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.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Tweed Continues To Award Questionable Contracts.

The Daily News reported today that, very quietly, the DOE is set to award a $669,375 contract to an ex DOE administrator for a program that he developed as an employee for the City. In fact, the Ex DOE Administrator,  Joel Rose, called it "The School Of One" and the DOE allocated an astounding 9 million dollars to develop and fund the program.  The program has been shown to be a failure and a colossal waste of money as only 4 schools throughout the City are actually using the :School for One program.  Yet, the DOE is set to approve the renamed program. as a Math program called New Classrooms.

This is just an example of why it was necessary for Chancellor Carmen Farina to "clean house" of the Bloomberg policymakers at Tweed but failed to do so.  Hopefully,when the proposed contract goes to the PEP at the end of the month, the blatant "conflict of interest" and apparent favoritism will push the PEP to refuse to approve the contact. The statement by Leonie Hainson of Class Size Matters in the article is a must read and listed below.

 “The city is paying hundreds of thousands for these programs. Why do these things hang on at the Department of Education for no reason? These crony contracts,” said Leonie Haimson, founder of the advocacy group Class Size Matters. “It’s inexplicable.”

I certainly agree with Ms. Hainson

Sunday, August 06, 2017

On Retirement Our Last Year's Summer Pay Is Apparently Excluded.

When a New York City educator retires, usually at the end of the school year, the TRS calculates the Final Average Salary (FAS) of the last three school years.  However, the FAS does not include any additional pay over 10% of the FAS so as to not to drive up the educator's pension by taking unlimited overtime in the last year.  While that limitation is well known the next limitation to the educator's pension is not.

Educators at the end of the school year gets payments for the summer months of July and August.  These summer payments are not extra checks but represent earned wages from the previous two semesters that have been smoothed out so that educators receive bi-monthly checks throughout the calendar year.  However, it appears the TRS does not include the July and August payments when calculating the FAS.

The TRS has remained mum on the apparent shortchanging of their educator pension calculation and a lawsuit was filed in July of this year to force TRS to include the July and August payments.  While the amount that TRS shortchanges the educator varies widely,  I used retired teacher Irving Lieblich's pension calculation, as reported in the New York Post as the example.

According to Mr. Lieblich since he retired in June of 2011, he has been shortchanged on his pension by $241 his first year since they didn't include the summer months, when he made $93,656 as a 2011 base salary.  Instead, those two months were replaced by the 2010 base salary that saw him receive only $90,054.  Consequently, Mr. Lieblich is owed $1,446 according to his calculations since retiring.

Hopefully, Mr. Lieblich's lawsuit is successful and the TRS will include the two month summer pay when they calculate the educator's pension.. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

Union Proud But Not Proud Of Our Union.

I consider myself a proud union member and greatly appreciate what an effective union represents to their members.  At one time, under the effective Albert Shanker,  teachers were able to negotiate adequate raises, a salary scale that reflected seniority, generous health benefits, and work rules that limited the amount of students in a classroom.  This was a time when the City leaders were beholden to the powerful 81,000 strong teachers' union and came with hat in hand to curry union support and even a loan during the City's brush with bankruptcy in 1973.   That was then and this is now.

Our present ineffective union leadership has provided  little in the way for their members to be proud of   They have negotiated inferior or subpar contracts, going back to Sandra Feldman and continuing through Randi Weingarten and now Michael Mulgrew.  Just about every negotiated contract was short on money and contained various "givebacks".  Be it time, additional duties, hiring rules, reduced due process rights dealing with discipline, and expanding the definitions on verbal and physical abuse (A-420, A-421).  Just as important was the slow erosion of health benefits, both the eligibility at retirement and cost.  In addition, UFT members saw 1.25% of their TDA interest disappear., thanks to our union leadership.  While all other DOE employees receive 8.25% interest on their TDA balance, UFT members receive only 7%.  Finally, our union leadership is strangely quiet while the media attacks the ATRs and allows the DOE's Fair Student Funding policy to discriminate against the hiring of veteran teachers.

Our union leadership had promised to go to PERB or file a lawsuit on the DOE's practice of placing a flag on any member that had a substantiated OSI or SCI investigation, even when the accusations were found not to be true by the independent State Arbitrator!  I call this the Scarlet Letter.  Did the union  leadership follow through?  The answer is no!    Moreover, they allowed the ATR to become "a second class citizen" and refuses to include an ATR on their negotiating committee on ATR issues.  Finally, the union leadership refuses to put member interests first.  Rather, they use our COPE and dues money as they please without member input.  See examples Here and Here.

I am a proud union member and will support unions that represent their members.  However, in the last two decades, our weak union leadership seems to represent their own political and ideological interests rather than what's best for the members.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

My Response To The False Accusations Of Parent Nicole Thomas About ATRs.

I read the opinion piece of parent Nicole Thomas and realized it was simply an ATR bashing piece that consisted of lies, half truths, and was right out of the StudentFirst playbook.  Her article is simply false accusations.  Let's discuss what Ms. Thomas claimed she knows about ATRs and then the truth.

First, she claimed that ATRs are "unwanted" teachers.  While the "unwanted " is true, her reasons are false.  She claimed that the ATRs are "unwanted" because their bad teachers and she cited false statistics that showed that over 50% of the ATRs were rated unsatisfactory or had discipline issues.  Where did she get this false information?  Maybe it came from the StudentFirst organization since I know the DOE refuses to provide this information and the percentage is closer to 25%, according to a UFT source.

