Thursday, July 31, 2014

The New York City Pension System, Flush With Cash, Gives Billions To The City Coffers.

When the UFT was negotiating with the City for a contract, the City kept claiming poverty and the UFT accepted their argument by allowing for a cheap "City pattern" to be established by giving a 10% raise for a seven year period or 1.43% annually, much less than the inflation rate.  Before the UFT agreed to the contract a very respected economist, Mel Levy, stated in the Civil Service paper,The Chief, that for every 1% point the NYC pension funds exceeded the average7% rate of return, the pension funds kicks back 2 billion dollars to the City's general fund.  However, both the UFT and City ignored this extra money as they negotiated a contract.

Now according to the New York City Controllers Office, the NYC pension funds made 17.4% for the last fiscal year. Much of that difference went into the City's general fund and was quite a windfall.   The UFT leadership will make the case that they didn't realize the NYC pension fund did so well.  However, when the stock market went up 22% for the same period, what did they think the NYC pension fund's rate of return would be since its heavily invested in stocks?  Moreover, in the last 5 years, the average rate of return was 13.4% which allowed the City to get a windfall of many of billions of dollars if one uses Mel Levy's projections.  Yet the union accepted the City's claim that they were broke, despite the economic uptick in the City's finances. It certainly seems like the City came out ahead of the game when it came to the UFT contract.

Its one thing for the City to claim they're broke but its something else for the union leadership to swallow the bull, hook line, and sinker, and give its members an inferior contract..

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Fuzzy Math The Wall Street Journal Used For Their 3020-a Statistics

The Wall Street Journal received from the NYCDOE the 3020-a statistics for the last two years April 2012 to January 2014 on educators who were charged under section 3020-a for tenured educators.  If you browsed through the chart supplied by the newspaper it would seem that only 40 out of 826 cases ended in termination or 5% and that's what the newspaper wants you to believe since it supports the attack on teacher tenure..  However, if you read the article more thoroughly, you realize that 330 of the 826 cases have not been resolved and the termination rate therefore jumps from 5% to 8%, not a large jump but its not 5%.  Wait there's more.  Of the 826 disciplinary cases, it turns out that apparently 235 educators agreed or were forced to resign or retire rather than go through the 3020-a hearing process.  Add the 235 to the 40 terminated educators and the total educators removed from the system is 275.  Since only 496 cases have been resolved (826 - 330). the total percentage of educators that left the system after being charged under the 3020-a law is 55%!  That's right 55% not the 5% the Wall Street Journal would like you to believe is the case.

While the data shows no educator acquittal rates, historically, its been consistently around 4% in the last decade. Therefore, of the 826 disciplinary cases, one could expect approximately 20 educators to be exonerated.

The Wall Street Journal article is just another example of how the media uses "fuzzy math" to distort and pervert the statistics to suit their ideological aims and to support the attack on teacher "due process rights". Michael Bloomberg may be gone but his ideology still inhabits the corridors of Tweed and the New York City media.  The ICEUFT blog also has a similar take on how the Wall Street Journal manipulated the statistics.

Update:  The UFT decided to publish their own data for only teachers and found that for the last two school years (2012-13 and 2013-14) out of 637 disciplinary cases, 216 left the system by either termination (40) , resignation, or retirement (184).  That is a rate of 34%.  However, since 153 cases have not been resolved, the actual rate for teachers removed from the system is 45%  For the DOE its not about how many terminations there are its about getting rid of teachers and whether its 55% or 45%, the fact is almost half the teachers charged under 3020-a are kicked out of the system by the DOE.  This sample did not include administrators or teachers who employed a private attorney to represent them in their 3020-a hearings.

Interestingly, in the Schoolbook article, the amount of teachers that failed to obtain tenure between 2010-13 was 1549 for the sampled period.  Hard to believe that the education reform groups have any leg to stand on in their lawsuit.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The DOE Labels ATRs With A Special Identity Card.

One of the ATRs went down to 65 Court Street to make some changes in her personnel file and decided, while there, to get a DOE employee identity card.  She had her picture taken and received her new identity card.  Shockingly, she noticed that the new identity card had stamped on it "ATR".  The educator told the person who gave her the identity card that she didn't understand why "ATR" must be stamped onto the card since its demeaning and by September she might land a position.  The response is that is what the DOE has ordered her to do. An itinerant teacher who I know showed me her DOE identity card and it just had her name on it not "itinerant teacher".  This is just another example of labeling the ATRs.

