Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cope, Union Dues, Amd Janus - The Future For The Union Patronage Jobs Looks Bleak.

The UFT leadership rewards blind loyalty to their every wishes by giving Unity members patronage positions with the union.  Be it pension consultants, delegate to conferences, or office positions at the UFT borough headquarters.  Personally, I have been little impressed with many of the people who have been given these patronage positions.  Be it negotiating vastly inferior giveback laden contracts, providing real and relevant advice at the informal pension consultations (one UFT pension consultant was actually pushing pension max),  and fails to aggressively representing members at the DOE kangaroo court of "U" rating appeals. Starting in 2018 all this will change.

 First,. the GOP tax plan, which is now law, no longer allows union dues to be deductible on your federal  income tax and unless the State adjusts their own tax structure, that would include the State and City income tax as well. the $1,402.56 annual union dues will no longer be deductible, which in some cases can be 40% or more of the union dues paid for the year.

Second, the Supreme Court is expected to hand down their Janus decision this Spring and its expected to be 5 to 4 to eliminate mandatory union dues. Therefore, starting in the 2018-19 school year, the union will plead with the members to pay their "fair share" to help support the union.  The union leadership will claim the "collective bargaining process" requires the members to pay their union dues.  However, the "collective bargaining" agreement is for all City employees and it only takes one union to agree to terms and the other unions are forced to accept the same or similar contracts.  For example our 2014 contract negotiated with the City became the template for all other contracts.  Next ye4ar's contract will be a formality since DC37 is in the process of negotiating a contract with the City this Spring and that will be the template for all other union contracts, including the UFT..

Finally, our COPE payments for political action and other obscure purposes have been abused by the UFT leadership.  Ask them for a breakdown of how the COPE money is spent and you get silence.  In other words its none of you business and we know what's best for our members.  Remember this?      How about their support of racial arsonist Al Sharpton If the COPE money collected from member voluntary contributions were identified and clearly defined by showing why members benefit from the use of the COPE funds, then I might be convinced to contribute.

The bottom line is the union leadership only has themselves to blame by their very secretive nature of its use and failure to clearly identify where all our union dues and COPE contributions go to.  I suspect that close to 40% of the members will either stop paying union dues or reduce the amount they contribute once the Supreme Court rules against mandatory union dues. As for those juicy union patronage jobs?  Look for real belt tightening and elimination of many of those useless positions.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The DOE Puts John Adams High School Staff And Students At Risk Due To Bedbug Infestation.

The DOE will always claim that they put children first when it comes to the health and safety of the students.  However, with a lax student discipline policy and the widespread use of cellphones in the schools, bullying and theft is a serious problem.  Moreover,  both students and staff feel increasingly unsafe in their schools as student suspension rates plummet and weapon confiscations increase as student misbehavior is not punished.  Finally, at John Adams High School, a Renewal School,  the DOE chose to keep the school open for the last week, despite a bedbug infestation at the school that could endanger the health and welfare of the people at the school.

Parents. students, and teachers alike were terrified not only from getting bit by the bedbugs but carrying them home to their own families.  Yet, the DOE ignored their fears and kept the school open the rest of the week, thereby, endangering the health and welfare of the students and staff and by extension their families.

The DOE administrators who allowed the school to remain open last week, despite the documented bedbug infestation,  should be punished and even lose their jobs for potentially putting the school students and staff at risk for serious health and welfare problems. Then again, under Chancellor Carmen Farina, the DOE administrators are not held accountable for their poor decisions, even when it affects the health and welfare of the students they are supposed to protect.

You can see the NBC news feed about the bedbugs Here. The ABC news report can be found Here.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

What If Santa Claus Became Chancellor?

Now that the disappointing Carmen Farina has announced her long overdue  retirement, its time to speculate who the new Chancellor of the New York City schools will be. How about Santa Claus?

If you are a fan of my blog, Santa Claus has had little luck obtaining and keeping a teaching gig because of the DOE.  You can read some of these posts Here, Here, Here, Here.  and Here.  However, what if Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Santa Claus as the new Chancellor?

