SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

3020-a Suicidal Tendencies Suck

All of us get lost in the darkness/Dreamers learn to steer by the stars/All of us do time in the
gutter/Dreamers turn to look at the cars/Turn around and turn around and turn around/Turn around and walk the razor's edge/Don't turn your back/And slam the door on me-- "The Pass" 1990, Peart, Neil

Back in September I wrote this blog post: Teacher Bathroom Behavior Charges, in regards to the 3020-a charges against a certain teacher  about leaving several droplets of pee on a toilet seat and not sufficiently cleaning up his doody after having an "issue."

Today an update. And before I continue, I just want to emphasize that after talking with this teacher, that we both agreed that I can write about what happened to him. That his story can help others in the same predicament.

On Thanksgiving morning, this teacher, this friend of mine, was feeling overwhelmed and despondent over his case. He wasn't in the Rubber Room, but in a different kind of hell. Re-assigned to another school being nothing more than a well paid office boy. Unable to share his gift and passion with the students of the City of New York.

So on this Thanksgiving, where we are supposed to be thankful for the friends, family, and everything in our lives, this teacher was just beside himself. The pressure was getting to him. There was nowhere to turn but inwards.

Some people find solace in a beer or whisky or even Jägermeister. Those beverages would just make him forget for a little while. He was looking for something permanent. To never remember again.

He took a red Solo cup and poured some liquid bleach into it. Not all the way, about a third. It was time he thought. He looked at the cup and looked inside.

He drank it all in one gulp.

At that very moment, through all his despair, he realized he had made a big mistake.

Thank God he was not home alone. He was rushed to the hospital and seen by their mental health team. He assured them that he won't try anything like this again and it was basically a cry for help.

The teacher has since been in contact with the UFT's Member Assistance Team and is doing what he needs to do.

There are many reasons this teacher reacted this way and got to this point. But in my opinion one of the culprits has got to be the attitude of the NYSUT attorneys.

"Don't talk about this to anyone," you are told. Why? "It's none of anyone's business." Which is just another way of saying you should feel shamed and embarrassed with what you are going through.

Want your 3020-a to be an open hearing? "No!!! Don't do it. Anyone can then walk in and see what is going on!" Another way to feel shame.

Unlike cops or firefighters or even transit workers who go through their own versions of a 3020-a and continue to have the support of their colleagues, a teacher going through this process is treated as plutonium from those around them.

For anyone going through the 3020-a process, DON'T FEEL ANY SHAME!!! Sing it loud, sing it proud. It is your case, your life, you decide, not your NYSUT attorney. Talk about it with your friends, your family, people you trust. Share your feelings, get them out.

Now of course there are limits to what you should say and whom you should talk to. But please, do not keep anything in. Have a support system. And, remember, there is absolutely zero shame in seeking help by a professional and/or going on medication. Your life is that important!

As for having an open hearing, do it! Peel back the sheath and expose what transpires in 3020-a hearings. The more people who witness a hearing I truly believe the safer you are.





Saturday, November 18, 2017

#MeToo Jay Shaplow Retired ELA Teacher at Ardsley Middle School

When I started teaching in 1995. I called Jay Shaplow my former 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher from Ardsley Middle School to share with him that he was one of my role models as a teacher and I plan on teaching in a style like him.

But not completely in his style. There are always exceptions.

I didn't recall it for years after the incident that occurred when I was in 8th grade in 1978. Not even when I called him in 1995. But a few years later I recalled it, shared it with a colleague during my third year teaching and didn't say anything to Shaplow when I ran into him at the Westchester County Center when the Ardsley High basketball team was in the Section 1 playoffs.

But it is has been vivid in my mind for years and I have even shared it with classmates on Facebook. In fact one former classmate remembers the incident.

Back in 1978, the 8th grade had gone on a class trip. My recollection is we had gone to Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. Someone else recalls it as we being at Rye Playland. What we both agree upon is the following: we were leaving and on the bus either getting ready to leave or had already left. I was sitting, not alone, in the front seat of the bus next to the door. Shaplow was sitting in the seat behind me. Shaplow then started talking to me.

"Hey, Zucker, how do you masturbate?"

 "How often do you masturbate?"

 He seemed quite interested in my responses.

At the time I was 14 years old. Legally, not an adult, but nothing more than a child who lived at home with mommy and daddy and still, I think, had a bedtime.

Stupidly, I engaged Shaplow in this conversation and after the bus ride that was the end of it. But who knows how Shaplow was affected and in what manor.

I guess when I started teaching I looked back on it and realized it was fucked up for a teacher who was at the time 28 years old to be engaging in this perverse type of conversation with a 14 year old boy.

I never told my parents. I never told the principal at the middle school. Not until I was an adult and teaching and knew of that any and all of my actions as a teacher would have both negative and positive ramifications on my students did I share this experience. But I am happy I did. I got validation.

I have kept quiet. But no more. My wife had been violated as a young girl. I know others that have been violated as well. What I went through in no way compares to what these others have gone through. But.

