Wednesday, May 05, 2010

JW Email 23

Hello, good afternoon,

Some general gossip I've heard, but nothing more than hearsay: Principals have been told by KleinPeople that they're getting their money and can cut any positions except the core subjects: math, sci., Eng., social studies. I mentioned this at the rally this past week to Bx Borough Rep Jose Vargas. He said he hadn't heard about this, but that cutting out masses of electives will "never happen." He said he would ask about this downtown. Hasn't gotten back to me, nor do I expect him to really. But I have been asking around and it seems we have to look back to what was done in 1975. That's way before I started teaching, so the best advice is to ask the senior teachers you know who experienced those cuts.
Apparently, back in 1975 districts could each decide for themselves what positions could be cut. In one Brooklyn district, elementary schools lost all their guidance people. Someone with 20 years' seniority was sent to another district, probably bumping a less senior person over there.

What the Dist. Rep told us at a meeting this week is this. Whereas in the past , layoffs were avoided by someone pulling a rabbit ouf of a hat. This time round, though, the chance of them finding a rabbit is dim. The UFT does feel the city has ways of saving money (e.g., vendors, consultants, 75 Klein lawyers, PR, etc.) but they don't seem inclined to go that way. Layoffs are expected at this point, by citywide seniority by license. That means the cuts will go farther up the ladder of seniority in the minor/elective subjects than for the core subjects, but no one is guessing publicly just yet how far.

There are exceptions to the layoff rules, as well as rules for recalls and seniority upon return to work, in the paraprofessional contract. Read them here.

For my school, Email no.5 later today....




From Accountable Talk . . .

I was reminded of that line when I had a talk with a teacher at my school. He has been U rated for the last three years. No one seems to know why. He seems competent, at the very least. Certainly he keeps his students in order and they learn from him. Yet, he keeps getting U's on his annual review. He is headed for his fourth U this year, because he has already collected a nosegay of unsatisfactory observations. I asked him how he had escaped the rubber room, given this litany of stinkers from the administration.

"I'm too useful," he replied. "They keep me around as a kind of warning to other teachers, that it can happen to them. It keeps teachers scared. If they sent me to the rubber room, I'd be out of sight. They need me as a reminder to the staff that they'd better not step out of line."

Don't tell me this doesn't sound familiar . . . .

Someone else sent me this link, where a younger teacher complains : “I feel more than ever I have to be on the defensive to prove I’m not a bad teacher . . . It’s really unfortunate. Even five years ago it was assumed a teacher was great until a teacher wasn’t doing their job.”



Relating to STRESS, I go this from somewhere recently . . .

Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this article seemed in order.) Without help the person whose heart stops beating properly and who begins to feel Faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again. Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating.

The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a phone and, between breaths, call for help



The first one - April 25th - is the rally against Ruben Diaz and his stupid bill at his Bronx district last Tuesday.
(PS: I hate the music at these things — the UFT rallies always choose "feel good" pop, or worse: Club Med — but some of the Dist Rep speakers sound like the salt of the Bronx earthmothers.) Ck out bits at 1:06, 1:52, 2 and especially 2:01.
The other two are compilations of the AFL-CIO rally on Thursday, the 29th, against Wall Street. Good clips of Mulgrew talking on both of these. In the 3rd one, he says about the looming cuts: "One thing is for sure: The children in these schools had nothing to do with why we're gonna get cut!"



It began April 15th, ends August 7. According to the UFT: "You do not need a release from your principal to change schools. You may even apply to schools without current openings, and your application will be kept on file until an opening occurs. The Open Market Q & A on the UFT Web site offers more information about the process. The DOE has also posted available positions in new schools."

Dist rep told us that you can add your resume and cover letter in a Word file this time round.

People are complaining that there are no jobs listed there, and that stands to reason: how can they advertise a lot of jobs when principals get dire reports of how much money they're going to get. But I did go online for the fun of it and found a couple of openings - fake or not - in my subject. For what it's worth.



