Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ohhhh, I Missed Mindy's Great B-Day Party with the MOREista Pack

Well, I had an excuse - Damn those Yankees.

Here is Mindy's report on facebook - and low and behold our theater pal Kim Simek, one of the great actresses at the RTC, ended up at Mindy's party. Smallish world - except that Schirtzer knows everyone. And MORE is planning a holiday party on Dec. 12.
Good morning all!! After I posted my pics last night, I conked out in my chair last night for like 2 hours then crawled into bed. I was really drunk last night and I really needed that!!! I really had such a great time with you all. Its was a long time coming. Thank you guys for being there for me. Couldn't have asked for a better group of friends and it was great meeting some new ones!! Love you all!!! We need to do this again. Mike Schirtzer you picked the perfect place last night!!! Thank you. Just another reason why you are the best in my book!!! Megan Moskop thanks for the ride home. Francesca Gomes you give the best hugs!!! Alexandra Roberson, the flowers are beautiful and Karen Arneson thanks for the card! Gloria Brandman and hub, thank you for coming out to hang with us and John C. Antush, your wife is a sweetie!!! Vinny Internicola and Kimberly Simek, it was truly great meeting you guys and I sure hope we can hang out again. Daniel Katz it was so great to finally meeting you! Brian Gibbons, thank you so much for coming out. Always great to see you and please give my love to Alison. Lynn Manuell and Anna Lisa Schnirman, my 811 peeps, thanks to you guys as well. Of everyone there last night, you two have seen my transformation. Thank you for being there for my journey!!! Finally, here is a shout out to the guy who crashed my shindig, thanks for the laughs. I haven't smiled this much in a long time. I will say it again, much, much, love to you all!!!
— feeling blessed with Francesca Gomes and 13 others at Joshua Tree East.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Why I Like Mike

We will not win by signing loyalty oaths or making back room deals like the Unity/New Action members...Like Arthur, I am willing to debate Weingarten or Mulgrew anywhere, anytime, as long as it is open to all our members, not in some small room at 52 Broadway. .... Mike Schirtzer, MORE 
I joined proud MOREista Mike Schirtzer yesterday afternoon at the Brooklyn Teachers Unite Brooklyn Restorative Justice Meetup + Workshop where we encountered about 40 teachers - mostly young - and around 10 students - and all of them staying around until 6:30 to talk restorative justice and related education stuff. We played some games and then I went off to a group of high school science and math teachers to talk pedagogy - and boy how I have missed talking to teachers about - well, teaching, instead of politics. And teachers who despite all the crap out there, seem to love what they are doing.

We even found a chapter leader and a delegate, and they loved Megan Moskop's presentation at the DA on Tuesday on teacher diversity. Mike is as enthused over the Teachers Unite restorative justice agenda as he is about MORE and union politics.

I'm proud to know Mike who in the 2 and a half years I know him has become a friend through our work in MORE. In a short time, Mike has captured the sentiments of the average UFTer and captivated the long term activists, tirelessly working the phones and internet and running off to meet with people in bars and diners to talk their school's politics. That is real organizing at the fundamental level - and if I were Unity I would offer him a deal ASAP.

Arthur Goldstein featured Mike on his blog today: Loyalty
 Mike is loyal UFT. And so am I. No one believes in union more than we do. Sadly, that's not the sort of loyalty valued by our union.
It is because of Mike and all the people he mentions below, plus others that he doesn't that I don't retire to the lounge and despite some of the issues Arthur has chronicled about MORE I remain involved, as do most people from ICE, which was a founding group of MORE. We still believe in the potential of MORE while also trying to make sure it keeps its wheels on the track. Just look at the demographics of MORE in terms of age and where people stand in their careers compared to any other group in the UFT, including Unity.

Mike, a non-Communist registered Republican (despite the slander some people are spreading that MORE is a communist organization), proudly sent this to the listserves today.
Thank you Arthur. I am so proud to part of MORE, the only positive alternative to the current union leadership. We stand by our commitment to social justice for all. Fighting for teachers is fighting for children, our working conditions are our students' learning conditions, the two cannot be separated. 

Our union is the only thing that stands between us and Wal-mart poverty wages, our union is the only check and balance of the government’s and privateer’s misguided directives. The day will come when loyal UFT members like Arthur, me, and my friends in MORE will have union jobs, but it will happen democratically, not through patronage or any loyalty oath. Unlike the other caucuses, Unity and New Action, we will never sacrifice our principles for a seat at the table. We will create our own table with classroom teachers, educators, and parents dedicated to a fair public education for all children. Like Karen Lewis and CTU, we must have a union that is ready to fight for its members , with its members, and the children we serve everyday. The job of our union is to represent us, not tell us what they represent.

