SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL

Monday, August 7, 2017

Five ATR Answers for Chalkbeat

I stopped reading Chalkbeat a long time ago. Educational propaganda for the deformists and the ediots of the world.

But Chalkbeat (formerly Gotham Schools) is back at being the Pravda for the above mentioned hacks.

In today's Chalkbeat, new "reporter" and former Yale journalism (you could have gone to SUNY-Purchase's fine journalism school. It would have saved mommy and daddy a lot of money!) student, Daniela Brighenti, asked the 5 ATR questions that are on everyone's mind. But no need to worry anymore Daniela, we here at SBSB, myself and The Crack Team have decided to give you the answers you are looking for.

What is the average years of experience among teachers in the pool?

By our estimates, the average years of experience amongst all ATR's system wide is about 150.3 years. Yes, you read that right. Seriously, what do you think? Gosh, you answer your own question...
"Historically, the ATR pool has been comprised of teachers who are, as a group, more experienced than their peers.
Data from 2010 showed that teachers with 15 to 25 years of experience made up 31 percent of the ATR pool, as compared to 19 percent of all active teachers. In comparison, more junior teachers were underrepresented in the pool — 13 percent, compared to 29 percent of all active teachers."

Look around your Chalkbeat newsroom Daniela, how many scribes that look like Jimmy Breslin or Lois Lane are in the cubicles next to you? As Chalkbeat will only hire "presently graduated young reporters," so, will the principals only hire presently hired young teachers. It makes sense. Young and out of college means less pay, more manipulation.

What percentage of ATR teachers are in the pool for disciplinary reasons?

A lot. Some for some serious stuff, some for leaving toilet seats up. Does it matter? If we have been deemed by an arbitrator to keep our positions, why can't we have the same chances all teachers have. But again, discipline or no discipline, it does not matter. Age, salary, and as Chaz the blogger says, "institutional memory" are the ATR's greatest foes.

But again, if you are 23, clueless, and never taught, you are the right fit for any school.

How long have the teachers been in the ATR pool?

Since the dawn of time. Since Adam met Eve, since Luke fought his pops. But again, you are given the answer again by some anonymous principal...
" the time they spend outside the classroom and in the ATR could be harmful, since they are unlikely to receive the same professional development as teachers in full-time positions."
Why aren't you, your handlers, or anyone kvetching that the ATR's are treated as such and demand that the DOE give the ATR's the same access to REAL, ( not the crap on Mondays,) professional development? Guess what? ATR's want it!!!!

Where have ATR teachers worked in the past?

Where? As a teacher or in life? I worked at Rosen, Mandell, and Immerman, printing brokers right after high school. It was great. Loved commuting into the city. Once walked in on my boss cutting coke into lines. But this was in 1982, It was all the rage.

I also worked in McDonald's on Central Ave in 1980 and Wendy's on 9A in 1981. Shall I go on?

But if you want to really get answers, why not roll up your sleeves, hit the streets, do some real reporting and ask ATR's?

What areas are ATR teachers certified in?

I have two certifications. One, Common Branch and the other, Meat and Cheese Sandwich Engineering. I know one ATR that has a certification in marriage counseling and another ATR that has a certification in the mortuary sciences. But again......

If you want to really get answers, why not roll up your sleeves, hit the streets, do some real reporting, and ask ATR's?

I hope I helped you Daniela in answering all these questions. In fact, by answering these questions, I feel the sudden need to hide the afikoman for some reason and to smack the simple child in the face.

But one more bit of advice and please take it.


If you want to really get answers, why not roll up your sleeves, hit the streets, do some real reporting and ask ATR's?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Open Blog Post to Nicole Thomas (ATR Basher) Parent at PS 256 in Brooklyn

Here we go around, (round, round, round) Run-run-runaround, yeah! (round, round, round, round) Here we go around, (round, round, round)-Runaround, Van Halen, 1991 from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

Yeah, here we go around again, with the ignorant bashing of ATR's (Absent Teacher Reserve), by a bought off parent (more on this later in this post).

