Sunday, March 2, 2014

Baseline of Disregard

From: Perez Luis
To HZ (Acting Principal),RO (Acting Assistant Principal), NV, (Dean/UFT Representative), ML, MC
Nov 3, 2013

Baseline of Disregard

Addendum to Letter I Sent (via email)
on October 25, 2013,
Regarding Last Minute Schedule Changes.

Dear Z & O, (acting administrators),

        Z, Thursday, October 17, 2013 you entered my room approximately 11:15 am (during my lunch period) and O came in to join us several minutes later. You came to announce that during 6th and 7th periods (one period from the announcement) I have to administer the science baseline examination and adhere to the “usual testing conditions”.        You said that this exam is going to be compared with the end of the year Science State Examination in order to measure student growth across time and to evaluate me as a teacher.

        I asked, “What about the science information my students already learned with me from the first day of school to the present (38 days), am I not going to get credit for this in my evaluation?” At the absence of a response I then asked, “What about what we had planned to learn today? You responded, “I don’t know, at this point everything the DOE is telling us to do makes no sense but they don’t care.”, and you proceeded to hand me the examinations.

        O, you handed me several copies of the Spanish version of the test for the English Language Learners and said, “Tomorrow (Friday, October 18, 2013) you and your grade partner will be freed-up some time during the day, so that you can grade them.” You also said, “I will give you the answer key for the test tomorrow so they won’t later question whether you had the answers and went around helping or giving the answers to the students”.

        In the face of much distraction and discomfort generated by these encounters, I proceeded to prepare for my students.

        Later, Thursday, October 24, 2013, O you entered my room approximately 2:15 pm (during my preparation period), to inform me that tomorrow (Friday, October 25, 2013) I will be freed-up 1st and 6th periods so that I can grade the science test and transfer each grade into bubble sheets you were at this time providing.

        Additionally, you attempted to get me to sign a memo supposedly about this announcement. When I asked you if everyone else also had to sign-off, you responded, “No, only you.”  When I asked why, you responded, “Because in the past there were issues with you getting email.” I responded, “Sorry, I can’t.” You then asserted, “So you are refusing to sign? No problem!”, and proceeded to write notes on the memo you wanted me to sign.

        In the face of much distraction and discomfort generated by this encounter, I proceeded to prepare for my students.

        It is also worth mentioning here that on this same day, even more instructional time was compromised by the scheduling of “Picture Day” where students had to be taken to the auditorium for pictures, which was scheduled during our literacy block.

        Such abrupt, last minute directives to administer, grade, and transfer answers into bubble sheets of a science examination which students and educators never before had the opportunity to prepare for, which also at a glance seems to contain errors and very ambiguous language, manifests a complete disregard toward student learning, student attitude toward science, and completely undermines an educator’s efforts in planning and facilitating instruction. It also technically disregards the school’s language policy since we were mandated to administer an English examination during Spanish instruction time.

        In addition to disrupting instructional time, undermining an educator’s efforts in planning, and tainting student’s attitude toward science and investigations, the deliverance, timing, errors and ambiguous language of this examination, along with the actual testing conditions that existed the day of the test, directly confound the validity of the students results and thus rendering the entire ordeal as moot for the purposes of informing instruction.

Testing Conditions Day of Examination:

1. It was uncomfortably hot inside the classroom despite my calls to the main office to request the air conditioner to be turned on, especially because we were testing,

2. There was loud noise coming from students and teachers shouting and playing in the school yard adjacent to our classroom windows,

3. Some students reported that they did not eat their lunch and argued that they know they would have done better on the test if they were not hungry and argued that they would have probably eaten something if they knew that they were taking a test in advance.

4. Many students exhibited signs of anxiety. One student was in tears; another student complained about stomach pains; many repeatedly raised their hand to complain that they did not understand what they were reading or to ask for the definition of some words. Even high performing students were shaking, continuously looking at the clock, verbalizing loud sighs, and sucking their teeth in frustration of not knowing what to do. I literally walked around the classroom mirroring calmness, reassuring students to take deep breaths, try to relax, and do the best that they can.

In conclusion -

A. O, I wish to reference here the letter I sent you (and other administrators) on September 15, 2013, titled Speaking Without Words, regarding the humiliation I had to endure on Friday, September 13, 2013 in front of my colleagues. I wish to remind you that the disparate treatment of having me be the only one to have to sign-off on memos received by administration is quite suggestive, defamatory, and completely without merit. It is merely an extension of the harassment which I had to endure by this administration in “A” for the past two school years only for speaking up against unfair practices which directly affect student learning and teaching. I urge you to put an end to this campaign and instead join me in facilitating student growth.

B. Is anyone actually monitoring and addressing the nonchalant disruption of the quality and quantity of instructional time?

C. Is anyone actually monitoring and addressing the negative impact that such abrupt, last minute, directive to administer an examination, alien to everyone involved, actually has on teacher’s efforts in planning and student’s attitudes toward learning?

D. Is anyone actually monitoring and addressing the following: Since this science examination will be used as a tool to evaluate an educator and since the examination came in so late in the year, how are educators going to receive fair credit for what they have already taught in science from the beginning of the school year to the point when the examination was administered?

E. Is anyone actually monitoring and addressing the following: Where are the much needed corresponding science textbooks, curriculums, and resources, across grade levels, which are aligned with these new standards, in order to prepare both educators and students for this new caliber of inquiry and instruction?

Currently my class does not have a science curriculum or science textbooks of any kind.

F. Is anyone actually monitoring and addressing the following: What can we do to help the people in charge of the DOE make more “…sense” when delegating directives?

G. Is anyone actually monitoring and addressing the following: What can we do to help the people in charge of the DOE “…care” more about the negative impact their directives have on teaching and learning?

H. Is any one monitoring and addressing the errors and ambiguous language in this test?

I. Does anyone else care?
        This is not the first time I have raised to this administration my concerns regarding the substandard treatment of the subject of science, in comparison to other subjects in the building. I have faith that a positive change in this area will precipitate.

PS: The science examination and bubble sheets are completed and ready for pick-up.

Thank you immensely for your time and energy in this very important matter.


Luis Angel Perez, Educator