First Firings Loom

Teachers and administrators are slated to get pink slips over the next week as the culmination of a new approach to evaluating how they do their jobs.

Schools Superintendent Reginald Mayo made that announcement in an interview Monday evening after a special meeting of the school board.

Mayo said the district should make a decision on terminations resulting from new evaluation systems by the school board meeting scheduled for next Monday.

“We’re hoping we can wrap that up this week,” Mayo said.

The firings come at the end of the inaugural year of a new way of grading teachers, principals and assistant principals based largely on student test scores as part of the city’s sweeping school reform drive. Staff at the district’s central office are being graded in a new way, too.

Based on their performance this year against goals they set for themselves, teachers, administrators and central office staff will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5, from “needs improvement” to “exemplary”; the ratings should be finalized in the next month, according to school reform czar Garth Harries.

Melissa Bailey PhotoMayo (pictured) said he didn’t have an estimate of how many people will get fired. Other jobs remain in the balance: Depending on how many terminations and resignations there are, other staffers may face layoffs in order to close an $8 million gap in the current fiscal year budget.

Teachers’ grades are based on classroom observations as well as goals they set for student performance, which in most cases means standardized tests. Teachers were put on alert in November that they were on track to receive the highest or lowest rating.

At the time, 62 teachers learned they in danger of getting a 1, which means they’d risk losing their jobs if they didn’t improve by the end of the year. Struggling teachers then were given extra supports and classroom visits in attempt to get them back on track. In mid-year interviews with their principals such as this one at Brennan/Rogers school, they reported back on their progress. Many have improved enough to hang onto their jobs.

Now that test results are back from the state, all 1,600 teachers will learn their final grades.

Mayo said over the next week, the district will determine whether those struggling staffers improved enough to keep their jobs, or whether they’ll be terminated. The new system, which makes it easier for the district to fire its unionized workforce, was made possible by a landmark teachers contract. Teachers overwhelmingly endorsed the change: In a survey last year, they said they want to see truly bad teachers fired, not protected.

Validating The “Validators”

Teachers union President Dave Cicarella said the teacher evaluation process has been “so far, so good.”

Cicarella outlined a number of factors he’ll be looking at to determine whether the terminations are fair: “Are there in fact tenured teachers who are up for termination? Was the process followed with fidelity?”

Teachers who are up for termination, those who landed in the “needs improvement” category last fall, were required to have three formal classroom observations, according to the union contract. Three times, an instructional manager (a principal or assistant principal) was supposed to visit the struggling teacher’s classroom, along with an outside validator whom the union and school district agreed upon.

In the classroom, the principal and validator were supposed to prepare separate reports. Cicarella said the union will look at those reports to see whether there’s “a big disconnect”—which could be a red flag.

Cicarella said he’ll also look at whether teachers met the student learning goals they set at the beginning of the year. “Did the teacher meet those goals?”

And Cicarella will look at whether there is top-to-bottom accountability in each school.

“In every case, we want to also look at the building: Is the building conducive to learning? Are there impediments to learning? Is the principal a good instructional leader?”

The Bosses, Too

Administrators went through a parallel process throughout the year; they will be graded based on key competencies and performance goals, acording to their new union contract.

The district also revamped the process for evaluating central office staff in a way that mirrors that of teachers and administrators. Harries said the new central office evaluation system was still being developed over the course of the year; it had to “catch up” to the other evaluation methods. Evaluators used a variety of new and older forms, but have sought to bring the process in line with the new approach, which focuses on leadership competencies and performance-based goals.

The superintendent will eventually be graded in a similar way, too. That process is still underway: The school board formed a subcommittee to create a new tool to rate his performance based on student test scores; the subcommittee has yet to report back with a final product.

Since the new evaluation system rolled out, some struggling evaluees have opted to resign instead of face termination, said Harries. Those who are fired will get a termination hearing at which they’ll have the chance to make their case if they want to keep working for the district.

Layoffs Hang In Balance

Resignation notices for 16 teachers were approved at Monday’s school board meeting; Harries said most are not related to the new teacher evaluations.

How many people leave the district through attrition, and how many get fired, will determine the number of layoffs the district needs to make to close an $8 million budget hole in the current fiscal year.

Mayo said the district has found some ways to close that gap by cutting non-personnel costs.

In July, Mayo reported there would be up to 150 layoffs before the summer’s end.

On Monday, he said the district is “doing very, very well” in closing the gap through attrition and other cost-cutting moves. The number of layoffs will be “nowhere near the 150 jobs we had talked about,” he said.

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posted by: NHPS teacher on August 2, 2011  3:57pm

The new teacher evaluation is almost as subjective as the last program.  I think it’s interesting that the only people touting its success are those who are not evaluated by it.  Of course, given its subjectivity, not many teachers are willing to go on the record as to its efficacy.

posted by: robn on August 2, 2011  4:17pm


Is a generic teacher evaluation format available online for public review?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 2, 2011  4:26pm

This says it all.

