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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bloomberg Goes After His Goal: Get Rid of Tenured Teachers, Accuse Anyone of Anything

Anyone who thinks that Mayor Bloomberg and his team are saying anything new or shocking with the news that all tenured teachers who are charged with anything will be fired, has had his or her head in the sand for 10 years.

In 2007 I posted Corporate Counsel Michael Cardozo's document which urged the US Department of Justice to remove all voting rights from NYC and placed a puppet show in place of the New York City Board of Education. The puppet show is, of course, The Panel for Educational Policy, and the puppets are the appointed members.

Patrick Sullivan

In order for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to get ahead in the race for Mayor, so-called "education reformers"  pushed a public relations campaign for PEP member Patrick Sullivan, the Stringer appointee, that even Howard Rubenstein would be proud of. But the curtain fell on this act, as more and more people realized that this puppet show had to close, Sullivan included.Ten years of failed policies, kids neglected, scores faked and changed. New York City is indeed in education shambles. Now the media is assisting Bloomberg in his final act, getting rid of any teacher who a principal did not like. 

N.Y.C. Seeks Changes in Disciplining Teachers Accused of Sexual Misconduct

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed new legislation that would give local school districts or the chancellor—as opposed to hearing officers—the final say on whether a teacher accused of sexual misconduct is fired, according to a press release.
Under the current law, outside hearing officers decide on the cases and impose binding penalties. A statement from the mayor's office, however, claims that the law has prevented the Department of Education from terminating teachers, even after an outside investigator concluded there had been inappropriate sexual conduct. The mayor's press release provides an example:
[T]he Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI) found one teacher inappropriately touched a number of female students' buttocks, breasts, waists, stomachs and necks. The Department of Education filed charges to dismiss the individual—the second such attempt. However, the hearing officer determined that the individual hugged one student and hugged and tickled another on her waist, dismissing or withdrawing all other charges. The hearing officer imposed only a 45-day paid suspension and then permitted the teacher to return to the classroom.
The new law would allow districts to review a hearing officer's decision and make the final determination about what disciplinary action to take.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, responded to the proposed changes in a press release, stating that the union's contract "already includes the toughest penalty in the state—automatic termination—for any teacher found guilty of this offense." Further, Mulgrew said, "this proposed legislation would allow the chancellor to unilaterally find an employee guilty of sexual misconduct even though an independent hearing officer who has weighed all the evidence has determined otherwise."
It's a shameful reality that these kinds of cases even come up, but they do and, as anyone reading teacher news daily knows, quite often. We'll keep you posted on where all of this goes.

City wants power to fire teachers accused of sexual misconduct 

Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott propose legislation that would give school districts final say

Comments (9)
Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 2:00 PM

The city  is pushing to change a state law and give educrats the power to boot teachers who engage in pervy behavior.
Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott are seeking legislation that would give school districts — not
arbitrators — the final say on whether school staffers who commit sexual misconduct can keep their jobs.
Under the proposed change, the independent arbitrators’ decisions on discipline wouldn’t be binding — as they are now — and would instead be used to advise school districts in their decisions.
“Our students deserve a safe learning environment and any process that puts student safety in the hands of an arbitrator instead of me is not a process that serves our children,” Walcott said.
Bloomberg said the power to fire suspect teachers must be yanked from the arbitrators because “their interest is in getting reappointed, rather than doing what’s right.”
Tenured employees could still appeal the rulings, which city officials said were consistent with due process proceedings for other municipal employees.
The United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew questioned allowing the chancellor to boot an employee after an arbitrator weighed all the evidence and didn’t find the offense fireable.

State Sen. Stephen Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) will sponsor the bill, but it’s unlikely it could pass both houses of the Legislature before the session ends on June 21.
The proposal comes during an alarming spike in arrests of agency employees this year, including at least seven for sex crimes.
Prompted by the jump, Walcott reviewed allegations against school employees dating back to 2001.
The city moved to fire eight staffers, but Walcott singled out another 16 whom he believed should be out of the system but were cleared by
One such teacher was Stanley Feldman, a gym teacher at Boys and Girls High School. He was accused of telling a 17-year-old student, “When you turn 18 years old, you could come to my home and we can have a real party.” The hearing officer didn’t find student witnesses credible, but charged Feldman with a $1,500 fine.
Feldman told The News last year, “It’s all false and found to be false.”
With Rachel Monahan and Kenneth Lovett

