Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Progressive SiriusXM Radio Host Michelangelo Signorile Just Is Too Ignorant About Education

So yesterday the "Bear Whisperer" Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos had her hearing share
her "credentials" on why she should be Secretary of Education. Naturally, there would be a lot of talk radio talk (On both the left and right) concerning this scary, scary woman.

On my way home I turned on SiriusXM channel 127 to listen to Michelangelo Signorile (@MSignorile on Twitter) . The timing could not have been better. He was talking about the DeVos nomination as well and that Randi Weingarten was to call in about 4:30. The moment was perfect for me to call in.

So about 4:15 PM I called and I got the screener. I told him that as a teacher in NYC I (And I am sure quite a few others!) feel that DeVos is going to be just a continuation of the eight dreadful years of Obama-Duncan-King and that this war on education had been aided, abetted, and enabled by the famed troika we have had to deal with all these many years. Screener said good points and told me to hold on.

At about 4:20 Signorile took my call and I basically said what I told the screener, but I added;
"Obama and Duncan have done much damage to education in this country."
At this point Signorile yelled;
And he hung up on me. I listened to the rest of his tirade on the radio has he shouted;
"Obama and Duncan have done more for LGBQT students and opening access for all students in the country than any other have."
This is where his ignorance slip is showing.

By the way, I have always voted Democrat. Except in 2012 and 2014. Just couldn't bring myself to vote for Obama or Cuomo. My whole family, immediate and extended, are Democrats. My grandfather was part of the Tweed machine. So there!

Yes, DeVos is an abomination that will make life miserable for both LGBQT students and teachers, and even parents.  Yes, Obama has been wonderful for the LGBQT community. But that is not the point I was making and if any other teacher had called in I don't think that would be the point they would be making either.

Now one thing gets me wondering, Signorile's quote about opening access for all students. Because that sounds like code for "school choice." Which just happens to be something that Herr Trump and DeVos seem to want. And guess who else wanted it Michelangelo? Yeah, Arne and Barack did too!

Signorile needs to understand that thanks to Obama/Duncan that we are inundated with charter schools supported by the 1% so that the 1% can get their tax write-offs and photo ops or that are a cash cow for them and their buddies.

We have testing, testing, that has betrayed families and children across the country of being properly educated.

We have cuts in financial aid to school districts nation wide thanks to Obama/Duncan.

We have over crowded classrooms thanks to Obama/Duncan.

We have sham graduation rates thanks to Obama/Duncan.

We have the Common Core thanks to Obama/Duncan.

We have states being held hostage to federal monies and forced to implement inane, obtuse curricula thanks to Obama/Duncan.

We have a teacher shortage in New York State thanks to Obama/Duncan.

SUNY schools are experiencing a enrollment drop in education programs of up to 40% the last five years because of Obama/Duncan.

Teachers unions across the country are under attack thanks to Obama/Duncan.

Teachers are under attack across the country thanks to Obama/Duncan.

Parents are fighting back finally thanks to Obama/Duncan.

Corporations have profited quite handsomely on the backs of children thanks to Obama/Duncan.

Dang, I can go on and on and on and on. I know I am leaving a lot of things out. But suffice it to say, Obama/Duncan have destroyed public education in this country and they were enabled by DEMOCRATS. Yeah, starting with Ted Kennedy and chumming up to George W. back in 2001.

So maybe it is time that Mr Signorile speak and listen to teachers and find out what is really going on. Go and fight DeVos Mike but 95% of the policies that she will be advocating are basically just regurgitated from Obama/Duncan.

I guess I need to go back to listening to Francessa on the way home. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Brooklyn HS Football Coach Can't Use Potty Words

I am sure we all have read in the New York Post how Progress HS for Professional Careers AP Diana Rendon walked into the locker room of Grand Street Campus' football team back on October 20 whilst some of the team was in the state of semi-dressed (The Crack Team has been given a video of the purported incident. However we cannot confirm the veracity of provenance of said video).