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/29/2011
D.C. teacher: Why I believe I was really fired
By Valerie Strauss
Peter Gwynn, a D.C. public school teacher who was one of 206 teachers fired this month under the IMPACT evaluation system, writes here about why he believes he was really let go. The fired teachers, my colleague Bill Turque reported, amount to 5 percent of the 4,100 teachers in the system. IMPACT was first implemented under the chancellorship of Michelle Rhee, who quit last October and was succeeded by her deputy, Kaya Henderson. IMPACT has been criticized on a range of issues, with critics calling it arbitrary and punitive and primarily a way to fire veteran teachers. D.C. schools officials reject the criticism.

By Peter Gwynn

Ambiguity can be a friend or an enemy. If you are a D.C. Public Schools teacher, it might just depend on who gets to measure the difference between words like sometimes and frequently.

I was one of the 200-plus DCPS teachers fired last week due to poor evaluations. I believe, though I cannot prove, that I was fired from DCPS, the Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) in particular, because of the opinions and ideas expressed in my blog. Given the facts, this is simply what makes the most sense to me. But the more important point is that the system’s teacher evaluation system, IMPACT, is riddled with ambiguity and imprecise language such that administrators could easily manipulate teacher scores to punish or reward as suits their ends.

For most teachers, IMPACT is composed primarily of five, half-hour observations throughout the year. Three observations come from school-based administrators; two from a District master educator.

In each observation the evaluator uses a rubric to judge the teacher in nine separate performance categories. In each category, the teacher is scored a 1, 2, 3 or 4. These are averaged to produce an observation score of 1-4. The five separate observations are then averaged to produce an overall yearly score of 1-4.

The magic number is 2.5. If you score at or above this mark, you are effective or highly effective and your job is safe. Scoring below 2.5 defines you as ineffective or minimally effective and your job is lost or in jeopardy. I scored below 2.5 for two consecutive years and was fired.

I believe that my administrators wanted to get rid of me and that I was punished for my writing. In the blog I never reference people or places by name — and my name is not on it — though I do recount events from my school truthfully and in detail. It is satirical, vulgar, bombastic, and critical. If I worked for myself, I would want to fire me. Many people have expressed disapproval of the blog. That is their right, as it is my right to write it.

I believe I was targeted by the administration because that is where the evidence points.

Over two years of IMPACT, my master educator scores averaged 2.75, comfortably effective (your job is job safe). Over the same two years, my in-house evaluations averaged 2.06, comfortably minimally effective (your job is in danger). The difference is 0.69; fairly large on a scale that runs only from 1 to 4.

But the timeline is what draws my attention most. My first school-based IMPACT observation was in November 2009. I was scored effective. I started the blog one month later in December. By the end of January 2010, I had been informed that the administration was aware of my blog and reading it. This was confirmed by another source shortly after. Strategically, I suspect, the administration has never asked or confronted me about the blog.

Henceforth, my school-based evaluators scored me, without exception, minimally effective or ineffective. Meanwhile, the master educators continued to score me effective. One master educator this year noted how much I had improved since last year.

So, how could this happen?

Ambiguity in the language of IMPACT invites the capricious, perhaps subconscious, punishment or reward of teachers by administrators. Though it is cloaked in the false precision of a rubric, it is infinitely subtle and subject to manipulation. For example, in a single half-hour observation, while simultaneously monitoring and scoring eight other performance measures, an evaluator is expected to be sure if a lesson is:

Accessible and challenging to all students (score 4)

Accessible and challenging to almost all students (score 3)

Accessible and challenging to most students (score 2); or

Not accessible and not challenging to most students (score 1).

Most teachers live in the 2-3 range. If I was an administrator and I wanted to get rid of somebody, I would shade to the 2. Nobody could stop me. Nobody else was there to witness what happened. Nobody is able to check if I am consistent between teachers. It is up to me to decide what almost all means and how I will measure it in that half hour.

IMPACT is littered with language like this; subjective and inviting manipulation.

I don’t know for certain that I was targeted and that the ambiguity of IMPACT was used to illegally punish my speech. But the language of IMPACT, my IMPACT data, and the CHEC administration’s well-earned reputation for tolerating no dissent give me specific cause to suspect it.

If IMPACT is to be taken seriously in the future, this should be fixed

posted by: To NHPS teacher on August 2, 2011  4:33pm

posted by: NHPS teacher on August 2, 2011 3:57pm

The new teacher evaluation is almost as subjective as the last program.

Unless you have a comprehensive algorithm that can objectively assess student performance against each student’s background, proficiencies, and needs; any assessment tool necessarily needs to be subjective.

