Sunday, October 14, 2018

Apartment prices in Brooklyn Have Risen Over 6% - So, How Does a 2% Teachers Pay Raise Cut It?

The United Federation of Teachers is rushing through with approval of a new UFT-DOE contract. It released the details Friday afternoon and the delegates voted on it that night. It contains only a two percent raise when it would start in February 14, 2019. But teachers in New York City are facing costs increases far greater than that. Younger teachers, a large proportion of the teaching workforce are facing an even greater burden.

The contract contains increases after the first 2 percent increase of 2.5 percent, and then 3 percent. However, there are several months of no increase in pay. So, over the life of the contract, until Sept. 13, 2022, the increase is actually just 1.94 percent annually.

Housing costs have been increasing at far greater rates than the 2, 2.5, 3 percent increases. Curbed in summer of last year reported that rental prices in New York City, in the bottom fifth tier of rents, had increased 4.9 percent since 2010. Overall rents increased between December 2009 and June 2017 at an annual rate of 3.9 percent.
High rent rates are forcing renters to put increasing percentages of their income into rent, squeezing out payment to other essentials needed for a sound financial future.
“As New Yorkers—particularly the lowest earners—are forced to dedicate more of their monthly income toward rent, it becomes extremely difficult to save for necessities like healthcare and education, or a down payment on a home.” --StreetEasy senior economist Grant Long.
For those teachers actually able to enter the apartment buyers' market, increases are even steeper. Apartment prices in Brooklyn rose 68.1 percent from 2006 to 2016, an annual increase of 6.81 percent, more than three times the rate of inflation, the Brick site reported in February 2017. Prices for the same period for Manhattan apartments rose 63.8 percent, for an annual average of 6.38 percent.

Greater strain on millenial teachers

Newer teachers are paying back loans on tuition rates that have grown at higher percentages than an oft cited current 2.2 percent interest rate. Of course, rates vary from teacher to teacher, by which college they attended and by what the tuition was while they attended, but it is important to contrast that 2.2 figure against overall averages.

The DOE prefers to recruit its newer teachers from the more elite schools. The tuition increase at the top 50 private institutions for the 2017 to 2018 academic year was average of 3.6 percent.  As USA Today noted, several institutions increased their tuition (forming the higher end of that average) at even higher rates. Lehigh University raised tuition by five percent in that year. Cal Tech increased its rate by 4.94 percent.

In fact, across the board, college tuition rates rise at rates higher than the general inflation rate. One former administrator noted that colleges raise rates by measuring tuitions against Higher Education Price Index (HEPI). Tom Lindsey added, "Between 1985 and 2011, average tuition nationwide increased 498 percent—more than four times the rate of general inflation (114 percent) as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)."

All in all, younger teachers are paying back college loans that are greater burdens --even adjusted for inflation-- than amounts paid by teachers entering the teaching profession ten or twenty years ago. Teachers need to demand more from the UFT and the DOE.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The NYC Department of Education Demonstrates that DeBlasio Opposes Human Employment


One of the distinguishing characteristics of the modern economy is the orientation to hire as few humans as ever possible.

New York City mayor Bill De Blasio demonstrates this with his Department of Education's site. All aspects of the Department of Education human resources telephone number 718-935-4000 are oriented toward steering callers away from the phone number and steering number and toward online systems. At the beginning of the telephone contact a long and insistent toned voice encourages the caller to use any system other than the actual system.

DeBlasio stands in solidarity with the principle of not hiring people. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

MAST'S Notorious Principal is History - Is this the Beginning of a DOE Housecleaning?

Jose Cruz, the principal at Math and Science Technology High School who gave 'Ineffective's to his nearly entire staff, is out. He had a penchant for driving so many teachers out that a few semesters he began with incomplete staff so much that about a third of students' programs read "vacancy." Teachers knew that if they were assigned there they could kiss their career good-bye, because they would end the year with a grossly tainted record.

Cruz was so notorious for his terrorizing staff that he ranked worst in rankings of Queens high schools, as noted in the Chaz School Daze blog.  His reputation was such that teachers would not apply to his school and no one showed interest in working at his school when his administrators went to the Department of Education job fairs.

