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.