Sunday, June 30, 2019


Below is an excerpt from the latest from Sue Edelman in the NY Post.

Sue is now covering grade inflation/grade fraud.

At the Science School for Exploration and Discovery, MS 244 in the Bronx, an impressive 94 percent of students in grades 6-8 passed their math classes in the 2017-18 school year.

But how much math they actually mastered is questionable.

Only 2 percent of those same Mott Haven students — nearly all Hispanic and black from poor or low-income families — passed the state math exams, which measure skills that kids should have at each grade level, according to city data reviewed by The Post.

At Harbor Heights middle school in Washington Heights, an awesome 100 percent of kids — all Hispanic — passed their state English Language Arts classes.

But only 7 percent of those kids passed the ELA exams, the data show.

Some education advocates politely call it “grade inflation.”
Further down:

Now, the Queens City Councilman who recently penned a damning letter, signed by eight fellow lawmakers, calling Chancellor Richard Carranza’s racially-charged rhetoric “divisive” is urging the chancellor to take action.

“Dozens of schools have a high percentage of students passing their course work in Math and English, but a very low percentage of students meeting standards on the state Math and English exams,” Robert Holden wrote to Carranza on Friday, citing MS 244 as an egregious example.

“While I understand that these issues were present before you arrived in New York City, they need to be prioritized and taken seriously by your department,” the email reads.

Holden met with Carranza May 7 to discuss several issues, including “widespread grade inflation,” he told The Post.
More from Councilmember Holden on the consequences of grade inflation:
Holden, a CUNY professor for nearly 40 years, continues: “I saw firsthand the effect this grade inflation has on our students. I had countless students from public schools who were required to take remedial classes in Math and English while in college.”
While I think this article is more evidence that the state exams and Common Core are flawed, there is obviously something here with the widespread grade inflation.
The school system is so in need of some integrity. Grade inflation is the inevitable result of Mayoral Control. Mayors need to show that the school system is succeeding so browbeating principals to direct teachers to pass just about everyone is going to be what happens. However, learning conditions that many of the kids are subjected to with high class sizes and very unsafe schools where misbehaving students rule with impunity make learning virtually impossible as is documented in the comments here on an almost daily basis.

I will save the last word here to a DOE person that not surprisingly is an anonymous DOE administrator:
“They’re inflating the grades and passing all the kids. It’s fake,” a DOE administrator said.

Friday, June 28, 2019


One of the Department of Education's routine methods to torment teachers is to
extend the probationary period. Probation used to be almost automatic if a teacher survived three years in the classroom but has been routinely extended starting in the Joel Klein era. It has not changed much under Bill de Blasio.

This is from Chalkbeat:

Sixty-seven percent of the nearly 6,000 eligible teachers were granted tenure in the 2016-17 school year, a 14 percentage point increase since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, according to new data provided to Chalkbeat.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who promised to move toward “ending tenure as we know it,” tenure approval rates plummeted from 89% to 53% at the tail end of his administration, before de Blasio took control of the school system in 2014.

Bloomberg argued that too many teachers were earning tenure too quickly, and the city began delaying decisions for a large portion of eligible teachers. After being awarded tenure, teachers earn due process rights that make them difficult to fire.

Under de Blasio, teachers have been more likely to win tenure as soon as they are eligible. But the statistics show that de Blasio has not returned to the approval rates of a decade ago, when more than 90% of eligible teachers earned tenure protections.

The tenure rate ticked down last school year, though officials cautioned the data is not comparable. For one, far fewer teachers were eligible last year due to a change in state law requiring at least four years of service instead of three before a teacher can earn tenure. And the pool of eligible teachers was skewed toward those whose tenure decisions had previously been deferred, a pool that is less likely to win the protection.

What a mess.

Forcing teachers to jump through stupid hoops to be tenured just makes many want to leave the profession. I don't see any rationale for extending probation other than to intimidate teachers. A strong union would be fighting this  by not cooperating with administration.  The UFT tells teachers they are lucky to have a job.

President Michael Mulgrew did comment here:

In response to the latest figures, teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew said in a statement that “the real issue is not a tenure numbers game, but the fact that thousands of teachers — tenured and untenured — decide every year to walk away from their New York City public school classrooms.”

Many of them might not leave , Mike, if a robust union actually had their back.

I wonder what the figures are for extending probation for other city employees such as police or firefighters.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


In the closely watched race for Queens District Attorney, it looks like Melinda Katz is going to lose to Tiffany Caban. Katz was strongly endorsed by the UFT as the Union is a part of the Democratic Party establishment.

The UFT could not come through again in a really close race. I have nothing against Katz who was very helpful with Jamaica High School issues as the Borough President. When the UFT endorses and can't win a close one, that hurts us a bit.

That's two in a row for the progressives in Queens as AOC last year beat Joseph Crowley. Maybe times are changing. They are not changing at the UFT.

