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,

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Disconnect Between Graduating High School And Graduating College - Case Study Newark, New Jersey.

The Department Of Education (DOE) in urban areas brag how their high school  graduation rate is increasing.  The problem is that most educators know that the high school graduation rate is bogus as it's artificially inflated by phony credit recovery courses, administrative pressure to pass undeserving students and grade fixing.  Of course when some of them end up in college, an unpleasant surprise often awaits them.  First, they are required to take no credit remedial courses.  Second, they quickly find out that college is a "sink or swim" environment with no hand holding by the professor.  Either you do the work or fail and many end up dropping out.

A case study is Newark New Jersey.  The data shows that Newark's graduation rate has skyrocketed to 73.47% .  Unfortunately, only 13.7% of those high school graduates actually got a degree of any kind, according to New Jersey's Open Data Network.  According to Chalkbest, 51% of Newark's high school graduates who went directly to college, did better but still disappointing with only 39% of them receiving a degree of any kind.

The Mayor's goal is that 25% of all high school graduates receive a college degree by 2025  he hopes to do this by adding "rigor" to the high school curriculum but if the high schools still use phony credit recovery and grade fixing, the Mayor's goal is simply wishful thinking.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Will The District 15 Middle School Integration Plan Work? I Doubt It.

Count me as being skeptical that Brooklyn's District 15 middle school integration plan will help disadvantaged and English Language Learners become academically proficient as they mingle with middle class White students.  Why do I think it won't work?  Let me count the ways.

First, many of the disadvantaged and English Language Learners come from the low achieving elementary schools and are academically behind when entering middle school.  Only people blinded by their ideology cannot see that these students will never catch up at this late age and might actually get frustrated and fall even further behind academically.

Second, these same elementary schools have no "gifted and talented" programs that can be a source of minority recruitment to diversify the middle schools and that is a major factor in the low minority student body in the "screened" middle schools..

Third, it could spark an exodus of middle class White families to the suburbs as their middle schools receive an influx of academically low achieving minorities, thereby, defeating the purpose of integrating the middle schools.

Finally, if the White middle class students flee the middle schools, look for the best teachers to transfer from those schools since teacher turnover is high when it comes to middle school teachers. If the student population becomes more difficult to educate, then these teachers will leave for a better teaching environment.  Consequently, these middle schools will end up with an inexperienced and short-term teachers who lack classroom management skills, curriculum knowledge, and lack of teaching skills.

I see the District 15 integration scheme to be a failure and will backfire.

Read more at Chalkbeat and the New York Post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

4,000 "Newbies" Were Hired While 1,300 ATRs Are Left Without A Classroom.

Here we start a new school year, with a new Chancellor, a new outlook, and another layer of Bureaucracy (Regional Superintendents).  Yet much of the new school year sees the same issues.  Foremost among them are the ATRs.

The ATRs are educators that were excessed from closing schools, programs, schools that had staffs reapplying for their positions, or were accused of incompetence or misconduct but were found not guilty of termination at their 3020-a hearing.  Moreover, the ATRs are the step children of the DOE and if the DOE had its way, they would be terminated tomorrow.   However, because the UFT, in allowing the formation of the ATR pool back in 2005, also made sure there was no time limit and has stuck to their guns despite the DOE requesting one.

Despite the UFT ensuring that ATRs can keep their jobs, the UFT did not push the DOE to encourage principals to hire ATRs.  Instead, the DOE implemented a "Fair Student Funding" program that encouraged principals to hire "newbies" rather than veteran teachers.  The result, was that many schools have an inexperienced teaching staff with classroom management issues and lack of curriculum knowledge.

Will anything change in the new contract for the ATRs?  I hope so but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Board Of Regents Recommends No Penalties For School Districts With High "Opt Out" Rates.

In a major retreat by the State to school districts with high "opt out" rates, the Board of Regents has recommended to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) that there should be no financial penalties (Title 1 funds) to those school districts.  This is good news to Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the Buffalo Region where "opt out" rates were the highest in the State and the nation.

Previously, NYSED gave school districts 4 years to meet the Federal 95% student participation requirement or face penalties.  Now it seems that the continued parent  protest to the high-stakes Common Core tests and Governor Andrew Cuomo's 180 degree turn on the issue has caused the Board of Regents to think twice about implementing the Federal requirements.  You can read Chalkbeat's take Here.

