Monday, April 30, 2007

New BloomKlein speak...

One of the arguments Joel Klein made as part of the new organization when the issue of parent and teacher input was raised was that parents wouldeb surveyed to get a true picture of a school instead of measuring them just by test scores. More bullshit as usual, as witnessed by the following chain of events:

"When one parent speaks, the DOE refuses to listen; when many parents speak, we ask our expensive consultants to mount an empty PR offensive."

Thanks to Leonie Haimson for the reworking of the Tweed propaganda to reflect what it really is all about and the following post:

Today, the DoE will send home a survey for parents to fill out about their schools. Last week, parents who participated in the focus groups supposed to help design the survey sent a letter of protest to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, pointing out how their concerns were censored from the survey. (see below letter dated April 26 - reprinted at Norm's Notes.) Now, we call on parents to boycott the survey, cross out the questions listed, and before sending it back., write “We want real parent input – as well as smaller classes, less testing, and new priorities at Tweed to deal with the real problems in our schools.”

Class size, testing and test prep, the principal’s attitude towards parents, and the functioning of school leadership teams were all key issues for our groups and the other focus groups whose results we were shown. Despite this fact, none of these issues will have individual questions dedicated to them in survey.

Read all the details at norm's notes.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

UFT Committee on District Reps Meets Under Cone of Silence

Why would we expect anything different from the UFT. Look at the make-up of the committee - mostly UFT employees. The lone voices of the opposition are ICE's James Eterno (who has supported the election of DR's by chapter leaders) and ACT's Joe Mudgett (who supports the election of DR's by the members in the districts, which is where I stand). But their voices have been muzzled. There will probably be some compromise floated that will try to get them to sign on and then Unity can say how democracy is in force. Since it all is taking place behind closed doors, they will not be able to float proposals for public comment and we won't know or have any input into the process. Is this a way to conduct business? Should the opposition be part of this for fear of being accused by Unity of not taking part in the "democratic" process?

Some democratic process. I have been in a distinct minority in ICE in my position that we should not waste our time on these bogus UFT committees. Better to use the time to organize people. Want to force change in the way district reps are elected? Organize a mass petition campaign. If people in the schools don't give a shit then don't waste your time on committees. If they do give a shit, then Unity will be forced to take notice. But by any means do not get involved in the process under a cone of silence.

I say, "who cares what they say?" No one is listening out there as proven by the almost 80% of the people who did not vote in the election. I view Unity the way Weingarten views the people at Tweed: assholes who can't be trusted. Does the opposition play the same game as Weingarten who wants a seat at Tweed's table so desperately by hungering for the same thing- a seat at Unity's table?

The time for engaging in the "democratic process" of the UFT is coming to an end from my point of view. 8 members of the Ex Bd are from New Action with 9% of the vote of working teachers and 0 members of the Ex Bd come from ICE/TJC with 20% of the vote. What better illustrates the point? Read my account of the last DA. Weingarten has so subverted the process at the DA where even the "New Motion" period, the lone opportunity to take an action, has been played around with so as to make it practically unusable. In all the years of Shanker and Feldman this was one thing they never touched. But then again they weren't' afraid that something might come up they couldn't deal with. Unlike Weingarten who must control every aspect. Look how she came apart when Nick Licari (see my account in the April 26 post) started heckling her at the last DA? What Nick did should be more of a model for action. Let them vilify the opposition. No one is listening. And if they were, I bet a lot of rank and file teachers would be very happy to see some action being taken other than the same old thing.

Posted on the UTP blog:

Say It Ain't So, Joe!

The following has been lifted from Top Secret UFT files and memos, as well as the ACT site.

District Representative Selection Process Committee Convenes

The Committee to investigate the selection process for District Representatives, established by resolution of the Delegate Assembly on November 8, 2006, met for the first time on March 26, 2007. Considering that it took four months to convene the initial meeting, I don't expect any quick resolution to this important issue. Nonetheless, I will attempt the Herculean task of convincing my fellow committee members that a completely transparent democratic process, where members directly elect their representatives, is in the best interests of the union.

Why Herculean? Consider the makeup of the committee: chaired by President Weingarten (who has been appointing district reps since 2003), members include Secretary/Chief of Staff, Mike Mendel, Senior Assistant to the President, Jeff Zahler, a half dozen district reps, at least one borough representative, one or two other UFT officials, a gentleman from New Action, James Eterno from ICE, and myself, representing the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the viewpoint of the Unified Teachers Party.

