I am the son of Chaz and like to inform you that he passed away this afternoon from the COVID virus. My father passed in peace beside his loved ones. We are hoping to have a memorial service for him once we are able to, but for now we are going to have a small private family funeral. Thank you all for reading his blog, following him all these years, and the support you gave him. Thank you.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
There is no doubt that the DOE must reduce their administrative costs but don't be surprised if the majority of cuts come from the schools and classrooms. Susan Edelman of the New York Post wrote a very insightful article that explains where the cuts should come from. However, look for the majority of education budget cuts to come from the schools.
The latest update (Sunday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.
Friday, April 24, 2020
The DOE has quietly informed principals that the hiring freeze has loopholes and they can still hire Special Education, Bilingual, and shortage areas like Math and Science. Look for principals to hire "newbies" by falsely claiming that all the hires are either certified in those fields or in the process of attaining such certification.
As for ATRs? Look for principals to try their hardest to carve out exceptions to the hiring freeze so as not to hire an ATR for their vacancies. Will the union leadership make sure that principals follow the rules? Based on past performance by our union leadership I highly doubt it since they get double dues.by keeping the ATR and the "newbie" they hire.
The latest update (Friday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
There has been no decision whether NYS will have a summer school program since neither the State or City government will have funds to pay for the programs. However, for Special Education programs in District 75, it appears that the Chapter 683 program will be continued this summer, be it remote learning or actual classroom instruction.
Chapter 683 is a federally funded program that pays Special Education schools to provide year-round instruction. In New York City it is District 75 schools who provide instruction for the most severely disabled students in the New York City Public Schools.
Chapter 683 pays eligible educators 17.5% of their annual salary and it's pensionable. The program usually starts before Independence Day (July 4th) and ends no later than August 15th. Educators get two absence days and if the educator does not use them, they go into the educator's Cumulative Absence Reserve (CAR) .
Note: Some community advocates want the DOE to pass all students, regardless if they participate in remote learning. You can read it Here.
The latest update (Thursday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters who questioned him on what children will do in the summer if the pools and playgrounds are closed. His response was that he and Chancellor Richard Carranza are working on remote learning programs to entertain the children. What an idiot the Mayor is.
Most NYC children live in old apartment buildings, many with no air conditioning or can't afford the bills by running the air conditioner all day. Even during the school year, only 77% of the teenagers actually logged in for attendance and even less who actually participated in instruction. The probable result is that many streets will have open fire hydrants and teenagers climbing fences to play basketball or using playground equipment. Other bored teenagers will be up to no good like street crimes and assaulting each other.
It appears most UFT members who have died from COVID-19 are from the Bronx or Brooklyn which is primary minority and have high density housing. Moreover, they tend to use mass transit as their mode of transportation. Finally, these two boroughs have higher percentages of health issues.
The latest update (Monday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.
Friday, April 17, 2020
The just released drastic cuts in the City budget by Mayor Bill de Blasio includes a hiring freeze of educators except schools can hire ATRs for their vacancies. Since each year the New York City public schools needs to hire between 4 to 5 thousand teachers and there are one thousand ATRs, it would seem that, except for Art, Music, and Gym teachers the rest of the ATRs should be placed. Here is what UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the New York Post.
That means that there still will be a reduction in teachers and more overcrowded classrooms unless the Mayor rescinds the hiring freeze. I expect the union leadership will be unhappy since less teachers means less dues. Moreover, by placing the ATRs in vacancies the union no longer will be getting double dues. Finally, there are some principals who will refuse to hire ATRw in the mistaken belief that the ATRs are inferior teachers and will either try to seek a waiver from the hiring freeze or steal another school's teacher. We will see if the Mayor and Chancellor will keep the hiring freeze ironclad.
The Mayor's proposed budget can be found on James Eterno's ICEUFT blog.
The latest update (Saturday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
At least 47 school based adults, including 3 school safety officers, have died and it is highly likely that the Mayor and Chancellor's resistance in closing the schools could have resulted in unnecessary deaths. Fortunately, the coronavirus seems not to adversely affect school age students but they are carriers to their adult relatives and school based personnel and contributed to the rapid spread of the virus in New York City. One doctor believes that 80% of the children in the City are carriers of the coronavirus.
The DOE, under intense pressure, finally released the death count of DOE employees and it has totaled 50 so far with more to come. Of the 50 employees at least 44 were UFT members, including 21 teachers, 22 paraprofessionals, and one guidance counselor. .Of course there is no way of knowing how many became sick because the City refused to close schools earlier, Read the entire New York Post article Here.
The latest update (Thursday) of the covid-19 count can be found below.