The first thing Santa Claus would do is to "clean house" by making a list and checking it twice to see who was "naughty and who were nice".  On the "naughty list" are the Bloomberg policymakers that Carmen Farina failed to remove.  Also on the "naughty list" are Renewal Superintendent Amiee Horowitz, Superintendent Juan Mendez, and various other Superintendents that obtained their position based on who they knew and not on ability.  Also on Santa's "naughty list" would be the many Leadership Academy principals who think they are the CEO of their school rather than be the instructional leader.  Finally, all principals that have a low staff trust factor are part of the "naughty list".

Along with the DOE employees on the "naughty list" that needs to be removed by the new Chancellor. Santa Claus, needs to eliminate or change the Farina/Klein inspired policies that hurt student academic achievement ad cause a wide racial/income academic achievement gap.  The are as follows:

  • Fair Student Funding
  • Charlotte Danielson rubric
  • Largest class sizes in the State
  • Eliminate the far too many screened high schools
  • Eliminate principal autonomy in hiring
  • School staff budgets, based on units not salary
  • No hiring until excess list is eliminated in the District
Making Santa Claus the new New York City Chancellor would really bring joy, dignity, and trust back to the City school system.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Chancellor Carmen Farina Claims She Brought Joy, Dignity, And Trust. What A Joke.

Today Chancellor Carmen Farina announced her retirement and claimed she brought joy, dignity, and trust back to the New York City Public Schools.  From a teacher's perspective I find that a joke.  Let's dissect her statement and see why it's not true.

How joyous is it to be subject to mindless and useless 90 minute Professional Development  (PD) every Monday and for another 85 minutes on Tuesday?   I see no teacher smiling and jumping for joy at these mandatory  PD's and other useless ill-conceived projects thought out by the administration.   Further, the Chancellor failed in her promise to remove the 400 principals that she claimed should not be running their schools and has turned a blind eye to principals like Namita Dawarka of William Cullen Bryant and Jose Cruz of Math, Science, Research, and Technology high schools.  Finally, are teachers happy that class sizes remain the highest in the State and that she allows vindictive principals to file termination charges against veteran teachers for the most trivial of incidents?

Ask veteran teachers if she respects them?.  The answer is a resounding no.  Back in 2014 she told a new teachers conference to stay out of the teacher's lounge where veteran teachers complain too much.  Moreover, she would visit schools and her prime mission was to identify bad teachers and tell principals how to start a paper trail to terminate them.  Finally, she has total disrespect for the veteran laden ATR pool and would fire them all if she could.  In fact, she gave orders for the DOE not to place ATRs in  vacancies at the Renewal Schools.

Under Chancellor Carmen Farina the DOE still uses the punitive Charlotte Danielson rubric and insist on 4 to 6 observations when the rest of the State requires only 2.  That's not trust if you ask me.  In addition, academic fraud is widespread throughout the school system as the graduation spikes ever higher while only 22% ever get a 2 year degree at a community college.  The Chancellor looked the other way when it came to "credit recovery", administrative pressure to change failing grade, and a bogus scholarship requirement that penalizes teachers who fail too many students.  Finally, she supports micromanaging teacher instruction in the classroom rather than "let teachers teach" and do what's best for their students.

Chancellor Carmen Farina's failure to eliminate Fair Student Funding that incentivizes principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their students.  Moreover, she agreed to under fund schools at 90% of what the formula requires.  More importantly, her idea of collaboration was with our disconnected union leadership while her polices and administrators practice a top down approach with little or no collaberation between the DOE and teachers.  In fact Chancellor Carmen Farina retained 80% of all Bloomberg policymakers and her failure to "clean house" allowed the Bloomberg ideology to continue at the DOE.

Under Chancellor Carmen Farina the DOE is looked at as the enemy and not a partner when it comes to educating students.  To me its goodbye and good riddance.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pension Max Is A Bad Bet.

