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Friday, October 28, 2011

Toxic Co-Workers

From me: A little bit of a "oh yea, I know what you mean" post for which I get no payment or otherwise from the company, I think the toxic worker terms are interesting, that's all. (I'm not selling the book)

Toxic co-workers destroying your health, productivity and career?
 An amazingly simple strategy softens the "rant" of a Tyrant Boss who bullies, berates, humiliates and declares "my way or the highway."
  • The Saboteur. Often driven by envy, this person works behind your back to slander and sabotage you. Devious and hard to catch – unless you know the secret!
  • The Space Cadet. Not from Mars, although their behavior is often out of this world: absent-minded, inefficient, poor judgment. Usually pleasant, but simply can’t get the job done. Here's how to change all that …
  • The Power Posturer. Loves power and makes all the right moves to get you to believe that he or she wields tremendous influence. POOF – you can shrink them down to size.
  • The Peddler. Always selling raffle tickets or cookies to co-workers. Here's a gentle way to shut down the workplace bazaar.
  • The Bulldozer. Pushy, abrasive, aggressive and overly blunt. Learn how to stand your ground without getting flattened.
  • The Button Pusher. This sneaky type gets what they want by subtly exploiting the weaknesses of others. Discover their Achilles heel!
  • The Coaster. Hasn't done anything in months. Drags down the team's performance. Here's how to get them rolling again.
  • The Lifer. Been with the company forever, but quit caring ages ago. Use this simple tactic to bring them back to life.
  • The Petty Bureaucrat. Frustrated by a low-level position, this troublemaker takes pleasure in creating obstacles for others. But now, the jig's up!
  • The Malignant. Truly twisted. When you're up against someone so ready to lie, steal and cheat, here's exactly what you must do – and fast.
  • The Sexual Harasser. Two types: (1) the flirt who goes too far, and (2) the heavy-duty harasser out to overpower his victims. Either way, here's how to handle them both!
  • The Undercover Operator. Always smiling and telling you how great it is to work with you, until this snake-in-the-grass strikes. Three strategies expose – and defang – this operator's agenda.
  • The Credit Grabber. Don’t let a “mind-pirate” steal all your glory. 

You’re done pulling out your hair. You’re going to pull out theirs: Ms. Perfectionist and Mr. Put-Down Artist – bald. The Coaster, Space Cadet and Saboteur – bald, bald, and bald! Then, you’re going to push the ultimate button and send the rest of those nasty, lazy, dumb-and-dumber people into orbit.

The Tyrant.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Bloomberg

Attorney Maria Elena Gonzalez Lichten Plays Along With the DOE At 3020-a Says A Former Client

Charged with misconduct, tenured teachers have been reporting to me and others for years about being verbally abused by their NYSUT Attorneys before, during and after their 3020-a Hearing. My first hand experience with this phenomenon was in a public hearing I was asked to attend in 2007 where Mitch Rubenstein was the NYSUT Attorney. The teacher could not even ask a question without being treated as if she was too stupid to understand what was going on, so just dont ask, was the approach taken by Mr. Rubenstein.
Then, when another teacher was terminated after a hearing where his NYSUT Attorney was Melinda Gordon, he complained so much about her verbal abuse and incompetence that he asked Attorney Ed Wolf to read the transcripts. Ed read the transcripts of this terminated teacher and was furious. I was at 51 Chambers Street when Ed saw NYSUT head honcho Claude Hersh, went over to him, and confronted him with the horrible statements and job that Melinda Gordon did in the case of this particular teacher. Claude made excuses.
Ive heard many teachers talk in despair about NYSUT Attorney Maria Elena Gonzalez, but as far as I know, the video and audiotapes posted on Youtube and on this blog below are the first examples documenting Maria Elena playing along with the false charges filed against her client. By the way, it seems to be a nice family deal to have Maria Elena lose the case of a teacher, then recommend that the teacher appeal the penalty, whatever it is after the 3020-a Arbitrator makes a determination, with her husband, Attorney Stuart Lichten of Schwartz, Lichten &  Bright.
Attorney Stuart Lichten
I have heard that Lichten is a good Attorney, so I'm not commenting on his ability to represent someone. I have heard that he tells his clients at 3020-a that they cannot, or must not have an open and public hearing. As most of the readers of this blog know, I believe that the only way to win a 3020-a is to have an open hearing where as many people as possible come to watch all the people involved. I have volunteered my time to attend all 3020-a hearings to which I am invited, since 2003, and it did not occur to the Attorneys there that I was watching them, until about 2008 or 2009. Now, they threaten any UFT member who asks for an open and public hearing. And, it is simply natural that they abuse me for believing its the best way to go.
It is also interesting to notice that Attorney Arthur Schwartz, the Schwartz of Schwartz, Lichten & Bright, is the very same Attorney who represents the NYC Parents Union, who supposedly decided to give UFT President Michael Mulgrew an Award on November 4, 2011, for "all his help". I cant help but wonder about the validity of that award....
Attorney Arthur Schwartz

