Sunday, July 26, 2015

When The Uneducated Are In Charge

The AP realized the more students she put in main stream classes, the better she would look.  Team teaching classes seemed to be the best way to dump educate these children.  A problem with this was not enough special education teachers were available to team teach.

The AP was not one to stress about such a major minor thing.  She assigned anyone free to these classes.  So now a mainstream teacher with no experience dealing with learning disabled and emotionally handicapped children was working with a teacher straight out of college with no special education degree or experience.

As luck would have it a boy with many issues was in one of these classes.  His mom was well aware of the problems her son faced and wrote long letters explaining his disability and promising to be available whenever she was needed.  This letters went to the main stream teacher as there was no special education teacher on record at the time and then the extra teacher assigned was not even certified in special education.

After two days the young man said some very inappropriate things to the young teacher in the room.  She freaked out.  She spoke to the AP who immediately removed the boy and put him in another class.  From what I understand, he was moved around many times.

The AP whose job it is to help students like this boy failed miserably at her job.  The boy was lost in the system.  Eventually a special education teacher was assigned to the class and the remaining students got the help they needed and were entitled to.  The AP looked good as many of the students were not in self contained classes any longer.  But, I wonder how many got lost along the way?  How many never received the help they deserved?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fun At Work

It was 8:35 on a Wednesday morning when the phone rang.  I figured it was a telemarketer and picked up the phone ready to let loose a whole bunch of expletives.  Before I opened my mouth I heard the voice of the secretary from the community college.  She immediately apologized for calling so early but said she was desperate.  A teacher had called in sick at the last minute and she had to find coverage.  She knew I lived close.  Now, I don't like working in the summer and I especially don't like the 3 hour long classes and I hate teaching remedial but, I love the school and I love the way they treat and respect their staff so I agreed.  I folded my newspaper, turned off my I-pad, poured my coffee into a travel mug and told my husband I would be back in about 4 hours.

I managed to get to the school a few minutes early and stopped by the office to pick up a book and sign to get paid.  I thought the look of gratitude on the secretary's face was enough to make my day.  That, was not even a fraction of what happened next.

I got to the room and immediately went in search of someone to unlock the door.  The 25 students waited patiently and then filed in.  I introduced myself and then asked them to tell me their daily procedure.  I told them since I was only there for the day I wanted to do things exactly as their regular professor did them.  I found them all to be bright, enthused, motivated and extremely cooperative.  Although much of the work was familiar to them,  I threw in lots of decimals and fractions, things I knew they needed help with and they were extremely grateful.  I even emphasized that most were probably in remedial because of carelessness, not lack of knowledge and confessed to being the queen of careless mistakes.  Before we knew it, the three hours were up.  We said goodbye and hope to meet up again soon and left.

I will get a nice check for the work I did but more importantly, I had fun.  How many people can say work is fun?  Teaching used to be a fun career, a career where one can make a difference in another's  ' life.  I am so fortunate to be able to continue mine this way.  It is sad so many others cannot and so many good teachers will end up not doing what they are so good at doing.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lower Manhattan

 Lower Manhattan is on the rise!!!!  Views from the street and cruise on City Clipper, courtesy of

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Leaving the Dog House

The AP thought her life was made.  The veteran teachers, the ones who saw through her incompetence and her negligence were gone.  She had successfully navigated them into retirement and she had carefully chosen and molded her new staff of minions, servile newbies who quaked at her wide eyed vacant stare and shivered as she yelped and barked.  She thought life was going to be a breeze.  Her minions were all in place to assist the lowest level students get regents diplomas and credit for every single course needed towards graduation whether they deserved it or not.  She figured she could sit back, her feet on the desk and spend the next few years lapping up the perks that come with the job.

The AP, hidden in her own little world was unaware of the quiet revolt going on around her.  The minions had enough.  Albeit young and inexperienced, they were bright and had morals.  They knew what she was doing was wrong and they did not want any part of it.  Behind her back they applied for other positions in schools with APs who hopefully are not so corrupt.  Being young, easily molded and cheap, they got hired.