The truth of the matter ATRs are "unwanted" because of their high salaries, seniority, and institutional memory.The majority of ATRs are quality teachers and fully certified.  Principals won't hire them because they think of their budget and power and not what's best for the students.

Second, Ms. Thomas claims that most ATRs don't apply for classroom positions and if they were any good they would not be in the ATR pool for long.

The truth is that teachers in the ATR pool do apply for multiple positions but because of their salary, years of experience, and seniority,  principals refuse to interview or hire them.   Moreover,  Civil Service law will not allow for an ATR time limit and that was the condition the DOE agreed to when the ATR pool was created when the hiring rules were changed in 2006.  Maybe Ms. Thomas should read the DOE's "fair student funding" policy and see how the organization incentivizes schools to hire the "cheapest and not the best" teachers for their school.

Third, Ms.\Thomas seems to think that getting an ATR teacher would be terrible for her 5th grade child since one teacher at the school (not an ATR) was arrested and convicted, as if all ATRs are not only bad teachers but potentially are criminals.

The truth is that 75% of the ATRs have a "clean record", with no discipline issues.  Furthermore, many of the ATRs with so-called discipline issues were found to be minor or even frivolous by an independent State Arbitrator.  Again her statement is what StudentFirst would say, without data or real facts to back it up.

Finally, I truly hope that Ms. Thomas's child does not get an ATR for the vacancies at her school and gets a "newbie" teacher instead so her daughter can be the guinea pig for an inexperienced teacher who must struggle through a steep learning curve in classroom management issues, acquiring curriculum knowledge, while trying to learn the Art and Science of effective teaching. Maybe Nicole Thomas will realize she's just a pawn for the education deformers like StudentsFirst that put their ideology first and her child last.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The DOE's Slogan Of Children First Rings Hollow.

The DOE will claim that everything they do is geared on putting the students first and when bloggers like me point out the hypocrisy of their "children first" claims, the DOE will simply ignore the inconvenient truth.  Let's look at why the DOE's claim that they put children first rings hollow.

Large Class Sizes:  New York City public schools have the largest class sizes in the State.  In some schools like Francis Lewis High School, almost all classes have the maximum 34 students.  Moreover, the school is vastly overcrowded with over 4,700 students crammed into a school that shooed have less than 3,000.  Moreover, try to walk on the second floor hallway between 4th and 5th period and you feel like your in a Japanese subway car at the peak of rush hour as bodies bump into you from all sides.  Finally, book-rooms with no windows and little ventilation are being used as classrooms.  Ask the students at Francis Lewis High School if the DOE is putting their needs first?
Parent Exclusion:  Since the Bloomberg years parent voices are deliberately ignored by the Chancellor and the Central Bureaucracy.  Just look at what happened at Townsend Harris High School and at Central Park East 1, where the DOE tried to ignore parents and only backed down when the media got hold of the story, The DOE is quite happy if parents remain clueless and quiet so they can do what's best for them and not what's best for the students/  The C-30 selection committee is a prime example of how little parent (and teacher) voice means as its simply a fig level for the Superintendent to pick his or her favorites as principals for the schools in the District.

Principal Hiring Practices:  The DOE implemented a policy called "fair student funding" that requires schools to pick up the salary of all school staff members.  The result was that principals were incentivized to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school.  To penalize principals who dare hire a veteran teacher the DOE only funds the schools at 90% of their fair funding, despite a 6 billion dollar budget surplus for the City//

Uncertified Teachers: Far too many schools are using teachers uncertified in the subject they are required to teach.  At the high school level, Regents Earth Science is just as likely to have an uncertified teacher than one certifried to teach the course.  Moreover, many high schools shortchange Science students by going to a 4-1 from the State recommended 5-1 program.  The result is that City students experience lower Regents grades and a higher failure rate.  This is done to save on hiring scarce Science teachers.  This is certainly not putting children first.

The bottom line is when the DOE claims that they are putting children first, what they really mean is they are putting their ideological aims first and children last.  See nyc educator for a similar take on the DOE's children first policy.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Smaller Class Sizes Improve Student Academics, Except When They Get New Teachers.

A ground breaking study on the effects of class size on student academics in the New York City classroom have shown that smaller class sizes result in improved student academic learning.  However, there was one condition when small er class sizes did not show any meaningful student academic improvement.  When the class was subject to a "newbie" teacher.  Interestingly,  Chalkbeat spun the study to claim that smaller class sizes did not necessarily show student academic achievement, despite the study's conclusion that it does.

