Friday, May 30, 2014

Nice Of Her

Dear Professor,
I don't think I deserved the F.  I put a lot of effort into this class.  I participated and did homework.  I was overwhelmed on the day of the final as I had 3 finals that day.  I don't think it is fair for you to base my grade on 15 questions.  But, if you think I earned the F because I did not work hard enough I will accept it and retake the course during the summer.  Please let me know how you arrived at this grade.

Dear Student:
You missed the first exam and the second two and a half weeks of classes.  I offered you a makeup that you chose not to take.  Your other grades are 41, 71, 91 and 43 on final.  The final consisted of former test problems and problems on the review sheet.  You handed in many assignments late and did not bother to do the take home assignment which would have given you a passing average.

These kids don't understand what it means to succeed in college.  Many plan on transferring to four year schools and pursuing careers in medicine, law and engineering.  These kids all are products of Bloomberg education.  I feel sorry for them.  Their sense of entitlement can do nothing but hurt them.

I'm happy this girl is willing to "accept" her F and summer school now that her grade has been explained.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vote No

A colleague was hurt at work and needs union help getting a leave to heal.  He has written e-mail after e-mail and made call after call.  After 4 months he is no closer to a resolution than he was on day one.

The UFT reps are so busy pushing this contract they have no time or interest in doing anything else.  I was told to not talk about the contract and ATRs at the medical because teachers in the room were upset enough and there was no need to inform them about a contract that could only hurt.

I know our union is better than no union and I am still proud of being a card carrying UFT member but our union needs to be shaken up quite a bit.  A contract that hurts some is worse than no contract at all.  A union that minimizes a member's problems and thinks a pat on the back or a hug is enough is not doing what it should to earn our money and our support.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

65 Court St and the UFT

 (Hope that is not dried up blood on floor)
 (21st Century Cooling System)
(Fake flowers and the cupless water cooler)

Mary was at 65 Court Street today waiting for her medical.  She was injured by a student in her school and needs time to heal.  Poor Mary was distraught. She spent over two hours traveling to Brooklyn while in severe pain.

Mary was talking to her UFT rep when I walked in the room.  She wants to give up teaching but can't afford to.  If she walks now, all the retroactive money she has earned will be forfeited.  She loses her pension and her health benefits.  She doesn't want to return to her school but can't even think about transferring until medical clears her and she is not even close to being medically ready to return to work.

The DOE offered Mary a return medical in August or September.  August would get her back in a classroom when the new school year starts but the UFT doesn't work in August and no one will be around to help her if she goes then.  September brings representation but it is late for school placement.

Mary was confused.  The UFT rep was of absolutely no help, minimizing the problems and telling her how lucky she was to be able to decide now whether she wanted September or October.  The UFT rep was also very unhappy with me when I put in my two cents about the awful contract and how I believe every working teacher should vote it down.  The UFT rep defended Mulgrew's refusal to debate as a debate indicates dissension and the union must be united.  The UFT rep said how lucky teachers were to get this contract as nothing better was available.  The UFT rep glossed over the issue of ATRs saying most would be placed and many had licenses in subjects no longer being taught.

Room 214, the medical waiting room at 65 Court Street is disgusting.  The walls are a drab shade of yellow and haven't received a new coat of paint since the building went up.  The floors look like they are covered in dried up blood haven't seen a mop this century and although there is a water cooler, the  only cups were the ones the UFT pulled out of her desk.  (She keeps them locked up to keep them from getting stolen.)

I was at medical accompanying a friend injured in the line of duty.  I did not write his story here.  I want to protect his privacy.  The DOE treatment of teachers is disgusting but the UFT's was even worse.  There was no help.  We left and another woman still waited for her medical.  A subway incident made her late.  The doctor punished her by making her wait extra long.  The UFT reps went home long before her turn came.

Monday, May 26, 2014


I still get chills when I look for the World Trade Center.  It always guided me towards Century 21 and the subway.  Seeing the area alive with construction is heartwarming.  We can be knocked down, but we will rise again.  I gape like a tourist whenever I am in this area.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blogs Making A Difference

Friend just told me she went against her chapter leader and voted NO.   So happy she read and believed and listened 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fleet Week

Retirement allowed me the time to welcome the people who defend our country.  I am blessed to live here and be part of this wonderful scene

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Job, As I See It

A young teacher at the college told me he continually stresses over finding ways to get his students to care, to do the work, to study.  I told him I don't.

