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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Labels - How Good are They?

Labels are important to have in our world. At least, labels of products, houses, types of animals, diseases, germs, bacteria, vitamins etc., assist us in making choices about life, health, and happiness. The basics.

Sometimes, people deserve to be labelled "criminal", "corrupt" or "child abuser", and there are many examples recently in the news of these convicted individuals. The key word here is "convicted." There are facts which show to a jury of his/her peers that the person is guilty of a crime. Works most, but not all of the time.



v. con·vict·edcon·vict·ingcon·victs
1. Law To find or prove (someone) guilty of an offense or crime, especially by the verdict of a court: 
The jury convicted the defendant of manslaughter.
2. To show or declare to be blameworthy; condemn: His remarks convicted him of a lack of sensitivity.
3. To make aware of one's sinfulness or guilt.
To return a verdict of guilty in a court: "We need jurors ... who will not convict merely because they 
are suspicious"(Scott Turow).
n. (kŏn′vĭkt′) Law
1. person found or declared guilty of an offense or crime.
2. person serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Then there are opinions of people who give a label which has been "proven" in a person's mind. An example is my opinion that Francesco Portelos (UFT Solidarity) is a "cyberbully". This is my opinion, and I stand behind the label because of his actions and emails to me.

 The NYC DOE are quick to label GROUPS of people, and it is permanent, more or less. If you have the label "tenured teacher", this means that you have certain privileges as well as rights to your job and to benefits. You are supposed to be targeted for being tenured, so there is a spot on your back for made up charges. Watch out, be vigilant.

If you are a "probationary teacher", "paraprofessional", "secretary", even "Assistant Principal" or you have worked for the DOE for three years or less and do not have tenure, then you have no property right to your job, and that label means that you can be displaced easier and are probably easy to order around, because you have no job protections. You are expected to go after anyone targeted in the "tenured" group.

"ATRs" are, according to the DOE, people who have been discarded from their full-time employment as classroom teachers or Guidance Counselors for some reason - which no one at the DOE is going to try to figure out. This is when labels get slippery. There is a new policy invented by some nameless DOE chief of something who made it impossible for an employee to go back to his/her school or position after not being terminated at 3020-a because "that is the way it is". Thus all teachers who are not terminated at 3020-a become ATRs and are still tenured. There is still no category for these people to be contractually evaluated. No one is talking about this, and the UFT is not fixing it, either.

The label that is extremely outrageous is the "problem code". This label can be a verb, "did you get problem-coded?" Or, an adjective: "has your file been problem-coded?" No matter which way you use it, this label says you have been charged with something. No one checks what, when or why. Except people like me, who help people get off of this label. The UFT has done nothing to get this removed from members' files.

A few days ago I heard a DOE Attorney say that "if the teacher settles for the suspension before the hearing begins (i.e. there is no testimony by any witnesses) we will remove the problem code. If the teacher does not settle, then the problem code never goes away. Period." The teacher remains tainted, discarded, guilty of something, too bad....

Creepy. What if all the charges are false, have no proof, and an arbitrator makes a bad decision? The teacher is problem-coded and bears this burden forever? This is not good public policy.

So, I just want to vote for a review, on a case-by-case basis, for the "rapists","armed robbers","drug dealers", and other people labelled in Obama's sweeping cleanup described below. Let's get all those people who do not deserve to be placed under these labels a second chance to be full citizens and productive members of society, just like "problem-coded" teachers. Let's clean this mess up. Now.

Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, The NYC Public Voice

Obama doesn’t think rapists, armed robbers, drug dealers are criminals


It’s only May, but I think I’ve found the euphemism of the year: According to Team Obama, criminals should now be declared “justice-involved individuals.”
The neo-Orwellianism comes to us from the bizarre flurry of last-minute diktats, regulations and bone-chilling threats collectively known to fanboys as Obama’s Gorgeous Goodbye.
In another of those smiley-faced, but deeply sinister, “Dear Colleague” letters sent to universities and college this week, Obama’s Education Secretary John King discouraged colleges from asking applicants whether they were convicted criminals.
So rapists, burglars, armed robbers and drug dealers aren’t criminals anymore. These folks are simply “involved” with “justice,” according to Obamanoids.
Maybe they’re right: “Criminals” is an inherently disparaging term that leads to stigmatization and decreased access to Eugene O’Neill seminars. But don’t we need to retroactively reconfigure how we think of those unfortunate souls who found themselves pursued by harsh enforcers of restrictive behavioral norms?
When you think about it, Jack the Ripper was merely a “cutlery-involved individual” while Jeffrey Dahmer was simply a “unconventional dietary-options-involved individual.”
Colleges generally ask whether applicants have criminal records, and for excellent reason. Parents probably don’t want their eager young freshperson daughter Molly living across the hall from a rapist — I mean, sexual-justice-involved individual.
King notes that when you ask college applicants about whether they brutalized, mugged or otherwise committed outrages against their fellow human beings, the ugly specter of “disparate impact” arises. The black crime rate is higher than the white crime rate, so the “Are you a criminal?” question is bound to do injury to blacks, or so goes the reasoning.
Obama is fighting the war for criminals to get closer to you on several fronts. Last month, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he went after landlords, threatening them with penalties if they barred criminals from living in their buildings.
In November, Obama unilaterally ordered federal agencies to strike the box asking applicants whether they had committed crimes and referred to criminals as “folks.” This would be the same president who on Oct. 25, 2010, referred to Republicans as “enemies” and suggested voters should “punish” them. Convicted rapists? They’re just “folks.”
It’s fair to argue that the criminal justice system, and society as a whole, have a strong interest in rehabilitating criminals in addition to punishing them. And Team Obama argues innocently that (the people they refuse to call) criminals deserve to get their foot in the door before the step where they are asked about their criminal history.
But this is just a step in a long-term strategy pursued by progressives, who love criminals the way little girls love Disney princesses. The goal is to sneak criminals into your apartment building or workplace or campus.
Just glance at the Web site of one Ban the Box advocacy group, the South Dakota Peace & Justice Center. Its stated goal is to put off questions about criminal behavior until later in the game: “Only during the interview process will a criminal background check be completed if it is relevant or required for the position.”
In other words: Enforcers will tell you whether an applicant’s criminal background is relevant to a particular gig and order you not to ask about if they deem it irrelevant.
Yet there is no job on the planet in which your criminal background is automatically irrelevant. Employers can weigh how much importance to assign to which crimes and judge for themselves whether a criminal has reformed.
Bringing up “disparate impact” is a way to change the subject between who you are and what you did. One is about characteristics you were born with; the other is about bad choices you made. One is a terrible reason to discriminate you; the other isn’t.
King says that there is no evidence that questions about criminal backgrounds have any impact on campus safety. How hard did he look for such evidence? Because I’m pretty sure that one reliable predictor of crime is the presence of criminals.
Colleges find themselves at a point in time where debates about, say, whether rape is spiking on campus (it isn’t) are treated as so imperilling that they require the establishment of alternative “safe spaces” such as the rubber room established at Brown in 2014 and “equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies,” according to The New York Times.
Yet these colleges are now being nudged not to ask a potential student whether he’s a rapist, or an assailant or a heroin dealer, with the implicit threat of the administration’s power to launch civil rights investigations lurking not far behind.
University donors, and parents of matriculating students, should be eager to ask college admissions officers how far they are willing to go to comply with Team Obama’s wishes: Exactly how many convicts are going to be housed in Molly’s dorm?

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