December 10, 2010

TEACHER its' worst.

Teacher Abuse at its' Worst
"Bullying, coercive, abusive men and women--superintendents, regional leadership, directors and principals--are the real reason schools fail. I know it in my gut. Good people are forced out. Fine and fun people are targeted with "documentation" and "discipline." And what are we left with? Suck-up sycophants who lie and cheat and cover up for the bosses. They have no other choices if they want to survive. Our school districts' upper echelons of leadership are full of just such people. Abusive leadership and suck up, rear end kissing subordinates....who happen to be the bosses of other subordinates....all sucking up, lying and covering up for each other...until the chain lands flatly and completely in the classroom. There is no one to suck up to the teacher. But there are layers upon layers of danger for that teacher if she has any ethics at all. The first layer of danger is the principal."  (K.W., 2013)

And now the comments...

80.FidgetyTeachNY December 8th, 201012:09pm It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed and naive the public is. They are still buying into the lie that it is the teacher's fault for having to sit and wait at the taxpayer's expense. This is just what the the Dept. of Ed. wants you to believe- when in reality it is the DOE and NYSED who are not paying the arbitrators to submit their findings and final judgements on the 3020a hearings.
It is not the choice of the reassigned teacher to sit and do nothing. It is the DOE's goal to get the teachers so bored and frustrated that they want to give up, admit guilt, settle or resign instead of waiting for a hearing. Those who sit it out and wait for their hearings will be most likely returned to their classrooms and found not guilty.
Recommended by 10 Readers
8.machvelianNew YorkDecember 8th, 201012:49 amI want the propaganda against teachers to end. What are the statistics of "guilty" verdicts against teachers accused of crimes...NYT had access to this information, yet chose not to publish it? From inside the system, I've been told most are falsely accused, yet this article spends most of the time profiling people in a display of typical lazy journalism (see the past 20 articles about Cathy Black).
Simply, I would like a true profile piece on this arbitration process and the results...enough of the tales told by a select few.
Recommended by 63 Readers

SARCASM...(BETTER THAN ANGER!)12.PeterQueensDecember 8th, 201012:49 amThis is what an underfunded education system looks like - inefficient. The alternative is allowing principals to fire teachers for basically no good reason, something in which I'm sure the incoming chancellor sees no problem.Oh, more cuts coming? Great.
Recommended by 17 Readers
SOMEONE WHO KNOWS...(COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF...)16.HIGHLIGHT (what's this?) middlesex nj New Brunswick, NjDecember 8th, 20107:56 amWhat's nauseating is people assuming that those accused of wrongdoing are guilty before being proven so. It is not the fault of the teachers that the process takes so long. It is not the fault of the teachers that no one can bother to find meaningful tasks for salaried professionals. If the teachers are eventually found guilty of wrong doing, then of course they should be let go. Until that happens, the trash talk is pointless right wing blathering and hatemongering.9(A LITTLE EXTREME...) If the administration still can't find meaningful work, the teachers should be suspended with pay put into escrow until the case is decided. (RIGHT TO THE POINT...)Meanwhile, how about trying to get rid of the incompetent administrators and politicians who can't fix or even put band-aids on a system that his been broken for ages.
Recommend Recommended by 55 Readers
67.FidgetyTeachNYDecember 8th, 201012:00 pmIn response to Juliet, Comment #17...Juliet states that, "Teachers who were placed in "Rubber Rooms" because of some kind of criminal behavior should not receive one penny from anyone.They abused their position and should be punished.People such as Ms. Combier who defend these criminals should not profit from this situation but should be reprimanded also!"

It is ignorant to assume that all teachers are 'guilty before proven innocent". The last time that I looked around we all lived under the constitution which entitles every US Citizen to a fair and timely trial where they are considered Innocent until Proven Guilty. I truly hope that you are never in a position where you are accused of an alledged crime and found guilty by a jury of peers such as yourself. Many of the teachers have been falsely accused of fabricated crimes and targeted by their principals because of their age, salary step or a simple disagreement with their administration. This is one way in which the newbie principal attempts to replace high paid tenured teachers with new inexperienced teachers that are paid one third of what an experienced teacher earns.(newbie principals following Chancellor's orders) Instead of being angry and ignorant, you might want to try becoming more informed about the process. It is easy to pass judgement with blind eyes. Betsy Combier has spent the last 7 years sitting in on 3020a hearings, visiting the Rubber Rooms and advocating for teachers who have been bullied by the DOE. I would respect your opinion if it were based on fact, however you haven't a clue as to what is really going on.
Recommend Recommended by 7 Readers

December 8, 2010

Nothing but the Truth

Applause to Sharon Otterman of the New York Times for writing a candid and unbiased, description of reality in the illusory World of the DOE and the Reassigned teachers. After the signing of the flimsy Rubber Room agreement between Mike Mulgrew and Mayor Bloomberg, the public has been mislead into believing that the Rubber Rooms have been closed and that all cases are being expedited as briskly as possible. The newspapers have done nothing but scapegoat and blame teachers for the DOE's failures. Ms. Otterman accurately quoted the telephone conversation that I had with her while travelling home from 65 Court Street in Brooklyn. Unlike the reporters that I've spoken to in the past, Ms. Otterman asked questions without trying to paint a negative picture of the Reassigned teachers. For now, Ms. Otterman has restored my faith in the press and receives a rare rubber stamp for reporting the truth. To be continued...

