Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Why The TDA's Fixed Income Fund Is So Popular

One of the best perks New York City teacher,s have is the Tax Deferred Annuity (TDA) ,  Due to a quirk in New York State tax law, the TDA is treated as a public pension and is not subject to State and Local taxes which can be as high as 13% for most teachers who live in New York City and 7% for teachers living outside New York City.  This perk has become even more important since we now have a SALT limitation of $10,000 that can be deducted on our income tax for people who don't take the standard deduction.

The most popular fund in the TDA is the Fixed Income Fund which pays market based rates by guaranteeing a 7% dividend regardless of how the stock market does.  The only negative is that the 7% is not monthly compounded but is adjusted once a year in December to account for any changes in the TDA principal in the Fixed Income Fund (annual adjustment)  You can get a higher return if you annuitize the TDA but that means losing control of your TDA funds and is not recommended here.

Most participants in the TDA select the Fixed Income Fund to place their contributions in.  The latest data showed that70% of all TDA contributions were in the Fixed Income Fund and who can blame then?

an analysis by Financial Planner, Neil Frank of the Chief showed that if a teacher put in $100 monthly in the Fixed Income Fund for the last 30 years, that teacher would have amassed $135,089 in their TDA.  However, if the teacher put alll his or her money in the TDA's equity funds the amount would be $140,947.  The difference by taking a risk with the ups and downs of the equity market is only 4.3%.  For non UFT members like school administrators who receive 8.25% and that resulting in them receiving $147,696 or 4.8% above the educator who put all their money in the TDA's equity funds.  You can thank UFT ex President Randi Wiengarten for the TDA dividend being reduced from 8.25% to 7% for UFT members.

The age-old investment principle that those who take on greater risk are rewarded with greater returns has no application to this TDA Plan; at least for the past 30 years.

All teachers should strongly consider putting the bulk of their TDA contributions into the Fixed Income Fund and to account for inflation, buying equity funds outside the TDA..

Note:  Here is how TRS calculates the interest for the Fixed Income Fund.  Notice it's based on an annual 7% dividend.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Will The ATR Pool Change?

It's another year and while Chancellor Richard Carranza has made some administrative changes at the DOE, he has made no real changes when it comes to the ATR pool.  The DOE has tried to encourage principals to hire ATRs but since most ATRs are older and in the higher salary range, averaging over $98,000 annually, schools do not want to take on the hefty salaries associated with the ATRs.

Sure, the DOE has tried to set up an ATR hiring program like paying for the ATR's salary the first year, one half their salary the second year, and one quarter their salary the third year.  However, principals are not stupid and realizes that by the fourth year the school would be responsible for the full salary of the hired ATR.

Moreover, the DOE told principals that if they hired sn ATR to permanently fill a vacancy and they achieve an effective rating, they must hire the ATR,.  However, there is a loophole wide enough to drive a truck through if a savvy Principal knows how to manipulate the system and many do.   The loophole would allow the school to refuse to permanently hire the ATR and hire a cheaper alternative.

The DOE got so desperate in trying to reduce the ATR pool that every other year they offer ATRs $50,000 to resign or retire but only 170 ATRs took the offer and those ATRs who take the DOE incentive are probably resigning or retiring anyway.  With more schools closing or downsizing and teachers who win their 3020-a hearings the ATRs are replaced by others.

One small change is that the DOE will no longer use the $2,000 fine or 30 day suspension limit to automatically put the educator in the ATR pool. .Teachers, unless they are considered a threat to students, will be sent back to their school, regardless of their or the Principal's wishes.  This change is expected to help reduce the ATR pool.  In addition, there will no longer be field supervisors who evaluate ATRs but the school principals will evaluate the ATRs

The result is that the ATR pool has remained relatively stable of around 1,200  over the last few years, despite the above DOE programs and the incentives.

Until the school-based fair student funding is changed and the DOE penalizes principals who refuse to hire ATRs, nothing will change and that includes the ATR pool,

Friday, August 23, 2019

Charter Schools Cause Cutbacks In Hempstead Public Schools

One of the poorest school districts on Long Island is Hempstead in Nassau County.  The heavily minority community is plagued with gangs, (MS-13) illegal immigrants, and a relatively high crime rate when compared to the County as a whole.  The result is that the schools have one of the lowest academic achievement results on Long Island.

