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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Betsy Combier Asks FOIL Officer Joe BaranelloTo Clarify the Fees of $29.95/hr For F11,129

I decided that I should clarify with Records Access Officer Joe Baranello exactly what I would pay for, and who I would be hiring, (at $29.95/hr) in order to obtain the secret rules handed out at the Plenary meeting for the DOE/NYSUT/UFT folk who represent members at 3020-a:

Joe Baranello
Dear Mr. Baranello,

I am responding to your email dated March 25, 2015 in which you stated I must pay $29.95 for the preparation of digital records above two hours that relate to my request in F11,129. See my post on my blog:

Betsy Combier Files a Freedom of Information Request to Obtain the Information Given Out At The NYC DOE February 24, 2015 Secret Meeting on 3020-a Hearings

You ask what the maximum amount is that I am willing to pay to the person you hire to prepare these records and for the storage media.

 I need more information in order to give you my response:

1. I need to know the number of records responsive to my request and the amount you charge to me for full access before I decide what I am willing to pay. 

2. I also need to know exactly what records you will charge me for - emails? agenda? invitees? This meeting included several groups, NYSUT/UFT, DOE, and Arbitrators , therefore this meeting was not only for Department of Education employees. What redactions are relevant to Public Officer's Law 87? Please be specific. I also understand that you can charge me 25 cents for each page - do you add the $29.95/hr to this, and where are you authorized within the Law to do this, if you charge the $29.95/hr in addition to the $.25/page?
3. I need to know who the person is who will be paid by me at $29.95/hour. Please give
me this person's full name, job title, and daily duties. I also need to know whether or not there is any person willing to do those same duties at $8/, or $9/hr, and whether you sought to find any such individual, and where you posted the job description.

4. In your demand that I pay for the cost of storage media, please describe exactly what you mean by this. What is the "storage media" that I have to pay for? Please give any and all details.

5. Please describe to me what costs are involved in reproducing records that are maintained electronically.  

6. Please tell me why I have to pay a person $29.95 to forward electronic documents via email to me, as you no doubt have people on staff who are already being paid to assist you in granting FOIL requests.

7. Please describe what "internal communications" you refer to, as the February 24, 2015 meeting was not a meeting of DOE employees, but also UFT, NYSUT, and arbitration panel members.

 Please take note that I am willing to pay for the records of the meeting held by your colleague Courtenaye Jackson-Chase at Tweed at 4PM of February 24, 2015 and that I intend on writing the Committee on Open Government to ask for an opinion. I advise you not to close this request, I am simply asking questions to clarify your very vague response.

 Please reply to this email in its entirety no later than 5PM on friday, April 17, 2015, so that I can receive all the documents/emails/powerpoint/video/presentations on or before April 22, 2015.

 Thank you for your prompt response.


Betsy Combier
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Thursday, April 9, 2015

PS 90 Chapter Leader Vicky Giasemis Wins Her Grievance to Change Her "Ineffective" Rating Given by Bully Principal Greta Hawkins

I hope this is "historic", as the UFT badly needs a good case to overcome the scam they have supported in the grievance process for too many years.

Historic rating ruling

Brooklyn principal forced to change Ineffective thanks to appeals process UFT fought for

PS 90 Chapter Leader Vicky Giasemis (right), whose Ineffective rating from her principal was overturned by an arbitrator,
and delegate Betty Matos outside the Brooklyn school.

For the very first time, a teacher rating of Ineffective has been overturned and a principal has been ordered to submit a different rating, thanks to the appeals process that the UFT insisted on as an essential part of any fair and impartial teacher evaluation system.
This was the first case before a three-member rating- appeals panel consisting of a neutral arbitrator and panelists selected by the UFT and the Department of Education. The union proved that the rating of Ineffective for the 2013–14 school year for Vicky Giasemis, the chapter leader at PS 90 in Coney Island, was due to harassment and animus by her principal, Greta Hawkins, and was not related to her job performance.