My friend Chaz the Blogger brought up some good points on his blog about this incident  yesterday. Yet again the double standard does exist. Even when an administrator is shone is a bad light in the media two weeks in a row.

But good enough was unable to be left alone.

The Grand Street Campus football team was in the news due to allegations that coach Bruce Eugene had an ineligible player on the team. Coach Eugene was fired as coach even though Grand Street won the city football title in 2015. But just before the game on October 20, Eugene won a court order that lifted the suspension and this is where I am going to focus.

He was set up. All about petty BS.

According to the New York Post Coach Eugene was terminated from his coaching position for...
“allegedly heard making inappropriate comments and using profanities”
Come again?

Coach Eugene is quoted in the Post as having said to the team in a pre-game speech...

 “F–k what I’m going through, f–k what’s going on. Let’s focus on Lincoln,”
How shocking! A football coach cursing?

The Crack Team checked with my 15 year old son and asked him if any of his coaches during the time he has played ball have dropped the F and/or S bombs. Now mind you my son's primary sport is baseball. Yes it is a different game.The emotional level is not as high as it is in football. But nevertheless, The Crack Team wanted to be sure.

My son shared with The Crack Team that while neither his middle school or freshman baseball coaches used filthy language the coaches he has had for his travel team have used the F bomb on more than one occasion.

Examples are...
"Get on the f**king line," "cut the sh*t," "What the f**k are you doing?"
Another coach uses the S word as a noun, verb, and adjective quite a bit! Dang, even his Babe Ruth coach is prone foul language. So was his wrestling coach in middle school. In fact, one of my son's friends shared with The Crack Team that the JV football coach has a potty mouth as well!

And guess what? I, and the other parents, don't care. These are boys. Teenage boys. This past summer his Babe Ruth coach needed someone to be in the dugout and keep the book during a game. I turned red listening to what the boys (including my son) were talking about!

Can't the NYCDOE look past a few potty words and see what Coach Eugene has accomplished and allow him his day in court?

Coach Eugene was keeping these boys of the streets. Instilling purpose and discipline in them that will serve the boys for years upon years to come. In a city where quality high school athletics are lacking why must the fix be always to terminate or severely discipline the person? What is so bad about talking?

Coach Eugene was lauded by the community of Grand Street Campus. In the October 5 edition of the Post it was reported that Coach Eugene...

he still has support among parents who lauded his ability to instill confidence in at-risk kids.

Isn't this what we all want? Why not fix the issue instead of blowing it up? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Latest New Evaluation Riddle

So Chapter Leaders and I guess administrators are being trained on the new evaluation system.
Everything being crammed into a short time frame. I guess sooner or later teachers will be trained  as well.

But I've been thinking lately.

Think about this. Say you are a teacher and up until now, January 11, 2017 you have had say 2 observations in which were complete disasters. You have to ineffectives and on your way to end of year rating hell. And let's just say for arugments sake that the new evaluation system kicks in on February 1.

Do you get a mulligan? A do over? Like in Galaxy Quest when you get to use the Omega 13 and rearrange matter and get to go back in time redeem a mistake?  Or do the ineffectives get combined with the new method?

One should be able to get a do over. It is only fair. But we have yet to hear from anyone with knowledge to share this with us.

In fact, what about the four observations? Are the observation pro-rated to two observations are will the four observations be jammed into the last few months of the school year?

And one more thing.

Keeping the beginning date of the new evaluation system as February 1in place shouldn't all teachers observations/evaluations be then based on the old S/U system? Think about it for a moment.

Back in November when I was at the Bronx UFT ATR meeting it was shared with us that if we got a permanent position at that time we will be under the auspices of the, at the time, current APPR system. However, if we got a permanent position in the second semester will fall under the S/U nothing to do with Danielson system. Heck, this is even true for new hires if they started that late in the year that they would be under S/U as well.

Will new teachers that are hired in March or later be part of the newest evaluation system or will they fall under the older old version of evaluations/observations the S/U?