Was Shaplow's banter an attempt at grooming? He knew how fucked up my home life was. And if this was "grooming" was I the only 14 year old boy he attempted this with in his 30+ years of teaching? And if this was "grooming," did his attempts ever come to fruition in his 30+ years of teaching?

What does the Ardsley Union Free School District and the Ardsley Police Department know? What does the community of Ardsley know?

Let's just get one thing straight. Whether he was doing it to be a smart ass, a comedian, thought he was being hip, or any benign reason, Shaplow fucked up and was wrong. If this was his grooming methodology, there are not enough words to say what should or should've happened.

Hopefully, some good can come of this. Perhaps Shaplow not only talked to another 14 year old boy in this manner, but worse, took it to another level.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that Shaplow spoke to me in this manner. He was wrong. He was unprofessional. He violated the trust between student and teacher. This needs to be out there.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mazel Tov UFT!!

A hearty handshake is extended from us here at SBSB to our leadership at the UFT for not only being at the forefront, but for having the foresight, to not only oppose Proposition 1 in this past Tuesday's statewide vote, but also in the defeat of the aforementioned proposition. Kudos!

Not only that, the UFT is publicly preening itself in self-adulation as a teenage boy who has lost his virginity in playing its part. Yes, the emails, the phone calls, the robo-calls, and even the text messages from real people got 82% of voters to say heck no to Prop 1.

Just how much is the UFT kvelling in it's unprecedented "win?" Let's just look at Facebook...

So here is what I, and I am sure many others want to know. Why can't the UFT put the same time and effort in for its members that it does for defeating a NYS Constitutional Convention?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into doing away with the fair student funding which is keeping many qualified teachers from permanent positions?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into fixing the ATR problem?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into exposing abusive principals?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into make our union a true democratic union in which different ideas are debated and respected?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into enforcing our collectively bargained contract?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into ensuring that every member, whether active or inactive gets every last cent due them of monies owed since 2009, regardless on how one left the DOE?

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort to have ensured that we all get our retro in one sum, in 2015, instead of waiting until 2020 or 2021, both over a decade from when we should have had a contract and a raise.

Why can't the UFT put the time and effort into just doing the right thing? Really? Is it that difficult?

My dad used to tell me you can do anything you want when you decide to put your mind to it. Maybe the UFT should listen to what my dad had to say.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Star Trek 3020-a: The Delight of Betsy Combier

Pay attention to the following. It all ties into the topic of today's blog post.

UPDATE 10/21/17 7:01 PM: Since no one has gotten the Star Trek reference (Gee, I thought ALL teachers were into Star Trek). 

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Captain Kirk beams down to the Genesis planet to meat up with Carol Marcus. The Enterprise is in orbit, crippled by the barrage Khan unleashed using the hijacked USS Reliant. Spock using code to inform Kirk of ongoing repairs uses days instead of hours to let Kirk know how long it will take to facilitate repairs knowing that Khan will be listening in. Spock was using code. Basically saying the OPPOSITE of what is true!!!

When they beam aboard the Enterprise, 2 HOURS LATER, this conversation takes place:

Saavik: You lied!
Spock: I exaggerated. 

Perhaps I should have used this Seinfeld quote: 

"If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right."
- Jerry, to George, in "The Opposite"
Sorry for the mass confusion.

Kirk: Kirk to Enterprise.
Spock: Spock here.
Kirk: Captain Spock, damage report.
Spock: Admiral, if we go "by the book". like Lieutenant Saavik, hours could seem like days.
Kirk: I read you captain. Let's have it.
Spock: The situation is grave, Admiral. We won't have main power for six "days". Auxiliary power has temporarily failed. Restoration may be possible, in two "days". By the book, Admiral.


Got it?

If you hire Betsy Combier and her legal team, you have made a great decision! One that will ensure you many more years of teaching.

Betsy Combier is one of the finest legal minds of our time when it comes to defending teachers. 

Ethically, Betsy Combier is beyond reproach.

Betsy Combier is not a clown.

If you have Betsy Combier write your Article 75 appeal and notice there is mention that your probable cause rights were violated, well GOSH DARN, you can feel as if you won Powerball.

A judge has never shot down Betsy Combier's probable cause theories.

Betsy Combier is 100% selfless and never puts herself first. 

Betsy Combier does not chase windmills. 

Betsy Combier is always truthful. 

Betsy Combier will never tear down others to build herself up. 

Betsy Combier is always truthful and transparent about past cases she has been involved in. 

You will not regret your association with Betsy Combier.

Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh...
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one.

Monday, October 16, 2017

New York Times and Reporter Kate Taylor Throw Francis Blake and ATRs Under The Bus

Usually when I awake I go to my phone and check the latest news. One news alert I received was from the NY Times concerned ATRs. I clicked and when I saw the photograph and the caption “PS 157” I shuddered. This is not going to turn out well.

My worst fears were confirmed with the first two words of the story, “Francis Blake.”

I know Francis extremely well. He’s a good friend and better person. He's also a damn fine teacher and is there for the students. He comes in, does his job and gets along with everyone. 
Francis has been a vendor at Yankee Stadium for over 40 years. If he knows you and sees you the first beer is on him. That’s the type of guy he is. 

