Thursday, January 19, 2017

Poet Lauriate Fred Smith on Betsy DeLost

Goldy Locks

From Duncan to King,
From bad to worser
And now to DeVos,
We've gone to ursa.

From choices, if anything,
That now seem frivilous,
We've picked someone
Who's truly horribilis.

But don't be fooled;
Come to your senses.
Betsy's mom will soon have contracts
Selling schools bear traps and electric fences.


Hey Fred -- every school must use Blackwater for security and Amway products required for all schools.

Detroit Redux? Syracuse Union Suspends President - Looking for Randi's Fingerprints

"The Syracuse teachers union president says she was suspended after she uncovered a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of a computer during an audit.”
The Syracuse Teachers Association situation is escalating. President Karen Fruscello apparently discovered another union officer was routinely surfing for porn on an office computer. The executive board, consisting entirely of members from an opposing caucus, suspended Fruscello, reportedly for conducting an unauthorized investigation, but has yet to take action against the unnamed porn surfer.... Mike Antoucci at Intercepts/Educational Intelligence Agency.... 
There are some implications - possible for NYSUT - in the story currently playing out in Syracuse where the STA board removed the recently elected president, as reported by Mike Antonucci,
Lesson 1: NYSUT Elections

A NYSUT election is coming in April - remember that 3 years ago Stronger Together (ST) Caucus created a serious challenge to NY State Unity Caucus (which includes NYC Unity) and MORE was involved by running for 5 seats and Arthur Goldstein ran on the ST slate for NYSUT Ex VP against Andy Pallotta --- The Unity slate had the support of the big city 5  unions -- Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and of course NYC. If there would be a break from some of the big 5 -- say Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, and ST could get close enough to create a serious challenge and Randi's control of he AFT, where NYSUT has one third of the membership, could be threatened.

So what's really going on in Syracuse and does the fact that an independent was elected as president without having the support of anyone on the Ex Bd in any way relate to the NYSUT election picture? According to Antonucci something about porn is involved -- now I know you all are going to keep reading.

Lesson 2:  Historical record

I've always maintained that if one day MORE won power in the UFT and it was close, Unity would protest to the AFT that there were irregularities and the AFT would find an excuse to overturn the election. Back in 1985 when Michael Shulman of the NAC coalition of multiple caucuses (New Action emerged as one caucus in 1995) won the high school presidency, Unity wouldn't seat Shulman, protested to some agency and got another election 8 months later while Shulman had to sit and wait. Shulman got even more votes but his term of office was cut short, meetings were held without him once he took office. Unity dumped one of the major UFT founders, George Altomare for daring to lose to Shulman and  mounted a campaign to make sure he lost in 1987, which he did.

The New Action coalition came back in force in the 1991 election, winning both the high and junior high Ex Bd seats -- 13 - the most ever for an opposition -- but won nothing in 1993, which gave Unity 100% of the EB -- and they immediately pushed through a constitution change to make all divisional VP elections at-large - which NYC Educator explains in today's post --  Downsides of Democracy.

What about Detroit and Steve Conn, anti-Randi who was elected while the Ex Bd was tied to the former pro-Randi president? Steve was removed as president. Rules called for a referendum which needed 2/3 to get him removed but came up short -- while still over 50%. They just ignored that rule and refused to re-seat him. This story was a big bone of contention at the AFT2016 convention, pretty much the only bone of contention given the union leaderships of Chicago and LA having a love affair with Randi.

Here are the EIA/Intercepts posts on the Syracuse story.
Posted: 11 Jan 2017 10:45 AM PST
The lede in this story reads: “The Syracuse teachers union president says she was suspended after she uncovered a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of a computer during an audit.”
That doesn’t make much sense, and the details aren’t very illuminating either. Another story tells us what the inappropriate use was. But make your way down to the 12th paragraph and you see:
Fruscello first took office in July. She defeated six-year president Kevin Ahern in an election. The rest of the elected board ran with Ahern as part of the “Professional Partners” caucus. Fruscello ran as an outsider determined to disrupt business as usual at the union.
I don’t know if Fruscello is a crusader for transparency or another Steve Conn, but a careful examination of the Syracuse Teachers Association bylaws shows the union’s executive board has no authority to “suspend” anyone, much less the president.
It can recommend to the union’s representative assembly that the office be declared vacant if the president “has been grossly negligent.” It then takes a two-thirds vote of the RA to remove her.
How long before AFT sends in the paratroopers to restore order?
Posted: 13 Jan 2017 11:50 AM PST
* The Syracuse Teachers Association situation is escalating. President Karen Fruscello apparently discovered another union officer was routinely surfing for porn on an office computer. The executive board, consisting entirely of members from an opposing caucus, suspended Fruscello, reportedly for conducting an unauthorized investigation, but has yet to take action against the unnamed porn surfer.

