Thursday, October 27, 2016

What Do ATRs Want?

    Next week will commence the start of the annual UFT informational dog and pony shows with ATRs. This year promises to be more than we're "working hard for your restroom keys", "you have to be your own advocate", and my favorite, "you're lucky to have a job". There have recently been new ATR negotiations, so if logic dictates (it usually doesn't with the UFT) we should get some new information at these meetings. If some of you are scratching your heads wondering why new negotiations, you're not alone. The discriminatory provisions of the last contract were allowed to sunset. Why the UFT felt it had to go into new negotiations, instead of leaving things the way they are, is a matter of conjecture because we haven't been informed. (That's nothing new if you're an ATR - we are always an afterthought, an elephant in the room that is never to be discussed or mentioned, especially in public or the UFT paper.) So exactly what do ATRs want?
    First and foremost ATRs want and need crucial information in a timely fashion. We shouldn't have to ask janitors at 52 Broadway if they overheard Mulgrew talking on the bowl.
    Secondly, we need the truth. The UFT should release the demographic information on ATRs which will prove we are not "sub-par" teachers. The UFT should advertise this fact. It seems to have stopped its negative branding of us, but that's not enough- the damage has been done. Even though we are offered for free, who wants a sub- par teacher?
    Lastly and most importantly, this bullshit has to stop - it's been 11 years! I've been seeing totally clueless teachers trying to teach, while we sub and are treated like absolute garbage by everyone. If the UFT wants us out then negotiate a decent buyout. For those who want to be ATRs, let them have input into what they want and for the rest of us, LET US TEACH.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Everyone Knows What's Best for African American Children, Except the NAACP

   The NAACP recently came out with an intelligent statement concerning charter schools - "We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:
(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools
(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system
(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and
(4) Charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious."

    I can't objectively find fault with this, but the Secretary of Education John King has and has publicly stated, any arbitrary cap on the growth of high-performing charters is a mistake in terms of our goal of trying to improve opportunity for all kids.”

   One would think that the Secretary of Education under the nation's first African American president would show a little more respect for the NAACP or at least for common sense logic. Is Mr. King interested in helping children or in pushing the charter school ideology? This is in direct opposition to the NAACP, "The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools – as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP. “Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.”

    The media has heaped praise on Mr. King and distain on the NAACP. It seems incredibly arrogant and insulting that the NY Post, the Obama administration and the Charter School Movement has the gall to chastise the NAACP and tell it what's best for African American children. The Charter School movement doesn't care about children- it cares only about profits. 

Can Trump Still Win the Election?

  As some of you may know, I am not a fan of either candidate. (I forsee nightmarish scenarios no matter which one gets into office. If it's Clinton, we have the prospect of Joel Klein re-entering our lives or if we're real lucky (!) Randi Weingarten. Public charter schools will then find their way to NYC. If Trump gets in, charter schools will replace public schools at a much more accelerated pace. We may pay less taxes but will pay more for everything and there will be a marked decline in the quality of life for everyone. That will be the first year. Trump would likely resign after making sure all obstacles, to his multiplying his fortune a hundred fold, were eliminated. Pence would then be president.) Can Trump still be elected? Not only do I think he can, I believe he will. There are tremendous amounts of people that are cautiously silent on their plans to vote for him. Many are affluent and well educated - not the Hillbillies we've heard about. Hopefully, I'm incorrect or maybe Clinton will contest the election and win on appeal. Whatever the outcome, we're all the losers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cyber War - Not a Bullet Fired


    We are under attack in cyberspace. (Hillary may be more acutely aware of this via WikiLeaks.) There was another attack today -      Some of these attacks appear to be coming from governments that are putting their resources into disrupting our economy. This has the potential to affect each and everyone of us . From monetary value, bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, power grids, water - everything possible. It has the potential to damage our nation as much as a nuclear bomb without the immediate  physical damage - the physical damage will eventually occur however. (There's a great show from the USA network called Mr. Robot, which gives a picture of life after such an attack. )      Some are afraid that if Trump loses, certain nations that have an intense dislike for Obama and Clinton will up the stakes. President Clinton or Trump will need to put more of our resources into the protection of our infrastructure in cyberspace, and in building civil relationships with China, Russia, the Philipines, North Korea, and the Middle East. There needs to be public and private awareness that terrorists can use the internet to attack us.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Beginning of the Fall - Sunday Night's Debate

   Sunday night's disgusting spectacle was emblematic of everything that is wrong with this country. The media, fame, dirty politics, sexism, racism, self interest, and capitalism - all tied together with lies. Two people, presumably the best we have to offer (after an extreme vetting process via their individual party's nomination), went at each other like two coked up roosters. The moderators were a joke. Anderson Cooper should be relieved of any future position in the news media as a moderator after displaying what can only be called unbridled bias (time to throw out those Gloria Vanderbilt jeans you've saved since college) and Raditz only nominally so. I really don't think I can vote this year. A raging asshole (excuse my language) or a bought bureaucrat - and yes, I still think Trump is going to win.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Atlas ponders, 'What ATR Scenario Would Mulgrew Deny the City?'

  Two weeks ago we learned that there were renewed ATR negotiations via Mr. Mulgrew's announcement that they didn't go well. What does the city want that Mulgrew would have denied!?Atlas asked some friends their opinions:

Tony: Probably weekly or daily rotations in different boroughs.