Francis comes in and does what he is supposed to do. He gets along with everyone and is Mr Knowledge when it comes to US and World History. What elementary school wouldn’t want him to mine his depth of knowledge, his ability to share history as if he lived it, with its students? 

Francis Blake was railroaded at PS 157. But it was the school's (at the time) LIS Mychael Willon that put the nail in the coffin.

Willon was hired by the Klein regime even though a 1st grader with rudimentary internet search abilities would have discovered that Willon was forced to resign as Superintendent in Owego NY and turned down same position in Vermont due to claiming a doctorate through a diploma mill  and here  and that he was arrested a subsequently convicted for lewd and lascivious behavior in 1990 in a Wichita KS bookstore.

Francis’ mistake is he was not an administrator. Then he would have had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted to do.

One of the others involved in Francis’s framing was Donald Conyers, who is currently (I believe) super of Brooklyn HS’s. Conyers is one of the slimiest scummiest people ever in the DOE. I knew him when he was principal at PS 18 in D7 and I was a staff developer.  He never left his office. He was more interested in seeing dollars flow to him and chasing and bedding young female teachers. Oh, and having several AOL IM windows open on his computer chasing women online. 
I have briefly spoken with Francis. He was at the Columbia football game Saturday afternoon and from there he went to the Rangers game. I caught him between periods. Francis is curious as to how reporter Kate Taylor got his cell phone #, that Ms Taylor never inquired about the sleeping incident with Francis and the insubordination charges, in the words of Francis, are "bullshit!"
Two more things. According to the article, Ms Taylor somehow, someway, had access to the Excessed Staff Selection System...
 "The New York Times cross-referenced two sets of records: the Education Department’s Excessed Staff Selection System, which lists available staff and openings in the system"
Did the DOE give her access? If not it was an ATR, then an ATR that threw other ATRs under the same bus as the Times and Ms Taylor had?

Secondly, this from the article...
"In a system in which only 1 percent of teachers earn the lowest possible ratings, of ineffective or unsatisfactory, 12 percent of the teachers who were in the Absent Teacher Reserve at the end of the last school year had received one of those ratings in 2015-16."
Duh! Really? Why is there this disparity? An ATRs entire lesson during an observation can be perfect, but not enough students raise their hands, BINGO! The lesson is rated a U.

Sorry for being so long winded. In summation, Francis was screwed. How screwed? Read this.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Vaginagate: Where Was The UFT?

The New York Post had a story the other day in which a dance teacher was brought up on 3020-a charges because she had the audacity to ask cheerleaders who were cheerleading to be a tad more modest. How dare she!

According to the Post, the DOE spent over $300,000 prosecuting Karen Eubanks in which the arbitrator ruled that Ms Eubanks should get a letter to the file for she should not have used words like "vagina" and instead should have used the euphemism, "private parts."

So all that for what could have been from the outset just a letter to the file. What a waste.

The more shocking part is that the Post, yes the Post, has come out with an editorial speaking out against the persecution of Ms Eubanks.

Sadly the Post is silent with all the imprudent persecutions against teachers that could have saved the DOE millions is only handled at the school level between adults.

But what is confusing us here at SBSB is how the Post is speaking out in defense of Ms Eubanks while nary a word has been heard from 52 Broadway, the UFT, and UFT President Dunsel.

This all started in April 2016 and it can be save to say that the hearing was sometime earlier this year? Where was UFT President Dunsel's outrage? Where was his staunch defense of Ms Eubanks? Was he too busy with fabric and paint swatches for the new UFT Welcome Center and Spa at 52 Broadway?

Has much as one can or does disagree with the NYPD, it's officers, and the PBA, at least Patrick Lynch (whether or not he is wrong or right) speaks up and out for it's members.

John Samuelsen, the president of the TWU speaks out for his members as does the leaders of DC37, 1199, FDNY, Sanitation workers, gee, the list can just get too long.

What does a teacher get whilst they're being persecuted from the UFT leadership? SILENCE, whilst the UFT parties it up, thrice a year, at the Westchester Hilton (soon to be in Elmsford, Ardsley, Yonkers, Greenburgh, or White Plains).

Again, UFT and UFT President Dunsel, pay very close attention to the next paragraph;
Janus, Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus,  Janus, 
Got it? At the very least start acting like a husband that has been caught cheating and is trying to be on his best behavior for his bereaved wife.

Because if the UFT doesn't UFT President Dunsel will have to stop buying his suits at Barney's and instead buy them off the rack at Sears.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

SBSB Lends a Helping Hand to the UFT

Last month on these pages we opined about the coming end of days of the UFT due to a possible negative decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31. In fact the UFT, to either save money or for appearance sake, decided not to have their September retreat at the Rye Town Hilton, as has been the norm in the past, but rather at 52 Broadway, home of the UFT.


We here at SBSB are happy that the UFT decided to save money yet saddened for the UFT and others who looked forward to the glamor and frolicking in Westchester County.

The Crack Team wants to help.