Yesterday, acting president Megan Root released this statement:
The Syracuse Teachers Association deeply regrets that what should have been an internally handled personnel issue has become a salacious matter for the public. It is always STA practice to handle personnel matters in a way that preserves our members’ confidentiality and right to privacy.
The Association is disheartened that Karen Fruscello is so insistent in trying this issue through the press. Her statements and behavior do not serve the members or the Association and are regrettable. The Association needs to be able to conduct our investigations internally and privately to ensure that our members are given due process. Karen Fruscello’s actions are damaging, harassing, and interfere with the work of the Association.
The reference to due process is rich, considering the lack of due process for Fruscello’s suspension and the fact that STA’s bylaws do not authorize the actions the board has taken. The appeal to confidentiality and privacy is also a straw man, since the identity of the alleged perpetrator has not been disclosed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ed Notes at the Delegate Assembly: Teachers Call for Return to S/U Ratings Despite UFT Sell Job

The article below I wrote will be a lead article in the Ed Notes I prepared for handout at today's Delegate Assembly. If you are going stop by and say hello and take a copy -- I am only printing about 300 so first come first serve. If you want a pdf to print them out in your school email me.

Also make sure to pick up the MORE Delegate Assembly newletter today which has articles by Jia Lee and James Eterno on the evaluation system plus articles on defending immigrant students and using the Trump presidency to mobilize progressive educators.

Teachers Call for Return to S/U Ratings Despite UFT Sell Job
Our leadership has been telling us how much improved the evaluation system is over the old S/U system which principals could abuse. Now they tell us we have hard facts – hard facts? Based on how kids perform on tests? The abusive principal argument is a lame excuse for them to cave in to ed deform policies. Principals can abuse the process just as easily through drive-by Danielson observations. The union agreed to 4 evals while state law mandates 2.

Let’s say you are an experienced teacher who your principal has complete confidence in and doesn’t feel the need to observe you more than once a year. Tough. You know what I want these 150G people to be doing instead of observing teachers? Run the damn school. In my 35 years in the system, observing teachers was a fairly minor blip on what principals had to do. I mean schools are tough places to rum. Why pay them all that money if you don’t give them the right to decide how many observations a teacher needs?

Now, are there abuses where principals are out to get someone? Yes. But instead of wrestling these abusive principals to the ground by exposing them publicly and pressuring the de Blasio/Farina administration and the CSA to curb their attack dogs, the UFT plays nice.

Do ya think the de Blasio admin needs UFT support in the coming election? It is time for our leaders to put some skin in the game – to spend political capitals on going after these principals instead of using them as an excuse to make an already bad and unfair eval system worse.

A teacher comments [edited] on James Eterno’s ICE blog:
I am making $85,000 right now. I would take a ten grand pay cut if we could revert to the old "S" and "U" evaluation system with only one announced observation per year. I suffer severe anxiety and insomnia due to the stress of Danielson drive by observations. Every day I go into school wondering if today is "the day" of an unannounced observation. I feel like I am walking on eggshells filled with acid. I have a cordial relationship with my admin but the stress of the observations is overwhelming. My admin, like all NYC admins are forced to do these horrible drive by observations. Back when we had the "S" and U" system with only one announced observation, I loved my job and going in to teach. Now, it is like we are all treated like newbie teachers. You are only as good as your last observation. Each day is as stressful as the last wondering if today will be the day that an admin walks in with a Danielson list. After 18 years of teaching, this is the most stressful time to teach in my career. I do not, nor ever did really stress out over misbehaving students. That is something I can deal with on my own and is not a problem. However, the fear of somebody holding my entire career, home, and income, in their hands is what sends fear into my heart as well as those of countless other NYC teachers. The irony right now is the UFT had the chance just a few weeks ago to revert back to just two observations and only one of those observations would be unannounced. What did the UFT do? They left us out to hang dry. I am disgusted.
Talking Points
  • Why Not Use the S/U System Which Worked for – oh, a 100 Years? 
  • The Abusive Principals Argument from the UFT Doesn’t Hold Up. 
  • The JOB of the UFT is to FIGHT abusive principals, not use the excuse that they are the reason to support faulty evaluations systems. 
  • The witch hunts to root out the so-called “bad” teacher are bogus smoke screens to destroy the teaching profession by ed deformers. 
  • Why does our union aid and abet? Has anyone figured how just how much we are spending to evaluate teachers in this insane push endorsed by Obama, Cuomo and most Democrats and Republicans? 
  • How many teacher votes did the Obama/Arne Duncan assault cost Hillary?
See the MORE Caucus handout for articles by Jia Lee and James Eterno on the evaluation system.

Eterno on the ICE blog: Three times as many observations as the state calls for. 
I also included Arthur Goldstein's class size article in the Daily News and a chart comparing the TWU and UFT contracts --

Resolution on Class Sizes Rejected by UFT Executive Board.

