Saturday, September 9, 2006

Ednotes Online – Sept. 7, 2006

What is the difference between Ed Notes and ICE?
Ed Notes and ednotesonline is a one-person operation – me. I get to spout any nonsense I want.

Though I have been very involved in ICE, that is a caucus with a large group of people that reach decisions by consensus, some of which I don’t always totally agree with – but then that is what consensus ca be all about. Thus, I don’t always get to spout my nonsense.

I see Ed Notes as somewhat as a clearinghouse for ideas from all groups, caucuses and individuals looking to build an alternative to Unity. I don’t see ICE as the group working alone that will change the UFT. Let a 100 caucuses bloom is my philosophy, all organizing their specific constituencies.


Running in UFT Elections
Did you know?
Let’s say ICE-TJC received 50% of the active membership vote in the election. Unity would still control over 90% of the Exec Bd. due to retiree votes and other factors in the election process. That this is undemocratic is obvious. But this leads to a leadership that executes such failed policy without real checks and balances and is why UFT members are in the position they are in.

ICE wants to run a full slate so as to use the election as a basis for change in the UFT. Our strategy is to get a large enough percentage vote of the active membership to make a case to the membership to try to force constitutional change to make the union more democratic.

ICE also wants to build an alternative to Unity that has enough outreach to match the propaganda machine. ICE will be part of the alternative but not necessarily the alternative. We will be supportive of other groups who align with our basic views but we are different in the way we approach things by taking on issues that go beyond but tie in to education. Most other groups are/have been high school based. ICE has a balance with a number of elementary school people and increasingly some middle school people.

If you are interested in running with the ICE-TJC slate send me an email.
We also need people to distribute literature in your schools. Let me know if you will/can do that ASAP.

Check the ICE blog and please leave comments
http://iceuftblog.blogspot.com/

The ICE website contains articles with greater depth: http://www.ice-uft.org/

There’s so much great material on the blogs I am including a bunch of them here.

Make sure to make a regular visit to NYC Educator’s blog where you get a real sense of what is happening in the NYC system and his fabulous commentary. He posts every 10 seconds so it is right up to date on the latest atrocities, plus some great picx.
http://nyceducator.blogspot.com/

The UTP blog is still as irreverent as always. http://theutp.blogspot.com/
Read Return to Bountiful – all 3 parts.

Joe Mudgett from the UTP has formed the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) http://www.actuft.org/
“The Alliance of Concerned Teachers is a new caucus dedicated to reforming New York City's United Federation of Teachers. Founded by the former director of the Unified Teachers Party, Joe Mudgett, ACT! takes great pride that the joint ICE/TJC slate has incorporated much of the UTP's ideology in their campaign platform.”
Joe has posted his reports of the Delegate Assemblies last spring.

Check out http://syntacticgymnastics.blogspot.com/
A fairly new teacher posts about experiences and offers new teachers advice on walking the minefield of internal school politics. She writes how her involvement in the union got her in trouble. Here is an excerpt:

“As we are on the eve of the new school year, I have been thinking a lot about what constitutes a good leader. During the past two professional development days, I've been comparing my new Sane Principal (SP) to my old Crazy Principal (CP) from last year. It is a good comparison because both schools are now in their second year of existence and both are now in the Empowerment Zone. “

The following job opening was posted. Note the preference for a new teachers as opposed to a teacher with experience. Everyone knows that experience DOES count as you grow as a teacher over a period of years and that no matter how dedicated and sincere a first year teacher is the kids are still being used as guinea pigs. My opinion is that by the 3rd year people pretty much get it but some say it takes 5-7 years. So, what would motivate a school to only want a first year teacher other than money?

Here’s the post
“We were notified of an immediate opening today, and were asked to pool our resources together to help find the replacement. The opening is in a K/1 classroom. All of our classes at P.S. 3 are mixed grades. We are looking for a teacher new to the Board of Ed. They must not be a transfer from another NYC public school.”


Leonie Haimson’s nyceducationnews listserve generates a lot of email but also some great discussion. Here is a snippet.

On grade retention:
Comment: I feel a child who cannot achieve to meet the standards will falter more if promoted to the next year.

