SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: My Own Story. Why Teachers So Desperately Need Tenure

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Own Story. Why Teachers So Desperately Need Tenure

This is one of the most difficult and personal blog posts I have ever written in my 6 years of blogging, but this story, now more than ever, needs to be shared.

I'm not sharing it to garner sympathy or adulation but rather to cast light upon the incessant abuse of teachers not only in the schools of NYC, but across America as well.

One of the reasons I am sharing this now is that in this current fight to defend ourselves from interlopers who not only wish to take away our tenure rights, but worse, think having no tenure will help us, I am hoping that the information I share here just might be able to help or have a teacher know that they are not alone.

On Friday, August 1, 2014, my attorney Bryan Glass filed a lawsuit on my behalf in New York State Supreme Court naming my principal, DR Alison Coviello, principal of PS 154 in the Bronx, as one of the defendants.

I am not going to get into too many of the details of the lawsuit right now. But there is one instance, a conspiracy, that needs, that must, be shared.

For many readers of this blog you know that I have been reassigned since September 3, 2013 in the Rubber Room. The 2012-2013 school year had been pure hell. Not only was I U-rated for the year, but all 3 of my formal observations were U-rated as well and I received discipline letters for the littlest things. How could this have happened? Why? Up until the 2012-2013 school year I had never ever received a U rating or observation in my 18 years of teaching to that point.

On August 24, 2012 (Just about 10 days before we had to report), DR Alison Coviello wrote in an email to AP Jessica Cruz;
“Hey, I revised Zucker’s job description  so that it is focused more on literacy. This way, (It was) explained, we’ll have a surer chance of winning a case when our observations detail incompetence.”
Can anybody guess the mistake? It was pre-determined before the 2012-2013 school year even started that I was going to be found incompetent. Coviello was playing God.

At what point is enough enough of this dirty dealing, lying, sandbagging going to end?

Eight teachers, including myself, were U rated for the 2012-2013 school year. One awaits a 3020-a hearing, another went through a 3020-a hearing and resigned. Did Coviello and Cruz conspire on each and every U rated teacher? Why did Coviello and Cruz decide to treat the teachers punitively instead of constructively? Surely treating teachers in such a punitive manner would have an effect on the students, no?

More importantly, did Coviello and Cruz act on their own or did the instructions come from higher up and if so, from whom and how high up the chain of command?

And if they did it to us, what makes one think that they can't or won't act in this manner to any other teacher at PS 154? Anything is possible.

Can anyone not see why we need tenure? Why we need due process? Why we are ticked off about Campbell Brown? DR Alsion Coviello has just given a gift to teachers city and nationwide. She has shown us why we need tenure and how easily power can be perverted and how what I have just shared is systemic in the NYCDOE.

It is time we collectively say, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!"

When teachers are hurt, it affects the students. When one teacher is hurt, we all hurt.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry.

I can't offer you any assistance, or ideas, or even a place to crash. The best I can do is say I'm sorry, for not just you but also for the students who have lost the guidance and experience of a teacher who has been working with kids just like them for almost twenty years.

I'm sorry.

Francesco Portelos said...

Michael Agona of the Labor Support Unit has colleagues that are from the same office. Perhaps they to have conspired to do the same. Good thing Carmen kept EVERYONE from BloomKlein era.

Anonymous said...

The work of the Office of Appeals and Reviews should be closely examined.

Here's an oldie but goodie:

MsMac said...

Thanks so much for sharing this story. What's URate for the rest of us outside of NY? I'm assuming it's a pathway to firing...
Also, how do we answer the people who's not going to take due process away from us? What you're citing is gross corruption of a system, and changing the law, as they want to do in Missouri this November, will not do much about this...Thanks again. Hope missouri can use this!

GeoKaro said...

Try bringing up bad FDA doctors with Campbell Brown's lead attorney Jay Lefkowitz.

He successfully defended makers of a flesh-eating side-effect drug that left a woman lung damaged and legally blind, in ''Mutual Pharmaceutical Company, Inc. v. Bartlett.''

Read Key Attorney in NYS Anti-Tenure Case Was Defender of Maker of Flesh-Eating Drug Whose Maker Benefited in Supreme Court Case

Anonymous said...

I have followed your story and thanks for this latest chapter. I think the seeds of this were sown long ago when you showed some leadership and initiative and shook up the DOE Polit Bureau.

I retired in 2010 and although a school is willing to hire me I could not get a waiver on the $30,000 earnings limit. If you exceed the limit without a waiver they stop your pension payments. From your story I can infer that Michael Agona got four waivers. Those waivers follow a calendar year, so the last was fully supported by DeBlasio and Farina.

For all their rhetoric about supporting teachers, this is more evidence that Farina and DeBlasio actually embrace Bloomberg's teacher bashing lawyers and administrators.

Anonymous said...

Your story sounds like mine. After 25 successful years with no u ratings I relieved nothing but un-satisfactories on observations and for my final rating.

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

The above story is why last spring when I was deciding between pursuing a teaching credential versus attending law school, I opted for the latter.

By its very nature teaching is political. Without any protections from political opponents, teachers become mere mouthpieces for the prevailing (to lift a phrase from the incomparable bell hooks) "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy."

Anonymous said...

This just cuts to the very core as to what has been happening in NYC to teachers that are older. We are not wanted for many reasons. It is just so sad and makes me very angry. Teaching will soon become a job like the peace corps for only a 2-5 year sprint. That's it and the children will suffer. We are raising children who can not read and write. We are destroying innocent people who have devoted their lives to children. What does this say about our society?

David Greene said...

A sound, reasonable, and rational statement that just touches the tip of the loss of due process iceberg.

Patrick Walsh said...

Bold and ballsy. Thank you Peter. And keep the faith!

Unknown said...

I wrote a post a while back about your new contract's use of teachers doing unannounced observations on their colleagues who'd alredy been U rated. My take is that this is a scurrilous practice and only the lowest of the low would do this for 15K. What surprised me was the endless stream of comments defending the practice and all of the best case scenarios in which a teacher could take the job and remain honorable. For a while i responded with comments like "keep telling yourself that.." then the comments turned personal telling me I must be a shitty teacher. One of them included an F bomb. By then I'd quit publishing them, relegating them to the spam file. It's an eye opener to see how little regard some of these "professionals" have for the livelihood of a fellow human being. To take someone down and put them out of work is to take money from their pockets and food off the table of their loved ones. It's a sick bastard who can pursue this outcome especially when it's unfounded and bogus. Making a game of someone's livelihood is an invite to the karma fairy too. May she fly a sortie over this Principal and her henchman's houses.

Sobroteach said...

You don't think this traces back to Yolanda Torres?

Anonymous said...

I now see this is a city wide issue could it be the DOE has become the new Mafia. Maybe it's time to call RICO