The study took data from 473 schools from 2009-14 and concluded the following:

  • Looking at schools near the cap between 2009 and 2014, Gilraine found that reducing class size by an average of four students produced gains in reading and math scores equivalent to roughly two and a half months of extra learning. 
  •  The classes that shrank by bringing in a new teacher saw essentially no boost in student achievement. And since roughly 50 percent of the classes Gilraine examined depended on newly hired teachers, the overall effect of the class size reductions was cut in half. 
  •  Though Gilraine did not rigorously assess why half of these class size reductions didn’t boost student learning, he said there are a couple of likely reasons. For one, newly hired teachers may be less experienced or lower quality. 
I might add that "newbie" teachers have a steep learning curve when it comes to classroom management, curriculum  knowledge, and their lack of experience in the New York City classroom usually results in the students suffering as the "newbie" teachers feels his and her way through the art of effective instruction.  Therefore, its no surprise that the introduction of a "newbie " teacher would negate the potential academic improvement of smaller class sizes.  In addition, under Chancellor Carmen Farina,  the DOE allows for teachers uncertified in the subject area they instruct in and still  insist on under funding the schools while using the destructive "fair student funding" formula that hurts student academic achievement.Too bad, the DOE and their principals don't bother to read these important studies.  Instead, they continue to implement policies and hiring practices that put "children last".

Friday, July 28, 2017

The DOE Tries To Lowball The ATR Pool Number And Costs As The ATR Buyout, Once Again, Fails.

The Independent Budget Office (IBO) crunched the numbers dealing with the ATR pool and found that the DOE spend $151.6 million dollars on the ATR pool as of October 2016.  This is over 50% more than the DOE supplied figure of $100 million dollars that is sent to the media.  Moreover, the IBO report uses the actual ATR number of 1,304 and not the 822 that the DOE and UFT use to show a fictitious reduction in the ATR pool.  Every knowledgeable educator knows that, once the long-term leave replacements and provisional hires are sent back to the ATR pool during the summer, the ATR pool will be back at the 1,300 member level.

The IBO report stated that the average ATR costs the DOE $116,258, including fringe benefits. If we assume that fringe benefits to be 22% of the $116, 258 value.  That means the fringe benefits are worth approximately $25,577.  Therefore, that means the average ATR salary in the pool is $90,681 as of October of 2016.  To have a $90,000 salary, the average ATR would have to have 18 years in the system and are obviously, senior teachers.

Interestingly, Chalkbeat interviewed education professor David Bloomfeld who said the following:

He noted that the ATR is a problem inherited by Mayor Bill de Blasio from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg — and not an easy one to solve. Still, he added, if the city is already paying as much as $151.6 million, it should consider instead passing a buyout plan with higher incentives for teachers than the $50,000 in severance pay the city is currently offering. 

I cannot agree with Mr. Bloomfeld more.  Maybe after this ATR buyout is officially deemed a failure and principals find ways not to hire veteran ATRs thus upcoming school year, the DOE will actually come out with a buyout incentive that ATRs could take and really reduce the ATR pool.  Of course, I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.

For the record, the DOE should have an ATR buyout of a minimum of one year of salary along with a year of pension credit for the incentive to get ATRs to retire.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Response To The Bronx Principal.

In a previous post on the hiring of ATRs, a Principal from a Bronx school commented why he wouldn't want to hire an ATR, unless he properly vetted him or her (I bet he doesn't do it for his "newbie" teachers he hires).  On the surface of his comment I can agree with him.  If I was a Principal I would like to know the ATR who is assigned to my school.  However, as the Principal further explained his hiring practice, it became increasingly clear that he was more concerned with his budget and potential bonus and not what's best for the students of his school.

First, he admitted he would not willingly hire a veteran teacher with 20 years experience because of his budget, no matter how effective the teacher is with students In his school.  Obviously, age, salary, and institutional memory does matter to him. Not what's best for his students.

Second, he called a 5 year teacher a veteran, which tells me that he hires inexperienced and untenured young teachers whenever possible.  In other words, he is one of many principals that hires the "Cheapest and not the best teachers " for his school.  Another "children last" philosophy.

Third, He almost admitted that he believes that all teachers who went through their 3020-a hearing were guilty as charged.  Obviously, he intuitively, without ever meeting the ATR, knows more than the "expert" independent arbitrator who has in front of them the evidence, or lack thereof of the ATRs guilt or innocence.  If the DOE claims the ATR hurt a child, it must be true, according to this Principal.

Finally, This Principal, like far too many principals in the New York City Public School System, drink the DOE kool-aid that ATRs are "bad" or "unwanted"  teachers and these principals have shown poor judgement in their hiring practices that see a rising school graduation rate while few of their graduates achieve success in college or career, due to their lack of academic proficiency. In other words, they engage in academic fraud.

To Bronx Principal,  keep collecting your bonus while screwing the students with inexperienced teachers and dumping the maximum amount of students in your classrooms. A real recipe for continued academic failure.  Have a nice day because your students aren't.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Difference Between The Typical Urban And Suburban School.

There are stark differences between the typical urban and suburban public school and these inequalities are the major reason that urban schools consistently fall behind their suburban counterparts when it comes to academic achievement, especially in New York City and the suburbs.  Let's look at these differences.

Class Sizes:  The urban public school usually have more students packed into a classroom than the suburban school.  In New York City, the average elementary school classroom has 25 students in the K-2 grades and 28 students for 3-8 grades.  At the high school level, the average class size is 32.  By contrast, most suburban schools have 15-20 students in their K-2 grades and no more than 25 for the rest of the grades 3-12.

