Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Education Reformers Real Mission Is To Make Money And Make Teachers An Expendable Commodity - Not To Help Children Succeed Academically.

Over the last few years the buzz words for the anti-education crowd has been "education reform". Before "education reform" became the the cause celeb for the anti-education crowd the two political parties had different visions to change public education. For the Republicans (especially the right wing of the party) it was school vouchers to private or religious schools and home schooling with little or no union interference. While for the Democrats it was forced integration, school choice, everybody should be given a chance for college, and adding support for struggling schools in poverty areas. Both political parties wanted to find a way to reduce education spending and get more "bang for the buck" but had completely different ideas of how to do it. This difference in the philosophy of the two parties made it difficult to come to a consensus on what is best for the public schools. The result was an education budget that was subject to the whims of the political party in power. However, with this schism, it was easier for smart education leaders and unions to "play the system" by pitting the political parties against each other to support education in the country and educators (many of them former classroom teachers) were able to guide education policy and the funding that went along with these programs.

This all changed in the last decade as the anti-education crowd started to attract supporters from both political parties. More importantly, the for-profit organizations, many of them supported by Hedge Fund Managers smelled a chance to make loads of money by investing in them, started to lobby for "Charter Schools". Increasingly these non-educators started to take control of various school districts, especially inner-city urban areas (New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., etc.). Many of these "education reformers" had these issues in common.

  • School choice.
  • Privatization of schools.
  • Joint private/public funding of new schools that are not subject to union rules.
  • Weakening of teacher "due process" rights.
  • More efficient use of money for schools.
These "education reformers"came together in their advocacy of "Charter Schools". For the Republican members it incorporated their agenda of funding of a semi-private school with little or no union presence and the privatization of school finances for for-profit organizations. For the Democrats, it was the school choice issue and the "Charter Schools" offered the poor minority students a different path for success. Finally, for both it was supposed to be more efficient in allocating funds to the schools. Therefore, the "Charter School movement" became the program for the "Education Reformers". Who could disagree with the formation of "Charter Schools" that help the poverty level minority student? As we shall see, these "Education Reformers" had a different agenda then helping the children. For these for-profit groups their main goal was to make a profit for their "Hedge Fund Managers" which included destroying the teacher unions, eliminate educator " due process rights", and make the teaching profession a temporary job where teachers would be gone from the system before they qualified for a pension or retiree health benefits. By not paying out employee benefits, especially pensions, these for-profit organizations can maximize profits.

The problem with "Charter Schools " are many. First, they require significant public funds, even the ones that claim they are privately owned. These public funds usually come out of the neighborhood school in a "rob Peter to pay Paul" scenario. Second, many of the "Charter Schools" fail to take ELL or Special Education students and try to council out children with behavioral problems claiming they do not have the "resources" for the child. These children end up in the local public school in increasing percentages making a comparison between the two schools meaningless. Third, there is a rapid turnover in school staff, especially teachers, as the workload makes the Charter School a hostile and stressful environment for them. Many Charter Schools now rely on the "two year TFA wonders" for their staffing needs in their high turnover environment. Finally, they are "at will" employers and teacher have limited or no"due process" making it difficult for teacher long-term employment. Therefore, despite trying to get the best students, the Charter School grades are no better than the Public School because of the high teacher turnover and the lack of both classroom management skills and curriculum knowledge of the "newbie teachers" that work there. I can add more but you get the message.

The main goal be "Education Reformers" is to take control of the Public School system and that means destroying the power of the educators, especially the teachers' union. Hence, the attack on teacher tenure, seniority-based layoffs known as " last in, first out" (LIFO), teacher evaluations, and collective bargaining rights. For them the teacher is simply a "tool" to use and abuse and eventually leave the system before they pay out a pension or retiree health benefits. That is why the "Education Reformers" support "merit pay". They can simply say a three year teachers should be retained over a fifteen year teacher by subjectively claiming that the three year teacher is more effective. When you challenge them about how you define merit, they sheepishly claim "test scores" and Administrator observations, knowing full well that such simple and questionable standards are prone to errors, manipulation, and abuse.

Finally, the main goal for "Education Reformers" is not what is best for the children, it is how cheaply to run an education system and make a profit for their hedge Find Managers or as I say "education on the cheap".

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Incompetence By The DOE Shows Up Yet Again As ATRs Who Have Been Working In the Schools Were Incorrectly Labeled As "Reassigned" And Given An "N "

For many of the ATRs who came out of the "Teacher Reassignment Center" after their cases were settled or completed and sent to a school this year, the geniuses at Tweed have incorrectly labeled them as still being "reassigned" and given a "N" rating (Not rated). It appears the incompetents in the Human Resources Department of Tweed failed, or didn't bother to update their teacher data files to eliminate the "reassignment" designation. How much is Tweed spending on Technology that is supposed to eliminate such simple and stupid errors? Yes, the DOE is spending $900 million dollars and they can't even get the most simple change right.

