Monday, August 21, 2017

For Principals Its Not About What's Best For The Students.

Most principals control their school budgets (some Renewal school principals do not).   Therefore, the Principal has complete control on staff hiring.  Because the DOE's policy of school based Fair Student Funding and the fact that the average school only receives 90% of what they should get under the fair funding budget incentivizes principals to hire the "cheapest and not the best " teachers for their school.  Moreover, most schools have stuffed classrooms with the maximum amount of students that the contract allows.  Finally, quite a few schools rather pay a "sixth period" to existing teachers rather than hire much needed additional teachers for their students.

Ask most parents and students would they want a "newbie" teacher, with no classroom experience or an experienced teacher who has good classroom management skills and curriculum knowledge and the answer is obvious, unless you are Nicole Thomas, and the education deformer organizations.  In other words would you want a novice surgeon, with no operating room experience, rather than a veteran surgeon to operate on your child?  The same goes for teaching.  Few parents want to make their child a guinea pig for a "newbie" teacher who has a steep learning curve to master the Art and Science of teaching.   Yet, the education deformer organizations and their media allies conveniently ignore the obvious and rather demonize veteran teachers, especially the ATRs.

Interestingly, our union leadership has kept silent and fails to launch a counter attack showing why its important for all children to have an experienced teacher and demand that all "newbie" teachers have a complete mentoring and support system to assist them in mastering the classroom.  School after school in high poverty areas suffer from high teacher turnover and every year has a staff composed of untenured teachers.  In fact, a study done for Chiago found 75% of all new teachers in poor urban schools leave their first school within three years.  The refusal of our union leadership to fund an advertising campaign on why its important for children to have veteran teachers is unacceptable.

The bottom line is that between DOE policies, principals caring more about their budget than hiring the best teachers, and our union leadership refusal to embarrass the DOE contributes to a "
children last" policy that hurts student academic achievement.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

DOE Provides Statistics On The ATR Pool And Offers Schools A Hiring Incentive.

I guess its apparent that the DOE's ATR incentive didn't achieve the results that they had hoped and have now put into motion plan B by offering schools an incentive to hire ATRs by getting them for half price the first year and 75% of their salary for the second year.  Good luck on this incentive being any more successful than previous ones, which was met with general disinterest by Principals.  The DOE also released statistics about the ATR pool and they are as follows:

  • The average ATR salary is $94,000, which is over $10,000 more than the average teacher salary and %40,000 more than a base salary for a "newbie".
  • 25% of the educators in the ATR pool have been there for over 5 years.
  • The average experience in the ATR pool is 18 years.
  • 38% in the ATR pool came from closing schools.
  • 32% in the ATR pool had disciplinary or legal issues.
  • 30% in the ATR pool were excessed due to course reductions.
  • 74% in the ATR pool received an "effective" or satisfactory rating last year.
  • 12% in the ATR pool received an "ineffective" or unsatisfactory rating.
  • 27% in the ATR pool have an elementary school common branch license.
  • 11%in the ATR pool are licensed in Social Studies.
  • 9% in the ATR pool are licensed in Math.
  • 8% in the ATR pool are licensed in English.
You can read the Chalkbeat article Here.  Furthermore, please read NYC Educator's take on the article as well.

Interestingly,  there is no mention of the 800 pound gorilla in the room in the article and that is "Fair Student Funding".  Moreover, the article fails to once again talk to an ATR and get their view.  Instead they keep going back to education deformer groups for comment.  Finally, the article fails to question why the DOE still uses the June number of 822 ATRs rather than the much higher number that the start of the school year brings.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Homelessness And Poverty Affects Student Academic Achievement.

There is little dispute that deep poverty is associated with poor student academic achievement.  In fact the New York Times published an article that found that one out of seven public school students are homeless.  Its a safe bet that the homeless students all suffer from deep poverty and severely affects student academic achievement.  A report by ICPH showed that 140,000 public school student have experienced homelessness in the last six years.  Moreover, the report contains a chart that finds more students who experienced homelessness are more likely to be placed in  Special Education classes and have a lower graduation rate.  More importantly, the ICPH report has a map that shows that the highest concentrations of homeless students are associated with neighborhood schools that have the lowest academic achievement. By contrast, the lowest percentage of homeless students are in schools that have the highest academic achievement.

The New York Times article, which is based upon the ICPH report, brought out some interesting statistics and I tried to summarize them as best I could.

