One of the advantages of being a New York City teacher is our TDA. According to a UFT pension consultant, the average TDA at retirement is $320,000. While many of the teachers retire as early as 55 years of age, many wait until full retirement age of 62 or even older, if they are second career teachers. The question is what happens next?
Once a retiree teacher and reaches the age of 70.5 the TDA, which is a tax deferred 403(b) plan, has to start being withdrawn and pay federal taxes (If residing in New York State the TDA is exempt from paying state and local taxes). For example if you reach the age of 70.5 on January 10th of 2017, you must take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) by December 31, 2017 or suffer a significant penalty (50% excise tax). Therefore, you must take out the required RMD as required by the IRS or you will be giving away money for free to the federal government. Finally, every subsequent year a RMD must be withdrawn by the end of each year (December 31, 2017) thereafter or suffer a penalty. In the first year you turn 70.5 years of age you can take the distribution as late as April 15th of the next year. However, you will then be forced to take another one on December 31st of that year and raise your tax burden for the two withdrawals.
How does the RMD work? It is based upon life expectancy annuity tables and requires a percentage be taken out as a function of your age. The percentage of your TDA needed to withdraw to satisfy the IRS RMD by age is listed below.
For example, if you are 70.5 years of age and have the average TDA sum of $320,000 then the RMD will be $11,680 ($320,000 x 0.0365). On the other hand if the retiree is 85 years of age than the RMD withdrawal would be $21,532 ($320,000 x 0.0676). You can use the IRS worksheet table supplied Here.
The RMD is not only for our TDA, it includes almost all tax deferred plans, 401(k), 457(b), 403(b), IRAs. The RMD is the federal government's way of making sure you pay your taxes, be it now or later. The RMD is not required for any Roth accounts but when the retiree dies, then the federal government will tax the beneficiaries. Remember all your tax deferred accounts are subject to the RMD and the RMD must be calculated for each account every year.
Susan Edelman of the New York Post has for months tried to get a breakdown of the ATRs who were permanently appointed, provisionally filling a vacancy or long term assignment, and who were left in the ATR pool. Moreover, the age and experience for each group would be helpful in determining if there is discrimination (in my view there definitely is). The DOE has so far, refused to break down the information and for good reason. They know full well that the data would show age and salary discrimination in hiring ATRs permanently for their vacancies. I have written repeatedly that the DOE's fair student formula is a major disincentive for principals to hire highly experienced ATRs, add that to the seniority issue when an ATR is appointed, and their institutional memory, few experienced ATRs are permanently appointed.
At first, principals refused to hire ATRs as then Chancellor Joel Klein called them "unwanted teachers" in a Principal's weekly message. More importantly, the New York City schools saw a massive influx of inferior"Leadership Academy Principals",many of them with little or no classroom experience who thought they were CEO's of their schools rather than instructional role models and saw veteran teachers as a threat to their lack of educational experience. As the recession hit, the DOE had no choice but to offer schools incentives to hire ATRs for their school. Of all the incentives, the only one that was partially successful was a one year program in 2009-10 that allowed schools to appoint highly experienced ATRs at a beginning salary and have the DOE pay the difference for the first eight years. Since that time, all the ATR incentives have met with failure, despite the UFT's leadership attempting to put lipstick on a pig.
The latest iteration has increased the selection of ATRs from the pool to cover vacancies and other long-term assignments. However, most every one of these provisionally appointed ATRs are excessed at the end of the school year as principals have no intention of hiring the ATR permanently, regardless how well they do their job. While the amount of ATRs who go from a provisional to permanent placement is a closely held secret by the DOE and UFT, anecdotal evidence tell me its in single digits percentage wise. Those selected were mostly younger and untenured teachers who cost less, and have little or no seniority.
The DOE told the media their were 1,083 teachers in the ATR pool and that 500 ATRs were given full time positions. However, how many of those 500 ATRs were permanently appointed? Very few, if any. The vast majority were placed there provisionally and will be excessed at the end of the school year. In fact some ATRs, myself included, has been picked up by the same school two years in a row, in apparent violation of the spirit if not the rule of the ATR agreement. How do principals get away with this? Easy, they know how to scam the system, be it "credit recovery", graduation rates, ICT class abuses, or the ATR agreement. Knowledgeable principals can scam the system and be rewarded for it and they know it.
