Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MORE Workshop(s) on Chapter Leader Upcoming Elections Strike(s) a Chord

The reason there are bully principals who can discontinue people with no worry of a union response or harass tenured teachers into oblivion is due to a weak, ineffective and disinterested UFT leadership. ... Yeah, I said that.
Until vast number of schools elect independent and capable chapter leaders who build an internal organization at the school level nothing will change in the UFT - which is why I am so skeptical about the UFT general election process every 3 years and why those basic numbers don't move much decade after decade. Unity controls most chapters and building chapters of resistance is not their priority. I measure things based on how many schools have effective chapters -- and I don't just mean MORE but independents and even those Unity chapter leaders who do this hard work. I think a survey will show a small minority - one of the biggest condemnations of the UFT/Unity leadership. Their middle managers - the district reps - mostly do nothing in this area - they are there as henchmen/woman of top-down UFT policy, not bottom up chapter building. And YES, electing district reps, which Randi eliminated in 2002, would be a start to making a more effective union.

Linking chapters together into loose networks of support will empower people, especially at the district level -- and now that Farina has empowered Supts, that becomes more relevant.

That has been a major focus of my own work within MORE - and it hasn't always been easy to get that point across. The UFT puts all its eggs in the one-person chapter leader instead of building networks. While monthly district chapter leader meetings should be used to work together to solve individual school issues, they are instead used to push central UFT policies through the district reps down to the schools. The UFT would never want independent acting chapters.

So if the UFT won't do it, MORE needs to focus on issues emerging at the school level and become a support network for those people and schools ready to act -- not as much an opposition per se. Some MORE members have already gone local - holding small non-advertized meetings after school with teachers in their school neighborhoods. Don't worry about the big union picture as much and put resources into support networks.

MORE has gotten down to work - sometimes after much nudging and nagging - by focusing on the issues people are facing in the schools and trying to come up with strategies to address them by offering useful workshops - instead of just holding meetings for the sake of holding meetings. (Fighting Back In Your School). 

It is not enough to complain about conditions but try to come up with possible solutions. Since the UFT does not seem capable of standing up for people at the school level against vicious principals, it is up to rank and file teachers to get together and figure out strategies.

So it was a bummer when I awoke to the pre-"blizzard" snowstorm this past Saturday, the day of a long planned workshop addressing the upcoming spring chapter leader elections. I was kicking myself for printing as many as 30 copies of an intake form I prepared for the MORE Workshop(s) on Chapter Leader Upcoming Elections. "We'll be lucky to get 10 people," I thought. So I was surprised when between 30 and 40 people trekked into Manhattan from the outer boroughs and Long Island on a snowy Saturday, with a bunch of people we had never met. I viewed it as a sign that things are not kosher in the state of Denmark. It is one thing for people to email and call bitching but quite another to go to the next step and try to do something about it. 

The biggest single complaint I get from teachers is that their principals are tyrants and their chapter leaders are either in the pocket of the principal, under assault for not being in the pocket or basically ineffective. And then there is the ineffective, if not collaborative District reps and the UFT leaders above them who often tell teachers and chapter leaders who fight their principals that it is their fault for not getting along with the principal.

But we do know chapter leaders in MORE who do an excellent job, even in schools with difficult principals. Since they are openly part of the opposition by being identified with MORE, the UFT is often more attentive and cautious and they feel they get better service from above.

So people like Kit Wainer and Kevin Prosen and other experienced chapter leaders - including me - shared out experiences at the workshops in dealing with school administrations and organizing our colleagues. We heard some stories of the "model" Tweed/Leadership Academy principal -- youngish, arrogant, manipulative, aiming at senior teachers, divide and conquer, etc. - from people we had never met. Hearing other stories on how people organized their chapters even when they weren't chapter leaders made them feel they had a chance.

Thanks to Mike Schirtzer for leading the organizing effort to make this event happen.

We are doing another one on March 14. I am on the committee and am pushing for a workshop on how to use Danielson and common core to respond to the blizzard of unfair observations, along the lines of my post a few days ago which has received a lot of favorable comments:  Are You a Target of Misuse of Danielson Observations? Advice From Former Chapter Leader.

That former CL has been in touch with a lot more material which I will be publishing. I believe we can develop some tools to put in the hands of teachers to begin to counter this war on them at the school level.

The reason there are bully principals who can discontinue people with no worry of a union response or harass tenured teachers into oblivion is due to a weak, ineffective and disinterested UFT leadership. It is time for people at the rank and file level to rise up and take control.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Norm in The Wave: The UFT Plan is No Plan – Except to Capitulate to Cuomo and Call it a Victory

School Scope: The UFT Plan is No Plan – Except to Capitulate to Cuomo and Call it a Victory
By Norm Scott

Given Andrew Cuomo’s assault on public education, teachers and their unions, the leaders of the UFT, after playing footsie with Cuomo for tears went into panic mode, calling for emergency meetings with parents and an emergency Delegate Assembly this past week. This after calling for a social media blizzard from its members. Cuomo used his powers as governor to call in a massive air strike in the form of the blizzard of 2015 to disrupt the plans of the UFT to organize resistance. But long-time readers of this column and of my EdNotesOnline blog are aware that I’ve never given much credence to any plans on the part of the UFT to engage in a real fight back. But more on that later.

Then there’s the fall of the house of Sheldon, one of the 3-men in the room who run NY State. Well, Sheldon Silver is still in office, but growing increasingly toothless. They ought to build a prison just to house members of the NY State legislature. In fact, they ought to turn the state capital into condos and hold their sessions in a penal colony. There were two interpretations of the Silver, a noted ally of the UFT, arrest. The early betting from teacher bloggers was that Cuomo orchestrated it so he could run his education deform plot through without interference from Silver. But as the days passed people began to think US Attorney Preet Bharara was also targeting Cuomo ever since the Governor killed his own Moreland commission to investigate corruption. But when the Commission began to nose into Cuomo’s own corrupt territory he pulled the plug, which put Bharara on the warpath. The NY Post’s Fred Dicker, who hates Cuomo, wrote that Cuomo was "On Edge" And "Obsessed With Fear As Criminal Probe Into Albany Corruption Continues.” I thought Cuomo was mostly obsessed with fear over having to taste his celebrity chef girlfriend Sandra Lee’s cooking.

Given this scenario, teachers all over the state are praying for the boom to be dropped on Cuomo before he totally eviscerates tenure and gets his wish to have 50% of teacher evaluations to be based on the performance of their students on standardized tests, known as Value Added Measures (VAM), especially since the calculations of these ratings are based on voodoo math. VAM is a sham – but it allows Cuomo to cater to his charter school contributors looking to privatize and profit from undermining the public school system and the teacher union.

