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 http://nyp.st/2A5s0ZL. 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 http://nyceducator.com/2017/11/alice-in-reformyland.htmlconcerning 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 http://nyceducator.com/2017/11/uft-executive-board-november-20-2017.htmland 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.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Anger and Rage = Rank and File of the UFT




     In contemplating the past few years as an ATR the one thing that stands out is the isolation. I used to think it was only ATRs that were experiencing this,but it's apparent it is commonplace among many staffs. The schools have been purposely designed to thwart friendships and collaboration. There are no teacher cafeterias or teacher lounges in many schools. Many are teaching 6 periods and have no time for anything other than preparation. 


     Many of them are under tremendous stress and have no colleagues they are willing to trust. As an outsider many of them have spoken to me. As I have said, I have come across several teachers crying over the past few years. It's over lack of discipline of the kids, the workload and overall unfairness of the new reality of being a teacher. Many become very depressed, angry, despondent and quit. Those that don't are often discontinued after trying to achieve tenure. There is no friendly face, guidance or mentoring. There is however, the automatic deduction of UFT dues from their payroll checks. Many don't know their rights and the UFT has not been helpful with them when they ask for help. These teachers will not remain in the UFT if Janus passes. 

     What about ATRs? Many of us have become complacent about our positions. We see the unfairness of it, but we also see a light at the end of the tunnel, as most of us have twenty or more years in the system. For those ATRs that have 5 or more years to go, most are angry and will opt out of the UFT. I read an excellent opinion piece this morning on how and why Trump was elected president. http://nyp.st/2gHElLC People were angry and felt they had no voice. It is the same for many in the rank-and-file. Do not let emotions guide your actions. If there was an alternative to the UFT, I would join, but as there is not, I will remain a UFT member. I will say this to the UFT - we need, all need to have a voice. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mike and Andy ❤️ Together Again







Mike: Andy I'm worried that this Janus case may go against us! What the hell am I going to do?!











Andy: Please Mike refrain from mentioning my domain in your rants. I suppose you'll have to get used to the Angus burger in Burger King and put Peter Luger's out of your mind.

Mike: Please Andy! Isn't there anything you can do?

Andy: Hmmm. I suppose I could make a little arrangement with you.

Mike: Anything! Just name it!

Andy: Well you know the NY State Constitutional Convention is on the ballot. I'd like to see your sniveling members eating Alpo in their golden years.

Mike: But, we have to advertise how great the schools are doing to make sure DeBlasio gets reelected.

Andy: Forget it!  All deals are off! How dare you say that name in my presence!

Mike: Sorry Andy! What can I do, I have to make a TV ad!

Andy: OK. Make the appearance for your members. Show a couple of kids and teachers smiling - just don't bring up the Constitutional Convention!

Mike: Can you do something for us if Janus passes?

Andy: Of course Mike, don't forget who I am. Now go out and tell everyone how great I am, get diction lessons and scram!

https://youtu.be/GJz8LR9zcOg

Friday, October 13, 2017

Get It While You Can - Janis Joplin

                     


   This morning I read two articles that were relatively disturbing. Relatively when viewed through the lens of another natural disaster or a nuclear holocaust. The first was in the NY Post concerning a protest by charter school parents against ATRs being forced placed into schools. http://nyp.st/2xBxkCoWhy would parents that have kids in charter schools care about or even know the term 'ATR'? Why would they care if we are sent into public schools with vacancies? We are much more qualified than any charter school teacher - especially now that charter schools can certify their own teachers. These parents are being manipulated to ensure that veteran teachers are not returned to the classroom after being removed for any reason. These groups want temporary teachers - 3 to 5 years stints. If teaching remains a career and not a job the salaries will remain high. This equates into less profits. Why would anyone get a undergrad degree and a master's for a three to five year gig? They wouldn't- therefore the charters will lower the requirements, while using this as a reason to pay less and make sure their workers go on their miserable way in due time. ATRs are a real threat to this plan. I'm glad the UFT sued over the charters being allowed to do this. I am, however, not pleased with their silence in defending ATRs against the many scandalous, salacious and surreal attacks by these groups and their allies.

   The second article that was upsetting was in Chalkbeat. https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/10/12/farina-low-performing-renewal-schools-wont-be-assigned-educators-from-the-absent-teacher-reserve/The article was not biased. Ms. Veiga is an excellent journalist. The article mentions that Farina won't have any ATRs placed in renewal schools.

     Why? There's no reason mentioned specifically by Farina so we are only left with the assumption that this is an acquiescence to the Charter school groups. A real shame for the renewal schools because we are the most experienced and the most educated of all city teachers. The complete opposite of the picture that is being painted. I believe Farina knows this, but may be  doing this out of political expediency, as this is an election year for Bill. I understand that, and to be honest I wouldn't imagine many teachers - ATRs or not, would want to be placed into a renewal school. There should however have been a strong statement of defense from the UFT.

   I dedicate this song to the UFT via 'Janus' Joplin https://youtu.be/ju9yFA1S7K8

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Possibly Maybe



The UFT has the answers to the questions you need to know, (as you know if you did or will attend one their annual ATR meetings).


ATR: Will we be moved on October 15th or will we stay in our schools? 


UFT: Possibly.

ATR: If we are moved to another school will we remain at that school for the rest of the year?

