Sunday, January 21, 2018

Crap! This Sucks!

I received a phone call from my friend that is going through a 3020-a about 7 PM this evening. Funny, about the timing vis a vis last night's post.

After a grueling third day of testimony he has decided to retire, effective April 30, from the DOE.

I understand the pain and anguish. But, the only thing I can do and will do is support him in his decision.

There has got to be a better way.

At least he did not take advice from the Crazy Ones. 

Let's not forget thanks to the UFT. If he wasn't for the wonderful negotiating prowess he keeps his retro. Who knows? If the UFT did what it was supposed to do he might not have had whether or not he got his retro hanging over his head.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Helping Teachers That Need Help

My friend who I have written about recently (here and here) is now fighting for his career. His 3020-a hearing started recently and I hope and I pray that he comes out of the process keeping his job.

I have spent a lot of time with him on the phone, and in person, sharing the process, being another set of eyes with his paperwork, talking him off the ceiling, and helping in whatever he needs at that moment.

I have done this and will for anyone who asks.

But I am careful, as should anyone, that gives advice to any teacher in trouble. I have had to catch myself.

I am fighter. Not everyone is, can or will, fight back like me.

My friend was ready to quit. He set up a pension consultation and was going to retire. For a brief moment I was angry. How can you give up? "Fight back!" I was saying in my head. "Don't give into these fuckers!" 

But logic prevailed. It is not my fight it is his. I know exactly how he felt. I had my moments as well.

Yes, you can give advice about recording, FOIL, going to the press, screaming from the mountain top, but not everyone can or wants to do that. The best you can do when giving advice to a teacher in trouble is be there to listen, to give that teacher all their options available to them, and whatever that teacher chooses, be there to give your unconditional support.

I have seen first hand one teacher in particular that has gotten the wrong advice and basically has turned into a, well for lack of a better phrase, a certifiable basket case. He got caught completely radicalized and has dug himself deeper and deeper into the abyss where frankly, there is no escape.It's sad what has happened, very sad.

When helping that teacher in trouble we have to stay away from "should," "you must," and "you have to." This is not the fight of the person giving the advice but rather that of the teacher's.

When I went through the same not one person I spoke with told me what I must or have to do. I never heard the word should. I was given support. I had someone to listen to me. For that I am eternally grateful. These people are the true champions of teachers in trouble.

But it is not for me, nor anyone else, to project my belief system unto another teacher. I am nothing more than another system of support.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Shocking is all I can say. Especially the last paragraph on page 9.

Don't cross The Clown. "Vengeance is mine, sayeth The Clown."

Remember the Seinfeld episode in which George was trying to keep unemployment by claiming he interviewed with Jerry to be his latex salesman? George wound up face down in his underwear and Jerry said, "And you want to be my latex salesman?" Take that same sentence and replace UFT president for latex salesman.

   The Clown by Peter Zucker on Scribd

Monday, December 4, 2017

3020-a Suicidal Tendencies Suck

All of us get lost in the darkness/Dreamers learn to steer by the stars/All of us do time in the
gutter/Dreamers turn to look at the cars/Turn around and turn around and turn around/Turn around and walk the razor's edge/Don't turn your back/And slam the door on me-- "The Pass" 1990, Peart, Neil

Back in September I wrote this blog post: Teacher Bathroom Behavior Charges, in regards to the 3020-a charges against a certain teacher  about leaving several droplets of pee on a toilet seat and not sufficiently cleaning up his doody after having an "issue."

Today an update. And before I continue, I just want to emphasize that after talking with this teacher, that we both agreed that I can write about what happened to him. That his story can help others in the same predicament.

On Thanksgiving morning, this teacher, this friend of mine, was feeling overwhelmed and despondent over his case. He wasn't in the Rubber Room, but in a different kind of hell. Re-assigned to another school being nothing more than a well paid office boy. Unable to share his gift and passion with the students of the City of New York.

So on this Thanksgiving, where we are supposed to be thankful for the friends, family, and everything in our lives, this teacher was just beside himself. The pressure was getting to him. There was nowhere to turn but inwards.

