Monday, June 30, 2014

The Same Principal in Brooklyn Targets Another

When I was in elementary school our principal Mr Murray explained to us that since principal ends in
"PAL," that means the principal is always your "pal."

Try telling that to Jeff Storobinksy and his colleague Sandra Amede.

Sandra is at the same middle school in Brooklyn from which Jeff retired from. Sandra decided to share with The Crack Team her plight at the hands of THAT principal.

Again, not only was The Crack Team appalled and in tears after reading of the abuse Sandra had to endure, but several members were seen in the corner wretching up their lunch and and one member had the same reaction that Mr Spock had when he accidentally gazed upon the Medusan ambassador, Kollos.  We can only hope and pray that Dr Miranda Jones is available to heal him.

FYI, what is in bold, is emphasized by Sandra.

My interim acting Principal without principles believes that it is ok for an assistant principal, (interim acting), to conduct an observation from her office window on the second floor, and rate the teacher ineffective. He goes after you because he doesn’t understand that there is a difference between professionalism and personality.  My principal did not like the idea that I kept the UFT up to date with regard to the new agreement, and his blatant disregard for the new contract, where the Chancellor makes provision for professional development, parent engagement, and other professional work. He came up with a schedule that was totally opposed to what Chancellor Farina proposed. The Chancellor was addressing the fact that parents were marginalized for the last 12 years, and proposed a time for parents to meet with teachers at the end of the day on Tuesdays, and professional development at the end of the day on Mondays when all teachers can meet. My interim acting principal proposed for parent engagement between 12:22pm and 1:22 pm. What about the parents who have to go to work? 

 In the context of professional development, his exact words were, “Why would you want to be ordered to go to library after teaching periods 6, 7 and 8, to sit for 100 minutes of PD? How feasible would that work?” This is a direct attack on the Chancellor, and her vision for teacher improvement and professional growth.

He tried intimidation, bullying, and threats. He tried to hijack the School Based Option (SBO) process -A collaborative process where a principal asks for a modification to the contract, and members collaborate and vote to decide. He started creating division among the staff, using promises, intimidation, and threats where necessary.

 For example he would say, “No one wants to be an ATR. Who would hire you making $85000, to $100,000, when they could hire two new teachers?”

He even succeeded in winning over the UFT delegate, who he releases to attend chapter meetings, and who reports to him on return, instead of reporting to the members. As a matter of fact, on the last day of school she approached members with a petition to have the Chapter Leader removed so she can become the chapter leader. Members were outraged.

In my case, I am pro union. I understand that workers’ rights are incredibly important for any organization to be successful in the long term. I also recognize these rights exist at a high cost. People sacrificed their lives so we could have rights as workers. Understanding this aspect of me, the principal through illegal means invaded my privacy, by illegally getting into my personal email account (claims “an anonymous staff member”). He obtained all the emails I sent to the UFT, and the Deputy Chancellor regarding his bullying efforts, and unscrupulous activities. He used this illegally obtained material to place a letter in my file, threatening disciplinary action and termination. Is this really ok?

All the emails attached to the letter to file were asking for clarification, and advice regarding my duty, since they directly affected my teaching, making arrangements to better my teaching practice, or violating my rights as a worker.  He conveniently omitted the emails sent to the deputy chancellor, regarding how he felt about her idea of PD for staff, time for other professional work, and time at the end of the day for parent engagement.

 At the January ELA departmental conference, I asked him to purchase basic materials for instruction for my level 1 students, because without the books everything becomes abstract to them. He was rude to me in the presence of my colleagues. Two days later he apologized to me, by myself which does not count, since none of the staff members in front of whom he was rude to me, were present.  He considered my actions -asking for basic materials for instruction- a personal attack on him, clashing or bumping heads.

At my summative conference he said, “You are an excellent teacher. You fight for your kids. You don’t put your students out. You work with all your students including the ELL'S, and you do an excellent job. You weren’t teaching gifted and talented, and 95% of your students were successful on the state test. Your overall rating is effective. I have no problem with you professionally, but on a personal level, we have problems… We clash, we bump heads. I don’t know where we got off-track. In the light of this new information (the emails he illegally obtained from my personal email account).  Next year I think we gonna bump heads… People come to me and say, Ms. Amede’ this, or Ms. Amede that... That’s what I think. What do you think?”

I had no idea what he is talking about. I simply said, “I haven’t thought about it.”

My name is Sandra Amede` and I approve this message.

Wow! Seems like Jeff and Sandra worked for Frank Burns, or worse.

Sadly this is the norm, not the exception. There are way too many horror stories out there like this. 

Wait! This just into the SBSB newsroom! The Crack Team has obtained video of the principal addressing the teachers during a faculty conference. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Abusive Letter Sent to Jeff Storobinsky

On Tuesday we posted the plight of retired teacher Jeff Storobinsky and the abuse he endured at the hands of his principal at the middle school he was at in Brooklyn.

Remember how Jeff mentioned receiving an letter from his principal? An letter that was sent in anger without thinking?

It is now early in January 2014 (I am home), after a bungled faculty conference where a strong teacher challenged the principal and the principal rushed out of the library rather than to answer questions he went straight to his Personal Computer and wrote me a letter that if he was in a rational state of mind he would not have sent.

Well in a SBSB exclusive, The Crack Team has gotten it's hands on a copy of the email. Let's take a look (Click to enlarge)!

This letter is written in the tone of a father to a irascible little boy. It's as if Jeff is now on punishment and must go sit in the corner and go to bed without dinner. Funny, Jeff is a 55 year old man with several degrees, a father, a homeowner, a fiance, and a proud American. Why must Jeff be talked to this way? Why must Jeff be treated this way?

To answer the above questions we turn to SBSB mental health expert and an honorary member of The Crack Team, Dr Hans von Schlaggel, director of the Institut für schweren psychiatrischen Erkrankungen, or in English, Institute of Severe Psychiatric Disorders.

