Sunday, August 30, 2015

Here's How The DOE Renewal Schools Can Actually Attract Quality Teachers.

I am strongly skeptical that the DOE renewal schools will be able to attract more than a handful of "highly effective" experienced teachers to their schools. Since no real "highly effective" quality teacher would seriously put there job in jeopardy under the new teacher evaluation system (VAM is 50% of a teacher's grade) by teaching in these renewal schools for chump change of $7.500 annually?  Maybe the DOE can do what a school in England did, recruit teachers from China to bring discipline and learning to the students.  Here is the three part BBC series of the experiment and its pretty funny if you ask me.

By the way,  I will be cruising to Bermuda for the week with Mrs. chaz and will not be posting until school starts on Tuesday September, 8th.  Have a nice final week off until the horror resumes.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The New Orleans Charter School Miracle Is A Myth.

Its been 10 years that hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and destroyed the City's public school system.  Most of the residents were displaced and almost all the schools were damaged from flooding and then toxic mold.  That school year was lost as the students of the City were scattered throughout the South.  The next year as the schools were repaired and  in some cases rebuilt, the State of Louisiana desired to reinvent to New Orleans schools as a charter school network.  The school board fired the 7,000 experienced teachers  most being minorities and allow the charter schools to hire whom they pleased.  The result was that the charter schools hired younger and mostly white teachers, many from Teach for America and were uncertified.  Education deformers like Michael Bloomberg hailed the charter miracle and other deformers showed statistics that the graduation rate was higher than before.  However, on closer inspection it turns out that the charter school miracle is simply a myth.

First, the changing demographics of New Orleans has resulted in the City becoming whiter and more middle class as the City renovated the more desirable areas and raised rents that attracted a more affluent population.  At the same time the deep poverty all black neighborhoods like the Ninth Ward  is still a wasteland with boarded up homes and empty lots and still depopulated as many residents didn't or couldn't return.

Second, the charter schools practice a "zero tolerance" policy that expels students for minor infractions like not following the teacher with their eyes, talking out of turn, or wearing the wrong socks.  Anything to  harass a low performing student out of the school. While the State has finally cracked down on the wholesale expulsions, there is nothing the State can do if a charter school chooses to give out 5 day suspensions for minor infractions of the school code, which many do to encourage the parent to finally remove the student from the school.

Third, the charter schools fail to take in students with disabilities, claiming they don't have the resources,  or expertise to educate them.  The practice became so pervasive that the State imposed a blind lottery system this school year to force the New Orleans charter schools to take their fair share of special education students.  It will be interesting to see how the charter schools handle the influx of these students and to what lengths they will take to encourage their parents to remove them from the school.

Finally, despite the "bending of the rules" by the charter schools many were rated by the State either a "D" or "F" when compared to their State peer schools.  In other words, they are still labeled failing and if the State really enforces the rules that level the playing field and how the State scores will be affected once these new State requirements are included in the upcoming State test.

In conclusion the New Orleans charter school have been a failure.

Friday, August 28, 2015

ATRs. How To Find Your First Placement.

Yesterday, ATRs received an e-mail notification that on September 4th, they will receive their school placement.  However, the DOE has already placed all ATRs and you can find your placement by doing the following.

Go to or Google the DOE SESIS login page.  Type in your ID and password like you do for your DOE e-mail account.  Once you are in, scroll up to the top of the page and look to the upper right hand corner.  You should see your name and the school you are assigned to.

During the school year, the ATR placement on the SESIS page is updated a day before the ATR is informed by e-mail or listed in the current status page and while the other sources inform the ATR on Thursday, the SESIS page usually is updated Wednesday.

Good luck on another school year and stay clear of those ATR field supervisors (assassins).  Just a reminder, the DOE very occasionally will change your placement by the first day so please continue to monitor your DOE e-mail.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why Aren't Parents And Students Held Accountable For Their Academics And Behavior?

It seems to me that in the age of "accountability" where teachers are evaluated on "junk science" and schools are rated on high stakes Common Core tests that are not grade appropriate, the students and their parents are given a pass.  In New York, The State uses the 6 day tests to determine 50% of a teacher's grade while the students scores are ignored for promotion decisions (however, these useless tests are used for student placement decisions).

The drumbeat of "accountability" is constantly brought up by the education deformer organizations and their media allies.  However, when you push through the "accountability" rhetoric you find that these education deformer organizations will ignore the two most important part of the "accountability"  equation, that is the parent and the student.  In the education deformer world the teacher is the most important part of a student's educational success.  To these organizations the fact that a teacher makes up only between 1% and 14% of a student's academic success is simply an inconvenient truth they choose to ignore.  In fact, one of their education deform heroes. Joel Klein and his allies hold teachers primarily responsible for the achievement gap between disadvantaged and middle-class children. In a 2010 “manifesto,” Klein and one of his protégés, Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor of Washington, D.C., summed up their campaign like this:

“The single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income—it is the quality of their teacher.”

Joel Klein, as Chancellor, falsely claimed that he was able to narrow the achievement gap only to be canned as Chancellor by an embarrassed Mayor Bloomberg after it was shown that the income/racial academic achievement gap actually widened!

