Hello, ATRs are suing

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chicago rubberizes teacher activist who challenges Chicago Public Schools policies

Just as in New York City and Los Angeles, the Chicago Public Schools is disciplining a teacher activist.

It appears the the district is targeting the elementary school teacher over her opt-out advocacy. From Chicago's CBS TV affiliate, "Teacher, Vocal CPS Critic Faces Firing, Calls Attempt A ‘Witch Hunt’"
A special education teacher who has been a vocal detractor of the policies at Chicago Public Schools has accused the district of going on a “witch hunt” after she was suspended and told CPS is moving to fire her.
CPS officials have confirmed the district is attempting to fire Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy teacher Sarah Chambers, for allegedly violating state and city school board policies.
The district would not elaborate on the charges against Chambers, but she said she got an email just before spring break accusing her of encouraging a student to opt out of the PARCC standardized test required for grades 3-8 and high school.
“I was in complete and utter shock. I mean, I’m a distinguished teacher. I’ve been rated distinguished by all six principals I’ve had. I’ve never been written up in my life,” she said. “They wouldn’t even tell me in person.”
From Chicago's CBS TV affiliate

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why is the UFT allowing supervision of ATRs by two different types of supervisor? Or 'The stealth revision of the contract'

Beware the agreements that the UFT gets from the NYC DOE. It usually means something toxic has become in the power of the DOE. Witness the end of seniority transfer. Witness the forced overtime at the schools under the guise of professional development.

Now we are hearing all over that the DOEUFT has a new protocol, that as part of the end of rotation of ATRs that we will be observed by the roving field supervisor as well as the school administration. Clearly, this is a breach of the contract.

Notice how there have been big changes in the ATR experience almost immediately after the new chief supervisor of ATRs, Randy Asher (former principal at Brooklyn Technical High School, reviewed here) took over. ATRs are being held in one school until June. And ATRs are now being told that their field supervisor will be observing as well as the school administration.

WE NEED A GRIEVANCE AGAINST THE UNION: IT HAS FAILED TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH. IT HAS FAILED TO COMMUNICATE. ONCE PER YEAR, AT MEETINGS THAT ARE ILL-ANNOUNCED, IS NOT SUFFICIENT. ISN'T THIS LESS FREQUENT THAN THE LEGAL REQUIREMENT? ARE THERE ANY ATRS REPRESENTING US IN THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE DOE? IF SO, WHO ARE THEY? WHEN DO THESE REPS MEET WITH THE DOE? Isn't it interesting that other UFT members are better informed and have more frequent meetings?

Apparently, the UFT has allowed the DOE to circumvent the contract. What other bags of tricks are coming? Why did the DOE just drop people into assignments last Monday without so much a notice of what they would be doing? Couldn't emails have been sent alerting teachers what they would be teaching? Or couldn't the field supervisors have sent these messages? Will the school administration try to use Danielson/Advance on us? These are evaluation systems that ATRs have not had proper training or introduction for. Why are ATRs not getting meetings of the sort that we get in October, to clarify the new protocols for the use and observation of ATRs? Why are we getting no official statement to ATRs?

Of course, this leads to a host of other questions, many of which ATRs have been asking for quite a while. Is it any wonder? This is regarding a union-city relationship that has our leaders openly endorsing mayor Bill De Blasio without so much as a membership discussion and vote, a mayor that is really Term Four of Mike Bloomberg, great chutzpah when the city is targeting teachers just as fiercely as ever. Why don't we have a page in the UFT's 'New York Teacher'? Why don't we have a chapter? Why don't we have clear official stats on the numbers of teachers truly placed (not simply temporarily placed for a month or until June)? Why do we get no information about changes from the district representatives, and instead only get happy "how are you?" visits, free of any meaningful substance as to the new topsy turvy conditions we've been thrown into?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Former ATR sets things straight with the New York Post on pass-fail rates and college readiness

A happily retired ATR, pens another on point letter to 'The New York Post.'

  The NY Post article by Alex Taylor and Selim Algar, focuses on Bronxdale HS, where 76% of students graduate but only 4% are ready for college. The school scored an "excellent" rating  in the DOE's "rigorous instruction" category. Red flag?

  This discrepancy between graduation and college ready data is common in our public schools.

