Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why Won't Trump Debate Sanders?

                                                      Green Acres, Washington, D.C.

    Many people think Sanders is finished and Hillary has the nomination in the bag. I don't think so.  Trump must agree because he's changed his mind about debating Sanders A debate with Trump in which Bernie did well, would tremendously help Bernie's chances. As I've said before, if it's Trump vs. Hillary, Trump wins. If it's Sanders vs. Trump, Sanders wins. I believe Trump knows this and isn't giving Bernie that opportunity.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

All Hail the King!

Dear friends,
The inevitable has happened! I was reelected once again. Never fear, Mike is here! I am working hard to increase Teacher's Choice, (this year we may include toilet paper and bulletproof vests as reimbursable items).
I am also securing your right to become an ATR after finishing your first decade of teaching. The city is broke (ignore all those lies about a six billion dollar surplus) and you may have to cough up a little extra cash to see a doctor - nothing more than a $50 co-pay. Also don't worry, our wonderful evaluation system is still in effect - so your job is as secure as our fabulous mayor's! In closing, I want to say I love the environment and look forward to passing many motions on climate change with the newly elected malcontents. I may even have vegan buffets!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In the Classroom of an Inexperienced Teacher

   Last month, I was covering for a Special Ed teacher. One of his classes was a team teaching class of about 25. The very young man, who was the assigned teacher, was well dressed, bespectacled, and nerdy. The students were very noisy upon entering the room, and the crescendo increased for the entire 45 minutes. It was far worse than most of my coverages for this entire year. That's saying a lot  because I don't know the kids, they don't know me and I've had many horrid classes. I have never seen this level of disrespect aimed at one teacher by so many students, simultaneously. They went into their groups at round tables in the room. Several had Bluetooth devices and began playing rap music. Another kid was watching an action movie. Several were taking snapchat photos of their friends and turning them into dogs, cats and unicorns. Others began to take group selfies. The teacher and I went from student  to student requesting that the devices be put away. Most students totally ignored him. Several told him to "get the f--k out of my face" and several of the girls told him to "suck their d--ks". I told the girls strongly, "this is your teacher, have some respect". I was starting to get very angry. One girl said, "we only have respect for those who respect us- he doesn't know how to teach". The teacher then went to the SmartBoard, to go over the Do Now. Not one kid had done it. He never raised his voice or got angry. (I was amazed, I would be going nuts.) He then called on the girl I had been speaking with, calling her by the wrong name. She went into a terrible frenzy, screaming and swearing. She hollered over to me, "You see what I f--king mean, he knows me since September and he doesn't even know my motherf--king name!" She then got up and said, "I'm going to fix your ass - I'm going to the principal". She came back and said "you better start teaching because the principal is coming in, in 15 minutes". I could see the teacher actually break into a sweat and turn a deep red. The teacher began screaming the lesson at the top of his lungs - absolutely no one, and I mean no one, was listening. He did this for the entire period. I went and talked to the girl who had gone to the principal. I said you're blaming him for the students actions. She said, "I can't learn because he can't control them; other teachers scream and scare them, he's a big pussy". I said, "why can't you be an example to them and do your work?". I sat down with her. She started to do some of the work. At the end of the period, I was sick to my stomach for this young man. I could tell he was despondent. He said it was his first year teaching. I made some recommendations and he thanked me. These new teachers need mentors, but what the hell do I know? I'm just the sub and Mulgrew says everything is great.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Isolation, Social Skills, Education and Technology

