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Monday, January 14, 2013

Rotation Beats Long Term Assignment

David Hedges
A dear colleague asked me if I found it easier to cope with the professional challenges after I had been assigned to a school for more than a month, instead of for just a week.


Except if that month is September. 

We, as ATRs think that because we are human that we are entitled to respect, but, the students just see us as Subs and therefore as targets for abuse.  And that is what they do to us, pure and simple: abuse.  The abuse comes from the same deprived part of them that has been targeted by the DOE with cold, conscienceless violence.  Children become the abusers of their liberators, their educators, because instead of being nurtured for their imaginations, creativity, and curiosity, they are used as pawns in a boring, data and test driven governmental agency. 

For example, the Aim on the substitute lesson plan I was handed today read, "How can we review for the Regents Exam."  That's it.  Scare tactics.  Scare tactics are forms of abuse.  The premise is that education=exam score.  Like any corporal punishment or violent treatment, children develop a tolerance and they just act violently later, when they can, on the most vulnerable or blameless one they can get away with abusing.  The DOE has engaged in a campaign of fear- teachers are terrified of exam results and almost nobody dares ask interesting questions. 

The abuse is learned, cyclic, and there is no let up, at any moment in the day.  It is shocking.  If I were the parent of a child in just about any class where fear tactics and test data is more highly prized than human imagination and curiosity,  I would wonder where my tax dollars are going, and for what?  What students learn, in a class that is covered by someone who is labeled as a "Substitute" is that it is perfectly acceptable to be rude and even violent to the person who is assigned to watch over their safety.  "Oh, not, not my child," some parents would say, and even at the end of the day, after I have seen sweet, halo bearing children become pack wolves and tear the senior teachers apart, I cannot believe my own memory. 

This is not a complaint about my job- this is a statement about how the child's reaction is a preconditioned set of responses based on policy that dehumanizes their natural interests in life.  Kids are mad as hell and they take it out on the kindly strangers the DOE calls ATRs. 

And, we, the ATRs we are blamed for not being Saviors to a system that has been damned by Lord Bloomberg and Archangel Klein.

Parents, tax payers, citizens, our kids don't deserve to be degraded this way and the system that is supposed to be educating then ought not to be teaching them that fear tactics are an acceptable form of arriving at a civilized society.

And yeah, who are we going to get to do this job, of teaching children?  Only in a bad economy would someone choose this over say, impoverishing the middle class at a job on Wall Street?

NYS Legislators Suddenly Wake Up From Their Coma, Squeek That Mayoral Control Over The DOE Must End

In the article below, we see that New York State legislators woke up from their coma lasting 10 years and are scrambling to save their jobs.

 In my opinion, please dont bother. What we, public school parents/teachers/concerned citizens who are also advocates for due process, fairness, transparency and evidence, need to do is vote out of office the comatose, silent, "pay-to-play" politicians who have secretly greased somebody's palm in order to harm almost a generation of children. We need to stop APPOINTING people for any public office and start with VOTING in our public people - including the Panel For Educational Policy and Community Education Council members - through a general election of all constituents, meaning ALL parents and teachers in the NYC public schools.

Weprin and Montgomery, where have you been? I'm not impressed with your performance.

Betsy Combier

Albany mayor-slayers

Pols trying to end school control by City Hall

  • Last Updated: 3:53 AM, January 14, 2013
  • Posted: 12:58 AM, January 14, 2013
  • LINK
Just days into the 2013 legislative session, state lawmakers have introduced a measure to undo Mayor Bloomberg’s signature educational achievement: mayoral control of the massive New York City school system, The Post has learned.
Bloomberg has used the sweeping power to implement accountability and innovations — often over fierce opposition from entrenched interests.
These include tightening “social promotion” from grades 3 to 8, adopting a new school grading system, extending the school day for struggling students, and dramatically expanding choice and opportunity through charter schools and other alternative schools.
The bottom line: During Bloomberg’s tenure, the high-school graduation rate has substantially increased, supporters said.
But lawmakers pushing the bill to kill mayoral control counter that Bloomberg and his chancellors have run the schools like autocrats.
“The school system needs to be restructured. There is less community and parental input under mayoral control. There’s got to be a way to give parents more say in their children’s education. They don’t have that now,” said Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens), who is sponsoring the measure.
The proposal would strip the mayor of appointing the majority — eight of 13 appointees — to the Panel on Education Policy, which replaced the Board of Education.
Under a reconstituted board, the mayor would have only four appointees. Each of the five borough presidents would have an appointee and the City Council would have four appointees.
And the board, not the mayor, would have the authority to hire the schools chancellor.
The mayoral-control law is not up for renewal until June 30, 2015. But the bill advanced by Weprin and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) is an early bid to sway public opinion for what could be a bloody political battle.
Weprin said the United Federation of Teachers — which has resisted some of the reforms — is “very sympathetic to changes” and “happy that there’s a discussion on mayoral control.”
And the effort to scuttle mayoral control comes amid a heated mayoral race this year to replace Bloomberg.
“This measure has failed time and time again, and we are confident it will follow suit this year,” said Bloomberg spokesman Mark Botnick.

NYPOST: Passing the Trash

Steve Brill
  • 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
  • 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".
  • Betsy Combier
  • Passing The Trash
  • Last Updated: 10:45 PM, January 12, 2013
  • Posted: January 13, 2013
  • LINK
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 on other students.

Dan Brinzac
Dennis Wolcott
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.