Tuesday, July 29, 2014

De Blasio Voted for Controversial Poor Doors While a Councilman

Bill de Blasio voted for the controversial separate "poor door" entrances on mixed income residential dvelopments while he was a New York City councilman. This is from the True News blog, a digest of underreported New York City news.
 de Blasio Blamed Bloomberg But As Councilman Voted for the Poor Door

When the lengthy text of a zoning resolution was amended by the City Council in July 2009,    then-Councilman Bill de Blasio — who arrived late to the meeting — was among the majority who voted “aye.”
One provision said developers of market-rate condos could include affordable units on site, instead of off-site, while allowing for the separation of a number of services that included the entrances. But de Blasio’s vote didn’t stop City Hall officials last week from putting the blame for the controversial Extell Development project at 40 Riverside Blvd. — which will have separate entrance for subsidized tenants — solely on former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s team.  De Blasio voted for luxury building ‘poor door’ as councilman(NYP)

Mayor de Blasio and other officials denouncing “poor door” entrances for subsidized tenants in luxury buildings actually voted in favor of a measure that made such separation possible, a Post review found.Among the other elected officials who voted in favor of the 2009 zoning changes are current Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Letitia James. The two were among those who took part in a press conference on the steps of City Hall this past Friday condemning the prior administration for signing off on the project.

Last Week True News Went After the Progressives For Allowing A Poor Door, Today A Pol Woke Up  and the NYP Says Free Market Forces Will End the Poor Door

Government ‘poor door’ [NY Post] The idea that the residents of these latter units will have a separate entrance has set off comparisons to Downton Abbey, where Lord Grantham and his brood live upstairs in sumptuous conditions, while the servants live down below.  It’s precisely their insistence on defining where poor people live that is responsible for poor doors, not to mention the tax breaks for developers and relief from some zoning restrictions.So why the poor door? As The Post’s Steve Cuozzo reported more than a year ago, separate doors are required for this kind of the building. In part to make it easier down the road for the units to be managed separately by a non-profit. How much better and simpler it would be if the city did two things. First, just make it easier to build housing of any type. Second, give those who need subsidies vouchers they can use anywhere rather than assign them to a particular unit. Even if builders build just luxury units, when supply is expanded, people move up.  That means an apartment that was once luxury becomes middle class, and a middle-class apartment becomes working class, and down the line. If it weren’t put into government-designated buildings and units, we’d have much more mixing.

True News Keeps the Poor Door Story Alive

DOOR FOR THE POOR BLASTED: Elected officials want to ban affordable section entrances approved by Bloomberg administration (NY Daily News) “The two-door system is an affront to New Yorkers’ belief in fairness and diversity in our city,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.*  De Blasio seeks to an end to New York City's 'poor doors,' blames Bloomberg  [Newsweek]

True News Last Week When Giuliani Was Mayor There Was No Building With A Poor Door

Despite having attended 15 of the sessions and received days-worth of orientation sessions, the newbies are scheduled for a first-of-its-kind group lesson on the workings of government during a “mock” Council session on Wednesday afternoon. “At the request of several freshmen Council Members, [we] will be holding a mock stated meeting along with a brief history of the council to more clearly explain the order and procedures which are followed at the stated meetings pursuant to law and council rule,” reads an email sent by the body’s senior director of community engagement, Karina Claudio Betancourt.Fellow freshman Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) said as a former director of a non-profit, she’d attended her fair share of stated meetings even before being elected.But Cumbo said the training is likely to benefit even the most experienced of the new members. “The same course can be taught by 10 different people and each time you would learn something new,” she said. Novice City Council members still don’t know what they’re doing [NY Post]* New York City Approves 'Poor Door' for Luxury Apartment [Newsweek]* BdB's rep on City Planning Commission to approve Extell's"poor door" development [NY Post]* Manhattan Borough Presidents Gale Brewer at a press conference called for an end to “poor doors” in mixed-income housing developments—separate entrances for the affordable units and for the market-rate units, the Observer [reported].

