Sep 4, 2009

Brill, Get the Real Story Straight

What follows is the response TAGNYC sent to the editors of The New Yorker magazine re: Steven Brill's article: "Klein and the NYC Teachers." Of course, TAGNYC's take is that the intent of the article is to enlist the public's acquiescence in the repeal of tenure laws. Brill's article proves that conventional journalism is moot. The real journalists are not the 'talking heads' or those writing for the established newspapers. Real journalism is being done on the blogs. The next Woodward and Bernstein will emerge from a blog expose.

Brill, Get the Real Story Straight.

How to respond to Steven Brill’s article about the ‘bureaucratic stranglehold’ unions have on school boards' abilities to fire teachers? For beginners, by stating that Steven Brill has not done his homework. If he had, he would know that a New York State law requires that all tenured employees, including teachers, be afforded a hearing prior to being disciplined. This due process requirement does not come from a union contract. Also, Brill would have discovered that Klein and his Department of Education are responsible for teachers waiting up to three years to get a hearing and a decision. He would have seen that teachers, once removed from a school, have no control over when hearings are scheduled nor does their union. Brill does sloppy journalistic work.

Secondly,this response is meant to state up front that Brill’s hidden agenda is to vilify the New York City teacher. Brill and 99% of his journalist cronies (Brill et al.) are akin to ‘ambulance chasers”. Like the classic ambulance chaser, Brill et al. have found that the dysfunctional entity known as inner city education is a reliable meal ticket. And like ambulance chasers, Brill et al. don’t have to break a sweat to exercise their profession. Just keep hammering on the usual scapegoats for the plight of the inner city schools- the teachers and their union. Pick up Klein’s press releases. Accept what Klein says. Print the fast story, the sexy story, the untrue story. Journalists are embedded within the military. Why not embed journalists within the schools to report the real reason inner city schools fail? Because it is so much easier for Brill et al. to feed into Bloomberg’s, Klein’s, Rhee’s, Duncan’s mythology that poor teaching is why inner city students do not achieve. Why don’t journalists spend time incognito in the schools and see the fingerprints of institutionalized poverty and the hopelessness it breeds, or witness the absence of effort on the part of too many students and lack of oversight on the part of too many parents, or chronicle the daily consequences of the decades long breakdown of respect for the authority of the teacher, or jot down the number of oversized classes and the number of special needs students interspersed in those classes. Brill et al. might talk to the teachers and record how few of them are aware of the federally mandated services that many of their students are not receiving. Will Brill et al. take note of the teachers’ inability to effectively remove disruptive students? During the school day, Brill et al. could check out the books that teachers are supposed to rely on as aides in the educational process. Do the books and other supplied materials (if there are any) reflect the reading levels of the students? Or will Brill et al. see a 12th grade reading level social studies text, purchased in 2002 by the Chancellors District for use then by students on a 3rd grade and below reading level. Brill et al. can examine the book closets and find evidence of 40 years of false prophets who have milked the educational dollars dry while leaving Johnny no better off academically. That might lead Brill et al. to research the many educational models that have been foisted upon teachers only to be replaced by the next magic bullet, putting teachers on a constant merry go round of professional development that waste teachers’ time and taxpayers’ money. (Whoa, this is getting to be hard journalistic work. Brill et al., are you breaking a sweat yet?) Now, talk to teachers and learn of the great hoax perpetrated by Bloomberg and Klein. Observe how teachers must participate in academic fraud intended to move kids out and lift graduation rates. See the frustration of the elementary and middle school teacher whose days are filled with teaching to the test, giving the test, reviewing the test, just in time to give the next test. While sleuthing within the schools, Brill et al. can observe how competent teachers are subjectively targeted for harassment and eventual placement in Rubber Rooms. Observe how teachers not as good are not hunted and harassed by administration. A real journalist would use journalistic cunning to question and figure out why this might be so. A real journalist would: Investigate the possibility that the Rubber Rooms exists to rid schools of any teacher unwanted by the principal for reasons not related to competence: Investigate the probability that the Rubber Room has been set up by Bloomberg and Klein to destroy tenure and due process rights: Acknowledge the reality that Brill et al. are dupes who, through their 8th grade level of journalistic reporting, are allowing Bloomberg and Klein to realize their goal of destroying teaching as a long term profession.

Oh, Brill et al., there is so much more you could learn and report on if you were only willing to do the work. You would see that Bloomberg and Klein’s eight year control of the schools has demoralized teachers, marginalized parents, taught students to lie by making them participants in the academic fraud rife throughout the system. It’s not about the kids. It is about political ambition and power at any price.

We demand that the press fulfill its role as the objective purveyor of truth. Go into the inner city public schools which are being dismantled for private persons’ political and financial gains. Objectively assess reality. DON'T ACCEPT WHAT WE SAY. Go into the schools and investigate. Go in without your cameras, without being guided to classrooms prepped for your visit. Go in and spend a year working in an inner city classroom and only then, claim the credentials to fulfill your journalistic duty to report the truth about inner city education. Report the truth about who is being sent to Rubber Rooms and WHY. You would then have to acknowledge that for the past many, many years, it is the New York City inner city school teachers who have kept the system going and have done so much for the many beautiful students that triumph despite the past and continued shabby treatment of the inner city school teacher and student by those in power to affect societal change.

Apr 18, 2009

TAGNYC Testimony Mayoral Control Hearings February 6, 2009

The following testimony was transcribed and is part of the public record.

The DOE under Bloomberg and Klein is totally lacking in transparency. There you have the only reason needed for ending mayoral control. The DOE is subject to no law. Its legal department will lie in the face of documents that belie the lie. Its legal department will refuse to provide information requested by citizens under the Freedom of Information Law. Possible criminal charges- 300 last year- are filed against the DOE and these charges are read by only one man-Joel Klein. The DOE holds monthly public meetings. But for the past two years, no transcripts are kept of what transpires during these meetings. Public criticism is not allowed to leave the room. No media attend. No UFT representatives attend.

