Leroy Comrie’s message to voters, as he tries to unseat state Sen. Malcolm Smith this September, is a simple one.
“I’m not going to Albany as a typical freshman.”
Seeking to achieve in court what it could not get in arbitration, the United Federation of Teachers last week filed a lawsuit asking a judge to rule that teachers do not have to show their lesson plans to school administrators.
The suit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, grows out of an arbitrator’s ruling in May that while all teachers must create lesson plans, what they contain will be left up to them, according to multiple published reports. The arbitrator refused a union bid to also rule that principals and other supervisors would not even get to review the plans, prompting the suit.
As students and teachers head back into the classroom, some parents and union officials are heading into the courtroom.
At issue are teacher tenure and other job protections for educators. The plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed against the state this summer — including two parents from Queens suing on behalf of their children — contend that tenure and the lengthy process for removing teachers are so onerous that many bad educators remain in the system, denying children their constitutional right to a sound basic education.
Bills to change the admissions criteria for the specialized high schools were defeated in the last state legislative session and won’t come up again until January when the next one starts. But that hasn’t stopped advocates on both sides of the issue from pushing their agendas, especially since election season is approaching.
The issue is especially hot in Queens, which sends more students (1,119) than any other borough to these high schools — Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Brooklyn Latin School, the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College and Staten Island Tech — which currently require that admission is based on a single entrance exam, as mandated by the Hecht-Calandra Act of 1971. Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Arts is the only specialized high school that does not require that students take the Specialized High School Admissions Test, but rather admits them through auditions.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has said it is “absolutely ridiculous” that United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew “would waste his members’ dues to get involved with a march that has nothing to do with teachers or his union.” I wholeheartedly concur.
The UFT under Mulgrew will be co-sponsoring the march on Staten Island on Aug. 23, with three other groups. The email sent out to its members reads, “March for justice for victims of police brutality.”
This statement is a complete insult to every man and woman of the NYPD, who defend our streets from the criminal element. The efforts the UFT in this matter are just ludicrous. What are we teaching our children, that it is OK to disobey a cop’s order and to resist arrest?
Tenure and other job protections for teachers deny the constitutional right of New York State children to a good education because they prevent even bad instructors from being fired, seven parents claim in a new lawsuit that seeks to overturn laws they say “confer permanent employment” for teachers.
Two Queens parents are among the plaintiffs: Nina Doster, suing on behalf of herself and her children, Patience and King McFarlane, who attend PS 140 in Jamaica; and Tauana Goins, suing on behalf of herself and her daughter, Tanai, who attends PS 106 in Rockaway. The other plaintiffs are from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Rochester, NY.
This was supposed to be the week John Liu was to be surging with major political and union endorsements; the week state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was supposed to be glancing nervously into his rearview mirror.
And it was — until about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, when Mayor de Blasio endorsed Avella and the Working Families Party withdrew its pledged endorsement of Liu, choosing to remain neutral in the Democratic primary in the 11th Senate District.
In a move that the state teacher’s union called a “reset button,” the state Legislature and Gov. Cuomo agreed to delay implementation of Common Core standards as part of teacher evaluations for two years last week — but only for poorly-rated teachers.
“The short-term safety net around evaluation consequences proposed by the governor and legislative leadership should relieve anxiety while preserving a multiple measures evaluation system that includes student performance,” state Education Commissioner John King said in a statement.
Avonte’s Law, a bill proposed by Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Brooklyn), was brought before the Education Committee on Thursday and almost every speaker and councilmember seemed on board, except the Department of Education.
“We have some concerns,” DOE deputy chancellor Kathleen Grimm said.
The deal is done.
The United Federation of Teachers general membership approved their proposed contract with the city, the first in five years, on Tuesday. The union said the deal passed with more than 77 percent of the roughly 90,000 votes cast in favor.
Sometimes the major daily newspapers have a lot to learn from community papers like yours. That’s especially true in the coverage of education stories. You keep your editorials on the editorial page and the unadulterated news articles where they belong. But such journalistic integrity is not to be taken for granted. Witness one tabloid in particular.
Unlike them, you would never use language like “twisted war,” “spewing hatred,” “sabotage rant” and “satanic details” to describe a calm, clear-headed and accurate clarification of a proposed contract from a union president to his members.
Isn’t inflammatory language like that a bit over the top? And doesn’t it tell more about a paper that used it (it should be slightly renamed the Compost) than about its intended target: the United Federation of Teachers? Either the folks whose employer has been publishing since the days of Alexander Hamilton haven’t a clue what those words really mean or they are distorting them to suit their agenda.
The problem is bigger than one paper. The problem is endemic in the media, which seems to believe that “the end justifies the means.” In other words, propaganda or a warped version of what they know to be the truth is okay if the readership or viewers are swayed their way.
These enemies of public education and unions could care less if our kids get caught in the crossfire. That’s another thing they have in common with the self-proclaimed, darkly-funded “reformers” whom they caress in their editorial-laced news “reports.”
If the UFT existed a millennium ago, these tabloids and their abettors would have praised the Vikings for torching their union hall.
Despite what these crooked headliners print, the fact is that the teachers union is without fail, distraction or contradiction, up front and above-board in all it says and does. To its members and the general public alike. That’s true whether cameras and microphones are on or off.
Now the city and the union are not at each other’s throats. They have a sensible working relationship not because of convenience or necessity but because they all know the struggle is not about them. It’s about the kids. Protecting those kids from the flirtations of the anti-public school lobby. Therefore every blow that is struck against the anti-public school henchmen is an act of conscience and a moral duty.
The executive budget presented by Mayor de Blasio on May 8 was the first one in 20 years that was almost universally embraced by a heavily Democratic City Council upon receipt.
But it also wipes out a $2 billion surplus; increases projected deficits by $5 billion through 2018; and was the first one in memory to have to undergo a radical adjustment in less than a week after the city Comptroller’s Office raised serious questions about de Blasio’s intentions to spread retroactive pay raises for retiring school teachers over four years, an apparent violation of state-mandated Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures, or GAAP.