We all know that being an ATR confers "second class citizenship" , Thanks UFT, and if one won their 3020-a discipline hearing they are labeled "untouchables".  Now it seems that the DOE is stamping on the identity cards "ATR"!  What's next?  Requiring the ATR status on our clothes?  If the DOE could legally require it, in my opinion they would.   The DOE already have included a red discipline flag on files of educators who have had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation even when the substantiation turned out to be false when required to provide real and relevant evidence in front of an independent hearing officer.

There is no doubt in my mind that the DOE is trying their best to eliminate the ATR pool by any means possible.  Be it field supervisor harassment, useless weekly rotations, or special rules that reduces ATR "due process rights".  I expect the DOE to use anything in their toolbox to make being an ATR an uncomfortable experience and if an ATR breathes wrong, expect a "U rating" or 3020-a charges to follow.  The union?  They are part of the problem and not part of the solution since they have either agreed to, or ignore the DOE onslaught on the ATRs.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The UFT Contract Screws The CSA As Well.

It now appears the UFT leadership not only screwed some of their own members, the ATRs, teachers who resigned or discontinued or died, and members on unpaid maturity leave and yes, members who went on disability, but it now appears the UFT contract allows the City to not pay retroactive raises to ex UFT members who resigned between 2009-2014 to become DOE administrators.  That's right, all these administrators who became assistant principals and principals are assumed to have resigned by the City and are not getting their well deserved retroactive raises that they worked for.    Moreover, for UFT members who want to be administrators in the future, will not be getting their retroactive raises or lump sum payments going forward.  While I have little sympathy for these administrators, especially the vindictive and leadership academy administrators its still not fair to deny them of the money owed them. Apparently all UFT members who went to a non-UFT title will also be screwed and not receive their retroactive raises as well.

According to chalkbeat, this is one of the major stumbling blocks between the City and the CSA in negotiating a new contract.  However, there may be other unresolved issues as well.  For example the City wants the CSA to agree to a 7% return on their TDA instead of the existing 8.25%,  without any givebacks and the CSA agreeing to a similar ATR provision for their excessed members. 

The City and UFT agreed not to call the two 4% raises as retroactive raises to get around giving every member and ex members their well deserved raises but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you can't claim its a goose.  However, both the UFT and the City is doing just that.  Blogger JD2718 has an excellent post on how the UFT stopped using the term "retroactive raises" when they sold the contract to the members and is a must read.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ex Members Who Resigned File A Lawsuit Against The UFT To Get Back Their Retroactive Pay. - Are The ATRs Next To Sue?

As I expected, some ex-members who resigned or were terminated before the age of 55 have decided to file a lawsuit to get their much deserved retroactive raises between the 2009-13 school years which was unfairly deprived by the City and the UFT in the recently negotiated contract. How any union could eliminate up to 9,000 ex members from getting the retroactive pay that they worked for is  just plain wrong. Yet, that is exactly what happened with the UFT.  It appears the UFT violated the equal protection under the law provisions in New York State, I guess time will tell if the lawsuit is successful.

While I believe the inadequate contract was a favor to the De Blasio Administration that allowed the City to establish a "city pattern" that got the City off cheaply.  However, why did the union sacrifice many of the members to satisfy the City?  Not only will 9,000 ex members who resigned. terminated, discontinued, or died not get their retroactive pay but add another 3,000+ ATRs who are now second class citizens with an expedited 3020-a process based on a vaguely worded and defined  "unprofessional behavior".  Moreover, any ATR that won their 3020-a hearings will be not offered vacancies or temporary positions by the DOE.  These 250+ educators are now known as the "untouchables".   This group, I'm told will include any ATR "U rated" in the last school year.

Hopefully, the ex members will win their lawsuit and be getting their much deserved back pay and the next lawsuit the union may have to deal with is the ATRs for their failure to properly represent them and allowed the DOE to impose different rules on them that no other Municipal unions have for their members.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Great Teachers Also Need Tenure Laws To Protect Themseleves From Vindictive Administrators.

