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Sunday, October 31, 2010

3020-a, NYSUT, and NYS Social Services Law 419

In the discussion of wrong-doing by Mike Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and Mike Mulgrew (and, of course, not keeping me at the UFT to pursue the Teacher Advocacy Initiative that I presented to you), there has not been adequate discussion of the malpractice of NYSUT as the Attorneys do not adequately defend their clients, at least in the New York City 3020-a.

Full disclosure: over the past 7 years I have attended 3020-a hearings as a member of the public, and I have met several NYSUT Attorneys who I like personally. My reporting on the process that is used at 3020-a should not be seen as a personal attack on any NYSUT Attorney, as many of the NYSUT Attorneys are very nice people. My writing about the 3020-a process focuses on injustice, wherever and whoever carries this forward. In some instances I specifically point to what I consider a pattern and practice of 'misconduct', as in the cases of Melinda Gordon and Mitch Rubenstein, and I will continue to report on what I consider inappropriate behavior of any hired person, NYSUT, NYC DOE, CSA member, it doesn't matter. Hey, this is my blog, after all. I document what I see, hear and read.

One of the reasons why I have volunteered seven years of my life to observing 3020-a hearings (teachers brought to 3020-a are entitled to an open and public hearing under the contract) is to see what defense NYSUT provides to random and arbitrary charges against tenured personnel. The defense is seldom adequate.

I'll give you an example of what I mean:
Teachers often are charged with misconduct that stems from their whistleblowing some act of a principal, such as abuse of a student in the school, theft of PTA money, etc. The cases of David Pakter and Hipolito Colon are clearly whistleblower retaliation cases.

NYSUT attorneys do not bring up all the misconduct of a principal/assistant principal but defend the client based upon the act charged, not what else may be going on, like child abuse, theft, etc. by the principal/AP. This leaves the arbitrator to rule that the principal has no motive to target the teacher/respondent, and then will substantiate the charge against the teacher/respondent. I do not know of an instance where the assigned NYSUT Attorney defended the actions of the client in reporting a principal by using New York State Social Services Law 419.

 Here is the relevant clause in NYS Social Services Law 419:

"Legal Protections for Mandated Reporters: What Protection or Liability Do I Have?

Source Confidentiality

The Social Service Law provides confidentiality for mandated reporters and all sources of child abuse and maltreatment reports. OCFS and local CPS are not permitted to release to the subject of the report any data that would identify the source of a report unless the source has given written permission to do so. Information regarding the source of the report may be shared with court officials, police, and district attorneys but only in certain circumstances.

Immunity from Liability

If a mandated reporter makes a report with earnest concern for the welfare of a child, he or she is immune from any criminal or civil liability that might result. This is referred to a making a report in "good faith".

Penalties for Failure to Report

Anyone who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment - and fails to do so - could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and subject to criminal penalties. Further, mandated reporters can be sued in a civil court for monetary damages for any harm caused by the mandated reporter's failure to make the report to the SCR.

Therefore if you are a mandated reporter and you know of misconduct of a principal/AP, report it, but NOT to OSI or SCI, the two agencies that will charge you for revealing what is going on at the school and cover up what you have reported. If you see child abuse or suspect it, report this to your principal as you are mandated to do, but also secretly report this to the State Agencies cited above.

Document your report with all the information sent by email, hard copy, or recorded by you (if it is a telephone call). You should tape all your conversations with the DOE or OSI, SCI investigators. In New York State you can secretly record anyone with whom you are in a conversation. Keep copies of everything.

Hope I've scared you enough.

Happy Halloween everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Betsy Combier

No Teacher Data For Re-assigned Teachers

Hola Mr. Klein!

On friday I was contacted by a teacher who was recently re-assigned and will be charged under 3020-a for incompetence. He made the mistake of signing up for PIP+, so he is now on the termination track.

He asked me why he could not get any evaluation data on his performance from the New York City Board of Education, and why he could not get the data from ARIS on how his students did on their tests. He cares about his students, and is a tenured teacher who has been given satisfactory ratings for many years, until be became a voice of wrong-doing by the principal of his school.

He has not been 'convicted' of incompetence yet, and therefore he should be able to obtain his data, I think.

I heard from the NYC BOE that any teacher suspended from his/her teaching position for any reason, is blocked from seeing his/her performance data or the scores of his/her students on tests from the date of removal from his/her classroom. As you may know, tenured teachers accused of misconduct or incompetency are now being told to stay in the office of the school or district while he/she awaits charges, "secret'' rubber rooms, so that the public doesn't get angry with Mayor Bloomberg for using public money to pay for two teachers for the same job.

When a teacher is re-assigned suddenly because a principal doesn't like/want him/her in that position any longer, someone else has to be placed in the original teacher's position. This is why the public should be outraged at the random and arbitrary removal process, and this is why this process will be the ball and chain of the Bloomberg administration.....and the UFT, namely Mike Mulgrew, as I report on how Bloomberg and Mulgrew know that they are committing public funds to the violation of public policy, Social Services Law  and due process rights of not only UFT members, but parents, children and anyone else who gets in their way. Policy questions are not allowed by the two Mikes.

I know, because I was let go from the UFT because while I was hired to 'assist members', but this was not what I was hired to do at all. My articles on the death to teacher rights as the foundation of PIP+ has enraged the UFT administration, I hear. Sunlight on corruption and fraud works. In a few days I will be profiling some UFT staff members, and you will see that my advocacy is not what 'they' wanted, but 'they' could not get rid of me unless the rubber rooms were 'closed'  (which still has not happened). Smoke and mirrors only need fresh air to get cleaned up.

Well, you know what I mean.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Email From Joel Klein On Publishing Teacher Evaluation Reports

So, after there is a major scandal in the scores for testing (and therefore the A - F grades for schools), which the NYC Board of Education wants squashed because they need to have everyone ignore this valuable information, Joel Klein insists that grading teachers is the right thing to do.... and here's the punchline:
"for the children".

From: Klein Joel I.
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 3:57 PM
Subject: Teacher data

Dear Colleagues,

As you have likely heard or read, several media outlets recently issued Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the City, requiring the Department to share the Teacher Data Reports we provide schools and teachers in grades 4 through 8 each year. These reports use a method called “value-added data” that seeks to predict student performance based on factors outside of a teacher’s control (high levels of poverty, for example), and then determines whether a given teacher’s students exceeded or fell short of these predicted examination scores (teachers may always access their reports at By controlling for factors beyond a teacher’s control, it is the fairest system-wide way we have to assess the real impact of teachers on student learning. And while the City’s particular value-add method is not etched in stone, this is why the State passed legislation this spring, endorsed by the teachers’ unions, committing to using value-added data for all teachers. It is also why value-added data is increasingly being used throughout the nation as part of a comprehensive system of teacher evaluation.

In the past we have provided the numeric value-added data to the press with no indication of the identity of individual teachers. I am writing to you today because media outlets, prompted by similar data being published by the Los Angeles Times, have requested the names of individual teachers, not just the statistics. As it is the City’s legal interpretation that we are legally obligated to provide the media this information, it is our intent to provide the data as requested.

In the time since we informed the UFT that we intended to comply with the FOIL request, the union has sued the City to prevent the release, and we have agreed to delay any release until at least November 24, when a court hearing will be held. So no data have yet been released. But I want to make sure that, as you read about these events in the newspapers, you understand the circumstances and you understand my view on the issue overall.

Our most important task is to ensure that every one of our students has a great teacher. It is critical, therefore, that when we have indications of a teacher’s proficiency, we use that indication to do what’s right for kids. One indication will never tell the whole story, and sometimes it is hard to discern definitive evidence from data alone—such as with a teacher who is “average” according to these numbers, for example. But where teachers have performed consistently toward the top or the bottom, year after year, these data surely tell us something very important. Namely, we need to retain and reward the great teachers, and we need to develop the low-performing teachers. And those who don’t improve quickly need to be replaced with better-performing teachers.