UFT: Maybe

ATR: If we are moved to another school will we rotate? 

UFT: Possibly.

ATR: If we are rotated will it be a longer rotation then a month?

UFT: Maybe.

ATR: If we are rotated into a new school will it be less than a month rotation?

UFT: Possibly.

ATR: Will we be provisionally placed if not rotated?

UFT: Maybe. 

This interaction reminded me of a Bjork song called Possibly Maybe. Wonderful song. .https://youtu.be/kekwQdMG3QUSeems that she may have some fans down at 52. Personally I think I preferred the Magic 8 Ball answers, although I do love that song- but not when the UFT is singing it.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Don't Become Distracted

  
Green Acres, D.C.


    Distractions - what are they used for? To take your attention away from things that may be much more important - for you and for the person who is using the manipulation. I don't watch football anymore and to be honest I haven't in quite some time.This is America -if someone doesn't want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance that's their right. Personally, I don't like it, but I respect it. Don't disrespect our country just because you hate Trump. This of course, should not be a national issue of import other than for op-ed pieces.  I know there are many people who disagree with me. That's fine, too. (Don't disagree with Trump though, especially on Facebook- that's another no-no.) Many of my ancestors fought in numerous wars for our country as patriots at great personal and family costs. This whole thing is a major distraction from real issues.
     Right now there are extreme examples of global warming that are causing devastation in many parts of the world. (Trump of course denies global warming.) I have a special affinity for Puerto Rico and I am deeply troubled by what is happening there. There needs to be more done for Puerto Rico NOW. There also seems to be a real chance of war with North Korea. Trump calling their leader 'Rocketman' diminishes and ridicules the seriousness of this issue. Then there's his war on prescription medication, which is going to create a tremendous spike in heroin addiction. Chris Christie is the Opiod Guru and he obviously has an addiction of his own. Perhaps, Obesity Guru would have been a better choice for him. Tightening the legal supply of prescription medication for people who need it is going to put innocent people (that have committed no crimes) in great pain and anguish. It will also push some to heroin, which is cheaper, stronger and easier to obtain. http://nypost.com/2017/08/18/trumps-cure-for-the-opioid-crisis-is-bound-to-just-make-it-worse/Russian roulette curtesy of #45. They may get heroin or instant death. At least make marijuana legal for pain management. Oh yes, it is already legal for pain management - but just about impossible to get. I don't know if you've ever experienced someone in tremendous pain (or perhaps yourself) not being able to get access to some kind of relief - it is hell on earth. Trump is adamantly against marijuana, drugs and alcohol. I understand that because his brother drank himself to death. I would respect that view if he hadn't tried to profit from the sale of alcohol. He manufactured and sold his own brand of vodka under the Trump label. He is the supreme hypocrite.
     He is also causing extreme polarization in this country and is very embarrassing to me personally as an American. I don't like hearing Europeans and people from around the world criticizing our president. I find myself becoming enraged because they are right and I am deeply offended, not only by their remarks, but by having this man in office. Do I really want to get into a fistfight defending Trump? No, but I cannot sit by and listen to people from other countries mocking him in the most obscene ways. He needs to understand his role, respect the office and start representing us with some dignity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Information for ATRs Before the World Ends


      Someone told me the world maybe ending soon. That wasn't much of a surprise to me. The world ends for all of us when we die. It's our living that we should be focused on. Are you happy? Or at peace? Happiness is a deliberate decision; peace is something different. I'm at peace - for those fellow ATR travelers who may not be, the UFT will attempt to assuage your fear. Here's the link for those of you, like me, that weren't informed (I believe they would like you to RSVP, perhaps quail and caviar will be on the menu? Better grab a P&J before hand.) :

https://uft.wufoo.com/forms/atr-information-sessions/

     
Happy Rosh Hashanah.






Friday, September 15, 2017

Repost- How do We get out of the ATR Pool?

I decided to repost this. Nothing much has changed since it was written two years ago, other than the outrageous DOE/UFT endorsed sanctions against ATRs were sunsetted; and that we now have forced placements to look forward to - something that was to meant to start a stampede of ATRs into retirement, with a 50K incentive. We are experienced experts in our field and instead of offering us 50 K NOT to leave, we are politely told to f--k off. All with our union's blessing- two ATRs told a UFT rep they were excited by the choice. In rereading my original post, I was reminded that Ms. Hinds did something one would expect from a UFT leader - she called for an end to individual school budgets. This needs to be priority number one from the UFT. Nothing will change for any teacher - new or old until that is done. Every teacher that survives at least ten years in the system will be turned into an ATR, because of cost and cost alone. Everything else we are hearing are lies and distractions to hide that simple truth. There is no teacher shortage, there is no lack of money in NYC coffers, Janus is quickly becoming a hope - not a nightmare for many teachers and charter schools are not gaining ground. Thousands of new NYCDOE teachers were just hired.

No new teacher should have been hired until every ATR was placed in their licensed content area, as a teacher - not a defacto sub. The Unfair Student Funding all but insures there will be very few vacancies as of October 15th because of cost, and seniority. The media outcry against ATRs is an outcry against the possibility of teaching remaining a career and not a job. Many want teaching to be viewed as a stepping stone to something else. If it remains a career, teachers will acquire higher salaries as the years go by, and will use the union to ensure our rights. That the UFT, with the prospect of losing mandatory dues, would ignore these attacks tells me that they don't understand this concept or have surrendered to the inevitably of Janus and are sitting on their laurels. A union should be so much more than the UFT is currently - and no Mike, I'm still loyal to the UFT and will continue to pay my dues.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


How Do We Get Out of the ATR Pool?


