Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Teacher Bashing--It's Not Just for Politicians Anymore!

If you want your 15 minutes of fame these days but you can't think of anything other than claiming one of your students has commandeered a hot air balloon and is somewhere over the Atlantic, I have good news for you. As a NYC teacher, all you have to do is be a traitorous rat and dump on your fellow teachers.

Ariel Sacks just recently did that, and she got considerable attention for it. I thought she was pretty bad, but she was nothing compared to fellow attention whore Matt Polazzo, who recently had an opinion piece published in the Daily News (which he refers to as the NY Daily Post on his Facebook page, which speaks to how accurate the guy is). You can read the article here, especially if you're a fan of illogical arguments and limited vocabularies.

To save time, Polazzo basically says that incompetent teachers, presumably those unlike him, should be fired immediately, while good teachers, presumably those like him, should stay. He never defines good or bad, but I bet he can tell the difference pronto.

I was tipped off to Polazzo's Facebook page by an alert reader, and it tells us a lot about the guy. Other than being unable to identify the newspaper he was published in, we receive many other insights into his mind. For example, the page is called "Team Polazzo" and has a nice picture of a pirate instead of his actual face. What's really unusual is how many teachers have commented on the article, including one who says that they should all wear tee shirts with the words "Team Polazzo" written on them. Personally, I think they could save a lot of time and money by just buying a bunch of "I'm with Stupid" tees.

So, why did Polazzo write a piece trashing his colleagues? One can only guess, but attention whore suggested itself to me immediately. Also, I'd bet his physique isn't quite what Survivor (or even Tool Academy) is looking for, and he most likely flunked the exam for Are Your Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, so he had to look for another avenue for self promotion.

To be honest, Polazzo doesn't bother me that much. The education world has always had bottom feeding ass kissers who look to further their careers by smooching the wrinkled buttocks of the Kleins of the world. What bothers me is that he has followers. In a similar vein, I can understand why the world has Charles Manson types, but I'll be damned if I can figure out why others want to be part of the family.

Since Polazzo wants to tear up the teacher's contract, I assume he has the courage of his convictions. When his supervisor writes him up one day, I assume he will immediately resign. Right, Mr. Polazzo? When that day comes, I bet he'll wish he'd pulled a balloon boy stunt instead. But with that much hot air, he'd probably leave the Earth's atmosphere. Not that I'd object.

UPDATE: To clarify, the FB page mentioned above is a team page, and not Mr. Polazzo's personal FB page. Sorry for any confusion.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please do more accurate research. That facebook page was setup by Stuyvesant students. Mr. Polazzo had no influence in its creation or its content. I would be surprised if he actually knew it existed.

Anonymous said...

""
I was tipped off to Polazzo's Facebook page by an alert reader, and it tells us a lot about the guy. Other than being unable to identify the newspaper he was published in, we receive many other insights into his mind.
""

I would assume that you have never truly used Facebook, but forgive us sudents for making the page like that.

Mr. Polazzo certainly does not know of the page's existence. Nor are there teachers in the actual FAN GROUP. Everyone involved in that fan group is a student.

If you used Facebook at all, you would be able to tell the distinction between a FAN PAGE and an actual PERSONAL PROFILE. That fan page is only something the students did on their free time, not the actual teacher himself.

You are making judgments on students who are at their relaxed states (off-guard, in other words- such as not watching their grammar or certain minor inaccuracies).

I will make note to the admin of the group to correct some of the inaccuracies of the group (like the "NY Daily Post" error) and perhaps make it private.

Why private? Because this is a school-student thing, unless you want to join in the conversation as you have already?

Mr. Polazzo is a great teacher and a respectable person. Let's not try to label someone stupid now without actually knowing the guy...


""
To save time, Polazzo basically says that incompetent teachers, presumably those unlike him, should be fired immediately, while good teachers, presumably those like him, should stay. He never defines good or bad, but I bet he can tell the difference pronto.
""

He never made such claims. It infuriates me to see and overview of the article that is completely misleading. (For the people who saw only that and got angry, please take a few minutes to read the article in its full form.)

He is siding for a contract that provides more of an incentive for bad teachers to get their game together and teacher better. It's not hard to want good teachers, who respects students (and vice-versa from the students) and who go the extra mile in their teaching, to be paid more than the other guy who lets students write their own recommendations and hands out 90s to everyone in his/ her class.

