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Some reaction to “Do Not Apply”

July 25, 2008 pm31 10:33 pm

Here’s the links to the current high school Do Not Apply lists for the Bronx and for Manhattan. And there’s been discussion in the comments sections on this blog.

But yesterday afternoon and evening I spoke with a few Fellows. I shared survival tips, set a pro-union, pro-UFT tone, pitched COPE, and, crucially, shared the DNA lists. The feedback was interesting.

First, the Bronx DNA schools have been directing lots of recruiting effort at Fellows. The Fellows recognized the name of almost every Bronx DNA school.

One school has made smoother pitches than the others, and I found myself counseling two fellows who had signed commitment letters. I advised them to keep their eyes open and their heads down. Their goal should be to survive. (In a sense, that’s the goal of all first-year teachers, but not like this…)

Several fellows had interviewed at Eximius, but none had accepted a position. One of them waiting to interview, spoke to a non-pedagogue (not a UFT person, not a teacher!) in the building, who warned her not to accept a position, and repeated several of the anecdotes that have appeared in this blog, in the comments, and elsewhere.

One fellow was concerned about committing to a small school in the same building as a DNA school – we explained carefully that this was not a problem, and that, in fact, her school was ok.

However, it made me think. Before I took my current position I interviewed, and sent resumes, and applied, and put out feelers… and I was contacted by an intermediary offering me an interview (and probably a job) at what would become one of the best small schools in the Bronx. But I had serious concerns about overall issues of safety in the building in which it was housed, and I declined (2 or 3 times, there was some real insistence on their part). Well, my concerns were wrong, and the school has turned out quite well, but I’ve ended up ok, too, so it’s all worked out. But the fellow’s concerns reminded me…

— — —

Discussing the Do Not Apply list earned lots of thank yous from Fellows. But what is the best way to share this information? Certainly, when I meet Fellows, I tell them. If you meet Fellows, you should, too.

I’m an individual. What can the union do? The UFT could publicize this list, but since we don’t control it as a union, that’s probably a bad idea. The UFT could make their own list, a black list of sorts. I tend to think we should, but do not know the arguments against.

And then, easy and non-controversial, the UFT should publish turnover rates for each school in the system. It wouldn’t draw as sharp a line as a Do Not Apply list, but it’s not so hard to create, and the data at the extremes will be clear: 50% turnover in one year means something stinks. In a larger school, 30% might be a red flag. But let’s get those numbers out there.

— — —

There are career ending schools in New York City, and I have started to put together a list of them. These places are so abusive of teachers, or so likely to arbitrarily discontinue teachers, that many people quit before the year is out, some are discontinued (it means fired, but in a way that prevents you from working at another school), and many others transfer for the next year. A school in the 50% turnover range is pretty much an automatic for a Do Not Apply list.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucky Star permalink
    July 30, 2008 am31 4:02 am 4:02 am

    Eximus College Preparatory Academy is one of the worst schools in the entire NYCDOE. Eximus is so bad a school that I would only advise a teacher to go there for one reason and one reason only: To destroy their career completely. Ms. Tammy Smith, the Principal, takes absolutely no responsibilty for anything. She blames the teachers and the rest of the staff for anything and evrything that goes wrong within Eximius, which is quite substanatial when one considers her complete lack of leadership ability. Additionally, she doesn’t care about the students of Eximius one bit. She only cares about money and her social status as the fouding Principal of Eximius.

  2. Present parent permalink
    August 1, 2008 am31 4:08 am 4:08 am

    I am a parent of a student at Eximius and know that Ms, Smith cares about all the students. One of the biggest problems is some of the staff last year especially the sixth grade teachers knew their content but had enormous issues with classroom management and could not control the students. Of course there are problems but I do not think that the hours Ms, Smith puts in is not about the money, What social status can one get by working for the DOE? I own my own business, have social status and that is so unimportant when it comes to helping children. I feel that hopefully the teachers who are left and those coming in this year can learn from all the things said and come together and help Ms, Smith do whatever to tur the school around. Eximius is about one of the few schools that allow Level 1 students entrance.

  3. Present parent permalink
    August 1, 2008 am31 4:11 am 4:11 am

    correction the hours she puts in is not about noney , She works more hours than she gets paid

  4. teacher permalink
    August 1, 2008 am31 4:26 am 4:26 am

    I am a veteran teacher who works in Manhattan. The biggest problem is the Fellows = my principal refuses to hire any. First of all you cannot train to be a reacher over the course of the summer , It is not entirely their fault. Just about anyone who has been laid-off, in-between-jobs or simply do not know what to do goes into teaching.
    The fellows feel they know everything and stays for their and feel they should principals. They also get no support from the

    fellows Program and are not told the truth before they enter the urban schools.

