Saturday, August 29, 2009

Principals Ignoring the Hiring Freeze

According to an article in the New York Times, some principals are circumventing the hiring freeze in order to avoid hiring ATRs. The article is mostly fair, and one of the few I have read in the media that places much of the blame at Klein's doorstep for maligning teachers in the Absentee Teacher Reserve pool.

It appears that principals, who refused to be named, "...were circumventing the restrictions by offering new teachers jobs as long-term substitutes or hiring them as specialized teachers but placing them in regular classrooms. Some said they planned to eliminate open positions from their budgets rather than take on teachers they considered undesirable..."

These principals are thumbing their noses at both Klein's freeze and the teachers' union. One wonders whether there is any penalty should they be caught in violation. I suspect not, but there should be. I wonder why they didn't get a quote from Anthony Lombardi, principal of PS 49 in Queens. His comments in the New Yorker on the rubber rooms alone should enshrine him forever in the anti-teacher hall of shame when he said, " making it so hard to get even the obvious freaks and crazies that are there off the payroll, you insure that the teachers who are simply incompetent or mediocre are never incented to improve and are never removable.”

Again, it boils down to whether Klein has an actual backbone. He should immediately direct all principals to fill all open positions with ATRs, and Mulgrew should direct all chapter leaders to evaluate whether principals have filled those positions or endeavored to hide them. If evidence is found of mass evasion of the rules, Mulgrew should shout it to the rooftops.

The Times says that the city is currently paying more than 200 million dollars to ATRs in a time of fiscal crisis. It's time for Mulgrew to turns the screws on the DOE and expose this massive waste of money and talent. Put the ATRs back in the classroom.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Can Even Klein be this Evil?

I've seen so many dirty tricks played in the 7+ years of the BloomKlein reign that perhaps I've started seeing things where nothing exists, but this item caught my eye because of the timing.

According to Gotham Schools, Teaching Fellows who have not been placed by September 18th can earn $250 a week for six weeks by doing four days of "practice teaching" a week (if someone knows what practice teaching is, please fill me in. I can only picture a classroom full of mannequins being huddled in groups of 4). That is certainly not a lot of money if you're out of work, and it's a pittance in NYC. Still....

It just might be enough to keep those TFs on a bit longer. And this is where the timing comes in. Six weeks after September 18 brings us right to election day weekend. Suppose Mayor for Life Bloomberg wins--is it possible that he will lift the hiring freeze immediately after he is re-elected and hang all the ATRs out to dry? As of right now, Klein insists that the hiring freeze will remain in place, but that may be just to give Bloomberg cover in an election year. Mike can claim he's doing all he can to place the ATRs and avoid the political fallout of the 80 million a year the ATRs cost the city, and then fill the vacancies with TFs as soon as he gains his unethical third term.

Is it far fetched? A coincidence? I don't know. but we've had the football pulled away from us too many times to be sure.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time to Celebrate!

The New York Post reported today that the number of very violent NYC schools has dropped to 10. Students all over the city celebrated the success of their formerly dangerous schools by spontaneously firing their pistols in the air.

The 80 Million Dollar Stare Down

Right now, Joel Klein and city principals are in the midst of a very expensive staring contest. Klein has imposed a hiring freeze, but principals are hoping he blinks before the opening of school and lets them hire non-ATRs to fill their vacancies.

According to Gotham Schools, only about 300 ATRs found jobs in the last month, despite a mandate from the chancellor that principals hire only from the ATR pool. So with less than two weeks to go before school starts, there remain 1800 openings and 2100 ATRs. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure that we could fill the former with the latter. The question is, does Klein really want this?

Many skeptics, myself included, believe Joel's gambit on ATRs to be a negotiating ploy for the next contract. He will whine that he tried to place those pesky teachers, but nothing happened. He will then demand a clause in the contract asking for ATRs to be fired after a specified time in the pool. He'll try to trade some pittance like making the 37 1.2 minutes into 36 1/2 minutes, hoping the UFT will grab it and declare victory.