Which brings me back to the old UFT and its state (NYSUT) and national (AFT) affiliates. They have all been straddling the fence over the past decade as ed deform has gained enormous ground, unwilling to take a strong enough stand, waffling and agreeing to allowing teachers to be partially rated based on test scores. They bragged that they got only 20% of a teacher rating to based on tests. Cuomo wants 50%. The UFT will take 40% and call it a victory.

Then there’s tenure, currently set at three years, but repeatedly over ridden by principals who can force an untenured teacher to sign, under threat of immediate dismissal (also known as discontinuance, with a permanent black ball against their name), a year or more extensions, thus effectively making gaining tenure a potential 4,5 or 6-year deal. Cuomo has proposed formalizing tenure into a strict 5 year arrangement and with extensions forced on teachers by principals added on that, could make gaining tenure a 6-8 year ordeal. I can see the UFT, which has said little about teacher tenure being extended or their being discontinued, now agreeing to 4 years and saying – “see – it was pretty much 5 years anyway, so why expend political capital fighting it?” As usual, the UFT defense is the equivalent of the Maginot line in France in WWII designed to fight the battles of WWI – fighting old wars in a new age.
Norm blogs at ednotesonline.org

This should be published this Friday, Jan. 30 at www.rockawave.com though I was about an hour past deadline. If not it will be in the Feb. 6 edition.

Capital NY Ed News Worth Sharing: Cuomo Contradictions on Ed Policy and Mulgrew Goes One Step Beyond Tweeting

Here’s a strange aside: Cuomo spent last year distancing himself from New York’s implementation of the Common Core standards. He supported legislation that now bans school districts from including scores from Common Core-based tests in students’ permanent records. Districts are also banned from emphasizing test scores when making student placement decisions. So test scores are not reliable enough to evaluate students—but the very same scores should be used to determine the fates of teachers?” 
Gary Stern, http://lohud.us/1yiH8d1 as reported in Capital NY Ed News
Lots of little nuggets in these reports. UFT also holding emergency DA -- the last DA was full of urgent tweeting. What is the next step? I would tell teachers to start an opt-out blitz and make a stand the UFT will defend teachers' right to free speech if they do so. Imagine getting thousands of parents to deny the data? Eterno has a piece on this at the ICE blog: WE MUST STARVE THE DATA BEAST NOW TO SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION IN NY

It won't happen from the UFT until they are pulled kicking and screaming into it ---and I'll get into this more later - when I take shoveling breaks - to delve into UFT/AFT opt-out positions which became clearer when they faced the horror of having MORE/CTS teacher Jia Lee testify on a national stage -- I imagine Randi hoped to be the one to testify and oh my, a real teacher she supposedly represents who opposes her. Randi pulled every string she had to get a teacher on the panel more amenable to AFT policy. Knowing how they coopt the opposition, if MORE begins to get some traction on the opt-out story from rank and file teachers they will try to misdirect the movement.

U.F.T HOLDING ‘EMERGENCY’ MEETING ON CUOMO PROPOSALS—Capital’s Eliza Shapiro: “Michael Mulgrew will host an ‘emergency meeting’ Tuesday evening to respond to Governor Andrew Cuomo's new education proposals. According to an invitation the U.F.T. blasted to parent advocates and clergy on Friday, the meeting will include a discussion of ‘how to respond to Governor Cuomo's attack on public schools.’ 

“With Cuomo's plans for education reform now clear, and with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's arrest on corruption charges throwing the opposition's plans into disarray, the U.F.T. is officially gearing up for a tough battle this legislation session. ‘Here comes the governor with the same ideas [former New York City mayor] Michael Bloomberg wanted to do’’ Mulgrew said Friday in an interview with Capital. ‘It's like, here we go, how do we coordinate and organize.’ Mulgrew said the U.F.T. has been ‘flooded with calls’ since Cuomo's State of the State address from advocates and parents hoping to organize against the governor's proposals.” [PRO] http://bit.ly/1xLQTBo
OPINION: CUOMO’S TESTING FOCUS—Journal News’ Gary Stern: “Cuomo’s plans to break what he calls the state’s public education ‘monopoly,’ as outlined in his State of the State address, would only raise the profile of standardized tests. Educators and parent advocates I’ve heard from since then can’t believe he is so out of touch. … Here’s a strange aside: Cuomo spent last year distancing himself from New York’s implementation of the Common Core standards. He supported legislation that now bans school districts from including scores from Common Core-based tests in students’ permanent records. Districts are also banned from emphasizing test scores when making student placement decisions. So test scores are not reliable enough to evaluate students—but the very same scores should be used to determine the fates of teachers?” http://lohud.us/1yiH8d1

HOW BAD ARE NEW YORK SCHOOLS, REALLY?—New York Times’ Kate Taylor: “Cuomo, in his State of the State address [last] week, exhorted lawmakers to make significant changes to New York State’s education system. He painted a picture of a system in crisis: only a third of students reaching proficiency on state math and English tests, less than 40 percent of high school students prepared for college, hundreds of thousands of mostly minority students condemned to failing schools. ‘Our education system needs dramatic reform,’ Mr. Cuomo said. But how bad is New York, really? Relative to other states, experts say, not that bad. But not that good, either.” http://nyti.ms/15zmxdI

ENDING BRIEF TRUCE, SUCCESS FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY—Capital’s Eliza Shapiro: “Officials from two Success Academy charter schools filed a lawsuit against New York City [Friday], claiming the Department of Education has denied the schools pre-K classrooms. Success is arguing the pro-charter law passed last March ensures space for all new and expanding charter schools, including pre-K space. But the city claims it hasn't even begun awarding pre-K seats for September and therefore has not denied Success any space. The lawsuit ends what appeared to have been a brief truce between Success and the de Blasio's administration, after the city granted school space for eight Success schools in December.” http://bit.ly/15nEvzF

CRUCIAL MOMENT FOR TURNAROUND PLANS—Buffalo News’ Sandra Tan: “The fate of four public schools in Buffalo will likely be decided this week. Student performance at East, Lafayette and Bennett high schools, as well as at Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute, an elementary school, has been so poor that the state has demanded that district leaders come up with plans to transform these schools or phase them out of existence. Their decisions will affect nearly 2,000 students. The School Board is supposed to make final decisions regarding the four plans Wednesday.” http://bit.ly/15JolBN

Saturday, January 24, 2015

40th Anniversary of Substance and Memories of George Schmidt, Test Resister

TESTOCRACY? Yesterday we read from Diane Ravitch that one of the many Harvard mavens worshipped by some people is using the term "testocracy." We invented that term, but good ideas should not be copyrighted. Let's remind people, though, who should be remembered for having built the Resistance 20 and 15 years ago. The recent joiners to our ranks are, of course, welcome. Except when they write a self-serving history that puts their arrival at the onset of The Resistance. More about that when we review some new books or three.... George Schmidt
George Schmidt lost his career as a teacher in Chicago when Substance published the CASE tests and exposed just how error-laden, useless and indeed, harmful they were. So a well deserved kudo to George as Substance celebrates its 40th anniversary. We were getting copies of Substance here in NYC in the late 70s and also George's exposure of the ties between Al Shanker, the UFT/AFT and the CIA (The American Federation of Teachers and the CIA).

