It's teacher hunting season!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deafening silence in NYDN op-ed on CUNY and NYC schools failure

The NY Daily News ran an op-ed piece this weekend on abysmal 28 percent graduation rates in CUNY's community colleges among New York City Department of Education high school graduates.
Yet, there is a deafening silence in Saturday, November 26, 2011's empty editorial.
First, the blame must be laid at our all-potent mayor. He staked his reputation on being an "education mayor." Poor performance in basic English and math skills in entrance exams and poor graduation rates indicate utter failure in the standards in the education system captained by mayoral control Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Where is the front page editorial in the News, Post, Times, as there should be, asking for his resignation for his abject failure on the education issue?
*School closures *Attack on and marginalization of experienced teachers
*Top-down imposed crackpot schemes such as "Everyday Math" or "Impact Math"
*No bid contracts on school texts, curricular packages, software, evaluators, consultants
*Derision of the notion of teaching. Dare not say teaching, say learning
*Top-down imposed scandals such as grouped seating or conference tables as seat set-ups, leaving no room for test security
*Thorough disregard for parent voice or transparency from the disbanding of the Board of Education down to the emasculating and irrelevance of parent voice in Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) at the school level
*Doubling of Math and English and the side-lining of science, social studies, arts, and thus the sidelining of students' having any notion of pleasure in school
*Collective classwork ("cooperative learning," groupwork)
*Growing tolerance for hall-roaming, skipping classes and truancy in general
*Endless test-prep ...what have I left out?

The media should say nothing in this matter, save for a total admission of guilt for their silence during this ten year fiasco.

Second, the essence of this problem comes down to the abrogation of the schools to chart proper scholastic habits among the school-children. Time was, students were expected to respect teachers, have good behavior towards each other, and a decent effort at attendance and classwork.
Accountability ... seems the only people subject to this are teachers, not the media, not the mayor. Not the students or the parents. Click over to Chaz and his column about Credit Recovery, "A Case Study On Why The "Credit Recovery System" And Online Learning Does Not Work In The Real World Of Employment." In life if you are a no-show, you are dropped, not only in work, but also in social relationships. Not so in the parallel universe of attending school in the NYC Department of Education under city-state Prince Michael.
In the regime of JPE, "Just Pass Everybody" what did Bloomberg and his aides and abettors expect?

Here is the shameful (for no context and no criticism of the mayor, who stewarded the development of no standards NYC diplomas) Saturday, November 26, 2011 New York Daily News editorial:
Unable to hack the coursework, students are dropping out from the city's community colleges in droves — clouding their economic futures and that of the city.
The numbers, revealed in a new report from the Center for an Urban Future, are a scathing indictment of the ability of New Yorks public schools to give young men and women the skills they need to succeed.
Nearly four of five high school graduates arrive at CUNYs six community colleges needing remedial coursework in reading, writing, math — or, increasingly, all three. And within six years, the study says, an eye popping 51% have dropped out from what are supposed to be two-year degree-granting institutions.
A mere 28% actually manage to get a degree six years after enrolling at Kingsborough, Queensborough, LaGuardia, Hostos, Bronx or Borough of Manhattan community colleges.
There’s a painful personal price to all this ill preparation. Earnings for a graduate with an associate’s degree in the city average $29,000; with a high school diploma, they’re a mere $17,000.
And work for applicants with less education is getting harder and harder to find. According to the report, the number of jobs requiring more than just high school doubled nationwide between 1973 and 2008, from 28% to 59%. City employers in fields such as transportation, health care and construction told the researchers they are increasingly looking for college credentials.
Fixing the problem would have a huge economic upside for the city. The report estimates that boosting the community college graduation rate 10 percentage points would mean a $28 million jump in economic activity in neighborhoods.
Left with no choice, CUNY has created intensive remediation programs. They help — 27% of those who participated in one such program earned a degree within two years, compared with just 7% of similar students who did not.
But for most, it’s too little, too late. CUNY says the number of “triple-lows” coming through the door — students who cannot handle college-level reading, writing or mathematics — has jumped steeply in the last two years. Meaning that across the board, the public schools are falling down on the job.
Total fail.

