Thursday, April 24, 2014

Where is the Right Wing on the Charter Takeover of Local Education?

How interesting that the right opposes common core because they see it as mandates from the federal government but ignores parent trigger laws and the charter school movement, which are more invasive takeovers of local education control - by both government fiat (see NYState Cuomo backed charter give-away law removing mayoral authority to charge rent or deny space in public schools.)

On the surface, the right and tea partiers support movements that kill teacher unions by signing onto the phony "choice" concept. In reality, the charter movement removes choice from local communities that pay for and support their public school. An outside charter management organization like KIPP, by gaining political support from outside the community - say the governor or state legislature - can force a community to divert funds from its own schools to support an invading charter.

In essence, this boils down to the very same issue the right is complaining about when it comes to the common core.

Glenn Beck, where are you?

Eva Moskowitz/Success Academy Once Again Prove It's About Real Estate, not Children

Today's reports at Chalkbeat point to the phony show Eva put on yesterday about gaining space for her 3 poor little denied charters. Even the usually fawning press looked through the cracks to see that there were actually negotiations going on while Eva openly lied to say they were not.

What the press is not getting is that what Eva is really complaining about is that she is not getting the 3 hand-picked public school buildings she really wanted:
  • The beautiful building in Harlem housing the Mickey Mantle school for special ed kids - PS 149.
  • The very large August Martin campus in Queens.
  • And the  Murry Bergtraum massive building in lower Manhattan.
I've been saying since day 1 of the Moskowitz political operation - this is about real estate -- the long-range plan is to totally take over public school buildings in targeted locations where the buildings themselves have value -- imagine the day when Eva occupies the entire building after getting the public schools kids tossed -- like she wants the autistic kids out at Mickey Mantle. Her hedge fund pals offer to "buy" the building for a song -- "hey, the DOE won't have to pay to maintain it -- we'll help you out by taking it off your hands - then shortly after - whammo -- air rights and condos. Imagine what Murry Bergtraum in lower Manhattan is worth?

She will not satisfied with the substitute buildings de Blasio is offering and will look to any excuse to raise a ruckus to try to get back into the buildings she wants.

Here are the links from Chalkbeat.

Inn fighting

Success CEO Eva Moskowitz ratcheted up pressure on the de Blasio administration to find new space for three of her schools.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Join CTS in Test Protest on the Steppes of Tweed Thursday, April 24th, 4PM

Bodies do count -- real bodies, not phony ones Eva closes her schools for. So if people help pack the steps of Tweed into overflow, it does make a difference. So, yes, I shall leave the comfort of my backyard and shlep into the city for the event - camera in holster. Hope to see you there.

Please join us for rally and press conference to demand Not One More Year Lost – Our Children are More than a Test Score!

    Thursday, April 24th @ 4 PM
WHERE:  NYC Department of Education, 52 Chambers Street
WHO:      All families, educators, and supporters of educational justice
HOW:      More info here and please accept and share the Facebook invite
WHY: We will be uniting to demand policies that support our children and our schools.
What do we want?
- We want real learning every day NOT test prep
- We want transparent, developmentally appropriate and valid assessments
- We want child-centered, rich curriculum
- We want standards that truly support child learning
- We want funding for schools not for private testing companies
Make your own signs!!  Some of the themes for the action are:
- We demand REAL accountability from the top, not on the backs of our children
- Listen to the parents
- Release the test
- Our children and our jobs as teachers are NOT FOR SALE
- Keep the money in the classroom

Change the Stakes
Follow us on Twitter or on our Facebook page
Please sign our petition to demand that NYS give parents the right to opt out

Shades of the NYSUT Split: Cuomo Aims to Avert 3rd Party Challenge by Undermining Working Family Party

...the fact that the party’s activists and unions are not currently on the same page means, at the very least, a challenge from the left could get as messy for them as it is for Cuomo ... Does the party exist primarily for the purposes of contracts and pensions, or for the broader ideals of economic and social justice? If solely for contracts and pensions, is labor’s recent success at the bargaining table more likely to continue by pleasing the governor and harming WFP, or protecting the party that gave the movement its leverage in the first place? Is there any line an official can’t cross, if that official is willing to cut deals at election time?..... Blake Zeff, Capital NY.
A Smart UFT Leadership Would Begin a 3rd Party Anti-Cuomo Campaign Immediately.

Of course I'm being facetious. This fascinating article by Blake Zeff at Capital (Cuomo’s plan to undercut the W.F.P.) is an example of how unions can use their power to wrangle some concessions, even minor, from slug politicians like Cuomo over the idea of a 3rd party challenge to Cuomo that would siphon off a good chunk of support.

