Saturday, November 15, 2008

Is there a blacklist?


I’m going to throw out a couple of things that have happened to me in the past two weeks and you can draw your own conclusions.


ONE
Human Resources sends me on an interview to a school with a music vacancy. On the street, it's known as the HS of Witchcraft, and I have ties to this school, actually. I was the only non-core teacher when it was founded several years ago, and under normal circumstances, for me to return to the job that I was harassed out of might have turned out not to be a bad thing. They had gone through two principals since then. I’d be seeing the third, reputably worse than the second, whom the students had walked out on in protest and the DoE had to replace (or he left on his own, who knows).


Given that the interview was set up by HR, you’d have expected the man to have at least been there to receive me. But, no. He was neither late or called away on an emergency, just inexplicably not present and determinedly unreachable on his cell. So, I sat around for an hour talking with my teacher buddies and a few kids I knew, and after making copies of my resume and sample letters of commendation to leave for him, I wended my way back to my day job, ATR subbing.

I did email HR, though, to tell them I was stood up, adding: “Unless something very untoward happened to him, I find this inconsiderate and strange.” That was October 27th, and not a word from anyone since.


TWO
A week or so later, I ran into one of my APs at one of my former schools, the one in which I had built a very large chorus over many years with quite a respectable reputation. He said: What a coincidence, he had just been thinking of me, there was a school that needed a general music teacher immediately, fax him my resume and he'd shoot it over to the principal. I did, and the next day and an administrator from the school called to ask me in for an interview. Since the DoE was not sending me on this one, I told them I’d have to come after school, and an appointment was set up for two days later. The AP told me the principal had received my resume and wanted to see me.

Before leaving the building for the interview, I checked the two messages on my voicemail. Both said: “Don’t come in. The position has been filled.”


THREE
A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity sit down with my current principal for a long talk. That's the one who excessed me in 2007 and under whom I continue to serve as per diem sub, using none of my most important talents or skills. I’m not going to report the details of this conversation for obvious reasons, but let’s say I got the feeling that as a person I was liked, and as a teacher, respected.

Something Principal said caught my attention, though. Paraphrased, it went: I don't understand. You go on all these interviews and you're still here.

Really, I go on interviews? I said. I’ve applied to 21 schools and haven’t been contacted by a single one. Zilch, nada, nunca. What are you talking about?

Principal did not need any reminding about the only time (more than a year ago) that HR tried to place me in another school. Nice interview, but wasn’t offered the job when they heard I was at Step II over my excessing. (Rightly so, in my opinion. Why destabilize the kids at two schools when the situation was in flux.) Then I reported on the two non-interviews of the past two weeks and asked where this idea came from that I was going on all kinds of interviews and not being placed.

Principal reiterated something mentioned before, that when I was hired, word was going around NOT to take me in: “Everyone told me not to hire you.”

I don’t know who the “everyone” is, but my top three guesses have always been other principals (against whom I've gone up against as chapter leader), the region, and the Witchcraft's partner, New Visions. But at 5:30 this morning, I woke up with the feeling there's been a fourth possibility all along:
Joel Klein has a healthy and current Don’t Place list.
Because facts are facts: A highly qualified candidate with a successful, long career gets no response to job applications over a long period time; a couple of interviews get set up but are scuttled before they happen, and there's no explanation or follow-up.

So, my questions for Randi Weingarten, if she's listening, are:
Have you ruled out a DoE blacklist, official or otherwise, and what evidence is there that there isn’t one?

And to our local reporters:
Though Klein is not forcing any principal to absorb veteran salaries into their budgets, doesn't it occur to anyone that 1400 unplaced teachers may be the result, in part, of something way more sinister and way more specific than general financial considerations?

If this thought piques your interest, call me for more details.

19 comments:

ATRs Not ATVs said...

Seems unduly paranoid. But, then again, paranoids have enemies.

Woodlass said...

You're so right!
And so do senior teachers who never get interviews.

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat as you are Woodlass. I applied to many schools and I did not get one interview. I am sure that many ATRS are blacklisted. Where is the Union??

