Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What's Richard Mills Smoking?

For many years we have called for the resignation of NY State Commissioner Richard Mills to resign for so many reasons there's no room on the entire web to list them. Aside from his rigid testing schedule and the fact that he was the culprit show issued the waiver for Joel Klein to become Chancellor, the total mismanagement of the Roosevelt LI schools under his stewardship (NY State took over only one school district and totally screwed that up) should be sufficient reason alone.

But we never realized that Mills is also a comedian, as witness the following, with my comments in bold italics:

Due to shortages of certified teachers in NYC
State Education Commissioner Richard Mills is pushing for a bill to allow retired teachers to go back into the classroom for up to five years without endangering their retirement pay and would not cost taxpayers anything The Journal News in Rockland County reported on May 28th.

"We have teaching shortages in many parts of the state, in New York City," Mills said. "Between 11 and 20 percent of the teaching assignments in English (in New York City) are held by people without certification in English."

Federal law requires that students be taught by highly qualified teachers - in New York, that means, among other things, teachers with certifications in the subjects they are teaching. The reason is that children learn better if their teachers know what they are teaching, and children who learn do well on the tests that each public school child in the country now takes from third through eighth grade. Schools, school districts and educators are judged by how well their children do on the tests, so getting children the best teachers is good all around.

Usually, experience counts when it comes to teachers. [Has Mills spoken to BloomKlein lately?] Veteran teachers know all the tricks, have seen and worked with the different educational fads, have hours of extra training and a wealth of ideas that have worked in the past to get their subject across to each new class of children. [But unfortunately often insist that the contract be followed and know immediately when a principal is a bullshitter in over his/her head.]

Veteran teachers also cost a district more than newer teachers, and districts often try to balance experience against cost when planning each year's budget. [Ahh! Someone neglected to tell UFT leaders who have allowed seniority rules protecting teachers to be decimated.]

A district with budget worries can offer veteran teachers a retirement package, clearing the way for younger, cheaper labor. And in the past decade, hundreds of teachers locally and thousands statewide have taken the packages. [They haven't been clued in to how to avoid these packages - Get a compliant union to agree to changes in work rules that allow administrators to force out the highest paid teachers.]

Retired teachers are paid slightly more than 60 percent of their last three years' salary, and cannot earn more than $30,000 a year teaching in a public school in New York or risk permanent cuts to their retirement payments.

Teachers interested in supplementing their retirement can teach in neighboring states without jeopardizing their pensions. Many in this area retire in New York and start a career in New Jersey.

Mills wants to change that, to allow veteran teachers to come back to districts in need educationally and allow them to be in the classroom up to five years at the going salary, without putting their pensions at risk.

"There is a serious shortage," he said. "This is a good time to do it. It should be easier for a certified teacher who's retired to come back without penalty to their pension in shortage fields and hard-to-staff schools."

[Mills should go on the road with his act. and take the hordes of teachers who counted the seconds 'till they got out of the system since BloomKlein took over.]


  1. Do you recall when Sandy Feldman suggested that anyone who thought we'd do better than the 25 year max double zero contract must be "smoking something?"

    Then there was the 22 year max double zero contract. Well, I hit max in February. So I'm glad we voted that down. Plus we got all those improvements. Too bad the UFT gave it all away in 05.

  2. Getting retired teachers back into the classrooms is just one more step beyond the "F" status jobs that many retired teachers are already doing. It will save the DOE money because, even if the DOE does pay these retired teachers the going salary, there are no extra pension contributions for the DOE to make. Remember that it only says that these retirees will not be penalized for making over the previously set $30,000. It does NOT say that anything will be added to their pension based on the additional years of employment. So their employment will be cheaper than the employment of the ATRs and other presently employed teachers. If the DOE gets a contract next time that limits the amount of time that ATRs have to get placements in schools before being laid off, then hiring retirees can be much cheaper. Also it is one more threat that can be held above the heads of regular teachers: "We can replace you with a retiree if you don't watch your step."
    I think that we all know that, anytime the DOE does something that looks as if it is good for students or teachers, we had better look much more closely. There is always an ulterior motive. There is always some way that teachers and students are in fact going to be harmed, not helped.


  3. The much touted Leadership Academy for Principals is nothing more than a training ground for breaking veteran teachers. The entire curriculum is a course in how to get around the contract and harrass/intimidate and eventually psychologically, emotionally and financial destroy an experinced tenured teacher. A friend who quit the course showed me the sample counseling memos and formats for letters to file and a "timeline" of sorts laying out the steps to forcing an experienced teacher out of the system. These "Principals" come out resembling little more than terrorists, petty dictators in their own tiny kingdoms (the schools) who will sink to any level to achieve the BloomKelin objective. "Veteran Teachers" are being led out of school in handcuffs on trumped up charges. Rubber Rooms, excuse me, Teacher Reassignment Centers, are bursting at the seams. Mr. Mills is doing nothing more than following the company line. If he wants "experienced teachers" he doesn't need to look at retirees, he has a vast pool of ATR's available who have lost their permanent jobs due to the 2005 contract. When are people going to wake up? I guess when the mortgage payment becomes due right after you've been through a 3020 hearing (more like a Nazi Tribunal) leaving you either without a job, or a hefty fine that will put you back in the system where the harrassment starts all over again.

    Ah, progress!


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.