Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Here is an excerpt of a piece I saw in The Hill that I found interesting on how employers are seeking employees with college degrees for jobs that may have traditionally only required a high school diploma. Researchers are talking about consequences of our "everybody passes" high schools.

...the phenomenon of “up-credentialing” is also of note. As high schools are at best stagnating in quality, as the most recent Nation’s Report Card results for 12th grade math and reading make clear, employers are likely to value this measure even less, and seek a 21st Century equivalent of the high school diploma: a college degree. Put simply, degree inflation — like grade inflation — means that a degree becomes less valuable when it is more common. Its value as a signal is diminished. Employers may be counting on colleges to do the work that high schools used to do.

Many of the readers here will say, "Well duh, we've been saying this but nobody's listening." A high school diploma is completely meaningless if everyone gets one for nothing.

Keep saying it folks. There are people hearing you. We seem to agree on the problem but the solution is not privatization of the schools and breaking up our unions, but rather empowering teachers to have REASONABLE standards, including behavior and attendance standards.


Anonymous said...

So when somebody says...This is the attendance for a student, 31%, 28, 24, 31, 34, 30, 38. Those are the attendance percentages. Just attendance. Based on that, how many classes should she pass? I would say none. Here are her grades. 78, 78, 70, 60, 65, 65, 65. So passed every class, with one 60 thrown in. I guess even though she was never there, she did all her work.
Or, 45% attendance in english 5 and grade on report card is 81...We all know that. But still, nobody is failing.

waitingforsupport said...

Any place in the world, when you see something unethical you need to speak up and speak up loudly. If not, keep that same energy of silence when something unethical happens to you and you find yourself standing alone.

Anonymous said...

When will real change occur? 5 years, 10, 30? I'm sure you know many teachers cant last more than a few years, so they will never see it. Many across the city are near retirement or resignation, they will never see it. And then new teachers will be the ones standing up to principals? Uft certainly isnt leading the charge.

Anonymous said...

Teaching is My Calling, But Being a Teacher Has Become Almost Unbearable

I carefully laid out the supplies for the project we’d be creating that day. One sheet of paper, one cut-out to be glued, and one set of directions were placed on each student’s desk. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at my readied classroom a few minutes before my students would be filing through the open door. I was so excited to see what creative energy they’d use on today’s lesson; they’d worked so hard in this unit and seeing them use their newfound knowledge of sentence structure and synonyms on a creative project was something any English teacher could enjoy.

“This is it,” I thought. “This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”

I love teaching. I love seeing the moment the lightbulb goes off in my students’ minds. I love having the satisfaction of knowing I was a part of their journey—that I helped them learn something useful, or that I encouraged them to explore their creativity and become the person they were always meant to be.

I love teaching—but sometimes (okay, a LOT of times), I don’t feel like I’m teaching. I feel more like I’m managing. I’m documenting. I’m putting on a show I never wanted to be a part of. I’m performing. OR I’m surviving, when I often feel like I’m drowning.

After I prepared the assignment for the day, I looked forward to sharing the instructions and revisiting what I’d taught one more time before giving my students the wheel. However, much of that would never happen.

A voice came over the loudspeaker.

“Good morning. There’s a visitor in the office for you.” Despite my best efforts to appease Elliot’s parents’ concerns about their son’s grades quickly, I had to settle for another teacher overseeing my students walk into my classroom. There goes the plan to greet them at the door and set the tone for the day. By the time I return to my classroom, my students have already examined the assignment in front of them and have 34746924 questions. I’m left playing catch-up and rushing my students through their work before the first-period bell rings.

“It’s fine. Next period, I’ll manage my time better,” I think to myself. Another visitor met me at my classroom door at the start of second period. “Don’t forget that your RTI notes are due next period,” my fellow teacher reminded me. Oh no. How could I have forgotten? I’d need to devote the next hour to detailed written records of why children in my classroom were struggling with their grades.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being punished for giving my students the grade they deserve. I’m pretty sure I’m being bullied into passing each student, with the bully being the mountain of paperwork it takes to give a child an unsatisfactory grade.

