Sunday, December 30, 2018

You Think Our Pay Raise Was Puny - Look What The Federal Employees Are Getting.

In our newest contract UFT members will be getting a puny 2% annual raise for the next three years and eight months, the length of the contract.  While our raises are less than than the inflation rate.  Pity the Federal civilian employees who had their 2.3% annual raise rescinded by President Donald Trump due to the budget impasse and his hostility to civilian public service employees.

The Senate proposed a 1.9% par raise but the House never voted on it.but the Democrats take over next weekend and can vote on the Senate proposal or come up with their own pay raise proposal in January.  See the article Here.

The military is exempt from the pay freeze.  They are getting a 2.6% annual pay raise for 2019.

I guess there is no happy new year for federal employees. Read the entire article Here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The DOE Says No To Santa Claus.

According to the DOE, Santa Claus was refused a job with them because he is politically incorrect and cannot be hired by the DOE in any capacity.  Why has the DOE banned Santa Claus from employment?  Here's why.

Sexual Misconduct:
Santa Claus puts children on his lap without their permission and calls girls hoes.

Bullying and Corporal Punishment:
Santa Claus allows poor Rudolf to be bulled by other reindeer pulling his sled and threatens to put coal in the stocking of children who are bad.

Breaking And Entering:
Santa Claus goes down chimneys without approval of the homeowner and steals milk and cookies.

Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice to determine if the child is naughty or nice.  According to the DOE no child is naughty.

Poor Santa Claus, he will never get a job with the DOE.

You can read my Santa Claus posts Here, Here, Here,  Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here.

Happy Holidays to all.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

More Closing Schools And That Means More ATRs.

The De Blasio administration has let it be known that more Renewal Schools will be closed at year's end.  This means more ATRs, especially veteran teachers since school based Fair Student Funding will discourage principals from other schools to pick them up.

How many Renewal Schools will close?  Probably five is a good estimate based upon their lack of students, low test scores, and teacher turnover.  Its possible that an additional Renewal School or two will be merged with other schools making more ATRs. This does not include trying to have teachers  reapplying for their positions like they did at Flushing and DeWitt Clinton High Schools.

Renewal Schools cannot attract academically proficient students simply by being identified as a struggling school and due to Fair Student Funding, quality teachers. Does that matter to the DOE that their own policies is a recipe or failure?  Of course not, best to blame the school for not improving then the DOE's  own failing policies.

What will happen to the remaining academically struggling schools?  I suspect they will eventually close or merge with other schools unless the schools are given specialized programs to attract academically proficient students and recruit veteran teachers, something the DOE has no plans to do,

You can read the entire article about the Renewal Schools and what will happen to them in Chalkbeat.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

My Response To The New York Post Editorial.

In Today's New York Post there is an editorial  that wants to end the teacher evaluation moratorium that links children's test scores with teacher evaluations.  The editorial falsely claims that the moratorium protects lousy teachers rather than the real reason for the moratorium.  That scientific studies have shown that a teacher accounts for only between 1% and 14% of a student's academic growth.

The New York Post editorial also failed to mention the  Sheri Lederman case where the judge found the linkage between teacher evaluations and her students growth was based upon an incorrect algorithm, "junk Science".

Furthermore, the  editorial failed to mention that the moratorium was limited tto grades 3 to 8.  High school teachers were still evaluated based on Regents test scores.

Finally, all teachers are evaluated by their administrators and if the teacher is lousy, they can be terminated. either immediately if they are untenured or, if tenured,  through an administrative hearing by a State appointed arbitrator.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Just Another Terrible Principal

Leave it to New York Post columnist, Susan Edelman, to find some of the worst people working at the dysfunctional DOE.  In today's New York Post Susan identified a recently terminated Mew Rochelle high school Principal, Shadia Alvarez.

Leadership Academy alumni Principal Alvarez was terminated by the New Rochelle school board due to grade fixing and phony credit recovery. The investigative report that lead to her termination said the following:

Last week, the New Rochelle school district released an investigative report that found Alvarez had changed or fabricated 212 grades for 32 students who failed or did not complete online make-up classes needed for graduation. 

Ms. Alvarez had previous problems as a DOE Principal at Collegiate Institute for Math and Science in The Bronx. There Ms. Alvarez, was subject to separate OSI and SCI investigations and quit as Principal when the SCI report was completed.  She was accused of padding her overtime, not documenting her DOE credit card spending and leaving the school with a $114,000 debt.

Ms. Alvarez was also known as the "prom killer" as she threatened to cancel the prom unless the senior class had a 100% graduation rate, an impossible feat, especially for a Bronx high school.

The question is how did Ms. Alvarez get the Principal job at New Rochelle High School and who in the DOE hid the reports of Ms. Alvarez's misconduct and gave her a glowing recommendation?  Those DOE officials should be terminated as well.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

NYC Public School Students Had Lower English And Math Regents Passing Rates - So Much For DOE's Claim Of Academic Improvement.

It appears that the DOE's claim that students academic achievement is getting better took a major blow when the New York State Regents results came in.  Both in English and Math there were significant drops in the passing rate.  According to the New York Daily News, English passing rates dropped 7% from 77.7% last year to 72.2% this school year.   While the Math Regents drop was 9% from 66.2% to 60.5%.

While the English and Math Regents passing rate dropped, at the same time  the high school graduation rate increased.  This shows the disconnect between the graduation rate and student academic achievement.  In other words the New York City schools are graduating students who are unprepared academically for the adult world .

Interestingly, the DOE cited the improved graduation rate  as proof of student academic achievement  while claiming that the lower Regents passing percentage was due to this year's harder Regents which the State denies. Based upon my previous posts on the graduation rate, I suspect the State is correct.

Further proof, I did an analysis of all Queens, unscreened high schools and that shows the disconnect. In addition, here are the Queens high schools that had poor college readiness scores.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Why Doesn't The Union Fight To Eliminate School-Based Fair Student Funding?

In 2005, them UFT President, Randi Weingarten badly miscalculated and agreed to eliminate seniority transfer, which allowed the DOE to impose school-based Fair Student Funding (fsf).  Ms. Weingartem's miscalculation was that she didn't think that the DOE would allow ATRs to be without a classroom and pay 150 million dollars yearly.  However, Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg believed it was worth the extra cost to eliminate veteran teachers and close schools while hiring inexpensive "newbies" in their "education on the cheap" policy.   Of course Fair Student Funding did not affect the union leadership, only their rank and file members were affected by this perverse and discriminatory policy. 

The main reason the union leadership didn't fight fsf is that they are not affected by the policy.  Moreover, it doesn't hurt that they get double dues from the 1,300+ ATRs and the "newbies" hired by the schools in place of them.  Finally, why should the UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, butt heads with his friend the Mayor?  Better to have 1,300+ ATRs being glorified babysitters, with no right to refuse forced placements,  than advocating for their placement back in the classroom and pissing off his buddy the Mayor.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Wiil Principal Louis Pavone Be Removed From PS/IS79 In Long Island City For Drunk Driving?

Principal Louis Pavone was spotted by the police making an unsafe lane change and was found to be drunk.  He was arrested for a DUI.  If  Mr. Pavone was a teacher, he would be removed from the school and reassigned until his case was adjudicated.

However, Mr. Pavone is a Principal and will probably be allowed to run his school while his DUI charge runs its course.

 This is known as the DOE "double standard" that assumes administrators are innocent until proven guilty, while teachers are assumed guilty and reassigned from their school.

You can read the entire New York Post article Here.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

While Schools Scrimp For Funds The DOE Wastes A Million Dollars On Unecessary Travel Expenses.

It's no secret that schools suffer from near recession budgets and only receive 89% of their fair funding.  By contrast the bloated DOE does not worry about funding when it comes to their travel, wasting almost one million dollars on questionable travel and poorly documented proof of their educational value.

According to City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the DOE wasted almost a million dollars on lavish and unnecessary travel for example:

• $14,023 in blatant overpayments, including $11,913 to the glitzy New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

• $233,167 for meetings in hotels and other venues with no effort, as required by the rules, to find free or low-cost space in city school buildings — including $12,883 for a staff retreat at the posh Tarrytown House Estate on the Hudson.

• $269,684 in purchases that lacked required written bids including a $17,847 catering bill.

• $14,956 in credit card charges with no supporting documentation, including $2,821 in charges at the lavish Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville.

This is just another example of the bloated and wasteful DOE using money for their own needs while stiffing the schools of much needed resources.  Francis Lewis High School Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein said it best  in the Ne York Daily Mews.

"Teachers have to beg for money and these educrats are staying at the Marriott. Shame on them," said Francis Lewis High School teacher and teachers union rep Arthur Goldstein.

"They don't have any money to reduce class sizes but they have money to over-pay hotels," added Goldstein, who said he teaches 34 students stuffed into a half-size room. "Where are their priorities?"

This is where the DOE's "children last"  policy came from with the DOE's wants and needs coming first and the students get the leftovers.  Read the entire Daily News article HereThe New York Post story is Here.

Let's see how many educrats are terminated due to the lavish travel fiasco?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

More NYC Students Going To College But Are They Getting A Degree?

With great fanfare Chancellor Richard Carranza hailed the 59% of the high school graduates who went to college, other continuing education programs, or the military.  The problem with the 59% figure it doesn't tell one how many high school graduates who entered these continuing education programs finished with a degree.

We do know that for high school graduates who entered community colleges in NYC, only 22% achieved a degree in three years and only 33% in six years.

The Chancellor also  boasted that "college readiness " improved by three percentage points, to 51%.  However, the CUNY metric was changed once again and the 3% improvement must be highly suspect.  The changed CUNY metric no longer includes Algebra II, which many NYC students have difficulty passing.

Chalkbeat has an article that further explains it.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Golden Turkey Award - 2018

Michael Mulgrew:

 Once again I nominate UFT President Michael Mulgrew for the Golden Turkey award.  His poor negotiating skills resulted in inadequate raises, no reduction in class size caps, and the continuation of Danielson that is a weapon for vindictive administrators .  Moreover, he failed to end the ATR pool or even make significant progress to improve the ATR environment. In addition, he refuses to target vindictive and/or incompetent principals.  Finally, his failure to get the DOE to eliminate Fair Student Funding that discriminates against veteran teachers is a crime.

Republican State Senate:

Goodbye and good riddance as the Republicans lost control of the NYS Senate.  The Republicans would hold up many bills to improve public education by demanding the creation of more charter schools.  With Democrats in control of the legislature,  more money should be funneled to the public schools and the charter school cap should be frozen. Of course there's still Governor Cuomo to deal with.

Independent Democrats:

Most were defeated and while in control of the State Senate,  they supported charter schools as they cooperated with the Republicans.who limited resources to the public schools in urban areas.  Of course, there's still the Governor.


The Union Of Rank And File Educators (MORE) UFT caucus has essentially self destructed by expelling or encouraging the more moderate members of the caucus to leave as they have veered sharply to the left.  MORE support social justice while ignoring teacher justice issues and has alienated the moderates who feel unrepresented in the Socialist/Communist dominated MORE   This breakup for ideological reasons will probably cost the MORE organization the high school executive board seats in next year's UFT election.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Will Chancellor Richard Carranza Eliminate School Based Fair Student Funding?

One of the most controversial policies that the DOE employs is school-based Fair Student Funding.  The Bloomberg/Klein administration made no secret that they wanted an "education on the cheap" policy and Fair Student Funding fits perfectly into that policy.

Because of Fair Student Funding, the ATR pool exploded when Bloomberg closed 163 schools and veteran teachers could not get a position due to their salary..  Moreover, over 800 teachers, mostly veterans, were sent to the rubber room due to alleged misconduct or incompetence.  Finally, many senior teachers were pressured and harassed to retire.

Before there was Fair Student Funding, teacher salaries were funded by the DOE and not the schools.  Many knowledgeable Principals knew that veteran teachers were best for their students.  These veteran teachers had excellent classroom management skills, deep curriculum knowledge, and  best of all knew how to adjust to different scenarios. Moreover, seniority transfer allowed veteran teachers to bump untenured teachers from desirable schools and their students ended up with the best teachers.

By contrast, with school-based Fair Student Funding principals were incentivized to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers for their school".  No wonder the ATR pool is loaded with veteran teachers. In addition the Open Market is a waste of time for veteran teachers who want to change schools because of Fair Student Funding.

Until Chancellor Richard Carranza eliminates Fair Student Funding, l don't look for changes in the discriminatory school hiring practices that only hurt student academic performance..

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Horror Show For Some Students Due To DOE Incompetence.

The DOE showed how bad their decision making is by waiting for children to be dropped off at their school Friday and at 9 a.m cancelled after-school programs and activities.  Too late for parents to make alternate plans. Why did the Chancellor decide so late?  Because he claimed that he was unaware until that time that 10% of the yellow bus fleet was adversely impacted by the snowstorm.  This shows that the DOE was lax in obtaining up-to-date information on the yellow bus fleet that transports students to and from school.  The DOE's lack of oversight of these bus companies must share the blame for this travesty.

On Thursday, due to the snowstorm, It turns out that one Special Education child did not arrive home until 3am on Friday!.  How can that be?  In another case five Special Education students were trapped on their broken down yellow school bus for 10 hours!   The DOE, flush with money, would have called a taxi to transport these Special Education students to their home?

In another case parent Veronica Sterling wrote the following at 9:48 pm on Thursday on Facebook.

My son is still not home from school. He was been waiting for a bus for over 4 hours. I am glad he has a wonderful staff keeping them calm, active and fed.  I normally do not tweet about things like this but I am concerned parent of a special needs child in D75

Then there is this story in the New York Post.  Finally, teachers at P.S. 128 in Washington Heights proceeded with open school night, despite the weather and teachers were forced to stay all night at the school due to hazardous weather conditions.  Why wasn't it cancelled?

More DOE incompetence and uncaring of their students and staff if you ask me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

With A Democratic State Senate, This Should Freeze The Charter School Cap.

The blue wave hit the NYS Senate and the Democrats will control the Senate in January.  One of the changes will be that the Senate Republicans cannot demand an increase in the charter school cap.   Moreover, with many Democrats agreeing with Mayor Bill de Blasio on keeping a freeze on the charter school cap, there are few available openings for new charter schools in New York City.   Finally, even our charter school Governor, Andrew Cuomo, will be hesitant to push for an expansion of the charter school cap since he has presidential ambitions and will not risk alienating the teachers unions and their traditional allies.

Presently, in New York City there is only 8 open spots available for new charter schools and the Democrat controlled legislature is unwilling to expand the cap.  Further, its highly unlikely the charter friendly Governor will waste political capitol to actively push to expand the charter cap.  Finally, the linking of Wall Street hedge fund billionaires with the charter movement  as well as President Donald Trumps support has alienated the general public in New York City and makes it extremely difficult to support expanding the charter school cap.

Read the New York Times article Here.  The New York City Charter School Center has the statistics on the charter school cap.

Goodbye Bloomberg and Klein.  So long the Republican controlled Senate.  No more charter school supporters getting their way.  The heyday for education reformers and their charter school allies are over.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

UFT Leadership's Animal Farm

Back in 1945 George Orwell published a book called "Animal Farm" that was based upon the 1917 Russian Revolution.  The book showed how some animals were more equal then other animals.  The same can be said about the UFT leadership.  In today's New York Post a prime example of this is President Michael Mulgrew getting free tickets for the U.S. Open year after year from the legal group that gets millions of dollars from the UFT.  Read Susan Edelman's New York Post article on it Here.

By contrast teachers cannot receive any gift greater than $50 dollars and are never offered "freebies".  This is the very same union leadership that agreed to Charlotte Danielson for teacher evaluation, without member input.  Moreover, the very same union leadership that allowed the ATR pool to occur, without educator input, and agreed to the useless rotation without member discussion.   Finally, it's the very same union leadership that agreed to inferior raises and significant "givebacks" that made teaching in the NYC classroom a minefield.

Both the DOE and the UFT have a pecking order that treat different groups differently.  President Michael Mukgrew and his cronies are the "pigs" in Animal Farm while the rest of us are simply farm animals.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Breaking News - ATRs Are To Stay In Place For The Semester.

I have been informed that the DOE will leave ATRs in place, at the school they started in for the rest of the semester.  I had heard this rumor last month and it seems that is what has happened, with some exceptions.

Will ATRs be rotated at all?  I do believe they will be rotated for the second semester.  Let's see if that actually happens.

Just to remind ATRs, the useless rotation was proposed by the UFT leadership back in 2012 and adopted by the DOE.  So blame our union leadership for the rotation that make ATRs a stranger in a strange land.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Consequences Of Mayor Bill de Blasio Keeping Bloomberg Holdovers At Tweed

When Bill de Blasio became Mayor of New York City, many hoped that the Bloomberg era policymakers at Tweed would have been forced to resign as he would "clean house".  Unfortunately. the Mayor appointed Carmen Farina as Chancellor and she retained 80% of the Bloomberg policymakers.  The result was the conflict between the DOE and teachers continued as teachers looked at the DOE as the enemy.

DOE policies like school-based "Fair Student Funding" which incentivizes principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.  Tight school budgets that was only funded at 90% of their appropriate funding.  The 1,000+ ATR pool that wastes $150 million dollars a year.   Finally, the continued hiring of incompetent and vindictive "Leadership Academy Principals" that , rather than collaborate with staff did the opposite and dictated to their staff.

However, the worst offense by the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE was violating student privacy laws by giving student names and addresses to charter schools in violation of State and Federal privacy laws.  By giving the charter schools public school student names and addresses, the charter schools,  armed with this knowledge they were able to pick off students that were not English Language Learners and did not need Special Education services, by sending them glossy flyers about their charter school.

Susan Edelman of the New York Post published an article that shows why the DOE may have violated student privacy rights and both the State and Federal government have initiated an investigation.  On the nyc public school parent blog more information is also available.

