Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Dare To Be Remarkable" The Story Of "Delusional Bob"

In the ever continuing saga of the " dare to be remarkable" school with its "C" rated PrincipaI now present you with a teacher nicknamed "delusional Bob". This teacher has been teaching over 30 years and is quite effective as a teacher. His extensive experience on curriculum and classroom management make him a valuable member of the school. Over the last few years "delusional Bob" has put up with many of the questionable administrative decisions by the "C" rated Principal that seemed at odds of what was good for the school and his students in particular. However, as he is now thinking of retirement in the near future he is no longer willing to take the "C" rated Principals garbage directed at him.

"Delusional Bob" is quite a character who sees the world a little bit differently then most people and once you get to know him, you take his non-educational advice with a grain of salt. However, despite his unique way of seeing things he has been an effective teacher to the students and a mentor to the string of "newbies" that come and go and that is what really counts.

This year "delusional Bob" has already been given two Letters-To-The-File (LIF) by the Principal for such outrageous actions as sitting on a radiator in the lunchroom and for not teaching his class when he had only six students for a period while the rest of the class was sent downstairs to do a non-educational activity mandated by the Principal.

In his first LIF, "Delusional Bob" was on cafeteria duty and when he saw that the students were calm and eating lunch he took a break and since there were no available seats, he decided to sit on the radiator. Unlucky for him, the "C" rated Principal just happened to walk in and saw "delusional Bob" sitting on the radiator and gave him a LIF for not properly doing his Administrative assignment.

The second LIF was when 24 of his 30 students were asked by the Principal to participate in a non-educational activity for the school. With only six students left "delusional Bob" decided that teaching them a lesson was ridiculous so he gave them a test preparation assignment to do. He instructed the six students that if they have any questions to raise their hands and he would come over to help them. Days, later the "C" rated Principal called him into her office to accuse him of "not teaching the entire period". He first tried to explain to her how he had only six students that period and he gave them a test preparation booklet to do. When the "C" rated Principal did not even acknowledge what he said and then asked him if it was true that he was in the classroom the entire period and did not teach. "Delusional Bob" responded "that is a lie. You can ask the teacher next to my room that what you said is untrue. She will tell you that she covered my class for part of the period because I had to take a shit". You can't make this stuff up.

There will be more stories about the "dare to be remarkable" school and the "C" rated Principal that makes decisions that is good for her but not for the students.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New York City Crime Scene - Teacher Morale Plummets As Bloomberg's Consultants and Admininistrators Continue To Steal Money With No Accountability.

Teacher morale has fallen so low that even the Mayor's poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, is concerned on the effect on the students. The teacher morale problem is primarily due to the excessive paperwork, political climate in the classroom, lack of a contract, and the specter of looming teacher layoffs that is pitting "newbie" teachers against senior teachers. The onslaught against teachers is lead by Mayor Bloomberg who claims that the City must be frugal with their budget and wants to reduce the teaching force by 6,100 and raise class sizes by 3 to 5 students.

However, the Mayor's concerns seems not to apply to the consultants and administrators under him who commit crimes, seemingly, on a daily basis, only to end up still having their contracts or positions in the City. Just look at what has been reported in the last month.

  • The official, Karen Shaffer, an assistant commissioner of the Department for the Aging, was not only demoted and fined, but will also now have to use a scanner to prove that she is showing up at work. An agency spokesman said she was not fired, for reasons that were not clear.
  • In another black eye for the Bloomberg administration, a contractor for the scandal-scarred electronic-payroll system yesterday admitted the project's manager ripped off the city by cheating on his own time sheet.More about the CityTime taxpayer ripoff can be found here.
  • Officials at the contractor, Science Applications International Corp., said they will reimburse the city the $2.47 million that project manager Gerard Denault unfairly billed when he worked on the massive project to switch city employees to the system.
  • A group of consultants billed taxpayers for full-time, six-figure salaries while spending big chunks of their time devising - along with their school system boss - plans for a new business enterprise, Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon reported Tuesday.
  • The boss, George Raab, the DOE's chief financial officer at the time, "engaged in prohibited private business relationships" with the consultants, Condon said.
  • A top Department of Education official who quit after admitting to an affair with a consultant she supervised passed him inside information - and approved a $60,000-a-year raise for him, records show.
  • Judith Hederman, the $168,000-a-year executive director of the DOE's division of financial operations, resigned May 4.
  • Four veteran construction executives were arraigned Wednesday on charges that they systemically stole tens of millions of dollars from investment firms, insurance companies and law firms as they built corporate offices in buildings across Manhattan.
  • A cuckolded computer consultant hired to link the city's 1,400 schools to the Internet was charged Thursday with downloading $3.6 million into his crooked pockets.
  • Willard (Ross) Lanham, aided by corporate giants IBM and Verizon, masterminded the massive fraud to enjoy a life of luxury from 2002 to 2008, according to a scathing report from the special schools investigator.
When it comes to the Bloomberg Administration and the DOE, it is accountability for others not for them. Is it any wonder why the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has demanded that the Bloomberg Administration fix the Scandal-Scared Department Of Education? Of course he needs to clean up his own Administration as well but don't count on the arrogant Mayor to do it.

