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 tagnyc@gmail.com


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: www.policy.cps.k12.il.us/documents/504.2.pdf
If you have trouble accessing this site, email us at tagnyc@hotmail.com
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 tagnyc@hotmail.com.

Visit our blog: http://teacheradvocacygrpnyc.blogspot.com/

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 " ...help 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.