From Vox:

Tiffany Cabán seems poised to win in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the Queens district attorney race — potentially giving a big victory to criminal justice reformers who want to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

The Queens race may seem like a small local news story. But it’s not — Queens has more people than 15 states and Washington, DC, so the race is a huge deal to a lot of people. And this is the kind of story that really matters for criminal justice reform, because district attorneys and other prosecutors hold tremendous power over the systems that oversee all incarceration in the US.

The race was too close to call as of early Wednesday afternoon. But Cabán declared victory late Tuesday night, telling the crowd at her watch party, “We did it, y’all.” New York Working Families Party Director Bill Lipton described the likely victory in sweeping terms: “Queens is turned upside down. Giants fall and empires crumble.”

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Cabán, a 31-year-old public defender, led Melinda Katz, Queens borough president, by nearly 1,100 votes, or around 1.3 percentage points, in a field of six candidates (although seven remain on the ballot). About 3,400 absentee ballots remain to be counted. The final results may not be known until July 3, according to the New York Times.


This is from Mike Sill to ATRs.

Dear _________,

Last week, I emailed you about the way members of the ATR pool are rated and observed. I am pleased to tell you that the DOE's guidance to principals, which appeared in the March 26 issue of the Principals' Weekly, matches our own:

You are not covered by Advance unless:

You are a full-time K-12 classroom teacher of record who maintains active status for at least six cumulative calendar months during the current school year; and

You teach 40 percent or more of a full-time position.

If you have been covering classes without your own program, you will be rated Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory at the end of the school year. Additionally, you should not be observed according to the Danielson Rubric. You should be observed on an S/U basis.

Read the DOE's guidance to principals »

This should clear up the confusion many of you have been dealing with over the last few weeks. Feel free to share this DOE document with the principal of your assigned school if there is any confusion about observations or evaluations.


Michael Sill
UFT Director of Personnel

Monday, June 24, 2019


I am hearing various reports about budgets being cut in the schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

Does anyone have any information on budgets for next year besides what is already on the school budget pages which is incomplete?

Is there out of control excessing occurring because of cuts?

This has turned into a very busy end of the school year with UFT members from all over getting in touch with me.

It is difficult to believe I am not still active as I seem to be as busy answering union questions as when I was an active teacher.

This piece of advice and article on excessing from Unity's Gene Mann's The Organizer may be helpful.

Principal's tell people…

I need you to switch your license…

…so that you can become a probationer again? Why would you do that? Check with your borough’s UFT Edcational Liaison before agreeing to teach out of license. In Queens that’s Heather Goldberg (

You’re going to be excessed. You should resign…

…excessing has nothing to do with employment. Your job is assured even if you cannot find a new position on the Open Market. (See the Excessingarticle below.)

You’re going to be discontinued. You should resign.

…resignation is a weighty decision which involves sacrificing lump sum payments and health care, as well as employment. Reach out to your District Representative immediately.


Every year, because of fluctuations in funding and student population, schools have to make staffing decisions, which may well result in excessing.

It is important to understand that excessing is a loss of position, not a loss of job. Excessed staff members continue their employment without interruption.

It is almost equally important to understand that working without an appointment-being an ATR-is not the world’s most comfortable situation. This is particularly so for untenured members-the most likely to be excessed-as they can never achieve tenure without teaching their own students in their license area.

Persons who are feeling insecure should register for the Open Market and check opportunities regularly. All members should check their school’s June seniority list to determine how vulnerable they are in their license.

Three additional things to bear in mind:

Being told by your principal that you will be excessed is not actually being excessed. You will receive a letter from HR giving you complete instructions. It is not impossible that the excessing decision may be reversed.

You should give your principal a letter asserting your Right of Return under Article 17B, Rule 8. This prevents your school from hiring another person for “your” position for a year and a day. (See sample below. Thanks, James and Washington.)

If you transfer during the Open Market period, you have sacrificed your Right of Return.

Special Notes

Common Branches (781B) teachers working in middle schools are considered for excessing purposes only as probationers in a subject area which they have taught for the past three years.

Rule 10 teachers (20+ years of continuous appointed service in license), if excessed, remain in their buildings as ATRs.

Saturday, June 22, 2019


We knew that with the UFT not making a push for reducing class sizes that there was no chance that the City Council would insist on it so we were numbed when the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced their budget deal recently that did not include money to reduce class sizes.

Here is a brief rundown from Class Size Matters' Leonie Haimson at the NYC Public School Parents blog on what is and is not in the budget for education.

In terms of our public schools, it included $41M more to hire about 200 new social workers for schools, especially those with lots of homeless kids and $857,000 for seven additional Title IX Coordinators to handle complaints of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.  The budget will also put $250M into an overall city budget reserve to be used during economic downturns that now totals $6 billion. 

