Friday, November 30, 2007

New Memo

I don't know why these notes bother me. I know he is not talking about me. I'm lucky. He leaves me alone.

In my brief stops recently, I have seen some good lessons. However, the following scenarios really concerned me:

1. Some review sheets were titled "Chapter Test Review." Please stop giving chapter or unit exams. It is the major reason why your students do not perform on the final exam.

Mr. AP came into my room today as I was giving one of these tests. He looked at it, said it was good and walked out. The teacher he is referring to gave out a review sheet on the unit but her test was spiraled. I know, I saw it.

Two and four are quite contradictory:

2. Please show them [students] at least one example befre you ask your students to try [it]. (Sounds like Chalk and Talk to

4. Showing or telling students how to solve a math problem does not help them in their effort to learn.

If I was new, or one of the older teachers under attack, I would not know what to do. How he can contradict himself in one memo is unbelievable.

Number 3 deals with his micro management issues.

3. Please take attendance in the beginning of the period instead of a few minutes into the period. If you do that, you will probably have many students walking in late.

A teacher should be able to decide the best time to take attendance. I admit that I am a bad attendance taker. But, my students know how I feel about their lateness. Marking it down at any one minute does nothing to change their actions. Teachers need to be the decision makers in their classrooms.

He also mentioned that grade leaders should begin working on the final and that we should communicate with the teachers teaching the same course. Unfortunately, in a school the size of mine, I never see others teaching the same course. It would be nice if we could have some common planning time in our C-6 periods. But, this will never happen.

I don't know why all these things bother me. He leaves me alone. He never comes to the trailer and when he does, he stays a few minutes and leaves. I hate his double standards. I hate his making the lives of some of my colleagues a living hell. I hate the fact that he is really a miserable teacher who has no business telling others how to teach. I hate his trying to control every detail of our lives and I hate the fact that there are some people that will never be able to do anything that pleases him.

As far as grades are concerned he wants to:
See our test grades before we make up grades. Some say we should just let him make up the grades himself.

If he didn't like the grades, he would want to see our tests. Some say he should make up the tests himself.

If he made up the tests himself, he would claim we did not teach the material. Some say he should supply all our lessons.

If he supplied all our lessons, he would claim that we did not teach the material correctly. We cannot win.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good On Paper

I walked into the math office a little before period 2 today. The office was filled with kids who needed help. There was one teacher in the room and it was obvious she was doing her best to help them and it was also obvious that she was overwhelmed and that it was impossible for her to help them all. I went over to one girl to try to help her before my class started. The girl was a Math B student and her questions involved domain, range and composition functions. The poor kid was totally lost. She was having problems factoring and solving basic equations (skills she needed to do the other questions.) I helped her a short time, but had to go to class. She wanted to stay another period but no teacher was assigned to tutoring until third period. No one was going to be around to help.

The same situation hits me when I have my tutoring in the library. There are just too many kids for one person to effectively help. Sure, I can answer questions, but when the kids really need a topic taught or thoroughly explained, it just cannot be done. On Monday, the English AP commandeered the library for her departmental meeting. No tutoring could take place. The librarian told me to go to the math office but, I am assigned to the library, not the math office, and it is not her job to tell me to go anywhere. Also, the math office was being used for math meetings. My AP used his own space instead of the space belonging to someone else. Other days the library is closed because it is overcrowded and the kids cannot get in for tutoring. Yesterday, I sent a bunch of them to Suit so they could complain. (I don't know if they got in to see him or if they even made it down there.)

One of Principal Suit's favorite tutoring programs is "lunch and learn." Teachers are assigned to the cafeteria where kids can get help while they eat. Sounds great, right????? Wrong!!!!!! The cafeteria is so loud no one can hear themselves think, let alone an explanation to a problem. There is also no seating area for tutoring and the smells are nauseating.

All these programs sound great on paper. Maybe this is why my school got rated as "well developed." Too bad no one really looks closely into what is going on. Too bad no one sees through the smoke to see where the real fire is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

For my recuperating colleague who is missing all the fun:

Newsflash: Principal Suit and our Chapter leader are having a lovers quarrel. Yes, the two who have not kept their little tryst a secret are openly quarreling. The CL put a notice in every one's mailbox today telling us that Principal Suit does not respect or even like teachers. Now, to teachers this is not newsworthy. We all know how Suit feels about us. He claims we are family, but does not treat us very nicely nor does he give us any respect. What is newsworthy is CL putting it in writing and sharing his views with everyone. Troubles in the bedroom are usually kept private. What comes next? We'll have to wait for the next edition to come out.

New York Poem

Californiateacherguy sent me this beautiful poem. I wanted to share it with all. I'm usually not much of a poetry person, but this one really hit home.

"New York" by Edward Field, from After the Fall: Poems Old and New. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission.( buy now)

New York I live in a beautiful place, a city people claim to be astonished when you say you live there.

They talk of junkies, muggings, dirt, and noise,missing the point completely.

I tell them where they live it is hell, a land of frozen people.They never think of people.

