SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Teacher Puts His Faith in Betsy Combier

This is a true, sad, and disturbing story.

Whilst I was in the Rubber Room during the 2014-2015 school year there were three "inmates" in there facing 3020-a charges. I recommended Bryan Glass and Jordan Harlow to all three of them. I gave all three Bryan and Jordan's contact info and and two called.

The two that called had Jordan represent them in their hearings. Neither went to trial. Both settled their cases and both kept their jobs. Both went into the ATR pool, with one retiring about 10 months later.

The one who did not contact Jordan or Bryan decided to use a NYSUT attorney at first. He was offered a deal of a $6500 fine and becoming an ATR. He turned it down and the day before his hearing was to start fired the NYSUT attorney and took out a pension loan and hired a private attorney for $12k. After the first day of the hearing he was unhappy with the private attorney and subsequently fired him.

He decided to go pro se. And who was with him, assisting him the entire time at his hearing? Betsy Combier.

What was the outcome of this case? He was fined $7500 and became an ATR. That was in addition to the $12k he was out for retaining the private attorney.

Now, the entire time, from when he first met with his NYSUT attorney to when he went pro se he was in contact with Betsy. When I would talk to him about his NYSUT attorney he seemed to be parroting what Betsy has said to be concerning NYSUT attorneys "NYSUT attorneys are no good," "they are in bed with the DOE," and stuff like that. This seems to contradict a commenter in my post previous post who said (concerning Betsy);
...She seems to believe that NYSUT lawyers are best over private lawyers due the fact that NYSUT lawyers "know" all the players involved in 3020a hearings.
The Crack Team is plotzing over this contradiction.

But there is one more curious thing here.

When I asked my friend why he had not hired, or at least looked into Jordan, he responded with statements that seemed quite familiar...
"I heard that Bryan and Jordan are in bed with the DOE."
When I asked him where is his proof or who shared this with him there was no answer. He had never met with either Bryan or Jordan nor do I believe had contact with anyone, other than the other two Rubber Room "inmates" that hired Jordan, concerning Bryan and Jordan. I know for a fact that the other two once their cases were resolved and before they were released spoke glowingly of Jordan and both said it was "best money" they had ever spent.

For anyone to ever insinuate that Bryan Glass or Jordan Harlow are in bed with the NYCDOE goes beyond common decency. To make a comment like that without an iota of evidence is just plain wrong and irresponsible and downright unethical.

Oh, by the way, my friend also hired Betsy for his Article 75. Let's see how that goes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Teachers are ****** to Have Betsy Combier

I was in Epcot this past Friday, enjoying lunch in France with my family when lo and behold I heard a voice. This voice told me that I at one time was a fool. That I was conned. That I didn't see what I should've seen.

I edited this blog post from a post I had written back on May 16, 2016. Draw your own conclusions.


I first met Betsy Combier almost 10 years ago during my time in the RR during the time of Numb Nuts. I remember her showing up every now and then, placing her stuff down on a desk, sitting down, and watching a line form to see her as if people were lining up to get Mickey Mantle's autograph.

Betsy at the time was working for the UFT. She was the liaison, or something like that, for the people of the Rubber Room to the outside world. She was the friendly face, or more importantly, she was the only face that seemed to care.

With the changing of the guard at the UFT, soon Betsy was not employed by them. She was now a free agent. In my opinion this was a blessing for Betsy and the teachers she sought to help. Betsy was now a free agent. There was no stopping her now.

Betsy along with her blogs, NYC Rubber Room Reporter, and Parent Advocates, has been att the forefront of removing the sheath back over the mess that the NYCDOE has created over the years. Betsy has been, and still is, the leader in assuring those damaged by the NYCDOE that they will be heard and that their rights will not be trampled on.

I recall back in the summer of 2013 when I and several teachers in my school had our careers trampled on. I contacted Betsy to meet with us and without hesitation she did. We met at a diner on 2nd Ave and spent a couple of hours not only soaking in her knowledge of what we can do, but more importantly, having that sympathetic ear that we were missing for so long. This is what Betsy is about.