We will do this through mobilizing educators at every school to fight against abusive administrators and privatization, involving all our members in the day to day activities of our union. True union democracy would mean a chapter leader like Arthur would have a voice at union meetings and NYSUT/AFT conventions. True union democracy would mean a membership that finds it important to vote in UFT elections and have a chance to set policy before Mulgrew decides what “we” want, such as common core, test based evaluations, and cookie cutter rubrics. 

The UFT is set up very top down now - at Delegate Assemblies, Chapter Leader meetings - the agenda is set before we come - this is not our vision of unionism. When we lead the UFT it will allow the members to set the agenda and the policies. 

We will win by defending our members, by mobilizing the UFT to fight “reform” polices, by fighting for lower class size, arts, music, after-school programs and for ATRs right to have classroom jobs and union representation. 

We will not win by signing loyalty oaths or making back room deals like the Unity/New Action members. 

Like Arthur, I am willing to debate Weingarten or Mulgrew anywhere, anytime, as long as it is open to all our members, not in some small room at 52 Broadway. It is time we have a union that is a vehicle for pro-education, pro-union, policies, not one that begs for a seat at the table. I look forward to working along side Arthur, he is a great teacher, loyal unionist, and overall an amazing person. 

Thankfully I’m surrounded with great “union teachers” like Arthur, Norm Scott, Julie Cavanagh, Mike Fiorello, James Eterno, Lauren Cohen, Harry Lirtzman, Kit Wainer, Jia Lee and plenty of others.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today: Teachers Unite Brooklyn Restorative Justice Meetup + Workshop

I'm going to this event today with Mike Schirtzer from Leon Goldstein HS, though I have to leave early because we are doing a tuneup rehearsal at the RTC for this weekend's Damn Yankees shows. Mike has been totally captivated by the work of Teachers Unite. (I am a proud original member and supporter since its inception.) There is another one in Manhattan on Monday. See below.

Why restorative justice? I rarely had a child suspended and in fact used my own version of RJ to keep peace in my classroom. I think my approach to most kids helped keep me in the classroom for so long.  I felt suspension and or removal made me feel like a weak teacher. I wanted to have the attitude that I could deal with every child - even if not perfect I wanted that sense of confidence in myself.

Teachers Unite, founded by Sally Lee, has done amazing work in this area. Imagine a teacher and a child have a major conflict. I heard a story on NPR today about a battle between a librarian at Lincoln HS and a student who ended up suspended for 30 days. From what she said she did I can understand how a teacher would get crazy. But imagine if they could sit down with each other in some sort of setting to deescalate things. Now we know some students have such serious issues that things may never get resolved. In my one year as a special ed cluster (1979-80) working with in an emotionally and neurologically impaired unit in my school, kids were so off the wall, after over a dozen years of teaching I was still shocked. One of the great teachers in that unit told me there is a reason for why kids sometimes go nuts and as a teacher, being attuned and sensitive to the WHY of behavior is important.

Here are the Brooklyn and Manhattan announcements sent by Anna Bean who works with Sally. (Anna and her husband stopped by our house during Sandy recovery to offer a hand and that was how we got our dead - even though a month old - washing machine and dryer out to the curb.) Note the Dec. 13 fundraiser.

Brooklyn Restorative Justice Meetup + Workshop
***With Math & Science Breakout Group!***

Thursday, November 20th
4:30 to 6pm

Hosted by Brooklyn Frontiers High School
112 Schermerhorn Street
2/3/4/5 to Borough Hall |A/C/F/N/R to Jay St. MetroTech | G to Hoyt Schermerhorn
All are welcome—school staff, students, parents, community members—& food will be provided!
Flyer attached.

Manhattan Restorative Justice Meetup + Workshop

***NEW DATE!***
Monday, November 24th 
4:30 to 6pm
Hosted by Lower Manhattan Community Middle School
26 Broadway, 7th Floor Library (entrance at 81 New St.)
4/5 to Bowling Green | N/R to Whitehall | J/Z to Broad | 2/3 to Wall St.

  Please RSVP:
All are welcome—school staff, students, parents, community members—& food will be provided!
Flyer attached.
Join the FULL COURT PRESS against #SchoolPushout! 

Help us raise $10,000 to help 50 schools practice transformative justice this year and decrease the suspensions that lead young people to the School to Prison Pipeline. 

In a series of 3-on-3 half-court games, teams of educators and supporters will be dribbling, jumping, fast breaking champions in the pursuit of transformed public schools and empowered student voices. 

Saturday, December 13th
Manny Cantor Center

197 East Broadway in Manhattan

Donate at

Spread the word on social media
Bring your friends and family on December 13th
Volunteer at the event – email for information

Thank you!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From 25 Years Ago: The UFT After Shanker by Lois Weiner and Bruce Markens

A lot to interesting insights about the UFT and the opposition from Lois and Bruce in this document published in 1990. Some good lessons for the new generation of teacher activists looking to challenge the half century of Unity Caucus control - well, maybe the lesson is the more things change the more they remain the same.

