Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Special - Horror Stories From The ATR Pool

Today is Halloween and  its time to reprint my Halloween special from last year on the various horror figures in the form of administrators, fellow educators, and of course those lovely students who make life miserable for the ATRs as they rotate from school to school. Added to the list is one more from this school year, Here is the reprint of my post from last year, wiyh to additions.  Hope you enjoy reading it.

Horror Stories From The ATR Pool.

With Halloween here, its time to recount some of the horror stories told to me by the ATRs in the last couple of years.

Freddy Kruger:
This nightmare started when an ATR, trying to go the extra yard in entertaining the class he was covering, by asking them to solve a math question, using a baseball analogy.  In describing the problem he used statistics commonly used in baseball.  However, one female student didn't understand the concept and he patiently explained the math problem to her.  When she still didn't get it, the teacher explained that since she really didn't understand baseball he could see her confusion in solving the Math problem.  The girl felt insulted and reported the ATR to the Principal who charged the ATR with gender discrimination and verbal abuse. The ATR ended up with a Letter To The File (LIF) and a "u rating" for the year.

An ATR covering a leave replacement was teaching a Science lesson when three girls decided to play "UNO" instead.  The teacher asked the girls to put the cards away three times.  However, the girls refused the teacher's request.  The Teacher went over to three girls and took the UNO cards away.  One girl refused to give up her pile and the teacher grabbed them from her hand.  In doing so he touched her hand in taking the UNO cards away.  The three girls went to the Principal and the teacher ended up being charged with corporal punishment and OSI was contacted.  The result was a LIF for the teacher and no disciplinary consequences for the three students who failed to do their work or follow the rules.

Michael Myers:
A student was feeling ill and the ATR, who was provisionally assigned to the school, told the student to go to the school clinic to be checked out.  The teacher was trying to do what's right by having qualified medical personal observe her and to ensure the child's illness was not contagious to her classmates.  The student refused to go and an argument ensued until the student reluctantly went to the school clinic.  Two weeks later the Principal held a disciplinary hearing and charged the teacher with verbal abuse (yelling)  and embarrassing the student in front of her classmates.  The  teacher ended up with a LIF and a "U rating" for the year.

An untenured ATR provisionally assigned to the school saw a poor performing student's Regents paper being marked separately from others and in another room and quickly realized that the teacher was violating State rules.  She asked the teacher why he had the student's Regents paper and was told to mind her own business.  She reported it first to the Assistant Principal and then the Principal of the alleged Regents violation.  However, it appears the Assistant Principal and Principal wanted this student out of the school and were in on it.  The untenured ATR's satisfactory observations in the Fall semester became "Unsatisfactory observations" after she reported the Regents violation, in the Spring semester.  She was discontinued at the end of the school year.

A certified regular education Math ATR was dumped into a self-contained Special Education class all day without any technology or lesson plans left for the classes and was told by the Assistant Principal to keep them entertained when he complained about the lack of appropriate work for the students.  He tried his best but the students were out of control and when the Assistant Principal walked in saw that the teacher was having trouble keeping them focused.  The Assistant Principal gave the ATR a "U observation" for poor classroom management.

Villain: (new)

 Then there was the field supervisor assassin who "U" rated a poor Science teacher covering a Spanish class and stated that the coverage lesson, left by the teacher, was not rigorous enough and the ATR should have prepared her own lesson instead rather than you the coverage lesson left for the class.  Moreover, the ATR's lack of understanding Spanish or the fact that this was the first time she was exposed to these students was not an excuse and resulted in the ATR getting a "U" observation and was the basis of her "U" rating.  You can read the entire villainous story here.

Frankenstein: (new)
 This year, there is an ATR who was covering for a leave replacement in a severe shortage area where there are no other ATRs available who are certified in that Regents subject area,  The ATR was threatened to be shot by a student.  The result?  The Frankenstein Principal removed the ATR from the school while the 125 students did not have a certified teacher available to replace the ATR for their Regents course.    What happened to the student who threatened to kill the ATR?   Despite the many witnesses to the threat, the school didn't even punish the student for the monstrous action of threatening to kill the ATR.

These are just a few of the many horror stories from the ATR pool.  If you have some stories to share, please send them to the comment section and I will publish them.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Their Members. Part VI, Lack Of Democracy And Transparency.