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jim Callaghan, Former Reporter At NY Teacher, Sues The UFT and Unity Bosses

Jim Callaghan, Former Reporter For The United Federation of Teachers' Newspaper NY Teacher, Sues Current UFT President and Others For Violating His Right To Speak
Jim, one of the three people hired in 2007 by the UFT to follow the saga of the NYC Rubber Rooms - I and Ron Isaac were the other two - has sued the UFT for firing him in August 2010 and squashing his rights. He has a huge amount of secrets about the UFT which may never see the light of day. Betsy Combier
   Jim Callaghan   

In August 2010 Jim Callaghan was fired from his position at the United Federation of Teachers as a writer for NY Teacher newspaper. I knew Jim from going with him and David Pakter around New York City starting in, if I remember correctly, 2005, and we talked about the New York City "rubber rooms". Jim is an excellent reporter and writer, and knew that the warehousing of teachers allegedly guilty of some kind of misconduct was a huge error of public policy. He wanted to expose this in NY Teacher, but he was told "No" by his Editor. When I was hired to work at the UFT in August 2007, I became one of the three people designated by UFT President Randi Weingarten to investigate and report on the rubber rooms. I was also the only one of the three who was part-time. Jim Callaghan was one of the other people designated to work as a "rubber-room rep." while he was full-time reporter at NY Teacher, and the third was Ron Isaac, also a writer at NY Teacher.

We started immediately to discuss how, when and where we would go. There were seven "temporary re-assignment centers" at the time (in 2008 another location, Park Place in Brooklyn, was added). The three of us made visits together at first, but then it became impossible to schedule all of us for a visit the same day. So, we made our own schedules. Jim wanted to focus on what principals were doing, but he followed David's case and came to David's 3020-a hearing (I was in attendance as well). For the first time, I heard that the UFT was in disagreement with Jim over his dual role, as a fighter for justice with me and Ron about how terrible the rubber rooms were, while at the same time he was writing articles for NY Teacher. Jim told me that when he attended the Pakter 3020-a he was docked his salary. He was furious.

Ron Isaac almost lost his job around 2004. I was able to write a few letters and get his charges vaporized. So, when we - Ron, Jim, and I - were put together at the UFT we all knew each other already.

We knew that the rubber rooms were the result of the UFT not fighting for its members. and that the rubber rooms were the consequence of legislation giving total control over the NYC public school system to one person, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who, in turn, had, and continues to have, only disgust for tenure rights. Bloomberg started his campaign against tenure when he started his reign as Mayor in 2002, and he hired Joel Klein to help him. Mayor Mike wants all tenured teachers out of public schools, and to do this, he gave too much power to Principals, who could, if they wanted to, simply allege some kind of misconduct or incompetency, and out the person went. What didnt matter was whether or not the allegation was true.

Jim told me that he wanted to do more stories on "bad" principals, the source of the complaints against tenured teachers. The UFT did not want him to do these stories. I was at first perplexed by this, but I wrote about principals on this website and my blog, NYC Rubber Room Reporter, so I gave myself these other outlets. Randi and I signed an agreement when I started at the UFT, and this agreement allowed me to continue to write for, so I used this was a source for the information about principals. When NY Teacher Natalie Bell was suddenly fired in 2010 I, Jim and Ron were very upset, because Natalie was a genuinely nice person. Her office stuff stayed unclaimed for months.We started talking about Union rights for writers at the UFT.

Then in April 2010 the "agreement" was signed between Joel Klein and Mike Mulgrew which "closed" the Rubber Rooms and re-designed the 3020-a process to further deny rights to those employees who were going through this. I was laid off in July, and Jim was fired in August. Ron Isaac, who never does anything at the UFT and has had virtually no assignments given to him, kept his $75,000+ job. He works also as Customs examiner at JFK airport. This is ironic, considering the hatred Ron has for his Supervisor at the paper and for the UFT in general. He used to call me every night at home and tell me that I should do what he did - arrive at 7:30, leave at 3:30, never talk with anyone and never, ever make waves. I couldnt do this, and neither could Jim. 