Yesterday morning, on my way into a large high school campus building, I met a former student of mine that I hadn't seen in years. He was happy to see me and surprised we were in the same school. He is now a teacher and doing well. He became a teacher via the traditional route. He said he really didn't understand the whole ATR thing, but if "they are forcing great teachers to be subs something is really messed up". How did it come to this? After 23 years of teaching, never receiving an unsatisfactory, being the moderator of several clubs, and having felt the thrill of having many of my former students graduate college, I woke up to find myself in a surreal environment. ATRs are sent to different schools on a weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, (or any old way) to sub. We don't know the staff, students, building, neighborhood or any of the things most teachers take for granted. There is no set routine, everything is in flux - from daily schedules to lunch. We are often treated with an undisguised level of distain by many we come into contact with. We are asked to do things that a regularly appointed teacher would never be asked. This ranges from lunch duty, deaning, hall duty, punching in and out- to being traded to schools within a building. If we complain we are told we must do it or face insubordination charges. We are told we can always grieve it at another time. No one has our backs. The Chapter Leaders rarely, if ever introduce themselves, and will tell you straight up they don't want to get involved with ATR issues. Even Mulgrew, the president of our union, put a diminished due process clause in the recent contract. Most of us have found that being a "sub" (in every context) in the ATR pool is completely demoralizing. Yet, here we remain, day after day, week after week, year after year. Who were we replaced with? "Newbies" (from organizations like TFA), who are overwhelmingly young, from rural America and totally unprepared for the reality of inner-city teaching. These teachers have been failing miserably and like the last flowers of autumn stay only a short time.

So why don't the schools hire us, if we are experienced and effective? Cost. The ATR situation was solidified by the city via individual school budgets. As each school gets a separate budget, there is an artificially placed economic disincentive to hiring anyone but the most inexperienced. Huh?! That's right. This is the worst possible thing you can do to students. The money all comes out of the same place. Why punish every constituency? Some of us have been languishing for a decade waiting for an end to this scheme. There was a recent (UFT) resolution from Ms. Hinds to go back to unit funding for schools. We now have a new mayor and chancellor. I believe they both want what's best for NYC's students. It is my hope that they change the funding process to ensure fairness for all.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

What's Next?



    I was talking today with my mother and daughter concerning the state of affairs in the world. We all agreed that it seems very frightening. Three hurricanes, an earthquake that could create a tsunami, a nuclear test that created an earthquake, and increased instability in so many parts of the world. Couple all this with the overwhelming sense of selfish materialism that has been exhibited by so many of our leaders and we have some strong signs that something terrible is going to happen. I certainly don't want that. I love my children, my country and innocence in all it's forms.  

     Nature seems to be fighting back and perhaps some of us should as well. That certainly doesn't mean violence, but it means letting your voice be heard, when you don't agree with the injustice that you may be seeing or experiencing. This can be a very hard thing to do. Everyone seems to be waiting for the next person to speak up. The problem is no one seems to care. I think it's fear. There's no shame in fear, if you fight it. There are so many people in our society who are living lives of quiet desperation. Many of them happen to be teachers, and that's a disgrace. I believe teachers should be a moral and social voice for those that don't have one. Children that came into our country as infants (and don't even know their parents language) should not be kicked out. People are fleeing from situations that we can't even imagine . Who's to say that may not be us in the future? If our country became a waste land because of war or the environment and we started a mass exodus to Canada or a de-thawed Antarctic, would you want to be turned back? http://www.businessinsider.com/what-us-looks-like-if-earth-ice-melted-animated-map-2017-5?utm_source=taboola I think we as a people have to be better and have to offer help to those less fortunate. Speak out against the injustices you see.  We are Americans and that still means something to most of us. Write, speak, vote, protest and be brave.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Great Advice - Romans 12:9-12





 
    I did this reading in church yesterday and thought it could help many, even some of my agnostic and atheistic friends.

Romans 12:9-21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection, outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be arrogant, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is at all possible, so far as it is depends on you, live peaceably with others. Beloved never avenge yourself, but leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay it, says the Lord." No, if your enemies are hungry feed them, if they are thirsty give them something to drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


    I hope everyone has a wonderful year. Never despair.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

(Repost 9/4/15) The Heartache of Labor Day

The Heartache of Labor Day 

 
 For the past 25 years I've spent my Labor Day in a U.S. Open trance. I watch it from the moment it starts until it's over. It's the end of my summer vacation and as such is a mix of melancholy, anxiety and dread. The mix of those ingredients has changed considerably over the years. During the beginning of my teaching career the anxiety was much stronger. When I was in a terrible school, the dread was palpable. I remember watching Jimmy Connors play Patrick McEnroe late into the night, hoping the match would never end. If it could go on forever, so would my summer vacation. It was Connors 39th birthday and I remember screaming for him. If he could win, we could all hang onto our youth for a little while longer. As an ATR I no longer feel the pangs of anxiety or dread. Indeed, I no longer feel like a teacher. Now as my children are growing up, the melancholy is stronger. A cocktail that is very bittersweet. I sacrificed a lot during those years for my family and my students. I've had some success on both fronts. Labor Day is a day of rest and recognition for all workers. Enjoy your labor, for there can be great fulfillment from a job well done.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Sign that the World May Not End Soon - Chalkbeat Writes an Unbiased Article