In the final chapter of my six part serious on our union leadership's failure to improve the working conditions and gain respect for their members.  We look at the lack of democracy and transparency that is an unfortunate trademark of the controlling caucus.This caucus is known as the "Unity caucus" and to get a paying position in the union or go on an all expense paid union junket, you must take a "Unity oath" that promises that you vote for the leadership position even when its against the best interests of the members.

The "Unity caucus" has dominated the union leadership since Albert Shanker and over the last two decades the trappings of union democracy has been eroded and in its place is an overly controlling and secretive leadership that ignores member needs and plays politics for their own gain at the expenses of their members.  The "giveback" laden  2005 contract was a prime example of the betrayal of the union leadership.  Despite widespread a anger and dissatisfaction Randi Weingarten and her cronies rammed it down the trouts of their members by danging money that barely exceeded the inflation rate for a longer day and extra working days.  Moreover, the once democratically elected district rep was eliminated and appointed by the union leadership.  Finally, the original ATR committee which consisted of Michael Mandel and Leo Casey didn't bother to talk to the ATR before they made decisions that affected them such as the useless weekly rotation that demoralizes ATRs.

Our union is the only union  that allows retirees to vote and in the last election they made up the majority of votes.  Is it any wonder they became the winners in the last contract?  Getting all their retro payments upfront while active members get it in drips and drabs, assuming they don't resign, get terminated. or die.  Is it obvious why the retirees voted overwhelmingly for the "Unity caucus".

Accountability is the buzz word in the education world.  However, when it comes to the union leadership, they are not held to the same accountability as the members since they have effectively made real change impossible by allowing the retirees to vote and by ensuring that any opposition is silenced.  Not a democratic union if you ask me  and certainly not one that has their members interests in their cold hearts...

The five other parts of this series are as follows:

Part I, The classroom

Part II, The contract

Part III, The APPR

Part IV, The ATRs 

Part V, PINI principals 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THE NAEP Results Show That Common Core Doesn't Work.

For the first time in twenty-five years the NAEP scores went down or remained flat for both Math and Reading nationwide and in New York State,  In New York City the scores remained essentially flat despite the rise in charter schools and  more intensive after school programs.  This is the first, and I suspect not the last time, that the data shows that Common Core is a failure.

The NAEP scores is the "gold standard" of testing and this proves that the emphasis on Common Core is a failure.  Interestingly, education officials tried to deflect the blame by claiming the flat or declining NAEP scores were due to poor teacher preparation, larger percentage of poor and minority children, and that it was a one year hiccup.  However, its very obvious to me that Common Core is not the answer to student academic achievement.

The bottom line is that the NAEP results show that Common Core is a failure on so many levels when it comes to improving student academic achievement.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More New York State Parents Find Common Core Harmful To Their Children Then Support It.

A New York State newspaper, the Journal News in the Hudson Valley found that more parents found Common Core harmful to their children than support it.  By a 2 to 1 margin, 40% of the parents found Common Core harmful compared to only 21% supporting the program. This should put to rest the myth what education deformers and the Governor claim that the "opt out" movement was a teacher union driven agenda and that most parents support the Common Core.

The Governor, who has seen his favorable ratings drop below 50% because of his education agenda and while it has plateaued of late, the next round of testing is only six months away and "opt out" rates are expected to become larger since the Governor insists on a 50% teacher evaluation based upon the junk science associated with high stakes testing.  Since 75% of the parents who "opted out" their child cited the teacher evaluation tie-in as the reason to "opt out" and his new education panel is forbidden to change the teacher tie-in,  there will be a higher "opt out" number and should result in a further erosion of the Governor's favorable rating.

It's time to support the "opt out" movement until the junk science tie-in  is eliminated.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fair Student Funding And The ATRs.

During the October information meetings the UFT leadership would repeat time and again that the Fair Student Funding (fsf) was not responsible for the failure of principals to pick up ATRs since the ATRs are picked up by the school for the average teacher salary in the first year and for free the second year, if they are appointed!  If that was all this was to it, principals would be fighting to hire the ATR but of course they are not.  However, there is more to the hiring process than the union leadership was willing to disclose at the meetings and deliberately failed to explain or address this to the members.

First, the present ATR agreement is only valid till 2018.  In fact, if either the DOE or UFT wants to change or discontinue the present ATR agreement, next school year (2016-17), it reverts back to the 2007 contract which forces schools to include the appointed ATR's salary in their average school payroll, which is subject to the fsf.