Read the opinion article from a parent about the problems in remote learning. Moreover, teachers no longer trust Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza who delayed closing schools and have blood on their hands read it Here.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Chalkbat reported that the UFT counted over 40 members who have died from the coronavirus as of Sunday Why doesn't the DOE publicize the list like others do?
Thursday, April 09, 2020
UFT President Michael Mulgrew told the Executive Board that 26 UFT members have died due to the coronavirus and I expect more to follow before the pandemic is over. How many UFT members became sick because Mayor Bill de Blaio failed to close schools the week before he did and then forced teachers into potentially contaminated buildings the next week, is unknown?
While the Mayor and Governor are optimistic that the curve is flattening, it's still going up and the increasing death percentage is very disturbing. The latest numbers, as of Friday evening are as follows:
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
The NYSED has officially cancelled the high school Regents exams on Tuesday and we give school districts flexibility how to evaluate teachers Here. For high achieving students this is not a problem since they took all their Regents before their senior year but for many New York City students they still must take their Regents exams in their senior year and cancelling the Regents obviously affects low achieving studentsdisproportionally, especially minority students.
It now appears that if schools open at all, it wouldn't be to Mid May at the earliest. My best guess is that schools will probably open after Memorial day weekend.
Monday, April 06, 2020
Many high school teachers uses Zoom to connect with their classroom students. They use zoom for it's simplicity and the ease of use for all involved. Moreover, Zoom can be connected by cellphone as well. However, the DOE zapped Zoom because it claims that it violates student and teacher privacy issues and can be hacked. This is the very same DOE who saw no problem to give charter schools and outside data gathering organizations student personal data without parent approval, so they can use that information to their advantage.
The DOE needs to make things more difficult for both students and teachers rather then come up with a simplified plan to make remote learning easier.
In New York City the coronavirus infected is now 67,551 with the death total raised to 2,450 or 3.6% while the State numbers are 122,031 and the death rate is 4,159 and a mortality rate of 3.4%
Saturday, April 04, 2020
It appears the Mayor and the Chancellor have agreed on compensation. For the seven day Easter/Passover vacation, the City will give everybody four CAR days. If the teachers are teaching remote learning all those days then why aren't they getting seven CAR days?
Obviously, if UFT members would vote on the compensation deal it would be rejected overwhelmingly. However, our union leadership has no intention to let the members vote and embarrass the City. In return for the four CAR days the teachers give up their entire Easter vacation, including Thursday and Friday April 9th and 10th.
Will the UFT sue the City for additional compensation? Maybe and maybe not, we'll see.
Friday, April 03, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to close down New York City and it took Governor Andrew Cuomo to do so. First, the Mayor didn't want the schools closed and even forced teachers to show up in potential cronavirus contaminated school buildings the next week. Second, he refused to close Broadway shows and the Governor had to shut the shows down. Third, the Mayor tried to keep playgrounds open and the Governor allowed the Mayor to supervise but after a couple of days the Governor authorized the closure of all NYC playgrounds.
As of Thursday night the people infected by the coronavirus in New York City is 57,159 while the deaths ire 1,867, that is a 3.3% mortality rate. New York State had 102,863 and deaths of 2,935 or a fatality rate of 2.9%
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo cancelled Easter vacation for schools throughout New York State and now New York City teachers only will get April 9th (Holy Thursday) and April 10th (Good Friday) off. The next week will be some form of professional development that will be negotiated between our union and the DOE. This is effectively a 2% pay cut due to the extra days added to the school calendar.
More bad news, the New York City death toll due to the coronavirus is now 1,096 and the total infected is 41,771. The death rate is now 2.6% of the total infected in New York City. This is an increase from 2.4% yesterday and that is a concern. Read the New York Post article Here.
New York State has 83,712 people infected by the coronavirus as of Wednesday morning and 1,941 deaths which is a 2.3% mortality rate.
Monday, March 30, 2020
The DOE is hastily trying to give every student a laptop to participate in the Google classroom remote learning program. However, many students have not received a laptop to participate in the remote learning program. It was bad enough that the DOE, rather than spending the allotted time during professional development over the winter months to make sure every teacher was trained, wasted their time with the DOE's useless "flavor of the day" items that bored most teachers to death.
The result was that teachers and other staff were unnecessarily exposed to the coronavirus the next week as they were told to report for remote learning training, despite many schools already had staff sickened by the coronavirus. . Anecdotal evidence by teachers that only 50% of the students are participating in remote learning. Of course the better schools have a much higher percentage while the struggling schools have lower percentages of students participating ib remote learning. Hopefully, the percentages will increase over the following weeks as school teachers and administrators push parents to force their children to take remote learning seriously but there is no guarantee that it will happen.
The reasons for students not participating are many:
1. No laptop.
2. Lack of or inadequate internet service.
3. Too many students in one apartment
4. Parent indifference.
5, Student refusal to participate.