I know there may be some people who believe that the DOE did this purposefully and to let other principals know that the ATR was a "reassigned teacher". The proverbial "Scarlet Letter"when they apply for the vacant positions in the schools. However, I am not one of them. I believe that the uncaring and incompetent people who work at the DOE didn't bother to update their teacher files, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Technology and have left it up to the teacher and the union to try to correct the problem that should never had to be one in the first place.

If you are an ATR at a school and received a rating sheet of "N" (not rated}, you must meet with the Principal ( I suggest take your Chapter Leader with you). The Principal will need to contact Human Resources for them to remove the automatically generated "N" rating so that the Principal can give the proper rating of "S" (satisfactory). If the Principal fails to follow through, call your District Representative, Borough President, and email Michael Mulgrew at to advise him of the lack of resolution on the "N" rating issue.

Things like this should never happen. However, we are talking about the DOE, where Administrative bloat, staff incompetence, and the wasting of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to consultants who don't even have approved or legal contracts are a common practice. Remember, it is Tweed first, and everybody else last.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Raises The "White Flag" As He Surrenders On Teacher Layoffs Once He Failed To Eliminate " Last In, First Out" (LIFO)

Last night the Bloomberg Administration formally surrendered "with hat in hand" they came to the UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway and asked for whatever face-saving concessions the union could offer to rescind the proposed teacher layoffs. Our union gave up sabbaticals for the 2012-13 school year for a savings of $17 million dollars and will allow ATRs to become day to day subs for a savings of $43 million dollars. The total UFT concessions are $60 million dollars, a far less figure than the $376 million dollars he Bloomberg Administration insisted on to stop the 4,100 teacher layoffs. Of course as predicted by many of us, once Bloomberg lost on the seniority-based layoff issue known as "last in, first out" (LIFO), there were going to be no teacher layoffs. Bloomberg would never allow his small schools who are staffed by cheap, "newbie" and untenured teachers to be stripped of their staff. His ploy was to get rid of ATRs and highly-paid senior teachers by any means possible and since that failed, it was only a question of how the Mayor would wiggle out of his teacher layoff pledge.

Now that the entire City, including, the news media has seen that once again the Mayor did not follow through with his threats and that the teacher layoffs were only a ploy to get rid of expensive senior teachers, his lack of credibility is obvious to all. More importantly, the Mayor magically found another $170 million dollars of tax revenues. My my, like that money wasn't available all along! Furthermore, there are deeper undefined cuts out of the DOE central bureaucracy. However, the Bloomberg and Tweed technology budget appears to be unaffected from these cuts. Finally, the Bloomberg Administration will let the DOE send out school budgets on Monday to principals that appeared to have been held hostage by the budget standoff. Has Bloomberg lost creditability? You bet he has, even his closest allies see how transparent his threats to layoff teachers was and this episode will add to his woes as his popularity with the people of the City is at an all time low and probably going lower.

The real question is what did the union really give up? First, the teacher sabbatical concession for the 2012-13 school year was a very minor concession and easily given up for no layoffs. The other concession, the use of ATRs for day to day subs is more complicated. Presently, many ATRs were used as "free teachers" who fill vacant teaching positions and having full classroom duties without the schools picking up their salary. According to the agreed upon concession, ATRs will no longer be given teaching programs, unless the school picks up the ATR's salary and appoints them to the vacancy. If that is true, then this "concession" would actually pressure the principals to either hire the ATR for the vacancy or be stuck with a revolving door of weekly ATRs which would result in little student learning and parent complaints, not a healthy situation for all involved.

There are rumors that the Mayor's poodle, the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, will instruct Tweed to make sure that, with the exception of Special Education" , that all vacancies be filled by the existing ATR pool (since they cannot get rid of them) to ensure the most efficient use of existing resources as those schools who try to hide their vacancies will be under increasing scrutiny to explain why as the DOE tries to save money. For example my previous post is a case in point It will be interesting to see if the DOE reallky does go after these principals that hide vacancies actually happens. This ATR concession can go either way, only time will tell.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In The Ever Continuing Saga Of The "Dare To Be Remarkable" School - It Is The "C" Rated Principal First And "Children Last"

In The ever continuing saga of the "C" rated Principal at the school that has the slogan "dare to be remarkable" We now learn that the "C" rated Principal has secretly told the "newbie teacher" who was hired as a long-term substitute that she will take over the program of a retiring teacher as reported previously here. The "newbie teacher" told the other teachers about the secret deal that allows her to continue as a long-term substitute with a full schedule until the "C" rated Principal finds a way around or gets Tweed's permission to hire the "newbie" to get around the DOE hiring freeze.