So now the yapping, barking AP must start all over.  Yes there will be a new crop of minions ready and willing to take the vacated positions but she will have to get off her comfortable chair and start working at molding again. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Grade Fixing Is A Major Deal

DeBlasio thinks grade fixing is no big deal, Well, if he saw what I see in the community college, he would change his mind quickly.  I have been teaching mathematics at a community College since 2003.  In only 12 years I have seen the caliber of our students go down dramatically.  Students, not all as we do have many fine ones,  are coming in who cannot work with fractions, who cannot divide and do not even know multiplication tables.  These same students brag about passing regents exams and doing well in high school.  I have seen students who refuse to buy books or even use the free ones in the laboratory and library.  Many never do homework and don't know the meaning of the word study.  They got a free ride in high school and expect that ride to continue into college. They expect extra credit, grade forgiveness and grade curving.  They are totally unprepared for college or for much else.  Grade scrubbing improves high school graduation rates but it does nothing to prepare students for college and for life.  In fact, it hurts them infinitely more than a failing grade ever could.  As someone who has taught both on the high school and college level, I urge the Mayor to take this grade fixing seriously and do something to fix it.  Fixing it is all about the future of our city.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Dilbert Does It Again

Scott Adams must be portraying a Packemin graduate.  The prospective employee expects a paycheck with no work and no attendance requirement, exactly the way he got his high school diploma,  

Okay, no fair picking on Packemin.  Kids got diplomas requiring no work all over the city.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


It was like looking at a picture post card

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Gleeful Administrators Ruining Schools

Ratings came out and 50% of the school was rated highly effective.  Interesting that no older teacher was rated highly effective.  These are the teachers that kept the school going in Quality Reviews for years. These are the teachers that kept the school as an "A" school for years.  Interesting that the school did not do so well in its rating this year.Could it be too much emphasis on Danielson and not enough emphasis on what the older teachers know is the way to reach students?

On another note, two long time teachers retired.  The AP stood up at the end term meeting and praised one, thanked him for his service and wished him well.  The other one, she ignored.  Secretly she was happy both left.  Two less veterans to worry about.  In another meeting a different AP addressed his department.  He gleefully told them of the "troublemaker" who would not be back.  He was really talking about the 35 year old veteran teacher who gave her life to her students who was retiring.

The incompetent and inexperienced administrators of today are ruining teachers careers and reputations but more importantly they are ruining schools and no one cares.  More importantly, they are leaving today's youths in the hands of teachers not properly prepared to help them grow to capacity.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


UFT was proudly represented at the Gay Pride March.

Now it is time for them to step up and represent its members, particularly the ATRs the same way.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cheating Scandal

Many of the students graduating today and their parents have no idea how phony their education has been.  For the last 10 - 15 years the only thing that mattered in schools were numbers and the students believed that receiving a passing grade meant they knew the course material.  Parents did too.  I remember meeting a parent who was thrilled with her son's 73 on the algebra regents until I explained to her what the 73 actually meant.  I know I crushed her beliefs but I felt reality was more important that dreams.  I had a student in a remedial math class in college brag about her 65 on the algebra regents but she could not add fractions, did not know her multiplication tables and never got more than a 30 on any exam in that class.  While I haven't followed her progress, I am willing to bet she never graduated as the college still has standards and getting out of remedial meant passing a uniform computer driven exam.  In fact, the college I where I work is very strict when it comes to passing and only wants the teachers to pass those that have mastered the course.

I feel awful for the students at John Dewey whose graduation is being questioned.  I am sure many earned their diplomas and learned what they should have learned.  I am sure many did the phony credit recovery too and now do not understand why their graduation is being questioned.  But, these kids are young and while it hurts now, they can still recover and go on to do whatever their heart desires.  I heard stories of a special education AP who only let teachers willing to "help" on regents proctor exams.  I saw an AP supposedly translating exams for foreign students but no one understood the language, and knew what he was saying.  His students always did exceptionally well.

Today I happened to be talking to a new Principal and a man who is not involved in education.  We were talking about cheating and he seemed to think all the problems with education lie with the home and that as long as the cheating is going on, no one should get caught.  I spent quite a bit of time talking to him about what I see in the college and I think eventually he saw my point.  An outsider really has no idea of the impact these phony diplomas have on kids.

Kudos to the teachers at John Dewey who came forward.  If Farina and DeBlasio really care about education they need to establish some way of looking into this at all schools and see how kids who never passed are suddenly passing and graduating.  They need to follow these students into the community college and see how little they actually know.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Department Memo

Dear Teachers,

Today is a great day.  I have succeeded in making another one of you old timers leave.  I have harassed him non stop, gave him U ratings and labeled him ineffective two years in a row.  I wandered into his classroom multiple times, making sure to stop by at the end of days, immediately after fire drills and the last and first day back from vacations.  I don't care how many extra hours he gives his students.  If he did his job correctly, he would not need to spend so much time helping them outside of school.  I have finally won.  He is gone.