By the way, the reason I didnt yet sue the UFT was, I was an "At-Will" employee, I did not want to be gagged from telling the true story of the NYC Rubber Rooms in a book, and I may sue in the near future.
Jim, outside 52 Broadway, after being fired by the UFT August 2010

Jim has recently sued Mike Mulgrew, Ellie Engler, Leroy Barr and others at the UFT (see also the Request For Judicial Intervention and the Motion To Dismiss filed by the UFT), and knows where the skeletons are buried over there. See the Complaint. He was the person who told me that Ellie Engler kept liquor in her desk drawer. He told me that there was some impropriety over at the PBA and the 'new' Assistant to the Staff Director, David Hickey, was involved. Unfortunately I think that Jim will probably get a settlement from the UFT, so we may never know the "real" story of Mike Mulgrew and Emelina Camacho-Mendez unless Joy Hochstadt subpoenas him for a deposition. Below is Jim's comment which he made to a blog:

Jim Callaghan (2011):
"The corrupt hypocrites here are Weingarten and Mulgrew, who laugh when they put on as big show attacking the mayor and Klein and Walcott. -then invite them to UFT events and Weingarten's narcissistic birthday bash. 
-the UFT shares spaces with public schools for their charter school.
2-Weingarten and Mulgrew refused to let me write a story about Racqnel James, a black teacher at fordham HS for the Arts who was railroaded-accused of leaving a death threat in the principal's mail box two years ago by the principal Iris Blige. When the main accuser turned on Blige and wanted me to write the story clearing James, Weingarten and Mulgrew refused and refused to let me take a vacation day to attend her trial .
Ms. James was fired and two years later, after being indicted for a misdeameanor -think Tucson- still hasnt had a trial The Bronx D.A. -elected with help from the UFT -has asked for 17 postponements. Blige was later fined for telling her A.P's to recommend Unsatisfactory ratings BEFORE teachers were observed. 
-the main decision makers at the UFT are almost all white. 
-while people like Mulgrew and his tops staff make $200,000 to $300,000 per year, the starting salary for a secretary is $23,000 -constantly abused by Hickey----they are almost all black and Latina women.
-Weingarten field a phony lawsuit years ago claiming that firing para professionals--- black and Latinas- was racist, After she got her headlines, she dropped the case.
-the $50 per day free UFT parking spots given as rewards to UFT insiders are given predominantly to whites. THat is a $500,000 per year- the cost of parking downtown ---- perk to Unity Caucus loyalists. 

-when a long time UFT Unity Caucus activist- a black woman, complained about shakedowns and fraud in the Staten Island rubber room,. Weingarten and Barr ordered me out of the room- which is a five minute drive from my house. Weingarten had told me to investigate, but a Brooklyn UFT official -who was sending my emails to the DOE- wanted the probe closed down- the company guards who were working the racket are employed by a company owned by a billionaire who is a close friend of the mayor. so much for loyatly to a black woman. 
-Weingarten and Mulgrew fired or demoted five consecutive black writers, forced out a competent black lawyer, took the Safety Dept away from a black man and replaced Leroy -Barr- a black man -with two whites because Weingarten said he was incompetent. He was allowed to keep his title and salary. 
-Mulgrew fired his press secretary- a black man with 19 years experience at the union, with a white guy who quit the union years before right after his five year pension vested. 
anyone see a pattern here?
--On Election Day, 2008, -I was suspended for two days without pay because Weingarten, my editor Deidre McFadyen, staff directors Barr and Ellie Engler, Garry Sprung, CFO David Hickey were off the wall with rage that I sent a pro-Obama article to UFT staff the week before the election-which writers were always allowed to do. 
Weingarten was still bitter about her close pal Hillary losing and wanted to sabotage the Obama campaign. 
-when it appeared to UFT staff that there was a predominantly black presence in the rubber rooms, Weingarten and Barr refused to let me do the story.. Neither of these fakers cares one whit about black kids. 
any questions? Lots more to come about malfeasance, nepotism, favoritism, incompetence, corruption, no-bid contracts and Mulgrew, Hickey and Weingarten allowing one of their top married aides to retire -with a Tier One and UFT pension---after he was caught taking kickbacks in the form of free hotel rooms so he could coerce his subordinate into having sex with him on union time. She said she was going to the press and was going to file a lawsuit if he stayed." 

Writer Jim Callaghan says UFT booted him for trying to unionize his colleagues
BY Rachel Monahan 
Friday, August 13th 2010, 4:00 AM

Jim Callahan says he was fired from the United Federation of Teachers for trying to unionize his writer colleagues.

The city's powerful teachers union fired a staffer Thursday for trying to organize his colleagues, the spurned worker said.

Longtime staffer Jim Callaghan, 63, who wrote speeches for UFT presidents and articles for the New York Teacher newspaper, was booted from headquarters Thursday afternoon.

