Showing posts sorted by relevance for query tagnyc questions. Sort by date Show all posts
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Sunday, November 4, 2007

TAGNYC has been gathering feedback

UPDATED: Materials have been circulating calling for an action at Tweed on Nov. 26 the evening of the monthly PEP meeting. Right now we have sketchy information. We'll post more when we know more.

The following is a note from TAGNYC with comments on the meeting Randi held with RR denizens on Oct. 30. We wrote a previous report on that meeting here - ed notes


TAGNYC has been gathering feedback on the October 30th meeting between UFT staff and persons currently in the Reassignment Centers. Very few of the responses have been positive. A couple of people who spoke to us expressed the sentiment that Randi was now trying to address the conditions of the Reassignment Centers and that her Ten Points is evidence of this new commitment. Here is a direct quote from a person who drew encouragement from the meeting:

“As negligent as she has been in the past, I think she is showing a greater level of concern now.”

TAGNYC can not agree. Our position: The UFT leadership is analogous to the farmer who shuts the barn door after the horses escape or to the fire department that arrives to hose down a building’s burning embers. No amount of theatrics on the part of Randi Weingarten could quell the constant muttering of the crowd: “Where have they been all this time?” Where was the UFT and Randi’s concern when the damage was being done? That is the question that should have been addressed. Where were most of the district reps and most of the chapter leaders when Bloomberg-Klein’s unethical principals and assistant principals were harassing teachers and using u-ratings to intimidate and force out senior/experienced teachers? TAGNYC holds that the consensus ‘on the street’ is that Randi is no longer silent because her lambs are no longer silent. “Fired up--won’t take no more”- a rallying union cry that has caught up with the UFT leadership.

What follows are comments made by individuals who attended the meeting with some TAG commentary.

  • Why was not a copy of the Ten Points handed out? People tried to copy them down from the PowerPoint but there was not enough time. (Possibly not to have a paper record?)
  • Most of the Ten Points came from the brainstorming of people in the Reassignment Centers. How is Randi planning to make "her" Ten Points happen?
  • Randi got the message loud and clear that her people were not doing their work (of representing the members).
  • A member of the audience called out “If you can’t do anything, why are we here?’ Randi heard this comment.
  • A reply of Randi’s: “That’s why I’m here. I need to hear.” (Brings up the main question- Why weren’t you hearing for the past many years? Isn’t that the role of a union leader?)
  • There were no surprises. However experiencing it was really depressing. I’m glad I did not go alone.
  • The UFT staff looked visibly upset when Randi told us “...we would be here until all questions are answered.” They kept talking among themselves and looking at their watches. A member of the audience had to keep asking "Can you please be quiet."
  • She’s not going far enough. She has to do something before people are removed from the school. (That’s when the chapter leaders and district reps could earn their stipends and salaries.)
  • Why is enforcing due process such a big deal when Article 21 of the contract repeats the state law? Why doesn’t the union just enforce the contract? Some of the Ten Points are contractual.

The next meeting will be on November 15th to address the issue of the ATRs. Affected TAG members please ask: Where was the union and how did you let this happen without a fight?


Suggestion from Michael Fiorillo on ICE-mail:

In regard to David Pakter's plan to demonstrate at Tweed, I think it might be helpful if the Rubber Room teachers did a borough by borough survey to see if the detainees have been put there disproportionately by Leadership Academy principals. If this were to pan out, it would make for a much more effective attack against Klein and the regime, since it would be hard for them to counteract the logical inference that this a policy developed by Tweed and implemented by its minions.

Commentary from a variety of people on ICE mail:

"Do We Live In A Police State?" asks teacher A:

Teacher B: Most decidedly YES!

It strikes me as strange that we, as teachers, sat back for so long and allowed ( yes, allowed) all of these things to happen to us. Piece by piece, little by little, we have turned our destinies over to those (Bloomburger, FrankenKlein and Swinegarten) that are seeking greater political careers for themselves and even greater personal power. Do we not see the Bear directly coming at us?

Sure, I've heard all kinds of reasoning for why we have allowed ourselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter ( time in, pensions, age, etc). True enough, but WHEN will those blinders come off, and teachers take control of their own destiny? We have let ourselves be treated as less than professional, and now we see the results.

Rallies, etc., are great for publicity, but, after the dust settles, what will have been accomplished? It's time for teachers to rally together, and form our own professional association, and PAC's.

