It's teacher hunting season!

Monday, May 30, 2011

DOE used Parent Advocates in LIFO fight against Teachers

"The Chief" on March 25, 2011 reported, David Sims, "Local 372, UFT Claim Foul: Charge DOE Pressed Staff to Lobby Against LIFO:"
DC 37 President Santos Crespo charged that the New York City Department of Education was using Parent Coordinators to lobby against senior teachers in the Last In-First Out ("LIFO") struggle.
The DOE sent a petition from Jaclyn Berryman at Tweed's Office for Family Information and Action to at least 375 Parent Coordinators to circulate among parents and community activists that read:
We urge our elected leaders to provide New York City with its fair share of state funds and restore the proposed cuts to our public schools; reject the State's proposed changes in Building Aid, which will delay the construction of thousands of new school seats in our neighborhoods, and allow the city to keep its most effective teachers by ending the state's 'last-in, first-out' policy, allowing Teachers to be retained based on their performance, rather than just seniority.

(Notice, also, how there's the implicit pitch to have construction workers and industry people join the DOE's side in combatting experienced teachers.)

Crespo also noted that the city had previously manipulated parents in the fight against schools and teachers. The DOE mobilized Manhattan and Bronx parents to go to public meetings to support the city's plans for school closings.

The United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew also criticized the DOE's directed parent coordinators to mobilize parents and students against LIFO.
Read further, pages 1 and 7 in "The Chief," March 25, 2011.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Charter School horror story: Mismanaged school bungles budget, fires staff

This in from the New York Post:

A mismanaged charter school in Kingsbridge, Bronx has been shuttered by the New York State Board of Regents. It could not manage its budget, it has been without a principal for nearly half a year, and its board of trustees fired five of eleven teachers.
(Need we more proof of the failure of privitization of schools?)

See the report by Yoav Gonen, "The New York Post," May 18, 2011
In an unprecedented move, the State Board of Regents yesterday revoked the charter of a Bronx school that hasn't even completed a full year of service.

The action was sparked by significant concerns about the financial and educational operations at the Kingsbridge Innovative Design Charter School, which has been operating without a principal since January, according to state officials.

Budget shortfalls prompted the board of trustees to fire five of 11 teachers midyear.

"The school is not fiscally sound, and is in danger of not having sufficient cash to meet its payroll and other expenses at any time," read the revocation notice, which was unanimously approved.

Kingsbridge officials and many parents fought the potential revocation since they were notified that the school was being placed on probation in March.

Read more at the original site.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cutback Consultants, Save NYC Teacher Jobs

When New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg says that he wants to be "the education mayor."

As the teacher's union's rally this Thursday, May 12 blazed on T-shirts, "really?"

You can see people's priorities are when you see their expenditures of money.
New York City can save everyone of these imperiled teaching positions by eliminating the (no-bid, by the way) consultants and consultant company expenditures. (And by the way, these consultants are often off-shore, and of course paying off-shore programmers. We are in a period of unemployment crisis and revenue crisis. So why are we spending huge sums with companies operating abroad that will not pay New York, let alone New York taxes. Did you buy a shirt in New York City at a store rather than online? If so, you not only helped the local economy, helping to provide income to salesclerks here and tax coffers here.)

Back to the consultants issue, the numbers are huge, regardless of where they are working. In the Friday edition of the New York Daily News, Rachel Monahan reported that $23 million is budgeted for computer services.
If the mayor and his supporters support the classroom experience, they will support the students and their classroom experience. In this decade of mayoral (autocracy) control we can see that there has been dubious improvement: 75% of NYC school entrants to CUNY schools need remedial math and English. The city has to rely on data-fudging (operations that scrub student data, dubiously asserting that students have gone to commercial trade schools when they have dropped out), and has to rely on desperation measures of bogus credit recovery courses (a semester's worth of credit for some crash speed work on make up projects or class sessions). When this is the hallmark of NYC education, we see that the city has moved backwards with the mayor. So, for all the millions that are spent on ARIS and excess consultants and data analysis and collection, there is no significant movement forward.
In short, cut the consultants; divert the money to teachers.
From Monahan's article in the Daily News:
(See the admittedly unscientific DN online poll associated with this article: 96% say divert the $$$ to teachers instead of consultants.)
As the city prepares to lay off 4,100 teachers, the Department of Education is planning to spend nearly $1 billion on consultants next school year, a new analysis shows.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer blasted the agency's budget as a "black hole" and took issue with the 6% increase on consultants, after his office pored over the latest budget documents.

"There are a whole lot of troubling increases that have nothing to do with spending money in the classrooms," said Stringer, noting the city's plans to lay off teachers was "political gamesmanship" and the "solution" may lie in the $20 billion Education Department budget.

"This is a black hole that gets darker and deeper as time goes on," he added.

"It's time to shine some light on what these services really are."

Stringer's analysis, which agency officials dismissed, found the agency is increasing its spending on consultants under the central administration budget by $25 million - with $23 million of the increase spent on computer services.

The analysis also found increased spending on consultants to recruit teachers by nearly $1 million - while the city is cutting teachers.

Education Department officials have said that it's necessary to continue recruiting teachers to shortage areas like special education even during cuts.

City Education Department officials rejected the analysis, saying that most of the consulting budget is for required services and directly goes to serving students with disabilities.

"The Borough President either fails to recognize an important fact about these consultant costs or he is intentionally misleading people," Chancellor Dennis Walcott said. "The truth is that over $840 million of the $981 million he cites are dedicated to direct services for our students with the vast majority going towards our students with disabilities which are services that are required under the law."%A0

Agency officials also disputed that the computer contracts are increasing so steeply, saying instead that they underestimated expenses last year.

Jose Gonzalez, whose sons Alvaro, 10, and Allan, 9, attend Public School 73 in the Bronx joined a protest against budget cuts held yesterday at City Hall.

"We want a better education for our children. How are we going to do that?...They're really wasting money on consultants and contracts," said Gonzalez, a member of the Coalition for Educational Justice.

Read more:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

USA Today: Feds sought for Rhee Erasuregate

USA Today for the past month has been giving attention to the ballooning test scandal of Erasuregate: very high numbers of answer choices on tests erased and changed to the correct answer, during Michelle Rhee's years as schools chancellor for Washington, District of Columbia (DC).
Thursday, May 5, 2011 "USA Today" gave front page attention, in Marisol Bello and Jack Gillum, "Inquiry sought into D.C. test scores." You know that things are bad for Michelle "Taped Lips" Rhee when school-killer comrade in chief Arne Duncan endorses a deeper investigation. (Rhee, power-protecting and defensive, refused to speak to USA Today reporters live; although she did deign to respond to a written set of questions.)
Meanwhile, the number of parent or teacher signatures demanding a federal probe into test scores during Rhee the First's tenure, or should we say reign. (See the fun Rhee-focused site, RheeFirst!, on Erasuregate and skewering Rhee's overall apple polishing.)

And you know things are bad for her when even conservative institutions and one of their staff publicly skewers Rhee.
Rhee's comments have shifted because she is trying to protect her national reputation, says Mike Paul, a crisis management consultant.

According to Rick Hess, an education researcher at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, activists such as Rhee say they have all the answers and when one flaw is found in their approach, it can call into question their entire program.

"Your critics have good reason to try to re-examine your evidence — and if they find problems with it, then your case is dramatically weakened," Hess says.