Lois Weiner and Bruce Markens were 2 of the most respected independent voices in the UFT. Bruce is truly the only independently elected district rep in history - he served for a decade as Manhattan HS DR despite repeated attempts by Unity to defeat him. He was so despised by Unity that when he retired I asked Randi to say something at the DA about his years of service and she refused. He was the reason she ended Dist Rep elections 2 years after he retired. Bruce and I are getting together with Mike Schirtzer and some others after the New Year to pass the historical torch so Mike can tell the story in 25 years -

and Mike met with Lois, Julie and some other MOREistas last week to get her current point of view.

I only met Lois after she had left the system and went into academia. She was the one who recruited Vera Pavone and I to write the review of the Kahlenberg Shanker bio which was published in New Politics.

Lois and Bruce have written an important historical document about Unity Caucus and the opposition from the point of view of a generation ago.

One of the things we see being sold by some today is the umbrella group idea where each caucus operates on its own and then comes together for elections or certain issues. Coalition caucus politics has been a failure throughout the history of the UFT opposition. ICE and TJC learned that lesson after a years of wrestling with each other and finally came together in MORE. Though there is still some internal wrestling, there is the sense that even a shotgun marriage is better than what was there before.

Here Bruce talks about how that worked out between 1981 (really since my group the CSW worked with TAC in the 1977 elections) through the writing of this article in 1990. NAC was the coalition of 3 caucuses initially and then 2. New Action was the result of the merger in 1996.

Imagine - in those years the opposition could pull high vote totals in middle and high schools but could never make a dent in the elementary and functional and of course the retiree divisions. In fact, in the elections following this 1990 article, the opposition won 13 Ex Bd seats  - its highest totals ever.

After New Action formed from the merger of TAC and New Directions in 1996 it had some success in the high schools by winning those seats through the 2001 elections. But seeing their advantage slipping away they jumped at the deal offered by Randi - don't run against her in exchange for Unity not running against NA for the HS seats. In 2003 I and others, unhappy with the state of the opposition - New Action, a fairly nascent TJC at that point and a 3rd caucus - Progressive Action - focused on one major item - teacher licensing - formed ICE as yet another alternative. (Hey - do you believe in choice?) While there was initial excitement that faded by the 2007 elections and ICE drifited into inactivity and into GEM and MORE. A real lesson for me - and others - which ultimately has led back to an attempt to create one unified opposition voice in MORE.

Attempts to brand Solidarity as a bridge group between New Action and MORE and a mostly dormant ICE will come to naught and maybe in 25 years someone will write this version of history.

If you have trouble reading the document below, go to this link where it will be larger.

UFT Delegate Assembly - Another Shaft for "Reorganized" Schools

....the press reported that teachers at Automotive High and Boys and Girls High Schools would be required to reapply for the jobs next September but that it would be OK because these teachers would not become ATRs if they were not selected for the positions. .... the specifics of that agreement draw a slightly different picture! As the president explained to the Delegate Assembly last night, teachers who are not rehired, or who don't apply, to those schools will be placed at another school somewhere in the borough of Brooklyn for only one year at a time. At the end of that time, those teachers will be shipped out to another school. And when that year is up, they will be shipped out to another school somewhere in Brooklyn. And when that year is up, they'll be placed again. This will happen five times. Over the next five years, teachers who currently teach at Auto or B&G HS  who are not rehired or do not reapply, will be put on year to year placements, spending each year at a different school somewhere within the borough. As they will not be regularly assigned teachers, it seems they will not have some of the rights of regularly assigned teachers....NYCDOENUTS
I didn't go to the DA yesterday -- too cold out for my old bones and I also had a fiction writing group meeting in Park Slope. In fact I was getting ready to leave when DOENUTS called me in outrage to tell me the news he reports above.

MORE has a report: morecaucusnyc
Nov. Delegate Assembly Report -

Eterno also has a report on the ICE blog (with the help of MORE's Megan Moskop) - NOTHING EARTH SHATTERING TO REPORT FROM NOVEMBER DA.

DOENUTS seems to think the devil in the details may end up being earth shattering - if they end up closing 94 schools.
allowing those teachers to be displaced,  as our union has done, when none of this is their fault at the classroom level -and in the very same manner as ATRs were treated just a few years ago- is a DOEnut. In fact, it may just be the doenut of the year!

The Life of Brian (NYC Principal De Vale): Brands Merryl Tisch Comments Disgraceful and Hypocritical

You seem to be running an affirmative action program for the rich and unqualified. Enough is enough! I have watched the rich and powerful, like yourself, profit off of the destruction of public education for the past twenty years.You  have used your position to allow patronage resulting in the rich and the friends of the rich to run roughshod over our schools for far too long. ... Brian De Vale, Principal PS 257K, letter to Tisch
You have to love Brian's letter to Tisch. I've had lots of fun over the years roiling Merryl Tisch, one of the most despicable people one can imagine. Read one of my many pieces on Tisch:

Merryl Tisch: Might As Well Be a Crook ...when she has a problem with her refrigerator she calls the head of G.E...

or this one -- Ed Notes Online: Is the Evil Meryl Tisch Even Eviler than Eva?

or this Ed Notes exclusive -- Ed Notes Online: Dishonor Among Thieves: Merryl Tisch May 15, 2011 -- Ed Notes has learned that the letter Governor Cuomo supposedly wrote to Merryl Tisch and the State Board of Regents calling for a change from weighing teacher evaluations based on state tests from 20 to 40% was in fact written by Tisch ...

