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Superintendent threatens principal for offering teacher tenure

May 9, 2011 pm31 10:31 pm

Absurd? Ridiculous? Yes. But true.

The story that follows is from a NYC teacher, third year, in a middle school in a NYC district. Her name and school are not available yet, but will be, soon.

She saw the story I wrote last week, about my friend up for tenure instead having his probation extended, about all the probationers in his school being extended, en masse, without even looking at them.

And she added her own story. Read it:

About Me:

  • -I have been teaching for more than eight years – all but the last three were in the State of Texas.
  • -I currently teach at a school that received an A.
  • -The TDI from my first year in the DOE called me a “Low Performing” teacher – I had 67 students, zero failed, one got a two, all the rest earned threes and fours. From my reading of that TDI report, the growth rate of my students was -.07 which seems to me to be just about a years worth of growth, on average, for my students.
  • -The new TDI report calls me “Average”, and it doesn’t mention the rate of student growth. I read this article: http://www.edwize.org/burying-the-bias-in-the-teacher-data-reports#_ftn2 and theorized that that could have something to do with the reason, but I will admit that all of these numbers and the analysis of them confuse me.
  • -As far as this year goes, with two CTT classes and one SETTS class, not one of my students failed the predictive assessment. I have every confidence that my students were amazing on the ELA that they took this past week.

———————–

(letter to UFT borough office follows)

Dear ______________,

Attached is the extension letter that I received from my principal this morning. I had previously been recommended, but due to pressure from the superintendent, my principal was forced to give me and the five other people up for tenure Letters of Extension (she told him that if he didn’t give us the extension letters that she would fire all of us). All of the other teachers were given extension letters weeks ago, and the principal decided at the last minute on Friday to recommend tenure for them, but I got my extension letter today.

I do not intend to sign the extension letter for several reasons. One, I am a teacher deserving of tenure (according to the rubric I was given in December) at a school in which I am a vital part of the community. Two, this process was time consuming and I will not go through it again. I spent months creating my tenure portfolio with the assurance from Alfred Gonzalez that the superintendent has promised that tenure would be handled on a case-by-case basis. I am an excellent educator, and my time needs to be spent innovating my classroom and not constantly worrying about how to present information about my classroom to a person that doesn’t seem interested in looking at it anyway.

This process has really made me question the effectiveness of the public school system. I teach at a school that I am completely in love with. I have a relationship with every single one of my 90+ students. My students’ test scores have shown more than a year’s worth of growth. I communicate with parents every week through email and provide and update a website with information. I have 51 glowing letter of recommendations in my tenure portfolio from parents, students, and colleagues. If the Department of Education is willing to communicate to me that they aren’t sure of me as a teacher, then I am prepared to find other ways to utilize my gifts as an educator.

Sincerely yours,

signed

——————-

When my principal gave me the extension letter on Friday he told me that he didn’t agree that I needed/deserved to have my tenure extended. He added that, “If you don’t come back, I’m notcoming back.”

I am officially “recommended” by the principal because he says he can’t change it, but…

Last Friday, at the last minute, he decided to recommend all of us for tenure because he felt it was the right thing to do.

The Superintendent basically told him that if he wanted to remain the principal, she would support him, but that if he wanted to leave, she’d understand. She also either told him or hinted to him that the staying and supporting wouldn’t happen unless he gave us all letters of extension (I was the only one that didn’t get one initially). She also told him that if he didn’t do it she would fire all of us. So this was a blanket extension – the superintendent hasn’t even looked at the beautiful portfolio that shows who I am as a teacher outside of faulty TDI reports (the reason I know this is that it has been in my possession except for the three days that the Assisstant Principal had it in her filing cabinet this week), and the principal told me that the superintendent has not been to the school and has not looked at it. It is now in my possession again because I want to make sure that I know if and when she looks at it.

All of this was told to me by the principal.

Yesterday, he gave me a Letter of Extension that I refused to sign. I have been assured by the UFT and the principal’s hunch is that I will be denied. Apparently, if that happens, I will be immediately removed from the classroom to await a hearing that will take “months.” I am prepared for this possibility.

I am also assured by the UFT that I will probably lose. They really, really pressured me to sign it. But I won’t do it.

It is nothing short of cruelty to give teachers a four-pronged rubric to satisfy and then not even look at if or how they satisfied it, and I don’t want to let them get away with it. But it does mean that I am probably going to lose my job because as a probationary teacher, I have no protections and they can fire me for any non-discriminatory reason they want. I spent hours and months putting together a true picture of the teacher they would be rewarding with tenure, and I am furious that it wasn’t even considered in the decision to extend.

