Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 12, 2011 Rally and March Against Layoffs and Budget Cuts

If you are a New York City public school teacher, I am sure that you have heard about the big rally tomorrow.  The UFT elected leadership is urging all members to converge on City Hall tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 PM.  Here is a link to the info on the UFT website.

City Hall is a very big place, however.  I hope that the chapter leader in each school is organizing teachers to either travel together or meet at a special location.

If you do not have a specific group to rally with (it's much more fun that way), here is an invitation for you.

Where will you be on May 12th?

Come hang out with Real Reformers. 

Since there will be thousands of people converging downtown, Teachers Unite and the Fight Back Friday committee (NYCoRE, GEM, Teachers Unite, People Power Movement, CAPE, ICE, TJC) encourage teachers, parents, and youth to first meet-up with fellow education organizers before we join our union brothers and sisters for the teach-ins and march.

Date: Thursday, 5/12
Meet-up Time: 4-4:15pm
Location: Southwest corner of Reade St. and Centre St. in Manhattan

I strongly urge you to come to this rally.  I know you're tired at the end of the day, and discouraged after years of Bloomberg scapegoating, but this is an opportunity to show Bloomberg that we are a united force.  Remember, it is not the UFT leadership that intimidates Bloomberg -- that is pretty obvious.  It is the UFT members marching in unison that scares the Charlie Roger Able Peter out of him.

For the sake of your job and all the reasons you must keep it, please come to City Hall tomorrow.

Retirees and those who are retiring soon:  Jobs are threatened today;  Your pensions could very well be threatened tomorrow.

None of our benefits are out of Bloomberg's reach.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What is a Competent Journalist?

I am going to interrupt my series of posts about the Three Incompetents, CARL CAMPANILE, REUVEN FENTON & YOAV GONEN, based on their article about Amy Woda in order to consider what we might expect from competent journalists.

I am not a journalist, but I am a member of the public that depends on journalists for the information they need to make responsible decisions.  I think that I can recognize when gross incompetents such as Campanile, Fenton, and Gonen are not doing their job just as non-teachers are confident that they know a bad teacher when they see one.  However, I think it would be helpful to see how experienced journalists define competency in journalism.  I would like to note that I am looking to EXPERIENCED JOURNALISTS, not first-year novices, not publishers, not advertisers, not the guy on the corner who sells newspapers.

I found a list of 10 skills that journalists needed in order to be competent.  I will be referring to them in future posts as I point out the many ways in which the NY POST fails its readers.

Moriah Untamed

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Incompetent NY POST Journalists Fail To Recognize a Lead And How To Follow IT

This is the fourth in a series of at least nine posts in which I show that NY POST journalists CARL CAMPANILE, REUVEN FENTON & YOAV GONEN are incompetent journalists.  Here are links to the first three plus the article  about Amy Woda and other teachers that started it all.

1.  Incompetent NY POST Journalists Can't Google.
2.  Incompetent NY POST Journalists Hide the Identities of DOE Bureaucrats.
3.  Incompetent NY POST Journalists Don't Know the Difference Between PIP and PIP-PLUS.

If journalists are to be something other than corporate propagandists, they need to know how to recognize and follow a lead.  There are several leads that the Three Incompetents did not bother to follow, but one of the most important, in my opinion is the following quote from their article:

"Woda, however, disagreed with the arbitrator's ruling.
"It's a kangaroo court, where the outcome is always predetermined," she told The Post. "Basically, it's a way to get rid of the people who've been around for more than five years and cost the city too much."

 This is a lead.  It implies that we have  pervasive agism in the DOE system, which is immoral, unethical, and illegal.
Amy's attorney presented evidence that 75% of the teachers over the age of 40 had been harrassed out of PS 62 by the principal, Angela O'Dowd.  It would have taken very little effort for the Three Incompetents to get a list of the teachers over 40 who had worked in PS 62 prior to O'Dowd's administration and how many of those teachers continued to teach at PS 62 after five years.  All they had to do was ask Amy.  They could have then followed up by asking the teachers why they had left.

I don't have access to the information that the Three Incompetents do, but I suggest that you watch the following video that Angela O'Dowd made about PS62.  How many people over the age of 40 can you count?

However, Amy was not just accusing Angela O'Dowd.  She was accusing the whole process and everyone involved in it.  That's a lead that is more difficult to follow up.  The statistics are there, but neither the DOE nor the UFT are making them public.