Response:
The research on grade retention actually shows the reverse – kids who are held back do much worse than kids of equal ability who are promoted, and end up dropping out at double the rate.

There is nothing else in the educational literature where the research is so overwhelming. See http://www.classsizematters.org/retentionletter.html

and http://www.classsizematters.org/pressreleaseretentionletter.html

Leonie Haimson
Class Size Matters
www.classsizematters.org


From Teachers Unite
Happy New School Year!
Teachers Unite is launching STMs this Sunday for teachers who need an
educator-friendly space to plan for a full week of school. STMs (Sunday Teacher Motivators), are weekly sessions for teachers to drop-in, plan lessons, grade student work, and network with other progressive educators! This program has been funded by The Sparkplug Foundation.

Please visit www.teachersunite.NET and click on "Newsletter" to learn about STMs as well as the important work being done by teachers committed to social justice in New York City.

Enjoy the rest of this first week of school!

Best wishes,
Sally

www.teachersunite.NET


Posted on ICE-mail and NYC Educator blog

Excessed Teachers
I am an excessed teacher with 25 years in the system. I know, I can't believe it either! My school was reorganized this year, leaving almost 50 teachers - all experienced and tenured - in the ATR pool, which is not a place you want to be. This has been an education, a crash course, about what this contract means to all of us.

When a school is reorganized it is also renamed. (If it had the same name all of the senior teachers would have retention rights). Now you have a brand new school, or two new schools, or however many schools it was divided into. The principal now has to hire only 50% of the staff of the "old" school. Teachers must apply and be interviewed for these positions, seniority counts for nothing. Then the principal is free to hire anyone they want to fill the remaining positions - they can hire the rest of the current teaching staff if they want to, but this is not likely to happen. They generally hire brand new teachers. If you are not hired you become a well-paid sub.

I don't know of anyone who was hired from the open market system. The DOE also sponsored "hiring fairs" for us, where I met a lot of teachers from reorganized schools. Oh, BTW, they had fairs for new teachers at the same time; new teacher's fairs would begin at 3 PM, ours at 4PM, and then they would not admit us for another hour or so. Do you think they really want us to be hired?

The union has mailed us letters, telling us about their great job. They say that the city wanted to terminate us if we didn't obtain a permanent position within 18 months, but they saved us - we can now stay in the ATR pool forever, if necessary. I can't help but notice that the Kleinberg machine seem MUCH smarter than the UFT!!! -excessed teacher

On the First 2 days
http://chaz11.blogspot.com/

Thank You Randi, Joel, & My Clueless Administrators For The Two Most Miserable Days In My Teaching Career

I just spend the two of the most miserable days in my teaching career doing nothing at my school. Instead of recharging my batteries on vacation and preparing for the next school year, I found myself subject to mindless (un)professional development, a principal who spent precious time telling us how great he is, and assistant principals who had a mind-numbing session on bulletin boards, hallway practices, and classroom sharing. We were also exposed to an afternoon of videos of "right to know" that drove most of the teachers bonkers.

You might ask. "How about working on the classrooms?" Well my school administrators didn't program time in for this in our very busy two days of mindless nothingness. But Randi said the two days were to fix-up the classroom? Well, tell that to the administrators because they didn't seem to care what Randi said. What follows is my two days of misery.

Thursday, August 31st started off with coffee & bagels as the principal spoke about how our school improved their Math & English scores over last year. Clap, clap, clap. Next he introduced teachers who came back from sabbaticals and informed the staff of the teachers he excessed. We did not lose any teachers to transfer using the open market system. Note; teachers don't usually leave large traditional high schools in Queens for smaller schools despite the best efforts of Kleinberg to make the smaller schools attractive. See my August 24th blog. Next, he informed us how he single-handedly fought the Tweed educrats on adding cameras, security officers, and a police presence in our school I thought it was a total effort between parents, students, teachers and some administrators? What do I know. Finally, he finished it up with how we should all work together and collaborate on issues that affect the school and that we are one big family. Boy was I getting sick of this phoney. My principal is a "cya person" and will stab you in the back if that is what his Tweed masters want.

Next, it was off to our department meeting for the rest of the morning where we discussed what should go on our bulletin boards. Should it be student work, or posters? What can go on the walls? Can student work be put on the hallway walls? Thankfully, the session ended for lunch as the assistant principal was explaining how three teachers can share one room.