The numbers in this chart may not be totally accurate since our final two years are for 2.5% and 3%. For 28 months, TWU just got 2.5% and 2.5%. We just made up some of the lost ground. So check the math. James Eterno will be doing a comprehensive breakdown on the ICE blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Are You Marching in NYC Saturday? Join MOREs at UFT Meetup at 10:30

 I wasn't marchin' anymore but I am this time. I'm meeting up with the UFT and MORE at 10:30 on 47th bet 2nd and 3rd.

Even my wife is gung ho but she is marching with a group of women later in the afternoon and wants me to hang around and join them so I may be marchin' two times. Will it do any good? I don't have that much faith in marches but why not?

Women's March in New York

Date: Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: 47th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues (look for the UFT banner)

There will be a rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza from 11 a.m. to noon. After the rally, we will march south on 2nd Avenue, then west on 42nd Street and north up 5th Avenue to Trump Tower.
Register here 

How the city failed our students at a closing Renewal School

The city has failed to provide steady leadership at JHS 145. There have been three different principals and five different assistant principals over the last five years. There hasn’t been an assistant principal since this school year started. 
Isn't it time to let the teachers and parents pick the principals?

Two teachers at JHS 145X place the blame on the DOE. I was wondering where the UFT, so often a partner in crime in the renewal school program with the DOE, stands on this closing. Informal word is that there has not been much support but if anyone connected to the UFT in the Bronx or at central has more info, please share - you hear, Howie Shore?

Tuesday, January 17

City Department of Education executives tasked with improving the poorest-performing schools are grossly incompetent. As a result, a marginalized and very vulnerable group of impoverished minority students in the Bronx face eviction from their neighborhood school.

That’s the inescapable conclusion if one really scrutinizes how the DOE handled, or mishandled, Junior High School 145, which they now propose closing for its poor student performance on state tests.

We are veteran teachers at JHS 145, which was one of 94 struggling schools identified for a turnaround via Mayor de Blasio’s high-stakes, $150 million-a-year School Renewal Program. In November 2014, the mayor and Education Department heralded the program as a shining example of innovation that would provide the resources, training and

JHS 145, once known as the Arturo Toscanini School, is in one of the poorest congressional districts in the entire country, and gang violence is rampant.
There are approximately 300 students. At least 20% are living in homeless shelters or temporary housing; 21% have learning disabilities, and 18% have gone extended periods of their lives without any education at all.

Of the 300 or so students, more than 130 are just beginning to learn the language. But the department has admittedly failed to provide adequate English as a Second Language instruction.

“All students in the program are suffering because they are entering so far behind and we don’t have enough ESL teachers,” according to the Education Department’s 2016-17 Renewal School Comprehensive Education plan for JHS 145.

And that’s only one of many examples of how the DOE, and by extension the mayor, has failed these kids.

The city has failed to provide students with teachers who are certified in the subjects they are teaching. Nearly 14% of teachers at the school last year were teaching subjects in which they were not trained. In the all-important subject of math, “several teachers lacked the content knowledge necessary to effectively teach the course that they were assigned,” according to the Education Department document.

While the school tried to bring the teachers up to speed, “the gap in content knowledge proved too expansive to close within one year.”
The city has failed to provide students with access to a computer lab. The school was forced to dismantle the computer lab it previously had and convert it into a regular classroom because of a space shortage after the Education Department gave 17 classrooms to a charter school two years ago.

The city has failed to provide students with their own science lab. As a result, they do not receive instruction on the scientific instruments that they ultimately are tested on. The first time they will actually see the instruments will be the day of the test, when they go to a lab located in another school in the same building.

The city failed to provide students with textbooks that go along with the English and math curriculums used by teachers for the entire 2015-16 school year. Teachers had to download and photocopy materials, and most of the math modules didn’t include translation into the languages spoken by English language learners.
The city has failed to provide steady leadership at JHS 145. There have been three different principals and five different assistant principals over the last five years. There hasn’t been an assistant principal since this school year started.

Yet after all these failures, students who very much need stability — remember, one in five are homeless and an equal percentage are special needs kids — will be evicted from their neighborhood school, and will have to apply to other schools. The teachers will have to apply for jobs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, those who really failed the students, and staff, will pretend they’ve done some good but it won’t be remotely true.

Donohue is a certified English teacher at JHS 145. Moss, who also works at JHS 145, also is a certified English teacher but was reassigned to be a technology instructor.

Monday, January 16, 2017

NYSUT has an audience problem. They have lost touch with their members and their political beliefs

More troubling is the complete lack of nuance and understanding about the political make-up of their membership. Although Hillary Clinton easily won New York (59% to 36.5%), nearly three million people in New York state voted for Donald Trump. Three million votes, to put this in perspective, is approximately equal to the winning Trump vote totals in Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana combined. Additionally, Donald Trump carried most counties outside of New York City. 
I found this blog called Beloved American published Jan. 4 with an interesting piece on NYSUT. It takes the position that NYSUT should focus on bread and butter and less on social justice issues. I don't agree because our schools are affected by social justice issues.

