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Monday, April 29, 2013

MORE on the Expensive Discipline and Punishment of Tenured Teachers in NYC

NYC public still does not realize the intense efforts made to get rid of anyone with tenure, and the enormous financial resources wasted on getting innocent individuals slandered and careers ended for petty or no reason. People need to rise above ideological blockades and end the rubber room process once and for all.

Betsy Combier

From MORE:

Budget Analysis: The Shocking Amount of Money New York City Has Spent to Fire Our Colleagues

 In November of 2007, the Department of Education formed a new group, the Teacher Performance Unit (TPU); a team of five lawyers and consultants who were tasked with the job removing teachers that the department identified as 'bad'. At that time, Dan Wesier, the chief labor relations officer for the DOE was quoted as saying that the TPU would "...ensure we have the capacity to seek the removal of all ineffective tenured teachers..". He also said that the new team would "... also allow us to seek discipline where appropriate in a wider range of cases than before..".
Former UFT president Randi Weingarten responded to the formation of this group by asserting that the DOE was ".. relying on an unnecessarily punitive and counterproductive management style that is intended to create a climate of fear, rather than collaboration, in our city schools."  She lead a candlelight vigil on the 27th of that month to protest the group's forming.
Six years, and a brutal recession, have passed since this policy initiative was launched.  During this time, the ranks of lawyers who work for the TPU, and it's sister group, the Administrative Trials Unit (ATU) have swelled, while many of us who teach in New York City's classrooms have witnessed the numerous attempts to fire our colleagues, many for reasons that we can only be described as frivolous and petty .  The Movement of Rank and File Educators believes that it is time to begin examining how many teachers have lost or have been forced from their jobs by the department since this policy began.
This, to be clear, is no easy task. Anyone who knows anything about  the process of firing teachers in New York knows that much of that process is kept secret. Some of this secretiveness is by statute. The state law that governs the process, 3020-a, guarantees an accused teacher his or her confidentiality throughout the entire process (unless he or she chooses to have its proceedings made public). And some of this secrecy is because the DOE and the union have both agreed to keep the actual numbers -the specific amount of people who have been put through this process- secret. The resulting fact is that there is no data that tells people how many tenured teachers lost their job in New York City in any given year. As a consequence, no one  actually knows how many teachers the city has fired, or even how many it has tried to fire since the formation of what Weingarten termed the 'Gotcha Squad'.  There are guesses and  nuggets and tidbits of information that has surfaced from time to time. But there is no real hard number that anyone can point to. This number could be ten or it could be ten thousand and none of us would know. The first step in finding out is to examine exactly how much money was spent since these years in the pursuit of firing teachers. 
It is, of course, is impossible to track every dollar that has been spent pursuing 3020-a charges of tenured teachers.  The school district who decides to fire a teacher pays much of this expense. It is responsible for any investigation related or leading to its decision to begin a 3020-a proceeding. It must also provide a venue where the hearing can occur, a place where that teacher will report to work while he or she is suspended and don't forget  the salary of a replacement teacher during the time of the suspension. Most importantly, the district must pay the fees of the lawyer(s) who will try the case. The state teacher union (NYSUT) is, when a member so decides, responsible for the fees representing the teacher during his or her defense. It is simply not possible for us to account for all of the money has been spent.

But it is possible to track the amount of money spent on hearing officers. Those are the arbitrators who are tasked with presiding over a 3020-a case and ultimately decide whether or not a teacher should be fired. In New York State, nearly every teacher who faces 3020-a dismissal charges has a hearing officer assigned to their case and, as it so happens, every hearing officer submits their fees to the same New York Sate Education Department office;  the Tenured Teacher Hearing Unit. This unit
"... manages aspects of the statutory process, including receipt of charges, maintenance of case files and case information, and facilitation of the assignment and payment of hearing officers/arbitrators and court reporters."
Referring to this unit, New York's Deputy Commissioner of NYSED, Theresa Salvo described the state's role in the disciplinary process like this (here):
". The [Education] Department’s role in the tenured teacher disciplinary process is primarily ministerial....The Department has little or no ability to control costs associated with the Tenured Teacher Hearing (TTH) process." (emphasis added)"
This unit also manages a  fund called the Tenured Teacher Hearings Fund. This is actual account out of which hearing officers and court reporters are paid. This account has an annual budget of approximately $3 Million. Its monthly expenditures are reported on their own line in the NYSED State Education Department Monthly Fiscal Report.