Over the years  I get questioned about what is the best option to take their pension. I try to give them advice and also encourage them to contact the UFT pension consultants so that they can evaluate all the options.   However, many educators near retirement are contacted by some insurance companies and financial advisers who work for and with insurance companies who have proposed an alternative to taking a joint pension annuity.  This is known as "pension max".   To my knowledge neither the UFT or independent financial advisers push this alternative and for good reason.

The premise of pension max is that the retired educator can take the maximum pension payout and take the difference between the maximum payout and the 100% joint annuity payout and buy a life insurance policy for the spouse.  Since the 100% joint annuity payout averages about 80% , depending on the ages of the spouses,  of the maximum payout, the idea of pension max is attractive at first blush.  However, as you go deeper into the pension max scheme you can see it only benefits the insurance company seeking the product while putting the surviving spouse's income at risk..

Let's assume that the recently retired educator receives a maximum payout of $50,000.  Had he took the 100% joint annuity option, he would only get $40,000 but if he dies, his spouse will continue to receive the $40,000 annual payout until she passes away.  Here is why pension max is a bad bet.

First, if he takes the maximum payout of $50,000 and buys a $500,000 life insurance policy for his spouse with the $10,000 he saves by taking the maximum payout.  His spouse would theoretically receive $40,000 annually from the  life insurance policy once the retired educator dies  This is about an 8% return and while higher than most life insurance policies these days of low interest rates, its close to what most pension funds try to achieve.  The problem is that the $10,000 is really $7.000 since the money is subject to Federal, State, and City taxes.  That means the $7,000 only buys a $350,000 life insurance policy on himself and for his spouse to receive the $40,000 annually,  The life insurance policy would have to average an annual  return of 11.3%!   Not likely achievable.  Realistically, the spouse would have to reduce their annual payout to $32,000.  Therefore, pension max would result in a decrease of $8.000 annually, assuming a generous 8% payout..

Second, there is no guarantee that the insurance company will maintain the interest rate or that the insurance company will continue the life insurance program. Moreover, most life insurance companies charge a surrender fee and maybe other fees that further diminish the payout.

Finally, the 100% joint annuity is reliable and safe while the pension max relies on the financial strength of the company and the stock market.  In other words pension max is a death gamble that can leave your spouse with years of little income if the country goes through another recession or the company has financial issues, not a gamble I would take. Tha,t's why pension max is a bad bet

Monday, December 18, 2017

More ATRs On The Way As The City Is Planning To Close 14 Additional Schools.

The City announced today that 14 schools will close at the end of the school year and that means 4,500 students and 400 educators will be seeking a new school.  Of thee 14 schools over half are in the Bronx (8) with Brooklyn (2), Manhattan (2), and Queens (2) providing the rest.  Of the 14 schools closing 9 are Renewal Schools.  In addition 4 other schools will merge with another school, with 2 of the 4 located in the Bronx and 2 in Brooklyn.  Some of these educators will also be dumped into the ATR pool.

Add the 400+ educators that will no longer have a position with previously announced staff shakeups at DeWitt Clinton and Flushing High Schools, and there could be an influx of up to 500 more educators to the ATR pool. Since the ATR incentives have been a failure, I suspect that the DOE's program to reduce the ATR pool us simply a pipe dream.

The list of schools that are closing or being merged with other schools are as follows:

The nine Renewal schools the city plans to close are:
  • P.S. 50 Vito Marcantonio (District 4)
  • Coalition School for Social Change (District 4)
  • High School for Health Careers and Sciences (District 6)
  • New Explorers High School (District 7)
  • Urban Science Academy (District 9)
  • P.S. 92 Bronx School (District 12)
  • Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School (District 23)
  • P.S./M.S. 42 R. Vernam (District 27)
  • M.S. 53 Brian Piccolo (District 27)
The five other schools the city plans to close are:
  • KAPPA IV (District 5)
  • Academy for Social Action (District 5)
  • Felisa Rincon de Gautier Institute (District 8)
  • Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation (District 12)
  • Eubie Blake School (District 16)
The schools the city plans to merge are:
  • Holcombe L. Rucker School of Community (District 8), becoming part of Longwood Preparatory Academy, another Renewal school
  • Entrada Academy (District 12) into Accion Academy
  • Middle School of Marketing and Legal Studies (District 18) into East Flatbush Community and Research School
  • Middle school grades of Gregory Jocko Jackson School (District 23) into Brownsville Collaborative Middle School
Maybe, the influx of new ATRs will finally convince the DOE to come up with a better ATR buyout and to eliminate school based fair student funding.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Sad Saga Of Ex- Principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah.

