Saturday, October 22, 2016

BREAKING NEWS!! I Settled My Lawsuit vs. NYCDOE (One Down One to Go)

It's over. My long national nightmare has come to an end.

I have settled the part of my lawsuit with just the the DOE and any and all of it's employees. It has been a long, long, journey to get to this point. I didn't get everything I wanted but I am happy.

This lawsuit was filed back in August of 2014 and for all intents and purposes had it's origins in September of 2012. It's been over four years of a struggle as well as an education into the machinations of the DOE and the world of law.

Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself and many, many people who have supported me through all this.

Other than my wife the most important person in all of this has been my lawyer Bryan Glass. Bryan is an amazing lawyer. His base of knowledge when it comes to employment law, especially, when it comes to dealing with the NYCDOE is unmatched. Bryan has been there thought thick and thin, through my worst days and through my best days. Bryan is a lawyer that stands by his clients. Just look at his track record. My life is fuller having had Bryan Glass come into it.

But to paraphrase Genesis' 1978 album, and then there was one. The one being NYCDOE consultant and Chancellor's Committee member, Michael Agona (Read here, here, here, here, and here).

The feeling I have gotten from Agona is that he thinks he is Teflon. Why should he be bothered with this? He had no part, "he was just doing his job." When have we heard this before? Wink Wink!!

Agona was served papers in August 2014. For months and months we failed to hear nary a word from Agona. In fact, the process server had to leave the summons in Agona's mailbox because he could not be a man and answer the door.

Finally, in January of 2015 we had to file default papers against Agona. Again, when served the papers to appear in court Agona again could not be a man and answer the door. This time the papers were taped to his door.

When Agona finally appeared in state court to answer the default summons he treated it like going to small claims court. He appeared along without a lawyer even asking the clerk if he could represent himself. This showed a complete lack of respect to the process, the court, and to me.

The whole time in court that day he was kvetching that the City should represent him, that he worked for the City for "35 years" and was shocked at the inactions of the City.

What he did not understand that he is an independent contractor. In essence, he had his own business, but did not have the foresight to form an LLC like his brethren Myron Rock (Another hack who does principals dirty work).

We served interrogatories and discovery on Agona in around November of 2015 and what did we get back? Either, "Don't remember," "Don't recall," or  nothing. No documents, no nothing. Bupkus. This is a man who basically runs a business and has no email records nor paper records. My father ran a business, a consulting business out of the basement for years and kept records up the ying-yang. Agona had nothing? Yeah, and I got a bridge to sell you.

In February of this year we served a 2nd set of interrogatories and discovery upon Agona and guess what? Nothing. By nothing I mean Agona did not even lift a finger to respond. Months and months went by and we heard nor saw nothing. Meanwhile I got deposed by Agona's lawyer. I do my part. I am man enough to do what is right.

Now we are back where we were. Again we sent out a 3rd set, but without interrogatories. They have two weeks left. Agona wants us to go into deposition without documents. Let's see what happens. Agona is supposed to be deposed on or before November 11.

What is Agona hiding? That is a big question that remains to be answered.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Exclusive, Michael Moore Exposed!!!! Why He Will Never Lift a Finger for the State of Education in the U.S.!

As many of you know, or might know, I am a major fan of Rush bordering on the cusp of fanboi status. I've
seen the band about 20 times in my life. My journey has included seeing the band during their Exit Stage Left tour at the Meadowlands in December 1981 through to their R40 tour last year at the Prudential Center.

So why am I sharing this?

For the last week or so, every time I log onto Facebook I am inundated with some ad for Michael Moore. What does Michael Moore have to do with Rush? Read on. Bear with me. Your jaw will drop when I get to the end!

So when I went to see Rush last year, my friend and I got to our seats about 30 minutes before the show. By the way, the seats were great! I had managed to finagle (Our original seats were in the 300 section of The Rock. I have my methods and they always work!) ourselves right next to the stage on Alex Lifeson's side. Check it out:
So we are talking with the people around us and who do I see being escorted on the floor by Rush's longtime manager Ray Daniels but none other than Michael Moore.

WOW! I thought to myself. How many teachers have been hoping, praying, willing to give up a child so that Michael Moore, the bane of the 1% and all that is bullshit, would take on our cause? Heck, back in 2010 after discussing this hope with an SBSB groupie I reached out by phone to one of Mike's producers, Rod Birleson, asking him, nay, imploring him, to let Mike know that all the stakeholders of education in the United States need Mike's involvement. Desperately.

So I decided not to pass up an opportunity.