Atlas: No, Bloomy tried that. The UFT won the court case.

George: I think they want the ATRs to drink the water in each school to test for lead.

Atlas: No, ATRs don't drink any liquid during the day. This is to minimize their need to urinate based on the frequent absence of a restroom key. Mulgrew would have readily agreed to this.

Harry: Place all ATRs as the sole staff in receivership schools and allow the staff to be fired when the school doesn't improve.

Atlas: Two thoughts about that - one a deformer group has FOILed the DOE to get the info on ATRs sent into these schools. If the info is released, then it proves ATRs are superior, not inferior - and also that ATRs are being sent to these schools. If the UFT agreed to this scenario then this would come out and the UFT could not be seen agreeing to termination of these ATRs.

Harry: So you think this is the case?

Atlas: Perhaps. Anymore ideas?

Pat: I think they wanted a time limit. Get a permanent position or be terminated.

Atlas: No, the system is set up to insure ATRs don't get permanent positions. State law, LIFO, states last in first out. The UFT and DOE would lose that battle in court and in the court of public opinion.

Jean: I think the DOE wants to give up and put all ATRs back in the classroom permanently.

Atlas: Very interesting. If the UFT agreed to this they would lose the dues for 2,000 new UFT members that wouldn't be hired. This may be what the Mulgrew referenced when he said a new agreement couldn't be reached and there was no new agreement.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Petty Media Attacks Trump

   As some of you may know I'm not a Trump fan nor will I vote for him, but this current attack on him is so rotten and low down I felt I had to comment on it. The same media that attacks teachers, our salaries, our interest rate on our TDAs has decided that Trump's unguarded and recorded comments from 11 years ago should be publicized. I don't know if you've ever had the experience of saying something privately and hearing it back - taken out of context and used against you. That happened to me some years ago and is happening to Trump on a whole different level now. It's worse than a betrayal, it's a petty vindictive way to hurt him. This election is a bizarre, nasty horror show. Hillary should not use these comments against him, as it will open a feeding frenzy on her husband's peccadilloes. The next debate is on Sunday.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Ascent of Technology and the Descent of Education


   Are you surrounded by students that are completely hooked into their cell phones? If you are, you're not alone, especially if you teach in a NYC public school. (Mayor DeBlasio, to my dismay, lifted the cell phone ban that was wisely put into effect during Bloomberg's regime.) Chances are you've been filmed many times without your permission or knowledge. This is especially true if you've done something unusual or you've been in an altercation with a student. (If the altercation was physical there's a 100% chance it was filmed and shared.) Additionally, when the students don't have something interesting to film (think violent or sexual) - they will take constant selfies. Don't even get me started on mind numbingly loud Bluetooth speakers that blare the most offensive 'cursing to a beat' possible. These behaviors are not to be solely found with students. They exist in society as a whole.

     Do you like your cell phone? Do you love your cell phone? Could you go a day without your phone, without discomfiture?  I've come to the realization that cellphones are an addiction. Ask any question an addict must ask themselves and you'll probably get the affirmative, if you're honest. Is your behavior affecting relationships negatively? Are you spending an exorbitant amount of time and/or money on your addiction? Is it affecting your health? (Think eyesight and driving accidents.) Is it affecting your performance at work?  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

    Now back to our students. If we see students engaging in behavior that is counterproductive to their health and well being, as well as their education - don't we have a moral imperative to call it out and attempt to stop it? I, personally as a caring adult, parent, teacher and (yes) UFT member would like to see a careful reconsideration of the cellphone policy in all NYC public schools.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Class Divide - A Story of Two Children from Chelsea


    Tonight there's a program on HBO that tells the tale of two children from Chelsea. One is wealthy and one is poor. Chelsea is an interesting neighborhood that I'm well acquainted with. I have a friend that still runs a soup kitchen there.  I know of few places in the world where you will can see the destitute and billionaires living side by side in the same neighborhood. Back in the 80s, it had one of the highest AIDS and HIV rates in the world. The Highline was boarded up; you could just stroll in and have the entire place to yourself. Big apartments were relatively cheap and the ever present housing projects were there for those poor and those lucky(?) enough to get in. Jump ahead 27 years and Chelsea is upscale, hip and beautiful. The Highline is packed around the clock. Luxury buildings abound, but the projects are still there - as are the poor. How do the poor fare in such an environment? Are there equal opportunities for children? I imagine that there is not. We live in a capitalistic society. It will be interesting to see if this program touts for profit charter and private schools as the answer for poor children. Or will it say improve public schools for rich and poor? Check it out tonight at eight. Happy Rosh Hashanah.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Understanding What's Important in Life or "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F-ck"

    It's amazing how uncommon common sense can be - which is why a self help book called "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F-ck" strikes a chord with so many. Basically the author is saying care about the important things in life and understand the difference between those things.
     I've found through experience it's best not to have any expectations in most situations, especially those in which you have no control. Doing so allows one not to suffer disappointment or the emotions that can accompany it. Some may go further and intentionally distance themselves from personal relationships. (This is a survival mechanism for many teachers and ATRs. It's easy to get pulled into negativity and gossip.) This is especially true if you are someplace temporarily, and aren't we all here on Earth temporarily? Try to remember what's important in life and be kind to one another.