Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott blames the teachers union for making it difficult for the city to fire teachers who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Education officials can not fire teachers unless they are directed to do so by independent hearing officers chosen by the city and union. Walcott's blistering rebuke was met with deafining silence by UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
According to the Daily News:
“It’s appalling to me that a union representing teachers is the biggest obstacle to getting those accused of sexual misconduct out of our classrooms,” said Walcott, who has fought for legislation to grant firing power to education officials instead of independent hearing officers paid by the state.
“Public school teachers accused of sexual misconduct enjoy protections that no other city employee has. It’s outrageous and we cannot allow it to continue,” Walcott said.
Former CNN Anchor Campbell Brown and the Parents’ Transparency Project announced a $100,000 television advertising campaign across seven channels. The ads urge the NYC mayoral candidates to stand up to the teachers union and support zero tolerance for misconduct in our schools.
The television advertising campaign can be viewed online at the New York Times.
Since 2007, there have been 128 teachers and education staffers credibly accused of sexual misconduct or having inappropriate relationships with students. Only 33, a mere 26 percent, were dismissed from the system. According to the New York Daily News, the only NYC mayoral candidate who is calling for a change is Christine Quinn:
Council Speaker Christine Quinn stepped forward in response to an investigation, conducted jointly by the Daily News and former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, that showed how the UFT's job protections have protected dozens of alleged schoolhouse perverts.
The 26 percent rate is a consequence of a process where both the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) have a say in choosing the arbitrator. According to the New York Daily News:
The department and the teacher, represented by the UFT, present evidence to an arbitrator, who decides whether the charges are substantiated and what the punishment will be.
The arbitrators are selected jointly by the union and the school system. Those who come down hard on teachers are blackballed from future assignments and fees. As a result, arbitrators have gone out of their way to avoid terminations. In the process they've set precedents for laxity that the courts have upheld.
A year ago, Mayor Bloomberg and School Chancellor Dennis Walcott called for a change in the law that would give the final say in sexual-misconduct cases involving teachers and school employees to the city schools chancellor and school district administrators and not paid arbitrators. The UFT claims to have zero tolerance for inappropriate sexual behavior by teachers and school employees but they actively campaigned against the proposed law change.
According to former CNN anchor and head of the Parents Transparency Project, Campbell Brown:
The premise behind the proposed law is simple and straightforward: Due to the grave and lasting consequences these offenses can have on students, sexual-misconduct cases merit a higher level of scrutiny and an additional layer of protection for parents. The UFT, however, came out against the proposed legislation — and, under pressure from the UFT, legislators in Albany did nothing to pass the measure.
Mayoral candidates need to take a position on legislation that will put the city schools chancellor or school district officials in charge of cases involving inappropriate sexual behavior. The people of NYC deserve to know if the candidates are siding with the UFT or the students in such sensitive cases.
A new advocacy group headed by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown called Parents Transparency Project found that school workers who were busted for creepy behavior have been able to keep their jobs because of a cumbersome disciplinary process. Since 2007, officials have tried to fire 128 school staffers for sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students but only 33 educators were actually fired.
According to the Daily News:
Many of the school workers busted for creepy classroom behavior have been able to hang onto their jobs for years because of a cumbersome disciplinary process, charges Brown’s statewide group, the Parents Transparency Project.
“The details of these cases are hidden,” Brown said. “Many parents have no idea whether one of these teachers has been entrusted with their children.”
NYC schools have come a long way in the past 12 years, but the UFT is threatening to return the city to its old status quo.
Howard Wolfson, a deputy mayor for government affairs and communications in the Bloomberg administration, describes the transformation of NYC schools Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2001 and how the UFT and its candidate Bill Thompson could turn back the clock on progress.
In an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Wolfson writes:
What the UFT and its choice for mayor are offering is nothing more than a union wish list of measures to roll back the reforms that have benefited our kids during the last decade.
That risks returning to the days when our schools were a national disgrace.
With Bloomberg’s term ending, UFT President Michael Mulgrew has made no secret of his intention to regain the union’s grip on the schools. Since there are no more school board members he can hand-pick — the mayor abolished the corrupt school board system — the UFT leader has set his sights far higher, promising millions of dollars to Thompson’s campaign and forming a sophisticated polling and get-out-the-vote operation.
“We’re not about picking a mayor,” he told the New York Observer. “We’re about making a mayor, making the winner.”
