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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Carmen Farina and the Chancellor's Strategic Response Group...and Other Useless Ways To Contact the NYC Department of Education

When you have a problem with the New York City Department of Education, who do you go to?
UFT President Mike Mulgrew, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC DOE
Chancellor Carmen Farina
If you are a parent of a child with special needs (an IEP, a 504 Plan, or other related service providers) you would go to the Committee on Special Education for your district.

If you want to ask for an Impartial Hearing to obtain public funding for a private school for your child when the NYC DOE does not give your child a free and appropriate public education, you send an email/letter to the Impartial Hearing Office and to the New York State Education Department. (Full disclosure: I represent parents and children at Impartial Hearings as the Parent Advocate).

For suspensions and Office of Hearings Online (SOHO) database you can contact the Office of Safety and Youth Development (no one will tell you that the SOHO reports exist, parents and teachers are forbidden from seeing these discipline histories even for their own children). See here as well, Chancellor's Regulations A-450. (Full  disclosure: for 9 years I represented parents and their children at suspension hearings, and these hearings are a farce, designed to punish children - especially special needs children - for having a disability. Think about suing.)

For violence in the classroom committed by students:
*if you are an administrator, you contact the Office of Special Investigations by sending an email to them in the Online Occurrence Report (OORS). By doing this, you are setting in motion the process I have written about in my article The Gotcha Squad. When OSI gets involved, their mandate is to create paperwork that says the violence in the classroom was committed by the teacher, not the student. This paperwork will be used in charging the employee if he/she is tenured, with 3020-a; if he/she is a probationary teacher, this person will receive a letter of discontinuance saying that the reason is that he/she harmed a child in his/her classroom. There is no option to receive a hearing within the DOE. The reason is that the NY State Education Department keeps a record and publishes this record of the State's most violent schools. Principals do NOT want to be on the VADIR list. They get bonus points for getting rid of the teacher as the culprit, instead.

*if you are a teacher, the best thing to do if you are assaulted in the classroom or a child is hurt in a fight, is to call 911 and get a police report. You most probably will be charged with something for doing this, but if you dont do it, and the principal gets a report into OORS, you will be charged with committing the harm. It's a catch 22.

And who do you contact if you have a big problem that no one will solve for you? The media.
The TWEED building, NYC DOE headquarters
52 Chambers Street, Manhattan
You thought that I would say UFT President Mike Mulgrew? No, he does not read or reply to any members' emails or letters, unless you have a personal relationship with him. I know. I used to work there.

How about the Chancellor? Carmen Farina, just like her predecessors, has a group at Tweed (DOE Headquarters) who intercept all the mail and email sent to her. It is called the Chancellor's Strategic Response Group:

"About us

As part of the New York City Department of Education, staff in the Chancellor's Strategic Response Group (CSRG) responds to correspondence written to the Chancellor. Staff in the CSRG works on the Chancellor's behalf to research, coordinate and respond to inquiries received from the NYC school community regarding policy and actions of central and district offices, as well as individual schools within the school system. As part of the Department of Communications, CSRG staff also works closely with the Offices of Public and Community Affairs, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Family Engagement to address issues raised by constituents at school/community meetings and events."
The NYPOST Reporter Carl Camanile called this group "Klein's School-Gripe 'SWAT' TEAM'" in 2004. Did I give you that story, Carl?

Julia Levy wrote about this group in 2005:

I had heard about the CSRG for several years before I tried contacting someone there, and I was lucky and actually reached a person who works there.I guess she must have believed that I was an administrator, because she chatted with me for quite a while about how busy the office was, the ridiculous comments and emails she had received in the morning of that day, etc. When I asked her how she decides what to answer or when to send on an important matter to a "higher up", she told me that she just answers everything the same way and it doesn't matter what the email/letter says. Usually the person who sent the email/letter to the Chancellor never re-sends or answers the form reply.