And he's convinced his firing stems from his efforts to unionize fellow writers working for the union.
"[Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew]'s the most hypocritical person in the school system right now," Callaghan said. "He doesn't want us to have the same rights as teachers."

Union officials strenuously denied the firing was related to any unionization drive, saying Callaghan's dismissal was related to "serious behavior issues."

Callaghan isn't buying it, though, and intends to take his case to the National Labor Relations Board, as well as filing an age-discrimination suit, he said.

The UFT veteran, who said he'd been with the organization for 13 years, was fired at 1p.m. and told to get out, he said. After cops were called, he was later allowed to pack up his things, he said.

The NYPD confirmed that officers were called to the union's headquarters at 52Broadway at 1:03 p.m. to resolve a dispute. No one was arrested.

Callaghan gave the Daily News a copy of a June 7 letter from his lawyer to Mulgrew, which said Callaghan feared retaliation for his work encouraging fellow writers to join a union.

UFT spokesman Peter Kadushin rejected Callaghan's claims that organizing led to the firing.
"We responded to Mr. Callaghan's attorney citing Mr. Callaghan's failure to live up to professional standards in his office behavior," Kadushin said.

Kadushin also noted that "the overwhelming majority of people who work at the UFT are represented by unions, including Local 153 OPEIU, SEIU Local 32BJ, Local 94 Building Engineers and Local 1L Amalgamated Lithographers."

Callaghan called his ousting particularly hypocritical since Mulgrew recently blasted the firing of teachers who had been organizing at Merrick Academy Charter School in Queens.

Ex-UFT Reporter: I Was Fired for Union-Organizing 
Disputes Portrayal As Malcontent
By DAVID SIMS, NY Daily News

MICHAEL MULGREW: Cites stormy work history. Jim Callaghan, a longtime staff writer for the United Federation of Teachers newspaper, the New York Teacher, who was fired Aug. 12 for alleged “behavioral issues,” is the first to admit that he has a strong personality.

But he is fighting back against the union’s claim that he was fired because of “an escalating history of disciplinary and professional incidents,” saying that he was ordered to clear his desk and leave the building within 30 minutes because he tried to organize the writers of the union’s newspaper.

‘Mulgrew Worse Than Klein’
“They have nothing on me since I handed in my organizing letter,” he said in an Aug. 17 interview. “(Michael) Mulgrew is running the UFT worse than Klein is running the DOE,” referring to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein.

LARRY HANLEY: Callaghan ‘a brilliant journalist.’ Mr. Callaghan said that he presented Mr. Mulgrew with a letter regarding his intent to organize the Teacher’s staff on June 9. Two months later, he was told that he had been fired by UFT Staff Directors Ellie Engler and LeRoy Barr. The police were called in case he refused to leave. No reason was given to him then for his dismissal, he claimed.

The firing was initially reported in the Daily News and the Post and stirred a brief media sensation. The Post quoted Mr. Callaghan calling the UFT leader “the biggest hypocrite out there,” and the paper ran an editorial accompanied by a picture of the inflatable union rat that asked, “Is union boss Mulgrew a union-buster?” It went on to state, “. . . you’d think the union would grant Callaghan the same kind of long, drawn-out dueprocess hearings that UFT members have” before they can be fired.

CHARGES DOUBLE STANDARD AT UFT: Former New York Teacher reporter Jim Callaghan said he was fired Aug. 12 by the United Federation of Teachers for attempting to organize the paper’s writers. He says that UFT President Michael Mulgrew was hypocritical to fire him without due process, despite demanding the same rights for the workers he represents. ‘Most of the people at the UFT work their asses off,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to disparage them. I’m talking about Mulgrew.’ The Chief-Leader/Michel Friang He is filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the incident, saying that whatever disciplinary matters the union is pointing to occurred prior to his unionization effort, and that his termination was over that issue. Mr. Callaghan, an occasional contributor to this newspaper, is also planning to file a lawsuit against the union for wrongful termination.

Union Cites ‘Escalating History’

UFT spokesman Peter Kadushin said in a statement, “Mr. Callaghan had an escalating history of disciplinary and professional incidents, and was dismissed because of that history. His accusation involving union-organizing is baseless. The overwhelming majority of people who work at the UFT are represented by unions including: Local 153 OPEIU, SEIU Local 32BJ, Local 94 Building Engineers and Local 1L Amalgamated Lithographers.”

