Save the Careers of Nontenured Teachers

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Her name is Jennifer and she is in her early twenties. She wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl.  It’s August and she gets the call that her interview at a local elementary school went well. Principal Higgins wants her to fill an opening for a 5th grade position. Jennifer and her family of teachers are ecstatic. Then, several months later and out of the blue, it happened. Without even realizing it, Jennifer crossed Principal Higgins by questioning some change in assignment and a preparation period she felt she was owed. Suddenly, Jennifer stopped receiving "satisfactory" observation reports and began receiving several "unsatisfactory" ones. Principal Higgins then rated Jennifer unsatisfactory for her first year final rating. Jennifer was devastated. It didn’t make sense. The students and parents liked her. She received unofficial praise from the assistant principal, but to Principal Higgins Jennifer didn’t differentiate instruction. She didn’t have coherent lessons and didn’t demonstrate knowledge of resources.

Then came the letter from the district superintendent stating that the NYC DOE would be making a final decision concerning discontinuance of her probationary period. Jennifer’s heart sank even more. She rounded up exemplary student work. Her mother and family of teachers jumped in to help save her young career. Parents and students wrote letters. Jennifer even bound everything nice and neat before submitting it to the superintendent. Unfortunately, it was all for naught. She was ultimately discontinued and her probationary period terminated. Jennifer was now red-flagged in the DOE Human Resources system, and assigned a “problem code” next to her name. This meant that none of the other 1700+ principals in the NYC DOE could hire her.

Jennifer is not alone. From 2011 to 2013, over 450 teachers were discontinued and problem-coded. Many have been barred from teaching our 1.1 million children only because of personality conflicts with one administrator. In many cases, when attacking pedagogy was not enough, the administrator also submitted trumped up charges with the Office of Special Investigations, the Special Commissioner of Investigation or the Office of Equal Opportunity.

In light of a new mayor and chancellor in New York City, we are calling for a full and unbiased evaluation of the problem-coded railroaded teachers. These teachers were:

-Discharged with malice by limiting or preventing their ability to work as a teacher in other schools.

-Coerced to sign paperwork extending their tenure. Many of these teachers were terminated.


In the end it was another casualty and point for the attack on tenure and the teaching profession.