So tracking how much money is spent on trying to fire teachers isn't so difficult after all: We must simply examine how much money is spent on the fees for hearing officers in any given year from the state's Tenured Teacher Hearings Fund.  If NYSED was compelled to spend more from this fund than usual, then we know that school districts in New York tried to fire more teachers than usual.
 In New York State, the fiscal year ends on March 31. So, in any given year, any money that the state has spent through this date (called "actual expenditures"), and in NYSED's case, any money that is earmarked to be spent through the rest of the school year (called "projected expenditures") is reflected in the monthly fiscal report for March of that year.
Below is the total amount of money that was spent by the Tenured Teacher Hearing Fund between the years of 2005 and 2013 as presented in the Monthly Fiscal Reports for March (the end of the fiscal cycle) of each year. (As you may find the documents a bit dense, I suggest searching for the term "Tenured Teacher Hearings" in each of them.)
Money Spent
It isn't difficult to see that, beginning FY 2008/2009, and continuing through FY '11/'12, there was a significant increase in spending from this fund on fees for 3020-a hearing officers. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that during, and just before, this period of time, hearing officers -who's only job is hear the 3020-a hearings of teachers who were in the process of being fired by their district- were presiding over a great many 3020-a cases -many more than usual. So much, in fact, that the fund ran in deficit. During these years, more money was spent on fees for hearings officers and court reporters than NYSED or the state legislature had anticipated.
You'll also note an increase in spending from this fund just two years after the formation of the 'gotcha squad' of at least $2 million each year. In 2007, with New York City's Rubber Rooms still open, it took approximately that long to bring a teacher to trial.  While some of this money is, indeed, carry over debt from previous year, an examination of the budget reports will show you that new money -at times at an alarming rate- was spent from this fund during the subsequent four years.
Just another look at the line graph depicting expenditures from this fund..
We now know that more teachers experienced the 3020-a termination process during these years than ever had before. While he hesitate to guess the amount of teachers, we anticipate that this number must be staggering. That money, however, reflects 3020-a hearings from all across the state, not only here in New York City.  In order to show that the lion's share of this money was spent firing city teachers, it's important to seperate New York City's expenditures from the Tenured Teacher Hearings Fund from the rest of the state's 694 school districts. Fortunately, there is a way to do that.
In May of 2011, NYSUT's Andrew Pallotta offered testimony to the New York State Senate about the process of disciplining teachers. During those remarks, he made it a point to draw a stark dividing line between New York City's 3020-a experiences and the rest of New York State. Time and again he reminds the committee that, when talking about 3020-a, there is a difference between New York City and the rest of the state. He starts off here
 "There are over 120,000 tenured teachers in New York State, not including those working in New York City."
And then reminds the committee here (twice)
"During the 2005-06 through 2009-10 school years, our office handled an average of 104 new cases annually outside New York City.  In other words, fewer than one 3020-a case is filed for every seven school districts per year outside New York City."
And again here
 "We have studied the results in the 351 cases handled by NYSUT attorneys brought outside of the City of New York, which began and ended in the last 5 ½ years. In about 35% of the cases, the teacher resigned soon after charges were filed."
And when he addresses New York City's 3020-a statistics, he specifically mentions that remarks pertain to (only) the city:
In New York City, despite a number of attempts to improve the disciplinary system in the last ten years, the UFT felt that this system was not working for our members or the DOE.
This difference between the city and the rest of the state when discussing the 3020-a process is no coincidence. Thanks to the 2005 UFT contract, the actual process for terminating teachers in New York City is much more different than it is in the rest of the state (see here).
