It's teacher hunting season!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

After the rubber room closings: essential procedure rights issues ignored by UFT, media

So, the city has agreed to close the teacher reassignment centers, also known as the rubber rooms.

They were a travesty upon the city, but not for the reason that "The New York Post" alleges.
They represented Soviet gulags right here in the United States.
Yet, in the talk about UFT president Michael Mulgrew and the press reports there is no talk of reform of the investigation procedures. The UFT last year passed a resolution saying that the New York City Department of Education investigations are frequently biased.

One wonders, what kinds of thoughts of regret of professional mission do partially conscientious DOE investigators have? Do they ever think to themselves: Am I serving justice by being a cog in such a biased, rigged system? Who could I speak with about this abusive system? Is this what I went to law school for?
The investigations are frequently biased. Investigators can interview a range of opinions, yet their default determination is that accusations are "substantiated." The DOE investigations, by the nature of the fact that DOE proceedings are fait accompli affairs, are really a test of the summoned teacher: how naive is the teacher? Since the teacher is not merely presumed, but determined to be guilty, the affair is of questionable benefit for the accused.
The proceedings are in sum a monkey court, a Stalin-style show trial, with the Department of Education and the various investigative offices constituting prosecutor, judge and jury.
These issues of procedure are of great significance. As Philip Nobile pointed out this week in a contribution at Education Notes, the accused in the murky DOE experience a pre-Magna Carta deficit of rights. Basic features of the Bill of Rights are withheld from accused teachers. The accused are not informed of the reason that they are reassigned. They are not allowed to know of their accuser. They cannot even see statements by opposing witnesses, even with the names redacted. They cannot pursue their own investigation. It is obviously a one-sided procedure. In the United States under standard rules of legal procedure each side in a legal proceeding is allowed to pursue their own investigation. In the real world each side is provided documentation of investigations. The investigation procedures are in a zone in which the accused teachers are denied their due process rights.
Our weak Mulgrew-lead UFT has done nothing in the past or in the new agreement to correct the general denial of due process in the entire procedure. And the UFT does not serve the accused well. As Nobile has pointed out, the UFT has a standing policy of denying the accused the right of getting a copy of the notes that the representative has taken in the proceedings with the investigators.
The media have uniformly done a incompetent job of reporting the rubber room procedure. In the absence of the UFT's addressing the systemic denial of due process, the abuse of teacher's due process rights will continue. The public, in the absence of a complete representation of the denial of basic legal procedures, will remain under the impression that the whole procedure is legally kosher, "Well, the Department of Education is headed by lawyers, surely they must follow correct legal procedure. This is America. Everyone always gets due process. The UFT was headed by a lawyer. Surely, they must be on top of the situation. So, all of those people in those rooms must get a fair and just judgment."
Closing agreement's curious timing
Let's hope that Justin Cegnar and Jeremy Garrett's "The Rubber Room" movie gets broader distribution. The film received a review at Education Notes.
It seems all-too-coincidental for the city to come to this agreement on the rubber rooms, just the day before the premiere of this film.

As to the deadlines of how long the city has to act before charging teachers, the question is will the city live up to the commitment? The city already has such deadlines, but the city has not kept to those commitments. The UFT knows of this and has not corrected the problem.
The closing of the rubber rooms a set-back?
In the closure of the rubber rooms, the mistreatment of the accused could get worse. Concentrating all of the accused in one place surely lead to some sharing of information of the limited rights that the accused have. The venue for information sharing among the accused is lost.
Remaining work for the UFT to do
The UFT needs to address the myriad of essential real world procedural rights-denied. The UFT needs to address the larger context of the rubber rooms. They have ballooned under the Bloom/Klein administration, as part of a pattern of principal intimidation of teachers. The UFT needs to have better education efforts, including brochures, for the accused. In sum, the UFT must have a more aggressive effort at correcting a general miscarriage of justice.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Services denied to NYC's ELL students: Shame on Klein's DOE!

The New York Post, that tabloid that we don't like, has written an expose on how New York City is deprived English Language Learner (English as a Second Language) services to thousands of schoolchildren.
The April 12, 2010 edition carried Yoav Gonen's fine story, "Tongue tied at school: English-help crisis."

This writer has been familiar with the trend, since around 2004, of the city's giving the cold shoulder to the kind of student that it does not like: the overage student, the ELL (today's term for ESL) student, the special education student. These trends are most evident in the smaller schools. These students need extra services; they take longer to graduate. The city, I suspect, sees them as a nuisance, a drag on the city's graduation statistics. It denies them services. In giving them the cold shoulder, I suspect that the city wants them to just go away.
In the heady early 2000s some large high schools had entire departments of ESL teachers to serve the city's large immigrant population. These services supplemented bilingual programs in Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

I charge that this negligence of ELL students is motivated by a short-sighted resistance to spend money. The ESL classes of the 2000s were often quite small: eight to twenty-five students. Joel Klein's Department of Education probably saw these classes as a drag on city coffers.
More than 8,000 city public school students struggling to learn English didn't get any language help last year, even though they were entitled to it by law, state statistics show.

