Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chancellor Carmen Farina's First Four Months Have Been Disappointing.

The first four months of Carmen Farina's tenure as Chancellor of the New York City Schools has been very disappointing.  While she has made a few changes at the top (too few), she has failed to "clean house".  The result is that there has been no "change of tone" of the "gotcha mentality" at the DOE.  While Chancellor Farina has talked about changing the way things are done at the DOE, there is no discernible change for the classroom teachers when it comes to the mandates from Tweed that overwhelm teachers with loads of unnecessary paperwork and subject to vindictive administrators. It certainly didn't help her creditability and accountability either when the new Chancellor had a "Cathie Black moment" when she failed to close schools during a blizzard.

True, the Chancellor has changed the requirements to become a Principal and that's good but she has failed to eliminate the perverse "fair student funding" that forces schools to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers".  Furthermore, she had a chance to stop the useless weekly rotation of excessed teachers and leave them in place for the rest of the school year.  Instead, she allowed this travesty to continue while falsely claiming that she instructed principals to interview ATRs for their vacancies (no Principal remembers her actually saying that).  Of course, with the present DOE budgeting process in place, saying and doing are two entirely different things since salary is a major issue here.  Moreover, she has failed to change the tone at the DOE and the "gotcha mentality" that was the hallmark of the Bloomberg Administration and is pervasive throughout the department that we teachers feel it every day.  Finally, her failure to eliminate the money sucking and useless "Children First Networks" is a failure in her resolve to change things for the better.

I also must point out that her failure to "clean house" at the DOE is why teachers and school based personnel still feel as if the "icy winds" of the Bloomberg years has continued and UFT President's statement that he already sees a "change of tone" at the DOE is simply a mirage when it comes to what's actually going on in the classroom. To the classroom teachers, the DOE is still the enemy and until their policies and unwanted mandates end that perception will continue.

To Chancellor Carmen Farina, you talk about supporting teachers but when it comes to real action, there is little or no real change to the hostile environment coming out of the DOE.  My grade for the new Chancellor for her first four months is a "D" for disappointing.


Pogue said...

Some talk, no action, so far.

NYC Educator said...

The cleaning house would be a really good step. My dealings with DOE have not much changed since Fariña took office.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, I hear what you're saying, but I'm willing to give Ms. Farina a chance to accomplish the things she's been saying she's going to do. Realistically, the things that are still in place will remain there until the end of this school year. If memory serves, Bloomberg didn't even start doing his handy work until the September following his first months as mayor. I for one did not anticipate wholesale changes at this point, anyway. We need to see what changes will take place once we get that new contract, and also if she will continue to clean house downtown next school year. I am happy she took the time to meet with the UFT at that forum yesterday, something that never would have occurred the previous 12 years by any chancellor. I say let's give her a legitimate chance when this administration has a brand new school year to work with, and a chance to put their own stamp and signature on things.

Philip Nobile said...

After I prescriptively corrected a grammar error in your Friday post (“have went” instead of “have gone”), you challenged me to say something “productive.” Here it is: your criticism of Fariňa does not go far enough.

She is haunted by a cold Regents cheating case dating to her years as Region 8 Superintendent in Brooklyn and Deputy Chancellor at Tweed (2002-2006).

In brief, her Region office failed to report my tampering and cover-up allegations at the Cobble Hill School of American Studies to investigators as mandated by DOE procedures, city law, and SCI’s own Reporting Obligations. She was questioned at OSI about what she knew and when she knew it. Although admired for her powers of recall according to the Times (April 27, 2006), she suffered from pinpoint amnesia, repeatedly swearing that she could not remember key milestones in the matter. Notably, OSI’s report did not exonerate her of cover-up, leaving her role oddly undefined.

After a confidential informant contacted SCI about Fariňa’s participation in a “high level cover-up,” SCI reviewed OSI’s probe and called the OSI investigator to testify. Freed from the DOE’s censorship, he claimed that he was “lied to by people in the Board of Education, including Carmen Fariňa.” But when SCI put her under oath, the agents did not confront her with her Four Pinocchio, memory-impaired OSI interview and compressed her deleted testimony into a single sentence: “She denied any knowledge of the complaint about cheating at Cobble Hill.” Based on this slick detective work, SCI acquitted her.

There are those who will say pooh to this cold case, but it puts Fariňa’s character in play. As you wonder, too, Chaz, can we trust her to clean up the ethical mess of the Klein-Fariňa-Walcott era? Looking forward and productively, I posed some questions to our new boss at the end of my heretofore unpublished exposé “The Carmen Farina Nobody Knows.” I sent a copy to Tweed, City Hall, and you last month. I’m still waiting for answers to the following timely queries:

Q. During your time in the DOE to what extent were you aware of the “dirty little secret” of Regents tampering that went by the term of “scrubbing”? As Superintendent and Deputy Chancellor, what did you do to protect the integrity of Regents grades? Would you agree with Steven Levitt’s saying that “teacher cheating is rarely looked for, hardly ever detected, and just about never punished.”

Q. The reigning “dirty little secret” involves school grades. Principals are known to set pass quotas for teachers which is certainly illegal, not to mention unethical. How will you stop this corrosive practice akin to Regents cheating?

Q. Granted your willfully ignorant oversight in the Cobble Hill case, how can the city and the Mayor rely on you to run an honest DOE that will no longer cheat mostly minority students of authentic educations?

P.S. Why haven’t you corrected “have went”?

ed notes online said...

