Saturday, October 30, 2010

Attention Re-Reassigned Teachers: Call Your Payroll Secretary !

 I did just that when I was told that there was no record of me having punched in or out during all of September.

The Payroll Secretary told me that she was no longer handling my payroll.  I then called the Union Representative for Reassigned Teachers, and asked him who was handling my payroll.  He hasn't gotten back to me on that.

In September, I took two sick days and wanted to turn in proof that I had consulted a doctor (had really been sick).  I tried to give it to the Payroll People at my new work site, but not only did they say that they did NOT handle my payroll, I would later find out that they were at that time planning to put in scanners to prevent  Reassigned Teachers (aka Terrorist Teachers)  from smuggling weapons into the building.

In October I took another sick day, this time self treated.  That means that I didn't go to a doctor, but just stayed home until I felt well enough to return to work.  When I had a Payroll Secretary, I signed for these illnesses, but now there was no one to see, no where to sign.

As long as I was at the Linden Street Reassignment Center in Queens i.e. Rubber Room, I had a Payroll Secretary who received my doctors' notes and who kept track of my attendance records. 

Then I found out through word of mouth about how badly Reassigned Teachers were being treated by DOE attorneys, Arbitrators, and even their own NYSET (union paid) attorneys.  Teachers weren't being allowed to even consider having their cases heard at a 3020a hearing.  They were being forced to take settlements they didn't want/and or didn't understand.  Those that insisted on having their hearing were forced to represent themselves or hire a very expensive private attorney.   Even those with private attorneys were not faring well before the Arbitrators.  The emphasis seemed to be on pushing as many cases through in as short a time as possible and making sure that all the teachers were in the end declared guilty of something in order to justify everything that had been done to them.

Since most teachers just wanted to go back to the classroom and get on with their lives they acquiesced and admitted some degree of guilt whether they were guilty or not. 

Salem was in full swing.  3020a hearings had officially (in my opinion) turned into witch trials.

I have considered retiring ever since Principal P., a Business Model Bloomburger, came into my life, but I have held on.  I always thought that there was some way to fight her and win within the system.  At one time I thought the 3020a hearing was my one chance to present my case to an unbiased observer--so I have held on, even though the harassment has affected me physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  But now I have lost all hope of being treated fairly in the Bloomberg Department of Education.

So, I decided that I should definitely look into retiring some time this year.  On Thursday I went for a Final Pension Consultation and got all the forms I needed in order to retire, except one:  The OP44.  Do you know what that is?  That's the form asking to be paid for the days you have in your Sick Day Bank--otherwise known as the CAR.  But guess what?  I can't file that form myself.  The only person who can file that form is the PAYROLL SECRETARY that I don't have.

The Union is taking no responsibility for this aspect of my retirement.  This is a Department of Education problem, not theirs.  The nice lady that did my final pension consultation didn't even tell me about the OP44 Form until I asked.  She then told me to go to the Queens UFT and talk to a Payroll rep.  So yesterday I went after work to try to see a Payroll Representative.  I was told that the Union has nothing to do with this matter and to go back to the building where I have been assigned and ask them to take care of it.

"But they won't even take my doctor's notes.  They say they can't even access my time sheets."

"You still have to make the attempt," was the reply.

Ok.  But this time, I think I'll call an attorney to do the attempting for me.

No More Teacher Terrorists

Good news.  Teachers in our building no longer have to be scanned for weapons twice a day.  Why the change of tune?

It could have been intervention from the Union.  I did write a letter to the Queens UFT Representative.  The Reassigned Teachers Representative did visit the building.

It could have been the fact that two of us insisted on signing in and receiving a visitor's pass every time we had to walk through the weapons scanner and then called an attorney, and asked what we could do about our situation and the reply was that we could file an injunction against further weapons scanning.

Or the administrators of our building might have decided that it wasn't fair to force some workers to be scanned for weapons and allow other workers to walk on through.

Whatever the reason, I now show my drivers license and bypass the scanner.  Hopefully that will continue indefinitely.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teacher Terrorists Dress For Success

The advantage here is that EVERYTHING sets off the metal detector, and none of it is really a weapon--unless you take off one of the gloves and throw it.  There's also the added advantage that if someone else in the building goes postal, you have some added protection.

Could that be what all this metal detecting is all about?  Does Bloomy have something planned for us that gives him reason to expect one or more of us to go postal???    Hmmmm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sorting Out the Bloomberg Way

A scene like this flashed through my mind as I was being sorted out by security guards last Thursday.

