Friday, November 18, 2011

DOE Networks, Especially New Visions, at the Center of Increasing System Failures

Last Update: Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, 9pm.
NOTE: If you arrived here from a link at Gotham Schools, the link was supposed to be here.

My post on Queens Metro Tech yesterday (Growing Scandal at Queens Metro Tech Exposes All the Ills of Bloomberg Ed Deform - Another Leadership Acad Principal Set to Take Fall) where we broke the story that Walcott's daughter was a gym teacher there even though the kids never really got to do gym type stuff (not her fault my spies tell me) touched on the role (often negative) that the 'noying networks play.

In Joel Klein's continuous reorganizations of the NYC school system, the goal of which was to ultimately remove any real accountability and management responsibility for running the system at the top, we went from district (32 form k-8 plus HS and a few others) to regions (10 plus one or 2 others) to some cockamamie system that I can't even name to non-geographically organized networks. Of course, Bloomberg and Walcott were privy and part and parcel of all these changes.

Insiders have been warning me about these networks from their earliest days - that the people they were bringing in to run things and supposedly offer schools important services often didn't have a clue. But networks serve the function of allowing WalBloom to say, "heads will roll" when things go sour (as they have a Queens Metro Tech which I reported on yesterday.

Here is a comment from a recently retired teacher on that post that is worth putting up:
The role of the network organizations MUST be investigated! New Visions, one of the biggest, I believe, of the Children First networks, also runs charter schools in NYC and advertises constantly for new teachers with no credentials in a program that looks just like Teach for America. This is a clear conflict of interest. I taught at a small school in a poor minority neighborhood and even though students were without mandated classes or teachers (don't get me started on how the special ed kids were shafted)nothing was done to correct the situation. The school is still being run by a totally incompetent Leadership Academy principal with little teaching and no administrative experience. He was backed totally by New Visions. We banded together as a staff, grieved everything we could, got OSI to investigate, filed a formal "No Confidence" petition that went all the way up to City Hall, but still nothing was done to help those kids, whose parents were either not aware or unable to do anything. If a middle class (i.e. white) parent body can't get satisfaction, our kids can't either. I am constantly frustrated by the fact that the public is totally unaware of these network organizations, that bleed funds from the system and are actually trying to turn their schools into charters with no regard for union contracts, students' rights, students' needs, etc. The network people that deal directly with teachers are retired administrators who are getting full pensions and then being paid by the networks to circumvent the double dipping rules. My "assistant principal" (really just a consultant with administrative powers) only came into my building one day a week for meetings and had no clue what the students needed or who they are. He only pushed the robotic agenda of the network. All of this pushed me into an early retirement, lest I suffer the same fate as some of my colleagues, being targeted, U'd unfairly, being forced to teach out of license, etc.

There is going to be some interesting stuff coming out, including possibly networks that condoned high level cheating - and would we expect anything less with bonuses to earn in the world of corporate ed deform?

More on Queens Metro Tech tonight.

Check out Phil Kovacs video questioning TFA performance -


Anonymous said...

Someone should also investigate the Early Childhood Office and their 'cockamamie plans' from the last 4 years to put children first.
The office decided to make a standardized pre-k curriculum because there never was one. In fact, the pre-k curriculum that the DOE Early Childhood Office chose is STILL NOT a curriculum. It is only A FRAMEWORK and GUIDE for pre-k teachers to use in their classrooms. Also, the pre-k teacher needs to be EXPERIENCED AND KNOWLEDGEABLE in early childhood education in order for the framework (which was adopted by the DOE) to be developmentally appropriate for pre-kindergarten children (Norm, I was trying very hard NOT TO USE 'effective', 'effectively' or 'effective teacher'. I have come to despise that word in the past 2 years).

Second, pre-k teachers are also rated (extremely harshly too) on a rating system called ECERS (Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale). The teacher's classroom is rated in every single category (social, emotional, cognitive, physical hygiene-like how children wash their hands) and then receives a score to see how it compares to other pre-k teachers. The lower the score, is better for the teacher!

3. The Early Childhood Office has reorganized about gazillion times and fired most of their staff to be re-hired again. There are definitely some shady dealings and issues going on in that departmental office and satellites.

burntoutteacher said...

Thanks so much for bringing my complaint to the attention of your readers. You can't begin to understand the frustration that I and my colleagues at FDNY HS (on the old Jefferson campus) were feeling. We did all we could to call attention to the incompetence of the administration and most of us were targeted badly as a result. When I tried to transfer this past summer, I applied to any and every opening I could, so long as it wasn't a New Visions school.Not a single "civilian" (i.e., non-teacher) I have spoken to over the years has any clue about the networks that are now running the schools.

Mary Conway-Spiegel said...

The EPO premise is they do for "failing" schools what no one else can--help them "succeed"; however, this is clearly not the case. I've been inside a few schools in various stages of "success" over the last year and they are now phasing out, on phase-out lists and/or in "early engagement."

In the bad old days middle management (then, not an outside vendor) existed to bridge the gap between the school community and the Board of Education. Yes there was corruption, yes it was imperfect... At this point to hold current policies/procedures up as if they are morally superior to those of pre-Mayoral is fear mongering at its best.

Anonymous said...

So true about New Visions. They are also having major scheduling problems at Automotive HS. I have heard that New Visions has intentially brought in a completely unqualifies Principal there so they can close out the school and use the space for a New Visions Charter School. I have also heard rumors that Moskowitz wants the Automotive space for one of her schools.

NYCDOEnuts said...

The network who runs my school doesn't have a clue either. The people who run that network look far too young to be experts on anything that would help a school run and operate.

To make matters worse, they seem to have the ultimate authority over the principal's agenda. For instance, when my principal was removed last year, it wasn't the superintendent who removed her. It was the network. I don't know if the sup. provided some sort of rubber stamp, but the network was certainly running the show in my building that day.

But for me, the worst thing about these networks is the lack of accountability to the community they have. They old community districts were located in the community of each school. There were clear lines of accountability. Then, if 'fit hit the shan' the community members knew where to go to raise hell.

These networks aren't anywhere! And the result is that if a parent wants to complain about something in his/her school -and he/she does't feel the school is cooperating- the only other place to go is to the phone to dial 311. No community involvement. No community influence. It's actually the direct opposite of the American tradition of education. Whereas in virtually every other locality, the community has final say over anything from building location to budgets (via annual school budget votes) the 59 communities in NYC have almost none -and would have absolutely none if Tweed didn't choose to make nice and listen to them every once in a while.

This 2007 reorganization really had the effect of locking certain stakeholders out of the system. In that sense, it was Uncle Joel's finest achievement, The networks are the symbol of them and it and they really need to go.

ed notes online said...

Important points from NYCDOEnuts. We need more testimony from teachers on their networks. They were specifically designed to do what you say - remove the schools from access by parents and also absolve the system of responsibility. The geographical break is a major part of that process. This entire system of ed deform governance is not by accident but a careful design to cut school ties from the communities they serve as an opening to the privatizers.