Because of the poor academic results in the traditional public schools in Hempstead, many parents, who care about their child's education, decided to put their children into charter schools.  The result is that the three charter schools were able to cherry pick their students and since many immigrant families had no clue how to apply to these charter schools.  The charter schools have a low percentage of both English Language Learners and Special Education students.

The problem is that the charter schools require funding from the school district for tuition, food, and transportation costs for the 2,000 students enrolled.  This is 27% of the 7,300 students enrolled in the Hempstead public schools and that takes a significant chunk out of the school district budget.  This school year that is 44 million dollars and next year's projected budget it will rise to 55 million.

The result is that this school year Hempstead had to fire school staff, including teachers and next year the school district envisions more teacher layoffs as the charter schools expect an 11 million dollar increase in their budgets abd if the State does not issue a special grant for Hempstead, the school district will have to cut many programs.  Newsday has a nice article about Hempstead schools.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Can Teachers Lose Their Pension?

Detective  Daniel Pantaleo lost his pension because he didn't have 20 years in the pension system as a New York City police officer (he had 13 years).    Mr. Pantaleo can only recover the money he contributed to his pension and no more. The question is can teachers lose their pension?

The short answer is that teachers cannot lose their pension, once vested except for some extraordinary circumstances. For example, unless a teacher agrees to lose his or her pension, due to criminal charges in a plea deal or the teacher became vested for a pension but was not entitled to a pension due to fraud.  Otherwise, any teacher who resigns or are terminated, if they meet the vesting requirements, will receive a pension at age 55 at the earliest.

Unfortunately, 33% of New York City teachers (mostly Tier IV) are vested for a pension while the percentage is far lower for Tier VI teachers due to the good economy that encourages younger teachers to leave the profession and the lack of respect for teachers.  Add to that the poor school leadership, the reduction in pensions, and the overwhelming paperwork and the use of Danielson makes teaching in the New York City public schools an unappetizing job.

Therefore, teachers who meet the vesting requirements of between 5 and 10 years, depending when they started your teaching career,  have nothing to fear about losing their pension. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Chancellor Carranza's Cronies Grab Salary Raises As High As 35%

Chancellor Richard Carranza approved raises as high as 35% for his cronies while the teachers negotiated raises of a messily 2% this year.  How can the Chancellor justify such outrageous raises when he shortchanges school budgets by only funding 90% of their fair student funding?

Susan Edelman has an article that tells all and is a must read Here. The only question I have is that quoting Eric Nadelstern is questionable since he, as Deputy Chancellor under the infamous Joel Klein, implemented some of the more anti-teacher policies that still exist

What Chancellor Richard Carranza needs to do is eliminate the bloat at the DOE something which he has failed to do since taking charge.  In fact, he actually added an extra layer of Bureaucracy by appointing executive superintendents to oversee the 31 District superintendents.  Many of then political appointees from the Joel Klein/Carmen Farina days..

Thursday, August 15, 2019

DOE Finally Removes The Hillcrest High School Principal

It only took five years but the DOE  finally removed the Principal of Hillcrest High School.  The Principal, David Morrison,   was found to have committed academic fraud by passing and graduating students by giving them credit for phantom online courses.  The question is why did it take five years for the DOE to remove the Hillcrest Principal after an investigation substantiated the academic fraud?

Part of the answer is that we have a new Chancellor Richard Carranza, who owes no allegiance to the people at Tweed as Carmen Farina did.  Another reason is that under Farina, the District Superintendent protected principals while the supervisory superintendents have no such loyalty to principals.

In my opinion. any Principal caught doing academic fraud should be subject to 3020-a hearings and if found guilty, should be fired.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Poor Areas Losing Public And Catholic School Students To Charters

In the poorer sections of New York City many public schools are losing students to charter schools.  In fact, many private Catholic schools, that cater to low income families have closed or in danger of closing as charter schools have siphoned many of those student away.

As for the traditional public schools, while they also lose students to charter schools they tend to receive an influx of Special Education and English Language Learners as charter school tend to discourage their application due to resource issues and academic problems.

