Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Teflon Years

Once I hit the magic age of 55 I felt invincible at work.  I was Teflon.  Any letters to file or unsatisfactory ratings would never stick, I was free to teach the way I wanted to teach, and do what I believed was best for my students.

My former AP, once my friend turned against me in my last few years.  He had complaints about everything I did, things I had done for years and things he was always happy about.  He harassed me but I fought back.  There were many battles.  I often came away wounded but always the victor.

I know there are many senior teachers with APs like my former one.  Many have the years and the age to leave but don't want to.  And, they shouldn't have to leave until they are ready.  My advice to them is to remember they can't be hurt.  Even a teacher working on a third ineffective can walk out the door any time before the end of June.

I left teaching because I was tired of teaching full time in the high school and part time in the college and I was tired of the constant battles.  Although I always came out the victor, the wounds were starting to wear me down.  But, I left on my terms.

My advice to anyone in the position I was in is to stand strong and fight back.  Make that administrator more miserable than he or she is trying to make you.  You can leave whenever you want, even a day before ratings come out.  Don't let anyone hurt you!  Do your job, the job you love the way you know it should be done.  You have the ability to decide when the final battle will be.

(Picture from an old building at Fort Tilden, Breezy Point)

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Please is not a magical word that makes a statement less obnoxious than it was intended to be.

Please will not work to get the results wanted.

(check out spelling on sign in Fort Tilden - I was told this spelling is used in all national parks)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nice Guy

I don't understand why people are so down on Donald Trump.  He was nice to lend his hair to this alpaca at the Long Island Fair in the Bethpage Restoration Village today.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The AP Does It Again

The AP stood in front of the entire department and told them the worst room, the one with no ventilation, was going to be assigned to the teachers he did not like.  Many smiled in relief but there were a few whose stomach dropped to the floor.  They knew he didn't like them.  They were not shocked when assignments were given out and they were assigned to that room.

Every knows this, but, did he have to say it?  Where is the Principal?  Why does he let this guy get away with saying this crap?  Why hasn't the union even objected to a room that violates OSHA regulations?

I'm so lucky to not be part of this system anymore and they are lucky I am not part of their staff.  I would take pictures and send them to every newspaper.  I would have a recording of the AP's speech to send to the union.  I would not sit back and take this crap. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Don't Tell Anyone-Angy Rivera

Don't Tell Anyone--immigrant activist and advice columnist Angy Rivera reveals her experiences of being undocumented and sexually abused.

This remarkable young woman is a Francis Lewis 2009 graduate.

The show is on PBS now and will run after on the web. (

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Please Tell Me This Is Not True

Someone told me that two book rooms at Packemin have been turned into a classroom for 34 students.  The room has no windows.  The only air comes from a fan.


I remember those book rooms.  They were claustrophobic.  I know teachers who used to work in there because it was the only quiet spot, but it was gross.  I can't imagine children being forced to learn in that environment and a teacher being forced to work there.

I know the school is overcrowded, but still.  What happened to OSHA rules about healthy work places?  There is a requirement to provide outside ventilation.  If this was true, the union would surely intervene.  What happened to caring administrators?  The Principal has a huge office with an even larger conference area and the secretaries have a pretty nice space too.  This story has to be false.  No caring administrator would keep a comfortable, extra large work space while forcing children into such an educationally unsound place.  No, two book rooms could not have been combined into an airless classroom for 34 students.

If all this is true, maybe classes will be in here soon.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Anyone who reads this blog knows what I think of chihuahuas.

When I saw this on a friend's Facebook page, I could not resist posting it here.

There are lots of things chihuahuas are ruining.

Equity in Education

I was sitting and listening to parts of DeBlasio's speech on the benefits of Renewal Schools and how well students are doing in them.  He ended the speech by pushing AP classes in all schools.  He wants all kids to have computer science

I've taught AP and I teach in college.  While these initiatives are great, he needs to address the basics.  Students are graduating without basic skills in math, reading and writing.  Studying is non existent.  I'm not just referring to low income schools.  I've seen students from Francis Lewis HS, Cardozo HS, Bayside HS and more, all top level schools who lack basics.  They have gone through 12 years of school doing nothing and expect the same in the future.  DeBlasio sounds good but he still has no idea of what is going on in today's schools.  Nothing changes.