Danke, Herr Bronx Teacher. There are many reasons that Jeff's principal treats his as he does. Some might say the person Jeff is dealing was never breast fed, some might say that this person has shall we say, a sehr klein Schwanz, but vat really is the issue is a lack of self esteem and egotism. Just let us take der look at too issues.
Fragile high self esteem drives these people to act superior to disguise their inferior feelings. Controlling others is one manifestation of their need to act superior.
Der Good! And....
Egotists are self-centered. They have been seduced by their first-person viewpoint. It's all about them; they are motivated only by their own self-interests. They lack empathy for others. They are controlling because only their needs matter.
Again, danke to Bronx Teacher and The Crack Team and much Fröhlichkeit to Jeff! Auf Wiedersehen!

Thank you Dr Von Schlaggel.

There you have it. Remember, 30 YEARS OF IMPECCABLE RECORD UNTIL 2013!

No one deserves this.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

James Quail DOE ATR Supervisor Tries to Ruin a Career

Another tale of abuse, but this time of an ATR.

This ATR has asked to have his name changed so henceforth he will be known as Rod Gilbert. His ATR supervisor has not asked for his name to be changed because he is unaware of this blog post. His name is James Quail, a educational consultant and a support specialist and former Superintendent for District 14.

This is another story on how administrators abuse their power and the perilous state that ATR's are in day in and day out.

In November of 2013 Mr Quail popped in to visit Rod Gilbert at the school he was assigned to that week. Mr Quail introduced himself to Mr Gilbert to introduce himself, to talk about the future and that he is there to be a guide and mentor. Oh one more thing. Mr Quail informed Mr Gilbert that he was to consider their meeting a pre-observation.

Mr Gilbert was notified by email that his first observation was to be December (We did not get the date) at 1 PM. To wit, Mr Gilbert arranged with the AP of that school to set him up with a 1st grade class. The AP did and Mr Gilbert had taken time that week to get to know the students.

 Mr Quail showed up at 10:50 AM, Mr Gilbert's and the class' lunch. Mr Quail wanted to do the observation immediately. Mr Gilbert had to do his observation with a different 1st grade class.

He went in cold. He didn't know the students at all. His lesson was on doubles and he had know idea if the students had any previous knowledge on doubles. Mr Quail was unhappy.

Among the things Mr Quail found wrong was that the students were only giving 1, or, half word answers. That Mr Gilbert did not engage student thinking, that the book he used was too small, and more strangely, that Mr Gilbert did not know the progress of the individual students.

Mr Gilbert received a U for his observation

Mr Quail email Mr Gilbert on January 10 at 8:33 PM to inform him and his principal that he would be stopping by at the current school on January 16 in the afternoon and to clear time for their meeting. The principal gladly gave Mr Gilbert two periods, from 11:49 to 1:21 for his meeting.

As Mr Gilbert was entering the school at 7:55 AM that morning he sees Mr Quail arriving at the school. Mr Gilbert signed in and met with Mr Quail. The principal had to clear his schedule for the meeting. The principal and the AP were not happy.

When Mr Gilbert brought up the inconsistencies of Mr Quails timing, Mr Quail responded, "I can do whatever I want."

Mr Gilbert had not dealings for two months with Mr Quail until March 5. That day Mr Gilbert escorted his 1st grade class to lunch and then had to take a little girl with Type 1 Diabetes to the nurse to have her blood sugar checked. Mr Quail already in the building for another matter saw Mr Gilbert. He demanded that Mr Gilbert stop and talk to him right then and there. Mr Gilbert explained that the little girl's blood sugar was paramount and he would need to wait. Mr Quail would have none of that.

Mr Quail not only followed Mr Gilbert to the nurse's office but into it as well, possibly violating the little girl's privacy.

Mr Quail a few weeks later collected several lesson plans from Mr Gilbert with the implicit reason to ask Mr Gilbert what he learned from being around so many different classes.

Mr Gilbert had his last observation with a Pre-K class. The lesson was on money and how to propely use it. Mr Quail found the same problems as he did in his earlier observation but this time complained that Mr Gilbert did not use a seating chart that he never had and never had this class before. Mr Quail also lamented the lack of quality and the book, "Alexander Who Used to be Rich," was unacceptable in introducing and teaching  the responsibilities of money, sharing, and saving to 4 year old students. Again, Mr Quail whined that the book was too small even though the students were sitting no further than 3 feet from Mr Gilbert. The observation was rated U.

One interesting thing. Actually, two. One, in the last lesson Mr Quail asked the para assigned to the pre-K class to leave. Except for lunch, paras must always be with the class the service.

Secondly, The Crack Team came across this blog post by Chaz. Read the 9th comment down by Anonymous at 8:12 AM. Mr Quail seems to have a fan. But why wait to read it, let's post it here.
Don't forget ATR supervisor Quale in the Bronx. He told a 30 year veteran teacher it's time to retire. He then called her a fat slob, who doesn't know how to dress. This was in the teachers cafe in front of my friend who is also an ATR (he's under another supervisor, who rated him S). The lady started crying and my friend went over and told him to his face that' he's a piece of shit and you shouldn't treat people like garbage. He got up, started screaming and demanded my friends name. My friend made up a name. He let the lady know he would be her witness, but she has put her papers in to retire.
This is what ATR's are up against. This is why more than ever and more than anyone ATR's need strong due process rights and fairer, and more realistic, methods of being observed. The Quails of the DOE must be stopped.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Principal Ruins a Teacher's Career in Brooklyn

 The following could very well be considered part II of last night's blog post but it deserves it's own special mention.

The Crack Team just got this story of a middle school teacher from Brooklyn. His name is Jeff Storobinsky who suddenly had to retire this past February for the abuse to stop.

The Crack Team has seen and heard quite a bit but after reading this they were moved to tears. We all felt sick to our stomachs and feel that not even a dog would be treated this way, yet teachers are time and time again.  

We have highlighted in red what we think to be of importance.

When will all of this end?

My Story:  A 30 Year NYC veteran teacher disgraced and humiliated.

My name is Jeff Storobinsky and I approved this message.

