Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why Alexandra Estrella, As Well As Others, Should Not Be A Superintendent.

I laugh when Chancellor Carmen Farina claims she only selects the best talent to be a Superintendent.  Yet, the Chancellor apparently selects Superintendents based upon political loyalties rather than for their educational knowledge.  In fact, I believe the Superintendents are the weakest link in the New York City school system.    Far too many of these Superintendents fail to remove terrible principals and look the other way when uncertified teachers are hired and teaching Regents courses that only hurts the students.  Just take a look at some of these Superintendents:

Amiee Horowitz:
 She is a close friend of the Chancellor and oversees the failing Renewal Schools as Superintendent;  Ms.. Horowitz, has been associated with some very questionable issues and you can read them Here and Here.

Juan Mendez:
Where do I start?  Since he became Superintendent he has protected some of the worst principals in Queens.  You can read it Here Moreover, Mr. Mendez is a defendant in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the federal government. yet he still is a Superintendent.

Lenon Murray:
This Queens District 29 Superintendent was arrested for repeatedly groping a female co-worker and was finally fired once the arrest occurred.  Unlike other educators who are not allowed to enter a DOE facility, Mr. Murray visits his office when he feels like it and a lawsuit was filed by the frightened female subordinate who must see him every time he appears at the office.

Estrella Alexandra:
Now we have Superintendent Estrella Alexandra, who was fined $3,000 by the City's Conflict Of Interest Board, for selling a teacher her house, while Principal of her school.  Yet, the Chancellor saw no problem making her Superintendent of District 4 in Harlem.  Yes, the very same Estrella Alexandra who selected and tried to protect Monika Garp as Principal of CPE1 and ignored protests by parents and teachers and even the Mayor before finally being forced by the Chancellor to remove the Principal from the school.  You can read the stories Here and Here. Interestingly, Daily News education reporter, Ben Chapman, once again, did not do his due diligence.  He failed to mention the Superintendent's involvement in the CPE1 fiasco and took the DOE pr spin which claimed she has a spotless record.  Another terrible reporting job by Ben Chapman.

The bottom line is that none of these Superintendents should be in the position they're in, especially Estrella Alexandra who has shown poor judgment and is not trusted by parents and teachers in her District.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ATRs Do Not Even Need To Respond To Job Interviews Outside Their Borough.

Over the last two weeks I have received 8 job interviews for Earth Science positions.  They are from the Bronx (ugh), Brooklyn (scary), and Manhattan (no parking).  No job offer, mind you, just an interview.  Even if it was a job offer, I wouldn't take it out of Borough.  In addition, I received a job interview at William Cullen Bryant High School and since it occurs before the school year and the terrible reputation the school has, thanks to the Principal targeting veteran teachers, I also ignored that invitation as well.

There is a severe shortage of Earth Science teachers throughout the New York City school system and quite a few schools use uncertified teachers to teach the Regents course, unless the Superintendent requires the Principal to have all certified teachers for their Regents courses.  For years, when principals did as they pleased under the useless and money sucking Children First Networks,  the majority of schools had uncertified teachers teaching Regents courses. 

Unfortunately, many of us in the ATR pool will be "forced placed" by the DOE during the school year and if you have a license in Special Education, ESL, and Science, you are in danger of getting a "developing"  (if your lucky) or an :ineffective", so that the Principal is not stuck with your salary and seniority for years to come.

Remember, when the school year starts and out of Borough schools request your attendance at an interview, you can ignore their request, even if the District Representative encourages you to go to it.  Just say no, unless you really want the position..

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Do Not Apply To These Queens High Schools.

Now that the school year is a week away, here is a list of Queens High Schools that ATRs should try to stay clear of, if possible. Previously, blogger JD2718 had published a list of Bronx High Schools and you can find it here.

List of schools on my "do not apply" list.

High School....................................Reason
William Cullen Bryant.......................Principal
Cambria Heights Academy................Principal
Campus Magnet Schools..................Administration
Queens Preparatory Academy...........Principal
Applied Communications..................Principal
Gateway To The Health Sciences......Principal
Beach Channel Campus...................Administration
Queens Collegiate...........................Principal
Renewal Schools............................Academics
August Martin................................Academics
Far Rockaway Campus.....................Academics
Martin Van Buren............................Safety 
High School of Teaching...................Administration
Pathways To College.......................Safety/Academics

There are some other high schools that merit being on the list.  However, those schools recently changed principals so its unfair to include them on my "do not apply" list.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Long Island "Opt Out" Rates And Demographics.