The frustration level of educators who suffer through disrespectful students, uncaring parents, and unrelenting administrative pressure and yet are blamed for a student's failure that they have little or no control over.  This is not just a New York problem but is found nationally as teacher shortages spread throughout the country.  Moreover, even in countries like Australia, teacher frustration has resulted in a school approving this message to parents (it may be a hoax) when they call the school  While I agree with the frustration of these educators, I don't agree with the messages conclusion and maybe they should be more understanding of recent immigrants to the school district.  Otherwise, I wish all schools would record similar messages and place "accountability" squarely where it belongs on the parents and the students and not scapegoating teachers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Real Legacy Of Ex Chancellor Joel Klein.

According to Politico, the Columbia University's Double Discovery Center will be giving Ex Chancellor Joel Klein their highest award, the James Shenton AwardOne would think that such an award would be given to only those who made a difference for public education of underprivileged students.  However, the truth is under Chancellor Joel Klein, the income/racial academic income gap actually widened.  His claims of academic excellence was all "smoke and mirrors: and even Mayor Bloomberg canned him when the truth was picked up by the media. Far from being a top educator, Joel Klein did more harm and little good when it came to really serving underprivileged students.

Under Chancellor Joel Klein, class sizes increased, highly experienced teachers were cast aside for clueless "newbies" and school budgets were siphoned to feed the ever growing Central Bureaucracy at the DOE.  Worse, was the destruction of the large neighborhood high schools by dumping "high needs" students into the schools to force them to fail and close  Read the New Yorker article at what Joel Klein did to Jamaica High School.  Moreover, his disrespect for teachers and ignoring community concerns are legendary.    Finally, his support of Charter schools and co-locating them in public schools were both morally and economically wrong for the public school students, especially the disadvantaged.

To remind people of the destructive Klein policies read his legacy Here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

While Our Disconnected Union Leadership Supports The De Blasio Administration, The Teachers Continued To Get Screwed!

It wasn't too long ago that our union President, Michael (don't call me Mikey) Mulgrew, claimed that we have a supportive ally in the Mayor and a new tone at the DOE.  His embrace of the new Chancellor, Carmen Farina, was to show the new spirit of cooperation between the union and Tweed.  While on the surface, there seemed to be a era of cooperation, the fact is that cooperation does not trickle down to the schools or classroom where the Bloomberg "gotcha system" is still going strong.  If there really was a new era of cooperation between the union and the DOE wouldn't these issues disappear?

Fair Student Funding:  The use of fair student funding forces the schools to high the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their students.  Bringing back the unit policy would allow schools to hire highly experienced teachers for their students.

Large Class Sizes:  Despite promises to reduce class size, the Mayor and Chancellor failed to lower class sizes and despite campaign promises, refused to develop a plan to implement the lowering of class sizes.

Double Standard in Disciplining Administrators:  The failure to remove many of the so-called 400 principals that Chancellor Carmen Farina claimed should not be in charge of schools are still there and she and her Bloomberg era holdovers continue to protect them. Examples can be found in my "bad principals"  articles.  Here are the articles dealing with the "double standard" that has not changed with the new administration.

ATR Crisis:  The holdover of the ideological Bloomberg era policy of the ATRs that drains $160 million dollars from the DOE budget annually and the failure to use experienced educators in the classroom is an educational crime. In fact, under the new contract ATRs are second class citizens.

Failure To Reduce The Bloated DOE Bureaucracy: The data accountability and legal departments at Tweed were supposed to have been reduced but thanks to the Chancellor's failure to "clean house" these departments continue to expand and thrive, like a cancerous tumor.

Frozen School Budgets:  Despite the City's economic viability and a $5.9 billion dollar surplus and more funding to the DOE, the Mayor and Chancellor kept school budgets frozen at 2012 levels.  Unbelievable but true.

Failure To Reduce Paperwork:  Despite assurance from both the UFT President and Chancellor, there has been little reduction in paperwork requirements imposed by the Bloomberg Administration.

Its no secret that our union negotiated a vastly inferior contract just to curry favor with the new administration and while Michael Mulgrew , Carmen Farina, and Bill de Blasio yuk it up, the teachers continued to get screwed.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Parents Overwelmingly Oppose High Stakes Tests To Rate Teachers.

A survey by PDK/Gallup has shown that 64% of public school parents oppose using high stakes tests to determine teacher evaluation.   This survey should put to rest the education deformer claim that parents support these Common Core based high-stakes tests to determine teacher effectiveness.  In fact, the same poll found that 54% of those polled oppose the Common Core State Standards while only 25% supported using them.  This came as no surprise to critics of the education deformer led education agenda.  For example, Josha P. Starr, who under pressure from Obama and Duncan, was not selected as Chancellor of the New York City schools said the following:

“Too many kids in too many schools are bored,” said Joshua P. Starr, a former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland who is now chief executive of PDK International, a network of education professionals. “Parents maybe see that and they want their kids to be engaged in schools.”