Monday, October 24, 2011

The ATR Situation And Rights Of UFT Members To Have Justice And Proper Representation By Their Union Reps And Arent Getting It

Teachers who are now "Absent Teacher Reservists" or ATRs are participating in a strange process that gives them only 5 days to get settled into a school culture, perhaps teach what they are professionally licensed to teach (but most often not), and pray for the best. Again we see the dumping of the good with the bad, one of the many serious problems with the "Rubber Rooms".
The UFT is saying that they cannot get a chapter leader for ATRs and must use the CLs of the school in which they are placed (for 5 days)  because....well, I'm not clear on why, except that they - the ATRs - are not in a place long enough to find the chapter leader (CL) at their weekly assignment, unless they are lucky and have an exceptional CL who finds time to welcome them to the school, or bumps into an ATR in the hallway..

No matter who the ATR is, whether experienced and excessed because of a closed school or found guilty of something at 3020-a but not terminated, this process serves to show the deadly lack of oversight and management of education policy during the reign of "Education Mayor" Mike Bloomberg. This, combined with the perception at the UFT that any member accused of any transgression is always onsidered guilty, led to the "hands off" attitude of all the borough Representatives. For this reason no Representative calls back when a member wants help. The Rep. cannot help, or he/she will be accused of interfering with an investigation, aiding in a crime, or some such claim. ATRs, you are on your own.

NYC Educator, one of my favorite blogs, has a fabulous article on the ATR nomads, a must read.
I also recommend Chaz' piece on ATR rights:
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do You Know Know Your Rights As An ATR?

There seems to be some confusion on what the rights of the ATRs are. Most schools appear to be using the ATRs appropriately as teachers in a classroom or doing circular six duties that other teachers do. However, some schools are making ATRs do the work of school aides or doing clerical work which violates the teacher contract. A few schools are requiring the ATRs to do all day hall duty or Cafeteria duty which would also appear to violate the contract. Most Chapter Leader (CL) have failed to meet with the ATRs despite union assurances that the CLs were told to greet the ATR (In my first three schools I met only one, my first school) and despite union assurances, having CLs represent the weekly ATR does not appear to be working. My District Representative (DR) always seems to be on the run and it is difficult to contact him on a timely basis. That brings up the question what are the ATR's rights when showing up to a school for a weekly assignment? This post is an attempt to answer those questions.

First and foremost, ATRs are teachers and can only do duties assigned to teachers! They should not be doing the job of school aides or clerical work unless the school's appointed teachers are doing such duties, subject to the School Based Option (SBO). That is why the ATR must make immediate contact with the CL to ensure that the Administration does not abuse the ATR.

Second, the ATRs must be given a lunch and a prep period and, if possible, be given a bathroom key.

Third, the school the ATR is assigned to cannot loan the ATR out to other schools without written authorization from Central to the ATR.

Fourth, In mufti-session schools the ATR must be assigned to one session only!

Fifth, an ATR can refuse a "mandated interview" outside their district by simply emailing the reply to the person who sent the email or the Principal of the school. Do not let the words "mandated interview" or "as an ATR you must attend". These are just scare tactics and if it is outside the District you have the right to refuse to go. However, if it is in your District you are required to attend.

Sixth, if a Principal offers you a long-term or vacant position and you do not believe it is a "good fit" for whatever reason, you have the right to refuse the offer and proceed to the next weekly assignment. Remember, you are not required to accept a long term or vacant position in a school that you are uncomfortable in, just say no thank you.

Seventh, if you are asked to cover an additional class, you should make sure that the school pays you for the coverage. Do not let them claim that you are required to give them a "free coverage". Inform the school that you already did a "free coverage" at a previous school and you would only be too happy to cover an additional class as a paid coverage and "get it in writing"!

Eighth, yes, in theory you can be observed for classroom management issues even if you are not teaching in your subject area. However, it is highly unlikely that an Administrator will bother to observe you if you are there only a week. It would be too much trouble to observe the ATR, write up an observation, and meet with the ATR. Certainly the observation will not be a formal one where a pre-conference meeting is required. Furthermore, your file is probably in the last school you had an appointed position in so what does the Administrator do with the observation?

Ninth, you can go back to the school you were excessed from for a weekly assignment. Furthermore, due to DOE incompetence, even teachers who were charged and removed from schools can end up back in those schools for a weekly assignment.