6. Family distractions.
I see that remote learning will only increase the academic achievement gap between high achieving schools and struggling schools.
Note: The New York City cronavirus infection rate has increased to 38,087 and the death rate to 914 , or a 2.4% mortality rate as of Monday morning. For New York State the coronavirus infection rate is 66,497 and the death rate is 1,218 or a mortality rate of 1.8%/
Saturday, March 28, 2020
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Mayor and Chancellor has put students and staff at risk by first delaying closing the schools a week earlier then they did. then forcing school staff to come in the next week when the coronavirus was exploding throughout the City. The DOE refused to close Brooklyn Tech, despite five staff members experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus. Moreover, two principals at a Brownsville high school were already hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms but the building staff was required to attend senseless training sessions the next week at the building, Even in my wife's school, three staff members have been diagnosed with the coronavirus but because they could not be tested until last week, the entire staff can be potentially affected to the coronavirus.
The DOE claimed that they would only close schools if there were "confirmed case" of coronavirus. Of course, at that stage in early March, the City had few testing kits for co4onavirus, therefore, the DOE kept these potentially affected schools open, possibly affecting many students and staff to the highly contagious contravirus.Now the Mayor told the press that he expects to open the schools on April 20 after telling the very same press that the coronavirus will last till the sunnier months.
As of Saturday morning the NYC death rate has skyrocketed with 517 deaths and 29,158 infected with the coronavirus. A 1.8% mortality rate. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the peak of the coronavirus in New York State will occur in three weeks on or about April 16th, based upon his expert's estimation.
Note: Read the New York Post article about a pregnant teacher who was tested and still the DOE refused to close her school, In addition. how this Bronx school administrators threatened staff with termination if they told students one of their teachers had the coronavirus.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Yesterday the NYPD stated that more than 200 of it's employees have the conronavirus. However, the DOE has not seemed fit to do the same. Yet hundreds, if not thousands of students go into the schools every day to obtain free breakfast and lunch and are exposed to the coronavirus.
These children are lined up without any social distance restrictions and can infect each other and the adults supervising and handing out food. Are the adults checked for the coronavirus? I doubt it. Are the schools sanitized daily? Yeah right. How many students show up with symptoms of the flu or the coronavirus? Who knows.
What about the two principals at the Brownsville high school building who either died or is in the ICU for coronavirus? How many people in the building did they affect last week when the Mayor and Chancellor forced them to stay in the building? No wonder the DOE doesn't want the public to know what the coronavirus count is. The article on the first Principal who died of the coronavirus is Here.
Monday, March 23, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to come on the television and blames the President for the problems with the City actions on combating the coronavirus. However, he seems to ignore his many failures in taking appropriate action to combat the coronavirus himself. The result is that New York City is the epicenter of the coronavirus in the Western Hemisphere.
First, he resisted closing the schools until the Governor forced him to do so. However, it was too late as many students became either affected and or became carriers who passed it on older relatives, resulting in the City having over 25,300 affected residents (300 fatalities) and rising. Worse, as staff reported becoming affected by the coronavirus, the DOE failed to close the schools as the State required as both the Mayor and Chancellor, Richard Carranza, did not want to close the New York City Public Schools. Read the New York Post's Susan Edelman on Brooklyn Tech. Finally, where was the City not using their massive budget surplus to buy medical supplies rather than wait for the State and Federal governments to do so?
Mayor Bill de Blasio was too late in closing down the City and allowed the cronavirus to spread and even today, the Governor blasted the Mayor for allowing groups to congregate in parks and other gathering places and gave the Mayor 24 hours to enforce his edict. In addition, the Mayor still allowed ticketing for alternate street parking until Tuesday, while telling people to stay indoors, what a hypocrite!
Of course the Mayor's failure to lockdown the City was because he wanted tourist dollars to continue to stream into the City, which allowed thecoronavirus to come along with the turists as well. The Mayor's reluctance to close schools and tourist attractions like Broadway shows and the parks contributed to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, because it was all about the money.
Note: Chancellor Richard Carranza decided that all non-essential DOE employees work at home. Interestingly, the Chancellor himself started to work at home last Friday while DOE employees must report to their jobs on Friday, risking getting infected by the coronavirus from co-workers.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has cancelled all standardized tests for this year for grades 3 to 8 and the high school Regents (Its just a matter of time). In addition, President Trump has cancelled all federally mandated exams. The question is how will it affect the teacher evaluation system this year?
My guess is that there will be no evaluation for teachers this year due to incomplete observations and no tests to evaluate student growth. However, I do expect the DOE to at least try to evaluate the teachers but will fail when they agency is threatened with court action by the union and the Mayor and/or the Governor sides with the teachers, knowing the DOE would lose in court.
