Saturday, December 28, 2019

Principal Henry Shandel Of Marie Curie Middle School In Queens Proposes A Questionable Grading Policy

Principal Henry Shandel of Marie Curie middle school in Bayside Queens has sent teachers a proposed grading policy that allows students who fail to complete assignments to make up the work or get an alienate assignments up to the grading deadline.  According to the Daily News article here is what the Principal wrote to the teachers about his proposed grading policy.

: “For late/missing work due to student failure to complete an assignment on time, students must also be given multiple opportunities to make up or turn in work regardless of due date and without academic penalty, up until the end of the current marking period."

To me Principal Shandel's letter to the teachers is just another example of academic fraud to jack up the passing and graduation rate of the school and push undeserving students into the next grade or high school without the academic tools to legitimately advance in grade. 

Teachers were understandably upset since they knew that the Principal was not interested in giving students a quality education but simply wanted to pass as many students as possible. According to the article  The Principal's grading policy removes student accountability and weakens teacher control of student grades.  Not surprisingly, the DOE supports the Principal and their public relation mouthpiece hypocritically said the following according to the Daily News article.

“We are laser-focused on students mastering academic content and the draft policy as written is academically sound and was distributed to teachers to solicit their feedback," Education Department spokeswoman Danielle Filson said Thursday.

This is just another example of academic fraud proposed by a Principal that weakens teacher control and reduces student accountability,and supported by the DOE that hurts student academic achievement to make them look good statistically,  plain and simple.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Santa Claus And The ATR

Santa Claus is known to bring presents to deserving girls and boys.  However, when it comes to ATRs, Santa Claus is unhappy since he did not deliver the ATRs the present they most wanted: A permanent position in a good school.  He tried but since the DOE is in charge, the results were disappointing.

An ATR sent Santa Claus a letter asking him to place her in a vacancy in a good school, with available parking but Santa Claus had arraigned that the ATR will be placed in a vacancy in one of the worst schools in the Borough with little parking availability.   It seemed that Santa Claus had contacted the DOE who was happy to supply him with a list of terrible schools who cannot recruit or retain teachers and supplied Santa Claus with the list of schools that nobody wants to teach in.

The UFT leadership claimed success as they convinced the DOE to develop the pilot program that would have the DOE pay the school the ATR's full salary to work in these selected terrible schools that Santa Claus was given a list of.   Has it significantly reduced the ATR pool? Only time will tell if it will be successful.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Podcast School Colors Is An Interesting Listen

School Colors is a podcast that focuses on District 16 schools in Brooklyn and while I don't agree with many of their conclusions, I still believe it is an interesting listen.

The podcast has eight episodes and follows a chronology.   It starts with the Ocean Hill-Brownsville  experiment that resulted in the longest teacher strike in NYC history and ends with the attempted integration of Bedford-Stuyvesant.  The episodes are as follows"

Episode 1:  Old School
Episode 2: Power to the People
Episode 3: Third Strike
Episode 4 Agitate! Educate! Organize!
Episode 5 The Disappearing District
Episode 6 Mo' Charters, Mo' Problems
Episode 7 New Kids on the Block
Episode 8 On the Move
Interview: Night at the Library

I believe that no matter what side you are on the podcast is a must listen.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Required Minimum Distribution Raised To 72 Years Of Age

Congress passed and the President signed the budget to fund the government.  Included in the budget was the Secure Act.  The Secure Act was a bipartisan agreement that changed and enhanced the pension system.  This included allowing annuities to be part of the IRA or 401k plans and no age restrictions on IRAs.  there are many other significant changes and they can be found Here

For teachers who are near or are retired, the most important change is the SECURE Act pushes the age that triggers RMDs from 70½ to 72.  That gives the retiree another year and a half of appreciation before giving the Federal government their Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).. 

Here are my two posts where I discuss the Required Minimum Distribution and the TDA.  Here and Here. ontill TRS and the UFT allow for a ROTH option,when you pay the Federal Government their money upfront, the RMD is the penalty we pay for having a tax deferred TDA.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Some NYC Schools Are Academically Failing

The New York Post had an article with a heading "Over 140 NYC schools had a 90% failure rate on State exams". The article points out the sad state of academics in the largely low income and minority elementary and middle schools in NYC. Moreover, 23 schools reported an entire class that had nobody passing the State exams.  Finally, the DOE actually reported that the 142 school failure rate as an academic improvement since the previous year 193 schools reported a class with a 90% failure rate.

The New York State tests are given to grades 3 to 8 and are given in March and April for English and Math.  Not surprisingly, the highest failure rate are found in high poverty schools that have high percentages of minority students as well as Special Education, English Language Learners, and homeless students.

Here are some of the worst schools based on the State exams.