Finally, the school must give the ATR a list of the school rules that students must abide by, be it a dress code, use of cellphones, or discipline codes. Lack of knowledge about school rules can put an ATR in a position that could lead to disciplinary action. Take it upon yourself to contact the CL about the school rules.

Remember ATRs are teachers and can only preform duties that are assigned to the appointed teachers in the school that the ATR is assigned to. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the school's administrators to provide meaningful lessons to the ATRs to give to the students. It is not the responsibility of the weekly ATRs to develop lessons for the class!

More information about the rights of the ATR can be found in the "ATR Agreement". By the way if I have missed any ATR rights please feel free to let me know in the comment section of this post. Knowledge is power and the more we know the more powerful we become.
Posted by Chaz at 8:46 AM

I suggest that readers look at a case that hit the news yesterday concerning the collusion of Local 237 President Greg Floyd with Mike Bloomberg when he was running for his third term. The lawsuit, filed by Jakwan Rivers, alleges that Greg Floyd sold out to Bloomberg and retaliated against Rivers when Rivers tried to get support within the membership of Local 237 for the mayoral campaign of Bill Thompson.

Jakwan Rivers
I posted the article about the lawsuit on my website

Jakwan Rivers: Local 237 President Greg Floyd Sold Members Out To Mayor Bloomberg To Win A Third Term, Then Retaliated Against Me For My Opposition

Jakwan: "It's truly important that we understand the power in unity and the power of knowledge.The current leaders of local 237 has let the members down and it's up to the members to take our union back. We are loosing members thru bogus claims and abuse of authority by management with no opposition by the union leaders whom are sworn to protect our contractual rights. "
Isnt the same thing happening with Mike Mulgrew and the UFT?

Are You Excessed?


New!! - Pay Check Locator link now available in My Current Status screen

The Excessed Staff Selection System is now open for current staff who have been placed in excess.

During this time, the Excessed Staff Selection System will only be available to current staff in the licenses listed below who have been properly placed in excess by their current school (including staff currently assigned to closing and phasing out schools). Staff in excess who previously registered for the Open Market System may log in as a continuing user without re-registering. Other individuals in excess who did not previously register for the Open Market must register as a new user with the Excessed Staff Selection System before they may access it to review schools and vacancies or submit applications. Staff in excess may contact the Excessed Staff Selection System tech support team at the email address shown if assistance or further information is required to access the system. It is anticipated that access to the Excessed Staff Selection System will remain available continuously for use by staff who remain in excess for use by staff who remain in excess until the Open Market again becomes available in the spring.

Staff who have not been placed in excess in their current school’s table of organization are not eligible to use the Excessed Staff Selection System at this time. However, staff who have not been placed in excess may continue to network directly with schools in an effort to be interviewed and selected for a new assignment for this upcoming school year. Staff who are not in excess and are offered a position at another school are reminded they must obtain a release from their current Principal before they may be finalized to a new position.

Subject to the limitations cited above, all other procedures and application requirements that previously applied to the Open Market system continue to apply.

The creation of an Excessed Staff Selection System is intended to increase opportunities for teachers and other current staff who have been placed in excess to apply to seek new assignments in different schools throughout the system.

Offering this opportunity to excessed staff, following the recent posting of the Open Market Hiring System for current staff, provides wider choices for both staff and schools, and facilitates better matches between current employees seeking new positions and schools seeking to fill vacancies.

The Excessed Staff Selection system applies to staff in all regularly appointed UFT titles who are in excess, including Teachers, Guidance Counselors, School Secretaries, Lab Specialists, School Psychologists, Speech Improvement, School Social Workers, Attendance Teachers, and UFT Paraprofessionals. Click here to view Eligible Titles.

Please proceed to the Sign In page in order to enter the Excessed Staff Selection System.

If you need assistance, please email to Excessed Staff Selection System Support.

See also "Human Resources" on the NYC DOE website:

Human Resources

The Division of Human Resources (DHR) serves the entire employee population of the Department of Education (DOE), including teachers, school-based staff, central administration, and support staff.

Time-Sensitive Information for Employees

* Basic plan and optional rider rates for several health benefits plans are changing in July 2011. These changes include the discontinuation of the Aetna QPOS health plan. For more information regarding the updates and changes, please click here.

* The Open Market Hiring System is closed effective August 8, 2011 at 5.00pm. The Excessed Staff Selection System opens on Wednesday, August 10 at 9.00am and is available for current UFT school-based staff in excess (including teachers in excess who are on leave) who wish to submit applications to schools or specific vacancies.

* Put your information in the best hands – your own! Employee Self- Service (ESS) is a tool that allows you to view or change your personal information and health benefits online. Click for more information about ESS.

* Administrative Employees (H/ZBank) and Pedagogues (QBank) and Hourly and Part-Time Employees (EBank, TBank, and Custodial Payroll) should verify and update their Personal HR Record information to ensure HR records are accurate.