I also suspect that the schools will not reopen this school year and that also will contribute to the DOE's failure in winning the argument to try to still evaluate teachers. The only item that the DOE might win on is the tenure issue as they might deny tenure to eligible teachers this year due to having no grades and an incomplete year of data.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
The DOE has hastily pushed teachers to set up Google classroom so that students can do remote learning and I expect the results will be disastrous. I can't see many students having the discipline to work on the assignments on their kitchen table or living room with screaming siblings running around the apartment.
Worse, will parents actually guide their children in their assignments? Moreover, how many computers are there in the apartment? Finally, how do you teach severely disabled students who need hands on instruction? Read the New York Post article Here.
I see nothing but disaster when it comes to the DOE remote learning program.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
UFT President Michael Mulgrew has decided to sue the City to close the schools to protect the health of students and to their families. Already on Friday the school attendance was only 58% and expect that number to go down further this week. In fact, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the City Council Speaker, Cory Johnson want to close the schools. In addition, Borough President of Queens have told parents to not send their children to school. Finally, Governor Cuomo suggested that the City close the schools but is leaving it up to the Mayor. What a coward!
The Mayor's reluctance to close the schools is because he admitted there is no alternative plan if he closes the schools since the City treats the schools as a place for giving students food and a babysitting service. In reality, students throw out most of the food they obtain in the school cafeteria. However, one would think the Mayor had six years to develop a plan and didn't.
Teachers have suggested a "sickout" on Wednesday but the union leadership has not supported it. Therefore, I see few teachers participating in the sickout and lose two days pay because of the Taylor Law.
I suggest that a large comprehensive high school, like Francis Lewis High School staff all wear surgical masks to school and call the press to cover them. The students are mainly Asian and culturally are susceptible to the influence of their teachers. Obviously, if the staff is wearing masks, how many students will then wear surgical masks, if they show up at all to school.
Francis Lewis High School has 4,557 students and just try moving on the second floor between 4th and 5th periods without touching people (see picture above). Its next to impossible to keep a social distance most of the school day and is a potential breeding ground for various viruses including the cronavirus. Moreover, with Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties closing their schools, how many teachers will actually show up in Queens and the Bronx since their own children need to be supervised. Finally, of the 16 major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Diego who have closed their schools only NYC is increasingly being an exception by keeping their schools open.
Update: Mayor Bill de Blasio has finally succumbed to the overwhelming pressure and is closing New York City schools on Monday and will not reopen until April 20th at the earliest. Teachers must report to school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for training.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Taiwan has come up with a simple method for identifying the beginning of the coronavirus. The method requires the individual to wake up in the morning and hold your breath for at least ten secondz and if the person does not cough, gag, sneeze, or feel a tightening of the chest, the individual probably does not have the coronavirus.
However, some doctors do not believe this simple method is not sufficient to identify the coronavirus and want more detailed testing for people who believe they may have the coronavirus,
While I don't know if Taiwan's simple method for testing for the coronavirus, it certainly can't hurt as a first stage for identifying the coronavirus considering Taiwan's excellent reputation in limiting the coronavirus so far.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo Orders The Schools To Close For 24 Hours If A child Or Staffer Gets The Coronavirus
Governor Andrew Cuomo orders a school to close for 24 hours and the school get treated before the.school can reopen if a child or staffer gets the coronavirus. How that affects NYC schools is uncertain but I can't see the NYC schools being exempt from the Governor's order but time will tell.
I believe the Governor's action is prudent and appropriate but let's see if the Mayor follows the Governor's example.
The Department of Education is hiring 85 contract (temporary) nurses during the coronavirus epedemic. However, these nurses will not be full time employees and will have no direct access to student records. To me this is merely a public relations ploy by the City rather than to alleviate the school nurse shortage.
Some good news. The City has ordered all schools to install no touch hand sanitizers. How many and how soon is still a question.
Monday, March 09, 2020
The DOE is responsible not only in funding and hiring school nurses but should be supplying all schools with adequate toiletries and especially hand sanitizers. Again if the DOE is failing in their mission to supply hand sanitizers, then principals should be using their budget to pay for them. They should folow the example of the hospitals with no touch hand sanitizes strategically located throughout the building.
I have many colleagues in various schools and few, if any, have hand sanitizers in their schools. Manny teachers and other staff bring their own personal hand sanitizers to their classroom and offices but few share it with their students. Moreover, what about school cafeterias, bathrooms, auditoriums, and locker rooms? These common areas are a hotbed for germs and viruses and hand sanitizers are a necessary measure to limit the spread of various germs and viruses. Let's not forget that many children take mass transit to and from school, buses or trains good places to contract germs and viruses.