  • At PS/MS 46 Arthur Tappan in ­Harlem, 57 eighth graders sat for the state math exam last year, ­according to state data, and all failed.  Here is a studdnt's account for one of these classes
  • At the Academy of Public Relations middle school in The Bronx, 50 students sat for the same eighth-grade math test, and not one was proficient, the numbers show.
  • At PS 306 Ethan Allen in Brooklyn — a participant in City Hall’s defunct Renewal Schools program — 47 fifth graders took their state math exams last year and all failed.
  • At PS 224 in Brooklyn, a total of 301 kids in grades 6, 7 and 8 took their state math exams and 288 of them flunked — a bleak pass rate of 4 percent, the figures show.

  • A total of 57 third-graders at PS 31 William T. Davis on Staten Island took both state exams. Only three passed English and one passed math.
  • At the North Bronx School of Empowerment, 186 seventh graders took the state math test and just eight passed.
Many of the old Renewal Schools are found on the failure list.

The demographic breakdown of the State exams are as follows for NYC students:

 In Math, Asians led the way a 74.4% proficiency rate, followed by Whites at 66.6%, Hispanics at 33.2% and Blacks at 28.2%.

Asian kids also scored highest in English with a 67.9% proficiency rate, followed by Whites at 66.6%, Hispanics at 36.5% and Blacks at 35.0%.

The low test scores are correlated with poverty, family, and community and that's the inconvenient truth.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Racism Has No Place In Our Schools

At high performing Beacon High School in Manhattan, where student acceptance is based upon their middle school academics and is, for the most part, color blind, racism has reared it's ugly head.

A White and Jewish girl privately complained to her guidance counselors about being "wait listed" by her university of choice while lower academically performing minorities were accepted.  She rightly felt that is unfair and discriminatory.  The guidance counselors,were apparently Jewish, sympathized with the student and agreed that the University's selection accounted for affirmative action criteria in selecting their student body and hurt her chances to get in.  It's common knowledge that top universities discriminate against East Asian and Jewish high school students when it comes to admissions and this girl was probably a victim of that discrimination as well as the affirmative action requirements.

Unfortunately, a Black student, who was waiting to meet with his counselor, overheard the confidential conversation and barged into the confidential meeting and berated the girl and her counselors and then reported it to his friends.   The same group that staged a sit in at Beacon High School on the school's selection system that limits the integration process because it does not look at race or practice affirmative action to increase Black and Hispanic students. The result was that the White and Jewish girl was subject to cyber bullying and racist rants at school.

Worse, a Black Science teacher identified as Mr. Green has told the group of students that  they should boycott school today and continue until their complaints are met.  This is unacceptable and the teacher should be disciplined since he is encouraging racism.  Moreover,the teacher is accused of inflaming racial tensions, encouraging kids to be insubordinate and violating DOE attendance and safety regulations.  I suspect that either SCI or OSI will be investigating this teacher and deservingly so.

Susan Edelman of the New York Post wrote an article about the situation and is a must read Here.

In a follow up article by Susan Edelman it appears the school's Principal, Ruth Lacey, actually supported the student boycott that has racial overtones rather than putting a stop to it.  No wonder our schools are having racial divides with principals like her who rather support than confront the racial issues associated with the student boycott.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Middle School Murder Suspects Go To A Poorly Performing School

The alleged murder suspects who mugged and killed 18 year old  Tessa Majors attend a poorly performing middle school.  According to the New York Post article. The school demographics for the latest school year (2018-19 ) is 51% Black, 28% Hispanic, 13% White and 3% Asian.  Academically, only 12% were proficient in Math and 26% were proficient in English.  The City average for the State tests are 46% and 51% respectively.

The middle school the three suspects attend is called PS 180, a K to 8 school, and the students complain about bullying and staff complain about student discipline issues.  The trust factor is below the City average and the majority of teachers are non-tenured   Here is the Inside School's Snapshot of the school's quality report.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

District 28 Parents Object To The DOE Integration Plan

At a public meeting the overflowing crowd of District 28 parents vocally objected to the DOE's proposed integration plan.  Not one parent liked the idea of sending their child from their neighborhood school to be bused from one part of the district to a school that requires parents to take mass transit or an expensive taxi to reach for school meetings or pick up a sick child.

While there is an obvious racial and ethnic components in the opposition, the fact is that the Jamaica section of district 28 have low preforming schools and suffer from student discipline issues, while the Forest Hills schools are high performing and have low student discipline problems.  Moreover, the Jamaica section of District 28 are low income and many families live in poverty, while the Forest Hills section of District 28 is upper and middle class and both cultures are alien to each other.  Having the students adjust to a different culture will only add to the issues of trying to integrate the schools.  Finally, many families buy homes in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens because of the schools.  If you bus these students to Jamaica, these families will flee to District 26 or Long Island.

Based on the public hearing and the intractable issues associated with integrating the District 28 schools.  I see only frustration and failure for the DOE's integration plan.  See my previous post Here.