Secretary Arne Duncan last week said it best when he said, “I give New York credit for sharing this information with teachers so they can improve and get better.” More than anything, these data demonstrate that we need a better, more comprehensive system of evaluation than the one we have now. That’s why the State legislature and the unions supported an evaluation system that uses value-added data. Now it’s time that the DOE and UFT together build a new system that gives teachers an honest sense of how well they’re doing and how they can improve.

In the end, this is about real people. On one hand, for too long, parents have been left out of the equation, left to pray each year that the teacher greeting their children on the first day of school is truly great, but with no real knowledge of whether that is the case, and with no recourse if it’s not.

But this is also about teachers. They take on the hardest work there is, and they deserve our respect. If anyone sees these data as an opportunity to scapegoat public servants, that is a mistake. Doing what’s right for children means making hard decisions; it has nothing to do with personal attacks.

We’ve made huge strides for our kids over the last eight years. That’s because we’ve been willing to face hard facts. It’s also because we have made kids’ best interests our shared priority. My hope is that we approach this issue with both of those thoughts in mind, ensuring fair treatment for adults, but always keeping children first.


Joel I. Klein
Why teacher scores should be released
Mike Bloomberg, Nicole Seligman (Mrs. Klein), Joel Klein, Diana Taylor
By JOEL KLEIN, NY POST, October 23, 2010

Last week, the New York City Department of Education planned to release Teacher Data Reports, which include the names of more than 12,000 city teachers and what are known as their “value-added” scores.

The release of these data reports — which tell us which teachers are contributing the most (and the least) to their students’ achievement — raises complex issues. While they are provided every year to principals and teachers directly, they have never before been released with teacher names to the public, and the United Federation of Teachers has gone to court to block their release.

First and foremost, we believe that the public has a right to this information under the Freedom of Information Law. But we also strongly disagree with the UFT’s argument that the public isn’t smart enough to understand this information.

So what is value-added data and what can it tell us?

It starts with the idea of fairness. Statisticians look at factors that have historically affected student achievement, such as high levels of poverty, and create a picture of each child’s background that enables them to predict how well a child is likely to do. They then see whether the child — or the whole class — did better than or worse than was predicted. The point is to remove all of the factors teachers can’t control.

For example, let’s say Adam is a first year, seventh-grade math teacher. His students are predicted to score an average of 3.22 on the state math test. But instead, his students score a 3.3, meaning he added .08. Leslie, meanwhile, also is a first year, seventh-grade math teacher in the same school. Her students also have a predicted proficiency score of 3.22, but they only score a 3.17, meaning she subtracted .05. Both teachers are then compared to peers across the city who are first-year, seventh-grade math teachers, and it is determined that Adam’s value-added score is in the 85th percentile, while Leslie’s is only in the 33rd.

It’s a quantitative way to show what many of us have argued for years — not all teachers are equally effective. If one teacher is found to be consistently high performing, don’t we want that teacher collaborating with others? And, in turn, if one teacher is found to be consistently low performing, don’t we want to help that teacher improve, or move to replace him or her?

No one believes value-added data tell the whole story of a teacher. But it provides a valuable window into teacher effectiveness, which is why we have used and will continue to use the data when we determine whether to award lifetime tenure. And New York state recently passed a law, supported by the UFT, mandating the use of teacher effectiveness data in teacher evaluation systems. In New York, value-added data may comprise 25% of a teacher’s overall evaluation; in states like Colorado and Louisiana, it’s up to 50%.

We aren’t naive about the impact this release could have on our teachers, which is why we hope that no one misuses the data or views it as an opportunity to scapegoat teachers. Our teachers deserve the utmost respect.

But these are public schools and public tax dollars. As Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “Parents and community members have the right to know how their districts, schools, principals and teachers are doing. It’s up to local communities to set the context for these courageous conversations, but silence is not an option.”

Joel Klein is the chancellor of New York City’s schools.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Shifting The Truth About Charter Schools by Paul Thomas

By supporting charter school initiatives that reinforce corporate agendas that seek to hide social failures such as poverty, the Brookings Institution and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute are unwittingly exposing the mask that is charter schools because their research and admissions about the complexity of educational reform confirm what we know to be the truth about charter schools--they are no better than public schools: "And yet, this study [from CREDO] reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their TPS [traditional public school] counterparts. Further, tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception. The problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools and their supporters face."

Shifting The Truth About Charter Schools
by Paul Thomas
October 23, 2010
"There is no compelling evidence that investments in parenting classes, health services, nutritional programs, and community improvement in general have appreciable effects on student achievement in schools in the U.S.," concludes Whitehurst and Croft in their appraisal of the celebrated Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), adding: "Indeed there is considerable evidence in addition to the results from the present study that questions the return on such investments for academic achievement."

Whitehurst and Croft's study (July 20, 2010) for the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings prompted a New York Times article to reveal "Mr. Canada and his charter schools have struggled with the same difficulties faced by other urban schools, even as they outspend them."

However, just about a year and half earlier, David Brooks, also writing in the New York Times, had sparked the claims of "miracle" surrounding Canada's HCZ which fueled a series of media outlets praising these charter schools, including "President Obama institut[ing] a Promise Neighborhoods Initiative intended to replicate the HCZ in 20 cities across the country. The program received a $10 million appropriation from Congress in 2010, under which 339 communities applied to the U.S. Department of Education for planning grants to create Promise Neighborhoods."

From the President to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Oprah and 60 Minutes to the controversial Waiting for Superman and the media blitz surrounding that documentary, the charter movement has been experiencing an unprecedented level of support across the political and popular spectrum.

Along with Whitehurst and Croft's cautions, however, other cracks in the move toward charter schools have been expressed, although not nearly as well publicized as the praise.

In an excerpt from the book, Ohio's Education Reform Challenges: Lessons from the Front Lines, included in Education Next, Terry Ryan, Michael B. Lafferty, and Chester Finn Jr. admit: "Sobered and a bit battered, Fordham continues as an authorizer of Ohio charter schools. . .and a vigorous participant in the state's larger education-policy debates. . . .Meanwhile, we've learned a lot about how much harder it is to walk the walk of education reform than simply to talk the talk, and about how the most robust of theories are apt to soften and melt in the furnace of actual experience."

What, then, is the truth behind the shifting support for charter schools?

• "Charter school" as a term and a concept has been co-opted by education reformers who support school choice and market forces over public education. The Whitehurst and Croft arguments against the HCZ being cost effective is placed against Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools: "There are 3 KIPP schools represented in the graph. All score higher than the HCZ Promise Academy." In short, charter schools of a certain kind, quasi-private schools, are welcomed as the next phase of school choice initiatives that have failed when promoting vouchers and tuition tax credits.

• Charter schools are mechanisms for promoting the claims that schools can reform society, and thus a mechanism for discounting the impact of poverty on the learning and lives of children. Whitehurst and Croft proceed to discount efforts such as the HCZ and traditional federal programs such as Head Start: "In contrast to disappointing results for Broader, Bolder initiatives, there is a large and growing body of evidence that schools themselves can have significant impacts on student achievement." Corporate reformers are fully invested in branding public education as a failure while simultaneously arguing that schools can overcome social forces, despite evidence to the contrary.

• Charter schools are often closely associated with alternatives to traditional teacher certification and an avenue to circumventing teachers unions. Teach for America (TfA) in charter schools is one such alliance, including being represented in Waiting for Superman and standing to reap significant boosts if federal policy helps fund and support more charter schools with faculties drawn largely from TfA recruits. Focusing on bad teachers and demonizing teachers unions as the status quo have roots in corporate agendas, not school reform.

• Charter schools also help promote "no excuses" ideology ("new paternalism") and deficit perspectives of children living in poverty that perpetuate classist dynamics in the schools, thus exacerbating the inequities of children's lives in the schools themselves. These corrosive ideologies are further wrapped in compelling rhetoric such as the "soft bigotry of low expectations," despite the practices themselves institutionalizing racism, classism, and elitism.