But this is risky business. This is, after all, an election year for Bloomberg, presumptive mayor for life. What if the UFT says no? (hard to fathom, I know, but possible). Klein brought this situation about by closing large numbers of schools. The 80 million or so per year the ATR pool costs the city is a huge blot on the "education mayor". Klein could fix the problem any time he wants, if he has the will to do so. He's gambling that the UFT will help him get these teachers fired, but this is, as Chaz points out, a tenure issue, and tenure is supposedly off the table in the upcoming negotiations.

I hope the Democratic mayoral hopefuls, Tony Avella and Bill Thompson, address this issue swiftly and put Klein on the hot seat. If the UFT or the candidates show any gumption at all, they could force Klein to blink.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Liveblogging the Mayoral Debate

For those who don't get NY1, I'm going to type in my summary and random thoughts of the debate. I'm only going to touch on education issues unless something else jumps out at me.

Thompson says we are teaching to the test. Education has lost art and music education in the schools. SAT scores have gone down, so there has been no real improvement.

Avella says we have dumbed down the test. We are not educating kids. Teachers and parents need more involvement. First thing to do is fire Joel Klein.

When asked what they would do differently:

Thompson: Focus on literacy. Smaller classes in earlier grades.

Avella: He is not an education expert--teachers are. We should be asking teachers what is that accurate measure of learning? Reading scores are a "lot of bunk."

Avella: We have not done enough to limit swine flu. The city blew it last time. Schools should be closed when necessary--not enough has been done.
Thompson: Bloomberg's response to the flu was a disaster. Rumor ruled the day. Parents want to know what is happening in the schools. Standards of when to close schools were haphazard and confusing.

Both men seem well prepared and aware of the issues at this point.
There will be a "lightning round" in which only yes or no answers can be given--this never works--most politicians are incapable of stopping at one word. But now on with round 2.

7:32-Halfway point
Thompson seems to be positioning himself as the "fiscal watchdog" mayor--he wants transparency on every level, Avella wants the reform vote--he wants to change the way things are done--shifting power from the mayor to the city council, stopping the use of discretionary funds, etc. At this point, both candidates look strong. It's a tie.

7:39 Finally, some blood. Avella accuses Thompson of taking money from real estate and pension funds he manages. Both claim to be grassroots campaigns.

LIGHTNING ROUND--I don't type that fast, so hopefully I can get a few in.

Ray Kelly as police commissioner? Both said no.
Do you have a metrocard? Both show theirs from their wallets.
Excluding marijuana (crowd laughs) have you ever tried an illegal drug? Both say no. Marijuana? Thompson yes, Avella no.
Is Bloomberg a better mayor than Guiliani? Both say yes.
Should NYC name a subway station or a street after Michael Jackson? Both yes.
Will you endorse Patterson for governor next year? Avella no, Thompson yes.
Have you been to the new stadiums? Both no.
Have you ever voted for someone who was not a democrat? Avella yes, Thompson no.

Whew. Round over. New reporter round.

In response to a question about dealing with Albany, Avella mentions he is not in favor of mayoral control of schools.

8:07 Candidates ask questions of each other.
Thompson asks Avella, what is the worst thing Bloomberg has done? Avella thanks him for the softball question, and Avella responds that it's the overturning of term limits. Thompson agrees.

Dominic Carter (moderator) asks both what is the best thing Blooie has done. Thompson says smoking ban, Avella says 311.

Closing remarks:
Avella: Let's end corruption and the political machine, which Thompson represents. Touts the fact that he has not accepted money from interest groups to campaign.
Thompson: NYers have a real choice. We need a mayor who will fight for the people.

Overall impressions:
Avella came off tough in a typical NYer kind of way.
Thompson came off suave and informed.

Generally, it seemed a tie to me.