Much as I would like to share the details of the deliberations with my readers, I cannot, since all committee members were asked to keep the proceedings in strictest confidence. But rest assured I will publish a complete report once the committee has completed its mission and the cone of silence is lifted.


Anonymous said...

Gee, sounds like you and James are a bit outnumbered. Want to bet the results have already been decided?
4/25/2007 7:13 PM

NYC Educator said...

How is it working under that cone of silence? I've heard talk it's defective.


.... was in my 6th grade class in the late 70's. He was one of only 6 boys in the class - there were 18 girls - it made discipline issues so easy and I had a wonderful year. Ricky was enormously popular with the girls - good looking, charming beyond his years, liked by teachers even though he was not an angel, somewhat rambunctious. I had a great relationship with his mom. I haven't thought of Ricky in years but was reminded of him when today's NY Times had an article about a boy who died after some horseplay in the playground that led to his being in the head by another boy, one of his friends.

The summer after Ricky graduated, he was playing with his best friend, another student at my school. They were fixing up their bikes. One of them had a flat. They were using a knife to cut a patch. They started horsing around with the knife. Ricky started tossing it from hand to hand like they did in movies - remember West Side Story - saying something like "come on Chickie." His friend came at him, tripped over the bike and fell into the knife and died.

I heard this version from Ricky himself when he came back to school to visit the next year. It was considered an accident and Ricky as far as I know never had to face the criminal justice system. His family was a supportive one (thank goodness) and the other boy's family from what I heard did not call for Ricky's head and may have even forgiven him. Maybe it was Ricky's charm. Or maybe times were just different then.

The last time I saw Ricky he was in his late 20's and doing well in life. Still charming, the same old little boy smile. No obvious scars left from a few moments of foolish folly when he was 11 years old.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Lucy Calkins/Teachers College plan....Weed 'em out

Leonie Haimson had a great post on her listserv that in many ways says it all about what has been going on for the past 5 years in NYC schools. Here is a section of the article that shows that if you don't go along as a teacher you get "weeded out." We've seen so many of these stories come along while the UFT remains blind, deaf and dumb. You can read the entire article at Norm's Notes.

Lucy and crew whack those weeds!

Leonie says:
Teachers College and its Reading and Writing Project, headed by Lucy Calkins, is one of the providers offered by some of the SSO’s. According to the principal’s guide, empowerment schools can separately contract out with this program, and the Community LSO (run by Marcia Lyles) and the ICO LSO (run by Judith Chin) will offer it at an additional price to schools who sign up with them. Here is an oped from the NY Sun by one parent who also runs an-arts program for children, about her experiences attending a Reading and Writing Project training session for literacy coaches.
Coach Class

April 27, 2007

While trying to grasp all the involved steps that a coach has to implement, an audience member asked a question that seemed to be on everyone's lips: "How do you keep your methods from feeling offensive to teachers?"

The instructor replied by admitting that often teachers did tend to feel offended, and that it was a "perennial problem." But she quickly went on to say, "It's important for principals to tell their teachers that they have to comply; to say, ‘This is the culture of our school now; this is what we do.'" She went on to add a somewhat ominous comment, "a lot of teachers get weeded out," suggesting that those who don't conform are forced out. Although in what way this enforced expulsion occurs was left disturbingly vague.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Help a Teacher Escape the DOE

Soon after the new regions under BloomKlein started looking for scapegoats, a 3rd year teacher contacted ICE for help after being harassed. I knew the teacher who worked next door to her who said she was a fine teacher and the AP just had it in for her. The teacher weathered the storm, is still teaching and has emerged as the lead singer of the band Decembers Fall. She sent this along for tomorrow's appearance at Kenny's Castaways in the Village. It's pretty late for an old geezer like me but if I am still up for it after tomorrow's ICE meeting I might make it over there. Head on over if you are in the neighborhood and help her career so she can escape the clutches of the DOE.

Come out to see our band Decembers Fall play live.
This Friday night, the 27th at Kennys Castaways -157 Bleeker St. between Thompson and Sullivan.

We go on at 11.

This is a really important show for us as we are headlining. Many more opportunities will come our way provided we have a good show and (pack the place---or at least try to )

We are a local band looking for some good LOCAL support!