   


    I must say this past year was a difficult one on many fronts.  I see anger and divisiveness everywhere. It feels like everyone is being stereotyped according to some predetermined yard stick. It's difficult to see, hear, read and experience. Most of us have experienced it at some time in our life and some have empathy for others that may currently be experiencing it. However, there's always a big group that pushes back with anger and the same behavior towards the offending group(s). As an ATR, I have accepted my position, such as it is. I'm no longer angry, worried or despondent. I did occasionally get offended recently at ATRs being labeled by various media sites as lemons, perverts, pedophiles, drunks, lazy losers, etc., etc. I have rarely (never ?!) read an unbiased article from main stream media on ATRs. So imagine my surprise when in a fit of boredom I took a glance at Chalkbeat and came across such an article. I felt like the guy on the Antiques Roadshow that finds the Crown's jewels in a dumpster. https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/08/25/they-talk-about-you-like-youre-furniture-three-teachers-on-what-its-like-to-be-in-the-absent-teacher-reserve/
   
   I have to give credit where credit is due. Bravo to you, Christina Veiga.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Another Reason to Turn Off Your TV

Put down those chocolate Easter eggs!


   (Written Easter Monday and today)  I've been enjoying this vacation and indulging in many of my favorite foods. Last night, after a feast of epic proportions (in which death by Cadbury chocolate was definitely a possibility) I sat down to watch the local news. I don't watch much TV and need to lose a few pounds. I was cured of both by Chris Christie. During the 30 minute program, he interrupted my visual and auditory senses 25 times for a dramatic thirty second commercial on the dangers of prescription medication. Christie is the most loathsome creature that has ever crawled his way up from the cesspool that is American politics. His underlings that enacted his vindictive orders are now looking at jail sentences. Trump is thousands of times better than Christie in every way possible. Yes, I would have actually moved to New Zealand if Christie became president. Why, oh, why was my peace of mind so persistently disturbed by Christie? Trump had to throw him a bone and realized the guy is HUGE turnoff and liability. So I guess Trump figured if Christie can turn so many people off, maybe he can get some heroin addicts to stop using, so Donald made him Opioid Guru. He certainly got me to put down my fork and turn off the television.

   The constant viewing of the commercial had me mentally rewriting it as a warning against overeating. I imagined Christie saying, 'It started out with a Happy Meal and now I'm Vladimir Harkonnen.' (I've been rereading the Dune series by Frank Herbert.) I'm not trying to trivialize the heroin epedemic, but Christie is trying to equate it with prescription opioids. (In my opinion by tightening the legal supply of prescription pills the government will cause more heroin addicts, not less.) Now you can't get a painkiller from a dentist after a tooth extraction. Much worse are the many people who are in severe pain that are unfairly being penalized because there is a preceived link between prescription pills and heroin. I recently went to the hospital to visit a dying friend. She was terminally ill and had less than two weeks left. She was in her hospital room, screaming in pain. I went to the nurse and told her to give her something. She told me she could have only a Tylenol and that she couldn't have anything stronger because it's being limited because of the opioid crisis. I was beyond outraged. Worse she had a smirk on her face, like she thought it was a big joke. I told her I would report the entire incident to the medical board and the NY Post. The nurse then gave her a morphine drip. I got hold of her doctor the next day and reported it. Every time I see that Christie commercial I get pissed off all over again. Christie isn't stopping anyone from using drugs. Watch him and realize how lucky we are to have Trump!  No more TV or chocolate for me.

A few weeks ago I was covered in poison oak. I hadn't slept in a few days and went over to the ER. Some big tough looking guy came over to me and hugged me. He was my student from twenty years ago! I was admitted and met his wife, who going through heroin withdrawals. She was a vet whose meds were cut and started using heroin. Her husband told me the government is creating addicts by withholding meds which makes some people turn to heroin, which is much cheaper and easier to obtain. The big problem is these unfortunate people don't know what their taking - it can literally be rat poison. Real life Russian roulette curtesy of #45. Marijuana is an effective pain reliever - basically a weed that can be grown anywhere and is purposely being thwarted by the pharmacy companies because of the lower profit margin. It's time to make marijuana legal for those in pain and that are suffering. Getting that marijuana prescription in NY is very difficult even for those in severe pain. That's just not right. The government is going after legitimate pain meds given by doctors and ignoring heroin?! They (dealers) are mixing it with fentynal and causing deaths. I hope Trump steps back and looks at this entire situation more carefully.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Heat Bugs and Their Beautiful Song

 