Monday, December 09, 2019

PS 169 Principal EuJin Tang May Have Exposed 2nd Graders To Adult Nudity

Principal EuJin Tang of Brooklyn's PS 169 decided it was a good idea for her students, who are mostly low income,  recent immigrants, to learn to swim.  While that was a good idea, the problem was that the fitness center apparently did not isolate the students from the adult members and according to the New York Post, the 2nd graders were exposed to nude adults changing in the locker room as they waited to change into their swimsuits.

Some of the 2nd graders told their parents and the parents are very upset and rightly so.  The Principal, who was in charge of the outing should have made sure that the students were isolated from the changing adults but apparently didn't do so.  Moreover, many of the students were required to change in front of other students which upset their parents as well.

The Principal, EuJin Tang has been in the news previously when back in 2014 she banned Thanksgiving and Christmas  and celebrations, as well as the national anthem and made national headlines. Then she was known as EuJin Jaela Kim.  At that time she had one of the lowest teacher approval rating in the City at 32%.. While this has improved, the latest approval rating of 60% is still well below the City average of 86%.  She was made Principal of PS 169 in 2014 despite only having three years of school experience, when Chancellor Carmen Farina required all principals to have a minimum of seven years school experience.  As you can imagine, Ms, Tang is a graduate of the infamous Leadership Academy.

Ms. Tang (still known as Ms. Kim) also threw out nearly new desks  as well as other materials that cost $25,000 and replaced them with tables and was criticized by the media for wasting usable furniture when school budgets were tight.. I wrote a post about EuJin Jaela Kim back in 2015 and you can read it Here.  Furthermore, back in 2015 a petition to remove the Principal of a school that has 1,300 students generated 2,783 supporters but was ignored by the DOE.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Common Core Is Rapidly Losing Favor Nationally

Back in 2010, administrators, politicians, and education reform organizations set up a working group to come up with common national education standards that would allow the Federal Deportment of Education to compare one state with another and compete with other countries.  The Obama administration, led by his basketball playing buddy Arnie Duncan convinced the President to support "Common Core" which included testing and linking student scores to teacher evaluations.

To ensure states would comply with the Federal Department of Education's policies, the Obama administration dangled money at the states in the mist of a recession and states that did not link student growth scores to their teachers would not get the money.  The federal government encouraged states to develop "junk Science", like in New York State, that ended up to be thrown out  by a State judge.  Under governmental pressure. the "Common Core" rollout was a disaster as the major education publishers had no materials or books and teachers were not trained to teach it.  Worse, students were forced to adapt to a different Math program that parents did not understand and could not help their child. Moreover, the reading of non-fiction of boring books rather than reading fiction like "1984" was not good as students disliked the books.. Finally, the emphasis on testing has resulted in parents to "opt out" and in New York State 20% opted out with middle class Long Island having a 52% "opt out" rate.

The Common Core saw the Republican Tea Party and the Left wing of the Democratic party both come out against it.  In addition, most teacher unions soon realized that the extra funding the federal government provided never trickled down to the classroom but instead was used to pay high priced consultants , develop tests, and even pay for office furniture!    The Common Core is rapidly losing favor since there is no longer funding attached to it.  With  politicians like President Trump and most of the Democratic Presidential contenders are against the Common Core, the future of the program does not look bright.

The Common Core, combined with the Obama administration's support for charter schools who, for the most part did unrelenting test prep that emphasized English and Math while Social Studies and Science were given  little time since they did not have a Common Core requirement.  Savvy principals in the traditional public schools saw that and many students got a double period of English and Math while Social Studies and Science were taught every other day and even less.  The result was an incomplete education for the students..

The New York Times has an interesting article about Common Core but seems to slant it favorably  for Common Core and did not mention the linkage between student growth and teacher evaluations so read it with a grain of salt and look at my posts about NYS teacher evaluations. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What Is The College Graduation Rate For NYC Students?

With the high school graduation rate increasing yearly (75.9%) and more students attending college, has the college graduation rate improved?  The answer is a disappointing not really.  Based on the latest 2017 data he college graduation rate for NYC high school graduates is 22% for CUNY and 26% for SUNY.  For two year associates degree from community college the graduation rate is a disappointing 32%.

The reason for the disappointing college graduation rate is that colleges try to maintain high standards and unlike high school, there is no such thing as " credit recovery", scholarship requirements by principals to ensure more students graduate and administrative pressure to pass undeserving students.  Just look at my academic fraud posts.

The bottom line is that less than one out of every four students who enter college will achieve a four year college degree and that is disappointing.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

The Venezuela Education System Is In Collapse

 Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America and had an education system that was one of the best in the Western Hemisphere.  However, the price of oil dropped from $100 a barrel to $30 a barrel in 2013 and Hugo Chavez died.  He was replaced by Nicolas Maduro who mismanaged his country and saw the collapse of the education system.

Most of the middle class of the country fled and teacher salaries were cut drastically to near minimum wage of $8 monthly.  The low pay and lack of students and resources have seen the majorly of teachers in the country leave the country and or the profession have not returned to the classroom in September.  The lack of students was a result of schools not providing meals because of a lack of funding by the government.  Some schools have less than 10% of their enrollment.

