following cohorts:

  • High poverty students.
  • Academically & behaviorally challenged students .
  • Special education & English Language Learners.
  • Dysfunctional families and homelessness.
Another issue is the student attendance problem.  There are rumors that the DOE and the UFT have come to an agreement that only those students with attendance rates of 90% or higher will be used in the teacher evaluation system.  Assuming this is true, that seems to be reasonable. However, what if the DOE reneges on this agreement as they have repeatedly done in the past?  I certainly would not trust the DOE on the attendance issue since the State has refused to support the attendance rate issue in the Buffalo dispute and the DOE's real objective is to terminate as many teachers as possible..

Finally, the VAM will pit teacher against teacher as no teacher will accept "high need students" transferred from another class during the school year without an iron-clad guarantee that the student's academic progress is not included in the teacher's evaluation.

I cannot see how the VAM accounts for real student growth.  Certainly it does not account for real student learning or achievement and does not account for some of the intangibles like this

In summary, the VAM algorithm that will be used for the teacher evaluation is inaccurate, unreliable, and meaningless and with too many fudge factors. For further details on the NYS VAM algorithm please see Gary Rubinstein's blog. Why would any sane person agree to link their job performance to this "junk science"?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Stupid Mistakes That Mayor Bloomberg And Chancellor Walcott Made in 2012.

It is time to recap the year 2012 and remember the stupid mistakes that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott has made for the past year. Let's start with the first month of the year.

January - Mayor Bloomberg had a temper tantrum when he couldn't get his way and terminate 100% of the teachers found to be "ineffective" under the proposed teacher evaluation system. I guess 87% was not enough for Mayor moneybags..The Mayor instituted the "turnaround model" that would throw 50% of the staff into the ATR pool and leave the renamed school with a multitude of "newbie teachers", a recipe for educational disaster. The union files a lawsuit and won which resulted in a 58 million dollar loss of much needed funding for the NYC schools. What a knucklehead!

February -  During this month Chancellor Walcott, despite being told that the Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) had large errors and were inaccurate, allowed them to be published anyway.  What ever little good will the Chancellor had with teachers was permanently lost and while it did embarrass some teachers it showed how politicized the DOE was and even parents were up in arms against the Chancellor for publishing such meaningless data while refusing to release FOIL data about his own employees..

March -  Dennis Walcott's DOE decided that many common and everyday words would be eliminated from school tests.  Such inflammatory worlds as evolution, dinosaur, and forty-eight other commonly used words were not to be used in tests for third to eighth grades.  How did our Chancellor responded to this idiocy?

Chancellor Dennis Walcott says lists of banned words are common. “This is not just New York,” he said. “This is across the country.”  What a leader! 

April -Mayor Bloomberg claims that independent Arbitrators would "give a serial ax murder a slap on the wrist".  What an idiotic statement and yet the Daily News failed to take the Mayor to task for ranting such nonsense.

May -Chancellor Dennis Walcott proposed a "generous buyout" for ATRs but forgot to clear it with the Mayor and let it drop.  Good thing he did since his idea of a "generous buyout" was not too generous.  The average ATR buyout would be $14,000 and the maximum was $25,000, not very generous at all.

June - The Racial/Income student achievement gap is as wide as ever under the Mayor and Chancellor as their policies show no improvement in overall student learning.

July -In fact the racial student achievement gap has actually widened!

August - The Jamaica High School fiasco shows that under Chancellor Walcott "children first" rings hollow.

September -High school SAT scores actually fall under Chancellor Dennis Walcott's tenure.

October - After more bad news on his educational policy, Mayor Bloomberg's statement before superstorm Sandy hit that the City is well prepared for it and he will be sending City workers to neighboring communities since Sandy will have a less of an impact that tropical storm Irene. Of course, the opposite was true.

November -Mayor Bloomberg blames teachers and not his failed policies that ignore poverty for his poor educational results, despite evidence to the contrary.  What a phoney!

December -Chancellor Dennis Walcott's tenure is marked with failure as he practices a "double standard" and is a hypocrite to boot.