   I was sitting outside at around six this morning with my sister's Italian Greyhound, Lorcan. Lorcan is an unusual creature. He seems to understand me when I speak to him. My sister has a family of feral cats that he protects and that live under the backyard deck. They completely trust him and seek him out, but have always stayed far away from me. He was recently hurt protecting them from a skunk and got sprayed in the mouth. His internal organs were hurt and it looked like he might have to be put down - put happily he made a complete recovery. I was sitting outside listening to heat bugs with Lorcan. Suddenly, all these kittens came out of nowhere to sit by my feet. I concentrated on the song of the heat bugs.  If you are a teacher you know this song. It's poignant for it is a song played at nature's prime. We know the end is near. August and the end of summer quickly approaching. It's always been such a sad song for me, but this year it was much more beautiful than anything I've ever heard before. Glorious in a multitude of ways. Realize everyday is a gift and make your own happiness. Be kind to one another, it costs nothing and will save your life. Enjoy these final days.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

'The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus'

       
'I could shoot someone on 5 Ave and not lose any voters.'
         I often feel the need to think about and talk about things that are going on in our world that I find disturbing. I have been avoiding most of the national news that seems to be revolving around Trump. I don't find it humorous anymore, I find it revolting. I think if the media starts to ignore the Donald, he may resign. The problem is that the media's ratings are skyhigh because of him. He says whatever he feels like saying at any moment, and then if it's a lie or an exaggeration - it's no big deal. He gets a pass. When he said he could walk down fifth Avenue, take out a gun and shoot somebody and nothing would happen to him, he was right. There is something profoundly wrong with that and even he himself knows it. That doesn't stop him from glorifying in himself and in his 'accomplishments' - such as they are. Let me also say I don't hate Trump or even dislike Trump. I actually feel he's in way over his head and may know it.      
I recently read Marlowe's play Dr. Faustus and I found myself thinking of Trump. Has he sold his soul to the devil for all he's ever wanted? Does it fulfill everything that he's always wanted? He has a beautiful wife and children, is rich, famous and powerful. Is there more to life? What is the meaning of life? For many of it is it is to help others and leave the world a better place than the one in which we entered it. It's my hope that Trump realizes that at some time during his presidency. The pursuit of the almighty dollar is not what this country is about. Americans come in all shapes, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. The typical American is no longer a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant and neither are you Mr. Trump, as much as you may try to be. We are a nation of immigrants. Your mom was one. Your ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower. You never mention your mother who came over here as a domestic servant and who's first language was Gaelic. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3602299/An-uncomfortable-truth-REAL-story-Trump-s-mother-climbed-penniless-Scottish-immigrant-wife-businessman-revealed.htmlDo we want people to like us so badly that we change our identities in order to be accepted? Are we all self- hating teachers, Catholics, Jews, Episcopalians, Blacks, Hispanics, Irishmen, Scots, and Italians because the media tells us that the stereotypes concerning us are the truth? Do we know our own history or do we accept what has been told to us from the media and history books?    
      Trump is our president and he should be called out on the things he says and the way he acts. He shouldn't be held to a lower standard - he should be held to a higher standard - he represents each and everyone of us throughout the world. I was on a plane recently sitting next to, lucky me, a German model, and we had a very long conversation on Trump. She was laughing her head off almost the whole long trip discussing the things he had said and the things he was doing. At first I couldn't help but laugh as well but after a while I started to feel a little upset. (That wasn't her intention, so I took no real offense to her remarks. I am upset that Trump is our president, but that doesn't delegitimize his presidency - he is our president.) We started comparing national leaders around the world to Donald Trump. He's at the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. It was somewhat of an eye opener to hear her views on what others in the world feel about Trump and our country. She was very intelligent and and an excellent conversationalist. Her number one question, over and over again to me was how could Americans vote Trump into office. I had no real answer for her, other than to read Marlowe's, Dr. Faustus.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The End of Fair Student Funding?


   Last spring we got some tidbits of information concerning the ATR pool - first there was the announcement that Randy Asher would be overseeing its planned reduction in helping us back into the classroom. Then, there was Mulgrew's visit to Boca with a litany of potential woes (to open those wallets for COPE) in which he said,  "There will be no more ATRs as of September 1st. All ATRs will be placed". A 50K incentive was offered to ATRs and then extended. Then, there was the announcement Amy Arundel would no longer be the ATR rep for the UFT. (No replacement has been announced.) During the end of June it became painfully apparent that many individual school budgets had been cut again for next year. The announcement of next year's budget facilitated the excessing of many teachers into the ghost army of ATRs, classes that will now be combined and overcrowded, many teachers that will have to teach six classes, and the marked scarcity of viable (cheap and inexperienced) teachers available to fill the vacant teaching slots. There will of course be little or no per session and a lack of basic supplies. (That $250 Teachers Choice won't go far in this scenario.)

  All this while the City has a tremendous surplus and the CSA and UFT seem to strongly want an end to Fair Student Funding (aka, individualized school budgets) in order to run their schools to meet the needs of their students. I say this because every principal, UFT rep and even one former superintendent I've spoken to has told me so. Fair student funding has been a Bloomberg burden laden on the shoulders of schools, principals, and children for far too long. It's time it was thrown into the garbage heap with Klein's discarded toupee.

    As an individual example - at an ATR friend's school (which she left in June after a five month gig), four teachers were excessed; the staff were told they would all be teaching six periods next year; that next year's classes would be at full capacity; that three math teachers would have to be hired (but there were no funds to do so) and there would be no per session or money for after school clubs. The principal said he would gladly hire my friend if her salary came from central. This school is not unusual. How will these schools run with no money to pay for necessities and salaries? Why was an ATR incentive offered and then extended?