Thursday, July 24, 2014

IATSE Announces: Management at the Metropolitan is Threatening a Lockout

That's the management at the Metropolitan Opera.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) issued a statement this afternoon, stating that because of difficulties in negotiations, the Metropolitan Opera management might bring a lockout upon the deadlocked talks with the management.

A lockout will mean interrupted productions. And, as the IATSE's public statement hints, the Met Opera productions are not watched only by in person audiences, but by audiences watching filmed or video presentations of the performances.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the dispute was taking "new urgency." In "Met Opera Prepares to Lock Out Workers" it reported that management sent letters to the company's orchestra, stagehands and other workers, warning them to get ready for a lockout if a contract agreement could not be reached. They said that the workers should get ready for a lockout on August 1. Contracts with 15 of the company's 16 unions expire on July 31. The musicians' union denounced management's letter, calling it cynical. Management said that they were open to counterproposals, as long as they save money. The Opera previously had strikes in 1969 and in 1980. The 1980 strike ran eleven weeks.

The Met has been having difficulties at the box office. Receipts have not been sufficient to pay costs, and it has heavily drawn from its endowment, the Times reported. The expansion of off-site theatrical presentations in film or video would reflect its need for new revenue sources.

Management also sent a letter from its human resources department, threatening to force workers to pay Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) payments in order to continue their health coverage. These payments would be $1,255.33 a month for individuals and would cost $2,793.10 a month for families.

The IATSE's press release reads:

The Union Behind Entertainment IATSE.net

For immediate release: July 23, 2014

Statement by Joe Hartnett,

Assistant Dept. Director Stagecraft for I.A.T.S.E.


Metropolitan Opera Management’s Threat to Lock out Performers and Backstage Employees

We want the show to go on. Our bargaining teams are very serious about hammering out an agreement with opera management. Several negotiating sessions have been scheduled over the next week. Management and their legal team have drawn red lines through our contracts, but seem to have very little understanding about what items cost or even how the opera functions backstage. This has slowed contract talks.

A lockout would be an opera tragedy, likely resulting in a lost season and a long-term loss of operagoers and subscribers for years to come. A lockout would not only leave theater seats empty in Lincoln Center -- it would result in movie theaters going dark around the globe where the Met is simulcast.

Most of all, a lockout would be an indication of management’s failure to manage productions and manage negotiations. We all should be working together to save the Met, not locking out artists and shuttering this opera house.

Joe Hartnett, I.A.T.S.E’s Assistant Department Director of Stagecraft, is coordinating negotiations for the six IA locals at the Metropolitan Opera.
The American Federation of Musicians, Local 802's statement on the potential lockout reads:
Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra musicians are dismayed that Peter Gelb has pursued a cynical strategy calculated to result in a lockout of his artists and craftspeople and imperil the upcoming Met Opera season. His callousness, combined with his attempt to cover up his failed management and lack of artistic vision that has resulted in declining audiences and plummeting ticket sales, jeopardizes the livelihoods of his employees and the many businesses in New York City's cultural sector and the Lincoln Center area that depend on the Metropolitan Opera for their incomes.

"For months, Gelb has purposely refused to provide essential financial information that would have allowed substantive, good-faith negotiations to proceed, instead making erroneous claims in the press in the run-up to his long-planned lockout.

"If the Met in fact is facing financial difficulties it is due to Peter Gelb's lavish overspending on productions that have been poorly received by critics and audiences. At the initial negotiating session scheduled for this Friday, July 25th, the musicians plan to propose ideas that would allow the Metropolitan Opera to realize over $20 Million in cost-savings and avoid draconian cuts to its artists. That Peter Gelb would announce the prospect of a lockout before the start of negotiations with the musicians, choristers, stagehands and other segments of the workforce is indicative of his disrespect for his audience, his artists and the City of New York.