Unless and until the DOE changes the hiring rules and our disconnected union leadership demands that ATRs be permanently placed in their District vacancy and not be loaned out on a provisional basis will things change for the better.
From day one many of the bloggers were wary of the appointment of Carmen Farina as Chancellor of the New York City schools. It was pointed out that she was Deputy Chancellor under Joel Klein's anti-teacher crusade until she was forced to retire. Moreover, she bragged about her sharp memory and remembered everything, except when she was interviewed by investigators about the infamous Cobble Hill cheating scandal and couldn't remember anything, despite being Superintendent during that time. Finally, how about how she replaced 80% of her staff, while Principal of PS 6 in Manhattan and allegedly diverted money allocated for one program to others without approval. You can read it yourself from Phillip Noble and Betsy Combier. Read Betsy Combier's latest post about Chancellor Carmen Farina Here. While the Chancellor replaced 80% of her staff at PS 6 as Principal she retained 80% oi the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE.
Last year Politico New York reported how Chancellor Carmen Farina's top priority was not improving student academic achievement and bringing joy, respect, and the love for learning back in the classroom but how to remove "bad teachers" from their classrooms. How about bad administrators? That's right Chancellor Carmen Farina's top priority was removing teachers and this was her recurring theme taken out of the Politico article.
Fariña said asking principals to weed out
their weakest teachers has been her “first statement when I get into
any school visit. ... I repeat it over and over again."
To the Chancellor its not about the already too large class sizes, frozen school budgets, or student discipline issues that have exploded during her tenure as Chancellor its all about firing teachers. Just read the entire Politico article and one can see that Chancellor Carmen Farina cares little about education, she only cares about having it her way. Just look at the Superintendents she hired, since becoming Chancellor, be it Amiee Horowitz or others who expect the principals under them to discontinue and slap the "ineffective" label on more and more teachers. Furthermore, who can forget what Chancellor Carmen Farina said about veteran teachers at a new teacher workshop. Proof ofher anti-teacher attitude can be found in the continued numbers of teachers under 3020-a termination charges as the Chancellor has chosen to justify the employment of the large numbers of lawyers by pushing them to terminate teachers. For different takes about Chancellor Carmen Farina read the nyc educator and ednotes online posts. The bottom line while the Chancellor continues her anti-teacher crusade our union leadership sees nothing, does nothing, and fails to hear what the Chancellor continues to spew about teachers.
Based upon the latest data available from 2014-15 school year, the average teacher pension by state is listed below. You will notice that the majority of teachers never last long enough to be vested and receive a pension. Moreover, with the new teacher evaluation systems that use student test scores and punitive rubrics like Charlotte Dainelson, along with longer vesting periods, look for an even higher percentage of teachers never lasting long enough for a pension.
State.........................Pension................Vested Alabama...................$20,700...................39% Arizona.....................$20,500.................100% Arkansas...................$21,100...................57% California...................$43,300..................69% Colorado.............. .....$37,500..................36% Connecticut................$47,400.................55% Delaware...................$20,500..................36% Wash D.C...................$63,500..................29% Florida.......................$19,800..................28% Georgia......................$34,900..................33% Hawaii.......................$15,000..................25% Idaho........................$17,000..................70% Illinois.......................$46,500..................50% Indiana.....................$16,400..................31% Iowa.........................$19,700..................42% Kansas......................$12,900..................44% Kentucky...................$34,700..................67% Louisiana..................$23,800...................56% Maine.......................$20,300...................14% Maryland..................$35,000...................43% Massachusetts..........$38,600..................12% Michigan..................$21,300...................41% Minnesota................$20,300...................30% Mississippi...............$18,800...................24% Missouri...................$41,300...................58% Montana..................$21,200...................35% Nebraska.................$22,600...................32% Nevada....................$30,500..................57% New Hampshire........$21,400..................31% New Jersey..............$40,100..................56% New Mexico.............$21,200..................33% New York.................$44,400..................40% New York City..........$45,000...................33% North Carolina..........$18,400..................35% North Dakota............$31,600..................56% Ohio........................$46,600..................34% Oklahoma................$19,800..................44% Oregon....................$28,300..................46% Pennsylvania...........$24,600..................36% Rhode Island...........$45,000...................51% South Carolina.........$19,600..................37% South Dakota...........$18,700..................53% Tennessee...............$18,600..................56% Texas......................$44,600..................59% Utah........................$16,000..................52% Vermont..................$18,200..................33% Virginia...................$22,000..................50% Washington.............$20,600..................55% West Virginia...........$19,200..................39% Wisconsin................$22,900..................64% Wyoming.................$17,600..................42%
Nationally only 44.5% of all teachers end up being vested for a pension and 19.7% make it to full retirement age. A more complete analysis for each state can be found Here. While 33% of Tier I to IV New York City teachers are expected to be vested for a pension. The Tier VI teachers will have a much lower vesting percentage due to more punitive job requirements that discourage long-term employment as a teacher.