I raced down, went up to Michael Moore and shared with him that I am a NYC teacher and that we in NYC, New York State, and across the country are hurting, that our students are hurting, and that our communities are hurting. Basically I was Princess Leia telling Obi-Wan that he was our only hope.

Mike listened and told me to get in contact with him. When I asked him how he told me through his agency, CAA. I thought fine, I can be tenacious at times. What harm can it do? But I was walking on air. I got to meet Michael Moore and it seemed that I had planted a seed in his head. He even agreed to a selfie with me (Shitty photo of me).

I said thank you and watched Mike go to his front row, or was it second row, seat. I went back to my seat and enjoyed 3 hours of Rush, perhaps seeing them for the last time ever (At the end of the tour Neil Peart more or less said he is retired from touring).

So later that week I decided to call CAA. It took me a few run arounds to find out who exactly represents Mike so I can leave a message with the right person (like a secretary). But eventually I found out who is agent is and when I did I knew I was lied to and I lost all respect for Michael Moore.

Michael Moore's agent is none other than Ari Emanuel. Yep, that Ari Emanuel, the brother of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. I knew then that Michael Moore doing anything for education is this country was never, ever, going to happen.

He is a man that has taken on General Motors, the NRA, health care, 9/11 and the Iraq war, the defense industry, and capitalism. He is, or appears to be, a man that has no fear at exposing those that are corrupt and in power. Heck, he is even taking on Donald Trump and don't be surprised if he comes out with a documentary about the 2016 elections.

But he will never take on nor expose how the powerful and Wall Street have corrupted education. Why? Because in this country the story how Wall Street and the politicians have screwed education starts at, and must include, Chicago and there is no way in hell that Michael Moore with do anything to make Ari's brother look like an incompetent putz.

This is the same reason why Michael Moore will not even touch Black Lives Matter, the use of force by police, or inner cities. Any reporting, any documentary must include the incompetence of Rahm Emanuel.

Michael Moore is nothing but a two bit, self serving con artist. Whatever is good for Michael Moore, to put him in the best light and to protect his friends his the direction Michael Moore follows.

In my heart of hearts I believe that Michael Moore has no core belief system and does come from the same mold has people like Donald Trump.

We as educators and community members need to stop hoping that Michael Moore gives a rat's ass. he does not and will not. Ever.

Michael Moore a man of the people? I laugh. If he were a man of the people he would have bought his seats  for Rush off of Stub Hub or bought seats in the 300 section and did what I had done.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

BREAKING ATR NEWS!!! Beware of Being Manipulated by Sinister Forces!

Fear is a mighty strong emotion. We all have some fears. Some are rational and some are not. But these are OUR own fears. We have ownership over our fears and only can either decide to cave to our fears or fight back against the fears that inhabit our souls. But there is something, or rather, someone worse than our fears.

Who could it be you ask?

These types decide to manipulate and feel the need to pour gasoline on our fears for their own self-aggrandizement. Such types can be labeled sociopathic, psychotic, narcissistic, manipulative, or if a male, in possession of a Freudian physical shortcoming, in which they feel is grossly inadequate and to make up for the lack of size and find the only way to "feel big" is to make others feel small.

One can even say that this type of person is so overcome with their own fears, that their fears  control them, that the only way to make themselves feel a modicum of being fearless is to project their fears onto others, to make themselves feel powerful and important. They feel it is better to bring others down to their level of living in the gutter, rather than trying to move out and letting the sunlight expose them for what they really are.

As ATR's we are constantly living with our antennae in a constant state of alert. We go around wondering if this is the day they are going to get us. Is this the right school I am in? Will the principal or field supervisor judge me objectively? Will I have a bathroom key? Am I still a good teacher? Am I still an adequate human being?

Are the DOE and the UFT in cahoots against me and my fellow ATR's?

Yes, we need reassurance while needing the ability to be in control of our destinies. It is a powerful balancing act. How do we toe the line between the two? How do we "play the game," while at the same time keep the dignity we so deserve along with the ability to stand up for ourselves?

I know of one thing that does not accomplish either goal. Fear mongering.

Sadly in our ATR world there are, or is it "is," an entity so bereft of any empathetic values, so attuned into itself that the only way It feels it can succeed is by scaring the shit out of others and look down at the carnage It has created with a smile.

This disturbing email addressed to ATR's came across the desk of The Crack Team recently.