Here is some insight into my personal life and the events leading to my unwanted exodus from the NYCDOE

In 2000 I was granted full custody of my two children I always taught them to always be honest and take the high road in life. Professionally I have navigated that same way; keeping confidences, being loyal to my bosses and helpful to my colleagues. What transpired since September 2013 is an example of pure horror, embarrassment and disbelief.

 On June 30th, 2013 my former boss retired after being at the helm of our middle school for 5 years. She was and still is an amazing principal with principles who I cannot put into words how much I learned from this principal. Prior to this principal and going back to 1984 I was every principal’s trusted teacher. I was held in the highest esteem by superintendents and beyond. My Personal file was as immaculate as a file can be with not one blemish in it, nothing but accolades. With my former boss I was quasi administrative having done programming, Galaxy, Famis, BEDS, Surveys, in charge of technology for the building as well as teaching to sixth graders. I am sure I have left out a hundred more responsibilities. I exceled at all of them.

 In July, 2013 they brought in a 32 Year old man with a PHD who was previously an AP at a high school. In July, those that were against me (For the closeness I had with my former boss) got to him and immediately the handwriting was on the wall. Yes, I had power in the past, but never abused it, I never ratted anyone out. I would give my boss the pulse of the building but would never engage in “he said this” or “she said that”

In September 2013, I was greeted with a FULL program (Something that I did not have since 1999). Others though in less prominent positions still maintained their reduced assignments.

 So the school year begins; Mr. Storobinsky is teaching and teachers come asking for a laptop, an elmo, a projector etc;  I’d say watch my class for a moment I’ll go to my office and be right back; anything to help. The main office would call up: Our Printer won’t print. Teachers would call up “no internet” or can you configure an ipad or my personal equipment to the school’s wireless network?

 Unfortunately, during the summer when massive cleaning is done, custodians move and disconnect technology. Cables are snapped, IP addresses are lost etc.

 Mind you, this is only the first week back! I am leaving out ADMINISTRATOR names as my point here is to tell MY story without embarrassing others ( I will leave the future up to those who have the knowledge and power to make right what was done wrong)

 I am 75% deaf (Got measles at age 2 in 1960) No hearing in my left ear and only 50% hearing in my right ear; it’s tough. Surgery to repair this has only recently been perfected.

 The school has a population of around 755 students with 4 APs, 3 of which are women. Two of the 4 AP’s are genuinely decent human beings

 Anyway, back to September. One of the female AP’s asks me a question, I did not hear her correctly; I asked her to repeat the question, she did by screaming it into my face, this has occurred for years even when she was an ELA teacher.

 At some point later on in September I went down to the principal’s office, I told him I am finding servicing the school and a full program difficult; would he consider taking away 3 periods so I can effectively do my job. I also told him I was being unfairly harassed by one of his AP’s. In moments he referenced that I am teaching technology with a CB (Common Branch) license. I said I will gladly teach Math which I did from 1984-1999. His answer: “C’mon, you’re too old for this, you really want that, you’re going to be 55 in November, right? If you retire, I will give you 3 days a week of F status (part time work), you’ll make a fortune, you can even do it from home” Unbelievable, right?  Yes, I have proof this happened. My mind in disbelief leaves his office, I am shocked as can be.

 I continue to work unabated, helping staff, teaching my classes.

 My fiancé, a paraprofessional in my former school (still is) has been there since 1997 and is the best of the best. A couple times a week she would be there with her one on one along with the class the child is in. On occasion, a teacher would need my help and she would watch over the kids as I left for a couple of moments or needed to use the men’s room. This AP would come in and say “Where is Mr. Storobinsky?” Now mind you the teacher this para is assigned to is this AP’s friend. This teacher leaves this para alone with a class for 10- 15 minutes on occasion, was this para questioned as to where this teacher was? No, double standard, of course.

 The year continues as I plug along giving the job all my energy. I’m a graphics artist too, and we had purchased 2 years ago a huge wide format printer. Always, teachers, admins would ask “can you make a blowup of this” time, time, time. I bent over backwards to appease everyone. I also asked the Principal who his BEDS ( a state survey) designee was knowing the sensitivity and license concerns involved. He did not seem concerned. Bottom line, it was done in secrecy and God know who is in jeopardy license wise. I texted my colleagues check the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) report, ask if you are highly qualified or Not highly qualified. I was protecting my colleagues and bringing the administration to task for not having distributed the BEDS forms and code sheets. BEDS has to be signed off by the teacher and turned over to the BEDS coordinator. Hence I am talking recently (since I retired in February) Principal calls me up warning me to stay out of school business. Back to October and November I continued to work my butt off, parent teacher conferences were a success as parents couldn’t get enough of me and loved me as they have for 30 years.

 On December 13th, 2013 as a result of a prior accident literally 11 teeth came out from my mouth. Frankenstein looked better than I did.

 Nothing temporary could be done as there was nothing to connect to in my mouth. I then began a procedure to have my mouth seeded with implants, a procedure that will conclude at the end of this month.

 I had surgeon’s notes and all documentation to substantiate the fact that I could not work as I could not speak properly and it would put me at an awkward disadvantage. The principal did not believe me so I took a selfie and sent it to the entire admin body and payroll secretary, embarrassing but necessary.

It is now early in January 2014 (I am home), after a bungled faculty conference where a strong teacher challenged the principal and the principal rushed out of the library rather than to answer questions he went straight to his Personal Computer and wrote me a letter that if he was in a rational state of mind he would not have sent.

 Highlights from this letter include the following:

 Parents and students think you are a joke (been adored for 30 years by parents and students)

 If you return you will be investigated for any missing inventory (in the meantime on PD day in November I gave him a complete audit of all school technology assets)

 There is no technology in this building (hmm how about the grants I helped write and the years before putting technology into every classroom)

 You are to have no contact with your fiancé during school hours.

 You are barred from using any technology in the building whatsoever

 Your ineffective ratings shall remain. ( Never received my observations), he also said later on  that was just said that to me to retire, that he would  remove them and tear them up (Proof exists)

If you do however return, you will no longer teach technology, you will teach ELA and Social Studies.