Just see the latest on the on-going train-wreck of the NYC school system, recently publicized most at Queens Metro High School (south Rego Park/south Forest Hills) at Ed Notes:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Update: 1, 2, 3, Many NYC Tahrir Squares as Parent, Student School Revolts in an Arab Spring in the Autumn

Rebellion is breaking out all over as parents and students are yelling, "No", to New York City Department of Education school chaos. The Occupy Wall Street or Tahrir Square energy is beginning to seep into the parent and student communities in the city's high schools, in quite different boroughs (Bronx, Queens) of New York City. A common thread is scandalous class scheduling that neglects to give students essential classes such as English.
(Scroll to the bottom of this post for ignored ATR factor in DOE refusal to hire teachers scandal.)

It is disappointing that these stories for the most are in alternate media (blogs) or minor commercial media (outer borough newspapers). Few of these situations are covered by major media such as the New York Times.

As indicated in one of my blog posts earlier this week, 75 students at Frederick Douglass VI High School in Far Rockaway did not have an English teacher until they refused to attend class until the administration agreed to hire a regular teacher.

Yesterday, November 22, 2011, Ben Chapman authored "Students at Grace Dodge Career & Technical Education High School in the Bronx haven't had an English teacher for months: Kids at F-rated school cut class and 'smoke weed' instead" in the Daily News that Grace Dodge Career and Technical High School in the Bronx lacked English teachers, for a total of ten missing class sections. A total of 300 students lack an English teacher.

An F-rated Bronx high school has failed to provide nearly 300 students with English teachers since the third week of the school year, the Daily News has learned.

For nearly three months, the students at Grace Dodge Career & Technical Education High School have languished in their daily English lessons without regular instructors.

Instead of learning composition and grammar, the kids sleep, socialize or cut class, senior Michelle Sanchez, 17, said.

“We just sit there and stare at each other,” said the frustrated teen. “Kids cut school and smoke weed around the corner. Or they walk around the halls and get into fights.”

The 1,182-student school in the Belmont section of the Bronx has been targeted by the city because of its abysmal performance.

Just 35% of seniors graduated on time last year, and only 1% graduated ready for college.

Teachers at the school were outraged students have gone without English instructors.

“It’s horrendous in here,” said one teacher who wouldn’t give her name.

Education Department spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the teacher shortage was due to two instructors retiring abruptly in October. That left 10 English class periods without full-time teachers, she said.

Read more from the original Daily News article click here.

Last week the Ed Notes blog published "Growing Scandal at Queens Metro Tech Exposes All the Ills of Bloomberg Ed Deform - Another Leadership Acad Principal Set to Take Fall."

The Queens newspapers have reported more negative news at Forest Hills' Queens Metro High School. The chaos echoes the scheduling disorder that the New York Times did report earlier this month:
November 23, 2011 from the Western Queens Gazette: "Queens Metropolitan H.S. Beset With Scheduling Problems"
For the second time in little over a month, a Queens high school has been revealed as awash in scheduling problems. Queens Metropolitan H.S., 91-30 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, opened in September 2010 with relatively few scheduling problems. This year, some classes lack teachers, no physical education instruction is being imparted and students have yet to receive grades for some of the course work they have completed and handed in, according to parents who attended a meeting of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association on November 15. The situation echoes that of Long Island City H.S., where students have found themselves reporting to different classes with different teachers or spending hours seated in the auditorium and cafeteria, depending on how their schedules change from week to week.

Principal Marci Levy-McGuire declared that she is working feverishly to straighten out the scheduling mess affecting the school’s 650 ninth and tenth grade students. Some parents were less than convinced. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, whose two sons attend the school, expressed dissatisfaction with the efforts to correct the scheduling errors at a sparsely attended Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting November 17. At that meeting, it was noted that the school lacks a science teacher, classes are taught by rotating substitutes and students who registered for elective courses sit in the auditorium instead, some for as long as three hours.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he had heard of the problem at Metropolitan H.S. only a few weeks ago. His daughter, DeJeanne Walcott, is a physical education teacher at the school, but “shop talk” does not come up within the confines of the Walcott family home, the elder Walcott said. He attributed the school’s scheduling problem to “rapid enrollment growth”.

