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.