You might ask what is so terrible about what the "C" rated Principal is doing? First, this is a vacancy that is being hidden from the "Open Market Transfer System". Second, she has had an ATR teacher all year and proved to the Administration that he is an excellent teacher who the students liked and was much more "effective" as a teacher than the "newbie" who struggled with classroom management problems and student disrespect . Finally, there is a question of age discrimination as the much more qualified and respected ATR is over 50 while the "newbie" is only 23!

According to my source, the "C" rated Principal seems to be going after many of the older male teachers in her school as they believe that they are subject to disparate treatment and given disciplinary "letters-To-The-File" that the other teachers are not subject to. This apparent discriminatory behavior has been sent to the District Representative of our union and to date the union has not acted upon the information. Let's hope the union wakes up and exposes this "C" rated Principal for what she really is, a person that cares about what is best for her and not the children of her school. Or as the union would say a "Principal In Need Of Improvement".

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In My Wonderful School I Have Painfully Found Out How Little The Administration Respects The ATR. To Them I Am Just A Tool!

When I was sent to this wonderful high school, I thought I had died and went to heaven. Welcoming teachers, nice administrators, and best of all students who wanted to learn. Yes, I was an ATR and I was used to cover classes when a teacher was out and while I yearned for my own classes which didn't happen this year, I still felt respected by everybody at the school. Furthermore, I was useful and I never was targeted by the Administration or felt disrespected as an ATR teacher until the proctoring schedule came out. I found out that below the surface of the administrative nicety, I realized how they felt about the ATR. I was given a proctoring schedule from hell that required me to proctor ten, yes, ten Regents assignments while still being asked to mark the Regents. By contrast, some of the teachers, where given one or no proctoring assignments whatsoever!

In one case a teacher who had his subject Regents on Wednesday of last week and finished marking by Friday, was given "zero" proctoring assignments this week despite having nothing to do but "assist" where needed. By contrast, I have three proctoring assignments this week, despite marking the Regents in between these proctoring assignments. Now, for tomorrow, I was given an additional proctoring assignment to do while I have not finished marking and won't until Thursday. As for the teacher who has not had even one proctoring assignment? He was not assigned a proctoring assignment despite having nothing to do.

Do I think the Administration is out to get me? The answer is certainly not. However, it shows me what the Administration simply thinks of the ATR as a "tool" to be used as they please and not as a subject teacher who should be better employed in marking Regents tests in a timely manner. It is too bad that the ATRs have been so demonized by Tweed that even school administrators feel that they are not like appointed teachers and they are given every job that no other teacher wants or likes. This attitude must change, the ATR is an experienced teacher that should have the same rights of all other teachers in the school and the Administration must be even-handed when they make decisions that turn out not only to be unfair to the teacher but reflects on them as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Fathers Are Important DespiteThe False Claims Of Education Reformers Who Dismiss The Family As The Main Factor In A Child's Academic Achievement.

On occasion I have written about the lack of a father in a child's life, here and here and how it affects their academic achievement. This inconvenient truth about children being fatherless is ignored or dismissed as a non-factor by the education deformers ranging from Barack Obama, down to the "fifth columnists" at E4E. To these education deformers , the real cause for student academic problems is the quality of the teacher not the family and community environment. How wrong they are and they know it. The worst of the bunch has to be ex-Chancellor Joel Klein who has time and again falsely blamed schools (principals and teachers) and not the family for the problems in the school system and falsely claimed a narrowing of the academic achievement gap.

Study after study has shown that a lack of a father in the family makes a child more likely to fail academically by either repeating a grade or being expelled. In fact, a study in "Adolescence" showed that a child in a fatherless household is 70% more likely to be expelled! Furthermore, another study showed that 70% of children who are in juvenile facilities did not grow up with fathers. On the positive side children with engaged and involved fathers attain more "A"'s in school, a higher levels of education, and tend to join extracurricular activities that make them a better adjusted person for survival in the adult world. Yet the so-called education deformers deliberately ignore this issue as if it has no relevance in student academic achievement, what baloney!

Here are just some of the problems that various studies have found when there are no fathers present in a child's life.Lower grades.
  • Lower school grades.
  • Greater absenteeism.
  • Left back or expelled.
  • Increased dropout rate.
  • More behavior problems.
  • Increased pregnancy rates for teenage girls.
  • Greater incarceration rates.
  • Unable to keep a job for long periods of time.
  • No male role models for socialization and disciplinary issues.
  • Lack of father's income.
In the blog "Fallen Fathers" some of the statistics in the post are downright frightening and needs to be read. if the statistics are true, and I have no reason to believe they aren't. Is it any wonder that we have the problems we have in the schools, especially in the large urban areas?