That's right, as I have been writing about previously, the constant test preparation is not real learning and many students fear and loathe taking these high-stakes Common Core tests.  Students should be excited about learning not passing a test that, for many is too long, hard, and are not grade appropriate.  Moreover, the results are not known for months and used not to determine the students placement (it shouldn't) but is used as a weapon against teachers, especially teachers who teach "high needs" students like English Language Learners, Special Education, or behaviorally challenged students. Nationally 47% of parents would "opt out" their child from these "high-stakes" tests if they felt them inappropriate for their child or used inappropriately, compared to 40% who wouldn't.

Maybe this study will convince the many Presidential candidates like Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and the many others who drink the education deformer kool-ade that Common Core based high-stakes testing is the best teacher accountability tool for evaluating teachers but instead it only hurts the students and does not improve education.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The DOE Claims That Credit Recovery Credits Are Awarded Less Often. Do You Believe Them?

The DOE has found itself on the defensive as the abuse of the "credit recovery" program resulted in schools ignoring the stringent requirements and offering students an easy way to accumulate credits known as "easy pass".  After denying schools were committing academic fraud, the DOE, under intense media pressure, finally admitted that some schools were not following the rules. The Chancellor, clearly embarrassed after claiming that the accusations at John Dewey High School were unsubstantiated, only to admit that she was wrong, set up a group of her cronies to investigate the use of "credit recovery" and to take action if necessary.  Now it seems that the DOE claims that there is less "credit recovery" credits being awarded by the schools.   Do you believe that?  I don't and here's why.

The DOE press release omitted the fact that their statistics were based on schools "self reporting".  That's right, instead of the DOE requiring schools to report their "credit recovery" statistics and the type of "credit recovery" programs they used, the DOE only requested that schools voluntarily report the information.  In the DOE's age of accountability and data mining that has resulted in a bloated Bureaucracy, yet the DOE did not even bother to use their staff to audit the schools for the amount and type of "credit recovery" used.

The question is why didn't the DOE use its vast resources and expertise to determine the extent of the abuse of the "credit recovery" program?  The answer is simple.  The DOE choose not to know.  In other words they were able to use the "plausible deniability" defense when allegations were pouring in about the academic fraud used  to  raise the bogus graduation rate. Better to claim that there is no problem if you ignore the issue.  For the DOE it's not "children first" but to raise the graduation rate by any means possible and if that means academic fraud, so be it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Memo To MaryEllen Elia, Its Unethical To Evaluate Teachers On Junk Science

Last night the new NYSED Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia was the keynote speaker at the education deformer front group and Bill Gates funded, Educators 4 Excellence.  During her speech to the 150 member audience (how many were classroom teachers?), she expressed tepid support for teachers and stated that she doesn't blame teachers for the issues dealing with academic achievement. She said the following:

“I’m a commissioner that will never bash teachers,” she said. “We can’t look at making the teacher the scapegoat for problems that may have existed in bureaucracies we have to fix.”

If that's all she said, maybe I would have had a different opinion of the new Commissioner.  However, its what she said earlier in the speech that showed her true intentions.

 “I think opt-out is something that is not reasonable,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said at an event hosted by the teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence. “I am absolutely shocked if, and I don’t know that this happened, but if any educators supported and encouraged opt-outs. I think it’s unethical.”

That's right in the world of MaryEllen Elia, dissent is not acceptable but the use of "junk Science" in the form of  Value Added Method (VAM) is ethical despite the fact that it has shown to be nearly worthless.  Yes, this worthless VAM that the VAM will account for 50% of a teacher's evaluation.  In the lawsuit brought by a 4th grade teacher on the NYSED VAM the data showed that the VAM was developed so that 7% of the teachers would be rated "ineffective" and teachers with high needs students are found to do poorly on the high-stakes test, hence, their teachers are more likely to get poor evaluations and possible unjust termination.

I guess its more important to ignore the scientific evidence that the VAM is simply "junk Science" and blame educators for the 20% "opt out" rates on these grade inappropriate tests that takes 6 days to complete and the results are not available until the summer.   This is the world our new NYSED Commissioner lives in.  To her its all about the numbers, regardless how worthless they are and that's unethical!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Myth Of Charter School Academic Excellence.

If you read the newspapers, the Republican Presidential candidates, and even many Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ron Emmanuel, you get the impression the charter schools are the answer to academic excellence.  However, the truth is very different.

Sure some charter schools have proven academic success but that's because these few schools practice policies that exclude many English Language Learners, Special Education students, and impose discipline policies that remove behaviorally challenged students from their schools. These charter schools like Success, and KIPPS are compared to the neighborhood public school when it comes to test scores but these same politicians and media outlets ignore the disparity of "high needs" students between the public and these charter schools.  Moreover, the news media and politicians turn a collective "blind eye" on the failure of these high-performing charter schools to "backfill" the openings by accepting new students.  The result are smaller and smaller cohorts and class sizes from third grade on, the testing grades. I wrote about this previously Here.