Second, the ATR agreement will have to be renegotiated in 2018 and depending on the political situation, will determine how the ATR agreement will change.  That could mean that the principals who were assured by the DOE and UFT that any ATR they appointed would not cost them more than the average teacher salary could find themselves responsible for the entire ATR salary going forward.  If you ask principals if they trust the DOE to keep their side of the bargain, almost universally they will tell you no!  They remember when the DOE tried to take money principals saved for the next year after assuring them that they had no intention to take a principal's savings. Until and unless the fsf is eliminated and the unit system is reinstalled, no Principal will be willing to appoint a high salaried ATR for fear that the DOE will renege on the ATR budget agreement and be left holding the bag under fsf.

Third, the seniority issue is still a major problem and principals don't want to put their staff at risk for excessing if they appoint a more experienced ATR.  Even the 2009 agreement that allowed principals to pick up ATRs at a "newbie" teacher salary (1A) and DOE Central picking up the difference for the next eight years until 8b, only put a small dent in the ATR pool due to the seniority issue.  Therefore, the DOE and UFT should do what they did in the 90's.  As James Eterno explained to me that to encourage principals to pick up a highly experienced excessed teacher, they gave the school an extra teaching position in that subject area so that the school can protect their least senior staff member if future excessing is required.  Since the DOE is paying for the ATR's salary anyway, this would be a win-win situation since the school gets a highly experienced teacher and would allow the principal to expand the course selection, including more Advanced Placement courses that Chancellor Carmen Farina claims she wants for the New York City Schools,  However, this violates the fsf and the ideological DOE has no intention of changing it.

Finally, by placing the ATRs back into the classroom, it will go a long way in reducing class size, supplying schools with experienced teachers, and provide additional course selection for the students.  However, until the fsf is replaced and the DOE agrees to ensure that the appointment of the ATR will not threaten their most junior staff member in that subject area, nothing will change and that is what the union leadership has failed to address.

Now you know the real story about the ATRs and fsf.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Field Assassins Are Comimg!

October is the time when the rotating ATRs are introduced to their field supervisors (assassins).  For the last two years the field assassins would introduce themselves with false promises to the ATR that their job was to improve their pedagogy  and get them a permanent job.  This theme worked somewhat the first year citywide when many ATRs naively took the field assassins at their word. Of course the ATRs of district 76 in Brooklyn already knew better since they were subject to the ATR field assassins the year before in what was called a "pilot program".  We now know that their job is to terminate the ATR, by any means possible!

The field assassins ask for the ATRs to prepare a lesson that conforms to "Dainelson", is Common Core based,nd has sufficient rigor.  All not required for rotating ATRs who are subject to the "Teaching for the 21st century"  (Article 8j) requirements.  The field assassins are also requiring differentiation when the ATR has no clue on the abilities of the students they have seen for the first time that day!  Some ATRs are being observed in subject areas they are not certified in so that the field assassin can  "U" rate the lesson and observation and force the hapless ATR into providing additional work in the "action plan" that is imposed upon the ATR.  This is simply a pattern of harassment to force many discouraged ATRs to resign or retire in disgust.

What is the union's position on this abuse of practice by the DOE field assassins?  It appears that the union leadership has quietly allowed the DOE to get away with the harassment and probably secretly agrees with the DOE method to thin the ATR ranks. Notice how the union leadership refuses to allow for an ATR chapter despite having between 2,600 and 1,400 members during the school year?  Moreover, the union leadership refuses to put an ATR on the ATR committee, why not?  Because the union leadership does not care what happens to the ATRs as long as the union is protecting their right to a job.  However, if the DOE field assassins want to harass the ATRs or abuse them with outrageous demands, so be it as far as the union leadership is concerned.

My advice to the ATRs is simple, demand that you be observed only in your content area and get in writing what the field assassin is looking for.  If they are asking for anything beyond what's required under "teaching for the 21st century", remind the field assassin that he or she is asking for is not within the contract.  Moreover, if they want to give you professional development, make sure they give you a real course and not read articles online or take an online course on your own time.  Require them to offer real professional development during school time.  Finally, if they continue to demand Common Core, Danielson, and rigor.  Request that they first model such a lesson so you can determine exactly wahat the field assassin wants and when they refuse, prepare a grievance showing that the field assassin refused to model a lesson for you as you requested so that you could understand whet the field assassin wanted and improve your pedagogy.  No less will do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Their Members. Part V, PINI Principals.