Teacher C:

Definitely. And it's time to write letters to members of the City Council and other public officials. It is time to learn how to be effective activists, and not rush blindly and emotionally into anything.
The opposition is extremely clear headed and relaxed. If this were a game of chess, we are fast approaching check. We're not there yet though. There's still some time, but not much.
The message that must get out of the Rubber Room is "If it can happen to us, it can happen to you." Every in-service member needs to be aware of that possibility.

Monday, June 29, 2009

AP's Karen Matthews Distorts Rubber Room Story to Fit Agenda

Many people learn to mistrust the media, which so often gets a lot of stuff wrong. So when they come calling, beware what you say and how you say it. AS often as they get things wrong, many also have their own bias and no matter what you say, they will distort it to meet the point they want to make. Fair and balanced? Blah!

When I was referred reporter
Karen Matthews from the AP, I could tell by the tone of her questions there was an axe to grind:

"I am working on a story about rubber rooms. As you probably know, the DOE says about 650 to 700 teachers are in these reassignment centers drawing their full salary for doing nothing. Is this something that you are concerned about? Are there people I may not have thought of who I should speak to about this issue?"

I was one of the people she spoke to. Nothing, not one word, of what I said, made the article.

Naturally, the rubber room gang was offended.

Judy Cohen said: I am embarrassed to be part of this article. I donated the photo to show the world the terrible conditions I sat in awaiting due process. Karen Matthews cherry picked things for her story that people said, including what I said. She had an agenda and I thought it was to help us. Who knew? When Jeremy Garrett, producer of The Rubber Room Movie, sent me her contact, I assumed she was an advocate for us. I was wrong. Somehow we must keep trying to get the word out otherwise we fade away in anonymity. Judith Cohen

Joy Hochstadt said:
Karen Matthews of AP called me for an interview about the RR. I told her the real story about the nonsense older teachers, whistle blowers were being accused of. How many people got sick there; how mean clerks are to professionals, how the fire stairs are blocked off, how they harassed me, but all she was interested in was the crap that she wrote about and I kept steering her to the real story until she said she had to call others! I would not speak to anyone at the tabloids but it appears AP is no better. The only fair story was in the NY Times by Sam Freedman. If no one agreed to speak to anyone but him then these other stories could not appear -- Matthews selectively took 1% of what I said, and 1% of what others said and made it into the rag she wanted or was being paid to make it into! Mumm in toto should the word to anyone we do not absolutely know and trust.

Here is TAGNYC's response:

To: Media

TAGNYC has so far received 11 emails forwarding to us a copy of the Associated Press article “700 NYC Teachers Paid to do Nothing”. The sentiment accompanying the forwards is one of anger, disgust, defeat, or all three sentiments. Representatives of TAGNYC were approached to speak to the reporter. We are extremely suspicious of the printed word which is often edited to fit the ‘sexy’ story the media wants to pedal and we cautioned people against speaking to the reporter. Although the article referenced the ludicrous nature of some charges, the main story of the article, and what people will remember, is that 700 hundred teachers are playing scrabble, cards, painting, etc., on the taxpayer’s dime. And this during a national fiscal crises!

So editors, DOE, UFT, New York City Council, NYS Legislature, lets get the FACTS straight. The facts are not ‘sexy’, but they reveal the truth that needs to be hidden so the private aspirations can be realized- political ambitions and increased paychecks and newspapers that sell. You know and we know: It is NOT about the children.


1. The Temporary Reassignment Centers (TRCs) are the crown jewels in Bloomberg and Klein’s plan to destroy teaching as a long term career in NYC’s inner city schools. The TRCs are the backdoor to the street. Principals can selectively place any teacher who is too old, costly, or outspoken in these rooms. In the majority of cases, competence has nothing to do with placement. This is the reason why the number of personnel removed from NYC schools has increased greatly within the last five years.

2. The TRCs were meant to hold personnel accused of ‘serious allegations’ that mandate removal from the school because such persons pose a ‘danger to the students" or the accusations warrant criminal investigation.

3. The Union contract does not protect the NYC teacher. State law, Education Law 3020-a, mandates that no tenured employee within the State of New York can be disciplined without a hearing. Suspension with pay is part of this law. The UFT copied this law into its contract.

4. The Union has decreased the protections NYC teachers get under the 3020-a Law. NYC teachers have less due process rights than our colleagues in the rest of the State. State law allows the UFT to modify the process .

5. The teachers and others in the Reassignment Centers (aka rubber rooms) have nothing to say about how long or how short their stay in the TRCs will be, contrary to the lie that Klein made in his February 8, 2009 interview on Eyewitness News Up Close. Repeat, persons in the TRCs have no way to hurry or delay the process.

