Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SBSB to Visit Land of Howard Stern and Bababooey

So about three weeks ago I get an email from Jon Leiberman's producer. Who is Jon Leiberman? Yes, that Jon Leiberman.

Jon is part of the Howard (Stern) 100 news team and hosts a daily 15 minute roundtable current events show on Howard 101 entitled "Leiberman Live." For 15 minutes an expert on the topic of the day discusses with 2 wack packers that evening's topic. The show is serious, topical, and tongue in cheek as well.

So with that being said, I was asked to join a discussion in which the topic will be pre-Kindergarten. I will be live in studio (And as of press time) joined by High Pitched Erik and a yet unnamed wack packer.

If anyone questions the the method of delivering the pre-K message,  let's remember that we have seen our union leadership march with and appear with Al Sharpton. Let's look at the path of destruction, deaths, lies, slander, that the Rev Al has left in his wake.

Here is the info to tune in:

Where: SIRIUSXM CHANNEL 101. In your car, on your device, or online.

When: MARCH 3, 2014

Time: 4:45-5:00 PM EDT

CALL IN #: 1-888-STERN101

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Heroin in Fallsburg NY?

Let's get one thing out of the way first.

In no way does this blog, myself, nor The Crack Team condone or excuse any drug use by staff members in or near our schools. If a teacher is caught on drugs, having drugs on their person, in their personal space in the school, they should be dealt with accordingly. 

With that being said, we can now move on.

On February 18, the Times Herald Record of Middletown NY reported that heroin and needles were found in a bathroom at the Benjamin Cosor Elementary School in Fallsburg NY on February 11, 2014. This was not the first time such paraphernalia was found. Back in December, heroin and needles were found in the bathroom at the same school. Surveillance cameras were set up and eight people, including a contract employee providing occupational therapy were identified as the possible culprits.

All were asked to submit to urine tests. The contract employee immediately agreed and gave a sample. The teachers at first agreed, but then balked at the advice of their union. Since then it seems that all hell has broken lose and there are those that are speaking without facts, such as our friends at Education Action Network, and the chief of police in Fallsburg NY. But more on EAG a little later.

The chief of police for Fallsburg, Simmie Williams, was quoted in the Times Herald Record as saying;
"If you got nothing to hide, give me some urine,"
Fine. But as we have seen in this country time after time once you acquiesce, once you give up or yield on any of your constitutional rights, more will be asked for you to give up in the future.

Then there is something known as the 4th Amendment to the Constitution which says;
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The police seem to ignore this when it is convienent and so do Right Wing Tea Baggers when it doesn't jibe with their version of reality.

If Chief Williams truly wants to find out who left the heroin in the bathroom he should have immediately went to court and gotten a warrant. If what he says is true that there was a cameras monitoring the bathroom, then it seems he has probable cause for the warrant. Go get one. They seem to have enough for PC.
"Police used camera footage to identify eight people who used the bathroom before Monday's discovery,"
No where has this video been made public. Does it truly exist? 

All the union and teachers are doing is exercising their rights. Why does anyone have a problem with this, least of all Education Action Group, a Tea Bagger group, and what was "written" by one of their reporters this past Friday, February 21?

The "reporter" Victor Skinner, is a shrewd one. He puts in the dateline that he is reporting from Fallsburg NY, but in reality it's probably his parents basement. The rest of the "story" just regurgitates the Times Herald Record story and he throws in some editorializing as well. But the whiff of false attribution permeates all around.

So does the whiff of lies and exaggerations from "Reporter" Skinner.

Skinner blabbers; It also ensures a druggie school employee remains on the district’s payroll

Again, prove that a teacher was involved. Prove that a teacher is a druggie. You are forgetting that there was an outside contractor. Just because he passed the urine test does not mean he is innocent.

The union’s interjection, and the educators’ refusal to provide urine samples, is a blatant slap in the face to the taxpayers and parents.

No it is not. Yes, as a parent I do not want my child to be taught by teachers that are high on drugs, but as much as any person that commits a crime in which children are around, I can't put aside for once the ideals of this country that you are innocent till proven guilty and that you have the right to the full faith of the United States Constitution. 