"Teachers who have been charged with something by a Bloomberg principal go to the right to be checked for weapons.  Regular workers go to the left and bypass the scanner."

"Teachers who have been charged with something by a Bloomberg principal, we suspect you might go berserk and kill us one day.  Regular DOE workers we don't suspect you of being violent."

"Teachers under 3020a charges.  You're assumed guilty because you've been charged by a Bloomberg principal.  You might be dangerous.  DOE workers you haven't been charged yet.  Better hope you never are."

"Blue Badgers we know you're clean.  Red Badgers we know you're dirty."

Blue Badgers should know that there is something wrong with Red Badgers.  What better way to prove it to them than to force Red Badgers to be searched for weapons at least twice a day:  once in the morning and once at lunch.  Suspicion is good enough.  No need for proof.

We know how it all ended for most of the people in the photo.  This was the last sorting many would endure.  But how did it begin?  How did these normal people who probably never committed a crime in their lives end up being put to death?  How did the world go so crazy?

Never Again?  Ha. Ha. Ha.

How exactly do you intend to stop it from happening?  Building memorials to the Holocaust?

You've got law abiding teachers who have never gotten so much as a ticket for a moving violation being searched for weapons twice daily as if they were terrorists.  And most of them are taking it in stride.

"No big deal.  They're treating me like a terrorist.  No big deal."

Our Union is "working on it".  Now we don't have to sign in and wear a visitor's sticker on our clothes to identify us as Red Badgers. But we still have to be scanned twice daily.  I personally still sign in and demand a visitor's badge, although I don't display it on my clothes.  I want written proof that the DOE has treated me like a terrorist and put my health at risk.

To date I have been searched for weapons SEVEN TIMES IN THREE WORK DAYS.  I have seven visitor's stickers--one for each time I was scanned.

If you think I'm going to let this rest.  Think again.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dangers of Weapons Detectors on Human Teachers

According to the National Institute of Justice Law Enforcement and Corrections Standards Testing Program for Hand-Held and Walk-Through Metal Detectors:

2.2.1 Safety Specifications and Requirements Electrical

Physical contact to voltages exceeding a particular value can be dangerous. HH and WT units should not expose the user or public to high-voltage electrical signals or power. If high voltages do exist within or on these devices, then these devices must be enclosed so as to prevent user access to the high voltages. Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) provides a standard for exposure to voltages that is referenced in the NIJ standard. Mechanical

Another safety concern is more mechanical or physical in nature. The operator or another person coming into contact with the HH or WT unit should not be exposed to needless risk of injury. The HH and WT unit should not contain sharp edges, loose covers/cowlings, hanging wires, protruding surfaces, etc. To address this concern, the detector is required to have rounded corners, no external wires or cables to trip over, and no loose parts. Violations of these safety requirements would be obvious, but unless stated explicitly, manufacturer compliance cannot be assumed. Exposure

Magnetic fields are used by HH and WT units to sense the presence of metal objects. Scientific studies have raised the concern that exposure to magnetic fields may cause biological changes in living cells. The effect of exposure of biological tissue and systems (human bodies) to magnetic fields has been addressed by several standards-setting organizations, and these standards are used in the revised NIJ standard to limit human exposure to magnetic fields generated by HH and WT units.
In addition, certain types of personal medical electronic devices may be affected by these magnetic fields. However, the effect of magnetic fields on personal electronic medical devices has not been studied extensively. These devices may be implanted under the skin or attached to the surface of the skin and include cardiac defibrillators, pacemakers, infusion pumps, spinal cord stimulators, ventilators, etc. At the time of this writing, only a few manufacturers of HH and WT units have had the effect of their detectors on personal medical electronic devices tested; and this was only for cardiac pacemakers. The Center for Device and Radiation Health (CDRH) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the Federal organization responsible for determining safety of exposure to various types of radiation. The CDRH has defined exposure limits for laser sources, cabinet x-ray machines, microwave ovens, etc. At the time of this writing, however, the CDRH has not declared any formal opinions regarding the exposure of the various personal medical electronic devices to the magnetic fields generated by hand-held and walk-through metal detectors. Warning Labels

A warning label is required on HH and WT units until the FDA or a similar agency has determined that exposure to the magnetic fields generated by HH and WT units is not unsafe.

Checking Teachers for Weapons

PMD2 metal detector 
This is the metal detector that reassigned teachers and only reassigned teachers are forced to walk through at least twice daily--once in the morning and once when returning from lunch.  Regular workers are allowed to bypass the scanner.