The New York Times has an excellent article on Venezuela's education travesty under the Socialist government.

Here is a Frontline timeline of Venezuela's economic collapse.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Annual GoldenTurkey Award 2019

The annual golden turkey award goes to two people.  Chancellor Richard Carranza for his ill-advised integration policy that is simply a joke and his bumbling administration who can't seem to get it right when it comes to the New York City public schools.  The second person is Mayor Bill de Blasio who ran and failed to even garner 1% of voters for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Chancellor Carranza has some good qualities, like he is not anti-teacher and is trying to get ATRs permanent positions.  However, he has failed to eliminate the ATR pool, refused to eliminate fair student funding and reduce class sizes. He also resorts to the old trick to claim that an increased graduation rate means academic improvement.

Furthermore, his racial favoritism has resulted in lawsuits by white females against his administration and for the most part, his integration policy for schools is a failure.

Mayor Bill de Blasio failure to garner support for President and his refusal to eliminate many of the Bloomberg era education policies make him a worthy recipient of the golden turkey award. Large class sizes, unenforced student misconduct issues, and lack of a full school funding has not been resolved,

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Chalkbeat Ignores Some Of Bloomberg's Education Legacy

I read Chalkbeat's article on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's educational legacy and felt it did not adequately identify the negatives associated with his policies on the New York City public schools.

For example, Chalkbeat did not identify school based fair student funding that discriminated against senior teachers or his creation of the ATR pool that cost the DOE over 150 million dollars annually. In addition, Bloomberg's policies also resulted in the destruction of neighborhood schools by closing many of the large comprehensive high schools and allowing principals to artificially raise graduation rates by allowing failing students to take loads of "credit recovery" courses that had no academic value.  Let's not forget how he supported charter schools by giving rhem school space and funds while starving the public schools of resources.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg the racial/income academic achievement gap actually widened! and how he refused to give teachers a raise that he gave most everybody else as he igbored the City's collective bargaining policy.

The legacy of the Bloomberg education policy resulted in the DOE and classroom teachers treated each other as the enemy and his disrespect for public school teachers is legendary.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Michael Bloomberg Officialy Joins The Democratic Presidential Race

After weeks of speculation, Michael Bloomberg has officially joined the Democratic Presidential race.  By announcing his candidacy, it shows the Michael Bloomberg is quite unhappy with the present candidates, especially Joe Biden.

Obviously, Michael Bloomberg was dissatisfied with the sharp left turn by the Democratic party and saw even the moderates shifting to the left and felt none of the top contenders will beat his hated foe, Donald Trump.  

Just to remind my readers that Michael Bloomberg is anti-public school teacher and is a strong supporter of charter schools.  The present ATR pool was the result of Michael Bloomberg and he was responsible for closing 162 schools and eliminated the high school teacher cafeterias.  Finally it was under Michael Bloomberg that fair studxent funding was introduced that discrimanates against senior teachers and shortchanged school budgets.

Look at my posts on Michael Bloomberg Here.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Comparing Tier VI To Tier IV Pension

New Action, a UFT caucus has started a petition to improve Tier VI and I hope they succeed. Here is my post comparing Tier IV to Tier VI pensions.

Pity The Tier VI Teacher.

A new school year has started in September and approximately 5,000 "newbie" teachers will be under the Tier VI pension plan.   These newbies are replacing retiring Tier IV teachers, with their more generous pension plan.  The question is how long will these newbies  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.
Teacher 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.
Teacher 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 Tier VI teachers will make it to full retirement, please play my Tier VI retirement game Here

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Senior Teachers Still Targeted

Chancellor Richard Carranza is the first Chancellor since Rudy Crew that is not antagonistic toward teachers.  However, despite substantiate changes at the DOE, the majority at Tweed are still holdovers from the Bloomberg years and are responsible for the policies that still govern the schools.

While some people believe that the Chancellor has indicated that he wants to make things better for teachers, just look how the DOE targets senior teachers. As Chancellor he could instantly eliminate the policies that encourage the targeting of senior teachers.  School based fair student funding that discriminates against senior teachers and having DOE Central responsible for teacher salaries and not the schools..   He can also penalize principals who refuse to hire from the ATR pool before being allowed to hire "newbies".

Time will tell if the Chancellor will use his authority to eliminate the Bloomberg ideology that still permeates throughout the DOE ans have the DOE collaborate with teachers rather than viewed as the enemy as they are presently.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Suspensions Drop In NYC Schools But They Are As Unsafe As Ever

The suspension rate has dropped lasr year, primarily due to the De Blasio administrator making it more difficult for principals to suspend misbehaving students and s reduction in arrests for drug possession and other low level criminal activity.

