Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Retired Teacher on the Impact of a U-Rating

Jo-Ann Demas worked in the corporate world as a graphic artist before she became a special education teacher in 2006. She worked at an elementary school in Queens before she retired. I met her when we both observed a recent 3020A hearing.


The Big U and How I Tried to Delete The Scarlett Letter

By Jo-Ann Demas

There is an alarming trend of teachers receiving an “Unsatisfactory” on their annual assessment. While a “U” rating is certainly humiliating, it can literally take food off our tables. What’s behind this trend and what can we do about it?

It used to be that a U rating was a rare event. In the last couple of years, U ratings have increased dramatically. Recently at the Queens United Federation of Teachers office, even the lobby security guard observed long lines of teachers waiting to get on the elevators to file for a hearing in regards to their U ratings. What’s going on? I spoke to several principals who were told by NYC Department of Education to start handing out Us. Some have chosen to ignore this verbal edict. Others have obeyed.

Who is being targeted with the Us? It varies: veteran master teachers have received Us. New developing and promising young teachers have received Us. All kinds of teachers are now getting Us. Let’s be frank: not all teachers excel at this job. We all know teachers who are neglectful and who text instead of teach. You can hear some teachers screaming through the walls, using the tactic of humiliation rather motivation. However, it is not our job as union members to inform administrators of other teachers’ activities. That’s called spying. Administrators know who these teachers are: they’re often among the groupies surrounding administrators! These teachers garner favors by spying and tattling. Calling attention to “brown nosers” can be self-defeating. If they also received Us, it would not make the situation better and we would be playing along with the DOE’s blame game. As union members we do not spy on each other. That’s not our job. Our job is to educate children. We made a pledge to protect them. If we have evidence of child abuse, we have a legal obligation to report that abuse whether the perpetrator is a family member or a teacher. This is the only instance where we can “break ranks” without guilt.

Let’s say a teacher needs a lot of improvement. The New York City Department of Education has a hand book which stipulates, in great detail, what the protocol is for boosting teacher effectiveness. The prescribed process involves plenty of professional development with immediate follow-up observation and consultation. This protocol is rarely adhered to. Observations become punitive rituals rather than professional development. Not all teachers who enter the profession are “really in to it.” Yet all teachers should have the right to due process should a U rating befall them. Most teachers truly want to improve and become better educators.

When we get the U, we lift ourselves up and we go down to the UFT office and officially file for a hearing. We are assigned a UFT defender. Several months later, there is a hearing at the DOE headquarters. We are in a small hearing room with our defender and a so-called “impartial” DOE hearing officer. Our administrators are not required to attend the hearing in person. Instead they participate via telephone conference. Each side files documents. Verbal defense of the documents goes back and forth. The tape of the proceeding and the documents are sent to the Chancellor’s office for a ruling. What happens next should not surprise us: 99.9% come back rubber stamped with the same U.

I faced this situation last year. I decided to initiate a lawsuit against the DOE for harassment. I went down to Court Street to buy the audiotape of the hearings. I asked the clerk, in passing, if anyone ever listened to the tape in the Chancellor’s office. He said, “No. Only if it goes to court.” So, after all that hard work with our UFT defender, the DOE is not legally required to listen to the hearing tape in order to make a knowledgeable and judicious decision! What this means is that principals have carte blanche and can give you a U for no justifiable reason at all. The DOE will back them up. The U rating becomes irreversible.

What to do? Take it to court. Get a lawyer. I found a principled labor lawyer who concluded that it is almost impossible to win a lawsuit against the DOE. Besides, a lawyer costs thousands of dollars. The stress of all this registered with my body: I got physically ill. A “souvenir” from childhood aka dormant chicken pox cells in my nerve endings presented themselves as the shingles. I had to assess my situation: I was in continuous pain and had to continue teaching. Could I also conduct a no-win lawsuit at the same time with a lawyer I couldn’t pay for? My situation is not unique. The DOE knows teachers can’t afford a lawyer. I mean, they underpay us. The DOE knows our union does not have the apparatus set up to defend its members at this stage. (More on that later.)