One of the more obvious changes when Michael Mulgrew replaced Randi Weingarten as President of the UFT was that the union paper no longer wrote articles against vindictive principals, known as Principals In Need Of Improvement (PINI).  This feature was one of the more popular articles in an otherwise uninformed and propaganda organ of the Unity caucus.  Principals dreaded having their names splashed  across a newspaper that most of the 78,000 union members read and gave many teachers the heads up about applying to those schools.

Why did the union change their position on PINI principals?  Well, I can only tell you what a now retired union leader told me on why the New York Teacher newspaper discontinued the highly popular PINI principal articles.  That union official said that the union leadership decided not to criticize a fellow union member (CSA).  That's why terrible principals like Jose Cruz at Campus Magnet and Damita  Dwarka at William Cullen Bryant continue to run their schools while our union leadership fails to organize protests and publize these cases.  Its only when the local media picked up the story those the DOE reluctantly takes action while our disconnected union leadership stays quiet.

While Randi Weingarten was shamed into publishing some of these PINI principals and forcing the DOE to take action, our present leadership rather ignore the various abuses that far too many principals practice and put their members at risk for termination.  What are we paying dues for?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Misleading New York Post Editorial About Charter School Teachers.

In Monday's New York Post the Editorial Board wrote a misleading and largely false editorial on the superior qualities of charter school teachers when compared to the public school teachers.  This editorial was an attempt to show that charter schools are superior than public schools, which education blogger Gary Rubinstein proved is not true and fly's in the face of evidence of the inferior quality of charter school teachers.

The Post editorials stated the following:

A thousand-plus charter teachers plan to march. Like the families of the 100,000 kids in city charters, these teachers have voted with their feet: They believe in the charter model — public schools that are privately run and largely free of union handcuffs.

In other words, charter school teachers are more dedicated,  work harder, and don't want to be unionized while working for the public school system. Of course, the opposite is nore likely true than not.

Many charter school teachers are hired not from the public schools but from Teach For America and other alternate certification programs, some are not even certified!  Moreover, the few teachers that left the public schools to teach in charter schools were either discontinued, terminated, or suspended from the public schools.  Additionally, many of these teachers would rather land a job in the public schools, given a choice.  Finally, the moment a unionized public school teaching job is offered, the charter school teacher jumps ship and go, even for less money but for the better benefits that a union job offers!

The high teacher turnover in the charter school universe where few teachers last three years and a 100% teacher turnover is the rule and not the exception .  The result, is an unstable school environment with little teaching and continuous test prep that no longer resembles the real educational experience necessary for real student growth.

The New York Post Editorial is so very wrong on so many levels and conveniently ignores the facts that charter school teachers are not superior to their public school counterparts and most can't wait to leave the charter universe for more stability, benefits, and the right to have time with their family.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Real Losers When It Came To The Contract, Members On Unpaid Leave. Then And Now.

Back in June of 2014 when the union and the City agreed to a contract there were winners and losers.  Of all the municipal unions, only the UFT agreed to contract conditions that hurt some of their members.  Like making ATRs a second class citizen, eliminating members who resigned or were terminated from their much deserved retro payments and lump sums, and not giving the $1,000 bonus to members who were on unpaid leave or were suspended.  However, it now seems that the contract had one word in it that may excluded some members of their lump sum payments and that word is continuously.

In the contract the word continuously was included in the contract to mean that all members who were continuously employed during the two 2009-10 school years would receive their full retro payments and lump sums.  However, if you read carefully, it also means that if you were on any unpaid leave like maturity leave, child care, or FMLA, the City claims that you were not on payroll and therefore were not continuously employed.  Apparently, an agreement was reached that those people on unpaid leave would receive pro-rated lump sum payments.  That left one last group of members who were not continuously on payroll and were unpaid. , They were members who received a suspension after their 3020-a hearing or made an agreement with the DOE to be suspended instead of the 3020-a hearing.

There are some indications that the DOE has not totally agreed to pay these members their pro-rated lump sum payments.  Already I know of four people who did not receive their lump sum payments.  All of them were suspended without pay in the two year period.  Coincidence?   I hope so but I am suspicious that these members may have been thrown under the bus by our union.  I hope I am wrong and it was simply the normal DOE incompetence.  We will know soon enough and I hope I am wrong on my suspicions.