You cut to the heart of something -- There has been a change of tone for the UFT leadership only -- in other words they are being allowed back in the door for THEIR interests, not ours. They don't care a fig about the vindictive admins - we have evidence that the Unity Caucus has ties to some of them or that the CSA gets the UFT to protect them. As for Nobile - the usual crappola dredging up HIS story - like Farina could chop hundreds of teachers but his little decade old story tops all. How tiresome.

Philip Nobile said...

I don’t think it’s fair to say that I’m dredging up my Cobble Hill story on Chaz. On the contrary, I’m dredging up the untold story of FARIŇA’S dirty hands in the case and, consequently, raised questions about trusting her oversight of student grades in the future.

Nothing wrong with that unless you’re soft on Regents cheating and hard on covering it up. While introducing my post on hanky-panky in the new distributed grading system last year, you wrote on your blog (June 18):
“The section in red below was sent in by Philip Nobile, who given his own personal experience as a whistle-blower over a cheating incident, I guess I can't blame him for being obsessed with the issue. I suspected there was always cheating and would never whistle blow -- figure it's like baseball players on steroids -- if everyone does it everything balances out. But nowadays why let WalBloomKleinBlack get away with claiming they raised scores?”

“Well, I guess I don't have problems with grading generously and would think that if a kid was close to a 65 I would think about what I am doing to that kid by giving say a 64. Sorry, but I always think to give the kid the benefit of a doubt. Now if it was a 45 or 55 that is another story.”

Teacher cheating and cover-up is okay with you, Norm, and I respect your candor. A lot of teachers and administrators agree with you. Even Jim Eterno, a former UFT presidential candidate, told me that he wouldn’t blow the whistle either. But some of us take the highroad. You should join us.

JJ said...

Quite frankly, this is all pretty sickening. We have now, as of this week, hit the 4 and a half year mark without a contract. In 2 weeks, 6 years without a raise. This wonderful new admin has done absolutely nothing in 4 months. And what happens when this new contract is bad like the past several? By the way, same garbage kids, same garbage supervisors. Cant shine sh-t. Everybody just counting down towards retirement. Heck of a way to waste a life.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Go to work, get abused. Go home, pay bills and pay welfare to support those who are degrading us.

Anonymous said...

I think Farina and DeBlasio are clueless. Give them the benefit of the doubt? What choice do we have? We have no voice as employees or as union members. I believe the ATR pool will be LARGER next year. The main topic at the ATR advisory committee was how they will be evaluated NEXT year.

Anonymous said...

amen to the last statement!!! can't wait to leave this place. kids who dont care and curse you out, having more children who will do the same. 3 more years!!!

Anonymous said...

Today's daily news is quoting a source inside the negotiations. I'm sure you read article. It's stating last 5 years at 4%, 4%, 0%, 1%, and 2%. It then states moving forward at 2% and another 2%. This is 15% in total with 11% up front. Yes??

Chaz said...

Anon 12:55

It sounds possible but since it comes from the Daily News and based upon their poor reporting, I don't think its true.

JJ said...

#1-We need a deal done so we have cost and salary certainty going forward. #2-The job sucks and will continue to suck. #3-Why should we get any year of 0%?

Anonymous said...

I don't care about retro or a raise- all I want is service credit so I can get the f--k out.

Anonymous said...

GREAT NEWS!!!!!! This contract will take the top salary to 115K and the 20 yr longevity to about 110K. This is incredible news that will come shortly. The 11% in retro is awesome as well. Don't really give a crap about Fariña thus Fariña that, just let her keep smiling with Mulgrew. I believe that Mulgrew is a genius who will finally get the real raise + retro for his members. By the way, the teaching profession is not as bad as everyone is saying. )6 figure salary with 3 monster breaks throughout a school year and summers off with 10 sick days, etc etc? Huh??? Shut up and keep it moving!

Chaz said...

Anon 7:29

Not really. The 7% for 5 yeras, excluding the two 4% raises is inferior to the recentaly negotiated settlements with the TWU and Doorman.

As for "retroactive raises"? The devil is in the details. By the way, time for money if true, is not a raise.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, your 1:46 response is incredibly pessimistic. It also shows just how negative you really are. Who cares about your 7% comparison. The entire package is 15%. Why can't you enjoy it for the moment instead of finding the negative?
Is it because you're an ATR who is pissed? Chaz, not everyone in the DOE who is teaching is a miserable ATR. There's plenty of teachers who are happy and who are comfortable making 6 figures plus per session which will take them to the 120's or even 130's with this contract.
For you to say it's not a win or it's inferior, is really ridiculous. You're way to serious. This is the problem with older teachers who've "been around". These "type" of teachers never moved on to administrative positions and have watched younger men and women become their bosses. They resent it. Maybe they are smarter than these newbies, but the anger is pathetic. I'm so happy to be making the salary I earn plus full medical for my family. My TDA is huge. My pension is fine. It ain't that bad. All these people who post on your page about can't wait till they live, are hopeless. They wouldn't be hired anywhere else. Lighten up!!!!!!

Chaz said...

Anon 6:24

Its people like you who blindly voted for the "giveback laden" 2005 contract that made things worse for teachers simply because of the money.

Anonymous said...

More time on the day is a huge mistake. We will be stuck in the heart of rush hour traffic which is already a nightmare. Longer commute, then go home to do endless paperwork. Might as well just sleep at the school. More time on the day is not a raise. Working conditions must improve, not decline.

Anonymous said...

If anyone has specific stories of administrative abuse, please go to We are a teacher support organization. We are collecting stories of abusive admins to create a "black list" to inform future educators to avoid specific schools and educational "leaders." The link is here: