Friday, August 31, 2018

President Donald Trump Wants To Freeze Federal Employee Raises.

President Donald Trump realizing that there will be a $700 deficit, due to his corporate tax cuts and the Congress passing a bloated spending bill, has decided to unfairly blame Federal employees by freezing their pay.  The anticipated 2.1% raise that would have been in employee paychecks on January 1, 2019 will no longer happen if the President gets his way.  Congress may still overrule the President and is currently proposing a 1.9% raise.  My guess the federal employee raises will be closer to 1% as a compromise.  Furthermore, he also wants to eliminate the locality pay differentials that reward Federal employees who work in high cost of living localities.

The military is unaffected and their 2.5% raise, the biggest in nine years, will remain unaffected.

You can read some newspaper articles Here, Here, and Here.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The More Money Spent On A Student, The Better They Do On High-Stakes Tests.

Most educators know that resource rich schools have students who do better on high -stakes tests.  This assumption is disputed by education reformer organizations who claim its all about the teacher.  Well, we now have a study that shows that educators are right, the more money spent on a student, the better they do on high-stakes tests.

The study shows that when funding per pupil increases, both English and Math test grades increase.  In schools, like in New York City, there is less than a correlation because of the way NYCDOE allocates funding and it's difficult to trace where the money goes.   Consequently, additional funding is not always spent on the student but ends up in the Central Bureaucracy.The study can be found Here.

Chalkbeat does a good job summarizing the paper and can be found Here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Imagine If Our Schools Followed The Example Of This School In Oklahoma?

A high school in Oklahoma has implemented a policy that fines students and their families $250 for repeated student lateness and believe it or not, can be imprisoned for up to 15 days in jail if they refuse to pay the fines!  This is the second high school that fines students who are late to school.  You can read the high school in Utah Here.

Can you imagine if that policy was adopted for the New York City High Schools where 20 to 25% of high school students show up late to class and over 50% for their first period class?   Moreover, just imagine that the fine money would totally eliminate the 10% budget shortfall that our schools currently experience and reduce class sizes to manageable numbers, from 34 to 25 or less.  Finally, the students who repeatedly show up late and refuse to pay the $250 fine will spend 15 days in the local pokey and probably stop going to school and disrupt the classroom, thereby allowing for coherent instruction and a peaceful classroom.  A win-win situation for the vast majority of students.

Of course I'm dreaming since Bill de Blasio will never allow fines for lateness and at worst will only approve "warning cards" to be issued rather than jail time.  Too bad, since it would go a long way in improving the hostile environment of the New York City high school classroom.   

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Pity The Tier VI Teacher.

A new school year will be starting in September and approximately 5,000 "newbie" teachers will be thrown in the classroom.  The question is how long will they last?  With Charlotte Dainelson, inept administration, and lax student discipline rules, many of these "newbies" will end up quitting.  At best, maybe 50% of the "newbies" will be still in the classroom.  Moreover, 80% will no longer be teaching in the school they started in.  Finally, only 33% will make it to vesting for a pension and less to receive retiree health benefits.

Below summarizes the comparison between the two tiers.

Tier IV.
Vesting for a pension, between 5 to 10 years.
Employee contribution 3% first 10 years , then 0% beyond ten years.
Highest three consecutive years for determining the pension.
Five to ten years to receive retiree health benefits.
Multiplier, 1.67% per year for less than 20 years,  2% between 20 to 30 years.
1.5% per year for years beyond 30 years of service.
Age Reduction Factor, 0.73 to 0.94 from 55 to 61.

Tier VI.
Vesting for a pension, ten years.
Employee contribution 4.5% to 6%, depending on salary. 
Highest five consecutive years for determining pension.
Fifteen years to receive retiree health benefits.
Multiplier, 1.67% per year for the first 20 years. 2% for 20 years or more.
Age reduction factor, 0.48 to 0.94% from 55 to 62.  

