Sep 25, 2007

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.

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