Its no secret that "opt out" rates are demographically based, with low income, minority communities having low "opt out" rates while middle class and White communities having the highest "opt out" rates.  Statewide the "opt out" rate was 19% or 2% less than in 2016.  However, on Long Island the "opt out" rates were similar to the 2016 percentages.

What's very obvious from the tables below, the highest and lowest "opt out" rates were found in vastly different racial and income based communities.

Highest "opt out" rates

Rocky Point...................79%..............77%
Wading River................77%..............66%
East Islip......................73%.............71%

Lowest "opt out" rates

Central Islip..................12%...........16% 

In New York City, the 2017 "opt out" rate was 4%.

Interestingly, in heavily East Asian and high income communities,on the North Shore of Nassau County, the "opt out" rates were closer to those in the poor and minority communities the table below shows this. 

High Income "opt out" rates

Great Neck...................22%............20%

Since East Asian communities, as well as high income communities emphasis education, including tutors and after school educational opportunities, it makes sense that these high achieving communities will take the State tests rather than "opt out" since they are exposed to test prep courses during the school year...    This shows up in the State test passing rate of between 75% to 85% for these communities.  Compared that to single digits in places like Wyndanch and Hempstead.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Renewal Schools Continue To Be An Academic Mine Field.

The Renewal Schools continue to shed students and must take over-the-counter students just to kept student numbers from falling over the cliff.  Despite Chancellor Carmen Farina's commitment to eliminate the Renewal Schools reliance on over-the-counter students, the fact is that the percentage of over-the-counter students has remained virtually unchanged since Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina formed the Renewal School program due to the loss of so many potential students.   Moreover, these schools puts greater accountability on teachers  and few veteran teachers apply to work in these hard to staff schools.  Therefore, quite a few teachers are inexperienced and these Renewal Schools suffer from high teacher turnover.  Finally, few academically proficient students apply to the Renewal Schools as parents refuse to allow their child to go to a school with a poor academic reputation.

 Chalkbeat published an article that shows how the Renewal Schools want the over-the-counter students so that they don't need to excess staff and lose badly needed funds.  This shows up in the 2016-17 school year as Renewal Schools had basically the same amount of over-the-counter students as the previous year.    Despite the Chancellor's commitment, to the Renewal Schools to reduce the over-the counter students.  The Renewal Schools averages 19% of the student body compared to 15% for the average school.  Since most over-the-counter students are academically behind because of their previous academic performance, coming from a different country with an inferior educational systems, or lack English skills,  Putting them in already academically struggling schools like the Renewal Schools is a recipe for disaster.

The bottom line is that the Renewal Schools continue to lose student, cannot recruit experienced quality teachers, and have a disproportionate percentage  of "high needs students"and expecting significant academic improvement from these schools is just wishful thinking.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

ATR Assignments Are On SESIS

Thanks to a comment on my previous post I checked the DOE's SESIS page and sure enough, the September assignment was listed under my name.

To access SESIS is easy.  First, google SESIS and the SISES-Department Of Education will appear.  Next, type in User ID (check the picture above).  Finally, once you login, look at the upper right hand corner of the SESIS page and next to your name is the school you are assigned to in September

Good luck and I hope you get a school that appreciates you.

Monday, August 21, 2017

For Principals Its Not About What's Best For The Students.

Most principals control their school budgets (some Renewal school principals do not).   Therefore, the Principal has complete control on staff hiring.  Because the DOE's policy of school based Fair Student Funding and the fact that the average school only receives 90% of what they should get under the fair funding budget incentivizes principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best " teachers for their school.  Moreover, most schools have stuffed classrooms with the maximum amount of students that the contract allows.  Finally, quite a few schools rather pay a "sixth period" to existing teachers rather than hire much needed additional teachers for their students.

Ask most parents and students would they want a "newbie" teacher, with no classroom experience or an experienced teacher who has good classroom management skills and curriculum knowledge and the answer is obvious, unless you are Nicole Thomas, and the education deformer organizations.  In other words would you want a novice surgeon, with no operating room experience, rather than a veteran surgeon to operate on your child?  The same goes for teaching.  Few parents want to make their child a guinea pig for a "newbie" teacher who has a steep learning curve to master the Art and Science of teaching.   Yet, the education deformer organizations and their media allies conveniently ignore the obvious and rather demonize veteran teachers, especially the ATRs.