I am certain that most, if not all, of the New York State legislators know that there has not been a great advance in academic achievement within the inner city schools. I am certain that all of you know that most of any advance in supposed achievement within the NYC schools is the result of lowered performance requirements on state exams and the academic fraud practiced and encouraged by many administrators within the NYC school system. Whose interest is being served by, in Bush’s words, “the soft bigotry of low expectations?” Whose interest has been served by allowing Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein to perpetuate this hoax on the minority population of this City? They say what they do is “for the children.” And the teachers of NYC say, “Get Real.”

The teachers know the real deal. We have serious concerns about our schools and the “education” our students are receiving under the Bloomberg/Klein administration. While the implementation of some of Bloomberg and Klein’s ideas has resulted in cost-effective and perhaps efficient corporate practices, too many of their policies have devastated students, faculty, and parents. Most notable during the Bloomberg-Klein tenure is the oppressive, hostile, abusive work/learning environment created and condoned in many schools across the City. And on the firing line is the NYC teacher- the perennial scapegoat for why children don’t learn. The principals have abused their power to the point where targeted teachers are routinely and shamefully harassed and victimized. And the principals’ tool for ridding themselves of teachers who are too costly or too outspoken is the Temporary Reassignment Centers, also referred to as the ‘rubber rooms.”

The Reassignment Centers are testimony to the high stakes game known as ‘educational reform.” The stakes are higher political office, greater paychecks, the destruction of public education, but mainly, as we believe history will show, the goal is to keep society structured into an elite and a group to serve that elite. How else to explain the passing through of students while calling that progress. The Reassignment Centers are necessary to the success of this game. The Administration pedals these Centers as evidence that finally, finally the roots of inner city school failure, the incompetent teachers, are being ripped out of the system. The Reassignment Centers serve other purposes: They allow unethical and scared principals to selectively, selectively remove teachers; they allow the Bloomberg-Klein Administration to destroy teaching as a long term career, and they rev up the voices against tenure and its due process protections. The Reassignment Centers make possible the continued ignoring of who and what is really responsible for the plight of the inner city school- society and the ills it has perpetuated.

The teachers are not responsible for CFE monies not going to reduce class size or for the failure to build new schools in expanding neighborhoods, or for the lack of creation of adequate school libraries. The teachers are not responsible for the tons of money wasted on consultants, bogus educational programs, inappropriate textbooks, suspect accountability systems; the teachers are not responsible that the future astronauts and architects are in bed and not in their first period classes. The teachers are not responsible for the horrendous abandonment of the special needs students and the ELL students. The teachers are not responsible for the decades long destruction of respect for the teacher and his/her authority within the classroom The teachers are not responsible for segregated housing patterns or for the poverty that breeds the hopelessness and violence that too often show up in the inner city classrooms. But the teacher is always the fall guy.

So a parent who wants his child to have a valid education has to ask: “What is different in the schools today? Why is there such a turn-around in teaching staff?” Teachers functioning as ATRs, teachers pushed into Reassignment Centers, teachers who retire because they can’t take the harassment of score-driven, business model principals, or the non-teaching they are supposed to sign onto.” These are the questions parents must start asking because your children are being cheated royally. When The NY Post reports that 83% of NYC students entering community colleges need remedial training it is past time to challenge the merit of the ‘higher graduation rates’ under Bloomberg-Klein and it is past time to demand an investigation of the smoke and mirrors that champions itself as Michael Bloomberg’s educational reform.

Make no mistake: It is for the politics, not for the children.

Jan 27, 2009

TAGNYC Comments at January 26, 2009 P.E.P. Meeting

The Reassignment Centers are testimony to the high stakes game known as educational reform. The stakes are higher political office, greater paychecks, the destruction of public education, but mainly, as we believe history will eventually show, the goal is to keep society the way we know it. An elite and a group to serve that elite. How else to explain the passing through of students while calling that progress. The Reassignment Centers are necessary to carry out this game. They can be touted by the Administration as evidence that finally, finally the roots of inner city school failure, the incompetent teachers, are being ripped out. Mayor Bloomberg says this and a delicious shudder passes through his audience. Incompetent teachers, Freddie Kruger- they elicit the same response as the Mayor well knows.

The Reassignment Centers serve other purposes: They allow unethical and scared principals to selectively, selectively remove teachers; they allow the Administration to destroy teaching as a long term career, and they rev up the voices against tenure and its due process protections. The Reassignment Centers justify the continued ignoring of who and what is really responsible for the plight of the inner city school - society and the ills it has perpetuated.

The teachers are not responsible for CFE monies not going to reduce class size or for the failure to build new schools in expanding neighborhoods or for lack of creation of adequate school libraries. The teachers are not responsible for the tons of money spent on consultants, bogus educational programs, inappropriate textbooks, suspect accountability systems; the teachers are not responsible that the future astronauts and architects are in bed and not in their first period classes. The teachers are not responsible for the horrendous abandonment of the special needs students and the ELL students. The teachers are not responsible for the decades of destruction of authority and respect for the teacher.

The Teacher Advocacy Group NYC puts out its call but always into the wilderness “Come and investigate.” Come and see what type of teacher is being put into the Reassignment Centers for “serious allegations.” Not just you Chancellor Klein but the entire panel is complicit in these McCarthy-like tactics. Righteousness is not yours. You will never again be able to lament or denounce the age of McCarthyism. You are responsible for destroying comnpetent teachers’ lives and reputations.

