Every education issue in the press put out by the mayor, his administrative stooges or yellow journalist puppets is fallacious, misleading and corrupt. The media releases a daily tirade of opinions and articles, spewing false information to unwitting readers who trust the papers believing that proponents of liberty and a free press are serving them. The media has become the proponents of fraud and free gibberish.
With pride, the New York Post requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, the names of teachers whose students failed the state’s standardized tests. The implication is that they are helping parents and students by exposing “bad” teachers, and giving the Department of Education grounds for firing them.
Readers get brief arguments about test flaws and unfairness with an overwhelming slant that it is all a union cover-up. The logical truth is, that through no fault of his own, if Dr. Martin Luther King taught in a “rough” school and had been given up to 150 students, many highly disruptive, disrespectful and emotionally disturbed, who told him to “shut the f… up or I’ll kill your mother,” who refused to do any work and subsequently failed standardized tests, Dr. King would be branded publicly as a bad teacher, bum, dead beat and the like by the DOE and newspapers. Bottom line for publishing names would be another excuse to print worthless news and stir public support to fire teachers.
By their own admission, the DOE “good teacher” is one who draws the least pay and uses the least benefits. Just out of school, and less likely to use medical benefits due to illness, and less likely to have a family, dependents, mortgage and the like, the DOE calls this type of person a “good,” more efficient teacher, with “merit.” By DOE definition, every year a teacher works, they are becoming “bad,” less efficient teachers. They draw more money, gain rights and experience, and once they secure benefits and pensions, they are unfit for our children. They are deemed to have less “merit” and have become “bad.”
Under the new Tier 5 contract, a teacher does not become vested for 10 years (pensionable), and needs 15 years to secure medical benefits for future retirement. Therefore, a new teacher is a “good” teacher if he or she quits or is laid off (fired), before he or she completes 10 years. The DOE owes the teacher and his or her family nothing; no medical benefits or pension. A decade of his or her life has passed, career has ended and license is not even helpful for a street vendor’s permit to sell balloons. Seniority and “last in first out” is the only protection.
The Charter Schools Misinformation
Last fall, the DOE revved up its attack on public school teachers eagerly anticipating high state test scores for charter schools. However, the charter schools that had hand-picked “new,” “good,” mostly duped, non-union teachers, cherry-picked top level three and four students, and had extensive taxpayer money pumped into them, were outscored by regular, underfunded public schools with “bad, old union teachers” who were left with lower functioning one and two level students, English as a second language learners and anyone else the charter schools rejected. We do not hear the outcry every day in the press to close them, or that the children and the public have been deceived. We hear the call for more charter schools.
The revolving door policy
Bottom line: Continue to squeeze out so-called “bad, old union teachers” by dumping them into the absent teacher reserve (ATR). The DOE wants to keep hiring new teachers coming and going with a revolving door policy. The DOE wants them coming in from Teach For America, to stay a few years and disappear, and wants New York City universities to be able to claim they have high college placement for their graduating students by temporarily dumping them in the school system despite half of them leaving within the first year.
More and more schools must be closed in order to get rid of union teachers and redirect the subsequent savings to fund the vast, useless and ever-growing administrator positions and outside agencies. (Teacher pensions average $39,000 for those who can make it to retirement before being hounded until they quit or are forced and coerced out.)
Fudging the Data
Furthermore, the strangulation of low-achieving, “closeout” schools by deliberately funneling away funds, making false evaluations and comparisons to other schools and withholding support is nothing less than racism. Ethically, often the best schools are the closeout schools.
Obviously, closeout schools are not fudging data. If anything, they are honest in their struggle. Unfortunately, in most schools, fearful of retribution for having an “academically” failing school and being targeted for teacher “U” ratings, or “excessed” into the ATR pool, teachers protect their livelihood and forgo ethics. Suddenly, students pass regents and classes after tests are “scrubbed” (re-examined through special interpretation) and students who can barely read, or do a simple math equation, graduate. Students tossed into the local college to make the high school look good discover they need remedial courses. Many soon drop out.
Some principals manage an “A” school rating this way. Sometimes these principals and some of those aforementioned administrators, who never step foot in a school building, get bonuses upward of $25,000. That’s more than halfway to hiring a new teacher for a year. For hard-working teachers, this is simply an extra slap in the face.
Tenure and the DOE
In essence, tenure means due process and almost every American knows the meaning of “due process.” It is the core of our justice system and the backbone of freedom and the American spirit.
The 80,000 teachers of New York City do not argue that a teacher convicted of a criminal sex act against a child, or a drunken buffoon (front page news for certain), should remain in the system. Tenure does not protect this type of employee. But the DOE has a different definition of tenure. Due process is a hindrance to removing employees that draw higher salaries and benefits.
The newspapers finally published a rare view of what a New York City school has become. An unstable Staten Island principal made headlines for ranting and raving, threatening to garnish wages over teachers being five minutes late after car-pooling to get to work after a snowstorm. But here is what the public does not know. That incident is not even the tip of the top of the iceberg. Imagine what the daily animosity between teachers and administrators, and the abuse of authority that goes on in this school, must be like and then realize that this is becoming the norm in the school system.
Bloomberg Administration Blackmail
Principals are openly blackmailed by the Bloomberg administration into giving teachers “U” ratings. They must find fault in teachers (preferably those drawing higher salaries), or they are getting an “Unsatisfactory” rating. Administrators who are a product of the New York City Leadership Academy are more inclined to act accordingly, and like the Staten Island Administrator, would be considered by the DOE as a “strong, good principal with vision for the children.”
Tainted press and false politicians chant the mantra that they care about your children. However, it has always been since time immemorial that the teachers who care about spreading knowledge to children must be given the tools, the authority and respect to do their jobs.
The writer, David Pambianchi of Middle Village, is an educator and freelance writer.