Also check out our pal: Raginghorseblog
What is Meryl Tisch Really Saying Here ?

And Daniel Katz: Chancellor Merryl Tisch to Mayor Bill de Blasio: Drop Dead

I'll let the always great Brian De Vale, an ed notes reader, tell the tale of Tisch's duplicity, malfeasance, fill in the rest of the blanks ----------- - and oh, what has her family done to the NY Giants?

Subject: Hypocrite

Dear Regent Tisch,

I found your latest comments about expanding charter schools to be not only disgraceful but hypocritical.

Unlike you and your crowd,   my sons did attend their local public schools and graduated with High School diplomas from their local,  traditional PUBLIC schools.  To my knowledge your own children never attended public schools. I do not believe you ever even worked in public education either.  You are quoted in  today's Daily News as stating your desire to  "expand charter schools again", despite the fact that there are over 100 vacancies upstate and 28 remaining in NYC.  Enough is enough!

I have watched the rich and powerful, like yourself, profit off of the destruction of public education for the past twenty years.  This movement went into overdrive under the administration of your dear friend "Michael" and pal Joel Klein who I read in a  NY Times article that you not only know but also share Passover supper and go on double dates with.  How quaint, cozy and intimate, yet terribly sad for public education.  I even remember a news article quoting you before Bloomberg's immoral overturning of term limits as saying "I absolutely support Mayoral Control as long as  Michael is in charge".  No sense of impropriety there at all!  The private sector, hedge funds and billionaires all  profited handsomely under these policies and our traditional public schools have suffered greatly as a result.  Just look at the ARIS debacle and the 95 million dollars  that were taken out of public education to pay for lawyers, data consultants, computer contracts, etc.. at the expense of classroom teachers and direct services to children.  Your pal Joel is reported yesterday's papers to have been paid to manage this project through his new employer Amplify under fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

None of the unqualified folks that you consistently  helped obtain waivers  to run the system over the past dozen years  (David Steiner, Cathy Black, Dennis Walcott, Harold Levy or Joel Klein) ever possessed the required certification to hold their positions. You seem to be running an affirmative action program for the rich and unqualified.  You  have used your position to allow  patronage resulting in the rich and the friends of the rich to run roughshod over our schools for far too long.  This is all too much.   I  have done some research , forgive me if any of my findings are inaccurate, but I believe that none of you sent your children to a public school nor ever  worked in a public school (Joel's 6 month attempt to get out of the draft not included) yet you all declare yourselves experts in "Education Policy".   That is akin to those armchair generals  Washington is full of who are always sending our soldiers off to war. They  want to work in Defense and Military "Policy" but have done everything possible to avoid ever having to pick up  a weapon to defend their nation.

Bloomberg threw a hissy fit when the prior charter school cap was lifted only two years ago, as part of the State's Race to the Top Application. He was upset that there was a "Saturation Clause" placed in the legislation.  Such a clause would have protected areas like my own in Bushwick-Williamsburg where Charters are out of control despite lack of demand. This is seen by our Community Education Council for what it is, a land grab! The C.E.C. has even passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on charter schools in our Community School District.  The Saturation Clause was  improperly removed and our community, like Harlem is now overrun with these unwanted entities.    Charter schools were designed to be innovative lab sites, NOT the alternative school system that the rich want to see flourish  in order to cut their tax bills due to the lack of job stability, unions and pension costs.  If you want more charter schools open them in your own zip code. Our C.E.C.  has said 'NO". You need respect parent voice.

Why don't you call it a day?  Step aside and let us have a new regent take over who has actually worked in and understands PUBLIC education (Dr. Lester Young, Dr. Betty Rosa or Dr. Kathleen Cashin are a few possibilities).  Someone not rich, not from nor connected to the upper east side would be a  breath of fresh air.    The policies you and your friends have let upon loose upon our schools  are destructive and wrong.   The insane charter policies that you, the Governor and  Dean Skelos push on NYC would never fly in the suburbs which is why there are over 100 charter spots open upstate.  The cap in NYC still has not been reached but you and your rich friends are salivating over a chance to open even more. Shame on you.  You were all for mayoral Control when your rich pal was in charge but now that a populist who actually sends his children to public schools is in charge you start putting roadblocks in his way.  The people of NYC have spoken -  loudly and clearly. They do not want any more micromanagement from your crowd.  Let Mayor de Blasio do his job and stop  trying to control him through the back door from Albany. Mayoral Control is a policy and though I personally disagree with it, it should not be implemented as "good for my friend Michael" and "bad if I don't like Mayor de Blasio's policies". Once again you show a hypocrisy in that you supported one policy for your pal and another for our new mayor.

