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.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Beautiful Absurdities

Can't sleep tonight, so I thought I'd get back to blogging about the beautiful absurdities of my classroom.

Here’s how my 5th period conversation went with Raynard, who’s officially and actually “emotionally disturbed.” (Students are often not ACTUALLY what their IEPs say they are, but in this case ... uh, yeah.) Raynard has good reasons to be disturbed, but that’s not always easy to remember.

Raynard: (30 minutes late to a 43 minute class, banging furiously on door in the middle of an extraordinarily successful lesson on prime factorization. Students are actually giving each other high fives when they get the right answer. It's a teacher’s dream. Raynard sees this and suddenly wants in.) Yo! Lemme in! Lemme in! Yo! You mad stupid. Lemme in! (Raynard’s face is now pressed against the door’s window, deforming his nose, mouth and cheeks.)

Me: (Approaching door and looking sternly at Raynard, trying hard not to laugh at his nose, mouth and cheeks.) I will let you in when you stop banging and yelling and start acting like one of my students.

Raynard: Yo, this bitch is mad dumb! Mr. I! Miss D won’t let me in!

Incompetent Dean: (Unlocks door and lets Raynard in, completely destroying teacher authority, prime factorization lesson and whatever lesson I was about to teach Raynard about entering classrooms respectfully. Incompetent Dean knows full well that Raynard cuts every class, but still feels need to reprimand me.) Miss Dennis, you need to let Raynard in. You know students cannot wander the hallways of this school. Blah blah blah … liability … blah blah blah.

Me: (Turning red with anger for a few secs, thinking, “Then why have you been letting him and 25 other students wander the halls in plain sight for the past 30 mins? Liability my ass.” Then I remember my recent attempts at meditation and opt for a more peaceful approach.) You know what? We’re having a very good lesson on prime factorization, Raynard. Why don’t you join us?

Raynard: (Who is a hell of a lot smarter than he acts.) Prime wa wa wa wa wa?

(Class begins giggling.)

Me: Raynard, have a seat.

Raynard: (Sits on Jezibel’s desk) Jezibel’s mad fine. You mad fine, Jez.

Me: (Losing patience) Raynard, we are all aware of the fact that you think Jezibel is mad fine. You say it every day. I’m sick of hearing it. We’re all sick of hearing it. And Jezibel is sick of you hitting on her. Now have a seat.

(Class is now on verge of cracking up.)

Raynard: I wasn’t hitting her!

(Class now completely loses it. I lose it. Lesson destroyed. Raynard laughs too, but with a look on his face like he doesn’t really get it. We’ll try again tomorrow.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

How Cool is This?

I just learned that Your Mama's Mad Tedious was mentioned last week on USA Today's Tech Space blog. No wonder I've been getting so many hits lately. Thanks Angela Gunn! Great encouragement for getting back to writing.