We have come a long way from the Murphy Brown days in the 80's when fathers were dismissed as simply the wage earner who's only importance to a child's development was the income he brought into the household and was considered by the snobby liberal elite as a relic of the past. We now know that fathers are just as important to a child's life as his or her mother and it takes two caring and committed parents to get the child to reach his or her academic achievement potential. For the education deformers to continue to ignore the family issue, is just plain wrong!

On this Father's Day. I need to remind those education deformers about the inconvenient truth that fathers are extremely important to the family and it is the family that is the most important factor in student success and academic achievement.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yet Another DOE Consultant That Waste's Money On A Special Education ProgramThat Does Not Work Right And Has Cost $79 Million Dollars And Counting.

In a time of severe budget cutbacks and 4,100 teacher layoffs, the Department Of Education (DOE) just keeps on wasting precious dollars on programs, consultants, and technology that either does not work right or is a complete waste of money. In fact, NY1 reports on the outrageous $900 million dollar technology budget in this time of massive layoffs. Now we have another Tweed boondoggle, it is a computerized Special Education program called the Special Education Student Identification System (SESIS). This complicated and difficult computerized program is hard to understand and has been universally panned by the frustrated Special Education teachers who have experienced numerous bugs and at times have lost their entire data input as the system resets or erases the information entered.

The SESIS program was developed by a consultant, the Virgina-based MAXIMUS corporation and has so far cost the DOE a mind-boggling $79 million dollars since the contract was signed in 2009. For the people who are forced to work with this system it appears it was developed for an office-based environment with high-speed internet service and not the schools it was supposed to serve. The user complaints are many. The major problems with SESIS are:
  • Hard to understand.
  • Lack of training for this complicated program.
  • Time-consuming with this difficult program.
  • Inadequate bandwidth to get into and work with the program in the schools.
  • Unhelpful, "help line" the makes it nearly impossible to get answers during school time.
While computerization is usually a good thing, in this case there are apparently perfectly good computer programs that other school districts in the State use. They are simple to use, easy to understand, and most importantly cost $5 million dollars not $79 million dollars to implement.

Julie Cavanaugh, a Special Education teacher was quoted saying about SESIS "It's not functioning properly, there is a serious design flaw and it takes me twice as long to create records for my students". Her and all other complaints were ignored by the DOE until SESIS was used for the Special Education Kindergarten Placements. Now it seems all the complaints have come home to roost as Tweed missed their June 13th deadline to place up to 2,500 Kindergartners in slots. This, despite the loads of overtime, yes, overtime, by using emergency funds from the schools to get teachers to work weekends and evenings to find seats for the incoming Special Education Kindergartners. Despite, the effort, the DOE failed to meet the deadline and Kindergartners not placed can not go to expensive private schools where tuition can be as high as $30,000 a year. The SESIS problem has become so bad that even the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, blames SESIS for the goof and the massive amount of money associated with its failed implementation.

The question is will heads roll at Tweed for the $79 million dollar and counting SESIS boondoggle and let Special Education teachers find an easier way to computerize the Special Education IEP program. If I was a betting man there will be no heads rolling at Tweed and SESIS is here to stay. Remember it is "Tweed first and children last...Always.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

These Three Schools Show How Bogus The Graduation Rate Is When It Is Compared To The "College & Career Readiness" Statistics.

Almost everybody, except for Mayor Bloomberg and his poodle the Chancellor has reacted negatively to the New York City high School graduation rates. While more and more unprepared students are being pushed out of the high schools due to the explosion of "credit recovery" programs. The reality is that 79% of them are not academically prepared to enter either the business world or college. What do these "graduates" look forward too? Low wage jo and various other cohorts you can find it, for-profit trade schools that just take their and the taxpayers money, and worst of all, many become a drain on society through financial problems that can lead to family breakups, crime, and even prison. To find out how well or poorly your high school did on the "college & career readiness" data, you can find it here by scrolling down to pages 36 to 59 for the New York City School results. For all other data such as school graduation rates, racial breakdown, and cohort information you can find it here. In addition, if you ust want the graduation rates for your school you can find them l here. Just scroll down to pages 77 to 139 in the pdf for the graduation rate.

Let's look at three schools that serve as poster children in the disconnect between the increasingly bogus graduation rates and real academic achievement.