Greta Hawkins with Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg
Hawkins was ordered on March 3 to submit a different rating to the panel for their approval.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew hailed the decision as “the culmination of a long battle to win meaningful protection for members rated Ineffective for no fault of their own.”
UFT General Counsel Adam Ross said the new protection against supervisory harassment was a major milestone.
“We never got ratings reversed on substance under Bloomberg, but now we have secured due-process rights for teachers in state education law,” he pointed out.
Giasemis was rated Effective on both the state and local measures of student learning, which account for 40 percent of her rating. But Hawkins slapped her with an Ineffective rating for measures of teacher practice even though, according to the arbitrator, the principal did not detail deficiencies in the physical environment and student-teacher interaction in Giasemis’ classroom in her observation reports.
The arbitrator found “that had the principal observed deficiencies in these readily observable classroom components they would have been included in her observations.”
The arbitrator further noted that there was no doubt that Giasemis “was a teacher for whom the principal had great dislike and little regard.”
The new ruling is just the most recent of a string of decisions nailing Hawkins as a bully.
In June 2013, an arbitrator ordered Hawkins to stop “harassing or otherwise discriminating” against union members lawfully exercising their union rights after she tried to intimidate 14 teachers who were named in a Step 1 grievance concerning lesson plans.
At Giasemis’ appeals hearing, teachers at PS 90 testified that Hawkins hung a copy of a New York Teacher story heralding that arbitration victory, “Staff wins grievance against ‘bully’ Coney Island principal,” on a bulletin board in her office as a badge of honor.
The arbitrator in the rating appeal said that article on the bulletin board was “in essence a daily reminder of who the principal held responsible for that award — the UFT — and more specifically, its chief representative at the school, the chapter leader.”
Giasemis said she is “delighted” that she has been vindicated, but she added, “There is no way to explain how I feel when I walk into school every day. After all the abuse, the damage is done.”
Judy Gerowitz, the UFT’s representative for District 21, noted that “the arbitrator left no doubt that animus toward the union and not poor pedagogy was the reason for her Ineffective rating.”
Diane Mazzola, the UFT coordinator of appeals, savored the broader meaning of the arbitration victory.
“The UFT fought long and hard to get a process which would result in fair hearings for those teachers whose ratings do not reflect their work in the classroom,” Mazzola said. “This appeal award demonstrates that we have, at last, achieved that goal.”
Read more: News stories

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Age and Seniority Are Factors in Re-assignments of Teachers in Boston

 Silent no more: Boston's ‘unwanted’ educators rip school administrators

Kids lose on bottom line

‘EDUCATION AS BUSINESS’: Aytul Farquharson, left, a 15-year music teacher with degrees from Harvard and
Berklee, and Andrea Devine, right, a 14-year ESL teacher, say they’ve been shunted aside in Boston Public Schools
for younger teachers with smaller salaries.