I grew impatient. “Read the directions and get started,” I almost barked at my undeserving students. My frustration was spilling over onto them. There was no introduction. There was no teaching. Just busy work for them…and me.

I started to beat myself up over forgetting. “Ugh, I should be better at time management,” I tell myself. The truth, however, was that my planning periods had been filled to the max all week with other paperwork. I felt like I had completed so many written documents. I felt like my classroom felt the best on paper…when it felt the worst to my teacher heart.

I wanted to refuse it all. “No thanks, I’m busy teaching my students,” I’d say in the encounters I created in my mind. I fantasized over standing up to administration. I fantasized overthrowing my paperwork in the trash can and setting it on fire while I redirected my focus to the long-lost art of reading stories to my students or actually listening to their responses.

Instead, we’ve traded funny teacher voices for audiobooks. I have too much to do to actually read to my students.

Anonymous said...

We’ve traded actual commentary for computer-automated grading systems. We’ve traded a successful classroom for a classroom that “looks” successful on paper for the outside world.

I just want to teach. I don’t want to put out fires all day with parents. I don’t want to chip away at a never-ending pile of paperwork. I don’t want to give my students busy work while I try to get ahead so that I can actually leave at a decent time today.

I just want to teach—

but what people don’t realize is that

I teach less and less each day.

Anonymous said...

First time teacher in the DOE.
Been loosing my voice a lot. Any recommendations on what to do? Is it normal to loose your voice?

Anonymous said...

LOOKING FOR MUCH NEEDED ADVICE! This is my 18th year teaching in elementary school. The students in my area have many issues. By nature I am a calm person. I love teaching but after so many years of having to be tough and working on behavior, I feel I need a change. I have taught grades K, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 4th and 5th grade social studies (which I love!). If anyone can give me any suggestions of who to speak with, where to search, ANYTHING WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. Thank you — looking for recommendations.

Anonymous said...

First year teacher...There is no way I can do this job for 30 years. How do you do it? It seems like we’ve been given an impossible job. I’m at a pretty good school, reasonable admin, supportive/collaborative colleagues, etc. and I’m still mentally and physically exhausted.

Unitymustgo! said...

James, a question if you will be so kind. My specific situition is for Elementary. Are Principals required to provide time for special ed teachers to do specific SE tasks such as writing IEPs? I'm getting the run around trying to get an answer on this? Specifically are they expected to write IEPs on their prep? If yes then how unfair that seems. If yes, do you know if the UFT has made any attempts to fix this? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give advice for what to do in this situation? I was informally observed before a break. They came in for 15 minutes at the end of a period right before lunch. They really saw about 10 minutes of an activity (it was unfortunately a review sheet with very little teacher involvement) and then i had to clean them up for lunch. The principal asked 2 students what we were doing and unfortunately they happen to be low and couldn’t explain the depth of the activity. Because of this I mostly received “developing.” I am untenured and this is my first informal obs. Should I panic about this? I feel like it’s a very unfair rating and not representative of my teaching skills, but I don’t want to be too much of a squeaky wheel.

jules said...

This is my first year teaching and I’ve already considered throwing in the towel. My principal has it out for me and is already looking to replace me. I’ve heard talks from the chapter leader in the school that they want to discontinue my contract come June. I’m really struggling and very stressed I don’t know what to do. I’ve spoken to the chapter leader and she’s has been nothing but amazing! She has continuously made me feel confident and told me that my job is not on the line. On my informal observation feedback for 1 so far, I have gotten ineffective across the board and 1 or 2 developing. I have gotten no support from any Administrator, but they feel confident in letting me go... what do I do? I don’t want to leave the DOE, but I also don’t want to be put in a situation that effects me long term in teaching.

Anonymous said...