Decembers Fall

Hear their music at:

CPAC press conference for elected parent leaders & their constituencies on Wed. May 9th

At this Friday's meeting, ICE will discuss the issue of urging teachers who do not support the agreement made between the UFT and the DOE for some kind of action on May 9. There is a tentative Del. Ass. planned for May 9 at 52 Broadway. What if a contingent of teachers demonstrated their refusal to accept these kinds of deals with the DOE and walk out at 4:45 and head over to City Hall or Tweed or both?

From Tim Johnson, Chair of CPAC to CEC presidents and members:

Dear Education Council Members:

CPAC has decided to convene a press conference for elected parent leaders & their constituencies on Wed. May 9th @ 5:00 p.m. on the steps of City Hall. This event is to replace the City Hall rally that was postponed as a result of the agreement reached last Thursday between the UFT & other organizations & the Mayor.

The majority of our members (PA/PTA Presidents & Presidents' Council Presidents) believe that our core issue of empowering parents to participate in meaningful decision-making @ the school, district, regional, & citywide levels remains an area of great concern for NYC parents. We are seeking the long overdue respect that we have been systematically denied during this administration.

More information will follow shortly, but please SAVE THE DATE & plan to JOIN US in an united demonstration by the elected parent representatives of our 1.1 million children. It's critically important that every District send a contingent to this event. I hope that YOU will join us on the 9th.

Best regards,
Tim Johnson, Chairman
Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council (CPAC)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

UFT District Rep "Election" Committee

Joe Mudgett from ACT has posted a report on the UTP blog regarding the District rep election committee. Guess who's chairing? Why Randi of course. Why would she trust the idgits surrounding her to be able to do anything without her? And of course there's the Unity Caucus head and red-baiter himself, Jeff Zahler. Better not tell him you are on the board of the NAACP, Joe. Take a look at the rest of the members, a typical UFT Committee stacked with people on the UFT payroll. Want to bet it's all been decided already and this is just a show? I would put my money on some bogus plan that has the appearance of democracy. Poor James and Joe.

Unity Caucus members of the committee on the way to the meeting.

Joe wrote:
"Consider the makeup of the committee: chaired by President Weingarten (who has been appointing district reps since 2003), members include Secretary/Chief of Staff, Mik
e Mendel, Senior Assistant to the President, Jeff Zahler, a half dozen district reps, at least one borough representative, one or two other UFT officials, a gentleman from New Action, James Eterno from ICE, and myself, representing the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the viewpoint of the Unified Teachers Party."

Class Dismissed

Village Voice article on the rubber room at:,altman,76433,15.html/2

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Was gained, What was Lost

The text of ICE leaflet handed out at the DA today is available at:
Norm's Notes and on the ICE blog.

If you want copies for your school or would like a pdf to print some copies for your colleagues, let us know by email.

Another Day of Surreality at the UFT...

....Yakety Yak, Yakety Yak

Apr. 24, 2007

(For readers not in the NYC area, background of the deal Randi Weingarten made with Mayor Bloomberg and the cancellation of the May 9th demo is available in the post titled "What was gained, what was lost" at Norm's Notes. Guide to acronyms: ICE and TJC ran against Weingarten's Unity Caucus in the just completed UFT elections. She was supported by the former opposition, now sell-out, New Action. To read more about the results, go here.)

Well, where do we start? Today was the emergency DA to withdraw the May 9th demo passed at the DA 2 weeks ago, support the Deal of the Century the UFT made with BloomKlein, and pass a resolution to put the pubic - er - public - back in public education.

I finished getting the ICE leaflet printed then sat on the deck smoking a stogie and reading my current fave "Lincoln at Cooper Union," a follow-up to Dorris Kearn's Goodwin's book. Ah, the benefits of Tier 1 pensions. Naturally lost track of time and didn't get to the DA until a bit past 3:30.

Saw TJC's Nick Licari outside hanging out. Nick would have been on the Exec Bd if ICE-TJC had won the high schools and it's too bad we missed out on that show. You'll why see later.
I passed by the guy handing out what looked like the old Communist Party stuff "The Daily Something" except it is probably a weekly or monthly or yearly by now. Oh, yes, The World!

Derick Pearl was also outside with the Progressive Labor Party newspaper. Always great to see Derick's great cheeriness. Always better with a British accent. Derick will be the last person proud to be called a worker left standing.

Inside were the usual Unity retirees handing out the Unity Caucus lit, a peon of praise to Randi. Just more dead trees.

Lots of TJC people there with their leaflet, which says some very good stuff and works well with the stuff ICE is saying in our leaflet.

