November 28, 2008

A NY Times editorial that really crosses the line

After reading the ignorant editorial in the NY Times today (which I've posted below as well), I thought they should really go and have another look at the meaning of "due diligence":
1 the care that a reasonable person exercises under the circumstances to avoid harm to other persons or their property

2 research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction (as a corporate merger or purchase of securities)

Then I wrote this Letter to the Editor, who's not doing any of the above or, in fact, his job:

Dear Sirs:

Concerning "A Plan to Hire the Best Teachers" (Nov. 27th), you should look past Klein's PR materials before you go on record.

For one thing, your information is incomplete. The third paragraph of this editorial says that "the central administration budget pays [the] full salaries" of excessed teachers. Central only pays for some of these teachers, those who do not get placed in permanent positions after their schools have been closed. When the school remains open but a teacher's position is closed (e.g., when a program or a position is dropped), the school continues to pay that teacher's salary. There isn't any incentive in the contract or in this present agreement for other principals to hire the higher paid vets in this group. Two for the price of one hiring works against these people regardless of how well they teach, and many have gone more than a year without having been asked on a single interview.

Your rush to judgment in the last paragraph about the teaching skills of these people shows just how successful the DoE's disinformation campaign has been. There are many satisfactory, good, and excellent teachers in this pool whom principals have been given no incentive to hire, but the public would never know. That's because Klein's main goal has been to get as many vets with high salaries out of the system and replace them with newer people, who are not only cheap, but also untenured and malleable. He's done this quite systematically: by labeling a whole group of them of "poor" quality, by changing how teachers are paid, and by not insisting that districts adhere to the contract, which is to try to get them placed in other schools. Did you even know that Human Resources has not been doing its job on that score?

Even your opening paragraph reflects a basic ignorance of what is going in city schools. You say: "The new policy . . . has put an end to disruptive transfers and made it easier for schools to build coherent teams." First of all, what has been most disruptive is the closing of schools and opening of new ones — not something you can blame on the teachers. And what's more destructive than transfers has been the widespread hiring of teacher "trainees," many of whom have no intention on staying in the profession for more than the few years they signed up for. Albany allowed this, mind you, by creating an even lower kind of teacher certification than the one we had before: it permits a newly minted BA to enter the teaching force with only a couple of weeks' training. Should inner city parents be grateful to the city for that? Everyone knows it takes 5-10 years to become a good teacher. A constant turnover of people experimenting on kids would never be acceptable in the suburbs — or to those, I suspect like yourselves, who have the means to send their children to private schools.

As for the "coherent teams" you speak of, when principals hire grad students over vets, the word is not "coherent" but "compliant." Without tenure, these new teachers will do what they're told, even though so many of Klein's directives have been misguided and need to be resisted.

There's a lot of social engineering going on at the hands of this mayor and his chancellor. If the press is not willing to look past their PR, with all the manipulated test data, fuzzy school grading, erroneous calibrations of success and graduation rates, multiple restructurings, and belittling of higher paid teachers, then it too becomes part of the problem.

NYC high school teacher

I was referring to this editorial:

A Plan to Hire the Best Teachers

Published: November 27, 2008

New York City and its teachers’ union took an important step when they agreed to abandon a rule that allowed senior teachers to transfer into any school they wished, often bumping younger teachers from their jobs. The new policy, which allows principals to reject unwanted applicants, has put an end to disruptive transfers and made it easier for schools to build coherent teams.

The new system is not perfect. It has unfortunately created an incentive for principals to pass over the most experienced teachers — who can earn $100,000 a year — in favor of new teachers who cost about half that much. The passed-over teachers, whose jobs are guaranteed under the union contract, end up in a “reserve pool,” where they typically work as substitutes, while the central administration budget pays their full salaries. The cost to the city is estimated at $74 million a year.

The city and the union have now agreed on a new initiative that should cut costs while helping the best reserve pool teachers find permanent positions. Under the new rules, schools that fill vacancies from the pool will receive a small bonus and a significant salary subsidy that holds them harmless for up to eight years.

If all goes as planned, principals will seek out the best teachers from the reserve pool, no matter how high their salaries. That still leaves a crucial question unanswered: what to do with reserve teachers whose records of poor performance make it unlikely that they will be hired.

Within a year or so, the city should know which teachers were passed over for salary reasons and which ones have languished in the reserve pool because of poor performance. Once the data is in, the city and the union will need to negotiate a plan for ushering the inadequate teachers out of the system.


  1. when the TRUTH disappears from society...there is NOTHING LEFT do we get you letter to the editor published for the mainstream? If the TIMES won't publish much does an ad cost in the NY TIMES? I would contribute to getting your letter published!

  2. I don't get it--how will they know which ones are passed over because of salary and which because they are not good? Just from seeing who is left over? That editorial is preposterous. Thanks for writing to them although I bet they won't publish it.
    The UFT ought to pay for an ad to publish your letter (which of course they won't)

  3. I wrote about the witch hunt that would come after a year. The Times got an early start.

  4. Woodlass, Thank you for writing to the NY Times. We know that this letter will not be published because the media has been bought by the Mayor. Real and accurate news does not exist any more. It is a shame that this paper has to serve the rich and not publish the truth. The writer of this editorial should talk to the ATR teachers to extract the real news.

  5. Ednotes said, "..the witch hunt that would come after a year. The Times got an early start". You are completely right. The agreement reached between the ATRS and the DOE is just a PR. I don't think that the chancellor wants to give jobs to the senior teachers. A few of them will get jobs. The rest will be left as part of the "with hunt". In the future we will see more High School students graduating without having any knowledge. Colleges should get ready to give them REMEDIAL classes because they will be taught by this new teachers that come after two months of traininig.

  6. Hey, contact me if you have any ideas about a next level of action. I have some in mind.
    (And I'm sorry for yesterday's typos, which I just caught this morning. I've been on some serious painkillers for a day and a half for something that came up rather suddenly — unrelated, I think, to all this teacher abuse, but who knows.)