The future - It looks increasingly clear that the City will lose an additional $250 million dollars in State aid since there is no Teacher Evaluation System (TES) due to the Mayor's stubbornness when it came to the appeals process.  In summary, the educational leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott in 2012 has been a failure and more educational disappointment is expected for 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa Claus Is Terminated By The DOE For Conduct Unbecoming A Teacher.

Santa Claus had landed a job as a teacher in Global Studies and Geography since he had first hand knowledge of the globe. Better yet, the school had to pay him only a salary of $45,530 dollars for all his knowledge of the world. He eventually received tenure and was on his way to a rewarding career as he not only gave children presents during Christmas but educate them about the world as a teacher.   However, storm clouds were brewing under the clueless Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his perverse definition of sexual misconduct. Santa was in real trouble as his affectionate and caring actions were considered "sexual in nature" by the Grand Inquisitor and his SCI investigators.  Their biased report, full of out of context statements, bogus accusations, and frivolous actions was enough to file 3020-a charges against Santa Claus who was eventually terminated. The trash media had a field day, the Post and Daily News, labeled poor Santa as "perv Claus".  What did Santa Claus actually do?  I'm glad you asked.  Here are the charges against Santa Claus.

  • Calling school girls "hoes".
  • Telling schoolchildren to sit on his lap.
  • Asking the children if they were "naughty or nice"?
  • Threatening them with a lump of coal in their stockings.
  • Letting the students know that he will be breaking into their houses.
Santa Claus  was immediately removed from the classroom and sent to his local CFN "rubber room" where he languished for a month before he was summoned to a "probable cause" hearing where he was suspended without pay and health benefits.  Below is Santa Clause's 3020-a hearing at the point that Santa is cross examined by the DOE lawyer.

 The DOE lawyer asks Santa Claus why he kept telling the girls in the class that they are Hoes? Santa Claus responds by saying "I said Ho, Ho, Ho. Not that they are Hoes". The DOE lawyer states that Hoe and Ho are the same and the girls complained that they believed he was calling them Hoes.  The DOE lawyer asks Santa Claus why did he want to know what sexual deeds did the girls do?  Santa replied that he meant naughty as nice not sexual things. The DOE lawyer then brings up why did he threaten them with coal in their stockings if they didn't act nice? Santa Claus responds: "That is my way to encourage them to do the right things in life". The DOE lawyer states that sounds like you are scaring them. Santa Claus responds. "I was trying to get them to be good". The DOE lawyer then asked "haven't you asked the students to sit on your lap"? Santa Claus responds. "Yes".  Don't you think that is a sexual act?  Santa replied "no it is just a show of affection" The DOE lawyer asked Santa "didn't you tell the children that they will not get presents if they don't behave"?  Santa replied "yes". The DOE lawyer then asks didn't you tell the children that you will break into their house when they are sleeping? Santa Claus responds. "Yes, but only on Christmas Eve". So you admit to threatening them with breaking and entering into their homes? Santa Claus responds. "I guess so". Finally, is it true that you tried to bribe the children with presents if they sat on your lap?
Santa Claus responds. "I was not trying to bribe them". 

In his closing statement the DOE lawyer states the following. The DOE has proved his case that Santa Claus is guilty of the following offenses.
  1. Sexual misconduct of a verbal nature in calling the girls Hoes.
  2. Sexual misconduct of a physical nature by forcing the children to sit on his lap.
  3. Corporal Punishment by threatening them with a lump of coal in their stockings,
  4. Verbal Abuse by threatening them with no presents for being naughty.
  5. Felony criminal charge of "breaking & entering" and "bribing" the children
The Arbitrator, under pressure from the DOE, found poor Santa guilty of all charges and terminated him 30 days after the closing statements.  Now poor Santa can never work for the DOE again.  Too bad he wasn't a DOE manager, he would have kept his job.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chancellor Walcott's Ultimatium To The Union. No Teacher Evaluation System, Look For The World To End.