Unity's Dist.22 rep Fred Gross stops by to take a leaflet and offers to help me give them out. He takes one and crumples it. Very mature. He smirks, "nice job in election." I smirk back, "You lost more votes than we did. Nice work getting 22% to vote." He comes back with,"Only 40% came out to vote in the presidential election with that idiot Bush running." Okay. 40% seems a little better than the 22% that voted for your idiot. No, I don't mean that. ICE's Yelena Siwinski passes by. Fred is her Dist. Rep. and he starts telling her how I attacked him just after he became a DR. I said I just printed what a teacher in his district told me -- that he and the Dist. 22 UFT were sellouts to the Supt. John Comer. Fred just can't seem to get over it.

New Action has nothing to give out. Of course not. They would have had to take a position on the Deal of the Century Randi just made with Bloomberg. They are either relishing the idea of having 8 Ex. bd seats with only 9% of the vote of working members while ICE-TJC got 20% or hanging their heads in shame. I saw a few that wouldn't look me in the eye. They are all pathetic.

Speaking of ...
New Action leader Mike Shulman, who will take the position handed to him by Randi on the Exec. Bd on July 1 walks in with a sour look on his face.
I found out why a few minutes later when Licari walks in smiling. "Shulman was hanging out with his "friends" he said - Nick is talking about the guy with the Daily Something. "I asked Shulman if he was proud of himself. Shulman said he was. I called him a piece of shit," said Nick. I would have not used the word "piece."

Very surprising how many people come out for a Tues. emergency meeting. Must have been around 800 people. The number of people not taking lit gives you a sense of just how many Unity Caucus people there are. The old gang all want to read what we write but the newer ones are more revved up to ignore the opposition.

I stay downstairs giving out stuff till the crowd turns to a trickle. I mosey on up the stairs. Damn, no bananas or any fruit left. Not even ice coffee. The only entrance for non-delegates is the rear-right corner where there are seats for the few crazy non-delegates that come to these things -- Randi will go down in UFT lore for this major innovation.

Of course Randi is talking. And talking. And talking. Non-stop. Every single detail- minute by minute. And it's all about what she did, when she did it, why she did it. Well, she says "we" but "we" know what she means.

It is already about 5:15. People are restless. One woman says, "Does she every stop?"
Only after they bring out the Kool-aid.

Randi is saying some stuff about Klein and Bloomberg and their attempts to create a racial divide by going to black churches and calling their reorganization a civil rights struggle -- the new right-wing mantra -- and the union efforts as regressive. Hey, we know they are swine - one more reason we should have held the May 9th demo and run these guys out of town. But here Randi has done some good work in putting together a coalition to counter that, for the first time since the '68 strike.

Josh Heisler from Vanguard HS comes over and we dissect what Randi is saying. Peter Lamphere from TJC is also hanging out in the back. We find ourselves laughing. A lot. Some of this stuff is better than a comedy club. But the best is still to come.

Randi is explaining that some of the parent groups who were against the deal felt that the more chaos there was in the schools, the better it would be to fight BloomKlein and mayoral control. Then comes the kicker. "... the same idea that is echoed in the ICE and TJC leaflets."
HUH? I finished writing the ICE leaflet at 10am and must have written that point about chaos in invisible ink. There are hoots and shouts from ICE and TJC people: "Where does it say that?" At this point Nick Licari has had it. "Stop talking already," he shouts out. "It's an hour and 15 minutes already. We want to go home. Some of us worked all day, not like some of you." People start to laugh. Others pick up on Nick and the place begins to get rowdy.

But that doesn't stop Randi. Sometimes I wonder. She could say nothing and take a vote and it will be the same no matter what she says. But she thinks she has to rouse the troops. Or ego rules. She tries a few moves to turn the crowd against the opposition. "The election is over," she says. Moans and groans. She's trying to use that shit again. "I tried to reach out to the opposition," she sniffs. Her voice is rising and she looks like she might pull a crying fit. The place is getting rowdier." She practically screams, "I have never been treated so rudely."

Hey, at least Nick didn't call her a piece of shit.

That is the signal to the Unity troops. They begin to rise and applaud. Someone in Unity must be taking attendance. No one wants to lose their gig or free trip to the convention. Now you see the power of Unity as 3/4 of the room is up. Later I heard someone was going up and down the aisles drumming up business. One gets the feeling that love for Randi has to be squeezed out of her own gang like an almost empty toothepaste tube.