But the blogger is right that there is a certain level of cluelessness as out national, state  and city union leaders go screaming into the night -- Betsy DeVos is coming, Betsy DeVos is coming. Imagine if Trump announced he was pulling Betsy and replacing her with Arne Duncan - a massive cheer goes up.

NYSUT’s Message Problem

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Class Size Matters: Arthur Goldstein in Daily News

Leonie Haimson:
Must read oped by teacher Arthur Goldstein who points out how many are at fault in failing kids by allowing huge classes to persist- DOE, NYSED for its refusal to make DOE comply with the law, arbitrators, and the UFT for not pushing for improvements in class size in the contract for fifty years.

At the UFT Executive Board MORE/New Action raised a resolution urging the UFT to "vigorously enforce existing contractual class size regulations." This was voted down by leadership. 

It was great seeing Arthur at the MORE retreat yesterday. Four hours of retreating followed by a few Happy Hours.

I'm back there somewhere.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Norm in The Wave - The Choice Debates: Degrading the US Postal Service as a Public Institution

Published Jan. 13, 2017

The Choice Debates: Degrading the US Postal Service as a Public Institution
By Norm Scott

School Scope has been exploring the school choice debate by comparing public schools to other public services and what that might come to mean in the context of the drive to turn government into the problem instead of the solution. Let’s look at the Postal service as a public institution and what has happened to it since the election of anti-union, anti-government Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The U.S. Mail traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, where Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The Post Office Department was created in 1792 from Franklin's operation, elevated to a cabinet-level department in 1872, and transformed in 1971 into the U.S. Postal Service as an agency of the U.S. government…. Wikipedia

Wow! Good old Ben. He saw that in a democracy, a national post office was necessary as a public service and it even pre-dates our constitution and the founding of our nation in 1789. Over the past 40 years, the post office, like the public schools, is another public institution that is under attack, using the standard op of diverting funds that leads to degrading services that leads to an ultimate death spiral that could take decades, but ultimately ends up giving people less choice by taking away the public option and leaving the entire field to private interests who can raise prices to whatever they will bear.

Wiki continues: The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. The USPS has exclusive access to letter boxes marked "U.S. Mail" and personal letterboxes in the United States, but still competes against private package delivery services, such as the United Parcel Service (UPS) and has part use with FedEx Express.

We know that private postal services would not go places where they could not make a profit. Yes, the USPS has a mini-monopoly over mail boxes, and we hear the public schools charged with being a monopoly too. And Yes the USPS competes. But the key is that no public funding goes to the private UPS or FedEx like it does to charter schools. Imagine choicers saying their zip code doesn’t get good service and demand the government pay to use UPS.

Most of us like mail delivery by a mailman/woman who comes to your house or mailbox 6 days a week.  Or a post office in our zip code that is a neighborhood feature.

Was a public service like the postal service expected to show a profit? Not until the Reagan years according to Wikipedia:  Since the early 1980s, many of the direct tax subsidies to the Post Office (with the exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters) have been reduced or eliminated in favor of indirect subsidies.

Like the schools, a concerted attempt was made to privatize postal services since then by degrading the US Postal Service in order to open up venues for profit making companies. (I’ll get to the Staples operation in a minute.)
Wiki continues: (Note the BOLD)
 Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, (which mandated $5.5 billion per year to be paid into an account to fully prefund employee retirement health benefits, a requirement exceeding that of other government and private organizations, revenue dropped sharply due to recession-influenced declining mail volume, prompting the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to reduce its budget deficit.

Forcing the USPS to prefund the pensions, while looking progressive on paper, was actually a dagger to the heart.

Another classic privatization operation similar to the school choice op where money is funneled away from public into charters (and soon to come vouchers), thus starving the public institution until is becomes so degraded and inefficient, its foundation begins to crumble and its demise becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One of the interesting recent stories is how the USPS outsourced package shipping to 500 Staples stores, leading to a boycott of Staples – teachers were asked not to shop there for school supplies by the union. Well, that deal hasn’t worked out and the USPS is pulling the plug on the partnership. The postal workers’ union successfully argued its case in front of the National Labor Relations Board – a Board that under Trump would be unlikely to rule in favor of unions.

For those anti-union folks out there, I have been a critic of the lack of democracy in so many unions but I avidly support unions because they are often the only organized bulwark standing in the way of unfettered, run-amuck capitalism, which is the very reason the Republicans have targeted them specifically. And watch what happens to wages and standard of living when they are gone. Sadly, I believe we are about to see that happen and the outcome for the majority of people other than the very wealthy will not be pretty.