While many of the employees in the UFT’s headquarters in 52 Broadway are unionized, the New York Teacher writers have not been since the reign of Al Shanker, who classified the writing staff as managerial employees.

In a May 17 New York Times article, Mr. Mulgrew noted that he felt the same way about his press staff. Times reporter Steve Brill asked Mr. Mulgrew whether he should be able to summarily fire Communications Director Richard Riley if he felt he was incompetent. “He’s not a Teacher,” Mr. Mulgrew responded. “I need to be able to pick my own person for a job like that.”

Mr. Callaghan said that Mr. Mulgrew was “holding writers to a lower standard” by refusing to give them dueprocess rights and dismissing them without hearings.

He cited the firing of another New York Teacher reporter, Natalie Bell, who was also allegedly ordered to exit the building immediately upon being fired, and the demotion of former Communications Director Ron Davis as examples of the UFT press staff being mistreated.

Clashed With Supervisor

His own personal history at the union, even by his recounting, appears more complicated. Mr. Callaghan acknowledged he had clashed with New York Teacher editor Deidre McFadyen since she joined the paper in 2004, and that their relationship had become so fractured that the union had hired a mediator to resolve the tension.

Their arguments, reflected in emails, seemed to mostly revolve around editing choices and story assignments. In October 2009, Mr. Callaghan was assigned to write advertising copy for an ad appearing in the paper, and he wrote a parody article that was rejected by the paper’s editors. “I was being taken off of serious work,” he said.

At that point, he was offered early retirement, which he turned down, leading to a series of mediation meetings involving him and Ms. McFadyen. While some progress was made, with both sides agreeing to work more collegially, according to written accounts by mediator Mitchell Karp, the gains were short-lived.
“I agreed to stuff, too. It’s not all one-sided, I admit to this,” Mr. Callaghan said. “But after that, there was no more collaboration when she promised collaboration.”

Too Tough on Klein?

At the same time, Mr. Callaghan alleges some of his stories that took on corruption in schools, such as the Bronx High School of Science, were killed by New York Teacher editors. He charges that this was because they were too combative towards the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein.

Another incident in December 2009 during which Mr. Callaghan heatedly argued with Michael Hirsch, another reporter, led to both being suspended for two days without pay. Mr. Callaghan said that Mr. Hirsch later apol- ogized for verbally threatening him.

Mr. Hirsch said in a phone interview, “I think he’s been playing the press, because it’s a great story. The problem is, it’s not true, and it couldn’t be true, because he wouldn’t be the guy to form a union; there’s too much animosity with too many people.”

He said that he and Mr. Callaghan had been “very close, but I got burned out by him,” describing him as “a gadfly, with an Olympic-level stinger.”

Last February, Mr. Callaghan was accused of leaving work early via email and reprimanded, a charge he denies. “I never had an issue with lateness or attendance, ever,” he said.

‘Tried to Make Me Look Crazy’

All of these incidents, however, occurred months before his handing of a unionization letter to Mr. Mulgrew, so Mr. Callaghan is arguing that they can’t be cited as reasons to fire him. He claims there were no other work incidents between his handing in the letter and his firing two months later.

Ms. McFadyen, a former associate editor of this newspaper, declined to comment on the issue when contacted, and the UFT’s press office did not provide a specific recounting of Mr. Callaghan’s “escalating history of disciplinary and professional incidents.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who was Mr. Callaghan’s boss during her presidency of the UFT from 1998 to 2009, said in an e-mail, “Let me just say, I never knew that Jim was trying to form a union. The public reports were the first I ever heard of it. The behavior issues were an issue.”

Mr. Callaghan charges that the manner of the firing, including the calling of the police, “was designed to make it look like a crazy situation, that Jim was crazy.”

Praise for Callaghan

He challenged Mr. Mulgrew to explain “why you don’t believe that your writers should have a due-process clause,” even if they aren’t unionized, so that they can go through a hearing process before being dismissed.

David Pakter, a former Teacher of the Year from the High School of Art and Design who was sent to a rubber room for six years before being cleared of all charges, praised Mr. Callaghan for “being the sole reporter within the UFT who followed my story. . . he was able to get witnesses to speak and testified at my Teacher trial, thus acting as a major force in my ultimate exoneration.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Vice President Larry Hanley, who has worked with Mr. Callaghan, called him “a brilliant journalist,” saying in a phone interview that “I’ve admired him for many years.” He said he did not know the details of the current charges against him and could not comment on them.