I believe the main reason they are giving is that our principal has only been at the school for two years (even though the rubric says that two years is what is required). Ironically, both the principal and superintendent approved tenure for two teachers last year after he’d only been there for one year, but I’m guessing that was because the pressure to deny, deny, deny was less last year than this year.

When and if I am removed from the classroom, I have a feeling that there will be a lot noise from the parents based on the fact that with one request, I got thirty-four amazing letters of recommendation from them.

I think that my only hope is for the principal to convince the superintendent that it won’t be worth it to deny me because I won’t remain silent about any of this.

But it also means that I need to start planning for how I’m going to pay my rent and feed myself.

But I know this. The thing about which I am most confident in myself is my ability to teach and reach kids, and to learn and grow throughout my “tenure” as an educator. I did a pretty good job of showing that in my portfolio. And once I got started creating it, I didn’t even regret the process. It helped me know who I am. And if the DOE isn’t sure of me as a teacher, then I am certainly sure that I do not want to work for the DOE.

The irony is, I actually agree that tenure as it has been in the past is a problem and making the process more of a reward for excellence is a good idea, but I am so confident in my abilities as a teacher that I know that that is not what is happening here.

My questions are:

  • -Who are the teachers that are being granted tenure this year? What schools are the in? What kinds of schools are they in? What districts are they in? Who are they friends with?
  • -If my colleague who is also up for tenure is being honest (and I have no reason to think they’re not), why did the principal say “off the record” that the DOE is trying to get the tenure approval rate down to 50%? Isn’t that a quota and against any philosophy of tenure becoming a reward that you can earn?
  • -Why do the 2011 up-for-tenure teachers have to be the ones to suffer while the DOE tries to passively eliminate tenure by just not granting it to anybody? That seems patently unfair and downright shady.
  • -Why is bullying being used as a tactic in tenure decisions?
  • -Why is a person who has very little idea who I am as a teacher able to override the person who does?

I’m sure I have other questions about the injustice of this (for both teachers and students), but I can’t think of them right now.

I know that I can just sign the letter and keep my job, but my conscience tells me not to, and I don’t think I could make my hand sign it anyway.

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2011 pm31 11:03 pm 11:03 pm

    Good lord. Thanks for posting this! Will share widely!

  2. Mach permalink
    May 10, 2011 pm31 1:19 pm 1:19 pm

    …and people wonder why teacher unions exist….

  3. John G permalink
    May 10, 2011 pm31 8:17 pm 8:17 pm

    Lord!! Please just sign the letter and be back to fight another day. If you, and only you, refuse to sign, the doe will pick you off like a stray from the herd. But if you sign, you can be active and vocal from inside your classroom and the system during all of next year. That’s an entire year to connect with others who like you, have been denied tenure, like the uft who will organize rallies and with people like me, who will go and march on behalf of our colleagues and our profession (and there are a hell of a lot of people like me).
    If you read this..please think it over. This is really just the beginning.

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 10, 2011 pm31 9:03 pm 9:03 pm

      Do you really think the UFT cares at all about young teachers. I feel they look out for themselves and would never allow this to happen to them. What do you think would happen if every tenured teacher had to prove growth over the last two years or loss tenure – there would definitely be a fight then.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    May 10, 2011 pm31 9:49 pm 9:49 pm

    STANDING ALONE

    It is totally unacceptable for us to allow any teacher to stand alone in a fight against a system that is inherently flawed, unfair, unsupportive, and dysfunctional. It is time for the Department of Education to stop abusing their power and authority and start treating teachers in a more respectful, professional manner. The current issue surrounding the ever increasing number of extension of probation cases must be reviewed immediately by all involved. It has been reported recently that a more than average number of teachers throughout the city, as many as twelve (12) to fifteen (15) teachers in a single school, have been approached with an offer to sign in agreement or be terminated with little or no explanation. These numbers are totally ridiculous and should be an obvious signal to everyone that something is wrong. The current state education law certainly does allow for an extension of probation of a teacher in a license area. What is implicit and important to understand in this process is that a principal and/or superintendent must have a legitimate reason for denying the completion of probation of any employee and offering such an extension of probation. This certainly would seem to be fair. The answer to this serious mismanagement and abuse of local power is to require principals and superintendents to produce appropriate and acceptable documentation to support their claims. If, in fact, there are legitimate reasons for an extension of probation then it should be offered to the employee with full disclosure and explanation. But, on the other hand, if an employee has completed three (3) years of satisfactory service the law requires tenure. We need to stand together with all of the teachers who fall into this category and as a UNION call upon Chancellor Walcott to personally review this serious matter immediately. Anything less is unacceptable. What do you think?

