Tag Archives: teachers

Saluting teachers

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

As the nation celebrates National Teacher Appreciation Week, we need to definitely show our appreciation for all teachers across the United States.
Teachers work extremely hard under a myriad of conditions, ranging from overcrowded classrooms, to dealing with discipline problems, lack of instructional materials, sometimes difficult parents and sometimes unsupportive administrators and supervisors.

Also, teachers strive to help each student reach his or her full potential, and that certainly is not an easy task. Our teachers deserve the highest respect and need to be treated with the professionalism that they very much deserve. They also need to be paid a fair and livable salary. Let us salute our teachers each and every day, and thank them sincerely for all that they do for the students in our country.

BY John Amato

Balanced budget means cuts to FDNY, after school

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Children’s classrooms will remain unaffected in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 11th executive budget — but kids may have nowhere to go after the final bell rings.

The $68.7 million balanced budget includes no tax increases, but presents deep cuts to after-school programs, day care and fire companies while retaining more than 2,500 teacher positions the mayor proposed eliminating in his preliminary plan.

“Our budget won’t impose any new taxes on New Yorkers, maintains the strength of the NYPD and continues our strong support for public schools,” said Bloomberg on Thursday, May 3.

In Bloomberg’s first fiscal presentation in February, more than 2,500 teacher jobs were to be eliminated through attrition.
“We saved nearly 2,600 classroom teachers, and I am thrilled that the Department of Education has been funded at a level that avoids any further reduction in teachers,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

While teachers were saved, child care and fire companies face the ax.

United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) called Bloomberg’s “lack of commitment” to children “nothing short of disgraceful.”

More than 40,000 children will be without day care and after-school programs if the budget cuts are not restored, UNH said.

Children’s Services budget was cut by $66 million.

Twenty fire companies will also close under Bloomberg’s plan.

The budget will be reviewed during the City Council’s hearings.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council to negotiate a budget that will not undermine our children, families and seniors,” Koslowitz said. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg reveals revised city budget

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Mayor Michael Bloomberg today revealed a revised balanced budget that will retain nearly 2,000 teacher positions that he proposed eliminating in his preliminary plan.

The $68.7 million budget includes no tax increases.

“Our budget won’t impose any new taxes on New Yorkers, maintains the strength of the NYPD and continues our strong support for public schools,” said Bloomberg.

Under the preliminary budget, released in February, 1,800 teachers would have been lost through attrition.

The budget will be balanced partly in thanks to a $466 million settlement with Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) from the alleged CityTime scandal.

The city experienced growth in tax revenue as the economy continues a gradual recovery, the mayor said.

“Our efforts in the tech, TV and film, tourism and higher education sectors are producing results, with private employment now at its highest level ever in the city, exceeding the record set back in 1969, and we expect this growth in private sector jobs to continue,” Bloomberg said.

The new forecast included an increase of $185 million in expenditures and a $122 million decrease in revenue from the preliminary budget

The budget will now go through council hearings. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.


Top Headlines From Around the Web

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens woman killed in overnight fire

A Queens blaze killed a woman this morning, and seriously injured her cousin, authorities said. Firefighters discovered the unconscious body of Joanne Brown, 63, as they extinguished the flames in her Auburndale home on 189th Street, near 45th Avenue. EMS pronounced her dead at the scene. The fire began about 4:40 a.m., and was under control less than an hour later, according to an FDNY spokesperson. Read More: New York Post

Prober uses Facebook to nail perv, goldbrick NY teachers

Facebook is giving more Big Apple teachers a black eye. As the city Department of Education prepares to release it’s first-ever social-media policy, Schools Investigator Richard Condon has tallied a rapid growth in complaints about improper Facebook usage by city school employees — 120 in the past 18 months. Some teachers got in trouble for posting dumb jokes tinged with sex or violence. Others were busted after their own or students’ Facebook comments tipped officials to wrongdoing. Read More: New York Post

Sleepy driver kills 2: cops

A Long Island man on prescription drugs fell asleep behind the wheel and drove his 2011 Honda Ridgeline into a tree early yesterday, killing his 19-year-old girlfriend and a 17-year-old passenger, cops said. Thomas Smith, 20, of Ridge, and Jacqueline Salvador had just moved in together last week and were returning from Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Also in the car were her brother, Johnny Salvador, 17, Ryan Baumgartner, 17, and an unidentified girl, 16. Read More: New York Post

