Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Here's Why Teachers Need Tenure Protections

Can't find a better example of why tenure is so important to protecting teachers than this story that even the anti-teacher NY Post calls "outrageous":
A Bronx principal who kept a so-called hit list of teachers she wanted swept out of the school instructed her subordinates to "get rid" of them by giving out unmerited bad ratings, a probe has found.

Even more shocking than Principal Iris Blige's apparent attempt to ruin the careers of nearly a dozen educators at Fordham HS of the Arts was the Department of Education's agreement to keep her in charge and levy just a $7,500 fine.

In a stipulation signed last month by Bronx high-school Superintendent Elena Papaliberios, Blige was even promised a "neutral letter of reference to any potential employer" should she decide to leave her post.

The two-year probe was conducted only after teachers lodged a host of complaints about Blige's wrongdoings, according to United Federation of Teachers officials.

"I think it's outrageous," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. "If the price for ruining someone's career is $7,500, where's the accountability?"

Asked if Blige was getting off easy, a Department of Education spokeswoman referred a reporter to the signed stipulation -- which makes no mention of why a fine was deemed appropriate punishment.


The probe by the city's Office of Special Investigations included interviews with a half-dozen teachers -- and assistant principals who were asked to fudge the ratings -- who say Blige was unjustly gunning for staffers she didn't like.

One assistant principal, James O'Toole, made his boss' destructive directives sound like a hit job.

"Get rid of Mr. Herbert Drummond," O'Toole quotes Blige as saying about a teacher, according to the report.

Another assistant principal, Laurice Chambers-Blake, says Blige told her she wanted two teachers "out" by the end of the 2008 and 2009 school years.

Chambers-Blake said she was told "to start to write up the teachers" with negative reviews at the outset of the school year and to focus on another teacher's "weaknesses and deficiencies" rather than her positive skills.

Principal's Hit List

Directives from Principal Iris Blige to her subordinates on targeting teachers, according to an Office of Special Investigations report:

* “At the beginning of the school year, Ms. Blige directed [one subordinate] to “U” rate [unsatisfactorily] three teachers regardless of the outcome of his respective observations.”

* “[Another employee] stated that . . . Ms. Blige . . . told [her] that those teachers were to be ‘out’ by the end of the school year. Ms. Blige then instructed her ‘to start to write up the teachers.’ “

* “[Another subordinate] stated that Ms. Blige directed him to ‘Get rid of [teacher] Mr. Herbert Drummond.’ “

Ruin the reputations and careers of a dozen teachers as a principal?

You get to keep your job, but you do get fined $7,500.

Which Whitney Tilson or some other anti-teacher hedge fund criminal will probably pay for you anyway.


Oh, wait - it's not unfreakingbelievable at all.

This is EXACTLY why there needs to be shared power in schools and why teachers need tenure to protect them.

Because when there are few protections for teachers and when the powers that be are exhorting administrators to take the fight to teachers and "U" rate as many as possible, this is EXACTLY what happens.

Now Oprah may not think that, but then again, she engages in the same kind of self-centered, autocratic behavior the principal engaged in where the "little people" are crushed at the whim of the powerful.


  1. This principal should be removed and an investigation into the Bronx Superintendents actions should be a priority for the new chancellor. This story should be a rallying cry for educators against the unfair and educationally unsound actions of a majority of the Academy principals.

  2. I posted this in the comments of the NYP:

    I hate to say this, but this kind of problem exists all over the country. If you think by taking a job in the southern states or out in the west will spare you, you have another thing coming. Teachers have utterly no rights in these "right-to-work" states; the unions are junk and collude with school districts. The principals are as bad if not worse in other parts of the country. Iris Blige is, unfortunately, the rule rather than the exception for principals in the United States. It is just that she got caught, albeit she received a slap on the wrist. It is virtually impossible to fire principals in this country. Teachers, contrary to myths perpetuated in the media, are easily gotten rid of and their lives destroyed. They don't have to do something truly egregious or dangerous to be removed. All a principal has to do is fabricate charges with the knowledge the school districts and thus taxpayers will ALWAYS back them up clear through the hearings and into the various courts of appeals. It isn't the same as in private industry because managers and even CEOs are fired all the time for wrongdoing because they pose a threat to the bottom line. Lawsuits can bankrupt a company, unlike a school district. Lower level employees have more job security in the private sector than those higher up the chain. Public education is a completely different ballgame because of the fact there is always a flow of cash and no bottom line to worry about. "Tenure" really needs to be tenure; right now administrative law is treated like toilet paper by school districts around the country; they openly flout the law with the knowledge teachers are typically too destitute to fight. Usually teachers wind up taking piddling settlements, and if they do so, they risk losing unemployment benefits, not to mention "resigning" in lieu of termination is seen by other school districts as an admission of "guilt." Teachers need far more rights, not fewer, because of the nature of the work.

    The lack of accountability of these cretins is at the heart of why teaching is such a terrible occupation to undertake. What person in his or her right mind would go into thousands of dollars in debt or spend thousands of dollars of his or her own money to train for a "career" that may last 2-5 years tops? Unfortunately, the "reforms" proposed would worsen the already dismal working conditions because the "reformers" are the same kind of sociopaths who are principals in the public system throughout the United States.

  3. Iris Blige did her internship under Elena Papaliberios when she was the Principal of Grace Dodge. She was abusive as an intern and Elena supported her. Why was Elena not the subject of investigations? Ask those who worked for her at Dodge....