Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Housing Incentives for Out-of-Town Teachers who are Going to Sell at $20,000 Higher and Get the Hell Out

So most teachers in NYC have probably heard by now about the new housing incentives and signing bonuses that the NYC Department of Education is offering new special education, math and science teachers who agree to teach for three years at the city's high needs schools. The DOE is trying to lure teachers from other parts of the country by offering down payment and rent help. Today's front page New York Times article also indicates that former New York City teachers can get the incentives if they've been out of the system for at least two years.

Helloooooo. I've been teaching special education in the South Bronx for almost three years. I'm also trying to get together enough money for a down payment on a Manhattan apartment. So guess what? I'm quitting now and coming back in two years. That's what their plan encourages all current special education, math and science teachers at high needs schools to do, right?

Ok, it's not that I don't want the kids of NYC to get a few great new teachers. Of course I do. But unsuspecting teacher souls out there in other parts of the country and the world, be warned. What is it they're offering? About $5000 toward a down payment for three years of teaching in a hell hole? Okay, at least it's something, and in other parts of the world that might be a significant chunk. But in NYC, you need a down payment of AT LEAST $35,000 to get a decent place with a decent mortgage deal. And by "decent place" I mean tiny, cockroach infested studio apartment. I’ve been looking. And the rent help is what? $400 a month? Again, at least it's something, but a nice one bedroom apartment in Manhattan will run you $2000 a month. Oh, and don't expect to actually get ANY money, even your regular monthly salary, during your first months of teaching because the DOE often messes up the paychecks of new employees.

Oh, and for any special education teachers out there considering taking this bait, just remember that when the Teacher's Choice checks come, you get less money than everyone else simply because you are a special education teacher. And the UFT (teachers' union) agreed to this. And you have to pay more than $80 per month in union dues, whether or not you really want to be in the union. It's an automatic deduction. Also, you will be expected to do your principal's work for half of his/her salary in addition to your teaching duties, because virtually no administrators in this city seem to know what they're doing when it comes to special education. Either they haven't been trained or they don't care. In many cases both. Of course, YOU will have a deep conscience about all that is unfair to your special education students, so you will try your best to fix the problems because you won’t be able to sleep if you don’t. And all the injustices you discover will drive you crazy and raise your blood pressure if you do. And I mean crazy crazy.

To say I'm a little bitter would be like saying the Bush administration is "a little worried" right now. As someone already commented in my below Beautiful Absurdities post, "All your hard work and dedication...and now someone new from outside the NYC school system can do your job and get financially rewarded with a signing bonus and $400/month for housing. It's nice to know you're worth it, even if our own union and the DOE don't think so."

Seriously.

Why is it so f***in hard for DOE bureaucrats to understand that they need to find a way to hang on to their current good teachers rather than continuing to bake up these schemes to get new people in who are just going to leave again? It's hard enough for out-of-towners to make New York City work for them. And when you add moving here to teach at the worst schools in the city with insane administrators? Fuggedaboudit. I suppose that's what the incentives are all about - creating reasons to stay. But please. $5000 of a $35,000 down payment (AT LEAST) for a cockroach infested studio apartment ain't gonna' help. How many teachers do you know who have $30,000 saved anyway? And the few who do will realize that in three years, their infested studio will be going for $20,000 more on the market. And DOE bureaucrats actually think people from out of town are going to stay? Please. Teachers are smarter than that.

The city is going to be paying about $1.5 million for this. But they can't fix the ghetto floor in my classroom (as my students call it)?

Here's the last line of today's NY Daily News article about the DOE housing incentives: But, said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, "The most important citizens that will benefit from this program are our children."

Uh. Do I even need to get into what a load of crap that sounds like to me right now? And it's "citizens who." That’s how you speak to the press Mr. Deputy Mayor? You need a grammar lesson. Not to mention a common sense lesson.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Thanks for quoting me :)

7:35 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

I'm sorry they haven't figured out you're a who.

My blog has a few modest comments on this, too, if you're interested.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

NYC Educator gave this post a plug.
Witty, but sadly true.

Thank you.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Hg said...

I find it really strange that you get paid LESS for working in special ed! Maybe it's different in my part of the world, but I'm finding it really hard work. The A$25 a fortnight more in my pay packet a sign that someone, somewhere may understand it's hard even if they aren't really willing to compensate me adequately for it.

7:31 AM  
Blogger lucas baker said...

Bravo brave sped warrior! I read the news and wondered, like you, when the DOE is going to stop these stupid schemes and really address the seminal issues facing “our children”. You mentioned that administrators don’t know and/or don’t want to know anything much about special education. This is of course a crime that someday will most likely be or should be prosecuted in some class action way. Since most all special education supervisors and school based support team case managers have been eliminated the sole people in schools with any knowledge of sped are teachers who get very little respect.

