May 27, 2010

Goodnight, Chair

Every morning when Mr. Warden arrives, he goes to his locker and unpacks his 'office'. This is quite hysterical to watch because Mr.Warden really takes this job of his very seriously. First,he drags his desk away from the wall and unfolds his tablecloth which he drapes over the desk.(the one with the loud yellow and orange print) He carefully retrieves several knicknacks/statues from his locker and strategically places them, one by one, in the same position that they were in on the day before. After his pen holder, statues, notebooks and giant wall clock(which should be on the wall) are all placed on his desk, he places a giant wooden statue of a black panther showing its teeth on top of his locker. Intimidation tactic ?? Possibly. On the walls he's got a tacky black velvet painting and a pair of canvases with matching lilies. The final touch is the giant scroll of the 'Serenity Prayer' that he unrolls and hangs over the fire extinguisher. I thought that hanging things over the fire extinguisher is a fire and umm, religion in Public School??...That's two violations in one. Well, I'd overlook the Serenity Prayer if only he lived by it. Mr.Warden steps back to admire his 'handiwork'. How proud Mr. Warden is of his office in the hallway!
Last but not least, are the Office chairs. He keeps one chair on the right for his personal office 'meetings' with the School Custodian and two chairs on the left for ??? (Beats me). I think he uses these chairs to define his invisible office boundaries. No one is allowed to sit on these chairs without Mr. Warden's permission! Do not even try sitting on one to tie your shoe! These chairs have great meaning to Mr. Warden. Such great meaning in fact that when he leaves everyday he turns the chairs around to face the wall to insure that no one will sit on them in his absence. He believes that turning them to the wall will deter the teachers from sitting on them. These chairs are off limits! Mr. Warden does not want anyone sitting on his chairs, especially when he's not around! Don't even think of sitting there. If you dare to move them, Mr. Custodian will report you to the authorities!!

May 18, 2010

"Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Teachers"

When I was in Public school, I was crazy about my teachers. Like most little girls, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to draw like my Art Teacher and tell stories as vividly as Ms. Weisssman...I wanted to play piano like Mr. C and sing like the Assistant Principal. I loved the sustenance of my teachers. I even wondered what Mrs. Rosen did 'all night' in the empty classroom when we went home. As a child, being a teacher meant being the one to stand in front of the classroom, hold the chalk, mark the homework, and give out the gold stars✩. I couldn't wait to get my first blackboard- and when my little brother was no longer a willing student, I lined up my most attentive stuffed audience kept on teaching.
As a third grade student, I remember when my teacher asked us to make ✎signs and stand outside of our school- Something about the city's budget cuts. Through a child's eyes, it seemed to me that someone, somewhere, didn't want to support our schools in the capacity that would sustain them. I recall being told that the person or people responsible for these cuts hadn't even attended the Public School System themselves. I wondered why we were on the verge of losing our wonderful Gym teacher and our Afterschool Program. Sound confusing for a child? As an adult, I am still confused.
As a NYC teacher, I have some questions for the "Kleinberg" team...

When did TEACHERS drop so low on the food chain?

"When did the 'TEACHER' become the the least important component in the business of 'teaching?'

When did TEACHERS become the 'disposable' factor in a system that teaches?

When did TEACHERS become the scapegoats for everything that is wrong with our city's children?

When did terrorizing TEACHERS become an acceptable practice and why have the Kafka-esque Rubber-Rooms been allowed to thrive even ONE more day under the Kleinberg administration?

My mother always said, "Be a teacher. You'll have job security, a paid summer vacation, good health benefits, a pension and..... If you have children of your own, you will be home in time to cook dinner for them." I followed my mother's advice. At the time, it seemed like the perfect job for a woman who wanted to have the best of both worlds. I went to school and got my Bachelors Degree and then my Masters Degree in education. I spent 5 years in night school working toward earning 30 credits above my masters. I never doubted my direction for a minute.
On my first day of teaching, I knew that I had found my calling. I remember thinking, "Wow, we get paid all day to be with children, ignite their minds, enrich their lives, fill them with knowledge and then get to leave at 3:00! I couldn't wait to return the next day. Compared to my last 9:00 to 7:00 job, this was indeed heaven. I was fortunate to work in a wonderful district and have a principal who cared about his teachers. He was a mensch. His support kept me going at times when I felt like giving up. I returned home every night eager to plan and prepare for the next day. I remember the relentless drive that I had to make my students shine.