What is the scanner for?  I think the company's website is very clear on that.  Teachers are checked twice daily for weapons.  Metal detector is a euphemism.  This is a weapons detector.

  • Uniform Detection Field
  • Very High Discrimination
  • Highly Visible Double Display provides Single or Multiple Location of Weapons in Transit
  • Fast Programming through an Exclusive Chip Card System
  • High Immunity to External Interferences
  • Local or Remote Programming with Networking Capabilities

Chip card system: automatic calibration of security standards
PMD2, acronym for Programmable Metal Detector, is the most advanced CEIA application with an international patent of its own. It generates an electromagnetic scanning field for the detection of metallic weapons inside a monitored passage. Thanks to this technology, the PMD2 Metal Detector allows weapons to be accurately located on people in transit, considerably speeding up search operations.

A “height on person“ display actually indicates, by means of illuminated LED’s, the position of the weapon on the person. The location zones are not fixed, as in the case of Metal Detectors with multiple receiver-transmitter coils, but are variable and continuous so as to achieve optimum resolution.

Use of the PMD2 ensures an extremely high level of discrimination of metal personal effects.

PMD2 can be supplied, on request, with two emergency batteries that automatically come into operation in the event of a power failure.

PMD2 is available in panel (PMD2/PTZ) or column (PMD2/ENZ) version. Also an outdoor column version, PMD2/EWZ, is offered with an IP65 degree of protection.

A photocell transit counter is available as an option. This will allow for statistical data to be accumulated on the persons passing through the detector. The detector’s control unit is incorporated into the structure. Access to programming is protected both by a mechanical lock and by two alphanumeric passwords. The PMD2 is manufactured using the most advanced electronics technology, conforming to ISO 9001 Quality Control Standard procedures.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Water Fountains

It was a very hot day in Montgomery, Alabama.  I was five years old, and I knew how to read and name and some words if they weren't really big.  My momma and I were out shopping for school clothes.  I was going to real school in September just like the big kids, and I was going to have a brand new dress to wear on the first day.

Momma was taking a long, long, long time to pick out the dress, and I was getting tired and thirsty too.  Then I saw a drinking fountain.  No, two drinking fountains.  They had words on the top.  I could have asked Momma what they meant, but I was too big for that anymore--I could read them myself.   One said wa....haa... tttt.  I couldn't read that one.  The other word was even longer, but the beginning looked like a word I already knew.  Cool.  Cool...rrrr...ddd.   COOLRD.  That fountain water was coolered--that must mean it had cooler water than the other one did.   I had figured it out all by myself!  Momma was really busy looking at how the seams were made and if the plaids were matched up, so I just decided to go over there by myself, and get a drink of the special, cooler water.

The fountain was a little too high, but I didn't want Momma to help.  I could do it all by myself.  I tippitoed up,  turned the water on, and stretched my head out from my neck as far as it would go toward the water stream.   Suddenly, one of the sales ladies came up from behind.  "Oh, no, darlin', you don't drink out of that fountain.  You drink out of the other one.  Here, do you want me to lift you up?"  But it wasn't the words I remember as much as the look on her face.  I had somehow broken a rule, done something wrong.  I shook my head, and ran back to Momma.   One good thing about women's dress styles in the fifties is that a small child could hide herself in the voluminous skirts until she all but disappeared.  From my hiding place I could hear the lady explaining to Momma what had happened and my Momma apologizing.  Apologizing for what I had done.

After we left the store,without buying the dress, and had walked a safe distance away, I asked Momma, "Why couldn't I drink the cooler water?"

"You mean colored water?"

"No, Momma, that water didn't have any colors.  That water was cooler--the sign said so."

"No dear, the signs said WHITE and COLORED.  White people are supposed to drink out of the one marked WHITE and colored people are supposed to drink out of the one marked COLORED.  That's the way they do things down here.  I'm not saying it's right, but we need to follow their rules or we make people upset--like the lady in there."

"So which water is cooler?" I wanted to know.

"They're both the same; they come from the same place, sweetheart."

 "But why...?

She took me for ice cream, an unusual treat, probably trying to make up in some way for the loss of innocence that had happened to me that day, or perhaps simply to distract me from asking any more questions that she couldn't answer.

But I still think about it; not constantly, of course, just when I come up against a rule that doesn't make sense and gives me the same feeling that I had that day.  That's when I see the water fountain signs in my mind.

On Thursday we were divided into two groups:  Not white and colored this time, but blue and red.  Regular workers at our site have I.D. cards with a blue stripe.  Reassigned workers have I.D. cards with a red stripe.  Blues got to go in  without walking through a metal detector.  Reds and visitors had to line up to be scanned.