The education budget will  include  another $25 million  for the Mayor’s top education priority: 3K expansion into 14 new districts, bringing the cost to around $100M.  If the pattern of previous years holds, the DOE will continue to draw kids out of existing preK centers run by Community Based Organizations  and pushing them into already overcrowded public schools, which in turn will contribute to higher class sizes for kids in grades K-5.

What the education budget doesn't include: any increase in Fair student funding (with many schools are currently at only 90%), no dedicated funding for class size reduction, and no amount to achieve CBO pay parity for preK teachers -- though the Council says they got a commitment from the Mayor to address this disparity though negotiations by the end of the summer.

I am no budget expert but I cannot understand how if the city has close to $6 billion in reserves why many schools are funded with a 10% cut from full funding. Something is wrong that there isn't a peep of protest here.

The city seems to be expecting a recession while the Federal Reserve looks like it is about the cut interest rates to stimulate the national economy. Wall Street is loving it. Record highs for them. Continued austerity for the schools.  At least our TDA's have done well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Monday's posting has achieved a great deal of reaction from a number of different schools on grade inflation and outright grade fraud. If the false grades are as widespread as readers contend, is anyone willing to do anything about it?

Let's look at the UFT Contract. It provides two areas where this topic is covered.

First is Article 8D:

D. Students’ Grades                                                                                                                              The teacher’s judgment in grading students is to be respected; therefore if the principal changes a student’s grade in any subject for a grading period, the principal shall notify the teacher of the reason for the change in writing.
Teacher grades are to be respected. Only the Principal, not you, can change a grade. Let administration have it on their hands if they want to engage in grade fraud.

I know, I know, I can already see the anonymous comments coming. Some of you are now going to tell me how you can't stand up to your all powerful principal. If you dare to challenge him/her, you will be inviting upon yourself ineffective observation reports and then there will be trumped up charges to throw multiple letters into your file. Refusing to be involved in fraudulent passing grades will be the first step in you being fired. Listening to that crazy guy at the ICEUFT blog will have cost you your job.
Okay, I get it. You can't fight city hall, or rather Tweed Courthouse, alone. 
But what if members of a staff were united in demanding a fair process to test and appraise kids? Can we get that through the Contract? The answer is yes although we can only go as far as the Superintendent.

Let's go to Article 24:

ARTICLE TWENTY-FOUR PROFESSIONAL CONCILIATION                                                  The Board and the Union agree that professional involvement of teachers in educational issues should be encouraged. However, it is recognized that there may be differences in professional judgment. 
A. School Level 
1. Where differences related to school-based decisions in one of the following areas cannot be resolved, a conciliation process will be available to facilitate the resolution of these differences:

a. Curriculum mandates
b. Textbook selection
c. Program offerings and scheduling
d. Student testing procedures and appraisal methodology 
e. Pedagogical and instructional strategy, technique and methodology.
I have seen this seemingly weak process that cannot go beyond the Superintendent work successfully when Chapters are united. Student appraisal methodology is covered as is instructional strategy, technique and methodology. If we want to be seen as professionals, we have to assert our professionalism.

I would be more than happy to assist if teachers are ready to cry foul on the grades and are willing to go through the conciliation process. We can alert the media if you like.
Ten Chapters would be a nice start. 
Forget the anonymous comments and do something about it if you are really interested in restoring some integrity to the school system. I'm not talking about people who are lone wolves in a school. These teachers need to do what it takes just to survive. 
I'm looking for teachers who are respected by their colleagues; teachers who can unite most of the pedagogues in their schools.   
It's not up to Chancellor Carranza or President Mulgrew to stop the fraud. All of us can start the process.

If any school is in, you know where to find me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Seven others, besides Holden, signed on.

De Blasio defended Carranza in today's NY Post.

Please also note that Diane Ravitch has covered the NY Post taking on Carranza.

From Diane:
Susan Edelman reports in the New York Post that nine members of the NYC City Council complained that Chancellor Richard Carranza was hiring inexperienced cronies for top jobs. 
One of his hires was a former Disney executive who will serve as “chief experience officer,” which is ironic since he apparently has no education experience. Maybe he will be there to make sure that students and teachers have good experiences, like the kind you get at Disney World.
Another will be paid $205,000 a year, although there are unanswered questions about his employment history. His title is: “senior executive director for continuous school improvement” with the Department of Education and a staff of 40.

Monday, June 17, 2019



I am a high school teacher.  I have read many things, in many locations about the inability of public school students, as old as 17-21 years.  Unfortunately, all of those allegations are correct.  I am not an English teacher.  I don't blame English teachers.  When I give an assignment, and students can't spell the word "Minute" or "Social" I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.  We are talking about kindergarten level writing.  They can't even calculate and average using two numbers.  Again, not the fault of the teacher.  There is zero work ethic and zero will to do anything.  How about not showing up to school with a pen, pencil or paper?  What disturbs me even more than their inability, is that staff and Administration has to push those students through.  It is that time of year where I will sit at graduation and hear how much the students have accomplished and how hard they have worked.   In reality, they all got 65 because I had no choice.  What a joke...  

