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.


Anonymous said...

This has been going on for many years. When I was at a 4 year CUNY college (I don't want to embarrass my alma mater, even though it's no reflection on it) in the early 80s, only 7% of NYC public high school graduates who entered, eventually graduated. (I wonder if it's any higher now?) They spent all their financial aid and time in remedial classes. That was in part the impetuous for Regents exams. Farina, if she wants to initiate real change has to take a radical approach. It still feels like Bloomberg and Klien are running the show. I've met principals that have never taught, but graduated the Leadership Academy and were placed. Then there's the hugh number of lawyers whose sole purpose is to terminate any teacher that presented before them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story. If the teacher himself changed the kid's grade from falling to passing out of senior mercy or any other reason, would that be wrong?

ATR 25/55 said...

And the State made sure that this fraud could happen when it removed "seat time" from summer school requirements back around 2010. It took awhile for DOE schools to realize that they could pad their "scholarship" rates by having "no-show" classes. Ironic now that Skelos fils is facing prison on "no-show" work charges. But what counts for progressives is NEVER the results of their misguided efforts; what counts is that they are well-meaning in trying to do all they can "for the children." PLease.

retired teacher said...

I'm shocked! Really shocked that this could happen in a D of E school!

Philip Nobile said...

And what's worse is that OSI and SCI cover up the crimes of the bigshots. Take Carmen Farina. When she was Region 8 Superintendent in Brooklyn in 2004, her office covered up my allegations of Regents cheating at the Cobble Hill School of American Studies. The OSI investigator was muzzled by his Deputy Director and prevented from grilling Farina who disingenuously claimed that she had no clue about a Regents scandal at a school she supervised, led by a principal she appointed and praised, and overseen by a LIS in her office on Livingston St. Accordingly, OSI's bowdlerized report let her skip, though the charges against the AP, P, and LIS stuck ... until they were later unstuck by SCI.

Farina landed in hot water again when a confidential informer complained to SCI that she was dirty--having engaged in a high level cover-up along with her Region 8 successor Marcia Lyles. On top of that, the unplugged, now resigned OSI investigator swore to SCI that Farina had lied to him about her knowledge of Cobble Hill.

Although she was the paramount person of interest in SCI’s review, her SCI interview was compressed into 140 words with no quotes from the transcripts, no clear indication what was asked or answered. Whatever she swore was summed up in two vastly uninformative sentences: "Farina’s testimony was consistent with the facts in the Scarcella report. She denied any knowledge of the complaint about cheating at Cobble Hill." And so, Farina walked again, too big to nail.

N.B. Lou Scarcella's reputation has been ruined by the reversal of several of his homicide investigations in Brooklyn before he retired from the NYPD and joined OSI in 1999. But his treatment of Farina had the imprimatur of SCI.

If only somebody in government or UFT/AFT had the nerve to demand an Atlanta-style probe of cheating in the DOE? Am I the only one in town who considers Farina the Beverly Hall of NYC?

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for the cheating no one would graduate! As such cheating is a requirement for teachers, APs, principals, superintendents, and chancellors. No kid in their right mind would complain - the NY Post must have paid her to further vilify DeBlasio/Farina. All this crap went on under Bloomberg and Klien as well - but no expose.

Anonymous said...

A person in charge, as she was should not be allowed to get off the hook by claiming they were not aware. In the end, their position requires them to be aware. Otherwise she is incompetent and unfit for the position.

CC said...

Look deeper into summer school. The school im in offers 18 days. Then if that doesnt work, they can do "Make up" work for 4 days after, if that doesnt work they move them into something called "Targeted Instruction," they sit in a room for 2 days, do some paperwork and get a full term credit.

Eric said...

If teachers didnt give freebies, in the "bad" schools, nobody would pass. See Thomas Jefferson in Brooklyn, for example.

Pete Zucker said...

You mention that what was reported in today's Post has been happening since Uncle Mike and Klein. The difference now is that the Post and to a lesser extent the Daily News are now aggressively reporting it and of course blaming deBlasio and Farina.

For the Post, Bloomberg was the second coming of Christ and de Blasio Satan. I'm really trying to ascertain if de Blasio is clueless, hands off, or made some Faustian deal with Farina.