A major historic event is less than two days away.  No it's not the fiscal cliff.  Not even the Mayan Apocalypse.  It is Chancellor Dennis Walcott's ultimatum that if by Friday, December 21st, the union does not cave in an agree to a flawed teacher evaluation system, then he will cut school budgets and not replace teachers who leave the system.  Notice, he does not mention cutting the Central Bureaucracy at Tweed or the wasteful consultant services, or the elimination of failed administrators in the worthless "Children First Networks"?  Rather, the Chancellor tries to hurt the very children he is supposed to protect by cutting the funding of the already stared schools who already lack badly needed resources and threaten to increase already large class sizes.

Interestingly, the Chancellor failed to mention that the potential $250 million dollar cut is only 1% of the total education budget of $23.2 billion dollars.  It would seem incredible that the bloated bureaucracy at Tweed could not absorb a 1% drop in revenue which is not really a drop but a withholding of additional funds by the State for the next school year which may not even be legal.

It is to be seen if our union actually caves in and gives the DOE the very flawed teacher evaluation system, complete with junk science, a rigid rubric that has 57 components, and low scores for teachers who teach difficult children.  If the union does cave to the City and State, it just may be an apocalypse for the City's underpaid and disrespected teaching staff.

Note: Michael Mulgrew's letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott means its doomsday for the DOE on the teacher evaluation system at their self-imposed deadline:  Let's hope there is none until Bloomberg and his poodle are gone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Party Is Cancelled As The School Prepares To Close.

In my previous school last year.  I saw staff morale sag and was so low that even the usually oblivious student body was concerned about the teachers and their future.  The school is Flushing High School and it is on the list of closing schools as they received another "D" rating despite having a new Principal.

This Principal , instead of working with the staff, she actually made life more difficult for the staff.  First, she closed the back door of the school and makes the staff walk three blocks up and around to the front of the school.  Second she forbid teachers to send students to the attendance office, which is located in the basement and forces teachers to walk four and even five floors just to drop off their attendance folder at the end of the day. Finally, she has made little secret of her desire to get rid of many teachers she doesn't want in the school.  The result has been an increase of unsatisfactory observations to teachers or so the rumor mill says.  However, the worst part about this Principal is that she was the one who decided who to keep (untenured and lead teachers) and who to jettison out of her school.  The problem was when Mayor Bloomberg lost the "turnaround school" battle, the teachers she didn't want are now part of her school staff.

The Principal now has a staff where morale is at "rock bottom" with many teachers knowing that the Principal doesn't want them in her school.  Yet this clueless Principal who is resented by many of the staff, decided to hold a Christmas party.  Guess what?  Nobody wanted to go!  Therefore, the Principal had to cancel the Christmas party due to lack of interest.

My question to the Principal is simple.  "Did you really believe that your staff would ever forgive you for your actions in the 18D process"?  If she believed "bygones be bygones" then she must be taking the same substance that the previous Principal had in his car when he was arrested.  No one will ever forget how your selection of teachers were politically motivated and not what was best for the students in the school.  Even the "teacher of the year" was jettisoned while an untenured teacher with a mediocre reputation who could not even function during the 18D interview process and was retained.

I do not respect principals who would rather hire untested newbie teachers over experienced veterans and allow their students to be guinea pigs as these untenured and newbie teachers struggle to see if they can teach effectively.  For these principals it is about their political wishes than what is best for the school's students and the Flushing High School Principal is more about one of those principals. Another example of the DOE's "children last " policy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Chancellor's Tenure Has Been A Failure As He Refuses To Remove Managers And Administrators Who Commit Serious Misconduct.

During the inept tenure of Chancellor Dennis Walcott we have seen no significant improvement in student academic achievement, poor college and career readiness rates, and a wide racial/income academic achievement gap.  Moreover, the Chancellor has shown no independent thought and  obediently obeys the Mayor's every demand.  Hence my nickname of him as "Bloomberg's poodle". However, his biggest failure is his reluctance to take action on administrators and managers who commit serious misconduct. His failure to remove and replace wayward DOE administrators and managers under him demonstrates to the rank and file that there is a "double standard" and anything the Chancellor says must be taken with a "grain of salt".  Let's look at the Chancellor's failure to take action against his administrators and managers.