  5. May 11, 2011 am31 9:05 am 9:05 am

    To the teacher:

    Your superintendent is under intense pressure to deny as many tenures as possible. The rubric is BS – just another method used that they can hold against teachers to deny them that tenure. Since you aparently meet the criteria for tenure – they have no good answers for you other than to just tell you to agree to the extension. This is all a game and the losers are the teachers and ultimately the students.
    The principal’s primary concern is his own job. He’ll do whatever it takes to make his life easier. They are also pressured to get veteran teachers to retire early.
    The education “reformers” are trying to dismantle the teaching profession as we know it. The first item is tenure. They are trying to eliminate anyone over age 50. They are making the job as miserable as possible so younger teachers don’t last long enough to collect higher salaries and pensions. Next will be getting rid of requirements for teacher certifications. They want teaching to not be a profession but a JOB and one that you do for a couple of years and then leave.
    Despite what they say to the contrary, they don’t care about our students so why would we expect them to care about our teachers. Make no mistake – this is all about money.

  6. Wife of Mr. X, another teacher permalink
    May 11, 2011 pm31 1:02 pm 1:02 pm

    The writer and most of the commenters have it 100% right. But there’s more to add, too.

    While the DOE is withholding tenure from wonderful teachers like you, they are also withholding satisfactory ratings from wonderful (“S” ratings for many years and not sitting back and being lazy now at all!) tenured teachers like my husband. This is, no doubt, to save money. The principals are being coached by DOE lawyers on how to make great teachers look bad on paper, and these principals are not only abusing this power, but also being rewarded for doing this, to boot.

    The goal is to get these tenured teachers to quit. Or, if the teacher wants to keep teaching as long as possible, the second goal is to get the teacher to have so many “U” ratings that they can be brought up on 3020a, and then fired, fined, or both. (Somehow there’s lots of money for DOE lawyers, but not for teachers in the classroom!)

    Whether it’s great teachers who can’t get tenure, or it’s great tenured teachers who are being tortured by the lies being put into their files, several things are clear:

    1) The system saves money by not granting tenure.

    2) The system saves money when tenured teachers are driven from their jobs, to be either not replaced at all (hiring freeze), or replaced by a “newbie” straight out of college (at the bottom of the pay scale), who’s not tenured and is afraid to say “boo”.

    3) Even those “lucky” few who receive tenure in this upside-down climate of teaching, are not going to feel completely lucky — only for that year and perhaps the next few. Why? Because, as soon as they make enough money (or learn how to say “boo” fearlessly, or both), their excellent teaching is going to be turned into mincemeat — foregone findings of unsatisfactory teaching “justified” with phony use of educational jargon and even out-and-out lies, about which the teacher has the burden of proving false — so that the principals save money (and get rewarded for it, to boot). What kind of “tenure” is that, anyway????

    4) The union is doing little — at best, not nearly enough — to help these teachers in both tortured groups: those getting extensions instead of tenure, and those seasoned professionals who are getting lies put into their files.

    5) There is something suspect about a union that won’t organize around these two issues; these issues affect everyone in the union except the retired and those tenured crony teachers who receive protection from their principals.

    6) The teachers themselves need to do something about this union, which takes significant amounts from the paychecks and puts out glossy magazines and full-color newspapers, and backs political candidates and governmental agendas, but is not really there for us MEMBERS when we really need them. A regular, well-meaning worker from the union office is no match for the DOE pit bulls, when there’s a grievance, a hearing, etc.

    7) The answer is not what happened in Wisconsin. That situation just makes teachers look like spoiled brats who value their paychecks more than valuing being where they are contracted to be: in the classroom. (If the union had gone by proper procedures and gone on a real, legal strike, that would be another story. Wildcat actions like that in Wisconsin are understandable, but they backfire for the reasons I just mentioned.)

    8) I have to say this; PLEASE hear me out. The truth is that the unions have been co-opted by the governments and officials with whom they negotiate. All of this “playing politics” by the unions and their Political Action Committees, etc., have led to back-scratching of the worst kind. In New York City, during the past ten years, the last contracts have increased the pay scale for teachers, and in exchange, many, many job protections were given up.

    9) Now here’s the part I’m really going to have to beg you to hear out: The teachers have been co-opted by the bigger salaries that are part of the package now. Do teachers really want to go back to the bad old days of about 10-15 years back, when starting salaries were so low that the City was sending recruiters to the Caribbean to get teachers, and when the City was actively recruiting uncertified people to teach (and giving them a certain number of years to scramble to get the education credits and get certified) — throwing them into the classroom and basically (silently) telling them to sink or swim?

    10) Nothing’s going to change until teachers are willing to risk it all, insisting the Union go to bat — even striking (legally!) if necessary — to force the public to see the truth, that public school teachers are not spoiled brats. Rather, they are war-weary combat veterans who, despite the slings and arrows from the administrations, go and work every day to focus on the real objective: educating their pupils. When school administrations practice “constructive dismissal” (torturing teachers in order to drive them to quit), these administrations are not acting “in good faith” and our union is doing precious little-to-nothing to address this!