Nov 24, 2008

TAGNYC Comments Delivered at the ATR RALLY November 24, 2008

The ATR agreement between the DOE and the UFT is a ruse, a defense to be used during the next round of contract talks that will justify the termination of ATRs as a “rational yielding to market forces.” Klein and Randi are laying a “reasonable” foundation for letting go of teachers who don’t past muster. A teacher today said to me about Randi “It’s in her purview to stop this.” Well, she is not willing to stop the destruction of teaching as a career so that has to be recognized once and for all. She and Klein came to this agreement so let us ask them a question not answered by this agreement: A question that does not erode any ETHICAL exercise of principal autonomy. What public criteria will be used by a principal to determine that an ATR does not ‘pass muster” and thus, is not competent to fill a position. What criteria will be used to, let’s say, determine that a newly minted teaching fellow or a Teach for America newbie will be better able to carry out the duties required by a particular position. If this agreement is to have any teeth, it must require that principals justify their reasoning for hiring decisions when an ATR career is at stake. Parents of students in NYC’s premier public schools, or in schools in Great Neck, Scarsdale, etc. would never countenance the substitution of a less qualified for a more qualified teacher. They would be up in arms. Indeed, most of these schools don’t want to hear from candidates with less than three years teaching experience. However, it has been decided that for a segment of our NYC student population the novice teacher is fine because after all, when you teach to the test and lower your standards you don’t need much professional training. TAGNYC asked Klein and his Panel last Monday “Why not just hire high school graduates?” I can remember when I was a teacher trainer in the Chancellor’s District- the SURR schools. We were at a campus wide social studies meeting in the old Eastern District H.S. I vividly recall the uproar- an absolute uproar- that ensued when the Superintendent’s social studies consultant told the teachers not to spend more than three days on the French Revolution. Teach the French Revolution, with its causes, happenings, and effects in 3 days! Today in our inner city schools they are probably mandated to give it one day. A different concept of education. The experienced teacher need not apply.

So a parent who wants their child to have a valid education has to ask “What is different in the schools today? Why is there such a turn around in teaching staff - teachers functioning as ATRS, teachers pushed into Reassignment Centers, teachers who retire because they can’t take the harassment of score-driven, business model principals, or the non-teaching they are supposed to sign onto.” These are questions parents must start asking because your children are being cheated royally. The New York Post writes that 83% of students going to the community colleges need remedial training.

Bloomberg, Klein, and those who enable them are widening the educational divide. We must organize to call attention to this latest societal assault on the minority poor and to demand that Randi do something.

Don’t turn teaching into community service. Let it remain a profession of competent educators.

Nov 17, 2008

November 17, 2008 TAGNYC Statement to the Panel for Educational Policy (P.E.P.) the NYC DOE

P.E.P. November 17, 2008 Teacher Advocacy Group NYC

Mr. Michael Best, Counsel for DOE, acting for Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein: I have here the last word on my Freedom of Information request- seemingly. You and your legal department have not complied with the law-if law implies truth and justice. Your legalese explanation as to WHY you can not respond to my request for information - well, I expected no less from a Department of Education that treats law, standards of ethics, and the truth with contempt.

We try to understand WHY: What end is deserving of the destruction of competent teachers’ careers, OR the teaching of our students to lie giving them credit for courses they did not take or complete, OR setting up authorized cheat sessions wherein students are given completed science labs to copy, OR humiliating teachers and sapping the initiative of good students by implementing the credit recovery abomination?

Teachers are turned into ATRs so that their positions can be taken over by novices who leave after one or two years or who stay on to ‘teach to the test’. Why not just hire high school graduates?

Teachers are sent to Reassignment Centers on ridiculous charges. Check the number of music, art, Special Ed teachers and whistle blowers in these Centers. Competent they certainly are- but they suffer, not their unethical principals.

Let me read a bit of an email I got from a teacher I worked with and who left after two years – a certified and very talented teacher. She now works in another state.
“Can you believe that the principals at the schools I work with are not trying to drive teachers out? They actually have a rapport with them....It's really strange to me. I told one of them that I am kind
of fearful of administrators after working in NYC and watching how they haress the teachers. One told me that she had heard the horror stories.”


Put back into the classroom: Respect, Authority, and the EXPERIENCED, COMPETENT TEACHER.

Sep 15, 2008

P.E.P. Meeting September 15, 08 TAGNYC Statement

Tonight the Teacher Advocacy Group NYC starts a new year of bearing witness- and testimony- to the ongoing abuse of competent teachers under this current administration. This abuse is requisite to the ongoing academic fraud, growing nepotism, and administrative incompetence within the inner city schools.
The NY Post reports that 82% of the community colleges entering classes need remedial services. This ugly statistic 7 years into the current ‘educational reform’! Note I say ‘current’. Look back over the past 50 years. Always a new educational model- always the same results. Nothing happens within our neediest schools. Nothing real, nothing substantive, nothing enduring. And always the same bogeyman, the same scapegoat- the teacher.
You state that you need to get ‘the best teachers’ from the best colleges/universities. Review the history of MLK Law, Advocacy and Community Justice. Teachers with degrees from the University of Michigan, Williams College, NYU, Tufts, the U of Washington- just for beginners- all gone within the past three years. These were teachers with two to three years experience. As one teacher said “I can’t return to that toxic environment.” Another teacher said “I can take it from one end, (students or administration) but not from both”. And this is happening throughout the system.
Your teachers are being driven out because they are critical of what is going on in the schools and/or because they cost too much. Your teachers are voluntarily leaving because the conditions within the schools are abominable- not the least of which is forcing teachers to prostitute themselves and their professionalism through testing, testing, testing: through rote teaching not critical thinking teaching: through subjecting them to harassment for holding to high expectations, and through the horrendous credit recovery program.
Rote teaching, pushing kids through with credit recovery were not good enough for your public school experience Chancellor Klein. Why is it good enough for the inner city schools?
Credit recovery, the dumbing down of tests, etc. create a false and hurtful solution. It does not solve the problem. The problem will not be solved until it is acknowledged. The problem is NOT the teachers.

May 20, 2008

TAGNYC Statement at P.E.P. Meeting of May 19, 2008

Every month, the Board of Education, which now calls itself the Panel on Educational Policy, meets in public hearings. The public is invited to speak. Anyone desiring to address the Panel must sign up prior to the beginning of the meeting and is allowed two minutes to speak during the Public Comment portion of the meeting.
TAGNYC has been a constant presence at these meetings. We are unyielding in our
criticism of Bloomberg/Klein’s treatment of teachers and misuse of the educational system for political advantage. We take our message straight to the top- Klein is always in attendance.
Below is our statement delivered at the P.E.P. meeting of May 19, 2008.

