Teachers

Meet Ann Legra: Exhibit 24,340 in the Case Against Current Teacher Tenure Rules

Would you still have a job if your performance were described as "unsatisfactory" for six straight years?

|

"Abandonad toda esperanza, vosotros que ingrese aquí."
P.S. 173

For six consecutive years, Ann Legra's performance as a teacher has been declared "unsatisfactory." Yet Washington Heights in New York City cannot seem to get rid of this arguably worthless first-grade instructor. Their most recent attempt to dump her from P.S. 173, the city's second try, has failed. From the New York Post:

Hearing officer Eugene Ginsberg upheld charges of Legra's "inability to supervise students," excessive lateness and absence and poor lesson planning in the 2012-2013 school year.

But Ginsberg dismissed evidence that Legra was a lousy instructor, saying she didn't get enough coaching.

He imposed only a 45-day suspension without pay. Legra keeps her $84,500-a-year salary, but is now assigned to a pool of 1,400 teachers who serve as substitutes.

Administrators apparently found her classroom in chaos, with students running around, getting into fights, and attempting karate moves on a door, while she was off in the corner at a table, apparently "re-sharpening pencils" that were too sharp, in order to prevent accidents. In one school year she was absent 27 times and late 37 times.  

It is notoriously difficult to fire a teacher in New York City. Reason put together a two-page flow chart here (pdf) describing the lengthy process. That's why a group has filed suit to overturn New York's terrible tenure laws, arguing that they deny students a right to a decent education.

School Choice Week may have ended around the time Katy Perry plowed through the Super Bowl astride a Las Vegas hotel lion statue, but the serious problems that obliterate any sort of accountability at public high schools remain. Check out our coverage from last week, which includes more about both this New York lawsuit and the California case that inspired it, here.

According to the New York Post, Legra has responded to her punishment by filing a federal lawsuit, accusing the city's Department of Education of discrimination on the basis of her race, gender, national origin, and medical disability (asthma). She's not going anywhere without a fight.

And as a reminder of who actually suffers from these union-pushed protections: According to city stats, 98 percent of P.S. 173's students are minorities, 92 percent Latino.

NEXT: [VIDEO] Who Knows if Sledding Bans Make Kids Safer, But Cities Keep Passing Them (Nanny of the Month, Jan '15)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. she didn’t get enough coaching.

    Jeezus – what is she, a Seattle player?

      1. Anyone see Epi yet this morning?

        1. He and Swiss seem to be missing today. Has anyone checked the basements of the usual suspects?

          1. Contrary to rumors, I was not resorting to cannibalism…Snowmaggedon aside!

            1. Funny, the need to resort to eating another person is one of the only things my wife likes about snow storms…

              1. Oops. That should have been “my need to resort to eating another person”.

                1. Works either way…

  2. …while she was off in the corner at a table, apparently “re-sharpening pencils” that were too sharp, in order to prevent accidents.

    She should have been insured by Nationwide.

    1. +1 never growing up to ride a bike

  3. Well, she can always use her looks to get a new job.

  4. Leg[ra] has since filed a federal lawsuit against the DOE, charging discrimination based on her race, gender, national origin and medical disability.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

    1. She forgot “sexual orientation” and “religion.”

    2. But at least she’s paying her own legal fees, right? lol.

  5. “It’s like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when they have tenure. A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a shitty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?”

    – MATT DAMON!

    1. In Matt Damon land, $85K per year is a shitty salary.

      1. When he says long hours, is he referring to the 6-7 hr work day or the 180 days of work being too much? Fuck Matt Damon.

        1. When you make a living pretending to be someone else, 6 hours is a long time.

        2. The Jersey City 7th grade teacher I know works 8:00 to 2:50, with the first 45 minutes or so “prep” time plus about an hour for lunch. Sometimes she has to eat lunch while in the kid’s cafeteria, and for that she gets paid OT in the form a bonus every couple of months.

          1. YMMV. My wife, who works in NJ near the SE end of Route 1, works 7:30 – 3:30 plus prep and dept meeting time, and often can’t leave until ~5:00. She receives no overtime unless she takes a duty that takes place outside of regular school hours (bus duty or math club; caf duty is just part of the job).

            Teachers who give a shit put in a lot of time, but they are quite entitled. I pointed out to my wife that she makes more per hour than I do when you factor in all of the time off and vacation (even after giving her a 10-hour workday), and she didn’t want to hear it.

            1. SE end of Route 1

              Derp. SW end.

            2. You know, it’s true that teachers spend a lot of time at home grading papers and whatnot. But they like to make the argument that no other profession does things at home.

              I constantly spend my nights and weekends studying new programming languages, reading through my old notes and textbooks, reading white papers and application notes online trying to stay ahead of what I need to know for work. Most of the time, it’s the only way to complete projects by the due date because no one estimates time for learning curves.

              1. I work an extra 4 to 6 hours at home pretty much every night, weekends included. Fuck teachers and their complaining.

            3. Is that in a public school? I’m shocked that within the same state things would be so different. Prep time not included in the 7:30 to 3:30? sometimes 5:00??