Some people find solace in a beer or whisky or even Jägermeister. Those beverages would just make him forget for a little while. He was looking for something permanent. To never remember again.

He took a red Solo cup and poured some liquid bleach into it. Not all the way, about a third. It was time he thought. He looked at the cup and looked inside.

He drank it all in one gulp.

At that very moment, through all his despair, he realized he had made a big mistake.

Thank God he was not home alone. He was rushed to the hospital and seen by their mental health team. He assured them that he won't try anything like this again and it was basically a cry for help.

The teacher has since been in contact with the UFT's Member Assistance Team and is doing what he needs to do.

There are many reasons this teacher reacted this way and got to this point. But in my opinion one of the culprits has got to be the attitude of the NYSUT attorneys.

"Don't talk about this to anyone," you are told. Why? "It's none of anyone's business." Which is just another way of saying you should feel shamed and embarrassed with what you are going through.

Want your 3020-a to be an open hearing? "No!!! Don't do it. Anyone can then walk in and see what is going on!" Another way to feel shame.

Unlike cops or firefighters or even transit workers who go through their own versions of a 3020-a and continue to have the support of their colleagues, a teacher going through this process is treated as plutonium from those around them.

For anyone going through the 3020-a process, DON'T FEEL ANY SHAME!!! Sing it loud, sing it proud. It is your case, your life, you decide, not your NYSUT attorney. Talk about it with your friends, your family, people you trust. Share your feelings, get them out.

Now of course there are limits to what you should say and whom you should talk to. But please, do not keep anything in. Have a support system. And, remember, there is absolutely zero shame in seeking help by a professional and/or going on medication. Your life is that important!

As for having an open hearing, do it! Peel back the sheath and expose what transpires in 3020-a hearings. The more people who witness a hearing I truly believe the safer you are.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

#MeToo Jay Shaplow Retired ELA Teacher at Ardsley Middle School

When I started teaching in 1995. I called Jay Shaplow my former 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher from Ardsley Middle School to share with him that he was one of my role models as a teacher and I plan on teaching in a style like him.

But not completely in his style. There are always exceptions.

I didn't recall it for years after the incident that occurred when I was in 8th grade in 1978. Not even when I called him in 1995. But a few years later I recalled it, shared it with a colleague during my third year teaching and didn't say anything to Shaplow when I ran into him at the Westchester County Center when the Ardsley High basketball team was in the Section 1 playoffs.

But it is has been vivid in my mind for years and I have even shared it with classmates on Facebook. In fact one former classmate remembers the incident.

Back in 1978, the 8th grade had gone on a class trip. My recollection is we had gone to Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. Someone else recalls it as we being at Rye Playland. What we both agree upon is the following: we were leaving and on the bus either getting ready to leave or had already left. I was sitting, not alone, in the front seat of the bus next to the door. Shaplow was sitting in the seat behind me. Shaplow then started talking to me.

"Hey, Zucker, how do you masturbate?"

 "How often do you masturbate?"

 He seemed quite interested in my responses.

At the time I was 14 years old. Legally, not an adult, but nothing more than a child who lived at home with mommy and daddy and still, I think, had a bedtime.

Stupidly, I engaged Shaplow in this conversation and after the bus ride that was the end of it. But who knows how Shaplow was affected and in what manor.

I guess when I started teaching I looked back on it and realized it was fucked up for a teacher who was at the time 28 years old to be engaging in this perverse type of conversation with a 14 year old boy.

I never told my parents. I never told the principal at the middle school. Not until I was an adult and teaching and knew of that any and all of my actions as a teacher would have both negative and positive ramifications on my students did I share this experience. But I am happy I did. I got validation.

I have kept quiet. But no more. My wife had been violated as a young girl. I know others that have been violated as well. What I went through in no way compares to what these others have gone through. But.

Was Shaplow's banter an attempt at grooming? He knew how fucked up my home life was. And if this was "grooming" was I the only 14 year old boy he attempted this with in his 30+ years of teaching? And if this was "grooming," did his attempts ever come to fruition in his 30+ years of teaching?

What does the Ardsley Union Free School District and the Ardsley Police Department know? What does the community of Ardsley know?

