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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Joel Klein Puts Abuse of Teachers First, Says Richard Skibins

Richard Skibins Speaks Out on Karen Horwitz' End Teacher Abuse website

Systematic Abuse of Teachers Top Priority

It is no secret that Chancellor Joel Klein has declared war on the city's public school teachers. The quotas placed on letters in teachers' files and unsatisfactory ratings are backdoor attempts at circumventing the teachers contract as well as rules of tenure.

Teachers are expected to be more like programmed zombies than free-thinking educators. Show individuality, then the Orwellian "thought police" place a disciplinary letter in your file. All over the city teachers are being railroaded, demeaned, harassed and humiliated in front of their colleagues and students.

In some schools, teachers are required to tie a string around their necks with notepads hanging from them. Failure to do so leads to a letter in the file and possible dismissal. In many schools, principals are violating the contract in making teachers go to mandatory meetings during their prep periods. The principals may only require teachers in their first two years to do so. The principals claim that such meetings are only voluntary, yet teachers who decide not to attend are disciplined.

Some principals even go as far as to illegally dictate a dress code, accuse those who don?t follow it of being disloyal, and then threaten to sabotage teachers' loan applications and prospective employment elsewhere. Teachers must conduct their lessons using the workshop model, which was originally intended as an enrichment program for gifted classes with a dozen students. Instead, overcrowded classes of students with differing abilities must cram onto filthy, vermin-ridden rugs.

There is no actual student-teacher interaction, no "teachable" moments. Going over by one minute will gain the teacher a "U" rating. Some of my colleagues, teachers with decades of experience with exemplary records, are singled out for harassment. Their classes are loaded with students with behavioral and learning disabilities. Then, during observations, if a child whispers to another, or if a child makes a mark on a folder or paper without permission, the teacher is accused of having no control over his or her class and given a "U" rating.

I condemn Chancellor Klein, the regional superintendents, principals and assistant principals. Instead of making the education of our children their main goal, they have made the systematic abuse of our teachers their top priority.

Richard Skibins,
East Meadow, NY


I have received an email from a teacher who was formerly in the "rubber room", and post it below.

Betsy Combier

From CS:

Before I get my "official notification", tomorrow morning, just want to beat them, the BOE, to the punch, and say, "see, I told you so".

Regardless what anyone says, once branded with the "Ex Rubber Roomer" insignia, the stigma, and in most cases, the vindictive animosity against the few of us that managed to win, (temporarily win) our cases, seems to be relentless, and BOE does not rest, until they can further
create more havoc with our lives and livelihood, until they can strike the final blow, pull out their ill-begotten trump card,and drill the last nail in our coffin

Today was a day like any other, hot and humid and was dutifully at my post, outside the Dean's Office, all day, monitoring the hallway, the noisy cutters, the slow-moving lovers, and even caught two intruders on our floor, from one of the other schools. There was no security around, and the dean I called to respond, got no response from the intruders, who kept walking leisurely, to the next exit, at the end of the long corridor and disappeared.
It was a normal day where kids would threaten me, to let them inside the unattended Dean's Office, where two air conditioners were going full blast. One student threatened me second period with a plastic fork, if I didn't let him in. I reminded him that his next stop will be Rikers Island. At the end of
the day, the same student came back, and though I held the door with my right hand, he kept pushing it, hurt my arm and left a mark on my forehand, as he and a friend pushed past me. Although I wrote the Incident Statement, I am quite confident that nothing more than a slap-on-the-wrist, perhaps two days "In-House" suspension, which would be a dream-come-true for the student, for that would mean spending the entire day in the air-conditioned room inside the Dean's Office. I'm further confident that neither the AP Security, nor the Principal will ever be notified of this incident.

As I said, this was a typical day. But last wednesday, May 23rd, 2007 wasn't... As I left school that wednsday afternoon, no sooner did I get to the street level when out of nowhere about half a dozen girls and two boys jumped another girl. Soon as I saw the commotion ran back up the few steps, to the girl's aid, and since the attackers knew me, scrammed at the speed of light. Luckily, the incident lasted a mere 10-20 seconds, not the usual kicking and punching (that I witnessed a few days earlier) until the victim winds up in the hospital. In this incident, the girl got lucky, and next to her I noticed an elder gentleman, who thanked me for my help, and showed me his face where he was punched by one of the boys. Security came, I told them what happened and left. Across the street, as I was about to take the subway, I was accosted by some gang member, who along with others, was obviously watching their girls in action. "I saw you talking to that guy, meaning the SSA, so you're a snitch?" I realized I had no way out, as more of them were gathering, so I merely asked him "Do you have a problem with me?" "Leave him alone," several female voices I heard though couldn't see their faces, and one even walked in front of me the first few steps down the subway, making sure I'll be ok, and still couldn't see her
face. That incident too, I'm more than positive, was never reported. Not to the Police, not to the BOE. No Principal wants the world to know that his or her school is gang ridden, openly wearing gang paraphernalia and clothes and saluting each other with their various gang signs, complicated hand-shakes and hugs. But I did my job, maintained my perfect attendance and hoped for the best.

Today, May 31st, as I signed out, you know I have my personal time-card, beside their official one, noticed that neither my May time card, nor the new one, for June was placed out. Checked by name, checked by number, I was employee #86, and in both instances, I was missing, dropped, excluded, most probably terminated.

The details I'll find out tomorrow morning, this note was merely a reminder, that I', not surprised, and was expecting it, each day I came to work. The fact that I was never given a mailbox, after two months on the job, when there are around one hundred empty such boxes, reminded me daily, that I'm merely in transition, at Progress HS.

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