   I believe the city hoped to rid itself of the most expensive teachers possible before going back to centralized funding. I hope that the city will announce a return to centralized funding for the benefit of the schools and their students. This will allow principals to hire the best teaching candidates, diminish oversized classes and funnel funds into the neediest schools. It will allow for a much more efficient use of funds.

   Perhaps, it is just a pipe dream, but I see no other way for schools to meet their monetary     obligations  under the current accounting system. (Other than springing Bernie Madoff.) It is a win - win for everyone, especially students. Then the powers that be can proudly say, "Children first, always".

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Strong Response from Our Beloved Leader





Dear Media,
It's come to my attention that some of our smallest group of educators ( no more than a dozen or two), also known as ATRs, have been labeled drunks, perverts, peddlers, and lemons. I happen to know for a fact not one of them are lemons, vegetables or minerals. They are all human beings (to the best of my knowledge) with the same urges that may lurk in all of us. We no longer have teacher cafeterias -so alcohol is not openly served to the staff and is not an issue. Our discipline code has banned chains and whips. We are looking closely at handing out spinners to ATRs so their hands will be occupied and visable at all times. We are also asking them to refrain from wearing raincoats and use only umbrellas during raining days. As for peddlers, some teachers do opt to ride their bicycles to work. I don't know what your problem is with that! I strongly uphold their right to do so!  We are working hard to get these teachers back in the classroom, but in case we can't -we have a plan B. Our President, #45, is bringing back coal consumption. In order to show unity with our coal miner union brother and sisters we are re-retrofitting our boiler rooms for coal. Shoveling coal to keep our schools at a comfortable 99 degrees is an important and vital job. It will keep our ATRs in tip top shape in case a vacancy should open up.

So please show some respect, we are doing all we can to get rid of them. We've even offered them $50,000 to leave. Please, if you wonderful media folk decide to write any more about ATRs, please refrain from criticizing me in any way - as I find it very hurtful, unfair and upsetting. I'm sure the ATRs don't mind it at all.

Best Regards,
Mike



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chancellor Rosie O'Donnell?


     I wasn't always a fan of Rosie O'Donnell. I knew she had a tough upbringing and came out on top. She seemed to have always spoken her mind, even when it got her in trouble. I wasn't a true fan of Rosie until she came out of the closet. Prior to that time, my wife and all her friends would race home after dropping the kids off (this was before DVR). hang out and watch Rosie. Once a year they'd get tickets and go visit her show. I remember when she came out, there must have been some backlash, because her popularity seemed to take a nosedive and she seemed to take on a bit of a hard edge. My wife and friends remained loyal but she lost some fans. She did however gain others. Shortly after that initial coming out, I was in Nova Scotia on vacation. Rosie had her own cruise ship and was landing at the pier I was shopping at. I was talking with all the lady vendors there. Their main concern, and I'm not joking, was that she wouldn't romantically hit on any of them. I told them I thought Rosie was involved in a relationship and I didn't think they had to worry (most of them looked like Nanny McPhee). It made me realize that Rosie gave up a lot to be honest and true to herself. She may have also helped others - even those that weren't involved in issues related to her's.

    At around the same time I was watching Donald Trump on the original Apprentice. It was a great show and my poor opinion of him started to change and I began to like him. Then something happened that made me shake my head and realize there was something profoundly wrong with him. Rosie made fun of his hair style and he became so over the top nasty that I was speechless. I thought he'd laugh it off and say thanks Rosie, but he went for the jugular and didn't stop. He made himself look like a complete fool and I lost all respect for him.

   During the presidential election Trump brought up Rosie's name many times and it was often very mean spirited. I thought he might try to reach out to her and make friends, but, alas it didn't happen. It solidified his petty persona.   We now have Trump in office. He wants to dismantle public education, bring in charters, get rid of unions and have a right to work nation. How does our union president respond?  Mulgrew is afraid to utter Trump's name and refers to him as '45'. Rosie on the other hand has come out with a game in which the player can opt to have the Donald dropped over a cliff, into a volcano or eaten by a T-Rex. http://www.pushtrumpoffacliffagain.com  (This has outraged some conservatives who may feel this may give some the idea to clone a T-Rex and threaten the president.) Who do you think Trump respects more? Who would he prefer to fight? Who would win? Rosie; and the more he opened his mouth the more he'd lose.

 There have been rumors that Chancellor Farina may be retiring soon. Perhaps Bill is actively seeking a successor? Bill has been very vocal and strong in standing up to Trump. My sugestion is that he considers Rosie O'Donnell for chancellor. She is strong, vocal and smart. She cares for kids, teachers, schools and is a New Yorker. Bill, if you're listening, consider Rosie O'Donnell. I am entirely serious. We need fighters like Rosie in office.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

ATRs Are Teachers

He's an ATR!

   First things first, I'm a teacher. A teacher who's status is currently 'ATR'.  I'm not a lemon, drunk, pervert or sub. I'm tenured, permanently licensed, respect everyone and respect myself. I love God, my family, my friends, the arts, the USA and children of all ages. When I say children, I'm referring to those that experience joy, sharing and laughing. I also include those that are wounded. I can experience just about any type of pain, but if my kids are in pain or serious trouble it is unbearable. Everytime I teach, I try to remember that. I want that student, even if he or she curses and threatens me, to succeed. Why? Well, in many ways he or she is my child. I want them to have a good life, hopefully even a better one than me. That's not to say I've had a bad life - I'm grateful for all of God's gifts. If I walk into a room and see a teacher that doesn't know the subject, I don't judge him or her, I try to help. Often, I'm shunned - even when placed with another teacher.