From: It <>
Date: Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 2:12 PM
Subject: IMPORTANT- 1 minute ATR Survey

Good afternoon,

     Whether you are now still an ATR, provisionally placed or just hired permanently this year, please take a quick moment to fill out this important ATR Survey. There is chatter that the DOE is releasing the names of all ATRs to a hedge fund backed parent group looking to attack ATRs in the press. They have already started last year in an effort to paint ATRs as sub par educators. We to counter their attacks and false claims with the truth.

Click here and take the survey by Friday please. The data we collect will mean less if only a few us contribute. Your names and email addresses will not be shared out. Results are listed at the bottom of the survey page.


Let's make one thing clear. This chatter, this thing that hedge funds are seeking out the names of ATR's is clear bullshit. Actually, this movement is being led by Students FirstNY and you can read the FOIL request here.  Even if the hedge funds are seeking out the names the DOE will not provide them voluntarily. This information comes to The Crack Team from very high up. Do not worry. Do not let the darkness of It control your emotions.

It had lofty goals, lofty plans, and worse, lofty promises. What has It had to show for all It has claimed? A .000 batting average. Nothing. Zero. Bupkus.

As Kirk said to Khan...
"but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target! 

 What ATR's are getting in this email is a falsehood sent by a false self-anointed deity and just a desperate method to sign up others to It's flailing failure of a movement.

ATR's will not be played for fools or marks, and certainly won't be the targets of grifters or scheisters.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

BREAKING NEWS!! ATR Found Inefficient and Corrected Immediately!!!!!

The following comes to you from the files of, "This Shit Can't Be Made Up!"

A disturbing story came across the news desk of The Crack Team recently. It is so disturbing, so vile, so inane, we didn't know whether to laugh or to cry, or to spew chunks.

An ATR shared with us about their school which is being run by, as we were told, "nitpicking micro-managers (Administrators) who are up your ass everyday and in your room 2-3 times looking for something to provide 'actionable feedback."

Eventually one of these micro-managers found something so abhorrent, so revolting what this ATR had been doing it necessitated a quick "strategy conference."

The AP informed the ATR that handouts were being passed out the wrong way!


Wrong way? Does this mean with the wrong hand? I'm left-handed living in a right-handed world. When I pass out handouts (rexos) I hold the papers in my right hand and use my left hand to pass them out. Surely, this is a disciplinary offense?

Could it be the ATR did not flick the wrist properly? Or maybe did not center the handout correctly on the desk? Dear Lord, maybe a morning of PD on Election Day can rectify this problem.

So what really was the issue?

The ATR was chastised because it had taken 75 seconds to pass out the handouts. One minute and 15 seconds.

The AP shared with the ATR that these 75 seconds resulted in a lost of "quality learning" time that which over a year can result in the loss of several periods of learning.

The ATR was corrected. Kinda like in the manner in which The Shining when the Jack Nicholson was told to correct his wife.

The ATR was told to have handouts in piles per table groups and have the table captains walk up to pick them out and then hand them out at their tables. 

So here's the deal. How do we shave off the time and help this ATR pass out the handout in a quicker, more efficient manner that not only makes sense but is much more efficient?

This does not seem very efficient. What will that save, 3.75 seconds (Don't laugh. The Crack Team has tested out this scenario at The Crack Team's Educational Research Labs in Yonkers)?

The ATR can get one of those cannon things that shoot T-shirts at sporting events. Nah, can only do one at a time and will waste time loading it.

The ATR can stand in the middle of the class, or rather at this school the "Learning Environment," and throw the handouts up in the air and hope the all float to each student. Nah.

The Crack Team invested many hours on this one and came up with a solution. It is so simple and so plausible.

We have instructed the ATR to go to the science lab during the next thunderstorm and stand by many different chemicals. To ensure a lightning strike on the aforementioned chemicals the ATR, along with help from the school's science teacher, will build a lightning rod from the chemicals, out the window, and up to the roof of the school. During the storm lightning will hit the rod, come down through it to the chemicals which then will spill all over the ATR. At this moment the ATR will soon be blessed with speed as fast as light. Either that or wind up in 1955.

Or the ATR can go back in time to before Krypton exploded, knock out Jor-El and Lora and throw Kal-El out of the ship and blast off towards earth and have the true effects of the yellow Sun. Yeah, I know. This idea is kind of silly and unrealistic. The first idea is better.

Let's see the UFT come up with this kind of out of the box thinking.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

God Damn PTSD

So I spent the beginning of a school year in a school (except for the 2 hours back in 2013 until I was served papers) for the first time since 2013. Did my best to lay low, stayed quiet, helped out. Asked if I can go to lunch, stayed late on Tuesday, asked if I could have coffee when breakfast was served yesterday. Did what I had to do. Until this afternoon.

