Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Scarsdale Student Desperately Needs Help to Continue His Education

The following is written by a dear dear friend of mine from high school. His son is entering
his senior year at Scarsdale High School. They both are from rural Virginia and his son was sent to live with his aunt (My friend's sister who had guardianship) in Scarsdale before his freshman year. The boy being Asian was being bullied relentlessly in Virginia because of his ethnicity and his grades had suffered. Once he was ensconced at Scarsdale High (which happens to have a sizeable Asian population) he thrived academically and socially.

Well, as we know, families tend to fight. My friend's sister and his brother in law have just notified my friend and his son that he is no longer welcomed back. Yeah, you read that right, several weeks before his senior year. This young man deserves to graduate with his class and his friends. My friend is looking for a host family and it is all on the up and up. He will pay expenses, etc... Tuition at Scarsdale is $28k

Anyway, let him explain it. If you can help, please share this, email me (, leave a comment. School starts in about three weeks. Any advice, advocacy, whatever, will be helpful. Names have been changed. Bold added for emphasis.

I am looking for a family in Scarsdale who would be willing to be a host and guardian family to my 17 year old son.  
Hello, my name is Hank, my son’s name is Bill. Bill has been living in Scarsdale for the last 5 years, and should be a graduating senior at Scarsdale High School (SHS) this upcoming year. Bill lives with my sister and her husband in Scarsdale for the majority of the year, and then he comes home to rural, Virginia during his breaks and summer vacations. 

 The reason Bill is living in Scarsdale is because there are very few Asian students in our school district in Virginia. My son and daughter are both half Filipino and half Caucasian, and unfortunately his peers in school bullied him with racial jokes and taunts, making his school experience a pure hell.  My sister in Scarsdale whose youngest two children were recruited to Princeton for their fencing, offered to home school Bill and to make him an Epee fencer like his cousins. With hopes to get him into a great college, at the time it was an offer I could not refuse. My wife and I knew it was going to be hard sending our boy away, but it was with family, and it was the best we could do for him given the situation at school wasn’t going to get better. I prayed Bill would be able to handle being away from us at age twelve, but we felt the education he would receive would be extraordinary. We also felt Scarsdale is a beautiful community offering a much more diverse population, so we knew he would feel more welcome.

After two years of home schooling, my sister said it would be advantageous if Bill enrolled in SHS, and I agreed. Seeing our little boy, who was a C-D student in a not very academically challenging school system, to one of the top elite high schools in the country, my wife and were bursting with pride. 

Bill has been at Scarsdale High for 3 years now, he has challenged himself by taking some of the more difficult courses offered, and has been rewarded with great grades and teacher accolades. Right now after the end of his junior year, Bill boasts a 3.71 GPA and got an outstanding score on his ACT and is a member of the Honor Society. All his hard work has truly paid off, and he is quite proud of his accomplishments. 

 A few days ago, my brother-in-law called my wife Susan and said that Bill was no longer welcome in their house to finish his senior year! This was a decision made by both my brother in law and my sister. He told Susan that Bill talked to the school counselor without their permission. They felt Sam undermined their rules and he discussed family matters with outsiders and betrayed them. Bill had also gotten into a verbal argument  with his 23 year old cousin and they weren’t going to put up with that either. So they said Bill was not welcome to come back to their house after the summer vacation. Unfortunately, I have no way of changing or fixing this situation. My sister has already filed papers to dissolve their guardianship. I have tried to have other family members help or intervene but to no avail. My brother lives in Hartsdale (right down the street from my sister), said he was more than happy to take Bill, but because she is giving up Bill’s guardianship it also gives up his residency, so Bill can’t stay there and commute. Scarsdale High School does offer a $28,000 out of district fee for graduating seniors who have completed 11th grade which he has. Unfortunately this is not an option we are able to afford. 

I would happily pay all attorney costs, all Bill’s food, clothing, medical and anything I might be forgetting if someone would be kind enough to open their heart and their home to a boy who wasn’t divulging deep family secrets. He was only discussing what every 16 year old who is trying to keep up his grades, his fencing, and social life , basically anxiety... I’m proud he made the choice to talk to someone and not keep it bottled up, just sorry for the drastic consequences. Please help, I don’t know anyone in Scarsdale and have run out of options.
Thank you for your time,

Hank Henry

Please, if anyone has any ideas, any one that can advocate, facilitate, come up with an idea please let me know.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Crack Team Announces It's Contract Demands

With DC 37 caving into the City and setting a pattern with a 7.42% raise over 44 months that's what it looks like UFT members will get once we get a new contract.

The Crack Team has gotten together and is willing to endorse such a pay raise but the support is conditional. Conditional upon what The Crack Team wants in return. This shall be known as The Crack Team's contract demands.