I had already exchanged words with Mr. Freedman, the Head of Security two hours earlier when I had been forced to show my drivers license, print my name, write my address (yeah, right) put a visitor's sticker on my clothes, and walk thorugh a scanner.

"I would like to request a copy of every sign-in sheet with my signature."  I said, with no attempt to conceal my outrage.

"You can't have a copy of the sign-in sheets," he said.  "They're confidential."

"I have a RIGHT to a copy of anything I SIGN," I countered.  "It's the LAW."

"Then you can go through the courts,"  He replied.

"Don't worry,  I will!"  I promised.

I went upstairs, seething, and wrote this letter to my United Federation of Teachers District Representative.

Then the fire alarm rang, and we had to go outside for a fire drill.  When we returned,  as I mentioned, we Red Badgers had to be scanned AGAIN.  Many were wearing their little VISITOR stickers from the morning, but they still had to submit to being carded and scanned for weapons a second time.  I didn't waste my time standing on line.  I waited until most of the Red Badgers had been reprocessed and then stood at the very back. 

"This is outrageous,"  I said to the security guards--almost all of whom were black.  This is like segregation in the South.  Front of the bus, back of the bus.  Different DRINKING FOUNTAINS." 

One security guard came up to me and said, "Do you have a problem,  Ma'am?" 

"Problem?  Of course not.  Why should I have a problem with SEGREGATION?"  I replied acidly.  He turned and walked away.

After I had signed in again, received a second visitor's sticker, and walked through the scanner, I turned and said to Freedman, the Head of Security.

"Have you ever fought for Civil Rights?  Do you know about the Civil Right Movement in this country?  I don't THINK so.  If you had, you would know what all this means!" 

Are you beginning to feel sorry for the poor security guards who were just doing their jobs?  Good.  Then feel free to feel sorry for the poor policemen in the south who enforced segregation.  Feel free to feel sorry for the poor german soldiers who made sure that the Jews got on the right trains.  Feel free to feel sorry for all the little people caught up in helping to perpetrate injustice so that they and their families can continue to sit in the front of the bus and drink out of the fountains marked WHITE.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Forced Visitor

This morning I faxed the following letter to Rona Freiser, UFT Queensborough Representative

Dear Rona,

I have been a teacher for 28 years and am currently reassigned to the Department of Education building on (address omitted).  I am not doing education related work as was specified in the agreement Mike Mulgrew signed with Klein.  Instead, I am doing the work of a file clerk. Although the type of work I am doing violates the agreement, I have not filed a formal grievance until now.

I would like to file a grievance at this time.

The reason I have decided to file a grievance is that today I was forced to sign in as a visitor in the building where I have been assigned as a regular worker.  I was forced to put my belongings through a scanner.  I was forced to walk through a scanner.  Every other reassigned teacvher has been forced to walk through a scanner.

None of the regular workers are forced to do this.  They show their building I.D. cards and walk in without signing in or walking through a scanner.  Several of the reassigned teachers haved asked for building I.D. cards, but have been told that reassigned tachers will not be given building I.D. cards.  Without a building I.D. card, we will be forced to allow ourselves to be scanned twice daily.

This disparate treatment is directed at Reassigned Teaches and only Reassigned Teachers in order to intimidate and denigrate teachers who have no history of violent behavior whatsoever.

I am also concerned about the health effects of being forced to walk through a scanner twice daily, and will be doing research on the matter.

I respectfully request that you contact the appropriate DOE officials in order to eliminate this latest indignity.

Fraternally yours,

Moriah Untamed

I faxed this letter to Rona at 10:40 AM.  At 11:00 AM there was a fire drill.  When the fire drill was finished all personnel had to go back in through the same door.  Those with building I.D's were directed to the left.  Those without building I.D.'s were directed to the right and forced to go through the scanner for the second time after presenting whatever I.D. they had.  The line to the right was much slower, so all the reassigned teachers were segregated and put on display for a prolonged period of time.  The only reason that I did not include the address of the building and the name of the director is because anyone can come into the lobby of that building and easily identify the reassigned teachers as the ones being scanned.  But the director deserves to see his name on this blog, and will some day.

In answering an annonymous comment on my last post, I reminded everyone that contacting PERB would definitely result in retaliation.

You know what?  I DON'T CARE.  I don't carry a knife or gun.  I carry pen and paper--and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  If this isn't resolved, PERB isn't the only place I'll go to file a complaint. 