In a related issue, the union agreed with the City in not giving members who are currently on unpaid leave their lump sum payments.  These members will only receive their lump sum payments on October of 2017, assuming they did not resign, get terminated, or die before that date.  This seems to me as being very unfair and not treating all the members the same, a hallmark of our disconnected union leadership.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do Charter Schools Outperform Public Schools? Apparently Not.

I was reading the New York Post opinion page and another so-called expert claimed that charter schools outperform public schools and that parents need more choice with a greater number of charter schools.  Interestingly, a very respected education blogger, Gary Rubinstein has crunched the 2015 New York State numbers and found that the claim of charter school superiority is an illusion.

According to Gary Rubinstein the charter schools outperformed the public schools in Math but under performed the public schools in English. Therefore, based simply on test scores, the vast majority of charter schools failed to show that they're superior to the public schools.  Moreover, Gary Rubinstein showed that despite the claim that charter schools have a poverty based population, his graph demonstrated that the charter schools had a poverty index lower than the public schools.  Meaning that the charter schools had a lower percentage of students who were eligible for free lunch due to their economic need than the public schools.

When one considers that the charter schools have a lower percentage of English Language Learners and Special Education students and many refuse to backfill students who were expelled or encouraged to leave due to the charter schools draconian discipline and academic policies their failure to outperform public schools is shocking, to say the least.   Add to that, lower class sizes during the testing years, constant test preparation, and high teacher turnover, the charter results are highly disappointing and shows that the charter school claims that they provide a superior education than the local public schools is simply a mirage.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Our Members. Part IV, The ATRs.

One of the most damaging sellouts that Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew engineered was the creation of the ATR crisis and the reduction in due process rights that has resulted in the ATR becoming a second class citizen in the union.

Before the terrible 2005 contract, all excessed teachers were offered their choice of vacancies, by seniority order, in their district.  Principals were able to hide half of these vacancies until the school year started hoping to hire a "newbie" teacher if all the excessed teachers were all placed in their content specialty.  However, all the excessed  teachers were eventually placed, if not always in the school they would have freely chose.  While this procedure was not without faults, most everybody was properly placed in the subject they taught in. Since teacher salaries were based upon units and not actual salary, most principals were happy to have experienced teachers instructing their students.

However, for some unexplained reason Randi Weingarten decided that the time tested hiring system could be replaced by a system that eliminated seniority transfer and bumping of non tenured teachers.  If that was not bad enough, she also allowed Chancellor Joel Klein to impose the "fair student funding" on the schools that replaced the DOE paid teaching units with actual salary charged to the school.  The result was an explosion of excessed teachers, many from the 163 closing schools under Mayor Bloomberg  and far too many were highly paid veteran teachers.  The excessed teacher pool, known as the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) increased from tens of teachers to over 1,400 teachers!  The number of ATRs swelled during the summer as the many provisional ATRs and leave replacements were sent back to the ATR pool and probably ranged fom 2,000 to 2,600 at its peak.  Few principals were willing to hire these highly experienced veteran teachers due to budget considerations and age discrimination, especially the newly minted "Leadership Academy Principals",

As the ATR crisis exploded, he UFT formed an ATR committee with the DOE to discuss ATR issues.  However, the committee was secretive and did not include ATRs or seek their opinion that affected them. Lead by Michael Mandel and Leo Casey they arrogantly made decisions that flew in the face of what many ATRs were asking for,  In fact, it was Michael Mandel's lamebrain ides to propose to the DOE the ridiculous weekly rotation system which the DOE eagerly agreed to in the hopes that many ATRs would feel useless and resign or retire in frustration. While the new lead UFT people Amy Arundell and Michael Sill are more transparent and eagerly solicit ATR comments, the damage has already been done,

When Michael Mulgrew became President of the UFT things only became worse for the ATRs as the union allowed the field supervisors (known as field assassins) to unfairly rate ATRs on classes outside their content specialty and with students they don't know.   Already, some ATRs have been charged wunder 3020-a with incompetence after getting two consecutive :U: ratings from these field supervisors, despite the fact no Principal charged the teacher!   How unfair is that?