The education reformers have redoubled their efforts in trying to eliminate teacher tenure and flush from a victory in  California, which I believe will be reversed on appeal, they and their deep pocketed benefactors (the 1%) have filed a similar lawsuit in New York State.  The premise of the lawsuit in New York State is that the state teacher tenure laws violate the constitution that requires that every student should have an adequate education. This lawsuit is just another attack by the education reformers on the teaching profession and the teacher unions. 

Interestingly, the tenure laws in New York State are more stringent than in California.  For example, it takes three full years of satisfactory ratings before tenure can be granted by the Principal.  Furthermore, the tenure decision can be extended for another year or two if the Principal and teacher agree to do so. In the last year in NYC only 56% of the teachers received tenure, while the rest were either extended or discontinued.  Moreover, the New York State teacher evaluation system will allow for a path for dismissal.  Finally,  once tenure is achieved, the teacher can still be terminated for misconduct or incompetence but gets "full due process rights" by going through a State 3020-a hearing in front of an approved arbitrator who decides the case.

Until a teacher gets tenure, the Principal can terminate a teacher "at will" and its extremely rare for an untenured teacher to win their appeal when terminated.  Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein wrote about one such case when an untenured teacher went to bat for his students as their IEP's were being violated by the school administration and where not getting the state mandated services they needed.

When I was in the infamous "rubber room", I encountered hundreds of teachers during my stay.  The common theme was that most of the teachers were there because of problems with their principals.  I'm not saying that the teachers were blameless but in many cases the principals were told how to embellish, pervert, and distort the incidence to make it seem serious, just to get the teacher out of the school. It is only when the teacher goes in front of his or her 3020-a arbitrator can the teacher reasonably expect an impartial hearing.  If the DOE had its way, almost 100% of the teachers charged would be terminated, just like that for untenured teachers or teachers who appealed their "unsatisfactory ratings".  

If there wasn't tenure would any teacher stick their neck out and advocate for their students, report wrongdoing, or question policies that appear to hurt the academic achievement of the students?  Few would.  Does one want to go back to the "bad old days" when nepotism, cronyism, and personal likes or dislikes dictated the fate of teachers?  I think not.   One of my friends who was untenured reported Regents cheating to her administration and her satisfactory observations before the cheating report became unsatisfactory after the report and was discontinued since it appears the administration was in on the cheating (in fact SCI was called and confirmed that cheating took place and had the educator removed).  Hopefully, the State Supreme Court will find in her favor and force the DOE to give her job back.

 Nobody wants to work in an environment where any accusation by a student or administrator or the failure to take on extra responsibilities could lead to termination without "due process".  As it is, there will be a teacher shortage in five years and weakening or eliminating teacher tenure will accelerate the pace of good teachers leaving the profession.  Yes, tenure is important if school districts are to attract and retain "great teachers" and do what's best for their students by placing them first.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New York State Education Department Is Going After Teacher Licenses Under Article 83 For Non-Criminal Actions.

Over the last few years the New York State Education (NYSED) has directly or indirectly used some of the RttT funds to go after teacher licenses who were terminated in their 3020-a hearings for  "moral turpitude".  While the State always went after educators found guilty of a crime or criminal actions and removed their teaching license, it appears the State has expanded their definition of "moral turpitude" to include non-criminal actions as well in an attempt to get rid of more teachers. Lately the  Office of Teaching Initiatives has allocated more money to investigate more 3020-a termination cases that were not criminal in nature.  According to my sources, NYSED has used a portion of the increased federal funds allocated to the State  (RttT?)  to expand the State's  "good moral charterer" determination to include non-criminal actions of sexual misconduct, corporal punishment, and other non-criminal actions that lead to the teacher's termination in the 3020-a hearing process.

Moreover, the NYSED has also included educators who took a stipulation to resign or retire rather than go through their 3020-a hearing that fit into the ever broadening definition of  "moral turpitude". It appears all this is part of NYSED's attack on teachers, be it the badly flawed Teacher Evaluation System, their insistence to use high stakes testing against teachers while admitting that it's not appropriate for students, or the ever broadening of the "moral turpitude" clause of Article 83..  In fact, I know of a case of a teacher who was unjustly terminated in 2011 for corporal punishment in which she tried to restrain a violent child and never hurt the child in restraining him.   When her unfair 3020-a decision was reversed by the State Supreme Court as being "shocking to the conscience", only to be reversed again in a 2 to 1 Appellate Court decision, ahe found herself three years later subject to NYSED's punitive Article 83 regulation.

