A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
The noble Philip Nobile writes Howie a love letter in response to Schoor's actions at the Brooklyn ATR meeting and former NY Teacher ace reporter Jim Callaghan chimes in with his own Howie Schoor story. But one would expect Howie to try to keep ATRs from organizing since the UFT pays him 200 grand to do that
Howie, I have criticized the UFT for its anti-democratic tendencies and contempt for free speech. Shameful examples: the censorship of NEW YORK TEACHER and EDWIZE, the strangulation of the Executive Committee's open mike, the Bolshevik regulation of the Delegates Assembly, and the refusal to grant ATRs the same level of representation as rubber roomers of yesteryear. But at your ATR meeting last night you and the union reached a new low when you and your representatives tried to sabotage my attempt to organize ATRs. Since you have refused to share the sign-up list with us, I started one of our own. I passed around a pad to gain signatures and contact information. While I was focused on Amy's spirited presentation from the front row, one of the ATRs in the rear, probably thinking that the list belonged to the UFT, handed it to Ellen Driesen who was walking the microphone around the room during the Q & A. Driesen knew purpose and the provenance of the list since she saw me bring it to the back rows. A teacher named Vincent DeSiano kept his eye on the Dreisen. He told me that she delivered the pad to you while you were was standing off to the side at the front of the room flanked by some reps including John Capuano, a new special rep but apparently apprenticed in the union's dark arts. Capuano retired from the conference room and proceeded to trash the list out of sight in the corridor. He ripped off and crumpled the the top sheet. Before he could swallow the evidence, DeSiano intervened, retrieved the sheet and the pad, and brought it to me. I immediately confronted Capuano in the corridor. He declined to state his last name or position, which I learned later from another rep. Not yet apprised of your hand-off to Capuano, I complained to you. You said you would look into the situation, but I sensed no indignation. When I learned of your role, I confronted you. "I know nothing about it," you said, none too convincingly. I demand a written apology and full explanation from you, Dreisen, and Capuano regarding your dirty trick, a squalid attempt to prevent ATRs from organizing. Bad enough that the UFT denies good standing ATRs the same level of representation once afforded to bad standing rubber roomers of the past. Philip
Ask Howie about a bigger dirty trick:
When I was investigating shakedowns by Allied Barton guards at the Staten Island rubber room- including demanding-in writing--- $20 for a holiday party from the detainees, Howie told me to lay off. (I have the photos of the sign put up by Allied Barton).
Howie then sent my emails to him and his emails to me to the D.O.E. official in charge of the Staten Island rubber room.
The "official" catering menu had 20 mis-spellings and used the rubber room phone number as its "business phone.
There wasn't enough food at the party and members felt ripped off. Ellie Engler and LeRoy Barr then had me transferred out of the Staten Island room- 2 train stops from my house and sent Ron Issac from Queens to Staten Island. (Issac has been putting on a great act for five years of complaining about not getting any work to do on the three days he shows up at the office and leaves at 2:00 every day. So why did Randi hire him at $80k, plus a five year pension which is vested this year?). Ask the ICE caucus.
As punishment, I was re-assigned to the Manhattan and Brooklyn rubber rooms, where all I was allowed to do was listen to members vent- with good reason. I was not allowed to help them, write about them in the NY Teacher or improve their conditions. (Park Place in Brooklyn at one point had 24 people in a 500 square foot room). I have copies of Schoor's quisling letters to the DOE officials. -He was trying to show them how he had "ordered" me off the corruption story. The D.O.E. official had a legal responsibility to report the corruption to Condon. We will see what happened as my case winds it way through the courts and we get to depositions and discovery. (Mulgrew has spent over $100,000 fighting my case using Randi's old firm).
FYI: Allied is owned by a close pal of the mayor-Ron Pereleman. (not that Randi or Mulgrew would protect the company for that reason). Feel free to re-post or circulate.