Then we lost touch with George  - until I attended an ed-tech convention in Chicago around 2000 and wandered into a session on how to battle testing and saw Substance on the seats and George on the panel. One of the spurs to me retiring in July 2002 was to expand was a Delegate Assembly only Ed Notes into a tabloid like Substance.

George and his son came out to my house that summer and I invited a bunch of people to meet with him. That group eventually became the basis of ICE (Independent Community of Educators). And of course ICE morphed into GEM in 2009 - inspired by some of the work going on in Chicago that we knew about through George and Substance and of course ICE and GEM and others formed MORE in 2012, inspired by the work of CORE in Chicago which took over the union in 2010. And Change the Stakes was also an offshoot of GEM.

It was through George that I met Susan Ohanian and other test resisters and Ed Notes was the first -- and only publication to take a stand against high stakes testing 15 years ago. I was presenting resolutions against high stakes testing in the late 90s - and based on the work George and Susan were doing, pretty much predicting exactly what has come to pass.

So George has not only impacted Chicago, but his work has had a major influence on the work here in NYC.

George and Substance aren't often cited by some of the revisionists writing the history of CORE which discount the impact of the outreach of a 35 year old network that George had created and maintained.

I am about to head into the city for the MORE workshops on chapter leader elections and chapter building -- the essence of building a fighting union -- and I'll have more on this later from one of  my correspondents who helped lead a fightback in her school against unfavorable observations.

Here are excerpts of George's Bulletin he sent out today.
Brothers and Sisters:

The year 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of Substance. Our print editions began publishing in mid-1975, following the organizing that led to the formation of S.U.B.S. (Substitutes United for Better Schools) after some of us returned from the Vietnam War (me as an anti war organizer; Larry from the Marines) and elsewhere to discover that for seven years the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union (under Bob Healey and the UPC) had sold out substitute teachers in several contracts. Substitute pay had been frozen at $40 per day from 1968 through 1975. Our original organizing resulted in demonstrations, petitions to the union leadership -- and the beginning of the publication of a newsletter, Substance. By June 1976, Substance had evolved into a tabloid newspaper, and soon we were coming out monthly (and selling both papers and subscriptions). By early1976, S.U.B.S. had more than 300 dues paying members, most of whom were Chicago substitute teachers (although we let militant regular teachers join, too). It was the beginning of a very interesting ride that continues to this day. Some of us are still around. Some (Joe Corker, Dorothy Pearson, Dan Van Zile and others) have died. And a few left teaching because of the ongoing insults and indignities that we had to endure as substitute teachers in Chicago. As 2015 unfolds, we will from time to time be reprinting and sharing historical memories from the pages of Substance and from our archives. Please let us know your memories as well, because history cannot be told accurately by any one person or handful of people.

The first historical documents we are sharing this morning are attached. On January 28, 2015, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune decided, both together and of course coincidentally, to publish editorials denouncing Substance and me for publishing some of the Pilot CASE tests that had been given earlier that month to all Chicago high school students. By that day, we had been sued for a million dollars and I had been taken out of my classroom at Bowen High School pending a kangaroo court trial before suspending me without pay. When Substance published the CASE tests, I originally believed that the press had the right to publish government documents of an important public nature. The court, with the support of the Sun-Times and Tribune, held that "copyright trumps First Amendment," a dubious ruling that is still being upheld. The complexities of the events that followed are matters of fact and history, which I will be sharing as the year goes on. Let's just say for now that the willingness of Chicago's media leaders, as you can read from the attached, to go along with power was as corrupt than in 1999 as it has been many times since. But when recently the American media did their "Je Suis Charlie" stuff after the murders in Paris, I had to go back and remember just how much hypocrisy has gone into creating the brainwashings that still today have many people trapped inside the ruling class's thinking. Let me know what you think of the two attached documents.

Solidarity forever,

George N. Schmidt, Editor

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letter to Lamar Alexander from Jeff Nichols

We are going to retake control over the education of our children. Ordinary parents and teachers are going to reinstate democratic governance of public schools in this nation, asserting the same rights already enjoyed by the elite (including our president) who opt out of unconstitutional federal mandates by sending their children to private schools -- schools where the meaning of accountability has not been perverted beyond recognition, schools where teachers and parents are accountable only to each other as they strive, according only to their own best understanding, to do what's best for the children they are jointly raising. Public school parents and teachers will claim the same right, with or without the help of the U.S. Congress. If necessary we will do so through civil disobedience.... Jeff Nichols, parent
I had the pleasure of seeing Jeff Nichols leading a workshop on opting out at the PS 3 event the other night. Here is the complete letter he wrote after the hearings on Weds where Jia Lee testified.
Dear Senator Alexander,

Your committee stands charged with drawing to a close an episode of national insanity that unfortunately has considerable precedent. As during the era when fear of the Soviet Union induced an assault on our fundamental rights of free speech and freedom of association during Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunts, so in the past few years fear of the rising economic might of China and of global competition generally has led to another equally violent assault on a basic democratic principle: the right of the American people to determine for themselves the methods and policies that govern how they educate their own children.

In the name of saving those children from economic ruin at the hands of supposedly better-prepared rivals in newly developed nations, we are destroying the educational foundation of our greatness. Throughout the twentieth century, American public education was characterized by diversity and local control. 50 state systems loosely oversaw thousands of local districts that possessed great authority to determine curriculum, assessment, hiring practices and many other basic functions of running schools. That is to speak only of the public schools; added to that picture of diversity were innumerable private and parochial schools.

The result was the rise of a free, wealthy, powerful and culturally vibrant nation virtually without parallel in the history of the world.

This is not a coincidence. Our pluralistic, decentralized, diverse education system is a primary reason science, business and the arts have been able to produce an unending stream of great discoveries and innovations that have benefited all humanity.

Yet our federal education leaders want to change all that, and they have used the instrument of high-stakes testing to force the change they want on the nation. Arne Duncan regularly sings the praises of China's test-driven system and predicts dire consequences if we do not match their achievement. Through the Common Core and associated federal testing mandates, he is well on his way to achieving his goal.

Senator Alexander, have you read the writings of Yong Zhao, the great Chinese-American education scholar who has written definitive rebuttals of Mr. Duncan's claims? I cite only one fact I learned from Professor Zhao's latest book Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World.

Zhao quotes Zheng Yefu, a professor at Peking University and the author of a popular book in 2013 titled The Pathology of Chinese Education, who wrote:

No one, after 12 years of Chinese education, has any chance to receive a Nobel prize, even if he or she went to Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge for college…. Out of the one billion people who have been educated in Mainland China since 1949, there has been no Nobel prize winner…. This forcefully testifies to the power of education in destroying creativity on behalf of the Chinese society.