According to “Ed Notes”, a blog “providing information on current ed issues, organizing activities around fighting for public education in NYC and beyond and exposing the motives behind the education deformers”; “The pressure since the story broke about [Crowley’s] children at the school and the Chancellor’s daughter proved too much for the DOE and the network and Tweed types swarmed the building. They allegedly completed student programs and there is a special plan to disseminate it with scripted statements read by each teacher to their students explaining why the programs had to be changed again…The program rollout will not take effect until after Thanksgiving. There will be three days where administration will answer parent questions after school. Next Tuesday (November 29) is [a] PTA meeting where much of this will be announced.”

The Queens Chronicle reported a similar story today (November 23): "Parents livid over schedule ‘disaster’: Say students at Metropolitan High School go hours without classes."
A key quote:
Walcott said he, as well as Senior Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky, only found out about the issues at Metropolitan a couple weeks ago, despite the fact that Walcott’s daughter is a physical education teacher at the school.
“We try not to mix our respective lives as far as education is concerned because she is her own person and teacher,” Walcott said at the meeting.

[Really? We are well into the third month of the 2011-2012 year and Chancellor Walcott has not found occasion to ask his daughter, "How was your day?"???]
The Panel for Education Policy, the mayoral appointee dominated panel that replaced the Board of Education is largely a rubber stamp for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's prerogatives. Patrick Sullivan (appointee of Manhattan President Scott Stringer) has been a frequent dissenting voice on the panel. Queens appointee Dmytro Fedkowskyj made statements that suggest that he might be moving in the Sullivan direction of independence:
“I made it quite clear during the PEP meeting that the lack of a proactive interest by the DOE has harmed the school community and that policy should change going forward when inexperienced leaders take on new responsibilities. What occurred at the Metropolitan High School and at Long Island City High School is clearly unacceptable.”

NY1's story Monday night (Nov. 21) on the Queens Metro HS disaster.

The Daily News' story, Friday, November 18 on Queens Metro's scheduling problems.

Sadly, the New York Times's article on the Queens Metro mess is a snippet, merely parroting the DOE line that "help is on its way." No parent or student quotes or interviews --just the DOE's #2, Shael Polakow-Suransky, and that quote was in the context of the now-old news Long Island City scheduling woes.

On Tuesday, November 22 parents, students and area elected representatives held a protest demonstration on the Tweed Courthouse steps of the NYC Department of Education.
This example from a Crown Heights, Brooklyn school is a characteristic sample of the woes that beset schools targeted for closure:
"'The Crown' (PS 161) was a top-performing school just two years ago, with nearly all of its students passing the state’s ELA exam. But the City then cut more than $700,000 and nine educators and other staff members, sending scores into a tailspin." (From Norm's Notes, "Schools Under Attack by DOE Fight Back: Parents, Elected Officials Representing 15 Schools Targeted for Closure to Continue Season of Protests With Rally at DOE HQ, Targeted middle and high schools serve almost entirely low-income Black and Latino families, lost tens-of-millions to budget cuts over past 3 years, Many schools represented were founded, moved or co-located by Bloomberg Administration; most house large numbers of high-needs students", 11/22/11)
Full list of schools participating in last Tuesday's rally: -PS 181, Jamaica, -PS 298, Brownsville, -General Chappie James Elementary and Middle Schools, Brownsville, -PS 19, Williamsburg, -Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, Williamsburg, -PS 137, Lower East Side, -PS 256, Bedford-Stuyvesant, -PS 22, Crown Heights, -PS 161, Crown Heights, -Frederick Douglass Academy II, Harlem, -IS 171, Cypress Hills, -Samuel Gompers High School, Bronx, -Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep, Cypress Hills, -JHS 296, Bushwick, -MS 587, Crown Heights

Parent letter, which appeared in Norm's Notes, "Teacher/Parent Outrage at Queens Metro HS as DOE Ignored Problem - HS Supt Juan Mendez on Hot Seat - Network Too," (Nov. 17, 2011):
Thank you for taking the time to speak with my husband John Sadowski earlier today regarding Queens Metropolitan High School. Our son is currently a tenth grader. As you know QMHS opened its doors for the first time in September of 2010 and unfortunately this school has been a disaster since Day 1. Many parents tried to be patient, with the understanding it was a new school and it would need time to work things out. Month by month things progressively got worse. By the end of the school year parents were frustrated. We could only hope that the administration would work over the summer understanding where they went wrong and begin to improve. We found out on day one in September 2011 that we were sadly mistaken.