I know you rarely, if ever, receive letters like this from educators currently employed in public education. That is only because of the fear that taking a stance against you and these wrong headed policies will result in professional retribution.   I have seen enough and know what I am up against:  you and your very powerful friends.  That said, I must speak truth to power as I watch my community continue to be decimated by your destructive agenda. I pray for a better day in PUBLIC education, free from the destructive policies of billionaire "philanthropists", do-gooders and policy wonks where communities and the mayor they elected are free to run their schools.

Brian De Vale


29 Year Veteran PUBLIC School Educator


P.S. 257 /


Council of Supervisors and Administrators

Community School District #14

60 Cook Street

Brooklyn, NY 11206

Meet Jesse Sharkey, the New Karen Lewis

I wouldn't frame things this way - Karen Lewis is and will be a major force. But a good piece on Jesse Sharkey who has a a great reputation. There has been some internal friction over the role the union has and will play in electoral politics, always a point of division, which to me might be a sign that we need to rethink the role unions can and should play in the electoral arena - like exactly how much good has it done for us here in NYC? When the major activity school workers are asked to engage in is related to elections rather than organizing there is a problem. Another discussion for another time.

Meet Jesse Sharkey, the New Karen Lewis

The Chicago Teachers Union vice president steps into the spotlight as the interim head.

Photo: Chris Strong

On October 9, when Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey stepped to a podium to announce that the fiery Karen Lewis was suffering from a serious illness (later revealed to be a brain tumor), his days as a behind-the-scenes policy wonk were officially over. Now the acting CTU president, Sharkey, 44, sat down with Chicago contributing writer Carol Felsenthal to discuss what lies ahead for the union—and for the city’s public schools.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pushback Against Teach for America by College Students

Dani Lea, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, believes that Teach for America (TFA) teachers in her high school in Charlotte, North Carolina, were detrimental to her learning experience and for those around her. Lea claimed that her principal didn't even know which teachers were members of TFA and which weren't. Upon hearing this, TFA co-CEO Matthew Kramer said, “That’s not our lived experience.” Lea responded, “That was my lived experience.”.... InTheseTimes

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) - Here's a group of students hitting them where it hurts - at the college recruiting level.

Students to Teach for America CEOs: You Are "Complicit" in Attacks on Public Education
Monday, 17 November 2014 12:09 By Ari Paul, In These Times

The volley took place during an unusual open meeting at TFA’s midtown Manhattan headquarters November 13 between United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) activists and TFA’s top leadership, which offered the meeting after a widespread USAS campaign against the organization that includes visiting college campuses to question the education organization’s projected image as crusading do-gooders in American public education.
USAS is the country’s largest student labor organization, which has emerged in recent years as a serious force to be reckoned on labor issues ranging from sweatshop apparel production to campus union drives. The group’s main gripes with TFA and its Peace Corps-like model for American education, bringing college students—most from elite universities—to teach for a short period of time in some of the country’s poorest school districts, are that it is inadequately training teachers and promoting a for-profit, anti-union education reform agenda.
The Nation also recently released TFA documents regarding its response to critical press, adding to TFA’s recent headaches. USAS is demanding that TFA increase teacher training well beyond five-weeks and sever ties with anti-union corporations such as Walmart; USAS groups at universities like Harvard have demands their schools sever ties with TFA.
After offering an olive branch praising the intentions of TFA teachers across the country, USAS activists argued that the organization acts as a convenient staffing organization for municipalities looking to purge their career, unionized teaching staff and switch to a cheaper model based on high turnover.
Eastern Michigan University graduate student Will Daniels said his father, a career teacher in Detroit, was laid off in 2011 as a result of the city’s financial crisis, and said he saw the austerity-minded school authorities forming a marriage of convenience with TFA.  The district could hire “three TFA members for the price of my dad,” Daniels said.

Monday, November 17, 2014

South Bronx Blogger On Radio Tuesday, 6:35 - 7:20 AM

I'm Appearing Live in Studio Tomorrow Morning on WFAS-AM 1230 - WFAS 1230 AM is a small radio station in White Plains, NY. Tomorrow I will be appearing live, in studio on the Bob Marrone Show at 6:35 AM until about 7:20...
Live streaming:

I don't have to tell you his story, which he chronicles in full at his blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Joel Klein Mentor Gets 3-Year Prison Term Over Misuse of Funds