He was the target of a few negative news articles in the New York tabloids. And yet, his connections in the Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) union and in the association of Dominican-American administrators, ADASA, he was protected. So, amidst heavy staff turnover, repeat scandals and tanking test scores he was protected.

So, is the canning of Cruz the beginning of a much needed housecleaning, as has often been called for by the blogs?  Was his ouster the result of mounting complaints and investigations or was it the result of the Tweed finally cleaning house after media exposure of several terribly incompetent and unprofessional administrators in the Bronx and Queens? We would hope that his ouster was the result of the latter, but don't hold your breath.

If there is any justice the United Federation of Teachers will push to have the 3020(a) proceedings against teachers under Cruz halted, so that the teachers may be given fair hearings. Who knows how many careers were ruined because of Cruz's sadistic ratings?
At least his staff can rest easily this weekend.

Thinking of Joining the National Student Walkout? Be Careful

Yes, of course, nearly all of us are not just horrified by the slaughter of 17 students and staff at the Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida, but are also appalled by the stranglehold that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has on our politics.

BUT, please be advised that the NYC DoE will be ready to pounce on you with a letter in your file, and worse, if your admins don't like you, if you are not attending to your classroom. And besides, there could be some students that don't want to participate, and they need their education, as a right.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

De Blasio Remains Steadfast vs. Detectors After the Second Largest Public School Shooting in History

17 people died yesterday in the high school in Parkland, Florida.

New York City mayor Bill De Blasio still opposes additional metal detectors in the schools. Many schools with violence (though unreported violence, so we'll never know) have no metal detectors.

From the Daily News, July 21, 2016, slipped, during summer: Modifications of the city's school discipline code:
create the city's first formal protocols for adding and removing metal detectors from schools

After the school stabbing last fall in the Bronx, parents asked, where were the detectors?
Yet, a few weeks later the mayor balked at more metal detectors in the schools.
After yesterday's mass shooting in Florida, teachers, students, parents, administrators must wonder, why are metal detectors seen only exceptionally in the schools?

NYC school community, how safe do you feel, knowing that the choice is only in De Blasio's control, under mayoral control, and there is no truly public forum for the public to have democratic input on this vital safety issue?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why It Matters to Come to the Important Jan. 5 Meeting to Plan for a Pushback Against DeBlasio's Closure or Merging of 14 Renewal Schools

Come to the planning meeting of January 5, tomorrow at the City as School, 16 Clarkson Street in Greenwich Village, 4:30 to 6:30 pm with activists from the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) caucus of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

This meeting is for planning how to respond to Bill De Blasio's plan to close many Renewal Schools. It is essential to prepare for the February 28 Panel for Educational Policy meeting at M.S. 131, at 100 Hester Street. As veterans and close observers of the New York City Department of Education under Bloomberg and DeBlasio know, teachers have been blamed as the sole factor for student performance, and a result, the city has pursued several flawed policies. It has broken comprehensive schools into several smaller schools in the same building and it has pressured teachers into leaving the system early.
Difference only in name; same flawed anti-teacher, anti-student policies

Here is how the latter pattern works: the DOE forces teachers to reapply for their jobs. This is disingenuous, as the experienced teachers draw higher salaries. Under "Fair Student Funding" schools have limited budgets for staffing and principals have strong incentives to hire less experienced teachers at lower salaries. Teachers lucky enough to find positions find themselves working in schools in which far fewer teachers have the institutional memory of how schools worked well in the past; they also have a fewer teachers with a memory of how teachers were treated with professional respect in the past. Most teachers from these broken up schools will go into the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, and will rotate between schools, sometimes working as substitutes, sometimes working as teachers with regular programs. All told, this demoralizes teachers. Hundreds of teachers from these schools will become ATRs.

The union, the United Federation of Teachers? They will calmly parrot the DOE line that teachers need to polish their resume if they want a regularly assigned position.

Experts know better. As Alan Singer, an education professor from Hofstra University and director of there recently wrote, De Blasio's school closing policy is a failed policy that does not consider the impact of social inequalities..

Additionally, as Singer noted, the record has demonstrated that the school closing policy does not produce the desired results. Lastly, as the Chaz School Daze blog has cited, the schools under De Blasio and Bloomberg just show improvement under fraudulent pretenses. Teachers are pressed to pass everyone. And the result is that students are quite ill-prepared for college or careers.