While nobody wants teachers who are a danger to the children to have a license, it appears that the NYSED is using a broad brush to label many educators as not deserving of a teacher's license and many deserving educators can no longer be a teacher simply because the NYSED has expanded the "moral turpitude" clause to include educators who are not and never have been a danger to the children and that's not fair or right for that matter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Open Market Transfer System Is A Joke.

Once again, I have checked over ten schools in Queens that advertized for an Earth Science teacher on the Open Market Transfer System (OMTS), and didn't receive one interview.  That's right, not one interview! Maybe because I am part of the "untouchables", ATRs who survived their 3020-a hearings that the DOE doesn't want to see in the classroom.  However, in speaking to many of my teaching colleagues coming from closing schools or programs, they haven't received any interviews either!  According to Gene Mann of the UFT 4,000 teachers change jobs using the OMTS.  What Mr Mann fails to say is few of them are highly experienced and high-salaried teachers. The vast majority are untenured teachers who want to get out of poorly performing schools resulting in a destabalizing of the very schools that need a stable teaching staff.

What do we excessed teachers have in common?  Age and salary/  Most of my colleagues make $80,000 or more and are over 50 years of age.  That's right its age and salary discrimination.  Principals will not hire us because of the "fair student funding" and the bias against ATRs.  Try to get this information from the DOE and UFT and they claim ignorance and a FOIL request to the DOE was ignored since neither organization wants the truth out. Now that there is no "hiring freeze" look for the ATR pool to increase by September from the 2,400+ to as much as 3,000 as few ATRs took the inadequate buyout.

Our union betrayed the ATRs and no matter how our union spins this contract, the union is allowing the DOE to stigmatize excessed teachers and demonize those that won their 3020-a discipline hearings.   No other City union would agree to make some of their members second class citizens and allow the DOE to practice a de facto age and salary discrimination as part of the contract.  However, no other union is like ours that screws some of its members while slapping themselves on the back for an inferior contract that even DC37 beat.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Illinois Highest Court Rules Against The State's Attempt To Reduce Retiree Health Benefits.

In a groundbreaking decision that has ramifications throughout the nation, the Illinois Supreme Court, in a 6 to 1 decision ruled that the State cannot reduce retiree health benefits, once approved.  According to the state's highest court the constitutional protections trump the State's  proposed 2012 pension reform changes that the Legislature and Governor have agreed to.  The decision, written by the chief justice said the following:

The Court, led by Justice Charles Freeman, did not specifically rule on the pension reform law, but declared “it is clear” that all pension benefits, including health insurance, cannot be, as the Illinois Constitution mandates, “diminished or impaired,” which the ruling called the “plain and ordinary” meaning of the state’s Constitution.

The key here is the State's Constitutional mandates that pension benefits cannot be "diminished or impaired".  This very same clause is in New York and a dozen other State Constitutions.  Therefore, these States, including New York, will now have a precedent to follow if any of these States decide to reduce retiree pensions, including health benefits. Therefore, in 2017, when the next New York State Constitutional Convention is convened and if the State Legislature and Governor decide to tackle pension reform, it will appear that already retired State and Local government employees will not be affected, based upon the Illinois court decision.

While its possible that New York State could tackle pension reform in 2017, it appears highly unlikely that the State cannot change the Constitutional mandate that retiree benefits cannot be "diminished or impaired" based upon the Illinois Court precedent.

That brings me to the education reformers who are spearheading the assault on educator pensions and teacher tenure laws.  All these education reform groups want to eliminate pensions and replace it with an inferior 401k/403b plan or none at all.  Furthermore, when one looks at charter schools, which is what the education reform groups strongly support and believe all schools should end up to be, almost all of them have inferior pension plans, some don't have matching contributions and a few don't even offer a pension plan!  In the education reform playbook its not about educator job security and pensions but how to maximize profits for their hedge fund allies who fund their groups and the charter schools. In fact, long-serving teachers is not what they want.  High teacher turnover, and making the teaching profession a transitional job is their goal and teacher tenure laws and adequate pension benefits is contrary to that goal.  Consequently, look for the education reform groups  to continue to attack teacher "due process rights" and compensation in the form of pensions and health benefits.

