Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Social Studies Teacher With Fake Bronx Accent Thinks She is Down With Her Students

About two weeks ago I, along with others, were involved in a Twitter kerfuffle with a Bronx Social Studies teacher. The topic at hand was how this teacher is appropriating the culture of her students of color. She has a Youtube channel in which she raps and talks in a phony Bronx accent. I felt that in addition into appropriating culture her actions were condescending and patronizing of her students and their living environment. This teacher, who has only been teaching 4 years took the time to insult ATRs, insinuate that chapter leaders are teachers that have outlived their usefulness, has zero empathy for teachers who sought accommodations, and is basically a know it all.

In light of yesterday's blog post a reader and former subject of a series of blog posts on these pages, the Lunch Teacher wanted to shine a light on reality. The Lunch Teacher first became aware of this teacher by reading the Twitter feed of two weeks ago and was not pleased. She asked if she could write a guest post and after consultation with The Crack Team we agreed. No money changed hands. The teacher in question was given a pseudonym, "The Hip Hop Lady Teacher." We will not publish her name or her social media at all. social media at all.

Here now, the words of the Lunch Teacher:

Hip Hop Lady Teacher, I hear you. I do. I even feel you. Wanting to do bad ass teaching and saving this racist world that your forefathers created. Coming to the Bronx like a “modern day” Christopher Columbus to realize that your students can help you share your visions of a new world. 

I hear you talking about “racism” and how kids from the Bronx can open up about it and rewrite their own history. Here’s a good idea. Teach racism and equity in your own neighborhoods (Sound Shore of Connecticut) so that they can. This will make the world a better place. Brown kids don’t need a lesson on racism and equity. Your neighborhood (Sound Shore of Connecticut) kids do. Plus, the fact that you are a Social Studies teacher trained in the United States coupled with a white world (Sound Shore of Connecticut) perspective adds to the “racism “ issue that you so long to ram down your Bronx students’ necks you exploit through solicited donations. The first donators should be the admins in your school. Putting your students on display as if they need a “fixin”.

You say you have found ways to enhance the New York State curriculum to make it culturally relevant. Care to share? Because another picture of a civil rights black face or a Hispanic entertainer isn’t going to do it. 
Did you know the most commonly use American history textbook in this country is something called the “Americans”.  It’s 1200 pages. In the 1200 pages there is one paragraph with a sub heading on discrimination in the north. Within that one paragraph there is one sentence on housing discrimination. If we don’t do a better job of teaching our young people true history they will be in as poor a position to remedy it. There’s a national myth that determines the policy alternatives that we were able to conceal under our constitutional system. If racial segregation happened by accident it can only be undone by accident but if racial segregation happened as a result of explicit public policy then explicit public policy can improve it. Not an act of tangibility. Understanding this history is a precondition of going forward.

A black or Hispanic cannot act too black or too Hispanic in a white neighborhood. Ask your Hispanic students how they feel speaking Spanish around you as their white teacher. (You’ll probably not get an honest answer) Can you imagine a black teacher in a white school acting like you? Because that’s what you are doing. It’s an act like putting on black face.

The lexicography of hip hop was not meant for all ears hence it even repels those who cannot interpret let alone translate its message because it can be foreign to outsiders. It is a social political movement meant to be taken seriously, respected and not fronted. Its pillars all have socioeconomic roots, every one of them. You would not be able to call any of your male students B-boy and not get a look of disrespect. And no, the B doesn’t stand for black or brown. Another tidbit, jump around, which is a copy of the Harlem Shuffle by Bob and Earl, the white national and Trump rally rap anthem is seen in the Boogie Down (South)Bronx as a generic copy, further shows how culturally inept you are.

Do you even know where the name Boogie and the meaning from which it derives or Hip Hop for that matter? If I could assume you don’t know (you should and am glad if you do) how much more do you assume of your students in the not Boogie Down Bronx? Let me give you a geography lesson. You do not teach in the Boggie Down Bronx unless you teach in the South Bronx. But Damn! There it goes again!! People coming in and changing things!

“Fixing” kids in the Bronx won’t wake them into accepting white privilege any more than accepting you as part of any solution but actually as part of the problem. Equity? Simple. What you are allowed to do in a school in the Bronx you would never be allowed to do in your neighborhood school (Sound Shore of Connecticut). I know, you came to win, let her begin, so jump out yo seat and jump around, jump jump jump! Keep it real Hip Hop Lady Teacher. You won’t get away with anything less in the Bronx especially in the Boggie Down (where you perhaps didn’t send your resume). Just assuming! Promise us one thing, if ever any of your evaluating officers seem to be violating students’ rights please keep us posted as to how you are transferring your “jump” energy to protect them, K?

social media at all.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The MORE Caucus Tweets Itself in the Foot Yet Again (Will They Ever Learn?)