Zhao, who lived under the Chinese system in his early years, points out what anyone should realize after half a moment's reflection: China's education system is designed to systematically suppress original, independent thought. That's the primary task of education systems in ALL authoritarian societies.

Bill Gates, one of the chief forces behind the current drive to shape American education in the image of China's through relentless standardized testing, has decried the uncontrolled diversity of American education. He has called the myriad state standards and associated diversity of educational approaches that prevailed before the Common Core "cacophonous."

Well, I say this to Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg -- some of the members of the "billionaire's boys club" that Diane Ravtich has accused of mounting a coup in American education:

When everyone has a voice, it gets noisy. You call that cacophony. I call it democracy. Get used to it. You and the politicians you back may have exploited the recent Great Recession to scare states into trading their sovereign authority over education for money, but the people of those states are rising up. We are going to retake control over the education of our children. Ordinary parents and teachers are going to reinstate democratic governance of public schools in this nation, asserting the same rights already enjoyed by the elite (including our president) who opt out of unconstitutional federal mandates by sending their children to private schools -- schools where the meaning of accountability has not been perverted beyond recognition, schools where teachers and parents are accountable only to each other as they strive, according only to their own best understanding, to do what's best for the children they are jointly raising.

Public school parents and teachers will claim the same right, with or without the help of the U.S. Congress. If necessary we will do so through civil disobedience. My wife and I will submit our two children to no state-mandated standardized tests; we have joined tens of thousands of parents in our state of New York in defying both the federal government and the state authorities who caved to federal pressure, betraying our children to serve the interests of politicians and their corporate backers.

As in the McCarthy era, there is no middle ground here, Senator Alexander. You and your colleagues in Congress will either stop scapegoating teachers for the effects of poverty, and restore to parents, teachers and local communities their rightful control over public education, or you will go down in history as enablers of one of the most destructive series of laws and policies of our time: "No Child Left Behind" and its equally flawed sequel "Race to the Top."

You must work tirelessly to remove all federal efforts to control curriculum, assessment and teaching methods. Leave it to us citizens, who are uniting across the political spectrum to defy illegitimate federal education mandates, and who you can rest assured will not only see to it that our children are "college and career ready," but that they are fully prepared to know and assert their inalienable rights in a democratic society.


Jeff Nichols
Associate Professor
Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY


[Farina] used the word ‘accountable’ 14 times in her remarks, and the word ‘accountability’ seven times. ...in language that echoed statements from the pro-charter groups that often antagonize her, ‘the status quo is simply unacceptable - ‘the status quo is simply unacceptable.’--- Union leaders [Logan and Mulgrew] praised the overhaul..... Capital NY
The UFT's "pal" and "partner" -- leaving them in the dust.
No matter what the real reform noise coming out of Tweed, principals are still playing what looks to me a quota game to prove Cuomo wrong -- if 60% of the kids are below level than 60% of the teachers in your school must be ineffective.

I'm for getting rid of networks on the whole -- but handing power to the Superintendents knowing some of the people Farina recently appointed doesn't give me much hope -- the horrendous and vicious former principal of my school for 5 years is one of them.
“Announcing the reversal of the existing network system of school support, a signature Bloomberg-era education initiative, chancellor Carmen Fariña on Thursday delivered an address that sounded starkly reminiscent of her predecessors. Speaking to a crowd of education and business leaders at an Association for A Better New York breakfast, Fariña said her new organizational system would hold schools more accountable, a favorite word of the Bloomberg administration.

“‘We need a system with clear lines of authority and accountability,’ she said. (She used the word ‘accountable’ 14 times in her remarks, and the word ‘accountability’ seven times.) Fariña also painted a far less rosy picture of the current state of the Department of Education than she typically does, saying, in language that echoed statements from the pro-charter groups that often antagonize her, ‘the status quo is simply unacceptable.’” 

—More details on the school support overhaul: “Fariña’s proposal to, in her words, ‘fix the system,’ is to re-organize the way schools are supported by replacing the 55 networks created under former chancellor Joel Klein with seven geographically based ‘borough field support centers.’ Employees of the networks will likely work in the support centers, an education official said. The centers will be located in all five boroughs, with two centers each in Brooklyn and Queens, and will serve as hubs of operational and instructional support. Superintendents will refer principals to the centers for specific needs. Superintendents will be at the core of the new structure.” http://bit.ly/1CmHR3g

Now Needed MORE Than Ever: MORE Chapter Building Workshop Saturday January 24th 12:00-3:00pm

Did you check out the Cuomo assault? Have you watched how UFT/NYSUT has responded to the ed deform agenda by straddling the line and in fact pretty much losing every battle even if it wins some minor skirmishes? Someone sent this article with this comment:
Am I over-reacting, or are we going to have to strike? The numbers dont add up. They just don't add up. How does a senior teacher survive this?
My response was:
Experience hands think it's over -- our main problem is the UFT, not Cuomo because no matter what we do the UFT will put up a faux and distracting fight, looking to salvage what they can to keep their oligarchy in control. Even if the UFT shrinks by 25% they will still be there. Problem is that it is easy for them to misdirect people so it looks like they are doing something. And they can use the "We must be united, don't be critical" argument to shut down opposition. Without an organized union leading striking is not a possibility. What will happen is that more people like you will begin to get it and that is why we must stay alive and build organizational infrastructure so people have a place to go.
Our chapter building and chapter leader support networks are the only defense because unless principals face organized resistance there is little hope -- a lot still happens at the school level.

Which is why figuring out how to establish organized resistance at the school level is crucial:

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UFT Chapter elections are coming up this Spring!

If you're interested in running for Chapter Leader or Delegate in your school, or, if you just want to help your union chapter do a better job protecting members’ rights, join us at a Chapter Building Workshop next Saturday, Jan 24th!

We'll help you make plans to build a stronger, more organized, and more involved UFT chapter in your school.
RSVP on facebook here, or just come on out, and be sure to spread the word!
MORE Chapter Building Workshop
Saturday January 24th 12:00-3:00pm
CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Ave at 34th st NYC room 5409

Food and beverages will be served, and free childcare is available, but e-mail more@morecaucusnyc.org to reserve it.

If you are unable to make it, e-mail us (more@morecaucusnyc.org)! We have a team ready to help any one who wants to revitalize our union chapters at the school level.

Movement of Rank and File Educators
Here are some more comments:
The union response is a distraction and misdirection from the real work that has to be done. They have allowed things to deteriorate so much at the school level with all-empowered principals from their old-pal organization, the CSA, that they can barely energize an increasingly skeptical teaching force.
The Uft has no interest in having members active, fighting, speaking out. They care about their power and money- that's it. Unfortunately it's that simple. Uft is happy when members are complacent or too fearful to do something. They will deal with the tenure changes because it keeps tenure, they like evals cause we sell accountability, they like charters- they can organize them for less than we will take.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Memo From the RTC: Season Opens Next Week With Seussical Jr.