The DOE's apparent violation of student privacy rights should result in many resignations at Tweed if the Mayor and Chancellor do their "due diligence".

Monday, November 05, 2018

If ATRs Had Their Own Bargaining Unit, They Would Have Voted Overwelmingly No!

The UFT contract easily passed with only school nurses voting against it.  However, if ATRs had their own negotiating unit, they would have overwhelmingly voted no!

Why did ATRs vote no?  Let me count the ways.

  • ATRsa re treated as second class citizens.
  • ATRs are forced placed.
  • ATRs cannot refuse an assignment.
  • ATRs are rotated without consent.
  • ATRs have few opportunities to take per session jobs.
  • ATRs are observed in strange classrooms.
  • ATRs are observed by field supervisors.
  • ATRs have no input in student grades.
  • ATRs are discriminated by the DOE's school-based fair student funding policy.
Now you know why ATRs voted no on the contract.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Maximum TDA Limit Raised To $19,000 For 2019.

Starting  January 2019 the maximum annual limit will increase by $500, from $18,500 to $19,000.   If the educator is 50 years of age or older, the TDA allows a "catch up" contribution of $6,000, which is unchanged from 2018.  Therefore, the total maximum limit for educators 50 years of age or older is $25,000.

The more you contribute to the TDA, the less you pay in taxes that year since your TDA contribution is tax deferred..  Moreover, the TDA is exempt from State and City taxes in New York State.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Rotatuon Or No Rotation? That Is The Question.

Rumors are flying around that ATRs will stay in one school the entire school year,  However, according to the DOE ATR rotation is still in force for this school year.  When will ATRs be rotated is anybody's guess.?

Originally, ATRs were to be rotated this month and that may still be the case.  However, I have also heard that ATRs will stay in one school for the semester   It is possible that the ATRs will not be rotated at all.  Of course nobody at the DOE or UFT will confirm or dispute the rumors.

Even principals have no clue on how long they can depend on having the ATR in their school.  Therefore, they cannot assign ATRs to a class since they cannot depend on the ATR being in his or her school a month from now.

You would think that for stability sake the DOE and UFT would have come to an agreement on how long an ATR is assigned to a school.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Special - Horror Stories From The ATR Pool.

Back in 2014 I wrote a post on the horror stories told to me from ATRs.  I have decided to repost the article.  Please enjoy.

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

Horror Stories From The ATR Pool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Villain: (new)

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

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

Count Dracula: (New)
This ATR was sent to a school with one of the worst principals in the system.  She found that many of her Special Education  students (maternity leave replacement) had major behavioral issues and when she tried to discipline them, the Principal filed corporal punishment charges against the ATR.  Yet, she was kept in the classroom to continue to teach for the rest of the year.  At the end of the school year the ATR received her 3020-a charges.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Why ATRs Voted No On The Contract.

Some people who have been critical of the union leadership, have decided to support the contract.  These well-respected bloggers are nyc educator, DOEnuts, and JD2715.  One thing all three have in common is that they are not ATRs. 

By contrast, all bloggers who are ATRs.  South Bronx Schools, ATR Adventures, and ATR NYC have voted no.  Moreover, ICEUFT, run by a retired ATR recommended a no vote.  Finally, I, as an ATR also voted no.

It's a pity that our usually reliable allies, while giving lip service in support of the ATRs, still voted yes for the contract, despite the contract not making any significant changes to the ATR pool.

Just to remind my readers here is what its like to be an ATR. Read the history of the ATR pool.

  • ATRs have no say in their placement and rotation.
  • ATRs must accept a provisional appointment, even when the school is unappealing.
  • ATRs are observed by field supervisors in a strange classroom with no knowledge of the students and no ability to affect their grade.. 
  • ATRs found innocent of 3020-a charges still has a "Scarlet Letter" attached to their file by the DOE as if their guilty..
  • ATRs realistically have little opportunity for per session.
  • If the ATRs survived their 3020-a hearing, they are considered "untouchables"  for vacancies.
  • Fair Student Funding makes it almost impossible for veteran teachers to  receive an offer for vacancies.
  • DOE continues to demonize ATRs and wants them  terminated.
Now you know why ATRs voted no.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Is The Renewal Program Working? I Think Not.

When the Renewal program was introduced by Chancellor Carmen Farina and Mayor Bill de Blasio.  There were 94 schools in the program.  All of them academically struggling.  Four years later, as the Renewal program is expected to end at the end of the school year, we see that 25% have escaped the Renewal program as they have improved enough academically.  25% have closed as they have academically failed, and 50% have remained in the Renewal program and their fate will be decided at the end of the school year.