* The Long Beach Decision is an outcome of a New York State Court of Appeals decision based on a grievance filed by Civil Service Employees Association on behalf of employees in Long Beach, Long Island. A key provision of the decision required Long Beach (and other municipalities throughout the state of New York) to comply with applicable civil service law that limits the amount of time an individual may serve in what is known as a "provisional" capacity in a competitive class title. To learn more, read Frequently Asked Questions about the Long Beach Decision.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

NYC Department of Education's "NIOO" Policy

The NYC Department of Education is hiring "Newbies" (new, as in not tenured, younger employees) to replace "Oldies" (senior, tenured personnel of any age) and I have a new term for this: "NIOO" which stands for "Newbies In, Oldies Out".

After school staff are removed for any reason, Probable Without Cause Hearings are held and many (not all) employees are found guilty by Hearing Officer Martin Scheinman, and tenured personnel are fired without Just Cause, the Department keeps their hiring office open for anyone to apply who has not yet been the target of false claims (or valid claims, but the potential employee already has secretly been hired because he/she "knows" someone).

Here are some options:
Periodic Assessment Associate
Tracking Code
Job Description
Note: This grant funded assignment is for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal for up to three (3) years. 
Position Summary: The New York City school system is the largest in the country, composed of approximately 1.1 million students and 90,000 teachers in over 1,600 schools. In January 2003, the Department of Education (DOE) launched Children First: A New Agenda for Public Schools in New York City, a multi-year reform effort aimed at significantly improving student achievement through effective teaching and learning . 
Accountability is an essential element of New York City’s education reform effort.   This effort is led by the Division of Academics, Performance, and Support (DAPS).  The Periodic Assessment program provides accountability through data on student understanding that enables educators to analyze student performance and curriculum relative to high learning expectations for students, including the skills embedded in the New York State Standards and the Common Core Learning Standards.  These formative assessments provide educators with the ongoing and timely information they need in order to differentiate instructional support for students, better target classroom instruction, plan their curriculum, implement professional development, and monitor student learning and progress over time.   
The Periodic Assessment Associate is critical to the success of the program, including supporting ov erall program objectives and responsibility for day-to-day, detailed management of implementation activities for ECAM (Early Childhood Assessment in Mathematics), Performance Series and English Language Learner (ELL) Assessments.  The Periodic Assessment Associate will also partner with the Achievement Support Initiatives team to create and implement a plan to support educators and network staff.  Working closely with the other members of the Periodic Assessment team, the Periodic Assessment Associate will be responsible for ensuring programs are implemented effectively, including the assessment tools for educators.  Performs related work. 
Reports to:  K-2 Program Manager 
Direct Reports:  Monitor work of external vendors.
Key Relationships:  Will work closely with other Periodic Assessment Team members including the Director of Periodic Assessment and other Program Managers.  The Periodic Assessment Associate will also work closely with educators using the Periodic Assessment tools at their respective schools, other Department of Education groups, including the ARIS team, the Test Design and Development Team, the Office of ELLs, Data Management Team, and Children’s First Intensive, as well as managing relationships with external assessment vendors. 
  • Develops and executes program plans to make Early Childhood Assessment in Mathematics (ECAM) available to schools citywide by 2013-14.
    • Works with vendors to develop materials to build capacity centrally and within networks to support schools in strengthening elementary mathematics assessment literacy and educational practice-including the use of ECAM.
    • Works with vendors to revise ECAM, where appropriate, to align with citywide instructional expectations and initiatives.
  • Partners with the Achievement Support Initiatives team to create and implement a plan to support educators and network staff in the use of Periodic Assessment resources and guide the creation of professional development modules to help participants effectively administer assessments, access and interpret results and use the information to inform practice in context of citywide instructional expectations.
    • Monitors and encourages usage and identifies support needed by schools to effectively administer assessments, access and interpret results, and use the information to inform instructional practices.
    • Directs the work of professional developers to support usage of student results among a wide va riety of teachers, coaches, and administrators.  Gathers feedback from professional development participants to inform future enhancements to products and implementation. 
  • Manages day-to-day implementation and administration of the Performance Series Computer Adaptive English, literacy and reading and mathematics assessments and the ELL Periodic Assessments in up to 1400+ schools citywide.