-A graduating senior who can't write a coherent sentence?

-How about the whole senior class being unable to write a sentence?

-How about staff being held accountable, grading policies that all of a sudden don't apply because a given principal wants all of his/her students to graduate so he/she can float a fraud about how successful the school is?

-I can now accept work from 5 months ago? 

-How about the staff being bullied all year?

-How about no-show students completing a few minutes of make-up work so a teacher can go back and give them credit for all the classes they missed?  

-What happened to seat time?

-What happened to standards?

-What happened to academic rigor?

-Congrats to my school for having a fake graduation rate...

-If everyone is doing so well, why was the average SAT score in the 800 area?

-I am embarrassed...

-I am a liar...

-I am being abused...

-Four years of doing no work, walking in an hour late, eating breakfast in class, missing assignment after assignment, years below grade level in real terms, but has never failed a class...

-How exactly does a student get a 55 in the 1st MP, 55 in the 2nd MP, but magically get an 85 in the 3rd MP so we can average the 3 to get a 65?

-It will be humorous and sad when these students are expected to actually do something, maybe in college, maybe when they get a  job...But at that point they will all do what they already do, blame someone else.  When they pass every class while doing nothing, what would you expect?

Where is UFT assistance?  President?  Vice President?  Personnel?  I know I am not the first to call fraud.  Teachers get careers wrecked while students get a free ride?  A reply from several of you would be wonderful.  If you would like to see a sample of what I mean, I can gladly forward student work.  This is clearly an epidemic and it is all across NYC.  

This is the second exasperated teacher who has cc'ed the ICEUFT blog on a letter to the Chancellor and UFT President Michael Mulgrew. If anyone else is interested, it is and
It is interesting as at my last school we were told seat time was a legal responsibility for students to have in order to acquire credit. The DOE gives conflicting guidance saying here:

The City requires children ages 6 to 17 to attend school on a full time basis. One of the requirements for passing to the next grade is 90 percent attendance.
However, in another document the DOE states:

Attendance alone cannot prevent promotion or graduation
Students cannot fail a class or not be promoted because of their attendance, but attendance may affect grades. Students who meet class expectations must receive credit and are not required to make up the exact hours of missed class time.
 For tenured teachers, it is up to everyone to stand together if there is massive grade fraud going on. A couple of people writing the Chancellor and UFT President isn't going to change things.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


This came from my son Matthew who was born on Father's Day in 2014 and so turned five yesterday.

Happy Birthday Matthew!

My daughter Kara with Matthew enjoying his birthday dessert. Note Matthew's favorite is still apple sauce.

I will get back to writing about the schools later.

Happy Father's Day to all!

Friday, June 14, 2019


I was saddened to learn today of the passing of longtime UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Abe Levine. He was 89. Abe retired as VP in 1993 but stayed on the Executive Board through 2013.

I respected Abe. Although we often disagreed, he was a man of principle. We had something in common as we were not afraid to state our opinion even if it was not the popular position.

Abe was a hawk on U.S. foreign policy very much in line with the Albert Shanker pro-Vietnam, hard line Cold War foreign policy.  When Randi Weingarten was annointed to lead the Union, she moved our position on foreign policy a bit to the left. Abe would still get up at the DA and Executive Board and repeatedly speak out against the UFT's new slightly more 2000s mainstream Democratic Party positions on international policy. I disagreed but admired his resiliency and his ability to speak up for what he believed was right. Unlike in a previous era, Abe was not thrown out of the ruling Unity Caucus for disagreeing with the caucus on these issues.

Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy sent out the tribute below.

Dear James,

Abe Levine, the first vice president for elementary schools and a steadfast presence at the UFT until his final months, died on Thursday evening. He was 89 years old.

Funeral services will be held at noon on Tuesday, June 18, at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel at 630 Amsterdam Avenue (at 91st Street). UFT members are welcome to attend.

Levine joined the Teachers Guild — the UFT’s predecessor organization — in 1953. In the mid-1950s, he spearheaded the campaign to win the right to a duty-free lunch for teachers. When the UFT was born in 1960, Levine was elected its first vice president for elementary schools, a post he held for 33 years until his retirement in June 1993. He served on the UFT Executive Board for nearly 59 years, including his time with the Teachers Guild, until he stepped down in 2013. He missed only one meeting in all those years. Since his retirement, Levine continued to be an ardent trade unionist and regular participant at UFT events. He never missed an opportunity to work a phone bank or attend a rally. Levine also made a practice of visiting the sick, bringing them cheer and letting them know that their fellow union members had not forgotten them.

We will miss him tremendously. May he rest in peace.


Tom Murphy
Retired Teachers Chapter Leader

Thursday, June 13, 2019


Dear Forest Hills Faculty and Staff,

As you are aware, Monday was Ben Sherman’s last day as principal of Forest Hills High School.We thank Mr. Sherman for his leadership and wish him well in his new position.