Tensions ran high at the United Federation of Teachers
Brooklyn office on Tuesday, as union officials volleyed questions,
demands, and some cries of exasperation from nearly 100 teachers without
permanent positions. The union office was hosting the second in a series of meetings for members of the Absent Teacher Reserve — the large pool of teachers whose jobs were eliminated when their schools closed or cut costs. The union is holding the meetings to explain changes to the way
teachers in the ATR pool are deployed, based on an agreement struck this
summer between the UFT and the Department of Education that stipulates
that ATRs must travel to a different school each week. The first weekly
assignments are set to start going out today. But union officials spent much of the meeting deflecting criticism
from teachers who charged that the constant upheaval would not make use
of their expertise and make them less likely to land permanent
positions. Amy Arundell, a UFT special representative, told the roughly 100
teachers at the meeting that the point of moving teachers weekly is to
position them for jobs that could open up at the schools where they are
temporarily assigned. The previous arrangement, in which members of the
ATR pool often stayed at one school for an entire year,
allowed principals to use them as free labor, she said, without
necessarily incentivizing them to offer the ATR teachers permanent jobs. Above frequent interruptions from the standing-room-only crowd,
Arundell told teachers they must report to their new assignments next
week, even if the principals at the schools they were assigned to for
September tell them to stay put. She and several teachers in the room
said some principals are asking ATRs to ignore their DOE placements and
stay on, in violation of the agreement. She encouraged the teachers to “be proactive” with the principals and
press them to find money in their limited budgets to create permanent
positions. “Otherwise, you can’t stay,” she said. “Unless a principal tells you,
‘I hire you,’ Central DOE won’t know that a principal wants to keep
you. You know that saying, ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk
for free?’ That’s true here.” That logic sounded hollow for a Manhattan-based teacher who said
after the meeting that the normally “pro-teacher” union had agreed to a deal that does not put ATRs’ best interests first. “This weekly assignment nonsense is meant to aggravate people so they get disgusted and leave,” she said.
During the meeting, attendees called on the UFT to create a chapter just for ATRs and to file
a discrimination lawsuit against the city on their behalf. But the
union officials present, which included LeRoy Barr, the UFT staff
director, rejected those requests, arguing that discrimination is
difficult to prove and that chapter leaders at the schools where ATRs
are temporarily assigned are equipped to advocate for them.
Arundell (pictured at left) urged teachers to contact their temporary chapter leaders
with complaints about hostile principals or requests to teach subjects
out of their license. But several teachers complained during the meeting that they had
reached out to the UFT and the DOE with complaints, and received no
response. “It may be news for some of you, but there is not union
representation in every school,” one teacher called out from the
audience. “I was at one school that had no chapter leader.” Several teachers complained about being assigned by their new
principals to lunch duty or clerical work, which Arundell said was not
part of their contract. Others spoke of being asked to take on subjects
they are not licensed to teach. One Manhattan-based librarian, who came to the Brooklyn meeting
because the Manhattan meeting is not until next week, said her current
principal is using her as an assistant to two kindergarten teachers at
an elementary school because the school’s library is closed. “I take the kids to the bathroom every period. That’s about all I do.
My principal said to me, ‘I don’t want you here. You’re not going to
work anyway.’” She paused for emphasis and whispered, “I think it’s
because of my gray hair.” Teachers throughout the room clapped when one attendee called on the
union to file a class-action lawsuit against the city. Union officials
shot down the idea, saying that courts require a high burden of proof
for discrimination suits that the union would be unlikely to meet. “But it’s happening everywhere,” another teacher called out. “Stop the shell game that’s taking place.” Several teachers in attendance said they would like the union to
create an ATR teacher chapter to represent them — something the union
officials said was not likely to happen. As the 2.5-hour-long meeting wrapped up, Vincente DeSiano, an
elementary school teacher in the ATR pool, collected names and contact
information from the roughly 40 people still present, after union
officials said they would not provide information about who had
attended. “We have power that we don’t realize,” DeSiano said. “I want us all
to be able to share information with each other and see how we can help
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, reaching1 billion active usersat the beginning of October. People across the globe useFacebookto connect with old friends, share news about their lives and even to maximize their brand’s social reach.
In itsStatement of Rights and Responsibilities, Facebook lists a minimum age requirement of 13, which means that more and more students in high school and college are signing up for the social network. As a teacher, what should you do if a student sends you a friend request? Does age play a factor? Should you be careful about what you post, even if it’s from your private account?
We spoke with teachers, professors and other education professionals about best Facebook practices to help answer these questions and more.
Understanding Facebook’s Atmosphere
Each social platform exhibits a preexisting tone or atmosphere, and Facebook has a large focus on personal, one-on-one interactions. This is one of the main reasons why teachers engaging students (and vice versa) can be problematic.
Bree McEwan, an assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University, says that it’s important for educators to consider each platform when using social media. McEwan wrote a chapter in a recent edition ofInterpersonal Boundaries in Teaching and Learningcalled “Managing Boundaries in the Web 2.0 Classroom.”