And Skinner last bit of hyperbolic malarkey; Parents could also help facilitate the investigation by publicly demanding drug tests for all of the school’s employees, and the termination of those who fail or refuse.

OK, "Reporter" Skinner, under what law will any of these teachers that refuse the drug test be fired? Shall they be fired by decree without any due process? Without ever having a hearing or a trial?

The irony of all this is that the guy who runs EAG, Kyle Olson, is a regularly seen on Glenn Beck. Is it not Glen Beck who keeps on warning us of Obama's intent to subvert the United States Constitution? I guess the Constitution is only convenient for the Tea Baggers, the Olson, and the Skinners of the world when they can use it only for them. Otherwise, too bad for others who disagree with them.

One last thing, and this goes to all involved. No, not really. We can give the cops and the DA a break. They were doing their jobs. The parents, yes we can understand, they are concerned and rightfully so. The Times Herald Record? Doing their job, reporting the facts. "Reporter" Skinner? No, he needed to editorialize the facts and turn it into his reality.

Heroin detection through a urine sample will only show up within 2-4 days of after ingestion. The heroin was found in the bathroom on February 11, which was a Tuesday as the Times Herald Record claims. But then it goes on to say that;
Police used camera footage to identify eight people who used the bathroom before Monday's discovery
Notice it says now Monday it was discovered?  So let's say it was Monday in which the discovery was made. Chances are someone shot up on Friday and by the time it was announced it was Tuesday. Which begs several questions.

When were the urine tests requested?  When did the actual discovery take place? Does the occupational therapist in question have his own keys to the teacher's bathroom or did he have to be let in? Why hasn't the OC been named? Is the OC being as vigorously investigated as the teachers are?

And lastly. Is it possible that the OC is the one who possessed the heroin and was able to avoid detection? Yet, where is "Reporter" Skinner when looking for the facts?

Here's another fact. Heroin addiction is the same high as Oxycontin, and other pain pills, addiction. One gets the same exact high. Both are treated with Methadone! Yet, one is legal. Well, apparently legal. Just because you can get a prescription for Oxycontin does not make it right. So should we drug test teachers that are addicted to pain pills? Should we fire teachers who are hooked on pain killers?

Again, before you forget;

In no way does this blog, myself, nor The Crack Team condone or excuse any drug use by staff members in or near our schools. If a teacher is caught on drugs, having drugs on their person, in their personal space in the school, they should be dealt with accordingly.

Again, we live in a country of laws and rights.

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We can't pick and choose which rights people may have. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teacher Abuse is Abuse

I got my first bachelor pad in my hometown way back in July of 1990. It was awesome. A studio apartment directly behind an IHOP, at a main intersection, shops within walking distance, and best of all a Metro-North station a quarter of a mile walk.

Being a groovy single guy the other married men with families on my floor lived somewhat vicariously through me. They thought I was cool. I didn't think they were. Not 100% true, there was one dad who almost turned me off to getting married and having children.

Jughead and Big Ethel lived diagonally across the hall from me. They had a 2 bedroom. Both were portly and ugly as sin. However, the had a gorgeous toe-headed little boy named Reggie. Back in 1990 Reggie was about 4 years old.

Anyway, and I got this second hand, when Reggie was born, Big Ethel suffered from sever post-partum depression to the point where she was hospitalized. Which is an explanation, I think, of what I am about to share.

Being that Reggie was an only child, Reggie bore the brunt of everything, good and bad, in their home. Sadly, from what I heard and saw, in person, in the hallway, and in my apartment with my door closed sitting outside on the balcony while blasting Rush, was not right.

Reggie was a handful and cried and had tantrums quite a bit. Every time he cried and/or threw a tantrum I would hear from either Jughead or Big Ethel, or both, yelling at Reggie, "IF YOU DON'T STOP CRYING WE ARE GOING TO CALL THE POLICE!" And soon the wailing, the tantrums would get worse.


Once when my dad came to pick something up in my mailbox Big Ethel was in the lobby ripping apart a crying Reggie. Big Ethel pointed at my dad and screamed at Reggie, "SEE, THE POLICE ARE HERE TO TAKE YOU AWAY!" My dad being the man that he was said, "Hey lady, don't get me involved with your crap."