The afternoon session consisted of two videos on the "right to know" what chemicals are being used in the school and what the procedures are to inform medical personnel. However, our right to know apparently does not include knowing if our students have Communicable diseases. We are forbbiden to know if a child is HIV positive, another reason why a teacher should not break up fights. By the time the videos were finished it was time to go home.

Friday, September 1st we are back to coffee & bagels and another speech by the principal. Charitably, he limited it to a half hour. However, he had a wonderful surprise for his teaching staff, a day-long professional development session. Of course, despite his statements that he wants to collaborate with the teachers, he didn't ask for teacher input or comment on the type or necessity of professional development. By the way the administrators were exempt from the professional development sessions. The professional development consisted of
non-educators telling us how we should be in touch with our feelings. What a wonderful waste of time and money. Yes, he used his budget to pay for this rather than saving the money for before/after school tutoring. This professional development was to extend to the end of the day but a revolt by the teaching staff truncated it to 1:50 pm. This allowed the teachers one hour to fix up their rooms!

Didn't Randi say that the two days before Labor Day will be used for teachers to fix-up their classrooms? Well I took a look at the contract and under section 6C it states that "part of the time on the days before Labor Day will be allocated to classroom preparation. " The question is what does part mean? Half a day, 2 hours, 10 minutes? Another, poor job by Randi and her lawyer friends that did not specify what part of a day means. Does giving us one hour on the second day meet the definition as part of a day? What about not having any time on day one? What are the penalties for non-compliance of the contract by the administrators? I suspect there will be no consequences for the administrators for violating the contract. Can you imagine if you refused to go to the professional development session? Yes, you would be charged with insubordination and at the very least receive a letter to the file and maybe even being removed from the school!

My miserable day ended with my assistant principal (who I have a good relationship with) coming into my room and asking me if I finished the Earth Science lab booklet. My response was "you must be kidding" I informed him that had I not been required to go to the professional development session, I would have been finished. He left my room and told me that I forced him to find a common lab paper to hand out next week. My heart bleds.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Joel Klein who does not understand the law of diminishing returns and thinks quantity means quality. Joel, more time in the classroom does not mean better grades if you overwork the teacher & students. I would also thank Randi Weingarten who first, agreed to the two days before Labor Day that ruined many a planned vacation and second, lied to us about how the two days were to be used. Finally, I would like to thank my school administrators who time and again fail to practice what they preach and use limited funds for professional development that nobody wanted.


Before I forget, I want to give special thanks to Randi & Joel for the precedent-setting 190 day school year.

My comment:
Great post Chaz.

"The question is what does part mean? Half a day, 2 hours, 10 minutes? Another, poor job by Randi and her lawyer friends that did not specify what part of a day means. Does giving us one hour on the second day meet the definition as part of a day? What about not having any time on day one?"
The contract is and always has been full ambiguous words like "part" that allow interpretations instead of saying that teachers will be allowed, say, 5 hours to work on their room.

What stopped the UFT from insisting on specific language? So when Jonathan suggests everyone inform Rona and Randi that they weren't given the time I have to ask what were the intentions of the leadership when the word "part" was used instead of a definitive time period?

I do not subscribe to the theory our union leaders are stupid. I think they know exactly what they are doing and the use of the word "part" is what makes them collaborators with Klein. They are intentionally allowing language that can be violated easily and then they will go into the dance of "tsk tsk, how awful of your principal, do you want us to file a grievance? No! WELL, how can we help you if you won't stand up?"

They are perpetrators and phony defenders and the language indicates they are really partners in crime with Klein. That's why at Klein's press conference on Friday he expressed such thanks to the UFT for allowing such basic changes in the contract as he said he looks forward to working for more of them.
Norm | 09.05.06 - 7:21 pm |

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Norm.

    Have added you to my blogroll.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Listen Norm, if the best you can do is call the UTP "irreverent" we are clearly not doing our job well enough.
    Good Luck!
    We have you linked from our home page.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Currently, comment moderation is on, so if your comment doesn't appear it is because I haven't gotten to it yet. (Don't know how to do that from my cell phone.)