Update: Finally, an arrest was made in the $80 million dollar CityTime scandal. Maybe this is the beginning of the end for the Bloomberg Administration managers and consultants who commit crimes and are not brought up on charges.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The New York State Senate Holds Hearings On Teacher Discipline But Lets The DOE Off The Hook In Their Complicity Of Why It Takes So Long To Complete

Yesterday the New York state Senate held hearings on the State educator disciplinary laws, known as State Law 3020-a and called selected witnesses to testify. Absent were any educators that was subject to this process. You would think the Senate would actually call an educator or two that were involved with the process but of cause they didn't. Instead, they called selected leaders with little or no understanding how the process really works and heard their own spin.

For example, representing the DOE was the Mayor's poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who made a point to vilify teachers as he attempted to get the Senate to change the law by assuming all educators are guilty and it would be up to these educators to prove otherwise. His testimony was reported by Gotham Schools here. He simply spouted the Mayor's original contract proposal back when Joel Klein was Chancellor and it can be found here.

What was not said at the hearings was the DOE's complicity in dragging out the 3020-a process for years. Or their habit of embellishing, twisting, perverting, and outright lying in their attempts to get teachers to resign simply because a Principal did not like them. Furthermore, nothing was said about how the DOE filed 3020-a charges only to offer deals with 50% of the teachers they charged. If these teachers were really guilty, why offer them a deal? That is what the Senate should have looked at, the DOE's abuse of the teacher disciplinary process.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Arrogantly Dismisses Parents Who Want Their Community Schools Saved As "Ignorant & Uneducated".

Well, the world did not end and it is back to writing about education. I read with amusement how the Imperial Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has now publicly "disrespected parents". It was bad enough that under his proxy, the ex-Chancellor Joel Klein, parent voices were ignored and the Mayor could claim that he was working on giving parents a voice in the education process. Now that Joel Klein is gone, the arrogant Mayor's true feelings about parents are out in the open.

To the imperial Mayor, New York City parents are simply ignorant people who had no education, except for the minority that agreed with him. How could he allow these peasants any real voice in their child's education when they had the audacity to disagree in his view of education? In the Mayor's view he knows what was best for the community, not the people who actually live there and if his staff recommended a community school to close, so be it. It is more important to establish "Charter Schools" in those buildings rather than supply the resources and energy necessary to improve the neighborhood schools. Left behind, are the academically struggling students of the neighborhood who the Charters" encourage not to apply to or counsel them out of. The English Language Learners, Special Eduction students, Disciplinary or Attendance challenged children "need not apply" and are sent, in mass to another school which puts that school in danger of closing. Is it any wonder that parents want to keep their community schools open and keep that precious connection with the neighborhood intact?

Now the Imperial Mayor has publicly blasted the parents whose children either go to these closing schools or are in the community as "ignorant and uneducated". In other words just like Cletis and his wife as portrayed in the Simpson's cartoon program This imperial billionaire Mayor could never understand what it is to struggle with poverty, live paycheck to paycheck, or to be part of a larger community (excluding his country club friends). In the Mayor's world there is the privileged like himself and the peasants who bow and follow his imperial decrees. However, it appears that the Imperial Mayor has no clothes and the peasants are revolting with his lowest approval ratings ever (36%). Even the formerly loyal City Council is ready to go against his budget in a big way as he has painted himself in a corner with 4,100 teacher layoffs, the closing of 20 firehouses, and his grossly increased spending on technology and consultants.