On the first day of school Sept 2011 the student schedules were not yet ready. My child did not receive a schedule until day 3 or 4. Some parents have told me that there child had to wait longer. What soon followed after this was schedule change after schedule change. On October 31st my son received his ninth schedule change. On some of those schedules he had five or six blank spaces and nowhere to go during those times. On one of the schedule changes he was not given a lunch period. Some parents have told me that their children still have blank spaces and they are pulling their children from the school during those times. Teachers and parents have told me that hallways and stairways are crowded with students with no place to go. One schedule my son had was filled with obvious errors. He repeatly went to the main office to report these errors and he was finally directed to the Guidance Counselor. The Guidance Counselor told my son to “find someone with a similar schedule and then just follow that student’s schedule. I was horrified to learn that this was the schools response. I later found out from other parents that their children were told the same thing. On October 28th I was at the school and Vice Principal Lambert called me and my son over. She asked my son what schedule he following, because they could not find him the past week or so. I find this very alarming!!!! He is following the schedule the school provided and they can not find him???? What if he was hurt in the halls, would no one know? Ms. Lambert answered this with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes. On November 15th Principal Levy-Mcguire acknowledged that they schedules are still not correct and does not expect to have them resolved until sometime in December.

SUPERVISOR QUALIFICATIONS SUBTEXT TO ABOVE: The Board of Education before being supplanted in 2002 by the Department of Education did have some problems. But basic things like student scheduling were handled competently. Why then and not now? School administrators had teaching experience and came up through the ranks. They acquired their supervisor licenses by attending classes at NYC area colleges. City schools chancellors had proper supervisor licensure. Today, it is a Keystone Kops merry-go-round carnival of reinventing the wheel; supervisors often have no education experience or proper supervisor qualifications. They instead have been fast-tracked into power by the NYCDOE's "Leadership Academies." Now, there are some fair and compassionate supervisor products of the Academies, but a disproportionate number of supervisors come out with a cavalier attitude as we see with Levy-Mcguire.

The EdNotes blog reports that
It's too bad Turner was at Queens Metro on a Sunday.(November 20) If he had been there on a school day he would have found that the free enterprise school system instigated by WalBlackBloomKlein offers up fairly brand new school where kids had no regular schedules, were left in a gym "class" – taught by Chancellor Walcott's daughter no less - where they didn't get gym, a physics class "taught" by an unqualified special ed teacher, and no chemistry at all after the teacher quit in October. The principal actually did have an idea for a school that on paper seemed to offer a lot of good ideas. The only problem was that she was a grad of the Leadership Academy, the Tweed training ground for future principals ¬without a clue – with many people coming from Turner's vaunted "free enterprise" system without knowledge on how to organize or run a school. Of course, after Walcott and his minions ignored the problem for months - especial knocks to Queens HS Superintendent Juan Mendez (who was so arrogant at the Beach Channel school closing hearing last year) and network leader Gillian Smith – they finally responded – once the story hit the press.

A critical point in any of these discussions of rotating substitutes from week to week is that the so-called "substitutes" that are coming and going are actually absent teacher reserve ("ATR") teachers. These are teachers that have lost their regular positions when the DOE has closed down schools and broken apart schools into smaller units. At best, one-half of the teachers in the former school are placed in the new smaller schools.

(Back to the gap of teacher positions.) Yet, while ATRs are placed as substitutes in the gaps of English or science teacher positions, the DOE has placed them in the positions, willy-nilly, paying no regard to whether the license of the ATR temporarily filling the vacancy actually matches the subject of the teacher vacancy.
The dirty secret is that there are over one thousand absent teacher reserve teachers in the "ATR pool." Potentially there are a few hundred or at least several score of experienced English teachers in the ATR pool that can fill the vacancies at Frederick Douglass VI or Grace Dodge. The same can be said for the science vacancies and potential science teacher assignees to Queens Metro.

So, why won't the city place these ATRs into the vacancies? The principals have limited budgets. They have a budgetary incentive to hire novice teachers. The experienced teachers go unhired. (It was not always this way. Bloomberg's DOE instituted this school-unit accounting in 2005 when it created the ATR fiasco. It is curious that the United Federation of Teachers ever went along with this.)