Boston teachers who are unwanted by principals or in limbo because of budget cuts say they’ve been cast aside just to save money, 
and to make way for 
cheaper, more malleable newcomers.
“If you see education as a business, this is the right route to go. But if you 
see this as the future of 
our children, it is dead wrong,” Aytul Farquharson, a 15-year music teacher with degrees from Harvard and Berklee, said yesterday in an exclusive interview with the Herald.
“They’re looking at, ‘OK, I can get a $48,000 first-year teacher, I don’t need the teacher to be from Harvard, Berklee,’” said Farquharson, who was cut from her school last year and 
relegated to “co-teacher” duties in another classroom.
The Herald sat down with three teachers from the controversial unwanted pool. They are among the 72 teachers, totaling some $6 million in salaries, who lost their positions due to budget cuts or school closings or when principals had broad discretion over who to keep and who to scrap. They are now assigned as co-teachers in other people’s classrooms.
They fear they’ve been branded subpar through no fault of their own and have seen their professional prospects damaged.
“They’re not looking at your performance as a great teacher, they’re looking at the dollars beside your name,” said Denise, a 20-plus-year visual arts teacher who asked that her last name not be used. As a co-teacher, she works on writing and reading skills with students who speak foreign languages.
Andrea Devine, a 14-year
 ESL instructor, said she is convinced money was a motive after her former school was declared a
“turnaround school,” mean-
ing all of its 25 or so teachers were laid off.
“(The principal) kept four teachers, all of them very young, and didn’t rehire any of the rest of us,” Devine said. “The whole experience really made me feel very broken and crushed.”
The three teachers stressed they do not have issues with principals in the schools they are currently assigned to.
Records obtained by the Herald show more than 75 percent of the teachers in the pool are 50 or older, with an average age of 54. Union officials say the teachers are also among the highest earners in the district because of their experience and advanced 
degrees; all three teachers who spoke to the Herald make in the $100,000 
A Boston Public Schools spokeswoman said the claims about financial mot­ives are “absolutely not true,” and that the aim of the new hiring system is to let principals hire who they want and let teachers pick their schools.
As of last year, teachers no longer need seniority to interview for job openings.
Teachers who aren’t picked up but have three years’ experience are guaranteed a classroom under state tenure law. Those 
assigned to “co-teacher” duties are encouraged to acquire new skills.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh has said the city can’t sustain “paying for teachers that aren’t in classrooms.”
The city is working to secure private money to cover their salaries in the coming years.
The end result, the teachers said, is a system that gives principals incentive to hire cheap new teachers with a chance of also 
being assigned a co-teacher whose hefty salary is not carried on their books.
“You’re telling them if they say no, they might end up with a second teacher for free, and the system is willing to sacrifice tremendous experience,” said Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman, who said the district is contractually barred from placing teachers who fare poorly on evaluations into the pool.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jennifer Rehn-Losquardo, Principal of UES Middle School IS 67, Wagner, Believes in One Visit to the Bathroom Per Day

Parents often hear the Latin term "in loco parentis" when they are told about the duties and responsibilities of principals and teachers in their child's school.


"The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent"[1] refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. Originally derived from English common law, it is applied in two separate areas of the law.
First, it allows institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the best interests of the students as they see fit, although not allowing what would be considered violations of the students' civil liberties.[1]
Second, this doctrine can provide a non-biological parent to be given the legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent if they have held themselves out as the parent.[2]
The in loco parentis doctrine is distinct from the doctrine of parens patriae, the psychological parent doctrine, and adoption.[3] In the United States, the parental liberty doctrine imposes constraints upon the operation of the in loco parentis doctrine.[3]
As an advocate who represents parents at Impartial Hearings where I ask for tuition for non-public schools as well as various services for children with special needs. I had not heard of the variation in bathroom policies which affect children of all ages in New York City until a recent hearing for a child now removed by her parents from Robert F. Wagner Middle School IS 67 at 220 East 76th Street in NYC.
IS 67 Principal Jennifer Rehn-Losquardo seems to believe that "Whole School" and "Whole Class" is more important than "Whole Child".

Above is a copy of the Wagner Middle School bathroom pass. Each student receives one at the beginning of the school year, carries it around with them, can leave it on their desk, show each other, etc. For each day in the school week there are boxes which are to be signed by the teacher if the student has to use the bathroom outside of lunchtime.

IS 67 Principal Jennifer Rehn

If a student is taking medicine and must go to the bathroom more often, Principal Rehn says, then a "special pass" is given. This reporter spoke to several parents who were not told about this, and their children are on medication. The NYC Department of School Health has never heard of a school policy like this, and told me that Ms. Rehn is "doing this on her own".
But that's not all that Ms. Rehn does to maintain control.
If one student acts up, the entire class gets detention, even on religious holidays. Parents are told nothing and are kept outside on the sidewalk for an extra 10-20 minutes after the school day, until the whole class is dismissed from detention - where they are told to sit and do nothing.
Chancellor Farina - how do these policies work to keep the students healthy, happy and safe?

