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Saturday, June 6, 2020

What Will the New NYC Department of Education Look Like After The PAUSE in NYC Ends? We Know We Are Not Getting Accurate Data

Principal Alice Hom (left) and teacher Laura Lai start the school day remotely with 
students at Yung Wing School P.S. 124.
The pandemic that hit the United States will forever be known here in New York City as the event that changed everything for kids, parents, and advocates in New York City's public schools. 

New York City has been described as the most corrupt city with the largest public school system in the US. My perspective comes from my activities as a parent and education advocate who has 4 children who went through the NYC public schools. Discrimination, segregation,deceit and fraud are imbedded into the structure of the NYC Department of Education. Change happens rarely because the Courts and State legislature are bought by the same people who benefit from the inequality. Lawsuits are won on a case by case basis, not by touching the underlying foundation. Its like turning off the water but not fixing the pipe.

All public schools are not included in the pile of trash, and it can be said that NYC public schools have the best education programs in the world as well as the worst, only here money is distributed through a prism of implicit bias and racial segregation. It's the geography of the city that has made this happen. It's always about the money. Always. In general terms those with money have what they need to succeed; those without, don't and cannot get what they need unless they go to the "right" people who are not bought or co-opted out by nefarious people or other powerful forces.

Pat Romandetto
For years parents, teachers, and concerned others in Harlem and the South Bronx have cried out in vain that there are no good public schools in these neighborhoods. I witnessed blatant hypocrisy and segregation in Booker T. Washington MS 54 when I was PTA President (1999-2001), and I tried to equalize the resources and was attacked by white parents who did not want their kids to lose their privileged position in the Delta Honors Program. Delta had the third floor at the school, and the other 4 programs, whose rosters included community kids and special education students, occupied the second and first floors. Principal Larry Lynch made a mistake when he "borrowed" the check my PTA raised for more than $13,700 and told me that Superintendent Pat Romandetto had to "see" it. He then delivered a Comprehensive Education Plan to Pat that had a fraudulent signature page re-used from a prior year, in order to hide all data of MS 54's systemic misallocation of funds from the School Leadership Team, where I was a member.

I still remember a meeting I had as PTA President with Pat and Larry in the District 3 office where I heard Pat and Larry laughingly say how they obtained $1 million in Title 1 funding although Booker T. no longer qualified to get those funds. I reported this to the Special Commissioner and New York State Education Department.

Back to my missing PTA check.We needed the money for science equipment, so I spent a school year trying to get the money back while I was vilified by the white Delta parents and the District 3 Officer for Family Engagement, D.J. Sheppard. It was rough. Through the entire time I had a whistleblower parent who pretended she was part of the gang and gave me everything they emailed and or handed out. Staff in the main office at MS 54 secretly gave me documents, budgets, rosters, everything I needed. Thanks to them, I got through the bad stuff and learned how the DOE worked. I took notes and recorded conversations (legal in New York State, which is a one-party state).

In 2001 after 9-11, the late former Chancellor Harold Levy moved into the conference room right outside of Principal Stanley Teitel's office at Stuyvesant High School. As I was on the PA Executive Board as Editor of the PA Bulletin, the newspaper, Stan asked me to keep Harold company. So I did.  I told him all about Booker T. and what I saw. He told me to talk with his buddy Deputy Chancellor Burt Sacks, so I did, and Burt told me that all principals take money. I wrote it all up for the new Chancellor Joel Klein and handed it to him personally as he was about to start a meeting at Tweed. He fired Burt Sacks on the spot, and Randi Weingarten hired him as a Special Representative/Assistant to her, within a few weeks or days, I do not remember. He later went to CUNY. Larry Lynch was removed from the school and I heard that he was hired by New York University. Pat Romandetto was replaced and sued for racial discrimination. I went to her trial. While she was on the witness stand the lighting in the Courtroom put Pat and her fur coat in such a light that she looked exactly like Cruella De Vil ("Devil"). It was warm in the Courtroom, but she kept that fur coat on, just like Cruella.