Perdido has a few good pieces on this issue:

  • Cuomo Seeks To Pit Unions And Working Familes Party Activists Against Each Other 

  • Howie Hawkins Says Working Families Party Should Nominate Him To Take On Cuomo In General Election
  • Working Families Party Leadership Doesn't Sound Like They Want To Take On Cuomo

  • Apparently Cuomo is worried, especially after the Sienna poll (What The Siena Poll Means For Cuomo's Re-Election Chances) about 3rd party challenges.
    Andrew Cuomo and his capable team will do all they can to dismiss Tuesday’s stunning Siena poll showing him increasingly vulnerable to a challenge from the left by the Working Families Party. But there’s no denying the threat such a challenge poses—to his margin of victory, and to his reputation in the national party.
    There is a split in the Working Family Party (WFP) - the activists despise Cuomo and want to run a candidate. The union faction (as expected) want to deal. Apparently this has worked as Cuomo is desperate to avoid having a 3rd party in the election.
    The governor knows he’s got two ways to mitigate this threat. One is to get the party to forgo its challenge and give him its ballot line, as it did in 2010. The other is for him to render the party impotent. The WFP’s largest union affiliates, such as 32BJ, 1199, and the Hotel Trades Council (1199), are in a position to help him in both of these regards. Remember the Andrew Cuomo who ran for his first term on a promise of bringing the unions to heel? That same governor has quietly but decisively reversed course in recent months, delivering key unions several items on their wish-lists, just as the threat of a Working Families Party challenge began to circulate.
    Back to that WFP factions:
    Behind the scenes, the Working Families Party is basically composed of two separate factions at this point: the activists and many of the large unions. For the most part, the activists deplore the governor, who has made a mockery of their progressive ideological vision, opposing them on everything from tax policy to charter schools to campaign finance reform. These are groups like Citizen Action, and individuals who have been active in the party for years and spend their time petitioning on weekends. For many of them, the idea of giving Cuomo the ballot line is abhorrent, and will remain so unless he delivers on one of their pet issues like public financing of elections--something he's shown no inclination to do to this point. 
    The WFP factions are analogous in some ways to the NYSUT split over Cuomo between Revise and Stronger Together, which would have been tougher on Cuomo that Revise. So don't expect my somewhat factitious headline about the UFT/NYSUT supporting a 3rd party candidate -- or threatening to do so - will have any legs. Remember, that split was basically over the Cuomo issue, with MulGarten concerned that the Iannucci faction would block an AFL/CIO Cuomo endorsement. So don't expect them to support any 3rd party move. But some interesting intrigue:
    ... realistically, if the governor is to have a chance at winning the WFP ballot line, it may have to be driven by the union side of the party. While the unions don’t particularly love his record either, they also have very practical concerns that the activists don't have to even consider: concrete items like contracts and pensions for their members that the governor can control directly. As a result, while many activists are firmly anti-Cuomo at this point, unions, who need things from the administration, are not.
    Watch what happened with some of the unions which wrangled some concessions from Cuomo, concessions that some consider birdseed.  
    It was no coincidence, in this context, that the governor reversed course last week and delivered a new contract for the Transit Workers Union with raises for MTA workers, despite his previous, long-running insistence that pay increases were a deal-breaker. That wasn’t the only Cuomo-blessed concession to key WFP union affiliates in recent months. The Communications Workers of America was able to kill what it called “ damaging deregulatory legislation” that initially appeared in both the governor’s and State Senate’s initial budget proposals, before ultimately disappearing.
    32BJ got a boost with its campaign for airport workers’ wages, when Cuomo’s appointee to the Port Authority, Patrick Foye, publicly announced his support in January for enhanced pay and benefits. (“We are thankful to Gov. Cuomo,” Figueroa declared in a press release in response).
    And 1199 got roughly $380 million in the recent budget to support a pay increase for home health care workers. In return for all this magnanimity, labor sources suggest, several of the key unions in the party—like 1199, 32BJ, HTC, and possibly, now, TWU—are leaning toward endorsing the governor and, certainly, away from supporting a protest candidacy.
     But -- there's a big BUT.
    While unions tend to play a key role in most political decisions made by the WFP (like the New York City mayor’s race, for example), statewide elections are different. They require that the party’s state committee—not the executive board—determine at the end of May who will represent the ballot line in November. And it just so happens that a significant number of the 200 or so seats on the committee are filled by anti-Cuomo activists in the Citizen Action mold. (As Liz Benjamin reported last month, more than 100 state committee members participated in a conference call at that time “to discuss the possibility” of not endorsing the governor.) Cuomo could still appeal to those activists by addressing one of their pet issues, particularly public financing, before the WFP state convention in late May. But doing that could also cost him some major concessions from GOP senate leader Dean Skelos.
    So let's get this clear. The decision on the 3rd party rests with the activists, not the unions. For Cuomo to try to buy off the activist faction he would have to alienate his Republican pals (Isn't he really a Republican after all? My suggestion is he run against Christie and the rest of the slugs for the Republican nomination against Hillary.)