Mayor Bloomberg's arrogance appears to show no limits as he follows his imperial legacy at the expense of New York City and the people who live in it. In his view the "operation was successful even if the patient died".

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Please Explain To Me How The New York State Method Of "Value Added" Can Be Used For What This Teacher Does On A Daily Basis?

Now that New York State has come up with their ridiculous teacher evaluation scheme to determine whether a teacher is "effective" or "ineffective" It would be easy to tear this program apart. However, this post will not explore the many uncertainties, problems, or the mathematical formula that would need the IBM supercomputer "Watson" to figure out. Instead, I will write about a certain teacher who spends both her lunch and preparation periods to help struggling students, without any monetary compensation.

The teacher I am talking about is a senior teacher, close to retirement, and looking forward to the days she can travel the world anytime she wants. It would be easy for this teacher, with over 30 years of experience, to coast her way into retirement. Instead, day after day you can find this teacher sitting on the floor with her back against the wall in the hallway outside the teacher's cafeteria working with a struggling student who had sought her out for help in mastering the subject. Many of these students are her students, but quite a few are students of other teachers who have heard that this teacher is always available to work with them. I have never seen her refuse any student who needed her help.

Here is a women, a "baby boomer", who is working with students on a daily basis sitting on the floor along a well traveled hallway to help any student that needs her services. My question is how does the State's teacher evaluation system account for what this teacher does? What value is added to her grade for her sacrifice of personal time for the students in need? The answer is that the teacher evaluation system cannot determine what she does in her "value added" grade and that is the problem. Because for the many students she helps on a daily basis it is a "no-brainier" that to them she is "highly effective", no matter what grade she would end up with under the New York State teacher evaluation system. What this women does has no numerical value but is "priceless" when it comes to the students that seek her help.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Education Degree Programs Don't Teach This In The Classroom. It Takes An Experienced Teacher To Do What Is Right For Everybody Involved.

Many of my readers already know that I am an ATR at a wonderful high school with a good Administrative staff. However, as an ATR I find myself substituting for various teachers who are out for the day and feel, at times, I am not contributing to the school's success since I do not have classes of my own. Sure, I am dependable, tutor struggling students, the Administration trusts me to do whatever job they give me, and many of the students respond to me but it is still not like having your own students. However, something happened last week that somewhat changed how I felt about my contribution to the educational success of the school.

I was overseeing a class of 32 students, who, for the most part, was doing their assignment, so I settled down to take attendance. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a student jump up from his seat and run across the room to confront a fellow student who apparently hit him with a spitball. The two students stood up and were nose-to-nose and chest-to-chest (no personal space here) and I realized I had an extremely volatile situation that was seconds from exploding into a fist fight. I instinctively took action to try to defuse the already dangerous situation. I first had a passing teacher call down to "school safety" to get assistance and then moved toward the two students as I encouraged the other students to back away from the inevitable fight. I screamed at the two students to "stop, stop this at once". I repeated this three times as I continued to make my way toward the two potential combatants. When I reached them I instructed them to "stop, and get back into your seats". I quickly realized that neither one was backing down so I did what I thought was best for the safety of the class, me, and the two students. I put my hands on each of them, just below the shoulders and tried to push each one back slowly and gently away from each other without me being caught between them (more like a triangle). At first, neither one budged and I thought this is real bad but I then said in a stern but caring voice the following "fighting each other will only result in both of you getting arrested and suspended for the rest of the school year". That did the trick, both students started to respond to my gentle push and started to slowly move away from each other. As the distance between the two students increased and they could no longer reach each other, I only then stepped between them to further defuse the situation. By the time school safety and the Deans came the altercation was over and both students were returning to their seats. Both boys (17-18 year olds) were sent to mediation to work it out. It seems that they were once friends and had a falling out that festered for some time, only to explode in my classroom. Lucky me.