I suspect that the high "opt out" rates will continue in the New York City suburbs and with Common Core tests unsupported from the President on down, look for a more significant change that either eliminates or radically changes the State's high-stakes testing program.  Of course that assumes our Governor doesn't change his mind yet again.

You can see some of the "opt out" rates statewide for 2018. Here.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Why Is The TRS Balanced Fund A Bad Investment?

This year TRS shut down the low performing Bond fund and replaced it with a Balanced fund option for risk-adverse investors.  Before investing in the TRS Balanced Fund, please read why I don't believe it's a good investment option.

Most balanced funds usually have between 50% to 70% equities and 30% to 50% bonds and cash equivalents.  Historically, equities average about 7%, after fees and short-term bonds and cash equivalents  usually returns about 3%,  Therefore, the average historical return for a typical balanced fund is approximately 5%.

However, we are probably at the tail end of a bull run in equities and realistically, we should expect single digit returns of about 5%.  Moreover, with slowly rising interest rates, bond funds will struggle to have positive returns and just like this year, one can expect negative returns. The result is that the TRS Balanced Fund expected return will only average about 4% for the near term.

Compare that to the TRS Fixed Income Fund that gives us a guaranteed 7%  return with no fees!  Why would any risk-adverse member take a chance on the Balanced Fund when the TRS Fixed Income Fund gives a better return?

For members willing to take risks, there is always the TRS equity funds and this is a way to fight off the effects of inflation.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Why Do Female Teachers Get Little Or No Prision Time When Caught Having Sex With A Student?

The Daily News reported that Bronx middle school Social Studies teacher Dori Myers pleaded guilty to preforming oral sex on a 14 year old boy and received a 10 year sentence of probation and had to register as a level 1 sex offender but no prison time.  The Daily News article them claimed that she retained her teaching certificate.

The truth is she will most certainly lose her teaching license in New York State when the NYSED files an article 83 against Ms. Myers.  The City cannot take away a teacher's certificate only the State can.  However, what caught my attention was that she received no prison time.

Interestingly, many female teachers like Ms. Myers,  get no prison time, when caught having sexual relations with students while male teachers usually get between 2 to 10 years in prison.  Why is there such a difference?  Apparently, the legal system looks at men as sexual predators who planned and groomed the student, while female teacher are looked at as nurturers who became attached emotionally and crossed the line by becoming sexual.  Hence the disparate sentencing between male and female teachers which is unfair and discriminatory.

Here are the 50 most infamous female cases and the majority never received prison time.  By contrast, this article shows the disparate treatment when sentencing male and female teachers. Moreover, another article shows that same thing.  Finally, read this article.

The bottom line, male teachers are likely to get significant prison time while female teachers are most likely to receive little or no prison time when caught having sex with a student.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

If You Retire Before 2020 How Does TRS Take Out For The TDA In The Lump Sum Payments?

A commenter brought up  something that I could not answer.   The commenter asked a simple question.  "How does TRS account for TDA contributions if the UFT member retires before 2020?"  My answer is I don't know.

Theoretically, once an educator retires, he or she cannot contribute to the TDA.  However, in this situation,the lump sum payments are money owed to those who worked in the 2008-2009 school years, when the TDA contributions were part of an educator's payroll deduction.  Under the rules, you can contribute to a tax deferred plan as much money as you earned that calendar year, up to the maximum limit decided by the federal government. Isn't the lump sum payments earned income?

My guess is that TRS will punt on the question (football season has started) and refuse to allow newly retired educators to contribute to the TDA by using their lump sum funds.  I did try to get an answer from TRS but did not get a clear response to this question.  They informed me that retirees cannot contribute since they need earned income to contribute to the TDA.  When I brought up the fact that the lump sum payments were earned income the TRS said that they would look into it.  I'm not holding my breath waiting for an answer.  I hope I am wrong on this but I believe that somebody would have to bring a lawsuit to find out if the TRS is required to allow retirees to use their lump sum payments to contribute to their TDA.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Principal Manuel Urena Accused Of Anti-Semitism And Discrimination.