Betsy is about someone who will be with you and advocate for you from the very beginning to the very end. Betsy is about once her work is done with you will be a friend for life. Someone that you can call day or night when you have that feeling of helplessness and need someone that you can be assured will be there for you.

Betsy fights for you. She fights for us. Betsy is persistent, never gives up. When her path forward in fighting for a teacher is blocked that does not stop her at all. She dusts herself off, rolls her he sleeves and finds a new path to go down. Ceaselessly fighting and advocating until she gets the results that she wants, or better, demands.

I consider Betsy a true friend, a trusted friend. I'm not the only one that does. There are many she as helped. Many she has rescued from the abyss.

Betsy is a lifeline. When you are sinking, when you feel desperate, when you feel alone in your fight there is no one better than Betsy to have on your side.

Betsy has been there for many teachers and I hope she will continue to be there for us for many years to come. You can't go wrong with Betsy.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Portelos Back in Fantasy World

Oh Portelos is at it again, giving false hope from a false prophet clown.

On November 29, 2016 Portelos shared this post on memyselfandI,com giving the illusion that the arcane method of bulletin boards was about to be resolved. You know the rubrics, nice little motes on post-its, all that kind of fun stuff.

Sadly, and I can't blame teachers, especially those who do not know the truth about Portelos, that this is a light that is at the end of the tunnel. There is no resolution as of yet to this asinine bulletin board system.

Sadly, there are those that take the word of a scheister. Those that are desperate to feed into one's ego of self-aggrandizement. The truth is out there, and a modicum of truth does not even begin with Portelos.

The Crack Team came across this from several UFT members deep within 52 Broadway. There is no resolution on the bulletin boards. The UFT is confident that there shall be, but in the meantime we have to deal with the crappy system. For now.

Yes, the current evaluation system makes no mention of bulletin boards as something to be evaluated and/or observed. And yes, principals are sticking with this until otherwise noted make teachers city wide pull out their hair like Larry.

So when a teacher who in a state of distress and finds such an irresponsible, lack of substance blog post, of course they will lock on to it without knowing full well about the source of such a post.

As of today, April 5, 2017, nothing has changed. The UFT I have been assured is working on this bulletin board matter as we speak.

No yes, if a teacher does not do the bulletin board the suggested way and gets written up for it, that teacher can and should file a grievance post haste. But the problem, at least as we see it here at SBSB is that until a ruling comes down in favor of the UFT the problem is there is no iron clad agreement/precedence which in the opinion of The Crack Team will only harm the teacher more.

This is why I am going to lay my cards on the table and ask around about Portelos, ask about what Portelos has actually accomplished and like you would for a doctor who tells you need a procedure, get a 2nd and 3rd opinion, preferably from a grown up.

Sometimes adults can infuse help and reality. Remember, consider your sources.

If I am wrong with anything, or missed something, I will correct post-haste.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

UFT Breaks 45 Year Gentleman's Agreement Concerning NYSUT

For those who might have read my recent posts concerning the upcoming NYSUT elections and have interpreted my writings as an endorsement of Unity and not Stronger Together, well you are wrong.

Though I and The Crack Team disagree with ST's tactics, we here at SBSB hope that ST comes out victorious at the RA at the posh and quite expensive New York Hilton April 7-8.

But something reaks within the upcoming NYSUT election and the smell is permeating from Unity. Read on. Be patient.

Several sources reached out to The Crack Team and suggested that we read pages 67-8, and 114 from "Teachers United: The Rise of New York State United Teachers." We did.


Though we didn't read it all, we did read the pages that were suggested. We read how in 1972 Long Island assemblyman Charles Jerebek was attacking our profession. How the UFT, while quite powerful in NYC, was weak within the confines of Albany.

There was a lot of bad blood amongst the teachers unions of New York State. The UFT was aligned with the AFT, upstate with the NEA. Albert Shanker knew that to have clout in Albany the disparate parties must join together.