But let us return to the details of these teacher vacancy sagas. The Western Queens Gazette neglected to cite several vital nuggets from the Ed Notes post it cited. Ed Notes wrote, "Breaking: The principal “can’t find” a physics teacher so she is using a special ed teacher to teach physics with packets prepared by another physics teacher. Parents don’t know this." Ed Notes went on to mention that physical education students are actually missing on actual phys ed lessons. With the DOE neglecting to hire experienced science teachers from the ATR pool and the DOE allowing phys ed teachers to teach the complex subject of physics one cannot help but wonder, could the DOE (Tweed, the principals, the assistant principals) be refusing to hire science teachers out of spite? (In all of this scheduling neglect, is it any wonder that "Audit Finds City’s Schools Short on Physical Education," as the New York Times reported a city comptroller John Liu audit of physical education in today's NYC Department of Education?)

UPDATE with tidbit from NYC Educator:
She or he has great list of inconsistencies of interest to those who care about teacher hiring, teacher placement and budgetary decisions in general, like no money for the Teachers Choice program (teachers routinely spend $100s each year; Teachers Choice would cut teachers' costs with a $125 or 150 check made out to the teacher for costs). NYC E pointed out that it was eliminated while the city has money to add new teachers to the rolls.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Qns HS Students' Occupy-type Protest & Need for Parents & Students to Mobilize

On their front page today The Daily News ran a story on how students at Frederick Douglass VI High School co-located with Far Rockaway High School protested and got an administration pledge to get an English teacher.

Here's the synopsis with some decoding:
75 students did not have an English teacher. Instead, they had rotating substitutes that changed every week. Translation: the students had different absent teacher reserve (ATR) teachers every week.

"English class at Frederick Douglass Academy in Queens hasn't had a regular teacher in three months" told how parents called 311 and how the city gave them the brush off.

Well, of course the city or the Department of Education gave the parents the brush-off. The city is being spiteful. It is not interested in hiring an ATR. One can get a qualified, experienced English teacher in the form of an ATR. The ATR pool remains at 1,126; there must be some English teachers in that pool. But, no, they city is too spiteful to hire a qualified, experienced teacher.

Students at Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School don't have English teachers and protested in front of the school.
Seniors at a struggling Queens high school have gone the first three months of the school year with no English teacher, the Daily News has learned.
About 75 students at Frederick Douglass Academy VI in Far Rockaway have been warehoused in a bunk class with a different substitute each week and no coherent lesson plan, they say.
For weeks, students begged administrators at the C-rated school for a steady instructor, but their request was denied — until Friday, when they protested and refused to go to class until their demands were met.
“We deserve to have a proper English teacher, not just a bunch of subs,” said senior Dominique Boatwright, 17, of Far Rockaway.

Another egregious fact is that part of the problem was that the students were being "educated" by a computer program called iLearn. Quite unsettling is the news that this school is but one of 160 city schools that use automated education from the iZone initiative that uses such programs. This program is being used in Far Rockaway, a largely minority community. One wonders whether computer-driven education supplants accredited teachers in schools in whiter, middle class neighborhoods.
Education officials said that the school — where 27% of students graduated ready for college last year — is part of a citywide online learning initiative called the iZone.

Computer-based classes are a key component of the iZone program, which is used by more than 160 schools around the city.

But students said that they still need a teacher who’s familiar with the course work, even if they’re using computers to deliver instruction.

The fedup teens decided to take matters into their own hands and stage a protest outside the school on Friday morning to demand a teacher for their English classes.

Senior class president Shamia Heyliger of Far Rockaway organized the rally, which began at 7 a.m., before classes were scheduled to begin.

“We needed to get the message across that we need a teacher,” said Heyliger, who has a 93 average and wants to be a lawyer.

The spunky teen used Facebook to spread word about the rally, and about 40 kids turned out before class for the protest.

Read more:

Hats off to the students for refusing to go to class until they were given a proper teacher. This calamity of the spiteful city/ Department of Education shows the need for parents and student to organize and push the city to act in ways that respond to community's needs.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kelly's Absent Police Reserve? Shades of Things to Come for Teachers Under a Kelly Administration?