  5. teacher permalink
    August 1, 2008 am31 4:31 am 4:31 am

    error – stay for the required time

  6. August 1, 2008 am31 7:20 am 7:20 am

    @Present parent, feeling loyal to your school is a good thing. But in the case of Eximius, it is worth looking harder.

    Brand new teachers need to learn to teach… and if only half stay more than a year, how can that learning ever take place?

    I do not hold out much hope for this school.

    Do you think that the principal expects help from her staff? Look at the comments here. A good part of the staff feels abused, brutalized. I would not expect them to step up in the way you suggest.

    Finally, in the Bronx, almost every school takes Level 1 students. Nothing special, nothing unusual about that.

    @teacher – part of my (self-appointed) job is to try to tell Fellows the truth before they start.

    They deserve more respect from us (in general, I’m not saying you in particular are disrespectful) – going into teaching brand new is a brave and scary thing. And they need to have respect for those who have been teaching, who’ve learned to help kids despite the obstacles the DoE and some administrators put in our way.

    It’s not just the Fellows. I came in as a PPT, raw, lousy. In my school I got support from senior teachers, and now I’m starting my 12th year…

  7. Former Eximius Teacher permalink
    August 1, 2008 am31 8:30 am 8:30 am

    @present parent

    I just want to clarify something. Ms. Smith works very hard. In fact she often stayed until 9 or 10 pm when I worked in the building. I admire her for this. However, one of the reasons she worked so late is because she did not trust us to do things. Routinely, she would ask us to do things, and then re-do them. Thereby, dis-empowering us, and not giving us the kind of guidance and support many of us needed as new (and newer) teachers.

    I should also be noted that I now work in a smooth running school with an administrator that does not work half as much as Ms. Smith because she delegates to us. She then uses these things to guide us. It cuts down on her work load in the end because there are more of us to do the work in the building. This is one of the things sorely lacking at Eximius — traditions and systems for development of teachers and programs.

  8. XA2 veteran teacher permalink
    August 1, 2008 am31 9:07 am 9:07 am

    jd2718- very good blog. However, I was a staff developer , among other positions with the DOE. You came in as a PPT. Part of the problem is not the new principals – but the DOE as a whole. You hit the nail on the head – you were helped by senior teachers – those no longer exist – especially in smaller schools – some schools have teachers who taught 3 years and they are senior teachers. Please note with the empowerment schools- there are seldom literacy coaches/math coaches or staff developers. As much as some districts were corrupt – you had more support – professional development which helped you as a PPT develop. I hate to tell you that I work in Manhattan and some of my colleagues who transferred to the Bronx are now trying to get back in Manhattan. They said working in the Bronx, is like working for a different DOE especially since Bloomberg. Hopefully, things would turn around soon for Eximius- I am tempted to apply there just to help – I just might

  9. August 1, 2008 am31 10:23 am 10:23 am

    OK, we know some of what was better. But if turnover is very quick, how can we ever get that experience, that ‘human capital’ that used to help take new recruits and help turn them into teachers?

    Part of the answer might be finding productive ways to reach out to new teachers, Fellows or otherwise. They need help with so many things, starting with simple survival skills. And you are so right, it is much more serious in the Bronx.

    There are places that could desperately use you, that would welcome you. You want to do good? Write me off-blog, I’ll point you in some worthwhile directions.

    But Eximius seems to be past hope. Sorry. (I toyed with a similar idea, different school, just as bad, but I was nuts for even thinking it)

  10. XA2 permalink
    August 2, 2008 am31 9:07 am 9:07 am

    jd2718 thanks again, however I am a veteran of over 25 years and I personally help a variety of new, tenured and untenured teachers after school and on the weekends. I was part of teams that worked in SURR schools that was really beyond hope and today you will never believe it, so I know that Eximius is not past hope. As a matter of fact, I know a teacher who has worked at Eximius, also only a second year teacher and a fellow . She said that yes there were problems, but she is returning and happy to do so.

  11. August 2, 2008 pm31 2:47 pm 2:47 pm

    XA2, in a previous comment you used a different name and said that you used to work at Eximius. You are attempting to deceive the readers of this blog. You are not welcome here.