Shanker reached out to then Yonkers Federation of Teachers president Walter Tice. Shanker shared with Tice how the Albnay politicians played one group off of another. In unity (pardon the pun) there was strength. Not only will this reconciliation help NYC and upstate teachers unions, but help the thousands of fence sitters organize as well.

But, and this is what brings us to 2017, there was something more. Something that was never memorialized, something that was never put in writing, but initiated by Shanker.

There is (or maybe now WAS) a gentleman's agreement that a UFT member will never, ever run nor be president of NYSUT (Again, this is from several well qualified inner sanctum sources). Today in 2017, with the nomination of Andy Pallotta, that agreement as the same worth as a $3 bill.

Look back to the forming of NYSUT. There has never been someone from the UFT as president. Why is this year different? Why now?


Chances are, the way the election and it's process is stacked, the UFT/Unity backed candidate will win. Yes, Karen Magee was the pre-ordained UFT/Unity candidate but she showed to much independent thought (especially when it came to testing) that she was "promoted" and asked to go away. And besides, Karen was not a UFT member.

Could the UFT/Unity machine had selected someone other than a UFT member to run as president of NYSUT? Surely yes, but that would run the risk again of someone exhibiting independent thought. So what to do?

Violate the gentleman's agreement that Shanker made and insert someone you can control. Someone who will tow the party line. Someone who will ask permission first then speak.

Shanker must be rolling over in his grave right now.

With the shitstorm on the education horizon. what with HB-610, a rehearing of Friedrich's, Betsy DeVos, Trump, Cuomo, why the hell is UFT/Unity so tone deaf?? If they are so desperate to keep power isn't the easiest method to that end to work for the betterment of it's members instead of power grab after power grab? Aren't we a better union and able to serve our core constituents (our students) more appropriately when there are more voices and more ideas and coming together in a natural, organic method?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

When it is Time to Move On

Everything is over. Done. Kaput. Finis.

The lawsuits are done. We settled both suits (I believe last time I discussed this, one suit had been settled). A tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I can't say enough about my wife who unconditionally stood by my side through all this craziness the last, almost, 5 years and showed me such strength when I was at my lowest. She turned out, as I would tell her, to be my Yoko Ono.

Enough also can't be said for my brilliant lawyer Bryan Glass as well as his partner Jordan Harlow. Both Bryan and Jordan are beyond honorable men and lawyers and both complement each other in very unique ways. If you are in trouble with the DOE and need a lawyer you can not go wrong at all with either. Just don't bring up the Red Sox with Jordan. He for some reason thinks they are going to win the World Series this year.

Anyway, it is time for me to move on. 

I'm thinking this today for some things I have read about this week.

One, is the articles in the Post earlier this week (I refuse to even link to them) about the Renewal Schools. Someone, I shan't say who, tried to rope me into commenting for the articles. I didn't want to. That chapter in my life is over. It is time to move on. I don't need the attention. I don't need to be the center of the teacher universe.

Another article is from one minor NYC newspaper about a teacher suing the DOE.

I wish this teacher the best. But sometimes, and I learned this, there is a time to say enough is enough. As a lawyer who is a close personal friend of mine once shared with me, "Our system is not about justice, it is about how money I can get for you." And, "You never know what a jury will do."

There are two kinds of justice. First is Revenge, and if this is your aim, your soul and katra will wither and die. Then, there is True Justice, in which a wrong is righted, but it must be for the correct reasons.

Let God or whatever deity or spiritual power you believe in, take care of the "Revenge" (I don't even like using that word).

I didn't want my lawsuit to consume me nor define me. Yes, there were times that I wanted blood (figuratively). There were also times through this lawsuit,  that I got very down, that I said "FUCK IT!", and just wanted to quit.

But I could let it define me, or give up. There are much more important things in my life. One, is my peace of mind, my mental state. The others are right here in my house. My wife and my son.

My marriage was at times strained due to the lawsuit. But my wife was very involved in my case. Coming to court. Reassuring me. Strengthening my resolve.