Your CL is misleading you. How is it possible for her to be optimistic, if all you’ve got are ineffectives? Nice that she has a positive attitude though. If you are discontinued, you’re royally screwed. Come up with a Plan A, B and C. Go to your borough office and speak to someone who knows something - they are increasingly difficult to find. As an untenured teacher you are basically an at will employee, even if you are a UFT member (or maybe especially so, in that they have allowed this crap to happen to untenured teachers). If they won’t, don’t or can’t help you advertise it. Keep records of everything.

waitingforsupport said...

@5:22pm. You must be doing a great job. Admin mostly targets the stronger/ethical/well prepared educators. The administration are probably intimidated by you. What should you do? Well remember that you are there for the students. Don't beat yourself up too much. I know it's easier said than done. You probably dread walking into your school building. That, in and of itself, can be draining. Go into your classroom (your little world) and prepare your students for greatness. The challenges will always be there but if you do your best and keep your integrity, you will reap many rewards. The DOE is in turmoil and in my opinion, so is some aspects of the UFT. Don't give up. Learn something from the mess. If you stick with it you will learn how strong you really are. You will learn that admin come and go. Keep notes of all interactions with an admin. In NYS you can record a person. You have a cell--so hit record if you need to document an interaction. Respond to all observations in writing. It's a beast managing students and adults but you will be okay. I'm pulling for you. You sound like a wonderful teacher. Tough it out if you can. Good luck

Anonymous said...

Agree with 6:16...UFT reps who know something are hard to find. The uft has allowed this crap,and other, to go on for so long.

Anonymous said...

Another part of the article-
At the same time, business and industry leaders complain that conventional education at the secondary and post-secondary levels is not keeping up with the skills demanded in the workforce.

What happened to apprenticeships and on the job training? Sounds like businesses want schools to take on the costs and responsibilities that businesses used to incur. Sadly businesses no longer offer that same commitment to their workers. I'm not sure why we have to twist ourselves into pretzels in order to satisfy them.

Anonymous said...

Teaching in the NYC DOE will not improve anytime soon. It would take years to get out of the Twilight Zone. I have a little hope, but not much, in that the next mayor of NYC may care about the children and reverse the downward spiral of the DOE. The DOE and the UFT are just self aggrandizing money pits. Political correctness has run amok, education is not the priority, intellectually challenged people at the helm and in-between, free-for-all discipline code, corruption from top to bottom, etc.

Those of you who are truly interested in teaching might want to consider seeking positions in Long Island or Westchester. Also, consider teaching in a private school. There are schools and school systems that still believe in teaching and learning; just not many in NYC. If DeBlasio and Carranza have their way, the specialized high schools will join the rest of the schools in the Twilight Zone.

Anonymous said...

They cant make change. If they made change and grading was legit, an attendance policy was established, do you understand what the grad rate would be? It would drop WAY below 50%. That would never be allowed to happen.

Anonymous said...

THERAPEUTIC RANT: I’m a first year teacher and I’m working in a school with a toxic and abusive administration. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this job. I busted my ass off in college to be able to make my way to where I am today. I love my students and care deeply about the work I’m doing, inside and outside the classroom. Like so many of my co-workers, this isn’t just a “job” for me, it’s my passion. Despite all that, my admin has never ONCE said a positive thing about the work I’m doing. Never once have they stepped inside my classroom or pulled me aside to ask how things are going or what they can to do help and support me. Instead, every evaluation starts and ends with everything I did wrong. Every issue that could easily be resolved in a simple conversation, is met instead with disciplinary action. I love my students. I love my co workers. They’re why I come to school everyday. And unfortunately it’s not just me, nearly every teacher in our school feels the same way. It’s why this school hemorrhages teachers every year. It’s why the school is dramatically under enrolled and has the superintendent breathing down their back. I say this all because I want to put it out there that this ISN’T NORMAL. Teachers don’t deserve to be treated like this. We don’t go into this job for the fame and fortune. We go into because we sincerely care about the work we’re doing and want to make a difference in the world and unfortunately far too many principals and administrators loose sight of that. What’s even more pathetic is that our union, who is suppose to stand up and fight for us, grovels at their feet. Our union rep is a joke, it’s painful to watch. We deserve a union that ACTUALLY fights for our members. That actually stands up for our students and the communities we work with. Look at what the teachers in Chicago and Los Angels are doing. Their showing teachers everywhere how to stand up and fight back. We need a lot more of that here in New York, the UFT has become an embarrassment. All that being said, other first year teachers—KNOW YOUR WORTH. We may not be tenured, but that doesn’t mean we have to tolerate being belittled and abused. We can stand up for ourselves tactically with out putting our careers on the line. If you’re being treated like shit and not appreciated and valued, look somewhere else. There’s literally thousands of schools in this city. Hang in there. Use your co workers for support. Reach out to people here. Just know you’re not alone. We have to stand besides each other. Love and solidarity from one first year teacher to another

