Friday, December 8, 2017

Why Should Charter Schools Get a Dime from the Public Coffers?

Koch Brothers 

     I was just reading an opinion piece in the NY Post, which is outraged that some have called Charter schools bastions of segregation Appalling lies according to the Post - these paragons of virtue are the only saviors for poor children of color who would otherwise have to go to the 'bad neighborhood school'. The public has been sold a bill of goods on Charter schools. I for one am sick of reading about how wonderful they are. These schools are not paragons of generosity and fellowship for the less fortunate. Nor are they altruistic idealistic centers of learning - they are and have always been the next anticipated gold rush by focused entrepreneurs. The proponents of these schools hide behind altruism and use their often deep pockets to persuade politicians in the right places to further their iniatives. Cuomo makes the DOE pay Charter schools rent whenever they can't take over or co-locate in a public school building that they have set their sights on. What kind of bullshit is that?! (Cuomo is going to beg the UFT for an endorsement and I certainly hope they don't entertain it.)
     If the Koch brothers, Gates, Bloomberg, Zuckerberg, et. al. want schools that are run according to their mandates then they should open up their own private schools and give scholarships. Oprah opened her's in South Africa, she didn't commandeer public schools and tell the government they had to pay her for the privilege of opening her own school.
      Now there are schools that are not for profit and run for the benefit of the children - not their investors. These are religious affiliatiated schools - Christian, Jewish and Muslim. The parents of these children pay taxes and school tuition. If Eva gets her rent and everything else paid for, why aren't religious schools or their parents getting a break on anything? It's because they aren't businesses. I don't have anything against religious affiliated schools, they certainly are not Charter schools. I recently had a conversation with a UFT big wig in which I was told the opposite - the UFT has no problem with charters but do with religious affiliated schools -especially if vouchers are involved. It seems the UFT made it own foray in charter schools. How incredibly stupid can one organization be? I am going off target.

      I believe having the public pay for private schools is unconstitutional. If the charter school privateers can get some puppet to bring a constitutional case against union dues, why can't the unions get a case against the public financing of charter schools?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

74 - Committed to the End of the UFT, ATRs and Public Schools


  Yesterday I read Arthur’s blog the 74 and it’s vilification of a group of teachers, that comprise less than 1% of public school teachers. These teachers  are ATR’s - the most veteran group of teachers at the highest pay range. They are also some of the best teachers in the system. Most have been removed due to school closings in which the student population was manipulated to show a drastic downturn in academic and safety statistics.

     74 is a group that proposes to change education by privatizing it via funding from billionaires. They want

what they want, when they want it. They and their cohorts recently had some parents go out and picket against ATRs being permanently placed in public schools. Why would parents who don’t have children in public schools care? We are much more qualified and have much more experience than their children’s teachers. (I would venture to say than most of their principals.) So why the attention on ATRs? The thing is that the same billionaires that are making headway into education are the very same people that broke up the mom-and-pop stores to create big box stores, used unethical means against competitors and have signs out around Thanksgiving asking for contributions from the customers for their employees Thanksgiving Day dinners. They don’t want unions - they don’t want long-term workers - they don’t want workers rights. They want profits and lots of them. If they can manipulate poor uneducated parents, that are their core group of supporters, then so be it. I met one of those parents recently, a school safety officer, and she described at length how her daughter was not doing well in a charter school. She told me she was continuously harassed until she removed her daughter and put her back into a public school. She didn't want to pull her out, but after they called her daughter inferior, she became enraged and removed her.  If the charters can remove students as they see fit it will increase their statistics, while decreasing the public schools'. The charter schools often tout their success rate as being astoundingly better than public schools.  They publicize that it is a moral imperative to increase charter schools, take public school space and eventually rid NYC of public schools all together. The thing is there are those pesky unions always throwing a wrench in the works. They and the minimum wage are an outrage!

    First things first, they will continually vilify veteran teachers - ATRs, who if placed back in the classroom are a threat to their long-term goals. Their long-term goal, in part is to make sure that there are no long-term teachers. Teaching will be a temporary job, not a career. The second long-term goal is to break any and all teacher unions. These unions will enforce commonsense humane laws and the requisite pay increases for those that have furthered their education and expertise. This is counterproductive to the profit margin. 74 is actually a Chucky Cheese like franchise operation (no offense to Chucky Cheese - it’s a place where a kid can be a kid - charter schools are places where kids can be dollar signs) that hopes to open more of the same. They should not be given any respect whatsoever from the media and the public should understand what they are about -money and only money;  kids are the means to that money. 

    I challenge any Charter School teacher(s) to teach a lesson to the same group of kids (any kids) under the same conditions as any ATR(s), with objective observers, to determine the superior educators. Film it and put it on YouTube or make it a new reality show. '74 vs. 55'

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The False Narrative of the UFT and DOE on ATRs