    • Oversees Performance Series and ELL program plans, including activities such as coordinating and monitoring delivery and collection of assessment materials.
    • Works closely with professional developers to support usage of reporting platform among a wide variety of teachers, coaches, and administrators to retrieve and interpret student results.
    • Coordinates data uploads of student demographic data class roster files and student assessment results.
    • Monitors and encourages usage, and identify support needed by schools to effectively administer assessments, access and interpret results, and use the information to inform instructional practices.
    • Manages incoming and outgoing student/staff data files by ensuring the data received from internal and external sources are accurate.
  • Serves as an information resource to address questions and support educators and other system users on the implementation and administration of Periodic Assessments.
  • Supports development of communication materials for educators, e.g., administrator manuals, website materials, parent communications and other Periodic Assessment initiatives.
  • Assists educators, administrators, technology representatives, and other DOE offices to implement the Periodic Assessments a nd overall program effectively.
  • Coordinates with Director and other Periodic Assessment team members to help ensure coherence across multiple assessment tools, share lessons learned, and provide support for educators/users. Collaborates with other Periodic Assessment Team members on all activities related to strategic planning for and communication of the Periodic Assessment vision and assessment portfolio. 
Qualification Requirements: 
  1. Graduation from an accredited college with a baccalaureate degree and three (3) years of full-time, paid experience in education administration in one or more of the following areas: special education, career and occupational education, curriculum development, evaluation and testing, educational planning and educational statistics, one  (1) year of which must hav e been in a supervisory/consultative capacity; or
  2. High school graduation or evidence of having passed an examination for a high school equivalency diploma plus seven (7)  years of full-time, paid experience in education administration or in one or more of the areas listed in  '1' above, one (1) year of which must have been in a supervisory/consultative capacity; or
  3. A combination of education and/or experience which is equivalent to the requirements in '1” and '2” above.  However, all candidates must have a minimum of two (2) years of appropriate, relevant experience in one or more of the areas listed in '1' above. Teaching experience will be accepted towards meeting the requirement for experience in one or more of the areas listed in '1' above. However, all candidates must have the required one (1) year of experience in a supervisory/consultative capacity.  
  • Strong project management skills and the ability to analyze data from various sources and prepare updates/reports.
  • Strong analytical skills to understand, breakdown, and address complex problems.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Strong customer-service and problem-solving approach.
  • Ability to build strong working relationships with constituents and represent DAPS both internally and externally.
  • Ability to lead teams.
  • Ability to prepare written reports and make oral presentations clearly and concisely.
  • Experience working in the K-12 education field, with classroom experience.
  • Experience with content work at the early childhood, elementary, middle and high school levels or grades K-12 in one or more of the following areas: English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and tests for English Language Learners, Gifted and Talented students and cognitively disabled students.
  • Experience working on the fundamentals of test administration, evaluation and interpretation.
  • Knowledge of the specific rules, regulations, mandates and policies affecting testing and assessment, including federal, state and city mandates and other funding source mandates.
  • Familiarity with early childhood pedagogical practice, assessment, and research.
  • Understanding of cognitive development in youn g children.
  • Experience providing professional development for teachers in the area of early childhood mathematics. 
Salary: $75,828+
Applications will be accepted through October 28, 2011.
Resumes will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. We encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible.
NOTE: The filling of all positions is subject to budget availability and/or grant funding.
It is the policy of the Department of Education of the City of New York to provide educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, creed, national origin, alienage and citizenship status, age, marital status, disability, prior record of arrest or conviction (except as provided by law), sexual orientation, gender (sex), and to maintain an environment free of discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, or retaliation as required by civil rights law. Inquiries regarding compliance with this equal opportunity policy may be directed to: Office of Equal Opportunity, 65 Court Street, Room 923, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or visit the OEO website at
Job Location
Tweed (52 Chambers Street) (TWEED)
Position Type
New Posting
Job Details
Office of Special Investigations (OSI) Attorney