    And here is where Cuomo gets the chance to break the WFP:
    Assuming the activists still oppose him, it raises the possibility of individual unions—like 32BJ, 1199, and HTC—backing the governor and the Working Families Party simultaneously challenging him. And that’s when Cuomo would go to work undercutting the party.  If WFP were to launch a challenge to the governor, one theory gaining currency in Albany circles is that he could urge the unions that want to continue to do business with him after he wins to cripple the party’s future efforts by starving it of funding. 
    Like I said above - some parallels to the Stronger Together/Revise NYSUT split. (And don't we know that Cuomo played some behind the scenes role in that scenario?)
    Several Albany insiders I (Zeff) spoke to suggested that the governor could even conceivably seek to revive the Liberal Party, which is reportedly eyeing a comeback after effectively having been killed off by the WFP (and, unwittingly, Cuomo) in 2002, as a new home for some of those large unions, instead of the WFP. Maybe. But the fact that the party’s activists and unions are not currently on the same page means, at the very least, a challenge from the left could get as messy for them as it is for Cuomo.
     Here Zeff raises an important fundamental point:

     Given this possibility, here are some questions the labor side of WFP must now consider: Does the party exist primarily for the purposes of contracts and pensions, or for the broader ideals of economic and social justice? If solely for contracts and pensions, is labor’s recent success at the bargaining table more likely to continue by pleasing the governor and harming WFP, or protecting the party that gave the movement its leverage in the first place? Is there any line an official can’t cross, if that official is willing to cut deals at election time? “The union doesn’t have permanent friends or enemies,” 1199 president George Gresham, whose union was famously known as Martin Luther King's favorite, said recently. “We have permanent interests.”
    Mull this entire scenario over with thoughts of the UFT/NYSUT political operation in mind.

    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    A Harlem Public School With Long Waiting List Struggles Against Eva/Succes Expansion

    I always questioned those phantom charter waiting list - used politically to claim demand. The press always mentions the point favorable to charters but never talks about demand for the public schools. Here is a great example where a Harlem public school sharing space with the avaricious Eva that had 10 applications for every open position - yet is being forced to give up even more space to one of Eva's schools.
    Harlem public School losing space to SucAcademy charter gets 10X application for every open seat; good story below. 

    See also interview with former Suc Academy teacher at Epoch Times here:

    Demand for Harlem School Spots Should Prevent Charter Growth, Leaders Say

    By Emily Frost on April 22, 2014 10:33am 



     The school is not offering to compromise with the DOE on Harlem Success Academy taking some of its space.  Frederick Douglass Academy II Fights Back Against Charter Expansion View Full Caption
    HARLEM — Leaders from a local public school that students are lining up in the hundreds to attend are fighting back against a charter school's controversial plan to take over classrooms in their shared building.
    Education leaders recently learned that Frederick Douglass Academy II received 950 applications for just 100 ninth-grade seats this coming school year.
    The huge uptick comes amid a push by Eva Moskowitz's Harlem Success Academy to move into three of FDA II's rooms, including the 6-12 school's only art room.
    In reponse, FDA II's school leadership team — made up of the principal, teachers and other staff — recently rejected a plan by the charter school to take over the art room, as well as an additional classroom and administrative space.
    However, a 2010 DOE space-sharing document gives Success Academy the right to expand next year.
    News of the demand for seats at FDA II stunned Community Education Council 3, which noted that the school previously struggled to attract interest. For the 2013-2014 school year, the school received just 391 ninth-grade applications, said Principal Osei Owusu-Afriyie. A year earlier, the number of ninth-grade applications was 350, he added.
    The increase in applications marks "a pretty clear call for making sure they have additional space, not doing a bait-and-switch with existing space," said CEC 3 president Joe Fiordaliso.
    The department tried to negotiate with FDA II earlier this spring — offering to move its existing art room into FDA II's administrative rooms — but the school leadership team held fast in its opposition to any encroachment by Harlem Success Academy, CEC members said.
    "The parents don’t feel secure in the DOE’s word," said CEC member Olayia Deen.
    Worried the current standoff will lead to Success Academy getting its way, the CEC is rallying behind the school and looking for ways to push the issue in FDA II's favor.
    "The situation is rotten... there’s no mechanism once these space plans are set up — they don’t check them," complained CEC member Noah Gotbaum. "They don’t look at whether the space allocation makes any sense at all."
    Gotbaum tried to push DOE Superintendent Ilene Altschul to stand behind FDA II at a recent metting, but she said the school's current enrollment numbers weren't high enough to justify keeping the rooms, if the DOE was going by the original space-sharing document.
    "I am concerned," Altschul admitted, noting she's personally not in favor of FDA II losing rooms. "I don’t want him to lose that space."
    CEC members decided they'd write a letter urging Chancellor Carmen Fariña to ask her to stop the takeover.
    "These DOE officials have to stand up for our kids," Gotbaum said.
    Neither Success Academy nor the DOE returned requests for comment

    Fred Smith: Leonie brings Gloom and Doom to InBloom, Dragon Slayer Kills the Demon Seed

    The accolades are rolling in for Leonie Haimson on the inBloom closing announcement. Leonie's campaign should written up in textbooks. She won a major war against the leading ed deformers.