Another 43,000 kids -- or nearly one in three of the 138,000 students identified by the city as "English language learners" -- didn't get the full range of services they should have received during the 2008-09 school year.

Among the districts with the largest gaps in English language support were Manhattan's District 3, where 11.7 percent of the roughly 2,000 foreign-language speakers identified got no services last year, and Brooklyn's District 14, where nearly 11 percent received no services, according to the data.

"There's a neglect here and an unwillingness for people to say we need to hold [somebody] accountable for the results of these students," said Luis Reyes, a longtime bilingual educator and former member of the city's Board of Education. "It's not clear that anybody is paying attention."

Non-native English language speakers are supposed to be offered programs in English as a Second Language, bilingual programs, or both.

ESL classes give students some support in their native language, while bilingual programs help them to develop more fully in both their native language and in English.

Students in these programs are among those with the lowest four-year high school graduation rates in the city.

Read more of the New York Post article:

This is another social injustice that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), needs to get behind, just as it did with the negligence of special education students.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Deb Meier acknowledges: some RR/TRC detainees are innocent / ICE proposal for RR/TRC procedure

The renowned educator, Deborah Meier, acknowledged that not everyone in the Teacher Reassignment Centers, also known as Rubber Rooms, is a pervert or violent thug.
(this post also indebted to Education Notes Online.
The Ed Notes piece itself was referring to this March 15, 2010 Anna Phillips piece from GothamSchools.)

"Note: 3rd line, 3rd paragraph: they have not been charged with anything, just accused. It's not the UFT's job to investigate and bring charges, that's the employer's job, those who made the accusation. The strategy seems often to be that they will finally resign or retire. But it's not far-fetched to say that people shouldn't be fired based on accusations, but no investigation, no charges, and no opportunity to appeal.

Having had some good friends who spent time in the rubber room--and who eventually retired with pensions, after 6-9 months of waiting to be charged--let's not get railroaded into assuming they are all child-abusers, peverts, drunks, etc. Those I knew most about were first rate people and were happy to defend themselves if they ever though they'd get a chance to do so.


And now, this proposal from the Independent Community of Educators on handling Teacher Reassignment Center cases:

I would disagree with this angle: DOE investigators are biased. ICE proposed the UFT hire paralegals to do their own investigation to give a balanced view.

One big example is that of the 22 year teacher whose Leadership Academy principal urged a parent to call the police over an incredibly minor incident that occurs in classrooms every day. After 5 policemen took the teacher out of the school in handcuffs, the lead investigator went back to the school and was so clear that this was a railroad job the teacher was released. At the 3020A hearing, the parent testified that they kept her in the station until the middle of the night trying to convince her to walk away from this. She demanded an apology from the teacher and the teacher wouldn't give one because she felt she didn't do anything wrong and she herself should get an apology. It is now over 3 years she has been in the rubber room.

I took that teacher to the UFT Exec Bd meeting a few days after the incident and she spoke there. I asked the UFT to get the cop on record and at least do something to get the story straight. "That is the teacher's responsibility," they said.

Thus the ICE proposal to address these issues in a timely matter would be extremely useful to the teacher.

Basic truths at failing schools: clueless leadership

Found in the side bar of the venerable blog, Education Notes Online:

These observations nail it on the head: schools are failing from naive, idealistic and short-sighted leadership on the part of school administrators (principals, assistant principals, and anyone else in a leadership position supporting these ill-conceived policies) --and the tragic point is, this comes from the failed leadership at the top: we're reaching about eight years of leadership by Joel Klein, a school chancellor with no prior experience or training in education issues.

A Teacher at a Closing School Comments
Here are the main problems.
1. Inexperienced/ Inept leadership at principal level
2. Failure to accept that all students do not want/ are unable to be college graduates
3. Failure to realize that without qualified electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, etc we are totally screwed.
4. Failure to realize that students learn best with students of similar abilities and interests.
5. Failure to understand that social skills are a better predictor of success and happiness than academic aptitude.
6. Failure to realize that as students grow their abilities and interests change and that continual reevaluation of their potential is both appropriate and necessary.
7. The above is true for teachers and administrators as well.
8. Everything that worked 40 years ago may not work today but some of it probably will.
If you cannot read you cannot lead. If you cannot lead no one will follow. If no one follows you are alone.
Don't think the DOE has given up for an instant.

Just amazing that no one in the media, aside from a few reporters at the tabloid rags, "The New York Post" and "The Daily News" has questioned the tenets of the education deformers' Kool-Aid.