By supporting charter school initiatives that reinforce corporate agendas that seek to hide social failures such as poverty, the Brookings Institution and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute are unwittingly exposing the mask that is charter schools because their research and admissions about the complexity of educational reform confirm what we know to be the truth about charter schools--they are no better than public schools: "And yet, this study [from CREDO] reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their TPS [traditional public school] counterparts. Further, tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception. The problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools and their supporters face."

Author's Bio: An Associate Professor of Education at Furman University since 2002, Dr. P. L. Thomas taught high school English for 18 years at Woodruff High along with teaching as an adjunct at a number of Upstate colleges. He holds an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education (1983) along with an M. Ed. in Secondary Education (1985) and Ed. D. in Curriculum and Instruction (1998), all from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Thomas has focused throughout his career on writing and the teaching of writing. He has published fiction, poetry, and numerous scholarly works since the early 1980s. Currently, he works closely with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) as a column editor for English Journal, Challenging Text, and the SC Council of Teachers of English (SCCTE) as co-editor of South Carolina English Teacher. His major publications include a critique of American education, Numbers Games (2004, Peter Lang); a text on the teaching of writing, Teaching Writing Primer (2005, Peter Lang); and books in a series edited by Thomas, Confronting the Text, Confronting the World--his most recent volume being Reading, Learning, Teaching Ralph Ellison (2008, Peter Lang). He has also co-authored a work with Joe Kincheloe (McGill University), Reading, Writing, and Thinking: The Postformal Basics (2006, Sense Publishers), and Renita Schmidt, 21st Century Lieracy: If We Are Scripted Are We Literate? (Springer, 2009). His next books include Parental Choice? (2010, Information Age Publishing) and the first volume in a new series he edits, Challenging Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels (Sense Publishers). His scholarship and teaching deal primarily with critical literacy and social justice. See his work at:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Andrew Cuomo's Corruption And Fraud On The People Of New York State: The Money Business

Andrew Cuomo's Corruption And Fraud On The People Of New York State: The Money Business

Andrew Cuomo promises Big Money that when he is elected Governor, he will put favors on the table to be acknowledged and paid back. Citizens of New York will be guaranteed a denial of Constitutional rights....unless you can pay for them.

I have the story of how Cuomo uses the real estate cartel to steal property from the dead through the Surrogates' Courts. He, with the help of his Assistant Attorney General Monica Connell, helped the Unified Court System steal my mother's property left to me in her Will. More about that later, in Part 2. And I am not alone in the victimization of citizens of New York State by Andrew Cuomo.

Betsy Combier
Following the Cuomo money trail
Big donors dominate $25 million war chest, so what do they want?
By Phil Fairbanks, Buffalo News, October 21, 2010

Andrew M. Cuomo is accepting money, lots of it, from the same special interests he promises to take on if elected New York's next governor.

Cuomo amassed a $25.6 million campaign war chest in just two years and did it with the help of the same labor, business and political interests that have long influenced state government.

The Democrat's friends and allies -- he has received more than 10,000 contributions over that time -- read like a who's who of people and companies doing business with New York State.

His donors range from Albany lobbyists and New York City real estate giants to public employee unions and health care providers.

It's a group littered with the rich and famous, names such as Leonard Lauder, Howard Rubenstein, and Donald and Ivanka Trump.

"Money flows to power," said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "They assume Cuomo's going to win, so they fork over money in the hopes that when they make a phone call, someone will answer it."

A Buffalo News analysis of Cuomo's contributions dating from July 2008 found the following:

* One of every $3 raised by Cuomo came from corporations, partnerships, unions and other special interests.

* About half of Cuomo's donors gave him $1,000 or more, and 1 in 6 gave him $5,000 or more.

* A large percentage of his money came from New York City real estate interests that in some instances gave up to $100,000.

* Seven of every $10 that Cuomo took in across New York State came from New York City, Long Island or Westchester County.

* Cuomo's fundraising pales in comparison to previous candidates for governor, but he still refunded more money last month than his opponent took in.

Cuomo's reliance on wealthy downstate donors and their large contributions helped him build up a political bank account that a month ago, when the last accounting was made, still had a balance of $20 million.

That's 95 times more than what Republican candidate Carl P. Paladino had on hand, an edge Cuomo can attribute to hundreds of companies, unions, lobbyists and other special interests eager to have a friend in Albany.

New financial-disclosure reports, due out Friday, will provide a more up-to-date accounting of where the Cuomo and Paladino campaigns stand in the head-to-head race for cash.

"Andrew Cuomo has shown time and again that he will take money from anyone," said Paladino spokesman Michael R. Caputo. "A look at his list of high-dollar donors shows the usual suspects: big-money lobbyists, connected corporations, unions, pay-to-play artists and the ruling elite."

Cuomo declined to comment for this article, but one thing is certain: The state's wealthiest political donors view Cuomo as one of two things or maybe both -- the best person for the job or the most likely candidate to win.

If they're right, and front-running Cuomo does indeed defeat Paladino in the Nov. 2 general election, they may find themselves in the new governor's cross hairs.

Unions loom large

From the day he announced his candidacy in May, Cuomo has promised to take on Albany's dysfunction, including corruption that would "make Boss Tweed blush."

"We will be taking on very powerful special interests, which have much to lose," he said in a video announcing his candidacy. "We must change systems and cultures long in the making."

And what if those special interests are the same folks who ponied up big money to help you get elected?

"One of the reasons Albany's dysfunctional is the way they finance elections," said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, counsel to the Brennan Center for Justice, the New York University organization that has repeatedly described the State Legislature as the country's most dysfunctional.

Cuomo, of course, is no different than most other candidates for governor, said Torres-Spelliscy. They finance their campaigns with big-money donations from special interests, she said, and, if successful, they soon find themselves facing the prospect of having to say "no" to them.

Does Cuomo have the will to do that? Can he say "no" to the Teamsters or the Service Employees International Union, two of his biggest contributors and two unions with important business in Albany?

The Teamsters, as recently as this spring, gathered at the State Capitol to rally against Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed soda tax.

"Not only does the soda tax hurt consumers," union President James P. Hoffa told his members, "it will hurt small businesses and result in further job losses."

Even more problematic for Cuomo is his relationship with the SEIU, which represents thousands of employees at hospitals and nursing homes across the state.

It's hard to imagine a union with more clout in Albany or a union more opposed to cuts in health care, one of the fastest-growing parts of the state budget.

It's also hard to think of a labor organization with closer ties to Cuomo.

Jennifer Cunningham, the union's former political director and current lobbyist, managed Cuomo's 2006 run for attorney general and has served as an informal campaign adviser.

"It's up to him to say, 'OK, I've heard you, now I'm going to do what I think is right'," said Jeffrey M. Stonecash, a political science professor at Syracuse University.

Stonecash thinks the manner in which Cuomo deals with the special interests who helped finance his campaign will go a long way in evaluating his character.

Real estate largess

And it's not just unions.

One industry that Cuomo's critics will be watching is real estate. No other sector of the economy has provided more largess for Cuomo, and the money has come in the form of both corporate and individual contributions.

His donors include some of the biggest names in real estate, people such as New York City developer Jerry I. Speyer and construction giant Daniel R. Tishman. Together, they and their families kicked in more than $187,000 to Cuomo's run for governor.

What do they expect in return?

No one knows for certain, but there are a number of large-scale development projects, including the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, that could require the next governor's blessing.

Horner thinks their motivation may be a lot simpler. He points to Cuomo's tenure as attorney general, where he had responsibility over real estate investments, mortgage fraud and most new housing developments, to suggest that real estate executives simply want to make sure Cuomo remains accessible.

"They already have a relationship," Horner said. "They just want to make sure their phone calls get answered."

