Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ruben Brosbe Uses Occam's Razor To Cut Himself Some Slack

OK. It official. Ruben Brosbe, award winning blogger, darling of Gotham Schools, and hero in his own mind, was denied tenure, for the second time. He will now embark on his 5th year in the NYC Public Schools.

Ruben wasn't the only one denied tenure, of course. A bunch of other E4E people, like the teachers at Aspirations HS, also had their tenure decisions extended. There's talk that E4E will be officially renamed "Extensions4Educators".

The irony, of course, is that these E4E folks are the very ones who advocated for stricter tenure requirements. Well done, E4E folks! Congratulations!

What struck me most about his "Occam's Razor" post is that Ruben decided the simplest solution to his denial of tenure is just that he isn't good enough yet. Actually, I could respect that kind of stance--if it were genuine. But Ruben leads up to this realization by giving us many, many excuses, such as:

  • The superintendent is making it tougher to get tenure (which is what E4E wanted).
  • It's difficult to earn tenure in a new school.
  • His TDR was flagged because he scored so low (again, something that E4E wanted).
  • The principal's decision was beyond her control (which assumes she wanted to grant Ruben tenure, but did not. There is no evidence presented to support this).
  • Fifteen of his students started as level 1, and many were ELLs (welcome to NY, Ruben!).
  • Four of his students required special education services (welcome to NY, Ruben!).
  • He didn't take criticism from the principal well.
  • He might have poisoned his relationship with the principal.
  • Something on his blog might have upset his superiors.
  • His previous principal would have given him tenure (but how could this be when we know these decisions are based on data and supervisors are always fair?).

That's a lot of excuses to give his readers before he comes to the conclusion that the fault lies not in his stars, but in himself.

I think the most telling part of his piece, however, was this: My principal told me she saw a “disconnect” between what I understood and how I put it into practice in the classroom. Swallowing my pride for a second, I could see it was true. A critical step between the planning of my lessons and their instruction was missing, and as a result, lessons sometimes lost their way.

I don't believe that Ruben understand what a harsh criticism this really is. Ruben has had four years to learn how to execute lessons effectively, but has not. What his principal actually is saying is, "You seem to understand the nuts and bolts of lesson planning, but you aren't a very good teacher." That's why he was denied tenure.

Just how bad is Ruben? Honestly, I don't know. Let me put it to you this way, though. He carries water for the DOE and Joel Klein. He published his own crappy Teacher Data Report score in the New York Post to help them advance their agenda of publishing all teacher scores. He helped write the white paper that would have effectively ended seniority, which was Mayor4Life's wet dream. He stabbed his colleagues in the back at every conceivable turn and wrote about it for GS. And with all this major sucking up, he was still denied tenure.


Let's not forget that in Ruben's little white paper, he and his E4E cronies wanted to give the city the ability to lay off any teacher who had gotten a U rating in the last five years. Meanwhile, Ruben has had four years to prove he deserves his job, and has failed to do so.

One of the tenets of E4E, as adroitly pointed out by NYC Educator, is that teachers don't improve after the third year. While I don't believe that for a moment, I can tell you one thing: I have never seen a mediocre teacher improve dramatically after the third year. From all indications, Ruben is, at best, a mediocre teacher and it is highly unlikely that his FIFTH year will make him into a teaching superstar--you know, the kind of excellent teacher that E4E says everyone deserves.

So why is Ruben still teaching? How many years should the grotesque science experiment that is his teaching career be allowed to go on before his principal pulls the plug? How many students have to be subjected to his mediocrity before someone stops him?

And GothamSchools should be asking itself why they are giving such a broad forum to someone who has proven, year after year, that he really isn't a very good teacher.

So do us all a favor, Ruben. Instead of using Occam's Razor to cut yourself some slack, use it to cut your ties with the teaching profession.


Pete Zucker said...

Or maybe it was something so simple as that Ruben is a dick.

Anyway Mr A, mind if I link to my blog my prediction of July 9 that Ruben was done for?


Mr. Talk said...

Not at all! Link away! You nailed that one. I simply couldn't believe that someone who sucked up as much as Ruben does could be denied tenure yet again.

Really, it makes you lose your faith in humanity when even back-stabbing ass kissers can't get an even break!

Miss RIm said...