"The loss to the City's economy as a result of a lockout will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars - first, the $327 million that the Met spends on salaries, sets, costumes and on many other vendors/services will be lost; on top of that, the losses to restaurants and hotels, especially those in the immediate vicinity of Lincoln Center, will be devastating given that the Met has 3,800 seats and its audience represents a high proportion of local restaurant and hotel patronage during the opera season.

"Peter Gelb should engage in good-faith negotiations with the intent of salvaging the upcoming season rather than moving to arbitrarily shut down the iconic and beloved Metropolitan Opera."
Let's hope that the management can get to good faith bargaining.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moral Duty, Aviv's Atlanta Scandal Article, Portelo's Case, Connecting the Dots on Why Tenure is Essential

Rachel Aviv has a terrific article in this week's New Yorker on the case of the test-cheating scandal in Atlanta under Beverly Hall, who was Atlanta Public Schools superintendent from 1999 to 2010. Her "Wrong Answer, In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice" is a great work of investigative journalism. She documented how, on the ground, the game of high-stakes tests can drive administrators to create conditions for wide-spread test-tampering and other forms of cheating. This was the thorough kind of high-profile expose and criminal prosecution that former Washington, D.C. schools superintendent Michelle Rhee managed to avoid for her parallel Erasuregate under the pressures of No Child Left Behind.

Of course, this then, leads to the question, who can speak up, for their conscience, without fear for losing their job? The need to have the freedom to speak up about wrong-doing is why tenure is so important. Without tenure protection for teachers to speak up about wrong-doing, the climate for misuse of power and wrongful directives can worsen.

This leads us once again to the case of New York City teacher Francesco Portelos. As noted last September in "What the Francesco Portelos Case Means for All Teachers," it is essential for teachers to be able to speak up about wrong-doing or to merely ask questions, to bring clarity into the governance of schools, without fear for reprisals. (However, while it is welcome that he has retained his job, it is wrongful that he was fined and was sent into rotation. We would expect that this present administration would respect legal precedent and would set a new, gentler tone towards teachers in city policy.) We often hear that tenure extends due process to teachers. When one witnesses the multi-million dollar over-reach in the prosection of the Portelos case, and the over-reach in the city's resolution in his case, we cannot help but note that the quality of the due process for the teacher's behalf is weak.

How unfortunate that the media are so inclined to villainize teachers that they cannot slow down to understand that he was stating that they often speak on behalf of students. The corollary is that administrators by their actions create climates whereby teachers are afraid to speak up. As Arthur Goldstein reminds readers in his fine op-ed piece,"Teacher Tenure: For Good Apples, Too," in Wednesday's Daily News, an untenured teacher advocating for administrators to abide by a student's special education Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can get fired for doing so. Goldstein noted that he, himself --once tenureed-- threatened to file a grievance on the fact that he did not have an adequate number of books for his students, at that a week after that, he was given a brand-new set of books for his students. He went on to note,
Tenure doesn’t only protect the so-called bad apples, or teachers accused of misconduct or incompetence. It protects all teachers. This is a tough job, and despite what you read in the papers, it also entails advocating for our students, your kids, whether or not the administration is comfortable with it.
I meet passionate and effective teachers everywhere I go. How many will stand up for your kids when schools don’t provide the services they need? How many will demand deserving kids pass classes even if they fail a standardized test? How many will tell state Education Commissioner John King that failing 70% of New York City’s students is not only counterintuitive, but also counterproductive?
It’s hard to say. Abolish tenure and that number will drop very close to zero.
Remove the protection that tenure provides and you lessen the possibility whereby teachers will speak up to protect students' safety, to advocate for working water fountains, clean restrooms, books for students, staffed libraries, adequately comprehensive curricula. Need we go on?

Hall's scandals in Atlanta, Rhee's Erasuregate in D.C., these were the legacy of No Child Left Behind. What scandals are the legacy of Obama and Duncan's Race to the Top and Common Core? Remove tenure and the likelihood of some future expose will be even more remote.