So through this summer and into September the MORE Caucus was advocating for either; a) 100% remote learning or b) a strike so there would be 100% remote learning or c) anything else as long as MORE was seen in a positive manner. None of what they overtly wished for came true. However, they did take credit for the version of remote learning we have now. But remember this for later in this post how they wanted the buildings closed.

This year has been toughest on the students of New York City. I can only speak from my perspective (I am co-teaching remotely in an elementary school). But I see the students in the students who do not have the proper devices, the students in shelters, the students with no structure nor support at home. It is tough and it sucks. 

I see it with my 19 year old son, coming home in March and having no structure and going to online class in his underwear. His grades were not great. There are also students who are thriving in this remote style learning. The boring and binding shackles of the school day are off and they can finally learn at their own pace. 

But what we can not do is to paint a picture with a broad brush. We do not know every story and we can't say because they are white, or they are of color, or because one is a member of this or that social class that X, Y, or Z will happen. 

That is unless we are talking about MORE and what it has become.

Nice. Aren't we trying to get above this MORE? Oh, please MORE, this is wrong and you know it. Want to say whiny little bitches, people that are out of touch, assholes, go right ahead. But this is not right.

We here at SBSB showed this tweet to one of The Crack Team's honorary members. This is what this member had to say; 

"MORE wants all remote which hurts black kids and parents who need work plus shelter kids. But since higher percentage of black parents keep kids home they play the race card that it’s the  white parent demands influencing de Blasio decisions which is partially true as they fear losing white parents" 

Several things pop into my head and the The Crack Team's response.  

MORE is and will always be opportunistic. It's like group narcissism over there. Whatever will benefit MORE in shining that positive blue light upon them that's what matters. They will say something on a Tuesday and contradict what they said the day before.

MORE also still is of the mind set that all people of color (Blacks and Hispanics) all have the same experiences, the same life stories, and the same wants and needs. Depending on your whether you are Puerto Rican or Domincan, African-American or Jamaican. (I can go on and on) Not every one of DOE's minority populations can be painted with the same brush. MORE, thinks they can do it. And their paint keeps missing the canvass. 

Why does MORE still proverbially continue to step in what the dog left behind? A couple of reasons. They are a top down, cult of personality organization. They have eradicated all democratic norms since the infamy of the Purge of 2018. And too many white, liberal, young teachers who teach at small, good schools. 

These younglings are mostly new and non tenured teachers that are in their 20's thinking they know what is best for boys and girls of color even though most of them have never socialized with people of color until they moved to Brooklyn on mommy and daddy's dime. They think they know the urban culture, they think they are down. They act all hip and down, but they're not. You can't be that way when you are shopping for artisanal mayonnaise. As one SBSB group put it, "Spend time in the BoogiedownBronx, and then you can talk!" 

With tweets like the one above how does MORE intend to sell itself as a viable alternative to a Unity run UFT? Yeah, it must be nice for the MORE upper echelon to feel like Jim Jones at a MORE meeting with the younglings sitting in awe. But that is not a way to build a caucus nor would it be a way to run a union. Do teachers that live in Staten Island wants to know or read such tweets? In Westchester? On Long Island? How is MORE showing any teacher it can lead and more importantly, make the right choices and decisions? 

MORE represents .005% of the rank and file with that tweet. They need to start worrying about the entire rank and file. But not to worry. It will never happen.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

What is UFT Hiding in Not Releasing Retro Aribitration Transcript?

Tomorrow is a UFT Town Hall. I think these town halls show the UFT is being proactive somewhat and somewhat transparent. But how much of it is substance and how much of it is for show? 

Something like this should have been done a long, long time ago in a reality that was too far away. Mulgrew or whomever was UFT president should have had these town hall face to face in each borough every month. The ATR meetings in November I have appreciated but instead of once a year should have been every month. 

Each town hall I have pressed zero to ask a question. I used to get Rasheed, lately it seems like some retiree. It used to be that someone from the upper echelon of the UFT emailed you back. But that is if you weren't amongst the chosen to formally ask Mulgrew a question. No longer, now you get some anonymous hack emailing you back a question. One thing did improve, we don't hear the same Flat Stanley question time after time in a town hall.