Three federal lawsuits have been filed by teachers who were targeted by Principal Manuel Urena of the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan.   He has been accused of targeting Jewish, Caucasian. and veteran teachers on trumped up disciplinary and performance charges and replaced them with young Hispanic teachers.

According to the teachers, including a former Chapter Leader, their complaints to both the DOE and UFT fell on deaf ears. You can read the New York Post article Here.  Principal Urena has a below average teacher trust factor that is 15% lower than the Citywide average.

Principal Urena has been identified as an administrator in need of improvement by the Solidarity caucus in their blog called "Don't Tread On Educators" blog.  You can find what the commenters say about Principal Urena  Here. Moreover, Ed Notes online blog had an article about Mr. Urena's assault on the chapter as well.

This appears to be another case of our union leadership not acting upon member complaints when targeted by a vindictive Principal.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Governor Andrew Cuomo Cannot Be Trusted.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to easily win reelection as Governor in November, as he sweeps through the Democratic primary this week and the general election.  To further his Presidential ambitions, he has swung further to the left (progressive) to get the progressive Democrats to endorse him.  Moreover, he has proclaimed that he is pro union by enacting executive actions that protect unions.  However, has he really changed?

Back in 2011 he imposed a three year wage freeze (the triple zeros) on State workers that affected all public service employee contracts throughout the State since localities can point to the State contract as a bases for giving inadequate or no raises..  If that wasn't bad enough he also imposed unpaid furlough days and a substantial increase in employee paid health benefits.  To put a cherry on top of the "employee givebacks" the Governor required all new employees to join the vastly inferior Tier VI pension plan. Least we forget that he also wanted to reduce retiree health benefits in the 2017 contract.

As for teachers, he pushed for a teacher evaluation system that would have 7% to 8% of all teachers rated "ineffective" due to "junk Science".  Further, 50% of the teacher's evaluation would be based upon student growth scores, even when the student wasn't in the teacher's roster and teachers only account for between 1% and 14% of a student's academic growth!  Finally, he demanded four years of  effective ratings before tenure can be given rather than three and that the burden of proof in a 3020-a hearing be on the "ineffective" teacher rather than the school district which usually means termination.

Least we forget how the Governor has refused to fully fund New York City schools  despite a court order to do so and is a major factor, besides DOE policies,  that schools have budgets that are 10% below their fair funding. In addition, the Governor is a strong supporter of education reform and charter schools.  In addition, he pushed and passed legislation to ensure that charter schools receive public money at the expense of public schools.  No wonder his largest contributor is the education reform organizations and the charter sector.

Remember, the only thing Governor Andrew Cuomo really cares about is winning.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Fix The Schools In Five Easy Steps

A few years ago their was an education blogger who has now retired.  He once wrote the actions needed to improve our public schools back in 2009.  In this down time, I believe we should revisit those five steps that "Accountable Talk" listed almost a decade ago.

Step One:  Stop the Gimmicks:
Step Two:  Enforce Discipline:

Step Three: Reduce Class Size:

Step Four: Attract the Best Teachers:

Step Five: Fire All Administrators:

Accountable Talk's blog stopped publishing in 2016 but his five 2009 talking points are still valid in 2018, Has anything changed since he published these action items?  Not really.  In fact one action item, student discipline has gotten worse under Mayor Bill de Blasio, with "warning cards" and useless restorative justice meetings rather than student suspensions and arrests.

You would think our union leadership would have adopted these five talking points and pressure the Mayor and Chancellor in reforming the money hungry and bloated DOE.  However, none of the five action points have been adopted by our union leadership.  In fact, President Michael Mulgrew told an Executive Board meeting that the UFT does not go after vindictive administrators since they are fellow union members (CSA).  What a crock of shit!  Of course he saw no issue in joining an anti-police rally organized by Al Sharpton,  Aren't the police (PBA) fellow union members?  Our union leadership is complicit in the DOE's attack on their teachers and rather than be pro-active they barely react to the DOE's policies that hurt the classroom environment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Teachers Paid 20% Less Than Other Professions Natonally.

Nationally, teachers are being paid 20% less than other professions and the teacher pay gap has actually grown over the last twenty-five years, despite a teacher shortage in many areas of the country.  Obviously, where the teacher pay gap is greatest like Arizona and Colorado, teacher shortages were most severe.