Nurses' Unions Agree to Weak Contract, Following UFT's Precedent

Now the city has weak contracts three and four after, as unions of nurse and health care aides agreed to contracts that feature payments stretched years into the future, with raises that will most likely not keep pace with inflation. As Richard Steier reported in The Chief in newspaer's July 4, 2014 edition, the New York State Nurses Association has its contract stretched four and one-half months beyond the length of the United Federation of Teachers contract. The SIEU 1199 contract also settled its contract.

In both contracts full implementation of pay increases will be postponed to the latter years of the contract. Both contracts include two four percent increases in 2009 and 2010.

1199 supported Bill de Blasio early in his mayoral election last year. They represent 2,500 members working for the city, as licensed practical nurses, pharmacists and dieticians. The NYSNA represents 8,000 registered nurses working for New York City's Health and Hospital Corporation.

Anne Bove, executive council president of the NYSNA argued that one provision of the NYSNA contract was popular. It includes a child-care and elder-care fund; these features are aspects in the 1199 fund also. The NYSNA pact also includes Nursing Practice Councils, to improve patient care, nurse recruitment and retention.

Here are the delayed payments to the health care unions, paralleling the UFT contract, as reported by "The Chief:"
In addition to the two 4-percent raises, with their large retroactive balances, that are being paid out in four increments beginning in July 2015, the schedule for subsequent raises under the contract for NYSNA is as follows:

• 1 percent effective retroactive to July 21, 2013, and then the same percentage on July 21, 2014 and 2015;
• A 1.5-percent hike as of July 21, 2016;
• A 2.5 percent increase effective Jan. 21, 2018;
• A 3-percent wage boost as of Jan. 21, 2019.

1199 Payouts
For 1199, the schedule is somewhat different, starting with the implementation of the two 4-percent raises occurring in February of four consecutive years beginning in 2015. The other increases will occur as follows:

• A 0.35-percent hike retroactive to Feb. 5, 2013;
• 1-percent raises effective on both Feb. 5, 2014 and 2015;
• A 1.5-percent increase as of Feb. 5, 2016; • A 2.5-percent raise starting Feb. 5, 2017; • A 3-percent salary boost effective Feb. 5, 2018.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who Advised Cuomo on Mortgage Industry Investigation? A Mortgage Lobbyist

Who Advised Cuomo on Mortgage Industry Investigation? A Mortgage Lobbyist

Howard Glaser was brought on to help then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on his mortgage industry investigation. Glaser was working for the industry at the same time.
Read the full story on the Pro Publica site; the story was co-published with the Albany Times-Union.

Monday, July 14, 2014

AFT Delegates Adopt 'Don't Buy Staples' Resolution, Rally in Support of U.S. Postal Workers

AFT Delegates Adopt 'Don't Buy Staples' Resolution, Rally in Support of U.S. Postal Workers

Web News Article #: 
July 13, 2014 - American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and thousands of AFT convention delegates joined members of the American Postal Workers Union and other community members in a rally July 12, telling the United States Postal Service and the Staples corporation that the “U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale.” They demanded an end to the United States Postal Service’s plan to let Staples employees operate postal counters inside Staples stores, ultimately putting thousands of Postal Service jobs in jeopardy. 

This action is a continuation of the AFT’s effort to reclaim the promise of an America where consumers are safe, workers are valued and well-trained, and middle-class jobs are protected, the AFT said..
“Postal workers are the most amazing public servants,” said Weingarten. “Who does Staples really want and need to come into its stores every single day? Teachers. The best way we can help is if we say to Staples: ‘You do this to the postal workers, and we aren’t buying supplies in your stores.’”
APWU President Mark Dimondstein addressed the importance of America’s working class standing together against the effort to privatize and demonize U.S. postal workers. He said, “We too are in the public sector, we too are meeting the needs of people. We’re facing some of the same problems you are—I call it divert, defund, demoralize, demonize and dismantle.”
The AFT has also passed a resolution in support of APWU’s boycott against Staples Inc. It resolves “that members of the AFT, along with friends, colleagues and family members, are urged to no longer shop at Staples stores until further notice.” Read the resolution here.
- See more at: http://www.apwu.org/news/web-news-article/aft-delegates-adopt-dont-buy-staples-resolution-rally-support-us-postal#sthash.zWlnFQvQ.dpuf