The Empire Center For Public Policy has reported that since 2001 the numbers of students fell 8.6% in the New York City while staffing increased by 3.2%. Some of the increase is due to federal and State Special Education mandates requiring additional resources and self-contained classrooms. Especially the ever expanding District 75 program that has teacher to student ratios ranging from 6:1 to 12:1 classrooms.
Interestingly, despite the increased self-contained classroom requirements, teacher staffing only increased by only 1.7%. By contrast, there was an increase of 12.3% by non-teaching staff. The vast majority were Principals and Assistant Principals who increased by 1,100. The increase in school administrators can be traced to the closing of the large comprehensive schools and the creating of the Bloomberg small schools in their place.
The large comprehensive school had one Principal and six to eight Assistant Principals who oversaw 2,000 to 3,000 students. In its place are four to six small schools with an average size of 450 students. Each school has a Principal and at least two Assistant Principals or a minimum of twelve to sixteen administrators and probably higher. The result are the small schools are top heavy on Administrator salaries compared to the closed large school.
Add the top heavy administrators to the major reductions the Mayor imposed on the schools through the Fair Student Funding (fsf) which saw schools receive 100% of the fsf in 2007 fall to 86% on the average by 2012. A 14% reduction. Worse the large comprehensive schools saw the largest reductions with some schools only receiving 80% of their fsf while the newer Bloomberg small schools received 100+% to ensure their success. While the De Blasio Administration has slowly increased the average fsf to 89%, that is still 11% below the fsf despite the City havings a 6 billion dollar budget surplus.
How did schools pay for their top heavy administrators? They increased class sizes and hired the most inexpensive teachers they could find, even if they were not certified in the subject they were hired to teach in. According to UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, half of all Math and Science teachers are not tenured and many aren't even certified! There has been a 25% increase in Special Education services and the inclusion program with many ICT classes having excessive class sizes. Costing the DOE and the schools even more money.
The legacy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg can be summed up with ever increasing large class sizes, tight school budgets, and a funding formula that penalizes principals who hire veteran teachers. Add to that with the over staffing of school administrators and it ends up to be "a rob Peter to pay Paul" scenario as schools are forced to cut corners and retard student academic achievement.
Last week, the City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, identified 11 TRS members who were caught "double dipping". That is getting a City pension while working a new City or State job. The rules about working for another City or State public agency while receiving a pension is very clear. Let's go over them.
A City or State public employee of New York State can only make up to $30,000 while still receiving his or her full pension. Otherwise, any amount over $30,000 (for people receiving a disability pension the income limit is $1,800) must be reduced by lower pension payments to the retiree on a dollar to dollar basis. That means for every dollar over the limit, the pension payment is reduced by that amount. This applies to all retirees who have not reached the age of 65.
A pensioner who reaches the age of 65 has no such income limitations when it comes to another public service job in New York State while receiving their full pension.
For hard to fill positions, there is a two year waiver to the income limitations that can be renewed and according to one report from the Empire Center the public sector in New York State has approved over 7,000 such waivers to the income limitations. and have repeatedly renewed the waivers once the two year period ended.
Once a retiree is found to have exceeded the income limitation, the agency must demand a refund for the pension over payments or face prosecution. In one such case a Suffolk County Police Detective Sargent was found to owe $450,000 in pension over-payments when he failed to report his job to the pension agency for years.
There is no income limitation if the retiree works in private industry since it is not considered "double dipping". This includes working in another State[s, public or private sector
The bottom line, unless you are 65 years of age or older know the rules about income limits about working for public service in another position. You might be working for free if you make over $30,000 for the year.