Let's just get one thing straight. Whether he was doing it to be a smart ass, a comedian, thought he was being hip, or any benign reason, Shaplow fucked up and was wrong. If this was his grooming methodology, there are not enough words to say what should or should've happened.

Hopefully, some good can come of this. Perhaps Shaplow not only talked to another 14 year old boy in this manner, but worse, took it to another level.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that Shaplow spoke to me in this manner. He was wrong. He was unprofessional. He violated the trust between student and teacher. This needs to be out there.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mazel Tov UFT!!

A hearty handshake is extended from us here at SBSB to our leadership at the UFT for not only being at the forefront, but for having the foresight, to not only oppose Proposition 1 in this past Tuesday's statewide vote, but also in the defeat of the aforementioned proposition. Kudos!

Not only that, the UFT is publicly preening itself in self-adulation as a teenage boy who has lost his virginity in playing its part. Yes, the emails, the phone calls, the robo-calls, and even the text messages from real people got 82% of voters to say heck no to Prop 1.

Just how much is the UFT kvelling in it's unprecedented "win?" Let's just look at Facebook...

So here is what I, and I am sure many others want to know. Why can't the UFT put the same time and effort in for its members that it does for defeating a NYS Constitutional Convention?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into doing away with the fair student funding which is keeping many qualified teachers from permanent positions?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into fixing the ATR problem?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into exposing abusive principals?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into make our union a true democratic union in which different ideas are debated and respected?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into enforcing our collectively bargained contract?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into ensuring that every member, whether active or inactive gets every last cent due them of monies owed since 2009, regardless on how one left the DOE?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort to have ensured that we all get our retro in one sum, in 2015, instead of waiting until 2020 or 2021, both over a decade from when we should have had a contract and a raise.

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into just doing the right thing? Really? Is it that difficult?

My dad used to tell me you can do anything you want when you decide to put your mind to it. Maybe the UFT should listen to what my dad had to say.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Star Trek 3020-a: The Delight of Betsy Combier

Pay attention to the following. It all ties into the topic of today's blog post.

UPDATE 10/21/17 7:01 PM: Since no one has gotten the Star Trek reference (Gee, I thought ALL teachers were into Star Trek). 

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Captain Kirk beams down to the Genesis planet to meat up with Carol Marcus. The Enterprise is in orbit, crippled by the barrage Khan unleashed using the hijacked USS Reliant. Spock using code to inform Kirk of ongoing repairs uses days instead of hours to let Kirk know how long it will take to facilitate repairs knowing that Khan will be listening in. Spock was using code. Basically saying the OPPOSITE of what is true!!!

When they beam aboard the Enterprise, 2 HOURS LATER, this conversation takes place:

Saavik: You lied!
Spock: I exaggerated. 

Perhaps I should have used this Seinfeld quote: 

"If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right."
- Jerry, to George, in "The Opposite"
Sorry for the mass confusion.

Kirk: Kirk to Enterprise.
Spock: Spock here.
Kirk: Captain Spock, damage report.
Spock: Admiral, if we go "by the book". like Lieutenant Saavik, hours could seem like days.
Kirk: I read you captain. Let's have it.
Spock: The situation is grave, Admiral. We won't have main power for six "days". Auxiliary power has temporarily failed. Restoration may be possible, in two "days". By the book, Admiral.

Got it?

If you hire Betsy Combier and her legal team, you have made a great decision! One that will ensure you many more years of teaching.

Betsy Combier is one of the finest legal minds of our time when it comes to defending teachers. 

Ethically, Betsy Combier is beyond reproach.

Betsy Combier is not a clown.

If you have Betsy Combier write your Article 75 appeal and notice there is mention that your probable cause rights were violated, well GOSH DARN, you can feel as if you won Powerball.

A judge has never shot down Betsy Combier's probable cause theories.

Betsy Combier is 100% selfless and never puts herself first. 

Betsy Combier does not chase windmills. 

Betsy Combier is always truthful. 

Betsy Combier will never tear down others to build herself up. 

Betsy Combier is always truthful and transparent about past cases she has been involved in. 

You will not regret your association with Betsy Combier.

Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh...
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one.