Did I do the right thing? I think so. My experience in the classroom allowed me to instinctively protect the students in the classroom while defusing the fight and stopping two students from potentially destroying their chances to graduate on time, if at all. Furthermore, I realized that I could not step between them for fear of getting hurt and not be covered because, according to the DOE and UFT, I exceeded my duty in putting myself in danger. Therefore, I did what you are never taught in education courses, that is how to protect the students under your control while not causes injury to yourself. Only my experience as a classroom teacher allowed me to instinctively defuse a potentially dangerous situation into a simple mediation session

Mayor Bloomberg, this is just another example why teacher experience counts!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Is Making His Claim As "The Education Mayor" A Sham And A Fraud

The latest poll numbers show that Mayor Bloomberg's self-proclaimed legacy as the "Education Mayor" is shown to be fraudulent. Not only does he have only a 40% approval rating as Mayor, his education numbers approach what the unqualified ex-Chancellor, Cathie Black had and that is bad, really bad.

For example 64% of the general public give his management of the schools a "thumbs down". More importantly, 78% of the parents with children in the schools disapprove of the way the Mayor has handled the schools. Only a measly 20% approve of his education policy. Worse, is that 57% of the people believe Mayoral Control of the schools has failed. Instead of refocusing on what made him successful earlier in his tenure, he has now painted himself in the corner demanding teacher layoffs while ignoring the Administrative problems in his third term that have outraged just about everybody in the political spectrum. The New York Post's Michael Goodwin has jumped on the Mayor for his failures, especially in the area of Education in today's edition. Even calling Bloomberg's claim about being "the education Mayor" a fraud. This is not the first time Michael Goodwin has questioned the Mayor's priorities and his attitude.

The Mayor keeps on threatening to eliminate 6,100 teachers or 8% of the teaching staff. By contrast, Nassau and Suffolk County schools have only threatened to eliminate 1,200 teachers or 3.5% of the teaching positions in the two counties. If we are to use the Long Island number of 3.5%, it would just about equal the amount of teachers leaving the New York City School System due to "attrition" at year's end. Since the Mayor arrogantly refuses to eliminate Administration it will be left to the City Council whom will ignore the Mayor's budget proposal and eliminate any serious teacher layoffs while reducing the computer and consultant services, especially at the bloated Central Administration at the DOE.

To me, the Mayor has truly painted himself into a corner with his arrogance, and imperious actions and only a miracle can save his legacy and I don't believe in miracles even for a billionaire like Bloomberg. He can't buy a miricle or can he?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Will The New York City Council Stand Up To And Checkmate The Bully Mayor? We Will Soon See.

I was at the highly successful union rally yesterday and saw eight New York City Council members join the protest. Most importantly, was what the Education Committee Chairman, Robert Jackson who said there will be no layoffs on his watch. He further stated that despite the absence of City Council President, Christine Quinn, she also supports no layoffs. If true, it looks like the Mayor's proposal to layoff 4,100 teachers appears to be checkmated. If Christine Quinn is really on board (her absence from the protest is somewhat disturbing) with the majority of the council members it would mean that the "lame duck" and increasingly unpopular Mayor would be in deep trouble since none of these council members would want to go into a campaign for reelection while voting for teachers layoffs, larger class sizes, and hurting the children's academic achievement. This is especially true for politicians who have on the eye on being the next Mayo, such as Christine Quinn.

It looks increasingly likely that the City Council will not approval teacher layoffs and instead demand that Mayor Bloomberg use the $3.2 billion dollar surplus and or cancel the outrageous computer and consultant services that in the DOE will increase by an astounding $1 billion dollars! This does not include the $300 million dollar surplus the DOE had mysteriously made disappear.

The only chance Mayor Bloomberg has, is if he can get union concessions on seniority-based layoffs, known as "last in, first out" or LIFO. My understanding is that the union is not negotiating with the City under this hostile political climate and will lobby the City Council to eliminate the teacher layoff threats and look for savings elsewhere. Let's hope the union does the right thing and calls Bloomberg's bluff and not negotiate under any circumstances. Waiting Bloomberg out is the correct approach and until he gives us the "City pattern" first. Then and only then, should the UFT start negotiations with the bully Mayor on any other issues.