Interestingly, our union leadership has kept silent and fails to launch a counter attack showing why its important for all children to have an experienced teacher and demand that all "newbie" teachers have a complete mentoring and support system to assist them in mastering the classroom.  School after school in high poverty areas suffer from high teacher turnover and every year has a staff composed of untenured teachers.  In fact, a study done for Chiago found 75% of all new teachers in poor urban schools leave their first school within three years.  The refusal of our union leadership to fund an advertising campaign on why its important for children to have veteran teachers is unacceptable.

The bottom line is that between DOE policies, principals caring more about their budget than hiring the best teachers, and our union leadership refusal to embarrass the DOE contributes to a "
children last" policy that hurts student academic achievement.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

DOE Provides Statistics On The ATR Pool And Offers Schools A Hiring Incentive.

I guess its apparent that the DOE's ATR incentive didn't achieve the results that they had hoped and have now put into motion plan B by offering schools an incentive to hire ATRs by getting them for half price the first year and 75% of their salary for the second year.  Good luck on this incentive being any more successful than previous ones, which was met with general disinterest by Principals.  The DOE also released statistics about the ATR pool and they are as follows:

  • The average ATR salary is $94,000, which is over $10,000 more than the average teacher salary and %40,000 more than a base salary for a "newbie".
  • 25% of the educators in the ATR pool have been there for over 5 years.
  • The average experience in the ATR pool is 18 years.
  • 38% in the ATR pool came from closing schools.
  • 32% in the ATR pool had disciplinary or legal issues.
  • 30% in the ATR pool were excessed due to course reductions.
  • 74% in the ATR pool received an "effective" or satisfactory rating last year.
  • 12% in the ATR pool received an "ineffective" or unsatisfactory rating.
  • 27% in the ATR pool have an elementary school common branch license.
  • 11%in the ATR pool are licensed in Social Studies.
  • 9% in the ATR pool are licensed in Math.
  • 8% in the ATR pool are licensed in English.
You can read the Chalkbeat article Here.  Furthermore, please read NYC Educator's take on the article as well.

Interestingly,  there is no mention of the 800 pound gorilla in the room in the article and that is "Fair Student Funding".  Moreover, the article fails to once again talk to an ATR and get their view.  Instead they keep going back to education deformer groups for comment.  Finally, the article fails to question why the DOE still uses the June number of 822 ATRs rather than the much higher number that the start of the school year brings.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Homelessness And Poverty Affects Student Academic Achievement.

There is little dispute that deep poverty is associated with poor student academic achievement.  In fact the New York Times published an article that found that one out of seven public school students are homeless.  Its a safe bet that the homeless students all suffer from deep poverty and severely affects student academic achievement.  A report by ICPH showed that 140,000 public school student have experienced homelessness in the last six years.  Moreover, the report contains a chart that finds more students who experienced homelessness are more likely to be placed in  Special Education classes and have a lower graduation rate.  More importantly, the ICPH report has a map that shows that the highest concentrations of homeless students are associated with neighborhood schools that have the lowest academic achievement. By contrast, the lowest percentage of homeless students are in schools that have the highest academic achievement.

The New York Times article, which is based upon the ICPH report, brought out some interesting statistics and I tried to summarize them as best I could.

  • There were 100,000 homeless students in the New York City Public Schools in 2015-16 .
  •  If current trends continue 1 out of every 7 elementary school children will experience homelessness
  • Rising homelessness is due to the housing crisis caused by higher rents, dwindling State and Federal aid, and the elimination of the State rental assistance program. .
  • The typical homeless elementary school student missed 88 days of the school year.
  • Homeless students are more likely to drop out or get suspended.
  • Bayside Queens had the lowest amount of homeless students, while Belmont and Fordham  sections of the Bronx had the largest amount.
Finally, students who experience homelessness are more likely to transfer schools more frequently, are delayed in getting needed supports, and are subject to a host of negative factors that make academic achievement more difficult. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Renewal And Struggling Schools Get More Teach For America Two-Year Wonders.