It would be unfair to just use student performance to assess teaching proficiency as no class of students is the same as others. Therefore, there needs to be observation of teaching by a regulatory body and also individual students’ backgrounds and needs recognized.

So, present this comprehensive objective algorithm that you imply exists, or be happy that NHPS doesn’t judge you solely on your students’ academic performance in standardized tests; that they recognize the need for some subjectivity.

posted by: anon on August 2, 2011  5:00pm

Implementing a salary cap that reduces all salaries currently in excess of $80,000, and eliminating benefits such free parking, would allow many of these positions to be saved. 

In addition, we need a residency incentive, like the ones offered by Yale, so that more educators will choose to live within our neighborhoods. 

I’m all for teachers making $70,000 or more, but it is a shame when this means that we are essentially taxing poor families (through high rents) in order to export their hard-earned dollars to subsidize suburban SUVs and McMansions. 

It would be better to cap administrative salaries and reduce benefits, and make up a portion of those cuts by offering generous residency benefits to the teachers and administrators who do choose to live here.

posted by: NHPS Teacher on August 2, 2011  5:04pm

I don’t know that the evaluation document is public.  You would have to ask Dave Cicarella, the union president, or Michele Sherban-Kline, the director of teacher evaluation. 

I’m not saying that teacher evaluation can be made completely objective.  However, we could use additional tools, such as student surveys, 180 degree (peer) reviews, as well as other measures that I probably don’t even know about. 

Currently, teachers are evaluated by one principal or assistant principal, who sets all of the non-student assessment ratings.  This evaluation receives additional review only in extreme cases.  Principals’ responsibilities have not been lightened, so they are expected to observe teachers more frequently on top of their other responsibilities.  Unless a teacher is given a 1 or a 5, the score is pretty meaningless, and doesn’t provide the improvement opportunities touted by our leaders. 

The teeth in the evaluation are good.  Believe it or not, our teachers don’t want “weak” teachers protected.  However, if we want our students to be successful, our teacher evaluation system should do a better job of helping all teachers improve.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 2, 2011  5:04pm

Diane Ravitch at #SOSmarch

posted by: sal consiglio on August 2, 2011  5:05pm

Let’s see we have more schools in this city than the bronx ,  budget is basically for education, you can’t get teachers to work here because the top of the school board is top heavy,The board of education hires an outside firm to run a school due to poor performance and you are going to lay off teachers ? You all on the school board should smell what you are shoveling.They knock down perfectly good schools to put up new ones ,now tell me who is going to be inside to teach these students.This is Harper valley reincarnated all over again.What a joke maybe the pink slips should start at the top,I know they should.Fine people of this city keep the Destefano administration for two more years because you are afraid of change .What a sin and dis- service to the students and taxpayers.

posted by: Teacher in New Haven on August 2, 2011  5:42pm

The new system is better than the old system.  Under the old system my Instructional manager rarely saw me teach, had few conversations with me about teaching. (or anything else) and in the 5 years preceding this one, created my evaluation out of thin air.  This year I met with my IM 3 times to discuss my goals and my performance, was observed on 3 separate occasions, each time for more than 20 minutes ( as opposed to the 2-5 minutes an observation lasted in years past). Is It perfect? No. Is it light years better? Yes.

Now if only the central office could get their act together on layoff notices so the young energetic teachers they intend to boot might have some hope of finding a job elsewhere… Really guys, school starts in 4 weeks!

posted by: Phyllis Grenet on August 2, 2011  6:55pm

How can you base an evaluation on test scores? And why wait until just before school starts to decide on layoffs….if a teacher was not teaching or getting across to students, it would have been known way before the test scores. And who is going to fill these positions? glad I am no longer teaching in New Haven.

posted by: My Two Cents on August 2, 2011  10:19pm

Dave Cicarella forgot to mention that he tries his hardest to defend teachers who shouldn’tdefended ... Secondly, who will rate and evaluate Garth Harries???? What about all the principals on special assignment will this provide an opportunity to move them out?

posted by: LOL on August 2, 2011  10:48pm

And Cicarella will look at whether there is top-to-bottom accountability in each school.

“In every case, we want to also look at the building: Is the building conducive to learning? Are there impediments to learning? Is the principal a good instructional leader?”


What a crock.  The principal at Celentano has received two straight school climate reviews in which the overwhelming majority of teachers do not trust her or feel their professional input is valued.  (Check and see a partial portion of the survey below.)

Worse, nearly half of the students who participated said they don’t feel safe in the school (and that doesn’t count the kids in the primary grades, who were not permitted to participate in the survey yet almost day witness disrespectful, violent and verbally/physically intimidating behavior by older students).  Celentano had an arson last spring, for crying out loud!