Tracking Code 7052

Position Summary: Under the supervision of the Director of the Office of Special Investigations, with latitude for independent action, performs reviews of investigative reports related to highly confidential and sensitive investigations concerning the corruption, misconduct, or other illegal, unethical, or improper activities of agency officials or employees, and the development and implementation of plans and programs for the control, tracking and prevention of such corruption, misconduct, or other illegal, unethical or improper practices. Performs related work.

Reports to: Director of the Office of Special Investigations

·         Reviews investigative reports, both substantiated and unsubstantiated, to ensure that all allegations have been addressed, all necessary witnesses have been interviewed, and that the investigation was thoroughly conducted.
·         Reviews investigative files to ensure that all necessary documentation has been filed in accordance with Office of Special Investigations (OSI) investigative policies and procedures.
·         Provides guidance to investigative staff regarding report quality and content.
·         Conducts comprehensive searches of the OSI database.
·         Confers with Department of Education (DOE) subject matter specialists, technical experts, and administrative trial attorneys.
·         Conducts research and prepares legal briefs and memoranda on education law issues. 
·         Reviews complex, important, or highly technical laws, rules or regulations. 
·         Acts as liaison with executives within the DOE and with other City agencies.

Applications will only be accepted through the New York City Department of Education Career Opportunities website at:

Applicants must submit a cover letter and resume to be considered for this position.

Resumes will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. We encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible.

NOTE: The filling of all positions is subject to budget availability.
Minimum Requirements

Admission to the New York State Bar AND three (3) years of progressively responsible United Sates legal experience subsequent to admission to any state bar.

NOTE: Selected candidates must remain members of the New York State Bar in good standing for the duration of their employment.

·         Overall knowledge of the NYC school system and ability to advise and render legal opinions on educational policies and practices.
·         Demonstrated written and verbal communication capabilities and interpersonal skills.
·         Highly organized.

It is the policy of the Department of Education of the City of New York to provide educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, creed, national origin, alienage and citizenship status, age, marital status, disability, prior record of arrest or conviction (except as provided by law), sexual orientation, gender (sex), and to maintain an environment free of discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, or retaliation as required by civil rights law. Inquiries regarding compliance with this equal opportunity policy may be directed to: Office of Equal Opportunity, 65 Court Street, Room 923, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or visit the OEO website at
 Job Location - 65 Court Street
Position Type Full-Time/Regular
Salary $75,962+ US Dollar (USD)

Friday, October 21, 2011

New York State Testing: Scam, Sham, Thank You Ma'am

Will NY get real on test cheating?

Regent Merryl Tisch
Last Updated:12:03 PM, October 21, 2011
Posted:10:06 PM, October 20, 2011
On Tuesday, the state Board of Regents approved measures to address long-obvious weaknesses in test administration and scoring procedures and to thwart the rigging of results. Yet only one of the steps, at best, deals with cheating -- and that, vaguely and indirectly: a review of how the state Education Department has handled allegations and investigations of improprieties.
There’s still no sign the Regents are ready to go after cheaters and punish them -- from the top down.
Here’s a challenge: If the state wants to show it’s serious about this issue, it ought to probe the results of 4th graders in New York City on this year’s English Language Arts exams.
I’ve found unusual increases in the Grade 4 ELA results -- the kind that often signal problems inherent in exams or their conduct and scoring.
On these tests, the city went up 5.4 points -- an exceptional improvement in one year, considering 70,000 students are involved. It’s even more surprising when you realize that the rest of the state went down 3 points.
This swing of 8.4 points is particularly suspect because the city contains two-thirds of all Limited English Proficient students in the state.
In two of the city’s school districts, results jumped over 10 percent. These large gains cry out for objective investigation and explanation, especially coming against claims the 2011 exams were more challenging.
I believe the surge was due to lenient teacher scoring of open-ended student responses. Investigators should compare scores on the ELA’s 4th grade multiple-choice items against grades on its essay and short-answer questions. Atypical higher-than-average scores for bilingual-education students and other English Language Learners could also be a tip-off that something odd occurred.
Expect the city to resist scrutiny. In July, when State Education Commissioner John King formed a panel “to review all aspects of the [testing] program,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s reaction was that the city went beyond the call of duty to safeguard tests. In fact, the city stopped checking answer sheets for evidence of tampering just when Mayor Bloomberg took office.
Nor did Walcott address a city comptroller’s audit charging that DoE lacks adequate controls over testing -- exposing exams to manipulation.
Last month, the city issued this year’s progress reports, assigning letter grades to schools -- 85 percent of which are based on test scores.
Schools can be closed because of low grades. This creates more pressure to cheat and greater urgency for a monitor to delve into peculiar results.
Instead of spending the summer deliberating about “test forensics,” the Regents should have already engaged an outside testing expert to ferret out strange patterns.
Now the Regents want to bar teachers from grading their own students’ tests -- not this year, but next year, eventually closing this score-raising barn door. Why wait?
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said last month, “We need to be absolutely certain that our system is beyond reproach . . . that our tests are not compromised in any way.”
For starters, Albany can back up its rhetoric by supporting an immediate independent investigation of the city’s Grade 4 ELA results.
Fred Smith, a retired Board of Education senior analyst, worked for the city public-school system in test research and development.

Amid Cheating Complaints, Regents Move to Improve Test Security

ALBANY — Acknowledging that New York lags behind the best practices for detecting and deterring cheating by educators on high-stakes standardized tests, a Board of Regents committee on Monday authorized an independent investigator to look at how the State Education Department handles complaints of cheating.

But several experts on testing said New York still had a long way to go to be in line with what leading states are doing to prevent educators from tampering with tests. Additional improvements, including some items recommended last week by a state panel, like centralizing scoring in one place and conducting analyses of results, would help, but some local officials worry they could be prohibitively expensive.