Queens Child’s Fundraiser Raises Awareness Of Rare GI Disorders

A Queens fourth grader with a rare gastrointestinal problem held a Saturday fundraiser in Woodside to raise money and awareness. KeVaughn Plunkett, who is allergic to almost all foods and has to use a food pump to survive, held his fourth Annual Art Show event at Saint Mary’s Church in Woodside. Proceeds went to the American Partnership For Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED). For more information, visit apfed.org. Read More: NY1



Schumer Demands Harsher Penalties For Pharmacy Robberies

In the wake of several robberies of pharmacies in the area, Senator Charles Schumer is urging Congress to pass a bill calling for tougher penalties. The Safe Doses Act, which is already waiting for a Senate vote, would increase punishments for robbing drug stores and give police more tools to crack down on illegal prescription drug rings. Just last week, two man held up an East Harlem pharmacy looking for pain medication. Read More: NY1




New York Marks Centennial Of Titanic Sinking

Exactly 100 years since an iceberg sank the RMS Titanic, New York City is holding events today to mark the centennial of the famed shipwreck that killed more than 1,500 people. The Titanic sank early in the morning of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg late the previous night. A tour in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is letting visitors pay respects at the gravesites of several Titanic passengers. Also, the Noble Maritime Collection at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island is opening a Titanic-related art exhibit. Read More: NY1

This Morning’s Headlines

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

JetBlue’s crazy capt. just before freak-out

In the moments before JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon threw a terrifying tantrum aboard a flight from JFK to Las Vegas last week, he appeared to be the picture of calm, according to a newly released video of the terrifying incident. In the footage, Capt. Osbon can be seen chatting with flight attendants, one of whom is even smiling. The other flight attendant goes on about her business, as Osbon talks and sips water. Moments later, he went berserk, prompting passengers to hold him down while the plane made an emergency landing. Read More: New York Post

Plea deal in Queens deli slay

A Queens man pleaded guilty yesterday to a reduced charge for killing a hardworking deli owner who tried save his brother during a botched robbery. Shawn Forde, 29, admitted he gunned down 54-year-old Juan Torres, owner of the Lucky Grocery & Deli on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton, in October 2010 as the victim was trying to protect his brother, Felix. Forde had faced 25 years to life for the murder and robbery, but copped a plea to first-degree manslaughter and will be sentenced to 15 years in prison on May 1. Read More: New York Post

Staten Island man arrested in accident that killed woman who died saving grandson

A 40-year-old Staten Island man was arrested early this morning, charged with driving away after running over a grandmother who was returning home from church. Clara Almazo, 57, died while courageously saving her 8-year-old grandson from the speeding vehicle, witnesses and relatives said. At this point, Brian McGurk is charged with leaving the scene of an accident. That accident happened as Almazo and the child were crossing Cary Avenue at Elizabeth Street in the West Brighton section. The black SUV barreled straight toward them at 9:50 p.m. Read More: New York Post



State Attorney General Seeks To Ban Sex Offenders From Online Gaming

“Online gaming is not just a digital playground. It has the potential to be a 21st century crime scene,” said the attorney general. On Thursday, Schneiderman announced the launch of “Operation: Game Over,” a deal with some of the country’s major gaming companies, like Microsoft and Sony, to block more than 3,500 online accounts of registered sex offenders, to take aim at offenders who may use these games to chat online with kids. “The most popular video games are specifically designed so players must interact,” said Schneiderman. Read More: NY1




Amazin’ Mets Seal 1-0 Victory At Citi Field Opener

The New York Mets opened their season of 162 games with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Ace starting pitcher Johan Santana made a successful return after missing last season with a shoulder injury, pitching five scoreless innings and only giving up two hits while striking out five. The Mets scored the only run of the game in the sixth inning on an RBI single by David Wright. Frank Francisco closed it out ending it with a strikeout of Jason Heyward. The Mets have now won on opening day 33 of the last 43 years, but are still looking to rebound from three straight losing seasons. Read More: NY1