While the coronavirus appears not to be fatal for school-age children, that does not stop them from getting sick and the virus can potentially spread. throughout the school. . However, the precautions for the coronavirus can be effective for the common flu which can be fatal to school age children. In addition, history has shown us that closing schools before a pandemic takes hold saves lives.
Will Mayor de Blasio close the schools? I highly doubt it since the schools are a babysitting and food service and it would take a pandemic in the City to do so. Of course some communities have put the students health above their education funding Here.and Here
Note: The Mayor has ordered the DOE to hire 85 school nurses to partially cover (about 50%) of the shortfall. Let's see if the DOE follows through.
Friday, March 06, 2020
The DOE and Principals have contributed to the school nurse shortfall as 10% of the schools lack a school nurse and with a potential coronavirus epidemic on the horizon. The DOE is responsible to supply every school with a certified school nurse but has failed to do so. Compound this with principals, who control their school budget, who refuse to use their precious school funds to hire a school nurse and then ask the DOE to reimburse them.
The DOE has required some school nurses to rotate among schools that have no school nurse, meaning that many of the schools are not covered with proper medical personnel during the school day. The lack of a full time school nurse is unconscionable and the DOE should be sued and those administrators responsible should be fired. However, don't look for that to happen.
Considering that the DOE budget is nearly 27 billion dollar, they certainly can afford to supply every school with a full time school nurse. Read the New York Post article Here.
Thursday, March 05, 2020
The City Council held a meeting on class size and advocates, like Class Size Matters, recommended that 1,000 additional teachers be hired to reduce class sizes. Interestingly, there are approximately 1,000 ATRs, who are already being paid.and they can be put back into the classroom to alleviate class sizes, without hiring new teachers and paying additional funds.
The reason that the ATRs have not been put back in the classroom is simply based upon the Bloomberg ideology that permeates the DOE policy making apparatus that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellors Carmen Farina and Richard Carranza has failed to remove from office. The second reason is the 800 pound guerilla called school based Fair Student Funding that discriminates against veteran teachers since schools must pay for staff and since most ATRs are veteran teachers, principals will not hire them.
The City has a small pilot program that allows the worst schools to hire an ATR free of charge for as long as they stay in the school but has not expanded the program for all schools. Moreover, the De Blasio administration only funds the schools at 90% of their fair funding. No wonder principals try to save scarce funds by hiring the cheapest teachers and short change their school by having a bare bones support staff. Finally, ATRs who were accused of discipline issues are "red flagged" and principals are encouraged not to interview them for vacancies.
The bottom line, is the DOE does not need to spend more money to reduce class size since it's their Bloomberg ideology that leaves 1,000 ATRs without a classroom which can significantly reduce class sizes to the State average.
Sunday, March 01, 2020
Chancellor Richard Carranza oversaw the well deserved demise of the ill-fated "Renewal Schools" program but he has replaced it with a more undeserving program called the "Academic Response Team" (ART).
The ART was formed in September to provide struggling schools with administrative supervision to help the Principal with strategies to improve student academic performance. The DOE provided 10 million dollars for the school year. However, for the first three months the 69, six figure salaried person ART group never set foot into a school as the CSA objected to the surprise visits and what they saw was a wasteful allocation of money, with no tangible academic improvements. Many principals rather had the money spent in the classrooms for more teachers and paras.
One of the Deputy "Leads" is the infamous Ben Sherman who alienated staff when he was Principal of Forest Hills High School and was forced to resign due to the publicity in the media. Few, if any, of the 69 person staff are teachers and I suspect they are administrators who were removed from their school positions due to incompetence, discipline issues, or could not get along with school staff that caused morale problems. I wouldn't be surprised if they came form the Renewal Schools program.
Susan Edelman of the New York Post has a complete article on the ART program and is a must read on Chancellor Richard Carranza's folly..
Thursday, February 27, 2020
This post is a reminder that once the educator reaches 55 years of age and retires, all TDA withdrawals are exempt from New York State and City taxes. Just like our regular teacher pension, the retiree only pays Federal taxes. However, if the retiree moves out of State, the retiree would need to pay State and Local taxes for any TDA withdrawals..
For educators under the age of 72 you can leave all your money in the TDA and can keep on appreciating tax deferred, unless you choose to annuitize the TDA. However, if you have reached the age of 72, you must withdrawal at least the percentage that the Required Minimum Distribution mandates. Finally, some people believe there is a $20,000 limit on withdrawals that are exempt from State and City taxes. That only applies to non-public sector pensions and not to our pension or the TDA withdrawals.
Teachers may be underpaid and not appreciated bit we have a good pension and a great TDA when they are exempt from State and City taxes..