In retrospect I wished I had called Child Protective Services, or better yet, told Jughead to cut it out. But being a renter in a co-op building and with Jughead on the board, I never did.

They sold the apartment and moved away in the mid 90's. Reggie would be about 28 years old now. I always wonder what became of him. If he was able to turn out well adjusted and able to bury the scars that his parents imprinted on him.

But can you imagine the hell this boy must have gone through? Being told almost day in and day out that he is no good, that his parents wished him gone? What kind of self esteem did he lack? His parents, obviously were not only abusive, but stupid. Stupid, for the way they treated this boy, but stupid because in an apartment building everyone can hear everything.

But back to Reggie. How much damage has he suffered? Was he able to overcome it? Has he turned to substance abuse to ease the pain or has he turned to counseling? Is the pain or anger living inside of him fighting to stay in but every now and then it bubbles up to the surface and consumes him, stops him from living?

I share this (And I know there are some begging me to get to the point!) because we all can empathize with the abuse this boy was raised in. We all know what effects the abuse can have on a child verbally abused throughout his most formative years.

But what about the abuse teachers receive? Not from colleagues, not from parents or students, but the very people that we look to for leadership as Reggie did, our principals? How much can one take of constant day in and day out abuse?

Teachers hear, "Deal with it," or "You're an adult." To both, The Crack Team says hogwash!

Part of the reason I believe teachers get into teaching is that we are sensitive and feel others pain easily. Like in the Star Trek TOS episode "The Empath," we really do feel others pain.

So because our senses, our antenna is so attuned to what others feel, when we are berated, when we are abused, when we are demeaned it hits us harder than it does other adults in other professions.

Verbal abuse not only hurts but it is damaging as well. It is damaging when we are screamed at, when we are told, or it's implied that we are no good. We are torn up inside when we feel we are being singled out, being treated in a disparage way.

And unlike Reggie, who can withdraw into himself, we can't. We have to be on. We have to "turn that frown upside down." Where do we get the relief? Who can we take it out on? Too often and sadly it is taken out on our loved ones. Our loved ones are made to suffer, our loved ones then become damaged.

But the world loves and wants to help a little boy. The world has learned to hate and ignore a teacher. But abuse is abuse. Teachers do not deserve to be abused.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fallacy of College and Career Readiness

Sunday night I was part of a panel on the Total Education Network, hosted by the erstwhile Neil Haley. Neil is a former professional wrestler and teacher and has really extensive background in interviewing celebrities such as the cousin of the guy who cleaned Terry Bradshaw's underwear in 1976.

Anyway, so I appeared as part of the panel last night, well Sunday night, along with Jason the Public School Guy as we discussed Pre-Kindergarten and the fallacy of college and career readiness.

The entire exchange is being streamed to various radio stations, terrestrial and Internet, across 180 countries this week but can be heard here right now as you read this.

Again, thanks to Neil Haley for allowing me to participate.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Another Nimrod of Negativity Bashes Teachers

We don't have Bloomberg to kick around anymore when the Daily News publishes anti-teacher columns like it did today. I mean does Mort still fear the wrath of Uncle Mike?

So just who is this Katharine A Stevens that wrote another ill informed hit piece against NYC teachers today?

Kathy it seems is super duper smart. She is great at telling others how to do things yet never implementing and practicing anything she spews to actually experiencing it. Like a priest who can give marriage advice, Kathy is a professional students and policy wonk who can't and won't put her money where her blue blooded money comes from.

But wait! She does have skills according to her LinkedIn page;
Excellent written and verbal communication skills with exceptional talent for building relationships with diverse stakeholders.
♦ Demonstrated ability to conduct original, relevant policy research, with special expertise in legislative and regulatory analysis.
♦ Strong entrepreneurial and project management skills.
♦ Quick learner with well-developed critical thinking skills; ability to operate effectively in complex environments.
♦ Creative, resourceful, big-picture thinker with demonstrated capacity to bridge worlds of practice, policy, and research.
♦ Fluent in Spanish.
But let's take apart her arguments from today's article.