    11) For sure, a new Tier is coming for benefits and retirement. Watch. As soon as that has been instituted, there will be a renewed push to get rid of as many teachers as possible who are on the old tiers (which have better benefits and retirement packages; if they retire before working enough years for full benefits to kick in, the city and state save megabucks!). I also suspect that Bloomberg will not let up on the stingyness of granting tenure until (at the earliest) the new Tier is in place. This is to steal from you and all of the other teachers not granted tenure under the Tier we’re on now.

    ARE TEACHERS WILLING TO RISK IT ALL AND FIGHT FOR WHAT’S RIGHT?? OR HAVE WE BEEN SO CO-OPTED THAT WE’LL JUST TAKE IT LYING DOWN, GROUSING, BUT DOING NOTHING TO RIGHT THE WRONGS?

  7. Jeff Kaufman permalink
    May 11, 2011 pm31 7:44 pm 7:44 pm

    This issue is clearly system wide. At our school the denial of tenure was first promised and then withdrawn with a superintendent meeting to review portfolios and hold in abeyance a final decision. After telling us, since we are a failing school and 3 years is not enough time it is clear she will extend probation.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that there will be months waiting for a hearing. There is no hearing, unless you call a rubber stamp after you have been discontinued, a hearing.

    We met with a UFT District Rep and a UFT VP for High Schools who clearly are not going to do anything about it although they assured us they will have their lawyers “look into it.”

    Just remember (which the UFT stooges did not know) if you don’t sign and you are not discontinued you automatically get tenure if you have 3 years despite what the UFT or the DOE say. Having it said that it is playing Russian roulette since they probably will discontinue you once you don’t agree to an extension.

    What we need is a union that organizes everyone, including probationers and can plausibly threaten that no one signs an extension. See how they operate the school system without all of these teachers!

    Good luck on whatever you decide.

  8. Been There, Done That! permalink
    May 11, 2011 pm31 11:24 pm 11:24 pm

    I have experienced the brutality of the DOE. I worked as a teacher from 2006-2009. I was rated satisfactorily the entire way until May 2009. I was observed, rated “U” on the lesson, rated “U” for the year and promptly discontinued. I was removed from the payroll in August 2009.

    I petitioned the superintendent with a 5 page letter. I immediately filed a grievance and attended the internal hearing (3 person panel) in late September. Two later the discontinuance was sustained. I was appalled, distressed and angry. I couldn’t believe the blatant inequity.

    I refused to accept the outcome. I hired a lawyer with thousands of dollars from my savings to fight for my reputation and for my students. They were losing a phenomenal teacher because of political games that had nothing to do with teaching and learning.

    Months went by unemployed, angry and fighting with multiple legal exchanges between my lawyer and the DOE. Finally a date(March 2010) to make a short appearance in court came and went. Thirty days later the final judgement was handed down: discontinuance sustained.

    As a probationer you have no due process rights…..N-O-N-E! Your building rep will not fight for you. Your district rep will not fight you. The UFT will not fight. I had to learn this the hard way. I was very naive. I believed deeply that I was a union member and in the face of injustice I would be protected. I was so wrong! I’ve never been more wrong in my life.

    You have no recourse at all. They can deny tenure, extend tenure or discontinue probation and there is nothing you can do….internally or externally. It will stand!

    Things have worsened progressively since 2009. My advice: if you want to retain your paycheck, sign the extension and hope for the best. Not signing to make a political statement will be lost on deaf ears. You are one of many……

    People have short term memories….once gone you will be forgotten.

    And once you are off the payroll, getting back on is almost impossible. This is the second school year into my unemployment. Almost all license areas are frozen…..

    I gave been through unalterated H-E-L-L!
    It can and will happen to you too!!!! Sign the extension……

  9. May 17, 2011 pm31 1:18 pm 1:18 pm

    There are many reasons W. Edwards Deming said high performing organizations need to get rid of the annual employee evaluation, beyond just the fact that 85% of the problems are caused by management. This case highlights many of those reasons.

    Any way to get Arne Duncan to comment on this? The assault on good teachers and good teaching has done more to hamper student advancement than anything else; this alone might explain our failure to get student achievement we hoped to get with education reforms.

    In short, this sort of action is exactly the sort of action that the Excellence in Education report said would cause us to consider it an act of war, if done by a foreign power.

    Why is the administration conducting war on good teachers? How can New York achieve its goals, if the administration is warring with the quality teachers?

    How can America be great with administrators this clueless?