My gut tells me the teachers that get to ask question publicly and their questions are pre-screened. It just makes sense. The numbers I have heard on a town hall phone call are over 10k. How is it that of all these town halls, all the pissed off teachers, all the thousands of teachers there has not been one teacher to dare question Mulgrew's leadership? To scream? To rant? To curse? To mock? Statistically, this is impossible. How many callers would call Mike Francesa to mock him and/or rant in just a single hour?

So last month I came up with a good question. It was about the arbitration hearing with our retro pay. I asked this question due to Mulgrew sharing this at last month's town hall...

Many of you have written me about it. We always anticipate bad things. We plan for bad days as teachers. Didn't talk to city about it at all, and then on October 2 I asked for confirmation they were processing payment. Asked again. I then called, knowing members would check paychecks.

 October 2nd he had a hunch what was going on. He could've shared this with us. He didn't. But, I thought, the arbitration meeting, it must've been transcribed. I asked (click to enlarge)...

I asked if there is a transcript of the arbitration hearing and if so when can the rank and file expect to see such transcript. The email I received was dated October 20, 2020, and I followed up on November 18, 2020. As of today, November 22, 2020, I have heard hide nor hair from the UFT concerning my transcript request. If there is a transcript, the DOE and/or the city must have said transcript. Perhaps a FOIL request can be filed? 

Transparency. That's not very much to ask for. Let's see the transcript. Why is it taking so long to respond whether or not a transcript exists? Or even just an audio recording of the arbitration. There is enough skepticism about the process last month with our retro. Prove the skeptics wrong. Release the audio and/or transcript of the arbitration. 

A lot of us got really screwed with half a retro check this year. I think it is only fitting that we know the full truth on how we are out half our retro.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Jethro's Plight

I got off the phone about 20 minutes ago with a teacher that has been in the Rubber Room 18 months and is still awaiting their hearing which has been pushed back several times and probably won't be heard until at least after March 2021. 

This teacher, for anonymity sake will henceforth be known as Jethro, is beside themself with fear and anxiety. Jethro's biggest fear is, "How will I be believed?"

I explained to Jethro that the job of your lawyer is to build up your credibility and reduce the credibility of the witnesses. Yeah, it is a fine line. But any competent lawyer should be able to do this. And I get it, this can cause anxiety and fear. 

If you go through this blog there are many instances of teachers being accused for something they didn't say, didn't do, or something they said or did and it was taken out of context. And for whatever reason their accuser, DOE legal decided to take these teachers words and/or deeds and use them as a sword against these teachers. A vicious bloody sword. 

Heck, I can empathize with Jethro. I know what it was and still is at times, to have my words and deeds taken out of context. Do have words I never said and deeds I hadn't be used against me. 

Jethro feels helpless what Jethro was accused of. What Jethro did was taken out of context. Jethro's words and deeds were contorted. Some people choose fight or flight. Sometimes it just freaking easier for flight. Sometimes it is just worth it. 

Even before you get to that point, there is the dreaded discipline meeting with the principal. There your words and deeds are taken out of context. You are accused of doing something or saying something you hadn't done. I am sure this is how Jethro felt at first. Maybe Jethro wasn't debased or humiliated by their principal in a meeting but many have. I recall a teacher in which he was mocked by their principal for 10 minutes in denying something they were accused of but didn't do. In fact this principal had to continue the mocking 30 minutes later in a email. Or maybe it was a text. 

People wonder why teachers are leaving in droves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

New York Post Treats Remote Teachers Like Hunter Biden

 Oh, I wanted to share my experiences with remote learning, the lack of anyone at my school who is able to remotely (pardon the pun) coherently explain what to do with all this technology we have on our laps, or other issues the UFT is not being proactive about. But then the New York Post rears it's ugly head again and gosh, gee, once again it is time to defend teachers whose actions are taken out of context and maligned. 

Oh, Sue Edelman, I am sad. I thought you was cool. Or getting cool. Or at least
were in the process of leaving the Dark Side. 

On Sunday, November 7, 2020, the Post in an article penned by Edelman uncovered (as one can be certain by the same quality reporting chops and without reproach ethics that the Post has shown towards Hunter Biden) that (HEAVENS TO MURGATROYD!!!) two, yes TWO, teachers appeared to be teaching unconventionally. 

One teacher was caught on camera teaching from the back seat of a car. Or as Edelman "reported"...