CEO John Shea:  there are two federal lawsuits claiming he oversaw or participated in sexual harassment of female employees and allegedly underpaid them. The accusation is that he ran a "frat boy" organization and yet the Chancellor refuses to remove Mr. Shea.

Principal Linda Hill: She has been accused of misappropriating $40,000 in school funds and "double dipping" by being in two places at once. She has also been accused of not clocking in on her per session time card and hand writing the times herself.  She has also looked the other way when it comes to her Assistant Principal committed "corporal punishment". Yet the Chancellor has closed his eyes to the alleged misconduct by Principal Linda Hill and her administrative cronies.

Ex-Principal John Chase Jr: This Principal was eventually demoted to an Assistant Principal after OEO found him guilty to the charges against him under Chancellor's regulation A-830 of sexual harassment against female employees.  Furthermore, he apparently tried to solicit a relationship with a 15 year old girl.  Yet the Chancellor said the following of that disturbing allegation.

On the new allegation, he said, “Just because an accusation is made doesn’t mean a person is guilty.”

Really now!  The Chancellor didn't seem to have the same opinion of teachers, especially the 16 teachers who he pronounced guilty despite the decision of independent arbitrators who found no sexual misconduct.  What a phoney and hypocrite he is.  There are others and you can find them Here

The Chancellor has not only been a failure academically but in ignoring the legal remedies available for administrators and managers who have committed misconduct.  Is it any wonder that we teachers have no faith in the decision making of Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Friday, December 14, 2012

DOE CEO John Shea Once Again Is Accused Of Sexual Misconduct And The DOE Does Nothing About It.

In another case of the hypocrisy at Tweed, a second women has filed a federal lawsuit of sexual harassment against DOE top Manager John Shea for making highly inappropriate sexual remarks and showing her pictures of him in a skimpy bathing suit and putting the picture close to her face.  Yet the DOE ignores the hostile "frat boy" atmosphere that rules under Mr. Shea and makes females uncomfortable and leaves Mr. Shea in his $182,000 position. Yes, this is the same hypocritical DOE who removes teachers, tries to suspend them without pay, and files 3020-a charges to terminate them on the mere unfounded suggestion of sexual misconduct.  Yet when it comes to one of their top managers it is "innocent until proven guilty" and even if  guilty, it is
"boys will be boys".

Previously John Shea was accused by another female employee that he commented on their bodies and rated them as "doable" if he wanted to have sexual intercourse with them. In 2011, Shea described one DOE attorney as “hot” and declared that he “would do her,” the complaint states.   As for those female employees who don't measure up?  Especially those with tummy fat?  They shouldn't  be allowed to wear women's clothes that revel their "muffin tops". How disgusting.  Now there are two federal lawsuits dealing, in part, with sexual harassment with John Shea prominently named in both lawsuits.  What hypocrisy by the DOE when they profess "zero tolerance" for any innocent action that somebody might find it to be sexual in nature when it comes to school staff but ignore their own rules when a top manger commits sexual misconduct.

The hypocrites at the DOE should be ashamed of themselves for their blatant "double standard" in the John Shea sexual harassment federal  lawsuits.  Chancellor Walcott, what John Shea did is sexual misconduct, why don't you fire him?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Principal Linda Hill, Just Another Bad Principal That The DOE Refuses to Remove Despite Accusations Of Financial Mismanagement.

If you are familiar with the Franscesco Portelos saga, you know that this teacher was removed from his school, IS 49 in Staten Island after he made accusations about financial mismanagement at the school.  According to Mr Portelos the Principal didn't produce a time card, digitally clocked but filled in the per session times by hand.  According to Mr, Portelos the NYC Auditor General in 2011 found $40,000 in financial deficiencies under Principal's Hill watch and questions about "double dipping".  This is the same principal who called a student who was seriously hurt in a book throwing incident that damaged his spleen and cause him to get an operation to remove it, "Spleen boy" and was not even reprimanded by the DOE.