              Here, the whole school empties at 2:50 on the dot.

    2. … and 9 months a year makes for really long hours.

  6. It’s genius for reformers to take a page from the lefties’ book and get the system changed in a lawsuit.

    But I bet there will not be hagiographic accounts of this in the media outlets which cover “equalization” lawsuits against local funding.

    1. It’s the one time they’ll embody the whole “you’re not punishing the bad apple, you’re taking money away from the taxpayers” schtick.

  7. “Legra keeps her $84,500-a-year salary, but is now assigned to a pool of 1,400 teachers who serve as substitutes.”

    So basically, she’s now got her dream job. She’s going to get paid $85K per year to occasionally perform substitute work, where no one cares if any teaching actually occurs.

    1. I wish I could get paid $85k a year to babysit a class of kids a few times a week. Screw all this hard work doing law school and work at the same time. I’d love to make double the median income to be a glorified babysitter.

      1. We should all be so lucky.

        1. Self-esteem and ethics would be problematic for many of us.

          1. And boredom.
            But you’re right. I have to look in the mirror to shave each day.

      2. I like to dream about that too, but in reality I know I would go batty in about 3 months.

        I have had some consulting gigs in the past where the job was basically to clock in at 8 and go home at 5. The main responsibility was to be in your cube and visible to the client. All of those ended up poorly.

        I don’t have it in me to fuck around for that amount of time. Knowing myself I would start fucking with the other 1,399 slobs and get into a bunch of trouble for it.

        1. You could finally write your zombie novel.

  8. $85,000 a year… to “teach” first grade?

    Fuck me.

    1. But… she has credentials!!!

    2. She would but she’s probably busy fucking first graders.

  9. The “flow chart” is completely circular, as I recall.

    1. 10 Ignore Rules
      20 Talk To Principal
      30 Meet With Administration
      40 Go To 10

      1. There may have been some small leakage after the 8th or 10th iteration, but that was indistinguishable from retirement rates.

  10. That’s why a group has filed suit to overturn New York’s terrible tenure laws, arguing that they deny students a right to a decent education.

    I think we can safely assume Mayor de Blasio will authorize unlimited funding to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court.

  11. “In one school year she was absent 27 times and late 37 times.”

    And that doesn’t count summer, and a week off each for xmas and Easter, and every holiday and snow day.

    What does a first grade NYC teacher work, maybe 180 days? So she was late or absent 64 out of 180 days and makes 85k, and thinks she’s a Victim. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you the Democratic base.

    1. My daughter had a teacher who was in the last year of her career before retiring and she pulled the mysterious illness bit over and over.

      She was also the only teacher who didn’t gush over my daughter as a student. Instead she said that she talked to much and caused too many disturbances.

      That was a bad year of parent teacher conferences. My asian wife couldn’t get it through her head that all teachers are not divine and you do not have to prostrate yourself before them. So I had the teacher and the wife mad at me after calling the teacher a sad sack of shit who is ripping off the taxpayers.

      1. I’m astonished by the perceived infallibility of teachers. It’s like people who served in the army or are cops. Surely, only 1 in a billion can be anything short of the second coming.

        Seriously, all the assholes and morons one meets in the course of life, where do people think they work? The Idiot and Asshole Company? No, some of them get jobs as teachers, cops, and officers in the military, just like everyone else. This shouldn’t be a controversial concept.

    2. What does a first grade NYC teacher work, maybe 180 days?

      Yep. 180 it is according to a NYS website that I can’t post a link to on H & R.

      Most real jobs, you get to come in late a handful of times, and you get to just blow off work maybe twice, before you’re fired. For cause.

  12. $85,000 a year… to “teach” first grade?

    Fuck me.

    This just shows we’re not paying enough to attract the best applicants! Double their pay.

  13. Imagine the stink if one of the first graders had been caught with a :magic disappearing ring.”

  14. Sort of off topic, but you guys may know something about this – I went to a public magnet program. They pulled the smartest for all over the county and stuck them in one school. My school was on the same campus as a normal, public high school and was under their principal. That principal would use the magnetic program to accept more students to insure that the school had a large enough student body to achieve 6A status, and thus receive more money to fund the football team.

    Also, the schools had separate codes for standardized test taking. The principal would have the students in the magnet program enter in the code for the normal school when taking exit exams, to boost the grades for the normal school to make sure they met the cut off to receive more federal education money.

    I’ve heard this from my old teachers since I’ve graduated. Could any of this constitute as fraud? I received a great education there and it pisses me off that these union idiots are using a great school and teachers to game the education system to receive more money.

    1. There’s a very blurry line between fraud and standard practice.

      1. That’s what I’m figuring. The school is going down hill. Newsweek ranked us the No. 1 public school in the country my junior year. It’s becoming just a propaganda tool instead of being able to offer a good education to kids whose families can’t afford private school.

        I’m seriously considering starting an alumni program to pool the resources of the graduates and move the program under a private school.

      2. “There’s a very blurry line between fraud and standard practice.”

        Public school administrator says “what’s the difference?”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.