 He said that I said “I do not want to teach” I asked him to reduce my teaching schedule slightly so I can service the school more effectively NOT that I did not wish to teach. (Proof exists)

 Shortly thereafter he dismantled my office, broke open the closets and I have no idea what he did with what.

 Without teeth, and under extreme emotional and psychological duress I retired in mid February 2014.

 I started my FB community  moneyoverage on 3.1.14 .

 This principal has been heard bragging how he would get rid of senior staff.

 Every memo derogatory to me is in my possession ,  as well as other “UNDENIABLE” proof

 When my fiancé confided in her friends that I was forced out and all the unsavory things being done to me she was confronted by the principal. She was told “stay out of the web” keep your mouth shut, you’re still respected here. After humiliating her, making her cry he then hugs her for appearance sake under a second floor camera.

 This past week, the icing on the cake was finding out that after being forced out because of my age and threats, and intimidation I am to receive and end of year rating of “U”

I have touched based with a wonderful lawyer, the NYC Human Rights commission and various units within the Education department.

 Recently a message is conveyed to me through a third party that this principal is possibly going to remove the “U”. Am I being played with? Is this not adding insult to injury? Was the “U” removed? NO

 How and why has my illustrious career been reduced to shambles?

 I have lost $750,000 in future income and had to go belly up on unpaid QPP and TDA loans which are now taxable. My original plan was to retire in 2020 at age 62. This is a financial hardship and nightmare.

 The psychological, emotional and mental toll on me has been the worst nightmare of my life.

I am taking money I cannot afford to part with to heighten public awareness and to pay facebook thousands of dollars for to advertise as far and wide as I can.

 Lastly, how do I know so much of what is going on in my former school? Simple at least a third to a half of faculty texts or calls me daily for advice and to fill me in on what they perceive is wrong or questionable. They trust me, plain and simple.

 There is so much more to this, but I cannot go into it here due to its sensitivity.

 In my life I have never made waves; always a team player and supporter of the underdog. It is here and now I make a stand, perhaps a part of a few vanguards setting the way for justice and fairness and accountability.

If you truly wish to help you can like the facebook Host page (community) that hosts the post you are reading now at  We are currently up to over 2,050 page likes and steadily growing.

Another outlet is a safe place to post under an alias what you feel is right and wrong with the school system and a myriad of other topics.

Lastly, exists as a relay service to forward to the correct and reliable people any reports of misdoings that you are aware of. These will not be posted; it exists strictly as a relay service.

And the Campbell Brown's of the world want to do away with tenure? 
What is sad is this is not being done in a vacuum, this is not the exception, this is the NEW NORMAL!
 Worse, is that this can't happen without an enabler, THE UFT! 

Jeff is the real deal. Jeff is a mensch. This story needs to get out there. Soon.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bad Principals. What More Does it Take?

What does it take for a principal to be disciplined like a teacher? Real discipline, like the Rubber Room,
facing 3020-a charges, humiliation, etc...?

Principals have been in the news quite a bit the last month and we here at SBSB have perused and aggregated the latest news stories of principals and ask the question, "What does it take?"

We thought this to be quite interesting question as we read in the New York Post just moment ago how Principal of William Cullen Bryant High School, Namita Dwarka (check out this blog devoted to her!), in Queens allegedly falsely labeled as not proficient in English so they will get extra time on their exams and ostensibly make Ms Dwarka look better. This is the same Namita Dwarka who had issues back in October (here and here). Heck, on the WCB High website, Dwarka is quoted as saying;
"As we embark on our 'Relentless Quest for Excellence,' it is my vision that we work collaboratively in a warm, safe teaching and learning environment"
Meanwhile in the Bronx, a student is dead, another in jail, two families are devastated, all because Principal of IS 177, Delise Jones, was empowered, disempowered, or just didn't care to give the boy being bullied and the suspect in the murder case a safety transfer. According to the Post, Jones told the father the day before the murder;
"the school year was almost over and it was too late to do anything."
This coming from a woman that a state audit said;
"...should be re‐-evaluated . . . If necessary, changes should be made, or a mentor principal could be assigned to the school in order to model the qualities of an effective instructional leader.”
 Of course, Greta Hawkins and her anti-Americanism is in the news again. This time threatening pre-K teachers with insubordination if 4 year olds sang the "Star Spangled Banner," (Someone should notify some tea baggers) and claiming she has "protection," of a higher source.

Principal, Antonio K’Tori, of PS 15 in Queens who has been accused of sexual harassment in the past is now apparently set his sights on older, male, Jewish teachers and banished one to the closet.

And lastly we have Judy Henry of Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School pissing off the parents. Henry is accused of;
"misallocation of funds that were assigned to extracurricular activities," and, among other concerns, "exhibiting unprofessional conduct towards students."

So what does it take? We can look at Annie Schmutz Seifullah of the Robert Wagner Secondary School of Arts and Technology and Jennifer Rogers of PS 29 in College Point as just two of the quite few examples of a principal being held accountable. Or are they the exceptions to the rule? The old scuttlebutt is that anything short of murdering someone a principal will just be promoted.

Beat a kid? Get shuffled to a cushy desk job. Lie? Hey, that qualifies for a 9-3 job at Tweed with summers off. Steal monies? Hey, why not become a principal trainer. You can train close personal friends. Doctor official records? How about representing the DOE at conventions in Las Vegas with all expenses paid.

But, if you are a teacher, things are different.

Accused of corporal punishment? Summary execution in the yard with commentary from FOX NEWS. Short changed the cashier in the school cafeteria? Next day front page of the Post and Yoav Gonan tracking down your 3rd grade girlfriend to dig up dirt. Fart incorrectly? Called down to the 84th precinct where a cavity search is performed on you and then transferred to Central Booking for 3 days.

This blaming of the teachers and teachers unions for all that ails education must cease at once.

Think of teachers as waiters at a fine restaurant. We don't get to choose the menu. We don't pick the ingredients. No, those jobs are up to the owners and the chefs at the restaurants. But like a waiter, when there is a fly in the soup who gets blamed? Yep, you guessed it.