Exclusive photo taken the other day by Ed Notes Joel Klein surveillance team
Thomas Middelhoff, Ex-Chief of Bertelsmann, Gets 3-Year Prison Term Over Misuse of Funds ... The court in Essen on Friday found Mr. Middelhoff guilty of 27 counts of embezzlement, involving a total of 800,000 euros, or about $996,000, and three counts of tax evasion. ...NY Times
Mr. Klein became chairman and chief executive of Bertelsmann Inc., the corporate-services arm of the German media giant, in January 2001. His departure, friends said, is unrelated to the ouster over the weekend of Thomas Middelhoff, the parent company's chairman and chief executive. Mr. Middelhoff had recruited Mr. Klein to the company after meeting him at a dinner party at the home of the powerful Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan.
Mr. Klein has told friends that he was restless as a corporate executive and was eager to return to public service.... NY Times, July 30, 2002, upon Klein becoming Chancellor.
When Middelhoff took his fall as Bertelsman chief, Klein was dumped too - and Bloomberg saved his career.

Perdido St has an interesting piece - NYCDOE Getting Rid Of Joel Klein's $95 Million Dollar Computer System Boondoggle

I always used to day that one day Joel Klein would one day be doing a perp walk in cuffs and bag over his head. Well, it hasn't happened - yet. But seeing Middlehoff, who hired uncle Joel after he left the Justice Dept. take this fall, there is always hope.

Here's an interesting note from a Aug. 1999 piece in the Observor:
Judging by the turnout for his 46th-birthday party, Bertelsmann A.G.’s chief executive, Thomas Middelhoff, has successfully tunneled his way into America’s media landscape. What a strange, brief trip it’s been. Seven months ago, Mr. Middelhoff ascended to the top spot of the world’s third-largest media conglomerate, a sprawling empire based in Gütersloh, Germany, that produces books, music, TV shows, magazines and newspapers, as well as maintaining a strong foothold in e-commerce and other on-line services. It is a company familiar to few laypeople despite a presence in more than 50 countries. And yet there he was, on Friday, May 14, in the private Bellecour Room at the Upper East Side restaurant Daniel, being feted by Peter Olson, chief executive of Random House Inc., and a cast of 31 other media lights.
Who was there? Most notably, Joel I. Klein, the 53-year-old Assistant Attorney General who heads the Justice Department’s antitrust division and who is spearheading the Government’s antitrust case against Microsoft Corporation....
Joel is just following the American way - use government service to enrich yourself and your friends.

Here's another story on Middelhoff's fall:
Former Bertelsmann boss sent to jail for embezzlement
On Friday, Mr. Middelhoff’s plunge from the top of the European business world ended with a hard landing when a German judge sentenced him to three years in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion. Despite his plans to appeal, the incarceration began immediately. The judge ruled that there was a risk Mr. Middelhoff might flee and ordered him held at least until another hearing some time in the coming week. Mr. Middelhoff, 61, was accused of misuse of corporate funds by, among other things, taking private trips on chartered aircraft while serving as chief executive of Arcandor, a German department store retailer that had hired him to try to restore profitability. Arcandor, whose Karstadt department stores are a familiar sight in German cities, later filed the German equivalent of bankruptcy, though many stores continue to operate under new ownership.

Damn Yankees at the Rockaway Theatre Co - Photos

As always, a great show. Music/dance numbers were a smash. Either I didn't catch Katherine Robinson in previous plays or I must have been dead. She was terrific as Lola. "Better than Gwen Verdon" said my friend.... David Bellel
It was great seeing David Bellel last night.
We were sold out last night and are this afternoon and not many tickets left for the 4 shows next weekend (Fri night, Sat. matinee (3PM) and eve (8PM) and Sunday matinee closing. So come on down. I have a miniscule role with one line. We stand in line outside the theater saying goodbye to the audience and one guy told me, "you big ham." So I must have made the most of it.

Here are some photos I took Friday night from the booth where I was taping the show between running down for my walkons.

 The wives complain about husbands distracted by baseball

The devil - John Panepinto and (old) Joe - David Risley

The shower scene - all hands above the wall, please

Dana Panepinto (red blouse) blows us away - here in Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo.

The always awesome Katherine Robinson


And more

Still some tickets left

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Former Colleague Comments on David Fanning, Principal of A. Philip Randolph HS

I taught with Fanning... biggest, laziest piece of shit ever... did nothing, taught nothing, knew nothing, perfect candidate for principal.... Former colleague
We've gotten a number of hits on our recent post Exposing A. Philip Randolph High School Hack Principal David Fanning

- and the above comment came in from someone who taught in the same school -

What an impact when a slug of a colleague who teachers had disdain for ends up running a school - the cynicism of teachers only grows - which by the why one of the building blocks of ed deform is to get rid of increasingly cynical teachers who after a few years get the message.

One of my correspondents promises some more juicy items - like  - "I'll get you stories of his not so subtle anti-semitism."

Here is a link to a NY Post article on Fanning's failure to act in this case- which was pointed out in our initial column - that he covers dangerous incidents. If a teacher doesn't report something they get hung out to dry.