Back in  April of 2014, Principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah of Robert Wagner Secondary School in Queens was removed as a Principal for allegedly sexting on her DOE laptop and cell phone.  According to the Post article, she had sexually suggestive and racy pictures of herself, including alleged sex acts  Moreover, there were emails that she had oral sex with a visiting assistant principal and a school safety officer, at the school.  Finally, she sent damming emails to a high ranking DOE official.On May 1, 2014 she was demoted back to a teacher,

The following week, the visiting assistant principal, Danny Velezquez of PS 5 in the Bronx was also reassigned away from his school.  According to the New York Post article, Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah claimed she never had sex in the school with any of the men and that her ex lover, the PTA President, lied

Despite supposingly being reassigned away from students, Ms. Annie Schumuiz Seifullah resurfaced as a teacher at Automotive High School in Brooklyn but soon fled the classroom when the students googled her and read all the racy stuff about her.  The DOE tried to claim it was a mistake  However, the New York Post quoited a source who said the following:

“Principal Lafergola would not go to the bathroom without checking with Aimee Horowitz,” the source said. “This was not an error. This was cronyism pure and simple — at the highest level.”

After, Ms. Annie Schumutz Schullah fled the classroom the DOE decided to file 3020-a charges.

Surprisingly, the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) decided that Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah's actions were not serious enough for them and the investigation was sent to the DOE's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) who, despite two men claiming she had sex at the school (her ex lover, and the DOE official) , incredibly found that their was no substantiation of her having sex in school. Go figure!

Just before her 3020-a termination hearing was to start, Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah took a six month medical leave that was due to her fleeing the Automotive High School classroom caused by the harassment.  There was no indication if this was a paid or unpaid leave, according to the New York Post article.

What might be the end of this sad saga, on December 1st, the 3020-a arbitrator suspended Ms. Annie Schumultz Seiullah  for a year, primarily for her sexting on a DOE cellphone and photos on the DOE laptop,  Interestingly, Ms. Annie Schumutz Seifullah did not testify and the reason the arbitrator gave her the one year suspension.

Note:  Te Daily News has a slightly more sympathetic article and she intends to appeal her one year suspension

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Teacher Classroom Supplies Deduction Retained By The New Tax Plan.

The GOP tax plan, will probably be signed next week and become law for the 2018 year and beyond.  This is bad news for people who live in high tax states like New York since only $10, 000 can be deducted from local property raxes or State and Local income taxes.  In the NYC suburbs property taxes alone usually exceed $10,000 alone.  Many New Yorker's pay about 7% in State taxes and if a New York City resident, then add an extra 4%.  Its not uncommon for a New York City teacher who lives in the area to have over $20,000 of combined property and State and Local taxes.

However, there is one feature that the GOP tax plan remains unchanged, that is the $250 deduction given to teachers for classroom supplies.  While the average teacher spends $530 for their classroom and in high poverty areas its $672.  The teacher deduction at least helps to reduce the financial burden for teachers to supply classroom materials to their students.

While the GOP tax plan is an overall negative for education, at least the tax plan retains the teacher deduction for classroom supplies.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Safe Schools? Yeah Right! - Part 3.

 The Bill de Blasio/Carmen Farina narrative that our schools are safe has been shown to ring hollow.  Weapon confiscations have skyrocketed and staff and students feel more unsafe.  Previously I wrote posts about the school safety issue and you can find it Here and Here.

