The Thomas Fordham Institute likes fake news, commonly known for years as yellow journalism. I believe that reports like Undue Process are dangerous because the writing reflects anti-tenure political thinking that is based upon numbers. Its always about money. If an employee has tenure, then he/she has, most often than not, spent more years in the public school system than someone who has probationary status. This means that the tenured employee has a higher salary and a higher pension. That's what the anti-tenure policies are hoping to stop.
People are not numbers!!
I have to admit that I laughed when I saw the title and subtitle,
"Why Bad Teachers in Twenty-Five Diverse Districts Rarely Get Fired".
So whose "undue process" are the authors talking about? Are they saying that teachers do not have due process if twenty-five diverse districts can't fire those who are "bad"? Whose defining the word "bad", and what evidence do they have? If a principal doesn't like a teacher for some random - or, in too many cases, for a discriminatory reason that they are Black, women, Jewish or disabled - reason, this principal can observe this teacher and conclude out of thin air that he/she is "bad" and put them in a 3020-a hearing for so-called "incompetence". This is a word defined solely on the subjective opinions of an administrator focused on terminating the targeted teacher, and the process almost always is successful. I would say that 95% of teachers or staff charged with "incompetency" are terminated, and I can say this because I have been participating in 3020-a arbitration as an advocate for the charged person for more than 17 years.
The danger is their writing spurs on policymakers who know that bad news travels far and sells widely. The public likes to hear what we as a society are doing, and how terrible tenured teachers are. Alarmingly, most of the time the people they are describing as "bad" are not bad at all.
What the heck is the best definition of "bad"? It's an adjective and a subjective opinion of something or someone. I might believe that someone is "bad" if I see this person with my own eyes harm another person, animal, bird, or any living creature, for no reason. Otherwise, an investigation is called for that satisfies my standard of proof. We all have our own standard which we do not always acknowledge, and sometimes this leads to prejudice when we have a lower standard of proof for someone or some group based upon general characteristics such as race, religion, gender, disability, nationality, etc. We must all watch for that. All individuals are unique and should be treated as such.
But getting to know someone who is charged with something is hard to do, because by the time the person is charged, there is little time to figure out what the real facts are. But you gotta do the research. Truly listening to someone tell you his/her life story, what happened in their career, who the bad guys are, etc., all involves first, interest, and second, time.
Also, if you are disabled and/or do not speak English well, you can be terminated, unless you have proper defenses. Of course, the charges against your language and disability are covered up by other allegations, but you can dig up the real reason for being charged, and must do so, in my opinion. The whole scenario of one arbitrator judging you by seeing you in a small room for 1 - 10 days, or the length of the hearing, is absurd. The arbitrators are chosen by the UFT and the DOE but are not neutral. Some are more able to hear facts than others, but there is always an implicit bias.
Nonetheless, 3020-a is winnable if the defense is strong. And, the defenders must know what to do. Unfortunately, not many people are interested in spending 20-30 hours listening and researching a person's life in order to find solutions to problems that are disrupting that life. I do that.
When I was hired by the UFT to find out who was in the rubber rooms, I was ridiculed by Jim Callahan, the NY Teacher reporter who also worked with me at the UFT then turned on me because I know that he despised anyone who ended up in the rubber room, and told everyone "they are all guilty". I was hired for 14 hours/week, but it turned into 90 hours/week as I was the only one who went to the rubber rooms every day and spent all day talking to members about their cases.
There is a national goal right now to take away job protections for teachers, because if they continue to get tenure, supposedly, our children in public schools will continue to suffer.
In New York State, tenure is public policy.
Why? Because our state legislators know that children need stability. When a teacher is in a classroom, the first thing that must be established is some kind of trust. The children need to know that they are safe, and the person keeping them safe is their teacher. Children, especially in elementary grades, need to know that their teacher will be there when they arrive at school.
Public policy is also to give immunity to all judges in the Courts. Same as teacher tenure, except that for judges, there really is no way to get them removed for being "bad" unless some high-powered politician or prosecutor decides to do it.
That is why every case is unique and deserves to be studied and every memo, letter, email, piece of information should be integrated into the record. 3020-a arbitration is, in my 14-year experience, a war against the destruction of tenure rights. That being said, every case is unique and special in its own way. Despite my being involved in about 60 cases since 2003, every case is different and must be looked at as if all the parts are new. Every Respondent, or charged DOE employee, is different. No two people bring to the 3020-a the same case, because no two people are alike.
I am very different from my identical twin sister. Nothing about our lives have any similarity except we both have children. That's it.
The general public loves hearing about how and when corrupt politicians get arrested for hurting the very same community members who put them into office. Public corruption is everywhere.
How does corruption and fraud in public office get to be so pervasive? One reason, of course, is that sheep people, or sheeple, believe the fake news that the politician spews out in order to win votes. My mom watched ABC News, and that was The Truth of the matter. I tried to convince her that truth may not be what she was seeing, but my efforts were in vain. Strange, because my dad was a fact person, he was Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York under Louis Lefkowitz, 20+ years.
Why people believe certain things and not others, or certain individuals and not others, is way beyond my pay grade. All I'm saying is that I do not believe anything until is see the facts first hand. I love the internet, but I sift facts out and it is time-consuming. This must be done, and hopefully, some people may follow me because they think that I have sifted through the information web for them adequately.
For all these reasons, Undue Process is fake news, but even the authors gave a crumb of truth, as seen in the NY POST article (re-posted below):
"While decrying needless bureaucratic delays that allow inept instructors to remain in front of students, Griffith stressed that the overwhelming number of city teachers are diligent and effective.
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials
- Does tenure protect veteran teachers from performance-based dismissal?
- How long does it take to dismiss an ineffective veteran teacher?
- How vulnerable is an ineffective veteran teacher’s dismissal to challenge?
It’s the city that never sacks.
action and similar reasons,” he said.