At the high school level, no school has escaped the Renewal program due to academic improvement, while some have closed due to poor performance or lack of students applying.  The reasons for the failure are multiple.
  1. Lack of academically proficient students. 
  2. High teacher turnover.
  3. Inexperienced teachers.
  4. Low staff morale.
Is the Renewal program working?  Not at the high school level.  Read the Chalkbeat article.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of The Contract.

UFT members are voting for the new UFT contract and while I will vote no. I can understand some people voting for it.

  Let's look at the good:

  • Paraprofessionals get teacher "due process".
  • Paraprofessionals get a 5 and 15 year bonus.
  • Teachers get less formal observations.
  • Principals cannot retaliate (yeah right) against UFT members. 
 The bad:

  • Raises less than inflation. 2% annually vs.2.8% inflation.
  • No increase in the TDA interest rate from 7% to 8.25%.
  • Fair Student Funding still in effect.
  • Charlotte Danielson still in force. 
  • Class size limits remain unchanged. 
  • Health care givebacks.

The ugly:
  • No change in the ATR process
  • The DOE will continue to waste $130 million dollars yearly.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Teacher Absenteeism - More Proof Of The Hostile Environment Of NYC Schools.

Despite a new Mayor, the NYC classroom continues to be a hostile environment for teachers.  In a new report 20% of teachers were chronically absent (10 or more days) during the 2015-2016 school year.  In high poverty schools the percentage of teachers chronically absent was slightly, higher than more affluent communities.  However, the highest percentage of chronically absent teachers (25.2%) were found in the working class, immigrants communities that compose District 30 in Queens.  While the lowest (13.1%) was the diverse District 1 in Manhattan.  Last school year the DOE found that 14.8% of the teachers were chronically absent (11 or more days)..

With one fifth of NYC teachers chronically absent, this negatively affects student academic achievement and results in an unstable school climate.  The blame for the high teacher absenteeism rate lays on the doorstep of the DOE who appoint incompetent, vicious, and uncooperative principals, most from the infamous "Leadership Academy".  Moreover, the DOE implements policies that pit school administrators against staff.  Finally, the DOE is still dominated by Bloomberg holdovers who occupy important policy making positions  and have an "us against them" mentality when it comes to a lack of cooperation with teachers.

Despite a new Chancellor, the classroom teacher still thinks of the DOE as the enemy and not a  partner in educating children.  That's why there is such a high teacher absenteeism rate in the NYC schools.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Memorandum Of Understanding

Chalkbeat published the entire Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) contract between the City and the UFT.  Based on the MOU.   Here are the highlights.

  • Raises (2% per year) less than the inflation rate (2.8%).
  • No change in DOE hiring policy that discriminates against veteran teachers
  •  No decrease in class sizes limits
  • Charlotte Danielson still used.
  • ATRs permanently hired will not count on a school budget for the length of the contract.  Then what?
  • Still two or three lists of ATRs.and the Scarlet Letter will remain.
  •  On the first day of school. ATRs will be forced placed in vacancies
  • No "newbies" can be hired once the school year starts.
  • Paras get teacher "due process" and an increase in longevity raises.
  • Chapter Leaders can see a student's OORS report.
  • Expedited grievances pertaining to oversized classes.
  • Less observations for effective or highly effective teachers.
The major "giveback" was health care.  All "newbies" must be enrolled in HIP the first year.

 A searchable version of the MOU can be found Here.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Union Leadership Once Again Failed The ATRs.

The Union and the City has negotiated a new contract and once again the union leadership failed the ATRs.  According to what is known, the only change is that schools cannot hire "newbie teachers" once the school year starts instead of October 15th.    This change may allow some ATRs to snag a provisional position for the school year since some teachers may have taken another position in a better school at the last minute.  The result is that  these vacancies will be in the worst schools.

According to South Bronx Schools, the ATR salary will no longer affect a school's budget, if permanently hired for the length of the contract and a special program that will employ ATRs in running a small  learning group for struggling students.  However, I have not seen this identified.  In my opinion these changes on the margin will not reduce or eliminate the ATR issue.

Regardless, the union leadership failed to get the DOE to eliminate the school based Fair Student Funding that incentivizes principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.  Moreover, the union failed to get the DOE to change hiring procedures that would require schools to hire from the excessed teacher list in the District before hiring "newbies".  Finally, the union agreed to the DOE's forced placement and useless rotation of ATRs,

We still remain second class citizens.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Givebacks "R" Us.