    Just look at this list from Diane Ravitch:

    • The company was started with a grant of $100 million from the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, to gather confidential student data and store it on an electronic "cloud." 
    • The technology for collection and storage of student data belonged to Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of Amplify, run by Joel Klein and owned by Rupert Murdoch
    Oh man! How delicious. For those who feel David cannot defeat Goliath, Leonie is one hell of an example.

    [Any photoshoppers out there who want to do a cartoon for ed notes exploring this concept - use Gates/Klein/Rupert as face of Goliath and little Leonie with slingshot -- ball labelled "parent/student rights" as it smashes into their head.]

    Leonie truly began this fight standing alone - a gang of one against some of the major forces behind the privatization ed movement. She was relentless to the point where I would say to myself, "Stop already! What's the point. She can't beat these guys." But Leonie did beat them - to a pulp. An example to me and everyone else -- they can be beat  --
    The national leader of the fight was Leonie Haimson, leader of a New York City-based group called Class Size Matters, who testified across the nation and alerted parents to the possible breach of their children's confidential data.... Diane Ravitch
    Thank You Leonie! This wouldn't/couldn't have happened without all you did to spearhead the pushback!... Susan
    Wow, this statement shows this guy just doesn't get it. He thinks teachers don't get enough information about how their students are doing by working with them day in and day out, month after month, but need InBloom's data dashboards to feed them factoids and tell them which book to read or science experiment to do next. Unbelievable. Good riddance, and thanks to Leonie and everyone across the country who worked so hard to bring about this result! Now let's send Pearson packing! .... Jeff Nichols
    Dragon Slayer Kills the Demon Seed.
    Leonie brings Gloom and Doom to InBloom. Wow.
    Yes, Jeff, we need to stop the Pearson juggernaut. Another impossible dream. Just as foolish as going up against the inevitability of InBloom... Fred Smith
    Leonie Haimson Statement on inBloom's overdue demise
    Hopefully, today’s announcement that inBloom is closing its doors will make government officials, corporations and foundations more aware that parental concerns cannot be ignored, and that they must stop foisting their “solutions” on our schools and classrooms with no attention given to the legitimate concerns of parents and their right to protect their children from harm.

    Yet the statement issued by inBloom’s CEO reeks of arrogance and condescension, and makes it clear that those in charge still have not learned any lessons from this debacle. The fervent opposition to inBloom among parents throughout the country did not result from “misunderstandings”, but inBloom ‘s utter inability to provide a convincing rationale that would supercede the huge risks to student security and privacy involved.
    Leonie's full statement here at the NYCPublicSchoolParent blog.

    By the way, do you think Rupert has figured out that Joel Klein can't run anything?

    Here are press links from Chalbeat:
    Below the break is the statement from inBloom:

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    Join Change the Stakes Thursday, 4PM at Tweed - OK, Folks - It's Time to Take a Stand Against Testing

    Please join us in NYC for a Rally to demand an end to high stakes testing.

    Not One More Year Lost - Our Children Are More Than a Test Score!
    We demand accountability at the top, not on the backs of our children!
    Thursday, April 24th @ 4 PM (press conference to precede rally) New York City Department of Education, 52 Chambers Street in NYC

    Share the flier
    and accept and share the event Facebook invitation!

    Also check out:

    - Change the Stakes responds to NYC's important change in student promotion policy. 
    - The inspiring video of NYC parents on refusing state exams
    - Three NYC Teachers of Conscience refuse to adminster state exams

    Thanks for your support.  The next general meeting of Change the Stakes will be held on Friday, May 2nd @ 6PM.  Please visit the website for updates on location. 
    Change the Stakes

    Join the Change the Stakes Open Forum discussion group

    Follow us on Twitter or on our Facebook page

    Teachers Unite: What's Your Story? Features Old Pal Matthew Guldin

    We were at Sally Lee and Josh Heisler's wedding when right there in front of my eyes was Matthew Guldin who I hadn't seen for a while. We began jumping around like teenagers. He and I were in the same political group in the 70s/80s - The Coalition of NYC School Workers and hadn't seen each other in a while. Turns out that Josh and Matthew had worked together. Then he retired and has been working with Teachers Unite, which Sally founded. In this bio they even included a photo of me with Matt at one of Teacher Unite's events. Whenever we see each other we just break out laughing -- we always had so much fun. Gee, I even remember when Matt had red hair. And I had an afro.