Betsy Combier

Teachers Fight Special Needs Accommodation

A teachers group is fighting a plan to allow a student with a disability to use a faculty restroom, all because they say the accommodation violates their right to exclusive facilities.
Eighteen teachers — including two special educators — signed a petition filed alongside a union grievance after administrators opted to allow a student at Park Elementary School near Pittsburgh to use the faculty restroom, reports thePittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The student has a physical limitation, school officials say, which makes it difficult for the child to climb stairs needed to access the student facilities. The school’s bottom floor does not have a student restroom nor is there elevator access.
Teachers at the school argue the plan violates a provision of their contract stating that the school will provide “lavatory facilities exclusively for employees’ use.”
School officials, however, say the building has other faculty-only restrooms and the district has an obligation to “meet the needs of students with disabilities.”
The Steel Valley school board voted unanimously Thursday night to deny the teachers’ grievance and allow the student to use the faculty restroom, the Post-Gazette reports.
(Updated: March 27, 2015 at 10:30 AM CT)

Teacher Susan McCarthy: School District Uses Psychology as a Weapon

I think we are lucky that no teacher has gone "postal". Let's all hope that we can stop this terrible attack on educators' integrity and character before that happens.

School district forced teacher into mental hospital: lawsuit
NY POST, March 29, 2015

First-grade teacher Susan McCarthy says she was discriminated against after she was forced to go to the Nassau University Medical Center to be evaluated by psychiatrists.

A Long Island school district tried to oust a longtime teacher by throwing her in the loony bin, a lawsuit claims.
First-grade teacher Susan McCarthy, 63, charges the Roosevelt Union Free School District uses “psychology as a weapon to discriminate.”
She became upset at a staff meeting last May when administrators tried to return a problem student to her classroom, and she began to feel ill, she claims in Brooklyn federal court papers.
When she said she wanted to go home sick for the day, administrators asked McCarthy if she would “hurt herself,” the lawsuit alleges.
She “emphatically said no,” McCarthy claims.
But hours later, police officers arrived and forced her to go to Nassau University Medical Center to be evaluated by psychiatrists, McCarthy claims.
Even though doctors and nurses said she was OK, a month later the district forced her to undergo another medical exam “to determine your mental capacity to perform your duties as a teacher,” McCarthy claims.
The district was “intent on discriminating and creating a hostile work environment against older Caucasian teachers,” she claims.
A lawyer for the district declined to comment.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Eva Moskowitz Believes in Discipline - How Much Is Enough?

Eighth-graders in a Queens, N.Y., public elementary school recently organized a “fight club” for first-graders, beating up those who wouldn’t participate. This disgraceful episode comes at a time when many across the country are engaging in a misguided campaign to diminish the school discipline needed to ensure a nurturing and productive learning environment.
Leading the pack is New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a disciplinary code due to take effect this month in the city’s district schools. The code is full of edu-babble. For example, the code promotes “restorative circles.” What is that? It’s a “community process for supporting those in conflict [that] brings together the three parties to a conflict—those who have acted, those directly impacted and the wider community—within an intentional systemic context, to dialogue as equals.”
This is nonsense. If student A “impacts” student B with a fist, they shouldn’t “dialogue as equals.” Student A should be disciplined.
“Collaborative problem solving” is another strategy. Teachers “articulate the adults’ concerns about the behavior and engage the student in a collaborative process,” the code explains, to “decide upon a plan of action” that is “mutually acceptable to both.”
You read that correctly. Teachers’ views on proper conduct are mere “concerns” that must be explained, and students get to decide what resolution is “acceptable” to them.
The new disciplinary code also undermines principals. Under the old code, they could give out-of-school suspensions of up to five days; only a superintendent could impose longer suspensions. Under the new code, a principal can only impose a pretend suspension in which the student receives “alternative instruction” at school. Previously such instruction would be provided at an alternative location, which is preferable.
Suspensions convey the critical message to students and parents that certain behavior is inconsistent with being a member of the school community. Pretend suspensions, in which a student is allowed to remain in the school community, do not convey that message. Many students actually feed off the attention they get for misbehaving. Keeping these students in school encourages that misbehavior.
Proponents of lax discipline claim it would benefit minority students, who are suspended at higher rates than their white peers. But minority students are also the most likely to suffer the adverse consequences of lax discipline—that is, their education is disrupted by a chaotic school environment or by violence.
This is a real concern. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 4% of New York City high-school students carry a weapon to school; 2% carry a gun. Thus, in a high school of 3,000 students, 60 may carry weapons, posing an enormous risk to their classmates.
Last year at Success Academy Charter Schools, which I founded in New York City in 2006, we suspended 11% of the 7,000 students in our 22 schools, a rate higher than the 4% average for the city’s district schools. Yet strict discipline has not dissuaded parents. This year there were more than 20,000 student applications for 2,688 spots. Most of the students’ families are from disadvantaged communities where district schools are often chaotic and children do not learn.
Some critics of discipline associate it with a regimented and joyless school. But at Success Academy schools we have found that when rules are clearly established and are fairly and consistently enforced, the learning environment is purposeful and joyful. That is very important to parents—far more so than the possibility that their own child may miss a few days of school for misbehaving.
Some people find the idea of suspending young children particularly problematic. But armchair critics often have very naive ideas about some of the behavior of young children. We’ve had third-graders offer to perform sexual acts on their teachers and fellow students using language that you’d be shocked to hear on HBO. Try explaining to the churchgoing mother of a young girl why the child who propositioned her daughter in graphic language is back at school the very next day.
Discipline also helps prepare students for the real world. In that world, when you assault your co-worker or curse out your boss, you don’t get a “restorative circle,” you get fired.
Mayor de Blasio’s proposed disciplinary code is a step in the wrong direction. Lax discipline won’t strike a blow for civil rights. Instead it will perpetuate the real civil-rights violation—the woeful failure to educate the vast majority of the city’s minority children and prepare them for life’s challenges. In New York City, 143,000 children, 96% of them minorities, are trapped in failing schools where less than one in 10 students passes state exams. Anyone who wants students to succeed in life should focus on better education, not on more lax discipline.

