Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Firing your best teacher?

Meanwhile, a teacher who has gone to extraordinary lengths to educate and to help his students - prisoners at Rikers Island - has been reassigned for "undue familiarity" with students. All he did was to give his home address to the inmate quoted below:
David Lee, an inmate serving time for assault, who earned a General Educational Development diploma with one of the highest scores ever at Rikers, said no teacher worked harder. Mr. Kaufman made special arrangements for Mr. Lee to take college correspondence courses, spent his lunch hours tutoring him and then proctored each of the three-hour exams from Excelsior College.

In July 2003, Mr. Kaufman was off for the summer, but made special trips to Rikers so Mr. Lee could take his next college exam. "All the teachers were on vacation and school didn't begin until September," Mr. Lee wrote in a letter sent to this reporter from Rikers. "But Kaufman comes here to Rikers not once, but twice just so that he could give me the test on a hot summer day. He didn't have to come; he could have stayed home with his wife and kids."

The Times article makes it clear that everyone at the school respects and likes Mr. Kaufman, and that the teacher was upfront with his administration about the (completely innocent) correspondence between himself and his student. The article also suggests that the school's administration might have used the correspondence as an excuse to punish Kaufman for reporting poor conditions at the school.

I understand that a prison needs to draw strict boundaries between inmates and their visitors, teachers, and others, for safety reasons, but this school is throwing away one of its best teachers on the flimsiest of causes. For shame.


Here's another blog from the Bronx, and this guy teaches in the same neighborhood where I work.


Blogger Fred said...

*Clearing throat*

It's a small world after all, It's a small world after world...

9:11 PM  
Blogger Miss Dennis said...

Uuuuurggggh! Never underestimate the retaliatory lengths petty administrators will go to to get rid of teachers who report poor learning conditions in their schools.

Mr. Kaufman's story is the real "rubber room" story that NYC journalists should be reporting, rather than how hard it is to fire the "bad" teachers waiting in the rubber room.

After I reported to the state that my district was neglecting IEP (special ed) services, I experienced unbelievable backlash from my administration. They wanted to get me on anything and everything, but they couldn't. My lessons were planned ad nauseum, my room was OCD perfect, I had a good relationship with my students, and I had received a private grant for the school. Still, I got written up for insubordination and for turning off the lights when I showed a DVD program. I'm not kidding. I'm going to look for my copy of the letters now.

Thanks for another good post Ms. Frizzle.

Miss Dennis

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes me absolutely ill. We should be congratulation those teachers that go the extra mile, not remove them from their jobs.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Chaz said...

We all know if the principal is out to get you, he/she will. In my school teachers, the principal likes, can say or do almost anything short of hitting a student without consequences. However, if the principal is out to get you he/she can use the verbal abuse regulations, insubortination, or harressment charges to get a teacher to be removed to the "rubber room".

if a principal wants you out, your out.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Norm said...

What was really left out of the story on Jeff Kaufman was that he was doing an incredible job defending the teachers at Rikers as their chapter leader and that is why the principal wanted him out.

Then there's Jeff's relationship to the UFT where he has served as one of 6 dissident Exec. Bd members (out 89 total) and has been a thorn in the side of the leadership. They have undermined the people that took his place when he was sent to the rubber room. His colleagues still consider him the duly elected chapter leader. Not surprisingly, UFT leaders don't see it that way. There's lots more to come on this story.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

It's a sad day for teachers when someone is written up for turning out lights. How is that insurborination???

I referred a student in October, and he just now made the list for testing. There is something wrong with the whole process.

This is why many teachers no longer stand up for their rights or the rights of their students.

6:33 PM  

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