Monday, December 07, 2009

Email no.9

Hi, good evening.

There's so much going on now, and practically all of it is negative. But, I'll plough on anyway.

Best regards,




They're closing more schools, which means more and more educators will become ATRs and the senior ones have little hope of finding a real position again. You can get a feeling for all the damage this creates by going to the blogs, particularly:

A flyer is being circulated to join the protest this coming Wednesday against the closing of Maxwell Vocational HS in Brooklyn. It's one of those things that everyone should try to attend:

Come join us to expose the injustice of school closures!

W.H. Maxwell H.S. CTE, a vocational school since 1951, should have had a B rating had it not been for the Mayor’s unfair changing of the cutoff scale. Expose the plans to make space for the mayor’s charter school takeovers.

Maxwell FACTS:
· 4 year weighed graduation rate : 72.5 %
· In 2006, our physics students won 1st prize in the city’s science fair sponsored by Con Edison.
· In 2008, 21.66% of the seniors successfully tested for and received the HSTW Award for Educational Achievement – which also requires college preparatory classes in English, Math , and Science.
· Two current students are the President of the New York State Health Occupations Students Association (HOSA) and Vice Senior President.
· Our HOSA contingent made it to the National Competition last year.
· We have graduates who attend Cornell, NYU, SUNY, CUNY
· Our graduates have become Opticians, Physicians, Nurses, Medical Assistants, Engineers, Cosmetologists, Graphic Artists, Advertisers, etc…check out our Facebook page by searching “ Maxwell Grads – we really need your support”

Come voice your demand that Bloomberg and the Billionaire’s Club listen to the neighborhoods they claim to want to help!

There will be two rallies at W.H. Maxwell HS (CTE) - 145 Pennsylvania Ave, East New York,11207. C train to Liberty Avenue station:

Wed: Dec. 9th parents/community forum– 6pm
Tues: Jan. 12th CEC / SLC / DOE forum– 6 pm
Open mike sign up starts 5:30, ends 15 minutes after speakers start.

For Further info, contact Seung Ok:



On Norm's Notes is the Village Voice story on the lawsuit of several Rubber Room teachers, as well as David Pakter's comments about this case. A very interesting read.



This is an excerpt from a Nov. 25 post on the parents' blog

Yet Another Nail in the NYS Regents Exam Coffin

On November 19, the Office of the NY State Comptroller released a report of its findings from an audit of local district scoring of high school Regents exams. The results, while not surprising to those closest to high school education in NY State, was nevertheless stunning in its confirmation of just how badly skewed the entire Regents examination system has become. . . .

Combine this pattern of fraudulently inflated grading with the persistent dumbing down of Regents exams and the concomitant lowering of the raw score needed for a passing scaled score grade, and the end result is an examination system that is utterly meaningless as a measure of knowledge or understanding. Even worse, as the Comptroller’s report makes clear, SED has failed completely to follow up on any of these issues, even having in hand another report from 2003/2004 detailing almost exactly the same problems.

What has become clear in the past five or six years (noticeably since the advent of NCLB), is that the NY State Regents examination system, once a moderately respectable measure of academic achievement, is now broken almost beyond repair. As long as the numbers are up, everyone rests easy; nobody seems to care that they are meaningless, as witnessed by the high levels of remediation required of first-year college student products of our state education system. As usual, the losers in this breakdown are the students and their sadly unaware parents.

It seems clear as well that the time has come for a major investigation and overhaul of SED and the Regents system. Governor Paterson and others in Albany, when will you wake up and start doing what’s right for the children in your state?



On the ICE blog, DOE HANDED STUNNING DEFEAT IN “U” RATING APPEAL is a story of how a judge "rebuked the DOE for affirming a "U" rating given by an elementary school principal to a 20 year veteran when few of the procedural safeguards were followed." It's nice to see someone at some level in government asking DoE administrators to follow procedures. Nevertheless, it would have been nicer if this were an arbitration decision, so it could be applied across the school system. On a case-by-case lawsuit, I'm not sure anything applies, unless of course you hire your own lawyer and he builds your case by precedent. (JK: if you're reading this, your input would be helpful on this.)



I got some clarification about our files. There is only one "file," and it is the one that houses the LIFs, the observations, the counseling memos, etc. Principals, APs, and other people may keep other files on staff members, but they are personal files for their own use and cannot be used in disciplinary action. As everyone knows, you must see everything that goes into your file and sign for it. Any response you put in writing gets attached to the letter you've been given and becomes part of the legal record in any future legal proceedings.
In light of this clarification, I may change my opinion on whether to write a response, esp. when I know adminstrators don't care to receive negative reactions and my written response might exacerbate the tension. I generally feel it's not worth it, but I do not know whether a response generated at a later time (like if they bring a case against you down the line) will be given the same legal status or be rejected. In the discussions with UFT person representing me in my Step III to get my job back, I got the feeling that he was building my case from anything I had to say, written or verbal. But that wasn't a disciplinary issue, so I don't know if the same kinds of rules apply.


A USEFUL LINK from Jeff Kaufman:

"Anyone interested in learning more about leaves of absence, FMLA, LODI and sabbaticals click on"



"Under Assault" is doing a number of articles on this issue. Here's an excerpt about the nature of the protection you can receive from the whistleblower law enacted in 2007. I feel the need to broadcast this because the UFT has this big campaign going to report special ed violations (there's a link at the end of that post to file a complaint online), when they are in facttotally unempowered by law to offer you any legal protection for your bravery.

According to a City Council whistleblower law enacted in 2007 (described in the NY Teacher at this link), reporting a wrongdoing to a UFT official doesn't trigger the law's protection against retaliation. To get that, you must send your report to at least one of eight offices: the public advocate, the comptroller, a City Council member, the city's Dept of Investigations (DOI), the DoE's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the mayor, the chancellor, or the deputy chancellor. The UFT is not in that list.

Also, reporting a violation doesn't mean something is going to be done to fix the problem. And of course there's also the question of retaliation. The same article says it might take the form of "dismissal, suspension, discipline and a U-rating," but there's no mention of one option that has been used to marginalize outspoken teachers for years: excessing.



This article about an auto parts plant out in Ohio describes that the "muscle" of unions gets the job done, so if anyone is thinking of going off and working in a charter school, perhaps think twice. Here's the last


. . . It was revealed that, while Delphi’s union members would be receiving their full pensions, a significant percentage of Delphi’s white-collar employees would be receiving only partial ones. . . .

. . . Rather, labor lost its influence because (1) the country abandoned its core manufacturing sectors, (2) the Republican party, led by Ronald Reagan, launched a furious attack on unions at a time when, arguably, they were most vulnerable, and (3) deregulation of trucking made it feasible for businesses to move to anti-union, right-to-work states. All of this—coupled with the dread Rise of the Outside Contractor—resulted in labor’s membership rolls plummeting. There were other causes, but these were the critical ones.

And with that staggering drop in membership, labor unions lost the patronage of everyone who mattered: the politicians, the academic wonks and the media outlets who regularly courted them. When you have the whiskers to get 200,000 workers in a major industry to walk off the job, people tend to listen to you. Conversely, when you have nothing to back up your threats except empty saber rattling and some old press clippings, people tend to brush you off.

Thus, the Delphi incident is both a cautionary tale underscoring the importance of muscle, and an exercise in nostalgia, harking back to a time when labor unions guaranteed working people a place at the table. And even though the “right thing to do” was to give those salaried Delphi employees the pensions they deserved, it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because they weren’t union members.

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