To show how unlikely these "newbie" teachers will make it to full retirement, please play my Tier VI retirement game Here

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Another Losing Hand Negotiated By Our Failed Union Leadership.

In my twenty-five years I worked as a teacher, every contract or changes to the contract negotiated by our union leadership always require member "givebacks"  by the UFT.  Now our failed union leadership negotiated a parental;, not family leave provision, that required the members to give back 75 days worth of a raise.  You can read the UFT negotiated parental leave document Here.

While our union leadership proclaim victory, the City's Independent Budget Office determined that the De Blasio Administration would save $9.5 million dollars with the deal.

Read the ICEUFT blog for a detailed analysis of the UFT negotiated parental leave provisions and once again the UFT membership gets snookered.  Furthermore, read what Reality Based Educator feels about our union leadership.  Here.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Why Some High Schools Cannot Attract Good Students.

When then Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein all but eliminated the large neighborhood comprehensive high schools by opening up to all students the ability to  select any citywide school to apply to while closing low performing schools.  This misguided program resulted in the closing of most of the large comprehensive high schools throughout the City.  The result was increased academic and racial segregation that made the New York City public school system one of the most segregated school districts in the nation.

Now Mayor Bill de Blaiio and his Chancellor, Richard Carranza.  have vowed to integrate the schools and that is a worthy goal, except they are going about it the wrong way when it comes to the high schools.

Presently,  both the Mayor and Chancellor have failed to change the high school admission procedure that have resulted in the segregated high schools.  Until the DOE eliminates the citywide high school admission requirements and brings back the large comprehensive neighborhood high schools academic and racial segregation will continue. An example of this are the academically struggling Renewal High Schools, which are almost 100% minority, compared to 70% for all citywide students

In Chicago, a study done by a pro-charter organization called "kids first" showed that in the poorest schools in that city, the schools in high poverty, mainly Black student body, have one empty seat for each two students entering their schools.  The reason is like New York City, students can apply to any school in the city.  Therefore, these schools become more segregated academically and racially. You can read the Chalkbeat article Here.

Please read my post on how some New York City High Schools cannot attract students, especially the Renewal High Schools.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Are Schools Safe? Yeah Right - Part 4.

The New York Post has an article that shows that rape and sexual assault has skyrocketed the last school year in the New York City public schools.  This is just another example how Mayor Bill de Blasio's lax student discipline code has resulted in the public schools being increasingly unsafe.

According to the New York Post, using NYPD school safety data found the following:

  • Sex crimes skyrocketed by 138% last school year.
  • There were 31 felony sexual misconduct arrests last year compared to 16 the year before. That is almost double from the 2016-17 school year.
  • Overall sex crimes increased by 76% from 51 in the 2016-17 school year to 83 in the 2017-18 school year.
  • Rape charges increased by 240% last school year, from 5 in the 2016-17 school year to 12 last school year.
Are our schools safe?  Yeah right!  If you believe in the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and Santa Claus Just read my previous posts about school safety.  Here, Here, and Here. Also read this article  Here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Why is Chancellor Carranza Flying All Over The Country Rather Than Tackling The Problems At The DOE?

Let's get one thing straight.  I understand that as head of the largest public school system in the country, the Chancellor's presence is much in demand and under normal circumstances, I would not have a problem with the Chancellor traveling to these conferences and discussion groups.   However, since Chancellor Richard Carranza is new to the job, he has much "housecleaning" to do and has not done it.

The first thing he should have done by now is to eliminate the Central Bureaucracy bloat at the DOE. Instead, he actually added to the bloat by installing an additional layer of upper management. Presently, many of the Bloomberg era policymakers are still in their jobs as they continue to implement policies that hurts both students and teachers alike.

He has also failed to resolve the ATR situation and eliminate school-based fair student funding that forces principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.

Finally, schools are still suffering from recession era budgets and are underfunded by 10% of their fair funding.