6. There is nothing in the UFT contract which stops the DOE from assigning work to persons in the TRCs. The DOE is the employer and as such can assign tasks. Humans interact. It is not human to sit and stare for 6 hours 40 minutes.

7. A tremendous injustice is being committed against many competent and dedicated teachers. Incompetence should be rooted out but we can assure you that that is not what is happening. And that is a fact and can be investigated by anyone with the integrity to NEED to know the truth about what is happening in the inner city schools under the Bloomberg -Klein administration.


bcc: Press, Education Committee of City Council, NYS Assembly Education Committee, R. Weingarten, J.Klein

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

TAGNYC Has Advice for Reassignment Personnel Awaiting Word of Assignment from the DOE

Teachers, Counselors, Other Affected UFT Personnel:

Some Reassigned Personnel have received emails from the DOE telling them to report to a central location. Many others have yet to be contacted.

The DOE has our information. However, should you not receive notification by September 7th, TAGNYC advises to report to 65 Court Street in Brooklyn (Borough Hall stop on the Lexington Avenue line)or to any DOE Human Resource location in your borough if one exists. Or report to the DOE Administrative Offices in Long Island City (address below). Demand to speak to a Human Resource person and demand to sign in. Stay at that location and call the Union and tell them you have reported to duty and give your location. Be sure to get the UFT person's name. If you are going to 65 Court Street (meaning you have not heard by late September 6th, we would appreciate being advised so we can let others know we will have company.

The UFT is powerless to get the DOE to move any faster than it wants to or is able to. An email to the UFT will serve only to document that you contacted the UFT.

Below is a copy of a letter an email received by a Reassigned Person.


I also received an email from Support HR at 1:38 pm today. Part of the email says as follows:

On 9/7/2010 12:00:00 PM, you must report to the following location for details and information on your new assignment.

DOE Administrative Offices
45-18 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101

At that time, you will be met by staff handling reassignments and will be given specific information about the exact location to which you will report, the assignment and the supervisor.

Please bring with you a valid picture identification (either DOE ID card or other government issued ID). Any questions concerning your reassignment will be addressed at this meeting.

Please bring a printout of this email with you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Message from TAG: Weingarten - Failed Labor Leader


The message below was sent from Teachers Advocacy Group (TAGNYC). They blame Weingarten, perhaps not realizing the longstanding position of the UFT regarding people branded fairly or unfairly as "bad" teachers. The UFT has always been concerned about being seen as protecting teachers who have been labeled as "poor" for fear of negative publicity. The Richard Kahlenberg Shaker bio reports that as far back as the 1969 contract, "...a provision for the development of objective criteria of professional accountability" was agreed to by Shanker, who said, "those who can't be improved and who are functioning at a very poor level [what are the criteria?], we're going to have to have the courage to sat may be good at some other thing, but you're not good at this."

Notice the use of the word "we're." Who, me kimosabe? All in the name of what I consider a phony professionalism. Don't get me wrong. Under proper conditions, teachers could play such a role and I would be all for teachers making these decisions - if they had control of the school environment. (I'll get into what I mean by this in a future post.) But they don't. Therefore, the union's job is to defend every teacher rigorously and leave it to some other agency to take care of incompetent teachers. I would favor a body independent of the DOE and the UFT.

Again from Kahlenberg (p. 288): Peer review was common among professors, doctors, and lawyers, who police themselves.Shanker said: "it would be the first time in the history of American education that teaches would govern themselves."

How does Shanker equate peer review of teachers with these professions, which have a higher level of control than teachers ever could have? And by the way, how many doctors have you heard of being "peer reviewed" out of the profession? In the early 80's Shanker said, "a lot of people who have been hired as teachers are basically not competent." Shanker was selling peer review as an alternative to threats to abolish tenure.

The "bad teacher and the unions that protect them is the cause of all the ills of urban public ed" argument is a bogus one. How do you explain the achievement levels in right to work states like Florida where unions have so much less control?

How about your own education experience? Think of your own teachers. How many extraordinary teachers did you have? How many horrors? How inspired or damaged were you by either end of the scale of teacher quality? Somehow many of us survived the bad teachers. I saw some kids in my school have one excellent teacher after another and those that would do well did and those that wouldn't do well didn't.

Teachers guts and experience tell them this is all a crock. Some young teachers just starting out see some impact in the early years. It took me about a decade to see the long-term results as kids started drifting back as they grew up. That's how you get some perspective.