“Social media can be a great way to extend the walls of a traditional classroom,” she tellsMashable, but adds that faculty should take care when exploring the benefits of various networks. McEwan usesTwitter, for example, to share links and other things she finds interesting regarding her field, so she lets any student follow her there.
Facebook, in contrast, focuses more on the individual.
“I view Facebook as a bit more personal, so I generally don’t friend students there until they have graduated,” McEwan says. “Whatever one’s policy is, it is important to create the same policy for all students.”
McEwan says that if a teacher feels comfortable beingfriendswith students on Facebook, the teacher should let the student come to him or her.
“Students may feel awkward about making decisions regarding accepting or denying their instructor’s request,” she says. “Don’t put them in that position.”
Teaching Students About Social Media
At Beaver Country Day School, a tech-centric school that comprises grades six through 12 just outside of Boston, Mass., teachers are encouraged to use social media in the classroom.
According to Nancy Caruso, assistant head of school at Beaver Country Day School, Beaver’s policy encourages the use social media as a tool to expand learning, often leaving its specific application up to the teacher.
“Beaver teachers facilitate conversations with students around appropriate digital citizenship and social media behavior,” Caruso says. “Teachers are encouraged to review carefully the privacy settings on social media and networking sites they use and exercise care and good judgment when posting content and information on such sites.”
Caruso gave an example of using social media at Beaver from a few years ago, when an English class posted a video to Facebook, inviting bestseling author Mary Karr to the school to speak about her book,Lit: A Memoir.After seeing the video, Karr made a last-minute change to her Boston book tour schedule to go to Beaver’s campus and meet the students.
“Our school is very open to social media,” says Melissa Alkire, Upper School history teacher and tech integration specialist at Beaver Country Day School. “In our classes we seek to engage in authentic discussions targeting multiple perspectives, and accessing this through social media has allowed us to build relations with schools around the globe, including Pakistan, South Korea, Egypt and Afghanistan. Social media has extended the classroom walls and broadened our audience.”
As for Facebook specifically, Alkire says she doesn’t personally accept friend requests from students until after they’ve graduated. “If students are working on a Facebook page as part of their project, I will Like it,” she adds. “While having strong relationships with my students is a priority, I leave Facebook out of it until they are off at college, and then it becomes an excellent way of staying in touch.”
Considering Your Own Privacy
Even if it’s your policy to not be friends with students on Facebook, you should understand that nothing posted to Facebook is ever completely private. Your posts could potentially reflect poorly on your career or school.
“It used to be fairly common to see people say, ‘Look at what my student said,’ or ‘what my student wrote,’” says McEwan. “I hope that educators are becoming more aware that even with privacy settings, that information might be seen by someone you’d rather not see that. In terms of social life — is it a problem for people to see a teacher or an instructor with, say, a glass of wine? You’d hope that people would be reasonable about such things. Of course, this brings up some important questions about how those standards are set.”
Aria Finger, chief operating officer ofDoSomething.org, an organization for teens and social change, says that it’s important to be careful on private accounts no matter what — for professionalism, to avoid offending colleagues and peers, etc.
“I’m probably less careful with my personal account because people know that it’s coming from me and that I have strong personal views,” Finger says. “On the other hand, on the DoSomething.org account, we’re more careful because we want to serve and appeal to students of all ages, backgrounds [and] political orientations.”
Finger, who is also an adjunct professor of public administration at New York University, says that many of her friends who teach at the elementary, middle or high school levels use their middle names as their last names on Facebook. That way, it’s more difficult for students to find their profiles.
“Once you’re at the college level, I think accepting friend requests from students is fine,” she adds.
Using Facebook Pages
A simple and popular workaround for awkward or potentially unprofessional interactions is to use Facebook pages, groups or separate accounts in the classroom. Pages are essentially separate profiles that students can Like in order to receive updates, and you can add students to groups in order to stay connected. Creating a separate profile for yourself is an easy way to prevent students from seeing any personal information that you would normally have on Facebook.
Susanna Cerasuolo, a guidance counselor for high schoolers in the Seattle, Wash. area and the CEO of public counseling siteCollegeMapper, has three Facebook pages. One is for her students, one is a fan page for CollegeMapper and the other is her personal page.
“I use a specific guidance counseling Facebook page for my students, and it deals only with college guidance,” Cerasuolo says. “I use the Facebook page to make announcements for the students. It is helpful because they share, Like and forward information this way.”
