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Monday, January 16, 2017

Jim Calantjis on Chancellor Carmen Farina's "Fake News" in the Letter 1/16/17 to the NY POST

Jim Calantjis is a well-known, very respected advocate for teachers for many years. He has the following bio on his excellent blog School Leadership Team Support Center:

I am one of the founding members of the School Leadership Team Empowerment Alliance (an incorporated non-profit organization)along with Jacob Morris (a parent advocate from Manhattan) and Val Mello (formerly an education researcher at the National Center for Schools and Communities at Fordham University). I have been an educator in New York City schools for 23 years.I was elected as a teacher representative to our SLT in 1998 and served until 2006.During that time, I was Co-Chairman(2 years) and Chairman(2 years)of our School Leadership Team. I became an advocate for SLT empowerment in early 2004 as I saw that the NYCDOE was not supporting the collaborative role of SLTs as mandated by State law and Chancellor's Regulations. As a result, SLTs were shut out of the budget process and Principals began to dominate teams.Due to lack of training and lack of DOE committment, most teams are not functioning today. My purpose is to support parents and teachers on SLTs through this web site

Below is his letter in response to Carmen Farina's letter to the NYPOST:

From: calantjis <>
To: cgfarina <>
Cc: sedelman <>; letters <>
Sent: Mon, Jan 16, 2017 11:51 am
Subject: Letter to NY Post by Chancelor Farina -1/16/2017

 Chancellor Farina in her letter to the NY Post entitled, "Progress in the City Schools" (1/16/2017) claims, " NYC's schools are the most successful they have ever been." She then cites certain "facts" to support her claims.
  However, when we delve more deeply into these assertions, we find them mostly hollow. She cites a graduation rate of 70.5% (2015-2016) but leaves out that only about 34.6% of these students are "college ready." "Many High Schools had 70% average graduation rates but college readiness rates lower than 20%."(Daily News, June 29,2016). She cites a college enrollment rate of 55%, as if that low number were anything to brag about,even though many of these students will never graduate due to inadequate academic preparation.A reason for this is that the High School graduation rate is inflated due to social promotion practices such as "credit recovery" and pressuring teachers to pass students regardless of merit.

 Chancellor Farina says the  dropout rate  "is the lowest on record", but at 9%, is still way too high for a school system of over 1.1 million students.

 While she cites that crime "is down 35% over 5 years", the problem of lack of discipline and disregarding of school rules is an issue that also needs to be addressed. Students are setting the tone in many of our middle and high schools while teachers feel helpless as administrators play the "blame game" and the DOE waters down discipline codes because of outside political pressure. Absenteeism and cutting of classes is rampant.

 The Chancellor mentions "record numbers of parents involved in their children's education", yet, School Leadership Teams, which  are made up of 50% parents are a scam. Principals have usurped the lawful responsibilities of School Leadership Teams to develop Comprehensive Educational Plans and participate in the development of school budgets. The DOE consistently undermines SLTs as legal school governance bodies. They have tried to keep  SLT meetings closed so that there is no transparency until the recent court decision on the Open Meetings Law.

 She states "working with dedicated teachers and principals",yet continues to maintain an ATR pool of teachers, guidance counselors, social workers,etc., who are dedicated educators. With nearly 1000 of these educators doing substitute duties in school rotation, the DOE wastes about 100 million taxpayer dollars a year. The ATR pool should be disbanned and these educators permanently placed.

 The Chancellor ends with the statement that everyone is entitled "to their own opinion, but not their own facts", criticizing  a Post Editorial citing " the city's failures to educate kids in its public schools". However, the facts the Chancellor states do not support the conclusion that the NYC schools are " the most successful they have ever been" and "moving in the right direction."

 The Chancellor is an experienced educator with many years in the NYC public school system. She knows what the real problems are and that they will only be fixed when we hold students to high academic standards and discipline expectations, respect our teachers, and truly invite parents to participate.

James Calantjis
NYC Educator
Middle Village, NY