The data exists, though, and I can't wait for the day that competent journalists (if any exist) get hold of it.

SPECIFICATION OF INCOMPETENCE #4 : NY POST journalists fail to identify and follow-up on leads that could expose wide-spread corruption in the New York City Department of Education.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Incompetent NY POST Journalists Don't Know the Difference Between PIP and PIP-Plus

And you probably don't either.  You won't know unless you have been targeted for termination by your principal, who has given you letters to file and "U" rated lesson observations.  That's when your chapter leader or even your district representative might suggest that you apply for PIP--the Peer Intervention Program.

"I don't need any intervention" you might protest.  "These observations and letters to file are bogus.  She's harrassing me.  I want to file a grievance against her for harrassment!"

Your helpful union representatives point out that it is all but impossible to win a grievance against your principal for harrassment, but that it would help you if you went through the Peer Intervention Program because that would show that you were trying to address the issues that your principal has with you.  What is more, for the first six months you are in the program, the administrators in your building are not allowed to come into your classroom for the purpose of evaluating you.

Six months of peace.  Hmmm.

You go to the UFT website and look up the program.  This is what you find.

Are you a tenured teacher or guidance counselor who is struggling with pedagogical and professional issues?

Are you ready to take responsibility for achieving high standards and becoming more effective?

"Get confidential one-on-one help from highly experienced, specially selected colleagues who will create individualized professional development plans with you to emphasize your strengths and improve your shortcomings.

With the Peer Intervention Program (PIP), you can take charge of your own professional standards, address instructional issues and turn your career around.

Or, after working with your intervenor for several months you decide your career is not fulfilling, with the help of a PIP career counselor you can discover one that is. This can be either within the education field or a completely different career path.

All of the support you receive at PIP is voluntary, confidential and nonevaluative. It’s also compassionate and holistic. A counselor is available for support throughout your participation."

You aren't too happy about the part that says, " emphasize your strengths and improve your shortcomings"  and you certainly aren't going to need a career counselor, but you agree to apply anyway.  After all, everyone can improve in some way, and you'll have that much more ammunition against your Principal-From-Hell after you have completed the program.

You apply, are accepted, and meet your "intervenor" who is a lovely person.  In fact, she is the first really supportive person you have met in a long time.  You and she sign a confidentiality agreement which states that everything that goes on between you and her is private.  She cannot be called to testify against you.  She builds rapport with you, and is very positive about your strengths and shows you how to "give them what they want" so that you can avoid any more "U" ratings.

After six months or so your intervenor tells you that you have made a lot of progress and that she is going to recommend you for PIP-PLUS.  It sounds like she is passing you on to graduate school.  PLUS: that means better, right?  Besides, it's not like you have a choice.  They tell you that if you fail to complete the PIP program it will look very bad for you in a hearing before an arbitrator.  You don't realize that they are lying to you.  PIP and PIP-PLUS are two very different programs.  The UFT runs PIP.  A company paid by the DOE runs PIP-PLUS.  You don't know at this point that 90% of those who enter the PIP-PLUS program fail.

You are introduced to the PIP-PLUS representative who also seems like a very nice person.  He praises you and tells you that you are doing a fine job.  Then he disappears, and doesn't reappear until he is testifying against you in a 3020a hearing.  He testifies to the fact that you did not improve at all despite large amounts of help and intervention.  The hearing arbitrator takes the PIP-PLUS testimony as "expert testimony" and rules that you are indeed a hopelessly incompetent teacher.  

You are terminated, and a few months later, the NY POST publicly humiliates you by displaying your picture, and the charges against you, in the print copy of the newspaper as well as on the website. 

This scenario is a mixture between my experience and that of Amy.  I am only guessing at Amy's because she would rather not be involved in this project.  I totally understand.  However, there are colleagues of Amy who have given me some information in addition to the article written by the incompetent reporters, Carl Campanile, Reuven Fenton, and Yoav Gonan.

According to the Three Incompetents, 

"Over a dozen observations conducted by superiors as well as by an independent "peer intervention" educator agreed to by the union found that Woda lacked classroom-management and lesson-planning skills."

It was this independent "peer invervention" educator's testimony that killed Amy's case--but it was not the PIP person, it was the PIP-PLUS person.  Her PIP without-the-plus intervenor could not be called to testify against her because of the confidentiality agreement that they had signed. 