Downtown’s answer is the incremental improvement in test scores under this principal.  But what downtown doesn’t tell you is the FACT that prior to this current principal, Celentano was stuck with an principal in his last year before retirement who had absolutely no student management skills whatsoever (kids made fun of him to his face); he was never before a full-time principal (only an AP), meaning after just one year of being principal, he retired with a principal’s pension despite the fact test scores plummeted.  Scooby Doo could’ve replaced him and test scores would’ve gone up!

Meanwhile, below are results from the 2011 Celentano school climate survey.  The information is from teachers, who for the second straight year overwhelming expressed legitimate concerns—like assaults by students on teachers, the well-documented arson, and the number of times NH police were summoned to the school—that the principal’s cheerleading crew (all 7 of them) — and downtown — would like brushed under the carpet in light of some improved test scores.


How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements about leadership practices in your school?

The administrative team has confidence in the expertise of the teachers.
8.6% strongly agree
14.3% agree
20.0% neither agree nor disgree
28.6% disagree
28.6% strongly disagree

Administrators let staff know what is expected of them.
17.1% SA
34.3% A
17.1% N
14.3% D
17.1% SD

Administrators invite teachers to play a meaningful role in setting goals and making decisions for this school.
2.9% SA
17.1% A
17.1% N
22.9% D
40.0% SD

The administrative team visits classrooms to observe the quality of teaching at this school.
8.6% SA
57.1% A
22.9% N
8.6% D
2.9% SD

Administrators give me regular and helpful feedback about my teaching.
8.6% SA
20.0% A
2.9% N
31.4% D
37.1% SD

Administrators encourage collaboration among teachers to increase student learning.
5.7% SA
51.4% A
8.6% N
14.3% D
20.0% SD

School administrators conduct supervision and performance evaluations constructively and respectfully.
2.9% SA
25.7% A
17.1% N
20.0% D
34.3% SD

The school administration provides for effective communication and positive relationships.
5.7% SA
14.3% A
17.1% N
20.0% D
42.9% SD

The school administration works cooperatively with the community.
2.9% SA
22.9% A
31.4% N
25.7% D
17.1% SD

The principal makes the school run smoothly.
11.4% SA
17.1% A
14.3% N
20.0% D
37.1% SD

School administrators are open to constructive feedback.
8.6% SA
14.3% A
8.6% N
22.9% D
45.7% SD

I trust the principal.
11.4% SA
25.7% A
14.3% N
8.6% D
40.0% SD


* Students were asked if they feel safe at school.  Only 59 percent said they do.

* Only 44 percent of students said they care for the school, while only 42 percent said they feel good about the school.

* 56 percent of students say students at the school treat their teachers with respect, while 65 percent said teachers treat them with respect—and almost 90 percent said teachers expect them to go on to college and hold them to high standards.

posted by: trainspotter on August 3, 2011  4:23am

Hey Sal, There are 332 public schools in the Bronx. I had no idea that New Haven had that many.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 3, 2011  8:42am

A teacher friend send this to me.Good point.

New Teachers: Are You in It for the Long Haul?
By Jaime O’Neill

Welcome, newbies, to the wonderful world of education. You are now embarked upon that career for which you’ve been preparing for so long. You’ve jumped through the hoops, sat through classes that often seemed irrelevant and/or stultifyingly dull. You’ve taken those horrible courses in education and teacher training that were required of you, those classes that took time away from gaining greater command of the discipline you were preparing to teach. And, despite the fact that those education classes offered almost nothing, you sat through them, nonetheless, demonstrating to all future employers that you have what it takes to deal with the myriad pointless faculty meetings and in-service breakout sessions that lie ahead. Should you find that you don’t like teaching, you can, of course, change course and head into the better-paid realms of administration, where a tolerance for wasting vast amounts of time in meetings is absolutely central to the work you will do.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, since you’ve only just begun and already I’ve got you bailing out.

The temptation to bail out is, however, one of the hallmarks of your new career. A bad student, a bad class, a paranoia-prompting administrative overseer, or the mere drudgery of the paperwork that now takes up so much of your time will have you considering other occupations nearly every week. When the stress of meeting a big and ill-defined spectrum of expectations leads you to pour one more glass of wine each night than you know is good for you, you’ll surely think that a career in retail sales might be a better alternative than taking attitude from a kid whose chief concern is the current state of his complexion, not your precious words of wisdom.

For some of you, that kid, or some other catalyst, will drive you out of the classroom. For those who stay, it won’t help your dedication or your motivation to find your job threatened each and every year when the annual state budget reveals once more that big cuts to education are coming, that you’ve been pink slipped until or unless there’s a last-minute reprieve. That yearly panic will cause you to wonder why you ever went into teaching in the first place, and you will surely make plans to seek other employment with each mention of just how precarious your employment is.