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The De Blasio administration was happy that the NYPD reported a decrease of 55% in arrest of students. However, that does not make the schools safer since the decrease was based on school reforms.
These school reforms decriminalizes many actions such as drugs, insubordination, threats and many other actions. Moreover, principals were no longer were ale to suspend students without the approval of the DOE at Tweed and were encouraged to handle misbehaving students "in-house", which included "warning cards" and restorative justice instead of suspension and arrest. Finally. the NYPD reforms that reduced misbehavior by the public also apples to the students which also reduced criminal charges.
Obviously, statistics can lie when criminal student behavior is reduced to a non-criminal offense, giving the false impression o reduced criminality. Does this makes schools safer? Of course not and can increase school safety issues as students who made otherwise be suspended or arrested are free to cause havoc in the schools. Just look at the disconnect between weapons found in the schools and suspensions.
The New York Daily News has an article about this Here.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
The DOE settled their last case that totaled $1.2 million dollars to discrimination lawsuits against Black educators who then Principal Minerva Zanca of Pan American High School in Queens discriminated against. The last case was against a theater teacher who now teaches theater at the award winning LaGuardia high school. You can read the Chief article Here.
If you remember Principal Mirnerva Zanca was defended by Superintendent Juan Mendez and were both sued for racial discrimination by the U.S. Attorney of New York. The DOE legal Department and leadership backed both the Principal and the Superintendent.and while Ms. Zanca was eventually removed as Principal and ended up as a guidance counselor in Brooklyn before retiring (forced?)in 2016. Superintendent Mendez remained in his position for another few yeas.
You can read more about Munerva Zanca Here and Here. For Superintendent Juan Mendez you can read him Here and Here.
Friday, February 21, 2020
The homeless population has increased nationwide, with California leading the pack, dramatically increased by 50% over the last five years. However, less noticeable has been the corresponding rise in homeless students. Over the last two years homeless students nationwide increased by 15% and 50% in the last 15 years!
The question is what caused the rise in homeless students? The answer is complex.
First, there are natural disasters, like hurricanes, wild fires, and flooding, which have become more destructive in the last few years. Second, is the terrible rise in drug use by parents who end up homeless Third, is the rise in housing costs that make it difficult for low income families to have stable housing. Finally, more restrictive zoning enforcement and school residency requirement enforcement limits multi-family housing and remove non-family members from single family homes.
To a lesser degree is domestic violence and the rise in single mother households with little or no emotional or financial support from the ex-spouse.
There are 1.5 million students who are homeless nationwide in the 2017-18 school year and this has continued to increase over the years. Will this number continue to increase? Under the Trump administration, I see little reason to look at the Federal government to help the situation. How the States and Local goverment5s address the homelessness issue is dependent on the allocation of funds and community support, any iffy proposition at best.
The New York Times has a nice article on the causes of the student homelessness issue... Here
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Chalkbeat has an article on a study that showed that "Stop and Frisk" under Mayor Michael Bloomberg resulted in a rise in Black male dropout rates. The study was for the years 2008 to 2012, when Michael Bloomberg was Mayor and concentrated on middle school students.
The study showed that Black male middle school absences increased by 1..4% in communities where police pushed "stop and frisk" policies. Moreover, Black high school graduation rates were 1,8% lower in communities where "stop and frisk" were pushed.
One good result was that communities that had a "stop and frisk" policy had lower disciplinary problems in school. However, the policy made Black male students feel less safe going and leaving school for their homes. Moreover, "stop and frisk" seemed to have no effect on felony crime. Read the article Here.
Read my post on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's legacy when it comes to New York City schools.
Sunday, February 16, 2020
It seems every month there is an article in the newspapers dealing with academic fraud and this month there is an article by Susan Edelman of the New York Post about school administrators at Parkside Preparatory Academy, a middle school in Brooklyn as the latest example of cheating in the New York City public schools.
If you read the article there appears little doubt that academic fraud is occurring at the school but despite the evidence the DOE's OSI found no evidence. Unbelievable!
Until the DOE seriously addresses the academic fraud issue, stories like this will continue to be written about and makes real academic achievement impossible. Read the New York Post's editorial page on the city's lack of effort to curb bullying and academic fraud.
Saturday, February 15, 2020
One of the sore points in the NYC school system is the school safety issue. Under Mayor Bill de Blasio's school safety has deteriorated dramatically and continues to do so. Just look at MS 158 in Queens. Of course the statistics don't show it since many incidents go unreported or are quietly handled in house by school administrators who don't want to have the DOE penalize them as a dangerous school/
Under Mayor Bill de Blasio you have less student suspensions, not because there are less incidents but because principals are told not to suspend students for things like student misbehavior, insubordination, and drug use. Instead, school safety officers and Deans are told to give out "warning cards" or refer the student to restorative justice sessions that the students find as a joke.