Ms. Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools.

Tynetta Megginson and son Storm McCra. Megginson describes her son's disciplinary hearing 

as 'an ambush' that led to his expulsion.

Gonzalez: Boy, 9, expelled from Harlem charter school after an 'ambush' disciplinary hearing, mother claims

Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 12:25 AM


Third-grader Storm McCraw was expelled from Harlem Success Academy 2 on Friday, after a disciplinary hearing that resembled a kangaroo court.

Prior to the boy’s ouster, administrators from the Success Charter Network had suspended the boy an astonishing 15 times this school year. Among the allegations against him: throwing chairs and books, kicking a principal in the leg, and biting an assistant principal. On Feb. 27, the school even called 911 and had an ambulance take him to Mount Sinai Hospital’s emergency room.

“An ambush” is how the 9-year-old’s mother, Tynetta Megginson, describes the hearing.

Success officials, she claims, have been violating her son’s rights since he failed state reading and math tests last April, prompting them to retain him in third grade for another year.

“It’s sink or swim at Success Academy,” Megginson said. “If you don’t get the lessons, you get ostracized.” She kept resisting pressure to transfer her son out, she said.

The Success network of 32 charter schools, often touted for its high test scores, produces far higher student suspension rates than regular public schools.Network chief Eva Moskowitz has denied allegations her zero-tolerance policy pushes out low-achieving or special needs pupils.

 Prior to the boy’s ouster, administrators from the Success Charter Network had suspended the
boy an astonishing 15 times this school year.

 “Storm needs immediate help,” Success 2 principal Lavinia MacKall said. “Unfortunately, our efforts
to give him this help were hampered by Ms. Megginson’s refusal, despite our advice, to let us evaluate her son for special services or to meet with us informally to explore an alternative to this expulsion, the first in Success Academy’s history.”

“They never recommended evaluation for special education,” Megginson insisted — not even after they dispatched him to Mount Sinai.

Network spokeswoman Ann Powell acknowledged there is “no written correspondence” to the
parent urging such an assessment.

Megginson also claims the school never provided alternative education to her son — as mandated
by state law — during any of his suspensions.

“For every single suspension, we offer live instruction,” Powell said. “Ms. Megginson never
brought Storm in for alternative instruction.”

This isn’t the first time, though, the network’s policies on suspensions have been questioned.