Nicole Thomas, a mom at PS 256 in Brooklyn, wrote a scathing op-ed in the Daily News yesterday, becoming the 1,553,234 person to be completely ill-informed about ATR's.

Nicole sayeth....

They land in the ATR — sometimes for a short period, sometimes for a long one — because they are unable or unwilling to find full-time teaching positions after losing their placements.

You know that for a fact Nicole? Who told you this? Have you seen it first hand? If you wish to say unable, have you considered that NO principal will hire a teacher that makes my salary, that has my number of years in the system? Yeah, I went through the ringer. I went through a 3020a. I was labeled a bad boy. Big flag on my personal file. But Nicole, aren't we all allowed a second chance? Have you seen me teach? Or any other ATR teach? I doubt it.

Guess what Nicole? I was a technology staff developer for 3 years, ran the computer room in my school for another three, have a Masters in Educational Technology and guess (not many have all this) just guess, what? I can't even get an interview when I apply on the Open Market.

As for ATR's being unwilling, well, why should they be willing? Why should an ATR want to be in a situation where they are judged on "junk science" and Danielson? Why would an ATR want to be in a dysfunctional school? Why would an ATR want to take the chance with a vengeful principal?

But guess what? 99.99% of the ATR's I know want to be in a school permanently. You think it is easy going from school to school and not knowing anyone? People treating you as if you have some disease? You think it is easy to leave a school after you build relationships with students, and then suddenly - BOOM! - you are whisked away?

Yet you talk about quality teachers. What is a quality teacher Nicole? A brand new teacher that has never taught before? A Teach for America hack that has had only 50 hours of training? Nicole, would you get in a plane with a pilot that has had only 50 hours of training? Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you, or a loved one, with only 50 hours of training? No you wouldn't.

Is it an ATR's fault they they are forced to teach 7th grade ELA and their license is elementary and whilst teaching 7th grade ELA they get zero support from administration?  Or what about the ATR who had a phys ed. license and has made to teach Kindergarten?

Nicole, you are labeling all ATR's with the same broad brush? You know another time this happened? In 1930's Germany, when all Jews heard that they were money grubbers, not real Germans, had big noses, were miserly, and other monstrosities that were said about them. What makes you any different?

But I know where your bread is buttered Nicole. StudentsFirstNY butters it, and butters it well. You want to hang with these people? You think for a moment that StudentsFirst cares about you or your family, or even your community? You are being played like a fiddle and when you outlive your usefulness, see how long, if ever, it takes Jenny Sedlis to return your calls.

But if you want to hang with these people, know that StudentsFirst is the evil spawn of Michelle Rhee. Read this and tell the world how you would feel if Rhee was your child's teacher. These are the type of people you are being a sycophant for.

Stop listening and sucking up the propaganda. Find out for yourself. My email is listed on this blog.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Autism Speaks at District 75

I got a summer school gig again this summer. Same school as last year, different building, but still in District 75.

I am happy.

Last year I did phys ed. and this year, I am teaching technology. Got a great computer room and finally able to do what I do best.

The students are fantastic. I know it is hard and a challenge to work with autistic children and students with emotional disabilities. But, there is so much support from the top down, it makes not only my job easier, but the entire staff as well.

I feel the students are so blessed to be in this school, to be in a situation where I see the students truly come first for the first time in my career. That those who wish to demean and belittle the teachers of the NYCDOE, need to open their eyes and see what great work is done not only at the school I am at, but all District 75 school across the city. I guarantee that not one single charter school can do anything that any District 75 school can do.

For the autistic students (for this blog post I am just going to concentrate on them. I have only 1 class that is standardized), I am both in awe of them and sad for them at the same time. I'm in awe that they have the ability to navigate not only going to school every day, but the joy I see in their face and hear in their voices when they accomplish something, or that there is a teacher or para that is there for them each and every day to guide and to facilitate their growth.