  • There were 100,000 homeless students in the New York City Public Schools in 2015-16 .
  •  If current trends continue 1 out of every 7 elementary school children will experience homelessness
  • Rising homelessness is due to the housing crisis caused by higher rents, dwindling State and Federal aid, and the elimination of the State rental assistance program. .
  • The typical homeless elementary school student missed 88 days of the school year.
  • Homeless students are more likely to drop out or get suspended.
  • Bayside Queens had the lowest amount of homeless students, while Belmont and Fordham  sections of the Bronx had the largest amount.
Finally, students who experience homelessness are more likely to transfer schools more frequently, are delayed in getting needed supports, and are subject to a host of negative factors that make academic achievement more difficult. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Renewal And Struggling Schools Get More Teach For America Two-Year Wonders.

Back in 2014 Chancellor Carmen Farina told the news media that the Renewal schools will be sent "highly effective" teachers.  Instead, the Renewal schools ended up hiring "newbies" instead.  Brooklyn's Automotive High School was the poster child of this failure to hire quality teachers.   Some of these "newbies" were from Teach For America (TFA) and few lasted beyond their two year commitment.

Fast forward to the upcoming 2017-18 school year and Teach For America claims it has increased the amount of college graduates, without a teaching degree into the New York City Public Schools.  According to Chalkbeat, TFA claims that 146 of their two year wonders have been offered positions in the 2017-18 school year.  That means that up to 4,762 children will be guinea pigs for an instructor with no education degree and classroom  experience.  Maybe Ms. Nicole Thomas's daughter will be fortunate enough to get one of these uncertified "newbies" as her teacher, complete with a five week training course on how to teach (lol)..

This is just another example of principals who hire these TFA "newbies" showing that they care more about their budget and control then  what's best for the students of the school/ 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New York Post Continues Their Anti-Teacher Crusade.

In Today's New York Post, columnist Ben Kochman  penned an article claiming that the teacher choice of $250 was an election year ploy.  This is the very same newspaper who objected to the 2014 contract as being too generous, that saw the DeBlasio administration give the retro payments that the Bloomberg administration withheld from educators, while approving them for most everybody else.  It mattered little to the newspaper that due to "pattern bargaining" arbitrators would have ruled that the City broke this agreement and the City would have to payout within two weeks close to 3 billion dollars.   Let's not forget how the newspaper opposed the parking permits to teachers when it was the Principal's union that won the lawsuit.

When back in 2007 the Bloomberg administration gave City school teachers $250 for the year, the New York Post saw no problem then.  Yet in 2017, with the City budget surplus ranging from 3 to 6 billion dollars and the recession a distant memory, the New York Post bashes Bill de Blasio for giving teachers the same $250 dollars that Bloomberg did a decade earlier.

Instead of making a media issue of teacher choice money that is used by the teacher to buy classroom supplies for their students, a worthy use of funds.  The New York Post should be exposing the administrative bloat at Tweed that funds questionable consultant contracts, lack of transparency at the DOE on how money is allocated, and the under funding of the schools.  Maybe the newspaper could investigate the large class sizes and school overcrowding that the DOE not only allows but encourages, or the DOE policies that incentivizes principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools that hurt student academic achievement.  Finally, the newspaper could do an expose on the many principals like Steve Dorcely who had little or no teaching experience and are running their schools into the ground.

This is the same newspaper that complained loudly about the City putting 400 certified and experienced ATR teachers back into the classroom while supporting SUNY's attempt to place uncertified college graduates, with no education experience into a classroom.  What a bunch of hypocrites.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The DOE Wants Another Bite Of The Apple To Terminate Teachers.

Before 2009, the DOE had a policy that when a teacher won their 3020-a hearing but was fined for minor infractions, even a simple letter to the file, they were returned to their school and resumed their appointed position.  However, Chancellor Joel Klein and the Officer of Legal Services decided that principals did not have to take back their teachers who survived their 3020-a hearings. The result was that these teachers were dumped into the ATR pool, along with veteran teachers of closing schools (163 under Bloomberg), and excessed teachers from closing or reduced programs. The result was an explosion of ATRs that ranged from 1,300 to 1,800 educators. Once labeled, the DOE ensures that it sticks, no matter how many satisfactories or "effective ratings" the ATR receives.

