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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Success For Lucienne Mohammed

On September 15, 2009 I posted an article in response to the "Worst Teachers" article published in the New Yorker magazine and written by Steven Brill. My article:

The Rubber Rooms and the Misinformation of Steven Brill

One of the reasons for my posting this piece on my website and blog was to try to get the NYC BOE Attorney, Dennis De Costa, to ask questions of Lucienne Mohammed relating to her allegations of wrong-doing by PS 65 Principal Daysi Garcia, and get this information into the 3020-a hearing record.

This effort was successful.

A little bit of background into the 3020-a hearing itself may be relevant: arbitrators either are reluctant, or forbid altogether, information about the administrators in the school from which the re-assigned teacher was removed. I heard one arbitrator say at a 3020-a hearing, "I will not hear any information about what the principal did or did not do, as [he/she] is the Supervisor. You must do what the Supervisor asks you to do, and grieve it later." Some arbitrators are less strict about the "dont ask, dont tell" policy of the NYC BOE and what I call the "rubberization" process.

Yet it makes no sense to me that a hearing could be fair if the reasons for a teacher to be observed as "incompetent" are not based on performance, but on some other "fact", and these "facts" or information are not permitted by the arbitrator to be mentioned. A principal who wants to remove a teacher from his/her school can see a 'messy' classroom when indeed the room may be picture perfect; a lesson may take ten minutes too long, says the Principal on the U-rating sheet, but that may not have happened at all; two students may be talking in class about the subject at hand (this is called "accountable talk"), but on the rating sheet the "U" is for deficiencies in classroom management. And so on.

What must be addressed is the visual prism of the Principal when he/she is observing the teacher, and I believe that this information must be allowed into a 3020-a hearing to clarify the record. By the way, as you can see in the information supplied by Ms. Mohammed in her statement about what was happening at PS 65, she signed up for the PIP+ Program, a totally-owned-and-paid-for-by-the-NYCBOE-no-bid-contract thing designed to help Principals. Who said that the program was designed to support the Principal? Executive Director Sandra Kase. Lucienne Mohammed's Peer Observer, who watched her teach and was supposed to help her 'improve', last taught in New York City in 1968 and was never trained in the Workshop Model (the program used at PS 65). The observations proved to be exactly what Principal Garcia asked for: total support for Ms. Mohammed's removal from the school because of incompetence. Watch out for the observers, and try to find out what their visual prism may be. By the way, I filed a freedom of information request of the NYC BOE for the RMC Contract, (see sections #1, #2, and #3) and I was asked to pay $52+ for the document - missing pp. pp. 88 - through 94; 114 – through 183; 187 – through 191; and 221 – through 252. I've appealed.

So, how can the teacher get in to the 3020-a record that the Principal was discriminating against him/her, and this may have been the root cause of the re-assignment? One way is to write about the Principal during the 3020-a, and anger the NYC BOE Attorney into forgetting that the hearing is not supposed to focus on anything the Principal has done or may have done in the school building. Another way is to have your Attorney ask questions about what the Principal was/is doing in the school, and any grievances or special complaints you may have filed, but this is not always accepted by the arbitrator, as I wrote above.

PS 65 Principal Daysi Garcia, in front of PS 65 in Brooklyn, NY

On September 17, 2009 Lucienne Mohammed went to day 37 of her 3020-a hearing and she was cross-examined by NYC BOE Attorney, Dennis De Costa of the BOE "Gotcha Squad". I was there for the afternoon.

Evidently when Lucienne and her Attorney Mr. Cavallero walked into the hearing room, Mr. De Costa had my article on the table before him. All of his questions to Ms. Mohammed were about the actions of Principal Garcia, based upon what Lucienne had sent to me for my posting online.

Mr. De Costa wanted to know if, indeed, Principal Garcia discriminated against Ms. Mohammed and another staff member (whose hearing was not completed, but at which Ms. Mohammed testified), and Ms. Mohammed was asked how, and when this discrimination took place. The possible motives of Principal Garcia to remove Lucienne Mohammed from her job at PS 65 for reasons OTHER THAN the actual performance of Ms. Mohammed were brought to the table and put into the record. This was my goal in writing the article.