James Eterno said...

Hey Unity Must Go,

The answer to your question is prep period or Other Professional Work during extended time for doing IEPs., The only thing they cant do on prep is IEP meetings. That is a paid coverage.

James Eterno said...

I was on two negotiating committees and I don't recall IEPs coming up.

Anonymous said...

9:53: Lucky your a first year teacher. I know a teacher who was in his second year and just quit on the spot when he signed up for the police department. You'll be marketable because you're on the new side and have some experience. Only problem is they'll want a reference and usually it's your direct supervisor they'll want. Administrators were never abusive like this years ago. I know it feels like you're being held hostage. I have 8 more years to go and I'm in the ATR and hate it. They might be targeting you because you're speaking up. That's usually what happens. As for advice, start looking in the suburbs. You only have a year to lose and you gained experience in that year. If you can, you may want to look at other states that are desperate for teachers and will pay your rent or mortgage for a year if you teach for them. I know parts of Texas do this. Just keep in mind that it's the students you work for and not the administrators. Administrators don't care about the kids. If they did, they'd still be in the classroom. Good Luck! Oh, and if I had a school, I'd hire you even without a demo lesson.

Anonymous said...

@9:53 imho do what so many teachers I know did but I was too stupid to: get out of nyc doe and try to get a spot in the burbs. Westchester=better $, benies, colleagues and especially students. Also way less sjw hate than in the city. I know plenty of folks who even "reverse commute" and still live in the city. Nyc imo is being destroyed. Get out. You're lucky you're not yet heavily invested in the city system. Be grateful you woke up early. It likely won't get better in nyc.
22 year veteran her...

Anonymous said...

Well that is certainly a ringing endorsement of the uft and doe going forward. Once you start the career, realize it is so bad you quit so quickly that you can find a new career.

Anonymous said...

Yes,it does happen,but after each time your voice box and vocal chords will become weaker,not stronger so here's some tips:
1) Starting now,never call attendance out loud,this is a tremendous waste of your energy and exhausts your vocal capacity.
2) Starting now,learn to wean your students from hearing your voice all day.After asking a question, learn to WAIT. That's right, wait as long as it takes for a clear and complete answer to a question. Do not interupt the silence, let them tire themselves out thinking-make this a daily practice and you'll begin to see a big difference and learn a truism: Talking is not teaching.
3.Learn to use any and all technology to assist your lessons,scour the internet for videos, documentaries,power points,Google slide presentations,etc.Bonus for anything thats animated such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Cosmos. When you find something that works,run with it-show it multiple times,every day if it helps.
4 Divide and conquer: break the class in to small groups and only address them seperatly,never as a whole room.
As for the physiological aspects:
If you're drinking alcohol or smoking,stop. Hot coffee is a disaster for your throat,it's acidic, dehydrating and abrasive. Tea with slippery elm and honey is a big help. Find a good ENT. Rest your voice on any days off. I'd never have made it to 26 years and counting without doing everything I just wrote,it's made the difference between having a job and having a career followed by a well funded retirement.Ask other veterans for their advice as well, I assure you they'll be glad to help.
Best of luck