Let's take another quick look Vice President Pallotta's testimony about the 3020-a statistics outside of New York City:
"During the 2005-06 through 2009-10 school years, our office handled an average of 104 new cases annually outside New York City.  In other words, fewer than one 3020-a case is filed for every seven school districts per year outside New York City."
The number he sites reflects only those teachers who were charged, who chose the free legal defense from NYSUT (a great number of teachers opt to hire their own private defense attorney) and who's charges were not settled before the hearing concluded. Anecdotaly , we know that the overwhelming majority of charges  filed end up in settlement. A settlement is an agreement entered into between the department and the teacher who has been charged whereby the teacher agrees to some type of penalty. In the past, this penalty has included a letter to file, a course (that the teacher must pay for) and in many settled cases, a monetary fine that is deducted from the teacher's pay over a series of months. The numbers Mr. Pallota cites represent the smallest fraction of teachers who have been charge: Those who were charged, were not offered (or didn't accept) a settlement and did not opt for private attorney representation, instead choosing the services that NYSUT offers. However,  using this number, which we have no reason to doubt, we are able to estimate that approximately 208 teachers outsideof New York City experienced this process through it's entirety (with NYSUT representation) between September of 2009 June of 2010.
Vice President Pallatto accounts for this same period of time, and the same percentage of teachers who experienced the full process and opted for a NYSUT attorney, when revealing how many teachers within New York City:
Over the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, a period which covers both the backlogged and the newly filed cases, we have completed 561 cases.
That's 561 cases (counting the backlogged cases that lead to the famous April, 2010 agreement to end the rubber rooms and speed up the process) that were handled by NYSUT attorneys within New York City. We can now see that, according to NYSUT, 353 more teachers cases were handled by NYSUT inside New York City during the same period of time.
There are 120,000 tenured teachers across the rest of New York State, where 208 cases were settled during this time. In New York City, it is generally understood that approximately half of that amount, 60,000, enjoy the same protections. Yet it seems the amount of city teachers who have faced termination charges double. In fact, using these numbers, it becomes clear that city teachers during  were at least 4.6 times more likely to face 3020-a charges than were teachers from across the rest of the state.
We can now see that between the years of 2009 and 2012 New York City spent the lion's share of $32.8 million in state funds, running the state into a $19.7 million deficit in the process, to dutifully try to fire more than four times the amount of teachers as anywhere else in the state. Only two possible conclusions can be drawn from this realization: Either an astoundingly high amount of teachers here in the city are bad, or our employer, the city's Department of Education, has zealously pursued a course to fire as many teachers as it can.
We  believe the latter: That, instead of spending badly needed money on children and on schools during the depths of the recession,  the department engaged in a zealous attempt to fire as many teachers as possible and used the state's money -more than $19 million of which it did not have- to prosecute those attempts. We also believe this policy continues to today.
Former president Weingarten's  prediction was correct; the DOE has created a climate of fear and intimidation in our schools.  This climate of fear has had an adverse effect on the working conditions of our colleagues and must end.  We must establish an open environment of collaboration if we expect our teachers to excel. In addition, the department must  direct as much money as possible to the actual classroom -to actual students-  instead of using it in an attempt to fire teachers (at a rate at almost five times as frequent as other districts throughout the state) if they expect their schools -our schools- to be successful.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