The impossibility of "proving" incompetence in the hearing room at 51 Chambers Street is clear to anyone who attends these hearings. A good teacher is someone who knows the subject he/she is assigned to teach, and who transfers this content knowledge in an "appropriate" and "educationally sound" way - please excuse my use of these general terms, but my point is, both "appropriate" and "educationally sound" are based on the students you have in your class and the visual prism and mindset of the person reporting. Thus, arbitrators placed in the position of deciding cases of incompetence must try to understand the school culture and the specifics of the classroom of the teacher whose case is being heard. James A. Gross, author of the book "Teachers On Trial" puts it this way:

"This study has demonstrated that decision makers' conceptions of the way things ought to be and beliefs about the way things presumably are - unchecked and unverified by empirical evidence about the way things actually are - often lead to unjust decisions about teachers' conduct and performance and to outcomes that are detrimental to teaching and learning. Injustice and inefficiency will persist as long as policy makers and decision makers operate without sufficient evidence."
(p 110)....and,

"This study has revealed the serious inequities that result when decision makers operate without objective standards or reliable evidence concerning the educational conseqences of various teacher behaviors both in and outside of the classroom. Of course, educational reform involves matters of productivity and performance as well as equity, and the objective should be to maximize learning and teacher effectiveness in ways consistent with justice and equity for teachers, students, and administrators." (p. 111).

I recommend that you beg someone for this book, or buy it yourself.

Of course in Lucienne Mohammed's case no one knows what the decision of Mr. Jay Siegel will be after the closing on October 27, 2009, but for now, the record is clear that Principal Daysi Garcia may have had a motive to make Lucienne Mohammed appear to be "incompetent" when indeed she was - and is - not.

Think about it.

Betsy Combier

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great piece of work this is!

Chaz said...

Great post Betsy

Pissed Off said...

Great job! Thank your from all the teachers whether we are 3020 candidates or not.

Anonymous said...

Greta job...now what are the negative consequences for this principal for her misconduct?

It is time we exposed this bizaare pay-to-play scheme (aka the NYC 3020a process). You know, the scheme whereby a teacher pays an arbitrary fine for permission to go back to his/her work in the classroom. As if a fine suddenly cures someone of any real or conjured incompetence. Why not have the respondent recite some chant or do some yoga? Both (the chant and the yoga)would be as effective as the pay-to-play fine scheme.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, after acquiring "post-graduate training" in "Rubber Room" methodologies and strategic studies, I can safely report that 90% of all teachers in Rubber Rooms were framed by their lowlife despicable principals who play along with the BIG LIE ("scores are skyrocketing"), and are actively encouraged by Tweed to get rid of anyone deemed "dead wood" by resorting to any means necessary -- including framing teachers using falsified and fabicated evidence, coercing teachers, paraprofessionals and children to lie using threats and/or rewards, etc. This information was confided to me by a supervising principal while I was in the Rubber Room. It was also observed and confirmed during hundred of hours of taped interiews with rubber room colleagues.

The public has a hard time swallowing this because I myself can still hardly believe the surreal charade that I personally experienced and underwent in school by the administration and phony keystone ingrade from OSI. It is a totally disgusting, rotten and corrupt system that should be exposed to the world for the evil that it eally is.

Zimbardo and Millgram still have a lot to learn. But with an apathetic public that still cannot grasp the enormity and seriousness of the crime Wall Street perpetrated against the American people, I doubt the American public will ever be capable of grasping the horrible reign of terror unleashed against teachers by the Bloomberg/Klein adminsitration under the subterfuge of improving education.

Betsy Combier deserves our respect, thanks and appreciation for doing her best to expose this evil.

Anonymous said...

You should make a request for the entire DOE cross-examination of that teacher...& THEN PUBLISH IT!!! I think it woold be relly helpful to let us know what actuall goes on in these hearings and hilight the injustice done to that teacher.

Polo Colon said...

Lucienne is a wonderful person as well as a great teacher!

What is happening here in NYC speaks of both the shamelessness and the shamefulness of the Klein & Bloomberg Holding Company so much that they have the entire spectrum of the word, "shame" covered!

They are administrative terrorists and their AGW (administrators-gone-wild) are empowered, indemnified and trained in Autobot Faux Chancellor Klein's Leadershi_ Academy (Klein is illegally working without a contract!) to be as discompassionate, heartless and mindless as the transformers that run this city are.