Mr. Talk said...

Anon, you know what they say about when you assume....

Great to know that your hero has indoctrinated you to his point of view. I wish someone had taught you the skill of independent thinking.

As far as critical reading skills go, I clearly said that it was a "team" page, and never claimed that it was his personal page.

Tell me--when a supervisor deems
Polazzo unfit, will you agree that he should just be fired on the spot--or does that only apply to everyone else? What have you learned about justice and contracts?

One of his students claims "he fell asleep a lot in class"--see ratemyteachers.com. Should be be fired?

If you really are a student, this man appears to be using you to push a personal agenda. I wonder what the DOE will think. Will he be brought up on charges? Fired? I wonder how long it will take him to call the UFT then.

Farro said...

The most important thing about Mr. Polazzo is that he respects students' views above all else.

He does not believe in "indoctrinating" people. He believes in letting us form our own views--I for one have had similar views to him on the teacher contract well before he is my teacher.

I notice you have neither corrected the point about teacher's on the group nor have you responded to it. That leaves me to assume that you know you were wrong, but you refuse to admit it.

At any rate, the main point is that he is not using us to push his agenda. We have all come to his defense simultaneously without him asking us to--because we respect him, we respect the fact that he respects us. As you clearly don't. And clearly don't deserve our respect either.

Mr. Talk said...

Farro, exactly what grade were you in when you first read the teacher's contract?

Funny how none of you feel indoctrinated, but all of you join a page and travel around the blogs defending him.

If YOU did any research, you'd know that I have long advocated changes to the teacher evaluation system. In fact, it's one of the five posts on which this blog is based and part of my educational philosophy.

I do not, however, believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Do us all a favor, and ask Mr. Polazzo why he has not renounced his union membership. Ask him whether he would agree, in writing, to resign should he ever receive an unsatisfactory rating. Then get back to me.

Farro said...

I can say that I have never read the actual teacher's contract, however I have done enough research on it to know most of the problems with it. I will not claim to be an expert, but I know the sore points.

So apparently, if we rally around a teacher that you disagree with, we must be indoctrinated? Maybe we really do agree with him? Maybe, we, independently, have realized that what he's saying is fundamentally right?

Oh yeah, I just remembered. We're students (actually, I'm an alum, but that's irrelevant). We can't form opinions unless someone has indoctrinated us. Thanks for reminding me.

Well if YOU did any research, you'd know that Polazzo is a teacher with genuine respect from his students, and not some indoctrinator. But apparently you don't have time to check that deeply.

I can't speak for Mr. Polazzo himself, so I cannot answer the last point.

I notice you left my point about leaving points unanswered unanswered. Which means you're still wrong, and you're too cowardly to admit it.

Mr. Talk said...

Farro, since you have not read the teachers' contract, it's hard to see how you formed your views.

As to cowardice, I'd say that word would apply to a teacher who publicly excoriates his colleagues while enjoying the protections that his union provides.

When Mr. Polazzo agrees for forego his own union protection, I might think differently. As of this moment, he seems little more than a petulant child bullying his classmates because he knows his big brother is standing behind him.

Anonymous said...

If teachers, researchers, non-educators, were to read the contract, they would understand the reason behind each article. The contract was hammered out by two parties, the UFT and the DoE. Both parties agreed to the content and chapter leaders make every effort possible to enforce it. As for Polazzo and Sacks and the other traitors, they should never underestimate their day when they will need the UFT to come to their defense. No one is infallible and everyone has always had their bad days in the classroom. But, the Stepford Teachers Polazzo and Sacks are wonderful! Why are they not teaching in a charter or public school since the public school teachers are not up to par to their standards. Could you imagine the type of administrator Polazzo would be when evaluating a teacher's lesson? He would probably wear out Donald Trump's line: You're Fired! Shame on those teachers who chose to betray the rank and file! In 18th century, didn't they shoot traitors?

Anonymous said...

I meant to type: teaching in a charter or private school

NYC Educator said...

Well, it isn't the 18th century. I only hope we're moving forward rather than backward.

Chaz said...

Mr. Talk:
It appears to me that the students of team Polazzo are the commenters not teachers.