  • Bronx Health Sciences High School has a graduation rate of 96.6%. However, their "college & career readiness" statistics are a mind-numbing 3.4%! How much does "credit recovery" contribute to their bogus graduation rate? It would be interesting to find out.
  • Repertory Company High School For Theatre Arts reported a graduation rate of 85.7% but their "college & career readiness" number was an incredibly terrible 4.7%!
  • Bronx Aerospace High School listed a 88.6% graduation rate while having a "college & career readiness" value of only 8.6%. Very disappointing indeed.
Based upon what I have been reading and experiencing, for every 4 out of 5 students, the New York City High School Diploma is not worth the paper it is printed on. I guess for the DOE it is just push them out, no matter how unprepared they are, and make them a problem for the community they reside in. "Children last"...Always.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bloomberg & Wallcott Take Credit For the Bogus 61% Graduation Rate. However, The State Questions The Real Academic Achievement Of These Students.

The State published the New York City graduation rate for 2010 and found that it rose 2% to 61%. That;s the good news but there was bad news as well. The bad news? New York State voiced concern that only 21% of the high school graduates were "college & career ready". This very disappointing statistic of "college & career readiness" has shown little change since 2008. Furthermore, only 16.4% of New York City high school graduates achieved the academically coveted "Advanced Regents Diploma". Moreover, the racial/income academic achievement gap stayed stubbornly wide. While the rise in the New York City graduation rate was hailed by Mayor Bloomberg and his poodle Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the underlying statistics is of greater concern to the State and educators.

First, lets put the graduation rate in perspective. Principals are increasingly relying on the bogus "credit recovery programs" that make educational progress a sham and academic achievement laughable. The "credit recovery programs" have literally exploded in even the best high schools in the last year or two and in some schools result in a significant jump in the graduation rate. How significant? So far these statistics are unavailable as they are a closely held secret by the DOE as not to embarrass the schools or the principals. Privately, people who are in the know believe that it may average as much as 8% throughout the high schools. What is the real number? Ask Tweed, they probably know but don't expect them to publish it.

Second, anecdotal evidence from teachers suggest that the principals are now demanding up to a 80% passing rate from them or else. We all know what "or else" means. This pressure as well as teacher scrubbing to increase the Regents passing rate is cheapening the academic process and further diluting the quality of the high school diploma. The result is that students are graduating high school while being barely literate and cannot fill out a job application properly. Even the New York Post's Michael Goodwin dismissed the graduation rate as being useless with all the "malfeasance and cheating" associated with it.

Finally, any statistics that have the DOE imprint on it is highly suspect. "Fuzzy Math" is what I have called it but a Chapter Leader had a better analogy "the Enron Annual Report" with regard to the validity of data that comes out of Tweed. Unless the statistics are independently verified nobody should take them seriously.

While the graduation rate is suspect, the underlying lack of academic achievement is not. Back in 2008 a similar percentage of students were forced to take remedial courses as they were deemed not "college ready"when they entered college and nothing seemed to have changed since then. This shows that the New York City high schools have not prepared 80% of their graduates for college. What is worse is that only 16.4% of the high school graduates received an "advanced Regents Diploma" and that terrible percentage includes the many specialized high schools throughout the City where it is nearly 100%.

To me, real academic achievement is a rise in "Advanced Regents Diplomas", a narrowing of the income/racial student achievement gap, and students who no longer rely on "credit recovery programs" to graduate. That is what I consider real academic achievement.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Has Privately Given Up On Laying Off Teachers And Will Ask For Municipal Union Help In His Final Budget.

While it is not official, it is now highly likely that Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to destroy the Teachers' Union has backfired and no teacher layoff's are anticipated. While the details need to be worked out, it is a major victory for the children and a significant defeat for the Mayor.

The Bloomberg Administration is now working with the City Council and the Municipal Unions to rescind the planned teacher layoffs and possibly keep open the firehouses. With the Mayor's approval rating dropping and his allies abandoning him, it was inevitable that the Mayor cut a deal that will avert teacher layoffs as predicted here previously. It is now obvious that once the Mayor's attack on "last in, first out" (LIFO) failed, he had no intention of laying off the "newbie teachers" who are cheap and not vested. The problem was that the Mayor's arrogance and attack on the teachers' union gave him few, if any, real bargaining chips to negotiate with. The question was how to find a "face saving solution" to the problem he created in the first place. It now appears that such a solution will come from the Municipal Unions or so it seems.

Let's see how this finally ends but in any case the Mayor has suffered a major defeat and look for the Mayor to become increasingly irrelevant as the days tick by and nobody (except his poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his cronies at Tweed) will be jumping to the "lame duck" Mayor's beck and call.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Daily News Unfairly Blames The Shooting Death Of Tysha Jones On The Teachers' Union Contract And Not On Gang Violence Where It Belongs.

The New York Daily News Editorial Board, in a misguided attempt to bash Public Education in New York City in general and the teachers' union in particular, has blamed the shooting death of Tysha Jones on the fact that the teachers union and the Department of Education negotiated a contract that made Brooklyn-Queens day a professional development day throughout the City. It is unbelievable that the Editorial completely ignores the gang-related issues that started the problem and unfairly compared the NYC Public School System with the Charter Schools, whom for the most part, had school that day.