Back in 2014 Chancellor Carmen Farina told the news media that the Renewal schools will be sent "highly effective" teachers.  Instead, the Renewal schools ended up hiring "newbies" instead.  Brooklyn's Automotive High School was the poster child of this failure to hire quality teachers.   Some of these "newbies" were from Teach For America (TFA) and few lasted beyond their two year commitment.

Fast forward to the upcoming 2017-18 school year and Teach For America claims it has increased the amount of college graduates, without a teaching degree into the New York City Public Schools.  According to Chalkbeat, TFA claims that 146 of their two year wonders have been offered positions in the 2017-18 school year.  That means that up to 4,762 children will be guinea pigs for an instructor with no education degree and classroom  experience.  Maybe Ms. Nicole Thomas's daughter will be fortunate enough to get one of these uncertified "newbies" as her teacher, complete with a five week training course on how to teach (lol)..

This is just another example of principals who hire these TFA "newbies" showing that they care more about their budget and control then  what's best for the students of the school/ 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New York Post Continues Their Anti-Teacher Crusade.

In Today's New York Post, columnist Ben Kochman  penned an article claiming that the teacher choice of $250 was an election year ploy.  This is the very same newspaper who objected to the 2014 contract as being too generous, that saw the DeBlasio administration give the retro payments that the Bloomberg administration withheld from educators, while approving them for most everybody else.  It mattered little to the newspaper that due to "pattern bargaining" arbitrators would have ruled that the City broke this agreement and the City would have to payout within two weeks close to 3 billion dollars.   Let's not forget how the newspaper opposed the parking permits to teachers when it was the Principal's union that won the lawsuit.

When back in 2007 the Bloomberg administration gave City school teachers $250 for the year, the New York Post saw no problem then.  Yet in 2017, with the City budget surplus ranging from 3 to 6 billion dollars and the recession a distant memory, the New York Post bashes Bill de Blasio for giving teachers the same $250 dollars that Bloomberg did a decade earlier.

Instead of making a media issue of teacher choice money that is used by the teacher to buy classroom supplies for their students, a worthy use of funds.  The New York Post should be exposing the administrative bloat at Tweed that funds questionable consultant contracts, lack of transparency at the DOE on how money is allocated, and the under funding of the schools.  Maybe the newspaper could investigate the large class sizes and school overcrowding that the DOE not only allows but encourages, or the DOE policies that incentivizes principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools that hurt student academic achievement.  Finally, the newspaper could do an expose on the many principals like Steve Dorcely who had little or no teaching experience and are running their schools into the ground.

This is the same newspaper that complained loudly about the City putting 400 certified and experienced ATR teachers back into the classroom while supporting SUNY's attempt to place uncertified college graduates, with no education experience into a classroom.  What a bunch of hypocrites.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The DOE Wants Another Bite Of The Apple To Terminate Teachers.

Before 2009, the DOE had a policy that when a teacher won their 3020-a hearing but was fined for minor infractions, even a simple letter to the file, they were returned to their school and resumed their appointed position.  However, Chancellor Joel Klein and the Officer of Legal Services decided that principals did not have to take back their teachers who survived their 3020-a hearings. The result was that these teachers were dumped into the ATR pool, along with veteran teachers of closing schools (163 under Bloomberg), and excessed teachers from closing or reduced programs. The result was an explosion of ATRs that ranged from 1,300 to 1,800 educators. Once labeled, the DOE ensures that it sticks, no matter how many satisfactories or "effective ratings" the ATR receives.

Because of the ideological stand by Bloomberg and his Chancellors, the ATRs were subject to a dehumanization strategy through the media and education deformer groups, while the DOE was paying out over $150 million dollars annually at a time when school budgets were cut by 14%!  Instead of encouraging principals to hire certified veteran teachers the DOE encouraged principals to hire "newbies", by implementing the "fair student funding" policy (which is only 90% funded) that incentivizes schools to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools, commonly known as "education on the cheap".

Next, in 2012, another Bloomberg Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, known as the Mayor's poodle allowed a discipline flag to be placed in the file, on any educator who had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation, even when the 3020-a charges were found not to be true by the State arbitrator. This was known as the "Scarlet Letter".  Despite promises by the UFT leadership to take this unfair labeling to PERB or to court, they failed to do so.  During the Walcott tenure the ATR pool was separated into two lists.  Those that were simply excessed due to closing schools or subjects and those that were disciplined or received an "ineffective" or "unsatisfactory" rating. Another way the DOE gets a "second bite of the apple".