My job, the way I see it, is to present the material in a way that is understandable and engaging.  I have to design assignments that reinforce what was done in class.  I have to create exams that accurately test what was taught.  I have to return them in a timely fashion and clear up anything my students do not understand.   I have to answer questions during and after class and to respond to e-mails from my students.  Of course I must have complete understanding of the things I teach and be prepared.

I am tired to telling them to put their phones away or that they can't afford another absence.  I don't know how to convince them to do homework when showing them the test questions they got wrong came straight from these assignments.  I'm sick of explaining why I won't stop teaching until 8:25, the time the class ends.

I teach in a junior college where many of my students are dealing with crisis in their personal lives.  Many have full time jobs and families.  Still, they made a commitment to attend school and must commit to doing what is necessary to succeed.  If they can't find the motivation within themselves I can not and will not give it to them.  I'm sorry for their personal problems, the divorce, the sick parent, the rent being due, but I can't do more than lend a sympathetic ear.

I strive to be the best teacher possible but maybe I am just getting old and jaded.  Probably best to leave teaching to the young.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Failing Student

Jimmy's four tests total less than 100 points.  When he got his last one back, he got upset.  He asked what he could do to pass.  He was upset when I said there was no extra credit, but if he did well on the final (highly unlikely) he could still pass.  Poor Jimmy told me he is a terrible test taker.  He didn't do homework because after he missed a few there was no point since I told the class I would only drop lowest test grade if they did all homework.  He just didn't get, even after four tests, that exams came straight from the homework.

Wednesday we finished new lesson early and I asked class to start working on practice problems there were given for the final.  I told them to work together and that I would be happy to answer questions.  Most of the students took advantage of the review time and worked.  Not Jimmy.  He was "tired".  After the last class I invited students to stay behind for extra help.  Jimmy was the first one out the door.

I give up.  Jimmy deserves to fail.

(Picture from Newsday's car show--no relation to post.  I just liked it.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

House Of Cards For Real

In the first season of House of Cards, the teacher's union strikes.  A big point of contention is teacher evaluations.  The head of the union is a man of honor and holds his ground until he is goaded into hitting Francis Underwood, the congressman in charge of settling the strike.  He is then blackmailed into giving in on every point and ends the strike.

True House Of Cards is fiction, but it is loosely based on real life politics.  Someone must have a hold on Mulgrew to make him so willing to sell out the people he represents.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

$45 Co-Pay

Scarsdale teachers make a lot more than NYC teachers but their new contract has a $45 co-pay every time they go to a doctor.

Think about this before voting yes on contract. Health care savings will not drop from heaven.

Friday, May 16, 2014

UFT Lovefest

It is a good thing retired teachers cannot vote for a contract.

The UFT Retired Teacher Chapter met last week.  It was the first meeting I ever went to and it will almost definitely be my last.

While waiting to go in, a woman behind us started bitching about how long it took.  She couldn't wait to get her hands on a plain bagel and of course some coffee. We got to stand and prepare our bagels and then eat on our laps.  Many people spread out and took up two to three seats.  As more and more people came in, the auditorium got crowded and it became harder to find a seat in some areas.  I was amazed that people would not give up the extra seat.

The worst part of the meeting was the adoration most of the people present had for Mulgrew and the contract.  Person after person got up and said how thankful they were that Mulgrew negotiated such a great contract.  One person questioned how health care would be changed to save money.  The UFT suits, one after another, made light of this question and it was passed over without any answers or even discussion.

In the scheme of things, the teachers at this meeting represented a very small portion of retired teachers, but the part they represented scared me.  Overall, they think the UFT of today is the same UFT of old, which it clearly is not.  They have bought into the medias presentation of ATRs and agree with the way these teachers will be treated.  I was almost ashamed to be part of this group.

I'm happy retired teachers can't vote for the contract.  But, on the same token it is time for the people to stand up, learn the facts about the contract being presented and make an intelligent, knowledgeable decision about voting yeah or neigh.  They need to vote yes or no, not because someone told them it is the best deal they can get, or because they thing it is horrible, but yes or no based on real facts.  They need to get out and vote and not assume their vote means nothing because the deal has already been decided.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Made My Night

Two girls called me over at the end of tonight's class and began conversation with "Don't take this the wrong way but we have been observing you."  Right away I got worried but I said, "Don't worry.  I learn about teaching from what my students tell me, especially my best students."  (These two girls are running high A's.)  They said, "No, nothing like that.  It is your calves.  We have been watching all term and you have great ones.  How do you get them like that?  What kind of exercises do you do?   We work out all the time and can't get calves like yours."