Before our Chancellor should be gallivanting around the country, he first needs to to solve the issues at home.  A more detailed post can be found Here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Warped School Safety Program.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has weakened both school discipline codes and school safety rules since he took control of the New York City Public Schools.  Under the Mayor, he has made schools increasingly unsafe.

First, he allowed students to carry cellphones in school and this has proven a distraction to classroom learning.  Especially, in low achieving schools.

Second, he reduced suspensions by schools by requiring principals to get DOE permission before a school can suspend a student.

Third, he drastically reduced students carrying weapons from being arrested or suspended.

Finally, he has now imposed useless 'warning cards" for arrestable actions, like drug possession or disorderly conduct.

I feel sorry for parents who have academically proficient students and must suffer the distractions, chaos, and safety issues that Mayor Bill de Blasio has brought to the New York City Public Schools.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Why Does Bill de Blasio Want School Speed Cameras Rather Than Speed Bumps?

The Republican controlled State Senate refused to renew the  school speed cameras for New York City schools due to political considerations and their hostility for the Mayor are the  reasons that the city had their school speed cameras shut off.  Bill de Blasio demands that the school speed cameras be turned back on and wants it expanded to all s schools to protect students.

The existing speed cameras only operate between 7am and 4pm during school days.  However, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants them to operate during daylight hours and add another 150 school speed cameras to the existing 120.  He claims it's a school staff issue but I suspect its about the money for fines that end up in the city coffers.

Instead of speed cameras, every school street should have a speed bump.  This way all cars, not just law-abiding ones will slow down   Why didn't Mayor Bill de Blasio propose school speed bumps?

First, school speed bumps cost the City money to install. Second, the speed bumps don't generate funding for the City.  So, instead of making money on the school speed cameras, they would pay to install school speed bumps.  For the Mayor it's not school safety but revenue.

That's why Mayor Bill de Blasio wants school speed cameras and not school speed bumps.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fighting And Bullying Are A Common Occourrence In New York City Public Schools.

Despite Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim that New York City public schools are safer, the truth is far different.  In today's New York Post, the article claims that District 29, which includes Cambria Heights,  Hollis, Springfield Gardens, Saint Albans, and parts of Jamaica has the highest rates of bullying and fighting in the City.

According to the article, middle school IS 59 in Springfield Gardens had the highest reported occurrences of bullying and fighting.  At IS 59 in Springfield Gardens, 86 percent of students reported skirmishes — with 49 percent saying those occurred “most of the time.”  Also,  At Queens United Middle School in Springfield Gardens, 72 percent of survey takers reported regular fighting, with 42 percent saying it was a constant feature of their environment.

While District 29 in Queens has the highest incidents of bullying and fighting,the other school districts have similar issues with 43% of the city students reported fights in their school and 14%  see fights "most of the time".  Thanks to the lax school discipline policy by Mayor Bill de Blasio, students are not safe from bullying and fighting in the New York City public schools.
Safe schools?  Yeah Right.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Why Did The DOE Hide The SHSAT Report?

After an over five year wait, the DOE finally released the Metis Associates report on whether the SHSAT is an indicator of student academic achievement in high schools.  The report's conclusion was that there was a strong correlation between passing the SHSAT and academic achievement in high school.  The question is why did the DOE refuse to release the report to the public for five years?

The report was commissioned by the DOE after the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint that the SHSAT was not a valid indicator of student academic achievement.  In the New York Times article the report found that the mean G.P.A. for students who scored high enough on the test to be accepted to one of the specialized high schools was 3.036 in their first year compared with 2.387 for students who were not accepted to the specialized schools. Similarly, the mean scores for accepted students on Regents examinations ranged between 82.59 and 93.41 across various subjects. The mean scores for students not admitted ranged from 68.69 and 79.16.

Obviously, the Metis Associates report did not support the NAACP's claim that the SHSAT was not a valid indicator of student academic achievement in high school and the City administration decided not to release the report.  Why?