I appreciate that his students are defending him as being a good teacher and I am sure he is to them. However, his blanket attacks on teachers who are in the "rubber rooms" and ATRs make him look like an idiot because it is obvious to me that he is clueless to the real world of the NYC classroom where vindictive Administrators, many with limited classroom experience, are filing false accusations to remove experienced teachers.


Shame on him for having his students attack educators without the students knowing the facts.

Anonymous said...

""
Tell me--when a supervisor deems Polazzo unfit, will you agree that he should just be fired on the spot--or does that only apply to everyone else? What have you learned about justice and contracts?
""

Under what circumstances? Also, were there warnings given/ has he abused and ignored them repeatedly? I don't believe any teacher should be fired on the spot. (Except for extreme circumstances, such as showing drunk or something equally extreme and unprofessional, which hopefully would not be the case.)

We support our teacher, but that doesn't mean we forget the system of justice society imposes on crimes. The law is above everyone person living in society. If Mr. Polazzo is deemed unfit, it should be justified as so.

""
Great to know that your hero has indoctrinated you to his point of view. I wish someone had taught you the skill of independent thinking.
""

Are you saying that I have no independent thought? (How can you so simply state something like that, being a teacher yourself? Next time you are in the classroom, take a vote and see how many students side with you in an issue. Are those students that sided with you incapable with independent thought, agreeing just to please you? Are the others insane radicals that live outside of society, and that they are wrong not to side with you? Absolutely not, and you certainly made a poor example of yourself as a teacher by implying such.)

I have not been indoctrinated by my teachers in anyway. In fact, I have my own qualms about the government and policies in the United States that I have considered moving elsewhere, outside this country. My opinions are influenced by outside sources, but just because I agree and disagree with certain things does not mean that I don't think for myself. If it weren't for the article being such a hot topic in his students, Mr. Polazzo certainly wouldn't have set aside some class time to talk about it.

You are saying that you would feel differently if Mr. Polazzo forgoes his union protection. Would you feel better if the person arguing against the Union Contract was outside or inside the system. I myself would take the side of the person that has been (or still is) in the system because he/ she has experienced what it is like firsthand.

And it wouldn't be hard for Polazzo to seek a job outside of teaching. He has a masters in Political Theory, not some other watered down "teaching degree" that many teachers today have. (Don't misunderstand me; I'm not bashing educators with my statement- it's just that it is ridiculous to need to be taught how to teach a topic instead of taking the course itself and have expanded insights on it.) But he loves teaching, and loves to see students grow and learn- and that's why he continues in a profession that is not held in high esteem in this day and age.

We agree the system needs some fixing, great- but why are you making such grandiose claims about his students and his character?

By the way, does it mean that you are a bad teacher is you don't notice a student sleeping in your class while you are caught up in teaching? I believe it is the student's fault, not the teacher's. Using that example is very poor, because you very well know the answer yourself.

---
And still you do not edit your blog post to correct some statements, such as "I was tipped off to Polazzo's Facebook page by an alert reader, and it tells us a lot about the guy." It continues to reflect poorly on your professionalism and character. (Of course, I would retract this judgment if the post is amended, but as of yet, it still stands.)

But wait, what the hell is this?
UPDATE: Me hardies, it seems the members of Team Polazzo want me to walk the plank. I've already been discussed on aforementioned FB page. Shiver me timbers! Forget what I said about retracting my judgments about you. I'm glad you will be retiring soon- the system would be better off without you. No one would miss you once you take your 55/25 retirement.

Mr. Talk said...

Anon--

You agree with Mr. Polazzo that the teacher contract should be ripped up, but when I ask if he should be fired if rated unsatisfactory, you ask "Under what circumstances?" If the contract were ripped up, circumstances wouldn't matter.

You say if Mr. Polazzo is deemed unfit, it should be justified. Under his scenario, it wouldn't have to be. Only the contract guarantees him that right.

Do you think that when Mr. Polazzo discussed his article, he presented the entire picture? Did he discuss why he still enjoys union protection despite vilifying it?

I also have a master's degree. Two, in fact. Most NYC teachers have one.

You say you aren't bashing teachers, and then you say our degrees are watered down (what master's level classes have you taken?)

I didn't say his students were sleeping in his class. One of his students claimed that he slept in class. Such an accusation could get him fired--if not for the union contract he so despises.

I'm not editing my blog post because I don't want to be accused of obfuscation.