A favorite trick these schools do is to encourage parents to withdrawal their academically struggling child at the end of second grade by telling the parent that they will need to hold the child back if they insist in keeping the child in the school.  However, if they remove the child from the school and go to the public school, they will advance them to third grade.  The result is the high performing charter school keeps their test scores high while dumping the academically struggling student onto the public school.  Moreover, if the student is behaviorally challenged, the high achieving charter school will expel the student and dump them as well onto the public school.  Finally, these high achieving charter schools will plead lack of resources or expertise when it comes to English Language Learners or Special Education students and will discourage these "high needs" students from attending their school.

Excluding these few high-achieving charter schools, the vast majority of the charter schools cannot afford to turn down students, even when they are amply funded by hedge fund managers and well-heeled individuals and struggle academically, many of them having lower test scores than the neighborhood public schools.  While some of these schools hire ex-police officers as Deans and discipline is better enforced, these charter schools suffer from the biggest libility, "quality teachers" that the public schools have.

The big bug-a-boo, even in the high achieving charter schools is the transitional and unstable teaching staff.  Even in the best charter schools, there is a nearly complete turnover of the teaching staff in three years. In many charter schools almost all the teachers are replaced yearly and in a story I published previously, one charter school had seven Science teachers for one position in the 2014-15 school year!

This year a charter school teachers told me that the school had teacher orientation and the staff consisted of discontinued or terminated (under 3020-a) teachers, Teach for America "newbies" and teachers suspended by the DOE for incompetence under section 3020-a for the school, year.  While some of these teachers probably were unfairly charged or discontinued by the DOE, not all of them were, and the Teach For America "newbies" have no classroom management skills or curriculum knowledge whatsoever.  For this charter school, its not about "quality teachers" but a warm body.

Even in the high achieving charter schools, none of the students from the Success Academy were academically proficient enough to be accepted by the many specialized public schools in the City and the reason is probably a combination of the lack of a stable and experienced teaching staff and the mindless test preparation at the expense of real education at these schools .

When I continue to read the newspapers and hear the politicians singing the praises of the charter schools I only snicker because the truth is the charter schools are academically struggling and do little to add real knowledge educationally to the student.  It's all "smoke and mirrors" when it comes to real academic success for the average charter school student.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chancellor Carmen Farina's Failure To Clean House At The DOE Has Resulted In The Problems She Now Owns.

When Carmen Farina was appointed Chancellor of the New York City public schools, I and many others thought she would "clean  house" at the DOE.  Yes she did replace some of the top level Klein appointees.  However, she bulk of the Bloomberg era policymakers were left in place and continued the destructive Bloomberg policies.  Many of the De Blasio and Farina apologists, like UFT President Michael Mulgrew, cautioned patience and that things will improve in Farina's second year as Chancellor.  However, as we await the Chancellor's third school year we found little has actually changed.

First, she kept the already tight school budgets frozen at 2012 levels, which is a 14% reduction from 2007 levels.  Despite the economic recovery and a $5.9 billion dollar surplus by the City and more money allocated to the DOE, the extra funds did not go to the schools or the classrooms. It must be noted that Carmen Farina bought into the Bloomberg/Klein philosophy in the early years and was forced to retire as she was passed over as Eric Nadelstern became the Deputy Chancellor by Joel Klein.

Second, class sizes are as large as ever and have not been reduced as promised by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Too many teachers are teaching a sixth period or out of license. in the secondary schools, to save on teacher salaries, a hallmark of the Bloomberg era.

Third, the Joel Klein inspired and destructive "fair student funding" that has caused principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers for their schools".  This has resulted in the students being guinea pigs for "newbie teachers" who have no classroom experience, and no classroom management skills, and suffer from a steep learning curve that hurts the students they are instructing.

Fourth, the ATR crisis continues unabated as highly experienced teachers are regulated to be glorified babysitters,  thanks to our union leadership, along with reduced "due process rights".

Fifth, the corrupt investigations and 3020-a charges remain the same under Farina.

Finally, the continuation of the phony "credit recovery" programs known as "easy pass", made credit accumulation a joke nationally and resulted in bogus graduation statistics.

The fact is that Chancellor Carmen Farina is really part of the problem and is not the solution as she refused to remove Bloomberg era policies and the people implementing them from power.  As a result she know is responsible for the headaches she is saddled with, thanks to her failure to clean house! Please read Leonie Haimson's article as well.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Reflections Of Summer School.

I taught summer school this year and while the students were for the most part, well behaved and cooperative, I did find some real issues how the summer school program was run.

First, the summer school program included 6 high schools and there were more administrators in the building than  teachers!   Talk about a waste of money!  How much money was spent on useless administrators that could have been spent on school supplies like copying paper, pens and pencils, paper clips, and folders?

Second, half the classrooms either did not have air conditioners or ones that worked.  By afternoon the rooms were like ovens and the classrooms were not conducive for learning. On the unused first floor there were air conditioned classrooms but were not used since the summer school program was confined to the second floor.

Third, despite all the administrators, students were walking the halls throughout the day.  Some students only showed up to get their metrocard and breakfast and/or lunch in the cafeteria.  These students didn't bother to show up to class and the school never cancelled their metrocard or cafeteria privileges.

