Monday, March 30, 2020

How Many Students Are Participating In Remote Learning?

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

Did The Mayor And Chancellor Put NYC Students And Staff At Risk?

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

How Many DOE Employees Have The Coronavirus?


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 De Blasio , I'm Not The Blame

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

All State And Federal Tests Are Cancelled

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

DOE's Remote Learning Is A Joke

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

My Idea To Force The City To Close Schools

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's Simple Method For Testing For The Coronavirus

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 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

Why Don't Schools Have Hand Sanitizers?

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

10% Of Schools Lack A School Nurse

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

Class Size, ATRs, And Fair Student Funding

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 Carranza's Folly

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..