I worked as a sped teacher in NYC for many years and can attest that my experiences support the validity of your personal report. Special education students are being harmed by the DOE system because of the way it sequesters them on paper, in spaces and
In perpetuated social (institutional) perceptions.

I can’t think of any excuse for this continuing malpractice. The sad news is that sped students and teachers are not the only ones to suffer from the DOEs revolving managers, teachers, and crazy schemes strategy. Sometimes I think it’s all just a big ruse designed to get America to drop the idea that public education can work. Then who “they” are can get back to building a multi-tiered society. Equality starts in the mind. It is a concept that is taught to all Americans to perpetuate that value we all share. E Pluribus Unum
Don't blink now!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Yeah, things aren't much better here in Australia. The're paying new graduates to work in particular school and then wondering why none of us stay. Good luck with things :)

10:13 AM  
Blogger Chaz said...

Great post. It's too bad our Unity leaders didn't ask us first before agreeing to this DOE scheme to scam the existing teachers. I guess where just dog food.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Dick Dalton said...

Shoot! I guess I'll delay my plans to transfer to the Big Apple until they make a better offer!LOL!

I've spoken to the same sort of deal at my place. It seems all too logical that if the educrats would invest just a bit more time and resources into the teachers they have, they might not have to go through such scams to attract so many new victims to burn up.

dick

9:58 PM  
Blogger Chaz said...

Let's see they are using 1.5 million dollars to attract new teachers while if they increased teacher retention by just 1% they would save 4 millon dollars!

I can't tell you if Unity/DOE don't care about existing teachers or they are just clueless? What I am angry about is that Randi & gang didn't see fit to open this up to a membership vote. I guess they felt they would have lost big time on this.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous ivan said...

Common sense is an uncommonly rare commodity. Wherever human beings do not have the freedom to look at an entire situation, solutions only create more problems. The obvious solution would be to ask sped teachers to look at proposals before they are adopted as policy and show the weaknesses. But the Dept doesn't have the freedom to allow that to happen because then the Department people would appear to be weak and incapable of managing. And they already know that to be true, but hiding it from general perception will keep the sense of privilege and power intact for a while longer.

3:25 AM  
Blogger ecm said...

I'm a teacher in Baltimore but what you say is so true--school systems need to work on keeping the people they already have rather than having a revolving door of inexperienced teachers who replace each other. That is NOT in the best interest of kids. Good luck!

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK kids, enough!! I've been teaching special education 28 years....in the days when classes were much smaller and the conditions that caused learning difficulties were "labelled" on the kids. At least there was a belief in modality based learning, unlike today where all learners are expected to learn the same thing at the same time, an absurd idea to anyone who actually knows the ins and outs of child development, physiological changes that enhance learning, and stages of growth of intellect, etc.,etc. Excuse me for being so pedantic, but what I'm getting at is that I'm REALLY TICKED OFF AT THIS LOUSY HOUSING PLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I too worked in Morrisania, the Bronx, for 10 years in the wild and wooly District 12, another fiefdom for those in power that week in that district. The neighborhood was bad enough and barren still from the landlord driven fires of the '70's. From there, a horrifically overcrowded but still good high school. NOt only do I not recall any housing incentive whatsoever, but I took myself to a great school, Hunter College, at night, worked extra jobs (luckily had connections and taught a night time GED program), and survived it all without any help from either the UFT or the city. RandiKleinberg is further diminishing our already compromised working and learning conditions with this latest "contract" which of course is looking mighty unattractive lately, just like our "leaders".

6:50 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Once again, the shortsightedness boggles the imagination. I don't blame you one bit for your frustration.

The powers that be could help by fixing the floor, first. Few people want to teach in a place where their health is at risk, they're not respected, and all the other problems attendant in an urban environment. Duh.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

teaching math at an inner city school in los angeles, i keep reminding myself that things could be worse. hell, i could be in new york city. sorry, i'll take my barrio over yours any day. and if you're interested in relocating, la'll take you. we have a perpetual summer here.

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms Dennis you're very young, n'est pas? I can tell you're young because you can still summon up outrage over the often grotesque and always self-serving administrators in your school and your city. Here's my prediction. In 15 years you will have lost all your courage and your anger. The morons will have beaten it out of you. You'll wake up in the morning and the first word you'll think is 'Shit!' 'Shit!' that you have to go in to the educational equivilant of Orwell's Room 101 ( the worst place in the world ), 'shit!' that you can already predict your day and it isn't good and 'shit!' because
of your profound knowledge that nothing you have ever done has meant one fucking thing to anyone.
I also predict that you'll sign those evaluations like an automaton knowing that trying to do something right when an administrator wants you to do something self-serving for him/her is a losing game. My advice? Don't stay in the same school district anymore than ( ideally ) two years - three years tops. It's harder to hit a moving target and you'll avoid a lot of bloodshed, mostly your own.
-Steve, a veteran of the education wars

2:48 PM  

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