Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear Babs ...


I've been told by several people including one inside the GTA* (a teacher friend), one inside GCSD administration and a couple of outsiders that Babs relied upon Greece Central's highly compensated lawyers to advise her about the side deal she struck with GTA regarding teacher evaluations. It appears that she wanted to know whether or not she could ink the agreement without involving the Board of Education. In other words, she wanted to bypass asking the BOE to approve, and therefore to know about, the agreement she reached with the union to not use state-mandated teacher and principal evaluations in firing decisions for the current year.

It turns out that although Babs continues to claim there's no problem with her (mis)handling of this illegal agreement, the NY State Education Dept. disagrees with her stance. In fact, they've issued a memo (copied below) that certainly sounds as if Babs blew it on this item.

Further evidence that she went under-the-table and behind people's backs is the fact that NYSED issued a letter to Babs on Oct. 22, 2012 congratulating her for getting approval for Greece's APPR plan submitted to them. The problem is, that letter pre-dates the October 30, 2012 memorandum of agreement she struck with GTA (see BLOG titled "GCSD/GTA Caught With Pants Down?") !!

The bottom line: Babs is lying about the validity of this secret deal, one that the Greece school board should be holding her accountable for, one that should cause them to take pause before continuing/lengthening her contract, or offering any salary increase with her upcoming annual evaluation.

* Because I'm getting questions about my reference to GTA, let me clarify that I consider ANY GTA MEMBER to be "inside of GTA" and I always have thought of it that way.

It has come to the Department’s attention that some school districts and union representatives may have signed memoranda of understanding (“MOUs”) that purport to address aspects of the districts’ approved APPR plans. Please be advised that each district and BOCES APPR plan that has been approved by the Department constitutes that district’s or BOCES’ entire APPR plan. As part of the signed certification in each APPR plan, each superintendent (or BOCES District Superintendent) and the presidents of the district’s or BOCES’ board of education and teachers’ and administrators’ union acknowledged that such plan is the sole plan for the APPR of all classroom teachers and principals in the district or BOCES. With respect to all approved APPR plans, the Department considers void any other signed agreements between and among those parties to the extent that such agreements conflict with the approved APPR plan and the requirements of Education Law § 3012-c and Subpart 30-2 of the Rules of the Board of Regents (“regulations”), and does not recognize any such agreements as part of any approved APPR plan. School districts and BOCES must implement the terms of their approved APPR plans consistent with the requirements of Education Law § 3012-c and the regulations.Specifically, all such approved APPR plans must be implemented in accordance with Education Law § 3012-c(1) and § 30-2.1(d) of the regulations, which require that APPRs “shall be a significant factor for employment decisions including but not limited to, promotion, retention, tenure determination, termination, and supplemental compensation….” All school districts and BOCES and their collective bargaining agents provided an assurance in their approved APPR plans that “the evaluation system will be used as a significant factor for employment decisions and teacher and principal
Pursuant to Education Law § 3012-c(2)(k) and § 30-2.3(a)(2) of the regulations, any material changes to an approved APPR plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval. All material changes must be consistent with the requirements of Education Law § 3012-c and the regulations.
May 1, 2013

All Buffalo Teachers

Philip Rumore, President, BTF

The Battle Begins
The Commissioner has realized that singling out Buffalo again was raising questions. The New York State Department of Education has now sent a letter to all school districts voiding all MOU’s similar to ours.

“With respect to all approved APPR plans, the Department considers void any other signed agreements between and among those parties to the extent that such agreements conflict with the approved APPR plan and the requirements of Education Law §3012-c and Subpart 30-2 of the Rules of the Board of  Regents (“regulations”), and does not recognize any such agreements as part of any approved APPR plan."

As usual, BTF started the battle. Now hundreds, yes hundreds, of unions and districts are also under attack.

The Executive Committee will meet on the scheduled date, Thursday, May 9 (not this week) as we coordinate with NYSUT, other locals and school districts.
As always, if necessary we are prepared to do battle alone, as we have in the past and prevailed.
Remember, as a result of the State Education Department’s lack of direction and flipflopping on what was acceptable, there was no APPR in place in September of 2011 when, under the law, it should have been.
Let it be clear. We will utilize every and all means to ensure that our MOU is honored and that no teacher risks termination as a result of an evaluation process that has been shown to be a
disaster across New York State.


Anonymous said...

SCATS, any idea what the exchange was in the improper side agreement?

In other words, in exchange for GCSD agreeing to not exercise its right to fire nonperforming teachers, what did the union give up in return?

Was this really an agreement at all, or just a one-sided gift?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Babs on this one. Stand up for what's right! Hope she wins this.

SCATS said...

To 1:20AM ~~ Exchange??? LMAO!! This is Greece Central Sports District you're talking about! The union "gave" their signature & support to the agreement ;)

To 7:46AM ~~ You can agree all you want to, but that doesn't detract from the fact it was an UNDER-HANDED (i.e. sneaky), ILLEGAL, SIDE AGREEMENT and that Babs is continuing to LIE ABOUT IT!!