The latest contract, agreed to by Micaael Mukgrew, further reduces ATR "due process" rights by making them second class citizens and an expedited 3020-a hearing for the still undefined "problematic behavior".  Moreover, he refuses to give the 1,400 ATRs their own Chapter and claims that the school Chapter Leaders can represent them.  Yeah right, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. No other municipal union has allowed the City to impose different rights for a group of members like the UFT did to the ATRs and that is the real issue.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Do All Tier IV Teachers Get The Same Benefits? Yes But....

The vast majority of veteran teachers in the New York City schools are under the Tier IV pension plan and there is an assumption that all the Tier IV teachers get the same benefits and that is correct.  However, the employee contribution rate and vesting periods change, based upon when one enters the system.  Depending on when you join the system determines the amount an employee pays into their pension and how long it takes to be vested. The table below lists the membership date, vesting.and contribution rate.


< 4/1/2001......5 years.......5 years........3% first 10 years

< 3/1/2008......5 years.......10 years......3% first 10 years

>3/1/2008......5 years........10 years......4.85% first 10 years.
............................................................1.85% for 27 years.

>12/10/2009..10 years.......15 years.....4.85% first 27 years
...........................................................1.85% thereafter.

White all the Tier IV members are under the same pension plan and get the same benefits, depending on one's membership date. The vesting period and contribution rate are different as the later one joins the pension system, the higher the contribution rate and the longer the vesting period is.  If you want to know how much a pension you would get, based upon your three year final average salary and years in the system, see my post Here.

Note:  Some Tier IV teachers who joined the system before March 1, 2008 could voluntarily join the 25/55  program and pay 4.85% for the first 10 years and 1.85% for the first 25 years. Then pay nothing beyond 25 years.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Can A Developing Rating Terminate A Teacher? Yes, If You Are Not Tenured!

In a previous post a commenter asked if a developing rating can resulted in 3020-a charges for incompetence.  Of course the answer is no.   However, when it comes to teachers who are not tenured the answer is very different.  Teachers who have not gained tenure are considered "at will" employees and have very limited "due process" rights.  They can be fired for any or no reason at all, including getting a "developing" rating.  While the discontinued teacher can request a hearing with the Superintendent, usually 6 months to a year after the discontinuance, very few, if any are reversed.  The Superintendent simply rubber stamps the Principal's recommendation.  No investigation of the discontinuance is required. Remember this outrageous case?  Unfortunately, a developing rating can result in a teacher who is not tenured to be discontinued from employment as a teacher in the DOE.

Theoretically, the discontinued teacher can reapply to another school district in the City schools or in another license.  However,  the teacher's file will have a flag on it (a scarlet letter) showing the discontinuance and few principals will be willing to fight through the bureaucratic red tape to hire a discontinued teacher when there are other applicants available for the position.

The end result is that once a teacher is discontinued, their career as a New York City public school teacher is effectively over.  It only takes one Principal who does not like you to ruin your career and in far too many cases potentially great teachers saw their dreams and aspirations of making a difference terminated by the whims of a Principal who has discontinued the teacher based upon personal differences, unfair observations, or prejudice.

While the attack on teacher tenure continues throughout the country the unfair and discriminatory actions against teachers who have not attain tenure in the New York City public schools, simply based upon a Principal's like or dislike of that teacher is really a moral crime.

Friday, October 09, 2015

My Response To The E4E Survey.

The education deformer front group, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) has published an online survey that is geared to make the E4E fifth columnists look like a real organization that advocates for teachers.  However, this survey is clearly a transparent attempt to recruit  new members and retain the few they are struggling to keep.  Thanks to ed notes we now have the survey and is shown below.

The E4E cult make it seem that they really want to improve the teaching profession but they really want to indoctrinate educators to drink their kool-aid of education deform as they are funded and supported by Bill Gates, StudentsFirst, and Democrats for Education Reform, all education deform groups who support charter schools, and despise teacher "due process" rights. .

Let's look at the questions they asked and my response to these questions.
 Question #1:  My Response:

Few of the E4E members are experienced and tenured teachers.  The majority of their members were from Teach For America and few lasted beyond their two year commitment

Question #2:  My Response:

E4E's voice comes not from the teachers but their education deformer benefactors and supported Mayor Bloomberg's policies over that of the union's and its members.

Question #3:  My Response:

Strengthen teacher power?  Who are they kidding?    E4E believes in merit pay, a strict teacher evaluation system based on "junk science", wants to eliminate seniority rights, and supports pension reform that reduces teacher pensions,  All the core principals of education deformer groups.. In a nutshell E4E wants to drastically reduce teacher "due process" rights not strengthen them.

