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It’s time to push Fariña on unfair funding, bad principals

August 18, 2016 pm31 12:43 pm

There are a ton of major issues to push with the NYC Department of Education. But my gut says these two should be priority. What do you think?

Unfair Funding Formula

The unfair funding formulas pressure principals to discriminate against experienced teachers. This hurts teachers, schools, kids, and, well, principals. There is no benefit to the schools, and no benefit to the system. Every teacher should be charged the same amount against every school’s budget (or we should use units).

A teacher who is not hired under the current system, they are already in the system, there is no actual cost savings. And a lower cost, brand new teacher? That’s someone who was not already on the books. That brand new teacher costs the system extra.

By linking teachers’ actual salaries to the individual school “budget” (really paper internal accounting, not an actual budget) Bloomberg and Klein created a system where schools, principals, kids, and teachers all lose. We should end this.

The UFT Unity leadership agrees. And Fariña will not take action. She needs to feel pressure. Getting the UFT to apply this pressure should be a priority. This should be the last year of this unfair system.

Incompetent Administrators; Abusive Administrators

We have always had a mix of good and bad principals. But post-Bloomberg our system is littered with administrators who are incompetent, abusive, or both. Many have had inadequate experience. Some never taught, or only spent a year or two in the classroom. Some had poor training. In the last 20 years we have moved away from a system where an administrator would work under an experienced principal for years before taking the reins him or herself. Instead, beginning teachers did a one year boot camp to get ready. The “Leadership Academy” took candidates with zero pedagogical background.

The abuse often follows the incompetence. A principal who does not know what to do may feel threatened by subordinates who do, and last out. The abuse sometimes follows insecurity. If the position was not earned through years of hard work, but rather handed to someone with little experience, that person may treat their authority as a gift, and not something that was earned, and see almost any assertive act as a threat to that (arbitrarily granted, now arbitrarily exercised) authority. And some administrators just don’t have the kind of temperament we would expect from someone supervising adults and children.

Whatever the cause, incompetents and abusive administrators should not be in the those positions (or, in some cases, might be retrained). In theory our union leadership agrees, but is frustratingly unwilling to press the issue. Certainly Fariña has not challenged the Bloomberg/Klein ethos that the judgment of a principal cannot be challenged (despite case after case affirming that we have people with bad judgment, poor tempers, and lack of necessary knowledge and/or experience running our schools). She needs to feel pressure to act correctly.

Push Fariña? We need to motivate our leadership

Both of these issues can be addressed, immediately. Neither is part of contract negotiations. Both would help many, many teachers, and many many schools. And our union leadership is not opposed, in theory, to addressing either issue. They have been, however, bizarrely reluctant to press either issue with the Chancellor.

Yesterday our allies in MORE met and set priorities for the coming year. Likely these two were highly ranked on their list.

There are other issues of importance to the members of our union. But in theory these two would be 1) relatively easy to make progress on and 2) would impact a great number of members, and 3) would shift the “tone” of the current administration. They seem to be good places to begin the new school year. What do you think?



11 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 19, 2016 am31 10:00 am 10:00 am

    As an employee of one of the aforementioned principals, I think it would be a great idea to identify and hold accountable all of the administrators who have run roughshod over their staff members. I have learned several things from watching the process. It is harmful to the children we serve, alienating to all parents who are not bought off and damaging to the health and well being of the employees. This war on pedagogues and their experience with what’s best for children must end!

  2. Just Another ATR permalink
    August 19, 2016 am31 10:36 am 10:36 am

    The UFT leadership does NOT agree that the unfair funding should stop; Amy Arudel says it doesn’t exist – it’s an ” Urban Myth”. You can find Ms. Arundel’s comments on NYC ATR blog from the 2015-16 school year. The only person in UFT leadership who has publicly admitted it existed and that it should be eliminated was Jinella Hinds. She brought up the motion last year and it was basically ignored, (tabled for a future date that never came). I’d have a long talk with Ms. Arundel to get a clearer picture; she is our monarchical appointed representative.

    • August 19, 2016 am31 10:47 am 10:47 am

      A return to unit costing was included in the negotiating demands for the last contract, and ruled not a subject of collective bargaining.

      A return to unit costing was adopted as UFT policy by the AdCom, the Exec Board, and the Delegate Assembly in May 2015.

      Further, even Mulgrew has said, repeatedly, that we should return to unit costing. The problem, consistently, has been getting them to do something about it.

      If you can find a statement by a UFT leader SUPPORTING the current system, please show me. I’d very much like to see it.

      • Just Another ATR permalink
        August 19, 2016 am31 11:33 am 11:33 am

        It was included in the last contract because it was already known that
        it wasn’t part of collective bargaining. It was a show. Here are Arundel’s comments via ATR NYC
        What the UFT says and does are entirely different matters. They want to appear to support us, whilst winking at Farina and supporting her agenda. How could the UFT put those odious ATR provisions in the last contract, while at the same time saying they wanted a return to unit funding? The two proposals are diametrically opposite to one another. One is a façade, the other was discrimination that was included in the contract.

        • August 19, 2016 pm31 12:22 pm 12:22 pm

          She recites current DoE policy. She doesn’t express any opinion about future policy, or what she thinks about this one. (except for believing that principals cannot hire two-for-one because overhead really makes it one-and-a-half-for-one, which I ignore, because it is quibbling)

  3. Just Another ATR permalink
    August 19, 2016 pm31 12:38 pm 12:38 pm

    Perhaps you should go to one of her annual meetings. She’s supposed to be the ATR representative not the DOE’s. It’s not what she says, it’s what she doesn’t say that is telling. The UFT has no intention or interest in ending the ATR pool. It allows them more new members.

    • August 19, 2016 pm31 1:46 pm 1:46 pm

      But you do agree that we should push the issue?

      • Just Another ATR permalink
        August 19, 2016 pm31 2:32 pm 2:32 pm

        Absolutely! 100% Thank you for writing about it.

  4. chaz permalink
    August 19, 2016 pm31 6:12 pm 6:12 pm


    You and I are on the same page,

  5. Anon permalink
    August 19, 2016 pm31 7:43 pm 7:43 pm

    Jahoda is gone from Bronx Science. She is now the principal at Townsend Harris.

  6. August 20, 2016 am31 10:45 am 10:45 am

    I presented the case for fair student funding at the MORE retreat and got a good response. I believe that we need to form a fair student funding committee to plan strategy and a campaign to address this based on the people interested in pursuing the issue. Even though a MORE initiative the committee should be open to anyone who wants to join the campaign.
    I’m hoping the joint New Action/MORE ex bd people can help spearhead this with a proposal for a plan of action for the UFT to take and not just a reso – including a petition campaign, going to PEP meetings to raise the fundamental unfairness of this, etc.

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