Cuomo surprised some of those same real estate executives this month when he announced that the Attorney General's Office would expand its investigation into housing foreclosures.

While his action hits banks the hardest -- he asked them to suspend all foreclosure sales -- real estate experts say that it could hurt an already struggling housing market.

Cuomo's probe focuses on a practice known as "robo-signing," the practice of mortgage lenders filing affidavits without truthfully knowing the facts behind a foreclosure.

"I will not allow New Yorkers to lose their homes due to mortgage goliaths that buck the system," Cuomo said in a statement.

$38,500 from Masiello

Real estate professionals are not the only ones giving money in hopes of gaining access to a Cuomo administration.

So are Albany's lobbyists.

"'Hey, Andrew; hey, Andrew -- I'm over here,'" Stonecash said when asked why lobbyists give to candidates.

Like many candidates, Cuomo has tapped into the state's lobbying community in a big way. A study by the New York Public Interest Research Group in June estimated that the Democrat had received $320,540 from lobbyists.

One of the biggest givers is former Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, a longtime Cuomo ally. At last count, Masiello had given Cuomo $38,500, one of the largest contributions by an individual lobbyist.

Masiello said his intent is not to gain access -- he and Cuomo have a relationship that dates back 30 years -- but rather to help an old friend get elected governor.

"I think he's got the right stuff," Masiello said of his fellow Democrat. "He's serious about making a difference. He knows the state's in trouble."

'Payoff,' says Paladino

Cuomo has run into his share of criticism for how he raises money. Some of his biggest contributions have come from lawyers, including some who represent clients investigated by the Attorney General's Office.

For example, he accepted $37,000 from Boies Schiller & Flexer, a New York City firm, even though David Boies, one of the nation's pre-eminent trial attorneys, represented a former insurance and financial services executive under investigation by Cuomo's office.

The Democratic candidate also came under criticism, especially from Paladino, for his relationship with Andrew L. Farkas, one of his biggest benefactors.

Their ties date from the 1990s, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under Cuomo's leadership, accused one of Farkas' companies of paying kickbacks to building owners.

The company eventually settled the lawsuit by paying the government $7.4 million, and, years later, Farkas hired Cuomo to work for one of his real estate companies.

"Where I come from, this is called a payoff," Paladino said in a campaign ad released last month.

Farkas and his family also became one of Cuomo's biggest contributors, donating more than $57,000 to his campaign in the last two years. One of Farkas' companies also kicked in another $37,500.

Cuomo contends that Paladino's accusations are off-base and says the government's settlement with Farkas' company was negotiated by the Justice Department, not HUD.

"Pay-to-play Paladino is now rewriting history with a mud pen," Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said last month.

What Farkas does reflect is Cuomo's reliance on big-money donors, who often join with family members or fellow employees to increase their contribution.

Nixon Peabody, a Rochester firm with a long history of political activity, gave Cuomo more than $55,000 but did it through a series of more than 70 smaller contributions.

Farkas also symbolizes the Democrat's reliance on large contributions from downstate, many from New York's wealthiest individuals.

"Think of where the money is," said Jamie P. Pimlott, an assistant professor of political science at Niagara University. "People who give to campaigns tend to be wealthier."

A question of influence

Pimlott, who has researched the role of small donors, views Cuomo as the rule, not the exception.

She does think that government could do more to encourage participation by smaller contributors, most notably through lower contribution limits.

"That would force candidates to reach out to more people, to get more people engaged," Pimlott said.

Cuomo, as part of his campaign finance reform agenda, has endorsed lower contribution limits.

"We must address the inappropriate influence that companies and individuals that do business with the state have over our elected representatives," he said in his nine-page platform for reform.

While good-government advocates welcome Cuomo's support, they view it with some skepticism.

"I really hope that, once he's governor, he sticks by that promise," said Torres-Spelliscy of the Brennan Center. "Of course, we've had others before him who made that pledge, and once in office changed their mind."

It's easy to see why.

Under the current system, Cuomo raised $25.6 million in two years, and he did it largely with the help of wealthy individuals and interests giving him large contributions.

And before him, there was the Democratic winner of the last gubernatorial election, Eliot L. Spitzer, who raised $31 million.

And before him, Republican Gov. George E. Pataki, who took in $42 million.

As Horner suggests, "It's easier to say than to do."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Winning Your 3020-a: New Disciplinary Procedures in New York

TO ALL Respondents about to enter 3020-a: READ the changes to Chapter 103 below!!!!

New York Labor and Employment Law Report

 by Howard Wexler, October 13, 2010

New York's Overhaul of Teacher and Principal Evaluation Procedures

Earlier this year, Governor David Paterson signed into law Chapter 103 of the Laws of 2010 which, among other things, drastically alters the way classroom teachers and building principals are evaluated and the procedures for disciplining tenured teachers. These changes will take effect over the course of the next several years. Many key provisions were effective on July 1, 2010. The changes have significant implications for collective bargaining between school districts and the unions representing teachers and principals.

The impetus for these far reaching changes was New York State’s application for Phase II of the Federal Government’s Race to the Top Program (“RTT”). RTT was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”), and authorizes the United States Department of Education to award up to $4.3 billion in grant money to encourage and reward States that create conditions for education innovation and reform. New York was one of several states to win Phase II of RTT. As a result, New York will receive approximately $700 million to help implement changes RTT was designed to foster, including how the performance of teachers and principals is measured.

The most widely publicized aspect of the new legislation is Section 3012 c of the Education Law (“3012-c”), which contains the new comprehensive Annual Professional Performance Review (“APPR”) system for teachers and principals. For the 2011-2012 school year, the new APPR system applies only to evaluations of teachers in the common branch subjects or English Language Arts, and Math in grades four through eight, as well as building principals. The new APPR system will apply to all teachers and principals effective in the 2012-2013 school year. The APPR system requires teacher and principal evaluations to result in a single composite score made up of the following components.

* Forty percent of the composite score must be based on student achievement measures; with 20 percent based on student improvement on state exams (or other comparable local exams), and the other 20 percent based on local measures of student achievement which must be established through the collective bargaining process.

* The remaining 60 percent of the APPR score must be based on evidence of overall teacher effectiveness, as determined through locally developed measures (established through the collective bargaining process), and in accordance with standards determined by the Commissioner of Education. As of the date of this post, those standards have not been promulgated.

The composite score must be a significant factor in employment decisions, including, but not limited to, promotion, retention, tenure, termination, and supplemental compensation. The APPR composite score will result in teachers and principals receiving a rating of either: (1) Highly Effective; (2) Effective; (3) Developing; or (4) Ineffective. In connection with this rating system, Districts are required to create Teacher Improvement Plans (“TIP”) and Principal Improvement Plans (“PIP”) for those teachers and principals who receive ratings of either Developing or Ineffective. Two consecutive annual ratings of “Ineffective,” will be deemed to establish a “pattern of ineffective teaching or performance” which may be a basis for just cause removal of a teacher or principal.

From a labor relations perspective, one of the more controversial aspects of 3012-c is the requirement of a locally developed (negotiated) appeals process under which the teacher or principal has the right to challenge the substance of the evaluation, adherence to standards and procedures for reviews, and implementation of a TIP/PIP. In fact, evaluations conducted pursuant to 3012-c cannot even be introduced during a disciplinary proceeding under Section 3020-a of the Education Law prior the expiration of the appeals process.

The legislation also establishes an expedited Section 3020-a disciplinary process for teachers and principals charged with demonstrating a “pattern of ineffective teaching or performance.” The expedited process requires completion of the hearing before a single hearing officer within sixty (60) days of the pre-hearing conference. When a tenured teacher is charged with a “pattern of ineffective teaching or performance” the District must establish that it has negotiated and agreed to a TIP/PIP applicable to that individual.