Fourth, few school supplies were given and no copying paper were supplied.  The office copying machine was off limits to teachers.

Fifth, all teachers were observed twice.  That's right twice!  Instead of the usual once.

Sixth, during Regents, despite the numerous administrators, students were walking the halls three, four, or five strong and some were going into the staircases, out of sight and who knows what they were doing?  The bottom line, I saw numerous violations of Regents protocol in the hallways.

Finally, grading the Regents lasted a day longer than necessary because the summer school did not call in additional proctors to relieve the teachers to grade.  Moreover, the teachers had to proctor the entire test. no breaks, no second proctor.

The bottom line, this year if you taught in an non-air conditioned classroom, was not supplied with adequate school supplies, and  proctored the entire Regents, now you know why its called "blood money".

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What The "Opt Out" Numbers Really Mean?

This week. the NYSED published the latest "opt out" numbers and astonishingly 20% of the State's students "opted out" from taking the test.  This was quadrupled the 2014 "opt out" rate and the unfortunate and threatening comments from the new NYSED Commissioner. MaryEllen Ella, would strongly suggest that next year will be a repeat and may be even higher!

The highest "opt out" numbers were found in solidly white middle class school districts in Long Island and scattered throughout upstate New York.  While the New York Times published a graph that shows the higher income school districts were more likely to "opt out", the truth is that the richest school districts had "opt out" rates that were lower than the middle income school districts.  What was very obvious was that the urban and lower income school districts of color had the lowest "opt out" rates.  The "opt out" rates depended on many factors
  • Demographics (race and income)
  • Superintendent action (threats)
  • School Boards
  • Parent activists organizing
  • Teacher Unions 
  • Urbanization

To me, the more involved parents are in their child's eduction, the more likely they participated in "opting out" their child.  Parents were upset that their child had to spend six days of their education in taking these ridiculous Common Core based tests that the NYSED set "cut scores" that ensured that two out of three would not be proficient.   Moreover, the tests are too difficult and not grade appropriate that make the students fear and loath these tests.  Finally, the  tests will determine 50% of their teacher's evaluation and teachers will forgo instruction to do mindless test preparation making student learning a chore instead of an adventure for knowledge.

School Districts with the highest "opt out" rates.
New York Mills............................77%
Rocky Point................................75%
West Seneca..............................72%
Rockville Center.........................59%

By contrast, the school districts with a majority  of students of color had low "opt out" rates.

New York City...........................1.4% 
East Ramapo..............................2%

Even in the heart of the "opt out" movement on the Nassau-Suffolk border, the poor minority community of Wyndanch had an "opt out" rate of only 11%, yet the surrounding middle income school districts like Farmingdale (63%), Babylon (59%), Plainedge (75%) and Lindenhurst (57%) had five to almost seven times the "opt out" rate as Wyndanch did.

The NYSED's response is that "opting out" is a disservice to our kids.  The real disservice is the ridiculous 6 days of testing that requires schools to spend months of test preparation rather than educating our kids, with the results not known till August. Until the NYSED simplifies the Common Core based tests and make them grade appropriate and goes to a Regents based program with a three hour not three day test that can be graded within a day or two, the "opt out" rates will remain high and go even higher as many parents realize that this is not education but mindless testing.   Even the non engaged parent will start to realize that their child's fear and loathing of the mindless test preparation and the teacher evaluation tied to it will result in months of prepping for the tests and not real education and learning in the classroom.

Its high-stakes testing first and student learning last as teachers, fearful of losing their jobs, will do what's necessary to make sure their students will do well on the test and if that means constant and continuous test preparation at the expense of real student learning, then so be it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Renewal Superintendent Amiee Horowitz Knows Nothing, See's Nothing, And Does Nothing When It Comes To Academic Fraud.

Here we go again, another renewal school was found to have committed academic fraud.  This time its the embattled Flushing High School that has had an astounding 5 principals in five years!  Here are just two of them, Here and Here.  Yes, the very same Flushing High School that I wrote about previously. The school is surrounded by an East Asian neighborhood, yet few of their children go to Flushing High School, thanks to school choice and the school's terrible reputation.  The school must take hundreds of over-the-counter students who roam the school's hallways and disrupt real learning just to meet their enrollment goals.

The New York Post was able to obtain an email from the Guidance AP at Flushing High School that is a "smoking gun" which shows the academic fraud the school went to artificially raise their graduation rate.  According to the New York Post the AP of Guidance, Patricia Cuti stated the following:

“Our benchmark of a 60 percent graduation rate in June is non-negotiable,” wrote Patricia Cuti, assistant principal for guidance. “Summer graduation is NOT an option.”

According to the New York Post article the school was enrolling 150 students in a quickie online course while they continuied to fail the very same courses they were currently taking which is against the State and City "credit recovery" rules.   More importantly, the email cc'd Cyndi Kerr, the Queens Deputy Renewal Superintendent and this is the first direct evidence that the inner circle of Renewal Superintendent Amiee Horowitz was directly notified of the graduation quota and the academic fraud being used to achieve the graduation quota.