The true incompetents are the ones that have executed 3 reorganizations through 9 years and over 100 Billion Bloombucks later, have no progress to report with any real evidence, but instead are closing THEIR FAILURE schools!

They run the Banana Republic of New York City with impunity as the new and improved gangs of New York run the city amok out of the new and improved Tamany Hall.

They have no common sense or common decency, as exemplified by THEIR rubber rooms, theircharacter assasinations of children who carry 2 inch guns and girls who write with dry erase markers on the desk to be carried off in handcuffs instead of the administrative terrorists who far more should be considered a danger to society!

Once again, where are the schedules of fines and penalties for the principals and their cohorts, the AGWs that commit such atrocities as handcuffing students and teachers without just cause?

These AGWs ought not to be indemnified, protected and even encouraged to break the law and violate the rights of the citizenry! They currently are sheltered under the Decepti-Cons, Klein and Mayoral Dictator Bloomberg!

Lucienne, you will win and be vindicated because you are right and a truly wonderful human being! They will lose because they are just legalized thugs, from the principal on up - and they are truly despicable!

Polo Colon said...

Lucienne is a wonderful person as well as a great teacher!

What is happening here in NYC speaks of both the shamelessness and the shamefulness of the Klein & Bloomberg Holding Company so much that they have the entire spectrum of the word, "shame" covered!

They are administrative terrorists and their AGW (administrators-gone-wild) are empowered, indemnified and trained in Autobot Faux Chancellor Klein's Leadershi_ Academy (Klein is illegally working without a contract!) to be as discompassionate, heartless and mindless as the transformers that run this city are.

The true incompetents are the ones that have executed 3 reorganizations through 9 years and over 100 Billion Bloombucks later, have no progress to report with any real evidence, but instead are closing THEIR FAILURE schools!

They run the Banana Republic of New York City with impunity as the new and improved gangs of New York run the city amok out of the new and improved Tamany Hall.

They haqve no common sense or common decency, as exemplified by THEIR rubber rooms, theircharacter assassinations of children who carry 2 inch guns and girls who write with dry erase markers on the desk to be carried off in handcuffs instead of the administrative terrorists who far more should be considered a danger to society!

Once again, where are the schedules of fines and penalties for the principals and their cohorts, the AGWs that commit such atrocities as handcuffing students and teachers without just cause?

These AGWs ought not to be indemnified, protected and even encouraged to break the law and violate the rights of the citizenry! They currently are sheltered under the Decepti-Cons, Klein and Mayoral Dictator Bloomberg!

Lucienne, you will win and be vindicated because you are right and a truly wonderful human being! They will lose because they are just legalized thugs, from the principal on up - and they are truly despicable!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Betsy, and to all who commented on this article. I am living the horrors of the "rubber room" experience in Rochester, NY, where Jean-Claude Brizard, (Klein's understudy) reigns as superintendent. There are days when it is so difficult to resist the pull to believe the lies about me, buy into their premeditated and coercive scheme to force submission; give up and stop whistling. Reading your words is like finding shelter after weeks of braving a blinding, frigid blizzard. Though we are a district 3% the size of NYC, the impact of the inhumane treatment of teachers (social workers, etc.) is equally as devastating to us, our students and our community. Thank you and please keep us in mind.

Kevin said...

What great work you do!!! I am experiencing the rubber room and have for 15 months without knowing any of the charges against me. Now it is the carrot and the stick with buy-out offers that are negligable with an unknown 3020A hanging over my head...can anyone say face your charges. Now even if I am retained and my teching certificate left alone, I will be probably be forced back into the rubber room for a game of chicken. Thanks to all of the people who post to make an intolerable situation less personal and to remind ourselves not to believe the BIG LIES

Anonymous said...

Daysi Garcia, and MANY of the principals in NYCDOE from the leadership Academy are not instructional leaders and DO NOT know what they are observing. They govern school buildings like correctional facilities and are not professional. They take things personal and abuse their power to take food out of people's mouths! If you are liked, you can do whatever and if you are not liked, whatever will be done to you!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just came upon this article. Ms. Garcia had NEVER taught in a classroom. She was a guidance counselor before becoming a leadership academy principal. She was only a counselor for about 3 years before going into the leadership academy. I hope this teacher was able to keep their job.