Sunday, July 6, 2014

One More Week: See Exhibit on Civil Rights Art at Brooklyn Museum, in City of Segregated Schools

The art of the Civil Rights era, by artists, in the 1960s and early 1970s, in and out of the movement, captured the imagination, urgency, justice and passion of the need for racial equality and justice. Some excellent pieces are displayed in the exhibit, "Exhibitions: Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties," at the Brooklyn Museum is being held over until July 13, 2014. 

We cannot help but note and emphasize:  while of course, huge gains were made, and rights were secured that are taken for granted today, on some issues the mission of integration and justice of equality of resources remains as vital today. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) noted this spring, New York State schools are the most segregated in the nation. And New York City schools are the third most segregated in the nation, after those of Chicago and Dallas.

A placard next to an art piece speaks of segregationist policies in Brooklyn in the early 1960s. What a shame that this is continuing today under so-called progressive New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, so-called progressive governor Andrew Cuomo and the so-called progressive president Barack Obama. New York City's caste system of schools have up-to-date resources in the integrated schools that have more White and Asian students. Yet, in the city schools that are 90 percent plus Black or Latino students, we see the concentration of schools that lack librarians. 

Where are the Brown vs. Board of Education suits today? Oh yes, the New York City Parents Union is attacking teachers as the problem, ignoring race and class bias in the distribution of resources. As Green party candidate for New York lieutenant governor Brian Jones was quoted in the July 4, 2014 issue of "The Chief,"

"The attack on Teacher tenure is about scapegoating Teachers for the conditions of our schools," said Mr. Jones. "Why aren't they filing suit against Cuomo for shortchanging local schools for funding by $9 billion?"

Vergara Monologues - Piercing the Fiction to Reach the Inconvenient Truths in the Tenure-Crushing Decision by Cal. Suprerior Decision

This week California Superior Court Rolf Treu created a national earthquake with his decision that tenure was unconstitutional. Teacher unions are bracing for more toxic astroturf mobilizing by the pro-privatization, anti-tenure millionaires in other states.  However, as the New York Times noted on the occasion of Mona Davids' (of the New York City Parents Union) lawsuit against teacher tenure in New York State, the road forward for a legal challenge to teacher tenure faces a shakier road in New York.

Vergara Monologues - Discussion in a One-Dimensional Echo Chamber 
The decision was treated matter of factly by the media. Shocking as it is, yet it is merely part of just another utterance in a media vortex echo chamber of corporate education reformer agendas, as alternative perspectives are rare. It is very telling that as the media from the top media outlets down to NPR affiliates as WNYC sustain the privatizer talking points, yet for power houses our side is left to one nationally recognized powerhouse (Diane Ravitch) and just one national newspaper of prestige with a sympathetic columnist (Valerie Strauss and her Answer Sheet column at the Washington Post).

So, the very, very pivotal point was made at the Ravitch's blog, that the assumptions in the case were quite flawed. Some of the Vergara case plaintiffs actually attended schools that did not have teacher tenure. Additionally, at this blog, I have frequently made the comment that the media and policy makers must recognize that there are factors that impact upon student performance. Family income, community climate (tranquility or danger and anxiety) are major determinants that impact upon performance. Thus it is a cavalier expectation to demand that teachers produce students as top-performing as those in affluent neighborhoods.

Note how the both the details of the story and reality of Oakland communities comes through in this expose of a blog post, June 11, at Ravitch's blog.