Teacher Retention:  A study dome by the UFT showed that there was a high teacher turnover in the NYC public schools that and that 8.8% of all new teachers left by the end of their first year in 2014-15 .  Moreover, as we move further away from the 2009 great recession, teacher attrition is increasing annually.  Finally,with the inferior Tier VI pension benefits and the punitive teacher evaluation system, teacher attrition is a growing concern as a teacher shortage looms on the horizon.   More NYC teachers are fleeing the school system for better opportunities elsewhere. On the other hand, teacher attrition in the suburbs for their first five years is below 10%.

High Poverty Schools:  The urban public schools almost always lag behind academically since they suffer from student poverty, large class sizes, high teacher turnover, and lack resources for their "high needs students".  Furthermore, these schools have far too many inexperienced teachers and unqualified school administrators.  Finally, parent support for these schools are lacking.  Many of these schools don't even have a functioning PTA.   In the suburbs, few schools are considered high poverty schools and parent support is usually strong.  The PTAs in the suburbs usually fund raise for additional services for their children.

Parent Issues:  Far too many students come from one parent homes where the other parent is not supporting the family financially, emotionally, or providing a positive role model to the student.  This affects the student academically and you can see the results in my post Here.  In addition, the dysfunctional family increases the likelihood of the student coming to school with the negative baggage of his or her home life.  Is it any wonder, that these children show up at school academically unprepared, behaviorally challenged, and lacking emotional control?  By contrast, few students in the suburbs suffer from the high poverty that their urban counterparts and even in a one parent household, the students have both financial and food security.

Student Body:  In the urban public schools, misbehaving and disobedient students are cheered on by the rest of the students and the high achieving students are the ones ostracized by the student body. These schools suffer from "the broken window theory".  While in the suburbs its the misbehaving students who are ostracized by the student body.  Peer pressure is extremely important and a school's success or failure is strongly correlated with how the student body responds to academic and emotional stimuli.

Of course there are some highly successful urban schools in New York City, like the Specialized high schools, and the schools in solidly middle class White or Asian neighborhoods like Bayside, as there are terrible suburban schools like those in Hempstead and Wyandanch.  However, the average urban school is usually has more student poverty, less resources, more unstable staff, and less family support.  That's why suburban schools do much better academically.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How To Really Drain The ATR Pool.

Over the decade, the DOE has tried many different ways to reduce the ATR pool and has utterly failed as the total number of ATRs has remained relatively steady, despite the DOE's claim otherwise.  The origin of the ATR pool was the terrible 2005 contract that allowed principals to hire whom they pleased and the Fair Student Funding that punished schools that hired veteran teachers.

First, the DOE, in the form of Chancellor Joel Klein, called the ATRs "unwanted" or "bad" teachers and the influx of "Leadership Academy Principals" with little or no New York City classroom experience believed him.   Moreover, he bragged that in the next contract he will demand an ATR time limit of six to twelve months as they hurt student achievement.  The result was few schools were willing to select an ATR to fill their vacancies.

Next, as Mayor Bloomberg continued to close schools, targeted by the DOE, due to the student demographics (poor and minority).  The ATR pool grew from a few hundred in 2006 to 1,500 in 2009 as principals were encouraged to jettison veteran teachers and replace them with cheaper "newbies".

During the recession, the DOE came out with the only incentive that partly worked.  During the 2009-10 school year. schools could pick up an ATR at a "newbie" salary, with the DOE paying the rest for the first eight years.  However, this was the depth of the recession and most schools were prohibited from hiring outside the system (savvy principals managed to get exemptions).  Therefore, schools had little choice but hire ATRs for their vacancies while getting a subsidy in the process.

The DOE abruptly changed course and Mayor Bloomberg  tried to eliminate seniority rules in his failed "Last in, First out" gambit.  The result was frozen contract talks, and a further demonization of the ATRs.

When Bill de Blasio became Mayor he finally negotiated a new contract in 2014 with an ATR incentive that was so inadequate that only 95 of the 1,315 ATRs took it and they were retiring anyway!

With the new Mayor a, a new incentive that allowed schools to hire ATRs for free the first year, half price the second year, and three quarters price the third year.  According to the DOE 372 schools took advantage of this incentive.  However, many of the schools took the incentive late in the year when they realized their hidden vacancies will be filled by ATRs the next school year and teachers were becoming scarce, especially in the Bronx.

That brings me to how to realty drain the ATR pool.

  1. Require all teachers be certified in  the subject area taught.
  2. Eliminate the ":sixth period" that saves on teachers and hurts students.
  3. Reduce class sizes to State average.
  4. Fully fund school budgets
  5. Provide more electives for students.
  6. Penalize schools who hide vacancies.
While some archaic teaching titles and music teachers will still have trouble being placed, the ATR pool will drop from over 1,000 to maybe a hundred or so.  If only, the DOE gets rid of Fair Student Funding and goes back to hiring by units and not actual salary, then maybe, just maybe, there would be no ATR pool to drain.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

From Reaching For The Stars To Back To Basics.

Over the last few years, many schools were pushing their students into higher level Math and Science courses.  This was known as "reaching for the stars".  It also didn't hurt that the DOE gave high schools extra points for the total number of students who took these higher level Math and Science courses. However, many parents and students started to complain that these higher level courses of Algebra II (Trigonometry), Chemistry, and Physics were a "bridge too far" for the students  Moreover, many schools pushed students to take these courses, despite the added pressure, stress, and reluctance to take these courses that many were destined to fail..

