Thursday, October 14, 2010

My email from Klein: instead of reducing class size, he'd rather end seat time

Check out my email to Joel Klein below and his canned reply.

The message was sent through the NYC "take action" page" of the "Waiting for Superman" website, but I considerably tailored it to include the real issues involved in supporting great (or even good) teachers, involving reducing class size, rather than spending money on merit pay and the other bogus ways in which the corporate reformers want to waste our taxpayer funds. In national surveys, teachers overwhelmingly support lowering class size as the most effective way to improve the quality of education, over increasing their salary, merit pay or more professional development -- at rates over 95%. Of course, Klein doesn't respond to that suggestion at all.

Instead, he responds again pushing merit pay, and says that the mayor is eliminating "the current practice of awarding tenure to teachers based on seniority" which makes no sense, since tenure was never awarded based on seniority. Instead, he writes, tenure will be granted "only to teachers who have demonstrated two consecutive years of significant gains in student achievement" meaning value-added test scores -- which experts say is a highly unreliable way to evaluate their performance. See this recent study, for one.

Also, check out Klein's comments about how he's pushing to end "seat time" (meaning requiring that students actually attend school) and expanding online instruction -- as though either one of these proposals has anything to do with supporting "great teachers" Instead, both are likely to further degrade the quality of education in this city.

From: []

Sent: Friday, October 08, 2010 12:13 AM

Subject: What are you doing to support great teachers?

Dear The Honorable Klein:

As a member of our community, I am concerned about the future of our children and their education. I know that fixing our schools is a complex problem. But I also know that the most critical solution to this problem is making sure that we have effective teachers which will require reducing class size.

Every student deserves a great teacher. Likewise, teachers deserve the encouragement, support and training that they need to be more effective. And the best way to attract and retrain teachers in our schools is to reduce class size.

I urge you to make teacher effectiveness a top priority by taking the following actions:

1. Invest in the classroom, rather than spending even more money on testing, data analysis and out of classroom positions.

2. Support teachers by respecting their views about how to make them more effective -- reduce class size.

3. Evaluate teachers using several factors - such as classroom observations and parent input, but merit pay is a waste of money and does not benefit our kids.

I look forward to hearing what you are doing to support great teachers.


Leonie Haimson, 212-674-7320

-----Original Message-----

From: Klein Joel I. []
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 10:36 AM
Subject: RE: What are you doing to support great teachers?

Dear Ms. Haimson:

Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning the recruitment, retention, support, and evaluation of great teachers.

We agree that every student deserves a great teacher, and really, teachers are the heroes every day in our school system. If we are going to meet our goal to ensure that every child who graduates high school is ready to start college or their careers, we need to work together to step up to this challenge . We feel that by rewarding and supporting teachers who make a real difference and helping developing teachers get better, we will build upon the improvements we have made over the last eight years and give New York City students the future they deserve.

To that end, Mayor Bloomberg recently announced that he would eliminate the current practice of awarding tenure to teachers based on seniority, and instead, provide tenure only to teachers who have demonstrated two consecutive years of significant gains in student achievement. Teachers who do not earn tenure will be provided additional support and training, and those who are ineffective will be removed from the classroom.

Additionally, New York City recently received a $36 million grant from the United States Department of Education as part of the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), which we will use to provide additional pay for "master teachers" and "turnaround teachers" who agree to be placed in low-performing schools.

In addition, we are working to incorporate technology into our classrooms in order to empower our teachers with the tools they need to teach our students in the 21st Century. Instead of lecturing at a class, teachers can use technology to work with small groups of students in their classes and tailor instruction to their individual needs. The Department of Education is also looking to end State-required "seat time," which mandates that all students spend a certain number of hours in their seats for every subject they take - if one student is progressing faster, why hold them back? If another one is not ready to move on, why force them? By ending seat time and incorporating individualized instruction, students will be able to advance academically while others are still mastering a particular subject.

We appreciate your input. Thank you again for writing to us, and for your advocacy on behalf of New York City's public school students.


Joel I. Klein, Chancellor


Anonymous said...

OMG, Klein is an idiot! I'm sorry that the only way I can describe his mental capacity to not come up with good, sensible, and viable plans and solutions to help the students and their teachers.

The elimination of "seat time" makes no sense at all. Keeping track of those students who finish at different time and would be a freaking nightmare. Does that mean the student who was not able to reach his learning goals stays in his/her seat for ever? So let's see 3 students completed their task in October so they move on and I'm left with 27 students. Then in November another 2 finish their time and they move on. What class do they go to? I'm confused.

I am beside myself that teachers can be denied tenure for incompetence, but Klein continues to demonstrate his incompetency on a regular basis. Yet, he has not been removed.

Sabrina said...

Wow. If only we checked school leaders' reading comprehension skills before putting them in office...

Also, I love how he somehow thinks that computers are the answer to individualizing instruction, as though a child whose learning needs puzzle a trained adult will be easily helped by a brainless computer. Just stick them in front of a screen...Don't we criticize parents for doing that?!

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Anonymous said...

Will this policy apply to the DOE authorized charter schoolsm as well?

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