I said bless you.  This was the nicest thing I heard in a long time.  It really made my night.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rudeness Knows No Age

I am standing next to the buttons in the elevator and a woman yells out "press penthouse.''  With all the noise,  I heard "press 10."  She then yells, '"I said PENTHOUSE.  Use your ears."  She pulled her ear as she said this.  I actually apologized before I pressed the correct button and told her I didn't hear.

Everyone looked at her.  They couldn't believe her rudeness.  She muttered nasty comments until most of the elevator emptied.  She never even said PLEASE.  I wanted to push every button from the time I got off until penthouse, but I refrained.

People say teens are rude.  This woman, well into her 60's would give every one of them competition.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Favoritism Hurts The Family

The babies were all excited.  Mommy was taking them to the amusement park and buying them all sorts of treats, ice cream, cotton candy, sodas, everything they could possibly want.  Their older siblings were not invited to come along.  They laughed and taunted the brothers and sisters that nurtured them and taught them how to survive as most of the time mommy stayed locked in her room, far away from them.  They made fun of the ones who would take care of them when they came home sick and tired.

The older siblings knew the routine.  As babies they too were taken fun places.  They were replaced as the babies will soon be replaced too.  Mommy only does things for the little ones.  They are the ones that don't see her for what she really is.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


MORE Press Advisory: NYC Public School Educators to UFT Leaders: “Go Back to the Bargaining Table!”

This was sent out to the press last night. Even if you are not part of MORE, join the campaign by downloading and printing leaflets for your school. MORE is willing to help organize events in your local area around your school to discuss the contract to counter the Unity spin.

**News Advisory**

NYC Public School Educators to UFT Leaders: “Go Back to the Bargaining Table!”

MORE --  A UFT Caucus -- Calls for Teachers to Vote “No!;
Launches grassroots campaign for “Contract NYC Educators Deserve”
WHEN: Wednesday, May 7 2014, approximately 6:15pm (After UFT Delegate Assembly)

WHERE: SW Corner of 6th Ave and 54th St, in front of Hilton (1335 Ave of Americas, NYC)

WHAT: MORE-UFT (Movement of Rank and File Educators) calls for UFT members to vote “no” on the leadership’s contract proposal. The bargain under consideration:
  • Spreads what UFT leaders call an “18% raise” over nine years. This amounts to a 2% raise per year - the approximate rate of inflation.
  • Ratifies a teacher evaluation system based on the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers, despite a growing movement against over-testing, including parents who are opting children out of the tests.
  • Does not address pay disparities, such as the salary cap for Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists and low starting salaries for teachers.
  • Ignores members’ calls for stronger checks against abusive administrators.
  • Divides teachers with extra “merit pay” for those picked by administrators.
  • Undermines due process protections for teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve.

MORE calls for a grassroots negotiation process driven by members’ participation. Teachers across the city generated MORE’s, “The Contract NYC’s Educators Deserve.”

WHO: MORE, a growing UFT caucus in the UFT, organizes for a democratic, militant union, based on the motto "Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions!”  In 2013 MORE co-organized the “More than a Score: Talking Back to Testing Forum” with parents in Change the Stakes and the “Fair Pay for City Workers Forum” with members of over a dozen unions. MORE ran candidates in the New York State Teacher’s Union (NYSUT) elections in April (

VISUALS: Teachers wearing T-shirts and buttons will gather with signs and banners.

The Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social Justice Caucus of the United Federation of Teachers.  To learn MORE, visit www.morecaucusnyc.or

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Sadist Within

Mr. Arrogant chose a seat in the back of the room for the exam.  He saved the seat next to him for a smart, quiet girl, a girl he knew he could browbeat into letting him cheat.

Mr. Arrogant should know by now I see through him.  I moved the girl far away.  He sat alone in the back, turning red and struggled.  I enjoyed every minute of his pain.

Tell me again how so many more students are graduating high school than ever before.  Tell me again how great our kids did under NCLB, RTTT and of course Bloomberg and Walcott's administration.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Stats Do Not Make A Good Teacher

Mr. H was considered the best teacher in the math department.  He got the best kids and always got the best results. There was just one problem. Mr. H did not teach math, he taught the kids how to do well on exams.  He taught them how to work backwards from multiple choices.  He told them not to bother remembering exact values of sin 60, tan 30 or any of the other special angles because working with a calculator they would always be able to figure out the exact answer from their decimal calculation.