All ATRs must be placed. Not force placed, but rather intelligently placed. Each to the best of their abilities and each to a school in which the ATR can thrive and work in an environment that is conducive to the growth of said ATR and the school's students.

End Fair Student Funding. Mulgrew has said that the UFT cannot bargain budgetary demands. The Crack Team calls bullocks! When there is a will there is a way.

Bye-Bye Monday PD. A complete waste of time. There is no real professional development occurring.  I'd much rather watch hours upon hours of Kathy Griffin.

ATRs must be observed and rated as per diem substitutes are. In lieu of all ATRs being placed, ATRs must be treated as the DOE sees us. As nothing more than substitutes. Treat us the same way.

End Field Supervisors. If the above is impractical than do away with the field supervisors. Create with the UFT a truly transparent and fair method of observing and rating the ATRs. However the guiding philosophy must still be Teaching for the 21st Century.

Two observations per year for tenured teachers. I'm getting tired of meeting teachers from all over New York State and looking at their faces as I share with them we have 4 observations.

Bye-Bye Danielson. 'Nough said.

Discipline must be scaffolded. The contract states a "Counseling Memo." How often is a counseling memo used? All discipline at the school level should and must begin with a counseling memo. Too much mundane bullshit is settled with a letter to the file.

Clearly define what one needs to attain tenure. Too often now newb teachers are left in the lurch with subjective decisions on whether or not they will receive tenure.

All letters to file can be grieved. This was an injustice was this ended. Not being able to grieve all letters to the file just gave principals the ability to pile on the mundane crud.

Ability to face your accuser. Principals testifying by telephone? So much is missed when one can't see body language.

Principals held accountable. It is time that these principals are treated and subjected to the same methods as teachers are. Principals who are sued should stop being indemnified.

Bye Bye lawyers. Better uses for these lowest of pond scum can be put to better use by keeping the Trumps out of prison.

Bye bye 75% of the dead weight at Tweed and 65 Court St. McDonald's has been using computers to place orders. Stop and Shop has more self check out registers than manned ones. It's all the same.

Supply all ATRs with M&M's. Once a month all ATRs receive a bowl of M&M's, but there is a caveat. No bowl shall contain blue M&M's (Thanks to Van Halen for that idea).

If these demands are enacted (And any others I have missed) The Crack Team can live with the shitty raise.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Pay Dues. Don't Freeload.

The Westchester Journal News has reported that New York State has stopped collecting
agency fees from 31,000 state workers. As far as I am concerned that is 31k freeloaders and rats.

I am getting tired of this whining from UFT "members" who are threatening to withhold dues in light of Janus. Yes, as I ahve said in the past, I empathize with them. But a dysfunctional union is better than no union or not being in a union.

I have been reading a lot of the comments on James Eterno's blog. Yes, the grievances and feelings are real. But the one question I brought up and could not be answered to the complainers is, "What have you ever done for 'the cause'"? The question has been met with silence. Instead of cursing the darkness light a god damn candle.

I ask those that are thinking of freeloading that are reading this, what have you done? Where have you been? And please, anonymous comments on blogs don't count.

Even under the best of circumstances if the UFT was strong and proactive there would be people complaining and kvetching. Nothing is perfect. Too many are looking for a perfect fit on an off the rack world.

Yeah, our working conditions and the way we have been treated pretty much sucks. But we make more than most teachers in the country, let alone New York State. We have solid pensions awaiting us. We have rights that are bargained for. And, we have great health benefits.

Yeah, Mulgrew got stupid again about saying health benefits can be bargained. Would you rather have no health benefits? Crappier health benefits? A friend of mine that teaches in Armonk NY told me that he has a family deductible of about $6k on his health plan and pays into it 10% (or a little less) or so of his pay. If you have GHI you pay $0 and with the out of network rider (which I have) $16 a month.

I have been without insurance and on insurance. Guess which I prefer? Thirty years ago I dislocated my right shoulder (I am a lefty). It was popped back in never saw a doctor because I had no way to pay for it. I have developed horrible arthritis, I have bone grinding against bone, I'm in pain, can't golf, and I will need a shoulder replacement eventually.

In January my wife had almost her entire back fused. We saw the hospital bill. It cames to about $550k, with about $200k for the hardware in her back. Maybe another $95k for the bed. We owe $200.

This is what you can give up if you fail to join the union and other things as well. Under law freeloaders are covered by the CBA. Well, what happens if the next CBA there are provisions for freeloaders to be own their own? Too bad.

Remember, how the UFT got the family leave (Yes, it's not parental, stop bitching.). And something that was just shared with me. Family leave was negotiated outside of the contract so we would not have to do a quid pro quo. Yeah, sometimes the UFT gets it right.