It is 22 years later and thanks to technology, my students are finding me on Facebook, wanting to reconnect, eager to share their accomplishments. I was recently invited to a Wedding, a Christening and a family gathering by my former students. Who really knows how much influence we've had on a child's life in the one or two years that we get to spend with them? As far as I can see, there is no end. How does one measure the impact of true teacher effectiveness? There is no measure.

I never imagined that I'd live to eat my words. In spite of the horrible, heartless and harassing administrators, the "Billionaire" mentality, ungrateful, indifferent parents, 'kids gone wild' and Charter School politics, I do feel that I have been able to make a difference. I know in my heart that I have touched lives, instilled good values and provided lifelong lessons.

Thanks to our "Education" Mayor, teaching is no longer a labor of love. According to the 'Kleinberg' regime, Teachers are robots, children are widgets and education is a business to be controlled by Hedge Fund Managers looking for a tax break. We are constantly 'cut down', restrained and intimidated by a system with a death wish.

I speak for myself and those among me who have been burned by a system that doesn't see any value in the very essence of education. There is no room for innovation or thinking outside of the box. Schools are being starved and creativity is completely stifled. The idea of job security is dangling by a thread. Benefits and Health Insurance are constantly under attack...TDA's...declining in value. Sabbaticals... unattainable...Tenure...also at risk. Will summers off soon be a thing of the past??

Most of us, having gone through the public school system ourselves, know that our children are being robbed of the education that we were given and that they deserve. The little girl in me cringes when I hear that my niece or my neighbor's daughter wants to go to college for Education. I have to restrain myself from bursting their illusory bubble. I gently suggest, "Why don't you study law, medicine, graphic design or perhaps, rocket science?"(Maybe growing up to be a 'cowboy' wouldn't be such a bad idea after all...)
I will say anything but, "It is not a good time to be a teacher", which truly breaks my heart most of all.

May 17, 2010

Why I Fired my DOE(oops!) NYSUT Lawyer

Why I fired my DOE (oops!) NYSUT Lawyer...

At our first meeting, I clearly requested an "Open and Public" hearing so that my lawyer could give notice to the arbitrator and DOE lawyer. I followed up on this request with an email asking for confirmation.
By our fourth meeting, I noted that my lawyer had still not solidified my request with the hearing officer and asked her why.
I said, "I sense that you don't want me to have and open and public hearing." "Well, she said, "You sensed right". She then proceeded to paint an ugly picture of an out of control hearing room filled with unruly reporters and friends of the Principal. "If you have an open hearing, the Principal can bring in anyone he wants to. Anyone. That may not be in your best interest. You never know who he might bring in". And, "Do you really want the press distorting your story the way they have done with other cases?"
Armed with the confidence that somehow, "The truth will set me free", I still insisted on an open and public hearing despite the obvious dismay of my lawyer.

I could only reach my NYSUT lawyer through the NYSUT office, that is... when it was open, which meant that I had to call when the office was open, even just to leave a message. The recording said that if you know the '3 digit code' of the person you are trying to reach, please enter it now. As a client, I asked my lawyer for her 3 digit code. Her response was, "Uh, what do you need it for? Has there been a gap in our communication?" "Yes,as a matter of fact. I called you five days ago and this is the first time you have returned my call." "Well...Is there a problem with that? I am very busy."(doesn't want to be bothered)"Yes, there are times when I would like to be able to leave you a message." Her response was, "I think that we've been emailing just fine, don't you?" "No". (Obviously I wouldn't be asking for your code if I was able to reach you, idiot).

After several months of sending emails with scant response from my lawyer,I was beginning to get nervous. When she called me on a Sunday night at 10pm on the last day of spring break, I asked her again for an alternative number. Again, she refused to give me one. Her excuse was that she'd had trouble in the past with clients(teachers) calling her at all hours of the night and had reservations about ever giving out her cell phone number to a teacher again...(I wondered if that reservation included calling her clients on a Sunday night at 10pm.)
When I asked what concerns she had, she responded that she'd rather not divulge that information, and... "Is this the reason you called me?- to pick a fight?"