From the desk of Betsy Combier, Editor of NYC Rubber Room Reporter:
Sex, Lies, and Newspapers
Mike Mulgrew: Come Clean With the Allegations of Tampering With An Investigation, Or Resign

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mike Mulgrew and Class Size

On May 14, 2012, UFT President spoke to New York City Council about the DOE continuing to report on class sizes throughout NYC. 

I have a question: If Mike was really concerned about class sizes, and was not just talking about it, wouldnt he stop the rubber room dumping procedure (which, as we know, did not stop, just was changed to many rooms with a few people rather than alot of people in a few rooms) and, want proper investigations of people to occur before removal from the classroom? And dont forget that the signpost of the harm of this process is the fact that when an employee is targeted for any reason, there is usually no one who knows how to teach the class he or she was removed from, so the kids suffer just as much as the removed person. It would seem to me that any person speaking out about class size would try to change the teacher dump in favor of proper procedures to protect the students in the class from permanent harm by not having a competent teacher taking the removed teacher's place.

How say you, Mike?
Ernest Logan (CSA President), Mike Mulgrew, Mike Mendel, Leroy Barr


Class size and temporary classroom units

Testimony submitted by UFT President Michael Mulgrew to the Report and Advisory Board Review Commission of the New York City Council

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) wishes to thank the Report and Advisory Board Review Commission for the opportunity to share our views on reporting class size and temporary classroom units. We commend your commission for taking the time to scrutinize the demands on the New York City bureaucracy and to seek ways to streamline reporting and make all agencies efficient. While we don’t support exempting the Department of Education (DOE) from reporting scrutiny, the greater priority we believe, is examining the impact of reducing or eliminating critical information that parents use to judge the quality of their children’s education.
We strongly urge this commission and the full New York City Council to maintain the current reporting by the Department of Education (DOE) on class size and transportable classrooms.
Before adopting the mayor’s recommendations to reduce reporting in these areas, we must remember what came before and anticipate the possible outcomes.

Class Size Reporting

Before class size reporting, teachers, parents and the public were without clear information on class sizes by school. The only consistently available data for city schools were derived from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) system-wide averages aggregated by grade only. The city’s education community could not tell how many classes were too large, where the biggest class size problems existed or any pertinent details at the school level. Worse, the data was always two years old — or more.
The City Council’s addition to the New York Charter law in 2005 requiring the DOE to report average class sizes at the school, district and grade level twice a year moved the agency toward greater transparency and enabled parents and advocates to lobby effectively for the needs of their children. The DOE’s development efforts in designing the class size report have largely paid off; the report is extensive, detailed, user friendly and it’s been fine-tuned over time.
Additionally, we need both reports because they reflect two separate student counts — October 31 and January 30. Each report adds unique value to understanding the breadth of the problem with over size classes. This case is best made in viewing high school data. Year-to-year we’ve seen high school class sizes show significant fluctuation between the two counts. If the administration only released the February report for instance, the public would miss the typically larger class sizes in the fall.
Most significantly, using these new reports the Campaign for Fiscal Equity was able to quantify the number of classrooms needed in order to reduce class size in each grade and school to comply with state mandates, and identify where the DOE most needed to add seats. Combined with the School Construction Authority’s Enrollment-Capacity-Utilization Report (The Blue Book), it allowed the public to see in detail where there is available space, and whether new capacity should be added. In addition, it can pinpoint what grade levels, what districts and neighborhoods may require more classrooms.