Will Amiee Horowitz take action by firing her Deputy who was informed but did nothing to prevent this academic fraud?  How about the AP of Guidance?  She should lose her job for the academic fraud?  However, we are talking about Amiee Horowitz who protects school administrators and punishes whistle blowers who dare to expose cheating.  Remember this?

In my opinion  Renewal Superintendent Amiee Horowitz knows nothing, when it comes to cheating,  see's nothing when evidence of academic fraud is presented to her,  and does nothing, except to go after staff, when action needs to be taken to eliminate the practice. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The New York Times Ignores The Real Cause Of The Teacher Shortage.

The New York Times education reporter, Motoko Rich, wrote an article about the national teacher shortage and ignored the real cause of the reason behind the teacher shortage, the demoralization of the teacher profession by the education deformers and their media allies along with the politicians of both parties. In the article the New York Times points out how nationally there has been a 30% reduction in teacher preparation applicants and a 55% reduction in California.  In one of my earlier posts  and an even earlier one  I was informed by a friend that his college's education program dropped almost 50% since 2011 and many of his education students have no intention of teaching in the classroom.

While the Times article claims it was the cutting of education jobs during the recession, the real reason is the education deformer organizations like StudentsFirst, Democrats for Education Reform. Students For Education Reform, and politicians like Michael Bloomberg, Chris Christie, Barack Obama, and Jeb Bush who buy into the education deformer mantra that bad teachers are the reason why children struggle academically,  By blaming teachers for society's ills, it has demoralized teachers and disrespected the entire teaching profession.  As the Perdido Street School blogger RBE stated in his blog to the seniors he teaches:

"I teach seniors and I tell the ones who say they want to be teachers to think twice about the major - that teacher bashing and odious accountability measures (most of which simply add more work to a teacher's load without making them better teachers) make the job miserable these days"

Few teachers are recommending to their students the teaching profession, this is a turnaround from a generation ago when teaching was looked as a highly professional and respected profession.  Who in their right mind thinks teachers should be held accountable for children who are three or four grades behind academically, just learning English, or have learning disabilities, be it academically or behaviorally?  That junk science in the form of a value added method can count for up to 50% of a teacher's rating despite the highly respected study that showed that a teacher is responsible for 1% to 14% of a child's academic ability?   In Indiana, ground zero for education reform, the results have been a worsening teacher shortage with veteran teachers leaving the classroom due to low pay and the State's teacher evaluation rules, including tying high-stakes testing to teacher effectiveness.

The bottom line is that the mission of the education deformers and their political and media allies want teaching to be held accountable for all society's problems, make it a temporary job, with low pay, and no pension, and it seems that they are succeeding in advancing that mission to destroy the teaching profession as we know it.  That's why there is a teacher shortage and its only going to get worse as long as the education reformers have the upper hand as they do presently.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Why The ATR Agreement Is Not What It Seems.

When then UFT President Randi Weingarten shocked the membership and other City unions and agreed to Chancellor's Joel Klein's proposal to not place teachers who were excessed due to closing schools into vacant positions in their district, they created the infamous ATR pool.  The ATR pool consists of teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals, with most of them being teachers.

The ATR pool of teachers range from a maximum of 2,600 at the beginning of the school year, to 1,000 near the end.  Does that mean the 1,600 excessed teachers received an appointed position?  The answer is an emphatic no!  Most of the 1,600 ATRs are either provisionally appointed for the year or on a long-term leave replacement assignment.  Almost all of those teachers will be back into the ATR pool at the end of the school year.  Unlike the CSA (administrators) and DC37 (secretaries), the UFT members, except for paras, are rotated throughout the year.

The union negotiated a two year ATR agreement that ends in the 2015-16 school year and must be renegotiated for the 2016-17 school year and beyond, otherwise, it reverts back to the 2007 ATR Agreement.  How has it worked?  In my opinion, terribly!  Few ATRs have landed permanent positions and the ATR pool is as large as ever.  The union had touted that if a school picked up an ATR for the second year, the ATR was free for the school.  Then why don't principals take the DOE up on their generous offer?  The answer was that there are strings attached.

First, let's look at the two year ATR agreement the union negotiated with the DOE. without any input from the people affected, the ATRs.  The union agreed to the DOE's demands that ATRs must go to mandatory interviews in their Borough (not Districts) and missing two would result in termination.  That ATRs have no right to refuse an assignment or position and if they don't show up by the second day, they are terminated.  If two consecutive principals or in consecutive years, find the ATR's behavior not to their liking, the ATR will be subject to a termination hearing. In other words, the union agreed to reduced "due process rights" for ATRs.  Oh, did I forget about the one day 3020-a hearing for the ill-defined problematic behavior?  How about the ridiculous "flyby observations" by the DOE field supervisors assassins that have resulted in quite a few "unsatisfactory" ratings and some 3020-a charges this year? The result was that the ATRs became second class citizens.

Despite, all the restrictions the union and the DOE imposed on the ATRs, the union made a point to tell the ATRs in their October meeting that the ATR Agreement will help get them positions as principals will employ them for the school's average teacher salary the first year, with the DOE paying the rest and for free the second year.  What a great deal!  Except, they didn't tell the ATRs the fine print attached to the ATR Agreement.