One of the reasons that many low performing schools pushed students to take Chemistry and or Physics was the lack of certified Earth Science teachers as well as getting more credit as a school bu the DOE.  According to the ATR pool there was only one certified Earth Science high school teacher available, citywide,  in June and he had just came out of his 3020-a hearing that Spring.  Moreover, many schools use teachers not certified in Earth Science to teach the Regents Science course and, for the most part, their students did poorly.  Finally, many seniors, are forced to take the Common Core Algebra II Regents and complain bitterly about taking a difficult Math course that means little to their college acceptance since the Regents is given after the student received their acceptance letter.

Some forward thinking school administrators are finally seeing the light and realize that to "reach for the stars" you need the academic tools to built a spaceship to get their and far too many students lack those tools.  Therefore, these administrators are now going "back to basics" and only giving those academically proficient students higher level Math and Science courses.   These administrators have learned a painful lesson and that is "reaching for the stars" is just a dream when there is a failure to launch a successful rocket ship due to the lack of the academic tools to build it, which hurts the students confidence, self-esteem, and ability to move ahead academically.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Truth Why ATRs Are Not Being Picked Up By Schools.

I was disgusted by the self-serving ATR bashing article by non-educator Daniel Weisberg who, once again,  falsely claimed that ATRs were "unwanted", ":bad", or had :discipline issues.  Mr. Weisberg called the "forced placement" of ATRs as "the dance of the lemons".  When the facts are so very different.   Mr. Weisberg's suggestion is to give the ATRs a time limit of between 6-12 months to find a position or be fired.  Which is what happened in Chicago and Washington D.C. that lead to mass firings of veteran teachers and the election loss of the union caucus to dissidents.

Interestingly, Mr. Weisberg bragged that he was responsible for the 2005 union contract that created the ATR crisis and therefore, he is responsible for the DOE wasting over 100 million dollars annually since 2006 or over one billion dollars!  Moreover, he is also responsible for the Open Market Transfer System that has resulted in high poverty and minority schools to have inferior teachers, new to the profession, who transfer from these schools to better schools.  If I am Mr. Weisberg, I would stick my head into the ground and hide my shame that I cost the City schools over a billion dollars and screwed the poor and minority schools. of excellent teachers

Back to the facts, the real reason that principals are not hiring ATRs has nothing to do with the ATRs being "bad" teachers.  It has everything to do with money, control, and power.

Fair Student Funding:  School budgets have not recovered from the 2009 recession and is only funded at 92% of their fair funding.  Moreover, this upcoming school year the DOE, flush with money, has cut school budgets back to 90% of their fair funding.  To make matters worse, Fair Student Funding actually penalizes schools who hire veteran teachers and for far too many principals the school budget overrides what's good for the students of the school.

Seniority:   Once a school hires a veteran teacher (ATR or not), that teacher is placed in his or her seniority rank and in worse case scenarios can cause a school to exceass a younger teacher that the school wants to retain.  Therefore, principals are reluctant to hire a veteran teacher and even if the teacher works out, I doubt the Principal will be given the ATR an "effective" observation, knowing his salary and seniority will be dumped on the school for the next school year  and many more years after. 

Institutional Memory:   Many principals don't like veteran teachers because they understand the union contract and know their rights.  This is known as institutional memory.  Principals like untenured teachers because when the Principal yells jump, they say "high high"?  While a veteran teacher will respond with "Why"?

Demonitization Of The ATRs:   Since the signing of the 2005 contract, ATRs have been labeled with the tag of "unwanted" or "bad" teachers.  Even a month after Chancellor Joel Klein signed the 2005 contract he told principals in the Principal's Weekly that ATRs were teachers that nobody should hire and that in the next contract he intended to include a time limit, which he couldn't do, due to New York State Civil Service rules and the union leadership who refused to even consider it since they knew what happened in Chicago and Washington D.C as their union leadership was voted out of office. .

In summary, the ATRs are not getting positions because of the four issues discussed above.  They are Salary, Seniority, Institutional Memory, and the Demonitization of the ATRs by the DOE, lead by Chancellor Carmen Farina, an old Bloomberg Deputy Chancellor who shared the poisonous ideology about ATRs,  along with their media allies. For more insights on the ATR issue read today's ICEUFT and NYC Educator posts.

Update:  It appears the ATR incentive was unsuccessful and has been extended to July 28th.  Just another failed ATR incentive that had no ATR input.  When will they ever learn?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why It Made No Financial Sense To Take The ATR Incentive.

In the last two months at least three UFT leadership officials tried to convince me that the ATR incentive was a good deal and if I am planning to retire in June of 2018, I should jump at the chance to get an extra $50,000.  Of course, I politely refused the UFT and DOE's generous offer to retire and take the money and fade into educational oblivion.  Here is my rationale why I declined to take the ATR incentive.

First, the ATRs who take the $50,000 incentive are really only getting 50% of the money or $25,000 after taxes if a New York City resident.  Moreover,  the money is not pensionable, meaning that the incentive will not be included in the ATRs pension.  Finally, The money will put me into a higher tax bracket for this year, especially with the terminal pay.

Second, any ATR who wanted to take terminal leave, cannot do so, since the incentive does not allow for it.

Third, if the ATR wanted to join NYSUT's Comprehensive Major Medical Plan, they can't since you must be an active member as of January 1, 2018.