Network chief Eva Moskowitz (pictured) has denied allegations her zero-tolerance policy pushes out
low-achieving or special needs pupils.
A review of Success Academy 2 by the State University of New York in February 2013 noted: “alternative instruction for suspended students was not consistently presented to parents as mandatory. It was unclear that live instruction was consistently provided in accordance with New York’s compulsory education law.”
Then there’s the matter of Friday’s expulsion process. Megginson sought and received two postponements of the hearing after she had trouble finding a lawyer.
She sought a third postponement last week, but the network’s general counsel Emily Kim said she’d first have to attend an informal “resolution” meeting with Kim and Moskowitz.
Megginson instead kept requesting a postponement of the expulsion hearing. So did the attorney she finally hired, Arthur Schwartz, who was unable to attend the Friday hearing.
The school refused one more postponement. At the hearing, two Success attorneys represented the school. Megginson faced them and a handful of Success administrators by herself. She received a list of witnesses 24 hours beforehand, but was provided no written reports to prepare her son’s defense.
The hearing officer, another Success Academy principal, found the boy guilty of all charges and ordered him expelled.
So two weeks before this year’s state reading and math exams — Megginson was frantically trying to find a public school to accept her son.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bad Faith (2012) and Employment at Will

When an individual is discontinued from his/her Department of Education job, an Appeal must prove bad faith.

What is "bad faith"? I have posted on this subject previously.

See what these sites say for some interesting reading, and to prepare a lawsuit or a defense in arbitration:
The At-Will Presumption and Exceptions to the Rule
 Employment at Will
Latest Word on At-Will Employment and Wrongful Termination Claims 
Does Your Employer’s Termination Decision “Radiate” Bad Faith?
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Recognizes Bad Faith Termination Claim Against Supervisor Under Mississippi Law                                                                                 
Employee Termination

and then there is Leo Casey's 2012 Statement on Edwize:

In Bad Faith

There is but one conclusion that can be drawn from the NYC Department of Education’s last minute walk out of negotiations over a teacher evaluation system for 33 schools placed in the Transformation and Restart models: it was always Tweed’s intention to refuse to enter into an agreement for teacher evaluations.