    Recently, I was in a class where the facts presented were completely incorrect concerning Judaism. When I tried to explain the concept privately (so as not to embarass or upset the teacher in front of the students), I was asked by the (12 year experienced) teacher how I could 'know so much being, an ATR' and not licensed in Social Studies. First, I politely asked what she thought of ATRs. She told me, 'really bad teachers that they weren't able to fire'. I explained that anyone could be brought up on charges, and that even if cleared they were turned into ATRs for life. I also explained that the group she referenced was only about 10 -15% and the rest of us were excessed, mostly from closed schools. She replied, 'if you guys were any good you would have been hired'. I then explained school budgeting vs. centralized budgeting and that most ATR salaries were too high for most individual school budgets. She looked at me like I was crazy. She then asked if I was Jewish (I'm not), because she didn't understand how I knew what I had explained to her. I was getting uncomfortable with the level of her ignorance, lack of social skills and stereotypes. This didn't stop me from trying to help her. In helping her, I was helping the kids and myself. You see, I believe we all have a calling. For me, and perhaps also for you, it may be teaching, and helping others. If I ran into this teacher in the hall, she wouldn't answer me if I said good morning, and often looked at me like something that had stuck to the bottom of her shoe. I've experienced this in many schools from staff and it doesn't really bother me anymore. It's being an ATR.

    The last week of school this particular teacher was excessed and turned into an ATR. Next year's school budget was cut and several teachers were excessed. Several teachers told me the teacher I referenced above was crying so badly they had to send her home. They asked me to go speak to her to let her know how great being an ATR was(!). I then asked them what they thought an ATR was. I got responses that basically boiled down to 'heaven on Earth'. I was incredulous. I said I'd be happy to speak to her about the reality of being an ATR, but that based on her reaction, she already had a good idea.

     One of the teachers actually congratulated her on the last day of school on becoming an ATR. She looked like she wanted to strangle him. She never did seek me out, but as of late I have seen many versions of her voiced opinions and those of other teachers published. Published by those that hate public education. There seems to be a marked indifference to these ATR stereotypes from teachers and the UFT. As a teacher do you realize you can become an ATR once your salary becomes prohibitive to a projected budget? What is the inference, when the UFT stays silent during these attacks? Does the UFT understand these attacks are in fact on all NYC public school teachers? It is high time for all teachers and the UFT to recognize that ATRs are teachers and should be afforded the same respect and rights as every other UFT public school teacher.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Principals, Start Your Engines! The Race is On!

 
The race is on!


     Holy cannoli! ATRs and their high salaried, expansive derrières are going to be force placed into schools that have vacancies as of October 15th. That can mean only one thing - a massive race to get the cheapest possible candidate on board before that date; as well as competing with every principal in the city for the same candidates. Where to look? If I were a principal, I would troll the the Charter Schools. Stand outside the best ones with free bagels and coffee and start talking. Heck, bring twenty dollar bills. Chalkbeat would be another place I'd try, as well as Craigslist. Maybe a paid ad or two in the more scholarly journals or MAD magazine? Hey, I don't blame the principals - I would do the same thing. That's right - if my budget was cut and I had a vacancy, why should I have to pay an ATR, 100K, even if he or she is the superior candidate? How is that fair to the school? How is it fair to the ATR, that has no say and may be burdened with the ill feeling that the administration may feel about that placement? How will that ATR's punititive salary affect the ATR's potential rating? I'd try to get rid of that ATR pronto. Wouldn't you?

    Two weeks ago I met some newly excessed teachers that have between 10-15 years in and as such are not at the highest end of the pay scale. For the few schools that may have vacancies, those are the ATRs that will be placed first. They are good experienced teachers and cheaper than most ATRs. Again, a no brainer for the unfortunate principal that may have a vacancy as of 10/15.

   Mr. Asher's webinar was excellent and I thank him for having it. It would have been nice if the UFT could have had the decency to have a meeting or two, but hey, we know what we're dealing with. In my opinion nothing will change until the DOE goes back to centralized funding. The best candidates should be placed regardless of salary and the students should have the best teachers. The FOIL request from the Post and the charter parent group should be honored and will show most ATRs come from closed schools, have never been rated unsatisfactorily or brought up on charges. Mr. Asher brought up these facts. Thank you, sir and thank you, Bill DeBlasio for also bringing it up. A very positive sign, especially in light of the outrageous articles in the NY Post. http://nyp.st/2sXU7uL http://nyp.st/2v65XPLEnjoy your summer and that 50K, if you're so inclined.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Place Where Many of Society's Problems Meet