Mayor Bloomberg.  Are trying to kill us?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hal Lanse

I found this story on Betsy Combier's Blog, NYC Rubber Room Reporter.

Hal Lanse would like us to email Mike Mulgrew because he has been suspended without pay or health benefits.  According to law, teachers cannot be suspended without pay until they have a hearing in which  the Department of Education must prove that there is just cause to terminate the teacher.  Until the hearing takes place, and a judgement is given, the DOE must pay the teacher.  If the DOE is allowed to get away with suspending teachers without pay, a dangerous precedent might be established and other teachers might be summarily suspended as well.

Ok.  That is very well and good.  I believe we should act in solidarity.  However, if you read Mr. Lanse's account in his own words, you will find some details that might bother you as much as they  did me (or not).

"I was given no work for two weeks until I fell asleep on a couch."

"I refused to sit in the corner as ordered. My lawyer says this is corporal punishment." 

"I refused, however, when the DOE stooped to ordering me to put paper clips on stacks of papers."

"Last week, my supervisor yelled at me ....I filed a complaint. The DOE refused to log-in the complaint, so I followed the UFT's advice and called the police. "

Hal, we're not in the Rubber Room anymore.  You have just given us an example of the kinds of behavior that people got away with in the Rubber Room and nothing ever happened to them.  People would fall asleep in their chairs.  Nobody cared.  People would get in screaming fights with each other,   They'd get written up,  and absolutely nothing would happen.  People called 911 and filed police reports on other teachers, on security guards, on administrators for the most minor, stupid reasons.    People came to work looking like the homeless, dressed in dirty, worn out old clothes.  Some people smelled.  Others took to smearing the toilet walls with their own feces.  No matter what people did, they were not suspended without pay.

We don't have that kind of protection anymore.  We are in a work environment.  No, we don't have anything to do.  What a terrible waste.  I have a Masters  Degree plus 60 credits in the sciences, but I am doing the work of a file clerk.  Boo Hoo.  I am a 100,000 dollar a year file clerk. Boo Hoo.

That doesn't stop me from trying to look and behave like a professional.  No matter how badly the DOE slavebrains behave, it's no excuse for us to lower our own professional standards.  We need to be better than they are, and we need to organize as a group. 

Now that you are suspended without pay, Hal, you call for an organized action.  You had good reason to do so when your charges were dropped, but you were not placed in a school.  Put out the call:  All "TRC personnel who should be placed in a school, but who are doing nonteaching jobs meet at Joe's Diner on the corner of blank and blank streets."  Meet.  Strategize.  Call for actions that cannot be used to terminate you or suspend you, for now. 

Instead you protested alone, and now you're suspended alone.  And you've opened up a possible precedent for others to be suspended.

Is the Union right?   No.  Is the DOE right?  No. If you want to do something about it, don't fall asleep on a couch.

Oh, yeah.  Mike Mulgrew-- The agreement that you signed with Klein has been violated on so many levels, that it has become totally irrelevant.  If you don't grieve the violations, you are complicit.  Telling us to file grievances when many of us are whistle blowers who are here precisely because we filed grievances just shows what a hypocrite you are.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Letter to Oprah I Wish I Had Written

Note: This letter was written by Britton Gildersleeve of Oklahoma State University. I published it a few hours ago and it has already received quite a few comments--which makes me wish even more that I had written it. I have tried to give you a link to the article, but in the short time since I copied and pasted it into my blog, all the links have been blocked. I will give you a link to Ms. Gildersleeve's website that should work.  Moriah Untamed

Dear Oprah,

I teach. Given, I teach at university level, but I’ve been teaching for several years — about 20, to be exact. And I’ve seen the changes that No Child Left Behind — and your beloved testing — have made in my students. None of the changes are good: students want to be spoon-fed (they are in testing environments); students want to do only what will get them high grades. The list is long and sad.

I also direct a non-profit federally funded professional development grant for teachers, pre-k to university, the Oklahoma State University Writing Project. It’s the local site of the National Writing Project, an amazing partnership among research universities, classroom teachers, and schools. Not to mention the inclusion of parents and students. All of these voices are absent in the current national conversation.

Oprah, let me tell you about Oklahoma teachers and their classrooms. Many of my friends and colleagues at the high school level have more than 170-200 students in their classrooms. Do you think a student is worth 10 minutes a week from his/ her teacher? Outside of the classroom? Do you think a “good” teacher should spend that much time on weekly grading — 10 minutes a student? Please do the math: that would mean another 83+ hours weekly, Oprah — outside of classroom. IF each student receives 10 minutes of attention on his or her work outside the classroom.