I know my picture is optimistic but it appears it is becoming increasingly real. I do hope my picture becomes the truth by the end of the school year.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Response To The Atlantic Magazine's "Puff Piece" With The Ex-Chancellor Joel Klein

I almost vomited after reading the Atlantic Magazine's "Puff Piece" in their interview with ex-Chancellor Joel Klein. He basically spun his accomplishments and the magazine never seemed to question his faulty analysis. For example, he claims that no Principal wants the ATRs without saying that his "Fair Student Funding" fiasco made Principals think twice about hiring experienced teachers and reducing their already shrunken budget. Furthermore, he failed to mention that he engineered the ATR crises in the first place by encouraging principals to hire "newbie teachers" and that Tweed will pay for teachers excessed indefinitely.

Another inaccuracy by Joel Klein was that union-approved Arbitrators refuse to terminate teachers. The reality is all Arbitrators must be approved by both the UFT and the DOE and mere accusations do not mean the charges are true. Evidence is necessary to terminate teachers and if the DOE cannot supply such evidence, the Arbitrators will not terminate the teacher. In Joel Klein's mind any accusation should result in termination. If that was true, many of his subordinates at Tweed should have been terminated and of course they weren't. I guess he had different rules for teachers.

However, the best lies by ex-Chancellor Joel Klein came with the recruitment vs. retention issue. In Mr. Klein's delusional world the best teachers leave the public schools, with their tenure, pension, and retiree health benefits for high functioning Charter schools who have none of these expenses. Really? Almost all Charter school teachers are those "two year wonders" from Teach for America and the few who are not, couldn't get a public school position. Worse yet, even the best of the Charter schools cannot seem to retain teachers who flee to either the public schools or leave the profession entirely. Where the lying ex-Chancellor gets his phony numbers from is beyond me. I need to remind my readers of what the real Joel Klein legacy is Here.

Many of the existing problems in the Public Schools were the handiwork of Joel Klein and his cronies who had eight years to double the DOE Administrative bloat, reduce funding to the schools, and cause havoc that put us in the mess the schools find themselves in presently.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The DOE Administrative Bloat Has Finally Caught The Eye Of The New York Post. Its About Time That The Mass Media Is Looking At The Tweed Budget.

One of my complaints is how the mass media ignores the Administrative bloat at Tweed which has seen a doubling of money since 2002 and an increase of 16,360 people at the DOE (teachers accounted for only an additional 1,000 to the increase). Finally, none other than the New York Post wrote an editorial that questioned why Bloomberg did not look at the DOE for additional cuts. In fact, the editorial stated the following"

He's vowing to cut some 6,000 teaching slots, for example, including more than 4,000 by layoff -- but he's also more than doubled school spending since '02.

Seems like a ripe target to us.

Furthermore, the usually reliable New York City Council has already grilled the Mayor's poodle, Dennis Walcott on the DOE's bloated Bureaucracy, especially at Tweed and will look hard at cuts there while providing the $276 million to retain the 4,100 teachers. In particular, they will be investigating what happened to the $300 million DOE surplus that mysteriously disappeared when the UFT identified the money in Tweed's budget, the outrageous increases in computer and consultant services, and most importantly the $3.2 billion surplus that is being put away for the budget next year. In fact, the UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, said the following about the DOE budget.

He argued that there are huge potential savings in the astounding $4.6 billion DOE spends on outside contracts, $40 million for outside management consultants, and $36 million for computer consultants. DOE has added 218 positions to the central bureaucracy; and recently, the UFT had pointed out to DOE the fact that there was a $300 M surplus in their own operating budget for salaries; the next day they came out with a new document in which this $300 M had disappeared from view.

The bottom line is that I highly doubt that there will be any teacher layoffs unless he gets his way on "last in, first out". An unlikely action given the Mayor's reduced popularity, and his relentless attacks on teachers that have turned off even his most ardent supporters. Since the Mayor is a "lame duck" I will find it difficult to believe that the politicians who want to be Mayor will antagonize the UFT for the present "lame duck" Mayor. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bloomberg's Budget Will Eliminate 6,100 Teachers (4,100 By Layoff) While Proposing No Layoffs At Tweed In The Mayor's "Children Last" Policy.

Mayor Bloomberg presented his budget yesterday and in it it eliminated 6,100 teachers for the next school year. The only real change was that the Administration admitted there would be 2,000 teachers leaving due to attrition, not the 1,500 as was in the previous budget proposal. It is very obvious to all that he is targeting teachers in this budget as a political statement. By contrast, when he was asked if there will be any layoffs at the DOE's already bloated Central Administration? The Mayor responded, that he does not anticipate laying off anybody from Tweed.