The Crack Team has been in session for about a week to find suitable hotels in Westchester County that will put the glamor and camaraderie that every UFT retreat emboldens. The hotels are ranked in no particular order and have been thoroughly vetted to ensure that the utmost of glamor, stylings, and agreeabilty to the UFT's needs.

Disclaimer: At no time were the members of The Crack Team compensated by the hotels that made the list.

1. Yonkers

The Yonkers Gateway Motel, where hospitality is served with a smile!

This motel overlooking the former Putnam Railroad right-a-way (Train buffs will love this!) and on Yonkers Ave not far from the Yonkers Metro-North station is chock full of surprises. Some rooms have Jacuzzi's, some with water that has been actually changed. The Crack Team thinks UFT President Dunsel will love this place. At our night spent here we heard screaming for a deity many times coming from the rooms and we all know how President Dunsel sees himself. Trip Advisor rating 1 star!

2. Elmsford

The Elmsford Motel has been a mainstay of Elmsford for decades! This motel hard on Rt 119 and accessible from the Cross Westchester Expressway or the Saw Mill River Parkway has hourly rates in case the UFT wants to save money along with hourly turn down service just in case. Approximately 100 yards west from the motel is the El Dorado diner where the UFT can have it's meals. About 50 yards east and just on the other side of the parkway leads you to the shores Saw Mill River. A great place for team building activities as long as one doesn't mind all the shopping carts in the river.

3. Ardsley

Faux luxury awaits the UFT at two of (and only) Ardsley's famous motels. The Apple Motor Inn which is smack dab in beautiful downtown Ardsley and Ardsley Acres Hotel. Two hotels, more people, but bring those quarters! The Ardsley Acres has vibrating beds. And the security of the Apple Motor Inn can't be beat! It seems that the Ardsley Police Department is always there. Both motels are easy to get too. Right off exit 7 of the New York State Thruway. And, lest we forget, the Ardsley Acres is on the shore of the Saw Mill River!

4. Greenburgh

Right off of exit 4 of I-287 is the Alexander Motel. A place so popular that many people use it as it's residence. Though The Crack Team thinks this place might be haunted. All that was heard were the squeaking of beds all night long.

5. White Plains

Central Motel on, you guessed it, Central Ave (The Champs-Elysees of Westchester County) in White Plains. Perfectly located, across the street from McDonald's and it's meeting rooms. Sadly, rooms overlooking Central Ave have a 10% surcharge. While the UFT is there, all retreat members should stop over at Dante's Deli, which is just down the street. Tell Dante that The Crack Team sent you and get a 1/4 lb of imported Capicola on the house.

We here at SBSB and The Crack Team hope that this small list helps the UFT in any future retreats and/or events it plans in the future, especially if the US Supreme Court rules in favor of Janus.




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thank You UFT, May I Have Another?

It's been some time since I took the UFT and it's "leadership" to task, but now is as good as time as any.

I was looking forward (As are all of us) to my retro pay coming up in a few weeks. Even better, I was going to get a double retro check due to me being suspended (But technically "on leave") when teachers got their first checks in October 2015.

I was told, specifically, by several within the UFT that I was to get TWO payments with the upcoming retro check. Yes, more taxes will be taken out, but a double check would be nice.

So about last week I was reading Arthur Goldstein's blog and saw something that raised an eyebrow. Those who were on leave or whatever in October 2015 will not be getting a double check.

I checked with a good person within the UFT and I received confirmation.

Then a few days later Chaz the Blogger called me up to share the news.

Then I told my wife. YIKES!

Yeah, it is true. Anyone considered on leave when the first retro checks came out in 2015 this year's check will be considered their first payment and next years the 2nd and so on and those of us affected by this inanity will have to wait until October 2021 to be made full.

According to my sources the UFT never shared this part of the agreement with the rank and file. It is deeply embedded in some super duper double secret part of the MOU.

The UFT does it to us again. Just for the f*&*ing seat at the table. Just to f*&*ing acquiesce to the f*&*ing city once again.

"NO! You can't get your retro all at once, we might bankrupt the city. There are too many UFT members. You are not entitled to retro," goes the gibberish from 52 Broadway.

BULLSHIT!!!!

It takes two parties to agree to no retro. It takes one party to cower like a scared UFT President Dunsel to give into the city this f*&*ing ridiculous, moronic retro schedule!

DC 37 has as many members if not more than the UFT and they got their retro checks in one lump sum. So did the cops, the firefighters, the sanitation workers, the shit cleaners, and everyone except the UFT thanks to President Dunsel.

Who the f*&* came up with this idea of paying us over the course of 5 years? And worse, if you are terminated, quit, or die you get nothing! Bupkus! You are then royally f*&*ed!

So come 2021 when I get that last check, my son will be starting his junior year in college, the Jets will still be without a quarterback (I'm not a Jets fan), mass murders will increase, Trump will be in a mental hospital, and the UFT offices, thanks to Janus, will be down to a 250 sq ft office storefront. Now located next to Sizzler's on Tremont Ave in the Bronx with President Dunsel sitting a high school desk.

I swear when I tell friends who are members of other unions how the UFT operates they just don't believe it. This shit can't be made up!