I am now one step closer to creating the department I want and I deserve.  You veteran teachers better take this as a warning.  You all know who is next on my hit list.  I have already started writing up your observations for next year and they are not pretty.  I also know exactly how I will berate you at department conferences and insist you observe the 22 year old who has been out of college and teaching for three weeks.  You can't win against me.  Just leave now and save us a lot of work and save yourself heart ache.

Have a nice summer.  It might be your last stress free time for months to come.

Your Loving AP

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Omnipotent Adminstrator

She was a 10 year veteran teacher who requested specific classes for the upcoming year.  The AP said no, blaming someone else, someone everyone knew had no say in how he programmed.  And then, in the middle of a department conference he stopped and offered the class to a teacher with much less seniority.  He then went on to add there will probably be a sixth class in that subject and he wanted her to teach it, something illegal as all extra classes must be posted and offered to everyone.

Everyone knows the AP does whatever he wants and will end up fixing programs so the person he wants will get the extra class but no one could believe he had the audacity to actually say this in front of the staff he supervises.

Union rules mean nothing to him.  He is king.  He has done whatever he wants for years and will continue to do so.  I am so happy to be able to write about this and not live it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Phony Education

It was the middle of period 4 on a Tuesday when a monitor showed up at Mr. X's class asking the teacher to send Marta to her office immediately.  The teacher was a little concerned as they were reviewing for the regents and Marta was not one of the strongest students but let her go anyway.

Marta returned at the end of the class and Mr. X asked what happened.  Marta explained that she was failing health due to excessive absence (she had not been in class more than 10 times the entire semester) but could pass and graduate if she attended the two hour after school classes all week and made up 10 hours.  It seemed like a good deal.  Ten hours for a whole terms work.  The only problem was Marta had already missed the first two hours.  The counselor told her not to worry.  She could do something to make up the make up work she missed.

Marta will probably do something to make up the work.  Maybe she will hand in a project her friend did.  Maybe she will download a paper from the Internet.  Maybe she will just smile nice, who knows.  But, Marta will graduate.  The school needs to keep those stats up.

So, armed with a meaningless diploma, Marta will head off to college.  She will expect the same experience and will be crushed.  Another young person has been sent into the world to fail.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Principal and The Prom

Jean was looking forward to the prom.  Her mom was too and that is why they both went ballistic when she was told she could not attend.  Jean had failed economics and the school had a policy stating no senior who failed could attend.

Jean's mom immediately made an appointment with the Principal.  He explained the rules that mom wanted no part of.  She said prom was much more important that graduation.  Besides, Jean had gotten a 60 in the class which meant she will pass in June and graduate anyway.

The Principal stood firm.  Jean's mom went over his head and complained to the school board.  She found a loop hole.  No where in the rules and regulations of the school was there a policy about having to pass to attend the prom.  The school board stood with Jean and she was allowed to attend.  The night before the prom guidance counselors called every barred senior and offered them free admission to the prom.

I worry about the message this sent to Jean.  She failed to do the things she could have done (extra credit to pass) and still got to go.  I worry about the 60 grade which is meant as a warning, but a weak one.  Anyone who goes to that high school knows everyone will pass in the end.  Graduation rates are far more important than real education.

A part of me is happy Jean won.  The 60 grade is ridiculous.  If I gave a grade of 60 and then failed someone at the end, I had to justify the mark to my AP and stand up to endlessly being berated for not knowing my students.  If I failed too many, it was my fault again, so I (and everyone else) stretched grades to pass everyone.  The Principal and the school ended up looking foolish.  Maybe this will end  some of these stupid policies.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

They're Rich-They Don't Need No Standardized Tests

Friday afternoon and all is quiet.  The students have all packed up and left to begin their summer vacation.  It is only June 5 but goodbyes have been said.  The teachers spent the afternoon packing things away and getting the school ready for the lucky lottery winners who will get to spend a few days in this lap of luxury.

My friend has a job in the building and was thrilled to show me around.  The school goes from pre-school through high school and has class sizes in the upper grades of no more than 20.  Tuition is $50,000 a child plus $5000 a year for the bus, lunch included.

I asked her about regents exams.  She told me the students did not take them.  I didn't ask her about Common Core but, from the look of things I don't suppose that is followed to carefully either.  

It must be nice to be so rich the system assumes you are smart enough and know enough and don't have to deal with those awful exams.