Here is a Mayor that preached "Accountability" and who does he blame for his budget to layoff teachers? The Federal & State governments, the Teachers union, and of course, the economy. Nowhere does the "Accountability" Mayor takes blame for his budget decisions. An example of this is the 3.2 billion dollar surplus that he quietly tucked away into the 2013 budget (even the New York Post caught on to this three-card Monte game, Mayoral style) rather than using the $276 million he would need to avert any teacher layoffs. This is simply a political statement by the Mayor to embarrass the State and to demonize teachers and will, in the long run, fail as the politicians (except for the Republican Senate) see that the lame duck Mayor is no longer popular with the people and his legacy as the "Education Mayor" as a bad joke. What is more interesting is that the teacher layoffs account for 80% of the total layoffs in Bloomberg's Budget of City Workers and to show how political it is, he said any additional money he gets from the State may go to the Police or Fire Department not to reduce teacher layoffs. His exact words were:

“Any moneys that Albany manages to get back to us…don’t automatically go to education,” Bloomberg said today.

“There are a lot of first priorities. There are a lot of agencies that are very important to the city. You may decide that you need one more policeman or one more fireman… there are plenty of things in addition to education,” he said.

Of course the Mayor's poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott supports the Mayor and brought up LIFO yet again. He said the following:

"the issue for me is making sure we have an effective teacher in front of the classroom." The administration is pursuing legislative changes in Albany that would allow the city to lay off teachers based on merit, instead of seniority as the law currently requires.

What the Bloomberg budget does is "hurt the children". Especially the elementary schools where 50% of the teacher layoffs are projected. However, the Mayor has made it clear in his budget proposal that he does not care about the children and how his draconian cuts will affect them. He only cares about proving a point and use his Mayoral power to make it happen. To him it does not matter that the schools who struggle in poor neighborhoods will be disproportionately affected. To the Mayor it is not about what is right, it is about his power to do as he pleases. I can only hope that the New York City Council sees through what Bloomberg is doing and take the $276 million out of his 3.2 billion dollar surplus and stop this travesty that furthers the Mayor's ambitions which result in "hurting the children".

The Bloomberg budget not only is a disgrace but goes out of his way to "hurt the children" in his political attack on teachers and their union. "Children Last" does not even apply here, it is "children do not count" in the Bloomberg budget. I know what our union's position is

Michael Mulgrew, the union president, described the mayor’s announcement on Friday as the “smoke and mirrors” of an administration trying to save face after threatening layoffs for months. “The teachers have been hearing this since January,” Mr. Mulgrew said.

Notice those fifth columnists at Education 4 Excellence had nothing to say about the Bloomberg Budget that "hurts the children". I wonder why?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

"Accountability" Is Only For The Public Schools Not For Those Non-Educators At Tweed.

One of the great buzz words that the Department of Education uses is "Accountability". According to the DOE all public schools must be held accountable for their success and failure in student academic achievement. Fair enough, if the schools were given the proper funding, support, and resources to be held accountable. Of course, many schools have experienced large budget cuts over the last three years that have seen an average of an 11% reduction in school funding, not including another 3% reduction for the next school year. Because of Tweed's use of the "fair student funding" program, schools are afraid to hire experienced teachers because it affects their budget. Furthermore, the "fair student funding" program, as used by Tweed, is an effective 20% decrease for the average school funding (interestingly, the DOE does not require the Charter Schools to use the "fair student funding" formula since it would dramatically reduce funds to those schools because they tend not to take the children who have high resource needs). Accountability, accountability, accountability, is the theme from Tweed for the public schools.