All collective bargaining agreements covering teachers and building principals entered into after July 1, 2010 must be consistent with 3012-c. Those provisions of collective bargaining agreements that were entered into prior to July 1, 2010 and conflict with 3012-c remain in effect until a successor agreement is entered into, at which time the parties must negotiate over the issues implicated by 3012-c.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Julie Cavanagh: Behavior Modification of Joel Klein

Wagging My Finger While My Boss Wags The Dog
by Julie Cavanagh, Huffington Post

I recently found myself reflecting on a class I took in college that examined emotional and behavioral disabilities. One of the behavior modification methods discussed was pointing one's finger as a visual reinforcer in tandem with a verbal reinforcer being given to a child. I remember being outraged by this, "who wags their finger at a child?" I queried. Fast forward 11 years later, and I probably wag my finger on a daily basis. Although my repertoire of behavior modification techniques includes positive reinforcement and other tricks, a simple, "No, no," along with a slight finger wag, sends a brief, but easily understood message to my students.

As surprised as I have been to find myself wagging my finger to correct a thrown toy or an excited push for the jungle gym, I was even more surprised this month to find myself wagging my finger at New York City Schools' Chancellor Joel Klein.

At this month's Panel for Educational Policy (The Panel has replaced the old Board of Education here in New York City under Mayoral Control) Chancellor Klein engaged in an exchange with panel member, Patrick Sullivan, regarding the merit of Mr. Klein's focus on charter schools at a time when all of the data is showing charters are not the panacea Klein and other "reformers" make them out to be. This was particularly relevant because this meeting was to focus on changes to Chancellor's Regulation A-190. This regulation governs the closure of a school or a co-location of a charter school within a public school building.

Mr. Sullivan questioned Mr. Klein's gusto for charter schools and alerted the Panel and the public to the facts:

1.Klein and Bloomberg's own school report card accountability system shows NYC public schools dramatically outperform charters in the city.

2.Two of lionized charter school founder Geoffrey Canada's schools received C's on the school report cards.

3.Ross Global Academy, a DOE authorized charter, received an F, and is dead last out of every school in the city.

4.While charters may have long waiting lists, as Mr. Klein noted, those lists are manufactured with millions in marketing dollars, money siphoned away from students.

5.Only one in five charters perform better than public schools; that means the vast majority do not.

Mr. Klein postured that, "... the debate between district schools and charter schools is a false one," and that anyone who engages in this debate is, "... just playing politics." He went on to say that good schools should be replicated, regardless of whether they are public or charter. To a person who may not be intimately associated with Chancellor Klein's policies and ideology, these may sound like benign statements. But, to those of us who have been the victims of his misguided infatuation with charter schools, these statements were astounding. His actions, sadly, have not and do not support this message.

My school was forced to co-locate with a charter school three years ago. The co-location has been nothing short of a disaster that has drained our resources in a myriad of ways. What is most troubling, is that my school is an "A" school, according to Klein's school report cards, and performs better than 95 percent of elementary schools in New York City by every measure. So, during public comment time, I had no choice but to approach the microphone, raise my finger, and explain to Chancellor Klein and the Panel that I had taught all day, took three trains to the Bronx to attend the meeting, and could guarantee that neither my interest nor my motivation was politics. I further pointed out to Mr. Klein that if his statements were true, he would be supporting and replicating the great accomplishments of my school, but instead, he is squeezing us out of our own building, stifling our growth, subordinating our students, and limiting our programs and services in favor of an untested charter school, that by the way, is run by the son of a hedge-fund billionaire who has donated millions to the school reform projects Mr. Klein holds dear. I charged, "That, is politics."

As I walked away (and retracted my finger), I thought to myself, "Did I just really wag my finger at Mr. Klein?" After all, he is for intents and purposes my boss. I rationalized; when I say, "No, no," with a finger wag, my students generally stop their undesirable behavior, perhaps Mr. Klein will take a cue from the students he is charged with serving.

For eight years public school educators, parents and students in New York City have suffered through the hallmarks of the neo-liberal education reform movement; we have been inundated with Mr. Klein's endless pro-charter rhetoric, we have watched obscene amounts of our money poured into so-called accountability measures and ill-planned restructuring, all while slashing our school based budgets and demonizing teachers and their union.

To "wag the dog" is to divert attention from what is really happening onto something else, often divisionary, rooted in crisis, or irrelevant to the real facts. To "wag the finger" is to point out an error in judgment so that the behavior might cease. I can only hope that wagging my finger at Mr. Klein while he wags the metaphorical dog might bring a level of awareness that could stop the misinformation madness that is causing the miseducation of our youth. The truth is, while Mr. Klein is charged with improving our public schools, he is slowly but surely undermining and dismantling them. You need only to look at my school to know the truth; with little to no support from Mr. Klein our teachers, staff, students and families are doing their best and getting it right, while our chancellor allows our current and future programs to be diminished and compromised by a charter school invasion.

Friday, October 15, 2010

From Hal Lanse: I Received No Help From Mike Mulgrew, UFT President

Mulgrew Gives Rank and File the Cold Shoulder
by Hal Lanse

Here’s the update on my case. First, I have requested that Michael Mulgrew, UFT President become personally involved in my case. His office has read my request, but Mr. Mulgrew has elected to respond with silence. Since this test case has implications for the entire teaching force, Mulgrew has in essence given the entire rank and file the cold shoulder.

There was a step 1 grievance which was a joke. The so-called supervisor (the one who took two weeks to introduce herself to me) now knows that she has violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement. She has proceeded to suspend my pay and health care.

Oh sure, the UFT will go through the standard grievance process but here’s the problem: By permitting the DOE to allow this procedure to move at the typical snail’s pace the Union (or what’s left of it) has given tacit approval to a dangerous precedent. In the future, we may no longer see the 3020a process—which teachers are permitted by law. Instead, teachers will be illegally terminated without pay. How many of us can last a year or more without pay and without health care? We will be forced to resign in order to take lower paying jobs (if any are available) just to have some money coming in. And how many of us can afford private lawyers to litigate?
Do you see? By taking a hands-off approach, the UFT President has in effect given away your right to due process. If you are outraged, email him and tell him so. And I’d appreciate a copy of your email just so I can know if anyone takes this as seriously as I do. Mulgrew’s email is:

From Betsy Combier:

Another teacher called Leroy Barr and told him that she has been in a rubber room since December 2009, without any charges and no notice of an investigation by either the SCI or OSI. She asked what she could do to get back to her school. The answer: "Sorry, we can't help you".

By the way, Mr. Mulgrew, why were you removed from Grady High School in 2004 and moved to the UFT, along with teacher Eva Mendez? Please let me know.



Here is the previous email from Mr. Lanse:

Email from Hal Lanse, former Rubber Room teacher at 501 Courtlandt Avenue in the Bronx:

After blowing the whistle on my principal and contacting the Daily News after he ordered teachers to falsify grades, I was hit with false charges and sent to the rubber room for the better part of a year. Although my case was dismissed in August the DOE refused to honor their agreement to make me an ATR. They have kept me in a rubber room at 1 Fordham Plaza. (Yes, there ARE still rubber rooms!) My agreement with the DOE was that I'd become an ATR. The DOE's agreement with the UFT stipulates that teachers like me should be sent back to our schools. None of this has happened. I was given no work for two weeks until I fell asleep on a couch. (I refused to sit in the corner as ordered. My lawyer says this is corporal punishment.)

Then, I was given a few menial tasks like collating papers and stuffing folders with papers. I refused, however, when the DOE stooped to ordering me to put paper clips on stacks of papers. (A job that can be done in seconds by the office coy machine.) I pointed out that my contract stipulated a particular job: ATR--a substitute teacher.

Last week, my supervisor yelled at me in front of other to "Get back to your seat, NOW"; and when she followed this up the next day by closing the distance between us when I said to her "I don't want to be verbally harassed again; please move away from me," I filed a complaint. The DOE refused to log-in the complaint, so I followed the UFT's advice and called the police.