Of course none of this happens without a compliant union and we don't have a compliant union if we don't have apathetic teachers when it comes to election time.

Bronx ATR said...

There's a presumptive problem with the focus of our high schools. All the students are being pushed to go to college. High school success shouldn't be judged solely by this. All are told they can succeed and be anything they want. I've sat in on special ed classes (with 20 year olds who couldn't read or write) that were told they could become pediatricians and stock brokers. The last one I was in, I told the speaker it was morally wrong to tell the students this. (One of the kids showed me his art and another how I could fine tune my car engine - the the school had no Art classes or Vocational classes.) The speaker said I had no right to tell the kids otherwise because I would crush their dreams! Passing kids, not preparing them for life, and not allowing them access to the areas in which they show aptitude will crush more than just dreams - it has devastating effects on individuals and society. Bring back the arts! Bring back vocational high schools!

Philip Nobile said...

Very sharp comments. If only we could turn our inside knowledge of systematic cheating and the corruption of our watchdogs in the DOE, DOI, and NYSED. Mulgrew, wouldn't you know, is strategically silent on test security, Randi too. What a pity that we can't find a way to force New York to pull an Atlanta: to look for, prosecute, and ultimately stop cheating by enforcing the law against grade-fixing.

Steven Levitt said in Freakonomics that “teacher cheating is rarely looked for, hardly ever detected, and just about never punished.” I would add, even when proven to a moral certainty and then some, as it was at Farina's case.

orson said...

In summer school, a teacher said to me , if they come, they pass. Well, why is that? Teachers dont want to be verbally abused by students, teachers don't want to get called into an office and have to explain why students are failures, low class, criminal, etc. So, they all pass. Same as in September to June.

Anonymous said...

This is another farce perpetuated by the deform movement. Our society doesn't have enough jobs for all the college graduates "they" say we should churn out. The best and most objective data I have read states that the U.S. needs about 27% of workers to have a four year degree in the future.
On the other hand, higher education is not everyone's dream nor do most people have an aptitude for further learning.This is common sense 101.
It is also disrespectful to other careers to say that if they didn't require a college degree it is not worthwhile.
People need to stop and think. If it doesn't make sense then it ain't true.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bronx Teacher. The Post will look for anything to besmirch teachers or principals or the public schools in general. I rarely if ever see anything negative or even factual about Eva and the rest of the charter people in it.

Anonymous said...

Graduating from William Cullen Bryant HS in Queens is as easy as click, cut and paste.
In the past two years, hundreds of students have been assigned to summer-school classes where they can earn credit by browsing the Internet and plugging in answers for online tests.
“The answers are all over the Internet,” said senior Nabeel Khan, 18.
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Nabeel Khan
Photo: Facebook
And though the Department of Education says students may earn no more that three core academic credits from credit recovery, Khan said he took five courses last summer for classes he failed but needed for graduation.
Khan admitted taking some shortcuts: “You basically cut and paste, change the words a little to make it your own, and you’re done.”
Out of Bryant’s 2,496 students last school year, about 900, or nearly 40 percent, were automatically enrolled in summer school because they failed one or more classes.
Less than half of them show up, with 434 attending last Thursday, according to the Department of Education. Teachers estimate about 250 attend.
Many sit in front of computer screens for online courses with no live teacher instruction, staff and students told The Post.
Students goof off, talk — and cheat, they say.
Some teachers “don’t care” about the plagiarism, Khan said. Some catch kids and tell them to stop, but don’t report it. Teachers simply monitor the program and answer questions if a student asks for help.
- Mary Bozoyan, math teacher
Under state rules, a summer-school class meant to make up for one a student failed must include at least 45 hours of instruction. But a Bryant student taking an English class this summer said some teachers spring those who complete the tasks early.
“If you finish all the work, you’re free to go because it’s summer,” he said.
Bryant math teacher Mary Bozoyan, who has supervised online courses given during Regents exam week, described a classroom gone wild.
“Kids would take out their phones and start Googling to get answers,” she said. “They didn’t want to do the reading. If they finished early, they would start talking and playing video games.
“The bottom line is, they’re not learning. They’re not becoming college- or career-ready. They’re just getting out of high school,” she added. “The administrators are trying to get as many students to graduate as they can.
“It’s a Mickey Mouse way of earning a credit.”
Last summer​,​ 338 Bryant students were enrolled in one to five Apex online courses. ​
This summer, 125 ​students are registered in ​online courses, including 118 in two to nine each, records sh​ow. Some programs note: “August graduation possible.”​
A DOE spokesman said 70 ​students are taking the courses not for credit, but to “prepare for an exam.”​

Anonymous said...