Forest Hills High School is supported by amazing students, families, staff and community members who have created a strong and welcoming learning environment. I have no doubt that Forest Hills will continue to thrive and put our students on the pathway to success.

To ensure that we continue to uphold Chancellor Carranza’s priorities and support a strong learning environment, I am announcing Mr. Paul Wilbur as the new Interim Acting Principal of Forest Hills.  Mr. Wilbur will work alongside Dr. Sean Davenport for the duration of the academic calendar year as Forest Hills continues to exhibit excellence for all students. Mr. Wilbur joins us from Richmond Hill High School, where he has served as an assistant principal for 14 years. He is a proven leader and I know that he’ll collaborate closely with the entire community.

The search for a new principal will begin later in the summer, and I look forward to working with all of you throughout this process.

Thank you in advance for supporting Forest Hills High School.  As our seniors prepare for graduation, I know that you will continue to speak about the extraordinary accomplishments made throughout the school community.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at

Go Rangers!!!

Andre D. Spencer, Ed.D.

Executive Superintendent – Queens South

Districts 27, 28 29 and DOE NYC Borough Citywide Office

“Dedicated to Scholars, Committed to Success”

From our insider:
I don't like what is going on.   Praise for Sherman.  Carranza's priorities. C-30 over the Summer?  You bet I'll be emailing him.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


I found some interesting news on the 2020 presidential campaign.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew is attempting to open up the Democratic presidential candidates' debates to two New Yorkers running for President. I saw this from Mulgrew on MORE's Facebook page.

Two New Yorkers--Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand--have met the polling threshold. But both struggled with their number of small donors. Gillibrand cleared the donor threshold this weekend, but more is always better. De Blasio continues to need support. Wednesday, June 12 is the deadline for contributions. 

As the largest local in New York State, we want to do our part to make sure New York voices are in the mix.

If you are interested in helping keep the field as wide as possible for as long as possible, please consider contributing a few dollars.

Donate to Bill de Blasio

Donate to Kirsten Gillibrand

See a more detailed list of candidates and contribution resources

Read about the AFT endorsement process


Michael Mulgrew
UFT President 

(Links to the cites were not included in the posting of the message.)

What can I say? The sucking up to Mayor de Blasio knows no end it seems. And what are we getting for the UFT sycophancy?

Meanwhile, we have learned that Elizabeth Warren has hired a Teach for America (generally anti-union) alum as her education advisor.

From Mercedes Schneider's post on this topic:

According to his Linkedin bio, Joshua Delaney is Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s, senior education policy advisor. He describes his job as follows:

Advise United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on all matters pertaining to early, elementary, secondary, and higher education, including college affordability and student loan debt.

“Advise… on all matters pertaining to early, elementary, secondary, and higher education.” That’s quite a responsibility. No problem: Delaney has put in his two years (2011-13) as a Teach for America (TFA) temp teacher as a “ninth-grade special education algebra co-teacher..."
Further down:

And so, this is who is in Elizabeth Warren’s ear advising her on All Things Education:

A former TFAer who rode in on the ed policy express.

Warren has yet to crystallize her position on K12 education. She publicly supported Bernie Sanders’ nebulous, loaded statement against “for-profit charter schools” and said that” pubic tax dollars should stay in our public schools.”

Does this mean that she is fine with nonprofit charter schools? What about nonprofit charter schools with for-profit management? Does Warren consider charter schools to be “public” schools since they take public money?

Warren’s campaign website offers no specifics on her K12 education position.

She's rising in the polls but is she on the side of public school teachers?

Monday, June 10, 2019


When The NY Teacher arrives in the mail, I should probably do what many sensible people do and deposit it directly into the paper recycling bin. Instead, I read it.

Before I opened the latest NY Teacher today, I was somewhat excited that the UFT was supporting a rally on the steps of City Hall with parent groups to earmark city funds specifically for lower class size. I figured lower class size would surely be one of the UFT's legislative priorities with the City Council. Then, I opened up my NY Teacher and read what the UFT  City Council legislative priorities are for the upcoming July 1 city budget deadline and UFT reality set in: lower class size did not even make the list.

From the NY Teacher:
As the July 1 deadline to pass the city budget approaches, the UFT made a full-court press for city funding for teacher's Choice and four other UFT-led educational programs: the United Community Schools Initiative, the Positive Learning Collaborative, the BRAVE anti-bullying program and the Dial-A-Teacher homework helpline.

The UFT made the case at its May 8 legislative breakfast for Council members and again in testimony submitted to the Council's Education Committee at a budget hearing on May 20.

Remember what Norm Scott always says about the UFT: "Watch what they do and not what they say." In terms of lower class sizes, it doesn't even make the legislative priority agenda. Lower class sizes when the city has a $4 billion surplus does not even make the lip service cut.