The P.E.P. meeting of April 14th was truly amazing. Amazing in the eyes of the Teacher Advocacy Group NYC for three reasons:
First reason: The chilling testimony given by the psychologists working in the NYC schools. Their testimony was absolute in its indictment of the Mayor, Chancellor, and P.E.P.’s knowing disregard for the thousands upon thousands of special needs students of NYC. It proves the truth that most teachers know: The past seven years have not been about the kids.
Second reason: That the press did not pick up the psychologists’ stories and keep them on the front page of every newspaper in the City. But then, the Bloomberg/Klein administration did not issue the psychologists’ stories as a press release to the compliant and seemingly defeated press!
Thirdly, at the end of the meeting, a panel member told the TAG representative that her manner was not conducive to winning over the Panel. Perhaps you misunderstand why we come to these meetings. As representatives of the Teacher Advocacy Group NYC we are not here to woo, but to stand before this mike to tell you again and again that academic fraud is rife within the schools; to tell you that testing is a tool for individuals’ political advancement but it is dumbing down the students; to tell you that the credit recovery program is an affront to teachers and to the students who strive. To tell you that the credit recovery program, along with the outrageous scoring of Regents, along with organizing students at the end of the year to ‘make up’ mandated science labs by having them copy completed labs, along with giving credit to students for classes they did not take, along with all the other academic fraud, is social promotion, is pushing kids through, is teaching our students that lying is the way to get ahead in the world. Maybe that is the business model - a model not known for positive character formation.
Klein (Keeper of the Clock) Thank you. Your two minutes are up

May 2, 2008

Advice to 3020a Participants

The Bloomberg-Klein Administration is using the 3020a hearing as a way of removing teachers from their schools. Perhaps teachers will be returned to schools as ATRs after settlements or hearings. This also is part of the strategy because exits are being planned for the ATRs. An easy way to remove a teacher from his/her school is to charge incompetence. TAGNYC, along with every teacher, knows this. Randi Weingarten knows this. TAGNYC will speak out to expose this horrendous practice. The UFT will not.
OSI agents are complaining that principals are using OSI to remove teachers. If you fall in this category, demand charges immediately, demand to see incident reports, witness statements, and demand a hearing- and then demand an apology.

Advice to 3020a Participants:
1. Do not be in a hurry to retire or resign. Have your hearing.
2. Do not be in a hurry to settle. Have your hearing.
3. Demand a defense built on “disparate treatment”.*
4. Demand a public hearing. Do not be persuaded to have a private hearing.
5. Exercise your right to subpoena witnesses.
6. Demand a ‘bill of particulars’.**
7. Script your own defense-know what questions you want asked of both your witnesses and the DOE witnesses.
8. Bring every bit of documentation possible to your defense- lesson plans, students’ work, etc. Submit everything as evidence.
9. Demand that the arbitrator apply the criteria of “credibility” to your case.***
10. Demand a definition of incompetence:
a. 3020a law and Klein define incompetence as being unable or unwilling to do your job
11. Demand a definition of “your job” from the DOE and from the arbitrator.
12. Demand a definition of ‘unable and “unwilling”.
13. Demand credible evidence of being “unable and unwilling”.
14. Demand that incompetence be proven.
15. Get in writing the rational for any fine that is levied or offered as a settlement.
16. Remember- defend on disparate treatment, disparate treatment, disparate treatment.
Although historically the term is used to denote unequal treatment based on race, religion, gender, etc., 3020a participants can use it to defend against their unequal treatment-: Did the principal hold the 3020a person to a standard (employment practices) to which other teachers were not held and which standard resulted in awarding u-ratings in an ‘unequal’ fashion? Yes, the UFT should have been monitoring if one of their members was receiving unequal treatment. That is what a labor union does. It is not a question of going after its own members. It is the principle that all members be treated equally.
**bill of particulars- A written statement that is submitted by a plaintiff at the request of a defendant, giving the defendant detailed information concerning the claims or charges made against him or her.
***credibility- Who do you believe? On what basis does the arbitrator believe the DOE’s assertion of incompetence over the documented career of the accused teacher?

DO NOT EXPECT the DOE to provide anything you request. The DOE refuses to respond to lawyers’ requests for information in the 3020a hearings. Ask for the information anyway. Build a case.
DO EXPECT AND DEMAND that arbitrators’ judgments and rulings reflect adherence to their Code of Professional Ethics.