"Mr Zucker, please report to the main office. Mr Zucker, please report to the main office."

Oh, oh I thought. Did I do something?

As I was heading down to the office I racked my brain on what I possibly could have done.

Had I left early for lunch today? Just before I got outside I looked at my watch and it said 11:29:35 AM. Maybe I should have waited another 15 seconds.

I had clocked in a few minutes early and still had time to run across the street and pick up my pre-ordered breakfast. I was back in the cafeteria by 8 AM.

Maybe I just didn't  sign the acknowledgement that I had gotten the chancellor's regulations in yet even though we were told that we had until Friday.

Maybe I had left the toilet seat up?

Whatever it was it had to be bad.

I got to the office and the new AP was there. I asked her what I did. She said with a smile, "Nothing, just go in (principal's office) and we'll talk." OK, I thought.

So I walked in and the principal was standing at her door. I again asked if I had done anything and she said, with a smile, "Of course not," and in I walked.

However, the other AP was sitting at the conference table. Hmmm, what is going on I thought to myself. Something must.

I scoured the conference table for anything with my name on it. Looking for an A-420 form. An anecdotal. Something. In my mind I am thisclose to asking if I need the CL here with me. My heart is racing. I am conjuring all these scenarios in my mind. What is making this worse is they are taking THEIR TIME TO TELL ME WHY I WAS THERE!!!

Finally (WHEW!), the new AP sits down as well as the principal and they tell me what they needed me for.

The new 7th grade ELA teacher is having license issues and will be unable to start tomorrow. Until he gets things rectified I will cover his schedule.

That's it? Guess what I unclenched when I was told?

I am cool with that. The new AP took some time and shared with me what to do for the first two days and when I told her that I want to reach out to her again tomorrow for more assistance she was quite welcoming and nice about it.

Having never taught 7th grade ELA in the past I took time this evening to watch Dead Poet's Society which was coincidentally on tonight for some inspiration. Perhaps I will fair better than Mr Keating.

I know I was being irrational even at the time I was being irrational I rationalized that I was being irrational. But this is how it is for me now and will be for...I have no idea.

This is a classic case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And I consider this mild. I know of a very dear teacher friend of mine that vomits and can't get out of bed. But we all deal with PTSD in our own ways.

I hate this feeling. I hate when someone, or rather and administrator, just wants to say hi to me, all my bodily functions feel as if they will go awry. Gratefully, I have yet to lose control of said functions.

I am sure there are many more NYC teachers other than myself and my friend who have been through the ringer in the same situation and just as many who have PTSD worse much much worse.

What makes all those NYC teachers who are suffering with PTSD dven a sadder story is that for most, the actions, or inactions, of the NYCDOE are the cause of their suffering. But as usual, there is no accountability.

This is unacceptable. Teachers should not have to go through their careers with the burden of PTSD. Don't teachers have to deal with enough?

But people on high look down at those with PTSD. It can't be seen, it can't be touched. So you mustn't then have it. That is unless you are a veteran or a cop or a first responder.

But if you're a teacher there are no resources offered to you and you are told you need to get over it and put on that brave face at 8:15 AM every day.

Yeah, it is tough. But NYC teachers are tough. We can and will survive this.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The UFT and NYSUT Must Seek Justice for Teachers

I've been thinking.

So many lawsuits by teacher, so many lawyers hired by teachers, so little changing. Why is that?

With all the lawsuits, all the settlements, the court rulings, the discussions amongst the attorneys one would figure that a needle will move in favor of teachers, no?

While it is well and good that teachers that have been wronged continue to pursue outside legal action, individually we can't move the needle. To move the needle we must fight as a collective.

Just an aside but relevant, there was an interesting article in the Washington Post this week how former and current minor league baseball players are bringing a class action suit against MLB to raise their pay. Did you know that most minor leaguers make about $1k a month? I don't know how I feel about that. I would give my left arm to play pro ball. But hold that thought for a moment. Because this will be relevant.

What do we as teachers do and/or need?

First, as every class action lawsuit has there must be a lead plaintiff. But the lead plaintiff must not be someone who is narcissistic, selfish, or has put themselves in a spot where that person his continuously defecated on by life. No, that person must be above reproach. Must be a pillar in the their community, both at home and in their school, and with an unblemished personal file. This person will be our Rosa Parks.