To tell you how disrespected Principal Linda Hill is the staff voted in a "rubberized" teacher she railroaded out of the school as the "Chapter Leader".  Right Franscesco Portelos!  No other school has done this and you must conclude that the school teaching staff harbor such deep disrespect for the Principal that they elkected a "rubber room" teacher as "Chapter Leader".

The question is how can the DOE keep a Principal in charge of a school that the staff disrespects to the point of electing a teacher not in the school as "Chapter Leader"?  Furthermore, shouldn't the DOE remove the Principal for the  alleged $40,000 financial irregularity found by the City?  How about the alleged "double dipping" can one Principal be at two places at once?  Even Houdini can't  wiggle out of that box. Yet the DOE closes their collective eyes when it comes to the investigation of Principal Linda Hill while percecuting teacher Francesco Portelos.

Just another case of the DOE "double standard" in protecting a "bad Principal" at the expense of the school's students and staff in their ever continuing program of "children last".

Saturday, December 08, 2012

To My Union: No Contract, No Teacher Evaluation System.

It appears that the UFT might be caving in to the City and State pressure and will sign a teacher evaluation system, once some minor "sticking points" are ironed out without negotiating a long overdue teachers' contract.  This is totally unacceptable to me and many of the rank and file.  We are only a handful of unions that were refused the "City pattern", the two 4% raises that all the other City unions received and for our union to surrender their only real bargaining chip for a teacher evaluation system that nobody likes or wants is unbelievable.

I agree with nyc educator, Accountable Talk, NYCDOEnuts, and Ednotes online that the proposed teacher evaluation system should not be implemented but scrapped altogether.  For the DOE it simply is a "gotcha program" that could result in 20% of the teachers rated "ineffective" based upon a previous pilot study using  "junk science" that is proposed for the teacher evaluation system. Furthermore, it will be easy for the Administration to abuse the Dainelson program rubric agreed upon for use by the DOE and our union to further increase teacher "ineffective" ratings.

The "value added measurement" (VAM)  that is 20% of the teacher evaluation system is simply "junk science" and discriminates against teachers who have high needs and economically disadvantaged students.  Even the State admits that they must use an "adjustment factor" to account for English Language Learners, Special Education, and Economically disadvantaged students in the VAM calculation and admits that the "adjustment factor" is a work in progress and may not accurately reflect real academic outcomes.

I can just see how a vindictive Administrator would push some of the worst preforming and behaving students into a class which will disrupt the learning environment for the teacher he or she does not like or want and switch higher achieving students into a class of a teacher she likes.  The potential for abuse is very real and the teacher evaluation system would be the nail in the coffin of the targeted teacher.  Remember, only 13%^ of those teachers rated "ineffective" would have real "due process" while the other 87% should be looking for another job.  Therefore, the teacher evaluation system is really a termination program that an Administrator can manipulate to remove a teacher he or she wants out of the school.

We should not be held hostage by the City and State when the DOE budget is 22 billion dollars and withholding a measly $250 million dollars of extra funding is a drop in a bucket and can be easily absorbed by the Tweed bureaucracy, assuming the State follows through and actually withholds the extra money.  No contract, no teacher evaluation system.  Hear that Michael Mulgrew? Better yet how about letting the members vote on it?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

District 23 Choice Program Is Simply Rearranging The Deck Chairs On The Titanic.

The Ocean Hill-Brownsville District, now known as District 23 has decided to allow the students of the District to attend their school of choice within the District.  Yes this is the same District that played racial politics and tried to fire all the white and Jewish teachers that resulted in the  teachers strike back in 1968.  Now the equally misguided District 23 officials believe that allowing the district's students to go to the school of their choice will solve the academic achievement problems.  Fat chance of that happening.