Apr 3, 2008

Weingarten: Failed Labor Leader

Weingarten: Failed Labor Leader

Randi Weingarten is looking to her new career as head of the AFT. That much larger pool of teachers must understand what they are getting. A failed labor leader. Randi, through her position, is in an excellent position to advocate for children and to negotiate health and welfare benefits for her membership. How well she performs either of these two functions demands future critical evaluation. What we address here is her inability to function as a labor leader. Make no mistake. Teachers are members of the labor force. We are not independent contractors or consultants able to individually control our own terms and conditions of employment. And the most important condition of employment is the right to remain employed. Remain in the profession we chose. Ms. Weingarten does not want to be seen as the protector of teachers’ job rights: The press and the public would label her a “protector of incompetents.” But the teachers who are being forced out of their jobs- the ATRS, the whistle-blowers, the questioners, the teachers who dared to exercise their transfer rights, and the teachers who make too much money, - are not incompetents. These teachers are the scapegoats being used to further Bloomberg, Klein, and yes, Randi Weingarten’s political ambitions.
Weingarten has proven she does not have the stomach to advocate for teachers’ rights to their jobs. She has colluded in turning NYC teachers into at-will employees. Her defense for doing so- “The UFT was not strong enough to fight.”
Questions TAGNYC has for Randi Weingarten:
1. Why did you not educate your membership about the implications of the givebacks in the 2005 contract? You and your lawyers knew the possible if not probable consequences. You can’t blame the membership for running to take the money since you did not do your job in educating the membership. Labor leaders don’t invoke the adage “Buyer beware” when the ‘buyer’ is the membership.
2. Will you admit that you feared for the careers of the more senior teachers in the wake of the 2005 contract and the empowerment of principals? Will you admit that you communicated this fear to your district reps? You hoped Bloomberg-Klein would go easy on the senior teachers. You lost and we lost. Labor leaders should never “depend upon the kindness of strangers.”
3. Why did you not rally the members to make a stand against Bloomberg-Klein? 80,000 plus teachers in your corner and you did nothing to get them on the street (strikes weren’t necessary- why not mass protests during rush hours, etc)? Oh, right, you were and are afraid of antagonizing the public. Too cautious to be a labor leader.
4. Why do you tell your members “Wait until 2009?” You see 2009 as a time when friends of ‘labor’ come back into office. How courageous! Who can’t ‘lead’ when times are good and ears are sympathetic. You failed to lead in tough times. Too many of NYC teachers- the competent teachers- have, and are suffering the devastating consequences of your failed leadership in the run-up to 2009. Will many of these teachers be employed in 2009?
5. Why do you hide behind the 3020a process? Rather than using the law as the pretext for not intervening, why are you not railing against the farce of the 3020a process?
6. Why don’t you state publicly what is said privately by district reps, chapter chair people, and OSI: Frivolous charges of incompetence, verbal, corporal, and sexual abuse are being used by principals to remove competent teachers from their schools?
7. Why have you not led your members in vocal, body-on-the line protests against the absurdity of turning competent teachers into ATRs? Why won’t you admit loudly and publicly that the ATR paradigm is the road to unemployment for high salaried, competent teachers?
8. Why have you not led your members in vocal, body-on-the-line protests against the willful destruction of competent teachers’ careers by incompetent, insecure, and unethical principals?
9. Who is defending your teachers in the schools? Do you know that most of your chapter chair people and district reps have abdicated the duty to advocate? Do you know of the despair being felt by teachers who know they don’t have a union willing or able to defend them within the schools?
10. How do you reconcile your claim to be an advocate for the students when their teachers- new hires and senior teachers- are stampeding out of the NYC school system?
11. On a NY1 news show last week, in criticism of the budget cuts, you chastised Klein and advised him to “Show some leadership in tough times.” Ms. Weingarten, how have you shown leadership in protecting your competent teachers during the tough Bloomberg-Klein times?
Teachers are urged to email Ms Weingarten with any of these or other questions. IT IS PAST TIME FOR HER RESPONSE. Not an opt ed piece but a question and answer format where Ms. Weingarten does not control the floor, or the questions asked, or the time allotted to each response.

Oct 19, 2007

Preview of the UFT's Response to the Horror of the Temporary Reassignment Centers

Jim Callaghan, a UFT reporter, came to the Reassignment Center at 333 7th Avenue on October 19th and imparted the following information, which was greeted with some hope but also a large amount of cynicism and skepticism:

Randi Weingarten, president of the UFT, is calling a meeting of all personnel assigned to the Temporary Reassignment Centers, "Rubber Rooms", for Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 4:15p.m. at 52 Broadway At this meeting she will state that the lack of due process is very concerning. At this meeting she will outline what she will request/demand? from the DOE.
1. That the four missing arbitrators from the current panel of 3020a arbitrators be replaced immediately, In addition the panel should be increased by four arbitrators to form a 24 member 3020a panel.
2. A Master Arbitrator be appointed to review all potential 3020a cases to determine whether any individual case warrants the separation of the charged person from interaction with children.
3. Principals must sign affidavits swearing that the levied 3020a charges are not the result of personality conflicts, whistle blowing, any type of discrimination, or any other non - job performance criteria.
4. The right of the UFT to sue principals who are most egregious in either frequency of charging or the level of the fabrication or vindictiveness of the charge.
5. End to retaliation towards any UFT member sent back to his/her job.
6. Exposure on nation-wide media of the NYCDOE 's policy of harassment of, vindictiveness towards, and lying about teachers resulting in unsound educational policy

Reassigned personnel had demands of their own to be conveyed to Randi:
1. Punitive damages for stress, illness, anxiety incurred as a result of the vindictiveness and lying of principals and other administrators.
2. Investigation of the Special Office of Investigation- their motivation and methods.
3. Stop the practice of "splitting decisions down the middle." This is a long standing practice of arbitrators - the giving of something to both sides in a dispute- not only in educational hearings but all types of hearings. This is to keep both sides happy with the arbitrator. Justice is the goal, not the preservation of an arbitrator's job! If a person is innocent of the charges, there should be no fines or suspensions. Suggestion: Reinstate hearings by a panel of three arbitrators and have the decision rendered anonymously.
4. Like in other unionized due process hearings, make the principal prove that the person receiving the charges was not the worst performer. Yes, it means showing that another person in your job description was a worse performer, BUT remember, the principal is not out to get that person. This relates to Randi's projected demand #3.

If anyone has other demands they want aired, send them to


Oct 17, 2007

Teachers Demonstate Against the Inaction of the UFT

Teachers Demonstrate Against the Inaction of the UFT 10/17/07

Teachers will demonstrate in front of UFT headquarters to protest the union’s five year silence in defending teachers against abusive treatment at the hands of the Bloomberg-Klein administration.
When teachers’ rights are abused, students’ rights to a good education are abused. Very competent tenured teachers have been turned into substitute teachers- ATRs- while the City hires thousands of new teachers. Very competent teachers are targeted for harassment and unfairly U-rated because:
--they exercised their contractual right to transfer into a school or,
--they criticize an educational program or,
--they question irregularities they see- marking of exams, attendance taking, lack of compliance with IEPs, changing of IEPs without parental notification or consent etc. or,
--they demand much of their students ,i.e. “hard markers”, or,
--they have reached a certain seniority and therefore salary or,
--whatever other educationally invalid reason the inexperienced and business-model trained principals and assistant principals feel is necessary to 'break the teacher's will'.