You're upset that I judge Mr. Polazzo on a carefully crafted opinion piece, but you judge me based upon an offhand comment on my blog that you quite obviously do not understand.

If Mr. Polazzo can find a job anywhere else, why doesn't he? If he finds the system so odious, why does he stay? Surely a man with his qualifications could find a job in a higher paying suburb, couldn't he? Then he could actually live his convictions instead of just talking a good game. Or perhaps, just perhaps, does he want to keep that nasty old seniority, tenure, and pension that the union has fought for? Let me know when he decides to give those things up. You see, I do respect people who live their convictions. Unfortunately, your Polazzo isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

Hey, old blubbering idiot, do some research: that facebook group was created by STUDENTS who support him, not the evil, traitorous rat Matt Polazzo that's spewing anti-union and human-sacrifice propaganda to students with his slithering words.

Anonymous said...

""
You agree with Mr. Polazzo that the teacher contract should be ripped up, but when I ask if he should be fired if rated unsatisfactory, you ask "Under what circumstances?"
""

Sorry if I misunderstood you, but, the original context was:
when a supervisor deems
Polazzo unfit, will you agree that he should just be fired on the spot

You spoke nothing about teacher contracts in your original question.

What Polazzo is saying that the current contract should be torn up... And a new one drawn::
(From the Daily News article)
We must insist that a new contract contain three key provisions. The contract must allow administrators to fire bad teachers, give them the power to hire any teacher they want, and give administrators flexibility in setting the pay of their teachers.

Please tell me you did read the article? (If you didn't please do so now?)

Certainly, protection from idiot supervisors would be included in a new contract, as it already is (I hope?) in the current one.

""
Do you think that when Mr. Polazzo discussed his article, he presented the entire picture?
""

Perhaps not, though in his class discussion we had recently, he tried to present a broader view of some good points for the contract. Perhaps you should provide us with more reasons why the contract should still stand, like, with a blog post? It certainly would justify your position and well as enlighten (enraged) students.

""
I'm not editing my blog post because I don't want to be accused of obfuscation.
""

What the hell? The piece is already obfuscated. I'm accusing you of obfuscation as it is now. Can you edit it so it can be more accurate?

""
One of his students claimed that he slept in class. Such an accusation could get him fired--if not for the union contract he so despises.
""

The student slept or the teacher slept? If the teacher slept, I understand where you're coming from (and it would help if you provide the RateMyTeachers link, which I suppose is this one, http://ca.ratemyteachers.com/ShowRebuttals.php?rid=14165085&type=0 -- but correct me if I'm wrong, it doesn't say anything about Polazzo falling asleep.)

""
If he finds the system so odious, why does he stay?
""

He stays because he loves teaching. But that doesn't mean he doesn't hate certain aspects of the job. It's alike to how I hate some aspects of the government, but I continue to live under it.

And I applaud you in having two masters (might I ask which ones, or is that too personal?). But, you character (from how you presented yourself) does not show professionalism. It sounds like you certainly could have taken another job. I do believe I will seek out a masters degree in my lifetime, and perhaps more if I deem myself fit for others.

Mr. Talk said...

Chaz, I agree with you. While I've made some disparaging remarks about Polazzo's article, I offer no opinion about his skill as a teacher. For all any of us know, he may be an outstanding educator. Unfortunately, he does not afford us the same consideration.

Any teacher can end up in the rubber room or as an ATR, including Mr. Polazzo. The union offers the only protection we have from vindictive administrators or false accusations. When Mr. Polazzo surrenders his union protections, I'll respect his stance. Until then, he's just blowing hot air.

Anonymous said...

Ah, sorry (I was the above anon poster).

I had not realized that Mr. Polazzo didn't make all of his points clear with what he wanted in the new contract.

Being a student of his, I can reassure you that Mr. Polazzo does not wish to give administrators full and complete power. (I don't think anyone wants that.) I do not believe that came out in his article. And I also do believe that Mr. Polazzo wishes to give students a say in how teachers are regarded in this new theoretical contract.

(Because I was mixing what I had heard in class and what you guys were given in the article, my arguments may have seem half baked/ not making sense. For that, I apologize.)

Mr. Talk said...

Anon, the context of this entire conversation is the teachers' contract and Mr. Polazzo's desire to rip it up. I don't see how you could have missed that. If it is ripped up, your teacher could be fired at will. There will be no justice, no hearing, no discussion.