The Queens teacher who passed a high school student practically begging to be failed made a stunning admission Sunday — she did it because of the “tremendous amount of pressure” to just graduate kids.
William Cullen Bryant High School instructor Andrea McHale copped to the move the same day that The Post published a front-page essay by guilt-ridden teen Melissa Mejia lamenting how she received a passing grade in the teacher’s government class — even though she rarely showed up, didn’t turn in homework, and missed the final.
A minimum passing grade of 65 allowed her to graduate.
“It was not an ideal situation,” McHale acknowledged to The Post at her Queens home. “If we don’t meet our academic goals, we are deemed failures as teachers. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on us as teachers.”
“I thought it was in her best interest and the school’s best interest to pass her.”
In her essay, Mejia said: “I don’t like receiving what I would call a handout, but that’s what happened. New York City gave me a diploma I didn’t deserve.”
McHale’s acknowledgment that she pushed Mejia through appeared to confirm the worst fears about the city’s public schools — that even unsatisfactory students are routinely handed diplomas.
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Principal Namita Dwarka
Photo: G.N. Miller
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The teacher said she believes that her student spoke out because “I think she felt a sense of, ‘Why isn’t the standard higher?’ But if we set the bar higher, we would be a failing school.”
She explained that Mejia passed all her state Regents tests and had strong scores in the history exams.
“Her attendance was extremely poor, but she was a very intelligent student,” McHale insisted.
“There is a fairly consistent policy that if they pass their Regents, it is strongly suggested that they pass in the class,” the teacher said.
“She did pass her Regents exam, and it’s generally accepted that if a student passes their Regents exam, it suggests some kind of readiness for college.”
Mejia confirmed that she passed all five parts of her Regents exams by her sophomore year.
McHale missed the last month of school with a broken ankle but said she kept her bosses in the loop about passing the student.
“I did bring it to the attention of my supervisor, the assistant principal,” McHale said.
“The substitute teacher was also undecided in her case. I actually passed [Mejia], and her grade was not changed [afterward].”
Bryant High School Principal Namita Dwarka declined comment Sunday.
Department of Education spokesman Harry Hartfield said the situation will be investigated.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chaz,
I must say, I give plenty of 65's when kids deserve 55's. They don't allow a grade of 60 in any of the final marking periods. For 20+ years, I've been doing this. I must have passed hundreds upon hundreds of kids who didn't deserve to pass. It's true BUT I'm not ashamed or upset about it. My salary and benefits outweigh the way "I'm supposed to feel" about teaching. They make you feel that it's all about the kids and we are supposed to do what's best for them, etc etc. Fuck that! I could care less. I will pass all of them for the rest of my career and honestly, I don't give a shit. What's the point of failing them? I'm going to fail a kid in physical Ed when he/she passed all his/her regents and classes, BUT never changed for gym??? What?? The kid has 44+ credits to graduate with all regents under his/her belt BUT never changed for gym. I'm supposed to hold the kid back until the following January? Why? So he/she can play volleyball? Fuck that, pass all the way.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame you 8:54. When I first started teaching I came in with integrity and determined to do an honest job. A few weeks into my career I saw how much integrity is worth. In the DOE its worth nothing. Administrators asked me to pass students who didn't even show up to class. What is a first year teacher suppose to do?? Do you want to fight city hall? this bullshit of credit recovery is well known at the highest level. If you want a real investigation let it begin with Farina and the NY State Dept of Education. Please folks stop drinking the Kool AID this is an uproar about nothing. This has been going on for years and years and years. DeBlasio didn't start the fire

Anonymous said...

Dwarka just keeps her corrupted cronies in power.

Anonymous said...

Why is fraud permitted in schools like W.C. Bryant High School? Why is this principal still there?