  10. Un-tenured teacher permalink
    May 18, 2011 pm31 10:19 pm 10:19 pm

    I am also in the same situation. I am in a school where four teachers were denied tenure for no concrete reason. We were forced to sign agreements and told that if we did not sign we would be discontinued. Aside from the obvious issue that the tenure guidelines were set after our start date it seems there are discrepancies about what will lead to tenure. I started to teach because I truly wanted to make a difference, yet it seems that the best thing to do is to go and work in the districts where tenure is being granted. Our probation is extended yet there is no clear expectation that has but set as to what one needs to improve upon. The worst part is we were never given a chance to even turn in a portfolio.

  11. Queens Teacher permalink
    May 21, 2011 am31 11:26 am 11:26 am

    This seems to be the status quo, beginning last year. I know of teachers who were given extension letters without any “U” ratings and any explanation. The same was told to them, sign or be fired. They said you need more time as a blanket “reason” for the extension. I was appalled that it happened last year and it wasn’t in the news. Because no one spoke out about it last year, it is even worse this year. Untenured teachers pay dues and are told not to ask the union for help.

    This year I was given two weeks notice to create a portfolio of my past three years of teaching two weeks before my students had to take the New York State tests. I had to stop focusing on preparing them for the tests that the DOE places so much emphasis on and start focusing on saving my job.

    At the end of last year, my principal told me “I can guarantee you tenure.” Obviously that was not true. I was set up to fail. Information was withheld until the last moment and then insufficient time was provided. In my opinion, this is so they can deny tenure to more teachers. I know of other teachers who were informed by their principals of the need for a portfolio with almost the entire year to prepare. The rubric for granting tenure is subjective and a guise used to deny teachers based on insufficient evidence. This systematic behavior is underhanded and despicable. It makes everyone tense, and stressed teachers are not effective teachers, no matter how good they could be. It’s not fair to the teachers, and it is a travesty for the students.

  12. May 23, 2011 pm31 9:23 pm 9:23 pm

    I am in the same situation. However, teachers at my school, who do half of what I do were given tenure because they don’t have a TDI. I, on the other hand, teach ELA, and despite my endless list of professional contributions, model lessons, and wonderful recommendations am being denied because my students did not go up enough on the state test. Meanwhile, they come in as high 3’s and 4’s and can barely answer recalling fact and detail questions. Several of the students have told me their fifth grade teachers gave them cues to assist them on the state exam. How am I supposed to compete?
    I ended up signing the letter because I can’t afford to lose my job, but I give you a lot of respect for not signing it. I plan on riding out the next year doing what I can for the kids, and limiting my contributions to the building and the DOE (like not letting them use me as a model teacher for quality review, or use my model curriculum map to present at district meetings!). I don’t plan on submitting a portfolio next year, as my superintendent didn’t even look at mine, just said no because of my TDI. Let them deny my tenure next year when I have another job lined up. Ridiculous! DOE will lose the best teachers this way.

  13. Lisa permalink
    May 27, 2011 pm31 2:07 pm 2:07 pm

    I was denied tenure this year! I have taught for 16 yrs and never had a problem until i came to this school. I was written up three times and they were full of inaccuracies. I had witnesses and the administration would not listen to them regarding my case. The three write ups were trivial things – 1) the principal said that i was four min. late picking my kids up from lunch. I have a witness that I was not llate and the assst prin was not telling the truth. 2) I was told that ONE parent had not gotten class newsletters for a few months – had evidence that other children received theirs. She wrote me up and took that ONE parent’s word and would not listen to me or read the letters from parents saying they had received all the newsletters. 3) I was written up because the asst principal claimed that I let a child go to lunch after he had an accident in his pants. (first grade). I told her that was not true the child was not wet- I had a letter and the mother’s assurance that the child did not wet his pants. She would not listen to the parent and wrote me up anyway. I have 50 letters from parents, students, and former supt. that sing my praises, it doesn’t matter. My careeer is over and i was unjust. I feel helpless what do I do?
    Help!

    • Anonymous permalink
      October 25, 2011 pm31 8:51 pm 8:51 pm

      If still employed at the district, take the information to the school board

  14. Jackie permalink
    May 28, 2011 pm31 10:23 pm 10:23 pm

    There are 2 assistant principals at Information Technology High School in Long Island City. One of them was fired from his previous school and managed to get into this Queens High School via false information. The other called in sick when he actually went on a vacation during school time. He was investigated by the Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI). SCI recommended that this assistant principal be terminated and not be able to work in any NYC public schools. The letter was sent to Joel Klein, Chancellor at that time, in December 2010. Yet, both of them are still in the system. Dept. of Education should clean up their own act. We all should get in touch with the news media and put DOE in the Hall of Shame.