    Day 4 of our membership drive

    Our members say that Teachers Unite keeps them motivated to stay in the classroom.

    It is vital that we support them to continue.  

    Your donation or membership dues will:

    * Ensure that 10 NYC schools hire Restorative Justice Coordinators through our Pilot School Campaign targeting the DOE

    * Increase the number of TU workshops that train NYC educators to use and promote restorative practices

    * Send our members to Washington DC to share their stories and support student testimony to get cops and guns out of U.S. schools

    Together we can transform the popular idea of what it means to be a teacher. Please join us
    Thank you for your support!

    What's Your Story?

    Matthew Guldin

    Well, I never planned on being a teacher, it just hit me, in the form of the Vietnam War and the draft that would snatch us boys after high school or college. Not being a conscientious objector, nor wanting to move to Canada or jail or go to med, dental, law school or work in a defense plant, my only out was the classroom. So, I hurriedly took ed credits in my last term of Bklyn College and over the summer of '68 and joined the ranks on Sept 6, 1968. I had started an education career which has spanned most of the last 45 years and has seen me involved, happily, in most of the progressive/radical initiatives of these years. 

    From the struggle for Black and Puerto Rican community control of schools in the late '60s to the alternative school movement of the '60s and '70s, to the original small schools movement of the '80s and '90s led by Debbie Meier and Ted Sizer, (before it was corrupted by the Bloomberg/Klein 'franchising' of our movement in 2001), to the fight to keep the 'Regents free' 5  year waiver that Consortium Schools were granted in 1995, I've been there and participated actively, even taking leadership at times, in these struggles. At the same time, I was a delegate to the
    UFT's Delegate Assembly for 10 years and a Chapter Chair for 5. 

    Right now, I'm focusing my energy on moving the city's discipline policies from taking a Zero Tolerance approach to behavior infractions to one which bases itself in building each school into being a caring community and using restorative approaches. I believe that this 'sea change' will help us disrupt the School to Prison Pipeline. This is the reason that I've joined Teachers Unite. I've seen too many poor, Black and Latin teens drop out/be pushed out of schools and into the jails over the years. The increasing demonization of Black and Latin@ youth throughout our country and in particular in NYC, since the 1989 frame up of the Central Park 5, has led to the schools being semi militarized and zero tolerance policies being adopted as the way to handle "anti - social" (rebellious?!) behavior. 

    Thank goodness there's a growing coalition across the country which is reversing this trend and moving schools and school districts to transform their buildings from being alienating institutions to caring communities where kids and adults can grow together academically and emotionally. Through participation in the Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC), I get to do this work as a Teachers Unite member.

    *          *          *          *          *          *          *       

    Please donate to Teachers Unite today. 

    Teachers Unite is the voice of NYC teachers who have limitless hope for the role public schools can have in creating a just society. 

    Our members are not only speaking out, they are acting out!
    • They help schools organize Restorative Justice Teams.
    • They collaborate with youth organizations to change the city's School Discipline Code.
    • They produce media and resources that envision a humanistic approach to student discipline.
    • They transform their own school cultures and advocate to the DOE and UFT for help with doing so.
    There is no other member organization of teachers doing this work. In fact, young people who meet our members are surprised to learn that there are teachers who don't just want to push students out of school. 
    We have to show parents and young people that teachers are opposed to social and economic injustice.  Please click here to add yourself to this movement today!

    Newark Teacher on Christie, Cami... Sirota Hints at Christie in Handcuffs

    ... I don't care about community criticism. We run the school district in Newark, not them....Governor Chris Christie
    Ras Baraka, a mayoral candidate who is also Central High School’s principal, said Christie "told the truth at least."
    "He does run the school district, not us. That’s why we need to get rid of him," Baraka said Wednesday. "To say that he doesn’t care about what Newark residents think shows that he doesn’t represent Newarkers."
    Recipient of New Jersey pension deal housed charity run by Gov. Christie's wife. "Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this," Michael Moore.... 
    And what a fine job running the Newark schools the state of New Jersey has done over the past few decades. Here a Newark teacher comments the clergy condemnation of Cami Anderson and Marie Corfield's petition to oppose Christie as the keynote speaker at Rowan College. I hope all the ed majors boo.
    The nearly eighty Newark clergy members are to be commended for resurrecting their moral voices in condemnation of State Superintendent Cami Anderson's One Newark Plan. The part of their message that stuck in my craw, however, is the pandering to the education reformers regarding support of data driven instruction.