Home, I am astonished by this environment that is also a form of naturelike those paradises of trees and grass, but this is a people paradise,where we are the creatures mostly, though thank God for dogs, cats, sparrows, and roaches.

This vertical place is no more an accident than the Himalayas are.

The city needs all those tall buildings to contain the tremendous energy here.

The landscape is in a state of balance.We do God's will whether we know it or not: where I live the streets end in a river of sunlight.

Nowhere else in the country do people show just what they feel—we don't put on any act.

Look at the way New Yorkers walk down the street.

It says, I don't care.

What nerve,to dare to live their dreams, or nightmares,and no one bothers to look.

True, you have to be an expert to live here.

Part of the trick is not to go anywhere, lounge about, go slowly in the midst of the rush for novelty.

Anyway, besides the eats the big event here is the streets, which are full of love— we hug and kiss a lot.

You can't say that for anywhere else around.

For some it's a carnival of sex—there's all the opportunity in the world.

For me it is no different:out walking, my soul seeks its food.

It knows what it wants.

Instantly it recognizes its mate, our eyes meet,and our beings exchange a vital energy,the universe goes on.

Charge,and we pass by without holding.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Scary Toys

Fire breathing dragon with the small brain--representing the dimwits who made the NCLB law.
The three-headed dog--Bloomberg, Klein and Weingarten
Principal Suit--ready to jump up at every command.

Toys--courtesy of FAO Schwartz

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's That Time Of Year

The ice skating ring in Rockefeller Center.
This little angel was being posed by her dad while her mom took the picture (I had to take one too) overlooking the ice skating.
Bank of America set up this big gift box on 5th Ave. Inside, they took free pictures of everyone, gift wrapped packages, gave massages, coffee and hot chocolate and provided warm comfortable chairs and bathrooms. They also gave out really strong shopping bags.
Saks windowRockefeller Center, but ice rink.
Bloomingdale's window--display by children.
Also in Bloomingdale's.
More of Bloomingdale's.
New York Palace--I love the old mixed with the new.
Crowd by Cartier. The street was magnificent.

Lego Santa in FAO Schwartz.
Lines waiting to get into some expensive store (I forget which).
Fendi building.
Undecorated tree in Rockefeller Center
Carolers outside the Bank of America gift box.

My sister is visiting from Texas so we spent the day walking around, checking out the windows and enjoying the city. The weather was perfect. What a great way to spend the last day before returning to work.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Schools That Work

The latest New York Teacher is beginning a series about schools that work. The first story is about MS 45 in Manhattan which managed to pull itself off the SURR list.

To summarize:
1. Class-size cap of 20
2. Effective discipline including a SAVE room for behavioral modification. the kids are given real work, learning takes place, and their is a reward system.
3. Teacher driven staff development
4. Good relationship between staff and the administration

Teachers have always cited the above 4 statements as things necessary to improve our schools. Instead of pouring money into lawyers to get rid of supposedly "U" teachers and into hiring private consulting teachers, the money should be used as it is being used in MS 45. Only then well we see real improvement in our schools.

Larry's Story

Don't get me wrong. I love these humans that took me in. I just miss my freedom. I was born free and I miss being able to roam around as I please. My mom was a slut who slept around and was always pregnant and she did desert me and my sister when we were babies. But, my mom lived free. She came and went as she pleased and her sweet nature always got her plenty of food. My mom found the humans who take care of us now. One day she wandered into the yard while the male human was eating pizza. She used her feminine charms to get him to share it with her and he did. She kept returning and soon brought me and my sister along. We were really little. I wasn't too coordinated and had a hard time jumping over the fence. The male human made some steps for me out of old bricks. Soon he started buying us real cat food. Then, mom left us. We still went to this man's house for food. The female was not too crazy about us, but she went along with the man. Soon it started to get cold. The man tricked us into going into his house. He never let us out again. He gave us plenty of food, comfortable places to sleep that were warm and dry and he kept the place we did our nasty business clean, but I missed the outdoors. He shoved us in a cage and brought us to some other human that sticks us with sharp things and even cut us. (Luckily this does not happen often.)

The female human pretends not to like me or my sister. But, she is the real softy. She is the one that lets us go outside to enjoy the air in the screened in room. Yesterday I broke free. It was exhilarating. I ran and ran. I visited with other cats. I shared the delicacies in a neighbor's food dish. I took a nap in the great outdoors. I know the human male was worried. I saw him running all over the neighborhood looking for me. I heard him calling my name. I even came into his yard and watched his frustration as he tried unsuccessfully to get me in. It rained while I was out but I found a good place for shelter and did not get wet. Finally, around midnight, I decided I had enough and came home. The humans were really happy to see me. They gave me lots of treats and cuddles. I'm going to try to get free again.