My school just received the Unity caucus flyer and I was amused at some of the things they claimed credit for. Like retaining our pension. Since when did the State or City propose to reduce the pension for existing members? In fact, under the Unity caucus we have seen new teachers subject to an inferior pension. Moreover, didn't the Unity caucus allow the City to reduce our TDA interest rate from 8.25% to 7% and not receive retiree health benefits until they worked 15 years for new employees (from 10 years) for the two days before Labor Day which should never had been given up in the first place? How about those members who resigned, were terminated, or discontinued, were they made whole? No, they were screwed by the Unity caucus.Finally, we approved a vastly inferior contract that gave us a measly 10% for 7 years while the City has a 6 billion dollar surplus?
The Unity flyer claimed that they negotiated a reduction in paperwork. Really? Ask any classroom teacher if they noticed any change in the overloaded paperwork they are currently experiencing. How about schools that demand that teachers use an online grading book, which just adds to the data collection and micromanaging by both administrator and parent?
What is most egregious is that the Unity flyer claims how they protected all their members "due process rights". I guess the 2,400 ATRs are really not union members because the Unity caucus did reduce the ATR "due process rights" with the 2014 contract. How did they reduce the ATR "due process rights"? Let me count the ways.
First, the Unity leadership allowed the DOE to :"force place" ATRs at schools they do not want to be at due to travel, reputation, and school tone. In fact, they allowed the DOE to "force place" District ATRs into another district school in the same Borough.
Second, the Unity leadership allowed the DOE to terminate ATRs who fail to show up for two mandatory interviews or fail to show up to a new assignment in two days without a medical reason.
Third, only ATRs are subject to a vague definition of "unprofessional conduct" whatever that means and can result in a one day expedited 3020-a termination hearing
Finally, the Unity leadership allowed the DOE to observe ATRs with "flyby observations" by field supervisors who observe ATRs with a classroom of strange students and are expected to show their pedagogy. No wonder many ATRs are being "U" rated and subject to 3020-a termination proceedings.
What should one do with the Unity caucus flyer? Throw it in the garbage where it belongs.
Well, it seems that disgraced former Principal Kathleen Elvin of John Dewey High School had her charges dropped by the State Arbitrator in her 3020-a hearing because the DOE apparently approved her "easy credit" plan to goose the graduation rate by 13%. Despite their own OSI investigator's document showing that packets of material, without instruction was used to give students multiple credits that violated State and City "credit recovery" requirements, the DOE approved all the credits and accepted the graduation rate without requiring these students to actually do real work. In other words, they agreed to the academic fraud of the "easy pass" system. Read the New York Post article Here.
The question that needs to be asked did the DOE realize that if they allowed these students who were academically unprepared to graduate without giving them real courses to make up, that they, in effect, approved Principal Elvin's "easy credit" plan? Obviously, the State Arbitrator believes so and dismissed the charges against her. It almost seems that the DOE did everything possible to sabotage their case against former Principal Elvin when they refused to provide an actual audit as evidence against the academic fraud. Was the DOE's failure to provide an audit simply incompetence or done with the purpose of not exposing the academic fraud that is not confined to only John Dewey High School? In fact a DOE task force found 36 high schools abused the "credit recovery" system and yet no disciplinary action was taken.
It seems to me that the DOE didn't want their systematic "credit recovery" program abuse exposed at the 3020-a hearing and deliberately sabotaged the case against former Principal Elvin. Moreover, had the DOE's "dirty laundry" of academic fraud wereexposed at the 3020-a hearing, it could mean the downfall of the Carmen Farina Chancellorship and a black eye to Mayor Bill de Blasio. Finally, it would also show that Carmen Farina's failure to "clean house" of the Bloomberg policymakers that permeate Tweed allowed the academic fraud to continue complete with a bogus graduation rate of academically unprepared students for the real world after high school.
The more the union leadership claims that the DOE has changed the more those changes are an illusion. It's still the same old Bloomberg DOE.
The parents and students of Long Island has resoundingly told the New York State Education Department, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the education reform organizations what they think of the State's Common Core based high-stakes testing by "opting out" of the tests. Despite some cosmetic changes and a threat that the federal government would withhold funds to school districts, a majority of students on Long Island 52.8%, "opted out" of the Math test. This is a higher percentage than last year when 46.5% "opted out". The latest numbers show that 88,000 Long Island students "opted out" of the Math test, compared to 66,000 last year, an increase of 22,000 students who refused to take the high-stakes State Math test,
Just like last year and the English test last week the epicenter of the "opt out" movement is the solidly middle class white suburbs where the "opt out" rates were over 70%. By contrast, the poor minority school districts saw the lowest "opt out" rates. However, even in the poor minority school districts the "opt out" rates were higher than the year before, strongly suggesting that the "opt out" movement is growing in strength and not confined to a select cohort.
