Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Schools in Trouble Starved While UFT Fiddles

Someone must ask the leadership of the UFT, with all its resources, why Leonie Haimson, a one woman wrecking crew when it comes to Tweed chicanery, has to be the one to put a report like the one below together that exposes how Beach Channel HS (the local school in my neighborhood) had rising class sizes while targeted by the DOE for closure. Remember how the UFT law suit kept BCHS open for an extra year but then the UFT made a deal with the DOE that allowed them to insert a new school in the building in an effort to starve the incoming freshman class - with the other high school (Far Rockaway) having been closed already the kids who aren't accepted to any Rockaway schools must head to places like John Adams in Ozone Park, the next target in the domino chain.

So Seung Ok is right on when he says in this piece we posted A Tale of Two Michaels: UFT and Mayor Bloomberg - Who is more undemocratic?:
No wonder teachers are losing the battle for public opinion. We are waging a two front battle against major powers - the millions of our own union leadership and the billionaire mayor. 
Parent activist Paola da Kock commented on the NYCEdNews Listserve:
Six of these schools opened under Bloomberg.  As might be expected, “the city said it was holding newer schools just as accountable as older ones” instead of acknowledging its reform strategy is a failure.  But where’s the UFT, the organization best placed to stop the madness?  It’s “nothing more than a joke,” quips Mulgrew, “the tea cup ride at Disney.”  Does Mulgrew have a plan besides laughing at this “joke”?  As Norm reported, he does: “If we find any substantial violations of the statute that covers school closings, the DOE can expect to see us in court.  Look what that did for Beach Channel High School, one of the 19 schools “saved” by the UFT lawsuit last February, which will now be closed.
Paola de Kock
Queens HS parent leader Monica Ayuso said:
There is something more sinister going on a Beach Channel. The building was under major construction work. Therefore, closing the school was always the plan.
Lisa Donlan, followed by Dee Alpert chipped in:
What does the CFE organization say about this? Can the IBO or Comptroller tell us where that money went if it wasn't used to reduce class size? Isn't this the equivalent to the misuse of funds? Don't folks do hard time for less? - Lisa
What is needed is a series of good forensic audits to see how funds were actually expended - as opposed to how they were reported as having been expended.  IBO doesn't do this kind of audit work.  CFE could probably try to get some forensic audits as part of its status in the litigation, but ... .  Ditto for the UFT, which is actually litigating how the NYCDOE actually spent class size reduction funds at this time.

The UFT's new papers in its suit to stop release of teachers' value added reports are interesting in terms of looking at the class size reduction money issue.  It would appear that information principals report to Tweed re a bunch of relevant things - including who is teaching which class - is wildly inaccurate and, of course, unaudited and unverified.  It's hard to see how other teacher assignment/class size data they report would be any more reliable.  It is, of course, interesting that the NYCDOE did not require that principals have teachers check data submitted about them for accuracy.  Principals are, in the wonderful world of Tweed, not only captains of their ships, but also sole creators (or concoctors) of virtually all information regarding their ships' staffs and passengers.  - Dee
The reason that principals are so all-powerful is that the UFT was a co-conspirator with the DOE leaving the union at the school level on a respirator.

The response of the UFT to the closing of schools, if any, is beyond in adequate as they trumpet their phony "victory" last year - which helped Mulgrew gain his 91% victory in the union elections.

As Leonie points out below, the extra help and support has nothing to do with the classroom. Send in another coordinator or teacher trainer - I'd like to see these expert try to teach the large classes for a few weeks and check the results.

Leonie on the NYC Public School Parent blog:

The DOE set the closing schools up for failure

Today, in justifying the eleven school closings, with more to come, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg made the following statement: “Year after year, even as we provided extra help and support, these schools simply have not gotten the job done for children."

Did they ever try systematically reducing class size? No.

Most of these students at these schools continue to suffer from overly large classes that far exceed the state average of twenty students per class, as well as the goals in the city’s mandated class size reduction plan. In fact, class sizes have risen sharply in most of the schools slated for closure.

For example, check out the increases in class size at Beach Channel High school, one of the schools on today’s list of closures, which have occurred despite a promise from the DOE to make specific reductions at this school in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in Contract For Excellence funds.

As Sternberg said, “…we cannot afford to let schools continue to fail students when we know we can do better.”

Most parents and teachers would agree. The Department of Education’s stubborn refusal to follow the law and to allow the students at these schools to have their best chance to succeed is unconscionable, and set up these schools for failure.

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