Monday, December 28, 2015

Coal in the Stocking for Bill de Blasio: Point by Point Case How His DOE is as Heartless as Any Reformy Mayor

How different is Bill from Mike?
De Blasio: which side are you on? Your education record shows that you are on the same side as Bloomberg, Cuomo, Tisch and Coleman

De Blasio to sick and injured teachers: Drop dead
The New York City Department of Education is still as heartless as ever, denying injured people their due days off. People with iron-clad doctor's documentation of valid sick claims are being denied their days off. After their return to work, the DOE comes after them for AWOL issues. Yet, the DOE is at fault, its modus operandi is to drag its feet on medical claims, and then after the injured teachers exceed their ten annual sick days, it targets them.
The NYC DOE is suddenly finding fault in the teaching acumen of a veteran teacher. He so happened to have taken a medical leave, yet in a likely case of retaliation for disputes over his leave and for his years of activism he is being targeted with repeat observations.
Interpretation: the DOE is being very tight-fisted with its budgeting, and that's why it is nickel and dime denying granting sick time to the injured or chronically ill.

De Blasio to teachers exercising free speech: our Stasi is still active
The DOE still has people dedicated to monitoring teachers' use of social media, such as Facebook. The DOE still has an alphabet soup of agencies with trench-coat men that administrators use against teachers over the flimsiest of accusations. From the number of 3020a's that the city is pursuing, it is doubtful that the city has dismissed its huge posse of attorneys in its teacher performance unit. The TPU works hand in glove with vindictive principals to target teachers on the most spurious of charges. This is continuing unabated under de Blasio/Farina.

De Blasio to teachers: we're coming after your pensions
As the Chaz School Daze and the NYC Rubber Room Reporter have been documenting for years, the DOE has particularly set its sights on terminating senior teachers. (See previous section for the TPU's role here.) This is continuing at full strength and it includes the DOE's program to “thin the herd,” and terminate ATR's.

Harassment until teachers quit serves the same tight-fisted budget mentality: when the administrators harass teachers until they quit the DOE will be spared paying unemployment pay to these teachers.
Bill de Blasio is just as much dedicated to prematurely ending careers as the previous mayor.

De Blasio to teachers: we could care less as to whether technology distracts students
De Blasio and chancellor Carmen Farina lifted the cell phone ban and they lifted the DOE filters on YouTube videos and other highly distracting sites. It is very ironic that one cannot do certain legitimate searches on DOE computers (yet, in continuation from the Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott years, the DOE allows floods of commercial spam on DOE emails); and meanwhile filters on certain searches in place four years ago have vanished. Students are using the cell phones in schools and in class rampantly. Police are suspecting that gangs at the Lehman high school complex are using them to coordinate fights and in the Westchester Square section of the Bronx this has led to weeks of mayhem, jeopardizing the neighborhood's commercial viability.

On distractive technology Bloomberg actually had the better policy than de Blasio. Either the new mayor is just coddling the students or he is intentionally adding to factors that will distract students and thus bring down teachers' productivity.

De Blasio to teachers: just dare to evade Common Core and you'll be sanctioned for defying its mandate
Common Core was drafted by people with no K-12 teaching experience; it fits perfectly into plans for standardized testing. These tests had alienated students across the country as hundreds of thousands refused to cooperate.
Common Core channels narrow interpretation of texts. It conceives of limited interpretations of text. Its methods mitigate against critical thinking. It demands the marginalization of literature. Its mathematical methods are highly unusual and profoundly alienate parents, thus disenfranchising parents from helping with their children's homework.
In contrast to de Blasio's public fights with New York governor Andrew Cuomo, he has said nothing on Common Core. As of this December 28, 2015 writing Common Core has virtual force of law in New York State and New York City. Administrators continue to insist that teachers follow it. 
Thus, it is inappropriate that the media have interpreted recent federal ESEA legislation and NYSED Common Core pronouncements as meaning there is a New York state shift away from Common Core. As any NYS or NYC teacher will tell you, administrators are still using Common Core to evaluate lessons.

The New York City Department of Education's own house sub-agency of standards refinement continues to adopt and enthusiastically refine New York state's version of Common Core. The NYC DOE, despite the widespread popular rejection of Common Core still cooperates with plans to further impose Common Core's focus on textual analysis on science, social studies and even physical education, dislodging the conventional agendas of those subjects. It continues to indoctrinate and train administrators and teachers in the methods of Common Core. 

Teachers have cited the CCSS-related tests' inappropriateness and their negative emotional impacts on many students. Parents have objected to the CCSS-based high stakes tests fundamental purpose in stack-ranking evaluations of teachers. Parents, and some teachers, have created a massive statewide movement against these tests, citing cooperating with the tests as educationally inappropriate and morally compromising. 

Your morals or you job:
NYC imposes a gag order on teachers and principals, forcing them to not advocate opting out; this mirrors NYS mandates that these professionals cannot even quote questions or answer choices from the tests. The NYC DOE under de Blasio and Farina is sticking by these stances against test opt-out just as tenaciously as the DOE under Bloomberg and Walcott, and just as tenaciously as the NYS under Cuomo and state regents chancellor Merryl Tisch.