Where was/is the UFT?

Where was the union outcry about ,or at least serious and public questioning of, the ATR debacle?

Where were the chapter leaders and the district reps when teachers were/are targeted for harassment?

Where was Randi before the newspapers made the Reassignment Centers (Rubber Rooms) the sexy issue of the moment?

Where was/is the expression of UFT outrage at that mockery of justice known as the DOE Appeals Court?


This is why TAG is marching knowing full well that Bloomberg-Klein is our enemy, but wondering who and where are our friends?

Oct 15, 2007

Protest for Teachers' Rights

TAG has put out a call for teachers to join us in a demonstration to tell Randi that TAG is here to support and defend the right of teachers to be the competent professionals that we are. We will bring this message to the Delegate Assembly:
October 17. 2007
52 Broadway, Manhattan
3:30 - 6:00p.m.
Media attention is now on the Rubber Rooms. That is good but TAG wants attention on the reasons why the Rubber Rooms are so full. Bloomberg-Klein's empowerment of administrators to remove teachers by unfair U-ratings, tossing them thereby into the Rubber Rooms. We want media attention on the plight of the ATRs. Why are there ATRs when the City is hiring thousands of new teachers? We want media attention on how the new funding formula is creating the ATR situation and the elimination of senior/experienced teachers. We want media attention on the plight of the whistleblower. We want media attention on the fact the the UFT has done nothing to stop this harassment of teachers until the "sexy" issue of the Rubber Rooms exploded.
This demonstration wants answers from the UFT. Why aren't you representing us?

Oct 7, 2007

ATRs: Good-bye and Good Luck

This is how the NYC DOE plans to get rid of competent teachers and counselors. It is called the "Chicago Model." Want to see how it is done? Check out the Chicago Public Schools Policy Manual:
If you have trouble accessing this site, email us at
and we will send you a hard copy. Email us anyway to get on our list and make your Voice heard.

Randi, if this is not correct information, tell us "it ain't so." Tell us the truth at the October 17, 2007 DA meeting. Give us reassurance that this is not what you and Bloomberg and Klein envisioned when you negotiated the 2005 contract.

Randi, any idea why five to six thousand new teachers were hired when we have hundreds of competent (from good to excellent) teachers serving as ATRs? Why are we bringing teachers in from out of the country ( reverse outsourcing) to take the jobs of tenured and non-tenured competent teachers already in place? Can you tell us answers at the October 17, 2007 DA meeting?

Oct 2, 2007

Bloomberg Brings His Sick Business Ethic to DOE

Teachers. Can you find the analogy between Bloomberg's management style and what is happening to senior/experienced teachers in NYC? Read the following about the Man Who Would Be President.
(Article printed in The New York Post)