Will the Governor, politicians, and the NYSED finally realize that the Common Core based State tests, which are age inappropriate, are wrong and dump them altogether?. If not, look for the "opt out" movement to continue to gain strength and make the already invalid data from these high-stakes tests meaningless in determining student growth. Failure to heed parent, student, and teacher complaints has resulted in the "opt out" movement and the NYSED must start listening and not dictating to school districts on what's best for their schools if they want the "opt out" movement to disappear.
Listed below are the school districts with the highest "opt out" rates for Math.
The StudentsFirst organization that was created and once headed by Michelle Rhee, who's husband was accused of sexually molesting a teenager and is a current subject on HBO's "Real Sports", has decided to go after ATRs by falsely claiming they are "ineffective teachers" forced on schools. This big lie has been with the StudentsFirst organization for years. Now they have told ill-informed parents that their school woes are caused by ATRs being forced on the schools who must pick up their salaries. This big lie has apparently deceived the parents that appeared at Tweed to protest the ATRs.
The real truth about the ATRs is that many of them are "quality teachers" who came from the 163 closing schools that Mayor Bloomberg shut down or were accused by a student or administrator and won their 3020-a termination hearing as the DOE failed to prove their charges. Let's look at why StudentsFirst is wrong and deceived the ill-informed parents who protested at Tweed.
The ATR pool is dominated by veteran teachers, who have more than fifteen years in the system and are usually 50 years of age or older. These ATRs are near or approaching top pay and schools under tight budgets imposed by "fair student funding" force schools to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools. The result is a revolving door of "newbie teachers" that allow for high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment. Instead of a "quality teacher" from the ATR pool, the schools are putting inexperienced teachers with poor classroom management skills and that hurts the students.
The way the ATR pool is structured, schools that select an ATR has their salary charged to the school as the average teacher salary of that school. If the ATR's salary is higher, then the DOE picks up the rest for the year. If the ATR is appointed, they are free to the school the first year and never exceeds the school's average teacher salary,. Therefore, salary is not the major reason schools are not picking up veteran ATRs.
The reason schools will not select veteran ATRs are two issues. First, seniority regulations that once an ATR is appointed, they are automatically put into their proper seniority rank and principals are afraid they would be forced to excess a less senior teacher. Second, veteran ATRs have an institutional memory and principals are uncomfortable with teachers who express and know their contractual rights. Therefore principals would rather hire a clueless "newbie" and have the students suffer academically then hire an experienced ATR who understands their rights,
The bottom line is that StudentsFirst is continuing the big lie that roving ATRs are "ineffective teacher" when the truth is that its DOE policies that forces principals to hire cheap at the expense of their student academic progress is the reason for having "ineffective teachers"..
A school that can reach its academic potential is a school where the Administration and staff have a strong collaborative work ethic. Schools where the administration collaborates with the staff allows for high staff morale, low teacher turnover, and a more stable learning environment for the students. The result is a school where teachers want to teach in and have less absences which attracts better quality teachers to the school. Its no secret that this combination is associated with improved student academic achievement.
Unfortunately, far too many New York City schools the opposite is true. The school administration (mostly Leadership Academy graduates) plays "gotcha" with the staff and staff morale is low. Furthermore, teachers teach in fear of the "unannounced" classroom visit, usually in their worst behaving class. It doesn't help that many of the District Superintendents have told their principals that they want more "ineffective ratings" and have greatly limited granting tenure at the end of the third year and extends by a year their probationary period. As a result, more discontinuances are occurring as its easier to discontinue an untenured teacher than terminate a tenured teacher through the two-year 3020-a process since it takes two consecutive "ineffective" ratings and part of that is in the junk science that might actually raise an ineffective rated teacher to developing..
In confrontational schools where teachers don't feel safe or secure, the teachers end up teaching scared. That means teaching to the test and not experimenting with innovative strategies to make learning interesting and maybe even fun for the students. Adding to this is the Danielson Rubric that penalizes teachers who vary from curriculum or ad-lib to ever changing classroom situations. While the high stakes State tests are not being used for the next four years for teaching evaluations, local measures will be and they are associated with testing be it the Regents or other citywide test measures for 40% of a teacher's grade (50% next year). Between a punitive teacher evaluation system and unsympathetic school administrators who look for confrontation rather than collaboration, it makes teaching in the New York City schools an unrewarding occupation while being treated not as a professional but as a worker drone in a dysfunctional system which only hurts student academic achievement.
