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.