The Cat Came Back

This little monster got out yesterday. I let him go in our screened in room because he loves to be outside. Since he broke curfew two years ago, I don't let him run freely. He broke through the screen once. My husband reinforced it and was pretty confident that he could not get out, but out he got. He disappeared all day and did not return until almost midnight. We kept seeing him around the neighborhood. He was even in our yard a few times, but would not come near us. Some people told us he might come back. Others said he would never return. He lived indoors and because of this he would have no way of knowing how to find his way home. Needless to say, he ruined our day. I always told him that if he ever went out, he could stay out and become a street cat again. I guess he did not understand. Or maybe he knew that we would always take him back.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Panel

So I got picked for a panel. It was medical malpractice involving a doctor, the lab, a pap smear and cervical cancer. Six people were going to be questioned at a time. They didn't tell us much, only that they needed five more jurors and that the trial would start on Tuesday and would run three or four days. They just wanted to talk to us, to find out stuff about us. I got questioned second. The first guy seemed like some sort of criminal. He said he didn't want to be there but as long as he wasn't going to send anyone to jail, it was okay with him. I told them I was a math teacher, I wrote that on my questionnaire, but I remembered that my friend, who is a malpractice lawyer for doctors said he liked math teachers on his juries. He said math teachers were very analytical. I told them I did not want to be there. I told them my students needed me to help them pass the regents to graduate and to pass the AP exam in May. I then started telling them about my mom's experience in the hospital and how I think the doctors did something to her in the ER that might have led to her death. They quickly pulled me out of the jury room and questioned me privately. I told them how she got steadily worse in the ER, after the medication and the blood transfusion. I told them that no one would care, because she was old. I started to cry. They told me to get my things and go back to the jury selection room. They were very sorry for my loss.

I'm sorry I used my mom this way but, it wasn't an act. I really was upset. I also don't want to serve on this or any jury. My mom would be happy that she helped me out. So now I am back waiting for someone to tell me I can go home and hopefully that I don't have to come back for six more years. The only case they need a jury for today is the one I just got eliminated from.

On an up note, lunch was 1.5 hours. I took a nice long walk along Jamaica Ave and Suphtin Blvd. I love these neighborhoods. They are so colorful. I wish I had my camera but I know it is not allowed in the building so I left it home today. I know so many people that are afraid to walk around this neighborhood. It is their loss. The people here are like people in any neighborhood. They shop, they eat lunch and they care for their children. I feel sorry for those scaredy cats. They are missing so much life has to offer.

Jury Duty and Other Stuff

I'm on jury duty. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here so bad that I would pick a PD day instead. I really shouldn't complain. It is only the second time in my long life that I have had to serve. For years I used child care as an excuse. Even when my son was 16, I claimed he needed his mommy around to get excused. I couldn't believe that it worked,

The last time I was called was six years ago. It was in criminal court. Some stupid woman brought her baby. The court officer yelled "Don't you know there are rapists and murderers in this building. It is not safe for a baby." I thought, "Hell, it's not safe for me either. I've got to get out." I got put on a panel--an African American male was accused of trying to murder his wife. The lawyers questioning perspective jurors made him sound guilty. His legal aid lawyer did nothing. I felt he was convicted before the trial even began. When the judge asked, "Can you make a fair decision?" I answered "NO". I calmly told him that in this country Black men do not always get fair trials. I had just seen the movie Hurricane and was still upset about the way that man had been treated by the law. The judge screamed at me and threw me out. I don't mind getting yelled at if the end result is what I want.

Now I am back. It's civil court this time, which is a whole lot better. They even have computers here. I didn't know that so I brought along my own lap top. We'll probably be sitting here all day, but I don't think we'll have to come back Friday. My husband drove me here this morning. He's nuts about not being late and nothing I said could convince him that it did not matter. People walked in up to two hours late with no penalties. The court officer asked if anyone had a summons that did not start on November 16. You would not believe how many people got up and told him that theirs started on that day. So much for jurors with common sense. I handed in my paper work, went for coffee and a bagel and am back being a good citizen.

I'm sure my classes won't miss me too much. One of my AP calculus classes had a test scheduled for today. I left it with a friend to give them and I told them they would take it with our without me. They are good kids. I just spoke to the friend. He said all went well. The other AP class will get to work on their Thanksgiving take-home test. I give them tons of take-home tests because it forces them to work together and study more. I give plenty of in class stuff to separate the real students from the wooses. My Math B classes will probably be partying. They've been wild all week so I guess we can all use a day apart.

My son got home yesterday, my daughter will be coming in tomorrow and my sister got in last night from Texas to spend two weeks with my dad. Between Thanksgiving, the time he and my mom usually went to Florida and the approach of what would have been his 59th anniversary, it will be a hard time. I'm glad she is around to ease his burden. We are all spending the holiday together at my house tomorrow. My son is upset because I only bought a turkey breast this year instead of an entire turkey. Hopefully when he tastes it and all his other favorite stuff, he will be happy. If not,tough. I could have bought him a tofurkey (which I would have preferred.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Don't overeat. Enjoy your school free holiday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What A Racket

I walked past one of the offices this afternoon and found the F status person working hard. This was after she spent a period in the cafeteria socializing. Check out her picture on the left. (Not really her picture, she wasn't even pretending to work.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Need A Drink

My colleague on a health sabbatical missed an exciting faculty meeting today. I'll just have to right about it to keep him posted.