It is time, with Janus on the horizon, that the UFT starts to heed the wants and needs of the rank and file.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Teacher Bathroom Behavior Charges

The following comes from the files of, "You Can't Make This Shit Up!"

Last month Chaz in a blog post wrote...
Up until this previous school year the Office of Legal Services would include every trivial infraction as a specification in an educator's 3020-a charges and this was known as "throwing shit on the wall and hope enough sticks" to get the arbitrator to terminate the educator.  
You left toilet seat up once? It's chargeable. You farted in a non-prescribed, unapproved DOE manner? It's chargeable. Well, check this stuff out.

A colleague of mine just got hit with 3020-a charges today. Among the normal incompetence and teaching stuff were two doozies. Perhaps the first time charges of this type were ever leveled against a teacher. What are the gist of these charges?

Proper bathroom hygiene. I kid you not.

One charge involves my friend, let's call him Aaron Goldstein. One day, in fact one morning, Aaron arrived at his school and suddenly his stomach started to "percolate." His stomach started to rumble, and at this moment Aaron felt the need to relieve himself. Being that he was on the first floor of the school he started heading upstairs to the fourth, and highest, floor where there is the only men's bathroom in the school (This particular school was built over one hundred years ago. If you ever been in one of these the schools, the fourth floor can seem like climbing a mountain).

Aaron ascended the stairs as quickly as he could, trying his best to hold in what is colon wanted to push out. He finally made it into the bathroom but alas, Aaron was a bit too late. Let's just say Aaron missed his target, and instead created a scene such as Jackson Pollock would've. Not just in the stall, but on himself as well.

Aaron, being the professional that he is, cleaned himself up, made sure there were no remnants left behind, cleaned the stall, and reported the issue. He had to. For he had to go home. It is safe to assume that the custodial staff was called in.

I empathize with Aaron. I am diabetic and one of the drugs I take, Metformin, tends to make you this way. One of my biggest fears is that this will happen at school.

Not too long after this incident Aaron had to go pee-pee. Again, Aaron was on the first floor and the men's room was in another time zone. The first floor just had a ladies room as do the third and fourth floors.

Aaron had the pressing need to pee. Now we here at SBSB do not know if Aaron has prostate issues, had an UTI, or had drank an inordinately large amount of water that day. All Aaron was aware of is that he had to pee. Badly.

Aaron went to the first floor ladies room. He made sure no one was in there and he locked it when he went in. He soon had a gladder bladder.

But that is not what Aaron got written up for and what he is now being charged with. Aaron got written up for leaving three droplets of pee on the seat. Yes, Aaron should have lifted the seat and yes an argument can be made that he should not have used the ladies room. But one can also make the case that Aaron was so traumatized from his previous bathroom incident, that he just felt he could not make it to the fourth floor.

This is just inane. This is yet another case of the DOE throwing whatever it can find and  throwing it against the wall, to see what happens. It's also another case about disparities in discipline. If Aaron were a favorite all he would have had was a talking to.

We here at SBSB are calling for an equal distribution of bathrooms in all NYC public schools, as well as ensuring that all bathrooms be no more than two floors from another male or female bathroom. This way we can ensure that there will be no more incidents like Aaron's




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Might This Be the End of the UFT?

Is it the end of the world UFT as we know it, is it the end of the world UFT as we know it, and should I feel fine? 

Earlier this week, the New York Post's intrepid reporter, Carl Campanile, basically wrote a story on how the $128 million budgeted UFT might have to change it's ways with the Janus court case expected to reach the Supreme Court sometime this year. The roosters are coming home to roost at 52 Broadway.

According to the Post, the UFT;
is a far-flung enterprise with a $42 million payroll that includes more than 700 members paid to perform full-time or part-time union duties
with borough reps, district reps and 65 staffers each making more than $150,000. Mulgrew pulls in $283,000.
See, this is just not right. This shows that the leadership is just completely out of touch. Yes, there are some in the UFT who actually, in my opinion, that do earn that money. But why do salaries have to be that high? Why must there be such a disparity between the "anointed ones" and the rank and file? Heck, I know someone from my town who works for the UFT and he makes 30% more than I do and he has never taught. He's a great guy, a great dad, and I like him quite a bit, but he should not be making more than teacher. At least with District and Borough Reps, officers, you can make an argument for, but someone who has not risen through the ranks making that money...no. And, I would not begrudge Mulgrew his salary if he was more transparent. Or accessible. Or proactive. Or listened.

How exactly is OUR money being spent. Why isn't each member of the UFT mailed or given EASY access to how each and every dime is spent?

But according to the Post, the UFT might be getting a clue in regards to this summer's retreat...

The event was held at UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway instead of the Hilton Westchester in Rye, NY, where the union typically holds its retreats.
That's a start! I've been to that retreat. The grub served there is much, much better than most Bar Mitzvah's. Hey, at least have the retreat where there is a golf course. The Doral Arrowwood about 5 minutes up the Hutch in Purchase has a decent 9 hole course. Solve problems, etc... over match play or best ball.

