Testimonials

As one of the probationary teachers whose career was ended unjustly in the last few years, I have to say thank you so much to all of you who are involved in this effort. At the time that it happened, I had never felt so horrible and alone in my life. I was the only one I knew who had gone through what I was going through, and some people, even family members, didn’t believe me when I told them how bad it was. To be honest that time has left some emotional scars that are still not healed. I can’t tell you how much it means to see a community of educators fighting for people like me. It lets me know that I wasn’t the only one; it didn’t happen because I really was a terrible teacher, it happened because there are some principals out there who are abusing the system. I wish I could be there in New York to help with the fight on the ground, but I’m with you in spirit! Thanks again to all of you.”
-Mindy
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Good afternoon,
 
I got official word in the mail today and I am NOT being discontinued.  I have all of you to thank for this!  I am so grateful that you all were willing to stand beside me as I fought through this ordeal.  And ____, thank you once again for aiding me in securing a position at ____ _____.  I’m so excited to get started.  
 
Francesco and Lydia, you both have been absolutely amazing and so supportive.  I would love to be able to contribute to DTOE however possible and look forward to helping others escape the holds of a tyrannical administration.  
 
Thank you all and please keep in touch!”
-Undisclosed Teacher
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“Hey,

I just received a certified letter from ______ office stating his reaffirmation that I am discontinued from service at ______ _______ but that he will not be seeking termination of my license. I know it will likely be difficult to find employment for the fall but at the very least I will still be able to be a teacher!
I just want you both to know how appreciative I am of all your support and guidance through these past couple of weeks. It was so very important for me to know that I was not alone and I could turn to someone with experience and advice. With that in mind I would like to offer any kind of help I can to DTOE and continue to learn more about the education system of New York that we are trying to make it through. Please let me know what I can do at anytime, I will be glad to help!
Thank you, thank you, thank you,”
-MA

” Thank you for your moral support and your concern. Being part of a community, even if that community is “people screwed over by the DoE,” made the whole process less awful.

Best,

L”DTOE IS RUN BY UFT SOLIDARITY

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5 Comments

  1. I started in the DOE in mid-2003 (no one, at every district in the city could find my resume on their desks, faxes and e-mails for a whole semester until one found it by accident after being told there was a school with 5 classes who’d had nothing but substitutes for a semester – something I’m told is now commonplace, and saw mine and saw I actually had the holy grail: a file number!). I had 4 years prior experience, was triple-certified (chem, bio & gen’l science, English – the English just by default, from my undergrad degree, not from my MA in science ed from Teachers College or any cert. exams), 6 yrs science lab experience (all increased my vertical place on the salary scale — for the 2 semesters of my 6 total semesters that were under science appointments!) and MA+40 (differentials go to +30 as I recall). Even had at least one glowing parent letter (prestigious school just down the street from City Hall that I’ll leave nameless) to the new local chapter rep (pretended she never got it and didn’t want it) and dept chair/ass’t principal, AND principal, AND it was well known I had been treated, while in the system at previous school, for Lyme and was still being followed (letters to DOE people were ignored). One principal, earlier, who took me for chem at a school that in its 2nd year and was a joke with Regents scores I am convinced were falsified, never put in my appointment papers! He just let the previous school keep paying my salary (lesser under English) to work for his new school, until, almost Thanksgiving, they finally called me directly and I got it done – after hours after that principal threatened me about taking time to go down to 333 7th Ave. Then he excessed me and 3 others (who had nowhere to go at all and had to just stay and punch his time clock while he harassed them and kept setting the clock back before they got there). He had lied about how many kids were really at the school. (We admitted XX, add that to last year, our first year and that equals YY – but he didn’t tell the DOE that by Dec. a good number had already said they were going elsewhere in the spring. Lab space and security was actually grossly illegal and dangerous. Even got investigated by state investigators with badges for something serious having to do with mysteriously missing, locked up computers. He was rewarded by being made principal of Bklyn Tech! (He was youngest principal in system at the time — just an operator, in truth.) Every time a principal or other hack saw my place on the salary scale (i.e. what I was costing them), I was suddenly given bad observations (“Aim” not high enough on board — I’m short; “do now” took 6.5 min., should only be 5 min.), and just blatantly false things or paragraphs that could be interpreted any way at all. Union was useless. Was chased through 4 schools in 3 years (first mid-year to final mid-year: didn’t look really good to outsiders, right?), and back then (2006) people outside the NYC system just didn’t know and assumed it was me. I became unemployable. My family life went downhill. We struggled, health suffered, and our family is a shambles now. Not even together. Every single day in the DOE was someone doing something that was going to destroy all I’d worked for, getting the MA and certifications at night, teaching at 2 other schools for 4 years. It seemed clear my family’s future (my 3rd career — was not so young anymore) was doomed. It was a trauma every day. I re-live them. Finally, I was given nothing to work with (i.e. what I needed for a particular course – not available), shut out by dept. head. Colleagues (many older ones had been taking early retirement in disgust every year, several in mid-year) couldn’t understand, were angry, tried to speak up for me. For only 2 of those 6 semesters at 4 schools (I had to escape from each) was I at my full salary potential (science appointments, which counted the lab experience). Final principal (prestigious HS, he had to resign some years later for BS reasons) illegally changed, by hand, in front of local chapter rep, dates on my “I have received this” papers (“here, I’ll give you 3 more days — if you can get someone to hire you for next semester by Monday I’ll make this all go away”, as if anyone would look at me in mid-year, leaving such a great school for unknown reasons, although the maintenance people at each school knew the real stories). Then had blank copies with original, typed dates overnighted to me later by his secretary! (I did not re-sign them and send back, but he used the true dates, on which some time frame depended). This meant the district supt. had to quickly mail me a letter from her home 3 days earlier than the appeal date dictated by the papers I’d signed with his hand-written, changed dates! She had actually gone around one day doing 5 observations quickly, resulting in 5 people suddenly out of that school that semester. Found out later that they were about to shrink my dept. for the 3rd time in 5 years – mid-year! The newest person, with almost no experience and very low on the scale, her 1st semester there vs. my 2nd, would have to be excessed unless they got rid of me. She was cheap, I cost much more. Kids would ask me “…does Ms. ______ know ANYTHING about science?? She told us ____. We’re in 9th grade and even we can figure out that didn’t make any sense because ________.” (They were exactly right.) She didn’t even kill herself, like the rest of us, to get there on the transit strike day! Just didn’t show. I was eliminated, she got to stay and they didn’t have to excess her (she also didn’t need insurance, with a new husband’s coverage and no kids). So she could have stayed, if there were no other positions in her one area of teaching (typically not in that area, mid-year), punching their clock and still costing the school. Oh, he saved plenty of money – and got plenty back, most likely. Three years of nightmares with the DOE almost daily, nowhere to go afterward except a year later, to a parochial school where someone else had resigned the last week of Aug. in disgust (school had become a joke), which was almost out of business. One year there. Even those who hired me had to resign, same time as they decided not to renew me, they’d been doing such a bad job. Actually hired a certifiable (eventually certified) lunatic to be science chair based on an embroidered lab coat: “_____ _____, PhD”. She’d been in the Teaching Fellows program with the DOE, was in a masters program for computer graphics (never got the degree), and the DOE dumped her – justifiably. She falsified Regents grades and even who had taken or not taken it, just for starters. (“I didn’t get an 89 in the chem Regents! I never took it!!” one told me. “She just likes me because I’m ______ [ethnic group]. She has visions. Talks to God. Still calls my mother about it 2 years later!” She did. I saw it all the time. Those running the school couldn’t get rid of her – what did it say about her?? “Dr.” so-and-so barely had a BA? Didn’t recognize a bottle of sulfuric acid or lock doors with dangerous substances?) The following year she just disappeared one day. Kid saw me on the street and told me.