In June, a parent whose child is desperately in need of a new school sent the reply from Ilana Rudolf of CSRG to me after the parent wrote a long plea to Chancellor Farina:

"Thank you for your email to the Chancellor on behalf of your daughter who is a registered student at J.H.S. in Manhattan. We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us.
Upon receipt of your email, I contacted Principal for information. Principal informed me you met with her and Ms. to address the concerns referenced in your letter. It is my understanding that they informed you that as the bullying incidents referenced in your email were unsubstantiated, your daughter does not qualify for a safety transfer. Additionally, Principal told me that your daughter's attendance was discussed at the meeting and school personnel recommended a re-evaluation of your daughter’s Individualized Education Program. However, I understand that you have refused a re-evaluation at this time.

Given that your daughter does not qualify for a safety transfer, I strongly recommend that you continue to work with Principal , the District Family Advocate, Ms. , and school-based personnel, as they are in the best position to address your concerns. Moreover, please be advised that the Department of Education strongly urges parents to ensure that their children are attending school at least 90 percent of the school year, as attendance factors heavily into student progress and promotion.

I hope this information has been helpful. Thank you again for writing to the Chancellor, and I wish you and your family a safe and relaxing summer.


Ilana Rudolf
Communications Associate
Chancellor’s Strategic Response Group
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 215, New York, NY 10007"
You could have applied to be an intern for the summer:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Renewal Schools Give New Job Opportunities To NYC DOE Higher Ups Who Have Proved Their Worth

At the New York City Department of Education, anyone who plays along with the prevalent policy of the day (policies change, and employees hoping to stay employed change with them without question) gets promoted, coddled, rewarded, and benefits+.

The renewal policy will be, I believe, the newest disaster to hit the health, safety and welfare of the children trying to get a good education in NYC public schools. 
Similar to the secret intent of the Workshop Model - namely to get rid of teachers - renewal is another name for "ditch the bad". Yes, all readers, it was our very own Carmen Farina who created and pushed the Workshop Model with its ridiculous scripts for teaching on the New York public school system, starting at PS 6 in Manhattan. Luckily, for purposes of having the right to say it doesn't work, I was at PS 6 when the Workshop Model destroyed the learning of the kids and the careers of the teachers.

I wrote an article about my youngest daughter's distress over TERC math, the fuzzy anti-learning policy also implemented also so that teachers and students could fail in higher order thinking in math concepts.

At PS6, what a group of parents and I did was to take the homework, work with our children to do the math in the traditional way, then put the hats over the numbers and scribble "work" onto the page that looked like we were getting the answers from literally fuzzifying the process. Our kids learned math the traditional way, but handed in fuzzy work to please the teachers, all of whom were told by Carmen Farina to punish any child not doing the homework the fuzzy way. (source will not be disclosed) Carmen ended the Gifted and Talented program at PS 6 because "all kids can learn" and a level 2 or 3 is fine.

At Stuyvesant High School, a separate curriculum was established for the kids who took fuzzy math in District 2, because they had no grasp of the traditional math concepts and had to be on a separate track.

We have posted before that the words "bad" or good", "properly" or "improperly", etc., are subjective opinions. When you hear the word “incompetent”, look at the person who is writing or saying it. The word itself is situation specific. For example, if a teacher is tenured and teaches chemistry for 10 years and then the Principal assigns this person to teach high school English literature, most people would say that perhaps this person would be “incompetent” to teach that subject. When you find out that a teacher was placed in a Senior calculus class but actually is certified in teaching global history, you know something is wrong. When you hear that a teacher is “incompetent”, the very next question should be “at what?”

But the UFT ignores the contract when a teacher is placed in a classroom outside of his/her licensed content area and then is observed and given "U" and/or discontinuance.

Shame on them.

Betsy Combier, Editor
Tracking Code


Job Description

Please Note:  Position only open to internal NYC Department of Education employees. The filling of all positions is subject to budget availability.