...the premise of a groundbreaking lawsuit now being heard in Los Angeles Supreme Court that challenges entrenched California state laws protecting the jobs of public school teachers who are “grossly ineffective.” The nine student plaintiffs, Vergara vs. California, argue that laws protecting even abysmally incompetent teachers violate the guaranteed civil right of the state’s children to access a decent education.

 What Kathy fails to share is that this lawsuit is spearheaded by a group known as Students Matter led by research scientist David P Welch. Dave's expertise in education is that he is a parent. Dave has a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cornell University. 

Now The Crack Team does not know too much about Vergara v California and we are hoping that our brethren in the Golden State can shed some light. What we do know is this is a method to usurp collective bargaining and to end tenure.

Does Kathy know of the provenance of the law suit or is she just ignorant? We'll let Kathy share. 

Despite the state’s highly visible new teacher evaluation law and a perception of radical change under the Bloomberg administration, a scandalous reality remains: Here, as in California, it is virtually impossible to dismiss a grossly ineffective teacher.

What Kathy fails to mention is that the lead attorney for Vergara v California is none other than Ted Olson who as a founding member of the Federalist Society has said;
"it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." 
Hypocrites be damned.

But isn't it scandalous that as Newsday reported today that state officials are finding flaws in the new teacher evaluation system?

New York State law governing teacher dismissal, 3020-a, was left essentially untouched by both the contentious new teacher evaluation legislation and recent city reforms. Under that law, only the state can dismiss a teacher — and it rarely does.

Who should it be left up to?

I recently completed an in-depth study of a decade of official reports on the state’s dismissal hearings for New York City teachers.

Where is this study Kathy mentions? Who wrote it? Who paid for it? 
My analysis shows that the problem of extraordinary job protection for grossly ineffective teachers in New York is worse than many understand.

What is an ineffective teacher? Describe please. 

Even attempting to get the state to dismiss a teacher is prohibitively expensive and burdensome. According to the New York State School Boards Association, the average 3020-a proceeding for a single incompetent teacher extends for 830 days and costs taxpayers $313,000

There are many reasons for this. One is because most of the time the teacher is not incompetent. It's also because they decide to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at a teacher with trumped up, out of context charges as well.

Over the 10-year period I studied (1997-2007), just 12 of New York City teachers (of whom there are 75,000 at any given time) were dismissed for incompetent teaching. Teachers who had years of “unsatisfactory” ratings; who were proven over months of hearings to be grossly incompetent; who were verbally and physically abusive to children, parents and colleagues, or who simply failed to come to work for days and weeks on end were returned to classrooms.
My analysis further reveals that the minimum level of teaching effectiveness required for tenured teachers to keep their jobs in New York City schools is defined not by the schools (much less parents and communities) but behind closed doors in arbitration proceedings controlled by the state.

Again, where do you get this information? You keep talking about your analysis yet you don't share anything how you came to such conclusions nor where you drew your conclusions from!

In practice, teachers are dismissed only if they are proved to have been grossly ineffective and “incorrigible,” without even a remote possibility of improving. That is, the operative state standard for returning a teacher to the classroom is not demonstrated effectiveness, but a teacher’s potential capacity to be even marginally competent in the future.

Actually the essence of 3020-a is to fix, not to terminate. But whilst we are are the subject of bad employees, what about this NYPD officer that made the Daily News today? And there are more. Yet, will we be reading in op-ed pages about how these cops get to stay on the job?
But in the first year of the new evaluation system, just 1% of teachers received that rating. And all dismissals will still go through 3020-a, which makes removal almost impossible.

And this is a bad thing? Which proves the point that the new evaluation system was implemented as "gotcha!" To remove veteran teachers.

Kathy is good at being a kvetch and saying, "you should, you should." Yet, the professional student that Kathy is will not come down from the tower and show us peons how it is done. All she can do is wonk off and point fingers.

It's time Kathy comes clean about her connections with Students First and the materials she used to write her article in today's Daily News. Better yet, let's have Kathy put all her ideas to good use.

Here is chapter 1 of Kathy's doctoral dissertation. Funny how it mentions she is a Doctor of Philosophy candidate while in the Daily News it is mentioned that she received a PhD in educational policy. Hey, when you stretch your truth one tends to forget.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Teacher Depression in New York City

I have been reading MORE's demands for the new contract and find most of it pretty logical and to the point. But one thing is lacking.