DeBlasio is ending by saying he wants kids to have hope and to believe in themselves.  He needs to start doing this with a work ethic and a solid foundation of math, reading and writing.  He wants to raise the graduation rate from 68,4% to 80% but this will only work if the diploma received is a real diploma, not a diploma like the ones given out today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dilbert Does It Again

I saw this cartoon and thought about a supervisor who had know idea about anything she was supervising.  She picked the brains of the experienced and knowledgeable and then tossed them aside when there was nothing left to gnaw off.

You young ones beware.  She hired you because you are smarter than she is and you make her look good but she will toss you aside too once she has extracted all the good you have.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


This is my 5th year free from returning to work after the summer but those memories are still clear.  I was sad to see my days of lingering in bed and having lots of free time end but I was also excited about the new year, seeing colleagues and former students and meeting new ones.  Oh, don't get me wrong even after 30+ years I still got butterflies in my stomach and didn't sleep much the night before but walking in that door the first day was a high I will never forget.

I am blessed because I still get that feeling the first day of classes in the college and whenever I get a call to cover another class.  I won't say I don't enjoy the money because it is very nice but I wouldn't work if being there didn't make me feel so good.  (Thank you pension for providing me with the means not to work, the pension that cost me blood, sweat and tears.)

I listen to teachers who went back this week who dreaded going back.  They knew no matter what they did the year would not go well.  Supervisors who had been gunning for them last year have already written up this year's review.  Their fate has been predetermined.

Principals and assistant Principals are supposed to care about the students in their charge.  They are supposed to want the best for them but how can this be when they make the people in their immediate care so miserable?  How can a teacher be expected to do a great job when their is someone pointing a smoking gun at their head?

All you incompetent, miserable APs and Principals, you guys know exactly who I am talking about.  You, with little or no experience.  You, who took licensing exams multiple times.  You are getting your kicks now but your time will come.  May you have as many sleepless nights and stomach problems as the ones you are perpetuating on good, caring teachers.

Monday, September 07, 2015

New Principal-Same Crap Administrator

The new Principal came up through the ranks.  He understood what went into making a good teacher and he really wanted to be an effective administrator.  I so wanted to believe him and then he told me about his school.

The first thing the Principal told me was that 87% of his staff was rated either effective or highly effective.  And, although he knew how these ratings were arrived at,, he didn't seem to care.  He talked about the 62% graduation rate at his school and gave me the impression he would do whatever was necessary to raise this statistic.

I felt discouraged after my meeting with this Principal.  He worked his way up in the system but he was still a Leadership Academy graduate.  Stats were all that mattered

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Welcome Back Message From An AP

Welcome back losers teachers.  I hope you all had restful productive summers because there is a lot of work ahead of you now.

First I would like to address all the teachers who don't have tenure.  You NEWBIES better listen carefully.  When I say jump, you ask HOW HIGH FATHER?  I will answer once and you must remember and then jump higher every time.  I have the power to give you an Ineffective rating and take away your license.  I will not hesitate to use this power on anyone who displeases me.  I expect 100% passing in all your classes.  Anything less is not satisfactory.  And please don't tell me you are working hard.  If you do your job correctly you won't have to work hard at all.

Second, I would like to address those of you in your late 20's to mid 30's.  A few years ago you were the sweethearts of the department.  I coddled you, made sure you only had good students in your classes and gave you good programs.  I made older, more experienced teachers observe you, not because you were good, but because it humiliated them. Well, guess what?  You guys are no longer the chosen ones.  Look around you and see those straight out of college.  They are the new, good teachers.  You have moved down on the ladder so watch out.  There is a chance I might be coming for you soon.

Lastly we have a few seasoned teachers around.  Those working so many years that they are beginning to stink.  I know you were once considered to be good.  You always had good results and could handle difficult students but like the litter in my cat box, it is time for you to go.  You think I can't do anything to you but I can.  I've already stacked your classes with the most difficult students in the school and have written up all your observations, all of them totally unsatisfactory.  Your union is useless when it comes to stopping me.  I will hound you day and night, make you dread coming to school .  I will make you so sick you will be forced to retire.  I've done it to others and I will do it to you.  You guys in that second group beware.  Most of you will not make it here.