“The steps they are suggesting are nothing out of the ordinary,” Gregory Cizek, a test security expert from the University of North Carolina, said of the panel’s recommendations. “They would pretty much get them in line with the ordinary.” He added that New York’s current test-security practices put it “near the bottom” of states nationally.

The Regents on Monday began the process of addressing that, giving state officials approval to explore an additional series of steps that would put the state in control of scoring, a significant shift from the localized systems now in place, which appears to be unique among states.
Scoring all the tests in one place, education officials said, would allow the state to do systemwide checks for cheating, like detecting suspicious patterns of erasures or sudden leaps in scores. For essay questions, state officials will explore a relatively new technology called distributive scoring, in which answer sheets are scanned and uploaded onto computers, and graded by other educators across the state.
“We administer six million assessments a year,” said John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner. “That’s a lot of tests, and that creates a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong.”

The heightened emphasis on test security comes after a spate of cheating scandals, in Atlanta, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington. In June, the federal education secretary, Arne Duncan, sent a letter to all state education commissioners urging them to make “assessment security a high priority” by considering additional steps like more monitoring on testing day.

On Monday, the Regents also gave the go-ahead for the state to consider banning teachers from grading or proctoring their own students’ exams, though several members expressed concern that younger students might get too nervous with an unfamiliar adult showing up on test day.

During a half-hour debate, many board members appeared more hesitant than enthusiastic about the scope of the changes. Some worried that a renewed emphasis on preventing cheating might make teachers feel unfairly accused. Others wondered how the state, which canceled some high school exams this year after falling $8 million short in its testing budget, could afford sweeping changes.

“We would not want to set up an apparatus that is so expensive and costly that we distract from our original goal: teaching and learning,” said James O. Jackson, who represents Albany and the surrounding region on the 17-member board.

New York State currently spends about $38 million a year on testing, much of it paid for by the federal government. State officials did not provide a cost estimate for centralizing scoring, saying they would arrive at one in the coming months.

As a general guide, a 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service estimated that scoring of multiple-choice questions alone costs about 15 percent of a state’s testing program (that would be about $6 million in New York). Adding short-answer and essay questions, which the state’s tests have a lot of, would double that cost.
Currently, local districts pay for grading; New York City alone spends about $20 million.
While Dr. King said centralizing scoring would most likely save money over all, there was still concern that districts would end up bearing the burden.

“We’ve been through three financially rough years,” said Bob Lowry, executive director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “It’s not a bad idea, but who is going to pay for setting up the system?”

In an interview, Dr. King said part of his work in the coming months would be to convince the governor’s office and the State Legislature that the centralized scoring, and the additional security it could bring through system checks for suspicious erasures, among other matters, would be worth the investment.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
For now, state officials are looking for someone to investigate shortcomings in how the state handles cheating accusations, preferably someone with impeccable credentials who would be willing to take on the project pro bono.
Steps Urged to Cut Cheating in Test Grading
By , NY TIMES, Sept 8, 2011
Citing heightened concerns about educators’ cheating that have emerged after recent scandals in Atlanta and Philadelphia, a New York State panel has recommended an overhaul in how the state administers and grades its standardized tests.

Some recommendations issued on Tuesday by the panel, which was convened by the state’s Department of Education in July, will take effect immediately; others require approval of the Board of Regents, the state education policy board.

Among those that take effect right away: All state tests must now begin on the same day in districts throughout the state, to heighten test security. Also, all educators who proctor or grade state exams will be required to certify that they were trained and followed security procedures.       

In outlining the recommendations, John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner, and Valerie Grey, the executive deputy commissioner, wrote in a memorandum to the Board of Regents that not enough was being done to detect and deter cheating by teachers and principals, given the rising stakes of tests.

“Here in New York, as standardized test scores are increasingly utilized for school and district accountability” and in teacher and principal evaluations, they wrote, “it is imperative that those tests are not compromised.”

Some of the deeper changes recommended by the panel would need approval from the Board of Regents. One option is to bar teachers from grading or proctoring their own students’ exams, which has been an accepted practice across the state for decades. The group also recommended that the Board of Regents authorize the state to begin searching for an independent investigator to examine how it currently handles cheating complaints.
The panel said it appeared that New York was the only state that graded its standardized tests locally, a practice that is against federal recommendations. As a result, it directed officials to investigate switching to a statewide system for scoring multiple-choice questions that would include a computer analysis of erasure marks to detect cheating.
For essay questions, the panel recommended that state officials consider a rotation system that would permit all questions to be scored outside the schools in which they are given. To aid in investigations, it recommended that the state consider keeping test answer sheets for longer than a year before destroying them.