My paranoid NYSUT lawyer wouldn't allow anyone to sit in on my meetings with her. I found it unusual that I couldn't be accompanied by someone, anyone of my own choosing. Her reason was that she had not established 'confidentiality' with that person. (They were my support system stupid, not yours.)
Before our third meeting, I asked my lawyer why she wouldn't allow me to bring someone in with me for support. Her response was that she didn't feel 'comfortable'. I said that, "It's not about 'you' feeling comfortable. I am the client. This is my case. I am choosing to bring this person in. I trust this person". As a client, I should be able to bring in anyone that I want. (Shouldn't I?) Her response was, "Well, what do you know about lawyers? How much experience have you had with lawyers anyway?"
Does this sound professional to you?

It started to become very clear to me that my DOE-(oops!)NYSUT lawyer was not working in my best interest when she divulged private information to my Chapter Leader without my permission. It seemed that she- my lawyer, needed assurance that the events I had described to her actually occurred the way that I described them. Who was breaching client-lawyer confidentiality now?

My NYSUT lawyer was completely overwhelmed with too many cases and it was adversely affecting the preparation of my hearing. As the amount of documents that I submitted to her grew, so did her disorganization. Each time that I met with her, it was like starting from square one. As we were going through the documents I had submitted to her at previous meetings, I came across one that didn't seem familiar. As I began to read it aloud, her response was, "Oh that's not yours", grabbing it out of my hand. "I was wondering where that document was! I don't know how that paper got in there". That document, that 'confidential document', was from another teacher's case that she was working on. I began to wonder how many of my documents had been mixed up or 'fallen' somewhere that they shouldn't be... And she was the one concerned about "confidentiality?".

It was obvious that my lawyer had her own set of rules which she felt didn't apply to her. I had no confidence that she was working for me and not the DOE or some other ultimate plan. Three weeks before my hearing, I fired my DOE-oops! 'NYSUT' lawyer and hired a private one. I believe that it was the best decision that I have ever made. There was no doubt that the new lawyer had the experience and knowledge that the NYSUT lawyer was clearly lacking. He was one step ahead of the DOE and UFT's tricks which I believe included assigning me a ridiculous and severely inept NYSUT lawyer.

May 10, 2010

Teacher Bashing

There is so much negative banter about teacher performance, teacher evaluation, grading the teachers, good teachers, bad teachers, firing teachers, teachers wasting taxpayers money, teachers in general, blah, blah, blah. Is there anyone who isn't teacher bashing these days? Suddenly, everyone who has an opinion and anyone who has money is an 'education expert'. (Thanks SBST!) Is there anyone in this teacher bashing bunch that has ever taught in a classroom?

Since most senior teachers of the pre'BloomKlein' era earned their education degrees the conventional, time honored way, one can safely believe that their credentials have been met, but is it safe to make the same assumptions of our new, overly empowered Principals?
How many of of our new Principals have earned their counterfeit credentials through the quick and condensed 'Evelyn Wood' Speedy Leadership Academy?' Do you think that they have spent at least 3-5 years in the classroom- excluding their own experience as a student in the NYC DOE? How many have shown an initiative to stand in front of a classroom and model a lesson in the caliber that they expect from their staff? Would it be unreasonable to ask that principals also be held responsible and accountable to the same professional standards as teachers?
("Pissed Off" has the right idea.)How about the teachers observing the Principals and Assistant Principals for a change? Why not rate the Principals on how well they can be in two places at once, juggle lunch duty or how well they can discipline one child while praising another all in one breath? We are not talking about balancing budgets here. We are talking about 8:00-3:00, don't be late, get your hands dirty, hold your bladder, full fledged teaching.