Mayoral Debate Tonight

For anyone who may not have heard, there will be a Democratic mayoral debate tonight at 7pm on NY1. Bill Thompson and Tony Avella will go head to head. Hopefully, this will begin to shine a light on the two candidates who are not billioniares, belong to the same party for the long haul, and who aren't afraid to debate.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mayor for Life? Maybe Not....

There's an interesting article in New York Magazine that details how Bill Thompson just might be able to unseat Mike Bloomberg. My favorite is suggestion #1, which is Keep Repeating "Mayor for Life. Mayor for Life." There are five other suggestions, and they are all good ones. I have said for months that I think Bloomy is vulnerable, and that mayoral control can be wrested from him only by voting him out of office.

And let's not forget the veracity to the old axiom "Familiarity breeds contempt". Not only have NYers had 8 years to get familiar with this mayor, but he has bombarded us with his image everywhere he goes, like a political Waldo. You're not even safe surfing the web, where Bloomberg's ads seem more ubiquitous than Netflix pop-ups. BTW, you can stop those Netflix ads with AdBlock Plus, which can also stop banner ads, including Bloomberg's. Don't tell your friends until after the election.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What Are the Odds?

In doing research for the Arah Lewis story, I read in several places that only about 400 of the 2400 ATRs had been placed so far, despite the hiring freeze and financial incentives paid to principals who take on ATRs. (At the time the freeze began, there were only 1100 ATRs, so we can see how effective Klein's plan has been.)

As the new school year approaches, it seems to me there are only two possibilities left:

1. Klein will grow a pair and force principals to hire from the ATR pool or else.

2. Klein will declare that despite all his hard work on their behalf, the ATRs are the unwanted pariahs of the school system. Thus, he will lift the hiring freeze, thereby securing jobs for people like Arah Lewis--you know, the ones principals want to hire because they're cheap, pliable, and will most likely leave before they put in five years. Klein will then declare the ATRs a financial burden on the system and seek to get them fired as part of the next contract.

Given Klein's track record, which one seems more likely?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Lesson For Arah Lewis

There have been a lot of comments here about how we should all feel sorry for Arah Lewis, the prospective teaching fellow who cried on Klein's shoulder yesterday. I'll state at the outset that I do feel sorry for her, but I'd like to frame the debate somewhat differently than the Times and Daily News have. (Kudos to Gotham Schools for breaking this story.) I'd like to teach Arah a lesson that she'll need to understand if she ever does land that job.

Aim: To learn why Arah Lewis can't get a job.

Do Now: Read the following bulleted paragraphs.

  • Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein (hereinafter referred to as BloomKlein) are the ones who began shutting down schools for "poor performance". They did next to nothing to improve these schools. They did not lower class sizes or provide enough extra support--they just closed them down.
  • These closings resulted in many fine, hard working, dedicated teachers being "excessed", which is a tidy way of saying they lost their jobs.
  • In the past, these excessed teachers would have been able to find jobs on their own through the seniority transfer system. They would most likely all have been placed. BloomKlein and the UFT eliminated that system in 2005 and created a new sub-class of teacher, called an ATR, for Absent Teacher Reserve. These teachers can make 100K a year to be substitutes. The vast majority of them hate being subs and would like to return to teaching their subjects.
  • When the seniority system was eliminated, the "Open Market" was formed by BloomKlein. This would supposedly allow all teachers an opportunity to go where they were wanted. BloomKlein, however, changed the funding system for schools so that principals had to pay teacher salaries from their own budgets, thus creating a disincentive to hire anyone but the newest teachers. There are now 2400 teachers without jobs.
Medial summary question: Given the above facts, who is to blame for the ATR mess that costs the city 40 million annually?