This was supposed to be in this week's Wave but apparently didn't get in. So here it is.

Memo From the RTC:  Season Opens Next Week With Seussical Jr.
by Norm Scott

While baseball fans are getting excited over pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in a few weeks, the real excitement in Rockaway and neighboring communities is the beginning of the RTC season with the opening of Seussical Jr., starring dozens of immensely talented children under the age of 14 – the future generation of RTC stars. The older kids – 14-19 will be doing their version of Legally Blonde Jr. at the end of February.

I stopped by the Rockaway Theatre Company’s headquarters in Fort Tilden last weekend to watch both groups of kids rehearsing on the beautiful Frank Caiati- designed stage, built by the construction team led by Tony Homsey, of which I am a member. The stage was flooded with children of all ages involved in both shows, which are outcomes of the popular high-level Saturday RTC children’s workshops run by Peggy Press that begin every September. Parents register their children from Brooklyn and even Long Island. I imagine many seats will be filled with family members but some seats will be available, especially for the matinees.

Fri, Sat. Eve: January 30th, 31st - February 6th & 7th at 7PM
Sat/Sun Matinees: January 31st - February 1st, 7th and 8th at 2:00PM
Bring the whole Family! all Seats- $10.00- no phone in or online reservations will be taken -- at the box office day of performance only.

The RTC adult season opens in April with Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” followed by “Guys and Dolls” in late June, “Little Shop of Horrors” in August, Simon’s “Plaza Suite” in October and closing in November with a reprise of RTC’s version of “One Flew Over the Kuckoo’s Nest” which was first performed 10 years ago and will include as much of the original cast as director Michael Wotypka can dig up. Rumors are that I have a shot at a role as the Kuckoo and even a possibility of rolling the dice in “Guys and Dolls.” I’ve started shopping for my zoot suit.

You're still a rebellious revolutionary -- Former Student

Hello Mr. Scott. This is Richard P. I graduated from your 6th grade class in the year of 1974. I hope all is well with you. You're still a rebellious revolutionary. When I think about my years of growing up in Williamsburg Bklyn you're on the top of the list. I wish you all of the best in 2015. God bless you!!!!
I guess I talked about my politics to the kids in 1974 and survived.

Richie sent a photo - I'm thinking he must be about 50 or more and looking OK. As teachers we worried a lot about the kids, especially the boys - and he says life is good -- living in suburbs and working in the city. He called today and we will talk. The last time I think I saw him was at his mom's wake about 30 or more years ago. And she was one fine lady and we talked a lot. Too bad she didn't get to see him grow into full manhood.

Are You a Target of Misuse of Danielson Observations? Advice From Former Chapter Leader

From MORE blog
After attending the Peter Zucker hearings and seeing up close how observations were being used to go after him (even though it was technically the last pre-Danielson year) I am learning a lot.

I was in touch with a teacher recently who feels she is becoming a target of a vicious, incompetent administration. The chapter leader is in the principal's pocket - a partner in crime - and the district rep doesn't look like much help -- if they are in the Unity club together you may have to go above the district rep -- and last resort is using blogs. This situation is all too common -- a good reason for those wanting to figure out ways to challenge a corrupt chapter leader to attend the MORE workshop this Saturday - Fighting Back In Your School. 

I told her to be ready for an influx of formal and informal observations designed to undermine her and create a paper trail.

These are not easy battles to fight and with the Cuomo assault, Silver arrest (New York Assembly Speaker, Faces Arrest on Corruption Charges) and ineffective UFT/NYSUT it is Katy bar the door time for teachers, especially given the number of vicious and even psycho principals out there. (Note that the Farina attempt to curb principal power as reported in today's NY Times - (Chancellor Set to Centralize Management of New York City Schools) has nothing to do with the teacher end -- don't expect support for teachers from the Superintendents Farina has installed.)

I reached out to an experienced former chapter leader Ed Notes reader for advice on how to fight back and here is the former CL report with an example of how one teacher in her school fought back aggressively-- in this case the chapter leader who replaced her when she stepped down is a good person and willing to stand up for the staff. ( I did something similar back in 1971 when my principal gave me a U on an observation -- I wrote an 8 page response and posted it over the time clock - and that was my pre-tenure year -- yes I was crazy -- but it worked - never bothered me again).

Here is her report:
If a teacher's lessons are being targeted and Danielson is being used as a weapon----it becomes a part time job fighting admin. She needs to know Danielson better than her admin, be specific in how she addresses it and ask questions---a lot of smart questions based on her report----

The AP never answered any of her questions----and the teacher made that such a big issue.....she was able to turn the tables on the AP. If your friend the teacher has any allies they need to write her uft district rep on her behalf and get them into the school for a meeting. Her chapter leader needs to know members will go over his head.

Here's a sample from a teacher at my school....she responded to her AP.
....This email is in response to the feedback I received from you on December 17 at 7:30am that resulted from your informal observation on October 30.

Here is some background information you could not have known unless you asked me. This reading lesson was a continuation from the previous day, Tuesday October 29. The story that I chose was fictional and was chosen as a read aloud for the month of October. While reading this story and asking questions, the students could not identify that the story was fiction or list events from the story that may not happen in real life. 72% of the class could not answer these questions and give me evidence as to why this book was fiction. Therefore, the purpose of this lesson was to address my students’ needs yet you labeled it as an “activity that required minimal thinking.” Common Core requires students to explain the difference between fiction and nonfiction books. Standard RL 1.5 states, “Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information…” When students enter my 2nd grade classroom unable to do this, it is something I must spend time on. Therefore, your comment regarding “minimal thinking” confuses me. It raises the following questions:

· If discerning the difference between fiction and nonfiction requires only minimal thinking and yet is a first grade standard that 72% of my students have not met, are you saying that I should not teach it because it only requires minimal thinking?

· We have been repeatedly told that we should design our lessons based on the needs of 70% of our students. Has this policy changed?

· Do I ignore the fact that the majority of my students cannot adequately perform an activity that meets the previous grades’ standards since you labeled the lesson as “an activity that required minimal thinking?” Whether it requires minimal thinking or not is really irrelevant since it is something that my students clearly struggled with and is part of the Common Core that I must teach.

· I look at the standards as a scaffold. Each subsequent year is supposed to build upon the previous year’s standards. They are stepping stones. This is what I learned from various workshops and materials given to us regarding the CCLLS. So I design my lessons around them after assessing where my students fit in with K-2 standards. Is this not the correct approach to take? Am I to skip laying the foundation that should have been in place by the end of first grade?

Prior to your observation on October 30th, the students participated in an interactive written response to the questions regarding discerning a fiction book from a nonfiction book after we discussed these questions as a whole class on Tuesday, October 29th. In response to your comment, “The instructional pacing was slow,” the lesson that you saw was a recap of the day before in order for the students to be able to try these same questions in their own independent reading book. My pacing was slow due to the difficulty the students were experiencing with this concept which students were expected to master last year in first grade but did not. 