"What's right" would be her doing her HUGE mea culpa to the BOE, the community & the kids she sold down the river! But I wouldn't expect a card-carrying union member to understand right from wrong since it's not a teacher's job to teach that in school ;)

Anonymous said...

This flawed evaluation process is nothing more than Cuomo's attempted march to the White House on the backs of our educators. I agree that an evaluation system is needed but has to well thought out and not made universal statewide. I
put this plan in the same failed categories of Standardized testing and No Child Left Behind. Both are flawed and have had the opposite of the desired effect and is another example of bureaucratic interference in the educational system by those
political appointees who have absolutely no idea how to do their jobs. I believe a one year moratorium on implementation was called for so that districts across the state had time to evaluate their plans and work the bugs out before the two year penalty phase kicked in. The question for me is the way
our district achieved that grace period. Was our Superintendent correct in doing what she did when she obviously saw the unfairness that would take place
under SED rules, yes! Was she right by doing as she did bypassing the BOE? No! Policy requires board action on MOU'S and MOA'S. If she felt that this was the proper way to go and had legal standing, what would have been wrong with bringing it to the board, making the case, and getting it approved properly. It would seem to me that what she had hoped to accomplish, a public out cry in opposition, kinda blew up in her face.

SCATS said...

To 10:16AM ~~ Yeah, it certainly did "blow up in her face" just as "opting out" of testing blew up in the faces of the minority who attempted to do that.

While it may be an imperfect way to evaluate employees (most methods are!!), it is better than DOING NOTHING while we continue to allow our educational system to sink deeper into the morass that places the USA behind more & more third world countries!

Anonymous said...

Exactly which "third world countries" does SCATS think the US falls behind in education rankings? I'd like to see some evidence of that. The most recent report puts the US at 17th overall behind other first world nations.

Charlie Hubbard said...

to 10:16 (anonymous)
I have no idea what Cuomo's motives are nor do I care. What we do know is even Albany sees what local districts don't want to see and that is how irresponsible these contracts are and have been. Worthless, do/nothing, give/aways - I challenge anyone to show ONE item in the teachers union contract that speaks to educational improvement - just ONE.
As the board rep I personaly spent ove 70 hours in negociations on a new contract. Want to know how much time was spent on quality improvement? Almost ZERO. We finanlly gave up as everything revolved around what the union felt they were 'entitled' to based on what this district got or what that district got. It was 'entitlement on steroids'. Accountability for performance? It doesn't even enter thier minds.
So 10:16 you speak of the 'desired effect'- what does that mean? What we do know is what we have now is not working.
We can put different shades of lipstick on this public funded monopoly pig known as public education but until these contracts have true meaning and accountability thowing more money at it is not the answer - even some in Albany see it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, regarding the desired effect I believe you would be correct if you were referring to standardized tests and NCLB. The desired effect obviously was aimed at improved overall student performance in both instances. We have seen the negative effect from standardized tests. It don't work plain and simple. As for
NCLB, That had the opposite effect because federal aid was tied to districts who had measurable data showing improved student performance. On the
surface it sounds good until you consider the flip side, lower or no improvement. So what is the logical outcome in this scenario? As is the case with all federal grants on this program, there are strings attached and in
this case penalties. Under- performing districts are denied the federal aid. In response, in order to not lose out, they took measures like dumbing down the
curriculum in order to qualify.
As it stands now, in our district, we are teaching to test. Virtually spending
valuable instruction time to teach kids how take and pass tests. That's no way
to run a railroad let alone, an institution of learning. I hope this answers
your question.

SCATS said...

To 4:34PM ~~ The reason it "doesn't work" (so you claim) is because THE TEACHERS WON'T LET IT WORK!!

For decades, schoolchildren have taken standardized tests. It was NO BIG DEAL! The change came when the decision was made to link them to teacher evaluations!!

Standardized tests are NOT meant to be "taught to" ... that's a concocted reaction of the unions to something that's been part of the school landscape for many decades! Never before have teachers "taught to standardized tests!"

Standardized tests do NOT require student preparation aside from showing children how to fill out the papers. That shouldn't take more than 20 minutes. The rest of the time, if teachers would FOCUS ON TEACHING CURRICULUM, then maybe things would improve!

Charlie Hubbard said...

4:34 (anonymous)I'll ask again - desired effect - what does that mean.
We have been working on the improvement of the graduation rate and absenteeism. I asked the question at a budget presentation as it was NOT supplied in the flyer that came to the house. Answer no improvement. The response by the taxpayers thanks to the contracts for no improvement - RAISES FOR EVERYBODY - now THATS stupid. My comment was - how in he## do you ask taxpayers to throw (and I mean throw) more $$$ to this system?

Anonymous said...

Wow--a letter was issued on October of 2013? Do you have ESP now, too, SCATS? Can you see the future? So BDW saved lots of money from lawsuits that teachers that would have been put on improvement plans would have filed because of this ridiculous system, which I am sure you know very little about or have experienced because YOU ARE NOT A TEACHER. Walk a mile in the shoes of someone you are criticizing, SCATS, before you claim to know so much about their profession.