The initial focus of the U stamping is to humiliate and demoralize as in “The Scarlett Letter” a novel by Nathanial Hawthorne set in witch hunt-era New England. Fellow teachers observe the “Scarlett Letter” and feel intimidated to speak up in defense of others. A passive and fearful work force is the result. The union at the shop level, in practice, is rendered ineffective. But did you know that the U can take food off our tables? Yes, there is an economic impact of a U rating. Your salary is not affected. But your ability to earn extra money through per session jobs is. When you receive a U, you are not permitted to work per session. This is harmful in general. For new teachers, it is difficult because of student loans, weddings, new babies, mortgages, etc. For older teachers and those near retirement, a U rating restriction on per session directly affects pension. For the last five years of their careers, teachers can boost their annual average upon which the pension payment is based. This phenomenem probably saves the DOE a bundle: at our expense. U ratings check pension costs.

Upon retirement I learned how the U rating I received two years before still “took food off my table.” Retired teachers may apply as “Occasional Per Diem” teachers. My application as a substitute teacher was denied because I received a U rating in the last five years of my employment. I can show you the form letter.

The experience of receiving a U rating has left many teachers with feelings of abandonment and bitterness towards our union. Under the federal law Taft-Hartley, a union is obligated to fight for its members’ rights. This is called “duty of fair representation.” When we are left “hanging” after a hearing with a rubber-stamped U, the union, in effect, has failed in its legal obligation to defend us. This situation constitutes a violation of the New York State Taylor Law as well. The Chancellor’s Office is guilty of ruling arbitrarily without hearing evidence. The DOE attacks are vicious and our defense woefully inadequate. There has to be a union apparatus in place to defend members beyond the hearing. A union, in its essence, is a defense organization. Full due process must be guaranteed. This is what we pay union dues for. And we need it in writing in our contract. Now with the attacks on teachers taking the form of publishing test scores, etc. it is all the more necessary. We need to be vigilant, militant and organized. When we stand up for ourselves, we are modeling for our students how we don’t accept bullying. We absolutely must change things: the children are watching.


42 comments:

  1. Not being able to sub in specific NYC public schools with a U rating is not necessarily true. I wouldn't take ANY information on what comes out of DOE Central. Its the place where chaos meets and all communication gets screwed up.

    I have been discontinued and U rated and I have been subbing in 2 other NYC public schools. The AP's in both schools picked up my resume (through networking). In fact, one of the AP's loves my classroom management and has me coming back to the school to take over any coverages.

    Some suggestions for anyone who still wants to teach (despite insanity within the city, state and nation):
    1. I recommend that you go to the school where you want to sub and meet with the administrators or secretary. Of if you know teachers or administrators in other schools, use networking abilities to get your foot in the door.
    2. Sub or networking in other boroughs (not the one that you have been discontinued in). (FYI: a discontinued teacher can not be rehired in the same district from where they were terminated under that license). I never would have started subbing in 1 of the schools where I currently sub now if it wasn't for networking. The AP who loves my classroom management received my resume all on her own through just networking and having my resume being passed around.
    3. Find schools where the administration do not care about the DOE asinine policies and will do what is best for the children. This may be difficult to find with current idiotic policies that admin may be obliged to follow. The positive side is that those schools are out there, if you know where to find them or possibly get lucky.
    4. Do not go to DOE Central for a sub license. DOE Central will just make a mess of everything and make your life more chaotic.

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    Replies
    1. How are you able to sub (and get paid) without a sub license?

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    2. had a sub license before I was discontinued. It is still in effect. Oh, it also helps that 1 out of the 2 schools where I sub also know of my "D" status and do not care.

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    3. and also, all you really need is a file number.

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    4. What makes you think I can sub without a sub license? Also, I've never heard of a D rating. Only S and U. Are we talking about the same thing?

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    5. Is it possible for the principle to rehire you at the district where you sub, since it is a new district. Or does the D follow you at all districts.

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    6. The union often tells people it is only for the district -- that is what I hear -- but just about every discontinued teacher has said it is system wide -- for the license. If you have another license you can use that but the original license seems to be blackballed forever.

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    7. You can only receive a "D" for "doubtful" during your first year of teaching. With new changes, I don't know if they still give out "D"s.

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    8. I considered working under another license, but one's file number does not change ... so that one is not able to start over with a clean slate.