Again, for the record, I did not obfuscate. I clearly stated that the FB page was a "team" page, not a personal page. I will not change the post because it would change the meaning of many of the comments that have been made. If it clarifies things, I will update the page at the bottom to indicate that.

One of my degrees in in education, and the other in my subject area. I don't give much more information here, because I tend to speak out freely again the BloomKlein administration, and that could get me thrown in a rubber room--or fired for my free speech, if Polazzo has his way.

Masha said...

Hello,

I am a student at Stuy and I created the FB page. You can e-mail me at mariagindler@yahoo.com to confirm this.

As far as I know, Mr. Polazzo does not even know this facebook page exists.

It is understandable if you disagree with his article but please do not count the FB page against him since he has no role in it.

I also picked the pirate picture. I'm not sure how that can be used against him, but in any case, me again. The t-shirt idea was me too. I thought it was funny.

There are also no teachers posting on the facebook page.

The name, "Team Polazzo" should not be taken too seriously either. This is after all, just a facebook group. We are not planning to stage any coups.

Cheers,
Masha

df said...

"I don't give much more information here, because I tend to speak out freely again the BloomKlein administration, and that could get me thrown in a rubber room--or fired for my free speech, if Polazzo has his way."

Now you're just being a dick.

Henry Lin said...

Let me say that unlike other student's here, as a former member of a board that discusses school issues (it also consists of the principal, teachers union rep, and PA) I have read the union contract. A union contract is certainly a necessary thing for teachers under the current system, however what Mr. Polazzo advocates, is in fact tearing up one that "protects mediocre educators, dooms kids to failure." Both of those are undeniable facts, presuming you admit the basic premises that there are medicore educators and that the union contract protects all educators. The existence of the former then naturally leads into the ladder just as p leads to q. I have far more to say about the matter, but fundamentally, it seems clear that Polazzo is against a poor contract, not any contract. There is clearly no easy solution out, but student's are really being shut out under the current system. Stuyvesant has its share of horrendous teachers and I loathe to imagine a school in the South Bronx or Bedford Stuyvesant where there is an even greater potential for chaos. I greatly respect teachers, and I do believe in them having their protections, but there has to be some sort of accountability and some sort of merit based system to help the ailing NYC public school system. Mr. Polazzo wants to rid a the establishment of a contract that protects poor teachers--no where does it say he wants to eliminate the possibility of any protection for teacher's. That's both an illogical position for him to take (as you have pointed out) and from what I have heard from him, an untrue position.

Henry Lin said...

excuse my block of text; I find it hard to remember to press enter when these commment boxes are obscenely small to begin with.

Anonymous said...

""
Anon, the context of this entire conversation is the teachers' contract and Mr. Polazzo's desire to rip it up. I don't see how you could have missed that. If it is ripped up, your teacher could be fired at will. There will be no justice, no hearing, no discussion.
""

Yes, Mr. Polazzo desires to rip it up. But that isn't the main point-- he wishes to rip it up so a new one can be drawn (one that Henry Lin above explains). It would be ridiculous for a contract-less system to exist, especially one without justice. (And I am certain that Mr. Polazzo would agree on this-- which, of course, was discussed in class and not in the Daily News article-- the article left little room for any flexibility in interpreting what Polazzo's intentions were, but rest assured that Mr. Polazzo does not want any system that allows administrators to have free reign.)

And finally, thank you for making your edit. (It would be better in the body of the paragraph where it is mentioned, but the bottom is alright.)

Hm, maybe there should be a follow-up article from Mr. Polazzo that more properly explains what he wishes to do (rather than his position alone). The conversation from the students and the educators is getting a bit convoluted (since the students did indeed have a bit more context than what was provided from the Daily News article alone)...

Mr. Talk said...

Mr. Lin, your serious comment demands a serious answer.

My problem with Polazzo's article is that it is entirely destructive. I don't know any educators who want unfit teachers in the building. The question is how do we fairly evaluate teachers and protect them from vindictive administrators and those who would fire expensive senior teachers such as Polazzo in order to save budget money? Mr. Polazzo offers no answers, other than to place all power in the hands of administrators.

It's akin to me saying that there are problems in the United States, so to solve them, I propose that we rip up the constitution and nullify all laws, while putting all the power in the hands of the President. It's not a solution at all, but an invitation to chaos.