It is fascinating to learn about each and every student, and find out what their likes and dislikes are. There is a student that has a fascination with maps (I myself have always loved maps). When his class is done with what we are doing and it is choice time, he goes on Google Maps and I watch him. There is a pattern to what he is searching and looking at, I wish I knew, but he knows. In fact one day I was watching him and with his eyes still fixated on Maps he just blurted out, "Personal space!" I moved back a bit.

In fact on the first day of school, on July 5, he asked me what the zip code is of where I live. Today, almost three weeks later when I ask him what is my zip code, he nails it.
One day a student started just rubbing my arm out of the blue. I looked at the para to get their attention at this. The para told me that the student feels comfortable with me. Best recommendation I ever got.
I am saddened knowing that some of our most needy students are trapped inside of their bodies, not able to communicate their fears, their anxieties, their dreams, like you and I can.

When I hear a student screaming out and hearing their pain, it just hurts to hear. I know, the staff knows, that they will be all right, but at that very moment, that student doesn't.

But these students are in great hands. I see what this school is about. It is just not about the ABC's. It's about giving these students a gift, a gift of being independent, of living their lives as fulfilled as can be possible.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

The 400

Wow! It has been over a month since I last blogged. Been busy.


A lot has happened in that time. But what really stands out is the new (old?) ATR system.

Chaz has written several blog posts (here and here) on what is new again. In fact I had a nice conversation with him about who these lucky 400 ATR's will be that will be sent to a school and if they pass the talent portion (rated highly effective or effective) will permanently placed, without any say from the principal, in that school.

Chaz, and I agree, said that the 400 will be those ATR's that were excessed. ATR's who were naughty and did not play well with others will still be rotated, though no one knows how long the rotations will be.

The way the DOE is going about placing 400 out of, let's say for arguments sake, 1000 ATR's (give or take a hundred) really is not a fun nor clever way of choosing who gets a chance at the grand prize of being permanently placed. Myself and The Crack Team have come up with fairer, even better methods of choosing these lucky 400.

Rent out Ichan Stadium on Randall's Island (The irony!) and have Romanesque gladiator battles to the death amongst ATR's. When there are 400 left, these will be the ATR's that are placed. In case of a match that does not end in the death of an ATR Chancellor Fariña will be in her box Caesar like and gave give a thumbs up or down. Or just release the lions until there are 400 ATR's still standing.

During the last two months of August have all principals wine and dine ATR's, cavort with them in romantic and risque situations. Go bike riding, long walks along the East River, etc... You know just like in The Bachelor. On the last day of August have a show at Radio City in which all the ATR's will be on stage and principals will give the ATR's they have selected a rose. The rest of the ATR's can leave and cry and say bitchy things about the 400 ATR's that were chosen.

Infect, or alter the DNA, of 400 ATR's with Pon Farr. Instead of wanting to mate with Stonn, the ATR's will be wanting to be permanently placed. However, they must fight to the death 400 other ATR's selected by principals. Who's ever left alive will be permanently place. Chancellor Fariña will serve as T'Pau for each match. Oh, and there will be no "tri-ox compound" allowed to be administered.

Go up to The Apollo on 125th and have a real live amateur talent show. When The Sandman got rid of 600 ATR's the 400 left will be permanently placed.

Lord of the Flies meets ATRS. Put the 1000 ATR's on North Brother Island in the East River beginning August 1. When 400 are left the contest is over.

Or you can have a demolition derby like that desert scene in Smokey and the Bandit II.

Or the best idea we thought of. The DOE can be fair and place the ATR's based on merit, respect, and honor and get rid of the bogus fair student funding, let ATR's go on true interviews and let the principals do what's best for the students and the communities.

And our union could have our backs. For real this time. 