Inquiring minds want to know. Inquiring minds want to hear from someone, anyone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

ATR Time Travel

Since being an ATR I have been trying to put my best face on and do what I have to do with a smile. I go into every school and every day wanting to do the very best that I can. But at times it can be difficult.

At times it seems like I am living in some type of time warp. That feeling was prevalent when I returned last December from my suspension realizing that I had been out of the classroom, and a school, for 2 1/2 years. It was like I was returning from the dead or had been in some type of extended cryogenic stasis.

Things were so new. I been besides the fact that the teachers I have been seeing were suddenly a lot younger. Or maybe I had just gotten older. But there were more Smart Boards, more tablets, that transparency thingy that shows stuff on the Smart Board. It was whole new world.

Gratefully, I have, or it is starting to look like I had?, (OK, I am going to get grief for the question mark and the comma. I am sorry!) a background in educational technology so I was able to pick up on the technological aspect rather quickly. But one bugs me.

It's the lack of availability of relevant professional development.

Yeah, Mondays are nice. But most of the PD's I have been blessed with being in attendance don't, in my opinion, lead to practices of best teaching. Mostly these PD's deal with data, motivational readings, etc.. I, and I am sure many ATR's, want something we can really sink our teeth into.

Why can't ATR's when we are assigned to a school get time with all the consultants that come in to do training with the staff? Why can't ATR's be made aware of the latest methods, insights into reading, writing, math?

There are schools that I have been at that have had a week of Teachers College consultants come in to spend an inordinate amount of time with staff. Are ATR's invited? I haven't been.

Where are the workshops for Go Math that would help me familiarize myself with this curriculum?

Wouldn't having more knowledge of the latest curriculum of the moment better serve ATR's to assist us in getting permanent positions?

What about being sent off-site to PD? It's a no go.

Yes, I understand that there implementation difficulties involved, but.

Why then can't the the DOE make available off-site to ATR's by borough after school, on Monday's (Hey we are stating late anyway)? Yeah, they might have to pay training rate or per session, but hell, back when I was a staff developer we had this! We had after school staff development in which teachers showed and were interested in learning something new.

At the very least, our union, our UFT, the people we fork over $100 a month to should make the PD the teachers in the schools are having, what the teachers in our districts are learning available to all ATR's. Or does this count, because there ain't much there. Same lack of quality here.

ATr's can't and shouldn't be treated as an afterthought when it comes to best practices of teaching. We are invited to the dinner, but we don't get the entire meal. Just a taste.

Monday, December 26, 2016

What is an ATR?

"What is an ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve)?" I get that a lot. Mainly from from newbie teachers. Sad that they don't know but can you blame them?

I try to explain it to them. One analogy that I wanted to try is we are like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider or like his character the "Man With No Name" from his Spaghetti Westerns. You know going from town to town or school to school to clean up the mess and then leaves. But in this day and age sure enough someone would misinterpret this analogy as being a gunslinger and then automatically think I am advocating violence so it is better to not share that analogy.

But this is what I think being an ATR is akin to. Richard Kimble (played by David Janssen), from the TV series The Fugitive. Think about it.

As Richard Kimble went from town to town on the run so do we go from school to school more or less on the run. On the run from our past, from the school that had forsaken us.

As Richard Kimble arrives in a new town, he like us as we arrive in a new school, do not know anyone. We both have to adjust to the new surroundings. We both try to keep our pasts quiet.

As times goes on in our new school, we as Richard Kimble had, start feeling more comfortable and seek out and become friendly with a teacher or two. Usually a school outlier.

Richard Kimble, since he was a doctor, had to use his medical knowledge to help someone. We as ATR's use our knowledge of years as educators to help students.

Richard Kimble is an innocent man. He was falsely accused of a crime committed by someone else, the One Armed Man and searching for him to prove his innocence. We as ATR's feel we have been given the shaft by many a proverbial One Armed Man. We are hunting for someone to see past our salary, our past, and the years we have in so we can stop being on the run.