The public seems in much more danger from incompetent police, doctors, lawyers and politicians (see one George Bush) than from incompetent teachers - the worst of whom are often driven out of teaching by the daily failure of facing kids' scorn. Or they just go into administration and abuse teachers who actually can do the job.

Though at times it may make your skin crawl, I recommend reading the Kahlenberg 400 page apology for Shanker's actions. That Al Shanker and the AFT have been promoting this claptrap surprises even veteran NYC teachers. Weingarten is just following a script laid out a long time ago.

Anyway, here's the message from TAG.

Weingarten: Failed Labor Leader

Randi Weingarten is looking to her new career as head of the AFT. That much larger pool of teachers must understand what they are getting. A failed labor leader. Randi, through her position, is in an excellent position to advocate for children and to negotiate health and welfare benefits for her membership. How well she performs either of these two functions demands future critical evaluation. What we address here is her inability to function as a labor leader. Make no mistake. Teachers are members of the labor force. We are not independent contractors or consultants able to individually control our own terms and conditions of employment. And the most important condition of employment is the right to remain employed. Remain in the profession we chose. Ms. Weingarten does not want to be seen as the protector of teachers' job rights: The press and the public would label her a "protector of incompetents." But the teachers who are being forced out of their jobs- the ATRs, the whistle-blowers, the questioners, the teachers who dared to exercise their transfer rights, and the teachers who make too much money - are not incompetents. These teachers are the scapegoats being used to further Bloomberg, Klein, and yes, Randi Weingarten's political ambitions.

Weingarten has proven she does not have the stomach to advocate for teachers' rights to their jobs. She has colluded in turning NYC teachers into at-will employees. Her defense for doing so- "The UFT was not strong enough to fight."

Questions TAGNYC has for Randi Weingarten:

1. Why did you not educate your membership about the implications of the givebacks in the 2005 contract? You and your lawyers knew the possible if not probable consequences. You can't blame the membership for running to take the money since you did not do your job in educating the membership. Labor leaders don't invoke the adage "Buyer beware" when the `buyer' is the membership.

2. Will you admit that you feared for the careers of the more senior teachers in the wake of the 2005 contract and the empowerment of principals? Will you admit that you communicated this fear to your district reps? You hoped Bloomberg-Klein would go easy on the senior teachers. You lost and we lost. Labor leaders should never "depend upon the kindness of strangers."

3. Why did you not rally the members to make a stand against Bloomberg-Klein? 80,000 plus teachers in your corner and you did nothing to get them on the street (strikes weren't necessary- why not mass protests during rush hours, etc)? Oh, right, you were and are afraid of antagonizing the public. Too cautious to be a labor leader.

4. Why do you tell your members "Wait until 2009?" You see 2009 as a time when friends of `labor' come back into office. How courageous! Who can't `lead' when times are good and ears are sympathetic. You failed to lead in tough times. Too many of NYC teachers- the competent teachers- have, and are suffering the devastating consequences of your failed leadership in the run-up to 2009. Will many of these teachers be employed in 2009?

5. Why do you hide behind the 3020a process? Rather than using the law as the pretext for not intervening, why are you not railing against the farce of the 3020a process?

6. Why don't you state publicly what is said privately by district reps, chapter chair people, and OSI: Frivolous charges of incompetence, verbal, corporal, and sexual abuse are being used by principals to remove competent teachers from their schools?

7. Why have you not led your members in vocal, body-on-the line protests against the absurdity of turning competent teachers into ATRs? Why won't you admit loudly and publicly that the ATR paradigm is the road to unemployment for high salaried, competent teachers?

8. Why have you not led your members in vocal, body-on-the-line protests against the willful destruction of competent teachers' careers by incompetent, insecure, and unethical principals?

9. Who is defending your teachers in the schools? Do you know that most of your chapter chair people and district reps have abdicated the duty to advocate? Do you know of the despair being felt by teachers who know they don't have a union willing or able to defend them within the schools?

10. How do you reconcile your claim to be an advocate for the students when their teachers- new hires and senior teachers- are stampeding out of the NYC school system?

11. On a NY1 news show last week, in criticism of the budget cuts, you chastised Klein and advised him to "Show some leadership in tough times." Ms. Weingarten, how have you shown leadership in protecting your competent teachers during the tough Bloomberg-Klein times?

Teachers are urged to email Ms Weingarten with any of these or other questions. IT IS PAST TIME FOR HER RESPONSE. Not an opt ed piece but a question and answer format where Ms. Weingarten does not control the floor, or the questions asked, or the time allotted to each response.