The result: More retaliation. I have been suspended without pay just five weeks before going on terminal leave. The DOE cited no law or regulations allowing them to do this. Below is my letter to Michael Mulgrew regarding this matter. This suspension has citywide and possibly national implications.

If you think Mulgrew's reacting should be swift and strong contact him and tell him so.

Dear Michael Mulgrew,

I am involved in a situation that is so unprecedented it could put an end to due process as we know it. I have been suspended without pay even though the DOE failed to cite any law or regulation justifying such an action. I believe this is a test case. If the situation is allowed to stand then the DOE can argue in the future that the UFT has given tacit approval of this action and has set a precedent by failing to protest. I believe that we will see the 3020a process replaced by blanket, open-ended, unpaid suspensions.

I am asking you to personally handle my case. I am scheduled to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 PM with Bronx Special Rep. David Kazansky. Can you please attend?


Hal Lanse

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Terminator: PIP+ Observer

After spending almost three years investigating the PIP+ process of evaluating teachers, while I worked for the UFT and after, I have become what some people may describe as an Expert Witness to the errors and pitfalls of the program.

When a Principal wants to get rid of you, he or she will "offer" you the "remediation" of the PIP+ and tell you to sign the contract agreeing to participate. He or she may also add, if you hestitate, that if you do not sign up for the PIP+ then this information will be brought to a 3020-a and the arbitrator will see this as convincing evidence for your termination. DONT FALL FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


In fact, a teacher said no, and at the 3020-a the NYC DOE Gotcha Squad lawyer tried to argue for termination based upon the refusal to participate, and arbitrator Randi Lowitt said that she would not consider any penalty for not participating in a voluntary program.

Sandra Kase, PIP+ Director at RMC, told an assembly of NYSUT attorneys (and a NYSUT Attorney told me), that the PIP+ is to help Principals get rid of staff, not to help teachers improve their classroom teaching skills.

Don't get caught, read the documents below. Also, when you read the Training Manual, you will see that the RMC Employee hired to observe you must model for you the constructs that he/she wants you to use. Ask your observer to model for you, and see what happens. Dont forget to have a secret tape recorder hidden in your pocket.

Oh, by the way, let me remind all those warm and fuzzy Department of Education and NYSUT/UFT people who desperately want me to stop writing on this blog and/or my website, I am not an attorney and the information below is just my opinion. Besides, you should have kept me on payroll so I would have had to continue to send my opinions to all the other blogs in town.

Here are two(2) truths:

If you signed up for PIP+ (Peer Intervention Program Plus), you probably were observed by someone who knows little or nothing about the subject area or the curriculum, and is in the school to serve the interests of the principal. The observer is there to complete and substantiate the claims of the administration of your school that you should be fired and you cannot improve under any circumstances.

When you go to 3020-a, on charges that you are an incompetent teacher, you will be terminated unless you defend your competency aggressively (videos, tapes, affirmations, letters in support, etc.) and submit to the arbitrator through your attorney the documents below.

How did this program start? For many years one of the objections teachers have had concerning the annual rating sheet is that the principal, who gives the rating, is biased. The argument is, if a principal is out to "get" you - fired, excessed, removed, re-assigned - by giving you two or more "U" ratings at the end of two school years, then this person will come into your classroom to observe you suddenly without notice, and then staple this informal observation to the rating sheet along with the 45 other formal and informal observations he/she did in the space of a month (this is a little exaggeration, but this is my blog, and I can exaggerate to make my point). This is not proper procedure. An observer is supposed to give you a date for a pre-observation, observe the scheduled class, and then discuss the observation with you later the same day or as soon as possible. Formal observations are supposed to be used not in a punitive way but to assist you in improving your teaching.

Randi Weingarten heard the complaints of members, and agreed to allow a program to start in 2007 called the PIP+ that would give some of the power to determine "incompetency" to an independent and neutral party, a PIP+ observer brought in from outside the school. The job of running the program was given to The RMC Corporation, as I found out after filing a Freedom of Information request for the PIP+ contract (I paid $52.00 to the NYC DOE). Here is the PIP+ agreement between the RMC Research Corporation and The New York City Department of Education (the UFT is not mentioned), OLS Contract Log No. 17053:

An Agreement By and Between the Board of Education of the City of New York and the RMC Research Corporation (pp. 1-53)
Request For Authorization (pp. 54-105)
Proposal (pp. 106 -incomplete)

and here are the pages on the Training Manual, that show how the entire program is driven by the principal:

Peer Observation and Evaluation Part 1(#RO116)
Training Manual Part 2

By the way, I also FOIL'd the personnel file of Sandra Kase, and will post this soon on these pages.

The problem is that the Peer Intervention Program+ was never implemented correctly. RMC is a consulting group that works alongside The Gotcha Squad. I first heard this from a teacher who had signed up for PIP+, and taught 3rd grade (very successfully) and suddenly was told to switch to fifth grade. The principal from hell was driving all teachers away, the scores of the school were falling, everything was wrong. The PIP+ observer came in and told her (the teacher) that she, the observer,  had taught 3rd grade in 1969 for 6 months, before moving to California. She asked what the Workshop Model was. Then, after ten weeks, told the Principal that the teacher was too incompetent to keep, that this tenured teacher was absolutely incapable of ever being remediated in any way and recommended termination. In another case, a PIP+ observer who had worked with the Principal several years earlier came to the school to end the career of a teacher who the principal wanted out because she wanted that position for her niece. etc.

At 3020-a, the arbitrators are respecting the "neutrality" of these observers, and their "professional opinions" to the extent that almost everyone who signed up is being given harsh penalties, which should be appealed (Article 7511, New York State Supreme Court). In other words, the arbirators believe them, and find them credible. You must prove otherwise.

So, what is a PIP+ victim to do?
1. The NYCDOE attorney will make a big point of the "fact" that the PIP+ is a collaboration of the UFT and the DOE (especially if you get Gotcha Squad attorney Dennis Da Costa, who treats Respondent teachers as serial killers - can someone report him to the First Department Disciplinary Committee? Or, send me your transcripts and I'll send them over, with a cover sheet) and submit to the arbitrator the UFT 2007 contract as if this was the agreement that RMC uses as their contract. This is not correct.
In the agreement  above, look at on pp. 15-16 where says that the RMC Corporation is paid by the Chancellor and the Chancellor shall decide if the job is done well or not. This makes the RMC Corporation anything but neutral. Point out this to the arbitrator, and submit the agreement as evidence.

2. The manner in which the teacher is observed is key to proving that the PIP+ is a principal-driven tool to get rid of the teacher. The PIP+ observer gives his/her observations to the principal, once the observation is written...sometimes the principal does not give the observation to the teacher until weeks later. This cannot be the way a teacher is "helped". In order for a teacher to be assisted in his/her pedagogy, he/she must have immediate feedback. All training programs 'know' this, but the PIP+ program is a "Gotcha" program, so there is no remediation involved. (For a teacher to be fired there must have been a remediation strategy in place that failed over time to make the teacher capable of teaching).
Have your attorney point out the time lags between the observation and the discussion with the teacher of the observation, or the day that the teacher gets the observation comments. And, if the year-end rating is stapled to informal observations, counseling memos and letters to file, ask the arbitrator to have the NYC DOE attorney submit only the formal observations with the rating sheet, as allowed in the UFT contract.