I got this info at the dist rep meeting, but there's no date on it and the UFT website doesn't have it. If anyone knows where it can be found so I can date it, please let me know:

2 BIG changes:
Spec. Ed: now there's differentiation for 3 levels of it: self-contained, CTT, SETTS
Growth percentiles: In all schools except HSS they'll begin using a "next generation" progress
formula that takes each student's starting grade into account.

CHANGES for HSS: credit accumulation (excludes Alternate Assessment students - often in non-credit courses); differentiates for 3 levels of spec. ed (above); add'l credit (shifts from credits accumulation to grad rates, elminates race & ethnicity, eliminates Regents Diploma; grades (no curve, but cut scores will be raised for B, C, and D)



A helpful Q & A through the UFT — Reporting Responsibilities — starts off:

Do I have a legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse?

As we said at the outset, yes. All school personnel are “mandated reporters”—that is, they are required by law to report all suspected child abuse and neglect cases, as are police officers, physicians and registered nurses. You must report not only your suspicions, but also any statements from a parent, guardian, custodian or other person legally responsible for the child that, if correct, would indicate that he or she had been abused. The chancellor has translated these various legal obligations into Chancellor’s Regulation A-750.

If you suspect child abuse and you don’t report it, you may be subject to disciplinary action by the DOE; civil liability for all damages inflicted upon or suffered by the child and caused by your failure to report; and criminal charges of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine.




The Lobis decision, which found that the City significantly violated state laws in the decision making process to close nineteen schools, gives the UFT a short period of time - how short is yet unknown - to build the movement against school closings it has so far failed to do. If it seizes this opportunity, the court decision is a victory. If, on the other hand, the UFT leadership convinces the members that this decision means we can passively rely on the courts to stop school closings, it will be a squandered opportunity, most if not all of the affected schools will be closed, and it won't be any victory at all.

To understand why legal tactics alone are inadequate, we have to understand - first of all - why this case was brought in the first place, why politicians and groups like the NAACP supported it, and why the judge had to overturn the City's decision making process and call for one with "meaningful community involvement." The reason is that teachers, students, parents, and their supporters turned out in great numbers, to protest the plans. There were protests and demonstrations at individual schools, at hearings, and at the Mayor's residence. The UFT leadership organized only one of these, at Brooklyn Tech H.S., for the PEP vote. Even that one was built mainly by the grassroots, with minimal support from the central union. Without these grassroots direct actions, this court decision would not have happened.

We have to understand - second of all - how limited this decision is on its own. Most glaringly, the City plans to appeal it and it may be overturned very quickly at the appellate level. Even if it is upheld, it simply requires the City to go by the correct procedure in closings these schools. Therefore, the decision's effect may be nothing more than a six-month delay in the closings, the amount of time the decision process requires. To quote the NY Times, the decision ". . . did not dispute the city's right to close the schools . . ." How effective the decision will be in achieving even that brief reprieve is thrown into question by the fact that the Department of Education is barreling ahead with plans to open new charter schools in at least some of the 19 "reprieved" schools.

This court decision makes militant mobilization against school closings more critical than ever to pressure the higher court to uphold the decision. In the long run, a movement is needed to create a political and social climate in which school closings are recognized as one of the problems of current education, not part of their solution.

If the union organizes this movement, the Lobis decision will mark a victory. If not, the decision will mark merely a speed bump on our union's downhill race to the bottom.

---- See also later down on what TJC thinks of SCHOOL RESTRUCTURING



"In essence Appendix H of the "probable cause" agreement allows the Arbitrator to take a teacher offline simply by hearsay evidence, not the facts."



Ednotes has a post on this, with links to important video clips from the hearings (there are a whole bunch of them in the sidebar). Some of the parents are particularly impressive in their complaints, and some of the charter school administrators are spectacularly opporunistic. As Norm says in his segment "The Passion of NY State Senator Bill Perkins":

Speaking of joining "The Resistance", a national network has been forming to fight the attacks on public education . . .
With it being open season on politicians, NY State Senators have been amongst the most ridiculed in the nation. Our own Malcolm Smith, Pedro Espada and recently deposed Herman Monserrate are prime suspects. But then comes along Harlem State Senator Bill Perkins, who gives you a little faith.