Many ed bloggers, myself included, have proposed ways of revising the current system. Mr. Polazzo should have done the same. If he has constructive ideas, I'd like to hear them.

Mr. Talk said...

Anon, I'd be happy to post any revisions to his article that Mr. Polazzo would like to make. (I seriously doubt that the News would publish them--they are notoriously anti-union). I certainly would like to hear how he'd ensure justice for teachers in the absence of the current contract.

Seth said...

We need to keep something in mind. This is a newspaper article aimed at the general public. Expecting to read a detailed plan for reform in a paper meant for all people (non educators included) would be ridiculous. Yes, it would be more effective if Mr. Polazzo had re-written the contract in full, but would the daily news be an appropriate medium for this? No it would not. The point was more a call for reform than a specific plan. The right arena for specifics of this reform would be the committee that re-writes the contract, not a newspaper.

Henry Lin said...

For the record, Mr. Polazzo had originally written his opinion article as part of his PhD course because his professor was a journalist. Said professor then submitted it to the Daily News and they wanted to publish it--he modified it since, but, nevertheless, an article written for a teacher is inevitably more partisan with less considerations for everyone involved. I will ask for the original copy (he offered it to us) and back up my arguments a little more, although I cannot speak for what he wishes to do.

However, I will definitely look into the greater complexities of the New York union system. I would just like to say something as a person very much interested in law and politics, and the understand that at heart, this all boils down to school politics.

I am Republican and in my school, considered pretty textbook--I am generally anti-union, let it be in Michigan, or the AFL. Many of my friends tend to be very pro-union--one is a member of the Cornel Democrats Club, and the other president of the Young Social Democrats movement in Stuy. However, just as I understand that a teacher's union is necessary, I think there is an overwhelming belief from the whole spectrum of the political rainbow that under the current system is not one for step by step dilly dallying. Students suffer unnecessarily every day, wasting valuable time.

Anonymous said...

I hope to god that this person, South Bronx School, is not a person you want to stand by. It is a direct attack on the person, not his beliefs or actions, based on what playful comments were stalked from his Friendster profile.

I'm glad we're coming into more of an understand here on your blog, but it does not speak highly of you to be linked to from his blog... I respect you more (since I think we've reach an understanding), but I do not believe South Bronx School is a colleagues, a "fellow friendly" educator, you wish to continue to be associated with?

J said...

1) Accountable Talk, you're a pretentious piece of shit, FUCK YOU.
2) You know nothing about Matt, so don't bash him, you can argue against his viewpoints, but not him.
3) THE FACEBOOK PAGE WAS NOT MADE BY HIM, he has no idea that it exists. It was made by students who agree with his viewpoints and are defending them. I think students know the inadequacies of our educational system best.

Mr. Talk said...

J, I know you're not representative of the level of student at Stuyvesant. A number of students have comported themselves well here in debate. You should follow their example.

Have a nice evening.

J said...

1) I don't go to Stuyvesant.
2) Get a life, please.

Mrs. Marm said...

Laughing out loud as always!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I am a senior at Stuyvesant.
The fact that you oppose the cleansing of bad teachers from our schools speaks volumes about yourself and your own character. Mr. Polazzo identified a very serious flaw with the current UFT/Teacher contract system whit I, personally, have seen the effects of first hand.
The fact that you accuse Mr. Polazzo of starting that facebook page speaks volumes about your commitment to factual accuracy. That page was started by a friend of mine, a student, and I am glad to be member. As many posters before me have stated: I would be surprised if Mr. Polazzo knows of it's existence.
I kindly suggest you take the time to actually read and understand Mr. Polazzo's article before you post slanderous and untrue pulp about him. He is a hard working teacher who is speaking out against a corrupt system. The least you could do is listen.

Sincerely--
--Anonymous Student

Farro said...

Polazzo is not a hypocrite by not giving up uion portections because he's not arguing for ending union protections from vindictive principals.

He's arguing against the fact that the Union protects senior teachers and bad teachers, both of which are a problem.

Pogue said...

Why are senior teachers a problem? And, what constitutes a bad teacher? More importantly, what constitutes a bad NYC educational system run by a mayor and chancellor who have had control of it for eight years?...Have at it, students.

Mr. Talk said...

J, I'm sure the Stuyvesant students posting here are relieved.

Mr. Talk said...