My huge school is on a 12 period day and because of the different time schedules of so many teachers, Suit is forced to hold conferences multiple periods. Some teachers luck out and get to go to a conference during a lunch or a prep so they don't have to stay extra. I'm not that lucky. I'm stuck staying the extra period at the end of the day. Of course, listening to Suit and then going to teach is no bargain either. He would not stop talking during the period four meeting and refused to let teachers leave at the end of the period. The teacher who comes into the room after me was really late to class. She has a difficult class and is always after them to be on time. Coming late herself set a bad example. When she finally arrived, she was really upset. The kids gave her a hard time about being late too. She told him "Principal Suit was holding a meeting and he would not let us leave." The same thing happened at a meeting I was at a few years ago. The only difference was that I got up five minutes before the end of the meeting and walked out. When Suit complained I told him "I have a class in the trailer. I'm not going to be late." He didn't like my answer but he knows that I am made of Teflon and he can do nothing to me. Others are not in that position and must take his abuse.

The meeting I went to began with a lecture about using the new call sub station and EGS (electronic grading system). We were told that computers would be available in the school but we would be much better off working at home in our pajamas. I vote for not working in school in my pajamas. We then listened to the AP of security. This guy looks just like Terence of South Park (big mouth, nothing intelligent ever coming out of it). He was telling us how effective the school was going to be in dealing with lateness. He plans on having his C-6 hall patrol people doing sweeps. Too bad my colleague isn't in school this semester. If he had a hall patrol, I know how much he would love the sweeps. I don't think anyone in the room thought this plan would work. But Terence sure had a good time standing in front and talking. Next to speak was Suit himself. First he talked about our Quality Review and patted himself and the staff on the back. The stupid teachers actually applauded. He talked about differentiated instruction. He wants us to talk to every student individually. He wants us to speak to special education teachers and ELL teachers to find books that are easier for some students to use. All this with 5 classes and a C-6 assignment. I think the guy is on drugs. He then talked about the biggest problem in our school--Black males not getting advanced and honor diplomas. He's finally woken up. I've said for years that this group is not being cared for. I've said for years that this group faces major discrimination. No one listened. Now that the school is faced with the group bringing down the stats, he wants to address the problem. He said a bunch of racist stuff, stuff he claimed was based on facts. After teaching six classes and a C-6 assignment, I didn't have the energy to challenge him. I just watched the clock and made sure to leave when the period was up. I did take a cell phone call in the middle of the meeting. I hope it got on him nerves. As people were leaving he mentioned our next PD would be in January. I definitely feel a severe headache coming on.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random Photos

The puddle outside my trailer. It is filled with soapy water as one of the custodian's decided it was a good idea to wash his car while classes were going on. The water hitting the car was a distraction and we needed boots to exit at the end of the class. Another fun day at Packemin HS.
This is where there was once a water fountain. There is a lot of speculation as to why many of the fountains are gone. I started a rumor that the administration was going to use this area for a classroom. The sad part is that people believed it.

My cats enjoying the view on Veteran's day. They love the outside, but I don't let them out. It is too dangerous for them. When we first got them, I did let them roam during the day. The black one forgot to come home at dinner time. Since he broke curfew, they are both stuck indoors. This little arrogant one thinks the world revolves around her.
I guess she had a rough day at work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Maybe This Is Why Our President Is So Bright?

Texas Math Books Wrought with Errors


Reviewers have found 109,263 errors in sample copies of math textbooks to be used next fall in Texas. One second-grade math book, for example, has 4 plus 7 equaling 10, the San Antonio Express-News reported Friday. Many of the errors, spread out over 164 textbooks and online materials, are blamed on faulty translation from English to Spanish. Some of the student editions also included answers to end-of-chapter quizzes, which were counted as errors. The math books are expected to be error- free by the time classes begin. For every error that is not caught, the State Board of Education fines publishers $5,000, the newspaper said. The Boston-based publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Co. is responsible for 79 percent of the errors found in both student and teacher materials. "The last time we had any errors that were identified after they hit the classrooms was in 2005. We found one," said Anita Givens, senior director of educational technology at the Texas Education Agency.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Letter of Recommendation

It's recommendation time of the year again. Teaching bright kids is great, except now. They are all applying to good schools and all need multiple recommendations. I put a lot of effort into writing them and sometimes I just get too lazy or overwhelmed to rewrite them for each kid. Thanks to computers, I just bring up an old one and change the name and a few pertinent details. Here is one of my favorites:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been teaching for twenty five years and have never come across a student like Jane Doe before. That is good because Jane is very scary. Many teachers, younger and less experienced than I have been seen running out of a classroom that they have been in with her. They have been in tears. Some of their screams of terror have left indelible scars on the souls of people that have heard them. One teacher paid the school $5000 to be released of her obligation to work there for the year. Others have just paid the program chairman to take Jane out of their class. Many students have transferred out of the school to get away from her.