"So what", you might say.  "The union agreed to this PIP-PLUS guy."

Yes.  But that doesn't mean that Amy was incompetent.  The PIP-PLUS guy works for a company that depends on the DOE for renewing their contract.  He is therefore, not unbiased.  

But it is troubling that the UFT signed off on the PIP-PLUS program.  It shouldn't even be called PIP or related in any way to a UFT program of any kind.  Many of the PIP-PLUS people are retired administrators. 

I did go through the PIP program, but I refused to be passed on to PIP-PLUS.  I made this decision based on my own research and the information I gained by reading two blogs:

1.  Betsy Combier's Rubber Room Reporter and specifically the following extremely indepth and informative post about the 3020a process and the role of PIP-PLUS in that process:  The Gotcha Squad and the New York City Rubber Rooms.


SPECIFICATION OF INCOMPETENCE #3 : NY POST journalists fail to investigate the PIP-PLUS program, it's relationship to the 3020a process, and the financial implications for experts who do not deliver testimony that is sympathetic to the DOE's case, and prejudicial against the teacher's case.

Moriah Untamed

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Incompetent NY POST Journalists Hide the Identities of DOE Bureauocrats

Angela O'Dowd, Principal PS 62
The NY POST journalists Carl Campanile, Reuven Fenton, and Yoav Gonan went to all the trouble of obtaining the records of Amy Woda's hearing so that they could publicly humiliate her in this article.  However, with all that information at hand, they decided not to include the names of any of the other players in the story.  I think it's unfair to leave out the principal who went to so much trouble to bring Amy up on charges, so I will supplement the POST article with infomation I got surfing the web.

Since the POST article only reveals the name of the school, I had to go to the DOE website to find the name of the principal, Angela O'Dowd.

Then I went to See Through New York, where you can find the salaries of all the people who work for the City.  They have no record of her.  My ex-principal's salary comes up when you type in her name, but O'Dowd's doesn't.  I wonder why. Maybe she's being paid under another name. 

She describes herself in the following way on her twitter feed. "I'm a New York City Principal.  I grew up in Dublin.  I'm passionate about education policy and social justice." 

Then I stumbled on a website called the Teacher's Network . It seems that as of the year 2000-2001 this was Angela O'Dowd's contact information:

Angela O’Dowd
PS 217
1100 Newkirk Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Mary Teatum

In addition, they describe her as follows:

"Angela O’Dowd was born in Ireland but attended college in New York. She has an M.S. in Education, has taught fourth grade for three years, and is currently working as a technology staff developer at the District 22 office. She has worked for two years with AUSSIE (Australia, United States, Services In Education) consultants and participated in a national teacher training certificate program for leadership in Internet and video instruction."

O'Dowd seems to have quickly moved up in the DOE bureaucracy, because by 2003 she was already principal of PS 62 according to a 2008 article in the Daily News. This article also praises O'Dowd for the improvement in test scores under her administration.

Unfortuantely, many of my questions have been left unanswered.  The NY POST article states that Amy, a 14-year veteran teacher received her first U-rating from O'Dowd in 2006-2007.  The article in the Daily News stresses how much the test scores had improved by 2008 (In spite of Amy?).  Did Amy transfer to PS 62 from another school where she had always received satisfactory ratings or did she suddenly receive a "U" after receiving "S" ratings from O'Dowd since 2003?  Maybe Amy, or someone who knows about her case can fill us in.

What is obvious, is that the NY POST journalists have this information and did not see fit to divulge it to their readers.  It's important to know why a teacher who had received so many satisfactory ratings suddenly received nothing but "unsatisfactories". 

Note:  As of  May 2, 2011 I have received the following information.  Amy had 14 years with the DOE as of 2008.  That means she started teaching in 1992.  She was teaching at PS 62 "long before" O'Dowd was brought on board.  That means that O'Dowd herself gave Amy satisfactory ratings prior to 2006.  My source did not know the name of the principal who gave Amy satisfactory ratings before that.  

SPECIFICATION OF INCOMPETENCE #2 : NY POST journalists hide the names, credentials, and work history of bureaucrats who are key players in the destruction of a teacher's careers while printing as much derogatory information as possible about the teacher.  Their reporting is slanted and biased.