     It is upsetting to read that homelessness is surging to a record pace here in NYC - this while the economy is supposedly doing much better. If homelessness is growing in the general population, it is with our students as well. I'm going to preface this post with the statement that one of my favorite students, during my entire teaching career, was homeless. This was before my ATR stint and one in which I was given five classes of computer repair, out of license and with absolutely no training. I was given this program the day before classes started in September. I was panicked, depressed and angry. I didn't sleep or eat much for about a month. I spent six hours a night reading technical manuals while trying to teach myself the material I needed to teach the next day, every day. I am not in anyway mechanically inclined. At first I balked and went to the chapter leader who told me I had to take the program or be charged with insubordination. I told him to go f--k himself and called the UFT, who told me I would be excessed if I refused. After hearing so many horror stories about being an ATR, I decided to do my best. I would come in daily about 6:30 AM to set up the room. All the air conditioners were broken and the latches to open the windows were missing (therefore the windows couldn't be opened). I bought latches and had them installed. Even with two windows open a couple of inches it was a sweat box. I lost twenty pounds during that September. That was just a minor inconvience compared to many hurtles I had to jump. There were no books, so I had to print out the materials weekly for 150 kids a day, for a five day week. I had to get new computer equipment, laptops, old computer equipment, learn an incredible amount of material which included coding. The real kicker for me was I HATED the subject. I asked the principal to give me English, Social Studies, Health, Physical Education - anything but this. He said he would if he could, and he was very supportive of me - however, two students really helped me.
     My daughter introduced me to YouTube, which basically saved my sanity. Every topic, which I didn't understand, (which was every topic) was explained.  The other student that helped me every day, almost all year was a male student, 'Adam'. Adam used to get to my class about 7AM every morning and help me set up. He knew a lot more about computer repair than I did and would usually explain one of the more difficult technical points. We became friendly and I learned he lived in a shelter with his father. He was never disheaveled, or gave any indication that he was homeless. His dad would usually get day laborer work, but it wasn't enough to pay for an apartment. I never asked about his mother and he never brought her up. Most of my students were great but I had one very obnoxious student in an afternoon class (in which Adam was not present). This student, 'Brad', was not homeless, but wasn't being parented. He was the complete opposite of Adam - disheavled, smelly, obscene, and would do his best to destroy every class. One afternoon some of the students came to me and told me Brad and his friends were robbing Adam and beating him up almost daily. (They told me Brad found out Adam was homeless and was using it as an excuse for the beatings.) Adam had been telling me his bruises and black eyes were from karate with friends when I first noticed and reported it. I went to the dean and he insisted on doing a mediation. It was an initial success. Unfortunately, it only lasted about a week and the bullying continued. His father took out an order of protection, which emboldens many bullies because they feel their potential victims are petrified. The bullying escalated as did the seriousness of the assaults. Adam's father wanted the bully removed, but was told only victims were given that option. I did everything I could to quell the situation, to no avail. Needless to say, Adam eventually had to leave on a safety transfer, even though Brad, who was given several court appearance tickets for harassment and several suspensions, stayed in school. I never saw Adam again, but last year ran into one of his old friends (and a former student). He told me Adam got a degree in computer science and was working. Adam never despaired, was always hopeful  and eventually came out of his absymal situation.
    There are many homeless families in NYC now. Homelessness, bullying, lack of parenting and societal indifference all meet at our desks. Try to help if you can.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

(Re-Post from 7/6/16) Post 4th Thoughts

Post 4th Thoughts
   

                                               
     America. What does it mean for you? For me it's an inherent part of my identity. It's not really a deliberate choice, more like an intangible tangible. I can't change it, no more than I can change my revulsion at the road this country is going down. The candidates are just symptoms of the illness. The real problem is we have become much too lenient with every type of misbehavior, other than of verbal slurs (unless its on social media - in which case anything goes). The rights of the few take precedence over the rights of the many. This is evident in everything from schools to public spaces. Students who have severe behavior problems have the right to totally destroy a class and stop the teacher from teaching and the students from learning. In public spaces, self cleaning toilets were removed from NYC some years ago, because they weren't completely handicap accessible. As I'm writing this, there's a guy with his pecker out, peeing between two cars on 172nd Street. All in view of everyone walking by. The cops won't ticket him - partly because they can't be bothered and they hate the mayor (who has downgraded the offense). I don't entirely blame the urinator - he appears to be homeless and there are no toilets to use - self cleaning or otherwise. As an ATR, I know the feeling. No restroom key and no one to open the restroom door. How many of us have been tempted to urinate in the back stairs? Save not for the cameras and the students back there having sex, some of us may have. What an embarrassing hearing that would be! The daily papers would read, "Subpar teacher urinates in back stairs!". The TV news would show endless clips with the warning, "What we are about to show you may be disturbing".
     Every time I walk around this city I'm disturbed. Homelessness, selfishness, materialism, incompetence, and downright meanness are there. My right to blow your head off with my gun takes precedence over your right to have a head, especially if I perceive you as a threat. Most people that carry guns perceive everyone as a threat. If they get in a fist fight and start to lose, they will pull out that gun and use it. How likely is it that you can get into a fist fight in this city? Very likely, especially if you are young. (Don't have a gun - then a knife will be used.) Every weekend and after every holiday, I open the paper to read how many people were shot the night before. How many people were shot in NYC, last night on the 4th of July? 10. I don't know how many were intentionally targeted. Many of the kids that have these guns learn to shoot by watching videos and movies in which the gun is held and shot sideways - insuring that everyone, except the intended victim, is shot. Violence is glorified in movies, video, music and gaming. Getting a gun for many young people is like what getting our first bike was for us (with an extra added pleasure of being illicit). Schools are a microcosm of society - keep metal detectors in schools. Have a peaceful summer.