Am I not supposed to pace the lesson in way that affords my students the opportunity to grasp the standard? Or am I expected to increase the pace despite the fact that my students are struggling to understand what I am teaching them?

For these reasons, I can not agree with your score of “developing” for component 3b. I find it unacceptable that the majority of my 2nd graders could not tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction as well as describe the genres’ characteristics and that you rated me negatively for attempting to ensure that they meet the Learning Standards established by NYS.

The score of “developing” for component 3c is quite baffling. Does the score you give depend on the responses from only 2 children? You asked one of the students, “What do you do when you’re done?” She stated that she recopies her answers so they are neater. This is something I never tell my students to do and personally I think you know that. The students are told to reread their work and make sure they answered all the parts of the questions. If they think it is correct then they switch with their partner and “TAG” each other’s journal. Student CB didn’t do her assignment correctly and she actually had to go back and fix it once I conferenced with her. Student SS’s response was that she puts her head down. Did you ask her if she’s feeling ok? Did you ask the question in more than one way? Did she understand what you were asking? Student SS has an IEP and receives OT, Speech, SETTS, and is an unfocused student that needs constant redirection and repetition. Student SS is often tired in class so I allow her to put her head down at times. Her tiredness is a side effect of the medication she takes to control her seizures. Why am I being negatively affected for modifying my expectations based on a student’s medical condition? In fact, this should rate me as “highly effective” under Danielson 1b. Are you directing me to end this accommodation and try to keep SS alert and focused at all times despite the effects of her medication?

I also received a score of “developing” for component 3d. You state that, “students appear unaware of assessment criteria.” The word appear does not represent fact. Were all of my students unaware of the assessment criteria or just some? Are you only speaking of the one student you spoke with? Your comment is too vague, yet it is negatively affecting me. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to provide a “self-assessment checklist,” which appears to be what you are speaking about, for every lesson I teach. Is that your expectation? Am I to create a self assessment for every lesson I teach? I sent the students back to their tables after having several students tell me and the class what they were supposed to do when they went back to their seats. The students also had a modeled reading response to follow. You asked one student (the same student from component 3c), “How do you know you’re right?” 

Her response was that she reads it out loud. I think her response is appropriate. When students read aloud the responses to themselves, they can hear if what they wrote sounds right and makes sense. This is often the case when they read their work to me. Again, it’s a negative reflection on me that one student doesn’t give you an answer to your liking. Seven year olds can not be expected to know if they are right all the time. Self assessment has its place but the idea that 2nd graders can always know when they are right without teacher input is not a developmentally appropriate expectation. Whether or not a child’s work is correct can only be recognized by speaking with them, looking over their work with them, which in reality takes more than 2 hours if I spend only 4 minutes with each child. Also, I have to look through or read their independent book in order to assess them accurately, which was taking place when I was meeting one on one with students. Your comment, “feedback to students was general,” again is vague. You give one response I gave, “good answering.” Did you notice that there were more students I gave feedback to? The fact is I gave actionable feedback to 15 of my students. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Today: Forum on standardized testing featuring Diane Ravitch - PS 3M

We are writing to invite you to join parents and educators from across NYC on Wednesday, January 21 at 6:00pm in the PS3 auditorium for an important forum on standardized testing featuring renowned education expert Diane Ravitch.

Around the country parents and educators are becoming more and more vocal in expressing their dissatisfaction with an educational system that has become increasingly focused on testing at the expense of thoughtful and imaginative teaching. At this Working Strategy Session entitled “Join the Movement Against A Test-Obsessed System: How Can We Put the Focus Back on Learning in Our Schools?,” we call on public school parents and educators from around New York City to come together to formulate concrete strategies. We aim to pressure city, state, and federal governments to move away from the current testing model, with its focus on hours and hours of test prep and test taking, to a system of assessment that is more beneficial in terms of preparing our children to go out into the world and succeed.

Following a presentation by Dr. Ravitch, and question & answer session, we will break out into working strategy groups to explore specific action steps that can be taken to help turn the current tide of "education reform" with its overuse (and misuse) of tests and put the focus back on learning in our schools. In the months following the forum, each group will work to implement the action steps it has developed.

Attached is a flyer for this event. We encourage you to send it out to your [school] community. Space in
auditorium is limited and we expect a large crowd. We urge you to register on Eventbrite soon.
We will be offering limited childcare (with pizza!) on a first-registered first-served basis (instructions on Eventbrite).
 Get all the details here.

We look forward to seeing you on January 21 and working with you in the months ahead to effect positive change in our schools so that teachers have the time they need to teach, children the time they need to learn, and tests are used as truly valuable indicators of a child's and a school’s progress.

All best,

Janine Sopp and Change the Stakes

Event Details:
What: Testing Forum with Diane Ravitch
When: Wednesday, January 21, 6 - 9pm
Where: PS3 Auditorium, 490 Hudson Street, NYC

MORE on Jia Lee and Appearance at US Senate Hearings

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.Lee told Morning Education she has worked at schools where the need to boost student scores for NCLB accountability prompted an aggressive focus on test prep and a narrowing of the curriculum.


The hearings start at 9:30 AM Wed. January 21.

Will be livestreamed as well on the US Senate page here and archived afterwards:

more info below (though Politico missed the last minute addition of another NYC teacher, Stephen Lazar)

TUNED INTO TESTING: Education policy wonks are gearing up for a Senate HELP Committee hearing this Wednesday titled, "Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability." A refresher: Chairman Lamar Alexander has proposed two testing options [http://politico.pro/14SYoPQ] in his draft discussion to reauthorize the law, one of which would allow districts to forgo annual state tests. The witness list [http://1.usa.gov/1IIdfLe ]: New York City special education teacher Jia Lee, Harvard professor Marty West, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, New Hampshire Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights CEO Wade Henderson.

- Lee is probably the least known in D.C. but she has a strong following in the opt-out movement. She's a special education teacher in New York who strongly believes that the testing and accountability provisions in NCLB have damaged public schools - and she plans to tell the senators as much. Lee told Morning Education she has worked at schools where the need to boost student scores for NCLB accountability prompted an aggressive focus on test prep and a narrowing of the curriculum. She's now at a small, progressive public school called the Earth School, where last year about half the students opted out of standardized tests. 'There's accountability to our students and our parents,' Lee said. More from Maggie Severns: http://politico.pro/1yihw4t

Here is the report on the MORE blog:

MORE’s Jia Lee Testifies in U.S. Senate on NCLB

Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.
Jia Lee, MORE candidate and teacher at the Earth School is one of the conscientious objectors who refuses to administer the NY State Test this year.