Friday, July 11, 2014

One Third Of New York City Public Schools Found To Be Overcrowded. Just Another Nail In The Coffin Of Mayor Bloomberg's Education Legacy.

An audit by the City Comptroller found that an astounding 33% of New York City public schools were overcrowded and that Tweed used "fuzzy math" and creative bookkeeping to falsely claim that these overcrowded schools were within capacity.  The audit clearly points out the shenanigans the DOE used to shoehorn students into inadequate spaces and co-locate charter schools into existing buildings. Some of the most startling findings in the Comptroller's audit was.

First, the deliberate shrinking of regular classroom space from 600 to 500 square feet by the now discontinued and discredited Office of Portfolio Management to hide overcrowding.

Second, the slashing of specialty rooms such as music, art, and science labs from 1,000 to 500 square feet and special education rooms from 770 to 500  square feet to give the false impression of adequate space being available.

Third, enrichment rooms for subjects like dance, drama, and computer courses were included as classroom space in the classroom utilization report known as  the "blue book", to make it seem that there was more space per student then there really was.

Finally, many guidance and social work staff were crammed into closet-like spaces to give the false appearance of adequate classroom space.

Why did the Bloomberg Administration fudge the numbers?  How else can they ensure that charter schools and his favored small schools can be squeezed into an existing public school building?  Who needs a dance studio, a band room, or a Science lab when it can be downsized into cramped classrooms and make it appear the school is not overcrowded.   Moreover, who cares if Tweed included trailers, most of them over a decade old and some with mold as part of the equation?  An article by Juan Gonzales is a must read as he discusses many of the problems found in the audit.

Just like the graduation rate, the utilization rate used in the DOE's "blue book" is bogus and uses "fuzzy math"  to falsely show figures that served the purpose of the DOE and not that of the students who suffered from it.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio is starting to address this issue, it will take many years to change the culture at Tweed and he really needs to put Chancellor Carmen Farina back into retirement and hire a competent educator to be Chancellor who will really clean house of the Bloomberg ideology that permeates throughout the senior management at the DOE..

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

How Bad Is Our Contract? Just Compare It To The DC37 Pact?

We all know that the UFT negotiated a bad contract with the City that included inadequate raises, a "caste system" for ATRs, and no retroactive pay for members who resign, are terminated, or die, making the contract more like an annuity.  However, as other unions are now settling with the City, their terms appear to be more favorable than the UFT negotiated.   Just compare our contract with DC37's contract.

In September, our union inexplicably agreed to a meager raise of 2%, plus an equally miniscule .14% of retroactive pay, for a total raise of 2.14% until May  2015.  By contrast DC37 will get three 1% raises starting from 2011 and a 1.5% raise in September 2014 for a total of 4.5% and since the 1% raises go back to 2011, the compounded raises will be 0.5% for an effective increase of of 5%.  That's right the DC37 pact will more than double the UFT negotiated raise for the fall checks! Furthermore, they also will receive a $1,000 bonus and that is significant  since the average DC37 members makes half what a UFT member makes in salary.

Another thing, the DC37 pact does not have eighteen months of "zeros" as the UFT pact does and while the UFT agreed to sacrifice some of its members (ATRs) the DC37 pact does no such thing.  In fact, the contract throws open the chance of the DC37 members to get more money if they can come up with cost savings, similar to what the Sanitation union received when they went from a three man to a two man truck.

Finally,  the DC37 pact will allow the union to receive all their retroactive pay quickly and not have it deferred as far back as 2020 as the UFT pact does.  In addition, the DC 37 raise occur eighteen months ahead of the UFT raises and the City gave DC37 an extra 0.52% from March to July of 2017.  No annuity for DC37 as it is for the UFT. Everybody gets the raises!

Pay Raise............................UFT.........................DC37

2011................................... 0%..........................1%

Total...................................10% ....................10.52% +

Decide for yourself what you think of the wonderful UFT contract now?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Memo To President Obama. In New York City Its Not About Hiring Quality Teachers But The Cheapest Teachers For The Schools.