Talk about hypocrisy! The Daily News Editorial Board is showing their political agenda while ignoring the cause of the shooting and killing of Tysha Jones, the ever continuing gang violence between what looks like the Bloods and Crips (many of them in their 20s and are no longer in school) that seemed to be the cause of the problem. In fact, the other five shooting victims are black males in their 20s and not school-age teenagers. What is even more hypocritical about the Daily News Editorial Board is their failure to acknowledge and condemn the "forced day off" the Charter Schools gave the students so they can protest for Charter School co-location on May 26th. Nowhere did I read in the New York Daily News or any other newspapers for that matter, complain that the Charter Schools took away valuable instruction time to protest a political agenda. Now that is hypocrisy!

The New York Daily News Editorial Board has shown its bias against the NYC Public Schools by reaching to a conclusion that is wrong while deliberately ignoring worse abuses perpetrated by the Charter Schools they support. They should be ashamed of themselves for their garbage editorial that blame the Public School System for the shootings and not the gang violence.

update: A 19 year-old high school dropout, with an extensive arrest record and a member of the Crips gang was arrested for the killing of Tysha Jones. So far no teachers have been linked to the killing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Did The DOE Secretly Host A Job Fair At The Brooklyn Museum And Failed To Invite The ATRs? Worse, Did The Union Know It And Let The Job Fair Happen?

Last week, I was contacted by a fellow ATR who asked me about a teachers' "job fair" being planned on Tuesday, June 7th at the Brooklyn Museum. This "job fair" seems to be by invitation only and few, if any ATRs were invited. A teacher who wangled an invitation by going to 65 Court Street personally told me that various schools were represented and many newly minted "Teaching Fellows" and "Teach For America" candidates were being interviewed for all sort of positions, not just "special education" despite the hiring freeze.. The ATR that got the invitation only ran into two other ATRs at the "job fair" and the school administrators (mainly principals) were questioning the lack of interest by the ATRs in their school for their vacancies. The ATR did tell some of the principals that almost all the ATRs were not invited to the "job fair" and was almost universally greeted with disbelief to what the ATR said. It appears many of the administrators were unaware that the DOE did not invite the ATRs to the "job fair". What was most upsetting to me was the ATR claimed the UFT had their own welcome desk set up to great the teachers.

After talking to the ATR in detail and in depth, I have come to the disturbing conclusion that the DOE did not want the ATRs at the "job fair" and that is the reason why there were so few ATRs there. Why would the DOE do this to their own principals? Here are some reasons why.
  1. It convinces the unsuspecting principals that the ATRs are not interested in teaching classes and filling vacancies at their schools.
  2. Helps Tweed to continue to demonize the ATRs as teachers who don't want to and/or can't teach.
  3. Maybe sneaking in "newbie teachers" in some vacancies despite the hiring freeze by claiming there are no ATRs available to fill the vacancy.
While, nothing surprises me on the depths the DOE will go to get around the hiring freeze and disrespect the ATRs, the most worrisome issue was the apparent complicity the UFT had in this top secret "job fair". The ATR teacher who attended told me that there was a UFT table welcoming the potential "newbie teachers" and the smattering of ATRs who managed to find themselves at the "job fair".

My questions to the union are the following:
  • Why didn't the UFT alert all the ATRs of this "job fair"?
  • Is the union unwittingly aiding and abetting Tweed in further demonizing the ATRs?
  • Are they making sure the DOE is listing all the vacancies in the "Open Market Transfer System"? If not, then why?
I believe our union needs to inform the ATRs and all other transfer teachers why they appear complicit in keeping the June 7th "job fair" secret. We are owed an explanation to this disturbing and dangerous development and the union's role in it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The "Bully Mayor" Tries To Hit The Unions Hard Only To See The Unions Hit Back Even Harder.

The days that Mayor Michael Bloomberg can push around unions, politicians, and the public have passed and the Mayor's popularity is at an all time low of 36%. The mayor has been used to bullying people to get his own way but it now seems that he has went to far. Over the last four months he has experienced setback after setback as the unions joined together to oppose his union-busting tactics.

First, he tried to have the State Legislature pass his so-called "civil service reforms" without even approaching the unions with their input into it. Predictably, the State Legislature hasn't even bothered to entertain Bloomberg's proposals.

Next, he tried to get rid of the Variable Supplement Fund (VSF) for police and firemen by falsely claiming it is a "pension boondoggle" when it was the City who developed the VSF as a way to save money.