If you read carefully, you deduced that Bloomklein is mostly responsible for the problem, with a huge assist from the UFT. So let's continue:

  • BloomKlein was given total control of the schools more than 7 years ago. Despite this, Joel Klein told you yesterday that “I don’t make the rules."
  • BloomKlein also blamed the economy for the hiring freeze. The mayor is trying to buy a third term because of his alleged business acumen, and yet he could not foresee an economic downturn that was several years in the making.
  • Despite knowing the bleak economic outlook, BloomKlein recruited you and others to be part of the Teaching Fellows program this past spring, just as they were about to impose a hiring freeze on teachers.
  • You were promised a job by the principal of MS337 despite the hiring freeze and the knowledge that you could not be placed.
Homework Question: You now know that BloomKlein created the ATR mess and still lured you into becoming a Teaching Fellow despite having no jobs available for you in the foreseeable future. Given this, explain in a well thought out essay why the hell you'd want to work for these buffoons in the first place. Make sure you discuss why you think they wouldn't screw you as hard as they've screwed the 2400 ATRs languishing in teacher hell.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Take a Number, Please

An article in today's Gotham Schools blog really frosted my shorts. You can read it here, but I'll summarize. Joel Klein was exiting a speech at his new teacher orientation when a woman, a Teaching Fellow, accosted him and told him how unfair it was that she and others like her had to--if you can even believe it--wait their turn to get jobs teaching in NYC. If you can imagine!

I mean, these are people who want to be teachers and spent a whole few weeks preparing, so why shouldn't they get to skip the line over the 2500 ATRs waiting in limbo? So what if they have no experience and no seniority?

The woman then went on, “To be here and to hear you speak is wonderful,” she told Klein. “But it’s also kind of a slap in the face.” Because turn about is fair play, Klein proceeded to slap the 2500 ATRs in the face by saying “I don’t make the rules....If I did, everything would be different.” What he means, of course, is that if he had his way he'd fire all the ATRs and hire TFs. He punctuated his point by giving her his card.

Why do Fellows, and to an even greater degree TFAs, assume they they are entitled to ignore seniority rules? At least part of the blame has to go to our own union, which has gradually been selling off pieces of our seniority rights for years. The awful 2005 contract gave away seniority transfers, and senior teachers are often stiffed on positions in favor of newbies because principals know the grievance process is a farce.

So to all Fellows and TFAs who are unemployed, I do have some sympathy for you, but not as much as I have for those poor souls who've dedicated their lives to teaching and who now languish as overpaid, underutilized subs. Once they are placed, I will gladly support you. Until then, take a number, please, and get to the back of the line.

UPDATE: The New York Times has posted their own version of this story and you can comment if you wish. I did just that a few minutes ago.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guessing and Gibberish

Diane Ravitch keeps pounding out the same point about the state tests being dumbed down in order for NY (and other states) to meet the impossible standards of NCLB. Considering that just about everything George Bush did was wrong and stupid, you'd think that NCLB would be revisited. Just sayin'. Anyway, Ravitch thinks that David Steiner, the new state ed. commisioner, will toughen standards. I'm not quite as sanguine. No one wants to be the person in charge when test scores plummet.

As the new school year looms before us, I started thinking of all the crap we have to do to get ready for the quality review and the administration. It reminded me that it will soon be time to do the dreaded DRAs. In case you're not an English teacher (and count yourself lucky if you are not), the DRAs are a means of assessing a student's reading level so they can be placed into those appropriate reading groups that no one actually does (no teacher in their right mind would group all the bottom students together without a suit of armor and ear plugs). Anyway, my point, which I saw somewhere around here a moment ago, is that English teachers one again will have to administer those long, boring assessments to determine reading level.

Here's how the DRAs went for me last year. I administered them to my bottom group in September, and determined that most of them were several years below grade level in reading. When I say several, I mean three or more. I worked hard with them, and a few of them returned the favor by working hard for me. Most repeated the pattern that caused them to be years below grade level in the first place--they did next to nothing. I did the DRAs twice more, with moderate improvement.

Here's the kicker--when the ELA results came back, only TWO of those kids had scored a level 2. The rest of the class were level 3s. That means they were considered to have met state standards in reading and writing proficiency.