And just as Richard Kimble must leave when things are feeling good, when he is making progress because Lt. Gerard is now on his trail, so do we have to leave our schools when we make an attachment be it with a student, a community, or a school when the ATR Assignment people email us and tell us it is time to move on.

And like Richard Kimble we move on and start the whole thing over again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016



Oh oh. As usual the devil is in the details and the devil ain't looking too good at first glance.

We all got the email from Mike Mulgrew espousing the latest ($5 bet we are going through this again in 2 years) evaluation system. As usual it seems that Mike pulled a George Steinbrenner. He was negotiating against himself.

The Crack Team and I went over Mulgrew's email with a fine tooth comb, but several things raised (and upon further reading I am sure more will) our eyebrows here at SBSB and our raised eyebrows raised our BS perception.

The new system, when fully implemented, will include more authentic student learning measures — from essays and projects to demonstrations of proficiency in physical education and the arts — that genuinely demonstrate what we do as teachers and what our students are learning.

When I was reading this email at lunch today I just happened to be sitting with the gym and music teachers at my school. Fate.

Anyway, proficiency is defined as;
1. the state of being proficient; skill; expertness:
So students must become experts in a sport or physical skill? How do we in the schools, many of whom are athletically spastic decide what is or isn't? How do we decide what is proficient when it comes to the arts? 

I can't sing a note. I can't play an instrument. There is no amount of instruction that will get me to be able to be proficient in either. Now, I do enjoy listening to music. For those that have read my blog you know how much of a Rush fan I am. But does that make me proficient in the arts? Will appreciating a painting make me proficient? 

Same with sports and I will use my son as an example. Since he has been 6 he has been in baseball training. He has been lucky enough to play travel and school baseball. He's a good catcher but he has some things to work on. He has a bit of a long swing that we've been trying to correct for years and he likes to pull the ball. With all the training he's been through, and could it be the instructors fault, should he not be able to overcome those hitches in his swing? Or does he have a mental thing going? Baseball is 90% mental, no? 

But again, to put the onus on the impossible is just wrong. Yes, anyone can throw a baseball or play the riff from "Smoke on the Water," (I can!) but not everyone can pitch like Koufax or sing like Freddie Mercury.

We went into those negotiations saying that any agreement must reduce the impact of standardized test scores

Reduce the impact? I'm so confused here so I checked out ICEUFT Blog for further clarification...
As for the rest of the agreement, it looks (like) test scores will count for half of teacher ratings instead of the current 40%.

I'd like to know more about what James meant, but here is the thing. Aren't we, and I mean we by teachers, parents, educators, grown-ups, etc... holding all the cards here? The opt-out movement is still gaining steam. The public sees through the charade now. Why are we folding when everyone at the table just has a pair and we have a flush?

Under the new system, there will still be four observation options, but we’ve expanded the choices for teachers rated Effective or Highly Effective in the prior year.  Starting in the 2017–18 school year, teachers rated Effective — in addition to those rated Highly Effective — may choose Observation Options 3, which includes a minimum of four informal, unannounced observations plus teachers agree to open their classrooms to colleagues for at least two non-evaluative classroom visits. Highly Effective teachers may also now choose Observation Option 4, which includes a minimum of three informal, unannounced observations plus three times when teachers open their classrooms for a visiting colleague to observe and learn from their teaching.

Isn't the deal of negotiating is to reduce onerous crap that the rank and file doesn't want not to increase it? Here is an example. I own a restaurant in the Bronx. The law requires one (or it can be two) health inspections a year. Now do I as a Bronx restaurant owner go to the city and ask for more inspections a year? NO! But in UFT world more 9pardon the pun) is good and less is very, very bad.

By the way, I am leading the charge to change the law regarding car inspections in New York State. I can't live with myself knowing that my car is inspected only once a year. I insist that my car is inspected bi-monthly.

Seriously, who thinks up this shit that more observations is a good thing and a win?