Perkins, you see, has been one of the lone politicians to swim against the charter school tide, not only in NY but perhaps the nation — including President Obama, whose market-based support for undermining the public school system takes him as far away from being a socialist as possible.

Pretty gutsy stuff for a Harlem politician to push back against the policies of the most popular president in history in the Black communities. And Perkins has been vilified. The sleazy NY Post has been rabid, with up to three articles, editorials and columns a day attacking him for holding hearings examining the activities of charter schools. . . .

Perkins leads an emerging line of resistance coming from Black and Latino/a communities undergoing the charter school influx. Harlem is the epicenter, with 28 charters, and more Harlem politicians are joining Perkins.

Hedge fund managers and other Wall Street types who led us into the world of financial meltdown support charters. (Why miss an opportunity to get their fingers on public funds?) Democracy Prep charter school founder Seth Andrew is so outraged at Perkins that he is calling on his buddies on Wall Street to raise a massive amount of money to defeat Perkins who is running for reelection this year. In what may shape up as the modern equivalent of "The Battle of Hastings" in 1066, the Norman conquest of Britain, Wall Street backed armies, joined by charter school advocates, will invade Harlem this summer in an attempt to knock Perkins off as an example to any politician who might dare to question how charters are misusing public money. I know of at least one Norman who will be there standing with Perkins.

Perkins' hearings were held on April 22 and started at 8am. I was the last speaker when it ended at 9pm. Boy, was I hungry, since I got there at 10am with my trusty little video camera and tripod. See some amazing parent voices on the ednotesonline you tube channel.



This petition is put out by the NY Charter Parents Association, and though I'm opposed to corruption and law-breaking in the charter school industry, this points made in this petition are valid.



State Restructuring is Union Busting!

On January 21, 2010, the State Education Department announced a list of schools it plans to close or restructure, 34 of which are in NYC. This plan is part of NYS's attempt to win a grant from the Obama Administration's "Race to the Top" funds.

Each school will be closed, or subjected to one of three models for restructuring. The DOE will decide each school's fate. Every one of the restructuring models poses a deadly threat to the professional and union protections of the UFT members in these schools

In the more than two months since this announcement, the UFT has failed to take any stand opposed to these plans, let alone take any steps to protect UFT members in these schools.

The "restart" model converts the school into a charter. Members in these schools could lose all of their union and legal protections, including tenure, due process, benefits, and salary.

The "turnaround" model mandates that all the members in the school be excessed, made into ATRs, and no more than half of them may be re-hired into the school.

The "transformation" model leads to many changes in the contract for the members in that school, and may include a longer day, increased supervision, and the weakening of tenure and due process rights.

Yet, in the face of all these threats, affecting thousands of UFT members in dozens of schools, the UFT leadership has offered not a word of opposition, let alone any actions to stop this union-busting plan.

The UFT Must Build a Movement to Protect Tenure and Due Process! End the 2nd Class status of ATRs! Stop the Mindless Proliferation of Charters! Prevent Additional Time!

The UFT leadership must take a stand against this State list, and mobilize the members at these schools against the State, demanding the end of this list, to save our schools, our rights and our union.



The principal doesn't need the chapter's permission to post a job. Chapter leaders should look over the postings to check for irregularities and file a grievance if a comp-time job is not posted. Postings should be for 20 days.



Over at GothamSchools, Arthur Goldstein posits there may be other reasons for this project than figuring out the best way to teach. He says "a handful of Francis Lewis participants at are considering dropping out of the study, despite the attractive $1,500 stipend attached to it. One teacher told me the literature said only researchers would watch the observation films, yet showed me a participation slip for students saying school administrators would have access. Why tell teachers one thing and students another?" The issue is the filming, which people who signed up for the project were aware of. But the REASON for the filming is now anyone's guess. UA has some things to say on this as well.

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