The reason I have spent a little time on some background is to back up what I am about to say. This is an important time in the history of public schools in NYC, and not only for the students, but for parents and educators.

Without students attending classes inside the Department of Education buildings, theft of federal and state funding is going to have to change. What will "proof of attendance" look like? How are schools going to get money for "seat time"?

With remote teaching the 3020-a arbitration panel for incompetence and/or misconduct charges will have to be re-designed or put on hold, long-term. How are teachers going to be evaluated? Chancellor Carranza said this past week that no one will be, and he hopes that everyone can work together. I'm all for that. Is the Danielson rubric over, done, trash? I hope so.

With no teachers or Guidance Counselors in a school, no corporal punishment charges can be proven. Notice I am not saying that charges wont be brought, because we all know that anyone can accuse anyone of anything and have the person terminated in a 3020-a hearing (if the Respondent does not have a good rep. fighting for him/her). Proving there was no information of intent or harm is what I do. Show me the facts, the doctors' reports, police complaints, dispositions. Otherwise, stop talking and withdraw the charges. 

3020-a arbitration hearings are Big Business, with $millions spent every school year so that 4+ people can sit in a small room at 100 Gold Street, 3rd floor, and lie about a DOE tenured employee without a proper determination of probable cause.

Without grades for K-8, and systemic false data posted into school VADIR or NYSED data, how will private schools and higher education/colleges/universities look at students from NYC for potential placement?

What about 1:1 paraprofessionals and therapists? How can they do their work remotely? How are they going to be evaluated?
The list goes on and on.
So, new techniques of assessment and accountability must be created. We need new security measures and ways to monitor data and people. We are not seeing this yet.
I have to tell ya, COVID-19, you have really been a gold digger for the corruption police. Everything false, misleading and not valid is bubbling up to the top.
I'm excited to see what happens next with the new normal NYC Department of Education and it's thorns and scorns.

by Susan Edelman, NY POST, May 30, 2020

The city boasts that 89 percent of school kids are engaging in “daily interactions” with their teachers during coronavirus-sparked remote learning. But educators dismiss the statistics as smoke and mirrors.

“A student can literally text or email ‘F–k you’ — and that counts as a meaningful interaction,” an elementary school teacher told The Post.

Interactions do not mean class attendance or completed assignments.

“All a student needs to do is hit ‘turn in’ on Google Classroom without doing the assignment and that counts,” the teacher said.

Contact with parents can also be tallied, but it does not necessarily indicate learning. “A text from a parent saying ‘My child isn’t doing the work’ counts as a daily interaction,” the teacher added.

For the past seven weeks, since remote instruction began, the city Department of Education has issued reports on “student daily interactions” as a purported measure of whether kids are engaged.

The DOE leaves it up to each school to define interactions, but says they may include a submitted assignment, joining an online discussion, a student’s or parent’s phone call or email or response to a message, or “other evidence of participation as determined by the principal.”

