A teacher's efforts to improve public education

I graduated from Fordham College in 1964 with a B. S. in physics and from New York University in 1971 with a Ph. D. in physics. After working as a medical physicist for manufacturers of X-ray equipment, I became a physics teacher at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, New York, in 1984, for the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York, as the New York City Department of Education (DOE) was then called. I have an account at LinkedIn.

I transferred to Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn in 1989, where I taught physical science to 9th grade students. At Erasmus Hall, less demands were made by the administration on both teachers and students, as compared to Midwood and other good schools in New York City. While at Erasmus, I gave testimony to the State Education Department of New York criticizing Erasmus for not enforcing its discipline code. I also sent a letter to the New York Times objecting to the syllabus changes the Chancellor made in science instruction. I saved all of the observation reports of my lessons at Midwood and Erasmus Hall.

While at Erasmus Hall, I developed a learner-centered method of teaching science. In this method, I gave students a handout for each day's lesson. The lesson plan contained activities and problems for students to do in class.
  1. Atoms and molecules
  2. Biology
  3. Chemical Reactions
  4. Electricity and Magnetism 9th grade
  5. Electromagnetic Spectrum
  6. Energy
  7. Forces
  8. Heat
  9. Machines
  10. Mechanical Waves
  11. Mixtures and Compounds
  12. Nuclear Physics
  13. Optics 9th grade
  14. Periodic Table
  15. Process Skills
  16. Rates
  17. Science and Society
  18. Scientific Method
  19. Solid Waste
  20. Technology

In September 1994, I transferred to Edward R. Murrow High School and taught physics using the method that worked well at Erasmus. On April 20, 1996, I gave a workshop on my method of teaching science at a conference of the Science Council of New York City. In this method, I distributed handouts for every lesson:
  1. Kinematics
  2. Dynamics
  3. Gravity
  4. Thermodynamics
  5. Optics
  6. Waves
  7. Electricity and Magnetism
  8. Quantum Physics

To my dismay and surprise, there were many complaints about my teaching from students and parents at Murrow. In their observation reports, my supervisors said the amount of learning in my classes was unacceptably low. If there was anything untrue or unfair in the reports I could have filed a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement between the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the DOE. However, unsatisfactory ratings are considered to be the opinion of supervisors and cannot be grieved. Whether my supervisors would have rated my lessons as unsatisfactory if there were no complaints from students, I do not know. I participated in the Peer Intervention Program for 13 weeks, and Mr. Vincent Bono was assigned to observe my lesson and to help me improve my teaching.

On October 29, 1994, I wrote a letter to William Forster, the Chapter Leader of the UFT, giving my views on the unsatisfactory ratings. On November 4, 1994, the UFT filed a request to conciliate under Article 24 of the collective bargaining agreement and the DOE accepted. There was a meeting with the Superintendent of Brooklyn High School, Joyce Coppin, on January 5, 1995. A conciliator met with me and Principal Saul Bruckner, but was unable to resolve our disagreement. On May 3, 1995, William Forster wrote a letter to the conciliator requesting compliance with the contract. On May 28, 1995, I filed a grievance against the Principal for not conciliating in good faith and made it clear that my method of teaching would not change in the new school year beginning in September 1995. The Principle denied the grievance and was upheld by the Chancellor on February 21, 1996.

I was given another teaching program in physics in September 1995. On November 8, 1995, the conciliator terminated the conciliation process. On February 29, 1996, after a disciplinary meeting with the Superintendent of Brooklyn High Schools on December 20, 1996, I was placed on administrative leave. On November 6, 1996, the board of the DOE voted to file charges of incompetency and insubordination against me under Section 3020-a of New York State Education Law. I considered the charges fraudulent because the DOE board members thought they were voting on a typical case of incompetence. The charges do not mention my grievance or the conciliation agreement. On November 20, 1996, I gave a speech to the Board of Education at a public hearing explaining my method of teaching. I requested a hearing on the charges.

After losing confidence in my UFT attorney, I retained a labor lawyer who negotiated a settlement of the case. I agreed to transfer to another school after a suspension without pay for a period of two months. For some reason, the DOE refused to accept the settlement. After seven days of hearings, the majority of the hearing panel voted to terminate me on June 1, 1998. The minority panel member said that I should be transferred to another school without penalty.

On June 24, 1998, I filed a petition with the Supreme Court of New York under Article 75 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of New York to vacate the dismissal. I dismissed my attorney, filed a reply affidavit, and represented myself at the hearing before a Supreme Court judge. My petition was denied, and my appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York was also denied.

On April 18, 2000, I filed a complaint, with an amendment, against the United Federation of Teachers and the DOE with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) for not following the Article 24 conciliation procedures. My complaint was dismissed by the Director as was an appeal to the PERP. On August 21, 2000, I filed an Article 78 petition to vacate PERB's decision, to no avail.

In 2001, I filed a lawsuit in a United States district court against the DOE, one of the attorneys I retained, the Superintendent of Brooklyn High Schools, and the President of the UFT. The cause of action was the unconstitutionality of New York State Education Law and my right to due process of law. The lawsuit was dismissed and the federal judge upheld by the Appellate Division and the Supreme Court of the United States. On October 6, 2006, I sent a letter of complaint about judges and lawyers to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

I maintain the following sites:

New Evangelization
Complaint Against Cardinal Dolan
Shroud of Turin
Science and Religion
Pseudoscience in the American Journal of Physics
Rational Arguments for God's Existence

I also published a video titled "The Truth About Evolution and Religion."