I think I'm a pretty good teacher, but I'm not that good. The tests were just plain easy. As it turns out, students can score a level 2 just by guessing on the multiple choice and leaving the written part blank. Like most teachers, I had trained my students never to leave anything blank. They knew to write topic sentences and quote passages of text. As I learned when scoring the ELA, a topic sentence followed by gibberish rated at least a 2 of 5. That's why most of my kids "achieved" threes despite scoring well below level on the DRAs.

In the end, all of this means that the data that Klein and his ilk worship as the holy grail of education is pretty much meaningless. But it's out of my hands, now. Whoever inherits my kids next year will administer the DRA and find that most of the students are still several years behind grade level. That teacher will have a hell of a time convincing those students that they need to work hard. After all, why work hard when guessing and gibberish will earn you a three?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

UFT Robs City Blind!

Yes, my friends, THIS is why we pay the UFT 1000 clams each per year. The UFT has pulled off the heist of the century, according to an article in the New York Post. While Bloomberg and the rest of the city were sleeping, the cat burglars at the UFT somehow managed to wrangle a "fat raise" of 8% over two years. The article details for six paragraphs how we have somehow gotten this huge increase before negotiations have even begun! Only in paragraph 7 does it mention that this is the pattern amount that the Post and others have insisted we get every single year since the flood, and that the city always budgets the pattern amount in anticipation of new contract signings.

Of course, the Post gives very good reasons why teachers should not get the pattern amount. For example, the city isn't doing as well as it had been. Steven Malanga, who may or may not have been dropped on his head as a baby, said that "Inflation in New York is at zero or below." Apparently, he has not noticed that the only thing that has gone down in NY is the difficulty of the state exams.

In another brilliant piece of reasoning, Steven told the Post that the national unemployment rate in the private sector is 9.5 percent -- but in the public sector, it's 2.3 percent. I guess Steven believes this can be solved by stiffing NY teachers. If things get any worse, Steven may suggest that NYC teachers be taken out and shot. That'll teach us!

Steven seems to have no problem with people like Andrew Hall of Citibank receiving a $100 million dollar bonus despite the fact that taxpayers spent 45 billion bailing out Citi in the first place.

No contracts have been signed as yet, of course. The UFT negotiating committee is still busy dealing with all of your Contract Surveys. You see, it's very hard for the union to figure out what the rank and file want because many of them have not set foot in a classroom in decades. They're still haven't agreed on whether teachers want more money and respect, or less money with zero job security. The surveys may help.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take Some Vitamins with Irony and I'll See You in the Morning

I'm one of those people bursting with health, knock wood. When I go for my yearly exam with my regular doctor, he tells me how he wishes he had my numbers. So it isn't often I find myself sitting in a waiting room. But it's summer, and I needed something minor done that would take literally five minutes, so I made an appointment two weeks ago for 10 AM this morning. The doctor's secretary called me yesterday to remind me to be on time, so I assumed they were a model of efficiency and that I'd be home in no time. Turns out what I really needed was to have my head examined.

No fewer than 15 people were seated in the office when I entered, at 10 AM on a Thursday. I went to the window to sign in, and I noticed that almost everyone who had signed in before me had written down the exact same appointment time as me. I was the only one who took it literally and showed up on time, not an hour early. It took two hours and fifteen minutes to get in to see the doctor. No joke.

When I got in, the doc gave me some chit chat about Obama care, telling me I should never support it, because I had good insurance already and I'd never be able to actually see a doctor because the lines would be around the block. I started looking for Ashton Kutcher to see if I was being punk'd. But no. She was serious. If irony was a crime, she'd have gotten the death penalty.

She spoke to me for about three minutes about Obama care. I figured that if she spent that much time on each patient before me, I'd waited an additional 45 minutes while this doctor did her level best to scare the bejesus out of her patients. My actual treatment took less time than the spiel.

In the future, when people tell me that doctors are professionals but teachers are not, I'll relate this story to them. Imagine what would happen to a teacher who scheduled 150 parents for the same time slot on Parent Teacher Conference night and then babbled on about what an a-hole Joel Klein is? There'd be riots, I tell you.