Cerasuolo says that she will friend her own students with that page to keep them in the loop, but assures them that she does not look at their profiles. “When students do not accept my friend request, I always respect that. If they mention it, I tell them that they can accept my request and just set all of their privacy settings to exclude me. They are usually fine with that,” she says.
Teachers can also use Facebook’s Subscribe feature. If a student subscribes to you, he or she can only view what you post publicly.
Promoting School Initiatives and Communication
When used effectively, Facebook can be a good tool to keep students updated with important information. Eric Thiegs, founder and CEO ofStage of Life, a digital literacy blogging initiative for teenagers, and the musical director at Red Lion Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Penn., says that his school district encourages teachers to promote activities through social media.
“I personally friend students and accept friend requests from students (andtheir parents) to help communicate things going on with our all-school production of the spring high school musical every year,” Thiegs says.
In the past, he used phone and email methods to communicate changes in the school’s musical rehearsal schedule, but social media has made the process much easier.
“Now, it’s so much simpler and quicker for me to communicate rehearsal changes or important reminders about the musical to our Facebook group,” Thiegs says. “With one post, I can update more than 120 student actors, crew [members], pit [musicians]andtheir parents, over half of whom are probably on Facebook at the time of the post. To ensure complete transparency on using Facebook, I also ask the student’s parents to friend me so that they, too, can be in the know about the group discussions and understand how I’m using Facebook as a tool for the musical.”
As a result, Thiegs explains that he’s careful about what he posts, and stresses the importance of monitoring what people tag you in without your permission first.
“I don’t post anything on my Facebook account that I wouldn’t want a school district official to know about, my grandmother to read or my seven-year-old daughter to see,” he says.
When you set a social media policy for your classroom, it’s important to delineate clear guidelines with your students on how they should and shouldnotinteract with you.
Ellen Bremen, a tenured professor of communication studies at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. and the author ofSay This, NOT That to Your Professor: 36 Talking Tips for College Success, says that educators need to maintain the proper teacher-student relationship on Facebook.
“If a professor uses a course management system and also interacts with the student on Facebook, the student may perceive that it is fine to conduct school business on Facebook, too,” Bremen says. “This can get a professor and student into hot water. I would never want a student asking me a question about grades or other school business on Facebook. That information needs to be documented via an official school channel — that is, school email or through the course management system.”
Bremen does not believe that faculty should friend students or accept friend requests until after a term is complete. “During the term, I perceive that friending a student creates uncomfortable boundaries for the student-professor relationship,” she says. “After all, students post information about their personal lives and vice versa.”
In her book, Bremen discusses that students and professors should speak in person or via email about Facebook before sending a friend request. “A simple question at the end of the term is fine: ‘I’d like to stay in touch with you. I’m on Facebook and wondering if you are, as well. Would you feel comfortable if I send you a friend request?’ This is also a great time to ask about other types of social media connection requests, such as LinkedIn,” she says.
The United Federation of Teachers’ and Department of Education’s efforts to eradicate the “rubber rooms” that staff facing disciplinary charges would languish in for months or years have flopped, according to Mayor Bloomberg, but UFT President Michael Mulgrew accused him of not looking at the big picture.
The DOE and UFT agreed to end the use of “temporary reassignment centers” in an April 2010 accord that reformed the disciplinary system to put a 60-day cap on the amount of time Teachers could spend out of the classroom without being charged with misconduct, and put Teachers to work in administrative jobs while they awaited hearings.
‘Didn’t Work So Well’
But during the Oct. 19 broadcast of the John Gambling Show on WOR-AM, Mr. Bloomberg said that the administrative-jobs concept hadn’t worked out because the Teachers are rejected at their new posts.
“Can you imagine just how accepted they are when they walk into these schools? And so, you know, it didn’t work so well,” he said. “I know it’s galling, and it is real money, but you’ve got to put it a little bit in perspective,” he added, addressing the cost of paying Teachers who could face termination for misconduct. “The system has improved dramatically.”
Mr. Mulgrew said the Mayor was concentrating on isolated cases that have attracted press attention. “It’s worked out extremely well. You’re talking from 800 cases down to 200, [with] a couple of outlying cases which I won’t speak about individually” taking longer than 60 days to complete, he said.
“The cases themselves are moving very quickly; by and large they’re sticking to 60 days, and they’re getting in and out,” Mr. Mulgrew continued. “The Mayor will talk about one case he read about in the news, but he won’t check the other 200.”
He noted dissonance between the Mayor’s position and that of his Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott. “The Chancellor is out there saying it’s worked out wonderfully. Maybe they should get together and talk,” he said.