Factors that send teachers into the Absent Teacher Reserve are said to include age, salary and sometimes, principals' dispositions (nice way of saying preference or bias).

Apparently, the last factor has a strong parallel in the parallel universe of New York Police Department (NYPD) professional limbo: thousands of police are in a demoted, limbo status for an interminable period. What has got them there? --Partial clearance from accusations or charges of wrongful behavior, and from one phrase, "out of favor," we can surmise that it means, falling out of favor with supervisors or not quite fitting in or playing along with the institutional culture of a particular unit.

It is interesting, the media has wide-spread indignation and immediate presumptions of guilt regarding teachers in a similar status: assignment to Teacher Reassignment Centers (TRCs) or rubber rooms or Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR). Yet, here we have a quite parallel phenomenon in the police department and no copy-cat articles by other media organizations after the article, "Ray Kelly's Gulag", hit the sidewalk Village Voice bins this Wednesday. Where are the front page articles in the New York Post?

Speaking of hypocrisy and double-standards, this brings to mind the four year free pass that one Mychael Willon, and educrat with a public lewdness conviction (Kansas, 1989) (and see this post also for reference) got from the New York City Department of Education. The DOE never looked into his past but instead allowed him hired him from 2005 to 2009, for one period, to monitor all levels of education personnel in the very cushy job of LIS (Local Instructional Superintendent) in the Bronx's District 9 and later, the Director of the Principal Candidate Pool. He then went on to become a chief officer at a DOE vendor that contracts to provide supplemental tutoring to NYCDOE students. Aside from his infraction at the Wichita bookstore, he distorted his credential on his DOE application, misrepresenting his dubious doctorate from a diploma mill. Needless to say, infractions on this last matter alone would get a sub-superintendent DOE employee into very deep water. Interestingly, this story only got traction at a New York City oriented blog.

Aside from an interesting look into the background of assignment to the Police Department's dumping ground or long-term desk duty, this article brings up the profound degree to which NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly micromanages the assignment of officers' files and assignment to long-term desk duty. (The key phrase is more of a mouthful than just "desk duty." It is: "do not transfer without PC approval.") Commissioner Kelly's monitoring has no limits of enthusiasm, for example, he apparently goes to headquarters on weekends to look into the files.
This picayune enthusiasm does not bode well for teachers, should he become mayor.
One can be sure that he will have the opportunity to stroll into Tweed Department of Education headquarters on his slow weekends and pore into files. And one cannot put it past him that he might have the will to choose to make lives hell, particularly to go after the activist teachers, and more specifically the ones at rallies around Foley Square or NYPD HQ.

Here is the lead page of the article by Graham:
(Disclaimer: there are indeed some bad apples in NYPD limbo or APR status, e.g., such as some of those officers involved in the killing of Amadou Diallo. Some others in the limbo status we can surmise are there, not fro misdeeds, but from rubbing some supervisor the wrong way. The latter do not deserve to suffer professional limbo. Again, speaking of media hypocrisy, how is it that officers responsible from Diallo's death are still on the force and suffer no endless media campaign, when the standards are harsher for teachers???)

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly keeps a secret list of police officers who cannot be transferred without his specific approval. The list, which the Voice obtained from an NYPD employee, is part of a 23-page spreadsheet that contains the names of 2,300 officers, their ranks, their ID numbers, old units, new units, and coded descriptions of thousands of personnel decisions throughout the past several years. Strangely, the document isn't marked with any police insignia or command titles.

In all, according to the list, Kelly banned transfers without his specific approval for at least 96 police officers over the past several years and rejected pending transfers for at least 59 more, which overrules his subordinates. He also transferred 228 officers to VIPER, where cops sit and stare at video screens to monitor crime in public housing—a unit seen as a dumping ground for those in trouble or out of favor, where careers can languish for years. Hundreds more names on the list are of officers "transferred for cause," or sent to another command for some transgression, which could be anything from serious misconduct to irritating a commander.

Most of the officers who made the list don't know that the commissioner essentially froze their careers in place, in what some department insiders say is Kelly's version of the city's notorious former "rubber room" system for teachers awaiting adjudication of their cases, where they were asked to sit indefinitely in classrooms away from students. Others call the list Kelly's "gulag," a way of punishing officers without forcing them to retire or quit.