 Since cellphones have turned into minicomputers, there has been a marked decline in social skills, an increase in Attention Deficit Disorder and a decline in reading. Social media, gaming, music , movies and online shopping have turned most of us into pleasure seeking addicts, with the attention span of gnats. By most of us, I'm talking about middle aged, middle class, educated people. What is it doing to the young, who haven't yet learned social skills and are in the process of being educated? At least, teachers used to have their undivided attention until cellphones were allowed into schools. Now the teacher has to compete with the magic of the internet, in which everything else seems boring. Students aren't making eye contact when talking; have earphones that completely isolate them; and are using social media as an exciting, often illicit substitute for social interaction. If DeBlasio pulls out the phones, the students will go into tech withdrawal (don't believe me? leave your cellphone at home today) and want the teachers to entertain them. They will find education to be boring and will issue their wrath on the poor fools that are trying to teach them. Every day, I see and hear students cursing, threatening and/or totally ignoring teachers who try to get the students to put away the phones. Nothing is done about any of it, all authority has been stripped from the teacher and the schools. This is due to Restorative Justice - in which the evolved student realizes the error of their ways through profound discussion. The students have figured it out and have no qualms about taking group selfies or watching a movie during class. If the teacher fails the students, the teacher is grilled and will be asked what he/she has done to remedy the situation.
    The generation growing up with the current devices need time away from them to become educated and civilized. By civilized, I mean being able to hold a conversation, with eye contact and some modicum of civility. There are more devices on the horizon, that will totally immerse people into their own worlds - virtual reality - .  This isn't the cartoonish VR of the 1980s. A brave new world that has arrived.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

After Bloomberg, Should Any Mayor Have Sole Control of the Schools?

    How was your experience as a teacher under the mantle of Sir Michael Bloomberg ? Mine went from wonderful to abysmal after the 2005 contract, in which we got a big raise for selling our seniority rights. Then came the hundreds of school closings. Then, the replacement of veteran teachers with totally inexperienced white kids from the mid-west. Then, leadership academy principals indoctrinated with a business management approach to school leadership. Then, the ATR pool for teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, and APs that were too highly paid and couldn't be molded into a sniveling bureaucrats.

   Bloomberg is gone! Fantastic, Mulgrew regained his voice and gave DeBlasio a big check before the contract. Not a bribe, because we got the worst contract in the history of the UFT. It was more or less a house warming gift. I don't have a problem with it. We all had big hopes for Bill. A smiling mayor and a humanitarian. Two years later, not only hasn't anything changed, everything has become progressively worse. That's not what I expected when I heard him toot his horn claiming to be progressive. Students have cellphones in schools and classes, restorative justice has allowed criminal behavior to go unchecked, principals who have no business running schools (according to Chancellor Farina) are still in charge, principals who have made unethical choices for their staffs and students are unchallenged, teachers are evaluated in an insane manner, and veteran teachers who are overwhelmingly middle-aged and people of color are still languishing in the ATR pool. The last contract gave them second tier status and was announced with UFT President Mulgrew as a beneficial way to help these teachers find a career outside of education- the implication being ATRs are unsuitable for actual teaching. Mulgrew says things are great with DeBlasio. What do you think?

   Mayoral control of the schools end in June. A monarchical system that started with Sir Mike, that is  simply terrible. It's also being used as a political manipulative tool by both parties. We live in a democracy. Schools are not businesses, they are social institutions. All constituancies should have a voice in the decision making of education - parents, teachers, neighbors, taxpayers, students and the mayor. No one person should have sole control of the schools, bring back the Board of Education.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Vote Unity!

Dear Peasants,
It's come to my attention there will be voting going on this week. I totally forgot about it and you should feel free to do the same. We here at 52 have your best interests in mind. I gave you a great contract, a wonderful evaluation system, an increase in teachers choice and the ability to be turned into an ATR at any moment. Being an ATR is really the second best job in system, after mine, as ATRs have their entire borough to teach. Who else can reach so many young minds? I've worked hard  with our new mayor to get a meaningful discipline system in place and hopefully metal detectors will come out soon. We all know we have the best behaved students in the world- why penalize them with rules and regulations? Also, thank goodness, there are no more vocational schools. All students will be sent to college. That youngster next to you may be taking out your heart one day. What a fabulous time we live in! Ignore the grumblings of the malcontents, who invade my buffets like a swarm of locusts, eating my quail and caviar like it grows on trees. Look to the retirees as an example. Leave the voting to them. They are older and understand the intricacies of complicated union matters. In closing, I hope you realize how lucky you are to still have a job.
Fraternally yours,