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  2. Any and all complaints about the NYC Department of Education's Office of Appeals and Reviews, or about bogus U ratings, should be factually supported and directed to Commissioner of Investigation Rose Gill Hearn at the NYC Department of Investigation:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/doi/html/about/bio.shtml

    The complaints may very well be passed along to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District (SCI).

    SCI investigated a certain matter which had a connection to the Office of Appeals and Reviews in the 1990s, and found misconduct by the head of that office:

    http://www.nycsci.org/reports/10-91%20OLSHAKER%20RPT.pdf

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    1. I received a U rating for excessive days absent when my mother was dying --- alone in another city. My UFT rep told me that 1 in a thousand Us were reversed and that the reversals were related to court cases. She said that she knew of a teacher who received a U when she was absent 12 days for chemotherapy.

      I was told by my principal that my U would be of no consequence to me as long as I didn't get a U rating the following year. He didn't expect to give me another U and I didn't earn one. I received one U rating in sixteen years of teaching. I don't believe that anyone intended that I should lose the options to work per session or to get a sub license when I retired.

      Upon retirement, the DOE office told me (apparently in error) that though I could not get a sub license, I was allowed to teach per session. I was hired and doing well. However, eventually my per session principal learned that he should not have hired me because of the U. He was told that he would get into a world of trouble if I didn't resign immediately.

      I am an excellent teacher. My supervisor of many years would attest to this. When my principal gave me the U, he did not intend that I should not be able to work per session or to sub. However, if he were to now go to the DOE to attempt to reverse the rating, he would have to admit to and detail a substantive error in judgment --- not an admission many administrators would be eager to make.

      The U rating was not bogus. I did miss too many days. In retrospect, I see that I should have applied for a leave of absence. But it was never suggested and it didn't occur to me. I didn't imagine that it would take my mother so long to die. What a horrible reflection.

      The result is tragic for me. (I miss teaching so much.) It's unfortunate for the students I would otherwise be educating. It just can't be right.

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    2. You cannot get a U for absences. The Union won a case a year or two ago. Call the Union.

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    3. One can get a U for absences. I did and was not granted tenure AND had to wait a whole year for a hearing (lost). Thr uft U rating advisor (asleep) as advised that I not speak badly about her brcsusr if I ein, I would have to go back to the school for, at least, another year. Little did i know that I only had 90 days to file suit.. I should've! I have proof that she falsified annual reviews before she got there. This happened in 2004 ... in 2012 I was hired at a charter school and fired within the days because the old principal ( who retired in June) "happened" to be at the old school and wrote the most scathing reference - not addressed to her. I hate that woman and her horrible actions continue to haunt me. I was told that she was the only one who could reverse the rating. SMH

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    4. I was not aware of the SCI office. I thought the uft handled all boe matters. Thank you for the information.

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  3. Amen, Joan. I can identify. the U cost me two summer gigs. The DOB ( D stands for daughter ) knew damn well the consequences and the AP did her bidding. School is closing and they knew I would be excessed regardless of my rating !! Results are worse since I left. Let's hope both are on the streets soon.

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  4. Reply to 4/12/12 01:19 PM (Part 2)Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:03:00 AM EDT

    (cont'd. from Part 1)

    Here’s what the April 2007 edition of “Frequently Asked Questions” (a guide issued to principals by DOE’s Office of Labor Relations) has to say about teacher attendance:

    Page 12: Q: Can an employee be rated unsatisfactory for excessive absenteeism even though many – or all – absences are excused (e.g., for medical reasons)?

    A: Yes. Excused absences “which are so numerous as to limit the effectiveness of service” may lead to discipline and/or an unsatisfactory rating. However some absences may be legally protected; therefore, contact your Senior Regional Counsel, ISC Counsel or the Office of Labor Relations prior to discipline, termination or unsatisfactory rating. (Chancellor’s Regulation C-601)

    Page 13: [A (cont’d):] While it’s always ideal to treat employees consistently, you’re not always required to do so in the area of time and attendance. For example long term employee A with no history of time and attendance problems is stricken with a serious illness and misses a month of school to treat the illness. If there are no other problems with the employee’s performance you may choose to S rate the employee for the year. Simultaneously, employee B has been absent a similar number of days, but has a history of poor time and attendance. In this example, you may absolutely U rate employee B even if you chose to S rate employee A. There are distinguishing factors which would justify a different end of year rating.”