Once a name goes on the list, it doesn't come off, even after years have passed and an officer has been brought back into the fold—a circumstance that someone likened to being forced to wear a scarlet letter for the duration of his or her career. In its stark, clipped language, the secret spreadsheet offers a rare insight into how the department is run by Kelly, who will soon become the city's longest-serving police commissioner. It also might give an indication of how he would run the city if he runs for and is elected mayor.

Most importantly, the list confirms Kelly's reputation as a micromanager who reviews just about every transfer that takes place in the largest police department in the country.

Paul Browne, a police spokesman, did not respond to Voice requests for a discussion of the spreadsheet.

Ray Kelly has a big job, overseeing 40,000 employees and a multibillion-dollar budget larger than that of at least five states. But he is apparently also involved in many decisions that used to be delegated to subordinates.

To put it in context, prior to Kelly, police commissioners did not bother with low-level, routine transfers.

"In the old days, the police commissioner didn't get involved in that," says a former Kelly staffer. "The borough commanders would call each other and say, 'I need to move a guy,' or, 'I need a guy from Precinct X.' Kelly centralized all of that."

Insiders attribute Kelly's involvement in these decisions to the behavior of his predecessor, Bernard Kerik, who, over Kelly's objections, promoted a large number of his NYPD cronies during his last days in office.

The source says that he often saw Kelly come into his 14th-floor office at One Police Plaza on Sunday afternoons to pore over transfer requests and related documents.

That's a different image than the one Kelly himself has been promoting lately as his department is hit with a series of corruption cases. Kelly has put these problems down to a "few bad apples," as if there were things going sour in his department that he was unaware of.

Murray Weiss, a respected longtime police reporter now writing for DNAinfo, recently noted that the "bad apple approach may deflect a troublesome story, but it has insidious shortcomings. It sends the message that the NYPD is a closed society that will protect its own."

The spreadsheet illustrates, however, that Kelly is even more hands-on than he lets on with individual police officers he considers problematic in some way. In this story, we have looked at some of the many decisions Kelly has made that are indicated in the spreadsheet. In some cases, we do not have a complete set of facts or history to explain Kelly's decisions. For that reason, the Voice is withholding some names that appear on the list.

One of the officers designated "do not transfer without PC approval" is James Albertelli, who was indicted in 2005 on bribery and coercion charges when he was assigned to the 13th Precinct in Manhattan.

But in 2006, he was acquitted of all charges, and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association boss Patrick Lynch called it a "politically motivated case." "With nothing more than a bogus complaint and no evidence, the DA's office charged two honorable police officers in a successful attempt to generate pre-election publicity," Lynch said.

And then, in January 2008, Albertelli was transferred to the 111th Precinct with the notation "Don't move again without PC approval."

Was that failed indictment enough to plant the scarlet letter on Albertelli for the rest of his career? Did he get in trouble for something else?

Read the entire article at the Village Voice at this link.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Real NYC Teacher Attendance at 11/17 Defend OWS Rally?

One of the most important nights of the semester in the teacher's calendar is Parent-Teacher night.

What were the United Federation of Teachers (New York City), and UFT President Michael Mulgrew thinking when it scheduled a major rally for Occupy Wall Street at a time that overlaps with what will be parent-teacher night for many grades? Couldn't they have scheduled the rally for next week, when this major scheduling conflict would not be an issue?

Participation for a large segment of teachers (and for OWS-supporting parents) will be lower with a rally time of 5:00 PM, Thursday, November 17,
at Foley Square (one block north of Chambers Street and the Municipal Building.
If you are not a teacher or parent in one of the affected categories,
BE THERE! (Subway directions in NYC Education Activism box at right.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will Autocratic NYC Mayoral Power Mean 100s of Homeless Deaths This Winter? & Calls for Indep. Police Oversight

We hear much about the ill effects of autocratic mayoral control upon public education. The details are too numerous to account here. Just see Ed Notes Online or the latest ATR farce details at NYCATR.