Question #4:  My Response:

How can E4E elevate and make the teaching profession more prestigious when the cult takes their marching orders from organizations that disrespect and demoralize teachers and their profession and make them "at will" employees with limited benefits?  Sounds like double speak to me.

The bottom line about E4E is they are a cult with few members that follow orders from education deforms groups and not what's best for the teachers.  Stay as far away as possible from the evil influence of E4E.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Difference Between Getting An Unsatisfactory And An Ineffective Rating.

Before there was a teacher evaluation system, educators were rated on the "Unsatisfactory/Satisfactory" scale.  If a teacher received two consecutive "Unsatisfactory" ratings for incompetence, the DOE had the right to proceed with a 3020-a to terminate the teacher.  However, the burden of proof was placed upon the DOE to show that the teacher was truly incompetent.  The result was that in many cases the DOE would rather settle for a small fine and a course on pedagogy rather that go through the frustration of proving the educator was incompetent.  In a few cases it took three consecutive "unsatisfactory" ratings before the DOE actually put the teacher through the 3020-a process.  That changed in the 2007 contract as the DOE and UFT agreed to the "Peer Intervention Plus" (PIP+) that resulted in the DOE providing an "expert witness" against the teacher and with it a 90%+ termination rate.   Thanks to this blog and others the Chapter Leaders got wise to the PIP+ termination program and told the members not to take it since its a voluntary program.

For most teachers, except those with less than two classes, reassigned back to the classroom before November, or are in the ATR pool..  The teacher evaluation was imposed with the four categories of "highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective".  Two consecutive "ineffective" ratings will allow the DOE to take the teacher into the 3020-a process with the burden of proof placed on the teacher and not the DOE, if the peer valudator finds the teacher was ineffective in the classroom.  The result is almost certain termination.

What about if the DOE decides to take a teacher into a 3020-a hearing with an "unsatisfactory"  rating followed by an "ineffective" rating?  Since there is no two consecutive "ineffectives" the burden of proof shifts back to the DOE.  This is also true if the peer valudator finds the teacher is not ineffective and the DOE is then forced to defend their "ineffective" rating.  By the way, based upon a one year data base, only 30% of the teachers were found by the peer valudators not to be ineffective!  That means that 70% of the teachers are probably toast at the 3020-a hearing.

Obviously, the DOE's Office of Legal Services can file 3020-a charges against any teacher who receives one negative rating, especially for misconduct but for incompetence cases its extremely rare for the DOE to go through the cost and effort only to get a token "award" by the Independent arbitrator without documenting a teacher improvement plan and show all the measures taken to help that teacher and that usually is a two year process. Therefore, for simple teacher incompetence cases it takes two or more consecutive "unsatisfactory" ratings or "ineffective" ratings before the DOE will file 3020-a charges.

Better an "unsatisfactory" rating where the burden of proof is on the DOE than an "ineffective" rating where the burden of proof is on the teacher.

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Failure Of Our Union To Make Life Better For Our Members. Part III, The APPR.

Back in 2010 President Obama and his basketball playing buddy, Arnie Duncan, dangled $4.4 billion dollars to the States if they would link teacher evaluation to the Common Core standards, this was labeled Race to the Top (RttT).  Eventually 48 States took the bribe and the leader was New York State, which received $700 million dollars, thanks in a large part to the UFT who supported the State proposal.  Interestingly, none of the money actually went to the classroom but was used to develop the high-stakes Common Core tests, pay for consultant fees like Pearson, and to evolve  the "Junk Science" as part of the teacher evaluation system. Did our union even bother to poll the members about what they thought?  Of course not.  The union leadership knew that the members would have voted overwhelmingly against RttT, yet the union leadership supported this ill-fated venture and  UFT President Michael Mulgrew even stated that he would punch Common Core critics in their face! Yes, the very same Michael Mulgrew who claimed victory when the City was forced to evaluate teachers on 22 components of the Charlotte Danielson rubric when the Bloomberg Administration only wanted 7, yet Michael Mulgrew claimed victory again when it was reduced from 22 to 8, go figure.