If you manage to avoid losing your job for budgetary reasons, many of you are in for the duration. Dedication, or the force of habit, will keep you coming back, year in and year out, as you gradually morph into some version of those teachers you yourself once had: people with impossibly faulty senses of style, or ear hair, or other focal points of ridicule that served to amuse you and your middle school peers back when you were a kid.

But what separates you now from the pack of twerps in front of you is that you’re older and wiser; you’ve got perspective, skills, and insights to share. Having once sat where they sit, you know how much posturing is going on, how much insecurity they possess despite the attitudes they cop. You also know the challenges they face, the rockiness of the road that lies ahead, and how many ways there are for them to spin out and crash.

If you stay, you’ll harden yourself against the whispered derision, the groans when you explain an assignment, and the student excuses you’ve heard over and over—excuses you may once have offered to one or more of your own teachers. You’ll soldier on through days that seem interminable, through semesters in which little you try seems to work, through years that can seem like decades.

And you’ll keep up that work, and re-steel your resolve because there are those days when things click into place, when a face lights with understanding, or an exchange with a class makes even you see an idea in a new light. You’ll keep up that work because your students frequently remind you of just what it feels like to learn new things, and to experience the sense of growth that comes with knowing more.

You will reach the end of each academic year feeling somewhat spent, but exhilarated, and you will return when classes resume the following fall because you know the satisfaction that comes with doing work that can make a difference in people’s lives, that offers you a chance to make small but meaningful contribution to the future.

You will return because, unlike so many other jobs, teaching allows for repeated chances to get it right, to learn from the things that didn’t work, to use your brain, your creativity, and your full range of talents to invent new and better ways of doing it.

Despite administrators who often have priorities that conflict with real learning, despite the emphasis on testing and the educational fads that get trotted out by politicians and educrats who seldom get near actual students, you will return because you have a growing suspicion you are needed, and the feeling of being needed isn’t always easy to come by.

You will return because, when it is all said and done, you are a teacher. You didn’t choose this profession; it chose you. It picked you out when you were a student, selected you because getting rich wasn’t your highest priority, because you were absorbed by the subject you now teach, because you had a teacher who made you want to be a teacher—one who stirred your interests, fired your passion to learn, and helped you find your way.

Now you want to help your students find their way. You can’t get enough of doing that. You won’t get enough of doing that, not this year, not next year, because there is never enough of helping students if you’re a teacher.

And, if you made it this far, the chances are you’re a teacher

Jaime O’Neill recently retired from a teaching career that included full-time stints at four different community colleges. He has published four books, and he was featured on “60 Minutes” for a Newsweek article he wrote about widespread student ignorance. He lives in California and is the father of two grown daughters of whom he is inordinately proud.

posted by: brutus2011 on August 3, 2011  9:12am

NHFT President Dave C. was quoted in the above article as saying that he wanted to see if the individual school building environments were conducive to learning. It is encouraging to hear that union leadership is at least talking about this crucial element to learning. So much is made of the classroom learning environment and not so much of the overall environment each class exits within. I hope that the NHFT execs represent teachers with as much fidelity to their constituents as the administrator’s union execs do to theirs.

posted by: FARCE on August 3, 2011  9:50am

posted by: My Two Cents on August 2, 2011 10:19pm
Dave Cicarella forgot to mention that he tries his hardest to defend teachers who shouldn’tdefended


Actually, not only is reality quite the opposite, but Cicarella doesn’t do enough to defend GOOD teachers who are picked on by cocky, self-important administrators who wouldn’t last a day in the classrooms of most teachers they are charged with observing.

posted by: Sheila Mc7 on August 3, 2011  12:24pm

In response to NHPS Teacher, it looks like there are a lot of Teacher Evaluation documents linked at the district website, under the heading TEVAL:

The concept is that all the docs should be public—so if there are more that aren’t linked here, perhaps someone should put in a request that they get added…

posted by: chuck Land on August 3, 2011  12:41pm

Evaluation of teachers by the performance of their students is antithetical to mainstreaming emotionally or developmentally disabled students. With the lack of aids and student teachers, ADHD, autistic and psychiatric students require all of one teachers time, which negatively impacts on the educational opportunities of the other students. Evaluate what % of these special students are benefiting from mainstream classes, and the costs to the other students. Time to go back to diverting them into special classes where their needs can be better met and the other students get some teacher attention.

posted by: Teachergal on August 3, 2011  2:07pm

Chuck Land and Farce make 2 excellent points.

For my first Teval evaluation, one of my goals was to raise students inferencing skills by 40%. My principal then changed it to 60% without my knowldege. A great a ount of growth for a year I thought. But I went along with it because the less interaction I had with my principal the better. But then came June. I did not meet my 60% growth. So, I was scored down. I was rate a 3 not a 4. Oh well, what does it matter, it’s not like their are incentives for being a great teacher in NH. I go to professional developments where I am being trained by kids who have taught for 5 years. Same with the coaches, its an insult. How about giving good teachers with experience these jobs? 