Now NY1  has an article about safety transfers and found that the official numbers were disturbing and the article believes it was severely under counted.  According to the article the top five schools that had the most safety transfers were as follows:

DeWitt Clinton..........................20
Life Science Secondary HS.........18
Bronx Leadership Academy........17
Abraham Lincoln.......................17
Health Opportunities HS............14 

Remember, to even apply for a safety transfer the student and or parent must actually file a police report.

But the transfer numbers provided to NY1 do not tell the whole story. In the 2015-2016 year, students had to produce a police report showing they were the victim of a crime just to request a transfer.

Therefore, many students who are bullied, subject to gang violence, or who have been physically or verbally assaulted, keep it to themselves and never report the danger to the school administration, police, or their parents.    

After the stabbing and death of a student at the Urban Assembly School For Wildlife Conservation High School in the Bronx.  Up to 30 student asked for a safety transfer at the school.  How many will actually get on.e?  According to the DOE, all of them, we will see if that turns out to  be true Since the school stabbing and killing happened in the 2017-18 school year, it was not included in the NY1 article.

Until Bill de Blasio and Carmen Farina confront the truth the schools are increasingly unsafe, students will be asking for safety transfers as they refuse to be bullied, subject to gang violence, and physically threatened with little corrective actions from school administration.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

School Based Fair Student Funding Discriminates Against Veteran Teachers And Hurts Student Academic Achievement.

There is little question that the DOE's use of school based fair student funding has hurt student academic achievement by making it difficult, financially,  for schools to hire veteran teachers and far too many schools have teaching staff with little experience and steep learning curves.  More importantly, the academically struggling and Renewal schools suffer the most as few veteran teachers are hired and the remaining veteran teachers leave those schools for either retirement or a better teaching environment.

When school based fair student funding was proposed by the DOE in 2005, the UFT understood the implications that it would cause an explosion of veteran teachers in the ATR pool and warned the DOE not to impose such a system.  However, instead of aggressively confront the DOE and stop them in their tracks, the UFT leadership meekly allowed the DOE to do as they pleased.  The result is a continuous group of 1,200+ teachers that are excessed and due to their age, salary, and seniority, they cannot obtain a permanent position.

With the imposition of fair student funding principals were now incentivized to "hire the cheapest and not the best" teachers for their school.  The Open Market System is simply a joke for veteran teachers as fair student funding penalizes principals who want to hire a highly skilled veteran teacher.  Moreover, "newbies" are prized because they will actually lower the school's average teacher salary and if they don't work out or leave, so be it, there are other "newbies" to take their place.  Finally, every year between 4,000 and 5,000 teachers leave the system, yet the ATR pool remains stable as the few ATRs who retire are replaced by teachers excessed due to closings and downsizing or won their 3020-a termination hearings.

Please go to Bryan Glass's web page.  the teacher's Lawyer, and fill out the questionnaire, if you are an ATR as a potential class action discrimination lawsuit may be filed if enough ATRs fill out the questionnaire. 

As long as the DOE uses school.based fair student funding, discrimination against veteran teachers will continue and that's not good for student academic achievement.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The 300 Member Negotiating Committee Is Only A Fig Leaf.

Our union leadership is organizing a 300 member negotiating committee to help with the next contract that starts in November of 2018.  However, if past history is a lesson, the 300 member negotiating committee is simply a fig leaf as the real negotiations will be dictated by a select group of our union leadership who cares little about what the rank and file wants.

Anybody who believes that our union leadership will listen to the 300 member negotiating committee's recommendations, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn t sell you.  Moreover, when it comes to pay raises, the UFT will be subject to "collective bargaining" and since DC37 is presently negotiating with the City on a three year contract with very modest's a safe bet that whatever DC37 settles for will also be applicable to the UFT.  Finally, the State unions are getting 2% raises and that will also factor into the final contract the UFT negotiates with the City.

The bottom line, I expect a two or three year contract with modest raises of between 1.5% and 2% yearly and hopefully,  no "givebacks". Presently, the City has a surplus while the State has a budget deficit and can afford to give us higher rises but  won't.  I would be shocked if the total UFT contract raises exceed 4% for two years or 6% for three. Let's hope that the small raises will not have to be self funded by increased health care co pays or other "givebacks".