Lots of kids loved Mr. H for the good grades they got in his class but not all of them were happy.  Many were unhappy about not being taught and challenged.  They planned on pursuing careers in math or engineering and knew they needed knowledge.  Mr. H realized he should have done a better job of teaching when he shared a room with a calculus class and saw the corners he cut were hurting kids he had taught.  Still, he never changed his ways.  His statistics insured him good classes and teaching honor students was all he wanted to do.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

About Contract--By Arthur Goldstein

Dear colleagues,

My piece below is up at Diane Ravitch's blog right now. I'm not crazy about the formatting at Diane's place so I want to share the original with you. Our delegates and I have to vote on this proposal next Wednesday at the Delegate Assembly. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this proposal with me.

Best regards,


It’s been almost six years since NYC teachers have received a raise. This was particularly frustrating since most NYC employees received twin raises of 4% in the 2008-2010 round of pattern bargaining. While they got more money with no givebacks, our leadership helped craft the junk-science based NY APPR law. The entire state got a junk-science based evaluation system. We were told the beauty of it was that it could be negotiated, but when that didn’t work out leadership allowed John King to write it for us.

Now there is an agreement, but UFT members will receive not only the retro money, but also the salary raises almost a decade later than FDNY, NYPD, or DSNY. Being a teacher, I don’t know a whole lot about money. Still, I’m fairly certain that money has more value in 2010 than 2020, when we will finally be made whole. It’s plainly disingenuous to argue we have parity with the other unions.

There are other issues in this contract that are troubling. Paramount to me is that of due process for ATR teachers. The UFT agreed in 2005 to create the Absent Teacher Reserve. The UFT had supported mayoral control, which helped enable the massive school closures favored by Bloomberg, and rather than insist teachers in closing schools be placed in classrooms, it made them wandering subs, covering for absent teachers. They now wander from school to school, week to week. They are vilified and stereotyped in the media on a regular basis.

I’ve worked with and advocated for several ATR teachers. I can assure you, despite the nonsense propagated by self-styled expert Campbell Brown, that those teachers were guilty of nothing more than either being in the wrong school at the right time, or being targeted for no good reason .  Under our new system, any ATR teacher accused by two principals of ineffective behavior will receive an expedited one-day 3020a hearing, after which this person may be fired on the spot. I fail to see why ATR teachers should have fewer due process rights than I do.

As for Ms. Campbell Brown, apparently there is  hat tip in the agreement to her:

The rules also expand the definition of sexual misconduct, which will make it easier for the city to fire teachers for actions like inappropriate touching or texting, officials said.

I can’t really say whether or not this rule is reasonable, since neither I nor anyone who voted on this agreement has actually seen it. Generally, it would be shocking that a 300-member contract committee could approve an agreement it hadn’t seen. However since the overwhelming majority of that committee were members of the elite, invitation-only UFT Unity Caucus, and had signed an oath promising to support whatever leadership told them to, it would not be surprising to me if they had nominated a cheese sandwich for President of the United States.

We’re also looking at a program that strongly smells of merit pay, something that’s been tried and failed in the US for about a century. This is the UFT’s second flirtation with such a program, and like the last one, discarded as a failure, it is presented as not merit pay.

Another mysterious issue in the proposal is this:

Under the tentative deal, collaborative school communities will have new opportunities to innovate outside the confines of the UFT contract and DOE regulations. A new program known as Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) will give educators in participating schools greater voice in decision-making and a chance to experiment with new strategies.

This sounds very much like the original concept of charter schools, and we all know where that has led us. I’m wary of anything with “excellence” in the title, because it clearly implies those of us who do not participate somehow oppose excellence. Also, there is a clear implication in such programs that our Contract somehow hinders excellence, which I do not believe.

My experience and observation suggests schools do better with strong principals and strong chapter leaders being adversarial when necessary, but working together when it benefits the school. I’ve also observed schools with little or no union presence having programs imposed on them that are less than productive, and I can certainly envision that happening here.

I’m further puzzled by several things UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote us when he announced the agreement.

The union won major changes, including a focus on eight instead of 22 Danielson components and a better system for rating teachers in non-tested subjects.

I have heard directly from union sources that they'd insisted on focusing on all of Danielson, and that making them focus on all aspects was a great victory. Apparently making them focus on fewer factors is also a victory. We shall see what happens with non-tested subjects.

A more substantive improvement might have been to let supervisors off the hook from so many observations. If a competent supervisor observes a teacher doing a good job, and receives no complaints about that teacher, the supervisor ought not to have to revisit that teacher 3 to 5 additional times that year. Supervisors ought to be focusing their attention on supporting teachers who actually need their help.

We succeeded in eliminating time-consuming teaching artifacts.

Again, union sources have told me directly that the inclusion of artifacts was a great union victory, empowering teachers. Apparently the exclusion is also a victory. When the union does one thing, it's a great victory. When they do the opposite, it's another great victory. I’m troubled by that.