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine was a school secretary. The friend did not kiss ass & so alienated the Principal. The friend tried to get other school secretary positions & was railroaded out of any other possibilities by the Principal whose ass she did not kiss. The Principal bad-mouthed her to other Principals. She knows this as a fact!

I do not think you are paranoid. I always have thought about schools as mini-fiefdoms. Many of the best teachers have been exiled because the "KING" felt threatened.

Woodlass said...

I'm glad you made this point, because it's always been the case that word-of-mouth between administrators can help land some jobs and kill your chances for others.

What I was trying to do in this post is open up the possibility that Klein has developed an official Don't Hire list, something already compiled and ongoing, and something that we'll never have access to. I don't know the best way to pursue this, but documenting and reporting as much as possible would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

One of the ATR teachers at my school stated that she heard there was a blacklist that Staten Island principals and administrators have. She mentioned this with regards to another teacher at our school also an ATR who has been blackballed by the SI principals. The teacher in question is not a union activist, but, has taught for around 9 years. I believe there is just cause and enough information for the uft to act. I hope the ATR's come out in force for the rally on Nov 24th.

Pissed Off said...

I don't think you are paranoid either!

MsMalarkey said...

Based on your experiences, and the way that BloomKlein does business, I'd say that you are right about the existence of some kind of blacklist.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has worked very closely with principals over the years, there is definitely an informal 'blacklist' among administrators.
Even before the ATR situation, this existed.

The Bus Driver said...

there is alot of blacklisting in various school systems. When i signed up to sub, the substitute trainer said... well more warned us, that if we didnt "fit in" with a school population, each school would create their own do-not-call list. In addition if you were particularly bad or otherwise not suitable, the school would contact the board of education and you would not be allowed to sub at any other school either. No notification or anything. Blacklisted. I even suspect i had it happen to me, because i simply stopped getting calls from the middle school at first, but then slowly the other schools stopped calling me too. Quite frustrating when subbing is your only source of income.

in other words.. you're not paranoid.

Anonymous said...

There so is a blacklist, called an ineligible list. It's what happens to untenured teachers who receive U ratings just because their principal doesn't like them. A friend of mine was a 1st year teacher, was forced to resign by her principal, and was told if she didn't she would be placed on an ineligible list, so it definitely is out there.

Anonymous said...

I have had a similar experience in Texas, where there is no union. Repeatedly a principal has made an offer to hire me pending paperwork in personnel, and then I hear nothing. When I contact the principal and human resources, I am given reasons that I was gullible enough to believe for the first semester of fulltime job hunting. My vice principal last year was a key figure in his high school perpetuating the Texas School-to-Prison Pipeline, and I resisted his efforts to send my credit retrieval students off to alternative school on the least excuse. Twice and they drop out of school, which improves the statistics of the school so funding isn't lost. I'm pretty sure he has found some way to blacklist me. What I can't figure out is (coming from a university department) how the heck did public schools decide to have administrators be over the teachers?! Can you imagine a doctor or lawyer working for his secretary? What's with all the paperwork. Doesn't "administration" imply taking care of some of that so the teachers can teach? A lot of education is ignored when teachers' input is ignored. Why aren't schools teacher-run, for cryin' out loud? The system is upside-down. Here they want to pay teacher incentives, but they don't pay for us to have supplies to make lessons interesting. Not even the basics. What kind of business doesn't have a supply closet? My gosh, schools do not seem to have it together at all. They measure the performance of teachers, but never ask them what the problem is. If they did, they would say the administrators are not supportive and are in fact blocking the teachers' efforts. That's why so many teachers drop out, not because of the students.

Woodlass said...

Thanks, anon. from Texas. I can't imagine working without a union, though I think ours is mostly selling out.

You know, I never had a problem with administrators who rise from the ranks, becoming principals or APs after 20 years in the classroom. Somebody's got to run the place.