It was understandable during the great recession of 2008-12 that teacher salaries were essentially frozen and  layoffs were in force.  However, as the recession morphed into economic prosperity and low unemployment,teacher salaries failed to recover.  Moreover, class sizes were increased during the recession but politicians failed to allocate funds to reduce class sizes.  Why?  The answer is simple State legislatures used the extra funding that went into State coffers to give residents an across the board tax cuts, rather than fully fund the schools. Unfortunately,  politicians are more interested, like Governor Andrew Cuomo (without the tax cuts like other States), in seeking out "bad teachers" rather than fully fund school districts.

The result of the short sighted actions by the State Legislatures and the Governors are that schools are underfunded, lacked adequate resources, like books and other necessary materials, and oversized classes. No wonder only 5% of college students want to go into education, down from 21% in 2014. An updated map shows which State has anticipated teacher shortages for the 2018-19 school year due to their lack of attractiveness to teach in those States.

The teacher wage gap started in 1994 and has increased ever since. For all public-sector teachers, the relative wage gap (regression-adjusted for education, experience, and other factors known to affect earnings) has grown substantially since the mid-1990s. The teacher wage penalty was 1.8 percent in 1994, grew to 4.3 percent in 1996, and reached a record 18.7 percent in 2017.

Wage penalties have grown significantly for both male and female teachers
  • The wage premium that female teachers had in the 1960s and 1970s has long been erased, replaced by a growing wage penalty. Our previous research found that female teachers earned 14.7 percent more in weekly wages than comparable female workers in 1960. This report finds that the teacher weekly wage premium for female teachers had fallen to 4.2 percent in 1979. And the wage premium for female teachers largely disappeared in the 1980s and 1990s, replaced by a large and growing wage penalty in the 2000s and 2010s. In 2017, female public school teachers were making 15.6 percent less in wages than comparable female workers.

  • The wage penalty for male teachers is much larger. The weekly wage penalty for male teachers was 22.1 percent in 1979 and improved to 15.1 percent in 1994, but worsened in the late 1990s into the early 2000s. In 2017, male public school teachers were making 26.8 percent less in wages than comparable male workers.
You can read the entire Economic Policy Institute report Here. Please also read Time Magazine's article on the ever increasing teacher pay gap.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Seattle Teachers Negotiate a 10.5%, One Year Pay Raise.

Threatening to strike on the first day of school, the City of Seattle caved into the union's demand and authorized a 10.5% annual raise for the 2016-19 school year.  Moreover, the teachers also obtained an additional five days of parental leave.  Finally, the contract offers health benefits for substitute teachers. By contrast UFT negotiated a similar raise for seven years!

Maybe our union leadership should take a page out of the Seattle teachers union playbook and get a better contract for their members.  In addition, there were no "givebacks". You can read the newspaper article Here.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Has Anything Changed For The ATRs? No!

There was some hope that an outsider would be appointed Chancellor and "clean house" at Tweed, eliminate "Fair Student Funding", and require that all excessed teachers be placed before "newbies" could be hired.  Disappointingly, the new Chancellor, Richard Carranza, did none of the above.  While 1,000+ veteran teachers are in the ATR pool, 5,000 "newbies" were hired this school year.

Tuesday, a new school year begins and there are over 1,000+ ATRs, mostly veteran teachers, will find themselves in a strange school for a period of time until the DOE arbitrarily decides to move them to another strange school. Moreover, the ATRs will find themselves observed by both the school administration and the field supervisor while teaching in a strange classroom with students who know that the ATR doesn't control their grade.  Finally, the ATR will have no say in the school they are assigned to.

  • The school has no parking?  Too bad.
  • It takes over two hours by mass transit.  Tough luck.
  • You are assigned to a school without an elevator.  So what.
  • You have a handicap sticker and the school offers no accommodation.  That's your problem.
  • You don't like the school climate?  You have no say in the matter.
We can only hope that the next contract negotiated by t5he UFT will eliminate the ATR pool by placing all ATRs in their subject area before any vacancies can be filled.  Stop with the gimmicks like provisionally placed, teaching out of license,  or giving extra periods to existing staff.

While I can hope for positive change for the ATRs, realistically, I expect.little change for the plight of the ATRs as both the present UFT leadership and the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE accept the status quo.  Therefore, look for the ATR pool to be unaffected and that's a shame.