Center: Shael Polakow-Suransky (white shirt) and Former Chancellor Harold Levy
Shael Polakow-Suransky, New York City’s chief academic officer, said on Thursday that he agreed with the recommendations. “Their proposals make a lot of sense,” he said, “provided the costs are not passed on to districts like New York City, where we now spend more than $20 million a year to score state exams."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Enough Is Enough: UFT Looking For Good Press And Not Helping a Single Member in Need

Sometimes I get really riled up. When I saw the headline below, I know that the UFT is using their press to look like they care about what's happening in Zuccoti Park.

Believe me, they dont, except to look for a way to make themselves look good while they turn their backs to all the members.

If they didnt want me to tell you what goes on behind the large glass doors at 52 Broadway, they shoulda kept me there.

Betsy Combier

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Probationary Teacher Petitions Appellate Division To Vacate His U Ratings and Wins

Matter of Kolmel v City of New York
2011 NY Slip Op 07265
Decided on October 18, 2011
Appellate Division, First Department
Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.
This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on October 18, 2011 
Mazzarelli, J.P., Moskowitz, Acosta, Renwick, DeGrasse, JJ.

5724 114665/09 
[*1]In re William Kolmel Petitioner-Appellant, 
City of New York, et al., Respondents-Respondents.

Wolin & Wolin, Jericho (Alan E. Wolin of counsel), for 
Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel, New York (Edward 
F. X. Hart of counsel), for respondents. 

Order and judgment (one paper), Supreme Court, New York County (Carol R. Edmead, J.), entered June 10, 2010, which, insofar as appealed from as limited by the briefs, denied the petition seeking, inter alia, to annul the determination of respondent Department of Education (DOE) denying petitioner certification of completion of probation and terminating his employment as a probationary teacher, and denying his appeal of an unsatisfactory rating (U-rating) for the 2008-09 school year, and dismissed the proceeding brought pursuant to CPLR article 78, unanimously reversed, on the law, without costs, the petition granted to the extent of annulling the U-rating and the matter remanded to DOE for proper completion of the final review and recommendation.
The record shows that following three years of probationary service as a high school social studies teacher, petitioner had received satisfactory reviews and year-end reports. However, petitioner was informed he would not be recommended for tenure that year and agreed to enter into an agreement extending his probation through the 2008-09 school year. During this fourth year, petitioner received two satisfactory and two unsatisfactory classroom reports, two letters to the file for unbecoming conduct, and his principal gave him an unsatisfactory rating in each category on the year-end report (except voice and appearance, which were left blank) and an overall U-rating. As a result, it was recommended that petitioner be denied certification of completion of probation, which required termination of his service and precluded him from being hired by any other high school in the City.
"[A]...probationary employee may be discharged for any or no reason at all in the absence of a showing that his or her dismissal was in bad faith, for a constitutionally impermissible purpose or in violation of law" (Matter of Brown v City of New York, 280 AD2d 368, 370 [2001]; see Matter of Frasier Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y., 71 NY2d 763, 765 [1988]). "Evidence in the record supporting the conclusion that performance was unsatisfactory establishes that the discharge was made in good faith" (Matter of Johnson v Katz, 68 NY2d 649, 650 [1986]); the same standard applies when a teacher challenges a "U" rating (see Batyreva v New York City Dept. of Educ., 50 AD3d 283[2008]).
Here, the two negative classroom observations cited in the year-end report, which [*2]criticized petitioner's manner of asking questions, and the file letters, could rationally support a finding that petitioner had not developed into a proficient high school social studies teacher, following three years of suggestions and assistance (see e.g. Matter of Murnane v Department of Educ. of the City of N.Y., 82 AD3d 576 [2011]).
However, petitioner submitted evidence that the principal who made the determination to award the 2008-09 U-rating did not observe petitioner's teaching during either of his final two years at the school. This was in violation of DOE's rules concerning teacher rankings, which require at least one observation by the principal and pre-observation meetings with probationary teachers in danger of U-ratings. Furthermore, the year-end report, on its face, was completed by the principal in an arbitrary manner, including unsatisfactory rankings in every category, even where unsupported by any evidence or contradicted by evidence in the report itself. Petitioner's assertion that the principal stated at the administrative hearing that she did not rely on the file letters in making her tenure recommendation is not disputed by respondents. Petitioner also submitted a statement by a current DOE employee who formerly worked at the high school, that the principal pressured assistant principals to give negative U-ratings without observing the teachers. These deficiencies in the review process leading to the recommendation to deny tenure and terminate petitioner's employment are not merely technical, but undermined the integrity and fairness of the process (see Matter of Blaize v Klein, 68 AD3d 759 [2009]; Matter of Lehman v Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of N.Y., 82 AD2d 832, 834 [1981]; compare Matter of Davids v City of New York, 72 AD3d 557, 558 [2010] [technical failure to follow rules not bad faith where delays were undertaken in attempt to allow petitioner to bring his performance up to standards]).