Jane does not like to do things the simple way. Se will take an easy example, such as find the sum of 3 and 5 and fill up a 200 page notebook finding the solution. More often than not, her effort produces an incorrect answer. When Jane is informed of her mistake, she becomes violent. Last year she tossed a student out of the window when she pointed out her error. Since she had not bothered to open the window first, the glass shattered everywhere and emergency squads had to be called to aid all the injured. It took a dozen police officers to restrain her and take her away. Unfortunately, the hospital she was taken to could not deal with her either and she was back in school the next day.

Jane has been causing a reign of terror for the entire time she spent at Packemin H.S. We have had enough! Please, take her in to your college. She is definitely unique. She will put your school on the map. She said she would destroy our school building if we did not help her get into the college of her choice. In summation, TAKE HER!!!!!!!!!! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about her. Just remember, once you take her, she is yours to deal with. She comes with a no return policy.

Sincerely yours,

Ms. P. O. Teacher
Mathematics teacher

I always hand this to the kid who asked for it in class and insist they read it before sealing it and mailing it away. Some of their reactions are priceless.

Fall Guys

This new plan of Bloomberg's to hire people to get rid of unsatisfactory teachers is really getting to me. I know that it will not affect me personally, as I will be retired long before they could decide that I am one they should get rid of. Injustice is always something I have fought against. One of my students even said "I know why the administration doesn't like you, you stand up for us. You stand up for what is right."

I really think that the one thing bringing this down on teachers is the NCLB laws and the policies of the Bloomberg-Klein regime. At the risk of being politically incorrect, I will say what I have been saying for years:


One of the women who works in my school has a daughter who is a freshman at the school. The poor girl has been failing math and the mom asked me to help her. I've been sitting with her a few days a week and she is starting to get it. She even passed her last test. But, no matter what a math test shows, it is obvious that this girl is limited in lots of ways. She is in ninth grade, but counts on her fingers. She has difficulty reading. Her vocabulary is limited. It took me quite a while to get her to do problems involving "at least" and "at most". She finally was able to do the problems but, only because of repetition. She really didn't understand the meaning of the words, she just memorized a process.

There are too many kids in the schools like this one. This one is lucky. She has a mom that works in the building and knows how to get her daughter help. Most kids are not this lucky. They are failing. Someone must be blamed for this failure. Someone must take the hit. It can't be the parents or the administrators and certainly the mayor would never say his programs are not a success. So, the only logical thing to do is to blame the teachers. Instead of spending money on reduced class sizes, the money is going to be spent to hire a hit squad to get rid of these teachers that cannot teach the kids that cannot learn.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A New Effort To Remove Bad Teachers

I was going to write a commentary on this article, but the horror of what will be happening should not be paraphrased. Since NCLB has been enacted, we are putting children in classes they do not have the intellect to pass. Kids, counting on their fingers and reading on a first and second grade level are expected to take algebra. No wonder so many are failing. The lawmakers can't be blamed. The principals can't be blamed. It is not the fault of the parents. All kids can learn. Someone must take responsibility. I guess it will be all those bad teachers.

November 15, 2007
A New Effort to Remove Bad Teachers
The Bloomberg administration is beginning a drive to remove unsatisfactory teachers, hiring new teams of lawyers and consultants who will help principals build cases against tenured teachers who they believe are not up to the job. It is also urging principals to get rid of sub-par novices before they earn tenure.

At the center of the effort is a new Teacher Performance Unit of five lawyers, headed by a former prosecutor fresh from convicting a former private school principal who had a sexual relationship with a student.

A separate team of five consultants, including former principals, will work with principals to improve struggling teachers’ performance. In cases where the teachers fail to get better, the consultants will help amass the documentation necessary to oust them.

The plans, at a cost of $1 million a year, are described in a memo and an accompanying letter to principals from Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. In the letter, he urged principals to help teachers improve but added, “When action must be taken, the disciplinary system for tenured teachers is so time-consuming and burdensome that what is already a stressful task becomes so onerous that relatively few principals are willing to tackle it. As a result, in a typical year only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of tenured teachers are removed for ineffective performance.

“This issue simply must be tackled,” he wrote.

In the memo, Dan Weisberg, the Education Department’s chief executive for labor policy and implementation, wrote that the Teacher Performance Unit “represents a significant infusion of resources that will ensure we have the capacity to seek the removal of all ineffective tenured teachers who, in spite of receiving the time and support sufficient to allow them to substantially improve, won’t or can’t do it.”

The unit, Mr. Weisberg wrote, “will also allow us to seek discipline where appropriate in a wider range of cases than before.” The unit is being run by Florence Chapin, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the city’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, called the lawyers a “teacher gotcha unit” and said she found it “disgusting” that the Education Department would issue such a memo after the release of new school report cards that bluntly grade schools A through F.