Finally, the DOE's Office of Legal Services have found a novel way to get a "second bite of the apple".  Up until this previous school year the Office of Legal Services would include every trivial infraction as a specification in an educator's 3020-a charges and this was known as "throwing shit on the wall and hope enough sticks" to get the arbitrator to terminate the educator.  However, in the 2016-17 school year the Office of Legal Services came up with a better way to get a teacher terminated in the 3020-a hearings.  What the DOE does is only charge the teacher with some of the specifications and wait and see how the arbitrator rules.  In almost all cases the arbitrator will give the DOE something for their troubles like a small fine.  Now that the teacher is labeled the DOE will then hit the poor teacher with the rest of the charges and show the arbitrator that the teacher had a previous 3020-a and was fined and that shows the teacher cannot be rehabilitated.

The New York Post reported on one such case in today's paper and you can read it Here Moreover, NYC Educator wrote an article about the case in depth and is a must read.  Adding to the two articles is that the Principal is a Leadership Academy Principal who never had a full time teaching gig and was accused of  running an academic fraud factory.  In conclusion, ni the collective eyes of the DOE once charged you are always guilty and its their duty to find novel ways to terminate you by getting a second and even a third bite of the apple.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

If Chalkbeat Spoke To An ATR, Their Articles Don't Reflect It.

Over the last two weeks there has been a media frenzy about the City considering hiring ATRs to fill vacancies after October 15th.   The articles range from calling ATRs "unwanted" to "bad" teachers.  Not one article brings out the real culprit for the ATR pool. the DOE policy called "Fair Student Funding" that discriminates hiring of veteran teachers.

The media has gone out of their way to quote many education deformer groups and a parent who supports them but somehow can't seen to interview an ATR to get their side of the story.   This includes the education deformer and pro charter school online newspaper Chalkbeat.   According to Chalkbeat they claim that they cannot get answers to questions that would put statistics to the questions they want answered like:

  1. How many ATRs were subject to discipline?
  2. How many years of experience do the average ATR has?  
  3. What schools did ATRs last have a long-term or provisional appointment?
  4. How many years has the ATR been in the pool?
  5. What areas are the ATRs certified in?
Looking at the Chalkbeat questions it certainly appears that the online paper is trying to show that ATRs are terrible teachers, either due to being disciplined or have other negative factors like lack of useless and mind-numbing professional development and being highly experienced. Moreover, they also want to prove that high poverty, minority schools get  the ATRs.

Maybe, Chalkbeat should have asked these questions about the ATR pool instead.

  1. What is the average age and salary of the ATR pool?
  2. What is the average years of experience of teachers who transferred by the Open Market Transfer System?  What are the percentages?
  3. What is the the actual number in the ATR pool as of the start of the school year?
  4.  Why does the DOE keep two lists of ATRs?
  5. When will the DOE eliminate the "fair student funding" that incentivizes principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school?
In all fairness Chalkbeat did try to contact me and I ignored them since my experience with sleazy education reporters like the Daily News Ben Chapman has shown me that they don;t care about the truth.  Their aim is to further demonize ATRs.  Case in point.  According to NYC Educator an ATR did speak to the same Chalkbeat reporter that tried to contact me and nothing he or she said seemed to be included in their latest ATR bashing article.  With the possible exception of Susan Edelman, I will have nothing to do with a news reporter.  Since they represent yellow journalism at its worst.

update:   ATR Life in Limbo spoke to Chalkbeat on Tuesday for an hour and set the reporter straight.  Let's see if Chalkbeat writes an article and without the anti-ATR spin.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Tweed Continues To Award Questionable Contracts.

The Daily News reported today that, very quietly, the DOE is set to award a $669,375 contract to an ex DOE administrator for a program that he developed as an employee for the City. In fact, the Ex DOE Administrator,  Joel Rose, called it "The School Of One" and the DOE allocated an astounding 9 million dollars to develop and fund the program.  The program has been shown to be a failure and a colossal waste of money as only 4 schools throughout the City are actually using the :School for One program.  Yet, the DOE is set to approve the renamed program. as a Math program called New Classrooms.

This is just an example of why it was necessary for Chancellor Carmen Farina to "clean house" of the Bloomberg policymakers at Tweed but failed to do so.  Hopefully,when the proposed contract goes to the PEP at the end of the month, the blatant "conflict of interest" and apparent favoritism will push the PEP to refuse to approve the contact. The statement by Leonie Hainson of Class Size Matters in the article is a must read and listed below.