Roosevelt Islanders Discuss Planned Local Tech Center With Cornell Officials

Cornell University has animations to represent its present vision of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, but officials admitted what they call an open campus will change shape because they want the community’s input. “It’s not just rhetoric. We’re the state’s land grant institution and so it’s critical over the years we are developing this campus we’ve become good neighbors,” said Cornell University President David Skorton. NY1



Sixteen teachers singled out for pervy conduct get to keep their jobs in New York City schools

Sixteen city teachers have been singled out by education officials for pervy classroom behavior — but they can’t be fired, the Daily News has learned. One instructor allegedly bent a kid over a chair and thrust into him from behind, saying “I’ll show you what is gay.” Another couldn’t stop calling girls in his gym class “sexy.” And yet another is accused of telling a student: “I slept with your mother last night.” Read More: Daily News

Flushing Teacher Removed From Classroom Following Alleged Assault On Student

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Flushing Teacher Removed From Classroom Following Alleged Assault On Student

A Queens teacher is under arrest and accused of abusing a six-year-old girl. Grace Peterson-Hagendorf, 59, is charged with assault following an incident at P.S. 22 in Flushing. According to sources, she is accused of twisting the student’s neck causing pain and swelling. The Department of Education says Hagendorf is a retired teacher who works as a substitute. She has been removed from the classroom pending the outcome of the case. Read More: NY1


Simmons’ $5M salary, ‘antics’ led to WNBC ditching her: sources

There were 5 million reasons to oust Sue Simmons — and they were all in her paycheck. WNBC/Channel 4 refused to renew the nightly news anchor’s contract because she makes a whopping $5 million annual salary — which her bosses feel is absurdly overinflated — and she’s lost interest in her job, top network sources told The Post. “It is a lot of money, and many people have been under the impression that Sue had been phoning it in for a while,” a station source revealed. Read More: New York Post


‘Church creeper’ Joseph Azzurro has 40 busts to name

Queens’ Holy Child Jesus Church is open to everyone — except Joseph Azzurro, who seems to think 10 Commandments is one too many. The 56-year-old Bronx ex-con is what cops call a “church creeper” — he’s been arrested 40 times and done three prison stretches in his unholy career for swiping cash from the poor box in Catholic churches. Read More: Daily News


Cashman ‘blackmailer’ not a ‘Fatal Attraction’-like stalker: lawyer

The busty Brit who dragged Yankee general manager Brian Cashman into a sex-and-shakedown scandal isn’t the “Fatal Attraction”-like stalker Manhattan prosecutors have made her out to be, her new lawyer said yesterday. “Go back to Glenn Close in that movie where she’s boiling the kid’s pet, the rabbit, and she goes off the deep end,” defense lawyer Rory Bellantoni said. “There are no allegations of that here.” Read More: New York Post


Ex-Port Authority union chief throws a fit when sentenced to 21 months in prison

The 400-pound ex-Port Authority union boss convicted of ripping off his members to feed a hooker craving threw a big, fat tantrum after a judge sentenced him to 21 months in prison. “You suck!” Daniel Hughes bellowed Wednesday at prosecutors and PA investigators in Brooklyn Federal Court. “You piece of s—!” The disgraced labor boss blubbered about his family when U.S. marshals approached to take him into custody. Read More: Daily News

In support of teachers

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

With all of the problems that teachers in today’s classrooms have to deal with, they certainly do not need to be constantly lambasted by the media.

Most, if not all, teachers are very hardworking, dedicated, and very professional in their everyday dealings with students, parents and administrators. Teachers work very hard to help each and every student realize his full potential, and given that the academic strength of each student is different, that is no easy task.

Overcrowded classrooms, students who are unruly, a lack of necessary teaching materials, and lack of support from administrators, as well as from some parents, make teaching a very stressful and physically taxing profession.

All teachers everywhere in this country need to be treated with the utmost courtesy, respect and professionalism. Teachers are working to help mold their students to be the future of America — treat these hardworking, dedicated professionals with the respect that they deserve, and pay them a fair, livable salary.

 John Amato

Fresh Meadows

UFT opposes mayor’s merit pay for teachers

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes the skinny on retaining top teachers is handing them a fat check.