New York Teachers Still in Idle Limbo
Published: December 7, 2010

For her first assignment of the school year, Verona Gill, a $100,000-a-year special education teacher whom the city is trying to fire, sat around education offices in Lower Manhattan for two weeks, waiting to be told what to do.
For her second assignment, she was sent to a district office in the Bronx and told to hand out language exams to anyone who came to pick them up. Few did.
Now, Ms. Gill reports to a cubicle in Downtown Brooklyn with a broken computer and waits for it to be fixed. Periodically, her supervisor comes by to tell her she is still working on the problem. It has been this way since Oct. 8.
“I have no projects to do, so I sit there until 2:50 p.m. — that’s six hours and 50 minutes,” the official length of the teacher workday, she said. “And then I swipe out.”
When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg closed the notorious reassignment centers known as rubber rooms this year, he and the city’s teachers’ union announced triumphantly that one of the most obvious sources of waste in the school system — $30 million a year in salaries being paid to educators caught up in the glacial legal process required to fire them — was no more.
No longer would hundreds of teachers accused of wrongdoing or incompetence, like Ms. Gill, clock in and out of trailers or windowless rooms for years, doing nothing more than snoozing or reading newspapers, griping or teaching one another tai chi. Instead, their cases would be sped up, and in the meantime they would be put to work.
While hundreds of teachers have had their cases resolved, for many of those still waiting, the definition of “work” has turned out to be a loose one. Some are now doing basic tasks, like light filing, paper-clipping, tracking down student information on a computer or using 25-foot tape measures to determine the dimensions of entire school buildings. Others sit without work in unadorned cubicles or at out-of-the-way conference tables.
“They told me to sit in a little chair in a corner and never get up and walk around,” said Hal Lanse, a $100,000-a-year teacher from Queens who had been accused of sexual harassment. He was assigned to an administrative office on Fordham Road in the Bronx in September as part of a deal that led the city to drop the charges against him.
One day he plopped down on a couch in the hallway and began reading a novel, he said. Eventually, he dozed off. Then he was asked to “paper-clip some papers” and refused: he was charged with insubordination. He is now collecting his full salary at home in Queens, with plans to retire in January; the city is trying to fire him for insubordination before then, which would reduce his pension.
“There are indeed still rubber rooms,” he said. “They just don’t call them that.”
While the teachers are supposed to be given actual work, the Department of Education still considers them unsuitable for classrooms while their cases are pending. So it has assigned them to various offices, like those overseeing facilities and food, and the external affairs office at Tweed Courthouse, the department’s headquarters.
Barbara Morgan, a schools spokeswoman, said Friday that the teachers were being as productive as possible given the temporary nature of their administrative assignments. She provided a list of tasks that some were performing, which included processing invoices, arranging schedules, answering phones and scanning documents.
Deborah Byron, 45, was one of about 60 teachers told to report to the offices of the School Construction Authority in Long Island City, Queens. On their first day, they were told they would be responsible for “collecting data,” and someone began handing out folders with lists of school names and 25-foot retractable tape measures.
The teachers fanned out to different schools to measure every classroom, auditorium, athletic field and parking lot, for precisely the contractually mandated six hours and 50 minutes each school day. They frequently interrupted classes to do their work. Sometimes custodians said, “Hey, we already have this, let us print it out for you,” and offered blueprints, Ms. Byron said. In those cases, she would do spot checks.
While other reassigned teachers said they felt ostracized and uncomfortable among their peers, hearing whispers about their “rubber room status,” Ms. Byron said she tried to look as official as possible, never revealing that she had been reassigned and was facing suspension for insubordination, she said.
“I had strappy sandals on, and a clipboard and a pen, and an old Board of Education ID,” she said. “Some of the younger teachers were almost envious — they came up and said, how did you get this job? Because they were struggling with 20-something kids and I’m here walking around.”
In October, Ms. Byron was reassigned to a truancy center in a church basement in Far Rockaway, Queens. When the police brought in truants, she looked up their records on her personal laptop and tracked down their parents’ and school phone numbers. Then she tried to counsel the students. “I talk to them and ask them why they didn’t go to school,” she said at the time.
Reassigned teachers work at a dozen truancy offices around the city, but not all of them may be as effective. Ms. Byron said the other teacher she worked with did not bring her own computer and still could not access the system by mid-November. (Ms. Byron was recently sent home, her case concluding with an eight-month unpaid suspension.)
Despite the difficulties of finding the teachers actual work, cases are moving much faster than before the April agreement, when lawyers for both sides, arbitrators and defendants all played a role in dragging them out, sometimes for years. In mid-November, there were 236 teachers and administrators still in reassignment, down from 770 when the deal to close the rubber rooms was signed.
Ms. Morgan, the city spokeswoman, said the city was on track to close all the cases that had existed before April by the end of the year, except for those involving arrests or special investigation. The city did not provide information on how many teachers were fired, suspended or fined, and how many returned to teaching, saying that information would be available in January.
Last month, 16 accused teachers were supposed to return to the classroom when officials missed a new 60-day deadline to file formal charges against them. But some got their charges as soon as the following day, and most still have “rubber room duties” in schools, said Betsy Combier, a former union employee who now counsels reassigned teachers independently.
While several former rubber room teachers said they much preferred their new, comfortable assignments, describing luxuries like office-cleaning services and microwave ovens, others said they missed the camaraderie of the rubber room. All said they would rather be back teaching students.
“The people from my rubber room are all here,” said a preschool teacher who blogs under the pseudonym FidgetyTeach and has been assigned to administrative offices in Downtown Brooklyn, “and we are all very distressed.” She declined to be identified by name because her case was still before an arbitrator.
She was reassigned three years ago after she was accused of leaving a child unattended. She said that while the people in her new office were pleasant enough, she had had nothing to do since the first week.
“Some people are doing filing, but they are not even wanting to do it,” she said of her fellow reassigned teachers. “It’s menial work. Most people are not doing anything; they are just sitting there. This is punishment, whether the city wants to see it that way or not.”
Juliet Linderman contributed reporting.
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