    (end)

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  5. (This is Part 1)

    Yes, your U-rating was bogus if it turned out to be arbitrary and capricious. I’m making the assumption that you provided proper notes and that your administration was aware of the reason for your absence.

    In some schools, teachers were absent for twenty, thirty, or more days, and were still rated S for the year, depending on the circumstances.

    I would say to pursue the matter.

    Here are the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education concerning the Annual Professional Performance Review:

    http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/1002.html#o

    §100.2(o)(1)(iv)(a)(2) states:

    “Each superintendent and in the case of the City School District of the City of New York, the chancellor, in collaboration with teachers, pupil personnel professionals, administrators and parents selected by the superintendent or in the case of the City School District of New York, the chancellor, with the advice of their respective peers, shall develop the professional performance review plan, which shall be approved by the governing body of each school district or BOCES, filed in the district or BOCES office, as applicable, and available for review by any individual no later than September 10th of each year. The governing body of each school district and BOCES shall provide organizations representing parents and the recognized representative of the teachers' bargaining unit with an opportunity to comment on such plan prior to its adoption.”

    So, what you need to do is obtain a copy of DOE’s most current “professional performance review plan” (if the school or UFT didn’t provide you with a copy) and see what it has to say about teacher attendance.

    Here’s what the original edition (published in the 1990s) of DOE’s “professional performance review plan” (PPRP) has to say about teacher attendance:

    Page 31 (numbered paragraph 5): “A teacher’s annual performance review must also include an assessment of staff responsibilities that support classroom instruction such as planning, attendance, promptness, and completion of required reports (e.g., student attendance records).

    And here’s some other information of interest from the PPRP:

    Page 32 (numbered paragraph 6): “All school personnel must be made aware of the Characteristics of Good Teaching (see Chapter 2) and the procedures used for teacher performance reviews in their schools.”

    Page 32 (numbered paragraph 7): “Each teacher must have the opportunity to meet with the appropriate supervisor to discuss his or her performance review and provide written comment on the review itself.”

    Page 32 (numbered paragraph 10): “Supervisors must provide teachers in danger of receiving an unsatisfactory rating with appropriate prescriptive activities developed in consultation with the teacher and provide the teacher with support and opportunities for improvement within an appropriate time frame.”

    (cont’d. in Part 2)

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  6. This is Part 1)

    Yes, your U-rating was bogus if it turned out to be arbitrary and capricious. I’m making the assumption that you provided proper notes and that your administration was aware of the reason for your absence.

    In some schools, teachers were absent for twenty, thirty, or more days, and were still rated S for the year, depending on the circumstances.

    I would say to pursue the matter.

    Here are the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education concerning the Annual Professional Performance Review:

    www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/pages/1002.html#o

    §100.2(o)(1)(iv)(a)(2) states:

    “Each superintendent and in the case of the City School District of the City of New York, the chancellor, in collaboration with teachers, pupil personnel professionals, administrators and parents selected by the superintendent or in the case of the City School District of New York, the chancellor, with the advice of their respective peers, shall develop the professional performance review plan, which shall be approved by the governing body of each school district or BOCES, filed in the district or BOCES office, as applicable, and available for review by any individual no later than September 10th of each year. The governing body of each school district and BOCES shall provide organizations representing parents and the recognized representative of the teachers' bargaining unit with an opportunity to comment on such plan prior to its adoption.”

    So, what you need to do is obtain a copy of DOE’s most current “professional performance review plan” (if the school or UFT didn’t provide you with a copy) and see what it has to say about teacher attendance.

    Here’s what the original edition (published in the 1990s) of DOE’s “professional performance review plan” (PPRP) has to say about teacher attendance:

    Page 31 (numbered paragraph 5): “A teacher’s annual performance review must also include an assessment of staff responsibilities that support classroom instruction such as planning, attendance, promptness, and completion of required reports (e.g., student attendance records).