“She was teaching class like she normally does, but she was in a car,” the student told The Post, asking to remain anonymous to avoid repercussions. “I was, like, ‘Hey, my teacher’s in a car.’”

But the student did not hear nor know of why the teacher was in the car. Interesting. And neither did Sue Edelman. 

Could it be that the teacher was out for lunch (Sue, is it OK for teachers eat lunch?) and her car broke down? And, being the dedicated teacher she is she went on her phone in an Uber? That certainly is plausible. Or there could be a myriad of other reasons, no? 

Another teacher, according to Sue's "reporting"...

an English teacher "conducted a lesson while reclining in a hammock in his backyard as his own kids played", the student said.

According to the student the teacher ...

"...was in a hammock interacting with his kids during the lesson,”

So the teacher is in a hammock. Prove he was. Interacting with his children? Ages of children? What is context of the interacting? Again Sue, what is the context? Was this teacher contacted? Was the previous teacher contacted? 

Gee Sue, my cat has a colon issue. If she splatters cat doody on the walls, should I just do nothing? I mean I do have a co-teacher. Or should a teacher not do anything if a loved one they live with suddenly starts dying? Or what to do about a crying baby? Or a fire?

Please Sue, don't compare the ethics of NYC teachers to the people at the Post who decide to take a washed up mayor's word on what is on a hard drive. There is a big difference. 

It must have been a slow news day to just out of the blue vilify to teachers for no reason at all. 

Sue, I am disappointed. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

When a UFT Victory is Not Really a Victory

 We are hearing the word "victory" bandied about quite a bit, in the last several days since Friday's arbitration hearing. The UFT is claiming victory for defending our earned retro pay that is owed us from 2009-2014. Yes, I am happy that we will be getting it. Though not quite as happy receiving two payments as opposed to one. This is a victory for the city and a loss for the UFT and the rank and file. De Blasio knew exactly what he was doing. 

It was no coincidence that DeB notified the city a week before our we would have received our retro. DeB and the city knew over the summer they were going to try to pull this off. But if they announced it in the summer there would have been talks first. Talks drag on. That would not have benefited the city. 

What to do? Take advantage of the clause in the MOA that anything concerning the retro would go straight to arbitration. Yes, the rank and file should be grateful that the UFT made the clause was part of the MOA. But guess what? That clause was taken advantage of by the city as well. In fact they were hoping for it to be invoked. They got their wish.

Why did the city wish to go to arbitration? Think of this old saying; "You never know how a jury will rule." In this case, an arbitrator. The city had nothing to lose, the UFT everything to lose. There's already a doo-doo storm (The Crack Team had informed me that in the last blog post there were too many naughty words) over the retro being split in two payments. Imagine what would happen if the arbitrator found for the city? 

pyrrhic the UFT was forced to negotiate from a defensive posture. It had no choice but, and for lack of a better word, to cave. James Eterno made a good point on his blog that the arbitrator did not decide this. But rather,  the case was settled between the parties. It was a consent degree. The city had Mulgrew by his proverbial goodies (Again, no naughty words). 

I do disagree slightly with James about that if we didn't get our entire payment in full we should have gone right to court. Again, using the old adage, there is no assurance how a judge would rule. But that's a chance we would have had to take. 

The city wanted something in return, and they got it. After my initial shock on hearing the news Thursday night I figured that out. But what did the city want? My guess was that we would have to furlough 5 days. I was wrong. But no one gets something for nothing. And it is always the UFT giving something for nothing. 

This stunt the city pulled never would have been attempted with the cops, the firefighters, sanitation workers, corrections officers, or any other city union. Again and again the teachers and the UFT are used to go #2 on (again, no naughty words). 

There are many teacher's that adjusted their TDA's and now are screwed. There are many teachers that were counting on this check to catch up on bills and now are screwed. But again, the perception is WE DON'T MATTER. 

This is nothing but a pyrrhic win by the UFT and they are backslapping themselves whilst sipping champagne. This was a gimme putt an inch from the hole.  

What should be done? Openness to begin with. Make public the transcript between the parties and the arbitrator. Put it up on the UFT website. We should demand it. Show us proof there was some negotiations. Show us proof what the UFT had to offer and/or say. Same with the city. These time demand clear candor on the part of the UFT. It is time. 

And the UFT must answer these questions post haste: 1)What is the status of the upcoming per session retro pay and, 2)what of those that are in my situation that will still be owed a payment in October 2021? 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Time For De Blasio to F**k the Cops Same Way He Does Teachers

I am really getting tired of this shit with the retro pay. How can such a simple thing

be so fucked up? 