Today President Obama has finally decided that all school districts must have an "educator equity plan" by April 2015 that requires all States and school districts to place "quality teachers" in front of the classroom.   This long neglected part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that all classrooms have an equally high percentage of "highly qualified teachers", regardless of income or racial composition. This long neglected provision of NCLB allowed school districts to hire whom they pleased and in many "high needs" communities that meant hiring uncertified or alternate certification instructors who lasted a year or two and then left the school.  Teacher turnover is a serious problem and negatively affects student learning as many of these teachers are hired simply because they are cheap and its not children first but money first!  It now appears the Obama Administration will no longer give waivers to this part of NCLB as it has previously.  However, time will tell if they don't bow to political pressure from Teach For America and education reform groups who depend on an influx of poorly trained and unqualified "newbie" instructors to fill the schools. The Federal Department of Education's website has the entire initiative called "Excellent Educators For All".

That brings me to the New York City DOE who has long practiced "education on the cheap" policy and with their perverse "fair student funding" requirements forces schools to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers" for their schools.  This is in apparent contradiction to the new imitative. Will The Obama Administration penalize the City for their policy that fosters teacher inequality in the schools or will they ignore the blatant violation of the educator equity plan of the NCLB as they have been doing for a decade?   Furthermore, how can the City explain the hiring of uncertifed TFA and Fellows for these schools while "highly qualified teachers" as defined by NCLB , languish in the ATR pool being used as glorified babysitters?

It will be interesting to see if the Obama Administration is serious about the teacher inequity problem and refuses to give waivers to States and school districts from the educator equity plan as they have been doing previously.   If the President follows through on his initiative then the DOE must rethink how they fund schools and eliminate the "fair student funding" that hinders the hiring of "highly qualified teachers" for the schools most in need of these teachers.  Only time will tell if the enforcing of the educator equity plan under NCLB will actually happen.  If it does, I'm sure the DOE will try to tiptoe around the educator equity plan and maintain their "education on the cheap" policy at the expense of the poor and minority students of the affected "high needs" schools.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The DOE Central Bureaucracy Grabs 77.5% Of The Federal Race To The Top Money For Themselves.

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) took the lion's share of the federal Race to the Top (RttT) funds to pay for their own needs and only sent 22.5% to the schools, where the money was intended for.  That's right, the greedy and bloated DOE bureaucracy took an astounding 77.5% of the RttT funds.  The Independent Budget Office (IBO) broke down the latest year available (2012-13) and found that the DOE Central Bureaucracy took an astounding $83,327 million dollars from the RttT compared to only $24,195 million dollars.  Unbelievable but true.

Contained in the IBO report the money sucking and useless Children First Network received $1.24 million dollars of the RttT funding.  Money that could have more efficiently used to hire more teachers or provide more resources at the schools that could have helped the students.  Worse, $13.425 million dollars went for high priced consultants and questionable contracts that had little or no noticeable impact on the schools.  Finally, $17.578 million went to purely DOE Central Bureaucracy functions and salaries.  The entire IBO report can  be found here and the RttT breakdown is on page 27 of the report.

Reading the IBO report is really eye opening since it provides statistics that shows the priorities of the DOE and its not about the students. For example since 2008, the total DOE budget increased 10.3% while principals were experiencing an average budget reduction of 14.3% over the same time period. Moreover, the number of principals increased from 1,283 at the start of the Bloomberg Administration to 1,650, a 29% increase. By contrast, for teachers the number has dropped from 78,882 in 2008 to 73,789 in 2013, or a drop of  7%.  For general education teachers the reduction is 14%  The report also showed an increase in class sizes throughout the years and tor 2013 is the highest during the Bloomberg Administration. Finally, the teacher turnover rate for the latest five year period was 62% and 20% for one year.  These teacher turnover rates are an indication of the hostile classroom environment created by the Bloomberg Administartion.

Its obvious that unless Mayor Bill de Blasio "cleans house" at the DOE, the IBO report shows that its still "children last" and DOE Central Bureaucracy first when it comes to the nyc public schools.

In the Abbott and Costello skit called "the loan" represents the DOE and the schools when it comes to funding with Abbott being the DOE Central Bureaucracy  and Costello being the schools.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The ATR Serverance Package Is An Insult To Us All.

Yesterday, the ATRs received an email from the DOE offering us an opportunity to leave our livelihood for a maximum of 19.2% of our present annual salary.  Except for ATRs who were going to retire anyway, I suspect you can count the numbers willing to take this severance on two hands.  This is an insulting offer by the DOE and accepted by our union leadership.  If we are to believe there are only 1,200 ATRs (the real number is 2,500+ if you include the provisional and long term leave replacements), then maybe 10 ATRs will actually take this insulting offer.  Of course the DOE and union will not publish the numbers since it will show how inadequate the ATR severance package is.   For people unaware of what the package is, here are the numbers.

