Friday, July 8, 2011

Depression And PTSD At The NYC DOE

You thought I forgot about the blog. I have been busy. It's been over a week since I have shared the deep recesses of my mind. Nothing really has really grabbed my attention. Until just the other day.

I rarely buy the official newspaper of Uncle Mike Bloomberg, The New York Post. Firstly, it is too expensive for a crappy newspaper, and lastly, it is crap. We get it free at school, I can read it online for free, and as far as I am concerned only Phil Mushnick andWonderword make it worthwhile.

But I came across the following story about a teacher that it has taken the DOE 8 years to fire quite by accident. I think it was in the official mouthpiece of the Department of Education, Gotham Schools. But anyway, it was printed this past Sunday, July 3 and being that I was in the wilds of Columbia County Sunday, I completely missed it. I know, I know. I am digressing yet again.

Susan Edelman wrote that Murry Bergtraum HS Spanish teacher Yvonne Chalom was convicted on 32 count of aggravated harassment, yet the DOE did not feel it had enough to fire her. So it found grounds, it accused her of taking photos of a school clock without permission, throwing a temper tantrum in a room-assignment mixup, and calling an assistant principal a “bitch.” OK. The old David Pakter ploy.

But Edelman whined on how Ms Chalom received her salary, how it cost the DOE $1 million dollars, how her 3020a hearings took two years and two years to get a ruling, how she sat in the rubber room and did nothing, and how arbitrator James Cashen charged the DOE $900 a day, and gave the lawyers a year to submit closing arguments.

But Ms Chalom is not the problem here. Yet, the Post decided to make her an example and the Post decided to use her photo. She is not the problem. And mind you, I am not getting into her guilt on innocence here. She has every right to expect due process. She has every right to use due process. Hell, look at the Casey Anthony situation. It took three years almost to bring her to trial.

But there are two issues here that need to be addressed and neither concern Ms Chalom. The problems are the system.

The first problem is James Cashen. Mr Cashen charges $900 a day to come to New York and arbitrate 3020a hearings. Mr Cashen also lives in Hudson, NY. Ever been to Hudson? It is a two and a half hour drive from New York. Who pays for Mr Cashen's accommodations? Mr Cashen out of the $900? Mr Cashen has a vested interest to late this case drag on as long as possible. Remember the OJ trial? The prosecution did not screw it up. It was Judge Ito. Cashen let this go on as long as possible, Cashen was in control. He could have moved things along quickly, but he didn't. Why wasn't he made the subject of the Post article? Why wasn't his photo pasted in the paper?

Now onto the other issue. In the Post article, Edelman writes that, "Ms Chalom,who lives near Ground Zero, claimed she suffered from post-traumatic stress after 9/11." Let's give Ms Chalom the benefit of the doubt here. The crack team here at SBSB has delved into the innards of the DOE and the UFT to list programs that are offered to teachers that are in distress. The list is as follows:

Yep, there ain't anything to list. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Where can a teacher turn to that is suffering from depression? From PTSD? From alcoholism? Drug abuse?  From physical abuse? Think about this. As a teacher, when 8 30 hits, you are on, and you have to keep that smile, that happy face on until 2 50. You have no choice. And if you dare to show weakness, dare to bring your troubles to school, dare to open up to the wrong colleague, or open up to the wrong administrator you are screwed, blued and tattooed.

NYPD has offerings and help for cops who battle alcohol. And these are people who carry guns. NYPD has help for cops who are involved in spousal abuse. Why isn't the DOE and UFT at the forefront of setting up programs for teachers who are fighting mental duress? What harm would it do to help that teacher who is fighting depression? Or alcoholism? Wouldn't it make the teachers more productive, less prone to taking sick days? Teachers are people too. If we are pricked we bleed, if we are tickled we laugh, if we are wronged we fight back.

There are one too many teachers working without a net. One too many teachers that need help and have no where to go. One too many teachers who know if they ask for help, their career will be over. It is time for the DOE and the UFT to do the right thing and have a support system in place for these teachers.


Chalk Duster said...

I can surely identify with the lack of support I recived while dealing with PTSD. Instead, I was given unsatisfactory ratings and harassing letters. We are not people acCording to the DOE. We are supposed to be invincable robots. This post hit close to home.

Anonymous said...

The one thought that came to mind was the UFT offering classes to the DOE employees since 'we are all under attack and being afflicted with emotional abuse and harassment'.
Psychologists should start putting ads in the NY Teacher for business. They could be making a bundle there.

The Crooked Road said...

With every monarch comes the mini-monarchs, all colors, all sizes. Most have depression issues of their own.When accompanied with stressful DOE BS, their condition becomes exacerbated. It is safe to say most take psychotropic drugs to alleviate the clouds they face every day. The depression is passed down to teachers, already depressed from all the bashing. Hence, you have panic disorder. Teachers become psychologically crushed within their own school...and nowhere to vent. As for the asshat DOE arbi-TRAITOR, I can imagine the mansion he inhabits. Hundreds $$ to the left and hundreds to the right. A wad here, a wad there. Enough money to buy the entire crack team dinner for life. It's hard to imagine how many crooks the DOE feeds. Aris crooks, Sesis crooks, CityTime crooks, testing crooks, crony crooks. Yes, SBS, there are way too many crooks in the kitchen! And I haven't even mentioned the UFT.

Ms. Tsouris said...

The UFT does not support members who are undergoing difficulties in their personal lives, such as a child who has a neurological problem diagnosed earlier in the school year. The DOE's answer is to put a letter in that teacher's file since they took off 18 days when said child had a serious neurological surgical procedure to hopefully correct the problem, with ensuing therapy. Nice, huh? The UFT just stands by with its bullshit rhetoric and allows this cruelty to be perpetrated. Union members are punished with at the least a "counseling memo" after caring (sole caregiver) for an aging and eventually dying parent. Their crime was taking 12 or 13 days off each year for a couple of years and not being told at all about the Family Medical Leave Act. Said member had to pay for their own private therapist to get past and cope with all this trauma.

Pete Zucker said...

The DOE would not be able to get away with what they have been able to without the enabling of the UFT.

harvey said...

This article hits close to home for me too. I took 15 days off to help siblings care for our dying mother and was excessed for this 'crime'. (irreplaceable time spent with my mother? worth it!!!)This by the way happened after 18 years of average 3 days off per year. And yes, I contacted the union and was told this was a 'grey' area and my excess was allowed.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

I dated Yvonne Chalom when she was thin and attractive, as opposed to now, years ago, in the late 1980’s. Worst relationship I was ever in. She is definitely the type to leave threatening messages on Voicemail. Comes from a culture and family background that abusing the system and people is encouraged. She might also be suffering from Bi-Polar Disorder.