Over the last twenty year our UFT leadership has kept contract negotiations secret from the members and has resulted n contracts that were short on raises and long on "givebacks".  After the UFT leadership negotiated the terrible 2005 contract that resulted in the members giving up time, days, and resulted in the ATR pool.  The giveback laden contract created such a backlash and resulted in the UFT leadership setting up a 300 person negotiating committee to make it seem like member input was important.  However, the 300 member committee was simply a fig leaf as behind closed doors the UFT leadership negotiated with the City without member participation.

Now that another contract is imminent, the UFT leadership is once again negotiating behind closed doors and we can expect raises that don't even equal the inflation rate and who knows what "givebacks" the union leadership will agree to that hurt members.  We already know there are health care "givebacks".

Because the union leadership keeps everything secret, members cannot object if they have no ides what is being negotiated until it is too late.

List of Givebacks:   

  • Elimination of the seniority transfer.system.
  • Creation of the ATR pool.
  • Creation and expansion of the "probable cause" provision.
  • Adding time and days to the school year.
  • Reinstating circular six requirements.
  • Reducing the TDA interest rate from 8.25% to 7%.
  • Agreed to allow the City to have their own 3020-a provisions.
  • Failed to stop the DOE from using the school based fair student funding that discriminates against veteran teachers.
  • Members can no longer can grieve a letter to the file.
  • Restrictions imposed on ATRs.
  • Increased the vesting period for retiree health benefits for newer members.
 Maybe the union leadership will surprise us and negotiate a contract with raises, at least equal to inflation and no "givebacks" but I'm not holding my breath.

Update:  Our union leadership negotiated a 2% annual raise for the members (7.5%/3.75 years).  This is significantly lower than the 2.8% inflation rate and the inflation rate is expected to go higher in the next two years. 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Proof The DOE Does Not Care About Studemts.

The DOE claims that they care about students but the truth is the DOE only cares about themselves.  If the DOE really cared about the students, the DOE would fully fund the schools, reduce class sizes, and eliminate school-based fair student funding that forced principals to "hire the cheapest rather than the best teachers" for their school..

In addition, the DOE had a 2019 budget of $25,6 billio dollars and according to  the City Council..  in their report,  Despite less teachers hired, the DOE headcount went up,  Some of the increase was due to an expansion of Special Education services but the headcount at the Central Bureaucracy also increased.

The DOE has shortchanged students and teachers:
The Department of Education’s $15.8 billion PS budget supports a budgeted headcount of 133,021 full-time equivalent employees (FTE). Most DOE staff work in public schools, and most staff are teachers. Since Fiscal 2015, headcount at DOE has increased by 11,131 positions, for a total of 133,021 budgeted full-time positions in the Fiscal 2019 Preliminary Budget. However, the percent of teachers has steadily declined. In Fiscal 2019 budgeted teacher positions account for approximately two-thirds (64 percent) of all school-based staff but 58 percent of all DOE staff. Most of the headcount increase at DOE includes titles such as literacy coaches, special education support staff, social workers and universal pre-kindergarten teachers, all of which are not listed as teacher titles at DOE. The figure below shows DOE’s overall FTE headcount since Fiscal 2015 and the total number of teachers. However, we may see this trend begin to reverse as the Four-Month Actual headcount for Fiscal 2018 in the PMMR is indicating an increase of 152 teacher titles.

It appears the DOE rather spend money on headcount, especially in the Central Bureaucracy, rather than spend it on students and schools.  A prime example id that instead of building more classrooms, students are crammed into trailers that had only a life of ten years and now have toxic black mold. Here's how the DOE responded to parents about moldy trailers.

How many students get sick because they are being put into trailers that have lasted long past their lifespan?   The New York Post identified the problem and yet the DOE has done little but claim they are working on the trailer issue.  For the DOE its all talk and no action at the expense of the students and teachers who must suffer the consequences.

Friday, October 05, 2018

It Appears That Teacher Respect Is Making A Comeback

Over the past couple of year American altitudes toward teacher reputation and respect has been improving.    The Answer Sheet wrote an article that, using Time Magazine's cover page, showed how teachers were thought of at the beginning of the Obama Administration and what's happening presently.  Also, Education Week wrote a similar piece.

At the beginning of the Obama tenure as President, his administration embraced the education reform movement that demonize teachers.  Starting with his nomination of Arnie Duncan as Education Secretary, who single handedly destroyed the Chicago Public Schools that resulted in many schools closing and teachers terminated.   Then Obama blamed teachers in Rhode Island for the low test scores, conveniently ignoring that the high school he cited was composed of recent immigrants and English Language Learners.  Obama was a strong supporter of education reform and along with then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and  the Walton family, decided to evaluate teacher competence by student test scores.

Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee,  was the "rock star" of the reform movement.  She imposed a teacher evaluation system that entirely relied on test scores.  The result was that many Washington D.C.teachers were unfairly fired.  Moreover, the Obama administration bribed states to develop their own test-based teacher evaluation system by giving them money as they were cutting education funds due to the recession.  This was called Race to the Top   Finally, the reform movement had  the media as allies as teachers were the blame for all school ills.  An example was Time magazine's cover called "Rotten Apples", which demonized teachers.

When states adopted the education reform programs and they failed to improve student academic achievement, .the Obama administration backed away by not supplying additional funding as the President also facing reelection and realized that his ant-public school teacher and pro charter agenda was a political liability.  Of course his teacher evaluation systems were now part of every state's education policy.  By the last year of the Obama administration, Arnie Duncan was gone and the charter school miracle was a mirage.

The combination of a recession, the Obama administration, and the media,  teacher disrespect was at its peak.  Since 2000, teacher salaries were noncompetitive, when compared to other professions and even conservative parents now  support teacher demands for higher salaries, small classes, and more respect.  States like West Virginia,   Oklahoma, Washington, and Arizona saw teacher salaries increase and teacher respect becoming an  issue.

Let's hope that the teaching profession becomes a respected profession throughout the nation.

Monday, October 01, 2018

My Best Guess On What The Next Contract Will Include.

I suspect that the UFT will present it's members with a new contract quite soon.  The question is what will the new contract include?  Here are my best guesses.

  • A three year contract with raises averaging around 2% annually.  Probably back loaded with the lowest raise (1%) the first year and the highest raise (3%) for the final year of the contract. 
  • Only two observations yearly instead of four, at least for those educators who are "highly effective".
  • No change in the ATR rules. Therefore, look for 1,300+ ATRs at the beginning of the semester.  More teacher misconduct chargesmay be subject to the "probable cause" provision and therefore can be removed from payroll and have their health benefits suspended.
  • No change in the DOE hiring process and fair student funding.

There may be other changes but I doubt they will be beneficial to UFT members,  I just hope the union leadership does not allow for "givebacks" to the City.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Racial Academic Achievement Gap Keeps On Widening.

The New York Post did an analysis of the racial achievement gap, based upon State tests, for the last five years and found out that it actually widened, despite efforts to close it.  This shows the failure of Mayor Bill de Blasio's and his Chancellor, Carmen Farina's policies to improve public education for Black and Hispanic students.

According to the Post's article between 2014 and 2018 the racial academic achievement gap increased from 37.2% in 2014 to 38.2% in 2018 between Black and White students in Math.  The racial academic achievement rates also inched up in English as well.

In addition the proficiency percentages in Math between Hispanics and Whites also widened, going from 32.7% in 2014 to 33.3% in 2016.

In English, the racial academic achievement gaps between Black/Hispanic students and White/Asian students also inched up.

The bottom line is that the failure to close the racial academic achievement gap is a real problem that hurts the Mayor's claim that his policies are making the New York City public schools better.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Best And Worst States To Be A Teacher

A study was done using various factors, to determine the best and worst states to be a teacher.  The lists are as follows:

Best States To Be A Teacher:

  1. New   York
  2. Connecticut
  3. Minnesota
  4. Illinois
  5. North Dakota
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Wyoming
  8. New Jersey
  9. Maryland
  10. Ohio

Worst States To Be A Teacher:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Arizona
  3. North Carolina
  4. Louisiana
  5. Florida
  6. Mississippi
  7. South Carolina
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Washington D.C.
  10. West Virginia
Best vs, Worst

  • Wyoming had the highest annual average salary for all teachers,,public and private (adjusted for the cost of living) at $47,288.  While Hawaii had the lowest $24,409).
  • Michigan has the average annual salary for public school teachers (adjusted for the cost of living) at $69,439.  While Hawaii had the lowest at $30,086.
  • Vermont has the lowest pupil to teacher ratio at 10.54.  California had the highest at 23.63.
  • Washington D.C. had the highest public school spending per pupil at $25,323.  While Indiana had the lowest at $6,673.
  • New Jersey had the best work environment.  While Arizona came in dead last. 
  • Massachusetts had the best school systems.  While New Mexico had the worst. 
The study was based on using 22 metrics and if one was to look at the geographical representation, the Southern States rated the worst for teachers while the Northeast rated the best,