“Don’t they have plan periods?” I hear people ask. No, many don’t. “Plan periods” went the way of smaller classrooms — there are too many school duties: hall monitors, cafeteria duty, mandated professional development that has nothing to do with the school’s demographics. And even if they did, that’s less than five hours weekly…

And yes, good teachers work a lot of outside hours. Unfortunately, in Oklahoma (where our average teacher salary ranks 47th in the country), many teachers need to take part-time jobs. Does this impact their teaching? Certainly. It also impacts the ability for a single mother of two or three children to put food on the table and pay the rent. Do you want teachers to spend more time on students? Lower classroom size — hire more teachers. And pay them competitive salaries — competitive with other career paths requiring a minimum of a bachelor?s degree. Even nurses (another under-rated career) make more than teachers do.

You don’t want teachers to have tenure? Then figure out a way that a principal in a small town (like, say, Skiatook, Okla.) will be unable to fire teachers s/he doesn’t like. Not because the teacher is ‘bad,’ but because the teacher attends the wrong church. Or maybe doesn’t attend church at all. Small towns — and big ones, as well — have politics, Oprah. And surprise: they affect every decision in a school, even to the detriment of teachers.

Tenure doesn’t keep bad teachers in the system — there are ways, as others have noted, to fire teachers. Your guest, Michele Rhee, notes that she fired hundreds. Many had tenure. And many probably weren’t bad teachers, unfortunately. Ms. Rhee, who once thought it was okay to tape students’ mouths shut?? She’s now in charge of evaluating schools? Let me tell you, Oprah, I teach pre-service teachers, in addition to my job directing a NWP site. Not ONE of my students would think that’s okay.

You can’t fire a doctor without just cause, Oprah — there’s a system. Is that ‘tenure’? Or trying to be sure that in this ostensible democracy, we have the right to confront our ‘accuser,’ and hear what is being said about us. Each year in Tulsa, Okla., new teachers don’t make the grade. Even in the third year of teaching, we let teachers who don’t work out go. Unfortunately, we lose an enormous number of teachers — good ones — who can’t deal with the incredibly complicated paperwork, the overtime demands, the lack of time to do what they went to school for: teach.

I wish someone who knew even a little bit about real classrooms, the heart-breaking challenges teachers face daily (teachers spend an average of $400 annually, out of their own meager salaries, to equip their rooms), had a national forum. I wish one of your guests was a real teacher. John Legend? Really? Come on, Oprah, I don’t try to tell John Legend how to make music; he’s going to tell me about teaching? Or perhaps you’re stereotyping? Instead of John Legend, why don’t you have Pedro Noguera, who wrote a stunning book discussing the problems black males face in the system (The Trouble with Black Boys)? Or Mike Rose, who’s worked for decades with working class, side-lined students and schools of America? Or Diane Ravitch, who recanted her support of NCLB because it not only doesn’t work, it harms students?? And Race to the Top is simply an Obama-ised NCLB, I’m sorry to say.

Why don’t you, with your great forum for change, invite real classroom teachers to talk about what it’s like to teach homeless students with no resources (students or teachers)? Why don’t you ask my son, who recently graduated with a Master’s of Arts in teaching, what it’s like to teach students living in foster homes for drug abuse, rape — both victims and perpetrators — violence, assault? Why don’t you ask him how he struggles to be a “good” teacher? And wonders — daily — what that even means in the context where he finds himself?

If you want to change education, Oprah, don’t make the mistake everyone else has. Ask teachers. Would you have a conversation about the national state of medicine and health care without asking for the input of doctors, nurses and patients? And yet we have left parents, teachers and students completely out of this critical talk.

If you want real change, invite real teachers to your show, Oprah. The irony is that the conversation seems to valourise teachers, saying that “good” teachers can change things for kids. So can smaller classrooms, food, adequate resources, the freedom to teach according to a child’s needs. But then, that’s not what the “experts” are saying, is it? Unfortunately, the “experts” have no real experience with students. Or teaching. Or classrooms. They only know how to tell the teachers in the trenches what to do?

Wondering how in the world education came to this pass,

Britton Gildersleeve

Monday, October 11, 2010

Professor Longhair - Cry to Me

Thanks to an Anonymous tip I discovered another version of Cry To Me. Rest In Peace Solomon Burke.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Solomon Burke: When You Feel Like Crying

Solomon Burke's music has given me a lot of comfort since I discovered it through the movie "Dirty Dancing."