Position Summary: The New York City school system is the largest in the country, composed of approximately 1.1 million students and 75,000+ teachers in over 1,800 schools. The school renewal program is a top-to-bottom evaluation to improve struggling schools. Renewal Schools receive supports such as transformation into a Community School, expanded learning opportunities, and increased professional development. 94 Renewal Schools have been identified; elementary, middle, and high schools in need of support based on criteria including low academic achievement (test scores and graduation rates) and low ratings on the DOE’s Quality Review.

The Executive Director of School Renewal will work intensively with each Renewal School community over the next three years, setting clear goals, and with support from central, hold each school community accountable for rapid improvement. The Executive Director oversees all existing and new Renewal Schools in New York City, serves as an advisor to the Chancellor, Executive Superintendent of Renewal Schools and DOE senior leadership, and liaises with internal and external partners to ensure that the Chancellor’s vision for Renewal Schools is realized. Performs related work.

Reports to: Executive Superintendent for Renewal Schools

Direct Reports: Director of Program Planning and Evaluation, Director of Data, Analytics and Renewal Accountability, Director of Programming, Director of Communication Strategy, Director of Operations and HR, Director for Renewal High Schools, Senior Coaches for Renewal Schools, School Renewal Program Director for High Schools

 Key Relationships: Superintendents, Executive Director of Community Schools, Directors of School Renewal, Principals, school staff, School Leadership Teams, DOE Central staff and Deputy Chancellors’ Offices


 ·         Provides direction, counsel, and support in a broad range of instructional, strategic, logistical, and  
          administrative areas to Renewal Schools.

·         Coordinates with Executive Director of Community Schools to deepen support for renewal schools within the community.

·         Oversees school needs assessments for renewal schools across all six elements of the Framework for Great Schools.

·         Manages the Renewal Team in building capacity for cross-functional roles by designing, implementing and providing tools and resources for professional development.

·         Identifies issues facing renewal schools, addresses road blocks, and ensures that issues are seen through to resolution.

·         Serves as an advisor to the Chancellor, Executive Superintendent and DOE senior leadership on Renewal Schools to set policy for renewal schools.

·         Manages a variety of special projects that require a high degree of research and analysis; evaluates results and presents recommendations to Executive Superintendent to be used as a basis for policy decisions.

·         Supports the Superintendents and principals and ensures that best practices are utilized in a seamless and coordinated fashion throughout the Renewal Schools. 

·         Oversees the design, delivery and implementation of workshops and professional development related to accountability, special education, operations, instruction, data, assessment, teacher quality and strategies that accelerate student achievement in Renewal Schools. 

·         Supports Principals capacity-building efforts around resource optimization, strategic staffing, and effective operational practices that impact and accelerate student achievement.

·         Support Superintendents in recruiting and selecting new principals/leadership.

·         Provides guidance and support to Renewal Team regarding management of their teams and meeting their goals and targets.

·         Works collaboratively across central offices to ensure consistent and effective application of best practices, developing key relationships to ensure the smooth flow of information and work processes for Renewal Schools

 Qualification Requirements:


Must currently possess a New York State Certification as a School District Administrator (SDA) or School District Leader (SDL).


·         Prior successful school leadership experience in a diverse urban setting.


·         Successful central policy making experience in managing a multifaceted complex organization.

·         Experience in supporting organizational change and school turnaround.

·         Excellent and effective communication skills, including the ability to organize facts and present information and figures in a clear, concise and logical manner, both orally and in writing.

·         Strong leadership, teamwork and influencing skills, with experience in managing project teams at all levels in a cross-functional, diverse and changing environment.

·         Experience in effective program design, development and implementation.

·         Strong ability to evaluate and provide feedback to ensure the alignment of program goals and DOE instructional priorities.

Salary: $144,315+

Please be sure application includes cover letter and your 6-digit file number

Applications will be accepted through August 12, 2015 at 3:00PM.

Please Note:  Position only open to internal NYC Department of Education employees. The filling of all positions is subject to budget availability.