  12. parent permalink
    September 11, 2008 am30 4:06 am 4:06 am

    Two weeks into the school year and the uniform issue is back. Supension and being pull out of class for a uniform is uncalled for. this should have been adress from the 1st day. Many kids could not afford new uniforms this year. Many kids had their $90 jacket stolen in the previous 3 years. What are you parents going to do ? We don’t send our kids to school to be abused about clothes, we send them to get an education. Also the discipline problem is starting up again, What about that?. When this school open in 2005, the problem was not the students. It was leadership. From leadership on down now it has trickled down to the students in the last two years.Many things can CHANGE if Tammy, New adminstration, Parents and several 12 graders sit down and prepare a plan and action to suceed this year. This has never been done and until Eximius face it’s real issues and problems, it won’t work this year either. The one thing Tammy has that many schools don’t have is people who would work with her. But just like a addict , you can not force them into intervention unless they admit there is a problem. And when money is the addiction they wont stop to get help until they get arrested. So in this case , several people have to get fired and we have to start all over again with this school. The shame is that people leave instead of standing for CHANGE. In this school we are still in the BUSHES and there is not enough acountability from the Mayor on down. At least when the State had the system you could get some accountability. Parent unite with the teachers and dont trust the smunkies in the higher positions at Eximius. Talk to your children, encourage them this is their education. Don’t waste time hassleing the teachers and staff. Students CHANGE your behavior and follow the rules. Then maybe the adults will follow you the Future. This is a NEW YEAR.

  13. parent permalink
    September 11, 2008 am30 4:23 am 4:23 am

    XA2 NO EXIMIUS IS NOT BEYOND HOPE. BUT ITS HAS TO MAKE LEADERSHIP CHANGES. WHEN A SCHOOL OWN ENEMY HIRES AND FIRE BECAUSE OF PERSONAL CONFLICTS THEN THEY SHOULD BE REPLACED. WHEN THE TURNOVER RATE IS HIGH EACH YEAR THE LEADER SHOULD BE CHANGE. WHEN A PRINCIPAL IS DISLIKE ALMOST BY EVERYONE IN SCHOOL, OUT OF SCHOOL AND BY IT’S OWN BOE. SOMETHING IS WRONG.JUST LIKE BUSH WHO SNEAKED HIS WAY IN TO THE WHITE HOUSE, THIS PRINCIPAL HAS PEOPLE WHO HOLD HER THEIR FOR AN AGENDA. BUT JUST LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO USE HER TO SEE THIS SCHOOL FAIL, EVERYBODY HAS A DAY OF JUDGEMENT. YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW SOMEDAY. WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED USING HER SHE’LL BE GONE. BUT THE SHAME IS THAT GENOCIDE OF HUNDREDS OF STUDENTS LIVES ARE AT STAKES. JUST LOOK DOWN THE ROAD IN FIVE YEARS AND WHAT DO YOU SEE?

  14. PARENT permalink
    September 17, 2008 am30 12:47 am 12:47 am

    TAMMY SMITH DOES NOT CARE ABOUT OUR CHILDREN, AND IF YOU HAVE A CHILD AT EXIMIUS I SUGGEST YOU GET HIM OR HER OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THE TEACHER TURNOVER IS HERIFIC AND TRULY AFFECTS THE ABILITY FOR OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN AND GET THE CORRECT GRADES. EYE BROWS NEVER HAS TIME TO SPEAK WITH PARENTS AND WHEN SHE DOES IF YOU ARE LUCKY TO CATCH HER SHE PLAYS THE BLAME GAME. SHE NEEDS TO BE FIRED THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THE SCHOOL WIL EVER HAVE A CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING.

  15. PARENT permalink
    September 17, 2008 am30 12:49 am 12:49 am

    TAMMY SMITH DOES NOT CARE ABOUT OUR CHILDREN, AND IF YOU HAVE A CHILD AT EXIMIUS I SUGGEST YOU GET HIM OR HER OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THE TEACHER TURNOVER IS HORRIFIC AND TRULY AFFECTS THE ABILITY FOR OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN AND GET THE CORRECT GRADES. EYE BROWS NEVER HAS TIME TO SPEAK WITH PARENTS AND WHEN SHE DOES IF YOU ARE LUCKY TO CATCH HER SHE PLAYS THE BLAME GAME. SHE NEEDS TO BE FIRED THAT IS THE ONLY WAY THE SCHOOL WIL EVER HAVE A CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING.