“We’ve always been concerned that the first thing that would happen after somebody put out progress reports would be principals would go after teachers,” Ms. Weingarten said. “Basically, it’s signaling to principals that rather than working to support teachers, the school system is going to give you a way to try to get rid of teachers.”

New York City has roughly 80,000 public school teachers, and once they receive tenure it is notoriously difficult to remove them, because of the union contract and state labor law, which guards the rights of tenured public employees with an elaborate process of hearings and appeals.

Only about 10 to 15 tenured teachers a year leave the system after being charged with incompetence. Other teachers are removed for outright misconduct.

More than 700 school employees, mostly teachers, are now assigned to centers known as “rubber rooms,” after having been removed from the classroom. While school officials say those employees are under investigation or at some stage in the disciplinary process, teachers’ union officials say that many have had no charges filed against them.

Mr. Klein has long spoken out against three poles of the civil service system for teachers — seniority rights, lifetime tenure and lock-step pay.

The city and Ms. Weingarten recently agreed on a plan to reward teachers for outstanding performance by allowing successful schools to compete for bonuses that would allow them to dole out extra pay to teachers.

The push to remove bad teachers represents the flip side of the equation and comes as the city is less than a year into an effort to get principals to more rigorously review probationary teachers who are up for tenure.

Mr. Weisberg said in an interview that he did not know how many tenured teachers would be removed. He said there “probably will be an increase” in incompetence charges.

“I believe very strongly that the number of these struggling tenured teachers is very small compared to the total number of teachers, but even if it is 1 percent, even if it is half of 1 percent, we have to address it,” he said.

Since the mayor earlier this year announced a more rigorous tenure review process for probationary teachers, the numbers denied tenure at the end of the three-year probationary period has increased modestly.

Since late March, when the new system started, 66 probationary teachers were denied tenure , or 1.3 percent of those eligible. In the previous school year tenure was denied to 25 teachers, or .5 percent of those eligible.

In addition, 115 teachers had their probationary period extended this year, up from 30 in the previous year.

Mr. Weisberg’s memo also described a new program, agreed to by the teachers union, under which principals can call upon teachers from outside the school system to spend three months observing tenured teachers in danger of being disciplined for incompetence.

The memo said that while the outside teachers may help floundering teachers, their written evaluations would also “likely carry a great deal of weight in disciplinary proceedings seeking the teacher’s termination.”

Help Is On The Way

I just read a post on NYC Parent blog about the mayor's new plan to bring bling to the kids by texting them messages from rap stars and ball players (after school, of course), telling them to stay in school and to study.

It is obvious to me (and about every other teacher) that our kids don't need to hear any more from these celebreties who never took school serious to begin with. Too many of them think they are going to grow up to be ball players and rappers and don't need their educations. These messages are from people who made it without the education. These celebrities are the exceptions to the rules about education. Besides, kids have enough bling. The picture is one I took of a kid's belt buckle last week. This kid should be a junior and has almost no credits earned. School he needs help with, bling he does fine on his own.

My school does not have a worthwhile tutoring program. There are so many kids around that it is not safe to walk in the halls during the change of classes. Our classrooms are disgusting. Classes are over the limit.Kids are given internship periods to fill holes in their programs and are forced to sit on the floor outside the office to which they are assigned because there is no space inside. Kids are barred from the library because it is filled to capacity. Kids need help to succeed. If only the message from Jay-Z could do that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Read The Untamed Teacher

I read this post on the Untamed Teacher. I think this story needs to be read by all: If a President can Lie, so can a Principal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Strut Our Stuff

The Quality Review is back. According to a memo from Suit, "this is an opportunity for us to strut our stuff and show how &%$# HS is the cutting edge of education."

I don't know about others, but I am too busy trying to teach to start strutting my stuff around.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ego thing

Blogging for me is definitely an ego thing. I love it when people actually read what I write and comment on it. I started a new blog so I can really vent anonymously. I won't tell anyone, and I mean anyone, its address or its name, but I miss the comments. Writing is good, but feedback is better. It's too bad no one knows about the new blog because no one is reading it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

If You Can't Beat 'Em

Today the Rabbi's sermon involved Isaac and King Abemelich. Abemelich tried to make Isaac leave the country because Isaac was getting too rich and too powerful. Every time Isaac dug a well, the king filled it in. Isaac would not be deterred. He kept digging, kept finding water and kept growing wealthier. Finally Abemelich decided to stop fighting him and welcomed him to stay. He realized that Isaac must have G-d on his side and he wanted to be a part of that. He also realized that if he was to share Isaac's wealth, he better keep Isaac a part of the community.