It is the policy of the Department of Education of the City of New York to provide educational and employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, age, marital status, partnership status, disability, sexual orientation, gender (sex), military status, prior record of arrest or conviction (except as permitted by law), predisposing genetic characteristics, or status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking, and to maintain an environment free of harassment on any of the above-noted grounds, including sexual harassment or retaliation.  Inquiries regarding compliance with this equal opportunity policy may be directed to: Office of Equal Opportunity, 65 Court Street, Room 1102, Brooklyn, New York 11201, or visit the OEO website at

Job Location

NEW YORK, New York, United States
Position Type
New Posting

 The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) is partnering with school leaders, staff, families and community partners across the city to transform 94 schools through the School Renewal Program.
The School Renewal Program is a call to action. The NYCDOE will work intensively with each Renewal  School community over the next three years, setting clear goals and —with support from Central—holding each school community accountable for rapid improvement. The NYCDOE has selected as Renewal Schools those schools that met all three of the following criteria and four that were added per the Chancellor’s discretion:

  1. Were Identified as Priority or Focus Schools by the State Department of Education
    Priority: The bottom 5% lowest-performing schools statewide
    Focus: The bottom 10% of progress in a subgroup
  2. Demonstrated low academic achievement for each of the three prior years (2012-2014):
    Elementary and middle schools in the bottom 25% in Math and ELA scores
    High schools in the bottom 25% in four-year graduation rate
  3. Scored “Proficient” or below on their most recent quality review

Building on the Chancellor’s vision, the NYCDOE is looking beyond test scores to determine where schools need to improve.

Key elements of the plan include:

  1. Transforming Renewal Schools into Community Schools, with deepened support from and for families and community partners. Partnerships with community-based organizations will enable these schools to offer tailored whole-student supports, including mental health services and after-school programs.
  2. Creating extended learning time – an extra hour added to the school day to give all students additional instructional time.
  3. Supplying resources and supports to ensure effective school leadership and rigorous instruction with collaborative teachers.
  4. Performing school needs assessments across all six elements of the Framework for Great Schools (rigorous instruction, collaborative teachers, supportive environment, effective school leadership, strong family-community ties, and trust) to identify key areas for additional resources.
  5. Bringing increased oversight and accountability including strict goals and clear consequences for schools that do not meet them.

Here are the key next steps:

A needs assessment will be completed in each Renewal School by spring 2015 to identify specific focus elements from the the Framework for Great Schools and to develop goals for improvement.

Each School Leadership Team will work in partnership with NYCDOE leadership to create a School Renewal Plan and a road map for success.

NYCDOE leadership, school leadership, educators, families and the community must come together to support and accelerate improvement for students and staff of each Renewal School.

The NYCDOE is committed to working collaboratively as we strive to provide all of our students a high quality education to get them ready for college, careers and independent living.