But this idea of non-educator administrators, people who come into the system with a corporate psyche or buy into it when they attend the Leadership Academy, this will not solve our problems. Their values are way too different from ours.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you still read posts on this blog, but it came up in a search I put in for "are NYC teachers blacklisted". After reading your post, I will share that I am teacher with 10 years experience, 2 in NYC when I decided to leave the classroom in 2007. The last principal I worked for was a real &ick. While he agreed I was a wonderful educator, and I received only Satisfactory evaluations and observations, he felt that he wanted a different type of staff and was indirectly asking people to leave. Which wasn't a problem since I wanted to leave anyway-but I was initially trying to find a transfer of some compacity. He harrassed me by phone over the summer and when I finally resigned-I did so without a full 30 days notice. Ignorance is no excuse, but I didn't know the DOE required a full 30 days notice. I resigned August 2007 and in January 2008 I receiveda letter of ineligible to be rehired. The DOE has a policy that allows principals, without evidence or due process, to place a teacher on the list of ineligibility for the city of New York. It's a life-long ban, that bans me from the boroughs. There is no formal appeal; but I bitched enough that I got one a year later only to loose when the principal falsified documents stating he informed me of the 30day notice. I can't even get a job as a custodian for a school in NYC. And there's nothing I can do about this. The union completely abandoned me saying it happens to a lot of teachers and it's just something administrators are allowed to do. What's worse is that being on this list actually also flags my fingerprints. Subsequent, non-classroom positions that required fingerprints were forced not to hire me becaus the DOE would not disclose the nature of the "red flag" on my file and employer-understandably-cannot take my word for it.

UA said...

Anon., I am so sorry this happened to you. I don't understand why he was pushing you out, then made it hard for you to get another job. At first I thought it might be a computer thing: they see you resigned under the 30 days, so it caused you to go on that ineligible list. But then, why would he lie and say he did give you notice? So weird.
PS. I leave this blog up because we're under the same contract still, and it has information pertaining to it. Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Hoping, again, you're still checking in on this blog. I'd really like to touch base with you. It's now November 2011, I had a job for 10 months with a non-profit, but our funding was not approved for contract renewal. So I am-once again-unemployed and experiencing-once again-some situations that leave me to believe that this 'ineligible list' is accessible to more than those in the DOE.

UA said...

Though I'm no longer involved or seeing things first-hand now that I've retired, I can't say much except the situation has gotten more complicated.
Over time we realized that much of EdDeform was solely to break the union, little to do with moving toward quality education. (Quality Education would mean smaller class size, trusting hands-on educators with a lot of NYC experience instead of newbie admin trainees and outside consultants, providing all kinds of services and environments for struggling and unsupported learners, not cutting these; etc.)
I think principals are probably trained to keep several things in focus: the bigger salaries, the bigger mouths, and the bigger union involvement. If you keep those factors in mind, you can extricate your own ego from the job search process and come to terms with the fact you're going to get sidelined if you fit into one or more of these categories.
The union threw in the towel years ago. They tolerated if not collaborated on one-size-fits-all teaching methodologies, and now they're doing the same with teacher evaluations.

Angie said...

I myself am thinking there are blacklists. I quit a school district of 200,000 students in 2006. Since that time I have had 3 job offers. I am bilinguo Special Es. My longest lasting job was 1.5 years at a charter school. I have been a teacher since 1999. After 25 applications I received 2 interviews. I was not even accepted at the city with the highest crime rate of America. I have had Special Ed supervisors who never taught a day in their life and vice principals with 3 years of teaching experience. The best was one boss who had a bachelors in Special Ed and I have a Masters. At rhe moment I am 9 months behind on my mortgage and am on food stamps. This is all because a student pumched me and I made a police report. The student returned to school and I was fired.

Angie said...

I myself am thinking there are blacklists. I quit a school district of 200,000 students in 2006. Since that time I have had 3 job offers. I am bilinguo Special Es. My longest lasting job was 1.5 years at a charter school. I have been a teacher since 1999. After 25 applications I received 2 interviews. I was not even accepted at the city with the highest crime rate of America. I have had Special Ed supervisors who never taught a day in their life and vice principals with 3 years of teaching experience. The best was one boss who had a bachelors in Special Ed and I have a Masters. At rhe moment I am 9 months behind on my mortgage and am on food stamps. This is all because a student pumched me and I made a police report. The student returned to school and I was fired.