    Newark teachers have spent the week pondering the outcome of Anderson's equivalency request to waive tenure and seniority laws in order to "right size" the district. Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe has inherited the request from his predecessor Chris Cerf who has migrated to the greener pastures of Amplify. Have any pink slips gone out for the massive layoff? What is the deadline to notify teachers that they will not be employed by the Newark Public Schools in September? Noticeably absent from the public square is reigning AFT Queen Randi Weingarten. Is she in Finland checking out highly performing schools and exemplary teachers, which are reportedly found there in abundance?

    Marie Corfield has issued an all call for signatures on her petition requesting the President of Rowan University to reconsider his choice of Governor Chris Christie as keynote commencement speaker. Sorry Marie, but the last place I need my name right now is on a petition criticizing Chris Christie. Hopefully, there are others out there who are not in my company skating on thin ice.

    Allow me to cut to the chase. Will the multitude of clergy have a meaningful impact on the community discourse in Newark? It gives me a measure of comfort to know that I am not wandering alone in the desert during Passover. As far as our governor is concerned, Chris Christie could not be less interested in what anyone in Newark has to say. Should Chris Christie under the cloud of state and federal investigations be paraded around as an exemplar for our youth by delivering commencement proclamations? Will the modern day pharaohs end my enslavement to the State of New Jersey control of the Newark schools? In the words of the spiritual, "Go down Moses and let my people go!"

    A Newark Teacher

    Baraka praises Ministers Fight for a Moratorium on One Newark School Reorganization Plan
    Statement by Ras Baraka
    “Nearly one year ago, the City Council passed my resolution calling for a moratorium on all of Cami Anderson’s public school initiatives. A year later, Ms. Anderson continues to run away from input by Newark citizens and continues to carry out her relentless drive to
    close our neighborhood schools.
    Today, the ministers of Newark have joined me in calling for a moratorium on the destructive One Newark Plan to close our schools, a plan already being implemented against the will of the people of Newark.”

    While we're on Christie, David Sirota takes this shot -- I bet Cuomo is also up to his ears in stuff like this.

    David Sirota
    April 18, 2014
    Recipient of New Jersey pension deal housed charity run by Gov. Christie's wife. "Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this," Michael Moore.

    Susan's Sunday Special

    Some good reading for a Sunday morning from Susan Ohanian.

    The fact that the announcement I sent out yesterday never arrived is a sign of the site's current troubles. Sometimes it works fine; other times it is very slow loading. Thanks to Eric's hard work, we are moving to a new server. But this takes time and money so please be patient.

    I know I could go with one of those free blogs but I cling to the notion that the 'search' possibilities offered in the system Eric has devised are invaluable. This site started in 2002. My intent was to record the outrage. Just call me Madame Defarge. But in addition to the incidents of outrage, this site contains a lot of important research. I happen to think the new research: 'Common Core Timeline with the Feds' is important. It provides evidence of the deception, bribery & coercion practiced by the US Department of Education from the get-go under the Obama/Duncan leadership.

    Just be patient when the site is slow to load. We'll get it back to full speed as soon as we can.

    Thanks to Stephen Krashen, my words appeared in the New York Times last week. Steve is one of the few people I know who's always willing to credit others.


    War on public schools

    Common Core n'est pas. . .

    The Real Gap

    The Working Poor: College Profs

    Common Core Timeline with the Feds
    Susan Ohanian

    Here's what Arne Duncan has said about Common Core over the last few years.

    Revising the SAT To Make It Even Worse
     James W Loewen


    Van Loewen explains why the proposed changes to the SAT will make it even worse.

    To the editor
    Stephen Krashen
    New York Times

    Of course I'm delighted that Stephen Krashen got this letter into the paper--pointing out what the real problem is.

    Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate
    Alan Schwarzapril, with Ohanian comment
    New York Times

    There's a new diagnosis on the market to get children in line: sluggish cognitive tempo. The condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing.

    Privacy concerns nix New York student-data plan
    Associated Press
    Wall Street Journal

    InBloom, a Gates project, is left without clients.

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    Say Wha? Rhee Hubby Kevin Johnson Leads NBA Union Search

    This is as funny an article as you can read today. Charter slug Kevin Johnson getting involved in NBA union is as unbelievable as having  Bill Gates keynote an AFT convention.
    N.B.A. Players Reset Union Search With Kevin Johnson as Point Man

    His tenure has not been free of controversy; in 2012, he was fined $37,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to report $3.5 million in donations he solicited for charity organizations. As a supporter of charter schools — he is married to the former Washington public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, a staunch education reformer — he has faced strong opposition in Sacramento from public-school teachers’ unions.