Just like when Commander Riker (Damn! I must stop these Star Trek analogies!) was given the powers of the Q, Captain Picard knew it right away, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

We are living through Imperial principalships(sp?)now and we have just scratched the surface of the corruption and incompetency of NYCDOE principals. There is without a doubt much more and much more despicable scandals to come. There needs to be a Nixon like scandal to bring balance back to the force of the DOE (Dang! Star Wars analogy!).

Look for it. It will be a doozy!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Screwed Out of Retro Pay

Driving in this morning, coming down the Deegan I felt as if there were a disturbance in the force, much as Obi-Won felt when Alderaan was obliterated.

I soon became acutely aware of the disturbance in the form of a text message. It read;
"Your next blog; Mulgrew fucks over members!"
I used my voice activation (Texting and driving is a faux pas!) to text back;
"Kopp jiopp"
The response was;
"He fucked over members who resign, are fired, or die. The don't get retro!"
At this point I was off the Deegan at a light and responded;
"You're probably out about $25K"
Which he texted back;
"Yeah, totally fucked over and punished again by own union!"
A little background. The teacher, Seamus FitzPatrick, was involved in a 3020-a hearing this past March. In the middle of the hearing Seamus tendered his resignation so he can keep his state license. The DOE was gracious enough to allow him to finish out the school year (His resignation is effective June 26) as an ATR and he will get his summer pay.

(Wait, he is deemed incompetent by the DOE yet still allowed to teach as an ATR? Doesn't make sense. Shows you how serious the DOE truly is. But I have digressed.)

This Seamus is a good teacher put into impossible situations. It was not fair.

After I parked the car and got upstairs I texted him this story that appeared in the New York Post two weeks ago about two teachers who had resigned, one taught a year, the other two, between 2009 and today, who are planning to sue.

This couple has hired a lawyer to get their retro pay. Their lawyer thinks that there might be a chance for this suit to turn into a class action. They have reason to be optimistic;

As it says in the Post story;
In May 2001, the Hoosicks Falls (NY) school district and local teachers union approved a new contract that included retro pay for the years 1999 and 2000.

The agreement said the back pay only covered current employees, and excluded those who worked those years but then left the payroll.

But 11 former teachers sued the union and the school district for back pay and won.
So the same  goes for Seamus, no? The Crack Team has suggested to Seamus that he calls upon The Crack Lawyer for comfort and advice.

How can this be? Why would Seamus, or any other teacher who resigns, gets terminated, or dies not be allowed to reap the benefits of pay from years that they work?

Seamus worked since the last contract expired. He put his time in. He met with an unfair and unfortunate fate which happened now, not 5 years ago. Hell, the retro pay only covers 2009-2011. Why can't he and others who are in his predicament receive the retro as a nice parting gift?

What is more bothersome is that at the time Seamus resigned, March 12, the union was in negotiations with the city on the contract. We here find it quite plausible to believe that the union had an inkling of what was coming down the pike. Someone could not have advised Seamus to retire instead?

Sadly, though he has 13 years in the DOE and 13 years teaching for the diocese and vested in both he doesn't turn 55 for another year. He couldn't retire this year even if it were an option!

Seamus did bring up a very good point about the teachers that won't get their full retro and The Crack Team agrees with him. The DOE and the Union are hoping that enough teachers resign, get terminated, or die before they are paid out in full. There must have been statisticians cranking the numbers to see how many teachers will leave the system between now and 2020. Who knows? Perhaps there is a well trained hit team out there to see to it that many teachers meet with unfortunate accidents.

Seamus and every single teacher that worked without a contract up until now deserves their back pay. Yes, we know Mike, it is not a God given right. It is something that is ethical and the right thing to do. It's about being a mensch.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Darth Mona Davids?

I believe in loyalty. I can be very loyal to a friend, someone I know, my colleagues, teachers in
general. And for those that have stuck out there necks for me, who have taken their time to listen to me, to cheer me up, to let me vent, they have every right to expect loyalty from me and if I disagree with them to be man enough to say what is own my mind and not run behind their backs stabbing them in the back, besmirching their beliefs or worse, jumping ship.

So it pains me when I see a story in the Daily News today about Leader Mona Davids of the NYC Parents Union threatening a Vergara type lawsuit here in New York State. Dang, I thought she was on our side.

I mean did she forget how she was defended when Anthony Krisnky was threatening her, accusing her of backing the UFT?

Did Mona forget the defense of her from disparaging remarks of Carl Campanile of the New York Post?

Did Mona forget her support in the face of her dispute with Gotham Schools?

Did Mona forget the forum she had when she went up against charter school hack Peter Murphy? 

Or forgetting about the special relationship between Joel Klein and Eva Moskowitz?

Did she forget going up against failed comedian Bill Grundfest about the special funding charter get, deformers, Uncle Mike, and Joel Klein?

Did she forget her p3wnge of Michael Benjamin, her Twitter BFF?

Or did she forget defending us against the film, "Won't Back Down," or supporting "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman?"

With whom does Mona actually stand and for what? I think that is a fair question. To paraphrase Luke Skywalker in "Return of the Jedi,"
"Mona, your thoughts betray you. I feel the good in you, the conflict"
Come back to the five and dime Mona.

But in the meantime, just a few things I wish to comment on from today's article in the News.

Mona said; “There is going to be a lawsuit. The question is which attorney is going to do it for us,”

OK, as my father once said anyone can sue anyone and that is your prerogative. The Crack Team still likes you and will like to recommend an attorney for you and your group.

Place a phone call to attorney, Joy Hochstadt. We are 100% sure she will take your case. You will find her rates quite reasonable, she has the time to not only to start the lawsuit immediately but to give the case practically all her time and attention, and as a former teacher, she has the inside scoop.

And one more thing Mona said; "Most of the city’s ineffective teachers are in minority schools and we can’t get rid of them.” 

Excuse me whilst my throat is cleared.

Just two words are needed to rebut this.

Prove. It. 