  Why is there there such a disconnect between graduation and college ready data?

 The reason is that our public schools are not holding our students to high academic standards and have created a climate where students do not have to become educated to earn a diploma. Homework is no longer important nor studying for exams. Social promotions allow students to move on and graduate through inflated grades, low standards and easy "credit recovery" options at the high school level Discipline rules have been watered down so that students are setting the tone and teachers have no backing from administrators.Our middle schools have the lowest achievement levels. Absenteeism and cutting of classes is rampant and usually not a criteria for passing.

  Those who run our school system are afraid to hold our students to high standards in academics and behavior because they know there will be student resistance. Students have become accustomed to low expectations and easy work over the years. They know rules and requirements can be broken with little consequence.

  It is time to be honest about the faults of our public schools. If not, charter schools will continue to grow The Charters that emphasize and enforce standards and demand an educational climate for learning will have success.

 No amount of money will improve our public schools. Blaming our teachers for the failure of students to learn is dishonest. Giving "lip service" to parent involvement while undermining School Leadership Teams as governing bodies is hypocritical.

 The public school system is rotting away and will not be transformed until we have courageous leadership that is ready to rock the system.


James Calantjis

Friday, January 13, 2017

DeBlasio administration elevates DOE admin to cull the ATR or what?

The Daily News yesterday posted the news that Randy Asher, previously the principal at Brooklyn Technical High School, where his son attended, will get a new $185,298 job with the mission of thinning the ATR herd. You can expect that with that $25,000 raise over his principalship he will have an incentive to make big changes for the ATRs.

Now, we have to call this for what it is: a De Blasio appointment. He has mayoral control. What he wants, happens. The News reported Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina as making the appointment, but we really know who chose this.

The Ben Chapman story is really bad reporting. It doesn't pursue exactly how the city will decide who to hire and who to not hire. Is this thinning the ATR herd to be a culling by dubious means, bogus charges or bogus observations? Interestingly A major problem is one of licensure. Many people in the pool have seen their licenses become irrelevant, as the DOE has slashed the positions of librarian, trades teacher, music teacher, languages other than English or Spanish, with the decision that no one is interested in music anymore or no one is employed as a cosmetologist or an electrician any more. Yet, the city blames the teacher for the fact that it has seemingly destroyed the positions for the far foreseeable future.

Then there are the people in the humanities fields. The DOE has an oversupply of English and social studies teachers. There will be many people in these positions who will not be able to find a job as easily as the math or science teachers.

The Daily News writer really naively uncritically bought the interpretation of the chancellor or her press agents. This article is little more than a press release. If Chapman did a more proper job he would have pursued the question of how the salary differentials are huge incentives to not permanently hire the high salary ATRs. He should have recognized the issue of Fair Student Funding (see here at the Chaz blog for instance), which means that teachers are not funded as units as they were before 2007, but by the school out of a restricted budget. Therefore, the principals are disinclined to hire veteran teachers such as ATRs. The present rotational farce could be eliminated by placing teachers, as was done until fall, 2011. So, we see an example of how De Blasio is a continuation of Mike Bloomberg and actually worse than the first nine years of Bloomberg.

We do not know the devil in the details. Will the DOE-UFT tell teachers to find a position in five, six, ten or twelve months, as happens in Chicago or Washington --or else lose their position?
Why has no one ever compared the New York City teacher excessing situation, in contrast to the practices in other cities? Is it that the truth would be embarassing --that experience, seniority, is a help, not a hindrance, in retaining a position. See the numerous descriptions at the site of the National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ), most recently in 2013, at "Tr3 Trends: Teacher Excessing and Placement."
And where is the union in all this? Why didn't Chapman get any quote from anyone in the union or in the union's opposition caucus, MORE?

How will the union respond to this? The changes appear to be circumventing the DOE-UFT contract and any speedy terminations will circumvent civil service protections. 

This is probably just a PR move destined to serve the mayor and the union. Bill De Blasio can claim that he's helping the unfortunate ATRs and getting rid of the "unfit" ones. And Mike Mulgrew can claim victory of saving ATRs' jobs. The union will likely fail to challenge any of this, as it seeks to maintain cordial relations with the administrators' union, and as it seeks to maintain a chummy, uncritical relationship with the administration of mayor de Blasio.