Last school year there were 32,801 suspensions, a 39% decrease from the previous five years.  However, it was not because students were better behaved but mostly because it became more difficult for principals to suspend students. In fact, principals are limited to a 20 day suspension!

While there are significantly less suspensions, the schools are still as unsafe as ever as otherwise suspended students are given a slap on the wrist and will continue to disrupt classes and cause chaos in the schools.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

DOE Ignores Academic Fraud

Councilman Robert Holden has asked the federal government to investigate the ramped grade fraud at the New York City schools.  The clearly frustrated Councilman has tried to convince DOE officials, including Chancellor Richard Carranza to seriously investigate the academic fraud but was ignored.  I have written many posts on the widespread academic fraud and you can find those posts under "academic fraud". 

Why doesn't the DOE investigate or punish schools for academic fraud?   Simple, the DOE rather have a higher graduation rate and an illusion that academic progress is being made when the truth is far different. The DOE allows schools to cheat by ignoring the use of easy credits, blended learning, and allowing principals to require that teachers pass as much as 85% of their students.

Will the Federal government investigate the academic fraud?  I doubt it but if they do, it will be easy to prove.  Read James Eterno's ICEUFT blog for the actual letter to the U.S. Attorney..

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Time For Charter Schools To Dump Unwanted Students

On October 31st, school funding for the year is based on student enrollment as of that date.  Once November sets in, the school funding is set.  Its in November that charter schools will start to expel unwanted students and dump them into the public school system since the money is already allocated to the school..

Because of a quirk in how schools are funded, charter schools will do everything possible to retain all their students up to October 31st to get their funding.  However, after that date, charter schools will start to push out misbehaving and or academically challenged students to the public schools.  That also includes Special Education and English Language Learners who need extra services.

Obviously, New York State's school funding must be changed so as to discourage student dumping that the charter school get away with and still retain the funding as if that student is still in the charter school.. 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The New York Post's Misleading Editorial

The New York Post has an editorial that blames the De Blasio administration for keeping alleged misbehaving teachers on the payroll indefinitely.  The problem is that some of those teachers cited in the article were put in their predicament by ex Chancellor Joel Klein, a decade before Bill de Blasio became Mayor of New York City, but don't let the facts get in the way of an editorial.

Furthermore, the statistics used in the editorial is like comparing apples with oranges. The 2012-13 school year showed that 13% of educators charged under 3020-a were terminated.  While only 6% were terminated in the 2018-19 school year.  The problem with the comparison is that the 3020-a hearings take six months or longer for the arbitrator to write up the decision.  Therefore, many of the 2018-19 3020-a cases have not been completed until this year and are not included in the 2018-19 statistics.

Finally, with a more teacher friendly Chancellor in Richard Carranza, the DOE has been more careful in charging teachers under 3020-a (227 compared to 443 in 2012-13) and that is the reason why there are fewer (47%)  educators charged under 3020-a from the last year of the Bloomberg era..

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Highlights Of The Chicago Teachers Contract

The Chicago teachers will average a 3.2% raise for five years with the first three years getting a 3% raise and the last two year gettingg a 3.5% raise.  Moreover, for teachers who have 14 or more years in service, they will be getting a bump in their pay s cale which can average another 3% raise.

There will be hard class size caps and all schools will have a school nurse and social worker.

There are more improvements, like more sick days that can be banked and frozen health insurance premiums.  The contract summary can be found in the article Here

Friday, November 01, 2019

Warren Leads As Biden Fades In Tight Iowa Race

It appears that Joseph Biden's money troubles and the negative press due to his son has seen him drop to fourth in the tight Iowa poll for the Democratic Presidential elections.

By contrast, Elizabeth Warren leads at 22%, followed closely by Bernie Sanders at 19%, Peter Buttigieg at 18%, and Joseph Biden at 17%.  The rest of the Democratic field is polling at 4% of less and it looks like a four person race to be Donald Trump's opponent in the Presidential primary.

The New York Times has has an article that fully explains the Iowa poll and can be found-in today's paper.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

One Out Of 10 NYC Students Are Homeless

The amount of homeless in NTC schools stayed stubbornly high at 114,000.  This is nearly the same as the previous year with 85% of the homeless students are either Black or Hispanic and that indicates that Mayor De Blasio's homeless policy has failed to put a dent in the homelessness.. Here is what the Mayor said about it.

It's common knowledge that homeless students have lower academic performance, higher absentees, and are more likely to be associated with behavioral problems.  Moreover, the lak of a permanent home usually results in the student to move from school to school and cannot establish a stable social structure which also negatively affects academic achievement.  Finally, many homeless students lack financial support and am involved faster which is associated with academic success.

Reducing the student homeless population is essential to improve student academic performance, especially in many of the Bronx and Brooklyn schools.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Chicago Teachers Strike Continues

The Chicago Teachers Strike continues for a third week and according to the Chicago City Government they are 100 million dollars apart, which is quite significant.  Moreover, the City has not agreed to a contract stipulation to lower class sizes and for every schol to have adequate support staff.