    Norm in The Wave: High Stakes Testing Opt-Out Movement Takes Off

    Published Friday, April 18, 2014

    High Stakes Testing Opt-Out Movement Takes Off
    By Norm Scott

    Stories of numerous parents in the city and around the state who have begun a revolt against high stakes testing by having their children refuse to take the tests have recently broken into the mainstream media. Even school principals in Brooklyn and Manhattan have led post-ELA test rallies outside their schools over the impropriety of many of the tests based on the common core curriculum. Quite an achievement by organized groups of parents and progressive teachers who just a year ago were being deemed “oddballs.”

    Yes, we are in the midst of the high stakes testing season and the education wars keep heating up between the real reformers who want to make schools inviting spaces for children, teachers and parents and the corporate style ed deformers who are trying to turn the nations schools into a mini-me of the corporate model. High stakes tests and the common core nationally imposed curriculum have become the battle ground. The corporate mentality feeds on “data” and with few economic resources to fight against the billions on the other side, real reformers are using the opt-out movement as a “deny them the data” campaign.

    The more than a decade old battle has morphed as many parents of younger children have seen how the focus on tests damage their children psychologically and educationally as schools focus more and more time on test prep. Once the tests are over (in a few weeks) everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The change of atmosphere in schools is palpable. Trips, projects, more interesting curriculum become more common. But there is also a cost as the sense of the school year being over is felt in early May. Teachers start disappearing to be sent to other schools to mark the exams, the results of which are not known until the summer, thus becoming useless as a tool for the teachers to use to improve their current students’ learning.

    A word of explanation. I am not talking about removing standardized tests from the equation, but to de-emphasize them in the use as a one snapshot a year of a child’s learning to make judgments about them, their schools and their teachers. And I am not talking about the kinds of tests high school kids take to get into colleges where there can be intense pressure. I am talking about subjecting 8-year olds to the same kinds of pressure we used to reserve for 17-year olds high school kids (and increasingly people are thinking we should not be doing that to them either.)

    A few years ago I was part of a group of teachers and parents who founded (CTS) to inform parents around the city of the impact high stakes testing was having on their childrens’ education. CTS has put out a series of materials to support parents who want to opt their children out the tests by addressing issues of whether their child will be promoted or get into the middle school of their choice if they don’t take the test (new rules protect these children from retaliatory actions). Also on the agenda has been is what the children will be doing while the others are taking the test. Some school systems require those children to “sit and stare” in the same classrooms – do nothing. There has been a revolt against those policies with calls on schools to provide meaningful activities.

    There is still time to opt out of this year’s math tests. If you are a potential opt-out parent you can contact CTS at or check out the website.

    Teachers are also beginning to take a stand. Some NYC teachers at the Earth School on the Lower East Side have formed a group called “Teachers of Conscience” and have refused to give the tests.

    Teacher asks for help for research project at Channel View
    Were you a resident of the Rockaways during WW II, or served in WW II? Would you consider being interviewed about your experiences? We are seeking individuals to share their memories of life during WW II. Channel View School for Research’s 8th grade students are exploring life during wartime and the impact it had on the Rockaway residents. We are also investigating the imprint Fort Tilden has left on the peninsula and are petitioning the National Park Service to consider why it is worth preserving. Please contact Annette Malloy at (718)634-1970, or if you are interested.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Video - Mike Schirtzer - Too Big for Japanese Doors

    Wall Street Journal on ATRs: Deconstructing the Inherent Bias

    The ATR Issue Heats Up as astro-turf Ed Deformer groups (E4E, Students First, TNTP) Attack on all fronts. 
    Educators 4 Excellence-New York, an advocacy group of more than 8,000 teachers... Leslie Brody, WSJ
    WTF-- E4E is a group that has practically zero representation in NYC schools despite massive amounts of funding and full-time organizers, yet is given credence in this article. I bet MORE, a true grassroots group, has more visibility. 'Nuff said about the impartiality of the WSJ piece on ATRs, which also quotes astroturf groups like Students First (Jenny Sedlis, Eva's former pit bull?)

    Now here is an important point:
    The ATR issue is non-negotiable in terms of a time limit.  Case closed.  We already won this with the awful 2005 arbitration panel.  This has been settled and the ed deformers keep bringing it up as a way to do an end run around tenure. Most ATRs get hired provisionally because principals don't want to keep people who become senior in their school after their one provisional year.  Lots of excessed people.  Most are hired provisionally from year to year.  Some are placed permanently (usually less senior) while some have rotated for three years and been ATRs for longer..... Chapter Leader at a closing school
    Yes boys and girls. We have a contract that keeps ATRs in perpetuity. We gave up valuable real estate in 2005. As my pal says, "Case closed." Yet as he says, the ed deformers, having gotten their pound of flesh a decade ago, want even more. There is more on this point and the info will probably appear on the blogs soon.

    I know ATRs are unhappy and want some resolution. Do does the DOE. So does the UFT.