Another issue is the use of cellphones in school. In some schools the cellphone use was so bad that Principals have decided on their own to collect cellphones at the door, despite parent and student complaints.
Take a look at my four part series on school safety Here
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Over the years I have praised the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) for it's low administrative fees and their unbeatable Fixed Income Fund that gives an annual dividend of 7% for UFT members and 8.25% for other educators, with no fees! However, the one weakness TRS has is their lack of a ROTH option.
Unlike TRS funds which are tax deferred where appreciation is not federally taxed until the educator withdraws funds, usually after retirement. The Roth option allows the educator to pay taxes upfront and any appreciation accumulates tax free and is not subject to the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) at age 72.
For educators near retirement the ROTH option is not as attractive since the educator would have to pay taxes upfront for any funds that are converted to a ROTH option. On the other hand newer and younger educators who have a long time to retirement, the ROTH option is very attractive since they make less money and the existing tax rates are historically low and can only go higher in the future.
Use this calculator to decide which is best for you once TRS offers a ROTH option. You can also see a comparison table between our tax deferred TDA and a ROTH option.
Saturday, February 08, 2020
I watched the New Hampshire Democratic debate and was very impressed with only one candidate on the stage. Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota. She is a moderate and has shown throughout her political carrer that she can get rural farmers, suburbanites, and urban voters to support her.
Moreover, the minority urban core of Minneapolis overwhelmingly supported Amy Klobuchar She is the only candidate that has widespread appeal and I believe she is also the only one of the Democratic candidates, except for Michael Bloomberg (ugh) who can get independents to vote for her.
Finally, she is not a millionaire or is supported by millionaires like the rest of the Democratic candidates. All three major New Hampshire newspapers support her as well as the New York Times.
Her one real weakness is her education policy which I graded her as a "C-" but she strongly supports teacher pay and improving our traditional public schools. However, she also supports publicly funded charter schools if they don't take funding from traditional public schools and that's a no, no in my book.
To me only Amy Klobuchar, with her soft touch and sharp focus on the issues has a chance to beat Donald Trump.
Wednesday, February 05, 2020
One of the questions I was asked was how many UFT members are in the various tiers. Below is a table that shows the various Tiers and the percentages of in-service UFT members which includes teachers, paras, guidance counselors, and Social Workers. The total amount of UFT represented in-service members is approximately 127,500.
Tier III members almost always end up in Tier IV since Tier III requires a Social Security offset of $1 for every $2 dollars of pension ncome.
Tier IV has different iterations, depending when the educator joined the NYC school system Here.
There is no Tier V for UFT members.
To play the Tier VI game read my post Here.
Sunday, February 02, 2020
It increasingly looks like the Democratic center will be between Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg and if the moderate wing of the Democratic party wins out from the progressives, the question is who would I vote for, assuming that moderates Buttgieg or Klobuchar do not get the Democratic nomination?
Despite some people (Randi Wiengarten) who believe Joe Biden has mended his ways and is pro public schools I don't believe him. He was instrumental in supporting Barack Obama's pro charter school agenda that also blamed teachers for student growth using "junk Science"as his vice President. Moreover, he still supports public charter schools. Finally, he was a strong advocate of all charter schools back as a U.S. Senator Here. While some naive people believe that Joe Biden has changed his ways, I don't and he will not get my vote for President.
Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and education deformer darling is unapologetic for his past and present support of charter schools. He has shown contempt for teachers, parents, and schools by under funding public schools and using existing school buildings for new charter schools. He is a disaster for public education in New York City and was responsible for closing 156 schools, despite community opposition.. I'd rather vote for Donald Trump, who's education agenda has been ineffective as long as the Democrats still hold the House of Representatives than Michael Bloomberg,
If either Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg become the Presidential candidate, neither one will get my vote.
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Chalkbeat correctly pointed out why integrating Brooklyn's District 15 middle schools had different roots than District 28 in Queens. According to Chalkbeat, District 15's integration program was parent led and resisted pushback from other parents. Moreover, the parent advocacy in District 15 is quite liberal and supports the Mayor and Chancellor when it comes to eliminating the standardized test for the specialized high schools. Finally, the middle schools had a districtwide middle school screening program that saw many students leave their neighborhood to other middle schools in the district.
By contrast, the proposed District 28 integration plan was spearheaded by the now departed Superintendent who didn't bother to ask her parents what they thought. The DOE actually promoted her for her incompetence Moreover District 28 parents in the Forest Hills and Rego Park communities are strongly opposed to any integration plan that require their children to be bused out of their neighborhoods. Finally, these parents also support standardized testing for the specialized high schools.