Why we put up with this from doctors, I don't know. But I'm proud to be a professional. A teacher.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mayoral Control Goes to the Dogs

On the heels (!) of NYC Educator's proclamation that a dog could pass the NYS ELA and Math tests, and the announcement this week that dogs are as smart or smarter than your average toddler, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he is starting a new Doggie DOE at a nominal cost of four billion dollars per year. Using a formula that has worked well for him in the past, Bloomberg then cut 10 per cent from the budget and demanded that Albany give him total control over the new DDOE. Legislators argued for a few moments, but soon rolled over on their backs, whereupon Bloomberg scratched their bellies and fed them lumps of sugar.

Recognizing the need for a strong leader-of-the-pack type to ring in the new department, Bloomberg called upon Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, to be the new Chancellor of the DDOE. At a hastily called press conference, Cesar refused to take questions, but made the reporters beg, bark, and ask permission before they could leave the room to pee. Infuriated that someone had more control over the press than even himself, Bloomberg immediately fired Millan and brought in a new chancellor.

"It's time we get rid of the same old politics that made NYC dogs so lazy," said Bloomberg. "All a dog has to do to get a license under the current system is breathe. We need to toughen up those standards and end social licensing. And I know just the man to do it--Joel Klein, the new DDOE chancellor." The reporters, sensing that Cesar Milan was gone, scrambled to their seats and began asking questions. Asked one reporter of Klein, "What makes you think you know how to train the city's 1 million dogs better than a canine expert like Mr. Millan? Do you have any experience with dogs?"

Klein thought for a moment. "On the way over I stepped in a big pile of dog shit. And I once tried to lick my own balls."

The reporters, hugely impressed, ran off to write lengthy editorials in praise of the new system.

All is not Alpo and Snausages with the new system as of yet. The first public doggie school slated to open in September, called Brooklyn Fetch, began taking applications from all neighborhood dogs yesterday. This morning, however, Eva Moscowitz showed up accompanied by a bunch of Dobermans with spiked collars and demanded space for her new FruFru Doggie Charter Academy. Joel Klein confronted Moskowitz but acceded to the request shortly after a giant hole was ripped in his trousers by a set of slavering jaws. It took security guards several minutes to wrest the torn pants from Ms. Moskowitz's mouth. Immediately afterwards, Moskowitz began signing up all the German Shepherds, border collies, and poodles for her new academy, leaving the neighborhood dogs to the public school system.

There are more signs that the DDOE is headed for controversy. Several trainers at the new school attempted to unionize in an effort to force the city to supply them with pooper scoopers. Fortunately, Randi Weingarten stepped in and created the new Doggie's Choice program, which will supply enough money for trainers to purchase scoopers or bags, but not both. She hailed this as enormous victory and kissed Joel Klein on both cheeks. Fortunately, he was not attempting to lick his balls at the time. On a sad note, the union organizers were sent to Trainer Reassignment Centers, known among trainers as "The Dog House".

In addition, owners of St. Bernards began demanding vouchers so their dogs could attend Catholic school.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sarah Palin's Educational Death Panels

First of all, let me admit that I love writing about Sarah Palin. For one thing, writing about her just about guarantees some interesting comments from her supporters, some of whom are almost as funny as Sarah herself. They scour the blogs for anti-Sarah posts they can comment on. I can almost picture the spittle flying from the corners of their mouths as they read my obvious lefty-pinko-socialist-commie posts.

Sarah most recently made waves for complaining that Obama's health care plan is "downright evil", and that it would lead to her son Trig, who has Down Syndrone, to face an Obama/Socialist created "death panel" who would decide whether Trig was fit to live. Despite the patent absurdity of it all, Sarah conveniently ignores the fact that millions of children have inadequate health care right this minute, and while they don't have to worry about death squads, their parents must worry about whether an illness will force them to choose between medical care and bankruptcy.