Dear Senior at Stuyvesant,

If you did any research at all, you'd know that I am not opposed to ridding the system of truly bad teachers. One of my posts on that very topic has been in the sidebar of this blog since its inception. So your post is rather the pot calling the kettle black.

Polazzo offers no solutions, just wholesale power in the hands of administrators. Ripping up the contract is not an answer. Perhaps you don't know that principals have the right to fire any teacher for three whole years before they are granted tenure. After that, there is a procedure, called a 3020a hearing, in which a teacher can be removed.

You seem to want to blame teachers. Of the small percentage of bad teachers, 100% of them were hired by principals and kept in the system for at least three years. Principals also have not used the tools available to remove those few incompetents. Why should all hard working teachers, such as myself and presumably Mr. Polazzo, be stripped of protections because some principals did their jobs poorly? Perhaps you are unaware that those protections were won over a long period of time, and often at the expense of zero increases in salary?

The system needs to be revised, to be sure. Giving all the power to principals, who in large part created this problem in the first place, is insanity. That is what Mr. Polazzo wants.

Anonymous said...

By bashing this "teacher basher", you just earned your 5 seconds of fame.

Anonymous said...

OK. First: I don't know what the general assumptions are but this is my first post here. What I'm trying to say is I'm not the Anonymous from above. Just clarifying.

Another point: while I go to school at Stuyvesant, I have never had Mr Polazzo. I have heard from fellow students that he is a great teacher that they respect because he respects them, but I have not had him. That being said, I think we can all agree that he has not indoctrinated me.

Rebuttal time: Mr Talk, while I agree with you 100% that teachers need a union, I can't help but agree with many of Mr Polazzo's points. You say that administrators don't do their jobs and create this mess when they fail to fire bad teachers in the available time. My counter point is this: my mother currently works as an F-status teacher in a local middle school, fulfilling the roles of staff developer and science coach. For those who don't know F-status basically means that she can't work (read: be paid) for more than 4 days of work per week. One of the science teachers she has to work with achieved tenure before the current principle filled the role. This woman is a terrible teacher. Before my mother was hired this woman gave out 90+ grades simply because it meant parents didn't question her. In addition to this, her idea of teaching effectively is telling students to copy what is in their textbooks and she has no concept of lesson plans or curriculum. She also shows 5 minutes before her first class everyday and leaves as soon as the last period bell rings. I don't know why the previous principle didn't fire her but at the same time this doesn't mean all administrators are incompetent.

My next point comes hither. While this woman is now virtually immune to being fired, my mother has no such protection. My mother works 3 days a week at her school and 2 at home. On days she works at the school she is gone by 7:00AM to get to a school 10 minutes away, and often does not come home until 6:30PM or 7:00PM. While she works as hard as she can these 11 to 12 hours, a UFT protected teacher is skating by on 6 1/2 hours of no effort. When at home on her "days off" my mother writes lesson plans and tries as hard as she can to improve the student's education. My mother does this because she loves teaching and she is good at it. If she were paid or compensated based on merit, she would make enough to not be worried about whether or not we have to watch our grocery spending this month lest we don't make a mortgage payment. Sure the administration shouldn't have total control, but right now Mr Polazzo's idea of paying good teachers more is looking pretty god damn sweet.

Mr. Talk said...

Anon 9:08:
I have no position on what your mom does other than to say that F Status jobs are greatly coveted. For part time work, the pay is quite high--much higher than a sub would make, for example.

I don't know whether the teacher in question is as bad as your mom claims; for the sake of argument, let us say she is correct. In that case, administration has failed TWICE--once by allowing a teacher who does nothing to be granted tenure (which means looking the other way for three years), and the second time by the current principal who should initiate 3020A hearings against this teacher.

Neither of these situations would be resolved by eliminating due process to which teachers are entitled under state law.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon "9:08" and there is a hearing against this woman. But like I said, getting a teacher fired is very difficult and eats at the school's time.

Anonymous said...

At least Polazzo has balls enough to put his name on his opinions.

Mr. Talk said...

Anon 10:47--guess you and I are the same then, eh?

In truth, Mr. Polazzo didn't show courage or anything else besides disrespect to his colleagues in his piece. Why would it take "balls" to write a piece that directly supports the position held by the Chancellor? I'm sure Joel Klein would kiss Polazzo on the lips for writing that piece, so I don't think he has much to fear. It doesn't take much guts to suck up to those in power, as Mr. Polazzo did.

