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.
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 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", 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.
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, The NYC Public Voice