But this must have the UFT crappin' it's pants...
If the Supreme Court rules against government employee unions, membership and dues revenues would likely plummet by 20 percent to 30 percent, labor sources said. The union would have to get written consent directly from teachers to collect dues from them.
It's now a death watch. Who will be this 20-30 percent? The newbie blonde hair and blue eyed teachers who still have mommy and daddy pay for the closet sized apartment in Manhattan while Junior weekends in the Hamptons with his babe Buffy.

Yeah, these teachers can't look past their their next drink when the hang out in their hipster bars in Brooklyn or Amsterdam Ave nursing their craft beers (WHAT IS WRONG WITH JUST HAVING A COORS LIGHT?) while they converse how special they are that they, the rich chosen ones, are sacrificing and delaying their ascent into business or law school.

Let them shit themselves when they need representation in a discipline meeting or worse, a lawyer. Let them be on their own.

Better yet, and this should happen with a reverse lawsuit, if you don't pay the dues you get noting. Bupkus. Nada.

Yeah, I am not happy with the UFT leadership. But I will keep paying my dues because not only do my dues benefit me but my dues benefit other teachers.

Once you stop paying your dues you get none of the spoils of the contract. You must negotiate your own salary with the principal. You teaching schedule. Your days off. Your hours. EVERYTHING! No health benefits. No welfare fund,. No pension. No nothing.

You don't pay union dues, you are then a independent contractor. Heck, you are paid as a 1099 and have to pay your taxes quarterly.

Every CL in each school will share a list of teacher's that refuse to pay dues and those teachers will be nothing more than rats and scabs. Let them be an island onto themselves. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Same goes for the UFT. They need to get their act together. Show us what you got. Now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The USS Betsy

It's just about there....
 








 
 
 
Even former New York Knick and New Jersey Net Michael Ray Richardson prophesised about this some 36 years ago....
 
 


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Isolation of Being an ATR

A few weeks ago I touched on, and broke down the idiocy, of Chalkbeat's latest ATR missive. In the last few days,  Chalkbeat again showed it's cluelessness as well as the DOE's official mouth piece, the NY Post. The New York Times also chimed in, but it was a little less shrill.

All of these articles came out within the last 3-4 days and I so much wished to comment on them, to break the down the BS and expose the truth. But in a way, it'll be beating a dead horse. There must have been some way I can shed light on the truth without just rehashing the reality yet again.

Arthur Goldstein today helped me unlock what I been wanting to write about for some time but never found a proper segue to put fingers to keypad and share.

Arthur wrote...
It's important to note that any teacher can be brought up on charges at any time, and that even if the charges are nonsense it's likely some minor one will be sustained. Maybe you used your phone in the school, or did something equally inconsequential. That's enough to fine you a few thousand bucks and place you into the ATR. Then you're doomed, if the Post gets its way.
This is every ATR's nightmare. Yes, other teachers have this nightmare as well, but with an ATR it is especially magnified. One thing, one mistake, one act taken out of context can at worst, have charges brought against you or at best, a letter to your file in which no matter how trivial and how much great work you do the rest of the year will bring you a U rating.

This past December, my 3rd day in my assigned school, I was bringing a 5th grade class upstairs from lunch. I had never had this class before. They had no clue who I was. There was one young man you was quite attention seeking and was quite boisterous the walk up four flights of stairs.

When we got to the class I lined the students up and asked for quiet until I would send them in. Most of the class complied as I sent them in four at a time. In the meantime this student, and for the sake of keeping his anonymity will henceforth be known of Shlomo Epstein was getting more and more obnoxious.

With him and three other students the last ones to be asked to go in the classroom not only was his obnoxious level rising, but his obnoxiousness was rubbing off on the other students. Their teacher was in the classroom and she heard and saw of my issues yet did not lift a finger to help. It was her prep. A MADE UP PREP. I was on my own.

I asked Shlomo to step off the line. I walked up to him, whispered in his ear and stepped back. I was about 12-18 inches from him when he finally complied and walked to the other side of the hall. As he walked by me he tripped over his own feet, on purpose, and then threw himself into the wall. He turned around and screamed, "WHY DID YOU THROW ME INTO THE WALL????"

Then the teacher got involved. She asked one of the students if he had seen anything and he feigned ignorance. Great. 

My heart stopped. I knew it was BS and so did he. But, and I heard this later, his mother is a para for the DOE and she sees no wrong in Shlomo. And, I heard from other teachers that he has pulled this fake thrown into the wall act in the past.

At the end of the day the AP wanted me to give a statement. Just the facts. I wanted a UFT rep there with me. Not the one in the school (She was way, way too inexperienced) but I got hold of the Bronx UFT and was told that for a statement I did not need a rep. But I did it anyway.

The AP appeared sympathetic to me, but that could have been a ruse. It seemed that the adminstration was more concerned with mom and wished to share with her what had happened when she came to pick Shlomo up.

I immediately reached out to my District 7 rep and he assured me that when and if I met with the principal he will be there to rep me.

Days went by, I hated the wait. It was about 3 weeks until I got the notice to meat with the principal. At least it seemed that OSI bounced it back to the school. But I was still nervous.