    And here’s some other information of interest from the PPRP:

    Page 32 (numbered paragraph 6): “All school personnel must be made aware of the Characteristics of Good Teaching (see Chapter 2) and the procedures used for teacher performance reviews in their schools.”

    Page 32 (numbered paragraph 7): “Each teacher must have the opportunity to meet with the appropriate supervisor to discuss his or her performance review and provide written comment on the review itself.”

    Page 32 (numbered paragraph 10): “Supervisors must provide teachers in danger of receiving an unsatisfactory rating with appropriate prescriptive activities developed in consultation with the teacher and provide the teacher with support and opportunities for improvement within an appropriate time frame.”

    (cont’d. in Part 2)

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  7. We have seen a spike of U ratings in the proposed turnaound schools, like in Bryant High School, these Us are ordered to get rid of a certain quota of teachers.

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  8. I dislike when people say the DOE has to follow its own rules. I was discontinueed and U rated. I was a UFT repesenative in my school. I lost every appeal and the unioin refused to help me eventhough I was rated 3 times satisfactorily until I became a union activist. No lawyers would take my case and most said that an upwards of 15 to 25 thousand was needed to litigate while taking 4 years before a court would hear the case. The city refuses to cooperate or investigate the DOE and the Fed's sit back.

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  9. I also retired because my principal and AP were harrassing me. I didn't wait for them to give me a U.
    My fellow teachers and joke of a union rep didn't stand behind me, and now the school is being closed, and the joke of a Principal is being replaced.
    I hope they're all out on the street or ATRs before the year is done.

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    Replies
    1. i took early retirement because I just
      could not stand the abuse and humiliation

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  10. I have been teaching for 25 years. For the past three years I have received U ratings from a principal who will not speak with me unless it is in a "Conference" in her office. I am constantly followed around the school building. Unscheduled observations are videotaped without my permission. In 2009 she brought up 8 charges against me in a 3020A procedure. When I was found not guilty of all but one charge, and returned to my position, the stalking increased.
    There is nothing I can do to change her mind about me. She doesn't care that my students are doing well. She doesn't care that I have excellent rapport with the parents. Ever since she was promoted from assistant principal to principal, she has been trying to get rid of me. I have sought help from the UFT and the EEOC, and neither organization could help.
    At this point I would leave, but it would be impossible for me to get another teaching position with the three unsatisfactory ratings she has given me.

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  11. Question: 1. What are the legal criteria used by Principals to determine who gets U ratings? Performance, attendance, punctuality, etc.?
    2. Also, I may have to resign in the middle of this semester to take care of personal business. I am a new teacher -- only began teaching September 2012. Can I get a rating if I leave end-November?
    3. Is it better to resign or take a leave of absence? If I return before the school year is out, can I sub?
    Thanks for your help...

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  12. I have been U-rated and discontinued despite having a 100% pass-rate for my students all four years of my brief career. The UFT does absolutely NOTHING to defend you, gives you misinformation, and at least 10 representatives admitted that the UFT has no power; principals have all the power. I have had u-ratings 3 out of 4 years, all with some BS that they pull in JUNE to create documentation. I have been abused as a professional, providing far beyond just teaching...trips, graduation, prom, fundraisers, etc. I was given U-ratings with 1 out of 23 boxes checked as a U. The DOE is disgusting and the fact is, it is not designed to be successful. It is designed to demoralize and fail students and teachers. Charter schools are the new wave, and they have no unions, work 12-14 hour days, and work in oppressive, abusive environments. Many teachers in charter schools are locked into financial contracts binding them for a minimum of two years; their directors know this and abuse them to the max knowing they are locked in. Unfortunately, education is under attack and leadership is selectively weak; principals are hired for being easily motivated by financial factors and generally of weak character. UFT reps have repeatedly told me that I was singled out "because I have a backbone". Sad sad state of affairs for our communities' youth, and our future in general.

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  13. Hi, my wife is a new teacher at a charter school in brooklyn, and she is going nuts. The school has teachers leaving left and right before she got there, and they even lost some teachers while she was there. The administration made all kinds of promises to her about helping her develop as a new teacher. She has to teach at both the lower and upper schools which are not even in the same building so she has to walk 4 blocks to the other school. She has 7 bulletin boads to maintain between the 2 locations, with 1 due every week. The kids are very bad at the school, and everyone is having issues with them. When it came to prof development the principal handed her the teach like a champion book and told her to read it. She is excessively observed by someone who isnt even administration...one of the learning specialist is now the one doing observations. Yesterday she received a summons to meet with the principal and we are basically sure this is going to result in a U rating.

