Monday, October 26, 2009

Email #7 From JW

Hello, good evening.

Much of this email I learned from a meeting at the district office. But, I just wanted to say that I hope you enjoyed the small brochure the DoE just handed out to everyone called "Respect for All." he gall of these people to put an inset on the inside front cover defining RESPECT as:

Esteem for or sense of worth or excellence of a person;
proper acceptance or courtesy; regards for the dignity of another's charater;
acknowledgement; the condition of being esteemed or honored;
to show regard or consideration for another."

Now check off how much of this school administrators even comprehend.




The UFT is trying various ways to stop the overload, which eats into our personal time (prep and lunch) and is thus in violation of the contract. Using the form letter below or something like it, the chapter leader or anyone else, actually, can ask the principal for instructions as to when and where. Once you get an answer, you're closer to substantiating a grievance or defending against any disciplinary action that many ensue.

Principal Paper Pusher
Borough, New York, 10000

Dear Principal Pusher:

I have read your memo/letter of [DATE] in which you instruct the teachers
of City HS to input into the school's database weekly, monthly and annual
instructional goals for every student we teach.

As always, I will do my best to comply with your instructions. However, to
complete this task, I need to know:
1. What time during the school day I should use to complete these tasks.
2. Where I will be able to access a computer connected to the school's
database during that time.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

I.M. Overworked



A hint about the post-observation discussion with your supervisor. If after the lesson they've just observed they ask: "So, how do you feel about the lesson?", it's not a good idea to list your faults. They could easiliy end up using your very words. According to "Teaching in the 21st Century," the principal has to tell you what they thought, not the other way around.

I took the opportunity during the meeting to ask about the policy in many schools where you're not given a specific date and time for an observation, but an entire week. For some teachers it could fall on any of 3 or 4 different preps, levels, or subjects, not to mention where you are in the sequence of lessons during that week. Nevertheless, without logic, this practice exists.
The union tries to solve everything by telling teachers to ask for a pre-observation conference. It's easy enough to do, but it doesn't really solve the problem, because it doesn't stop the whimsical observation from happening. It can only help you in substantiating a grievance.
But should you grieve? It's hard to know. If you grieve when you get the notice, i.e., BEFORE the observation week, you might anger the principal. If you grieve AFTER the conference is over, two things. If it was an "S" observation, why mess things up for yourself with a grievance? If a "U," with or without pre-obs. conference, the union's position is that the principal is still wrong because the observation could not have been lesson specific and a grievance will solve things . . . this time. Of course, if the lesson you happened to discuss in the pre-obs. is the very one they happened to walk in on, you're stuck. The pieces all fit, and you can't grieve anything, even though they were wrong to make the timing so vague.
My point is that it seems as if the only way to get this practice stopped is to wait for someone to get a U-obs. and encourage them to grieve it on everyone's behalf. That's stupid, though, since it's been going on for years and the union has done nothing about it.
I asked the DR if they knew of any grievance citywide now in process waiting for arbitration on this, and failing that, is the union planning to take action on it themselves? She said she would look into it, but I'm not holding my breath. This is one of those things that the UFT just plain tolerates as far as I can see. I told the DR that when it's 3 mos. before I retire, I'll do that grievance myself. It got a laugh, but we shouldn't be having to fight this particular thing as individuals. The union got us into it (by loose wording), let them get us out of it.

Here is the wording of a letter you can use to ask for a pre-obs. conference, but it's simple enough to compose your own:

Dear Principal Ambush:

I would like to formally request an individual pre-observation conference for
all my observations this year, consistent with Article 8J of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement and the document "Teaching for the 21st Century."
Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours truly,

I.C. Thruyou
Cc: Chapter Leader



Let's say you're charged with verbal abuse (A420) or corporal punishment (A421) and the investigation they've done finds the charges substantiated. It is very possible in today's ed world that the investigative process itself was flawed. For example, the witness statements (let's say by students who can't manage the language yet), cannot be typed by a third person. If they give you copies of the statements, you have the choice of signing for them (in which case you'll get to see the names of the witnesses) or not signing (the names of witnesses are redacted). They may also round up a bunch of witnesses at the same time and take their statements all at the same time, which is a no-no.

We were warned that everyone should really be careful about ratting out another teacher or staff member. They might treat a casual or remark as a statement in an investigation, and you won't even know they're doing it.

If the substantiated charges result in a Letter to the File, the district office has a Step I Grievance Appeal letter you can use so they can help you get that LIF removed. Here's the text of it:

Step 1 Grievance Appeal:
"Corporal Punishment/Verbal Abuse"

Dear _______________ :
I would like to set up a meeting with you at the earliest mutually convenient
time to discuss the following:

On _________________ , you found that I committed an act of corporal
punishment/verbal abuse. This charge is unsubstantiated. Impropoer procedures
were followed during the investigation, thereby denying me due process.

This is in violation of Special Circular "A420/421", Article 20 and Article 22A.

As a remedy, I request that I be exonerated from the corporal punishment/verbal
abuse findings.


Name ____________________________________
File # ____________________________________
School/District/ ____________________________
Phone no. _________________________________
Email address _____________________________



IEPs are goals developed by groups of teachers and support staff for special ed students.
The individual goals certain principals are asking for are goals that only you set for each of your students. I personally have never been asked for these, but would serioiusly rebel if I were.

Integrated co-teaching is the later name for CTT classes (two teachers in same room, one reg ed, the other spec. ed). It's new to me, but I see documents on the net where the term was used back in 2007.

Save Room: Each school has to have one, period. And it can't be the dean's office.

Signing up on the UFT website: Click on and fill out everything they ask for.
Once you get an account and verify it, there's a link on the top left sidebar below "Logout" called "My Account." Use it to change password and whether you want to get emails from the UFT.

Blog items you might want to know about:

PIP+ - Arbitrator throws out charges on someone who refused to take the program Chaz

Why it's important to have a 3020a hearing Chaz again

Bloomberg's choices (from the Parents' blog):

Mr. Bloomberg added: “I don’t yet know the numbers, whether you could justify
stadiums at this time. Clearly we’re going into very difficult economic times,
and we’re going to have to make some choices.”

About 50,000 seats have been created in schools over the last seven years,
with more than twice that number in the heavily subsidized Yankees and
Mets stadiums. I guess he made his choices after all.


The following is a public service announcement — nothing to do with teaching

I guess only retirees would be able to get to the press conference they're talking about, but the person who sent me this says it would be very helpful if you believe in Councilmember Helen Foster's resolution to keep the Lever Voting Machines (because the computerized ones and paper ballots are not worked out yet) that you give her a thank-you call.

Lever voting machines, supplemented by our accessible
ballot marking devices ("BMDs") for voters with disabilities,
are the ONLY AFFORDABLE and MOST SECURE equipment for our future elections.

PRESS CONFERENCE on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 12:45 - 1:30 PM Promptly

City Councilmember Helen Foster is introducing a new Resolution to Keep Our Lever Voting Machines!

Teresa Hommel, 212 228-3803
Chair, Task Force on Election Integrity, Community Church of New York

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