But the worst thing, aside from being a freeloader, for not paying dues is that you will hurt each and every member staying in the union (I've been to a union meeting already. The anger at the freeloaders is just beginning), in negotiations, in solidarity, in advancing our needs, and more importantly, the needs and wants of the communities we teach in.

Being angry and frustrated is fine. Acting out on being angry and frustrated impulsively and for spite will hurt others and worse, yourself.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mulgrew and UFT Came Through on Parental Leave

I am or was agnostic about parental leave. Kind of the way how I feel about inter league play in MLB. If the Yankees never played the Reds (except in the World Series) again I couldn't care less. I mean heck, my wife is 55. Her child bearing days are over. But we have it and I am happy for those who plan to take advantage of it. I would have much rather have had family leave, but let's take it step by step.

My biggest concern about parental leave was how much it would cost me and others in my past their child bearing years cohort. Having the contract extended another 73 days plus full salary for six weeks is not bad. Look at what DC 37 gave up for family leave. Yes, DC 37 will get up to 10 weeks, but only up to 55% of their salary. Plus, they will have .13% deducted from each pay check.

Having said that, we got the better deal and it could have been worse if it were not for Mulgrew.

A very very good source has shared with The Crack Team here at SBSB that the city was originally demanding a deduction from our check of .5%. After confirming with my 17 year old son, .5% is more than .13%. Mulgrew held his ground that there would be no deduction.

Plus, the timing of the announcement last week was no coincidence. Mayor De Blasio was about to fly down to Texas to show solidarity with the parents and children being separated but he was about to be shamed by the UFT for showing more concern for the children down in Texas than the unborn children of NYC teachers.

I'll give credit where credit is due. Let's hope this holding firm is a pattern in the upcoming contract negotiations.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Leave UFT and You Get Nothing!

So the Janus ruling is in (Read the ruling in it's entirety here). I'm going to continue to pay my dues and pay them proudly.

Yes, there are plenty of things I can list and discuss about how I don't feel the UFT has been there for me or for many. I have major disagreements. But, I believe in unionism, I believe in the members of the union, and I believe that only it's members can affect change.

I empathize with those who wish to withhold dues now that Janus is in. These people have every right to feel left out and angry. But cutting your nose off to spite your face is not the way to go about it.

The way to fix the union is to be more involved. To speak up more in meetings, to speak up more to the leaders, to have more knowledge of what goes on about you. We are only as strong as our weakest link. To those who wish to stop paying dues, you will damage those who remain members of the UFT. As with parental leave does not benefit all members, those that will not ever benefit from it are accepting of it for it will benefit other members of the rank and file. The time to stick together is more important now than ever.

Having said that, what will one lose if you leave the UFT? The UFT was good enough to publish what will happen on it's website today.

No Free Legal Services

There you go. Get called into SCI or OSI. You get nada. Bupkus. No lawyer, no UFT rep. You are on your own. Same goes with if you are called into a discipline meeting with the principal. You are left to your own devices. Good luck!

Free counseling

Free or discounted training or professional development

An attorney during 3020-a employee discipline procedures

There you go. Yes, NYSUT lawyers can be hit or miss but I believe that if you are not proactive in your defense whether or not you use NYSUT or private attorney you are destined to be screwed. Go out and spend unless you hire Jordan Harlow your are looking at spending $10-15k for your 3020-a.  

Member discounts through the UFT, NYSUT and AFT

Who gives a shit? Discounts for the Brooklyn Nets? Big deal.

And you will not be able to participate in union elections, contract ratification votes or votes about school-based options.

There you go. You are a nothing. Zero. A ghost. Want to be part of change you can't and should not. 

In my opinion, anyone that opts out (And I have mentioned this before) should get nothing. No rights to the pay scale, no health benefits, a big fat nothing. Negotiate as an individual for your own salary, hours, time off, health benefits, working conditions, lunch, prep, everything! Better, each Chapter Leader should hand out a list of who has paid in and out and distribute the list hang on UFT bulletin board in each and every school.

Those who benefit from what I and others who are members are nothing but moochers and freeloaders and worse, rats.

Yes, you do have a right to be angry at the UFT, but now is the time to grow a set, roll up your sleeves and stop making excuses at sitting around and not being active in the UFT.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

MORE Misjudges It's Priorities Yet Again

It's June 20. The school year is about over. What's happening in the world of the NYCDOE?

We got family leave. I will write more about this tomorrow. ATRs are getting the rating sheets in. Some are not very happy. I had to counsel one very pissed off ATR the last few days. The Open Market is out but as we know it's a scam. Regularly assigned teachers are find out whether or not they are ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective. Teachers are being denied tenure or having their probation extended. Teachers city wide are taking copious amounts of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. ATRs are concerned if the next contract will be their end. Teachers are facing abusive principals. Teachers see incompetent and crooked principals get away with everything. The list can go on and on and on and on.

