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.