When we met with the principal I signed the waiver to be able to read the statements of the other students. There were 11 statement and every single statement except one exonerated me of throwing Shlomo into the wall. Shlomo's statement was the only one still insisting that I had.

I was fortunate. My DR knew what to do and how to handle the situation. I doubt at anytime the school's CL could've done the same. I got no letter, no nothing. The principal was quite fair to me and treated me with dignity.

I am sharing this for a few reasons. One is how quick something so inane, so baseless can ruin a teacher's career in an instant. Second, that being an ATR, especially when you first arrive at a school you are basically an island onto yourself. You have ZERO support. Nothing, nada, bupkus. You are on your own. At this school there were a few teachers I knew from over the years and this helped. But too many ATR's are left alone and vulnerable in their schools and worse they are ignored and/or chastised.

One more thing. If you go into a discipline meeting, unless you have a strong Chapter Leader, whatever you do go into any discipline meeting with you DL.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Five ATR Answers for Chalkbeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long have the teachers been in the ATR pool?

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

Where have ATR teachers worked in the past?

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

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

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

What areas are ATR teachers certified in?

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

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

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

But one more bit of advice and please take it.


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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

Nicole sayeth....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Autism Speaks at District 75

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

I am happy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, July 20, 2017

The 400

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's that simple.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The $50,000 ATR Question

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the highlights/lowlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, June 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Catlin Preston of Central Park East 1 is Exonerated!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

You and Your 3020-a Attorney

First, Mozel Tov to Marilyn Martinez and an actual WIN (Yes, I know, if you keep your job it
is a type of win, but Marilyn's is a true win) in her 3020-a hearing. False charges were brought against Marilyn by her principal at  Central Park East 1, Monika Garg. Norm Scott, who time and time again is at the forefront and one of the few people that I know who put their money where his mouth (Norm does what he does for complete selfless reasons. He is a true Mensch! If there is one person other than a actual attorney I want in my corner it is Norm!) is in helping teachers has much more about the mishagas that has been going on at CPE 1 and with Marylin over at his Ednotes blog.

So Marylin I was told had herself a NYSUT attorney. This was shared with me and though that person forgot the attorney's name he was described to me. I'm 99% sure it was my first NYSUT attorney. I can't give his name, but for today we will call him Bruce Wayne.

I'll tell you this about Bruce Wayne. He was on top of me. He cared. He returned phone calls. He listened to my ideas. He got incredulous when I was to appear on Howard Stern's Howard 101Sirius channel. So incredulous he sent me a certified letter and called me several times begging me not to do the show (He was concerned that I would say something ungood or get into a fight with High Pitched Erik).

But Bruce Wayne passed the baton to, in my opinion, a great lawyer and this lawyer saved worked her butt off. Bruce would have worked his butt off too I am convinced. I know he did for other teachers. Bruce Wayne is damn good.

So what is the point I am trying to make? My point is that don't let anyone fool you when they say to watch out for all NYSUT attorneys. That they don't care, that they don't want to go to trial. That they want you to resign.

Yes, I am sure, I have heard of, and know of NYSUT lawyers that don't care, don't return phone calls or emails, aren't prepared, etc... And yes I have heard and and know of teachers who were screwed over by their NYSUT attorneys and I feel for these teachers. . But I believe in my heart of hearts that such NYSUT attorneys are the exception rather than the rule.

Any legal representative telling you will win your case, is doing you a great disservice and being unethical. Don't believe anyone who tells you that they will win or your case is easy. Any lawyer, or for that matter anyone, who does not share with you offers from the DOE lawyer is doing you a disservice and is being unethical.

Heck, my second lawyer told me that I was given offers to resign and all that, but never was I told that I must. I was given the pros and cons of each offer that was made. In fact I tried to see if I can resign but do it in 18 months so I can retire with 20 years in. I forget whether or not if that offer was accepted. But that was the state I was in. But as anyone knows who reads this blog or knows me I decided to go feet first into the 3020-a abyss and it was scary.

What saved me was that as good great as my lawyer is the one person that is my best advocate, and is anyone's best advocate, was myself. I was not a spectator in my 3020-a. I was involved. I was involved in organizing papers, researching, taking copious notes during my hearing, brainstorming (Even when my ideas were out of left field!), and letting others, such as Norm, help out as well. 

Yeah, I was suspended for 4 months and it sucked! But guess what? I could have been terminated and that would have sucked a whole lot more! For four months I delivered auto parts, at $9.75 an hour. I worked 60 hours a week. I did what I had to do. I learned a lot about myself during my two years in exile and during the suspension(I also learned what a rip-off the mark up at your local garage is on parts). If I had another arbitrator it is entirely possible I could have been terminated. There but for the grace of God.

The whole point of this post is to tell anyone going through the hell of a 3020-a hearing is to be your best advocate. Roll up your sleeves and jump in and be your NYSUT, or if you go outside NYSUT, attorney's partner. At your first meeting ask any question that pops into your mind. Demand to know your attorney's background, their law school, etc... Every question is relevant.