Already, Monday classes have been cancelled and things are not looking goiod since the Mayor's office has not joined the negotiations.  Historically, when negotiations are close to completion, then the Mayor's office gets involed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Joe Biden And The UFT Leadership

Joe Biden showed up to the Teacher Recognition Day Conference, run by the UFT, and tried to claim he was a pro public school teacher and promised to increase teacher salaries and school funding.  However, most of the teachers at the conference gave him a lukewarm reception despite the warm reception given him by the UFT leadership and rightly so.

 We all remember that Joe Biden was the Vice President under pro charter school and blame the teacher when students fail academically,  Barack Obama.   The originator of the teacher evaluation system that required student test scores to be tied to teacher effectiveness.

Joe Biden and Barak Obama both claimed to have a bromance and for Joe Biden to claim he had little influence over Obama's education policy is hard to believe. Hopefully Joe Biden continues to do poorly in the debates and is out spent by the others.

There is no way I will vote for either Joe Biden or Cory Booker if they gets the Democratic nomination.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Will The DOE Finally Place ATRs?

The DOE has finally taking steps to place ATRs.  In schools that have a history of hard to fill certain subjects and retain teachers , the DOE has decided to allow principals to hire an ATR free of charge, as long as the school keeps the ATR.  This has resulted in some ATRs getting a position since the Principal will no longer be responsible for the ATR's salary.

According to Susan Edelman of the New York Post, there are 930 ATRs and this is a slight reduction from the previous year as 170 ATRs took the $50,000 buyout,  Regardless, the DOE is still paying over $100 million dollars yearly for ATRs..  It should be noted that the ATR number only include teachers and excludes Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, and paraprofessionals.

The only reason that there are ATRs at all is that the Bloomberg policymakers are still in charge and have resisted the Chancellor's goal to place ATRs in vacancies.  This year the schools hired 4,800 new teachers as nearly a thousand ATRs languish without a position. .However, as the Chancellor has slowly  removed or pushed out the Bloomberg policymakers, the DOE has loosened restrictions   to hiring ATRx such as allowing select principals to hire ATRs, free of charge.

In 6he next few years I see the ATR issue fade into history.  At least I hope so.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Chicago Teachers Strike

The Chicago teachers went out on strike today after the City refused to put in writing lower class sizes and assurances of hiring adequate support staff for the schools.

The teachers have asked for a 15% raise for three years and the City proposed a 16% raise for five years, or 3.2% per year.  Moreover, the union is demanding that every school have a full time nurse, a social worker, and a librarian.  Finally, the 25,000 teachers and 8,000 support staff are asking for affordable housing.

The Chicago school system is nearly broke and it will be interesting to see what the City finally agrees to once the teachers contract is settled.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Blame Principals For Not Having A School Nurse On Staff

Some New York City public schools lack a school nurse, despite many children having health issues like diabetes and asthma.  The blame can be placed on the doorstep of the Principal, who has total control of the school's budget. Rather than allocate funds for a school nurse, they rather rely on the undependable DOE to supply and pay for a school nurse to save money.

The principals will claim, and rightly so, that the blame lies with the DOE, since they are responsible for providing a school nurse, free of charge to the school.  However, when the DOE fails to do so, then the Principal should be using their funds to do so.   True, the DOE's imposed school based fair student funding and their refusal to fund the schools at 100% of their fair funding (most schools are receiving only 90%) affects the decision to hire a school nurse with school resources.   However, it must be pointed out that the DOE gives principals full discretion on allocating funds.  Therefore, lacking a school nurse lies with the Principal.

To me, lacking a school nurse is a health crisis and with the many students who have health issues, principals are practicing educational maleficence and parents should demand their removal since they are not putting their students first..

Friday, October 11, 2019

All Social Security Retirees Will Get a 1.6% Cost Of Living Increase In 2020

All Social Security retirees will receive a 1.6% cost of living (COLA) increase for 2020.  For the average retiree that is an increase of $24 monthly.  The COLA will be in the January Social Security checks.

Democrats and advocates for seniors feel the COLA does not take into account health care costs and should be higher but its highly unlikely that Congress will pass any adjustments beyond the COLA as they did last year.

Newsday has an article about the Social Security increase Here..

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

New York State Will Allow School Districts To Evaluate Teachers

The New York State Board of Regents will no longer require school districts to evaluate teachers, based upon State tests.  Obviously, the 20% statewide opt out rate had greatly influenced the decision.
Moreover, the State gave the school districts the authority to use collective evaluations rather than an individual evaluation for the teachers.

How does that affect New York City teachers is still in question since the DOE has shown no inclination to change the teacher evaluation system. Moreover, will our union demand that Charlotte Danielson be eliminated and a fairer metric be used to evaluate teachers.  Finally, will teachers be collectively evaluated since the State now allows it and most suburban school districts have already implemented it for this school year.