However, accountability seems to have been ignored when it comes to the Central Bureaucracy as Tweed blunders their way from one self-made crises to the next. Let's look at all the problems that have occurred just in the last couple of months.
  • A top DOE official first denied and then withdrew her denial, under oath, that she had a "personal relationship" with a consultant at the consulting firm FTA while supervising the contract. Yet she is still employed at Tweed, The entire article can be found here.
  • The DOE failed to properly supervise a Consultant, William (Ross) Lantham who allegedly took $3.6 million dollars without proper oversight. The article is here. Doubts about the Consultant date back to 2002 here. The people at Tweed are pointing fingers at each other and nobody is taking responsibility for this fiasco.
  • The Office of Family Information and Advocacy have bungled their way from one problem to the next and no heads have rolled because of it. First, was to try to pressure parents and parent coordinators to sign a petition to eliminate LIFO. Which may lead to further action and even a criminal complaint. Then they refused to publish a list of candidates who were running in the Community Education Councils here. Yet nobody has been fired because of these fiascos.
Accountability is for the schools but appears not to be applied to to those non-educators at Tweed. "Children last"...always.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Real Amy Woda Story That The New York Post Didn't Bother To Investigate- "When Bad Things Happen To Good People".

I was shocked when I picked up the New York Post's four-part series on "bad teachers" and saw my friend and colleague, Amy Woda as one of these "bad teachers". I have known Amy for over three years and can tell you there is not a nicer or more caring person around. Yes, I know the New York Post said she was fired for incompetence and not for any misconduct. However, if you knew Amy like I do, you would quickly realize that Amy is not an incompetent teacher, far from it. Amy was targeted by a vicious "C" rated Principal who saw an astounding 75% turnover in her school in a five year period. Many of the teachers that left the school were older, highly-paid, and dare I say Jewish as was so alleged to me. The "C"" rated principal from the infamous "Leadership Academy" had a total of three years (I don't even know if she actually gained tenure) of classroom experience and never taught 2nd graders. Yet she charged Amy with incompetence.

By contrast, Amy Woda had taught in the classroom for fourteen years and did not receive her first "U" rating until the 2006-07 school year, that was the year the Principal targeted Amy. Like all teachers who were targeted with incompetence accusations, Amy was pressured in taking the now infamous Peer Intervention Program Plus (PIP)+. The Principal told her that if she doesn't take the PIP+ program she would proceed with 3020-a charges and bring up the fact that Amy refused to take a program that was to help her improve her teaching. So Amy reluctantly took the PIP+ program. Unfortunately, for Amy she was in the first group
of teachers who took and failed the PIP+ program. The latest statistics show that there is a 90% failure rate for teachers taking PIP+ and in many cases the teachers did not realize that the PIP+ program was a voluntary program and a teacher can refuse it and not be charged under 3020-a for not taking it. However, the first group had no way of knowing this and they felt, after talking to the union, that it gave them a chance to show that they were competent teachers. The truth be told is the PIP+ person is a long-term educator and usually ended their career as an Administrator and who was paid indirectly by the DOE. The PIP+ person would have numerous private meetings with the Principal and the unsuspecting teacher would be blind-sided when the PIP+ person, at the end, would recommend their removal from the classroom. Worse, many of the 3020-a Arbitrators consider the PIP+ person an "expert witness" and in almost all cases terminates the hapless teacher. Only lately, some of the newer Arbitrators have questioned this assumption and at least a couple of teachers have escaped termination. However, until recently it was an almost 100% termination rate for teachers who failed PIP+ .

Let's look at Amy Woda's case and see if she was really incompetent? Amy's was a 2nd grade teacher who saw all of her students advance academically to 3rd grade during the two years that the Principal gave her "U"s. Furthermore, during this time no parent ever found fault with her teaching. More importantly, the children developed academically, despite Amy's suspicion that the "C" rated Principal appeared to put many of the behavioral and academic problems in her class as part of the Principal targeting her for incompetence. Despite this Amy's class compared favorably academically with the other second grade classes and was, at worst, in the middle of her cohort group of second grade teachers. However, Amy, once targeted by the "C" rated Principal, it was only a matter of time before Amy was removed from the classroom for alleged incompetence. Removing Amy was not enough for the "C" rated Principal she tried not to pay Amy for going to her pre-hearing, claiming she didn't have to go (the DOE overruled her) and refused to pay Amy for days that she saw her NYSUT lawyer to prepare her defense despite it being common practice to do so.