During the mayor’s State of the City speech, he outlined a plan that would reward teachers rated as “highly effective” in consecutive years with a $20,000 salary increase.

“Our teachers deserve that — and so do our children,” the mayor said.

The plan, along with his offer to pay off up to $25,000 in student loans, the mayor says, will help the city recruit and secure first-rate teachers.

On its most recent report card, The National Council on Teacher Quality gave New York a D+ on its ability to retain effective teachers.

The report pinpoints the weaknesses in the state’s ability to keep top teachers as not discouraging districts from basing salary schedules solely on years of experience and advanced degrees and not supporting performance pay or additional compensation for relevant prior work experience.

“We will continue to improve our schools for our 1.1 million students by recruiting, rewarding and retaining the best educators, and providing students with the support they need to thrive,” Bloomberg said. “Our administration is not going to stop until there is a great teacher in every classroom and a great school in every neighborhood.”

The United Federation of Teachers believes the mayor has his head in the cloud when it comes to merit-based pay.

“The mayor seems to be lost in his own fantasy world of education, the one where reality doesn’t apply. It doesn’t do the kids and the schools any good for him to propose the kind of teacher merit pay system that has failed in school districts around the country,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “If he’s really interested in improving the schools his administration has mishandled, he will send his negotiators back to the table to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation process.”

The teacher’s union and the city have been at an impasse in negotiations since the end of 2011 over evaluations of teachers.

The UFT has proposed a system that would be expanded from satisfactory/unsatisfactory to four categories: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.  The mayor is looking for a system that allows ineffective teachers to be removed from the classroom more easily.

If the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a negotiate teacher evaluation system by 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo can withhold his proposed four percent increase in school aid.

P.S. 130 is committed to learning

| mchan@queenscourier.com


Spirits are still sky-high for kids at P.S. 130, even a month after the school was given the federal government’s prestigious Blue Ribbon award.

The Bayside early childhood school was honored for being a high performing school on September 15. According to David Thomas, spokesperson for the United States Department of Education, the school received the award for consistently performing at high levels on New York State assessments in both reading and mathematics. The school’s most recent assessment test scores place it amongst the highest in the nation.

But the work’s not over yet.

“It’s an awesome responsibility, but you never stop learning and you never stop growing,” said Principal Michelle Contratti. “There’s always room for improvement. We need to continue to believe that and not become complacent in our success. We need to honor it and continue to think of ways to improve.”

According to Contratti and Assistant Principal Laurie Careddu, the award could not have been achieved without the joint efforts of teachers, parents and students. The combination — and constant conversation between them — creates the perfect recipe for success.

“I have an incredibly talented group of teachers. They consider themselves lifelong learners and they constantly push themselves to stay on top of the latest and most progressive techniques for teaching,” Contratti said. “We also have an incredibly supportive parent population who come to the meetings, learn about what children can do, take part and interest in their learning at home and assist them. And we also have students who really care and want to do their best.”

School officials said they’re proud to have created an environment where the students are not afraid to voice their thoughts.

“A lot of times, they’ll be very honest with their opinions. They’re very comfortable. They’re free to explore and question and I think that’s part of what makes us a national Blue Ribbon school,” Careddu said.

It may also have something to do with their dedication to the arts, she said.

The school has partnered with Lincoln Center Institute for almost 15 years in its ongoing efforts to keep musical, dance, dramatic and visual arts alive in schools — especially during a time of challenging budget cuts.

“Especially in an early childhood school, we see its importance and we have incredible belief in what it does for students,” Contratti said. “We see children whose second language is English — or children who are very shy — really come alive and celebrate themselves in a very confident way through the arts. It’s a means of expression, especially at this age, that’s the most important for children.”

During the 12-lesson unit of study, a teaching artist from the institute works with the students and teachers in order to produce a professional performance at the end of both fall and spring.

“The kids love it and that’s something that really draws in the parents,” Contratti said.

When the school’s senior third-graders graduate, the ultimate goal, according to Contratti and Carredu, is for them to leave feeling comfortable and confident with themselves and their abilities.

Carredu said they’ve been successful so far.

“Even when we run into other administrators at meetings, they always say, ‘We enjoy having your children come to us. We always know a child from P.S. 130.’”