NYC mayor Bill de Blasio is cooperating with the most insidious aspect of the education reform movement: the turning education into an experience restrained from critical reflection and centered around teaching for standardized tests. NYC mayor by his complete cooperation with Cuomo and his perpetuation of the Bloomberg Common Core commitment is on the wrong side of the education's central conflict in our era; he is on the same side as David Coleman, Arne Duncan, John King and so on.

De Blasio to students of color and low income students: we're a Jim Crow system and we're not going to sincerely move to correct it -- Teachers, we'll punish you if you openly criticize it
New York City as of Spring, 2014, ranked as the most segregated school system in thecountry. In just two years it moved from position of being reported as the third most segregated school system, behind Chicago.  Yet, not only does the city maintain different standards of school tone, curriculum offerings, sports offerings, library, P.E. resources for different ethnic populations, it maintains this by a class dynamic as well. Note that it was under de Blasio that the citytargeted a Bronx teacher for daring to speak out on behalf of student-athletes, on how their options were inferior to those in more privileged schools. 

Driving the caste system that the DOE maintains is a competitive application system. Students not only have to apply and compete for a high school slot, they must apply to intermediate and other lower level schools. Sickeningly, parents must apply to have their child enroll in pre-Kindergarten programs. As the subway ads emphasize, there are deadlines, much as colleges have deadlines. And the program itself is plagued by problems of failing to adequately serve the neediest populations.

What Fuller and his team found is that the preschool seats are more prevalent in the city’s most affluent neighborhoods than they are in the poorest ones. Whereas 41 percent of the slots are located in the most affluent one-fifth of the city’s zip codes, just 30 percent of them are in the poorest one-fifth—a dynamic that researchers in part attribute to New York’s real-estate limitations. Upper-middle-class areas appear to have gotten about as many new pre-k seats as have the poorest ones. And roughly 11,000 4-year-olds living in those poorest neighborhoods aren’t even enrolled in the program, according Fuller.

 .   .   .

But the study finds that, though de Blasio’s office insists that the new program is benefitting lower-income parts of the city, that claim fails to take into account the much higher numbers of 4-year-olds living in poor neighborhoods than in more affluent ones. Following up on the administration's response, Fuller said the percentages reveal that de Blasio is "evenly spreading new seats across the city, rich and poor ... and this fails to move the system toward equitable access."

The high school placement program, in fact, was developed by the same developer that developed a medical school resident placement program
With the new competitive school choice model, the system concentrates level 1 (in English Language Arts or Math) students into “troubled schools,” and it concentrates levels 3 and 4 into “successful schools.” Thus, it is no wonder that the city's underperforming students are concentrated in the city's most segregated schools. Even the New York Post recognizes this fact. Yet, de Blasio, who is supposed to be a better, more compassionate mayor than Bloomberg cannot recognize this fact.
Also, as a New School study documents in great detail, with accessible maps to illustrate the point, New York City's school placement process actually creates schools that are far more segregated than the neighborhoods where they are located.

The fraud of school choice leading to school excellence has a huge infrastructure toll as well. In a city that is already strained to the limit with high population and a growing number of public transit users, school choice has forced thousands of students to commute, exacerbating the great

Gone are the days when a student could go to the school of his or her neighborhood, “school choice” means that students apply and that they are sent all over the city. This erodes the neighborhood-school connection for students to identify with. Also, if students must spend an hour on multiple transportation modes getting to school, you can be sure that parents have as hard a time getting to parent engagement nights.

Bloomberg transposed the competitive model for education with his demolition of the traditional zone system in favor of school choice. Schools often realized their potential as spaces for social heterogeneity. Now, with the competitive model, the separation means that inequality worsens. De Blasio has perpetuated Bloomberg's caste-school system with no significant changes to eradicate the inequalities of opportunity.

Summative interpretation:
Bloomberg was on a mission to transform the teacher from a respectful profession to one which is demeaned and harassed. This means that this teaching force would be a transient one that did not know its rights. De Blasio has done hardly anything to lessen the severity of how the DOE despised teachers. 

The Bloomberg changes did not produce educational improvement. The proof of this is the widespread de facto policy of "just pass everybody," the credit recovery programs that give a semester's worth of credit for merely completing a single assignment. This is blatant cheating, used to desperately cover a tremendously failed record. This has given a poor lesson to New York City students: that they can pass, regardless of taking personal responsibility. This has meant that New York City students are poorly prepared for even CUNY community colleges. This has meant that the scholastic worth of a New York City diploma is rather contestable, particularly if the school is one that practices the intellectually dishonest practices just mentioned. Yet, all the trends of administrator lax standards, as documented on the Chaz School Daze blog, are continuing under de Blasio-Farina with no apparent change from the Bloomberg years.

If the 2013 mayoral election were to mean anything it would have meant correction of the many ways that the DOE had taken a wrong course since 2002. Yet, Farina failed to clean house and replace the principals that fostered a climate of fear. Farina and de Blasio failed to appoint Tweed (DOE headquarters) officials that would part from the destructive ways of the Bloomberg administration.