The bottom line is without true collaboration and support of the school administration, student academic achievement is simply an illusion as high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment makes it virtually impossible for students to reach their full learning potential.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was terrible for the New York City Public School system as he allowed class sizes to increase, shortchanged the schools of badly needed resources, and waged a continuous war with the teacher union that hurt students and staff alike. Moreover, he was responsible for closing 163 schools, many of them large comprehensive high schools that the neighborhood revolved around and his favoritism to charter schools hurt the remaining neighborhood schools as he "robbed Peter to pay Paul" principle by taking funds from the Public School sector to support the charter schools. Finally, his "education on the cheap" policy encouraged principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school and most schools were funded at only 82% to 86% of their allocation under "fair student funding". To say the least, the New York City Public Schools suffered greatly under Michael Bloomberg. However, one of the few bright spots was the Mayor's policy on student discipline. No cellphones, suspensions for repeat offenders or violent incidents and an overall "zero tolerance policy" for student misconduct. This made for a safer school environment and a culture of respect for school staff since the students realized there were serious consequences for their misbehavior.
When Bill de Blasio became Mayor, he brought with him a progressive agenda that included promises of lower class size, more school funding, and no more school closings, All of these promises have been unmet as school budgets have remain frozen at 2012 levels and at 86% of allocated funding, class sizes have actually increased, and schools are still closing. The one promise he kept was weakening the student discipline code and the results for school safety and on student learning has been disastrous.. According to the news media student misbehavior has increased as many minor offenses go unpunished. Teachers are complaining that their classrooms have become unmanageable as students are distracted by cellphone use and their school's failure to remove disruptive or tardy students. Moreover, student insubordination is a major issue as students know there is little consequence for disrespecting staff instructions. An analysis done by a pro charter school group found a 23% rise in violent incidents under Mayor Bill de Blasio, Worse yet, was the reported spike in violent incidents at the 48 Renewal schools.
The De Blasio solution is restorative justice rather than suspension and as suspensions have gone down significantly, violent incidents have risen as student misbehavior has been met, instead with a restorative justice hearing that theoretically will guide the misbehaving student to positive outcomes. Unfortunately, most of the students consider restorative justice a joke and soon repeat their misbehavior, be it insubordination, disruption, or lateness. With the support of the UFT "Unity" leadership and also of MORE who actually has a social justice plank that includes restorative justice, I don't look for leadership by the union on this issue anytime soon. Therefore, look for violent incidents to continue to increase as the De Blasio administration weakens the student discipline code further and student disrespect of staff increases accordingly.
In today's Newsday, the newspaper reported preliminary "opt out" numbers for most of the Long Island school districts and it came out to 51.6% for the English test (last year it was 42.6%) and I suspect that the Math will be even higher, based upon the previous year's numbers. The same racial/Income disparity that appeared last year in the "opt out" numbers showed up again on Long Island with solidly White middle class school districts having the highest "opt out" rates, while low income minority school districts had the lowest "opt out" numbers. Again the richest districts were between the two.
Elmont.................................8.8% Roosevelt............................10.4% Central Islip.........................11.6% East Hampton......................14.0%
Note: Hempstead and Wyandanch did not report their numbers.
The richest school district "opt out" rates.
Cold Spring Harbor.................18.5% Great Neck.............................19.7% Jericho..................................22.5% Roslyn...................................38.7% Oyster Bay............................43.3% Syosset.................................47.0%
As the rest of New York State reports their "opt out" rates I expect that last year's 20% will be easily broken, especially after the Math tests next week.
The New York State Education Department has decided that six schools are "out of time" and the schools will follow the infamous 18D process if they want to reapply for their positions. With the new designation, comes additional requirements on teachers that make it more difficult to recruit and retain "quality teachers".Just look at the disaster at Automotive High School, who ended up hiring a majority of "newbie teachers" with no actual teaching experience as only the CTE teachers bothered to reapply for their positions as the subject teachers rather be an ATR in another school then be required to be subject to additional requirements as a condition of employment. I predicted this result in my post earlier.