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The NYC Racial Achievement Gap Widenes As Students Get Older.

A decade ago Mayor Micael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein proclaimed that their education reforms had significantly narrowed the racial achievement gap.  Of course those claims turned out to be "smoke and mirrors" as the primary cause was the State drastically lowering cut scores and providing questionable rubrics on the State tests that eventually led to the removal of the State Education Commissioner Mills.  When the State redid the tests the following years it showed that the racial academic achievement gap actually widened and led to the resignation of Chancellor Joel Klein as Mayor Bloomberg, embarrassed that his education reforms were a mirage , pressured Mr. Klein to leave.

Now in a new study by the City's Independent Budget Office (IBO), the report shows that as children advanced from third to eighth grades the racial achievement gap between Asian and White students grew, when compared to Black and Hispanic students.  The study tracked 71,000 third graders back in 2008 and ended the study in 2013, when the students were in eighth grade. This time period encompasses part of Michael Bloomberg's second term and all of the third term as Mayor of New York City.

The report shows that the Bloomberg/Klein education reforms to narrow the racial achievement gap was a failure and in fact, widened over time as the students advanced to the next grade.  Here are the six takeaways of the IBO report.

  1. Black and Hispanic students started far behind. 
  2. As they got older Black students fell further behind.
  3. Hispanic students made slight gains in English but not Math,
  4. By eigth grade Asians led the back in both English and Math,
  5. Black boys were at the bottom of the list.
  6. Girls out did boys in Math for all races.
Read the IBO report and its obvious that the racial achievement gap is not only real and persistent but widens as the students move up in grade   At least the IBO report doesn't blame the teacher for the poor academic results in high poverty minority schools.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

DOE's ATR Placement Policy Is A Failure - Part 2.

Last month I wrote a post that suggested that the DOE's ATR placement policy was a failure, which was based upon anecdotal evidence.  Now Charkbeat has published data, supplied by the DOE that confirms my previous post. According to the Charkbeat article only 41 ATRs were permanently placed since October 15th.  That is only 10% of what the DOE anticipated with their ATR placement policy.

Interestingly all 41 ATRs who were permanently placed were excessed due to school or program closing and not due to disciplinary or legal issues.  Which strongly indicates that the ATR assignment folks keep at least two separate lists of ATRs.   Moreover, the DOE admitted that the ATR pool consists of 1,202 educators and not the 822 that they claimed previously.  Finally,  their claim that the 1,202 numbers is 20% less than last year is false   Last year's number was 1,304 and that means the actual reduction is not 20% but 7%!

Another interesting item is that the DOE has admitted that principals would have to agree to permanently hire the ATR and would not be assigned without the approval of the Principal.  A clear win for  the principals.

The bottom line the more things the DOE claims to change, the more they stay the same. The DOE's ATR placement policy is a failure.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Proof That The Graduation Rate Is Bogus.

Since the Bloomberg era the high school graduation rate has steadily increased from 50% in 2000 to 76% in the last school year.  Of course Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio has claimed that their education reforms are making more high school graduates college and career ready.  The truth is far different.  A recent study by the Center For An Urban Future showed that only 22% of CUNY Community College students graduate with an associates degree within three years. The lowest numbers were in the Bronx with only a 16% graduation rate. The report stated the following:

The disappointingly low community college graduation rate clearly demonstrates that the high school graduation rate  does not make the high school graduate ready for the adult world. The report includes the following paragraph that peopple should take notice.
 These low college completion rates are particularly troubling at a time when a college credential has become the floor to achieving economic success. Indeed, 20 of the 25 fastest-growing occupations in the city that pay over $50,000 annually require a college degree.7 Citywide, the average working adult with only a high school diploma earns 32 percent less annually than a worker with an associate’s degree ($27,259 a year versus $36,101) and less than half the earnings of a New Yorker with a bachelors degree ($54,939).