My son needed me too. In fact, I needed him more. He will be 16 this June and entering college in two years. I can't, could not, and would not, neglect my role as his father for this lawsuit. He needs a father full time. If anything good came out of this I believe he has a better understanding of how to stand up for himself, and for those who need help the most.

I see how some have become so consumed with their own lawsuits. One person I know, and I won't share his name, has continuously taken bad advice from the wrong person (time
after time) and has practically lost his mind wallowing and chasing every windmill both real and imagined.

Nor do I have any inclination that my lawsuit was going to deliver teachers to the promised land of freedom. I'm not that full of myself. I am happy with who I am.

Not every teacher can fight back like I, or others have. That is something that some just can't wrap their brains around. All I can do, and I have reached out and been reached out to, is give any teacher in distress what their options are, everything and anything they can do, and let them make the choice that is best for them. And at that point, support them unconditionally, in anyway that is required.

And another thing I have realized. For all the crap I have been through, there have been teachers that are much worse off than I can even fathom. I know I might have my moments, but there but for the grace of God go I. How can I truly grow and move on as a person and a teacher if I think I had it bad ,when so many of my brethren are hurting and in deep, deep pain?

I am not giving up the struggle for our schools, our communities, and our educators. But the wise thing  to know is when to use the chisel instead of a hammer and to remember the difference.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The NYCDOE Sues a Teacher and the Post Loves It!

Here we go again with the NYCDOE and attempting to separate teachers from their direct deposits.

Chaz touched on this Thursday in his blog. Math teacher Alan Herz of Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Queens was brought up on 3020-a charges. According to the New York Post in 2014 Mr Herz allegedly made a sexist remark as well as an anti-Semitic remark to students; 
 “Oh yeah you don’t get it because you’re a female” and another, “I know how you Jewish people are, and it’s okay because I am Jewish, I know how Jewish people run business”
Now. Let's think for minute. First one needs the context in which the remarks were made, (and that is if they were made). And secondly, why is the DOE spending all these thousands of dollars on going after Mr Herz whilst a simple letter to the file will suffice?

But the Post must throw even more inane and mundane crud at Mr Herz.

According to the cherry picking of the  Post, Mr Herz's
...students and their parents gave him a middling three out of five stars on the website Rate My Teachers.
“The worst teacher my daughter ever had,” said one reviewer in October.
“Not clear and boring,” said another in 2007.
All the while ignoring;
Me.Herz is the kind of teacher who teaches the lesson and gets his point across. Not only, does he teach you the cirriculum; but he gives you life lesssons on the side. His teaching methods were full proof and worked. He would always have a demonstration model for us or an analogy which helped the kids understand.  

Great teacher, helped me sooo much to get accustomed to common core math, has creative ways of teaching
But my favorite part of the Post's story is that (Hold on to your seats!) the NYCDOE is suing both Mr Herz and his arbitrator of his 3020-a, Philip Maier.

Why the arbitrator? Apparently it appears that Mr Maier follows the law.
(Meier) never even heard the merits of the case because he determined that education officials blew a 90-day deadline to issue written findings following an investigation.  
So the DOE screws up and sues the arbitrator and Mr Herz?

We here at SBSB are praying, hoping beyond hope that this case is seen through. Think about it. The DOE in its chutzpah and stupidity is doing everything it can to set a precedent for each and every arbitrator to be sued by whichever side does not like an arbitrator's decision. I even mentioned to Über lawyer Bryan Glass if we could have sued the arbitrator in my case. Bryan, and rightly so at the time, demurred and did not think anything can happen. Maybe now, any teacher that does not like an arbitrator's decision will be able to sue.

Yes, this also means that the DOE will be able to sue, but think if this. Would anyone want to be an arbitrator for 3020-a's if they risked themselves to civil litigation? This just might blow up the entire system.