Bushwick Brooklyn is a prime example of this.    From 2010 to 2019, School Construction Authority data show the share of District 32 residents attending charters more than quadrupled—from 6 percent to 27 percent   While the Catholic schools in the area are closed or closing.  Father James Kelly, who was pastor of St. Brigid’s for nearly 40 years and still does immigration advocacy in the neighborhood, sees it too. “St. Martin of Tours is closed. St. Joseph’s. St. Barbara’s is gone. The Catholic schools are gone,” .

As for the traditional public schools.  Bushwick is expected to lose over 45% of their students in the next decade as rapidly rising rents chase out families with children and increased charter school enrollment reduce the amount of children available to the traditional public schools..

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why Does Chalkbeat Believe That Educators 4 Excellence Represents Teachers?

Chalkbeat wrote an article that showed the 33% of New York City teachers have not made up their minds about Chancellor Richard Carranza.  However, the survey was done before the Chancellor came under fire for his ill-advised  diversity program and the alleged anti--Asian bias as he tries to eliminate the SHSAT.

However, what bothers me the most about the article is that Chalkbeat, rather than asking a respected  classroom public school teacher like NYC educator, his opinion.  Chalkbeat interviewed   the Executive Director, a non-classroom educator for Educators 4 Excellence.as if she represented the New York City Public School teachers. The truth is that Educators 4 Excellence represents significantly less than 1% of the New York City public school teaching force.  In fact, in the last UFT election the lone Educators4 Excellence candidate received 25 votes out of over 44,000 votes cast or 0.05%.  The group refused to participate in the UFT elections, fearing their unpopularity would be exposed.

Its hard to believe what Chalkbeat writes since they are  a pawn of the education reform movement as their interview with Educators 4 Excellence demonstrates.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The City Snookered The UFT On Parental Leave

Despite UFT leadership's claim that they negotiated a great deal with the City on parental leave for its members, the truth is that the City get the better deal as the UFT was forced to self fund the parental leave cost by extending the contract  73 days which effectively meant a 0% raise for almost three months. In addition, the City made out in other ways.

UFT members who took parental leave found out that the six weeks under parental leave IS NOT PENSIONABLE!  That's right, the six weeks are subtracted from the 52 weeks or 12% of the annual salary is not included for that year in the Final Average Salary if the UFT member retires or resigns within three years (Tiers III or IV) or five years (Tier VI) of taking parental leave.

Moreover, since the City does not directly pay for parental leave, it comes from the UFT welfare fund which is funded by the City.  Consequently, the City does not have to include the UFT member on parental leave on their payroll and therefore it does not need to be included in their budgeting to NYCERS, which saves the city money in the short-term.

Once again City negotiator Bob Linn has outfoxed the inept Michael Mulgrew.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Is The DOE Discriminating Against Jewish Teachers?

Chancellor Carranza and his DOE administrators are being accused of being anti-White and while I believe he and his top administrators are misguided, I don't believe they are anti-White.  Read my previous post Here.  However, there seems to be a disturbing trend that many school administrators are trying to force senior teachers to retire and many of them are Jewish.

Because of tight school budgets and school based Fair Student Funding, principals are targeting senior teachers who are eligible to retire by filing or threaten to file 3020-a termination charges.  The senior teachers are the "baby boomers" and generation X, the last cohort that had a significant amount of Jewish teachers.

While I don't believe the principals are anti-Semitic, I do believe the Bloomberg era policies that the DOE still employs encourage the principals to target their senior teachers and replace them with far cheaper and untenured "newbies".  The principals can then use the salary differential between the departing senior teacher and the entering newbie teacher for their own use in the school budget.

Included is a letter from one teacher who wrote her experience about being forced to retire after being put through a 3020-a hearing in an Israeli newspaper.  Here.. 

Is the DOE discriminating against Jewish teachers?  The answer is no but they are targeting senior teachers and many of them are Jewish.

Friday, August 02, 2019

DOE Must Get The Lead Out

An investigation found  938  NYC classrooms, which includes many of the youngest students, are in classrooms  that had lead paint levels that were considered a health risk.  High levels of lead are associated with mental retardation, inattentiveness, behavioral problems, and low intelligence as the lead interferes with the developing brain in young children.

Worse, parents of these children in lead contaminated classrooms were kept in the dark by the DOE Is it any wonder these young children are potentially exposed to lead paint chips and, air pollution that negatively affects their academic ability.

 I bet DOE headquarters have no lead problems. The DOE's children first policy is simply a joke.