'Nough said. 

Can she? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ATR Anxiety

Shocking news, well shocking in the same way that Captain Renault felt when he "found out"
gambling was happening at Rick's Cafe.

The Crack Team received an exclusive email from an ATR regarding the sham hiring practices ATR's encounter in looking for a permanent position.

Last year I went on 15 interviews for positions in English in Brooklyn.   In each case, I and other ATRs with English licenses were interviewed after a new teacher had been hired.  In some cases I was told upon arrival to the interview, "Thank you for coming, the position has been filled."   

In some cases, I was interviewed and told during the interview that they had already chosen a candidate and they were only interviewing me out of compliance with a mandate to interview ATRs. In other cases, I was interviewed but never heard back from the school.    

Two of my placements as an ATR  were in schools where I had interviewed.  In each school I met the teacher who had been hired.  In both cases, the teacher was brand new to the system.  One was a new graduate from Ed school.  The other had worked for a year in Suffolk County.   

Were these probationary teachers more qualified? Absolutely not. I have a B.A and an MA plus 30.     

Do they have more experience?  One teacher had student teaching, the other had 1 year of experience in a suburban school.  I have 18 years of experience in the district where I have taught urban populations.  I have lived in this community for 25 years.    

The new recruits were not from NYC, nor had they worked in an urban district before.  Neither teacher had ever worked with a high needs population before.    

What then do they have that made them the ideal candidate?   

As regular substitutes, they can be paid $150 a day and fired without due process. 

The issue is not about hiring effective teachers. It's about the DoE's decision to grant Principal's the autonomy and discretion to make all administrative and economic decisions without the constraint of union rules.  It's also about the Department of Education's long term strategy drive down the cost of labor, while privatizing corporate services throughout the system, and generating profits for their wealthy investors.  

There you have it. I was planning to compare this to would one rather have a heart surgeon right out of medical school or a seasoned heart surgeon who has done may heart operations. But I changed my mind.

I think the bigger picture is how there is not only a level of mistrust of the DOE--and the UFT--but a actual, rational anxiety that ATR's have to the new rules that govern them.

If they, and the DOE and UFT, can be manipulated in ways written of in the above email, then what is to prevent a unscrupulous principal in continuing to manipulate the ATR system?

Today Chaz wrote in his blog;
However, for ATRs, special rules already apply and if the ATR exceeds 10 days, the ATR will be automatically rated "unsatisfactory" by the field supervisor,

For ATRs, the new contract's special rules that will start in the 2014-15 school year will allow only two consecutive days for an ATR to not show up to the school and  since the ATR is absent without notification  the DOE will assume that the ATR resigned.
And, problematic behavior has yet to be defined. Nor are there any checks and balances to be sure to keep rouge (Which suffice it to say is the rule not the exception) administrators from abusing the 50 day rule.

Worse, and this is a feeling I get, is that the ATR's feel worse about the lack of empathy and support from fellow teachers. Be it in the schools they go to each week or just system wide. This kind of behavior is somewhat expected by the DOE and the UFT, but to get it from your very own colleagues must be crushing.

Sadly, the lack of feeling from colleagues is staring to be pretty standard operating procedure and I am sure that shock and disappointment must be wearing off.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Germany Supports DTOE and Calls for NYCDOE Spring Cleaning

For those that remember, DTOE sponsored it's first rally today in front of Tweed calling for the
abolition of the dependence of lawyers at the DOE. A good time was had by all and The Crack Team will like to thank master of ceremonies Francesco Portelos for putting this all together.

I was tasked with handing out leaflets to the growing crowd of people curious in what the group had to say. At first the passers by refused to accept any leaflets. They seemed to be busy going elsewhere but their body language showed that they really did care but didn't have the time to chat.

That was until we came across a family from Germany.

This family, a mom, dad, sister and brother, were walking in front of Tweed when I, and others, struck up a conversation with them about the the state of education in Germany. The language barrier was difficult seeming that their English, except the mom's, was so-so and the only German I knew was gleamed off of "Hogan's Heroes."

After some banter and sharing with the family how the Untied States will wipe the flow with Germany in next Monday's Group match in the World Cup, their 21 year old son agreed to answer some questions about German education and be videoed for posterity.

Notice anything? Our German friend shared with us that Germany does not rely on standardized tests for it's students and even though he did not understand what the word respect (respektieren in German) he shared with us that teachers are treated well in Germany.

More shocking, when asked what makes a good teacher, the young man alluded to that teachers have autonomy in the classroom and was shocked and dismayed that teacher's get punished for not being perfect.

They promised to go back to Germany and share the plight of NYC teachers and teachers throughout the United States.

Oh one more thing. Off camera they agreed that the NYCDOE does need a spring cleaning and that there are way too many lawyers employed at Tweed.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spring Cleaning at the NYCDOE

Come one, come all to the;


This Tuesday, June 10, 2014 from 4:30-5 PM EDT in front of the Tweed Courthouse on Chambers St. (Take 4, 5, or 6 to City Hall or A train to Chambers St.)

Endorsed by DTOE, MORE, Change the Stakes, and the Badass Teacher's Association.

The hundreds of lawyers hired by the Bloomberg administration are still ensconced at the DOE. Isn't it time the look for jobs in the private sector?

Show up, meet The Crack Team and tell them Frank Sinatra Jr sent you and get a glass of wine on the house!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

We Played a Part in Getting a Lousy Contract

We need to stop placing all the blame on Unity and the UFT for the contract that we now have to live
under. The UFT can't foist a contract such as it did upon us in a vacuum. It needs a partner in it's shenanigans.

That partner is us, the teachers of NYC. We are the enablers that allow the UFT/Unity to not only give us poor contract after poor contract, but we enable UFT/Unity to continue to time and time again to throw us under the bus, whether it is putting up a fight for our contractual rights, to the lack of being treated professionally by Tweed. UFT/Unity can't do what it is not doing without our acquiescence.