  16. teacher permalink
    November 2, 2008 am30 4:26 am 4:26 am

    I just changed my career/job to become a teacher. This is my first year teaching in the Bronx. As I was reading some of these entries it made me feel even more anxious than how I would normally feel on a daily basis. Simply put, this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I am being put through the greatest test of my life and so far with many struggles I’m trying not to drown. As I was reading through this blog, I wholeheartedly agree that new teachers need to be taught basic survival skills. I know there are worse schools and better schools out there, but what do you do with kids that don’t care about their grades and just go to school to socialize. What do you do with those kids that constantly disrespect you? How do I deal with the epidemic of lateness and cutting? How can I make a student understand the importance of education? If I listed all my questions, I’d be here all night. Everything is data driven. This notion of data has me ripping apart my cuticles. The veteran teachers have been helpful and I have gotten support but I still feel lost and isolated. I know things take time. What are those basic survival skills. Please advise.

  17. another "disgruntled" employee permalink
    November 2, 2008 pm30 7:29 pm 7:29 pm

    teacher,

    Don’t feel lost or isolated. Your experience is shared by thousands of teachers around the city and millions around the country. You would be quite odd if you didn’t have this experience. Understand that these challenges are to be expected and they are challenges that you signed up for when you became a teacher, especially in the Bronx.

    This doesn’t mean you should accept being disrespected. But you need to separate yourself emotionally from the problem like a surgeon separates himself/herself from a surgery. Try to cut the problem (disrespectful behavior, noncaring attitude about learning, etc) out of the student and try to leave the student intact, better able to deal with the world.

    I know this is hard to remember when students yell “f@#k you” at you or throws something at you when your back is turned. But remember that these behaviors are almost symptoms of being a young person growing up in the kinds of environments that these kids come from.

    Also remember that your real life starts at 3pm.

  18. pbpcbs permalink
    November 3, 2008 pm30 7:04 pm 7:04 pm

    My first year at a hell hole school caused me to lose ~15% of my weight due to stress. (Since it was unplanned weight loss, it all came back…sigh.) A lot of things and people conspired to save my sanity and keep me in teaching, but one important item was being told that the November run up to Thanksgiving would be the lowest part of the first year experience. During early December most of the true miscreants start vanishing for the holidays, and, as long as you can avoid the sharp increase in thefts between the holidays, it gets gradually better (one fellow teacher had her notebook computer stolen during this time, another his winter coat). The next low, which shouldn’t be nearly as deep, is the long stretch between Winter and Spring break. Plan to take a mental health day or two during that time (just be careful of the holiday rules…best to take a mid-week sick day off). I was told all this just before Thanksgiving break, and while the second dip might have been a self-fulfilling prophesy, the first was a highly accurate discription of my reality. It turned out my two nightmare students both found jobs selling Christmas trees and vanished during the first week of December (not returning until the second week of January, whereupon they demanded to be given all the homeworks and tests from the time they missed–fortunately I could just print them out and hand them over…never saw anything back from either of them), and about 40% of the rest of the students vanished by the end of the second week. It later turned out that I really didn’t need the mental health days between breaks, but I took one anyway, just because the kids were complaining by that point that I hadn’t taken a single day off (always listen to your audience ;-).

    Even though the situation was difficult, it made a huge difference that I wasn’t targetted by the administration that year (the teachers who were had the principal or an AP sitting in on their classes 3+ times a week, were having almost daily “beginning of day” meetings to go over their lesson plans with a finetooth comb, etc.). All the teachers who received this special attention left teaching broken.

    Lastly, as mentioned in comment #17 above, it is very rare for a kid’s behavior towards you to be personal (and if it is clearly personal, talk to the union people as soon as possible…most administrations won’t lift a finger to protect you). It takes time and effort, but you *can* separate the behavior from the kid in your own mind. And, surprisingly to me, I found once I did, nearly all the kids started behaving more appropriately.

  19. November 4, 2008 pm30 4:43 pm 4:43 pm

    Thanks to ADE and pb… for responding. They hit good points.

    There’s lots that I could add, but let me hold it one item, alone:

    your main responsibility — to yourself, your students, your school — should be to survive the year. If you do that, you will be more valuable to all next year. And that is a good thing. Worry about everything you are worrying about, but realize that you are 20 going on 25% of the way done with Year 1, the worst and most awful year. You will, with time, have answers to some of your questions. Many won’t be satisfactory, but that’s the system, not you. For now, persevere. Each additional day is a small victory.