Will the NYC teacher evaluation system change enough to be appropriate for the majority of teachers?  Only time will tell.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Tale Of Two School Districts

The Ward Melville school district has set up a teachers room with soft lighting, piped in music, a large television, high speed computers and printers and nice furniture in their high school.  They call it a wellness room..   By contrast New York City teacher rooms are usually associated with discarded furniture, inadequate space for the staff, and obsolete computers. In fact, one Queens school saw their teachers room taken away and are now screened into a small room with little ventilation.

The Ward Melville school district realized that happy teachers result in better student academic achievement.  Too bad the New York City DOE rather use money on themselves than improve teacher working conditions and improved student academic achievement.

The Chancellor is slowly replacing the Bloomberg holdovers but there are far too many left in the DOE and as long as school-based fair student funding and school administrators that obtained their job on political connections and not by merit. Is it any wonder that the New York City public achools are resource poor and staff has low morale.

Maybe the DOE will one day fully fund the schools, eliminate fair student funding, and put the schools first rather than there bloated bureaucracy.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

When Will Class Sizes Decrease?

One of the legacies of Michael Bloomberg are large class sizes.  The ex Mayor saw no problem in large class sizes as he refused to spend money on more teachers and if it was up to him, class sizes would double and reduce the teaching staff by 50%.

When Bill de Blasio became Mayor one of his campaign promises was to reduce class sizes.  However, he has failed to live up to his promise and class size are as high as under Mayor Bloomberg.  New York City has the highest class sizes in the State.

Now that Mayor De Blasio is in his second term and has had two Chancellors, don't look for any class size reductions for the Mayor's final two years in office.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Academic Fraud At Maspeth High School - Part 2

It seems that Mayor De Blasio was informed of the academic fraud at Maspeth high school and failed to take action.  Worse, the Mayor did not remove the school administrators before the school year started but told the district councilman not to go to the press if he wanted to be on the Mayor's good side.   Susan Edelman of the New York Post wrote an article that explains it all.

Can you imagine if a teacher was caught committing academic fraud?  He or she would be removed from the school and the DOE would file 3020-a termination charges.  Yet, despite the many whistle blowers and their allegations, the DOE kept all the school administrators and only reluctantly started an in house investigation, while dragging their collective feet. This is just another example of the DOE's double standard.

You can also read the article of why a teacher quit Maspeth high school due to alleged corruption.

To read more about Maspeth high school read my blog Here.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Mayor De Blasio Backs Away From Eliminating The SHSAT

According to the New York Post the Mayor threw in the towel about eliminating the SHSAT for the specialized high schools and will start from scratch to come up with other ideas to diversify the specialized high schools.  The Mayor scrapping his diversity plan for the specialized high school puts him at odds with the Chancellor who claimed the 1971 State law requiring the test as "racist".

The Mayor is not giving up and he will try to come up with a diversity plan for the specialized high schools that is acceptable both to the State and the various racial groups. This time he will include the East Asian community that he deliberately excluded previously.  As expected, the Chancellor, Richard Carranza, was mum about the Mayor's changing his mind about the specialized schools but he is very unhappy since diversity is a top priority of his administration.

More bad news for the Chancellor and Mayor is that District 15 has delayed their school integration plan due to parental pressure and it looks like it will not be implemented until the 2021-22 school year, if at all.  Further, parental resistance to the ill-advised and  proposed District 28 diversity plan has forced the Superintendent to back down and asked for parental input.   Finally, District 3 has also quietly reexamined their proposed diversity plan as there is a fear that they will lose their middle class students if they are bused into Harlem,

With Mayor Bill de Blasio becoming more and more unpopular as his 0% for President showed,  his already difficult job to diversify the public schools becomes almost impossible to fully realize his diversity plan..

Sunday, September 22, 2019

NYC High Schools Practice Academic Fraud To Jack Up The Graduation Rate

Most high school teachers in New York City know that academic fraud is practiced in most, if not all the schools.  Be it scholarship requirements, easy credits, blended learning, grade inflation, or administrative pressure to pass failing students.  The New York Post has an article dealing with the widespread academic fraud practiced in the New York City high schools.

Maspeth high school is just an extreme example of the common practice of academic fraud.  If your an untenured teacher and you dare fail too many students, look to be discontinued.  For tenured teachers, look for poor observations and a 3020-a termination hearing. It doesn't matter that these students did not deserve to pass, they want you to pass them anyway.

The DOE will claim that they do not tolerate academic fraud but they put intense pressure on school administrators to pass as many students they can or risk negative consequences for the Principal and the school.  Hence, academic fraud is encouraged while the DOE looks the other way. No wonder there is a disconnect between the graduation rate and being "college ready" at many of the NYC high schools..

Rather than going into detail of the academic fraud that goes on in the New York City high schools please read my academic fraud articles from my blog.  In addition, you can also read my numerous graduation rate articles as well and they will give you a complete understanding how academic fraud is practiced in the New York City high schools.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

What Do Oklahoma And New York City Teachers Have In Common?