3. Have a student witness come in and say what a great teacher you were, and how well you performed in your class.
Arbirators I know give alot of weight to a child who, when he/she enters the room, seems very happy to see his/her teacher, and testifies about how wonderful the teacher is in the classroom. I remember one hearing I sat in on when a charming seven year-old was asked by the NYC DOE to testify against her teacher. The little girl came into the room and waved to the teacher, and said a big hello. The arbitrator told her to tell the truth, she said that she would, and then she started scribbling on a little piece of paper. The arbitrator asked her if she would like a bigger sheet (probably thinking this would keep her from figgiting too much). She said yes, and proceeded to answer questions while scribbling on her paper with her red pen.
The DOE Attorney wanted the girl to admit that the teacher had pinched her nose. The girl kept saying she didnt recall anything like that. Getting a little frustrated, the DOE attorney said loudly (and in a leading way) DONT YOU REMEMBER THAT YOUR TEACHER PINCHED YOUR NOSE DURING CLASS???? The girl said something to the effect, "yes, I guess so".
She then finished scribbling, and I was interested in seeing what she had drawn (I have a certificate in Art and Drama Therapy).
The little girl handed the artbitrator her sheet of paper with the following in big red letters: "NO". I heard the arbitrator (one of my personal favorites) ask the smart-as-a-whip little witness whether he could have her "drawing", and after she said "yes", he slipped the paper into his file of exhibits, saying to her, "thank you."
So kool.

Betsy Combier

The New Underhanded Sleazy DOE Policy To Get Teachers To Resign On The Spot

The DOE in their never ending search to find ways to get veteran teachers to leave the system has came up with a new procedure to do just that. Tweed's Teacher Performance Unit (TPU). Otherwise known as the "firing squad" or gotcha squad" has come up with a sleazy procedure to railroad and pressure teachers accused of incompetance into resigning. The TPU has sent a resignation form to the Principals' that allows the teacher to resign on the spot and our union has not objected to this sleazy program. How does this new procedure to get rid of teachers work?

It starts with the Principal "U" rating the teacher for the first year. Then during the second year the Administration gives the poor teacher "U" observations. The teacher is given the Peer Intervention Program (PIP) and despite sometimes glowing reports, the Principal "U" rates the teacher for the second year. During the third year, the "U" observations pile up and the teacher is given the DOE termination program called PIP+. Usually given by an F status administrator or teacher who relies on the DOE supported income and won't go against the Principal. Finally, the Principal, with another administrator will call in the unsuspecting teacher, sometimes without the Chapter Leader since it is not a disciplinary hearing and offers the teacher a deal. The deal is as follows:

" If the teacher signs the resignation paper, handed to the teacher at the meeting, the Principal will remove the "U" ratings and give the teacher an "S" rating for the previous two years and the current year. Further, the DOE will give a neutral recommendation to other school systems. Finally, the teacher will be reassigned out of the school and be paid for the rest of the school year. Of course the resignation paper states that the teacher cannot work for the DOE ever again. If the teacher refuses to sign the resignation paper the Principal falsely claims that the teacher will be brought up on expedited 3020-a charges and go after not only the City license but the State license as well and that the teacher will be terminated before the school year is over."

This scare tactic frightens the teacher and without guidance some teachers sign their careers away. The reality is that if the teacher properly refuses to sign the resignation paper here is the most likely scenario that would ensue. The Principal will file 3020-a charges for incompetence and the teacher will be reassigned. In two to three months, maybe longer, the 3020 charges will be given to the teacher. Three to six months after receiving the charges the teacher will be assigned a NYSUT lawyer, free of charge, by the union and a 3020-a arbitrator will be assigned. Between six and 12 months after receiving the lawyer & arbitrator, the teacher will finally have a pre-hearing where it is quite likely the DOE lawyer will offer the teacher a settlement by paying a fine of between $2,500 -$6,000 and a course without going through a 3020-a hearing. If no such settlement is offered, expect the 3020-a hearing to last six months or more before it ends. Because transcripts from Albany are very slow in coming, an Arbitrator's decision could take another three month or more. That means from the time the teacher is reassigned from the school to the arbitrator's decision expect it to be a minimum of 20 months and in most cases it is over two years! Finally, very few teachers are terminated for incompetence and the teacher is eventually reassigned to another school as an ATR.

Why our union allows the DOE to get away with this deception is mind-boggling. The district reps should be telling the Chapter Leaders to make sure that no teacher sign a resignation paper and encourage them to fight the charges. Instead it seems that the union takes a neutral position and leaves the teacher on her own with no guidance and the likely scenario if the teacher does not sign the resignation paper. It appears to me the union is aiding and abetting Tweed's sleazy teacher resignation program by keeping the hapless and targeted teacher ignorant of their options if they fight the charges.

Shame on Tweed for their underhanded ways to pressure teachers to resign and the union for allowing this DOE program to exist without putting up a fight.

Note: I am pretty much disappointed that many of my fellow bloggers have not commented on this serious new development on how to get teachers to resign in the school. We need to put the union on notice that they must have meetings to inform teachers about this new DOE action plan. I understand that Edwize and Leo Casey could care less about the classroom teacher but we do care and this issue can affect us all!

Posted by Chaz at 5:32 PM
Thursday, January 08, 2009


Anonymous said...

Settlement offers are made by DOE to teachers because the punishments and fines handed out by arbitrators are less severe than the settlement punishments and fines. A frightened teacher who does not know that is ripe for settlement.

In all but the most obvious incompetence cases a teacher is much better off in the hands of an arbitrator. Of course DOE wants the settlements (makes it easier to get rid of the teacher next time) and of course the NYSUT lawyers want the settlement but the teacher should not. It is no secret that a 3020a settlement that includes a fine is going to be viewed as an admission of incompetence or guilt at subsequent 3020a hearings. Let me be frank, if you settle for a fine and a course than you are toast at your next 3020a hearing. An honest NYSUT lawyer will admit that to you.

7:44 PM
Monday, March 23, 2009

NYC teachers: Beware of the new PIP+ !

New York City's Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers have established the Peer Intervention Program to assist teachers that have received two unsatisfactory, or “U” ratings in a row. (The principal wants the teachers out of the school and the profession.) The PIP observers observe the teachers for ten weeks.

The are several problems of grave concern to the teachers under review in the new version of the Peer Intervention Program. PIP has changed from the original program format. The new program is the “PIP+” program. In the new design of PIP+ there are aspects of secrecy, of non-transparency, that work against the teacher, and in favor of the principal.

The intent of the original PIP program was to provide teachers with an opportunity for growth. Experienced teachers could be trusted to work in confidence with teachers, and as aides with the teachers. Under the original PIP program teachers would be spared the risk of being observed by an administrator for the period of months that the teacher was being observed by the PIP observer.

In the new PIP+ program, the PIP+ observers do not show the observations to the teachers, instead, they only show their reports to the principals. The observations only are revealed to the teachers when they are charged at the 3020-a hearings (incompetency hearings, to strip teachers of their teaching license). These observations are used as ammunition against the teachers, as part of the charges against them in the 3020-a process. The teachers have been told that if they do not participate, this will be used against them as act of insubordination at the 3020-a proceedings.

The PIP+ observers write things about the teacher that might not even be true. The teacher will not have any defense. One PIP+ observer told a teacher that she was an ideal teacher, that she did not actually understand why the observed teacher was being subjected to the program. However, the observer wrote in her report that the teacher was incompetent in performing her lessons.

The observers have the appearance of being independent outside observers, but they are being hired by and paid by Department of Education. There is a known case in which a principal called a PIP observer, asking her to come in, to observe a teacher. The observer testified under oath that she had never been in the school before. However, the teacher in question hired a private-eye to find the truth. The investigator uncovered that the PIP observer had previously been in the school, that she had lead a professional development session at the school.

The conclusion that teachers and their advocates should draw from these details is that a teacher should not sign up with the PIP+ program. Teachers that are pressured to sign up with PIP+ should ideally say, “I don't want to say anything or participate in anything that could wrongly jeopardize an assessment of my performance. I need to know that what actually happened in the classroom is going into the observation report.”

Posted by NY_I at 6:10 AM 0 comments

Hal Lanse, Teacher in the "New" Rubber Room, is Suspended Without Pay

As I wrote previously (See The Rubber Room Diaspora), former rubber roomers are now scattered throughout the City of New York, so that the massive violations of civil rights, labor and employment law, legal malpractice and denial of due process can be swept under a rug and "forgotten" by the general public as we head into the November elections. The UFT, NYSUT and the New York City Board of Education (the legal name) are all hoping that the news of all that has gone wrong over the past eight years will be stale by now, and the politicians, staff and employees of these three groups can "forget" about being terrified of someone holding them accountable for ruining the lives and careers of not only thousands of teachers but also thousands of children and young adults who were used as pawns in the deadly game of fraud, extortion and theft.