Moving forward, fellow educators — rather than consultants or other third parties — will serve as the "validators" brought in the next year to review the work of a teacher rated ineffective.

In 3020a hearings, in which teachers can be fired, the burden of proof has traditionally been on the DOE to establish teacher incompetence. The validators would have had the option of placing the burden on teachers to establish they were not incompetent, a very high hurdle. Now, though this practice has never even been tested, with no evidence whatsoever, it is deemed to be improved. I would not wish to ever sit in judgment of my colleagues as to whether or not the city should have to establish their incompetence. I would question the motives of any colleague who would.

I fail to see why my brother and sister UFT members deserve any less financial consideration than those in other municipal unions. As for the other factors in this contract, the devil is in the details. Thus far we haven’t seen them, but history suggests a lack of foresight in insular UFT leadership, which has supported allowing teachers to become ATRs, charter schools, co-locations, the NYS APPR law, junk science teacher rating, Common Core, and mayoral control, none of which have helped public school teachers, parents or children.

Finally, I’m not particularly proud that we’re set to impose a pattern for all other city unions that will not allow them even to keep up with inflation for the next 7 years. If the best we can do is worsen conditions for our brother and sister unionists, we’re not doing our jobs very well at all.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Power of Blogging

I just opened an e-mail from a UNITY hack who used to come to my former school weekly to "answer" questions and to promote the UNITY ideals.  Mostly, he told senior teachers to retire.

He began the e-mail telling members to pay no attention to what they read on blogs and newspapers about the contract.  I think we our writings in blogosphere are scaring them.  GOOD!

Inner Circle Of Unions

My husband just told me the new contract can't be bad because NYC union leaders, 20 out of 22, gave their blessings to the new contract.  (Only fire and detective unions voted no because of health care concerns.)  My husband is not a union member and is sometimes too easily swayed by the media.  He is bright, informed and has lived for over 40 years with a NYC teacher and still doesn't get it all.  No wonder others don't get it either.

These 20 labor leaders voting yes does not make it a good contract.  They are all part of the inner circle brothers club.  Mulgrew is one of them.  They wouldn't think of opposing him.  The people that give them their jobs, pay their salaries and keep them where they are mean nothing compared to "family."

Thursday, May 01, 2014

New Contract and the ATR

If two Principals rate an ATR unsatisfactory, that ATR is gone.

Principals often rely on APs for information. APs are more often than not, inexperienced teachers with no sense of what makes a good teacher.  Often they are not even good teachers themselves.  Some will have problems because the ATR did not jump high enough on command.  Principals talk to one another and opinions and ratings will be given before some ATRs even take a step in the building.

A teacher once told me she could never become an ATR because her Principal loved her.  She had no sympathy for ATRs and would not support anything that had to do with them.  This teacher is now an ATR, going from school to school and worried about keeping her job.

Teachers need to vote no for this contract.

Teacher Contract

The following article is from NBC news.  I'm not so sure about this contract.  As a retired teacher, it gives me more money, but not enough to have to start paying more for health coverage.  If I was a working teacher, I would not like it at all.  I don't like union rules being suspended at 200 schools.  I don't like changing definition of sexual misconduct and I don't like teacher evaluations. I hate bonus pay too.

City Hall and the teachers union have reached an agreement on a new contract that provides retroactive raises plus a 10 percent raise over seven years, with health care cost reductions promised by the union.
The proposed nine-year contract would begin on Nov. 1, 2009 and expire Oct. 31, 2018. 
It gives 1 percent raises each year until 2016, and then a 1.5 percent raise, a 2.5 percent raise and a 3 percent raise the final year. The 4 percent retroactive raises for 2009 and 2010 would be provided in increments from 2015 to 2020.
"This agreement will be a gateway to great progress in our school system," Mayor de Blasio said at a City Hall announcement Thursday.
The cost to the city through 2018 is $4 billion, which does not include some of the retroactive payments through 2020.
The union would reduce health care costs, in part through "centralized drug purchases," and other belt-tightening moves that were not detailed. The savings is estimated at $1 billion over the nine years.
City workers do not contribute to their health care costs.
The two sides also agreed on new criteria for permanently removing poorly performing teachers, and an expanded the definition of sexual misconduct to make it easier to get rid of teachers who commit those crimes.
The deal is the first labor agreement struck by de Blasio, and it could affect negotiations with the other nearly 150 city labor unions who have been working with expired contracts.
New York's 110,000 members, represented by the United Federation of Teachers, have been working without a contract since October 2009.
The deal must be approved by the members.