Reading assignment for next time at the American Prospect, The Folly of Trumponomics: It may produce a short-lived boom. Then, look out.

Norm blogs at

Closing JHS 145 So Eva/Success Academy Can Get Entire Building

Arturo Toscanini
Dear Jim [Donohue], 
You and the other teachers, parents and the students, both current and graduates [JHS 145X - Arturo Tosconini School], knocked it out of the park. The next meeting will be at the school, but guess what, the DOE hasn't told us the date yet. Please stay tuned--when we get the date we would love you all to turn out. There were several local reporters there, along with Kate Taylor, who has taken an interest! The community is speaking up, and they're not happy with the DOE's "proposal."
--------Jane Maisel to teacher Jim Donohue for his heroic fight to save his school
Look Eva, I give up. You can have whatever you want in the future. I'll close any school you need. I got Carmen on the case. ... Bill de Blasio 
-- Ed Notes Fake News - but maybe not.
Eva wants this building
Are school closings politically motivated? Is the closing of JHS 145 a sop to Eva in an effort to blunt some of her opposition to de Blasio's upcoming election campaign - maybe even a little? A sort of bribe? You won't hear much of a peep in protest from the UFT. Did anyone see a UFT presence at last night's hearing to defend the school? If they did I will retract this part of the comment.

Testing expert Fred Smith on today's NY Times piece:
Plan to Close or Merge Schools -- JHS 145 in Bronx is pictured. Prof. Aaron Pallas quoted.

Regarding mergers: At this time, with all of school reorganizing by Bloomberg and renewing by deBlasio, what are the post-merger findings--Is there improvement (considering test data and other data) in School A and B, declines in both schools, or a mixed bag? My guess is that the picture is blurry or the data insufficient to draw conclusions, but the City will continue to merge without clear evidence of benefit.
Reporter Kate Taylor commented:
The schools to be closed are all low-performing, to be sure. In the 2015-16 school year, only 8 percent of the students at J.H.S. 145 passed the state reading tests, and only 3 percent passed the state’s math tests. Even so, it is not clear that they are necessarily the worst among the schools in the program. All of the six schools met at least one of the goals assigned by the city last year. Some are being closed for low enrollment as well.  
Aaron Pallas is  quoted in the article:
Aaron Pallas, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, said, “The fact that the city thinks that it needs to do this for six out of the roughly 80 or so left suggests that things are not going as well as they’d like.”
At the same time, he said, “If these mergers and closures result in new schools that have a new kind of energy, perhaps different staff, perhaps a different culture, that may be better than trying to continue turning around schools that have been struggling for a very long time.”
Interesting that Aaron echoes some of the points made by the old Bloomberg DOE officials about closing and opening schools -- reality was that "successful" new schools were based on changing the student body. When you hear the word "culture" people think - teachers and admin -- but also if you reduce the % of struggling kids that can change the culture. If they redistributed some of the kids and left everything else alone, how would that work out? Like if the kids are having so much trouble why not move 20% into schools with the right "culture" and see what happens. There is "critical mass" in terms of schools.

I also question the kind of top-down "support" the schools get - at times with bad leadership -- and also maybe not a lot of input from teachers -- if they turned a school over to the teachers - why not try that in some of these schools? 

Now I am not against merging schools - after all, BloomKlein broke them up in the first place and it makes little sense to chop everything into so many little bits.

Back to Eva:
It is not only school closings that give Eva what she wants. She is aiming to take over the historic MS 50 building in Williamsburg, a school I worked in as tech support in the latter days of my career. (My frat brother, the late Lou Vidal, was the computer teacher there.) The charter front group uses PR to degrade schools in the public mind to open up space for Eva -- School District 14, covering Williamsburg and Greenpoint, is a complete "middle school desert," according to a report from StudentsFirstNY.

Pat Dobosz who is a Dist 14 community resident and retired teacher emailed:
Eva wants more school space and is making less of our D 14 schools. We have several schools that are up and coming and some are excellent. Eva is n many of our buildings and wants to increase the number of rooms she has. One school she is fighting to expand in is MS 50 that has shown academic improvement and is growing in population.
MORE's Marilena Marchetti has been on the JHS 145 case and sent this to the listserve about yesterday's school closing hearing:
This press release below is from Jim Donohue, a UFT member whose school JHS 145 in the Bronx could close. MORE proudly supported this school's fight to keep Success Academy out. As anticipated, Success is now vying to take over the entire school. They need our support at the March 22 PEP meeting where a vote on the closure will be made.....  it will be held at the HS for Fashion industries 225 W 24th Street in Manhattan.
Parent/Community activist Jane Maisel has also been on the case as per her quote opening this blog post.