If you haven't noticed, most bloggers who write anti-BloomKlein blogs prefer to remain anonymous. That's because we can be targeted and harrassed for our views. Kind of puts the lie to the "job for life" crap Polazzo likes to spread, doesn't it?

Andrew said...

I'll be frank and tell you that the only reason I ended up on this site was because I took a look at a friend's facebook page which led me to team Polazzo and all the way to you. I'm not going to offer an opinion on the teacher's contract, because, honestly, I don't know enough about it. I notice that you took special pains not to contribute to the discussion meaningfully.
If you want to discuss an issue, discuss it. Don't use snide remarks to cast aspersions on Polazzo's character, physique, attention to detail, or any of the other baseless claims and insinuations you include in your article. If you're just being glib or you want to excite people about coming to your page, you aren't doing yourself justice. It seems like you know a fair amount about the UTF contracts from your responses to comments... it's a pity that wasn't included in your main article.
If Polazzo had wanted to get further ahead in the past, he could have, but he routinely stood up for students on issues that didn't concern him and brought him into conflict with the school's administration. You call his method 'indoctrination', but step back and ask yourself why so many students freely support a teacher so vehemently. How often does that really happen? Polazzo is popular because he does fulfill the role of a good teacher, because he stresses academic rigor and because he is a role model. I had his class 6 years ago and I'm still happy to write in his support.

Anonymous said...

I would like to respond to the person whose mother works as an F-status teacher. F-status teaching positions are only given to those who are retirees. In other words, the person was either a former teacher or AP. Some schools hire retired APs as F-status teacher and not as an F-status AP because the position for a retired AP is too, too expensive. Therefore, a retired AP does not mind working under F-Status position as an F-status teacher because the pay is very good. To get to my point, the Sty's student whose mother is an F-status teacher has no rights because they are part-time workers that is what F-status means. An F-status teacher CANNOT have a permanent position. Moreover, an F-status teacher receives this pay, which is quite nice, and their retirement pension, too. I would like for the Sty student to ask his mother about the meaning of an F-status teacher. Unless his mother is a per-diem teacher, which again means that they have limited rights and hiring opportunities. A per-diem teacher is called to work when there's a need.

As for Andrew, I work in a hard-to-staff school in the south Bronx. The students are hostile, belligerent, unprepared or unwilling to learn, some parents are having a difficult time with their own child, cutting is the norm, studying is unheard of, and taking education seriously is a joke to many of these students. But, I still make effort and work my tail off to get them into shape. I am a strick, disciplinarian teacher who holds my students accountable for their actions. They know I care for them. Do I always get great results? Sometimes I do and somtimes I don't. Here's the problem with holding my performance to the students' performance. If students have too many absences, they receive a 40. As per Chancellor's Regulation A-501(promotion criteria. students are supposed to have 90% attendance. But I only hold them accountable to 80%, but they only give me 60%) Should I be terminated because of their excessive absences? Should I be terminated because they come unprepared to learn or unwilling to learn? Should I be terminated because parents don't know what to do with their children because they, too, are having a difficult time with their child? I'm a senior teacher with plenty of years under my belt and I spend my entire weekends planning lessons, coming up with creative ways to engage the students, to motivate them, to find beauty in the subject I teach, to show them how the concepts transend to the real world, and I use technology to connect the abstract of the concepts to the 21st century. But, my students are not from Sty or Bklyn Tech or Bx HS of Science or from any of the other prestigious high schools where students have a desire to learn. No matter what I keep hammering in their heads the importance of education and how education will move them from poverty to a middle class status. There are students who listen to my advice and demonstrate that they will be life-long learners and the others will send me to hell and usually tell me to shut the fuck up. But, I keep on teaching.

Mr. Pollazzo should try to understand the plight of the teachers who must contend with the daily malcontents that are in the classrooms. We are not bad teachers; we are not fortunate enough to have students that are in Sty or Bx HS of Science in every classroom across the city. If we did, then every teacher in all the high schools would be able to teach and have every students learn. But, the reality is the following: very few bad teachers, too many unwilling to learn students and parents, themselves, are having a hard time with their own child. Or is the parent a bad parent, too, because they can't control their child? Remember the original classroom is the home.