I am, of course, talking about money. If there was no money to be taken by the folk that brought you The Rubber Room (all locations and the process of "rubberization") I believe none of this (the rubberization of the workforce) would have happened, or at least it would have been kept within lawful boundaries, but for the fact that there is alot of money for those who can successfully grab it. An example of this is the harassment of tenured employees by NYSUT attorneys and the NYC BOE to sign settlement agreements. If a teacher is going into a 3020-a, it really doesn't matter if he or she is guilty or innocent. Mayor Bloomberg has decreed that the 'rubber rooms' issue is not good for him, politically speaking, therefore every case must be completely over by December 31, 2010. Thus the "Respondents" (teachers) are forced to give the Board $5,000+ to go back to a school as an ATR (a title that someone made up) or else they are going to be terminated. The new agreement and the terms of most of the current settlement agreements significantly harm the due process rights of anyone going through 3020-a right now.

Email from Hal Lanse, former Rubber Room teacher at 501 Courtlandt Avenue in the Bronx:

After blowing the whistle on my principal and contacting the Daily News after he ordered teachers to falsify grades, I was hit with false charges and sent to the rubber room for the better part of a year. Although my case was dismissed in August the DOE refused to honor their agreement to make me an ATR. They have kept me in a rubber room at 1 Fordham Plaza. (Yes, there ARE still rubber rooms!) My agreement with the DOE was that I'd become an ATR. The DOE's agreement with the UFT stipulates that teachers like me should be sent back to our schools. None of this has happened. I was given no work for two weeks until I fell asleep on a couch. (I refused to sit in the corner as ordered. My lawyer says this is corporal punishment.)

Then, I was given a few menial tasks like collating papers and stuffing folders with papers. I refused, however, when the DOE stooped to ordering me to put paper clips on stacks of papers. (A job that can be done in seconds by the office coy machine.) I pointed out that my contract stipulated a particular job: ATR--a substitute teacher.

Last week, my supervisor yelled at me in front of other to "Get back to your seat, NOW"; and when she followed this up the next day by closing the distance between us when I said to her "I don't want to be verbally harassed again; please move away from me," I filed a complaint. The DOE refused to log-in the complaint, so I followed the UFT's advice and called the police.

The result: More retaliation. I have been suspended without pay just five weeks before going on terminal leave. The DOE cited no law or regulations allowing them to do this. Below is my letter to Michael Mulgrew regarding this matter. This suspension has citywide and possibly national implications.

If you think Mulgrew's reacting should be swift and strong contact him and tell him so.

Dear Michael Mulgrew,
I am involved in a situation that is so unprecedented it could put an end to due process as we know it. I have been suspended without pay even though the DOE failed to cite any law or regulation justifying such an action. I believe this is a test case. If the situation is allowed to stand then the DOE can argue in the future that the UFT has given tacit approval of this action and has set a precedent by failing to protest. I believe that we will see the 3020a process replaced by blanket, open-ended, unpaid suspensions.

I am asking you to personally handle my case. I am scheduled to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 PM with Bronx Special Rep. David Kazansky. Can you please attend?


Hal Lanse

'Rubber room' teachers in make-work jobs
By KEVIN FASICK and YOAV GONEN, NY POST, Posted: 3:27 AM, September 9, 2010

The city is transforming hundreds of high-priced, do-nothing teachers accused of wrongdoing into pricey paper pushers.

The teachers -- who for years spent their time dozing, playing games or doing zilch while earning full pay in infamous holding pens known as "rubber rooms" -- are now being dispersed to DOE offices around the city as they await disciplinary hearings.

"I'll be doing clerical work, which means they'll be paying me $100,049 to be making photocopies," said Hal Lanse, a Bronx teacher who learned yesterday that he's being assigned to a district office in The Bronx.

He said he was accused of sexually harassing a colleague but claims the accusation was payback for exposing grade-tampering.

"The rubber rooms are not being closed," said Lanse. "They are just being diffused around the city."

Under an agreement between the United Federation of Teachers and the schools chancellor reached in April, the bulk of educators charged with misbehavior are obligated to pitch in with busy-work.

That deal was also meant to expedite a disciplinary system that at times pulled more than 700 teachers out of the classroom for years on end.

"The agreement's working," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who put the current figure of reassigned teachers at about 400. "We've cut the number almost in half. Hopefully after we finish the backlog this will never be an issue again."

In the meantime, former Rikers Island teacher Vera Ifudu, 62, said she was told to report to Department of Education food services in Long Island City.

"Whatever they give me, I will try to make lemonade out of lemons," she said.

Ifudu, who was earning close to $80,000 last year, was sidelined for lateness, insubordination and misconduct, according to DOE officials.

She claims the misconduct charge stemmed from her giving prisoners paper masks to wear on Halloween.

"I miss the classroom and teaching, but I still have a job. I'm still being paid," she added. "Hopefully it is not just another rubber room."

A Department of Education spokeswoman emphasized that teachers who are being assigned to offices will all have individual work assignments.

"Whereas in a reassignment center they were doing nothing, they will now be given administrative work," she said. "A few educators could be assigned to the same room or conference room, but it's not the same as a rubber room."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Rubber Room Diaspora

Dear Mr. Mulgrew:

You said that as of September 1, 2010 the Rubber Rooms would no longer exist. No one believed you.

What has happened is that your members are scattered in different locations so that you can hopefully hide their existence. As I told Ellie Engler during one of her many "Dont you want to quit, Betsy?" talks at the UFT, the placing of up to 150 people in the same room while they waited for judgment was one of the biggest errors ever made, and the UFT has to be proactive WHILE THE MEMBER IS STILL IN THE SCHOOL. Remember the Teacher Advocacy Initiative that I gave to Leroy in July 2009?

People talk. People told to report to one location every day for years get to a point where they are "colleagues" in the loosest sense of the word; they share a common experience. These people may not like each other, but they share a space. What happens when they talk? They compare stories of you, Joel, others, how the UFT special reps never return calls, never visit, never help. This builds confidence, because these "imprisoned" members realize that they are Not Alone, and that their concerns are similar to those of others who share their space.

Washington Heights Rubber Room (West 193rd st.)

rubber room, basement of 355 Park Place, Brooklyn
outside 25 Chapel Street (10th floor is TRC)

501 Cortlandt Avenue, 4th floor, Bronx

rubber room, 333 7th avenue, 8th floor, Manhattan

388 West 125th Street, 6th floor, Harlem NYC
Not pictured: Staten Island and Queens rubber rooms.

Then on April 15 2010 you signed an agreement with Joel Klein to change the setting for all rubber roomers, to new, smaller, isolated locations. For example, 10 teachers are sitting at a table at the very back of the 4th floor of Tweed Courthouse (52 Chambers Street, Manhattan). Funny story: these teachers were originally assigned the third floor conference room, but Joel Klein came in and saw them, looked disgusted (he wanted the table, it seems) and they were moved the next day. Teachers are assigned the Woolworth building; 4 teachers are in 49-51 Chambers Street, 5th floor (Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy); some are sitting at 333 7th avenue; many are at Linden Place, Queens, and Vernon Boulevard, Queens; 335 Adams Street, Brooklyn, 26th floor; 65 Court Street, Brooklyn. and here is a picture of a room that a re-assigned teacher was told by the custodian at her new assignment to use to do her paperwork. I love it! It's a boiler room!!!!!!!!!! The member assigned there took the picture below with her cell phone and emailed it to me. This is what you and Joel consider appropriate for your professional membership?

so, thanks, Mike!!! the story continues........