School didn’t call cops after teen shot in the face with BB gun

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Help say No thanks! to another Moskowitz charter school in Disrict 1 on the Lower East Side

From ed activists on the lower east side:

I'd be grateful if you can help us- 

The Success Academy Charter School chain is targeting District 1 ( East Village/LES) to open a new charter school. These privately managed schools do not serve the highest needs students, taking resources away from our local public schools that do.

The head of the charter school chain, Eva Moskowitz, just sent a letter to the SUNY Trustees (the charter authorizer who approves these "schools-on paper" in Albany) that  claims over 2000 signatures in support of SACS NYC1, which was approved for D2 but moved to D1.

Currently we have about 1000 signatures on a counter petition and need your help to surpass Eva's paid canvassers' efforts.

Please please please sign if you have not already (and thanks if you have)!

Please also consider passing the link below on for signatures by residents of  NYC, (esp. downtown Manhattan) if you can.

Thanks to everyone who has signed and passed this petition on already! We greatly appreciate your support.

Here is a fact sheet to help you understand more about the negative impact of privately-managed education corporations (charter schools) on public education.

Video: Another Brick in Ohio - No More Common Core!

Published on Oct 26, 2014
A project by the Anti-Common Core Club made possible by Matthew Goforth and Frank Yanno. Please Support the Anti-Common Core Club at and buy a T-Shirt

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CTU House of Delegates Endorses Garcia for Mayor, Shunning Fioretti

Here is a report from Chicago teacher Jim Vail, an internal critic of CORE and the CTU leadership. We reported the other day on the breaking situation (Chicago Teacher Union Update - Where Does ISO Stand? George Schmidt and Lee Sustar in Socialist Worker).

Someone in MORE said: Schmidt and Sustar threw Karen Lewis under the bus. I am trying to keep myself to hearing from all sides on this, though from what I can tell the CTU and CORE leadership people have not responded other than to issue calls for unity. Reminds me of the UFT critiques of ed notes and other oppositionists - keep it in house, etc. I even get that in MORE too - don't air dirty laundry in public.

To catch you up. Fioretti has always supported the current CTU in every way - and some think that after Karen Lewis pulled out of the mayoral race, represents the best chance to defeat Rahm Emanuel or finish 2nd and force a head to head runoff. But in what looks like playing racial politics, the CTU leadership came up with their own candidate at the relative last minute. A Latino who might play better they seem to think in minority communities even though he is so far behind Fioretti in terms of getting signatures to get on the ballot -- and in fact wouldn't have a chance without the efforts of the CTU. If they had followed normal democratic procedures, people might have lived with it. But when it looked like strong-armed measures, there has been a reaction.

I got to hang with Jim Vail at the AFT convention in Seattle in 2010 and in Detroit in 2012. But Jim was off the slate for the last convention and has been critical. Here is his latest report on the CTU DA last week which endorsed Chuy by a 2-1 margin.
I'll follow up later with stuff from George Schmidt who plays a similar role in Chicago as I do here - except he is much more politically astute and also is a real reporter. Some of this stuff is just so sad.

CTU Endorses Chuy!

House of Delegates Votes to Endorse Chuy!
By Jim Vail

The Chicago Teachers Union delegates voted to endorse Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor.

According to delegates present who spoke to Second City Teachers after the meeting Wednesday, Nov. 5, the debate was spirited, with many questioning the process.

The question for several was - who is "Chuy" Garcia, and why was this process being rushed?

Delegate and pension trustee Jay Rehak proposed a counter resolution to postpone an endorsement until all the petitions were collected and the candidates were on the ballot, a high school delegate told Second City.

This resolution was voted down, he said.

The CTU political director Stacy Gates made the argument that Garcia can win the general election against current mayor Rahm Emanuel, who's negative rating is quite high after infuriating the black community by closing a record 50 schools a year ago, the delegates said.

Union officials also evoked the image of Garcia as a progressive friend of the CTU who worked to help elect Harold Washington as mayor of the city many years ago. 

The fact of the matter is, Garcia is the floor leader for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a liberal wing of the democratic machine.

The CTU pulled its punches tonight to show the Chicago machine they can bring home the bacon and get the teachers to endorse a liberal, though mostly unknown, Cook County machine candidate.

The union was able to get a majority of delegates in about a 2 to 1 margin to vote in favor of the Garcia endorsement, delegates told Second City News. 

There were several Core activists who spoke in favor of Garcia, while no convincing argument was made to support Alderman Bob Fioretti, who has been a declared mayoral candidate and staunch teachers union supporter for many years, the delegate said.

One delegate estimated about 3 delegates spoke in favor of Garcia, for every one that called to postpone the endorsement.

Second City Teachers called it.

Chuy Garcia is endorsed by the delegates, a done deal before it even happened? That's certainly what we think when it comes to living in a managed democracy where the choices are vetted before anyone has a chance to understand what they are really voting for.