Come on UFT: fight for lower class sizes for real.


This rally is mainly for the retirees and non-teachers among our readers.  ICEUFT blog supports the rally to use specific city funding in the budget to lower class sizes in September.


NYC parents, kids, advocates, union members and elected officials will rally for smaller classes  

WHAT: Parents, students, advocates, elected officials and union members will gather to urge the NYC Department of Education and the Mayor to allocate specific funding in next year's budget towards reducing class size. 

WHO: The rally is co-sponsored by Class Size Matters, NYC Kids PAC, the UFT, Local 372, the CSA, the Education Council Consortium, and many other parent and advocacy organizations.

WHEN:  Tuesday June 11 at 12 noon

WHERE:  Steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan

Although the state’s highest court concluded in 2003 that NYC public school classes were too large to provide students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education, class sizes have sharply increased since then, especially in the early grades. More than 336,000 students were in classes of 30 or more this fall.  Reducing class size is also among the top priorities of parents on the NYC

Department of Education’s surveys every year. Yet the Mayor has allocated no city funding to reduce class size during his administration.

For anyone interested in our plan to start to lower class sizes on the cheap, continue reading.

Lowering class size long term would take a commitment from NYC in its capital plan to build more schools but short term much could be accomplished by changing the culture at Tweed.

1-Assign the ATRs to teach and there is a small reduction in class sizes right there.

2-Reassign to other city agencies 295 of the 300 DOE lawyers.

We have just added a thousand positions and probably saved money as the new teachers will cost less than the lawyers. I am just getting started as there is plenty of low hanging fruit.

3-For every school that has more than one assistant principal, reduce by attrition the number of APs.

4- Why do NYC schools need an Office of Special Investigations and a Commissioner of Special Investigations? Consolidate into one department. Office of Equal Opportunity could be moved here too.

5-Why do schools need superintendents and support networks? Consolidate into one and let Superintendents provide support to schools.

6-Quality reviews are double bureaucracy. Let Superintendents review schools. Save a little more. In fact, get rid of the entire data driven nonsense and put the amoney back to classrooms.

7-Go to everyone who is not in a classroom position at central, district and schools and ask: What do you do? We could cut many consultants and others and nobody would notice.

8-For real savings, incentivize lower class size for principals. Give a bonus for those who meet class size goals from c4e instead of test score results. Watch how fast class sizes lower even in large schools.

9-Make annexes for so called successful schools in underutilized buildings. Space can be more efficiently utilized for sure.

10-Ask retired teachers to come back. Tell them the atmosphere is now teacher friendly at the DOE. They did this for Carmen Farina to be Chancellor. Why not for teachers?

11-No expansion of pre k or 3k until class size issues are addressed k-12.

Except for the retirees who would probably not come back except for a few, I don't think we spent a dime and we just lowered class sizes.

Sunday, June 09, 2019


The NY Post smells blood in the water around the New York City Department of Education.  Four articles today attacking the schools.

First, there is Chancellor Richard Carranza reportedly going around the rules to hire his cronies and throwing contracts at a firm one of them used to work for.

Chancellor Richard Carranza waived job postings and other requirements to hire ex-employees he knew in California and Texas, including the former vice president of a company that has since racked up millions in sales to New York City schools, The Post has learned.

A complaint to the city’s Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools alleged the Department of Education violated rules in giving six-figure jobs to two women Carranza met in two other school districts he led.

According to the complaint and inside sources, the DOE hired San Francisco teacher Martha Martin Perez and ex-Houston principal Raquel Sosa-Gonzalez outside normal protocol “at the instruction of Chancellor Carranza.

Whistleblowers also questioned the hiring of Abram Jimenez as “senior executive director of continuous improvement” for New York City schools, a newly created job in the DOE bureaucracy with a salary of $205,416.

I am having a difficult time being sympathetic with the DOE insiders who moved up in a corrupt system and are now crying about corrupt hiring. Did any of them do anything to help Absent Teacher Reserves get placed in regular positions?

Further down we learn some details about Abram Jimenez who has the newly created $205,416 a year job with DOE. Jimenez worked for Carranza in San Francisco and then went back to a company called Illuminate when Carranza left California for Houston.

Back to the article:

...within three months of Jimenez’s arrival, Illuminate gained a foothold in New York City. The company has since racked up 28 purchase orders from city schools totaling $700,000 to date.

Each order is for $25,000 — just below the threshold at which city Comptroller Scott Stringer would have oversight.

Illuminate bought IO Education, another company that sells student data systems, in July 2018, while Jimenez was still vice president. IO has racked up $33 million in sales from New York City schools since 2011, records show. Since its acquisition by Illuminate, IO has pocketed $5.4 million in New York City purchase orders.

There is more on jobs never posted; you get the idea. The Post is not letting up here.

Attack article two is on an Office of Special Investigations investigator arrested for driving while intoxicated. There have been other complaints about this investigator.