You see the free second year comes with a major string attached.  The free second year comes with the permanent appointment of the ATR to the school and that means the ATR's seniority will be taken into account if the school does any future excessing.   That's right.  Once the Principal picks up the ATR for the second year, they are permanently appointed, with full seniority rights. Therefore, few principals are willing to take a chance, unless they get a special waiver from DOE Central to keep the ATR a second year without permanently appointing the ATR.

Finally, many principals have told me that they would have to pick up the ATRs full salary in the third year and beyond and because of the DOE's "fair student funding" they do not have the budget to pick up the salaries, especially when the DOE froze the budget in the last two school years and the upcoming year as well.

If the union really wants to "do the right thing", they must demand that the DOE either eliminate the "fair student funding" and return to units for staff or at least, get the DOE to agree doing what they did for one year starting in November of 2008 by subsidizing the schools for appointing ATRs to their schools.  No other option is acceptable.  The union must not agree to continue the present agreement as it does not work and is detrimental to the ATRs.  At least the 2007 ATR Agreement did not have rotation and the ATR was part of the assigned school culture for the school year and they weren't subject to a field supervisor's "flyby observations".

For the ATRs, look for another year in Purgatory as we rotate monthly, weekly, or forced placed against our will for the 2015-16 school year.

Friday, August 07, 2015

The Fault Lies With Chancellor Carmen Farina For Her Failure To Change The Bloomberg Policies That Has Resulted In The Academic Fraud.

It seems the "shit has hit the fan"  as the New York Post has focused in on the fraudulent graduation rate, with a four day expose of the lengths some schools will take to graduate academically unprepared students, just to improve their graduation rate.  The recipient of this media attack is Mayor Bill de Blasio and his disappointing Chancellor, Carmen Farina and deservingly so.  However, what the Post deliberately failed to mention is that the bogus graduation rate was based upon the Bloomberg era policies that Chancellor Joel Klein implemented.  It was Mayor Bloomberg and his Chancellors that allowed schools to "game the system" by giving "credit recovery" courses that violated State law and in far too many cases graduated academically unprepared students for the adult world.  Here are just some of these examples.  Here, Here, and Here.  Back in June of 2009 Marc Epstein wrote an article in the City Journal that exposed the Bloomberg/Klein agenda to graduate academically unprepared students titled "Not Worth The Paper...". All of these outrageous actions occurred under Mayor Bloomberg and that was just the tip of the iceberg on the bogus means the DOE allowed just to improve the graduation rates.  Yet the news media has conveniently ignored all this and blames Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina for this.

I also blame the Mayor and Chancellor for the academic fraud and the bogus graduation rate.  However, I blame them for their failure to eliminate the Bloomberg era policies that have resulted in the continuation of the academic fraud throughout the New York City public schools.  In particular the Chancellor has retained many of the Bloomberg policymakers in Tweed and her only major changes she has made were he elimination of the useless and money sucking "Children First Networks" (CFN) and requiring new Leadership Academy Principals to have a minimum of 5 years of classroom experience, both the creation of her nemesis, Eric Nadelstern.  Interestingly, many of the CFN staff found positions at the Borough Support Centers or the newly empowered Superintendent office.  Therefore, the very people who "aided and abetted" the schools in their academic fraud, will be in similar positions in directing school administrators on how to continue to "beat the system" at the expense of a student's education.

Should Carmen Farina be fired as Chancellor of the New York City schools as the NY Post has demanded?  The answer is yes because of her failure to eliminate the Bloomberg policies and managers that allowed the academic fraud to make many high school diplomas a worthless piece of paper.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The DOE Continues To Deny, Delay, And Defend Academic Fraud.

According to Chalkbeat, Chancellor Carmen Farina has appointed a (yawn) task force to investigate the "credit recovery" programs that is now responsible for an astounding 50% of all credits students received at one school.  This task force is supposed to identify schools who abuse the "credit recovery" programs (more yawns) and refer the more egregious cases to SCI (even more yawns).  Interestingly, enforcing the rules will be the staff members at the new Borough Support Centers, many of them worked for the now disbanded "Children First Networks" who aided and abetted schools in awarding the "easy credits" to artificially improve the graduation rates.  It's like the fox guarding the chicken coop!

Jame Eterno, Chapter Leader extraordinaire, stated it best in the ICEUFT blog by saying the following:

 "The goal of education today is to graduate the students, not to educate them in too many instances".

This is exactly what the DOE is doing presently.  It's not about educating the student but to graduate them, regardless if they are academically prepared for the adult world.  Will the task force end up to be what is really needed?  A truth commission?  or will it be simply a sham that will hide the abuses in the "credit recovery" program?  I bet my pension on the latter.

The DOE policy is to delay, deny, and defend administrators who pressure teachers to pass as many students as possible through scholarship (>85% passing), pressure, threats, and the use of  "easy credits" that required little or no work.   Remember what Chancellor Farina said about the John Dewey cheating scandal? The bottom line as James Eterno pointed out:

 "Manipulating numbers is the inevitable result of tying teacher and principal ratings to student performance.  Many students are not interested in school and when they find out educators will take the blame if they fail, they play the game to their advantage".