Amy's NYSUT lawyer, Lori Smith, did an outstanding job defending Amy by bringing up how her students academically thrived, that she compared favorably with the other 2nd grade teachers with similar students, the massive teacher turnover at the school once the Principal took charge, and intensely questioning the witnesses who were not qualified to judge Amy's teaching ability. This included the PIP+ person who it turned out had not taught in the classroom for fifteen years! Further, she only taught "gifted and talented" students, the cream of the crop. Moreover, the PIP+ person had no clue about the "balanced literacy" program or the "workshop model". The NYSUT lawyer felt confident that she proved her case that Amy was a quality teacher who was a victim of a Principal that wanted her out of the school by any means possible.

Shockingly, the Arbitrator had decided that the PIP+ person was an "expert witness" despite the PIP+ person's lack of knowledge about the "balanced literacy" program or working with Amy's student type. Amy was terminated for incompetence. The Arbitrator's decision was unfair and wrongheaded and he ignored all the glaring inconsistencies that the NYSUT attorney had identified. What we all did not understand at the time was that the many Arbitrators who hear incompetence cases appeared to have decided if the PIP+ person is credible, the teacher is as good as terminated.

In Amy Woda's case I can only say "bad things happen to good people" and that fits Amy to a tee, personally, and professionally.

P.S. Amy Woda is a very pretty women and the picture they took without her approval does not do her justice. Please read untamed teacher for more information on who were really the incompetent ones.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Educators 4 Excellence Is A Group Of Fifth Columnists Who's Sole Purpose Is To Sew Discord In The Union Ranks On Behalf Of The Mayor & Chancellor.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is not a homogeneous group, there are various factions, known as caucuses, that represent different viewpoints on how the union should represent its members. These caucuses are "Unity", "New Action", "Independent Council of Educators", and "Teachers For A Just Contract". At times the different groups will disagree with the controlling caucus which is "Unity" and this dissent can be very vocal. However, when outside forces start to attack our profession, the different caucuses put aside their differences and act as one to support the union. This is apparent in the present where Mayor Bloomberg and his poodle Chancellor Walcott has made the elimination of seniority-based layoffs known as "last in' first out" or LIFO as the top priority. In fact the Chancellor was quoted as saying his full time job is to eliminate LIFO. I thought it was to run the New York City Public Schools and ensure they are adequately funded? Silly me for being so naive.

That brings me to a new organization that has shown up as claiming to represent teachers. It is called Education 4 Excellence (E4E) and was founded by two former teachers who had a combined five years of teaching experienced before they fled the classroom. They are Evan Stone and Sydney Morris who are now paid a salary by organizations run by Bill Gate, Joel Klein, and other education deformers whose main purpose is to destroy the union and teacher "due process rights" in their quest to privatize the school system. E4E is called a cult by some in the education community and bloggers South Bronx School and Accountable Talk have commented extensively on E4E and are must reads if you are to understand the real goals of E4E.

Personally. I consider E4E a group of fifth columnists who's sole purpose is to destroy the union from the inside. Their "white paper" was very similar to Mayor Bloomberg's bill to eliminate LIFO and it is obvious to me that E4E coordinated their "white paper" with Tweed and the Bloomberg Administration. E4E has blitzed the schools where inexperienced teachers are numerous with their philosophy and are doing their best to pit younger teachers against their more experienced counterparts and hope to break the union apart. They tried to get the union to agree to a survey on LIFO knowing full well that the union would never allow such a survey since LIFO is the law of the land and a "collective bargaining rights" issue. This was simply a public relations ploy to embarrass the union and bring more ammunition to the Bloomberg Administration's attempts to end LIFO. It is bad enough that the four columns from the outside, the Bloomberg Administration, Tweed, Education Deformers, and Politicians are attacking the union from the outside, now they have E4E, the fifth column that wants to attack the union from the inside.

I would like to know where their funding stream comes from? Who are paying E4E's bills? Finally, I would like to know why E4E did not fight for more school funding in Albany or with their friends at Tweed and the Bloomberg Administration? I know if I was to start a new caucus at the UFT, my top priority is to demand no layoffs, increase school funding, and reduce class size, yet when you look at the E4E "white paper" they are very silent about how to do any of them. Instead they harp on LIFO.

On May Day, the day we are supposed to celebrate unionized labor, we now have a privately funded group who's main purpose is to remove the union protections on behalf of anti-union forces from the inside. That is why E4E is in my opinion a fifth column.