Take a look at the results of the biased 3020a hearings and you will find that in most hearings a Principal is unable to prove the incompetence, neglect or corporal punishment that they have charged a teacher with. The fact that so few teachers are actually fired as a result of the 3020a process is proof that most teachers have been reassigned on dubious or cooked up charges. There is no evidence that the 3020a process is a reliable method of ridding the system of 'bad' teachers. What is does prove however, is that most principals are good liars and poor judges of what a bad teacher looks like.
For every teacher sent to the RR, there is a principal who put them there. Perhaps these ignorant, unethical and self serving administrators should spend more time in the classroom and less time witch hunting. Once the 3020a hearing is complete and an arbitrator rules in the favor of the teacher, shouldn't a mandatory investigation of the Principal follow? How many times it is the Principal's ego, ignorance, lack of communication and paranoia that condemns an innocent teacher? Shouldn't it be the Principal who is held accountable for wasting the tax payer's money?
Instead, NYC DOE principals get a free ride on the tails of Bloom-Klein's "Some are more equal than others policy." 'It's Okay", they say to a principal's disregard for regulations. "It's okay", they say to the harassment of senior teachers. It's okay to rate teachers unfairly, just as long as the principal gets good grades on school surveys from the teachers and parents. "It's okay" to make a mistake, just as long as some unsuspecting senior teacher takes the blame.
Is this teacher abuse "okay" with the UFT? Sure it is. Just as long as the abused are paying their membership dues and remaining passively quiet. As long as the UFT stands idly by and accepts the "It's okay" policy for administrators, the corruption will continue...

Don't Miss David Pakter's Historic Hearing Today...

Dear Mr. Pakter,
Please know that we are all behind you. Knock em dead. The reassigned teachers here in Brooklyn are all praying for your exoneration based on the truth; the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You deserve it...
Sincerely, Fidgetyteach

I am proud to repost this important event info. from Ed Notes...
On Monday, May 10, at 10 AM --
For the first time in the history of NYC Dept of Education Teacher Trials, a State Hearing Officer has requested and will allow an accused NYC Teacher to play secret tapes in his possession to prove his innocence.

This is a ground breaking event and will prove beyond any doubt that former

'Teacher of the Year', David Pakter, was falsely accused of wrongdoing by the NYC DOE.

No member of the media, Legal community or anyone interested in Justice can afford to miss this unique, first ever milestone in the history of the long struggle by NYC Educators to receive fair treatment and "Due Process" at the hands of the 23 Billion Dollar New York City Dept of Education.

Where: 49 Chambers Street, Manhattan 6th Floor

When: 10 A.M.

Who: Hon. Douglas J. Bantle, Esq. - Presiding

Christopher M. Callagy, Esq. - for the Defense

Philip Oliveri, Esq. - Prosecuting for NYC

Note: New York City teachers have been removed from their classrooms and schools for decades based on the flimsiest hearsay, fabricated allegations and bogus charges. Often the teacher is totally innocent of the accusations but is at the mercy of a system that makes proving one's innocence difficult if not impossible.

The NYC Dept of Education will present Witnesses who despite being under Sworn Oath, will lie with impunity and not hesitate to commit the most outrageous acts of Perjury knowing that there is virtually no price to be paid if caught.

On Monday, May 10, at 10 A.M.
for the first time in history, a courageous and independent Hearing Officer, sitting in Judgement to decide a highly Decorated Educator's fate, will allow David Pakter to have a fair shot at Justice.

The Honorable Douglas J. Bantle, Esq. will permit the accused to let the entire public learn the Truth by playing a tape recording proving "who" said "what" and "where" and "when".

The Hearing Officer and the Attorneys will all hear what those who accused Mr. Pakter said - or did not say- from their own lips.

The great French writer,Victor Hugo, once said:

"There is no force on Earth so powerful as an Idea whose time has come."

That time is 10 A.M. on Monday, May 10

at 49 Chambers Street, 6th Floor, Manhattan.

Be a Witness to History.


Warning: the 6th Floor Receptionist has been known to falsely inform the Public there is NO Pakter Hearing scheduled.

Do Not Leave. Demand to speak to an Official. mily:Times New Roman;font-size:180%;" >"There is no force on Earth so powerful as an Idea whose time has come."

That time is 10 A.M. on Monday, May 10

at 49 Chambers Street, 6th Floor, Manhattan.

Be a Witness to History.


Warning: the 6th Floor Receptionist has been known to falsely inform the Public there is NO Pakter Hearing scheduled.

Do Not Leave. Demand to speak to an Official.


May 2, 2010

Shame on the DOE, the UFT and BloomKlein!

Shame on Mr.Mulgrew and the UFT for not Protecting this teacher...
Thank you Chaz for shedding light on the injustices that NYC teachers must endure under the BLOOMKLEIN administration.