Most administrators are not capable of giving fair evaluations. They are biased and many times unfair to teachers whom they don’t like on personal levels. Many of these teachers are excellent teachers but may be too outspoken or opinionated. I have heard this on more than a few occasions. This problem needs addressing.

Dave C. Has helped many teachers in NH and has shown himself to be a good leader. I just hope he doesn’t forget what it I’d like for those of us who are in the classroom daily facing a myriad of issues.

And to the blogger who mentioned the special Ed student, he is correct. Unless inclusion is handled correctly then a lot of students are losing out.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on August 3, 2011  5:39pm


For all parents out there, here is what the AFT didn’t want you to see!

Remember the “parent trigger” legislation that passed and supposedly gave us more voice over failing schools during the last legislative session? 

Well, check this out.  The AFT mistakenly posted this deck on its website.  Among other things it shows the utter disdain they have for parents, reformers, and even their fellow teacher unionists in the state. 

Mostly though, it shows what a powerful political force can can do to kill better education for our kids.  Teachers who fund this thing ought to be ashamed.

posted by: To Frequent Education Bloggers on August 3, 2011  6:33pm

Dear Frequent Education Bloggers:

Some of you choose to hide behind your screen name and write disparaging comments about your administrators. However, how many of you have taken the time to take educational leadershhip courses to gain a better understanding of the role of an administrator? Yet,in this new age of media blogging, we believe that it is okay for us to serve as a lynch mob that continuously persecutes educational leaders. Many people read the comments of bloggers and begin to think that what they have written about is the truth.

As a New Haven public school teacher, I am appalled by the individuals who choose to write cruel and ludicrous statements about administrators on the New Haven Independent blog especially when it seems to be targeted towards administrators of a certain ethnic group. Many of the opinions and comments posted are eerily familiar to the rhetoric spewed by the members of the Tea Party towards President Obama. It is apparent that one of the frequent bloggers must be one of the teachers who received a “Needs Improvement” rating. Now,I know that all administrators are not perfect. However, we do not have a clear understanding as it relates to the numerous decisions that they have to make on a daily basis that impact the lives of the students and staff members in their buildings. If you have issues with your administrator bring the issues directly to him or her.

Stop attacking the educational leaders of NHPS. They rarely attack teachers in the New Haven Independent blogs. One of the frequent bloggers posted the school climate survey results for their school.  I challenge that blogger to work together with the administrators to improve the school’s climate.  The only way that true school change is going to work is if you have buy-in from multiple stakeholders.  SCHOOL CHANGE BEGINS WITH YOU.

Therefore, frequent education bloggers, the next time you choose to express disdain for our public school system and its leaders-STOP AND THINK.  Think of ways that you can offer positive solutions rather than posting biased/scathing comments. If you really want to ensure that we provide a top quality educational learning experience for all students in New Haven you will help to create a system that offers collaborative and proactive solutions that will truly focus on the mission of NHPS—-“Kids First”.


posted by: Teachergal on August 3, 2011  6:45pm

Oops…..there not their….for those of you who care.

posted by: Confused on August 3, 2011  10:12pm

How is somebody who only ever taught HS math, and for less than 10 years, qualified to be principal of a PreK-8 school?  Only in New Haven, I suppose.

posted by: LOL on August 3, 2011  10:18pm

teachergal wrote: “Most administrators are not capable of giving fair evaluations. They are biased and many times unfair to teachers whom they don’t like on personal levels. Many of these teachers are excellent teachers but may be too outspoken or opinionated. I have heard this on more than a few occasions. This problem needs addressing.”


This is true.  Unfortunately, nothing has been or is being done about it.  Why anybody coming out of college would want to be a teacher is beyond me, what with all the nonsense CYA paperwork and lame PD sessions run by, as teachergal noted, “kids.”

posted by: RichTherrn on August 4, 2011  9:14am

@3/5, Sal, Fix… We are talking about New Haven, not AFT, NYC, Bronx, etc…
there’s plenty to discuss about local issues, with arguing about national and other towns’ issues.
@ToEdBloggers, I agree….

Just as we have teachers with a wide variety of experience, it is good for a school system to have administrators with a wide variety of experience.  Some sit in judgement of someone based on their background, experience, education.  evaluation systems are supposed to measure and help improve job effectiveness. I would think any professional educator would welcome that.
-Richard Therrien
-NHPS Science supervisor

posted by: Teacher in New Haven on August 4, 2011  9:27am

Re: to frequent education bloggers…

While it is important for those of us who would criticize our administrators to bring those criticisms to our administrators, and everyone should consider the perspectives of those they would criticize before doing so publicly I can only assume that you either A. Work for a very good administrator, or B. Are one of the favored teachers in your building.