Here is Jim Donohue's press release for last night's hearing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kit Wainer First Hand Account - History of the UFT Opposition Since Late 80s Plus My Prequel

This Saturday, January 14, is a MORE retreat from 12-4. Kit Wainer has prepared a history for people so they have a basis for going forward. This is one of the most concise histories I've seen -- it would take me 4 hours and 20 pages to cover the same ground.

I only have gotten to know Kit since we began working together in MORE 5 years ago. He came out of Teachers for a Just Contract and I came from ICE. Both groups didn't always mesh very well together and I was somewhat wary of working with Kit in MORE. But happily, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with such a smart, perceptive and most importantly nice guy - despite the fact he introduced me to Mike Schirtzer who I seem to be saddled with for life.

Before reading Kit's history, I wanted to provide a prequel so there is some pre-late 80s context for the various caucus genealogies.

There is no actual beginning and end of the many caucuses in the UFT over decades.

There are links going back to the 1920s.

There is a timeline -  caucuses split, combine, evolve. This is not necessarily 100% accurate as I'm too lazy to go find the relevant info  --

Update: Lisa Mars, LaGuardia's Failing Principal Gets Tenure!

Dr. Mars changed the admission criteria to favor academic grades over artistic talent in a school with an historical graduation rate of 98%.......Unfortunately, the 10,828 signatures and 300 pages of supportive comments on our petition fell on deaf ears. We just learned that in spite of failing grades for effective school leadership two years in a row, principal Lisa Mars has been granted TENURE!!! ... LaGuardia HS memo
The DOE outrages of supporting failing principals continues as cronyism reigns supreme while the UFT sits numb. Through the Rockaway Theatre Company I know a bunch of young ladies who are either current or former La Guardia students and they all have heard of the story of how Linda Mars, who came from the currently enrolled  school, Townshend HS.

LaG, despite its high grad rate, is in many ways a sort of trade school

Go sign the petition if you haven't. And contact PEP members if you are so inclined.
Petition update

Update: LaGuardia's Failing Principal Gets Tenure!

LaGuardia High
New York, NY
Jan 10, 2017 — Dear Friends,
As we begin 2017, we wanted to let you know the current status in our efforts to overturn the unfair and illegal admissions policies instituted at LaGuardia High School by principal Dr. Lisa Mars.

The goal of our petition is to convince the Department of Education to return the admission requirements to those consistent with the Hecht-Calandra Law and provide effective leadership for the school.

It seems the DOE is uninterested in the fact that:
· Dr. Mars scored a 1.00 on a scale of 1.00-4.99 on effective school leadership in the 2015-16 School Quality Guide. That's down from a 1.2 the year before!
· Dr. Mars changed the admission criteria to favor academic grades over artistic talent in a school with an historical graduation rate of 98%.
· Dr. Mars' policies effectively discriminate against students who come from socio-economically challenged circumstances or underperforming middle schools.
· Dr. Mars' policies foster an increasingly homogeneous environment in a school that has always been a beacon of diversity.

See for yourself:

How can the Department of Education allow this? Why would they spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars assessing school leadership only to ignore their own findings and grant tenure to a failing principal?

How can WE allow this?

If you are as outraged as we are, let your voice be heard and contact those who can save our school and preserve its legacy for future generations. A list of contacts is below. Here's a template letter that you can use to voice your thoughts:

Chancellor of the NY Regents Board -
Nan Eileen Mead (Regents Board rep) -
Gale A. Brewer (Manhattan Borough President) -
Kamillah Payne-Hanks (Panel for Educational Policy) -
Michael Kraft (Panel for Educational Policy) -
Scott M. Stringer (NYC Comptroller) -, (212) 669-3916, @scottmstringer

Thank you for your continued support,
The Save Our School Team

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Daily Howler on Mitt Romney and Betsy DeVos

Proponents of "education reform" also tend to control the narratives, and the supply of facts. The things you're allowed to read in mainstream newspapers will tend to align with their views.
Romney's op-ed column offers some strong examples of this unfortunate state of affairs. ....
Romney's claim is crazily wrong...
Persistently, the Romneys make gloomy claims of this type. The liberal world sits and stares.
Everyone, of the right and the left, has agreed to this rolling deception. The right pushes this claim for various reasons, financial gain among them. The left says nothing about this deception because manifestly the left doesn't care.

The Daily Howler

I love the Daily Howler's often long commentaries about the failures of our liberal tribe. Bob Somerby spent years teaching in an inner city school so when it comes to education he is especially sharp. While he doesn't take an absolute anti ed deform position he always makes point that no one else does. Here it today's post:

Romney calls Bay State schools number one!


Fails to list one basic reason:
In Sunday's Washington Post, Mitt Romney offered a ringing endorsement of Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump's multi-billionaire nominee for secretary of education.

DeVos is a strong proponent of those policies which have long been described as "education reform." Just for the record, people who gain control of the language will often find success in the political wars.