It's that simple.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The $50,000 ATR Question

We've been offered $50,000 to go away and not be to heard from again.

As many know by now, there is a new ATR agreement bestowed upon the unsuspecting, the injured, the desperate, and the pissed done in secret by the powers that be of our wonderful union, the United Federation of Teachers (Yeah, I know I am a little late to the game in sharing).

To tell you the truth, I stopped and thought about it. That's a lot of money. Figure about $15k is taken off the top and that would leave me $35k. There is this deli or something on NY 203 in Spencertown (Columbia County) NY that used to be a general store. I have a small dream of buying this place when I retire and living up there full time. I could be another Sam Drucker. Sadly, I am 53, not eligible for a full pension until 2021 and my son graduates high school in 2019. So there goes that dream, for now.

But no one is going to take the offer unless they are thisclose to retirement or thisclose to being fed up. Want to delete the ATR pool? Offer early retirement. It's been done before.

But I have some question and/or concerns about the rest of the agreement.

Some of the highlights/lowlights:

After October 15, ATRs will be given a temporary provisional assignment to a school with a vacancy in their license area where available.

So what is it we do up until October 15? But even after October 15, here is a problem.

Say they put you provisionally in school after that date. You are a common branch teacher and you have been in the ATR pool since 2012. When do you think the last time a teacher in this situation had any true professional development? When was the last time such a teacher was trained on the latest and newest curricula? When was such a teacher trained in Danielson, or had any real meaningful feedback? 

Oh please, we will hear, "You are a teacher, that means you teach!" Well, I have a friend who is a doctor of proctology, I'm not going to see him about heart murmurs, am I? I mean, he is a DOCTOR? Using the DOE's logic he should be able to transfer is knowledge of colons and rectums to the heart.

But here is another problem. Instead of just plopping an ATR provisionally into any school, why not meet and/or interview the ATR and find out what their strengths are so they can be placed properly. Make it a win-win situation for all? How difficult can this be? 

The DOE, at its sole discretion, may choose not to assign an ATR to a temporary provisional assignment who have been penalized (as a result of a finding of guilt or by stipulation) in conjunction with §3020-a charges based on the circumstances of each case.

OK.

The DOE shall not be required to send more than one (1) ATR at a time to a school per vacancy for a temporary provisional assignment. These assignments will first be made within district and then within borough.

This is good and bad. It's good if your district is in Western Queens or Brooklyn and you live on Long Island, or the South Bronx like I do and live in the Hudson Valley. Put me in District 10 or 11. It'll chop 20-30 minutes off my commute.

But, if it all comes down to it I would much rather stay in District 7. I know the neighborhoods, I know the schools. I know the teachers. This year I have been lucky enough to know a few teachers in each school I have been at. It makes the transition easier. 

But it will affect more ATR's than it won't and this is not a fair.

It is understood that at any time after a temporary provisional assignment is made, a principal can request the removal of the ATR from this assignment and the ATR can be returned to the ATR pool and be subject to the terms and conditions of employment then applicable to ATRs pursuant to this Agreement.

This should be good. Don't like the school you are at show up wearing a dress or a pro Donald Trump shirt and boom! You go back in the pool.  

What this agreement does not mention though is for those who are still being rotated, how long will the rotations be? 

But there are other problems with this agreement, most of all the secrecy in which it was done and which James Eterno, Arthur Goldstein, Chaz, and Norm Scott  have written about.

When ATR's received the email concerning the new ATR there is a link that takes us to a online form if we have any questions (ATR's should have some fun with this form and inundate it with REAL COMMENTS, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) for the UFT.

What is perplexing is why after the genie has packed up and left the bottle is there a way to talk to the UFT about the agreement?  Why at no time did UFT leadership, re: Mulgrew and Barr take the time and play make believe and treat the ATR's as if we are retired members who live in Southeast Florida and come to us? Five borough UFT offices, five meet and greets, five question and answers, five separate days of at the very least pretending to give a shit what is on the minds of the ATR! If Mulgew was so afraid of meeting with ATR's get some tech geek to set up Survey Monkey and blast the poll out to ATR's.