 “The city is paying hundreds of thousands for these programs. Why do these things hang on at the Department of Education for no reason? These crony contracts,” said Leonie Haimson, founder of the advocacy group Class Size Matters. “It’s inexplicable.”

I certainly agree with Ms. Hainson

Sunday, August 06, 2017

On Retirement Our Last Year's Summer Pay Is Apparently Excluded.

When a New York City educator retires, usually at the end of the school year, the TRS calculates the Final Average Salary (FAS) of the last three school years.  However, the FAS does not include any additional pay over 10% of the FAS so as to not to drive up the educator's pension by taking unlimited overtime in the last year.  While that limitation is well known the next limitation to the educator's pension is not.

Educators at the end of the school year gets payments for the summer months of July and August.  These summer payments are not extra checks but represent earned wages from the previous two semesters that have been smoothed out so that educators receive bi-monthly checks throughout the calendar year.  However, it appears the TRS does not include the July and August payments when calculating the FAS.

The TRS has remained mum on the apparent shortchanging of their educator pension calculation and a lawsuit was filed in July of this year to force TRS to include the July and August payments.  While the amount that TRS shortchanges the educator varies widely,  I used retired teacher Irving Lieblich's pension calculation, as reported in the New York Post as the example.

According to Mr. Lieblich since he retired in June of 2011, he has been shortchanged on his pension by $241 his first year since they didn't include the summer months, when he made $93,656 as a 2011 base salary.  Instead, those two months were replaced by the 2010 base salary that saw him receive only $90,054.  Consequently, Mr. Lieblich is owed $1,446 according to his calculations since retiring.

Hopefully, Mr. Lieblich's lawsuit is successful and the TRS will include the two month summer pay when they calculate the educator's pension.. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

Union Proud But Not Proud Of Our Union.

I consider myself a proud union member and greatly appreciate what an effective union represents to their members.  At one time, under the effective Albert Shanker,  teachers were able to negotiate adequate raises, a salary scale that reflected seniority, generous health benefits, and work rules that limited the amount of students in a classroom.  This was a time when the City leaders were beholden to the powerful 81,000 strong teachers' union and came with hat in hand to curry union support and even a loan during the City's brush with bankruptcy in 1973.   That was then and this is now.

Our present ineffective union leadership has provided  little in the way for their members to be proud of   They have negotiated inferior or subpar contracts, going back to Sandra Feldman and continuing through Randi Weingarten and now Michael Mulgrew.  Just about every negotiated contract was short on money and contained various "givebacks".  Be it time, additional duties, hiring rules, reduced due process rights dealing with discipline, and expanding the definitions on verbal and physical abuse (A-420, A-421).  Just as important was the slow erosion of health benefits, both the eligibility at retirement and cost.  In addition, UFT members saw 1.25% of their TDA interest disappear., thanks to our union leadership.  While all other DOE employees receive 8.25% interest on their TDA balance, UFT members receive only 7%.  Finally, our union leadership is strangely quiet while the media attacks the ATRs and allows the DOE's Fair Student Funding policy to discriminate against the hiring of veteran teachers.

Our union leadership had promised to go to PERB or file a lawsuit on the DOE's practice of placing a flag on any member that had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation, even when the accusations were found not to be true by the independent State Arbitrator!  I call this the Scarlet Letter.  Did the union  leadership follow through?  The answer is no!    Moreover, they allowed the ATR to become "a second class citizen" and refuses to include an ATR on their negotiating committee on ATR issues.  Finally, the union leadership refuses to put member interests first.  Rather, they use our COPE and dues money as they please without member input.  See examples Here and Here.

I am a proud union member and will support unions that represent their members.  However, in the last two decades, our weak union leadership seems to represent their own political and ideological interests rather than what's best for the members.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

My Response To The False Accusations Of Parent Nicole Thomas About ATRs.

I read the opinion piece of parent Nicole Thomas and realized it was simply an ATR bashing piece that consisted of lies, half truths, and was right out of the StudentFirst playbook.  Her article is simply false accusations.  Let's discuss what Ms. Thomas claimed she knows about ATRs and then the truth.