Across New York State parents are "opting out" their students from the destructive high-stakes Common Core tests and on Long Island 50% "opted out" with 75% doing so because of the teacher evaluation tie-in.  Yet our UFT President did not support the "opt out" movement despite the State teachers union (NYSUT) doing so.  The reason is that our union leadership supports the APPR and is willing to throw some teachers to the wolves as long as the union leadership gets what it wants for themselves, the power to do as they please.  Already 70% of the teachers subject to peer valudators (the rat pack) in the approved teacher evaluation system have been deemed "ineffective" and since the burden of proof is now placed on the teacher rather than the DOE as in the past, expect most, if not all of them to be terminated in their 3020-a hearing. Of course Michael; Mulgrew claimed victory yet again despite Michael Bloomberg outmaneuvering him by getting the APPR without negotiating a contract as promised by our leadership.

Finally, our UFT President claimed victory one more time when the new APPR now requires the "Junk Science" to be 50% of a teacher's evaluation and even allowed the Democratic leadership who dominates the State Assembly to vote for it. With friends like Michael Mulgrew and his cronies who needs enemies?

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Chancellor Carmen Farina Kept 80% Of The Bloomberg Managers At The DOE.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio became Mayor and appointed Carmen Farina as Chancellor, most educators were hoping for a "spring cleaning" of the Bloomberg agenda at the DOE.  However, it was obvious that many of the Bloomberg managers and their agendas remained relatively untouched by the new administration.  Now Chalkbeat has reported that an astounding 80% of the Bloomberg era managers are still at the DOE and in the same or similar positions that they occupied under Bloomberg.  Is it little wonder why the teacher in the trenches see little change in the hostile classroom environment or the "gotcha mentality" that presently exists?

Despite the continued love affair between Chancellor Carmen Farina and UFT President Michael Mulgrew little has changed when it has come to DOE policy.  Michael Mulgrew claimed at the Chapter Leader conference that the Chancellor could not remove them too rapidly because they are protected.  Protected? My question since they are managers and at will employees how are they protected and couldn't the Chancellor remove them to positions that didn't include implementing policy? Of course she could and as for policies?  The destructive "Fair Student Funding" is still in place,  the ATR crisis continues unabated, and the bloated DOE Central Bureaucracy is still dominated by lawyers and data mining managers.  Is it any wonder that the recession era school budgets have remained frozen the last two years despite more money from the State and a City budget surplus of almost 6 billion dollars!  It appears the extra funding simply feeds the DOE bureaucratic bloat and never seems to reach the classroom.

The Bill de Blasio administration has failed to live up to his promises in reducing class sizes, bringing respect back to the teaching profession, and providing adequate resources to the schools and the classroom.  Worse than the Mayor's failure to live up to his campaign promises is his failure to change the tone at the DOE and improve working conditions for school staff by selecting a Chancellor who has proven to be part of the problem and not a solution to improve schools and raise teacher morale.  The Chancellor's ill-advised decision to keep 80% of the Bloomberg era managers and their destructive policies at the DOE is simply poor management and a failure to improve the New York City Public Schools.                      

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Out Of Time Schools Are Out Of Luck When It Comes To Getting Effective Teachers.

Chancellor Carmen Farina made a great show of propaganda by claiming the renewal schools will be recruiting "effective teachers" for their schools and improve student performance.  However, anecdotal evidence from staff at these schools saw only young and inexperienced teachers being hired at those schools not the "highly effective teachers" that the DOE had vetted and gave to the principals to hire.  Few, if any, actually were offered or took a teaching position in the renewal schools.

Now we have the first real data from one renewal high school, the "out-of-time" Brooklyn Automotive high school.  Of the 32 teaching positions at Automotive, 14 were filled by teachers who were never in the classroom before that is an astounding 44% of the teaching staff with zero classroom experience!  Furthermore, if you eliminate the eight highly specialized CTE teachers in hard to fill or hard to replace occupations, approximately 60% of the academic staff are "newbies'.  Who in their right mind believes that these struggling students will improve academically with inexperienced teachers who have a steep learning curve and poor classroom management skills themselves?   No real educator believes that this is a recipe for success.

While the renewal schools are being given additional resources and support, the bottom line is that the lack of "effective teachers" will result in continued poor academic achievement and I strongly believe that the Mayor's and Chancellor's renewal school policy will be a failure.   A final issue is that the renewal schools have an extra hour built into their student schedules and teachers who are working the extra hour have not been paid by the DOE as of yet,  This should have been resolved before the school year stated.