The six "out of time" schools are August Martin and John Adams High Schools in Queens, Herbert H. Lehman, Banana Kelly, and Fordham Leadership Academy For Business and Technology High Schools in the Bronx along with a middle school, also in the Bronx. The teachers who don't apply for their positions (most of them) will be assigned in September to a school for the year where a vacancy in their subject area exists. For the vast majority of those teachers it will be like going from one failing school to another. Since the better schools will be able to recruit and fill their vacancies from an eager pool of applicants willing to work in these great schools.
As for the six "out of time" schools, look for continued failure as they cannot recruit "quality teachers" Unless these six schools screen out the most behaviorally and academically challenged students, they will end up with "newbie teachers" with no teaching experience and a student body that has far too many "high needs" students. A recipe for educational disaster.
Once again the DOE has tried to intimidate teachers by threatening them with discipline if they convince parents to "opt out" their children from the Common Core based State tests starting tomorrow that will last for 6 days. Three days this week for English and three days next week for Math. According to The New York Post , who supports the Common Core high-stakes tests, a DOE official said the following:
"Teachers may be subject to discipline: if they cross the line in prodding parents to opt out".
The DOE was responding to two schools where teachers wrote an email and a letter to their parents about the right to "opt out". They are PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights and the Earth School. The email from PS 8 can be found in the New York Post article while the Earth School letter can be found on Ednotes online.
As far as I'm concerned, the Common Core based high-stakes state tests are too long (6 hours over three days for each test) and are not age appropriate where only 1 out of 3 are deemed proficient. Until New York State eliminates or drastically shortens the test to 1 to 2 hours for the tests, I believe "opting out" is an appropriate response for parents concerned about these tests..
There was great hope from real educators when the anti-Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio became Mayor of New York City. Sure, his selection of Chancellor in Carmen Farina, was a concern given her association with the Joel Klein Administration and some of the sleazy issues associated with her, like the Cobble Hill Regents cheating scandal, and her embrace of questionable academic programs like "balanced literacy". However, didn't our UFT President, Mikey Mulgrew, tell us there was a new tone at the DOE and things will be better? Well, its been over two years and have things become better for the classroom teacher? The short and long answer is a resounding NO!
Let's look at how things were under the third term of Michael Bloomberg and see if they have realty changed under Bill de Blasio?
Under the third term of Michael Bloomberg class sizes increased significantly and was the highest in the State. One of the campaign promises by Bill de Blasio was to reduce class size. However, that has been a promise not kept as class sizes have actually continued to increase under his administration.
Shockingly, during the first two years of the De Blasio/Farina tenure, school budgets were frozen, despite a 6 billion budget surplusas reported by the Independent Budget Office. Worse, the average school was funded at only 86% of their fair student funding allocation. This is about the same as the last term of the Bloomberg Administration.
Fair Strident Funding:
One of the most destructive programs that Mayor Bloomberg installed was the "Fair Student Funding" that in theory, allowed "high needs" students to receive more money while giving less to more privileged students. However, by attaching it to schools rather than citywide it resulted in principals hiring "the cheapest and not the best" teachers" for their schools. The result is high teacher turnover, and an unstable school environment for students and staff.
If anything, things have gotten worse for the ATRs.The demoralizing ATR rotation, making the ATR "a stranger in a strange land" continued from the Bloomberg years and now all rotating ATRs have a field supervisor who, based on "flyby observations" of classes the ATR know little or nothing about, have resulted in many "U" observations and ratings. In addition, the 2014 contract negotiated with the union leadership has made ATRs a "second class citizen" with expedited 3020-a hearings, mandatory interviews, and automatic "U" ratings when taking more than 10 days off in any one year unless the ATR has documentation, regardless how many days the ATR has in their CAR.
In the first two years of the De Blasio/Farina Administration, there were an average of 362 educators who were charged under section 3020-a. By contrast, in the last term of Mayor Bloomberg, the average was 320. That's right, under the current administration there are more educators subject to termination charges, an increase of 13%! According to my reports the rubber rooms are not only back but more and more educators are being removed for alleged offenses.
According to UFT Solidarity, there has been an increase from 11% to 50% of teachers who were denied tenure. In my school of the 4 teachers who are eligible for tenure, not one will get it and have already been told so. Moreover, member resignations have increased by 38% since 2009.