He then went after teacher seniority-based layoffs by asking that Last in, first out (LIFO) be eliminated and let the principal make the layoff decisions. After some initial success in the Republican-dominated Senate (aided by the $900,000 dollar campaign donations to them). The stop LIFO bill was tabled by the State Assembely and the Governor who called it an end run around "collective bargaining" with the union. Presently, Bloomberg's bill is on life support and the plug will be pulled by the end of next week when the State Legislature goes into summer vacation.

Finally, his budget went after the teachers, preschools, and firehouses with massive teacher layoffs (4,100), a vast reduction of preschool funding, and the closing of 20 firehouses while having a $3.2 billion dollar surplus put in reserve for the 2013 budget. It didn't help the Mayor that the DOE's revised budget shows an increase of over $700 million above the City's previous projections for consultants and technology services last school year while cutting the schools by $325 million dollars more!

Whether the bully Mayor has been "misguided" or "misadvised", it matters little since the City Council is sure to recind both the teacher layoffs and the firehouse closings, reducing the Mayor's popularity even more.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Finally, The Daily News Wrote An Article On The Tweed Bloat At The Expense Of The Classroom. Will The Other Newspapers Follow Suit?

Over the last three months I felt like I was one of the very few blogging voices complaining about how the New York City Department Of Education's bloated Central Bureaucracy was given a pass as the mass media seemed to ignore the hypocrisy of increasing the Tweed budget while threatening to layoff 4,100 teachers. Admittedly, the New York Post editorial did mention the Tweed bloat in passing but didn't really go into detail. My posts about Tweed's bloated bureaucracy can be found here, here, here and here. In fact, you can go back years and see that the Tweed Administrative bloat has been an issue and the media seemed to generally ignore it. The Tweed Administrative bloat posts can be found here, and here.

Sure the NYC public school parents blog and the union brought up Tweed's Administrative bloat time and again and yes, some in the City Council are actually questioning the Bloomberg Administration on their funding priorities. However, the newspapers seemed to be deaf, dumb, and blind when it came to the DOE's budget for the Central Bureaucracy. Today the New York Daily News finally questioned why the Tweed budget is increasing 7%, or an additional $20 million at their headquarters? The article also pointed out that the Children First networks and Clusters, where some employees have little or no work to do, are getting an extra $3 million dollars. Just unbelievable!

The article also included the following astounding increases in Tweed's divisions.

  • A whopping 300% increase in Tweed's Legal department or $7.4 million dollars.
  • A stunning 130% increase for the Labor relations division or $1.3 million dollars.
  • An additional 46% increase for the technology division or $6.4 million dollars.
The best quote about the outrageous increases in Tweed at the expense of the schools they are supposed to serve was by Councilwoman Gale Brewer who said the following.

"There's nobody who's a parent who feels there should be an increase at Tweed and cuts to the schools."

All this as Mayor Bloomberg and his poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, keeps insisting in getting rid of 6,100 teachers and hurt the children with rising class sizes. This is just another shinning example of the Bloomberg Administration and the DOE who could care little of the parents, students, and school personnel needs when it comes to their wants. It is still "Tweed first, and children last...Always."

Sunday, June 05, 2011

"Dare To Be Remarkable" - The Principal Tries To Hide A Vacancy And Hire A "Newbie Teacher" Despite The Hiring Freeze.

In the ever continuing soap opera at the "dare to be remarkable" school with it's "C" rated Principal. We now find that the Principal appears to be trying to hide a math vacancy so that she can eventually hire the "newbie teacher" who she had picked up this year as a long-term substitute since a hiring freeze prohibited her from appointing the young women as a teacher.

The story starts with the retirement of a math teacher at the end of the school year. The ATR at the school, who is also a Math teacher, and a good one at that as admitted by the Assistant Principal, wanted to apply for the upcoming vacancy. He asked the Assistant Principal if he would put in a good word for him since he had proved to the AP that he is an "effective teacher" and the students responded well to him when he covered a Math position for three months. The Assistant Principal told him that the "C" rated Principal is not listing the position as a "vacancy" since the retiring teacher is using his sick leave as terminal leave, he is theoretically on the payroll and the "C" rated Principal is using this technicality to not list the position as a vacancy. The "C" rated Principal plans to use that "sweet young thing" to continue as a long-term substitute and fill the vacant position until the "C" rated Principal can either get special permission to hire her or wait for the hiring freeze to end.

It makes no difference that this "newbie teacher" struggles with classroom management issues and is nowhere near the teacher the ATR is. For the "C" rated Principal it is what is best for her and not is what is best for the children. In her school and under her leadership it is the Principal first and "children last"... Always.

Note: How many other principals are not reporting their vacancies and what is the union and the DOE doing to ensure all vacancies are being reported?