    There are solutions but not one that includes a time limit being pushed by the ed deformers is acceptable and the UFT has not varied from that position. I know I was one of the people thinking they would sell out, I am moving to James Eterno's position that they will not sell out on time limits, no matter how much pressure put on. (A lesson for the UFT was Chicago, where ATR time limits were major organizing tools for CORE -- MORE in NYC would be in a similar position -- but I am not rooting for time limits to help as an organizing tool.)

    When the WSJ's Leslie Brody contacted me about getting the word out to ATRs that she was doing an article on them I wrote her that I was always suspicious of the press, but especially of a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication. Though they always claim there is a firewall between editorial and reporting, I don't believe that.

    They start off with a bias and what they want is some quotes from ATRs to try to show impartiality.

    While warning them about this, I did notify my listserves. ATR Dave Levin did talk to her and is quoted, though he told me the more pertinent things he said were not included... "of course she didn't use the good stuff and I'm not surprised she picked out the juicy quote but it's OK. I explained to her that the groups like student first were not student first."

    In my correspondence with Leslie, when I brought up that salary was an issue, Leslie was misinformed in claiming the DOE picked up the salary. I sent her response to Chaz for clarification. Chaz refused to talk to her but wrote a piece on ATRs and sent it to her (The Reason Why ATRs Should Be Put Back Into The Classroom. It Helps Student Academic Achievement). Chaz pointed to the Fair Student Funding formula as a major culprit and he clarified the point on picking up the salary.
    There is a deliberate misconception that the DOE picks up part of the ATR salary if a school selects an ATR to fill a leave replacement or vacancy.  The DOE only picks up the difference in salary between the ATR and the salary of the teacher the ATR is replacing for the first year only!   If the school decides to pick up the ATR for the second year the ATR's salary must be included in the average teacher salary of the school and comes out of the school's budget.  Therefore, very few, if any, ATRs are picked up the second year since it will cost the school money.
    Note not one word on this important issue in the article. But plenty of quotes from the ed deform astro-turfers.

    And there is the most egregious partisan issue -- the refusal to fully identify who these groups represent - including the owner of the WSJ. They are all funded by the same sources and have echoed every single partisan note of the ed deform platform. TNTP which also makes money from pushing new teachers has a dog in the race -- get rid of ATRs and they get a lot of business.

    Note that Leslie did not ask for a quote from ICE or MORE, grassroots groups independent from the UFT line.

    Here is the article below the jump - or click here.

    Teachers Unite Membership Drive

    I was one of the first members of Teachers Unite and continue to support the work of the organization. Jose Alfaro was an early distributor of Ed Notes when I took it citywide in 2002 at Fannie Lou Hamer HS (it was only a publication for the Delegate Assembly for the previous 5 years). Teachers Unite provides the space for people like Jose to continue doing the work he did before he retired.

    What's Your Story?
    José Alfaro
    I considered becoming a teacher in 1970, when I graduated from college, but my conflict with the traditional ed department at my college and the anti-child conversation I found in the staff cafeteria where I did my student teaching dissuaded me from teaching. 

    In contrast I ended up working as a youth organizer for United Bronx Parents, one of the key organizations in NYC working for community empowerment in the schools. There, one of my responsibilities was advocating for students and their families in the schools.

    In the mid 80's my son began attending the progressive schools in east Harlem and I eventually began teaching at the high school, Central Park East Secondary School. Teaching was great, but it also prevented me from continuing my community organizing, so when I was asked to return to my role as a social worker and help develop Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom H.S. in the Bx. I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I realize that the needs of the students meant that my position presented many challenges, but I was emotionally hooked and today, even though I've retired I continue to work at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School part time seeking to develop the use of restorative practices at the school as well as in other schools.

    Since I became an activist in the late 60's I've always stressed the importance of working collectively in an organization with people from whom I can learn and build with. I've been involved with different education organizations throughout the years, but with Teachers Unite I've had an opportunity to combine my training as an education advocate with my training as a therapist through the work we do around Restorative Practices.

    My vision for public education is that schools become significant learning centers that address the multiple needs of the community. This means deepening critical thinking skills, using authentic assessment in lieu of standardized tests, provide a rich variety of ways to explore intellectual, artistic and physical interests, make available culturally relevant health and mental health services, and become centers of youth and community empowerment.

    *          *          *          *          *          *          *       

    Your generous donation to Teachers Unite sends a message of encouragement to educators who take action to end school pushout and racial injustice.

    Our members are not only speaking out, they are acting out!
    • They help schools organize Restorative Justice Teams.
    • They collaborate with youth organizations to change the city's School Discipline Code.
    • They produce media and resources that envision a humanistic approach to student discipline.
    • They transform their own school cultures and advocate to the DOE and UFT for help with doing so.
    We have to show parents and young people that teachers are opposed to social and economic injustice.  Please click here to donate today!