I can’t speak for all the commenters on this site, but as for me, when I comment on the failures of my administration it is because the public deserves to know what they are paying for.  In many circumstances I can and do bring my concerns to my school leaders, but there are occasions when my concerns amount to reminding them that they are not doing their jobs… In those cases, when it is germane to the topic mentioned on the NHI, I comment. 

I too get concerned by the tone of this debate sometimes.  I am not comfortable with statements that generalize all administrators.  But if an administrator is a bully, or incompetent, we have very few avenues in which to discuss that.  The union can only help if the contract has been violated.  Central office hired these people, they rarely want to hear about the incompetence of their friends or their hires. Once a year we get to fill in a survey, and we have the independent.

The fact that we comment, even those of us who go too far, doesn’t mean that we have given up on our students, it doesn’t mean that we have ethnic preferences, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t working every day to improve the learning conditions in NHPS.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 4, 2011  10:03am

posted by: RichTherrn on August 4, 2011 9:14am
@3/5, Sal, Fix… We are talking about New Haven, not AFT, NYC, Bronx, etc…
there’s plenty to discuss about local issues, with arguing about national and other towns’ issues

When you talk about national and other towns issues when it comes to the attack on teachers.You will find the same problems here in New Haven,That you have across this country. So what is your point.Plus I find in other parts of the country they are fighting the corporate take over of the schools.Here in New Haven people just go along with it.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 4, 2011  10:10am

FIX THE SCHOOLS on August 3, 2011 5:39pm

Mostly though, it shows what a powerful political force can can do to kill better education for our kids.  Teachers who fund this thing ought to be ashamed.

How about the political force that took away the rights of parents to have a elected city Board of Education.Were is concan and BEAO on this.

‘People’s Convention’ protests replacement of Bridgeport school board with state-appointed panel
Linda Conner Lambeck, Staff Writer
Updated 12:24 a.m., Wednesday, July 27, 2011

posted by: brutus2011 on August 4, 2011  12:56pm

I must reply to “To Frequent Education Blogger.”

Whatever I write here is backed up by direct experience, research, and life experience. It is the truth as I see it. If I write that I am a black educator who is disappointed with our superintendent and his heavy-handed management style that has had a negative impact on our kids, then you can bet I know exactly what I am saying and why I am saying it. If I write that our mayor uses our schools for political patronage, you can bet that I can back up my statement. The mission of NHPS is not “Kids First,” it is the adults first. Administrators, union staff and even teachers need their jobs to support their families. This is a huge incentive as to why and how the system here in New Haven has become what it is.
And, why it is trying to survive in as close to its present form as can be managed. Listen to Wendy Kopp of TFA and Michelle Rhee talk about how the system is really about the adults and not the kids. Your statement, “The only way that true school change is going to work is if you have buy-in from multiple stakeholders,” sounds great but has no substance. Why? Because what truly ails our schools has nothing to do with buying into failed policies; it has everything to do with community political will and political change. I tell you what-truly change those who have made and implemented ed policy in New Haven for the past 2 decades (and failed by their own admission, and I truly believe that true school reform here has a fighting chance. Finally, why would anyone who is concerned about the future of our community want to see opinions such as mine silenced?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 4, 2011  2:16pm

posted by: brutus2011 on August 4, 2011 12:56pm

Listen to Wendy Kopp of TFA and Michelle Rhee talk about how the system is really about the adults and not the kids.

I did check out Michelle Rhee and look at what she did to the kids.

Rhee bragged about taping students’ mouths shut while she was a Teach for America ‘teacher’
John Kugler - September 22, 2010

We need to listen to Diane Ravitch and Jonathan Kozol

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on August 4, 2011  4:04pm

Notice that in education issues, Three-Fifths always favors adults over kids.  Always.

3/5, You are fighting the battles of the civil rights wars of 40 years ago.  ... today education attainment is the most important factor in closing the income gap.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 4, 2011  5:48pm

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on August 4, 2011 4:04pm
Notice that in education issues, Three-Fifths always favors adults over kids.  Always

LOL.Anyone will tell that knows me I point out adults who pimp and make profits off the backs of kids.

3/5, You are fighting the battles of the civil rights wars of 40 years ago.

Show me were the civl rights wars you talk about is over.In fact ask some of the Black and latino organizations who are still fighting this war in 2012.In fact some of them will tell you it is worst then 40 years ago.

today education attainment is the most important factor in closing the income gap.

Education today is a profit maker and the only thing the student is the student loan they can not pay back

posted by: LOL on August 5, 2011  1:27pm

@To Frequent Education Bloggers:

Sorry, but the climate data doesn’t lie.  No excuses!

posted by: Teachergal on August 5, 2011  2:06pm

Lol…..Sorry, but the climate data doesn’t lie.  No excuses!