The Vergara Trial Teachers Were Not “Grossly Ineffective”

I was curious to learn whether the plaintiffs in the Vergara trial actually had “grossly ineffective teachers.” The answer is “no, they did not.”
Not only did none of them have a “grossly ineffective” teacher, but some of the plaintiffs attended schools where there are no tenured teachers. Two of the plaintiffs attend charter schools, where there is no tenure or seniority, and as you will read below, “Beatriz and Elizabeth Vergara both attend a “Pilot School” in LAUSD that is free to let teachers go at the end of the school year for any reason, including ineffectiveness.
It turns out that the lawyers for the defense checked the records of the plaintiffs’ teachers, and this is what they found (filed as a post-trial brief in the case): (See pp. 5-6).
“Plaintiffs have not established that the statutes have ever caused them any harm or are likely to do so in the future. None of the nine named Plaintiffs established that he or she was assigned to an allegedly grossly ineffective teacher, or that he or she faces any immediate risk of future harm, as a result of the challenged statutes. The record contains no evidence that Plaintiffs Elliott, Liss, Campbell or Martinez were ever assigned a grossly ineffective teacher at all. Of the remaining five Plaintiffs, most of the teachers whom they identified as “bad” or “grossly ineffective” were excellent teachers. Because none of the five Plaintiffs are reliable evaluators of teacher performance, their testimony about the remaining purportedly ineffective teachers should not be credited. Nor could Plaintiffs link their assignment to purportedly “bad” or “grossly ineffective” teachers to the challenged statutes. Not a single witness claimed that any of Plaintiffs’ teachers were granted permanent status because of the two-year probationary period, would have been dismissed in the absence of the dismissal statutes, or would have been laid off had reverse seniority not been a factor in layoffs. Indeed, Plaintiffs did not call any administrator of any of Plaintiffs’ schools to corroborate their testimony or in any way connect the teachers they identified to the statutes they challenge. Furthermore, any threat of future harm to Plaintiffs caused by the challenged statutes is purely speculative. Plaintiffs Elliott and DeBose are high school seniors who will almost certainly graduate in spring 2014. Plaintiffs Monterroza and Martinez both attend charter schools that are not subject to the challenged statutes at all. Beatriz and Elizabeth Vergara both attend a “Pilot School” in LAUSD that is free to let teachers go at the end of the school year for any reason, including ineffectiveness. As for the remaining three Plaintiffs, there is no concrete, specific evidence supporting any claim that they will be assigned to grossly ineffective teachers due to the challenged statutes; instead, their claims are based on pure speculation.”
One of the plaintiffs (Monterroza) said that her teacher, Christine McLaughlin was a very bad teacher, but McLaughlin was Pasadena teacher of the year and has received many awards for excellent teaching (google her).

Surely, there must be “grossly ineffective” teachers in the state of California, but no evidence was presented that the plaintiffs in the case had teachers who were “grossly ineffective.”
What about turnover of teachers in high-poverty schools in California:
Betty Olson-Jones, former president of the Oakland Education Association, testified: “Oakland has an extremely difficult time retaining teachers. The statistic that I was always struck with was of the beginning teachers in 2003, there were about 300 who began in Oakland, and by 2008 about 76 percent of those left. Generally, the turnover rate is about 50 percent, even higher among some — in some schools. I feel that part of the reason is that the conditions are very difficult, very high-poverty rate in Oakland, lack of support services. Oakland has very few counselors, nurses, one librarian left, high class size, high standard of living in the bay area. Children come with a lot of needs that aren’t fulfilled, and teachers are expected to make up that difference and are agonized often by their inability to do so because they lack the support and the conditions to do so.”
What about working conditions? Anthony Mize taught at the Vergara sisters’ school. He testified: “There was a back-to-school night where there was drive-by shooting 30 to 50 yards from behind my classroom. I remember talking with a mother at the time. And I was just about to say to the mom, ‘and your son has trouble paying attention,’ and seven to nine shots rang out.”
None of this testimony impressed the judge.
For a fuller statement by the defense in the case read this submitted document. http://www.vergaratrial.com/storage/documents/2014.04.10.Intervenors_Post-Trial_Brief.pdf

Curious selection of California as the poster state
Computer entrepreneur David Welch bankrolled the case. Much attention went to the fact that California teachers get tenure after two years of satisfactory service. This distorts the national picture. For, as we see in the map below, this is an exceptionally short tenure-granting period. Three years of experience is the norm.