The poor community college graduation rate of 22% is an improvement from the 13% in 2008  but still that leaves 78% who don't graduate college in a reasonable time.  The three neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of Bachelor degrees are Mott Haven (9%), Brownsville (11%) and Soundeview (12%),  Manhattan has the highest percentage at 60% and the Bronx the lowest at 19%.

The bottom line with almost 8 out of 10 nyc high school graduates unprepared for higher education, one must question the high school graduation rate and the diploma mills that are many of our high schools.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Retirement And The GOP Tax Plan.

The GOP tax plan will punish high tax states like New York and many other Democratic states by eliminating the State and Local Income tax deduction. In addition, the property tax deduction is limited to $10,000.  The New York Times did an in depth study and published it here.

For example the average deduction State and Local Income tax deduction in Manhattan was $60,400 and 45% took the deduction.  In Westchester, it was  $34,400 and 47% took the deductionWhile in Nassau it was $23,900 and 50% took the deduction.

For educators who live in New York City, they pay approximately 10% of their income to State and Local taxes.  Here is an example:

Teacher #1:  Salary $80,000,   Federal Tax = 25% or $18,863
                                           NYS Tax    = 6.65% or $5,320
                                           NYC Tax    = 3.65% or $2,800
                                           Total Tax  =30.30% or $23,983

As one can see, the 10% Sate and Local tax rate results in taxes of over $8,000.  On the other hand the federal tax will be reduced to 22% and the standard deduction almost double the existing amount.  However, personal exemptions would be eliminated.  The bottom line is that teacher #1  would probably be paying additional taxes due to the higher standard deduction and elimination of deductions.

On the other hand.  If Teacher #1 retires, then the GOP tax plan is going to reduce his or her taxes since the pension, social security, and TDA are not subject to State and Local taxes.  Moreover, the teacher will be in a lower tax bracket.  Finally, the  larger standard deduction probably makes it unnecessary to itemize with no earned income to tax. Overall, it appears that the GOP tax plan might encourage more educators to retire due to tax considerations.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Should You Contribute To The TRS Balanced Fund?

Starting next month the TRS Bond Fund will be discontinued and replaced by the Balanced Fund.  For educators who are still contributing to the Bond Fund, the same percentage will now be assigned to the Balanced Fund, umless you change your allocation.  While the Balanced Fund is preferable to the Bond Fund the question is should an educator contribute to it?

Normally a balanced fund is an appropriate conservative investment that usually has an asset allocation of between 40% to 60% in stocks and the rest in fixed income investments like bonds, money market funds and government securities.  However, when TRS offers a no fee 7% interest rate Fixed Fund, why bother?  I, for one rather put any conservative investments into a guaranteed 7% return then gamble on the Balance Fund with its allocation of volatile stocks and in our present low interest environment, 2% fixed income investments.

I see the Balanced Fund appropriate for those educators who think stock equity funds.are too risky for their tastes but wants some inflation protection.  Otherwise, the TRS Balanced Fund is not recommended by me at this time. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Safe Schools? Yeah Right! - Part 2

In a previous post I pointed out that weapons confiscated from students have risen an astounding 35% this school year so far but due to a lax discipline code, many of these students were not arrested or even suspended. Moreover, only 6% of all schools have metal detectors or scanners.  No wonder students and teachers feel more unsafe in their schools than at anytime in the past.

Wednesday, the DOE and NYPD sprang a spot scanning at the Bayard Ruskin Educational Complex in Chelsea and confiscated 10 knives.  They probably would have found more weapons but students used their cellphones to warn friends of the scanning.   In addition, two students were found to have handled an air gun at another Chelsea High School,  Fashion Industries.   Add the.two students found with guns at John Bowne high school last week and one can see there is a real issue with weapons being smuggled into our schools without metal detectors

Mayor Bill de Blasio may claim that the school crime statistics are going down but its obvious that the real reason is that school officials are not reporting the weapon confiscations as a crime.  No wonder school staff and students feel that their school is increasingly unsafe.