Temporary and Non-standard Classroom Reporting

The law also requires annual detailed reporting on “temporary and non-standard classroom” space. Temporary in our view, is a misnomer. According to our review of the data, in 2001 3.86% of all public school students in traditional schools elementary through high school were in temporary structures. By 2011 the number had dropped a mere percentage point still leaving 2.86% or 28,605 of our school children trying to learn in structures never meant for long-term use. This translates to a reduction of only about 1,000 children per year back to standard classrooms.
The UFT has received numerous complaints about these trailers and their current conditions — most of them are over 10 years old. The wooden ramps are rotting, the metal siding is coming loose and other deteriorating conditions are developing. In addition, environmental issues have developed in some of the trailers. Providing instruction under sub-standard conditions compromises children’s education. Parents need to know what is going on in their schools and the earlier in the school year, the better.
The administration proffers a modest cost saving as a rationale for eliminating the November class size report and redundancy with the Blue Book as it relates to eliminating the report on temporary classroom space. But what about the cost to children who linger too long in over-size classes or risk hazards in unsuitable space improperly labeled temporary?
In addition, while the class size reporting provides a solid template for public scrutiny, the Blue Book could offer further refinements and more accurate views of capacity and utilization. It is why for instance, as the CFE pointed out in its 2007 report “A Seat of One’s Own,” class size data reports and the Blue Book must be considered together, because changing class size modifies the capacity of a school.” And from its 2010 report “Capacity Counts,” we agree with the CFE’s assessment that “Inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and a lack of transparency have wide and durable repercussions.”
In weighing the benefit to the parents, their children and the public against the negligible savings of some staff time, we believe the balance overwhelming tips toward more comprehensive, accurate reporting at the earliest possible date. Despite its preliminary nature, parents are better able to advocate for their children earlier in the term with the November class size report; and limiting their access to the temporary structures data by eliminating the October report we believe is ill-advised.
We reject the administration’s view that eliminating these reports constitutes progress. To the contrary, it’s a step backwards. We can do better for the children in our public schools. As the administration seeks greater accountability, safeguarding these reports would be a step in the right direction.
Read more: Testimony

On Closing 24 Schools: NY State Supreme Court Judge Lobis Orders Arbitration

Judge urges city, unions into arbitration in turnaround dispute
Posted By Rachel Cromidas On May 16, 2012 @ 7:22 pm In Newsroom | 21 Comments
The first court appearance in the union lawsuit to halt hiring decisions at 24 turnaround schools ended with the judge telling the city and unions to resolve their dispute out of court.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis urged the city and teachers and principals unions to resolve their contractual disputes through arbitration, rather than litigation. If the two sides would agree to let an independent arbitrator hear their case, then she would not need to rule on the unions’ request for an injunction to halt hiring at the schools.
Union and city lawyers both said they wanted to resolve the dispute quickly because schools would be harmed if hiring decisions are not well before the end of the school year.
“If you’re both saying you need the arbitrator as soon as possible, an injunction would not be necessary,” Lobis said. “If what you’re saying is really sincere, then you’ll get it to the arbitrator as quickly as possible.”
After conferring this afternoon, city and union lawyers accepted Lobis’s suggestion. The two sides are meeting tonight to select an arbitrator and meeting dates, with the goal of resolving the legal questions about teacher and principal staffing at the turnaround schools by early June.
If they agree on an arbitrator, the city plans to continue laying the groundwork for rehiring at the schools. But it would hold back from finalizing any personnel decisions until an arbitrator is agreed upon or the matter returns to court.
Still open for dispute is the question of whether there will be one arbitrator to review both the United Federation of Teachers’s case and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators case (the unions’ preference), or if two arbitrators will review each case individually (the city’s preference).
The city and teachers union have not had good luck letting a third party referee unrelated disputes in the recent past. After negotiations over teacher evaluations broke down in December, the union asked for a third party to step in. The city has resisted entering mediation even as the state’s labor relations board has twice ordered a mediator to step in.
A teacher from Long Island City High School who listened in on the hearing said the turnaround schools will be harmed regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome. “It’s like they’re pushing Humpty Dumpty off a wall,” the teacher said. “You will have a lot of trouble putting [the schools] back together again.”

Article printed from GothamSchools:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape:
[2] Principals union chief urges state to reject city’s turnaround bid:
[3] On D.C. stage, Weingarten urges officials to work with unions:
[4] De Blasio urges city not to pass the buck on teacher evaluations:
[5] Turnaround schools’ job postings offer window into city’s plans:

Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape

Responding to a lawsuit filed by the city teachers and principals unions on Monday, the Department of Education pledged today not to make any hiring decisions about 24 schools slated for “turnaround” for at least a week.
Under the turnaround process the city is trying to use, all of the teachers at the schools would be “excessed” and then at least half — but very likely more — would be hired back by a committee of administrators and union representatives. After the city school board approved the turnarounds late last month, the city planned to convene the committees quickly and set them to work.
But under a stipulation agreement registered today in State Supreme Court, the department said it would refrain from telling teachers at the 24 schools that they had been cut loose — or rehired. The committees will begin considering candidates but can make no offers until after a judge rules on the unions’ lawsuit, which charges that the turnaround process violates their contracts with the city.
According to the agreement, the department must respond to the unions’ claims by Friday. Then the unions will respond to the department’s defense by the end of the day on May 15 before the two sides argue their cases before a judge the following day.
A teachers union official said the timeline had been accelerated both because the unions and city wanted the suit resolved quickly and in order to accommodate the schedule of the judge assigned to the case, Joan Lobis. Lobis is the Supreme Court justice who in 2010 ruled in the UFT’s favor in the first round of an ultimately successful lawsuit to halt 19 school closures.
The complete stipulation agreement between the city and the unions is below.
Supreme Court of the State Of New York County of New York Stipulation
Index # 600002/2012
May 8, 2012
Michael Mulgrew et al.v.Board of Education et al. 
It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the below-named attorney(s) as follows:
Parties agree to the following briefing schedule:
1)      Respondents serve response to petition May 11, 2012;
2)      Petitioners respond May 15 (close-of-business);
3)      Oral argument May 16, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
Parties agree that pending oral argument May 16, 2012, Respondents (or any member of an 18D committee) will not make or further communicate any hiring decisions in connection with the 24 subject schools, except as provided below.
This includes any decision or communication that any employee represented by UFT or CSA has been excessed or hired.
As to a May 7, 2012 letter, Respondents will use best efforts to ensure no dissemination.
As to John Adams H.S., Respondents may name a proposed new leader for purposes of the 18D committee only.
Judge Joan B. Lobis
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Attorneys for Defendant

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teacher Nicholas Gerace On Publicizing Teacher Evaluations

Should teacher evaluations be made public?




Nick Gerace, 31, explains a math problem to his students in an 8th grade math class at Whitesboro Middle School Tuesday May 22, 2012

Posted May 22, 2012 @ 07:14 PM

Nicholas Gerace, a Whitesboro eighth-grade math teacher, knows he’s good at his job.
That doesn’t mean he wants his annual evaluation, which is supposed to make him a better teacher, made public.

A debate is raging across the state about whether the evaluations should be public information so parents can see how their child’s teacher is performing. More controversial is whether the media or good government groups should be able to look at a school or particular teachers and analyze the data as currently is done with school report cards.
“We’ve had a couple of conversations in school and in union meetings,” Gerace said. “It’s kind of scary to think about.”

In February, in a response to a Freedom of Information requests from the media, the New York City Department of Education released the evaluation data for all of the city’s 18,000 educators. With strong caveats warning that the data could be inaccurate, news agencies published databases and analyses of the city’s best and worst teachers.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who almost has direct control of city schools, is strongly in favor of keeping the information public, and believes parents need to know how their child’s teacher performs.

According to Capital, an online news site, in February Bloomberg defended releasing the data.

“Parents have a right to know every bit of information that we can possibly collect about the teacher that’s in front of their kids,” he said.

Legislators tried to exempt the data from the Freedom of Information law as part of the budget in March, but the effort fizzled. Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch has said she is in favor of making evaluations private, and a bill also has been introduced that would make the documents private, save a court order or permission from the teacher.

“I don’t know of evaluation systems for other public employees with this level of scrutiny,” Whitesboro Superintendent David Langone said. “If being paid by public dollars is the lynchpin, I have a problem with that.”

Few, if any, public employees’ performance evaluations are public record. Teachers could be different, said David Albert, a spokesman for the New York State School Boards Association.
“I think there are issues with making it public,” he said. “But on the other hand, if your child is in a classroom, you want to know if the teacher is effective or not.”

If a police officer sleeps on the job, money is wasted, but Bloomberg has argued that a bad teacher impacts a child for the whole year.

The discussion right now, Albert said, is how to make it accessible to parents but not everyone else.

“The goal of this teacher and principal evaluation law is to improve teacher performance and student learning,” he said. “Our concern is that if we publically brand someone as a failure, will that person ever be able to recover from that?”

His organization is arguing that, at least at first, the information should be kept private.
“For the time being, in the first year or two of the implementation, we believe the information should be used just internally,” Albert said. “Then, once we have some of the issues worked out, then the info should be make public.”

New York State United Teachers, which represents teachers unions across the state, is against making the evaluations public. On Tuesday, about 650 union members rallied in Albany, calling on lawmakers to restrict access to the information and taking action before the end of the legislative session in June.

“This is a very high priority for teachers,” NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said. “What we’re talking about here is the public naming and shaming of teachers.”

NYSUT is examining a number of options, but Korn said one that makes sense is making the data available to parents during meetings about their child’s education.

“What’s important here is it’s in the context of a students’ ability to excel,” Korn said. “Then that information becomes worthwhile.”