Finally, the largest of the contract raises of 3% will not be available to ATRs who took the incentive.

Obviously, if the ATR was planning to retire anyway or was subject to a 3020-a hearing due to incompetence or misconduct, I can see taking the incentive. However, here are my reasons I didn't take the ATR incentive and its really financial.

First, I'm not ready to retire this school year and the $50,000 is not financially good enough to change my plans and here's why.

By staying for the 2017-18 school year, I increase my pension by the 2% each year adds to the pension.  Furthermore, my final average salary will increase by an additional 4.5% due to the increase in the salary scale and it will be my 25th year of service.  That means that my pension is expected to increase 6.5% by staying another year.  A quick and rough calculation tells me that I will receive an extra $4,574 annually on my annual pension by staying till June 2018.

In staying an extra year, I will contribute another $24,000 to my TDA and receive a 7% return.  By simply taking out the 7% interest annually, I will be getting an extra $1,680.  Add that to the pension and I will be making an extra $6,254 each year and its exempt in New York State from State and Local taxes!  Moreover, my ASAF will increase by an additional $140 by staying an extra year

Finally, I expect to have a full semester of terminal leave and that means an extra 1% increase in my pension, assuming no contract raise for the 2018-19 school year.  Therefore, my pension of $57,008, excluding the ASAF,  increases to $57,581  Moreover, by adding an extra $12,000 to my TDA, I will also gain an additional $840 of interest income.  Add it all together and excluding the ASAF.  I will increase my retirement pay by $7,666 by staying an extra year, all exempt from State and local taxes!

In four years after retirement I will have already far exceeded the actual take home pay from the ATR incentive.   Further, let's not forget the increased Social Security I will receive by adding an extra year on my benefit.  Therefore, if you figure out the financial aspects, you can see the ATR incentive is no bargain and that's why I didn't even consider it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Here's How The DOE Policy Changed On ATR Hiring.

I have received and digested  Randy Asher's webinar and I believe this is how the DOE policy on ATRs changed. According to the webinar, there will be no ATR incentive for the 2017-18 school year.  In fact, principals and ATRs will be "forced placed", starting October 15, 2017.  Both the ATR and Principal will not have any say in the selection and placement of the ATR.  Moreover, once placed, the school will be responsible for the ATR's salary.  Only DOE Central can removed an ATR from the school and not the Principal.

Any provisionally placed ATR covering a vacancy, who receives an "effective" or higher rating, by observation, will automatically be permanently hired the next year, despite the wishes of the Principal or the ATR for that matter.  The school is responsible for the full salary of the ATR going forward.

The DOE will continue to retain separate lists for ATRs who were simply excessed and those who won their 3020-a termination hearing or received an "Unsatisfactory" rating.  The DOE will only select from the excessed list when possible and only from the other list when there is no available ATR from the excessed list.

Rotations will be limited and probably to the ATRs who are from the disciplinary list or who had issues in their assigned school.

According to the webinar, the last incentive saw 372 ATRs hired.  While I cannot prove it. since both the DOE and UFT keep their motives and methods secret.   I bet Mr. Asher is including the hiring of newly excessed young teachers in the second semester and the beginning of the summer hiring season as Principals were told well in advance of their reduced budgets and that they would be responsible for veteran ATR salaries, imposed on the school without any incentive..  Therefore, best to take the ATR incentive while obtaining a young and untenured ATR teacher rather than be stuck with a $108,000 veteran ATR..

The bottom line, no Principal will be giving a veteran ATR an "effective" or higher rating, unless the school is a high teacher turnover hellhole that no veteran ATR wants.  The best most of us can expect in the observation portion will be "developing".

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The New York Post Editorial Board Are A Bunch Of Hypocrites.

In today's New York Post, the paper's Editorial Board made it seem that all ATRs are "bad" or unwanted teachers.  If you were unaware of how the DOE operates, the reader would think that the ATR pool consists of poorly performing teachers and not that principals don't or won't hire ATRs because of their salary, institutional memory, and seniority. Yet, the same Editorial Board supported the hiring of unqualified teachers at SUNY's charter schools and hoped it expands to the public schools.

How can you support the hiring of untrained and unqualified people to teach students on one hand and then be against the hiring of veteran teachers who are properly certified and experienced?  The answer is simple, the New York Post Editorial Board is a bunch of hypocrites!  Obviously, ideology trumps common sense.  What parent would want their child to be a guinea pig by having a "newbie", with no education training and experience with children, instructing them?  Apparently, the New York Post Editorial Board does since they support privatizing the public schools. .

The New York Post Editorial Board does not care about students, they simply follow the education deformer philosophy that teaching is a temporary and transitional job, without a pension and other benefits, until a real professional occupation is found.  Much like the Teach For America model.  Remember, its really not about the children its about the ideology and that's why they are hypocrites.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Few ATRs Will Be Rated Effective By Principals Under The New DOE Policy.

Over the years, many ATRs were rated "effective" or "highly effective" by school principals who appreciated the ATRs ability  to lead the students to a passing grade.  These principals also knew that at the end of the school year, these ATRs would be excessed and they can hire an inexpensive "newbie" for the next school year.  This was known as being provisionally hired, which reduced the ATR pool from over 1,300 to 822 by the end of April.   Of course, those provisionally appointed teachers were dumped back into the ATR pool at the end of the school year.  You can read some of my posts Here and Here.