  15. Jackie permalink
    May 29, 2011 am31 8:24 am 8:24 am

    Everyone, let’s get the news media involved and shame the DOE for their bullying tactics and the UFT for not protecting their members. What are we paying UFT for? Here is the Arnold Diaz’s Shame On You site:
    http://www.myfoxny.com/subindex/about_us/contact_us

    If we all use the same subject line “Extension of Probation”, perhaps Fox 5 News will bring it out to the public if the response is huge.

  16. teacheronpurpose permalink
    May 29, 2011 am31 10:34 am 10:34 am

    The UFT should have encouraged us to refuse to sign the document. According to the Bronx Borough rep, 4000 teachers in the Bronx alone had their tenure extended. The union is now investigating the matter, but only after we have waved our rights in order to keep our jobs. The best way to make any change is through collective action!

  17. pbpcbs permalink
    May 29, 2011 pm31 9:25 pm 9:25 pm

    You make the naive assumption that the UFT cares about untenured teachers. In my (now 4 years out of date) experience, only a small minority of individual UFT executives did — Randi herself certainly did not and her view was reflected by the UFT management. This year’s stories tell me that the UFT’s distain for teachers that haven’t, as I was told, “put in enough years to matter” continues. Bost and Blige are the role models for principals aspiring to please the DoE. Those two have been extending and terminating untenured teachers for YEARS and somehow, even after couple of colorful but meaningless UFT protests, they are still in office.

  18. Jackie permalink
    May 30, 2011 am31 11:57 am 11:57 am

    We all should fight this DOE collectively. Using the same subject line might help to catch their attention: “Dept. Of Education – Extension of Probation Agreement”. Everyone, please do your part.

    Arnold Diaz’s Shame On You site:
    http://www.myfoxny.com/subindex/about_us/contact_us

    Newsday Columnist – joye.brown@newsday.com joye.brown@newsday.com
    Subject Line: Dept. Of Education – Extension of Probation Agreement

    Not sure if NYCLU can help regarding this “waiving all rights” in the Extension of Probation Agreement, but we should try all avenues:
    The Legal Assistance Department can be reached by:
    Phone: 212-607-3300 on Mondays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Fax: 212-607-3329
    Post: New York Civil Liberties Union
    125 Broad Street, 19th Floor
    New York, NY 10004
    Attention: Legal Intake Committee
    http://www.nyclu.org/files/UpdatedRequestforLegalAssistanceForm.pdf

  19. Hardworkdoesntpayoff ... permalink
    May 31, 2011 pm31 9:35 pm 9:35 pm

    While reading this letter I felt as if you were reading my mind and verbalizing everything that I have been contemplating for the last 5 hours. I too was recommended by administration fo tenure, worked exceptional hard on my portfolio, and go above and beyond the “call of duty” on a daily basis. I KNOW that I am a good teacher and put forth a tremendous effort in everything that I do. I was informed at the end of the day TODAY, that I would be getting an extension of my probationary period, solely based upon the TDI data reviewed by the current superintendent. To say that I was upset, embarassed, as well as demoralized is an understatement. If I thought that my principal/assistant principal agreed that I needed another year to “improve” I could have accepted that decision because they see me at work on a daily basis. It was not however, it was a superintendent who has never met me, yet alone see me teach, that ultimately made that call based upon my TDI reports. Those TDI reports failed to highlight that during my first year, as a traveling Math teacher (7th&8th grades) I did not have desk until February 9th (6 months after the start of school year) or the fact that I taught in 7 different classrooms per week, and that they were 2 SETTS classes and one ELL class). I am disappointed in the system but almost more so in the UFT, in which I contribute a great deal of money, for not doing ANYTHING about this issue. When I read the posts of the stories that mimic mine, I can’t help but wonder why and how such a self proclaimed strong union would allow this to occur? It also saddens me that when I asked my union representative for guidance his response was “sometimes these things happen, and the union can’t help you with this one, so just sign the paper a bring a copy to the UFT office”. I am appauled and disgusted by the unions lack of interest pertaining to this huge issue. I would love to bring this to the attention of the media and highlight the flaws of the DOE, as well the UFT but I do not know what kind of reaction and attention I would obtain from such actions. Would that jeopardize my job, where I work, and my relationships with my administration ?

    • KMTM permalink
      May 31, 2011 pm31 11:15 pm 11:15 pm

      The unfortunate truth is that the UFT does not have recourse in the matter of its newest members receiving tenure. Tenure is NOT part of the UFT/DOE contract. It is derived through NYS legislation.