List of Renewal Schools

P.S. 015 Roberto Clemente
Henry Street School for International Studies
P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth
Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts
P.S. 050 Vito Marcantonio
Renaissance School of the Arts
Coalition School for Social Change
P.S. 123 Mahalia Jackson
P.S. 194 Countee Cullen
P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte
High School for Health Careers and Sciences
I.S. 528 Bea Fuller Rodgers School
P.S. 154 Jonathan D. Hyatt
J.H.S. 162 Lola Rodriguez De Tio
Foreign Language Academy of Global Studies
New Explorers High School
J.H.S. 123 James M. Kieran
M.S. 301 Paul L. Dunbar
Holcombe L. Rucker School of Community Research
Urban Assembly Academy of Civic Engagement
The Bronx Mathematics Preparatory School
Herbert H. Lehman High School
The Hunts Point School
Banana Kelly High School
J.H.S. 022 Jordan L. Mott
I.S. 117 Joseph H. Wade
J.H.S. 145 Arturo Toscanini
I.S. 219 New Venture School
Bronx Collegiate Academy
Leadership Institute
I.S. 313 School of Leadership Development
Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching & Learning
Urban Science Academy
New Millennium Business Academy Middle School
DreamYard Preparatory School
I.S. 339
Bronx High School of Business
J.H.S. 080 The Mosholu Parkway
P.S. 085 Great Expectations
The Bronx School of Young Leaders
Academy for Personal Leadership and Excellence
The Angelo Patri Middle School
Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology
DeWitt Clinton High School
P.S. 112 Bronxwood
Globe School for Environmental Research
The Young Scholars Academy of The Bronx
School of Diplomacy
P.S. 092 Bronx
School of Performing Arts
Peace and Diversity Academy
Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School
Entrada Academy
Urban Scholars Community School
Monroe Academy for Visual Arts & Design
P.S. 067 Charles A. Dorsey
Satellite East Middle School
MS 596 Peace Academy
J.H.S. 050 John D. Wells
Juan Morel Campos Secondary School
Foundations Academy
Automotive High School
Frederick Douglass Academy IV Secondary School
Boys and Girls High School
Upper School @ P.S. 25
M.S. 584
Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence
Ebbets Field Middle School
Brooklyn Generation School
East Flatbush Community Research School
P.S. 306 Ethan Allen
Essence School
P.S. 328 Phyllis Wheatley
Multicultural High School
Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory School
P.S. 165 Ida Posner
P.S. 284 Lew Wallace
P.S. 298 Dr. Betty Shabazz
Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School
Pan American International High School
Flushing High School
Martin Van Buren High School
P.S./M.S 042 R. Vernam
M.S. 053 Brian Piccolo
P.S. 197 The Ocean School
August Martin High School
Richmond Hill High School
John Adams High School
J.H.S. 008 Richard S. Grossley
P.S. 111 Jacob Blackwell
Long Island City High School
J.H.S. 291 Roland Hayes
I.S. 349 Math, Science & Tech.
Academy of Urban Planning


Executive Director of Renewal Schools - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$144,315 a year
Executive Superintendent for Renewal Schools. 94 Renewal Schools have been identified; Serves as an advisor to the Chancellor, Executive Superintendent and DOE...
1 day ago - save job - email - more...

Director for Data Analytics and Renewal Accountability - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$92,027 a year
Create and oversee the full accountability metrics for all renewal schools, as informed by data driven approaches....
6 days ago - save job - email - more...

Deputy High School Superintendent - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$107,713 a year
Assists with supporting and supervising Renewal High Schools throughout the renewal process. Under the supervision of the Executive Superintendent for Renewal...
6 days ago - save job - email - more...

Director for High School Renewal - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$107,713 a year
Coordinates supports to Renewal High Schools throughout the renewal process. Under the supervision of the Executive Superintendent for Renewal Schools, the...

Data Manager, School Renewal - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$57,517 a year
Under the supervision of the Director of Data, Analytics, and Renewal Accountability for Renewal Schools, the Data Analyst is responsible for collecting,...
1 day ago - save job - email - more...

Director for Sustainability and Budget - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$92,027 a year
Executive Director, Office of Community Schools. Beginning with 130 schools in the 2015-2016 school year, and with ambitious plans to expand in future years,...
12 hours ago - save job - email - more...

Program Manager, Budget and Operations - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$57,517 a year
Under the supervision of the Executive Superintendent for Renewal Schools, in close collaboration with the Director for Budget and Operations and as a key...
1 day ago - save job - email - more...

Program Manager, School Renewal - new

New York City Department of Education . - New York, NY
$57,517 a year
Director for Program Planning and Evaluation, Executive Director for School Renewal, School Renewal Program Directors, Office of Community Schools, Office of...
3 days ago - save job - email - more...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

UFT President Asked AFT President Randi Weingarten To Donate To Mayor's Nonprofit Lobbying Arm While The UFT Negotiated a New Contract With City Hall

Bill de Blasio

But it's not a conflict of interest. Huh?