A more cogent argument for Sarah, and hence one she would never make, is that the current wave of education "reform" would be the equivalent of an educational death panel for Trig and others like him. Suppose we do what Sarah's conservative pals want, and expand the number of charter schools? How many charters would be willing to take on a child like Trig? Because charter schools live and die strictly by their results on standardized tests, there is little incentive for them to take on a special needs child. Trig would be denied entrance to school after school by these charter death panels. And because politicians like Sarah want to funnel more and more money to charters, Trig would end up in a public school system sucked dry of the funds needed to give him the education he deserves.

Of course, I doubt that will ever happen, because Sarah can afford to send her kids to private school anywhere she wants. That's what happens when you're a rootin'-tootin', free-wheelin', go-getter who can make a LOT more money by quitting her post than she can by fulfilling the obligations of the job she was elected to do.

Now, Sarah Palin fans, have at it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to Fill Out Your UFT Contract Survey

In what I consider a disturbing turn of events, it appears that the blogger at Have a Gneiss Day has been "outed", if you will, by someone who commented on one of her posts. I don't know the circumstances or the content of the post, but as an anonymous blogger myself, I understand her concern.

The BloomKlein regime has instituted such a reign of terror that no one wants to have it known that they disagree with the system. Bloggers remain anonymous, and teachers are reluctant to file winnable grievances because of the fear of retribution. Worse still is the knowledge that the UFT is utterly useless and unwilling to stand up for the rights of teachers, including our most basic rights to free speech and academic expression. The proper response of a strong union to strong arm tactics would have been to push back twice as hard; our union under Randi Weingarten has rolled over on its back. Will Mulgrew be any different?

I propose we find out. I am sending back my UFT Contract Questionairre without filling it out, because I believe no one at the union reads them anyway. But I am going to do one thing: I am writing across the front cover, in red marker, two simple words:


I urge you to do the same. Tell your friends and colleagues. Email this post to them. If the powers that be at the UFT HQ see enough of these, perhaps they will get the message.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Check your school's scores

You can check the math and ELA scores for your school here. I did it, and was gratified to find that the ELA scores of my current school and grade exceeds my previous school by 67 percentile points. So I'd like to officially thank the sphincter principal and AP who drove me out. I'm in a much better place, with much easier kids to teach, all thanks to their relentless efforts.

My old school's scores tanked since I left. My current school's scores have risen steadily. Apparently, having an unhappy, scared, inexperienced staff isn't the best thing after all. Who'd have thunk it?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kindergarten Visits by Sarah Palin

Want Sarah Palin to visit your kindergarten class? Apparently, all you have to do is say something she doesn't like on a blog. Palin's lawyer threatened to come down to the kindergarten class of a blogger who had posted that Palin and her husband Todd, who doesn't do it doggie style (he prefers snowmobiles) were about to file for divorce.

I'm not sure how scaring 5 year olds makes you look presidential, but that's the kind of mavericky, media-hatin', job quittin' gal she is, you betcha. If she had to high tail it out of Alaska when the going got touch, she wouldn't last ten minutes with a bunch of kindergarteners.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Filling Vacancies

A great post by Chaz got me thinking about how we could solve the ATR problem--assuming, that is, that Joel Klein actually wants to solve it, which is debatable. He certainly sent a tepid email to principals implying that they should try to hire from the ATR pool, but as far as taking any action against recalcitrant principals, we've seen nada. Considering that Klein has a free hand to exert his authority under mayoral control, he sure hasn't been using all that muscle.

To solve the ATR problem, Klein could simply issue the following mandate to principals:

  1. You have two weeks to fill your vacancies from the ATR pool.
  2. After two weeks, if we find a position in your school for which a qualified ATR exists, we will place that ATR ourselves.
  3. In addition, your budget will be cut by an amount equal to that ATR's salary. That money will be distributed equally to the rest of your staff to be used as additional Teacher's Choice money.

This would force principals to fill their vacancies with ATRs, and the best part is they'd have to scour the system for qualified senior ATRs or face the prospect of a hefty fine.

And if that didn't work, we could threaten to fill any other vacancies said principals may have with cacti.