      My understanding is that the UFT is trying to determine if the number of probation extensions is spiking this year. I realize it is cold comfort but your chapter leader gave the best advice he could.
      Please consider providing the UFT with the specifics of your situation so that “data” can be presented to strengthen the position that the TDIs are being weighted more than 20-40% in teachers’ evaluations and that those evaluations are being usurped from the CEOs of the building. Not only are teaching professionals being undermined but so are building administrations.
      Know that you have many colleagues who are trying to shed light on this absurd charade of rating teachers using data that experts have cited as flawed.

    • sandie permalink
      June 20, 2011 am30 11:33 am 11:33 am

      The time has come for all teachers who were coerced into signing the extension agreement by being told if you do not sign this-you will be terminated, to fight back. Most union reps. did not assist their probationary teachers and instruct them not to sign it. In fact the union reps. in conjunction with the principal, strong armed probationary teachs into signing their rights away. Its time for a Class Action on behalf of all wronged probationary teachers, one of which happens to be someone in my family, who qualified for tenure last June,2010 having had 3 years of Satisfactory Ratings, acceptible amounts of absences and never a letter in his file. As veteran teachers we need to stand up for our young educators who are being hung out to dry. The problem is that that they are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. How do we get these kids to band together – there is power in numbers. Please respond so we can get the this going-our union is useless and has turned away from its newest members despite the fact they are paying their union dues each month. What a slap in the face.

  20. August 9, 2011 am31 12:31 am 12:31 am

    geez, how did all these other comments get on here!

  21. Guest permalink
    August 15, 2011 am31 4:55 am 4:55 am

    Doesn’t anyone believe in petitioning the Commissioner of Education within thirty days under Education Law §310?

    See:

    http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals

  22. Anonymous permalink
    August 20, 2011 pm31 9:19 pm 9:19 pm

    So, what is the status of your “situation” ? The NYC DOE is corrupt.

  23. Audrey Monaco permalink
    October 27, 2011 pm31 5:07 pm 5:07 pm

    As a teacher who grieved my discontinuance (after being denied tenure after 2 years of Satisfactory work and then surprisingly a year of unsatisfactory work…ahem…) I can honestly say there is nothing you can do about any of this. I am disgusted and completely offended at the lack of justice in the grievance hearing procedure. I just want everyone to know that after the hearing is done a panel of three individuals votes. Even if the vote is in your favor, meaning that they agree your discontinuance or denial of tenure was unfairly given, the vote is merely a RECOMMENDATION TO THE SUPERINTENDENT THAT LET YOU GO IN THE FIRST PLACE! The superintendent gets the results of the vote (you certainly don’t unless you request it through the Freedom of Information Liberties act) and then he/she decides if your discontinuance gets overruled. Surprise, it never or hardly ever gets overruled by the superintendent that signed your discontinuance. Who would overrule a decision it if it meant someone would probably sue you for their sallary?
    What is the point of a hearing at all if the decision doesn’t matter either way. Shady business….this whole UFT/DOE nonsence. Who would want to be a teacher after all this? I sure don’t. Sorry I wasted 2 years of my life getting a Masters degree so I could jump over hoops for nothing.
    And trust me, working in a “good school” just means that the principals can do whatever they want and nobody gives a crap because “something is obviously working there.” Yeah, something is working but it smells more like crap and less like justice.

    • October 27, 2011 pm31 5:22 pm 5:22 pm

      So, the truth is that principals can and do fire at will.

      Has this non-granting of tenure, that is, firing at will, offered any measurable improvement in education outcomes? Where are the numbers?

      According to conservative hypothesis, the schools you worked at should be superior by now . . .

  24. Jane Doe permalink
    December 1, 2011 pm31 12:33 pm 12:33 pm

    It is unbelievable but my principal forged my name to the extension of probation agreement, (and I was not the only teacher this was done to) He gave me a U in my fourth year as an ATR teaching Spanish (I am NOTcertified to teach Spanish and I can not read, write, understand or speak it). I never had any charges against me or any write-ups. I previously had 3 years of Satisfactory Appointed service in my subject area. In my four years of teaching I was only formally observed once and had no informal observations. Yes the principal still had his job. I am sewing hoping to win!

  25. Anonymous permalink
    June 29, 2012 pm30 1:44 pm 1:44 pm

    I am first year teaching at DOE (taught somewhere else before). I regret coming here. I am not up to tenure yet, but by reading all of your stories, I know it will probably happen to me soon. This year, only 1 teacher at my school received tenure. This year, I spent lots of my personal time helping my school, without pay (They said “We’ll pay you when we have budget, and I don’t expect), and I hope by doing all of this, they won’t give me a hard time. However, they seemed to be nice to me when they “used”me. In the end of the school year, when most things they wanted were done, they started to make my life miserable as they do to most teachers. All the teachers were shocked what they did to me but not surprised because they did it to other teachers, too.