First, she claimed that ATRs are "unwanted" teachers.  While the "unwanted " is true, her reasons are false.  She claimed that the ATRs are "unwanted" because their bad teachers and she cited false statistics that showed that over 50% of the ATRs were rated unsatisfactory or had discipline issues.  Where did she get this false information?  Maybe it came from the StudentFirst organization since I know the DOE refuses to provide this information and the percentage is closer to 25%, according to a UFT source.

The truth of the matter ATRs are "unwanted" because of their high salaries, seniority, and institutional memory.The majority of ATRs are quality teachers and fully certified.  Principals won't hire them because they think of their budget and power and not what's best for the students.

Second, Ms. Thomas claims that most ATRs don't apply for classroom positions and if they were any good they would not be in the ATR pool for long.

The truth is that teachers in the ATR pool do apply for multiple positions but because of their salary, years of experience, and seniority,  principals refuse to interview or hire them.   Moreover,  Civil Service law will not allow for an ATR time limit and that was the condition the DOE agreed to when the ATR pool was created when the hiring rules were changed in 2006.  Maybe Ms. Thomas should read the DOE's "fair student funding" policy and see how the organization incentivizes schools to hire the "cheapest and not the best" teachers for their school.

Third, Ms.\Thomas seems to think that getting an ATR teacher would be terrible for her 5th grade child since one teacher at the school (not an ATR) was arrested and convicted, as if all ATRs are not only bad teachers but potentially are criminals.

The truth is that 75% of the ATRs have a "clean record", with no discipline issues.  Furthermore, many of the ATRs with so-called discipline issues were found to be minor or even frivolous by an independent State Arbitrator.  Again her statement is what StudentFirst would say, without data or real facts to back it up.

Finally, I truly hope that Ms. Thomas's child does not get an ATR for the vacancies at her school and gets a "newbie" teacher instead so her daughter can be the guinea pig for an inexperienced teacher who must struggle through a steep learning curve in classroom management issues, acquiring curriculum knowledge, while trying to learn the Art and Science of effective teaching. Maybe Nicole Thomas will realize she's just a pawn for the education deformers like StudentsFirst that put their ideology first and her child last.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The DOE's Slogan Of Children First Rings Hollow.

The DOE will claim that everything they do is geared on putting the students first and when bloggers like me point out the hypocrisy of their "children first" claims, the DOE will simply ignore the inconvenient truth.  Let's look at why the DOE's claim that they put children first rings hollow.

Large Class Sizes:  New York City public schools have the largest class sizes in the State.  In some schools like Francis Lewis High School, almost all classes have the maximum 34 students.  Moreover, the school is vastly overcrowded with over 4,700 students crammed into a school that shooed have less than 3,000.  Moreover, try to walk on the second floor hallway between 4th and 5th period and you feel like your in a Japanese subway car at the peak of rush hour as bodies bump into you from all sides.  Finally, book-rooms with no windows and little ventilation are being used as classrooms.  Ask the students at Francis Lewis High School if the DOE is putting their needs first?
Parent Exclusion:  Since the Bloomberg years parent voices are deliberately ignored by the Chancellor and the Central Bureaucracy.  Just look at what happened at Townsend Harris High School and at Central Park East 1, where the DOE tried to ignore parents and only backed down when the media got hold of the story, The DOE is quite happy if parents remain clueless and quiet so they can do what's best for them and not what's best for the students/  The C-30 selection committee is a prime example of how little parent (and teacher) voice means as its simply a fig level for the Superintendent to pick his or her favorites as principals for the schools in the District.

Principal Hiring Practices:  The DOE implemented a policy called "fair student funding" that requires schools to pick up the salary of all school staff members.  The result was that principals were incentivized to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.  To penalize principals who dare hire a veteran teacher the DOE only funds the schools at 90% of their fair funding, despite a 6 billion dollar budget surplus for the City//

Uncertified Teachers: Far too many schools are using teachers uncertified in the subject they are required to teach.  At the high school level, Regents Earth Science is just as likely to have an uncertified teacher than one certifried to teach the course.  Moreover, many high schools shortchange Science students by going to a 4-1 from the State recommended 5-1 program.  The result is that City students experience lower Regents grades and a higher failure rate.  This is done to save on hiring scarce Science teachers.  This is certainly not putting children first.

The bottom line is when the DOE claims that they are putting children first, what they really mean is they are putting their ideological aims first and children last.  See nyc educator for a similar take on the DOE's children first policy.