The answer to that question needs to be made public.  Was it a racial issue?  How about poverty?   Maybe it was due to political considerations?  Could it be all three?  The public has a right to know why the DOE refused to release the report to the public?  What were they afraid of?

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Disconnect Between Weapons In Schools And Student Suspensions.

The Bill de Blasio administration has made a big deal about the lower student suspension rate but is quiet when it comes to the uptick in student weapon confiscations. This disconnect is one of the reasons that Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim that the city schools are safer than ever is snickered at by most education experts.

In today's New York Post, Susan Edelman has published an article showing that weapon confiscations have risen significantly since Bill de Blasio became Mayor.  Despite the skyrocketing student weapon confiscations in school, the suspension and arrest rates have dropped since many of the weapons confiscated were considered legal such as kitchen knives and box cutters,  Moreover, principals are reluctant to suspend students caught with weapons because it hurts their statistics when being evaluated in their "quality review" and all suspensions must be approved by the DOE who can and do overrule the Principal's recommendation.

According to the Post's article weapon confiscations rose an astounding 28% last school year, rising from 2,119 in he 2016-17 school year to 2,718 in the 2017-18 school year,

No wonder students don't feel safe outside their classroom.   You can read my posts on weapons in the schools Here, Here, Here, and Here.

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Superintendent Of The Patchogue-Medford School Distrtict Supports The "Opt Out" Movement.

The "opt out" movement is alive and well and still going strong despite NYSED claims that fewer students "opted out" last year.   While statistically that's true, still 19% "opted out" statewide last year and 51% on Long Island.  In solidly white, middle class communities on Long Island, the "opt out" rate saw close to 3 out of 4 students "opt out".  By contrast, NYC had a 3% "opt out" rate as both the UFT and the DOE discouraged parents from "opting out".

Now in an opening salvo to NYSED, the Superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford school district  has sent a letter to teachers telling them that the State tests were useless and should be thrown into the garbage.  The school district had a 76% "opt out" rate last year and it may be higher next year in light of the Superintendent's letter.

The student growth scores are based upon  "junk science"  and the State must eliminate this useless metric,  Renumber, "garbage in, garbage out".

For more information about the "opt out" issues and the teacher evaluation system you can read my posts Here, Here, and Here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Bring Back Academic Tracking To Help Diversify The Specialized High Schools.

Back in the 60's and 70's every child was tracked academically starting in upper elementary school and when they entered junior high school (grades 7 to 9), they were placed, based on their academic achievement.  The smartest students were assigned to Special Placement classes (SP or SPE).  The next group were placed in classes 7-1 to 7-4.  Academically struggling students were dumped into the lower numbers . like 7-10 to 7-14.   By the time the junior high students were eligible to take the SHST, every high achieving student from every junior high school in the City had a fighting chance to be selected to the three specialized high schools, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx high school of Science, and Stuyvesant.

During this time period, all three schools were more diverse.  In fact, Brooklyn Tech had a majority minority student population.  What changed?  Simple, the city eliminated academic tracking when child advocates and minority pressure groups claimed that Black and Latino students were dumped into the lower tracks.  Eventually, the City caved and eliminated tracking.  The result was that many middle class parents of high achieving students moved to better neighborhoods with better schools, leaving behind lower class parents and less desirable schools.

To make matters worse.  The lack of a father in many households, especially in the Black community, resulted in financial insecurity, a lack of discipline, and disrespect which adversely affected academic achievement.   With no "gifted and talented" programs and tracking, the schools in lower class neighborhoods were at an academic disadvantage, when compared to the middle class neighborhoods.

Adding to the problem was the influx of East Asian  (Chinese, Koren, Japanese) of recent immigrants  who emphasized academics to their children.  Is it any wonder that the three specialized high schools have an over representation of this cohort?

The bottom line is that to diversify the specialized high schools the City must form a "gifted and talented" program, for every elementary school and tracking for the middle schools.