The District 28 working group was selected in secrecy, without parent input. Moreover, the large Jewish community was not represented in the integration working group when, under pressure, the working group was named.
In summary, what might work for District 15 is a potential disaster for District 28 when it comes to integrating the middle schools.
Note: The DOE has delayed (cancelled?) the District 28 middle school integration plan due to intense parent backlash.
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Maspeth high school which has been identified for a massive cheating scandal, finds itself in the New York Post as a Dean and Math teacher was quietly removed from the school in December. The teacher was identified by the New York Post as Danny Sepulveda. According to the DOE, Mr. Sepulveda was removed for reasons unrelated to the academic fraud at the school.
According to the article by Susan Edelman, Mr. Sepulveda was identified as one of the teachers that supplied students with answers to the Regents. He was alleged to have sent a text message to another teacher and wrote the following:
“Having someone fail and not graduate HS because of a state exam that colleges never look at is more of a failure than anything else. I look at state tests as the anti-christ,” Sepulveda wrote.
In the Maspeth cheating scandal no administrators have been punished so far and no teachers who were identified as part of the cheating scandal were removed. One would think the DOE has basically closed their collective eyes to the academic fraud at Maspeth high school and the many other schools in New York City In fact, the FBI has started an investigation on the widespread academic fraud of the NYC school system as OSI and SCI has failed to seriously investigate the academic fraud issue
You can read my articles on Maspeth high school Here and Here.
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo has buried in his proposed budget an expansion of the charter cap in New York City. This shows that the Governor is still beholden to the Chharter industry and their education reform supporters despite his claims that he supports public education in the State..
Buried in budget documents released late Tuesday was a proposal to make room for more charter schools in New York City. In 2015, the state set a limit on how many charter schools could open in New York City in the years ahead: 50. Authorizers hit that cap last year. But the total number of charters available has actually been slightly higher, since a 2017 deal allowed authorizers to reissue 22 charters originally issued to charter schools that closed before July 2015.
This week, Cuomo proposed expanding that number, offering a new pathway to open charters as state lawmakers show no signs of wanting to increase the charter cap. His plan would allow authorizers to re-issue as many abandoned or leftover charters as they have available, though it wasn’t immediately clear how many that amounted to. Is it 10, 25, 50?
In addition, the Governor's budget once again short-changes the schools by only increasing funding less than what the State Board of of Regents proposed. His proposed spending increase is less than half of what the state’s education policymakers and advocacy groups have called for. It also fell $175 million short of the year-over-year increase the governor suggested last year.
Chalkbeat has an article about the Governor's proposed budget Here.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
One of the worst policies of the Bill de Blasio administration is his student discipline policy. Principals are no longer are allowed to suspend violent and misbehaving students without approval by Tweed and since the Mayor and Chancellor frowns on suspensions, far too many students are sent back to class to continue the reign of terror, Instead the violent or misbehaving student is required to attend the useless restorative justice session which they find as a joke.
To hide the unsafe climate at schools, the Mayor and Chancellor have made it clear that school administrators are not to report incidents and to quietly handle it at the school. The result is that fewer incidents are reported and the Mayor and Chancellor can claim that the schools are safer. Of course, if you ask students and teachers you would hear a different story. They would tell you that there is widespread bullying and intimidation as well as threats to students and staff.
The latest incident that school administrators tried to cover up was a middle school girl fight in the cafeteria at MS 158 in Bayside Queens. The school administration never reported the fight and it was only after a parent of the girl who was beaten up and reported the attack to the police who then arrested the other girl, did the school administration report the incident. You can see the fight Here. In another incident, last year,at the same school a girl was sexually harassed numerous times and groped by a boy who exposed himself to her and the school administration did not take any action. The boy decided he could sexually harass the girl whenever he wanted and finally the girl told her parents who called the police and he boy was arrested. The school also failed to suspend a male student who sexually molested another male student.
At the District 26 meeting, a teacher cited the new discipline code for lowering morale and leaving teachers unable “to effectively manage classrooms,” adding that staff are “no longer respected and supported.” Even the head of the usually dead-quiet principals’ union, Mark Cannizzaro, recently sounded the alarm, writing Carranza: “In many schools, misconduct is on the rise, leading some students to believe there are little or no consequences for disruptive, openly defiant and even violent behavior.” Principals and staff feel “unsupported” by system higher-ups, he complained.
Chancellor Carranza went to the District 26 Town Hall at MS 74 and when parents confronted him about the lax student discipline policy he refused to respond and quickly left the meeting without addressing the parent concerns. The Chancellor's cowardly action shows that it may be time to find a new Chancellor who puts school safety first. Read the New York Post opinion article on the Chancellor's cowardly action at the MS 74 Town Hall.