When I feel like crying I sing along with this song instead.  You never really die, if you make people sing instead of cry.  RIP

When your baby leaves you all alone
And nobody calls you on the phone
Ah, don't you feel like crying?
Don't you feel like crying?
Well here I am my honey
Oh, come on you cry to me.

When you're all alone in your lonely room
And there's nothing but the smell of her perfume
Ah don't you feel like crying
Don't you feel like crying?
Ah don't you feel like crying?
Come on, come on cry to me.

Well nothing could be sadder
Than a glass of wine, all alone
Loneliness, loneliness, it's such a waste of time
Oh-oh yeah

You don't ever have to walk alone, oh you see
Oh come on, take my hand and baby won't you walk with me?
Oh ya

When you're waiting for a voice to come
In the night and there is no one
Ah don't you feel like crying? (cry to me)
Don't you feel like crying? (cry to me)
Ah don't you feel like a-ca-ca-cra-co-cra-co-cra-cra, (cry to me)
Cra-co-cra-co-cra-cra crying? (cry to me)
Ah don't you feel like a-cra-co-cra-co-cra-cra,
Cra-co-cra-co-cra-cra crying?...

Jude's Story: Threats and Cover-up

In order to tell you about the cover-up and threats made against Jude, I am going to go back to the first moment that Jude realized that something was wrong with the tests.

Each teacher got a list of the children in their class, and the score of each child.  The first anomaly that leapt off the page was the “2” (below average) next to Little Johnny’s name.  Jude was sure that he had gotten a perfect score, which would have given him a “4”. During the test, she had walked around the classroom and had noticed how well he had been doing.

The next thing she did was to go talk to one of the other teachers who had scored the 4th grade test with her.

How did the other teacher respond?  Did he say something like:  “You’re sure he was doing that well, and he only got a “2”?  Well, you’re his teacher, and you would know.  I can understand your concern.  Let’s go ask for his test and check it together.”

Uh. No.  This is what the teacher really said.

 “Little Johnny?   A “4” ?  Don’t be silly. He and his family are white trash.  How would he ever get a “4”?  And he turned his back and walked away.

Jude then went to talk to the Reading Specialist.

Without any sign of surprise, the Reading Specialist replied, “Oh, you figured it out!  It SHOULD bother you that they lowered your kids test scores.”

Kids.  Scores. Plural.

Jude went back and  looked at the scores again.  So many “1’s” and “2’s”.  Surely Little Sally and Little Brady had done better than that.  How many other children had been given grades lower than they deserved?  These grades would help determine the fifth grade class placement of each child.  Children could be held back because of these scores.

Finally, Jude decided to tell the principal.   It was Jane Brush’s first year as a principal.  A former gym teacher, she had just graduated from the Leadership Academy.  It was up to her to take the next step in what could be a serious case of test tampering.  True to her training, she delegated, or passed the hot potato, to her Assistant Principal, Page Letterman.  A.P. Letterman sat in the principal's office and carefully checked the tests from Jude’s class.  Then she asked for all the 4th grade tests.

While this process was going on, one of the 4th grade teachers, Doreen Grady, knocked on Jude’s classroom door while class was in progress.  When Jude opened the door, Doreen hissed, “We’re going to get you, Jude.  We’re going to get the parents after you.” As soon as she was free, Jude went to the classroom of her UFT Union Representative,  Katy McMillan, and told her what Doreen had said.  Katy simply replied, “Teachers don’t stick together.”  Then she locked the door and slammed it in Jude’s face.

After carefully reviewing all the tests, Assistant Principal Letterman called all the fourth grade teachers down to the principal’s office. “What’s going on?”  she asked.  I’ve reviewed all the tests.  Numbers 2 and 4 which were graded by Jude are all done according to the rubric.  The rest of you have given much lower grades than you should have.”  When she didn’t get a satisfactory answer from them, she asked Jude to leave, and kept the others in the office.

Now we can stop right here, and try to give the other teachers the benefit of the doubt.  It was a new rubric.  They weren’t used to grading tests that way.  They possibly misinterpreted the rubric...  Perhaps they were simply careless.  Remember they had made fun of Jude for being so slow and meticulous.  There was an easy way to find out if the teachers had lowered the scores accidentally or maliciously.  Each teacher had corrected the same questions.  Let’s say Doreen Grady, the teacher who threatened Jude, had been assigned problems 5 and 6.  If she had made the same mistakes on 5& 6 for all the tests, then she had simply misinterpreted the scoring guide.  If she had not been consistent, and had graded her students and those of friends with a different criteria than she had used on Jude’s class, then she had maliciously tampered with the test.