One of the things I really like about my Rabbi is that the things he talks about from long ago parallel events of today. The Abemelich's of today are the politicians slamming the NCLB laws down our throats and the administrators who want us to work only for their performance bonuses. The teachers are the Isaacs, the ones who will keep on working, will not give up. I'm proud to be one of those teachers. I won't keep my mouth shut when I see things being done that are hurting my kids and hurting education. I won't keep my mouth shut when I see my colleagues being unfairly harassed. I am going to keep fighting until the Abemelichs of today realize that we have something good to bring to the community and start treating us with the respect Abemelich eventually gave to Isaac.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Latest on McMansion

I happened to glance out my window as I walked down stairs the other day. I got a good view of my new neighbors bathroom, including my neighbor in the shower. The Lord of the McMansion forgot to put frosted windows in his bathroom! I can't believe his contractor let him forget. I'll have to remember to keep my eyes shut when I walk by that window. Some sights are best left unseen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rock and a Hard Place

One of the things we heard on staff development day is that the school is not reaching enough Black students. Interesting, I didn't think this term was politically correct but evidently, this is the way the kids are being referred to this year. One of the kids mentioned by name, Nutjob is a kid I have written about in the past I wrote twice because I like him so much and he is being left behind by a corrupt system. It seems Nutjob should be a junior but he has accumulated less than ten credits since he began high school. I'm not surprised. Nutjob is hyperactive. He has attention deficits. He cuts. He disrupts classes. He looks scary. In reality, he is a sweet, kind kid looking for attention. He is bright. I know because I have spent many periods working with him one-to-one. He wouldn't hurt a fly. So now he has been pinpointed as someone in need. Will anything be done to help him? I doubt it. He still wanders around. He sometimes comes to my ninth period class and actually does some of the work (even though the class is two years ahead of his math class.) He sometimes finds me before he has a test so we can go over the material he will be tested on. His classes are still packed in at 34. He is getting no special help in math or reading. Unfortunately he will probably not get any credits this semester either. I don't think our school really wants to help kids like Nutjob. The administration would like them all to just go away. Nutjob is stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is no place for him to go.

On another note, my AP is trying to meet with all the teachers in the department to go over scholarship reports from last term. I haven't seen him yet, and don't intend to unless he makes time to see me during my C-6 assignment. I'm not worried about his threats. Three U's and I'm out. Well, I've never even gotten a negative letter in my file so I'm not concerned. If he starts with U's now, I'll be long gone before three. If he tells me to transfer or retire, I think I will threaten him with an age discrimination suit. One of my friends, probably the best teacher, definitely the best math teacher in the building met with him today. He told my friend that his statistics were too good. He should be failing more kids. His tests must be too easy if so many kids are passing. He then pointed out a kid that my friend gave a 93 but who only got an 82 on the final!

Suit wants us to pass them all. AP wants us to fail them. Those of us caught in the middle don't know what to do. I'm glad I always walked to a different beat. I pass the ones that deserve to pass and fail the ones that deserve to fail. I give the grades earned. I don't base a grade on one test. The new teachers and even some of the older ones are worried. They need their jobs. They want to do the right thing for the kids. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Suit's Bitching

Suit was bitching today because so many math teachers took off Tuesday to avoid the Election Day staff undevelopment. About 1/3 of the department avoided the day like the plague. Instead of bitching, he should be praising us. The math department has the best attendance in the building. We come in on teaching days. Our students are important to us. We know that no learning takes place with a substitute teacher. Everyone needs a day for R & R occasionally. He should be kissing our feet for doing it when classes are not in session.

U Ratings

November 7 and I got a new student today! This was her fourth change since August 31. First, she missed a week of school. She was on my roster then and removed to make room for someone who wanted in. (Since she wasn't attending anyways, it didn't matter.) Then she was placed in an over sized class. A month later she was moved again, to a newly created class. Today she came back to my class.

Little Maria is failing. She might be failing because she has been changed around so much or she might be failing because she doesn't do anything. I don't know. She seems like a sweet kid but appearances can be deceiving. Now she is on my roster. She doesn't know anything. The class she was in is at least two weeks behind mine (and I am going very slow.) She was never even given a text book. Now, according to my AP, she is on my roster. I will be called to task if she fails. I will be called down to explain why my failing rate is what it is.

Yesterday during staff development, my AP stated that he will U rate people who are not reaching enough kids. He is not going to risk losing his job because of incompetent teachers. I know that I am not oneof the teachers he was talking about U rating. I know that no one will hold me responsible for this kid. I'm lucky. I have a reputation that speaks for itself. How many other teachers are going to be put in this position without the reputation? How many other teachers are going to be put in this position and have to worry because, unlike me, they will not be retiring in the next few years? When is someone going to stand up and revolt against what is going on in the schools today?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day 2007

My poor, recuperating colleague missed staff development today. I am writing this post to keep him informed.

I decided to go to work today because I had three sets of test papers to mark and figured if I stayed home, they would not get done. Nothing says mark like listening to a Suit talk on and on. Also, it was a good day to catch up with a good friend. We don't teach in the same department and have no free periods together so we never see each other in school. At least we got to see each other in the morning and for lunch.