    She is putting in the work, staying after school til 6-7, working on lessons at home, spending our money on supplies since the school wont buy any, and has a pretty good rapport with students, but administration seems hell bent on teacher abuse. She replaced a teacher who was there 9 years and left because she could not take it anymore.

    My question is how will this U rating affect her ability to get another job...should she just quit now and look for another job, before she gets the U rating? This job isnt putting food on our table, I make enough to support our family...she works because she wants to be a teacher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See if this guide helps Educator Survival Guide - http://wp.me/P31ecs-mn

      Delete
  14. I received a U rating for a great lesson! i am tenured, and I'm not one of the favorites. Although I'm going to be observed again, I know it is going to receive a second bogus U. I have a meeting with UFT in two weeks, but I am terrified about this situation that seems to be getting worse and worse. What can I REALLY do that Might HELP me, as well as others who are being targeted?

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    Replies
    1. Miki. I went through the same experience this 2012-13 school year. Do you have any solid advice? I am afraid of how this whole U appeal will unfold. Fellow colleague in the struggle. Msassy@live.com.

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  15. Who in NYC can help bogus U rated teachers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Get some tips here for starters and then call my attorney Bryan Glass.

      Educator Survival Guide - http://wp.me/P31ecs-mn

      Delete
    2. Basics:
      Document everything
      Write responses
      Request lesson-specific pre-observation conference

      Collective Approach:
      Mobilize fellow members in support (have them intervisit in his his classes)
      Have chapter do a petition or a resolution in support
      Have the consultation committee raise the issue of U ratings with little basis
      Get parents or students to write positive letters about his teaching

      Delete
  16. This page is depressing! I cannot believe, in a country with a history of fighting global terror, critiquing oppressive and abusive governments and regimes, being heavy critics of other country's human and civil rights abuses, creating serious zero tolerance laws forbidding bullying, implementing major civil rights laws and protections, that we cannot fight a U! I believe that none of these appeals and reviews should take place with any party employed by the DOE. Truly impartial agents should hear appeals. Based on all that I have read and what I know, our union is impotent: it doesn't win Step 3 grievances; it doesn't win U-rating appeals; it always forces you to stipulate when you are innocent (like plea-bargain), and we pay for our own abuse. If the mayor pays over a million dollars or more for a smart legal team, then we are our lawyers so inept? Didn't they pass the bar exam? Don't our lawyers know the same law that is used against us? Legal "interprets" and applies the law against us. This doesn't mean their application of the law is accurate. That is why there are courts. I think I'd rather be accused and face a jury of my peers to lay out the fraudulent charges the DOE administrators conjured up and manufactured against me than trust an appeals officer will not be biased. Of course they are biased! They are paid to be biased! The mayor has issued his edict and every cow-tows! Disgusting. However, what I do know about lawyers makes them a particular breed and they won't take on a "cause." Long gone are the days of solid, ethical and moral attorneys who truly want to fight injustice.

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  17. I received a U rating and had no formal observation. Is this allowed or following protocol? This was my fifth year teaching. I received S's all other years and was chosen as a lead teacher for the last two years. In addition, I taught in an 4th grade ICT setting this year and was constantly covering absent teachers, taught a general education science class and taught a SETTS group. In addition, I was pulled from my class for make up testing. Hence, I was not with my class. I am in shock. Please give advice. Also, I am applying to other DOE schools to transfer, how will this U rating effect my possible transfer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Email dtoe+subscribe@googlegroups.com join support group

      Delete
    2. I received a U rating for the past school year and had no formal observations. At the appeal, the DOE upheld the U rating from an abusive principal. I am a veteran teacher who has gotten all S ratings before this.Can the principal require me to sign an Action Plan for getting a U under the new Evaluation System when the reason wasn't instructional?

