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


Chaz said...

Great series. Can't wait to read more

james boutin said...

Wow. This fascinating. The more I read about the craziness involving these things, the more disturbed I am that I'm a chapter leader. Thank God I didn't end up at a school with administrators from hell.