ATR meeting May 1, 2013

ACR/ATR meeting: Wednesday May 1, 5:00 pm, IHOP, Uptown Manhattan (open to all ACRs/ATRs, regardless of where based)
The IHOP at 2294 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, Harlem. --Between the 135th St. C, D and the 135th St. 2, 3 trains; a few blocks south of 138th Street, which leads to the Madison Ave. Bridge into the Bronx. Primo Spot search for parking:
Please RSVP to
We have important issues in the coming weeks and months.

UFT President Mike Mulgrew's Sister Is Investigated For Possible Violations of NYC DOE Employment Rules

The NYC DOE "cannot explain" how former English teacher Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany (UFT President Mike Mulgrew's sister) got a $75,868/year position as "program director" after 11 years on maternity leave during which she worked for Brienza’s Academic Advantage, a DOE vendor.

We know how.

Betsy Combier

11 years in ‘labor’

Maternity-leave probe for union prez sis

UFT President Mike Mulgrew

  • Last Updated: 8:51 AM, April 28, 2013
  • Posted: 12:15 AM, April 28, 2013
The sister of teachers-union president Michael Mulgrew is under investigation for failing to disclose she managed a company that raked in $39.6 million in public-school contracts while she was on an 11-year child-care leave from her city teaching job, The Post has learned.
Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany, 40, was an English teacher at Lafayette HS in Brooklyn for less than five years with a $56,707 salary. She left in 2001 on maternity and child-care leave, but was allowed to remain on the Department of Education employment rolls.
She finally resigned in 2012, but the DOE rehired her this year as a $75,828-a-year “program officer.”
During her leave, Mulgrew-Daretany worked as chief operating officer for Brienza’s Academic Advantage, a Brooklyn-based company that sells teacher-training seminars and student tutoring. She is listed as COO in a Brienza’s organizational chart filed with the DOE. She left “last year,” a company official said.
DOE payments to Brienza’s rose from $5,109 in 2002 to $10.9 million in 2012, when the city received No Child Left Behind funds for after-school tutoring, officials said.
City employees are barred from holding second jobs with companies that do business with the city unless they get approval from their agency head and a waiver from the Conflict of Interest Board.
“She was required to request a conflict-of-interest clearance, but she did not seek one,’’ said DOE spokeswoman Connie Pankratz. She said Mulgrew-Daretany’s work for the vendor “was not disclosed to us.”
Pankratz said the DOE discovered the “potential conflict of interest” only after The Post asked about Mulgrew-Daretany’s work history last week. It has referred the matter to Schools Investigator Richard Condon and the conflict board, she said.
Mulgrew-Daretany, who lives in Staten Island like her union-leader brother, hung up when reached by The Post on Friday.
The possible violation came to light the same week Mike Mulgrew won a second full term as president of the United Federation of Teachers, a post he has held since 2009. Union members re-elected him with 84 percent of the vote.
The DOE grants employees child-care leaves up to the August after a kid’s fourth birthday. Mulgrew-Daretany extended her leave because she gave birth again.
She did not collect a salary or benefits during the leave. “It’s an entitlement,” Pankratz said. “You’re guaranteed that your job will still be there when you return.”
Mulgrew-Daretany’s new DOE job, which she started in January, is funded by a grant to study how schools help students prepare for college and careers, officials said.
How she got a higher-paying management position after an 11-year absence was not explained. The DOE could not say Friday whether she listed Brienza’s on her résumé.
Betsy Combier, a paralegal and blogger, said she wasn’t surprised at Mulgrew-Daretany’s cushy deal. “At the DOE, it’s not what you know, but who you know,” she said.

Nelson Ruiz Pleads Guilty in Fraud Scheme in Which He Stole $2.7 Million From The NYC DOE

From Betsy Combier:

In other words, the NYC DOE has no one overseeing anything.

Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Bribing New York City Department Of Education Employee In Furtherance Of $2.7 Million Fraud
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that NELSON RUIZ pled guilty today to defrauding the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) out of approximately $2.7 million and to bribing a DOE employee in furtherance of the fraud scheme. RUIZ pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.

   Preet Bharara   

Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Bribing New York City Department Of Education Employee In Furtherance Of $2.7 Million Fraud
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, December 17, 2012

Fraud Scheme Was Based on False Billing for Services to Special Needs Students That Were Never Provided


Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that NELSON RUIZ pled guilty today to defrauding the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”) out of approximately $2.7 million and to bribing a DOE employee in furtherance of the fraud scheme. RUIZ pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “In stealing scarce and precious education resources intended for children with special needs, Nelson Ruiz did an extreme disservice to both the DOE and the children who really do need extra help. We have no tolerance for those who defraud the government and who bribe public officials in furtherance of their schemes.”

According to the Complaint, the Information, the plea agreement, and statements made in court:

From 2008 through June 2012, RUIZ used six companies that he controlled (the “RUIZ Companies”) to bill the DOE approximately $2.7 million for sign language interpretation services. According to the DOE billing forms that RUIZ submitted, the sign language interpretation services were provided between 2008 and June 2012 to 11 New York City public schoolchildren – all of whom had varying special needs, including cognitive, developmental, academic, and language delays (the “11 Students”) – at their schools.

None of the sign language interpretation services for which the DOE paid the RUIZ Companies were ever provided to any of the students. In fact, none of the students actually needed the services that the RUIZ Companies claimed to have provided and for which he received approximately $2.7 million. For example, during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years, at least three of the 11 Students were not even enrolled in a DOE school. In addition, from July 2010 through May 2012, RUIZ falsely certified on 75 DOE billing forms that he had provided approximately $200,000 worth of sign language interpreting services to one of the 11 Students, even though that student never received any such services during that period and had not been a New York City public school student since 2009.

Ruiz used students’ personal information, submitted fraudulent DOE applications and billing forms, forged the signatures of at least two students’ parents and seven DOE officials – one of whom had died prior to the date of her forged signature, and another who had retired six years prior to the date of her forged signature.

As part of this scheme, RUIZ also paid hundreds of dollars each month to an employee of the DOE to whom he submitted the fraudulent billing forms for the 11 Students. RUIZ paid these bribes in exchange for the DOE employee’s assistance in, among other things, expediting the processing of and payment to RUIZ for the fraudulent sign language interpretation bills.

