Sunday, April 03, 2016
The Destructive Bloomberg Policies Have Not Changed Under Bill De Blasio And Carmen Farina.
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 surplus as 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 the beginning 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 it Here.
Our disconnected union leadership can claim there is a new tone at the DOE but to the teachers in the trenches its still the same old song.