At some schools, teachers report students simply signing in — but then disappearing for the day and turning in no work — is defined as an “interaction.”
According to a DOE press release Wednesday, the agency tallied an average 88.6 percent of students in Pre-K through grade 12 had “daily interactions” from May 18-22.
An impressive total, but even if true it leaves some 128,500 kids a day who did not even check-in. The DOE has nearly 1.1 million students enrolled.
It’s unclear if the absent kids are playing virtual hooky, lack an iPad, laptop and Internet access, or can’t take part because of personal or family hardships.
All three reasons are possible, teachers say.
“A big part of the job has been playing ‘phone number detective,’” a Brooklyn high-school teacher said, describing efforts to track down missing kids.
“Some students who were doing excellent in class have fallen off the face of the earth,” the humanities teacher said.
A couple of his students are homeless and living in shelters where they don’t have a place to sit and learn, or parents who can support them. Other no-shows are Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Another reason for their disappearance: “They’ve got jobs,” the teacher said. One teen, whose mother died when she was young, is working in a supermarket.
School staffers spend hours every day trying to contact no-shows.
“We call, we text, we email to get students to sign on for live instruction. It’s extremely frustrating,” a Harlem special-ed teacher said. ”Some kids go MIA for days at a time.”
Last week, the teacher contacted every parent of kids in her class with the message, “Your child needs to attend Google Meet at 11 a.m. for live math instruction.”
“No one showed up. No one,” she said.
All her students have iPads or laptops, but some parents say they run into Internet problems or can’t help their kids because they’re working. Babysitters or grandparents may not speak English.
The most students who have attended her live classes was about 50 percent, she said. Students who do log on are so “desperate” to catch up with friends the teacher gives them 10 minutes or so to chat.
A City Council hearing on remote instruction last week left City Councilman Mark Treyger, education committee chairman, frustrated, he told The Post.
“The DOE did not know how many students have never logged on, or don’t log on regularly. The DOE did not know how many students are receiving live instruction. The DOE did not know how many students received wellness-check calls, and how often those calls are made.”
Chief Academic Officer Linda Chen could not answer Treyger’s questions.
The DOE could not answer Treyger’s questions, but insisted that absenteeism is no greater for online classes.
“On any given day during in-person schooling, nearly 10 percent of students may be absent, and our current interaction data is comparable,” said spokeswoman Danielle Filson.
“We are checking in with students and families everyday, and we intensify our outreach when students are chronically absent. We’re going above and beyond to keep kids on track and make sure they’re okay during this pandemic.”

NYC DOE doesn’t know how many students are being live taught at home amid lockdown

by Selim Algar, NY POST, May 27, 2020

The city Department of Education doesn’t know how many of its students are actually being live taught at home during the coronavirus lockdown, officials conceded Wednesday.
Asked if they were keeping track of live lesson provision in the wake of the closure of schools in March, a top DOE official had no answers at a City Council meeting Wednesday.
“We don’t have exact data on how many students are receiving it or for how long,” said chief academic officer Linda Chen.
As first reported by The Post, parents across the city have complained that their kids were not receiving any live instruction — with some not hearing directly from their teachers for weeks at a time.
Those parents said they were provided worksheets via email and ended up providing more instruction to their kids than DOE staffers.
While many city teachers have gamely managed to retain live teaching through video apps, many have opted out of the practice.
Instructors have relayed a raft of challenges associated with remote teaching, from uneven tech resources among students and cybersecurity concerns to haphazard administrative direction and shoddy training.
The effort was also complicated by the DOE’s ban on the use of video app Zoom and subsequent about-face.
Teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew called remote learning a “success” overall Wednesday and said many teachers have embraced live teaching under extreme duress.
Citing the variety of hurdles teachers face to recreate their classrooms from afar, the United Federation of Teachers has told members they are not obligated to practice it even if administrators demand it.
“Every teacher in every school community and administrative staff in New York City had to learn how to go to remote learning,” Mulgrew said Wednesday. “There was no plan in place, there was no support system in place, there was no training in place. Every school had to figure it out on their own.”
While he voiced concerns over the uneven provision of live teaching, Councilman Mark Treyger urged city residents to empathize with the position city educators have been placed in.
“I remind folks that educators are also human beings, they have experienced loss of colleagues, they have experienced loss in their families,” he said. “They are in many cases the primary caretakers for families at home.”
The DOE stressed that it tracks daily remote involvement of city kids to monitor “attendance” – although each school has a different threshold for what it considers engagement.
“There is no one-size fits all approach, and teachers are structuring their day to best meet the needs of their students and families,” said DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson. “Teachers have been using tools and techniques to engage students, mixing live and self-paced instruction to accommodate other responsibilities faced by students and employees during these times.”
Filson said live teaching has “value” and that the DOE was facilitating it “when possible.”