But where there should have been leadership, a light to guide the rank and file by, to grab the bull buy the proverbial testicles has once again taken an opportunity to miss the opportunity.

MORE again stretches a triple into a single.

At tonight's Delegate Assembly MORE is bringing up a resolution (in which none of the above, nor anything that was not mentioned that would be 100% beneficial to the rank and file) matters one iota to putting food on a teacher's table, putting a teacher's children through college, or just having a teacher not dread going to school in the morning.

What is this resolution? It's all about the upcoming New York State gubernatorial election y in September. More so, in my opinion, it is more to get Howie Hawkins name out there.

Look, I think Andrew Cuomo is a complete putz. As for Cynthia Nixon, I want more information. I think she is a stalking horse and put in there by De Blasio to piss off and pull Cuomo to the left. But Hawkins? He's turning into Lyndon LaRouche or Gus Hall. Just running for the sake of running. Besides, his policies are fantasy land.

It really needs to be realized that a teeny, tiny, percentage of the rank and file has true Socialist inclinations. Most have nice egalitarian lives and those are fine. Then there are the Evangelical Socialists that are completely out of touch with reality and seek out young impressionable teachers that still live on mommy and daddy's dime to convert. I get it with these kids. They move to New York City Brooklyn, they are own their own for the first time, they want to save the world. But they are missing the bigger picture.

Any UFT caucus must do right for the ENTIRE rank and file, not just their little corner of the DOE world. MORE in essence has become a top down organization just like the UFT and it's agenda now only benefits a select few.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mike Mulgrew Comes to Yankee Stadium

I was cordially invited to attend a function, an party, or whatever the heck one wants to call it, at the Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium, this past Tuesday. The reason? Our UFT President Mike Mulgrew was their to speak to the teachers of districts 7 and 9. In retrospect it seems that the invitations were for CL's and their few select favorites. I felt like Cinderella crashing the ball. But it was nice that the person from within the UFT who extended me the invitation thought of me

As usual, it's good to see one's union dues put to good use.

The Hard Rock was closed to the public for a few hours and had about two dozen staff on hand. We were served sliders, which compared to White Castle, were just plain gross. Teeny tiny pieces of chicken served on a teeny tiny waffle with some syrup, and some kind of egg roll. Oh, and there was a nacho bar with all the fixins. The nachos came in several colors. It was nice. I mixed the sour cream and guacamole together for a nacho dip.

Mulgrew came out and started his spiel. I didn't take notes, I should have, but I am just going to free wheel from memory Mulgrew's remarks in bold and mine in italics.

"Janus...very bad. Next their going to come after our collective bargaining rights.  Look how bad they have it in Wisconsin."

Yeah, very bad. But as for our collective bargaining rights, this Janus decision might backfire. Read here. I'm going to say it again. You have every right to be angry with union. But leaving union will not help it will only hurt in long run. Best way to change is from within. 

"For the first time we have a Chancellor that is not from within and knows no one. This is good for us."

Wait, Joel Klein was from outside the DOE and look how well that turned out. 

"The chancellor wanted to meet with negotiating team in his office. Told him his office is not big enough for our 400 member team!"

So these 400 members actually have a say? I was under the impression it is only 10 people who decide. 

"We can't negotiate how schools spend their money. If schools have 42 classes they should have 42 teachers."

Right there is telling us to forget about fair student funding. 

"When I was chapter leader I complained to my principal. I soon was observed 18 times!"

I guess that is worse than Mulgrew negotiating up for us to 4 observations.

"Observations are being used to punish."

Really? He just figured that out?

Updated 5/27/18 10:48 PM:

I almost forgot. This got me laughing....

Mulgrew says: "...And in Albany they are about to pass law that does away with evaluations being tied to testing..."

Obviously he didn't read NYC Public School Parents blog!

In between all his points, his highlights, the blind were cheering and whooping it up. Maybe I see things with another set of eyes, but this was to much of a revival meeting for me. Might has well have had it in a tent and have some gospel singers there.

No mention of ATRs, Open Market fraud, fraud in general, teachers suffering, fair student funding, class size, 3020-a, grievances. Basically the shit everyone cares most about.

He did bring up parental leave. He's all for that. Has yet to say how it will be paid for. Or if there will be givebacks.

I'll give Mulgrew credit for one thing. He didn't cut and run after he finished. He stayed around and mingled. I got to meet him and he said "I finally get to meet you."

I should have bought him a beer.Gotten him drunk.