Now don't try to go against me.  Even the Principal has my back on this issue.

Now that we got all the ugly business out of the way, let's all get busy and have a productive year.  After all, we all want what is best for our students.

(Picture is a real cocktail bar at a street fair in Brussel's Belgium taken this summer-change duck to teacher and you can get this AP's message.)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ineffective Rating

The most ineffective Assistant Principals have no problem rating competent, experienced teachers ineffective.  And, the ineffective administrators are supported by even more ineffective Principals.

So sad to see what education has become.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

What's Wrong With This Principal?

Everyone knows that schools do better with experienced staff.  Even a teacher with only three years under her belt will do better than a newbie straight from college.  And, even experienced teachers transferring in need a bit of time to learn the procedures of a different school.

So now I'm starting to wonder what is wrong with one particular Principal.  The school is in a great neighborhood with easy parking and access to public transportation.  The students are relatively good, no gang violence or any real problems of any kind.  Heck, there is even a great teacher's cafeteria, something very few schools have now a days but teachers are still leaving in groves.

I've heard that 10 teachers (I might be wrong on the exact number) walked out of one department this year, a department with very needy students.  Now I am not around but I am guessing that 10 teachers from one department can only mean there is something wrong with the supervisor.  Does this person know how to be a supervisor?  How does this AP do when it comes to training and helping teachers?  Can the AP deal successfully with problems that arise?  Does the AP treat all teachers fairly and equally?  I've heard stories (count them as stories as I am not giving any proof) of shenanigans with grades and credit recovery and with regents proctors who supply answers during exams.  Can it be the teachers don't want to participate in this cheating scheme?

Now back to the title of this post.  Shouldn't a Principal notice something is wrong when so many teachers walk out the door year after year?  Or, maybe the Principal doesn't care.  Maybe this Principal approves of this behavior.  After all, the school's statistics are still good and the school is still one of the highest rated in the city.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mr. Robinson

I just watched the season finally of a pretty awful show, Mr.Robinson, a bad show that I was somewhat fascinated by.  Mr Robinson is a musician who became a middle school teacher because he needed the money.

The characters on the show are pretty stupid and on the surface do not portray a very positive image of teachers.  But I realized today why I kept watching.  This immature, insane group of teachers and administrators love their students and care more about their success than anything.  In the last episode Mr. Robinson gives up a chance to tour with Earth, Wind and Fire because his kids needed him.

It was nice to see teachers and administrators working together and working over time with the only important thing being the welfare of the children in their charge.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Segregation In Integrated Schools

Yesterday's Daily News had a great opinion piece about how our schools are still segregated and unequal.  And, while this is true, I think we have to take a deeper look into schools that are integrated and see the racial make up of those classes.

From my experience at Packemin, I saw extreme segregation in classes. AP math classes were white, Asian and South East Asian.  There were a smattering of Hispanics but kids whose ethnicity showed only in their names.  In my last year I did a study to see why this happened.  I found many African American students entered the school with as good or better backgrounds than their peers yet they never made it to the advanced class.  On the other hand, if I looked at the slower algebra and geometry classes, I noticed too many dark faces.

My opinion and this is from my personal observations is that African American students did not get the same opportunities as their white and Asian peers.  If they messed up once, they were out of the path that led them to advanced classes where other races got second chances.  One year I met a young Black girl who wanted to take AP Calculus.  The chairperson said her grades weren't good enough but I picked up a transcript of a Chinese student with lower grades who was admitted to the class.  A back door got the girl in and she did well.  Lack of Black faces in my AP classes bothered me from the day I started teaching them in 1995 and nothing I did made a difference.  I don't know if things are any different now, I have been gone for 4 years.  I hope so.