I know James Eterno was working on getting ATR's recognized as a chapter and I have lost track of what the current status of that struggle is but is time to take a big step in my opinion. The fact that a few people are making the decision for about 2,000 teachers is beyond the pale and patently unethical. The ATR's should have a chapter, should have a seat(s) in the delegate assembly, and should have a seat on the executive board. The worst part is this agreement is rammed down our throats without even having a chance to vote on it!

The UFT is figuratively emasculating the ATR's by not being proactive to what we want and need. It is time that our leadership stops being reactive and try being proactive and hear what we want and need. All it will take is a little listening and a lot of empathy. How difficult can this be?

In the meantime something needs to be done. Can a complaint be filed with the National Labor Relations Board, NYS or US Department of Labor, or PERB?

Please don't tell me or any ATR that our Chapter Leaders in our schools are there for us. Many of them don't know who we are, don't care, too inexperienced, or bought. An ATR and the CL are two ships passing in the night.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

EXCLUSIVE! Central Park East 1 3020-a Decision!!

This just came into the SBSB newsroom due to the hard work and vigilance of The Crack Team.

For the first time ever a 3020-a of one of the teachers embroiled in the inanity and insanity at Central Park East 1 is being published.

Reading through this decision is stomach turning. The bullshit charges, the waste of taxpayer money, the wasteful year of the teacher's students, the time consumed, shows that the teacher discipline system is completely out of whack and the UFT if not complicit turns a blind eye to the kangaroo court that is the 3020-a process.

Again, this teacher was lucky and in the right school at the right time. The teacher had support from the teachers of CPE 1, MORE, and most importantly the parents and the community of CPE 1. Who gets charges, what the charges are, etc...are all dependent on a bunch of hacks in the DOE's legal department, SCI, and OSI, who decide on who is gulity and who should be charged using only this method to decide who shall be so blessed.

Another thing. This teacher was blessed to have Jordan Harlow as a lawyer. If you are a teacher that wants or needs legal representation and wish to avail yourself to outside counsel, run and do not walk, and get on the phone and contact Jordan post haste!

Read here for the 3020-a decision (UPDATE 9:38 PM EDT: Forgot to add the decision when first published!)...


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Catlin Preston of Central Park East 1 is Exonerated!

Lots going on at CPE 1. Last week I mentioned how CL Marilyn Martinez was exonerated of all charges and now another teacher at her school, Catlin Preston, has been exonerated of all charges as well in his 3020-a case.

I can't yet go into details of what Catlin's case. Now is not the time.

This I can tell you. The charges against Catlin were bullshit. A sham. But Catlin got through it.

I spoke to Catlin on the phone back in January before his hearing started. Jia Lee had put me in touch with him and wanted me to share my experience, give advice, support, and whatever else I can give to him.

It's not that I needed to talk him down from the ceiling or anything, but of course he was anxious and apprehensive. I gave it to him straight. Best of all I gave him some coping skills (Which I think anyone going through a 3020-a hearing needs!).

It would be easy for anyone who has been in my situation to just have an agenda and project their own anger and fears onto someone. You know, have an agenda as some people do. But that would not have served Catlin or anyone in his situation any good.

Catlin needed the process demystified. I hope it helped. I think it helped.

But Catlin had someone better than me, or Jia, or MORE on his side. He had Jordan Harlow as an attorney. Then and now Catlin said that was the best money he had ever spent.

Catlin was fortunate as is any teacher in his situation to hire Jordan. Would things have turned out the same if Catlin hired someone else? Maybe. Maybe not. There are a lot of flim flam artists out there.

It's too bad that Catlin and his students were separated nearly 18 months.

FYI, Catlin is back at CPE 1 and the students and the community could not be luckier.