I was suspended in 2015 when the first payment went out. Of course I found out that suspended meant technically "on leave" so I was to get nothing. In 2016 there was to be no retro pay for anyone, some type of religious and/or spiritual retro leap year. For 2017, I was all excited because I was told that since I did not get retro in 2015 my retro check would be doubled. This info coming from several within the UFT. Nope. I just got 12 1/2%. Same in 2018, but my check was short by $700 or so because the DOE claimed they overpaid me the previous year. I did a payroll grievance and never really saw definitive proof. This year, well, we know how we are getting fucked for 2020. And this is not supposed to be my last payment. I still have a payment next year.

My 2018 Per Session retro check never came. Why you ask? Because even though I got a per session retro check the previous year, when I called per session payroll they shared with me that I had not worked per session between 2009-2014. But, I implored the crazy person I was talking to, if this were true how then did I get per session last year? On the day of the grievance, they realized they were wrong (I really wish there were a faceplam emoji on this dang blogger).

But enough of me.

So now it has come to this. Something so simple to handle became a shitstorm. Every union in the city got a lump sum retro check except the UFT. Of course, that is how the universe is supposed to work. Other unions get over on the city we take it up the ass day after fucking day. 

But why do we have to give back in this time of need? What about the NYPD? 

Did you know that each and every non-disability retired member of the NYPD, and the FDNY receives a Christmas bonus of $12k? Why, you ask? 

Let's go to Staten Island Live and find out...

The payment emerged from an agreement made between union and city leaders in 1968 at a time when the city was trying to increase its investment return of pension funds by diversifying portfolios.

Wait, there is more. A report by the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission says these so called bonuses weaken the pension plans of of all city employees. In fact CBC Vice President Maria Doulis says...

“Phasing out or eliminating the VSF should be part of the mayor and City Council’s agenda in Albany next year,”

Think how much money the city can save? Yet, the rank and file cop will never have his or her "perks" cut. Because God forbid someone says something or does something bad against the cops. Mind you, I am not denouncing police nor for defunding the police. I'm just pointing out unfairness/

But if a FDNY or NYPD member retires in their mid 40's they can be collection for over forty years. Can't the NYPD or FDNY share the pain? Of course not, their union presidents would go batshit crazy!!!!!!

NYPD officers also receive almost $1k a year, $980 in uniform allowance. For a few shirts and pants? And black Skechers? Every uniform cop? Or is this every cop, including detectives? What about a cop that is a house mouse? He or she is never getting the uniform dirty. Can't that be reduced during this time of need? Our Teacher's Choice money is always fucked with. Why not fuck with NYPD's uniform allowance? Aren't materials for our students just as important as nice looking uniforms for cops? Besides a lot of cops still live with their mommies so mom can clean and press the uniforms to keep it looking nice. Mommy can clean the donut stains.

NYPD officers also receive $2k in January and July for holiday pay. Why not not give it out this January and this past July? Can't the cops of New York City take one for the team? 

Cops are still getting their overtime? Heck, guess what? In a few short weeks NYPD will be on 12 hour shifts. Every day. Where is our overtime?

But as I was writing this just about 10 minutes ago at 6:01 PM EDT I found that the UFT and the city reached agreement. 50% in October, 50% in July, no layoffs, 3% raise in May.

 Back to our regularly scheduled program.

If De Blasio really wished to save money within the DOE? Stop with the waste. Stop with elementary schools with enrollment under 500 students have multiple AP's. Across the board 20% pay cuts for all non union sycophantic wastes of human life that work at Tweed. Two coaches or whatever they are called per school. There are too many schools that are top heavy with positions filled by those that suckle at the sphincter of the principal. Shit the school I am at has 2 principals, about 4 or 5 useless coaches as well as a useless UFT center person. Go figure.

Time for the De Blasio to grow a set of balls with the NYPD. Make cuts to their perks. Not permanent of course, but temporary. Teachers are just as important, but in a different way, than cops. At least we don't kill people of color. 

And while we are at it. Where the frig is my pay for giving up my spring vacation? I figure that is about $4500 I am missing out on. Yeah, I know. The cops gave up their days off and vacations in July when they went to 12 shifts, 7 days a week. But they were getting OVERTIME. It helps.

Lastly, my dad used to tell me that no one can take advantage of you unless you give them permission. Think about it. We and the UFT keep getting fucked. We give the UFT permission. The UFT gives De Blasio permission. Time we do the fucking.