Here's my very long comment to Rueben Brosbe....
Mr. Brosbe,
Pullingweeds is right - tenure is the right to due process - surely you've seen some vindictive or just plain strange admin types "go after" people. This happens more often and in stranger scenarios than you can possibly imagine.
Now, I have always worked in D75, some of the kids there simply aren't equipped to pass these ridiculous tests. THAT"S NOT WHAT IT'S ABOUT. You know you have made progress with a student when you listen, really listen to their daily conversation and really see that they've picked up on something. Of course it would be nice if they passed the test, but THE DATA is not the point.
In 2009, my principal walked into the room and gave me big congrats that all my kids passed the ELA test...I saw those tests, I knew what went on in the classroom, I knew something was up, and lo and behold that was the year the scandal broke out. But that was also the year one of my students was re classified into a community school because he did a lot of work on his psycho- social issues. I remember that more.
I have never seen you teach, and we we are in completely different subject areas....but the sentence about the disconnect between what you understood and what you put into practice in the classroom alarmed me. Granted, we alternate certification folks got the shaft as far as training, but surely you can do some reading, ask for coaching and modeling, get some PD this summer. Lemhov's "How to Teach like a Champion" might be a good start. There's a DVD.
But sometimes it sounds like it's a lot more about you than THEM, and if after some soul searching, you find that you are an especially ambitious data driven person, I'd suggest exploring a new career. The pendulum will swing eventually, it always does, and eventually "data" will be an ugly word - it'll be replaced by some other trend, another flavor of Kool Aid. What will you do then?

And having said that, Mr. A Talk, I think I will try to write a blog of my own - more specifically geared toward D75 and special educators. Any advice?

Chaz said...

He is simply waiting for the education deform movement to offer him a job. His classroom stint is temporary,just like his E4E founders.

NYC Educator said...

Thanks for the plug, as always. I'd just like to caution you that Mayor Mike's wet dream will almost certainly resurface next year, as it did this year. He will likely find a surplus, like this year and last, declare he needs to save money for the inevitable deficit next year, like this year and last, and then declare how important it is that he be able to fire whomever he wishes, whenever he wishes, for any reason, or in fact no reason at all.

This, sadly, is an ongoing battle, no matter how many times the "reformers" are proven wrong, the test score debacle, the 56-million wasted merit pay experiment, ARIS, Cathie Black, and Joel Klein blatantly selling out to media whore Murdoch notwithstanding.

Mr. Talk said...

Miss Rlm: All I can say is that if you write blog posts as passionately as you write comments, you're sure to be a success! I think there's a lot to be written about D75 that has not been said. I think yours would be a welcome added voice in the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

This blog is pure genius.

Miss RIm said...

Well, thank you sir. Stay tuned.

Miss RIm said...


Did it, thanks - follow if you choose.

Pete Zucker said...

Miss Rim wrote a blog?

Who is Miss Rim?

Miss RIm said...

I'm Miss Rim, and I started a blog today. Want to throw the D75 / sp.ed stuff into the mix.
Still getting my feet wet, it'll get better soon. I follow your stuff occasionally, like it.

Anonymous said...

Ruben should be glad that he still
'has a job' and he was not permanently denied tenure/discontinued. Tons of pedagogues have been fired and now have no benefits, need to start over and possibly wonder if they can ever teach again in the school system. Once a pedagogue receives a 'D' (for discontinuance, or also called 'd'd), usually the employee is done for. Principals (especially from the Bloom/Klein/Walcott administration) do not like to go against another principal's decision.
Also, Ruben should be glad that he did not get letters to file and harassed by his administrators as opposed to the others across the school system. For most employees, most of all feel like we need to watch over our shoulders at ALL TIMES.

**Miss Rim, starting a blog to discuss what goes on in a district 75 school is a great idea. 1 of my first assignments was taking over a maternity leave in a d 75 school. Oh, there are tons of stories and things that people would never believe.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ruben should use his razor to cut his wrists, hence putting an end to his pathetic teaching career, an end to his self-absorbed, egocentric blog posts, an end to his part in attacking our union and our tenure rights. Yes, he should just end it all for the sake of his future students. Maybe he can get a grant from Donors Choose for a some sharp razor blades...

ASTRAKA said...

Anonymous 7:49 AM
Your post is completely unnecessary and dangerous. Please ask A.T. to delete it.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree in regards to the anonymous comment. Writing that someone should 'use his razor to cut his wrists putting an end to his pathetic teaching career' is completely unnecessary.

It was completely harsh and inappropriate.

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