September 30, 2007 -- Mayor Bloomberg's media and financial-services company is a "cesspool of discrimination" where some females, people over 35 and employees with health problems are harassed, belittled and "managed out" of the company, according to dozens of lawsuits and complaints, The Post has learned.
The alleged abuse of employees at Bloomberg LP goes beyond the pattern of sex discrimination charged by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a lawsuit last week.
The EEOC said the company repeatedly demoted and slashed the pay of women who returned to work after having babies.
The multibillion-dollar firm founded by Bloomberg denies any bias, saying it intends to "defend the case vigorously."
But many other employees complained the company harassed and demeaned them when they needed medical care or reached age 40.
Job applicants over age 35 were routinely rejected as "not a fit" - company code for too old, according to testimony in an ongoing suit.
Attorney David Kearney said his Manhattan-based firm, the Law Offices of Neal Brickman, has represented more than 20 Bloomberg LP employees with claims of age, disability and gender discrimination since 1998.
"The company is a cesspool of discrimination, and Mayor Mike set the tone and the mold," Kearney charged yesterday. "Now would be a good time for Mr. Bloomberg to demonstrate national leadership by doing right by those who suffered discrimination by his namesake Bloomberg LP."
A City Hall spokesman referred questions on the litigation to Bloomberg LP. A spokeswoman for the company, Judith Czelusniak, said yesterday that claims the mayor perpetuated a climate of bias are "nonsense."
"This is a great place to work," she said. "The company is extremely family friendly."
A 1998 sex-harassment suit charged Bloomberg created a corporate culture that favored sexy young women to peddle his popular financial-information terminals - and cast them aside when they got married or pregnant. It accused Bloomberg, as the main offender, as well as his company. He settled the suit in 2001, just before becoming mayor, sources said.
"Women who applied for sales positions were required to meet criteria of sex appeal," the suit charged. "Women who were less attractive or married were ridiculed, and new mothers and recently married women lost lucrative portions of their sales territory, were denied business opportunities, had their pay cut and received inferior bonuses."
In the infamous case, which made news soon after Bloomberg was elected, saleswoman Sekiko Sekai Garrison, fired in 1995 in alleged retaliation for her complaints, described a hostile work environment in which females were treated like sex objects, "ugly" women were insulted, and nursing moms were mocked for having "leaky boobs."
She accused Bloomberg himself of making numerous crude sexual remarks, such as telling her, "If only you had legs and a-- like Cybill Shepherd," asking her, "Are you still dating your boyfriend? You giving him good [oral sex]?" and telling a male colleague in her presence, "That's a great piece of a--."
In the EEOC case, Bloomberg employees Tanys Lancaster and Jill Patricot and others echo Garrison's complaints about the treatment of expectant and new moms.
The firm also prefers young employees, often right out of college, because it can work them the hardest at the lowest pay, according to an ongoing suit filed in 2005 by four employees, ages 55 to 65, who charge age discrimination.
The suit squarely blames the mayor - disputing his claim that he bowed out of the company's management after taking city office in January 2002. It argues that he set the tone and allowed it to continue.
The company "proved to be an unusual work environment, due to Michael Bloomberg's preference for much younger subordinates," say court papers filed in federal court in New Jersey, where Bloomberg LP had operations in Princeton until transferring them to Manhattan about a year ago.
A former recruiter came forward to bolster the age-discrimination charges. Matthew Brown, hired in 2003 in his mid-20s, did initial interviews with job applicants at "recruitment villages" Bloomberg LP set up at colleges and elsewhere.
Résumés of many older applicants got tossed.
"I witnessed it many times, applicants thrown out for little reason besides age," Brown testified under oath.
He said he once asked his supervisor why a qualified applicant, apparently in his early 40s, whom he'd called back for two more interviews was not offered a job. She pulled Brown into a conference room and angrily berated him.
"Why did you bring him in? He's not a fit!" he quoted her as yelling.
One of the plaintiffs, Vera Stek, 55, who joined Bloomberg News as an editor and writer in 1995, said she was later pigeonholed in the "Lifestyles Group," also known as the "over-50" clan.
In 2001, while Bloomberg was still at the company helm, Stek brought a problem to human resources in the Princeton offices. An HR male staffer spoke to her of sexual exploits with his wife and his "desire to have sex with young females who worked at the company," Stek said in an affidavit.
"I realized then that . . . [the] alleged anti-discrimination policies were utterly nonexistent," Stek's affidavit says.
Mike Bloomberg had his main office in Manhattan but visited Princeton, employees said.
Workers considered too old or no longer desirable were "managed out," a term that meant making their lives so miserable that they'd quit, the suit said.
In another suit charging disability discrimination before Bloomberg became mayor, a 35-year-old black reporter for Bloomberg's News Stocks in Manhattan says she got rave reviews in her first six months in 2001, before she suffered three blood clots to her lung.
On and off medical leave for nearly four months, she returned to Bloomberg under doctor's orders to work from home, take rests, and limit herself to eight hours of work a day.
She was told that it was against company policy to work at home but learned that some white employees enjoyed the option, the suit says. Her boss demanded that she work late, it says.
Then she was removed from her reporting beat and denied raises, the suit says. After she filed a complaint with the company, she alleged, "a co-worker told me to 'go back to Africa.' "
Bloomberg LP settled her suit for an undisclosed sum.
A former Bloomberg news producer, 40, filed a disability-discrimination suit in 2005 after taking a two-month medical leave in June 2004 to undergo reconstructive ankle surgery.
Garitt Kono, the producer of "Bloomberg Tomorrow Tonight" in Manhattan, charged that only a month after announcing he needed the surgery, his bosses posted ads for his job. He returned in two months to find he'd been demoted to "booker," the suit says. When Kono began fighting his demotion, higher-ups slapped him with charges of insubordination.
Kono was even addressed in e-mail by the man hired to replace him as a "douchebag." Bloomberg LP settled the suit, records show.
In another suit, filed in state court in Manhattan in 2005, James Kingsland says he was demoted from his top post as afternoon news director, in charge of 25 reporters and editors, after being diagnosed with kidney disease.
"Michael Bloomberg personally hired Kingsland" in 1992 as a news anchor at age 28, poaching him from rival CNBC, the suit says. He rose in pay and prominence until becoming sick in 2002.
He took medical leave in October 2004 and got a kidney transplant in March 2005.Despite assurances that his old job awaited him, the suit says, he returned in May to learn that his position had been "reevaluated" and that his health would not allow him to "handle the expanded hours and duties of the job."
He was reassigned as a "menial copy editor" and his annual salary was slashed by $70,000, says the suit, which was settled in January.
In a suit filed in August, Atilio Arelo, 59, a former Portuguese translator for Bloomberg in Princeton, says the company waged a "vicious campaign to manage him out" in 2003 after he was diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
The company denies the charge.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Wolff and Susannah Cahalan

Sep 27, 2007

Sep 25, 2007

TAG Confronts Klein at PEP Meeting September 24th

A group of TAG members met at the Tweed Courthouse last night. We carried signs and held them up outside but were speedily directed to put them away. Just prior to the beginning of the PEP meeting (PEP is the Board of Education) we signed up to speak. The intention was to read our position paper and we did just that. We also read a statement from an excessed teacher who is languishing as an ATR. The Board (Klein) was asked how many ATRs there are in the schools. Klein replied he did not know but there would be a report issued containing the number. TAG demanded to know when this report would be issued. Klein testily replied "when it is issued". TAG then demanded to know why the Board (Klein) has no idea of the number of ATRs. Seems this would be a number he would have right at his fingertips being the businessman that he is. Klein looked sullenly ahead and made no response.
Mr. Polo Colon, now a member of TAG, asked Klein how many rubber rooms (RRs) there are and the number of teachers sitting in these RRs. Klein could not give the number. Mr. Colon then asked Klein if Klein last year had written that the RRs were meant to hold alleged criminals. Klein declined to answer. Colon stated that Klein's silence indicated an answer in the affirmative. After Colon spoke, Betsy Combier, a parent and teacher advocate, spoke and gave Klein and the Board "hell" about the RRs. She has been making a tour of them and speaks to many of the 'incarcerated', so she knows that teachers are being removed without charges being given, that teachers who pose no physical threat to students are being placed in the RRs (the U-rated teachers), and that the physical conditions of the RRS are deplorable.
What the PEP thought would be a very dull, quiet meeting proved just the opposite. Klein walked out (and the rest of the Board followed) even though a parent put his hand up and requested to speak.
TAG plans to be at the next PEP meeting.
A reporter for the UFT paper was there. Question: Will Randi get the message?


Position Paper Read to PEP September 24, 07

Below is the position paper of TAGNYC read to the Panel on Educational Policy (the new Board of Education for NYC) last night much to the consternation of Klein. Teachers, we must speak out about what is happening in our schools.