Proponents of "education reform" also tend to control the narratives, and the supply of facts. The things you're allowed to read in mainstream newspapers will tend to align with their views.

Romney's op-ed column offers some strong examples of this unfortunate state of affairs. Consider this passage, in which Romney makes a claim which is virtually required by law within the mainstream press:
ROMNEY (1/8/17): It's important to have someone who will challenge the conventional wisdom and the status quo. In 1970, it cost $56,903 to educate a child from K-12. By 2010, adjusting for inflation, we had raised that spending to $164,426—almost three times as much. Further, the number of people employed in our schools had nearly doubled. But despite the enormous investment, the performance of our kids has shown virtually no improvement.
"The performance of our kids has shown virtually no improvement?" In major newspapers like the Post, the constant promulgation of such claims is virtually required by Hard Pundit Law.

Everyone has heard these claims a million times by now. That said, Romney's claim is crazily wrong, as we've endlessly noted.
For all major demographic groups, scores have soared since 1970 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the Naep), the federal testing program which Romney specifically cites in his column. That said, it's virtually impossible to learn that fact in the pages of major newspapers like the Post and the New York Times.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Globalism vs Nationalism: We Are Not the World - WSJ

The new nationalist surge has startled establishment parties in part because they don’t see globalism as an ideology. How could it be, when it is shared across the traditional Left-Right spectrum by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and David Cameron?
....thanks for sharing this excellent analysis [from the WSJ Saturday Essay]! It puts the whole "globalism" vs "nationalism" conflict in a helpful historical and international context.... comment from a listserve after I shared the article below.
This insightful piece on the growing nationalism around the world in response to globalism sparked my earlier sci-fi piece, FEXIT Vote Roils United Federation of Planets, which was making a point about the dangers of extreme nationalism. This is tricky ground but Author, Greg Ip, does a lot of good splainin'.

The link is if you can't read it there try this link

We Are Not the World

  • Greg Ip
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • 9:24PM January 7, 2017
Late on a Sunday evening a little more than a year ago, Marine Le Pen took the stage in a depressed working-class town in northern France. She had just lost an election for the region’s top office, but the leader of France’s anti-immigrant, anti-euro National Front did not deliver a concession speech.

Instead, Le Pen proclaimed a new ideological struggle.
“Now, the dividing line is not between Left and Right but globalists and patriots,” she declared, with a gigantic French flag draped behind her.

Globalists, she charged, want France to be subsumed in a vast, world-encircling “magma”. She and other patriots, by contrast, were determined to retain the nation-state as the “protective space” for French citizens.

Le Pen’s remarks foreshadowed the tectonic forces that would shake the world in 2016. The British vote to leave the European Union in June and the election of Donald Trump as US president in November were not about whether government should be smaller but whether the nation-state still mattered. Le Pen now has a shot at winning France’s presidential elections this spring, which could imperil the already reeling EU and its common currency.

Supporters of these disparate movements are protesting not just globalisation — the process whereby goods, capital and people move ever more freely across borders — but globalism, the mindset that globalisation is natural and good, that global governance should expand as national sovereignty contracts.

The new nationalist surge has startled establishment parties in part because they don’t see globalism as an ideology. How could it be, when it is shared across the traditional Left-Right spectrum by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and David Cameron?

But globalism is an ideology, and its struggle with nationalism will shape the coming era much as the struggle between conservatives and liberals has shaped the last.

FEXIT Vote Roils United Federation of Planets

Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam, Klingon for "Today is a good day to

by Norm Scott reporting from Risa

Reports have reached our news desk here on beautiful Risa where the suns always shine of a threat to the entire galaxy.

A referendum on Planet Earth has led to a shocking outcome as over 4 billion people voted to FEXIT from the United Federation of Planets (UFP, commonly referred to as the Federation). The future of the UFP is now in danger, as other planets are also experiencing a rebirth of planetarianism, which may lead to the end of 100 years of peace in this quadrant of the galaxy. Some pro-Federation advocates are claiming the election was hacked on order of the Rutin, the Romulan leader who has been trying to destabilize the alliance from within.

Klingon delegate
At a recent UFP meeting, one of the Klingon delegates, particularly upset and threatening economic sanctions, told the Romulan delegate, "vavlI’ quv Say’moHmeH nuj bIQ vIlo’chugh, nuj bIQ vIlammoH," (If I use spit (mouth water) to clean your father’s honor, I only dirty the spit) causing the Romulan to slap her .

Founded in 2161, the United Federation of Planets  is was an interstellar alliance of more than 150 planetary governments, spread out over 8,000 light-years. It is was composed of planetary governments that agreed to exist semi-autonomously under a single central government based on the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality, and to share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation, scientific development, space exploration and defensive purposes. 