The members of MORE proudly support our colleague, Jia L
The members of MORE proudly support our colleague, Jia Lee, who will be testifying at a senate hearing on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal education policies on Wednesday, January 21st 2015. Jia has taught at all school levels from high school to elementary school. She currently serves as the UFT chapter leader at the Earth School on the Lower East Side. She is a parent who has opted her child out of testing, joining thousands of parents around the nation. She has become a leader of the opt-out movement. Jia has been a strong advocate for teachers, parents and students, especially on the testing issue in her school, in MORE and in Change the Stakes. Last year she and other teachers at her school declared themselves “teachers of conscience” a form of conscientious objection in relation to the overwhelming negative impact of high stakes testing. In a letter to NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina, they wrote:

Dear Chancellor Carmen Fariña,
We are teachers of public education in the City of New York. We are writing to distance ourselves from a set of policies that have come to be known as market-based education reform. We recognize that there has been a persistent and troubling gulf between the vision of individuals in policymaking and the work of educators, but we see you as someone who has known both positions and might therefore be understanding of our position. We find ourselves at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education. We can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. We will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking. We can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a city-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. We have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.
As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.

Read the full statement here:   https://teachersofconscience.wordpress.com
The voice of the classroom teacher will be in extraordinarily capable hands in the person of Jia Lee at the national forum at the US Senate Education Committee hearing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MORE's Jia Lee NYC teacher and conscientious objector to hi-stakes testing chosen as witness at the US Senate testing hearings on Jan. 21!!!!

Jia and Andre
Leonie Haimson made the exciting announcement about Jia Lee to the Change the Stakes listserve. Jia has been a stalwart on both the MORE and Change the Stakes steering committees over the years.

I pledge to represent the children and their families, our profession and our communities to the best of my ability (hand across my heart) and tell them like it is! ... Jia Lee

Jia will be testifying in Washington tomorrow, Weds., Jan. 21. How great would it be if she wore her MORE tee shirt to the hearing.

The UFT/AFT/NYSUT crowd cannot be happy. Jia has declared herself a proud member of MORE and CTS,  leading the opt-out of tests movement here in NYC. NYSUT and the UFT have not jumped on the opt-out movement, instead issuing warnings to teachers like Jia that even mentioning opt-out to a parent could get them in trouble.

Jia was one of the MORE candidates running against the Revile (nee Revise) NYSUT slate last spring, along with Eterno, Cavanagh, Cohen, Schirtzer and Portelos.

Isn't it interesting that the Republicans who took over the Senate education committee a few weeks ago, led by former Secty of Education under Bush I in the early 90s, invited Jia (then ed deformer Diane Ravitch was the Under Secretary). Jia wouldn't have been given the time of the day by the Democrats, who seem to have little interest in the views of an actual classroom teacher.

Jia is a bright ray of light - and it is getting to know people like her through the work of MORE and CTS that keeps me involved in political action. She is not only a great educator and advocate for teachers and children. I have never found her to be down or lacking in optimism. As a single parent she often brings her amazing 11-year old son to events, meetings, etc and we get to see an example of wonderful parenting.

Some reactions:
Wow, great news.. Jia that is quite an honor. You are the most conscientious conscientious objector I know! .... Michelle
Yay Jia!!!!!!!!!! Stupendous news... Jeff
This is frickin' fantastic! Go get 'em, Jia!!!... Nancy
There's no one I'd rather see carrying the torch... Fred
This is wonderful news, Jia. I am so proud and honored to have you tell our story. You are a prize representative and thank you for all you are doing and about to do.
You absolutely are going to rock the house!! ! ! ! Janine
Wooo Hooo! Go Jia. You are going to know their socks off!... Jean
Thank you, Jia, for your persistence and dedication. Your actions continue to inspire others--and that goes for all on the list as well!... Edith
Now the wide world is getting a chance to hear you for themselves. My hope is that these senators stay in touch with you, and seek your advice. Fabulous news... Jane
I pledge to represent the children and their families, our profession and our communities to the best of my ability (hand across my heart) and tell them like it is! .... Jia
Ed deformers also can't be happy, even though the panel will be stocked with deformers. Then yesterday we found that another NYC teacher, Stephen Lazar, was added to the witness list; Stephen Lazar is on the Chalkbeat advisory board and blogs here:
http://ny.chalkbeat.org/author/stephen-lazar/. Given the Chalkbeat connection to ed deform, I was wary that there was an attempt to balance Jia's expected strong condemnation of standardized testing from the perspective of an elementary school special ed teacher who has also taught in high schools and junior high schools.

Jia works at the Earth School and Lazar founded a school, both not quite typical of NYC schools. (I'm betting no bully, insane principals.) But I do know that Jia spent years of horror working at PS 63M under a horrific principal who pushed all kinds of insane testing and other stuff onto the staff, who is still there. So Jia certainly brings that perspective to the table.
Leonie wrote:
Here is one thing he says about the state HS Social studies framework: http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2013/03/05/proposed-social-studies-framework-needs-improvement/#.VL1f1i7F-Rg.

And Diane Ravitch said:
Steve Lazar sounds like an educator with a conscience http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2012/10/22/why-im-starting-a-school-the-political-answer/#.VL1itUvm7Kc

Well, E4E and TFA people claim to be teachers of conscience. But from the little contact I've had with Lazar he seems to be a good guy.

Lazar teaches at Harvest Collegiate High School, which he help found and he wrote this:
Anyone who tells you they know how to improve schools at scale is lying or delusional. There is simply no precedent for taking a large number of struggling or mediocre schools and improving them. To say that the solution is to close them down and replace them with new ones, as the Bloomberg administration has done for 10 years now, is one of the great acts of hubris in our time. The part of me that cares deeply about the politics of educational policy, and its utter lack of regard for democracy under Bloomberg, doesn’t want to support this policy in any way.
But opening a school is doing that. I’m excited for Harvest Collegiate High School to be born, but for that to happen, Legacy High School has to die.
Read his entire statement here. I guess as a teacher who would have loved to work at an enlightened school but spent his entire career working in struggling schools I have 2 minds. Would I have started a school if given the chance or would I think it a higher calling to stay and work to make my school better? I did stay and fought a losing battle against the political machines running the schools.

I had many of the same discussions with old pal Harlem Link charter school founder Kitchen Sink (Steve Evangelista) who I got to like and respect - he runs an honest charter.

I think Stephen Lazar is an honest, thoughtful educator.

Here is the announcement of the witness list for this panel, which I'm sure includes deformers.

Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
10:00 a.m.
430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Panel I

Dr. Marty West, Associate Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA

Mr. Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Education, Concord, NH

Mr. Tom Boasberg, Superintendent, Denver Public Schools, Denver, CO

Ms. Jia Lee, Fourth and Fifth Grade Special Education Teacher, Earth School, New York, NY

Mr. Wade Henderson, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Stephen Lazar, Eleventh Grade US History and English Teacher, Harvest Collegiate High School, New York, NY

From Capital Education -—Also, “one of the witnesses at a [U.S.] Senate HELP Committee hearing Wednesday on testing will be Jia Lee, a special education teacher in New York.” POLITICO Pro’s Maggie Severns: http://politico.pro/1yihw4t

I can't access this story since it is on Politico Pro - if anyone can get it copy and paste it into an email to normsco@gmail.com.