Payment................................................Years in Service

1 week.....................................................Less than 4 years
2 weeks...................................................Less than 6 years
3 weeks.................................................. Less than 8 years
4 weeks...................................................Less than 10 years
5 weeks...................................................Less than 12 years
6 weeks...................................................Less than 14 years
7 weeks...................................................Less than 16 years
8 weeks...................................................Less than 18 years
9 weeks...................................................Less than 20 years
10 weeks.................................................20 years or greater

 Therefore, if you are making $100,049, then the severance would be:

$100,049 x (10/52) = $19,240  (19.2%)

Since the average ATR makes approxinately $85,426 and has been in the system for 15 years. they would get the following,

$85,426 x (7/52) = $11,500 (13.5%)

For teachers who have only 10 years in the system, they would get a pittance

$75,000 x (5/2) = $7,212 (9.6%)

The ATR severance package is totally inadequate and is an insult.  This just proves how little the union leaders thinks of their members.  No real union would have allowed the DOE to propose such an insulting severance package and spin it as if this is a generous offer.  How stupid do they think we are?

To all members, do not let the union leadership and the DOE push you out.  Taking this offer, if you are not ready to retire, means they win and you lose.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Tier 6 Pension Plan For New Teachers Is Inferior To Previous Pension Plans And The City Loves It!

One of the reasons that the City wants to rid the school system of experienced teachers is that these teachers, if they can reach retirement age, will cost the City quite a bit of money once they start collecting a pension.  Furthermore, the ever increasing health care costs for retirees is a major factor in the City's budget projections.  Therefore, the City and the State came up with a less generous pension tier to save money down the road.  This is known as the tier 6 pension plan which came into effect on April 1, 2012 and any State or City employee hired from that date on is now part of the tier 6 pension plan.

In New York City the majority of teachers are part of the tier 4 pension plan while a few newer teachers are part of the tier 5 plan that came into effect on January 1, 2010 and lasted just two years.  This post will compare the three pension plans for New York City educators.

Tier 4 Pension Plan
Employee Contribution.............3% for ten years, 0% after
Final Average Salary................Top three consecutive years
Full Retirement Age..................62 years of age
Vesting Period..........................5 years
Multiplier, less than 20 years.....1.67% per year
Multiplier 20 years or more........2.0% per year
Multiplier more than 30 years.....1.5% per year
Retiree Health Benefits..............10 years of service
 Special Requirements................Full Retirement 30/55
Special Requirements.................Full Retirement 25/55
Age Reduction Factor

Tier 5 Pension Plan
Employee Contribution.............3% until retirement
Final Average Salary................Top three consecutive years
Full Retirement Age..................62 years of age
Vesting Period..........................10 years
Multiplier, less than 25 years.....1.67% per year
Multiplier 25 years or more........2.0% per year
Multiplier more than 30 years.....1.5% per year
Retiree Health Benefits..............15 years of service
 Special Requirements................Full Retirement 30/57
Age Reduction Factors

Tier 6 Pension Plan
Employee Contribution.................3.5%-6% until retirement
Final Average Salary....................Top five consecutive years
Full Retirement Age......................63 years of age
Vesting Period.............................10 years
Multiplier, less than 20 years.........1.67% per year
Multiplier 20 years or more............1.75% per year
Multiplier more than 30 years.........1.75% per year
Retiree Health Benefits..................15 years of service
 Special Requirements....................None
Age Reduction Factors 
55(.48), 56(.55),57(.61),58(.68),59(.74),60(.81),61(.87),62(.93)


A comparison summary by NYSUT for all tiers 1-6 can be found Here.

When you compare the tier 6 pension plan to the tiers 4 & 5 there is little doubt that the tier 6 pension is vastly inferior to the other pension plans previously and will cost the City less in pension and retiree health benefits in the future.  While the City will claim they want "quality teachers", their actions are dictated by how much savings they can obtain and that means pushing experienced teachers under tier 4 out and hiring "newbie teachers" not only with a lower salary but subject to the inadequate tier 6 pension, assuming they can last long enough to be vested.