Very true!

posted by: Tom Burns on August 6, 2011  10:12pm

Lets be perfectly clear===we in New Haven do not base our evaluations solely on test scores—and we never will——We will be meeting with the Governor in two weeks to talk about REAL teaching—experiential learning—and higher order thinking skills—while making Urban Schools places that are joyful for everyone—For we are a family and not a BUSINESS——and together—w/o blame we can make education exciting again—-Our goal as the NHFT leadership is to do away with the focus on testing and the costs that come with it——and to concentrate on REAL teaching and learning. Within the next two years, I promise you will see a change in culture, process and the way our leaders,lead. I also promise that the way we presently deal with student misbehavior will be dealt with also, so that teaching and learning may occur everyday w/o the disruptions of those students who need something more. (and by the way—we will give those students something more as we will never give up on the least of our brothers or sisters—-ever) This is our moment to create something special—Get on board—we need you—Tom Burns

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on August 7, 2011  3:08pm

Hey Tom,

Why should parents get on board with the AFT when it tries to undermine real change in their schools? 

Here is how they partner with the politicians to pull the wool over the eyes of the parents:

posted by: LOL on August 7, 2011  6:42pm

@Tom: Why should teachers buy into the reform effort when school climate surveys are dismissed by excuses from downtown?  If improved scores are the answer, then why are some teachers, despite exceptional scores in their own class, transferred and picked on over personality conflicts with their administrator?

posted by: Tom Burns on August 8, 2011  1:30am

Hi Fix—-hope that slight drop in the market last Thursday didn’talarm you too much—you can thank your Tea Party friends for that—-

You bankers and hedge funders can really mess up a good thing—but I wont let you destroy the education system that made America what it is today—no matter how hard you and your like try to make $$$ at the expense of our children—-

The link you produced is a positive one for the AFT—how did you determine otherwise—but thanks for putting it out there—-for that Bill PASSED and in NEW HAVEN we welcome our parents and students involvement in the decision-making process—-they will be sitting on the Governance Councils as a majority as well as participating on the School Planning and Management Team (it’s in the contract we agreed to)—-you are so used to spinning everything that you mustn’t have read what was on your link——but once again, thanks for helping—Stop trying to sell our parents empty promises—-and join us—the real deal, if you want real positive change. You see the families in our communities have supported public education for over 150 years——-and no snake oil salesman will convince them that they have something better to offer—for they don’t. End this charade now.
LOL—I know how frustrated you are, but we didn’t create this environment in one year and so it will take longer than one year to change it. But no more than three——hang in there, and if you feel bullied by anyone, please fill out a bully report—-this holds for both the adults as well as for the children. The school climate surveys are taken VERY seriously by the Central Office and conversations have been had. Remember that we are now partners and so as we wouldn’t want a teacher to be dismissed w/o having the chance to improve, it is just as reasonable to give an administrator the same chance. Don’t you think??? It won’t be easy—-but we will make this a JOYFUL place to teach and learn——believe me—Tom Burns

posted by: brutus2011 on August 8, 2011  9:40am

I must reply to Tom Burns:

I have been reading your recent posts and have been wondering what state of mind you are in when you dash off these messages that tout NHPS reform and its administration. I find it curious that you avoid any kind of criticism of management.
1. Your attack on “Fix the Schools” was alsocurious. I generally do not agree with “Fix the Schools” assertions, but the posts are thoughtful and intelligent. Your statements about hedge funds and bankers indicates to me someone who reads something and regurgitates it without more than superficial understanding. Your statement, “no matter how hard you and your like try to make $$$ at the expense of our children-,” is as disingenuous an assertion as I have seen here. Why? I know for a fact that you and Dave follow the beat of downtown. I know for a fact that you yourself know that the real name of the game is to cover your rear end and stay under the radar. I know this because you have said so to me in conversation. You and the NHFT allow administrative shenanigans to occur because you play the bureaucratic game right along with the administrators. (How about the NHFT allowing NHPS and the BOE to practice ageism?) You allow good, committed and effective teachers to get persecuted and destroyed because the mayor and his appointed ed execs require that those below in the trenches toe their line to avoid political embarrassment. Where did I come up with that? From a conversation with the current NHFT president.
I ask you, who is making $$$ at the expense of our children?
2. Your statement, “and join us-the real deal, if you want real positive change. You see the families in our communities have supported public education for over 150 years-and no snake oil salesman will convince them that they have something better to offer-for they don’t. End this charade now,” is as disingenuous as it gets. While I agree that privatization of our public is to be resisted, so is the bureaucratization of our public schools to be overthrown. Both systems are toxic to our students, our teachers, and our republic.
You are approaching snake oil salesman status almost as much as those you accuse. Remember, when you point the finger, sometimes you have three pointing back at yourself.
You are a decent guy. Please represent us instead of what you and Dave are now doing. Please.