The day started with bagels and coffee. The bagels and cream cheese were good, but the coffee was cold (kind of like the feelings we get from the administration.) We then headed into the auditorium where we were subjected to Suit's stand up comic routine. He told the oldest, corniest, sexist jokes around. When he finished entertaining himself he got to the heart of the meeting--our report card. Our school got a B, which pretty much was the mark given to all the schools in my area. He was really proud of it. He stressed areas that we have to improve in and told us to lie (not in so many words) on the next survey so we will do better in certain categories. He is also going to work hard to get the kids and the parents to answer the surveys more favorably (or to lie for him.) Hearing how important they were in our rating makes me glad I filled it in (I did not lie and I will not lie next time.) We also got to see this year's shirt. So now I have another school shirt that I will not wear. All in all, the time passed quickly. I finished a set and a half of papers.

Session two was a meeting with AP. He began the session telling us that if a kid makes a careless mistake we should give partial credit. This, after he spent an hour in September telling us not to give partial credit, ripping apart a summer school teacher for giving an exam that was 70% partial credit. A teacher who never says a word questioned his change of heart. She wanted to know exactly what he wanted us to do. He double talked her for a few minutes and then, without giving an answer, changed the subject. Ten minutes later, someone asked for clarification on the partial credit dilemma and again he double talked and did not answer. We still don't know what he wants. As for me, I give partial credit, so I kept my mouth shut. I got to finish marking my second set of exams.

Session III continued in a different room. Half the group got to stand on a mat and figure out how to turn it over while the other half watched. I cleaned out my pocket book. We looked at the statistics of a teacher that was supposed to be anonymous but everyone in the room knew who the teacher was. He is the only one teaching that subject 12th period. Of course he was blamed for the poor passing rate and the poor attendance in that class. Someone actually tried to defend him, but that person was shot down. He doesn't care. He has standards and will stick to them. He's probably retiring this year so they can't touch him anyways.

Lunch was the highlight of the day. I hooked up again with my friend. After a quick stop in Rite Aid, we had some grandma's pizza at one of the best places around.

Back at the ranch, we then picked up our new school shirts and headed back to our meetings. The first meeting of the afternoon taught us how to use EGS (Electronic Grading System). This was boring and unnecessary for anyone who is computer literate and insufficient to teach anyone that needs to learn. At least I got to check my e-mail.

The last session was with AP again. He informed us that we better do something to make sure we are reaching all kids. He has a new son to take care of and he needs his job. Too bad he never thought about the two teaching fellows whose life he destroyed a few years ago by U rating them and taking away their licenses. They were not that bad. They had families too. He pointed out that you need a personality to teach and that you need a personality that people liked. Too bad he hasn't taken his own advice. He is one of the most disliked people in the building. The kids shake when they have to talk to him. Suit came into this meeting for a photo shoot and started berating us for not sitting in groups or using a horse shoe. I lost it. I jumped up, went to the board and showed him why the horse shoe does not work in math. Needless to say, he left quickly. The best part of this meeting was that I started marking my night class exams and made up answer key for a test they are having tomorrow. We did get a glimpse of the new Algebra regents. That one is going to be a fiasco (I need to devote an entire post to that). My chairman thinks the cutoff for passing will be in the 30's. After looking at it, I have to agree.

All in all, I am glad I went in today. I got a lot done. I got great stuff to write about. I'm keeping my colleague on his health sabbatical well informed. Can't wait for the Brooklyn Queens day staff development. Maybe we'll get lucky and have one regents week as well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Only The Shadow Knows

Suit's weekly announcement said that since many guidance counselor's have never actually taught they were going to shadow a student on their caseload this week. Teachers shouldn't think they are being observed. (I am sure some will love reporting everything they see.) The purpose is just to let the counselor know what a kid's school day is like.

Doesn't this say something about the lack of preparation of today's counselors? Years ago, a counselor had to teach for at least three years. That way, they knew the job they would be taking from all ends. They could understand the frustrations of the teacher and the student. Now, the "teenie bopper" counselors sit in an office equipped with a phone and a computer. When they need something, they see nothing wrong with calling a class and interrupting. Or, if a teacher speaks to them, the response is "put it in writing" which is hard to do when you are walking from room to room with three bags of books and there is no place stop and write.

I don't see what the counselor's will learn by shadowing the kids. The halls are crowded. Classrooms are dirty and overcrowded. The kids are so diverse in some of the classrooms that learning is difficult. They already know that. And now the counselors have been pulled away from their desks for a full day. They have huge caseloads and an inordinate amount of work. This time could be better spent. But, the idea of a counselor shadowing a student sounds good. Quality review is coming. Maybe Suit thinks this is something that will raise his score.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fashion for the Rubber Room

China fashion is different than Hollywood or Paris! It actually looks exactly like what it is. Models parade in outfits made of condoms during a fashion show at the 4th China Reproductive Health New Technologies & Products Expo in Beijing July 11, 2007. Condoms of all shapes and sizes were used to make dresses, hats and even ollipops. Models fought through extravagant soap bubble special effects to show off tight-fitting wedding gowns, scaly-looking evening dresses, outrageous bikinis and other garments made entirely of condoms.

The show was organized by China 's largest condom manufacturer, Guilin Latex Factory, to promote the use of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It also marked World Population Day, organized annually by the U.N. Population Fund.