Friday, June 03, 2011

"Bully Principal" Richard Bost, Another Principal Acting Badly And The Unaccountable DOE Continues To Protect Him.

The UFT newspaper, the New York Teacher, wrote a very informative article about another "bad Principal" who has been accused of sexually harassing female teachers and possibly worse, as well as allegedly grouped a school secretary. In addition, there are persistent allegations that he has a forbidden sexual relationship with two subordinate teachers. Principal Richard Bost of the Fordham Leadership Academy, a "poorly rated school" has been accused of being a "bully" by the UFT newspaper and the entire article needs to be read to realize the extent of Richard Bost's misconduct over the years. Yes, Principal Richard Bost is a graduate of the infamous "Principal Leadership Academy" but I am sure you all knew this. Just another shinning example of a "Leadership Academy Principal". I previously wrote about these bullying principals and how Tweed actually encourages this bad behavior by principals Here. The 2010-2011 Quality Review has downgraded the school as "undeveloped"

Principal Richard Bost came on the media radar back in 2009 when an investigation substantiated that the Principal "grouped his payroll secretary and repeatedly made inappropriate comments on her cleavage and her clothes". The Superintendent, after reading the investigator's report of sexual harassment and molestation, tried to fire the Principal, only to be overruled by then Chancellor Joel Klein and has been protected by Tweed ever since. The most telling account was by the now-retired UFT Bronx HS Representative who reported her conversations with the Bronx Superintendent, Elena Papalberios, about Principal Richard Bost in the blog JD2718 and is a must read.

On September 16, 2010 parents, students and teachers picketed the school and Richard Bost on his failed leadership and was reported by the JD2718 blog. Here are some of the issues they were picketing about.

  • Principal Richard Bost has created an unpleasant work environment
  • Accused of mishandling funds, but rumored to have received just a letter to file (a mere slap on the wrist)
  • Multiple accusations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching, and worse- extending over several years, and continuing to today
  • Accusations that staff who refused his advances have faced retaliation – undesirable assignments, lost programs, disciplinary action, and derogatory ratings
  • The Office of Equal Opportunity found that he had engaged in sexual harassment.
  • After the OEO finding, Bost was removed, BUT TWEED PUT HIM BACK!
Now it seems that the DOE Office of Legal Services is too embarrassed to call in the Principal to testify against a teacher in his 3020-a hearing. I guess they are worried that all his alleged misdeeds and misconduct will be brought up and hurt the DOE's case against the teacher and it would certainly do just that.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

" Untrustworthy Principal" Andrew Buck Keeps On Acting Badly And The Unaccountable DOE Doesn't Seem To Care

Occasionally, the news media cannot ignore wrongdoings by principals and the latest "bad Principal"is the grammatically-challenged Andrew Buck of Middle School Art & Philosophy in Brooklyn who tried to pressure parents and teachers to wrote supportive letters to the DOE to lobby for tenure. Today, the Daily News editorial wanted to know why he is still Principal? In fact, Principal Andrew Buck first came to the newspaper's attention when it reported that the UFT survey found him to be the most "untrustworthy Principal" in Brooklyn back in 2008. Despite, seven of his eight teachers leaving the school because of his failed leadership, the DOE kept him on. Andrew Buck is another member of the infamous "Principal Leadership Academy" and the Daily News has questioned both his academic credentials and how he landed up as a Principal here. Yet despite the many questions about Andrew Buck, the DOE did nothing.

Things for Principal Buck got progressively worse as he was "C rated" and his school suffered from mass defections, and low morale. During the 2009-10 school year sexual assaults against female teachers and violent acts by students were being reported as the Principal's school safety plan was in tatters and the teachers felt they were under siege. The DOE responded by extending his tenure period rather than firing him. Unbelievable!

Then came the most egregious of actions by the "untrustworthy Principal". He refused to order and give textbooks to the students and when parents complained, Andrew Buck wrote his infamous grammatically wrong and misspelled e-mail. In the email he said there was nothing wrong with students learning without textbooks and that they can use Wikipedia. Incredibly, he defended his email and took no responsibility to it's content. Despite another Daily News Editorial asking for his removal, the DOE did nothing.

Now we find that Principal Andrew Buck is pressuring parents and teachers to support his tenure and the DOE has called in the Special Commissioner of Investigations to dig into the mess. The Daily News reported that the Principal did not follow protocol and violated the DOE rule on pressuring staff on the school evaluations. Even the 2010-2011 Quality Review rating of "Developing" must be taken with a grain of salt.

Accountability by the DOE appears to be lacking as an "untrustworthy Principal" is allowed to continue his incompetent and dangerous leadership at the expense of the parents, students, and teachers. It truly is "children last" when it comes to Principal Andrew Buck.