The next day Leadership Academy Principal Brush called all the 4th grade teachers into her office.  She looked at Jude and told her to apologize to the other 4th grade teachers.

“For what?” gasped Jude.

The principal repeated the order.  Apologize to the other teachers for suggesting that they had graded the tests incorrectly.  Jude replied that she had nothing to apologize for, and that they were the ones who should be apologizing because THEY HAD graded the tests incorrectly—Page Letterman had said so. Apologize?  They could “Kiss My Fat Ass”!!!!!

Leadership Academy Principal Brush then told her that the matter had been resolved and then ordered her not to discuss it with anyone.  Jude was told to leave the office, but  the other 4th grade teachers were asked to remain.

The “matter” was never resolved, because it was covered up.   The cover-up allowed the other 4th grade teachers to carry out Doreen’s threat, and to begin a three-year course of harassment aided and abetted by Leadership Academy Principal Brush.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scan Scam Update

I called my UFT representative yesterday.  I emphasized that if the DOE thought I had been absent all year without notifying them, then they could terminate me.  He told me he would look into it and called me back soon thereafter.  He said that the matter was resolved.  However, I still can't get my attendance data from Cybershift.  None of the people at my site can either.  The regular workers can get into Cybershift but we can't.  Teachers at other sites can get into Cybershift, but we can't.  Unless I'm mistaken we have the contractual right to view our records whenever we want.  Well, I want to view and get a copy of my attendance records,  but they are Lost In DOE Cyberspace.

My advice to other reassigned teachers is to maintain your own copies of your attendance records and do not rely on your site supervisor or the DOE to do so for you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jude's Story: Crime #1

It was the 2001-2002 academic year and the New York State Math Test had just been administered.  In schools all over the city,  teachers for each grade sat around a table correcting the tests.  Rather than marking the tests of their own students, Jude and the other 4th grade teachers in her school split the work by assigning each teacher to grade the same two or three questions on every 4th grader's test.

There was a very detailed scoring guide for each answer, and Jude carefully read it before marking each student's test.  The other teachers criticized her for being too slow, but she told them that she wanted to be meticulous so that she could be sure that she was giving each student the mark he or she deserved.

After the tests were all graded, the principal published the scores of all the students together with the average for each teacher.  Jude was surprised to find that her students had scored lowest of all the other fourth grade classes.  The highest scoring class was that of the senior teacher on the grade--the one with the most seniority.  She took a closer look, and noticed that the second most senior teacher had the second highest scores, and so on down the list until she reached her name, with the lowest scoring class and the least seniority.  Not only that, but she had walked around the classroom and glanced at students' tests while she was proctoring.  She had been happy to notice that some students were doing very well.   Now she saw that these same children had received very low scores considering what she had observed during the test.

The tests were about to be sent out of the school building to the district office.  Once they were gone, there would be no chance of hiding what might be a very embarrassing case of test tampering.  She decided to tell her principal who delegated the investigation to her assistant principal.  Sure enough, the A.P. found that a large number of tests had been graded incorrectly.  After the tests were regraded Jude's class was first or second of all the fourth grade classes--she can't remember which, because that's not what she cared about.  She cared that her students had not received the grades they deserved.

It turned out that the same thing had happened on the sixth grade.  The class averages had been tied to seniority--most senior teacher, highest scores.  After the regrading, the least senior teacher had the highest scores.

You might be saying--This isn't a crime.  It certainly can't be compared to the Rape of Gertrude Perkins.

No.  This isn't THE CRIME.  It's just the beginning.  A little step out of bounds.  It was all resolved in-house.  No one got sent to the Rubber Room.  But Jude's life would never be the same.

Attention Reassigned Teachers: Scan Scam

I interrupt Jude's story with an urgent message.  As you know, rubber room detainees have been re-reassigned to administrative buildings all over the city.  The means of taking attendance is different at each site.  They gave the people in my building little white cards to be used with Cybershift clocks.  The employees sitting around me can sign in and check their attendance data everyday.  They can also print it out.  We reassigned teachers have been told that we can't see our information online, but that it is being registered "in the system".  Today the building supervisor called me in and told me that the DOE called him and said that according to their records I had not shown up for the whole school year--except for the first two days.  You know what that means, don't you?  It means instant dismissal.  That's one way to resolve the case back load.

For all those using the little white scan cards that bleep and say WELCOME  John Doe Swipe on or Swipe off, you should make sure that you have proof that you have been coming to work.

I would appreciate it if other rubber room detainees could give me feedback on how you are registering your attendance, and if you are able to get copies for your attendance records.