CBS Morning News did a story on Oklahoma's trouble recruiting and retaining teachers and you can find it Here.   Oklahoma not only experiences a severe teacher shortage, they cannot retain teachers they recruit. Many  of the red states have similar problems recruiting and retaining teachers.

While New York City does not suffer from a teacher shortage like Oklahoma is, except for the Bronx.  Like Oklahoma, many teachers in New York City don't make it a career in the New York City schools.  Some go to the higher paying and better resourced suburbs.  Others leave teaching, and of the recently hired Tier VI teachers, few will make it to their vesting year for a pension and retiree health benefits.

Whether you teach in Oklahoma or New York city, teachers complain about the same things.
  • Lack of respect
  • large class sizes
  • Inadequate pay
  • Under resourced schools
  • Too much paperwork
  • Lack of independence
  • Too many useless meetings and time consuming and unnecessary Professional Development.
The bottom line:  Teaching is one of the lowest paid professions and politicians have a field day blaming teachers for society's ills.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Maspeth High School Cheats For The Illusion Of Success

Maspeth high school has been accused of cheating to jack up their academic success.   This Queens high school has been written about previously in my blog and others  for the high percentage and abuse of untenured teachers along with financial shenanigans.  Now columnist Susan Edelman of the New York Post has written an article that exposed the school's manipulation of the school's graduation rate and Regents passing percentage..

Despite the various issues at Maspeth High School over the years the DOE has never bothered to seriously investigate the founding Principal, Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir or his assistant principals despite the various questions about how the school is run by parents, students, and teachers.   I was at Maspeth High School for a month a couple of years ago and read my experiencel Here. 

Maspeth high school will cheat to continue the illusion of success and the DOE will do nothing about it.  Read the New York Post Editorial Board opinion.

Read one student's story how the school graduated him six months early despite hardly attending class.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Repost: Teachers, Not Administrators Dictate The Lesson Plan Format

The Lesson Plan

It has come to my attention that many principals are telling teachers what must be in their lesson plan.  Let me clarify what the school administrators can demand from the teacher.

 The administrators can RECOMMEND not tell the teacher what should be in his or her lesson plan.  Moreover, the lesson plan must be made available to the administrators when being observed.  That means a hard copy on the teacher's desk or a digital copy in the teacher's open laptop.  Finally, the administrators can make sure the lesson plan represents the lesson observed, as long as it complies to the unit and topic being taught.  Under no circumstances can an administrator dictate to the teacher what format the teacher's lesson plan should be.

Remember, the administrator can only evaluate the teacher, based on the actual lesson and not the lesson plan.  The lesson plan is the teacher's guide to the lesson and not part of the administrator's observation.

A simple one page lesson plan that uses bullet points of the lesson being taught, with a introduction, body, and conclusion, with an exit slip should be sufficient to cover any one lesson.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Federal Employees Will Get A 2.6% Raise

The Trump administration will approve a 2.6% raise for federal and civilian employees. This is less than the 3.1% that the House of representatives approved but it seems that the 2.6% raise will eventually be approved by the Congress.

The 2.6% raise is higher than the UFT negotiated 2% raise for its members but then again our union leadership rather play nice with the Mayor than fight the City for a better raise   Compared to other teacher contracts, our union leadership cannot negotiate an adequate raise.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Stop Dumbing Down The High School Diploma Requirements

For the last decade New York State Education Department (NYSED) has weakened the requirements for achieving a high school diploma.  Since 1995 NYS Regents was the "gold standard" that showed if high school seniors were academically proficient to succeed in college and the workplace.  However, under political pressure to graduate more students and reduce the racial achievement gap, the NYSED has dumbed down the Regents by grading the gateway Regents of Living Environment (known as Biology lite) and Algebra on a curve that makes the passing rate as low as 29 correct answers to pass, rather than the 65 that was the case in the 1990's.

Despite the dumbing down of the Regents and the curve to get more New York State students to pass, only 38% were considered "college ready".  By contrast, the State graduation rate has risen every year and was 80% as of 2018.  What happened to the 42% who graduated high school but were not college ready?  They were required to take no-credit and expensive remedial courses in colleges and few ended up with a 4-year college degree.

Now it seems the NYSED wants to dumb down the Regents testing requirements even more and approve alternate academic ways for high school students to legitimately graduate. New York State has had the Regents for high school students since 1865 and if there is no push back, the Regents will become optional and only for the academically proficient high school student.,

Some educators suspect that the elimination and weakening of the Regents testing requirements is due not only by political pressure to pass more students but the cost of developing and printing the Regents exams.  Moreover,the educational materials associated with those exams plays into the NYSED''s approving the downsizing the Regents exams. This "education on the cheap" policy only weakens New York State's reputation for academic excellence.

Will the Board of Regents continue to weaken the Regents testing equirements?  Only time will tell.