Teacher Advocacy Group NYC
We are a group of NYC teachers and counselors who are angry and determined to protect ourselves from the teacher abuse encouraged by the Bloomberg-Klein team. We DON’T advocate protection of incompetence and we WON’T tolerate the harassment of competent teachers, especially senior teachers, with the goal of depriving them of their livelihood or forcing them into an unwanted retirement. The Teacher Advocacy Group (TAG) intends to give a Voice to teachers who are being heard by no one else.

TAG seeks to bring the message to NYC teachers that harassment is happening citywide. It wants to expose the atmosphere of fear that permeates too many of our schools, especially schools serving inner city students. The Teacher Advocacy Group wants our Voice to say loud and clear that teaching is our profession and that we intend to stay in our profession, as the competent teachers we have always been judged to be. We seek to reveal that while school administrators engage in smoke and mirrors and just plain academic fraud to push up graduation rates and test scores, targeted teachers are harassed, badgered, and given U-ratings. TAG seeks to alert all teachers to the need to keep records, documenting instances of harassment, and responding to letters in the file and U-ratings.


The Bloomberg-Klein Reorganization Plan is yet another attempt in a fifty year history to raise the academic performance of the inner city school. Central to every failed plan, and all have failed, are two constants:
1. Refusal to confront the real reasons inner city schools have low performance rates;
2. Erroneously blaming the TEACHER for students’ low academic performance. “Students don’t learn because TEACHERS CAN’T OR WON’T TEACH.”

As long as we teachers allow this fifty year old ‘passing of the buck’ to be repeated by politicians, pseudo-reporters like John “Jerry Springer” Stoessel, and the public in general, the teaching profession is lost and no variations on reorganization schemes, or flavor of the month curriculum, will improve the performance of the inner city school.

The current Reorganization Plan is no good for teachers (and therefore for students) because:
1. Principals are given ultimate accountability for raising academic performance. Performance data will not have a longitudinal life. Like with all the education experiments, the Reorganization wants instant achievement. Teachers can expect to be scapegoated- as always- when/if those results don’t occur.
2. Because results are measured in test scores, standards will collapse, “hard markers” will be penalized, and teachers will become robots who prepare students, not to conceptualize, apply, synthesize, and analyze, but to take the next test.
3. With the closing of large schools, many experienced teachers are excessed and turned into ATRs (Absent Teacher Reserve). Substitute teachers! Their training and content knowledge are wasted while they draw the same salary. They live a miserable existence until they quit or retire. (See #4 for why these excessed teachers will find it hard to find a permanent position).
4. The Reorganization demands that the principal be a business manager. A new funding plan holds the individual school accountable for the salaries of all its teachers. NOT GOOD for the hiring/retention of experienced teachers. The following comes from the DOE Homepage “How Teachers’ Salaries Work.”

“...With the greater control over budgets that the new approach creates, principals will have both new opportunities and new responsibilities. Schools can choose how to combine their investments in different types of teachers, services, and supports to improve student achievement. Smart principals will invest in great staff. They also will recognize that the more they spend on staff, the more recurring expenditures they will have down the road. Whatever their decisions, schools will bear the real costs of their new hires, both currently and in the future.” (Italics added)
5. Reorganization means many of the bureaucrats - -yes, Bloomberg-Klein have a bureaucracy- - will be out of a job. Look for many of them to turn back up in the schools as part time teacher, part time administrator. And guess whose jobs they will be taking.

Plain and simple, teachers have kept this inherently broken system going for the past many years. When Bloomberg took over the schools and destroyed the old bureaucracy, assistant principals wept because they did not know who to contact to resolve problems. And the school life went on because whatever new scheme is devised, on the first day and thereafter, teachers, irrespective of age, seniority, and transfer status, enter their classrooms and begin to teach.
What can we do to FIGHT BACK?
2.Contact Teacher Advocacy Group NYC and let us know your situation.
3.Document, Document, Document.
4.Expose the academic fraud that you will be sure to see (contact us for how to proceed).
5.Expose the lack of compliance with mandated students’ needs (contact us for how to proceed).
6.Let the UFT know what is happening to you and document its response.
7.E-mail our flyers to your teacher friends, whether or not they are experiencing difficulty.
8.Use your Voice and our Voice to expose the smoke and mirrors that is going on --to the detriment of teachers and students.
9.Be COMPETENT and never insubordinate.
10.Reprint this flyer and put it into your schools.

To join our email lists, attend our meetings, tell your story, and distribute our leaflets, email us at

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Sep 18, 2007

"Spit in the face of fear..."

Randi said at a Delegates Assembly meeting "Spit in the face of fear." This in response to a senior teacher imploring Randi " us. Your teachers are suffering." So the militant words came out per usual but UFT actions belie the words so how do you tell a probationary teacher to "Spit" when his/her back is not covered by the CL and when the chapter militancy that Randi championed at that DA meeting is non-existent because of a gutted contract. Randi had 83,000 plus teachers at her back and she negotiated away our job protections in 2005. So we have a broken union evidenced by the most potent indicator of union busting- the inability of this union to guarantee the right of its competent senior teachers and counselors to remain in their profession. Bloomberg-Klein broke the union because they know that even union leadership buys into the lie that teachers are to blame for the failed inner city schools. Why else did not or does not Randi - with 83, 000 plus teachers at her back- appear in enraged stance on the front page of the Post under the headline LEAVE MY TEACHERS ALONE!
Excessed qualified teachers operating as ATRs, job fairs where principals won't look at anyone over forty, and the zinger of a weapon, the
U-rating ,are the means of clearing the deck of the senior and/or vocal teacher. TAGNYC may not appear on the front of the Post but we will speak out in support of teachers who deserve better than the likes of Bloomberg-Klein and their business mantra "Its the bottom line, Stupid." We will tell Bloomberg-Klein that the 'bottom line' in education can not be reached through intimidation and academic fraud and corruption. We will encourage teachers to tell their stories here. This INSANITY has got to stop.