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.