Betsy Combier

Mulgrew details union's gift to de Blasio effort

The teachers' union president says it was he, and not the mayor, who asked Randi Weingarten to make huge AFT donation to Mr. de Blasio's nonprofit lobbying arm while the UFT was negotiating a new contract with City Hall. Not a conflict, he insists.


United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, whose parent union donated $350,000 to Mayor Bill de Blasio's nonprofit in the midst of contract talks in April, says the mayor never asked for the money—and that accepting it wasn't a conflict of interest.
UFT President Mike Mulgrew
"He keeps the two things separate," Mr. Mulgrew said in an interview Thursday. "We don't bring the two things up at the same time."
The donation, on April 9, came less than a month before Messrs. de Blasio and Mulgrew struck a nine-year, $9 billion contract, which included back pay and raises. The same day the $350,000 flowed in, Mr. de Blasio's nonprofit, Campaign For One New York, which was running low on money, spent exactly $350,000 on politically helpful television commercials that celebrated Albany's approval of pre-K funding for the city.
Mr. Mulgrew said the prospect of the AFT making a donation did not come up at a March 8 meeting. Mr. de Blasio's schedule shows that he met with Mr. Mulgrew and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten for a lunch that Saturday at Harlem's Red Rooster restaurant. They were accompanied by a top de Blasio aide, Emma Wolfe.
The meeting was a month before Ms. Weingarten's AFT made the $350,000 donation, and less than two months before the Mr. Mulgrew's UFT struck the $9 billion contract deal with the mayor. Mr. Mulgrew says the conversation focused on Mr. de Blasio's battle to win pre-K funding from the Legislature. "It was more about strategy," Mr. Mulgrew said.
Asked if Mr. de Blasio or his team had ever asked for a donation to the mayor's nonprofit, Mr. Mulgrew said, flatly, "No." A spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, meanwhile, said there was no talk of a donation at the Harlem meal.
"Absolutely not," the spokesman said. "This was a substantive meeting that focused solely on legislative strategy."
Two days after the pow-wow, in a March 10 appearance on "Morning Joe," Mr. de Blasio said he would be open to accepting pre-K funding from the Legislature without an income tax hike—a major shift in strategy.
Mr. Mulgrew did say that he had asked Ms. Weingarten, herself a former UFT president, to help with making a donation to Campaign For One New York. "Of course I asked Randi to assist on that," Mr. Mulgrew said.
One oddity of the donation's timing is that the state budget containing the pre-K funding passed in late March—and the AFT donation was not made until afterwards, on April 9. Mr. Mulgrew said the donation was not intended for any specific purpose other than to promote pre-K. "We were just donating to the fund itself," Mr. Mulgrew said.
Chirlane McCray
The $350,000, however, was immediately spent by Campaign For One New York on television ads featuring first lady Chirlane McCray touting the funding of universal pre-K as a "landmark win for New York City." The New York Times reported that the nearly $1 million ad blitz, which was made possible by the AFT donation, was meant to help the mayor "regain command of his political message as he approaches his 100th day in office." (Mr. de Blasio's poll numbers had been hurt, in part, by a multimillion dollar charter school ad campaign targeting the mayor.)
Mr. Mulgrew said it had simply taken time for the AFT to line up the $350,000—the biggest donation given to Mr. de Blasio's nonprofit since its creation following his mayoral election in November. He added that the money would be helpful for a "second phase" of Mr. de Blasio's pre-k push—urging the public to sign up for the program—and that Mr. de Blasio's $950,000 ad blitz made New Yorkers aware of the program.
Mr. Mulgrew said it didn't make sense for the UFT to stop pursuing this part of its agenda just because it was simultaneously in contract talks with the mayor. "We're very involved with pre-K," Mr. Mulgrew said. "That's a natural thing for us."
A charter-school group has called for a city Conflicts of Interest Board investigation into the AFT donation, and the New York Post called on Mr. de Blasio to return it.