    So it’s NOT just the NYC DOE!! That school finally folded this year after 115 years, most of which were stellar. Girls there used to go on to Brandeis Univ. Those I had were lucky to get into BMCC, even if qualified for more. How it stayed in business from 2008 till 2014 is a mystery.

    How the DOE keeps going with all its positive press spin is clear. It’s the way of the world. Money and personal politics. The stories I’ve seen first-hand are unbelievable. One landed in a psych ward. Other just sick or bankrupt. How many stories will never be told? Is NYC’s DOE – and other departments – war zones? Yes.

    I truly believe I have PTSD from what the DOE did. I re-live the experiences on a regular basis, have at least 3 of its 5 symptoms since then. I was up all night preparing 3 separate courses on a regular basis: for 2 of them I was not qualified and had said so. Only Delaney cards mattered. And money. Only learned the truths as time went on, and afterward.

    The DOE destroyed my family and our lives, which previously had much potential. Destroyed the health of 3 people, the future of my child. The administrators were, I was told, paid off for saving money, and probably rewarded for it. Yes, the maintenance people knew it all. One walked to the subway with me and told me what was coming down the pike – he was right on target, teacher for teacher. Good ones, with years of success. Yet no one knows.

    Are there bad teachers? Absolutely. I’ve SEEN them. DOE seems to like them – they’re cheap. They don’t cause trouble – usually.

    No one seems to know the real story of the DOE under Rudy and Mike. 1.2 million “customers”.
    How many victims? Not just teachers. Kids. Parents. Ultimately, the city.

    There are no reparations possible for those of us who got the business that many years ago. What price can you place on so many destroyed lives and futures? How can you go back, after all that, even if offered? You can’t.

    The press says nothing. Afraid of Rudy. Afraid of Mike.

    Does Bill know anything? More to the point: can he do anything? Probably not.

    My biggest regret: we didn’t flee this city 15 years ago. It’s not fixable.

    • We are so sorry about what you had to go through. Is there anything we can do?

      • Thanks for the sympathy. As I said in my e-mail to you (mrportelos) I actually thought I was posting a testimonial rather than a comment, not that there’s any really difference in the end.
        I’m afraid it’s too late for us any longer. It doesn’t seem that there is any way to mend the shattered pieces when the fragments are no longer available and one is beyond a certain age. Let’s face it, when you get down to a certain point, no one wants to know you. John Lennon probably said it best in his song “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down and Out)” [see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh0-PrHWdFA%5D It’s the perfect analogy. Of course, he had money to lean back on, and everyone wanted to be his friend.
        As to whether there’s anything any of you can do, however, thanks for inquiring. The sentiment is appreciated.

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