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  18. To all ATR Teachers. Did any ATRs see an ATR supervisor all year. They did not exist. In District 15 we never seen one all year. If you are an ATR and did not see an ATR supervisor the whole year, post it. Yes the ATR supervisors are all from closed schools. Incompetent administrators supervising.

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  19. can a tenured teacher get a u rating for latenesses. I reviewed the contract and my interpretation is that another procedure should have been filed and this principal didn't know what she was doing.

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  20. I am a veteran teacher who moved to NYC and got a job in the DOE. In all my prior experience in the field of education! I have been highly successful and I highly regarded , however after years as a successful educator I received a "U" rating from the NYC DOE.

    My "evaluations" basically were a joke! I was given little to no information on the evaluation process at the school despite being new to the school and the school system.My 1st formal evaluation didn't take place until a few days before the winter break and my second observation was just before spring break.

    I immediately contacted my UFT representative who did not seem very concerned as she said it was just a "u" rated lesson and a yearly rating and that I should be fine.

    As my situation deteriorated my UFT representative said there was little she could do to help me because I was not tenured and the principal, the school's ratings officer basically had all the power. She basically told me the "good news" I was not being discontinued and that if I did not find a job on the Open Market the principal was open to me returning to the school next year-- great!!! Aside from attaching a rebuttal letter in my file (which I did!) my UFT representative said I had no recourse?!

    In fact the only concretely helpful thing UFT representative did was to help me get my second observation "report" amended because I was able to document" inaccuracies" my "observers made in my write-up. After the revisions were made I had more commendations than recommendations in the write-up yet the "u" rating for the lesson still remained . Likely, this simply aggravated my principal further...

    My rating was pre-determined and arbitrary and did not accurately reflect my dedication to the profession and my ability to teach.

    On more than one occasion "my fit" at school was mentioned. I was told I was creative, had good ideas and clearly a hard worker but I just didn't understand the schools philosophy and I simply didn't fit-in.

    I have omitted huge chunks of information about my year, it was overflowing with indignities and demoralization after democratization. It was absolutely my worst year of my professional life and the first year I considered the notion of leaving the profession altogether!

    I was offered a job outside the DOE should I even bother further addressing my rating or just simply cut my losses. This was a difficult and exhausting year!

    My inclination would be simply to moe -on but I a concerned about the"u" rating on my record...

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  21. I got a U rating in my school. I taught for 12 years as an excellent teacher. I have lost all ability to find any work in DOE and I can hardly put food on my table. I go to bed at nite crying. My father had dementia, lost his leg, and I was going through a divorce. My principal was new and came into the school screaming at everyone on the loud speaker. She asked me to spy on certain teachers, she took over my lessons in middle of me teaching during the day and she could care less about the staff in her school. She got rid of at least a quarter of her staff. She had no emotion except to recognize her own professional gain. She was an abusive administrator. I should have resigned or token medical leave but got a U cause of personal reasons and principal cleaned house in the school to get her own staff on board.

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  22. Can't we file a class action law suit against the DOE, can anything be done, I have my U rating appeal in two weeks. I already know it's going to be upheld, not because the U rating was deserved, but because of all this politics.

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  23. There is no power in this union.Without a contract that can protect our professional decisions and freedoms and thwarts abuse, harrassment, and discrimination, we will always be the underdog and lose. Pre this lousy 2000 something contract, the UFT seldom lost Step 3 grievances which does not exist now. We were valiant back in the day, and I was proud that our reps seldom lost a case. Then the DOE hired attorneys. If the DOE pays for attorneys, why can't our union dues do the same? We just go through the motions. Maybe we need to be able to take our case directly to court or to a D.A. The assumption, like the private sector management model is that everyone is a liar and a miscreant except for those in management. In other words, teachers are guilty until never proven innocent. However, without a union contract, I could approach the D.A. and accuse my former principal of fraud, collusion, misrepresentation, and have her arrested for introducing fraudulent documents into evidence. (This is a real situation). There is nary an audience for this type of duplicity with our current collective bargaining. Back in the day, a principal could never give a teacher a U based on one thing occurring at the end of the term. Nope, there'd need to be a record and documentation against the teacher. This is laughable. We don't set policy; we argue due process as per collective bargaining. DOE Perry Masons are skilled at manipulation. We are dragging our tails into an early grave.

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