   I read Arthur's blog on the last UFT's Execution (as in what group of teachers will be executed - it was Clinton High School's teachers) Board Meeting was surprised to read that Mike Sill said  that the buyout had an impact on the ATR numbers, the number of ATRs were down and he hoped to get the numbers. The numbers that took the buyout were, if I remember correctly around 135. The number of newly minted ATRs in June were never released - but you can bet your keister they were significantly more than 135. If they release numbers that show a reduction they will be false. This is to silence the critics of the ATR pool that want us regarded as losers with the help of a highly publicized campaign from the DOE and the UFT. (I think they may be regretting that ploy.) We were told that we were to be forced placed into positions where there were vacancies as of October 15th. (This was meant to strike fear in as many ATRs as possible and get them to retire.) I currently know about 50 ATRs and know of only one that was provisionaly placed this fall. That guy is a friend of a friend. This is much different than last year when at least 20 ATRs I know were provisionaly placed. So not only are there more ATRs, there are more being rotated as babysitters. This is in sharp contrast to last spring's announcements from Mulgrew, Farina and Mr. Asher. What happened?
     First, I think that Asher really intended to do what he said, but certain things got in the way. Unfair Student Funding made all ATRs too expensive for any school (and there may have been a push to end it, that was not entertained by the powers that be)- so all principals scrambled to hire teachers before the cutoff date. The charter groups also want teaching to be a temporary job and if experienced professionals are allowed back into the classroom, this is a real threat. Therefore they got (paid?) some charter school parents to picket against ATRs being placed back into public schools and had the tabloids cover it. (How is this affecting charter school parents? ATRs are much more qualified than their children's teachers and they weren't being placed in charter schools.) So instead of Farina and Mulgrew defending us, Farina said no ATR would be placed in a renewal school. Good. Good for us. Who the hell wants to be placed in one anyway? So many of us waited to be placed in our subject area as teachers. Instead, what we got were placements outside our licensed area grade levels and rotations into hellish warehouses. Many ATRs frantically called and emailed Mike Sill. He did help several I know get into the proper school settings for their licensed grade level, but did not help relieve anyone's travel hardships or dangerous placements. All have told me he has a Mr. Raj return calls and placate them with false hopes.
     As Janus appears on the horizon I would hope that the UFT would start to represent ATRs fairly and with transparency. Step #1 - end UnFair Student Funding.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving


    Tomorrow is our last day of school before the Thanksgiving vacation. This is a day of excitement for many of us - adults and children alike. When I was teaching, I often had children that did not want to go home on that particular afternoon. It was often because they had no real family life and no one was cooking a Thanksgiving dinner.

      On one occasion, I had a student tell me she was going to commit suicide as I was going out the door. I also heard similar proclamations before Christmas vacations. I think as adults and teachers, we should be mindful that many of the students we teach may not be as fortunate as us. 

      It’s nice I’m in a school right now that values children and are doing special events for Thanksgiving. In many schools, the staff and students are the de facto families. Hopefully, this will have a long lasting, positive effect on their lives. School has never only been about academics and statistics, regardless of what Bloomberg, Klein and the charter privateers would have us believe. Schools are social institutions. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Is UnFair Student Funding Sanctioned by the UFT?

    I have had several calls from ATRs explaining their experiences this week. The calls were troubling.  All of them have been rotated into difficult schools. Three months is a long time to stay in a difficult school.

    Many ATRs wanted to stay in their last schools with their principals approval - but schools could only keep ATRs if they hired them for a position. As most schools have no vacancies, they couldn't be hired. The principal I spoke to told me he couldn't hire any ATR for his staff, even if he had a vacancy, (though he would prefer to do so), because we are too expensive. He told me the kids he hires have a steep learning curve and move onto greener pastures after a year or two. The amount of time he puts in trying to train them and supervising them is incredible. He said that he asked his union to get involved in eliminating UnFair Student Funding, but inferred that the UFT is against it! Why for heavens sake would the UFT be against eliminating UnFair Student Funding?! I wouldn't have believed it except for the fact the UFT has done nothing to stop this long running scheme and force a return to centralized funding.

     I told the ATRs that called me to reach out to their borough reps with their concerns and for pertinent information. Unless many of us (ATRs) see some kind of representation from the UFT (and for me that means an end to Fair Student Funding) many of us will opt out of paying dues to the UFT. The UFT needs to start acting like a real union. I can no longer, in good conscience, try to persuade  anyone, especially ATRs, to remain in the UFT.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

     If you are an ATR, I offer my condolences. We are being moved on Monday. For some of us this is a relief, for others a potential nightmare. I've been covering  full schedules every day since September. It hasn't been easy, as most of the school is made up of middle school students. My license is 9 - 12 and this school is 6 - 12. When sixth through eighth graders see a "sub", it can be like someone just announced everyone in the room has won a million dollars. They are apt to jump on top of their desks and scream at the top of their lungs - all 30 of them. Then you have to calm them down for 90 minutes straight. All their classes are 90 minutes. Yesterday was rough - I had self contained seventh graders all day and the teacher left no work. I did my best and tricked the kids into learning. I think their regular teacher is feeling the pressure. All the teachers here are between 24 and 27 years old - more than half have no experience. Most of them will become good teachers if mentored and given the opportunity. I was in this school a couple of years ago and only ten out of sixty teachers are still there. The real kicker is this is one of the best schools I've been in. The principal and the administration care about kids. I've built relationships with the kids and staff. Now, I'm being rotated to start all over. Monday morning, I will be inspected by everyone to see if I am the ATR stereotype. You know - a lemon, drunk, nut case, freed criminal or lazy bastard. Oh well, eventually I'll be able to retire. The thing is I loved teaching. Good luck on Monday.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Typical UFT Executive Board Meeting

   Since filming an Executive Board meeting is banned, I've decided to show my interpretation of last week's typical farce. Questions from non-Unity members are met with the usual Unity diplomacy and expertise.