The negative effects of staffing turmoil
The last decade has seen much turmoil at the staffing level of schools. An institutionally hostile working climate has led to increasing turnover. We note this with the idea in mind that improved teacher quality comes with years on the job. Yet, with the median number of years of experience among teachers in the field declining students in the current era are getting more teachers that are just learning the craft and fewer that have become polished through experience.

The education reform hallmark of churning teachers in and out of the system, thus negating the possibility that school systems will ever pay promised pensions to many educators, is strongest in lower income communities.  Here, note the continuing theme of aggressively driving staff turnover in this piece noted in the Journal of Black Higher Education. It cites a study by Susan Headden for the Carnegie Foundation, "Beginners in the Classroom: What the Changing Demographics of Teaching Mean for Schools, Students, and Society."

High turnover among new teachers in public school classrooms undermines school stability, serves as an impediment to educational reform, and hurts student achievement, a study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching finds.

The report, Beginners in the Classroom: What the Changing Demographics of Teaching Mean for Schools, Students, and Society, found that new teachers quit in large numbers largely due to the fact that they receive inadequate professional development opportunities, insufficient emotional backing, and inadequate feedback with respect to their performance.

Indeed, the report found that between 1988 and 2008, rates of teacher attrition rose some 41 percent, and in many urban school districts more than half the new teachers hired leave within five years.

The report also found that teachers at public charter schools are 40 percent more likely than teachers in district-run schools to transfer to another school and 52 percent more likely to leave the teaching profession altogether.

As a result, the profession as a whole is younger and less experienced than it was a generation ago, and that, according to the report, is putting a strain on district budgets, serving to undermine school cultures, and lowering student achievement.

Teacher attrition not only costs school districts more than $7 billion a year in recruitment
and induction expenses, the report notes, it also impedes the implementation of educational reforms, disrupts relationships among teachers and between teachers and students, and negatively affects students, especially in majority Black & Latino and low-achieving schools.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

DC 37 agrees to weak contract similar to UFT's contract

This spring many NYC municipal union leaders were upset with the United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew for his weak contract with the city. Yesterday District Council 37 leaders agreed to a contract with New York City that repeats many of those weaknesses. Principal among those weaknesses is a 10.52 wage increase spread over the seven years and four months, increases that probably will not keep pace with inflation. Additionally, payments postponed to the future mean monies that of course cannot earn interest during that delay.

The agreement at this stage is tentative and would need rank and file approval as a few bargaining units have not yet signed off on it. It covers approximately 100,000 workers. DC 37 members include hospital staff, social service workers, child care workers, maintenance workers and others. Like the UFT contract, it includes a con device, the "signing bonus" of $1,000. For DC 37 who earn significantly less than UFT members this will be a significant enticement.

Cryptically, news coverage of the tentative pact includes mention of "changes to their medical benefits." New York City teachers are already wincing with anticipation of what givebacks they face with the contract. As NY1 notes, it is not yet indicated how the $795 million in givebacks (which the media euphemistically call "savings") due to be implemented by 2019 will be accomplished.

Still remaining to be settled with the city are several uniformed worker unions, such as police, firefighter and sanitation workers. Let's hope that they have stronger spines than the UFT and do not follow on the UFT's precedence as DC 37 did and do not settle for another sucker's contract. One can presume that Mayor de Blasio expects similar giveback contracts from other unions. As reported on NY1, he said, "Every union has its own reality, but I'm confident we're going to keep up a lot of momentum." 

For more, read Gloria Pazmino and Sally Goldenberg's "De Blasio Announces Tentative Contract with D.C. 37," and Grace Rauh from NY1, "City Reaches Tentative Deal With DC 37 Labor Union."

As the ICEUFT blog notes, this contract is not as bad as the UFT contract. It does not mention postponed payment of backpay, otherwise called retroactive, retro or arrears payments. The UFT contract puts these payments off until 2020. And those resigning between now and then forfeit repayment of that back pay.