Anonymous said...

SCATS--so why are there coursed to help students pass the SAT?

SCATS said...

To 6:21PM ~~ That was a typo.

To 6:24PM ~~ Because there is a sucker born every minute. Also, the SATs test accumulated knowledge from several years (typically 4 or more), not just what was learned in one year of curriculum. Math skills tend to get rusty when not used.

Anonymous said...

Thought you would be interested in the trials and tribulations of a blog site in Hamburg NY. seems the school district there doesn't like critics.

SCATS said...

To 8:07PM ~~ TY very much for the link! Concerned Hamburger informed me about the lawsuit earlier this week. Imagine that?? They don't like critics in Hamburg!! lol

Same thing in Greece NY, right Babs??

Anonymous said...

scats, one of the standardized tests are the regents exams. I would like to see you pass one with out studying for the test. Yes curriculum is taught and the test should follow. However in many cases the tests are poorly written and focus only on a few sections of the curriculum. And each year those "sections" change, it is kind of like playing darts in the dark with a moving dartboard. So, many teachers just teach the curriculum and hope for the best as far as the test goes. Sometimes you have 90% pass rates and sometimes 80% with the same teacher year to year. So what changes each year? the TEST and the STUDENTS. It is not blame, it just "is" judge the way teachers teach over multiple years, not one. That is the essence of this "side deal" that you are so concerned over.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I'm currently a retired Greece school teacher. I was also a member of the GTA negotiating team at the time. As I recall both you and Joe at the sessions at H S & E. As I also remember, neither of you were involved in
the discussions and were there as observers only. As my notes reflect, during the times that you were in attendance, we never talked about compensation issues. Instead we had agreed to discuss
desired changes to contractual language and work rules and grievance issues. That's the way Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) works, a fact that you obviously
had no idea of the intended and desired outcome. On the other hand, because of his past involvement in negotiations, your partner, Joe understood the process. I could explain IBB to you but instead if you're interested, go on line and check it out for your self. If you do, you will find that this process is entirely different from the usual and customary COLLECTIVE BARGAINING process.

SCATS said...

To 8:29AM ~~ We aren't talking about Regents exams & the side deal had nothing to do with them!

The problem with this side deal (other than it being illegal) is that it was struck in TOTAL SECRECY!! That sort of thing is symptomatic of the DYSFUNCTION that consumes Greece Schools!!

SCATS said...

To 10:44AM ~~ Joe may have "understood the process" but Charlie UNDERSTOOD THE IMPACT!

I'll take common sense anyday :)

Roberto Bertoni / North Greece said...

As I posted elsewhere in this forum, I am voting NO on the budget as a protest. Whether the issue is the students, the teachers, or whatever, the schools are slipping. Reference the decline at ODY. Whatever the cause, it is the BOE and Supt's job to prevent and reverse that. They have FAILED. So my budget vote will be NO.

Anonymous said...

It will continue to fail until you get a new Superintendent. One who does not lead by intimidation and lies. If it can't benefit her and her resume it doesn't matter to her. Once people have a Leader and board they can respect maybe things can start to turn around. Until then we allow them to drag Greece deeper in to the gutter and then we can watch her walk away with that joker smile on her face. As soon as the community and board realizes she doesn't care about students or her own employees they can start to see the person they really hired. Ask her former district ..they can tell you all about her true colors. Julia want open and transparent so badly..why don't you ask some Lyndonville folks or better yet ask some Greece employees, I am sure you won't because you don't want to hear the truth. You have no interest in helping them, after all if you keep the super you will be able to keep helping your own personal causes, the heck with everyone else that is getting treated so badly right. Is there anyone on the board that actually cares enough to ask these questions? They have to have some idea, maybe they are too scared of her to do anything too.

SCATS said...

To 12:13PM ~~ I plan to vote NO again too. I've been doing so for many years now and vow to continue until meaningful change is made and progress shown by our school district.

SCATS said...

To 12:32PM ~~ I assure you that Julia has NO CLUE and really does NOT support "transparency." If she did, the community would know SOMETHING about many changes being made. Sadly, we're in the dark ... largely because Julia has put us there with all of the closed door meetings.

george hubbard said...


Re: Secret Surplus Surfaces.

1. GCSD is holding $4M+/- balance in DEBT SERVICE FUND - accumulated from unspent/surpluses over several years

2. DS Fund is separate from GENERAL FUND and therefore not readily visible to public at budget time.

3. Hidden surpluses create distrust between voters and the Board of Education.

4. What is the community to believe... BOE approves inflated budgets... without accounting for unspent funds?

Comments invited.

George Hubbard

SCATS said...

To George ~~ I gave you a whole BLOG, not sure why you posted on this thread.

My belief is that becoming a BOE member typically makes you into a liar, sooner or later. It happens with most.

I'd like to see YOU make a bigger fuss to the community, and start earlier BEFORE budget votes, about the gap between WHAT WAS SPENT & WHAT WAS BUDGETED!!

george hubbard said...

SCATS - Didn't know other blog was available when I posted.

Thanks for new blog.