One of the BEST people I have have known in the DOE shared two stories on her Facebook timeline yesterday;
One who was provisionally out of the loop for two months thought the contract was wonderful because she said with a smile,"Once all of the retirees leave, there will be lots of open positions for ATRs"....and she needed the $1000 dollars to go on a trip this summer. 
What this person fails to understand is that a virus, like in Stephen King's "The Stand," can wipe out every non-ATR teacher in DOE and not one ATR will be hired permanently in a school. Anyway, after taxes your $1k bribe will be about $600.

The other statement shows the folly of allowing retired members of the union the right to vote in UFT/Unity elections;
The other was literally gloating to me, ecstatic to be retiring, couldn't care less about my feelings or that we had to remain and work under the new contract because he said that he had, suffered and 'paid his dues'
Yes, you paid your dues. You are entitled to what you have earned and the right to enjoy and well rested and lengthy retirement. But remember this. You are able to retire today and able to enjoy your pension and all that comes with it thanks to other UFT members before you. Especially in 1968 and 1975. 

But these are just two examples. I'm sure there are more. It's all apathy and ignorance, ignorance and apathy. Sy Syms used to say, "An educated consumer is our best customer."An educated and informed teacher is a mortal enemy to UFT/Unity.

If we are buying an air conditioner we will research the brands and the prices. We will buy Consumer Reports, speak to friends, read reviews online, and shop for the best price.

We will even do the same for a restaurant or a hotel. Research, check Trip Advisor, Yelp, Google.

But when it comes to our jobs, we do none of that. We stay ignorant. We stay apathetic. WE ARE EDUCATORS. We are supposed to teach out students how to think, how to question, but when it comes time for us to do it when it concerns our livelihoods and our future, We just get stupid. We get what we deserve.

UFT/Unity will not change, or rather conform, to our wishes until the ignorance and the apathy is no more. You must be involved and knowledgeable about our union. You need to go to chapter meetings. Vote in UFT/Unity elections. You need to ask questions. You need to stop thinking that it "Won't affect me," because guess what, it just might one day. And when and if it does you will be kicking yourself for not knowing what you got yourself into.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Future With the New UFT Contract

The Crack Team is down in the dumps. Sadly, the contract that the UFT negotiated for the teachers of New York was passed by a 3-1 margin. Instead of cursing the result The Crack Team decided to do something about it.

We thought that rather than once again writing about why this contract was not good yet again,  it would be better to show how actual teachers would be affected by it. It was decided that a contingent of The Crack Team would travel into the future to see just how this contract has either helped or hurt teachers. We did not have any plutonium for our Flux Capacitor so we decided on another method of time travel as seen in the Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever." Luckily for us, Steve of The Crack Team has been to a Star Trek convention had purchased the schematics for the Guardian of Forever for $10,000. We thought he was foolish, but imagine our surprise when we found out it worked. Don't believe we built one? Here's the finished product awaiting the two members of The Crack Team to enter.

At about 7:30 PM EDT Crack Team members Jim and Spock entered the Guardian for Forever and returned just a few minutes later at 7:34 PM EDT.

Their report; 

UFT Headquarters, Executive Offices June 4, 2014:
We witnessed Mike Mulgrew and LeRoy Barr are sitting around a conference table with their feet up with Carmen Farina. All are smoking cigars which they had lit with $100 bills laughing and saying, "Gee, they'll vote for anything."

Outside a School in District 11, May 24, 2017:
Met with ATR Kevin Smith. Kevin informed us that he is now on his second 50 day assignment. He was at another school in District 11 when on day 51 he was asked to leave for problematic behavior. Apparently, he had left the toilet seat up in the staff bathroom for the 2nd time. He had already received a counseling memo for leaving it up once before. He is concerned. He told us he is not taking anymore chances. He now pees sitting down.

At 51 Chambers St, 3020-a hearing, February 5, 2017:
We chatted with Steve Smith, a 24 year teacher before his hearing. He is an ATR and is facing the 1 day, expedited, not full due process, 3020-a hearing. Steve got removed from his first assignment because the principal found a 22 year old newbie to fill his position. The principal waited until day 51 to find him problematic, claiming that he had been late, even though the lateness was due to his crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge and there was a jumper and traffic was stopped for 3 hours. Steve even sent video from mid-span and of the jumper falling to the Hudson just to cover his butt.

The second time, he was replaced because the principal wanted to give his position to her old college pal and Steve just happened to be in the way. The principal claimed that Steve was yelling at the students even though he was in a cafeteria of full of 300 students and he was just talking loud. 

PS 451 Bronx, May 4, 2016:
We sat down with Dawn Smith, a 4th grade teacher. Dawn, a 20 year veteran, shared with us that for years she was used as the model teacher when visitors, Quality Reviews, etc... went on in the school. She applied to for the model teacher position hoping that the extra cash could help her son get into a decent college. She was disappointed when she found out that the principal chose to send the name of the school's art teacher in for the position. Apparently the art teacher had been living in the principal's colon for some time and the principal wished to show her thanks. 

MS 777 Brooklyn, May 22, 2016
Teachers are discussing the results of the UFT election. They can't believe it. Mulgrew is reelected and receives 99.99% of the vote.

UFT Headquarters, February 22, 2017
Teachers are still inundated with paper work. The union, which in 2014 agreed to find ways to reduce paperwork, has been fact finding since September 30, 2014. A finding has been imminent now for over 2 years.

UFT Headquarters, June 1, 2018
With the historic 8 year contract coming to an end, new mayor Eva Moskowitz tells the UFT that the city can't afford to pay the last two installments of retro and will like to stretch the payments out to 2035. Mulgrew quickly responds with, "Sure, whatever you want! We just want a seat at the table"

A PROSE school, Upper East Side May 11, 2018:
Without union protection, this PROSE school, "The Excellent Academy for Scholarly Scholars," the teachers must report to work at 6 AM and leave at 9 PM. Teacher's that speak up against administration have no union protection and are taken out back and summarily executed with their lifeless heads chopped off and put on a spike in front of the school as a message to other teachers as to what can happen to them.