Article three concerns a Bronx principal who likes to tweet out tips on fast horses.

Article four goes after the DOE for trying to defend itself against the NY Post.

I do not trust the NY Post's anti-union, anti-public school agenda but their attacks on DOE have clearly hit a nerve. DOE is corrupt in many places as far as I can tell and finding more corruption won't be that difficult. This is a very odd situation with some major media outlets against the Chancellor and DOE with the UFT either silent or defending the Chancellor it seems.

Thursday, June 06, 2019


I saw this on Reality Based Educator's Twitter. While I am skeptical of NYC crime statistics that are only slightly more reliable than Department of Education numbers as they have both been politicized, a sharp increase in hate crimes is a trend that cannot be ignored.

From NBC 4:

The New York Police Department recorded 184 hate crimes through June 2 — up from 112 in 2018 — during a period when the city experienced a continued reduction in overall crimes.

Of the 184 incidents, 110 targeted Jews, up from 58 in 2018.

There were 18 attacks motivated by the victim's sexual orientation — up from 15 in 2018 — and 18 targeting victims who are black, up from 14, the NYPD said.

The next highest targeted group was whites, who were victims in 11 hate crimes, up from three in 2018.

The NYPD says 75 people have been arrested in connection with the crimes.
I would have hoped we would be beyond this kind of hate crime attack problem in 2019 but alas we are not. I see in a number of the comments on this blog that sometimes there is a racial tone to them. I think we all need to look at what kind of society we want.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019


Our friend Pat Dobosz sent this out from the New York City Education News group. This is from a contact from California.

Here in San Francisco we just heard about Carranza’s new 8th grade proposal. See below.

He eliminated 8th grade Algebra here in San Francisco only 5 years ago and now he says having it is a must. He said Algebra in 8th was racist and he directly called out the parents as racists who disagreed with him at a board meeting. I was there. So this new proposal must mean Carranza is now a racist, too! And, not to forget, a massive hypocrite.

Calculus enrollment here has dropped by 15%. Apparently, the school children in San Francisco are Carranza’s guinea pigs for NYC.

Don from San Francisco

Equity and Excellence 
Through Algebra for All, by 2022, every student will have access to algebra in eighth grade, complete algebra no later than ninth grade, and there will be academic supports in place in elementary and middle school to help more students become ready for algebra in eighth grade.

Monday, June 03, 2019


This just came to us from Forest Hills High School.

Dear friends in the media:

We are happy to inform you that Principal Ben Sherman resigned as Principal of Forest Hills High School effective 2:20 pm, today.  We know that there is no way we could have accomplished this without your persistence and advocacy.  I don’t know what will be held on Thursday to replace the protest, but at this point, I don’t care.  I am hoping that we may have established a blueprint for the removal of Principals with no principles.   Hopefully, more schools will involve the media and perhaps stage “no confidence votes of their own.

Again, thanks for all you’ve done,

James C. Hogue

Jennifer G. Hogue

Forest Hills High School

Below is a copy of the resignation letter

Sent on Behalf of Mr. Sherman and Dr. Davenport

Oberhaus Richard

Mon 6/3/2019 2:20 PM

Oberhaus Richard

Dear Teachers, Administrators, and Staff,

It has been my pleasure to work with you here at the great Forest Hills High School. Together, we have built on the fine traditions of our school to support the students of our community.

When I arrived here in April 2017, I immediately considered Forest Hills my home.

I appreciate the opportunity to work with some great educators, especially my cabinet team. Collectively, we have increased our graduation rate, the number of advanced placement courses offered and passed, as well as parent and community empowerment.  We have accomplished a lot.

While I love Forest Hills very much, I must inform you with a heavy heart that I have decided to transition to another leadership role.  It has been a pleasure to work with you for the past two years and I am confident that Forest Hills will continue to grow and develop.  I encourage you to always make decisions that are in the best interest of children.  I know that you will continue to partner with one another and our elected officials and school community to support Forest Hills.

I have been inspired every day by the great lessons in classrooms, amazing afterschool programs, and the dedication of the Forest Hills team.  I know that you will continue to demonstrate professionalism and dedication to every scholar.

Go Rangers!

Ben Sherman


The NY Post has a piece by Salim Algar that quotes Jim Hogue. The Post also notes DOE admits no wrong and Sherman could be getting a raise.

“I’m ecstatic,” said teacher Jim Hogue. “Forest Hills High School has always been a blue ribbon school. Under Principal Sherman the school was clearly careening down a path to destruction.”

Further down:
But despite his unceremonious ouster, the veteran administrator could soon be getting higher — in terms of salary.
Sherman will now work at DOE headquarters in Manhattan, in the Office of the First Deputy Chancellor, where he will be entrusted with “supporting our comprehensive school improvement efforts,” according to a DOE statement,

Sherman’s base pay will remain $173,693 — but he can score an additional stipend of $10,000 if he puts in a minimum of five extra hours of work a month, a spokesman said.
DOE officials insisted Monday that Sherman’s extraction was not prompted by any official findings or negative conclusions about his performance.