Where is the demand supporting teachers with mental health and substance abuse issues?

We live in a country that;
Major Depression Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

Anxiety Disorder affects approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have an anxiety disorder.

Dysthymic Disorder affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.1, This figure translates to about 3.3 million American adults.

Panic Disorder affects approximately 6 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 2.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 3.5 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.
Alcohol Abuse; 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.  

So one has to figure that of almost 80,000 teachers in NYC, that statistically teachers skew towards the general population and fit the above numbers. 

Yet nothing is done. There is no help for teachers, for staff that are facing the above DISEASES. Yes, the above are diseases. The above are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet, teachers and staff are left to go it alone. No support, no where to turn for help, and no one to admit it to. We can't even trust who we consider our "best friend" in our schools.

Yeah, we all know the old argument, "We can't let these people near our children." Then if so, any parent suffering with the above diseases should lose their parental rights, no? Or even better, why can the NYPD offer services to its own?

NYPD offers two services that The Crack Team know of. There is the Early Intervention Unit which offers peer intervention and support. For police officers suffering from the disease of alcohol abuse there is what is known as "The Farm," in which police officers are given the chance of rehab.

But, and please this is no attack against police officers, cops carry guns. Not just regular hand guns, but other weapons as well. A cop is your first line of defense or your first line at the criminal justice system. Do not cops carry the burden of "your life is in their hands?" Just as important as the jobs teachers do, and possibly even more so.

Yet we all the pressures over teachers over the last ten years, all the top down pressure put on them, the abuse, mental and physical, where can a teacher turn to? Where is our support system other than being told to "suck it up and deal with it?"

There are too many teachers swimming against the tide, too many teachers who feel isolated, to many teachers that are drowning inside, too many teachers that are crying for support, for a friend, for help starting the next day and nothing is being done.

Teachers are no super heroes. We have real feelings and real emotions. If you prick us, do we not bleed? Or are we supposed to keep our blood inside?

For the UFT and the DOE to work together on this would be groundbreaking. That's why The Crack Team is calling on the MORE caucus to lead the way in adding this onto its contract demands and to bring this up in the next DA.

We are our brothers and sisters keepers.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, I Need, I Need.

After a prolific January of posting, I am finally getting to my first blog post for the month of February and in two weeks!

So much has been on my mind of late. One thing that has sat on the front of my brain for some time is the guest blog post by the Original NYCDoenuts written on January 19, 2014. There is so much I want to share to what DOEnuts wrote, so much about what he had written that hits home in so many ways. The best way I can share and expand on what he wrote is in my own special way.

From day 1 in this business I was told not to trust anyone. Me being cynical as it is, I have no problem not trusting people. It's what I do.

On the other hand I am loyal to people. I won't go behind someone's back, I am there for a friend if needed, and I will support friends, and especially teacher's to the nth degree.

Which is all the more painful for we see it in this business day after day after day.

It's the taker. The fair weather friend. The friend who unloads all their tsuris (Yiddish for heartburn) on you and when it is time for that person to come through for you, well they disappear, not showing an ounce of concern for you, not lifting a finger to listen to you or to take the time for you the way you did for them. This type of person takes, they need, it's all "gimmee, gimmee."

I have no problem helping teachers. There are plenty of teachers out there that have been through or are going through what I currently going through and I have, and will continue, to do whatever I can and must do for them. I'm not going to name names, but some of these teachers have not only given me invaluable technical advice, but emotional advice as well, and I will be forever indebted to them.

Maybe I shouldn't look at others, whether they are there for me or not through the prism of my values, my life experiences, the accepted social morés of the day. Perhaps it is time that I stop this idealizing and accept the vapid self obsessed for what they truly are. Set my expectations so low that it shan't bother me when I hear the, "mine, mine, mine." Or, "It's mine, all mine," 

Now mind you, I would rather deal with this type of person any day over someone who attempts to seperate you from your direct deposit, otherwise known as a rat. But this will be explored in the next blog post.

But I guess that is par for the course in this business. We live, we learn, we get burned. But I won't stop helping or doing whatever I can.