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 NYPOST urges the NYC Department of Education to stop changing U to S ratings when they want to get a tenured teacher out of the system so badly that they will "lie" about a teacher's rating, hoping the person will irrevocably resign and pursue working somewhere else with their newly minted "S".
The charged individual will be pressured by his/her NYSUT attorney to take the deal, because he/she "will be terminated at 3020-a". The fact of the matter is, the minute you are charged with anything you are immediately "guilty" and you have now become "trash", both in the minds of the NYC DOE admins as well as in the minds of the UFT/NYSUT Attorneys.[TRUE]
First, I dont read minds, but I do think long and hard about each and every case I have been asked to review, sit in, or assist in, and I have made hand-written notes (I DO NOT bring a tape recorder) on everything that is said. How does the NYSUT Attorney know that the Respondent they are there to defend will be terminated? Do they make sure of this outcome? [TRUE]
Second, the U or S rating is virtually meaningless, as there are no facts in observations (Elentuck v Green) and these opinions are simply hearsay. [TRUE] Also, the tenured teacher is already on the "Ineligible/Inquiry List" and wont get hired by anyone anyway. [TRUE] Oh, and this person will be told never to ask for an open and public hearing, because "reporters from "The POST" will come in, and blotch up the entire hearing" says NYSUT. [FALSE] The modus operandi is to keep the harmful, often rude and ineffective lawyering out of public eyes, and the Respondent teacher can be squashed without any other eyes on the process. [TRUE]
These are some of the truths and bulloney of 3020-a in NYC.
The NYC Office of Labor Relations, with the support of the UFT, has issued to principals a document called "Performance Management"
on how to get rid of an incompetent teacher. Who is an "incompetent
teacher"? Anyone the NYC Department of Education wants to remove from
the system because he/she is too senior (makes too much money), is
disabled (and therefore cannot be deemed factory-perfect) and/or is
other impaired (is a whistleblower, cannot be intimidated, is ethnically
challenged - not the 'right' race, etc).
In the almost 10 years I have taken notes and studied the arbitrators and lawyers who do the 3020-a, I have seen reporters come into an open hearing three times. Once, to the hearing of my dear friend Lucienne, whose teaching skills were recognized by her students and parents as exemplary, and her students all did extraordinarily well. She is beautiful inside and out and she is adored by her students....just not her Principal, Daysi Garcia of PS 65. We walked in the room at 51 Chambers Street to see the DOE's public relations person and Steve Brill sitting inside at the table. I sat down next to Steve, and said hello, and asked him what he was doing there. He told me that he was there to do a story on the rubber room teachers. He stayed 5 minutes, just long enough to greet Arbitrator Jay Siegel, and exchange telephone numbers.
I watched as Steve told Arbitrator Siegel that he would like to chat with him about this case. Siegel looked very flattered, and said he would be glad to talk with Mr. Brill. It was all very warm and fuzzy. Except this is highly improper.
Steve's article came out in the New Yorker soon after, and he labelled Lucienne as one of NYC's 3 worst teachers. He was paid to do that article in exactly the way he wrote it, some say by Joel Klein himself.
One school principal has said that Randi Weingarten, of the teachers’ union,“would protect a dead body in the classroom.”
Lucienne was terminated - basically, Daysi Garcia of PS 65 was so powerful that she was allowed to come in, lie about Lucienne, and get her AP to read from the Workshop Model math book for almost 13 full hearing dates. Dennis Da Costa, the DOE Attorney prosecuting the case, screamed, insulted and otherwise showed such extreme infantile behavior that I think Jay Siegel believed there were some serious coping issues going on with Dennis. In my opinion, Dennis Da Costa is never rational. He is now the Deputy hired to work under Naeemah Lamont over at the TPU. Every once in a while if a DOE Attorney needs the arbitrator to be pulled into line, Dennis will come into the hearing and do his yelling/screaming routine. Its quite a show.
How I wish that Lucienne had not been the scapegoat.
We know alot more now than we did when she went through the process. I would have suggested that she hire a private attorney, even though I like Antonio Cavallero (NYSUT Attorney) as a person. He is still under the umbrella of NYSUT, and subject to the policies which force their attorneys into doing what must be considered weak defenses for their clients. Antonio told me and Lucienne when we went to NYSUT to pick up her papers that her termination was "political". NYSUT just does not have a good track record. Politics and money come before a strong defense of the client? I dont think so.
In any case, I will write the bottom line again (probably not for the last time): employees charged and brought to 3020-a for incompetency are a target of the Department, and the information used to bring the person to the arbitration table may be 100% hearsay, the opinion of the principal/investigator/DOE personnel which has no basis in fact. The arbitrator will not be given a picture of whether or not the Respondent can teach, but that he/she made the department "look" bad - by speaking out about the principal's wrong-doing, not being young, not being white, etc. More often than not, the employee is far from incompetent, and certainly not "trash".
Warning to schools outside the five boroughs: Don’t believe teacher records you get from the New York City Department of Education — because they might not be telling you the truth.
As The Post’s Susan Edelman reported, DOE has a secret when it comes to kicking unqualified teachers out of the classroom: It offers to erase their bad marks and send them on their way — if they agree to resign.
And no other district where they might later apply to teach need ever know the truth.
Hmm. There’s a moral dilemma: Entice bad teachers to leave, helping city kids and taxpayers — but, in the process, potentially foist them onotherstudents.
Truth is, it’s wrong. And it should stop.
In an effort to circumvent the long and onerous system of ridding the system of bad teachers — a system brought to you courtesy of their union — teachers charged with incompetence can strike a tempting deal: Agree to cut the process short and quit, and DOE will change all your “unsatisfactory” ratings to “satisfactory.”
According to an e-mail obtained by The Post, a DOE lawyer promised one teacher that “the department will provide, upon a request, a neutral letter documenting her employment . . . and will convert her U ratings to S ratings.”
And just in case the teacher was too thick to understand the implications of that sweetheart deal, the lawyer assured her that “if she were ever to seek employment outside the DOE, her computer records would show only ‘satisfactory.’”
Future employers would have to discover just how bad she is on their own, in other words.
As for the kids who’d be subjected to subpar educators — well, they’re apparently just collateral damage in DOE’s eyes.
True, DOE is in a fix: If teachers refuse to quit, city schools suffer. And DOE has to look out for its own first.
School brass shouldn’t have to face this choice. In a perfect (i.e., non-union-run) world, they’d be able to easily fire lousy teachers, with no hassles that need to be bypassed. Alas, that’s not the case in this city. So DOE does what it has to do.
But keeping a record of failure hidden from other districts — indeed, providing a deliberately misleading picture of teachers’ competence — amounts to fraud.
Former Chancellor Rudy Crew had a term for it back when the old Board of Education used to shuffle bad principals between schools: “The dance of the lemons,” he called it. It’s a good term — because this is one sour arrangement.