RUIZ, 35, of Shohola, Pennsylvania, pled guilty today to one count of mail fraud and one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. He faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison on the fraud count and a maximum term of 10 years in prison on the bribery count. In addition, RUIZ has agreed to forfeit to the United States a total of $2,720,860, representing the proceeds of the crime, including approximately $275,000 that the Government seized from the RUIZ Companies’ bank accounts at the time of RUIZ’s arrest. RUIZ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Koeltl on March 22, 2013 at 10 a.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Krieger and Alvin Bragg are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Goldstein is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.

Here is another case:

Former Consultant To The New York City Department Of Education Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 37 Months In Prison For $1.7 Million Fraud Scheme

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that WILLARD LANHAM, a/k/a “Ross Lanham,” a former consultant to the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”), was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 37 months in prison for illegally obtaining $1.7 million in DOE funds that were intended to provide Internet access to New York City Public Schools. LANHAM directed the funds to “Lanham Enterprises,” a company he owned and controlled, but performed no work to justify receipt of the funds. He was convicted in March 2012 of one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds and three counts of mail fraud after a six-day jury trial. LANHAM was sentenced by United States District Judge George B. Daniels.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The Department of Education entrusted Willard Lanham with the vitally important task of helping young students get connected to the Internet – thereby connecting them to the world around them and the infinite resources that can be found online. Instead, Lanham chose to steal precious dollars from DOE to help underwrite his lifestyle, and he will now pay for his crimes.”

According to the Complaint, Information, and the evidence at trial:
From 2002 through October 2008, LANHAM was a consultant to DOE, responsible for managing multiple major initiatives, including Project Connect, a large-scale cabling, integration, and wireless deployment project designed to provide Internet access to all New York City public school classrooms. During his tenure as a consultant to the DOE, LANHAM was involved in all aspects of managing Project Connect and two other DOE initiatives, responsible for providing oversight and supervision of the various contractors and subcontractors engaged on the projects. Between 2002 and 2008, LANHAM was paid an annual salary of approximately $200,000, for a total of approximately $1.4 million in compensation, all of which was billed to, and ultimately paid for by, DOE.

Without authority, LANHAM unlawfully converted an additional $1.7 million in DOE funds that was intended to be used for Project Connect for his own personal use. He accomplished this in two ways. First, LANHAM orchestrated the hiring of outside consultants (the “LANHAM Consultants”), including his own brother, to work for him on a DOE project that he oversaw, and arranged for Lanham Enterprises to pay these consultants directly. LANHAM also billed a Project Connect subcontractor for work performed by the LANHAM Consultants, which was unrelated to the work the subcontractor was performing for DOE. He billed for the work at a much higher rate than what he had actually paid the LANHAM Consultants, and then pocketed the difference.

Second, LANHAM instructed a subcontractor working on DOE projects he managed to pay a LANHAM Consultant, and to bill Lanham Enterprises for approximately the same amount. LANHAM then used his company to charge another subcontractor a greatly inflated amount for the same work and again pocketed the difference. In both of these circumstances, Lanham Enterprises contributed nothing of value to the work that the LANHAM Consultants performed, other than to submit significantly marked-up invoices for the work that was ultimately paid for by DOE.

In addition, LANHAM affirmatively misled DOE along with the contractors and subcontractors he was responsible for overseeing. For example, LANHAM told certain individuals at DOE that DOE was not paying for the LANHAM Consultants, and that they were being paid for by a DOE contractor.
LANHAM used some of the proceeds from the scheme to fund a lavish lifestyle that included purchasing luxury cars, and purchasing and developing significant real estate holdings on Long Island.
*                      *                      *
In addition to the prison term, Judge Daniels sentenced LANHAM, 58, of East Northport, New York, to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $100 special assessment fee. Judge Daniels also ordered Lanham to forfeit $1,727,112.00, and to pay $1,727,112.00 in restitution to the DOE.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District.
This case is being handled by the Office's Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Brian A. Jacobs and Alvin Bragg are in charge of the prosecution.