Do not accept lack of communication. Do not accept anything other than your attorney's best effort. Come across as strong. You will not be hated but rather respected. And if you feel you are getting nowhere with your NYSUT attorney, go up the chain of command.

And if you decide that you don't want a NYSUT attorney for your 3020-a, as is your right, contact Jordan Harlow (Read his reviews here) ASAP!! Here is his contact information.

Again, you will not go wrong with Jordan.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

90 Days of Portelos

This post is not an attempt at a reconciliation, nor am I looking for any gain. I just want to state what I feel. My opinion about something that happened to Francesco Portelos.

I have always felt that those who I have written about in what some might call a negative manner that if they do something right, or get screwed, I have no problem writing about them in a positive manner. I have done this with with Mulgrew, and I am sure I have done it with others.

To refresh. In June 2016 Portelos wrote a blog post outlining grade changing at DeWitt Clinton High School that seemed to be condoned, if not spearheaded by Principal Santiago Taveras. In June of 2016 Portelos posted copies of scores, grade changes, etc... I will not link directly to the page, just to the the UFT Solidarity site. Yes, names were redacted, but in my honest opinion not enough information was redacted. There was too much identifying clues,scores, teachers, etc... that if someone wanted to put real effort and roll u there sleeves a person can find out who is who.

I think he was wrong. I discussed this with a follow blogger and he agreed with me. But our conversation soon turned to what the DOE did.

To the best of my knowledge and from what I heard through the grapvine Portelos had a meeting with OSI concerning this breach if student records in or around October 2016. From the best of my knowledge he received a disciplinary letter concerning the incident in March of this year. Three months past the date of the meeting with OSI.

According to UFT Contract, Article 2, Section A, paragraph 1, it is stated....
However, an incident which has not been reduced to writing within three months of its occurrence, exclusive of the summer vacation period, may not later be added to the file...
This is grievable. This is wrong. I know exactly what this is like. In 2007 my principal wrote me up June for something that had occurred in January. We grieved it and before the hearing started the AP who came to the Chambers St told the hearing officer that they were not going to fight it. It was dismissed. My hunch tells me that the DOE did not want to set precedence.

This is winnable by Portelos. I heard he might go article 75, but I think he should grieve this. They screwed up and this is not winnable by DOE.

I might be missing some thing here and there in this post. I can be wrong about some thing. But 3 months is 3 months anyway you slice it.

But again, no student records or anything identifiable concerning students on a blog. I know another blogger who go a bit in hot water for this.

That's why when I write about students I give them Jewish names like Shlomo Rabinowitz. Avi Klein. What's the chance of a student in South Bronx having those names.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Teacher Puts His Faith in Betsy Combier

This is a true, sad, and disturbing story.

Whilst I was in the Rubber Room during the 2014-2015 school year there were three "inmates" in there facing 3020-a charges. I recommended Bryan Glass and Jordan Harlow to all three of them. I gave all three Bryan and Jordan's contact info and and two called.

The two that called had Jordan represent them in their hearings. Neither went to trial. Both settled their cases and both kept their jobs. Both went into the ATR pool, with one retiring about 10 months later.

The one who did not contact Jordan or Bryan decided to use a NYSUT attorney at first. He was offered a deal of a $6500 fine and becoming an ATR. He turned it down and the day before his hearing was to start fired the NYSUT attorney and took out a pension loan and hired a private attorney for $12k. After the first day of the hearing he was unhappy with the private attorney and subsequently fired him.

He decided to go pro se. And who was with him, assisting him the entire time at his hearing? Betsy Combier.

What was the outcome of this case? He was fined $7500 and became an ATR. That was in addition to the $12k he was out for retaining the private attorney.

Now, the entire time, from when he first met with his NYSUT attorney to when he went pro se he was in contact with Betsy. When I would talk to him about his NYSUT attorney he seemed to be parroting what Betsy has said to be concerning NYSUT attorneys "NYSUT attorneys are no good," "they are in bed with the DOE," and stuff like that. This seems to contradict a commenter in my post previous post who said (concerning Betsy);
...She seems to believe that NYSUT lawyers are best over private lawyers due the fact that NYSUT lawyers "know" all the players involved in 3020a hearings.
The Crack Team is plotzing over this contradiction.

But there is one more curious thing here.

When I asked my friend why he had not hired, or at least looked into Jordan, he responded with statements that seemed quite familiar...
"I heard that Bryan and Jordan are in bed with the DOE."
When I asked him where is his proof or who shared this with him there was no answer. He had never met with either Bryan or Jordan nor do I believe had contact with anyone, other than the other two Rubber Room "inmates" that hired Jordan, concerning Bryan and Jordan. I know for a fact that the other two once their cases were resolved and before they were released spoke glowingly of Jordan and both said it was "best money" they had ever spent.

For anyone to ever insinuate that Bryan Glass or Jordan Harlow are in bed with the NYCDOE goes beyond common decency. To make a comment like that without an iota of evidence is just plain wrong and irresponsible and downright unethical.

Oh, by the way, my friend also hired Betsy for his Article 75. Let's see how that goes.