Part of the evidence for this conclusion comes from the conduct of NYC DOE officials during negotiations. Throughout the month of December, the UFT made intensive efforts to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion before the NYS Education Department’s deadline of December 31. Yet while UFT officers and staff canceled vacation plans to work on a potential agreement, key actors on the DOE side, such as the lawyer who writes up contractual agreements, were outside of New York City on vacation as the clock ticked down.
To move the negotiations forward, two different UFT-DOE working committees were established, with UFT officers and staff on each committee. The first committee met often, did an extraordinary amount of work, established joint working groups to prepare local assessments and reached agreement in principle on every important issue before it. The second committee, which included two Deputy Chancellors on the DOE side, was an entirely different story. Despite the looming deadline, the Deputy Chancellor leading their side had to be contacted three times before he responded to a request to set up the first meeting of that committee. The DOE group would come strolling into every meeting of the committee at least 30 minutes late. Shortly after the first committee completed its work, the two Deputy Chancellors come to their committee, announced that they would not agree with any system of appeals that was not essentially the same as the status quo, and walked out, declaring the negotiations over despite statements from the UFT that they should continue. President Mulgrew called Chancellor Walcott with an offer to submit this issue to binding arbitration, which was immediately turned down. Within a matter of minutes of the walk out, Tweed release a prepared statement justifying its actions.
Equally telling was the issue over which Tweed broke up the negotiations: whether or not there would be a meaningful system of appeals for end year ratings of ineffective. The DOE has stonewalled UFT requests to provide numbers of appeals filed and sustained under the current U rating appeals system, forcing us to file a Freedom of Information request. The data that we do possess, coming from members who come to us to contest their ratings, suggests a reason why these numbers are treated as ‘state secrets’ at Tweed: of the last 2000 appeals on the UFT’s books, the DOE has sustained the teacher exactly 10 times. The rate at which Tweed’s hearing officers turn down appeals is thus 99.5%, a figure that would be more appropriate for Stalinist show trials than a legitimate due process procedure. That is the process that the DOE refuses to negotiate.
The U rating appeals of the NYC DOE were not always a kangaroo court. Prior to the Bloomberg administration, a meaningful number of appeals led to the overturning of a unsatisfactory rating, a sign that hearing officers actually examined the facts presented to them. But under Bloomberg, the hearing officers have been under marching orders to turn down all appeals. It is this change, combined with the burden of proof that the new state evaluation law places on a teacher receiving two ineffective ratings in a row, that has led the UFT to insist upon changes in the current appeals process.
Appearing on his weekly radio show with John Gambling, Mayor Bloomberg explained why he opposed the UFT’s position that teachers should have the right to appeal negative unsatisfactory and ineffective ratings to an independent hearing officer, rather than a DOE employee.[1] “The principals’ job is to decide who’s good, who’s bad,” the mayor said. “It’s their judgment, that’s their job.” Subjective ratings are simply the way things work with bosses, and a mix of good and bad personnel decisions are “just part of the real world.”
Before we take the mayor at his word, it is worth recalling what he was saying about principal judgment on personnel matters nine months ago, when tenure decisions were being made. Conveniently ignoring the fact that tenure decisions are made at the end of a three year probationary process that involves the dismissal and voluntary resignation of ineffective novice teachers, such that approximately only 1 in every 2 new teachers achieved tenure, Bloomberg argued that the rate at which principals had been recommending tenure at the end of probation over the past few years, in the 90% range, was unacceptably high. In school after school, principals were ordered by superintendents to change positive recommendations for awarding tenure into deferrals. Clutching as a trophy the decline of awards of tenure to 58%, Bloomberg crowed that “we’ve turned what had been a joke interpretation of the state law, to make it something that you have to work hard, earn, and show that you are better than the average bear” to get.
So why is a 90% rate of principals recommending tenure, at the end of probation “a joke,” but a 99.5% rate of turning down U ratings appeal perfectly acceptable? Simply because the first is a positive evaluation of teachers, while the second is a negative evaluation. So long as principals are putting notches in Mayor Mike’s belt for fired teachers, their judgment should be treated as next to infallible, but when they offer positive evaluations, they will be overruled in a second. Nowhere was this clearer than in a U rating appeal decision the UFT recently had overturned in an Article 78 legal proceeding: on the record, the principal had explicitly said, again and again, that she was not contesting the teacher’s appeal, but the DOE hearing officer still upheld the unsatisfactory rating. It took a court to do the obviously right thing.
The bottom line here is that Tweed’s vision of a good teacher evaluation process is not one in which decisions are made on the basis of sound educational judgment, but one which delivers a requisite quota of dismissed teacher scalps. If you doubt it, consider the misleading comments a Deputy Chancellor began to make over the past summer, that 20% of all teachers had been rated ineffective in Tweed’s Talent Management pilot that has been practicing observations using the Danielson Framework for Teaching. For the last half year, at meeting after meeting, the UFT has been asking the DOE for the study that supports these claims, all to no avail.[2]We have concluded that the study has not been shared because it does not exist: the DOE has simply decided that 20% is a good target for the numbers of ineffective ratings, and so the claim continues to be made and to appear in DOE PowerPoint presentations.
At the end of the day, one conclusion is inescapable: Mayor Bloomberg decided that he had no intention of negotiating in good faith with the UFT over the subject of teacher evaluations. The plan was always to blow up the negotiations required by law, with a strategy of then trying to pressure Albany to change the teacher evaluation law and allow the DOE to continue its kangaroo court U rating appeal process. From the beginning of this process, he and his devotees at Tweed were acting in bad faith.

[1] In its public statements, the NYC DOE has claimed that the UFT wanted an independent hearing officer for both ineffective and developing ratings. This claim is, quite simply, a fabrication out of whole cloth. The UFT has asked for the independent hearing officer only for the ineffective rating, as it alone can lead to dismissal and the loss of livelihood.
[2] Where reputable, independent scholars have studied the use of Danielson framework for lesson observations, such as the study of the framework’s introduction in Chicago public schools by the University of Chicago’s Consortium On Chicago School Research, the rate of ineffective has varied from 3% to 6% annually.