The latest outrage and testament to the crazed policy decisions of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's being drunk with power is the following plan by New York, to insist that single homeless persons prove that they are homeless (Yes, this is real, not GBN from another NYC blog):
From various New York news outlets, this from WNBC-TV:
"Analysis: The City Demands the Homeless Prove It"
(a photo caption)
A sign of a man panhandling for money is displayed on the streets of Manhattan October 26, 2009 in New York City. In a recently released report by the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless it was revealed that the numbers of homeless people using New York City shelters each night has reached an all time high. Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office eight years ago there has been a 45 percent increase in shelter use with over 39,000 homeless people, including 10,000 homeless families, checking in to city shelters every evening. The group also said that 2009 has turned out to be 'the worst on record for New York City homelessness since the Great Depression. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

and the text of the news story, including some hard hitting comments:
New York has a tradition of caring for its most vulnerable people. That’s why it’s shocking to hear that homeless single people will have to prove they are truly homeless to get into a shelter.

My colleague, Melissa Russo, reports that the city’s Department of Homeless Services plans to save $4 million a year by cracking down on those who are unable to show they have no other option but going to a homeless shelter. I have covered the homeless crisis in New York for 32 years -- and this latest development is outrageous.

It was back in 1979 that a young, idealistic lawyer named Robert Hayes brought a lawsuit in behalf of all homeless men in New York. He filed it in the name of a man named Robert Callahan. On a cold winter night, Hayes introduced me to Callahan, who was sleeping on a bench in a park in Kips Bay. Callahan said: “I want a home.”

The State Supreme Court ultimately ruled that everyone had a constitutional right to shelter. It was a landmark decision for New York and the nation.

Over the years various bureaucrats have nibbled away at the essence of that decision. Now, the city’s Homeless Commissioner Seth Diamond, says: “People who have alternatives are not homeless. If they have a brother or a sister who can house them, that’s where they should go.”

This sets the city up as the ultimate judge of whether or not someone is actually homeless. It’s an astonishing turn in a history in which New York stands out as a place where compassion, not the dollar sign, rules.

As winter approaches, is compassion out of style? In this city, the Callahan case should be enshrined as a standard for charity and decency. It’s hard to accept that this is no longer the case. When the first person freezes to death on the streets, will the bureaucracy change its mind? Are we going to try to force relatives to take in homeless people? What provision in the Constitution or the law entitles City Hall to do that?

Mary Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless told me: “This new policy is unconscionable. Just as winter approaches and Thanksgiving, we are putting the most vulnerable people at severe risk. People will die if this policy goes unchallenged.”

And the coalition intends to challenge it. Meanwhile, at last reports, there are a record 39,000 homeless people in New York, including single adults and families.

People have written to NBC New York about this development. Richele Lewis wrote: “The option of sleeping on someone’s floor is not considered adequate housing although it is better than having to sleep on the subway or in a park…”

And an e-mail from Eva Clark: “It’s hard to sleep on someone’s floor, especially if they really don’t wish you there and wish you get out and go somewhere and get lost and don’t come back.”

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, I’m inclined to believe that compassion is not out of style. In the scriptures are the words: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Mother Teresa said: “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.'"

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(I have to move on, so here are quick parts --maybe I'll be able to clean up later.)
Alisa Chang (I spelt it properly, as compared to WNYC which botched her first name on the website) reported, "Police Misconduct Cases Draw Calls For Greater NYPD Oversight," on Friday, November 4, afternoon.
the lede:
With recent reports of misconduct within the New York City Police Department mounting, criminal justice experts are calling for greater oversight of the department.

A new study by the Citizens Crime Commission, an independent non-profit organization that focuses on criminal justice reform, shows that major cities other than New York are more aggressive in monitoring their police departments.

Richard Aborn, president of the Commission, said New York City should follow examples set by Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

"They have, what I think, are the gold standards of oversight," said Aborn during an interview on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show on Friday. "They are independent of the department, they are transparent , they have compulsory power, meaning they have subpoena power, and they are permanent. And the NYPD doesn't have any of that."

Recently, 16 police officers were indicted in the Bronx as a result a ticket-fixing investigation; seven New York City narcotics investigators were convicted of planting drugs on people; eight current and former police officers were indicted for smuggling guns; an officer in Staten Island was charged with making a false arrest; and three officers were convicted of robbing a perfume warehouse.

Click to the article's link above for the full WNYC story.