We do need to integrate schools but we also must make sure that once schools are integrated classes are too and we need to make sure all students have the same opportunities regardless of their ethnic background.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Too Bad This Isn't Real

For all you teachers headed back to school, this is something you could really use for professional development and never ending meetings those first few days.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Wedding

She was a student of mine in AP calculus and I wrote all her recommendations and helped her get into the Time 2000 program at Queens College.  I helped her write lessons when she student taught at Packemin and lost touch with her after graduation.  Several years after student teaching I met her at the community college where she was working, first as an adjunct and then as a full time professor.  (The AP at Packemin did not think she was a good fit for that school.  The college loves her.)

Fast forward even a few more years.  The girl is a young woman and getting married.  I was honored to be invited and thrilled to witness the biggest event in her life.  Pictured above is the tea ceremony from her wedding.

No reward is better than the rewards I have gotten from my students and from knowing the positive influence I have had on their lives.  No negative words from any administrator can take that away.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Packemin Packs Them In

I know hardly anyone reads this blog anymore and I hardly ever write anything, let alone anything interesting yet all I have to do is mention PACKEMIN in the title, body or tag and I get a ton of hits.

People must love reading the dirt on that place and believe me, there is tons of it.  I don't write much of it because doing so would reveal my source.  Still, it is fun to know certain people are sweating just because the word came up in their reader.

Enjoy the Hagar cartoon.  Tell your students another reason they need math is so they can understand the funny pages.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Summer At A NYC High School

It used to be summer classes were provided to help students re mediate and then pass subjects they failed during the school year.

Summer school has a different purpose now and that purpose only involves statistics.  The kids go to school for a couple of hours and get credit for the course.

Fifty kids in a summer class is normal.  Schools like Packemin have no problem doing this in classes like math, English and history, subjects they need to graduate and need to learn to provide college background.

Packemin is rated one of the best neighborhood schools in the city.  How can any school with class size of 50 be rated well?  How can 50 kids packed in a room built for 34 be educated? How can a teacher be expected to help them all?

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Fix That Started years Ago

Before there was a de Blasio and a Farina there were politicians like Bush and Obama and billionaires like Gates making school graduation rates a priority.  No one stopped to think about why all of a sudden schools had such tremendous growth in the number of graduates.

My former AP wanted everyone to set passing goals for their classes.  Since I usually ended up with the most at risk students my stats were usually lower than many others.  It did not bother the Principal since he understood the challenges I faced and respected the number I got through and how I was able to work with them but it bothered the hell out of my AP, a guy who only saw life in black and white.  I refused to give him a number.  When he pushed, I said my goal is 100% passing.  He told me that was unrealistic and wanted a number around 80%.  I finally told him I could not be comfortable with a goal of 20% failing.  Of course he mumbled something and I left with no goal set.

Other teachers were not as gutsy and he did get them to set goals.  If they did not meet these goals he badgered them and berated them in public (not by name but everyone knew who the senior teacher was  who taught geometry period 8).  Teachers were forced to stretch grades and give credit for names on papers.  No one would believe some of the regents answers that were given points.

Phony diplomas are not a new thing and they need to stop.  Maybe the Post's story will finally help to bring an end to this horrific problem.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Don't Wait For Tomorrow

One minute you are fine, the next minute you are in a hospital fighting for your life.

This is what happened to a friend of ours I will call Max, to protect his privacy.

Max was a vibrant, outgoing  69 year young man.  His only problem involved his hips which were successfully replaced a few months ago.  A month ago he developed a severe headache.  His wife brought him to the hospital. He was checked and released.  Several hours later the symptoms returned and his wife brought him back to the hospital.  At 4 in the morning she got a call telling her he has a massive stroke.  He is recovering but it is slow.  I spent the afternoon with him and wonder if he will ever be the same.

I won't go into details of his health here but I will say this.  Life is uncertain.  We don't know what tomorrow holds in store.  We don't know when our hearts will stop, when a car will plow into us or when an aneurysm will explode in our brains.  I want to enjoy every minute I have and not wait until tomorrow.

Prayers for a full recovery for Max and for strength and hope for his family.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

How The AP Became A Success

This is what you do when you know nothing and have zero education or experience and become boss.

Bet everyone knows an AP or Principal in this category.  I can think of a few but one really stands out.

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