Now, ex-Principal Randy Asher has decided that any school that has a vacancy after October 15th, must fill the vacancy with an ATR and if the ATR receives an "effective" or higher rating, the school must award the ATR with a permanent placement.  Sounds great right?  Wrong! 

First, what Principal wants to hire a 20 year veteran with their high salaries, institutional memory, and their seniority?   Not many and certainly not the Leadership Academy Principals.  Therefore, principals will make sure that the ATR will receive a "developing" or "ineffective" rating under Danielson.

Second, since schools can hire outside the system in January, what stops a principal from hiring a teacher for the vacancy for the second semester and jettisoning the ATR back into the pool?  I saw that happen this year at Queens Vocational High School.

Finally, since there is no "mutual consent" on the ATR's part, what if the ATR does not wan the permanent placement due to the school,'s reputation, distance, or lack of parking?  How fair is that the ATR is forced placed at a school they do not want to be at for the rest of their career, since the Open Market Transfer System is useless for veteran teachers who wish to transfer out of these terrible schools.

By the way, with a reduced school budgets for the next school year, there will be more excessed teachers into the ATR pool and knowing the devious way the DOE operates, these new ATRs will be the first ones to be "forced placed" with the ATRs who won their discipline cases and others who received an "Unsatisfactory" rating being the last.  I suspect that remains unchanged from the last three years.

That leaves me to our union President Michael Mulgrew who almost bragged about how the contract  is being enforced and that's why the DOE changed its policy.  With friends like Mulgrew, ATRs don't need enemies.You can read Mulgrew's statement on the ICEUFT blog Here.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Charter Schools Hoping That SUNY's Proposed Rules Will Allow Them To Hire More Unqualified Teachers.

Because of the increasing difficulty that charter schools are having in hiring certified teachers and the high teacher turnover, SUNY has proposed to lower teacher standards for their charter schools.  There rationale for lowering teacher hiring standards is the looming teacher shortage and the almost 50% reduction in college teacher training program applicants.  While these reasons are true, its really that charter schools cannot retain teachers for more than two or three years due to the increased school time, lower salaries, and inferior benefits.

Presently, only a maximum of 15% of the teachers in a charter school can be uncertified.  Some schools have had difficulty meeting that goal and some charter schools have a majority of teachers uncertified in the subject that they are teaching in.  Moreover, its not uncommon for charter school classes to have two or more teachers during the school year.  Finally, once teachers get fully certified, they usually leave to the higher paying and better benefits, such as a pension, of the public school system.

SUNY's proposal would mean that these uncertified charter school teachers will never need to pass State certification tests or obtain a master's degree.  Therefore, limiting the charter school teachers to teach in charter schools.  While both the Board of Regents and the NYED Commissioner has objected to SUNT's proposed teacher hiring regulations , Under the draft rules, some would-be teachers wouldn’t have to earn a master’s degree or pass the state certification exam. Instead, you’d need 30 hours of instruction and 100 hours working in-class under the supervision of an experienced teacher, as well to finish state workshops on bullying, violence prevention and child abuse.

If  these draft rules are implemented, the charter schools will simply hire any Tom, Dick, or Harry with a college degree and dump them into a classroom, unprepared in the art of teaching and that's not good for the students in any setting.

Friday, July 07, 2017

I Support Lower Class Sizes And A Certified Teacher In The Subject Area Being Taught.

I'm glad to see that a group of parents, along with Class Size Matters, Alliance Of Quality Education and Public Advocate Letitcia James has filed a complaint that the DOE is violating the 2007 CFE agreement that was supposed to reduce class sizes.  The DOE, rather than reduce class sizes, actually saw trhem increase since 2007.  Despite Mayor elect Bill de Blasio's campaign promise to reduce class size in the New York City Public Schools, his appointed Chancellor, Carmen Farina,  actually allowed class sizes to increase, especially in K-3 grades which has increased an astounding 15%!

Part and parcel with the highest class sizes in New York State is the DOE's tact approval to allow schools to use teachers not certified in the subject their assigned to instruct students in.  This is especially true in the Middle Schools and in Earth Science, a Regents course in both Middle and High School.  If parents knew that uncertified teachers were instructing their students, especially in a Regents subject, they would be up in arms and claiming educational neglect. In addition, most schools, to save on hiring Science teachers, have gone to an educationally inferior 4-1 program when the Regents is based upon a 5-1 program.  The result is a lowering of Regents scores for schools who have a 4-1 program.  How is that good for students?  Its not of course.

Finally, how many ICT classes fail to have a certified Special Education teacher as a co-teacher?  Far too many I'm afraid.  Moreover, how many limit the ICT classes to 12 or less students with IEPs and are they capable of handling a large class?  Further, are these students getting the professional support they are entitled too?  My experience tells me that many of the Special Education students are underserved and some, with more severe disabilities, need to be in a self-contained environment and not large class settings where they struggle mightily to academically survive..