Members of the Federation are were united in various endeavors involving trade, exploration, science and defense. The Federation is was overseen by the Federation Council, which is comprised of representatives from member planets. The Council meets met on Earth and is was led by the Federation president, based in Paris. - (See more at:

Before the UFP, the various nations of earth had to come together to see themselves as one planet, instead of the rampant nationalism that had been the cause of so many wars throughout history. To become Earthers.

In the early 21st century after the election of a demagogue who put an end to 231 years of democracy in the United States, one of the most powerful nations on earth, earth was roiled by decades of a massive economic worldwide depression and the equally massive impact of rising sea levels and changes due to global warming that ended in the deaths of a third of earth's population. Things began to deteriorate soon after most the USA was turned from a 2 party to a 1 party system, similar to the other leading powers, Russia and China. Worldwide chaos ensued after the use of nuclear and cyber weapons, leading to failures in electrical grids, pandemics and the fragmentation of nations. 

It was only after the threat of an alien invasion from planet UNOS after extraterrestrial life was discovered in the year 2090 that the fragments of remaining nations saw that uniting into one planetary system could save the planet. But the UNOS turned out to peaceful and were looking for new markets and were so advanced that they helped save earth from continuing chaos and in fact helped impose a planetary system on earth. The opening of space and the influx of aliens from many other planets invigorated earth's economy and the population began to rise again.

The Federation's founding was a remarkable achievement, given the wide variety of life forms from humans to Vulcans to Klingons, formally a bitter enemy of the UFP that joined the UFP after the peace treaty of 2199 after 30 years of war, thus bringing the galaxy closer to unity, though the Romulans remained a bitter enemy until 2217 when a new peace treaty brought them into the Federation, thus bringing peace to the entire galaxy and leading to an unprecedented period of prosperity, especially after the common currency, the Feuro was implemented.  But Romulan planetarianism was never dampened and they worked as enemies within the Federation.

Rising economic tensions and the growth of the age old nationalism that had ruled earth for over 600 years through 2100, have arisen once again on earth which itself is fragmenting into various geographical and political blocks.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Aim Of School Choice Is To Limit Choice - Norm in The WAVE

Published Jan. 6, 2017

Aim Of School Choice Is To Limit Choice

School Scope
By Norm Scott
I’m continuing my series of columns on the voucher/school choice issue which will come to the fore under the Trump administration especially with his educational secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, a fierce opponent of public schools. The very concept of a public school system is under attack which connects to the general anti-government movement. Over this series I am attempting to point out the fallacies.

One of the major talking points we hear from “choicers” is that the public schools are a government monopoly. David S. D'amato, policy advisor at the libertarian Heartland Institute, wrote Americans have forgotten the destructive philosophy upon which the government education apparatus was built. The centerpiece of that philosophy is the fallacy that centralization and monopolization equate to quality and results.

Centralized? We have one of the most decentralized school systems in the world with each city, town or county in theoretical control of their own schools and budgets – not always a good thing in some places – but stay with me. Here in NYC the system is so big it could use some decentralization down to neighborhoods, but not the total balkanization where each school is an island and competes with the other nearby schools for the best performing students and the same funding. Ironically, it has been state and federal governments that have tried to use the choice movement to override local controls by force feeding charter schools and common core into communities. Thus we saw as a counter reaction, the growth of the optout movement that led to 20 percent - 225,000 students – whose parents refused to let their kids take the state tests last year.

Let’s talk about the “monopoly” charge that we often heard from the very people who ran the NYC schools for 12 years under Bloomberg – Joel Klein and Dennis Walcott, both of whom lined up a 100 percent with the choicers. There is much irony in Walcott’s appointment as chief of the Queens libraries, also a government monopoly, in essence, unless we want to count those little library boxes some people in the community have installed in front of their houses. I wonder how Walcott would react if we called for more choice in libraries – maybe give away some of his funding to any charter library operator who would get funding based on how many people came in to take out books. There just wouldn’t be enough money to be made so backers of the choice movement are not interested.

How about the government transit monopoly. Should we offer charter subway operators as an alternative? Take away some of the MTA budget to allow some competitor to build their own tracks? Maybe someone can get that right of way that so many people are enamored with to compete with the A train. Now we do have some private options but they cost more, unless subsidized by the hated government. What next? Will Uber ask for tax money because they offer people a choice?

Libraries, transit, police, fire, sanitation, schools are public services that are to be protected, not attacked and demolished. Sure, government has its problems and inefficiencies but it is subject to some degree of public accountability, though not nearly enough as there are too many slimy politicians who try to take advantage of their positions. Once we turn things over to private hands with a profit making motive, things tend to deteriorate over time. In fact, in the earliest days, the subways were built by private entities and they couldn’t maintain the system.

Rather than taking President Reagan’s dictum that government is the problem not the solution, we need to think about how to monitor and improve the concepts of democratically elected and managed government, which in the age of Trump won’t be all that easy.

Norm blogs at where you have a choice to read it or not.