Despite assurances that paperwork will be lessened, the opposite has happened under Bill de Blasio as the DOE encourages principals to get their teachers to use an electronic grading book and update it daily. In some schools like Frank Sinatra High School failure to have an electronic grading book that is updated could result in possible disciplinary action and has cowered the staff in complying with that directive.
Lack of Autonomy:
During the Bloomberg years the classroom teacher lost the ability to teach, based upon their student needs. Instead, they were told to follow the DOE model and were subject to "gotcha observations" that followed a checklist rubric. Under the De Blasio Administration, nothing has changed as Charlotte Danielson is still used and the "gotcha observation" is almost a certainty.
When Chancellor Carmen Farina took over, there was hope that she would make a through spring cleaning of the Bloomberg managers at Tweed, instead she has retained 80% of the Bloomberg managers in their policy making positions and despite her claim that 400 principals should not be running their schools has removed only a handful and only under media pressure. Overall, there has been little changed in the hostile classroom environment under the Bill de Blasio Administration. In fact Chancellor Carmen Farina said this about veteran teachers when she addressed new teachers at thebeginning of the school year.
* New teachers should avoid the teacher’s lunchroom during the first few weeks. It’s where “the whiners” go to gripe, she said.
If you find it hard to believe that she would disparage veteran teachers, you can find itHere.
I interviewed a union leader who is known as "Mikey". He is the President of one of the most powerful unions in the State and I thought it was time to interview such a powerful figure. Mikey is running against two other Presidential candidates and its time to find out all about Mikey.
Chaz: Mikey how do you respond to many of the member complaints that you are arrogant and disconnected to them?
Mikey: Screw them. I do as I please and if the membership does not like it, that's just too bad.
Chaz: You negotiated an inferior contract in 2014 that was short on raises and back loaded money owed as far away as 2020. Do you think that the members were unhappy with your negotiation?
Mikey: How can they complain? I got them their undeserved 8% raises, didn't I? So what, they have to wait up to six years to be made whole? They will get their money, as long as they don't die.
Chaz: Isn't it true you pissed off the other unions with a cheap contract and made the Bill de Blasio Administration look good at the expense of the Municipal employees, including your own members?
Mikey: Who gives a shit what the other unions and my membership think? I needed to get in the good graces of the new Mayor after supporting another failed candidate. If that means making some enemies of other unions, its still all about what's best for me.
Chaz: Why is it that you negotiated the only contract with the City that contained "givebacks", making ATRs a second class citizen, and not paying members who resigned or were terminated the money they were owed?
Mikey: I wanted the City to support me in my political ambitions and if it means sacrificing some useless members, so be it.
Chaz: You brag about having a close relationship with the Chancellor while she has continued most of the Bloomberg Era policies and retained 80% of the employees and failed to remove the 400 principals she claimed shouldn't be in charge of their schools.. Is it any wonder that your members see little real change in their hostile working environment?
Mikey: Remember, its all about what's good for me not what's good for my membership. Get that straight.
Chaz: What happens when one of your party member disagrees with you?
Mikey: They are always free to disagree with me but they never do as my 800 strong voting bloc always agrees with me.
Chaz: Why didn't you want to debate the other Presidential opponents?
Mikey: I could have won the debate hands down but I didn't want to embarrass the other candidates by my obvious superiority and grasp of the facts.
Chaz: Don't you think the membership has the right to see the debate? The Democrats and Republicans have debates, shouldn't your union do the same?
Mikey: I have better things to do like supporting Common Core, junk Science, and helping the Chancellor combat the "opt out" movement as testing is important to evaluate teachers.
Chaz: Have you bothered to poll your members on many of the issues you support like the Al Sharpton led march against fellow union members?
Mikey: I do as I please and if the members don't like it then vote me out.
Chaz: Will you commit to democratize the union and make it more transparent?
Mikey: You mean direct vote for District Representatives?
Mikey: Me and my inner circle knows what's best for me, oops I mean the members. We will select all union representatives above the Chapter Leader level.
Chaz: You come off as a tough guy but your many critics say you are a wimp when negotiating with the City and State on member rights. An example is the teacher evaluation system.
Mikey: Didn't I threaten to punch people in the face when I defended the Common Core? I am a tough guy and I know what's best for the members.
Chaz: Thank you for your time.
Mikey: Remember increase your COPE contribution, quail and booze are getting more expensive.
Note: Remember, its April Fool's Day and the above interview should be taken in the spirit of the day.