  20. Lopailani permalink
    November 10, 2008 am30 3:17 am 3:17 am

    I’ve been looking for a blog to help me learn more about teaching in NYC. I live in Hawaii and am planning to come and teach next summer. I’ve been teaching for 8 years and am ready for a change. Do you think it would be hard for me to find a job in Kindergarten at a good school? How would I go about finding a good school? I want to work and live in Brooklyn. I have a close friend near by. I would really appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.

  21. November 10, 2008 am30 4:04 am 4:04 am

    Lopailani,

    this may not be the right blog to learn about teaching in New York… but I don’t know which is the right one. You could try your luck with the NY Teachers in my blogroll, on the right. Flowers and Sausages? Mildly Melancholy teaches at a charter school. NY Teacher is an ESL pull-out, elementary. Chaz, NYC Educator, and Pissed Off Teacher are high school teachers with lots of years; the first two write about citywide school politics, but PO’ed writes more about her own school…

    Anyway, you’re doing the right thing by starting now. You might try Inside Schools or just the Department of Ed’s website. Here’s their school search page. Brooklyn is a very big place; you might want to focus a bit more. On the other hand, it’s often worth commuting a bit for a job…

    Narrow down a little, and start making contact. With lots of schools.

    Have you checked on reciprocity? I don’t know how it works. New York State has reciprocity with lots of states, but I don’t know about Hawaii. You might find info on the New York State Department of Education website

    What else? I don’t know how certification works in the earliest grades, but there might be a range of grades you would eligible to teach, and that could change year to year.

    Principals next year will get ‘billed’ for each teacher’s real salary – which is to say, there is an advantage to being experienced, but there is also a financial disadvantage to the principal. Maybe it makes sense to downplay your experience, at least a bit?

    idk, others will have more thoughts. But feel free to ask more questions.

    Good luck.

  22. another "disgruntled" employee permalink
    November 11, 2008 am30 1:05 am 1:05 am

    Lopailani,

    Just curious….why do you want to leave paradise to teach in Brooklyn? Were you born there? Have you lived anywhere else. If you know all about NYC and its culture, then these will seem like odd questions to you.

    I understand that Hawaii is not Kansas but…..The culture shock of teaching in NYC, especially in coming from a place like Hawaii, cannot not be overstated, in my opinion. Just living in Brooklyn alone will take some getting used to.

  23. cyndi permalink
    November 19, 2008 pm30 9:47 pm 9:47 pm

    I am starting to think that the teacher recruitment programs are just financial scams. They never told us the real deal after getting our tuition. My first job was in the best middle school in ____. I was loving the kids and they were learning; until “Back to School Night” when some parents decided they did not like my face and insisted that I probably cannot communicate well (I speak and write in English better than most Americans). So an SP 8th grade class (children of those parents) made my life miserable each day. The science AP – who forgot to order enough books for all students -sat and smiled at their antics. Two out of 3 new science teachers (I was one ) quit after the first month. The principal never tried to help me. Neither did the UFT rep who was putting down the other teacher as ‘incompetent’.

  24. Bright Star 3 permalink
    May 13, 2009 pm31 7:54 pm 7:54 pm

    Bronx Aerospace continues to lose staff at a rate that would destroy a private business. Half of the teachers this year are brand new. The fuhrer continues to try to force out teachers–by constant letters in the file, U’s on most lessons. Programs are changed constantly, (both teachers’ and students—even as late as May. Some teachers have three different schedules each week) now, when teachers should be finishing up the term work and reviewing, about two weeks is wasted on mock Regents (run like the Regents exam). If kids don’t pass, they are not allowed to take the Regents, which may be illegal.

    The objective is not for kids to actually learn but simply to pass state exams and make the numbers look good. Teachers have to document five interventions before they can fail a student. A science teacher was driven out in December because she failed an entire class (for doing no work). Class behavior is generally unacceptale in many classes and principal insists (she has never been a teacher) that if teachers were good enough and “engaged” their students, they would have no behavior problems. Funny that talking about bloods and crips, sex and fighting is not a way to pass a math or science or even history Regents.

    Most of the staff that is there now wants to leave and will leave as soon as they can. In 2007-2008, we lost two APs (we have four, five administrators for about 400 kids) and sixteen teachers (in a teaching staff of about thirty. They went after one of the replacement APs. If a kid makes an accusation, you are considered guilty and pulled out of the classroom–and the kids know it. The most troublesome kids will tell you that they will tell the admins that you hit them or cursed at them. There are a lot of nice kids here who are dragged down academically and behaviorally by the chaos, and many students transfer out.

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