Cougar’s ex-husband Willard (Ross) Lanham,  who stole $1.7 million from DOE, sentenced to three years in prison 

Manhattan Federal Court Judge George Daniels also slammed city's DOE, saying it was a 'crime waiting to happen'

William Kanham


Comments (10)
The computer consultant who stole $1.7 million while linking city schools to the Internet was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison.
Willard (Ross) Lanham was motivated by "pure greed" and took advantage of a "bureaucratic mess" to rob from the city Department of Education through an inflated billing scheme, Manhattan Federal Court Judge George Daniels said.

Before sentencing Lanham, 58, on theft and fraud charges, Daniels also whacked the city’s DOE.
“There was absolutely no checks and balances, no procedure to identify and prevent the overbilling that went undetected at DOE,” Daniels said. “It was a crime waiting to happen.”

He added: "It was total chaos. There is no other way to describe it. It gave Mr. Lanham the opportunity to take advantage of that chaos."

In an email, a Department of Education spokeswoman countered that, "Since we first suspected and reported this fraud, we have instituted more stringent oversight and provided additional training to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

At the time of Lanham's arrest, it made news as much for details of the crime as for his ex-wife’s blog.

In it, Laura Lanham descibed herself online as the “Yummy Mommy,” who dumped her husband and chronicled her life chasing younger men as a cougar at Long Island nightclubs.

Lanham insisted Tuesday he was totally innocent.

He told the judge he saved the DOE $27 million after he was hired to connect 573 schools and their 28,000 students to the Internet as part of the much-touted "Project Connect."
Lanham called it “disheartening” to have his efforts described as theft.

A jury in March found that from 2002 to 2008, Lanham's company paid three consultants, including his brother, $35 to $75 an hour. He then submitted inflated bills, which the DOE paid out at $200 to $250 an hour
During that time, Lanham made $200,000 a year on top of what he stole, court records show.

Prosecutors said Lanham used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included the purchase of luxury automobiles — a Corvette and a Porsche — and real estate, including a $1.1 million home in East Northport, L.I.
Yet Lanham's attorney Stephen Preziosi said his client is broke, and that his house is in foreclosure.

Daniels gave him until Dec. 7 to begin serving his sentence, and ordered him to pay $1.7 million in restitution to the DOE.

Preziosi said Lanham needed the extra time to be a parental figure for his 16-year-old daughter because the girl could not count on her mother, Lanham's ex-wife.

Lanham and his wife Laura divorced this year after a bitter three-year battle that became public when he was arrested last year.

Friday, April 26, 2013

NYSUT To NYS Commissioner: Stop The Testing Mess

NYSUT on state tests: 'It's time to hold the Commissioner and the Regents accountable'

"Teachers want nothing more than to nurture in their students a lifelong love of learning. They are dedicated to fostering in young people the deeper learning and skills needed to be successful. New York's teachers believe the state's obsession with standardized testing and endless data collection - driven by multi-million dollar contracts with Pearson - are counterproductive by stifling creativity; intruding on instructional time; and turning off students, many of whom were unable to finish their tests last week and left their classrooms utterly defeated and in tears.
"To be clear, NYSUT believes the state's new Common Core learning standards have the potential to enhance student learning and help students hone their critical thinking skills - if implemented correctly.  The key word is 'potential' and the key phrase is 'if implemented correctly.'
"For two years, NYSUT has been telling the State Education Department that it has been moving too fast, and without the time and supports for schools and students. Teachers have been speaking out by the thousands and with unprecedented conviction and passion. Sadly, the State Education Department and Regents have been deaf to teachers' voices and to a booming chorus of parents who know what's best for their children and who, too, are loudly declaring that these high-stakes tests are too much, too soon and are coming without enough time for teachers - and school districts - to do it right. The Chancellor may believe, as the New York Times reported, 'We can't wait. We have to just jump into the deep end.'  But NYSUT, on behalf of the state's teachers, says that if students are going to jump into the deep end, it should be after they've had plenty of swim lessons and perhaps with a life jacket if they need it. Teachers are passionate about saving every single child.
"Clearly, the state Education Department has lost its way. It is doing something that no teacher would ever do - testing before instruction.  Last week's English Language Arts tests and the Math assessments that begin tomorrow are largely based on material that has not been taught because the state promised, but has not provided, all the necessary Common Core lessons. In fact, the State Education Department has not developed a single lesson module for teachers to use before this week's math tests for students in grades 6, 7 or 8.  Yet, students and teachers will be held accountable.
"Accountability runs both ways. It's time to hold the Commissioner and the Regents accountable."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees.  NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.