The DOE just moved him in the middle of June before graduation because they wanted to. It had nothing to do with any "negative conclusions about his performance." Yeah right. See why nobody believes anything that comes out of Tweed.

Ed Notes covers the story too. Norm gives the UFT "some level of credit for this." I agree. This was a team effort.

In 2019 it took 90% of staff, UFT, parents, bloggers, media, politicians, assistant principals to remove a principal.


We were cc'ed on this email that a courageous teacher sent to Chancellor Richard Carranza. We are printing it with permission from the writer. UFT higher-ups including Michael Mulgrew were also copied.

Mr. Chancellor:

You have stated many times that it is always children first.  Well, in order for numbers to be where they are, as in, the highest graduation rates ever, we have students graduating high school unable to formulate a sentence.  One look at a written piece, on any subject, would indicate that.  In a single sentence, I may see 20 errors.

 But that's okay, that student, and every other student must pass, and must graduate.  No-shows pass, 1st grade reading and writing levels pass, it just doesn't matter.  My school has a grad rate above 90%.  It is a fraud.  

I was wondering if this is a shock to any of you.  The high grad rate goes along with the other fraud, the low suspension rate.  As if student behavior has gotten better in recent years.  No, it is a watering down of the discipline code, a principal playing with his numbers, and of course a lack of UFT help or care.   

If you are so concerned, have you ever charted where the students are four years after graduation?  Were they able to finish college?  Graduate?  Get a decent job?  Since they have an "easy pass" in HS, that is what they expect in college.  Since they do no HW in HS, that is what they expect in college.  Since they can do make-up work in June to make up for ten months of garbage, that is the pattern.  A student can miss 110 days of class and do a packet to make it all up?  Wow, I wish that was available to me.  I thought there were standards.  The teacher does her job, and then in June, all those 40's turn into 65's. How this is allowed to go on boggles my mind, but it is going on all over the city.  
Keep touting the fake graduation rate, it shows how little all of you actually care about the student and well being of the teacher.  The teacher works hard developing plans, tests and policy, but it all doesn't matter.  This is a "PASS" by any means society.  This job makes teachers into liars.  Every, or most typed in grades are no reflection of student work or knowledge.  How can a student who can't write a sentence in English get an 85?  I guess we all know that if we all graded truthfully, the 85% grad rate would turn into 45%.  
I very much doubt there will be much of a reply. In the olden days, if someone wrote to the Chancellor or UFT President, one would at least get an answer.

Is the academic fraud as widespread as this teacher believes? Personally, I see a system that is huge and has for the most part been out of control since Joel Klein made principals CEOs of their schools. That culture has not changed drastically since that time (Chancellor Carranza hasn't gotten rid of the lawyers and cleared out the anti-teacher Office of Labor Relations; he added more superintendents). While it is difficult to make sweeping generalizations when there are over 1,800 schools, the bottom line for principals still would seem to be to make their statistics look good by any means necessary and then they can do whatever they want without much, if any, UFT resistance. 

Speaking of the UFT, this comment on our LaGuardia High School post from our colleague Bronx ATR says a great deal about why there is so little UFT resistance. The comment is a response to a call for veteran teachers to educate new teachers on the value of being involved in the union:
The DOE closed most teacher cafeterias, and some schools don’t even have a teacher’s lounge. Many vets were turned into ATRs and those that weren’t have a target on their backs. Divide and conquer is the DOE’s policy and it happens to coincide with the UFT’s - apathy. An apathetic workforce that creates little work for the organization that it highly overpays. Keep the workforce passive, let the school leaders do as they wish, pass everyone, don’t complain about anything or anyone, keep your head down, keep paying those union dues and make believe everything is great. Under no circumstance should you think for yourself or have the audacity to question a principal or ask for assistance from the UFT. That is why teacher complaints are immediately emailed to the principal with those teachers’ names. It instills fear, stops all complaints and silences trouble makers.

Saturday, June 01, 2019


Thanks to a reader who informed us about this story. There is a student and staff rebellion at LaGuardia High School.

From the NY Post's Salim Algar:
The music stopped at famed La Guardia HS in Manhattan Friday as fuming students left their classrooms and massed in hallways to protest what they say is a waning emphasis on the arts.

A faction of kids at the renowned school asserts that administrators are betraying its artistic foundations in favor of standard academic pursuits.

The protesters delivered a letter outlining their concerns and solutions Friday, urging administrators to return the school to its roots.

NBC 4 News covered the story also. Jonathan Dienst's report shows the teachers voted no confidence in the principal by a wide 119 to 15 margin.

Protests at long time stable schools like LaGuardia and Forest Hills.

Is this isolated or is there a trend toward fighting the system?