While the idea may seem to be reasonable at the surface, the problems associated with intra district choice are many.  First, it may cause some schools to be overcrowded while others will be underutilized and in danger of either closing or be replaced by a Charter school.  Second, it will increase transportation costs as children will no longer be able to walk to or from their neighborhood school and require transportation services..  Finally,  the student choice option does not address the real cause of poor student academic achievement and that is poverty,

For example, no matter what grades the District 23 schools received by the DOE, all the schools had an under 50% pass rate on the English and Math tests!   Even the lone "A" rated school had a terrible English passing rate of 35.2% and an equally dismal Math passing rate of 40.9%. This shows that it is not the school, Principal, or teachers that are the problem but the community.  In particular, the main cause is poverty. It's poverty and unless the City declares war on poverty by providing the necessary resources, nothing will significantly change the student academic failure rate of District 23.

That brings me to Marc Epstein's article on how the City has tried and failed when it comes to student choice for the high schools and how they ignored the root cause for the poor "college and career readiness rates" and that is poverty and its effects on a student's academic achievement, especially in neighborhoods like Ocean Hill-Brownsville.  While he focuses on the high schools, it is the same problem no matter what grade the student is in.

To do it right, the City must declare war on poverty by keeping families together, encourage major economic job growth, and provide social wraparound services and once that is accomplished then and only then will District 23 see significant academic improvement in student outcomes.  Otherwise, it is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Typical Education4Excellence Member - Clueless

I just laughed when blogger South Bronx School showed a video of an Educators4Excellence (E4E) member at their youth rally holding a sign supporting the "teacher evaluation system" at today's demonstration who was obviously clueless of what he was supporting.  First the interviewer asked this E4E member to explain the  "Value Added Measurement"  part of the "teacher evaluation system".  He seemed befuddled and said he couldn't right now. The second question asked by the interviewer to the increasingly uncomfortable E4E member was what "Value Added Measurement" means.  He mumbled something incomprehensible but did not even attempt to know what it meant.  Finally, the interviewer asked this totally clueless E4E member if he understood the math behind the "Value Added Measurement" , by now he was completely dumbfounded and did not respond at all.

I truly hope this clueless E4E member is not a teacher but simply an E4E non-educator that was looking for some free doughnuts.  However, if he is a teacher, I feel very sorry for the students in his classroom who must be embarrassed that their teacher is in support of a program that he knows nothing about.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Is The Union About To Screw Us Again When It Comes To The Teacher Evaluation System?

Up until a few days ago I and many other people believed that before a teacher evaluation system could be put in place, the City and the UFT must negotiate a contract.  However, a blogger "Ed the Apple", aka Peter Goodman has stated in Gotham Schools that the UFT does not have to have a new contract in place to implement the teacher evaluation system. According to this retired UFT official with close ties to the existing leadership, the union only has to make it an Amendment to the existing contract by using Article 8-J of the existing contract as the basis for the teacher evaluation Amendment.

I do not believe that Peter Goodman would have commented on this issue the way he did on the Gotham News blog without prior knowledge on what the UFT leadership is planning to do about the teacher evaluation issue.  I assume that Mr. Goodman's comments are a strong indication that the union will once again ignore the wishes of its rank and file and negotiate with the City to implement the horrendous teacher evaluation system as an Amendment of the existing contract and not a comprehensive new contract that would include the two 4% retroactive raises owed to us,

I agree with nyc educator that our union should not approve  an inferior teacher evaluation system that includes "junk science", a way around tenure, and "due process rights" and will be used by the DOE as a termination program rather than as a teacher improvement program.  Furthermore, why will only a mere 13% of the teachers accused of being "ineffective" under the proposed system have real "due process"?  Should the other 87% of teachers just resign?  Moreover, who selects the lucky 13%?  Assuming that the union keeps this in the implemented teacher evaluation system which the DOE objects to.  Finally, how will the union protect teachers who are given students who have attendance and academic issues by vindictive administrators to ensure that they test poorly and affect the teacher's evaluation scores? 

If this teacher evaluation system comes to pass without a new contract, substantial safeguards against Administrator abuse, and most for all, without rank and file input, the union should be thrown out of the leadership positions as they no longer represent the people who they are supposed to protect.  Hear that Michael Mulgrew?

  Please read nyc eductors article on the teacher evaluation trap.