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Chancellor Fariña: Problems scurrying around Tweed

June 10, 2014 am30 10:42 am

One of the easiest ills to fix is all over Tweed:  lawyers who serve no good purpose.

I have been writing for months that things would improve under Fariña:  “Things under de Blasio/Fariña will get better for the schools, students, and teachers of NYC. They might get a whole lot better. They certainly won’t get worse.”  (here, and here, and again here).

But so far, very little improvement has filtered down to the schools.

It’s becoming frustrating.

Certainly our leaders downtown tell us that the new people at the top are completely different. They can work with them. But in the schools? What has changed?  And what Bloomberg evil has been undone?  We are bracing ourselves for reports on tenure and extensions of tenure. Maybe that is getting better? But that’s just being hopeful; I’ve heard no such thing.

Last week New Action, my caucus, introduced a resolution to undo the mess Bloomberg made out of school parking – in part we chose a lower priority item specifically because it would have immediate impact (well, September) IN THE SCHOOLS. And it something that the new administration can agree to outside of contract negotiations.

But one of the easiest problems to fix is all over Tweed:  lawyers who serve no useful purpose. There are hundreds of them. Like court-packing was intended, Bloomberg (and Klein/Black/Walcott) lawyer-packed Tweed to help overwhelm educators. Decisions got made, policy decided in an atmosphere that was dense with non-eduators, heavily anti-union and anti-public education. Their culture oozed all over the system, but especially in the dark corners of CFNs and 52 Chambers. Principals learned “to call legal” to decline teacher requests. Legal was associated with unfair discipline, unfair ratings, unfair hearings, etc, etc. Legal is enmeshed in school closings, in evaluation, in clogging arbitration. The lawyers are a reservoir of the evil that Bloomberg brought to the system.

Were all of them hired under Bloomberg? The vast majority, if not all. We did not need that number before, and we do not need them now. I don’t care if they are fired, if their positions are eliminated, or if the entire departments they run are shut down. The Accountability Office needs two people, not two hundred.

Francesco Portelos is calling a rally for today (June 10, 2014), 4:30, in front of Tweed, for a “house cleaning.”  A house cleaning is the right idea.

Fariña and de Blasio move slowly. I am not happy about that, but I get it. But by September it would be gravely disappointing if the number of J.D.s (not me!) at Tweed wasn’t seriously reduced. Two hundred heads and twelve hundred legs are way too many.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2014 pm30 6:56 pm 6:56 pm

    June 10, 2014 pm30 12:27 pm 12:27 pm
    1. Re: Chancellor Fariña: Problems scurrying around Tweed
    You are right Jonathan. In addition to the issues or concerns that you pointed out in your article there is a need to reorganize the Office of Appeals and Reviews (OAR) which has no principles, standards, guidelines or purposes except approving the unsatisfactory rating and discontinuance of our pedagogues whenever submitted by the elementary and secondary school principals and superintendents. The hearing officers were supposed to follow the NYC DOE issued documents referencing guidelines, standards, protocols and key articles from UFT contracts when deciding cases but rarely do so. The following NYC DOE documents become meaningless at the “OAR”: Teaching in the 21st Century, Rating Pedagogical Staff Members, Chief Executive Memorandum 80, UFT Contracts… To further muddle the evaluation process of our colleagues the hearing officers advice school administrators on which documents to submit or not to submit in a case that they will eventually hear and turn advocate of the principals during the hearings. ” OAR” is a kangaroo court.

  2. Anna permalink
    June 10, 2014 pm30 8:14 pm 8:14 pm

    Hello, thanks for posing the new updates on the current situation with the new contract under the new mayor. I only found your blog last night, as my husband who is a English teacher at August Martin H.S. in Jamaica got his end of year review yesterday. He has been rated as between developing and ineffective, but the principal said she will rate him as ineffective, and won’t give him tenure. Earlier this year he got visits from an AP who is someone outside of his school, and they had a few pre-observation conferences prior to him being actually observe. During each of these meetings, my husband always had a handful of differentiation worksheets and a detailed lesson plan, and submitted to the AP for review before the actual observation. Yet, this AP ( someone from the Facing History School who is currently in training) never told him where she see problems on the lesson plan or his worksheets prior to the date of observation. Instead, she revealed only after the formal observation that his lesson plans were not modeled enough with specific details on the evaluation form. I am wondering why this AP would not tell him during the pre-observation conference in which they discussed the lesson plans and the worksheets prior to observation? Is that legal?

    Now because this is my husband’s 3rd year in this school, the principal said she is not going to recommend tenure, and told my husband to go to UFT to find out if he should resign or if she should terminate him. This principal also said there will be less paperwork for her if my husband just resign, instead of her terminating him.

    I have been searching a lot on google to find out what happen to teacher who don’t get tenure. Are they able to use the Open Transfer system to find a new job? The principal at my husband school said that most principals under Boomberg were recommend not to hire any ineffective teacher, is that right? Of course, my husband teaches in an economic disadvantaged h.s where 99% of students come from single moms, and 50% of them are on welfare. My husband really put a lot of work on his students, and he even manged to help some of their families get into public housing (some of his students lived in shelters).

    Would you also mind telling us if your earlier post on the DO NOT APPLY school list has been updated? My husband is likely going to have to apply to another school again, and i just want to know all the information about what school not to apply.

    Please also add his school to the DO NOT APPLY LIST:
    It is August Martin H.S., and the principal, Gillian Smith, often threatens the teachers by saying that she knows teachers got a new contract, but so did the principals. She said that she can revoke their teaching license because she has a lot of political connections with the chancellor office, and she “has influences”. The union chapter at his school knows about all this, but this chapter teacher person said there is nothing he can do because the principal is doing things that are all in the gray areas of the contract, and probably won’t face any consequences.

    If you have any advise, please help! And please tell us which schools have been updated for the DO NOT APPLY LIST! Thanks so much!

  3. anonymous permalink
    June 15, 2014 pm30 2:20 pm 2:20 pm

    If the NYCDOE is going to change there must be an immediate removal of David Brodsky, Jackson-Chase, Solimando and the directors of personnel (who many are forgetting are part of the problem). There will be no change at all in culture or policy with these representatives in place. They are devastating and crushing and destroying the principals, firing them without ground, forcing them to fire teachers with out ground and bullying them with intimidation tactics. If the end of July 2014 comes around and they are still in place you can best believe nothing but HELL is on its way for the DOE staff. Put pressure on Senator Shummer and De Blasio and demand they be removed. Senator Schumer can get them removed!!! March in front of their offices not the DOE offices. The DOE could care less if you picket . If there are no MAJOR rallies you can forget any change will take place. Get an on-line petition to the mayor and Schumer going asking for change. Ask the UFT to do a letter and ask all the teachers and principals to sign that they be removed. What are the principals doing about CSA and the removal of Ernie Logan. The principals union is a fake farce and when you go to them about being forced to do things like firing teachers they do nothing to help. Instead they sell you out to the DOE lawyers and turn there heads. Logan must be removed as the principal union leader. Keep up the rallies but know that Brodsky, Grimm and Jackson-Chase will strategize with their process to BLOCK you so that you do not get media coverage of the desire of staff to remove them. Has anyone wondered why any stories or press/media pressure is not being heavily focused on asking them to leave. the still have ties to Bloomberg preventing these issues from surfacing.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 25, 2014 pm30 7:12 pm 7:12 pm

    Another principal from hell maria nunziata ps130 located on ocean parkway in brooklyn!

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