Now it seems that inexplicably, school budgets have been reduced from 92% of their fair funding to 90% as the DOE failed to account for rising staff salaries and blame the already tight budget and the further reductions on the union contract and not on their bloated Bureaucracy.  Expect class sizes to be at contract maximums, teachers pushed to teach a "sixth class",  and pressure to remove veteran teachers from the school's payroll by filing 3020-a charges or harassing them into retirement.  Furthermore, look for shady administrators to cut corners by not providing services to Special Education students and using inexpensive and uncertified "newbies" to teach the most needy of students. Instead of solving these problems, expect it to continue until the Mayor removes Chancellor Carmen Farina and her Bloomberg era policymakers and selects a leader who puts education first.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Don't Hold Your Breath In Expecting SCI To Investigate Administrative Academic Fraud.

Most knowledgeable educators know that the investigative units of SCI, OSI, and OEO are not fair and impartial.  If a teacher is charged with a potentially serious accusation you can bet the three investigative agencies will pull out all the stops to substantiate the accusation and recommend the terminat6ion of the teacher.  By contrast, accusations against administrators are usually buried and no action is usually the result. Now the New York Post published some actual numbers dealing with academic fraud against school administrators and shows how little the investigative agencies care to file charges.

According to the New York Post, SCI received 704 cases since August 2015 of grade tapering or fixing,  trey investigated only 22 of the cases or 3% of all accusations, and substantiated only 3 cases or 0.04% of the total accusations.  Unbelievable, but true!  It seems that SCI does not take academic fraud seriously and maybe that's why principals are willing to commit academic fraud, knowing full well that the DOE and the investigative agencies will not investigate it and will look the other way/ A prime example is Principal Howard Kwait of John Bowne High School who has been accused multiple times of grade fixing and is still in charge.  Read the ICEUFT blog on the latest.

How many principals have actually lost their position when caught committing academic fraud?  A handful at most.  Yet, if you look at my list of bad principals and my academic fraud articles you will find numerous examples of principals acting badly and have been accused of grade fixing or tapering yet they are still in charge of their schools.  Here is the most recent case.Yet if teachers are accused, they are removed from the classroom and are assumed guilty of the accusation, even before its investigated.

If you have any question about the fairness of the investigative units that work with or are part of the DOE please read my articles on corrupt investigations.

Monday, July 03, 2017

District 75 Schools Force Teachers To Teach Academics Rather Than The Life Skills Students Need.

District 75 have the most disabled and behaviorally challenged students in the public school system.  These schools have self-contained classrooms with 6 to 8 students per class, along with a para or two.  Few, if any of these disabled students graduate with the academic skills to go to college and the few who do, are usually subject to no-credit remedial courses as they struggle not to fail out of the more demanding college environment.  Ask any District 75 teacher and they will tell you that their job should be to teach the students "life skills".  Like counting money, holding a job, taking public transportation, and practice good hygiene.  Instead the District 75 administrators, under pressure from DOE Central, forces the teachers to teach Common Core Math, Social Studies, and Science instead.

Many of the District 75 students have major academic issues due to their disability like autism, down syndrome, and ADD/ADHD.  Rather than train them to survive in the world after school, like how to develop social skills, working at a job,, make their own meals, and select their own clothes.  The District 75 administrators push these students to learn academic subjects that have little or no practical application to these students.

What good is it when the student can't dress or feed themselves properly and suffers from poor hygiene as they enters adulthood and interact with the rest of the adult world?  Who is there to train the child on "life skills" when their teachers are forced to teach academics instead?

The misguided policy of the District 75 administration only hurts the most vulnerable of children who graduate unprepared for independent living in the hard and cruel adult world. To me that its real educational malfeasance.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

What Will The Next Contract Contain?

Sometime in 2019 the City and the UFT will start to negotiate a new contract.  By law the next contract should be for two years, unless the contract is delayed or both sides agree on a longer contract.  Assuming for now the next contract will be a standard two year deal, what can the UFT members expect?

First, here are some assumptions that I used:

  •  Bill de Blasio is still the Mayor.
  • Metropolitan area inflation is 2.5%.
  • The City economics is stable.
  • State and Federal support remains unchanged.
Therefore, here is my educated guess on what the next contract will include:

Minimum raises of 2.5%, based upon the anticipated inflation rate and the baseline 2% raises the State is giving their unions.  I see no reason for the UFT back-loading the raises or extending the contract beyond two years.  Unfortunately,   I also see our union agreeing to "givebacks" in the form of health care.  Hopefully, it will not include larger co-payments or paying a monthly fee.  The real question will there be additional "givebacks" such as time for money which has always worked against the members as the pitiful raises we have seen as the time go up from 6 hours and 20 minutes a day in the 1990's to 7 hours a day, almost a hour more!  Adding time for money is not a raise!  Finally, will the ATR situation finally be resolved by allowing for real "mutual consent" by both teachers and principals?  I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

There are still  other issues that can affect the next contract negotiations.  Like the upcoming teacher shortage, potential class size reductions,  and City, union relations.  All three can positively or negatively affect contract negotiations as well.

 Most importantly, the union negotiators must be more aggressive and rather than scare the membership by falsely claiming that if they don't take the City offer, the next offer will be worse.  However., i strongly suspect that our union leadership rather roll over and play dead rather then force-the City to agree to a fair contract for their members.

The bottom line, I will not be holding my breath waiting for our union to negotiate a fair and generous contract with our present leadership in charge of the negotiations.