What is most disturbing is this. The timing of the announcement. Two days before Christmas break, two days right after an executive board meeting in which the high school seats are controlled by MORE. Something stinks and it ain't coming from New Jersey.

Right before vacation so there is no real time for teachers to get together in their schools to discuss what they really think about the new evaluation system and to learn more and to contact the UFT to share what they think. Remember, UFT offices are conveniently closed next week.

This news could have also been shared at exec board meeting this pat Monday but wasn't Heck, at the very least it could have been shared at the very least that an agreement was near and give all members parameters of the agreement. I guarantee you this...

If MORE was not in control of the high school seats this would news would have been out on Monday.

But now comes the hard part for the UFT. Let this process be open and fair! Let there be true debate and feedback in the chapters. Let the DA be a source for free and fair debate. Share all information with all members of each and every executive board. And one more thing.

After a sufficient amount of time (one month?) with the rank and file having access to all sides of the debate allow us, the teachers, the ones closest to the action to vote up or down on this evaluation system. We know what is best for us not 52 Broadway.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

BREAKING!!! Possible New ATR Agreement and News You Should Know!

Let's get something out of the way. Your CAR is safe. The number of sick/personal days is safe. They are not being traded in for FLMA. There is no need to worry. 

Someone, David Irons, the author of the "Vote No on the UFT Contract" Facebook page  has started this rumor which Chaz was quickly able to disembowel.

Why would David start such a rumor? Perhaps someone within the DOE shared this with him? Maybe he was on the bowl in the UFT executive washroom and heard this? Who knows? What David fails to realize is it takes two to tango, and this could have  very well been an opening salvo from the DOE which the UFT promptly shut down. Yes, the UFT (if this offer was made) can be more transparent. This lack of transparency unfortunately allows the likes of David Irons to operate unfettered.

One must consider the source as well. David operates his Facebook page anonymously with zero accountability. We call on David to share post haste with all his readers who he is, what he stands for, and more importantly, who he stands with. 

What David doesn't share readily is that he suckles at the teat of the UFT Solidarity trough. Through UFT Solidarity David has learned the art fear and misrepresentation. David also has major issues (Seriously, MAJOR ISSUES!) with the UFT and needs to psychologically project (Oooh, who do we know that is that way??) with others.

But The Crack Team is surprised that David has only scrapped the very tip of what the UFT is currently negotiating currently. As we know the UFT is in negotiations with the NYCDOE concerning evaluations and ATR's. We here at SBSB wish to share with David Irons what The Crack Team has been able to learn from multiple sources as to the future of the ATR pool.

Starting in September 2017 each ATR...

Required to download an app onto their smart phone to be tracked.

Required to sign a agreement that they are worthless and weak.

Sign a waiver releasing the DOE from assigning bathroom keys. 

Must wear an obedience device like Captain Kirk (going shirtless is optional for male ATR's) did in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" .

Can not park their cars within one quarter mile of any NYCDOE school in which they're assigned.

Must eat lunch no later than 10:35 AM and must only eat food served in the cafeteria.

On days that school is not in session must show up and wait outside until given permission to leave.

Must leave home no later than 5 AM if the ATR takes public transportation.

Will not be required to sign in at the school safety desk. This will be replaced with a retina scan.

Must address all teachers with less than three years experience as either sir or ma'am.

When addressing all teachers with less than three years experience eye contact is forbidden. 

Must walk at least three paces behind any teacher with less than three years experience. 

Must give up their seat in any and all places where teachers congregate to teachers with less than three years experience. 

Must appear for mandatory interviews in which the ATR will be notified 15 minutes beforehand to attend.

And last but not least, must sign away their soul to the new NYCDOE ATR ombudsman which upon death will prevent the NYCDOE from a fulfilling afterlife but rather be rotated between Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven (There is one upside to this. Jews do not have concept of Hell or Purgatory so get ready for an influx of ATR's converting to Judaism).

Surprised David Irons has not found out about this possible ATR news. Surely, he would have reported this as he did his news about the CAR.