Think about it. Rosa Parks just didn't fall into being the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She was chosen by the local NAACP because she was married, employed, and a pillar of her community. As teachers there must be someone to be our Rosa Parks. Our face. But what should be the cause of action?

There are so many. ATR's. Not how we are treated, but rather there should be a case for age discrimination (which I am sure somewhere in the bowels in the Tweed basement are files among files of thisThe NYCDOE version of the Pentagon Papers which I have written about in the past).

There is also the whack a mole evaluation system or many other wrongs committed. One that gets me is under new 3020-a guidelines the teacher must prove themselves innocent instead of being proven guilty. This in my opinion should be the test case. There is case law about the presumption of innocence.

But how can a low paid teacher afford such high priced attorneys that would be needed for such a case?

This is where our union, the United Federation of Teachers as well as NYSUT come in. It is time for both organizations to show some guts and to grab the bull by the proverbial testes and go out and find that teacher who can be a lead plaintiff, a face against all the crap we have taken for the last 10-15 years. Only the UFT and NYSUT have the financial wherewithal and resources to undertake such an endeavor.

Unions have done such actions all the time. They have gone to the courts for what they can't get in collective bargaining. Look at the story about the minor league baseball players? Who comes to mind? Curt Flood, Andy Messersmith, and Dave McNally. All three battled to eliminate the reserve clause. Curt Flood's case went all the way to the Supreme Court. But all three had the union behind them.

As much as I love baseball, teachers are damn more important than baseball players ever will be. Don't we deserve to be treated just as good as they are?

Friday, August 26, 2016

That Crappy, Crappy Feeling

Last week, finally, I got the transcript of the deposition I sat for back in January. Michael Agona's attorney Richard F.X. Guay deposed me for about 5 hours that day and I think it went pretty well.

The transcript was about 200 pages and took me a few hours to read. It brought back a lot of memories, some good, some bad. But in reading it I came to a particular point where I never want to go again.

There were times I toyed with the fact of ending it all.

I remember one point, and this was back in November 2014 a few weeks before my 3020-a hearing had started, that I was obsessing, in a complete swirl about what would happen if I lost my job and had no income, no nothing. My family would be left high and dry.

A friend had told me that I could get a disability retirement at 1/3 of my pay. I thought about it. Since I was on Zerega Ave and the Bronx UFT was a block away I walked over there to meet with the pension guy (I forget his name).

He told me what my pension would be. It wasn't much but it was something. I then asked him about the death benefit. He told me that if anything were to happen to me my family would get $300k. I thought about it for what seemed like a minute or so but actually was a brief second. $300k guaranteed to my family if something happened to me seemed good considering that I and my family would be left for nothing. In fact I shared this with the pension guy. I forgot what he said, but he got me back to reality.

There was another time, I think it was after my hearing started, my wife and I got in an argument, or something happened. It was early in the evening and I drove to my favorite pizzeria in White Plains. I was eating my slice in the car and called a very good friend of mine and I asked him point blank, "If anything ever happened to me I want you to promise that you would take watch out for my wife and son." He really was taken aback. Again, the lapse into this ideation was brief and coming from emotion and not rational. It passed.

So did another time. I forget if it was before or during the hearings but I was walking back to the Rubber Room it was a gray dull day and I just thought to myself if I can just end this my wife and son get $300k. Again, fleeting, it soon too passed.

Why am I sharing this? I don't know. To get this off my chest. To show that all of us in a bad predicament with the DOE can go through something like what I went through.

That is what I had thought before I put fingers to keyboard. I wanted those who put me through this to know what kind of an effect they can have on someone's psyche when they decide to play God and attempt to separate one from one's direct deposit.

But as I wrote I discovered another reason.

I know there are many others in or who were in my shoes. Many are hurting mentally and emotionally right now or have. I want to let you all know that you can battle back from this morass of fecal matter brought on by the DOE. That you can't give up the fight. That you if you come to a wall in your battle know that there are other ways around that wall.

I am so concerned, so caring about others who are going through 3020-a and other crap that what is most important is your mental health, your spiritual health, your family's health. Yeah, sometimes coming off as the loudest, nastiest, loudmouth on the playground is a good way to battle back, but there is no there there with that kind of mentality.

You need to know nuance. You need to know when and where to do what you need to do. But most important of all is your mental and physical health and your loved ones. Don't let anyone fool you into doing otherwise. Don't let anyone fool you into false promises.

If you are in the situation I or hundreds of others have been or currently in it is OK, it is natural, to have the same feelings that I wrote about. I had a great support system and that is one thing you need.

Do not go through this alone!!