What kind of mayor will the UFT make? With Thompson’s selection, the central question in the campaign has become: Who will run the school system — the union or the mayor? And will it be run for the children it serves or the adults who work in it?
The stakes couldn’t be higher.
The academic performance of public school children in the United States compares poorly with students from other nations. According to a recent evaluation of education schools by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the low assessment scores can be attributed to the lack of teacher preparation and standards in the process of recruiting teaching candidates.
In a opinion piece on the Daily News, former NYC Schools Chancellor and StudentsFirstNY Board Chair Joel Klein writes:
Only one in four programs limits admissions to even the top half of the college-going population, and less than half of all programs adequately prepare teachers in the subjects they will teach.
These are ominous findings, but not especially surprising, given years of national and international assessments showing American students trailing their international peers. Among the 1,200 programs evaluated, few won high marks and most were rated mediocre or worse. Only four programs across the entire nation earned a perfect score.
The National Council on Teacher Quality has recommended more transparency around program performance so that teachers can identify quality training programs, and superintendents and principals can have a better sense for which candidates are most prepared for the classroom.
In this week's education news: UFT endorses NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota praises NYC charter schools, and the new teacher evaluation system shows larger number of ineffective teachers.
New York Times // June 19, 2013
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) endorsed Democrat Bill Thompson for New York City Mayor. The New York Times reported that Thompson has previously made an effort to reach out to his education critics meeting privately with charter school supporters to allay some of their concerns. But after receiving the UFT endorsement, some groups wonder which way Thompson will go on education issues:
Glen Weiner, acting executive director of StudentsFirstNY, an advocacy group, said he was concerned Mr. Thompson would adopt the union's policies, including its demands for retroactive raises. Mr. Thompson said on Wednesday that he supported raises, but did not comment on whether he would agree to retroactive payments.
"Espousing the teachers' union policies would turn back the clock on our kids," he said. "We don't want kids to be forced to attend failing schools."
NY Daily News // June 20, 2013
The United Federation of Teachers hopes that their newly endorsed candidate Bill Thompson will allocate $4 billion in back pay for its members and give them additional protections under the new teacher evaluation program if elected mayor.
According to the NY Daily News:
The UFT is widely presumed to be the most politically powerful of the municipal unions. Clearly, Thompson believes Mulgrew will help lift him over his rivals. Unless he starts to demonstrate independence from the would-be labor kingmaker, the voters will have cause to question whose interest he will represent.
New York Post // June 20, 2013
NYC GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is calling for NYC to double its number of charter schools, in stark contrast with the Democratic candidates for mayor.
The New York Post reports:
“I am a big believer in charter public schools and so are parents, as evidenced by the wait lists to get in. Parents want and deserve more choices. Charter schools have successfully improved the education of tens of thousands of New York City children,” Lhota said.
The center said there are 56,000 students enrolled in city charters and another 52,900 on waiting lists.
Wall Street Journal // June 17, 2013
NYC's Department of Education released data related on the 2011-12 state tests used in the new teacher evaluation system imposed by the state Education Department, which will hold teachers more accountable. Based on student scores last year, about 6 percent of the city’s fourth through eighth grade teachers were rated ineffective.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
City officials have said that, under the city's current teacher-performance system, far too few were flunked by principals, who had only two choices: a rating of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In 2011-12, under the old rating system, 2.6% of the city's roughly 73,000 teachers received unsatisfactory ratings, and the rest were rated satisfactory.
NYC Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson received the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). The endorsement of the UFT is big for Thompson as the union brings a powerful organization operation and advertising budget to his mayoral campaign. What is good for Thompson’s election campaign however is not necessarily good for NYC students and threatens to turn back the clock on education reform.
As reported by the New York Post:
That’s because the teachers union is a union of public employees whose salaries and benefits are paid for by the taxpayer. In theory, when a mayor bargains with this union, he represents the interests of the taxpayers. But when a public-sector union can use its resources to put its choice for mayor into office, it effectively means it is choosing its own boss.
The United Federation of Teachers hopes that their newly endorsed candidate Bill Thompson will allocate $4 billion in back pay for its members and give them additional protections under the new teacher evaluation program. It's clear the UFT thinks Thompson will owe them big time if he wins the mayoral race.
According to the NY Daily News:
The UFT is widely presumed to be the most
politically powerful of the municipal unions. Clearly, Thompson believes
Mulgrew will help lift him over his rivals. Unless he starts to demonstrate
independence from the would-be labor kingmaker, the voters will have cause to
question whose interest he will represent.