Monday, January 19, 2015

EIA on NYSUT Finances - Negative Net Worth = - $233 Million

Oh that common core math must be at fault.
Mike Antonucci has been doing rundowns of each state union's finances. Calling NYSUT "Too big to fail" one wonders who will bail them out? Maybe their old pal Cuomo.

You'll notice Richard Iannuzzi is still listed as president because this is last year's report.
Posted: 19 Jan 2015 08:52 AM PST

New York State United Teachers appears to be too big to fail. Though it raised an additional $1.6 million in revenue, it spent an additional $14 million in staff compensation. The union spent more than 125 percent of its income, contributing to a negative worth of more than $233 million. NYSUT holds more than $305 million in pension and post-retirement health care liabilities for its staff and former employees.

Total membership – 385,566, down 3,781
Total revenue – $133.7 million (88% came from member dues), up $1.6 million
Budget deficit – $34.3 million
Net assets – negative $233.6 million
Total staff – 575
Staff salaries and benefits – $118.6 million
Highest paid employee – Richard Iannuzzi, president, $253,353 base salary
Highest paid contractor – Buchbinder, Tunick & Company, $244,536

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bully Principals Exist Due to a Weak Union: United Federation of Teachers not defending members

If the principal decides you are the target, you have no chance. If that principal wants to lie, manipulate, use other teachers against a particular teacher, there is nothing the UFT will do about it... Kim Janos
This courtesy of Jeff Kaufman - and so timely considering the 3020a hearings I've attended -- not one case I've seen should the teacher have been there in the first place. I saw 4 days of testimony of a principal who tried to present a negative picture of the targeted teacher and a perfect picture of the school she runs. It took only 3 witnesses for the defense to punch holes in just about every contention she made -- and of course, instead of having any interest in the truth, DOE Legal tried to harass and intimidate each of the witnesses. I'll get into the actions of DOE Legal and what the UFT SHOULD be doing about it in a future post.

I do find it funny when various groups are out there screaming, writing letters, speaking at PEPs as if Tweed gave a shit or will change their policies. These people should be out in front of 52 Broadway because it is the UFT's inability or lack of interest or even worse, taking the sides of the principals, on the part of the UFT that has empowered principals. Too heavy an attack will make their partners at the CSA, the principals' union, unhappy.

And we know one thing for sure -- New Action, which tries to jump on the bully principal bandwagon, will not pin the blame on the Unity/UFT leadership, to which it owes its seats on the Exec. Bd. So if ever there is a demo at any UFT offices calling for the UFT to pull no punches against bully principals, expect New Action to be upstairs in their offices, hiding.
United Federation of Teachers not defending members

By Kim Janos

TimesLedger Newspapers

The United Federation of Teachers has long been perceived as a powerful union in New York City. So, why would so many of its members find themselves in need of legal representation when they find themselves unfairly targeted by an unethical principal when members pay so much in dues?

This is the question many teachers are asking. So many of us are being harassed, abused and even brought up on false charges. In the age of “accountability,” the only accountable people seem to be teachers. Administrators do not need to account for anything, even abusing their employees. Teachers will call on their chapter leader and district reps only to be given false information. The UFT does NOT want members to know their rights. Why?

When teachers find themselves unfairly targeted by their principal, even after an excellent career, there is very little they can do. Their only course of action is to get an attorney. Expensive veteran teachers are encouraged by their union representatives to retire. Whether they are financially able or not is irrelevant. Untenured teachers are told to just resign and move on to other careers. It doesn’t matter if the accusations against the teacher are founded or not. If the principal decides you are the target, you have no chance. If that principal wants to lie, manipulate, use other teachers against a particular teacher, there is nothing the UFT will do about it.

That’s the little secret the UFT doesn’t want to get out: they are powerless and they don’t want members to know.

My question is why pay union dues to a union that doesn’t support its members and only exists to pay fat salaries to union leaders who do absolutely nothing?

New York City teachers deserve better. They deserve new union leadership — one that will advocate for its members.

Kim Janos


Fresh Meadows


Saturday, January 17, 2015


Randi must be banging her head against the wall. I have somewhere some unpub video of Steve heckling her into distraction at a rally in Detroit. BAMM has been the only group to run against Randi at the aft.
Unofficial results of the December 6 election are: the UTR slate won all DFT executive board and trustee seats in yesterday's election. There will be a runoff election, however, for the office of DFT president, three vice presidents, secretary and treasurer.
For the position of president, Edna Reaves garnered 390 votes, Steve Conn got 300 votes, and Mershira Oliver got 168 votes. According to the DFT constitution and bylaws, the president must win at least 50 percent of the votes.
So it looks like the Oliver people threw their votes to Steve. I'm confused based on this Dec. 15 report:
  • Edna Reaves (487) UTR
  • Steve Conn (365) EON/BAMN
Vice President (3)
  • Ivy Bailey (489)  UTR
  • Michael Schenk (461) UTR
  • Vida Bonacci (449) UTR
  • Myra Akpabio (380) EON/BAMN
  • April Chambers (310) EON/BAMN
  • Derrick Marable (297) EON/BAMN
Recording Secretary
  • Nicole M. Davis (480) UTR
  • Erika M. Jones (308) EON/BAMN
  • Michelle Broughton (483) UTR
  • Ucal Finley (300) EON/BAMN
If he didn't win any seats on the Ex Bd so look for some battle.

What does this mean for the bigger picture? I can't imagine Randi allowing Steve to be on the AFT Exec Bd or Steve wanting to be - he'd have to run on the Progressive Caucus instead of BAMN caucus line at the next AFT convention in 2016. So Detroit loses its seat on the AFT EB - a meaningless position.

Steve barely lost last time. But it looks like there will be an interesting struggle in Detroit --- BAMN is as social justicy a group as conceivable.
Detroit teachers elected Steve Conn to head the Detroit Federation of Teachers today.  Conn, a long-time civil rights activist, ran on the Equal Opportunity Now/ By Any Means Necessary (EON/BAMN) slate.  Conn and BAMN will now lead Detroit’s teachers in the new civil rights movement that is sweeping the country.

"Detroit teachers voted today to stand up to the attacks on their schools, their jobs and their students' futures by Snyder and his executive managers,"  said Conn.   "I take office Tuesday, and am immediately calling a mass meeting of the union membership and community to begin a fight against these attacks, to defend public education, and to win equal, quality education for our students. We must vote on a plan of action for the DFT to join the citizens of Detroit in a fight to restore democracy and dignity to all of the people of Detroit."

Contact Steve Conn & EON-BAMN ( Equal Opportunity Now – By Any Means Necessary) at 313.645.9340