Shiva Call, Monsey NY, Home of Ida Rabinowitz, February 7, 2017:
Mrs Rabinowitz' husband, Morris, who jumped off the Tappan Zee Bridge the other day, just buried her husband the day before. He was distraught for several reasons. One, his paycheck was now being deducted 10% for health care and he was getting less bang for his health care buck. His old psychiatrist was no longer on the plan and he had to go see a psych at the closest joint UFT/NYC funded health center in Middletown NY.  His new psychiatrist was a 26 year old affiliated with "Psychiatrists For America" and had only 5 weeks training. Worse yet, the anti-depressants he was on were no longer covered and he had to settle for generic anti-depressants that were manufactured and mailed from Kazakhstan. 

President Mulgrew was gracious enough to pay a shiva call. When Mrs Rabinowitz asked Mulgrew if as a widow, will she be getting the remaining payments of her husband's retro Mulgrew responded, "Ain't happening!" He soon turned and left for the buffet table, helped himself to some bagels, smoked salmon, creamed herring, and whitefish salad and headed out the door.

So there you have it. The intrepid time time travel of The Crack Team showing the rank and file what the future holds.

The future can be changed. But it is up to US, not UNITY, of anyone else to change it. So let's do it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Working Families Party Regret

I was thinking how to respond to the Working Families Party nominating Governor Andy as it's gubernatorial candidate last night when I came across a Facebook post by SBSB super fan Gail Richmond.

Gail had received an email from Bill Lipton, State Director of the WFP, in which Bill defended the WFP's nomination. The Crack Team has received the email and run it through our computer for analysis.


Last night, we secured a major win. Not for the Working Families Party, not for Governor Andrew Cuomo, but for the working families of the state of New York.

Yeah? How so? How are working families better off today than when Cuomo took office? The 2% tax cap? Hey, how many poor, upstate school districts are better off with that? How are the communities of the Southern Tier doing? In fact, it's just not working families that are being affected by Governor Andy.

About a month ago I went to a school board meeting in quite swanky and well off Rye, NY. The school board in the discussion of the budget was flummoxed. They spoke that they had cut all that they could and could cut no more. Remember, this in a city in which the per capita income is
$88,637, and the median home price is
$948,447. The board was planning to pass a utility tax on residents of Rye which has since passed.

So if Rye is hurting, what does this tell you of the educational policies of Governor Andy?

Faced with a challenge from Zephyr Teachout -– a Working Families Democrat if there ever was one -- for the Working Families Party endorsement, 

What does that mean, "Working Families Democrat"? I guess we can call Governor Andy a "Working Families Republican"?

Gov. Cuomo declared for the first time that he will join the effort to secure a Democratic-Working Families majority. 

And we are sure not for the last time either, but let's see if he is still declaring that after November 4.

On many issues, he has not governed as a progressive.

Yes, that he has. 

 But we do agree with the platform he committed to fighting for last night, which will help transform the lives of millions of people, and even set the stage for still further gains:
 He only agrees to such things because it is politically expedient of him and here is the reason why. Take away this poll and insert landslide no matter his opponent, Cuomo doesn't even throw the WFP party a lifesaver if he sees everyone drowning.

And the gains he is promising? Passing comprehensive public financing of elections to fight the influence of big-money in our democracy...

He's had 4 years to do that and hasn't so why would he now?

Passing the Dream Act, so all New Yorkers can access higher education

See above answer

Decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, so we can stop jailing our youth, especially young people of color

Hasn't it already been decriminalized? What needs to be done is for the NYPD to stop cuffing and hauling off those that have a joint. 

Passing the full 10-point Women's Equality Agenda, to protect and ensure women's equality

Which is nice, but again, promised in 2013 State of State Address and nothing so far. 

Raising New York's minimum wage to $10.10/hour, indexed to inflation, and allowing cities and counties to raise wages 30% higher than the state level

Never going to happen. Maybe on state level, but he will put kibosh on any local laws. 

Increasing the state's investment in community schools to improve educational opportunities in high-need districts.

Like in NYC in which he is sticking the city for the bill for charter school rent. Is that what the WFP sees as progressive? 

But the Governor still fell far short of what's needed -- we need to comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court order and fully fund our schools.

Gee Bill, why isn't the "Student's Lobbyist" following a court order and fully funding the state's schools? 

Wonder why we here at SBSB and super fan Gail Richmond are skeptical? Think. This is a man who at the drop of a phone call from a pissed off, whining, and crying Eva Moskowitz ensured that charter school rent in NYC will be paid for by the DOE effectively neutering Mayor de Blasio.

And the same guy that moved heaven and earth ever so fast for gun reform in New York State.

And why didn't the WFP ask Governor Andy about reviving the Moreland Commission?

Because one day after the nomination, Governor Andy is already backtracking;
 "A day after securing the nomination of the Working Families Party, Gov. Cuomo said his support for their liberal agenda only goes so far."

“I oppose municipalities being able to set their own wage. I did and I do,” he said. “I would allow localities within a state-prescribed formula to adjust a local wage but not that the locality gets to set the rate wherever they want. I'm against that. I was against it. I am against it.”
He also said his "support for Senate candidates would be based on who supported his agenda, not down the line support for Democratic candidates."
 Hey WFP. You drank a bit too much, you were charmed by Governor Andy. He made you for that one moment to seem like the prettiest girl at the dance. He wooed you by saying all the right things. He made you feel so important. He went back to your place with him and he told you how much he really cared, how he was different from all the rest and you believed him.

Sadly, there is always the following morning. This is the morning the WFP woke up and turned over and didn't see Governor Andy next to them. Governor Andy was putting on his shoes and telling the WFP he had an important ALEC meeting to attend and is busy the rest of the week. 

Now, WFP feels cheap like a cheap suit from Moe Ginsburg and has regret. Worse yet, Governor Andy asks you for cab fare so he can get home and in a few days will have Sheldon Silver send you some flowers with a note that says, "Had a great time, I forgot to tell you I'm married, to myself."

Anyway, as for us here at SBSB, don't say we didn't warn you and it's time to go Green.