    I really do not know how many years I will be teaching for DOE, maybe I’ll quit, maybe they’ll fire me someday. With all of this in mind, how much can I focus on teaching? I do know next year, when they need me to be a free labor again, I will say no. I should just focus on my kids and my family.It was a shame to me to think helping them out will make my life easier! WRONG! When I think back, when other teachers said to me “I think they like you.” I realize now that they never like me but my free labor and almost saying “yes” to everything.

    Teaching is hard to become a career anymore but a “job” with all the politics going inside and outside the school. All the teachers should just look out for ourselves. In this way, one day if you don’t get tenured or simply get fired, you won’t feel that bad when you know how much you did.

    One of the teachers at my school quit after teaching for a few months. I think she was smart enough to leave before getting herself into troubles.

    Hopeless on teaching!!!

  26. Anonymous permalink
    June 29, 2012 pm30 2:07 pm 2:07 pm

    Everyone should be writing the Union President. I have tenure but I faught hard to get it, in a nut shell the Principal forged signatures on teacher extension letters and the school never did observations (I had one observation in 4 years). I had a hearing but even without a single once of proof of anything negative on the part of the teacher, you will lose your hearing because it will go back to the same Superintendent even though it is supposed to go to the chancelor. I got a lawyer sued the DOE and I won. My advice to everyone is do not become a NYC school teacher, the DOE is corrupt the Union is a bunch of do nothing idiots I wrote the Union President twice in the last month with no response maybe we need a class action against the union for collecting dues and not going their job or take your stories to the news. BTW when you do get tenure you have the option not to get observed but to be on a school committee, the union does not back that either but it is in our contract

    • Mystery Poster!!!!! permalink
      June 29, 2012 pm30 6:25 pm 6:25 pm

      I so agree with you. I am tired of paying union dues yet I get close to no representation.
      WTF

  27. Anonymous permalink
    June 10, 2013 pm30 3:07 pm 3:07 pm

    I was forced to take an early retirement at the end of the 2012 school yr. due to receiving a U after working in an E.S. middle school room in the city for 21/2 yrs. The reason? I was told my students did not show growth in how they acted towards one another. They had extreme emotional issues, I deeply cared about all of them, but could not control how they treated each other especially when they did not take their meds. I wanted to file a grievance but my union rep. said it would ultimately be the principal’s decision so I opted for the forced retirement (so I could receive unemployment) Over this past weekend, I met a principle from a different school district that was outraged that the union did not help me. I had never had a bad evaluation before. I was recruited from a private school so even with yrs. of teaching I do not have tenure. This principal ( the one I just met) said I should contact the national union, but from what I have read I am concluding that nothing can really be done. If any one has any suggestions or advice I would appreciate it.

  28. tsyl permalink
    July 1, 2013 pm31 9:51 pm 9:51 pm

    What happens if the superintendent and boe reccomend you for a JUUL extension but you never signed an agreement

  29. tra permalink
    July 2, 2013 am31 9:57 am 9:57 am

    and keep on working for the year.. do you have tenure by estoppel?

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 5, 2013 pm31 6:28 pm 6:28 pm

      New to the DOE, experienced, successful
      teacher 15 years prior coming to the DOE. My evaluations & ratings were a joke! My union representative tried to help me but said their was little she could do for an untenured teacher. The bottom-line is my principal & AP didn’t like me & my fate was sealed independent from my teaching abilities.
      The staff members @ my school are very young & the administration does not seem to like anyone who expresses another point of view. The young staff members have collectively “drank the koolade” and don’t dare speak their mind! It is not like I was a gadfly either, it is simply I had more experience & was able (& willing) to offer a different point of view, this was NOT appreciated!!
      The administration made errors on my observations stating I did not do things in the lesson that I actually had done. With the help of my union representative, the administration begrudgingly revised my observation. This highlights how subjective the observations were. Despite revisions which resulted in me having more commendations than recommendations, the rating on the observation was not revised, neither was my yearly rating!
      I shared my observations & challenges with former colleagues (including a principal!) & they were appalled!! The way in which I was treated, in which I was “witch-hunted” this past year could simply not have happened at the other schools I worked at!! It was like I was in the wild, wild, west it a Fellini movie!!
      I am told that what happened to me has happened multiple times before to teachers the admjn deems dioesn’t “fit-in”!
      Things seem likely to only get worse given the politics & climate in public education. Despite loving my students, it is unlikely I will return ;I was “aloud” to return unlike several colleagues, new to the DOE teachers, who were simply discontinued!

  30. Maria permalink
    May 12, 2017 am31 6:30 am 6:30 am

    Did you perhaps find a resolution to all of that trouble? Or did you leave the DOE?

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