Because of the ideological stand by Bloomberg and his Chancellors, the ATRs were subject to a dehumanization strategy through the media and education deformer groups, while the DOE was paying out over $150 million dollars annually at a time when school budgets were cut by 14%!  Instead of encouraging principals to hire certified veteran teachers the DOE encouraged principals to hire "newbies", by implementing the "fair student funding" policy (which is only 90% funded) that incentivizes schools to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their schools, commonly known as "education on the cheap".

Next, in 2012, another Bloomberg Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, known as the Mayor's poodle allowed a discipline flag to be placed in the file, on any educator who had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation, even when the 3020-a charges were found not to be true by the State arbitrator. This was known as the "Scarlet Letter".  Despite promises by the UFT leadership to take this unfair labeling to PERB or to court, they failed to do so.  During the Walcott tenure the ATR pool was separated into two lists.  Those that were simply excessed due to closing schools or subjects and those that were disciplined or received an "ineffective" or "unsatisfactory" rating. Another way the DOE gets a "second bite of the apple".

Finally, the DOE's Office of Legal Services have found a novel way to get a "second bite of the apple".  Up until this previous school year the Office of Legal Services would include every trivial infraction as a specification in an educator's 3020-a charges and this was known as "throwing shit on the wall and hope enough sticks" to get the arbitrator to terminate the educator.  However, in the 2016-17 school year the Office of Legal Services came up with a better way to get a teacher terminated in the 3020-a hearings.  What the DOE does is only charge the teacher with some of the specifications and wait and see how the arbitrator rules.  In almost all cases the arbitrator will give the DOE something for their troubles like a small fine.  Now that the teacher is labeled the DOE will then hit the poor teacher with the rest of the charges and show the arbitrator that the teacher had a previous 3020-a and was fined and that shows the teacher cannot be rehabilitated.

The New York Post reported on one such case in today's paper and you can read it Here Moreover, NYC Educator wrote an article about the case in depth and is a must read.  Adding to the two articles is that the Principal is a Leadership Academy Principal who never had a full time teaching gig and was accused of  running an academic fraud factory.  In conclusion, ni the collective eyes of the DOE once charged you are always guilty and its their duty to find novel ways to terminate you by getting a second and even a third bite of the apple.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

If Chalkbeat Spoke To An ATR, Their Articles Don't Reflect It.

Over the last two weeks there has been a media frenzy about the City considering hiring ATRs to fill vacancies after October 15th.   The articles range from calling ATRs "unwanted" to "bad" teachers.  Not one article brings out the real culprit for the ATR pool. the DOE policy called "Fair Student Funding" that discriminates hiring of veteran teachers.

The media has gone out of their way to quote many education deformer groups and a parent who supports them but somehow can't seen to interview an ATR to get their side of the story.   This includes the education deformer and pro charter school online newspaper Chalkbeat.   According to Chalkbeat they claim that they cannot get answers to questions that would put statistics to the questions they want answered like:

  1. How many ATRs were subject to discipline?
  2. How many years of experience do the average ATR has?  
  3. What schools did ATRs last have a long-term or provisional appointment?
  4. How many years has the ATR been in the pool?
  5. What areas are the ATRs certified in?
Looking at the Chalkbeat questions it certainly appears that the online paper is trying to show that ATRs are terrible teachers, either due to being disciplined or have other negative factors like lack of useless and mind-numbing professional development and being highly experienced. Moreover, they also want to prove that high poverty, minority schools get  the ATRs.

Maybe, Chalkbeat should have asked these questions about the ATR pool instead.

  1. What is the average age and salary of the ATR pool?
  2. What is the average years of experience of teachers who transferred by the Open Market Transfer System?  What are the percentages?
  3. What is the the actual number in the ATR pool as of the start of the school year?
  4.  Why does the DOE keep two lists of ATRs?
  5. When will the DOE eliminate the "fair student funding" that incentivizes principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school?
In all fairness Chalkbeat did try to contact me and I ignored them since my experience with sleazy education reporters like the Daily News Ben Chapman has shown me that they don;t care about the truth.  Their aim is to further demonize ATRs.  Case in point.  According to NYC Educator an ATR did speak to the same Chalkbeat reporter that tried to contact me and nothing he or she said seemed to be included in their latest ATR bashing article.  With the possible exception of Susan Edelman, I will have nothing to do with a news reporter.  Since they represent yellow journalism at its worst.

update:   ATR Life in Limbo spoke to Chalkbeat on Tuesday for an hour and set the reporter straight.  Let's see if Chalkbeat writes an article and without the anti-ATR spin.