To me the Chancellor's new task force is simply a public relations ploy by the DOE to take the pressure off them to truly reform the abusive "credit recovery" system and the bogus graduation rate that sees over 78% of them needed remediation if they even bother to apply to college. Academic fraud is alive and well in the New York City public schools, be it Bloomberg or De Blasio as Mayor and the real losers are the students who are handed worthless diplomas while unable to academically survive in the real world like obtaining and keeping a good job or succeeding in college.

In the DOE its  "Childern last.....Always".

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Academic Fraud In The New York City High Schools Continues Under Chancellor Carmen Farina.

When Carmen Farina took over as Chancellor, many educators hoped for better times led by the UFT leadership.  In fact, there appeared to be a blossoming love affair between the Chancellor and UFT President, Michael Mulgrew. However, there were some dark clouds on the horizon.  First, there was Farina's actions as Principal of PS 6 the resulted in the majority of the school's teachers to leave as reported by blogger Betsy Combier.  Second, was her lack of action as Superintendent of Region 8 when the Cobble Hill cheating scandal broke as Phillip Noble reported.  Finally, her failure to remove the Bloomberg era managers at the DOE and kept them largely intact in their policy making positions. Now it seems that the academic fraud that permeated the Bloomberg years is continuing under Chancellor Carmen Farina.

In today's New York Post, Susan Edelman has written an article about a student who admitted she didn't attend class, failed to make up work, or even bothered to take the final but yet the school, William Cullen Bryant, graduated her anyway.  Yes, the very same school that brings you Principal Namita Dwarka.  You can read the entire article Here.  The DOE will pretend that this is an exception but we teachers know this academic fraud is commonplace throughout the system.

School administrators are under pressure to improve their graduation rates, reduce dropout rates, and increase credit accumulation.  That means giving easy "credit recovery courses" that require little or no work, blended learning with little real instruction,  pressure on teachers to pass undeserving students by threatening the teachers with bad observation reports, and ignoring attendance and seat time requirements under State regulations.  Many principals require a 80% to 90% passing rate (scholarship) for a teacher's students, including no-shows and anything less results in the administration harassing the teacher with numerous observations, requests to document parent contact, and interrogating students about any dirt on the teacher that could be used for disciplinary action.

All this academic fraud was the trademark of the Bloomberg/Klein years and continued under Dennis Walcott as the racial/income student achievement gap kept widening while the bogus graduation rate rose.  The DOE, despite assuring the State that the "credit recovery" would be rigorous, closed their collective eyes to the abuses throughout the school system.  Moreover, they even tried to protect principals who were caught and exposed by dragging out investigations, hoping it would simply die and some did.  Finally, the DOE's antagonism to staff whistle-blowers remains as entrenched as ever under the de Blasio/Farina administration as shown by the Richmond Hill investigation.

Regardless how one looks at it, academic fraud is widespread in the New York City schools and too many students are being graduated unprepared for the adult world. The latest statistics show that an astonishing 78% of high school graduates from the system must take remedial courses due to their lack of  "college and career readiness" and despite assurances that things will change for the better, I just don't see it happening under this disappointing Chancellor.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Principals To Avoid In Queens.

Thanks to Gene J Mann of The Organizer who put together the list of the trustworthiness for all Queens principals in the latest school survey, we now can rank each principal on whether they and their decisions are trustworthy by the school staff.  The Citywide average for Principal trustworthiness is 86% and is used as the baseline.

The list below are the principals who had the lowest trustworthiness ratings by their teaching staff  and I call them the "dirty dozen" plus two.

Samantha Severin.....................Q45..........................25.8%
Lynne Callender........................Q496.........................34.2%
Rachelle Legions.......................Q106........................36.2%
Judy Henry............................Q680.........................37.4%
Melissa Haidary........................Q186.........................44.4%
Vasilios Marolios.......................Q540.........................47.4%
Melissa Menake........................Q326........................50.2%
Raquel De Millio........................Q165........................51.2%
Enric Kendall...........................Q460.........................51.6%
Caryn Michaell.........................Q87..........................52.2%
Namita Dwarka......................Q445.........................52.2%
Adeline Valastro-Tripoli...............Q58.........................53.0%
Patricia Costa..........................Q242........................53.0%
Cheryl Ann Leone.....................Q306.........................54.4%

As for principals who are newsworthy due to their actions, here are a few.

Ruchelle White.....................Q226........................56.8%
Neil Ganesh..........................Q475........................69.0%
Minerva Zanca......................Q294.......................72.4%
Jose Cruz.............................Q492.......................72.8%
Jamie Dubel.........................Q310.......................74.8%

Maybe Chancellor Carmen Farina should look at this list and realize that these principals have not earned the trust of their staff and should not be running their schools.  However, I am not holding my breath on the disappointing Chancellor to do what's good for the school and their students and remove these principals.  Therefore, if you are looking for a position or want to transfer please avoid working for these principals.

You may also want to avoid these Queens high schools as well.