Opening this Friday at the Rockaway Theatre Company - Damn Yankees

The Washington Senators have heart -
I have a few walk-ons and one line. Next - Hamlet.
- I'm not in this scene - too old to be on the baseball team.
I wonder why so many teachers are involved in the RTC - and in community theater productions in general - maybe a place to be creative, given the general rigidity of the teaching environment.

Shows this Friday, Saturday eve and Sunday matinee at 3. Next weekend the same, with an additional Sat. matinee. (718) 374-6400.

Some of the kids in the show - I'm too old for this pic too

Here are some of my columns in The Wave on the show.

To be published Nov. 14 at
Memo From the RTC: Damn Yankees Diary
By Norm Scott

Tuesday, November 11
Hell Week began last night at the Rockaway Theatre Company in prep for opening night of “Damn Yankees” this Friday. That means a grueling week of late night rehearsals for the entire cast, including the young kids and teens. I find it hard to imagine how all the people who work full-time jobs, many of whom have to travel from Brooklyn and mainland Queens, manage to handle the load. The enthusiasm was still pouring out even at 11:30PM, even from people with tiny roles. I don’t think it is just love of theater but love of the process of theater. I have a miniscule role, which affords me the opportunity to observe almost every aspect of the process – and I can’t get enough of it. The tech stuff – moving scenery smoothly from scene to scene and how coordinated all of this has to be through the masterful hand of stage manager Nora Meyers is fascinating. After Nora makes her first appearance less than two weeks before opening, so many aspects of the show begin to come together. Some first-timers involved with the RTC may have been scratching their heads even a week before opening asking, “How are we going to be ready?” But by late Thursday night of Hell Week things will be working as whip is snapped by the production team of Director John Gilleece, Producer Susan Jasper, Musical Director Richard Louis-Pierre, Lighting Director Andrew Woodbridge – wait ‘till you see the special effects – and Choreographer Nicola DePierro – who actually managed to get me to dance in “How to Succeed…”

The band made its first appearance last night and the rough spots still must be worked out. The show has some great musical numbers – like “You Gotta Have Heart” and “What Lola Wants, Lola Gets” and as usual, actors with great voices at the RTC deliver. As a matter of fact, there is so much demand coming from talented people who want to perform at the RTC, John Gilleece felt the need to double cast for the key roles of the devil and Lola. John wants to expose RTC theater goers to a constant influx of new talent. Newcomers Erika Brito and Michael Whelan join RTC regulars John Panepinto and Katherine Robinson. So, you’ll all have to see the show twice as each performer brings their own style to the performances. This weekend, John plays the devil while Katherine will be performing at the Friday and Saturday night performances, with Erica doing the Sunday matinee.

I will be in all 7 performances, working like the devil to remember my one line – the devil asks me for the score and I say “4-3, Washington.” I’m tempted to change it to, “4-3, Republican Senators.”

Read Norm’s other column, School Scope, “Ferry Follies” and his devil of a blog

Here is my Oct. 24 column on Damn Yankees when I wasn't aware Erika Brito was sharing the role with Katherine.

Those Darn Yankees

By Norm Scott

Katherine Robinson is playing the role of the seductress Lola in RTC’s upcoming Damn Yankees. Katherine Robinson is playing the role of the seductress Lola in RTC’s upcoming Damn Yankees. Having just returned from 10 days of perfect weather in Sicily, I totally missed what was happening in the sports world and there were some surprises.

So I write this as the World Series is about to start in a few hours between Kansas City and San Francisco. Anyone seen a sign of our local teams anywhere near the playoffs this year? Well, no worries. You can catch the Yankees at the Post Theater in Fort Tilden in the upcoming Rockaway Theatre Production of Damn Yankees.
As he often does, Director John Gilleece has a cast of thousands, including yours truly with a walkon as a sports reporter.
My dream is to wear a “Lindsey Nelson” (the late Mets announcer), a loud-as-you-can-get sport jacket.
John even managed to rope in RTC Master Builder Tony Homsey to also play a sportswriter.
I was on Tony’s set-building crew as we put together the dugout and the stands and we chewed the fat while chewing tobacco and talking about our motivation for the role.
I imagine most people know the basic story. How a Washington Senators (first in war, first in peace and last in the American league) fan and Yankee hater Joe Boyd/Hardy sells his soul to the devil for a chance to beat the Yankees. I firmly believe the people running the teams that beat out the Yankees did just that this year.
Have you seen Buck Showalter since Baltimore lost to Kansas City? The devil (Mr. Applegate) uses seductress Lola, who will be played in most performances by the stunning Katherine Robinson, to lure Joe into temptation.
Who wouldn’t be lured into temptation by Katherine?
Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets and she wants you all to come see her on one of these dates: Nov. 14, 15, 21, and 22, at 8:00 p.m. Matinees: Nov. 16, 22, 23 at 3:00 p.m.
You can call the RTC at 718-374- 6400 or visit the website at