As for suing Mr Herz, what is the DOE going to get from him? Blood? Again, Mr Herz is sitting in the catbird seat. Where is the standing the DOE has to go after Mr Herz for his comments? Mr Herz is not responsible for the arbitrator doing his job as well as the DOE not doing theirs. We here at SBSB look forward to both defendants having fun with the discovery that they will receive from the DOE. Mr Herz's case is in state court and this leaves one to wonder if he can seek court costs.

As for the Post feeling the need to use Rate My Teachers and the be all and end all of the type of teacher Mr Herz is, remember this. The ratings are subjective!!! In my house none of us cared for my son's baseball travel team coach last year. He knew his baseball, but he did not click with my son. Other parents liked him. Other parents were in the middle. Doesn't make him a horrible coach or that he doesn't know baseball. It was all subjective.

The DOE again is pissing away monies that are better spent on the learning process and the New York Post is once again the New York Post.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Without Jia Lee Stronger Together is Weaker Apart (UPDATED 2/22/17)

UPDATED 2/22/17: The views expressed in this blog post are mine and mine alone. At no time did anyone from MORE or any other union member ask me nor attempt to coerce me into writing this blog post. 

One more thing. The kitten on the left represents ALL teacher union members across New York State.


The beginning of this month we shared on these pages that NYSUT VP Andy Palotta will be running for NYSUT president as the Unity candidate against  Michael Lillis, presidential candidate for the Stronger Together caucus.

Recently, both Arthur Goldstein on his NYC Educator Blog and James Eterno on ICEUFT Blog have both queried why ST does not have any UFT members on their slate.

Arthur writes;
"When I realized that Stronger Together was running four people against five, I saw an instant solution to my problem, which is that they have no UFT representation whatsoever. They could run Jia Lee, who bravely faced an uphill battle against Michael Mulgrew last year. They could run James Eterno, who got the majority of high school votes for High School Vice President, but who isn't VP because UFT Unity rigged elections....
And James;
"I'm not happy that ST didn't agree to support any of us UFT dissidents for NYSUT office, particularly since some of us joined ST when it formed back in 2014. Arthur Goldstein (Chapter Leader Francis Lewis High School in Queens) ran for Executive VP back then against Pallotta."
Now while I have the utmost of respect for both Arthur and James I have to agree with Arthur and truly believe that MORE UFT presidential candidate Jia Lee should have been on the slate for ST. Mind you that the ST slate only has four candidates whilst normally there are five.

Why is Jia not on the slate? 

Jia not only has a great reputation throughout NYC, but across the state and nationwide. Jia has testified before the United States Senate, has close ties with the anti-establishment locals, close relationships with New York State legislators, Badass Teachers, and just as importantly, received 20% of the vote in the 2016 UFT elections. No small feat when going against the entrenched machine of Unity. And let's not forget what Jia has brought to not only the Opt-Out Movement in NYC, but just about everywhere.

Yes, unseating and winning the NYSUT elections is a tall order for anyone not backed by Unity. The 2017 RA is on Unity's home turf at the Hilton in Manhattan and we all know how anyone associated with Unity will vote. But why not give those who are against Unity an outside chance?

There are some indisputable facts in the upcoming election that we must heed. NYC, Yonkers, Albany and Rochester will vote Unity. That's a given. On the other hand Buffalo, Long Island, and the North Country will and should be behind ST and even more so if Jia were a part of the slate. The Southern Tier will probably be split between Unity and ST, as well as the Hudson Valley. With Jia ST will without a doubt give Unity a run for it's money. Without Jia it'll be another Unity triumph for sure.

But let's say that ST does pull it off. Then what? Without NYC representation the doors will be slammed shut in Albany and Washington DC. There will be no clout. Nada. Bupkus.

MORE in the previous election lifted ST. Where is the reciprocity from ST? Arthur however brings up an interesting question in his blog post which bears a ponder;
"Could their (ST) negative relationship with a single MORE member have led them to stereotype us?" (Hmmmm, could this be someone who does not play and work well with others?)
Whatever the reason ST did not choose a UFT member, let alone Jia, not only it is ST's loss but more importantly, and much, much worse, but a major setback for the teachers and students of New York State.