Randi is getting wild. Suddenly she starts to talk about St. Louis and New Orleans. Huh? Oh yes. ICE and Ed Notes has been talking about the national attack on public schools and our leaflet accused her of ignoring the national attack on public education. Her answer is the has actually heard of New Orleans and St. Louis and the role Alvarez and Marsal have played there - and New York, of course- which she apparently found out from reading the Ed Notes blog.) God forbid the UFT ever tried to do anything serious to fight against the travesty of the the corporate giveaway BloomKlein are engaging in.

Randi says she talks to AFT and NEA people all the time (aha, getting ready to move on to AFT pres in July 2008).

Now, she is practically ranting, looking to be on the verge of hysteria. Someone get oxygen. She finishes by invoking the ghost of Al Shanker and in the funniest line of the night, says, "Al Shanker told me on his death bed ....." What, not to hold the demo May 9th?

Okay, so that wasn't what he told her. That Randi was there to hear Shanker's last words is enough for the Unity faithful to begin to rise again. "He told me that he told people not to vote to strike in 1975 at the delegate assembly because the city had no money," (Oh boy, have we heard this one before - she did learn this from Al -- always use the "no money" argument as an excuse for not winning in contract negotiations) "and they didn't listen. And that was the only strike this union every lost," she screeches. The Unity faithful rises to cheer her. The Kool-aid has been served.

Of course, Randi got even this wrong. I was at that vote and also didn't listen to Al. And I was there when we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge Al said, "We won't go back 'till we all go back." But we went back with 15,000 less people, fewer preps, a shorter school day, etc. I'm proud to have been opposed to going back at that time. And did Randi really think we "won" the '68 strike when she has actually received accolades for putting together a coalition that for the first time actually heals some of the wounds that still exist from '68?

The rant is over. She is spent. She calms herself down and opens the debate. The great democrat will call on a speaker for each side. The Unity faithful from the speakers' bureau who have been prepped with their speaker points are ready.
(I may have the order of the speakers wrong.)
ICE's Lisa North starts out by talking about how the momentum for holding the May 9th demo has been built and holding it would hold the parent coalition together. Randi's answer is we can hold the demo another time (I suggest August 1st.) Unity's Dave Pecoraro CL from Beach Channel HS responds. "How come he always gets to speak," asks a woman. " "He's one of their trained parrots," I answer.

Carolyn Eubanks from ICE and PL takes the floor and as usual gets emotional about how the kids are being hurt by all this. I love Carolyn and understand where she is going but most people there don't and she doesn't help her cause with this type of presentation, especially with this crowd. There are hoots and hollers for her to sit down. Randi magnanimously quiets the crowd to let Carolyn speak. What can I say? I'm queasy about it. Some think Randi loves to call on PL people to paint the opposition a certain way.

She calls on a pro-speaker, Mark Egan, a district rep from the Bronx, who speaks with an Irish lilt and makes an excellent presentation (from Unity's point of view) comparing this to a 15 round boxing match and claims the UFT has won rounds one, two and three. Has he been in a school lately and seen the carnage?

Then comes ICE's Michael Fiorillo, CL of Newcomer's HS, who makes a similar case for the May 9th demo as Lisa did. He praises the coalition put together by the UFT and Randi takes the opportunity to thank him for the compliment. Jeez.

Now, Steve Quester, CL of PS 372K, an independent and one of my favorite DA people, makes the single strongest presentation of the day when he takes apart the funding plan compromise for what it was. He points out the funding formula we agreed to still has the incentive for principals to not hire higher salaried teachers after senior teachers leave or transfer because they can use the money any way they want to - -ie. hire 2 new teachers. Randi responds that the old formula that existed in Dec is dead and we were left with the new formula from Jan. She obviously begs the question that one of the goals of the entire movement/May 9th rally was to keep the old formula but she has given this idea up for the deal.

Her goal was to keep the funding for the school intact to "keep good schools working." Translation: to satisfy the white middle class parents. Senior teachers (anyone over 3 years in today's world) are dead. UFT complicity with the DOE all along on the attacks on higher salaried teachers will doom all those making over 60 grand to purgatory. Remember how private industry shakes out its workers when they reach a certain age and salary? We got it now. In spades.

Unity ideologue Leo Casey, (one of the major authors of red-baiting Unity lit and great Nazi hunter who sees United Farm Worker eagles as Nazi paraphernalia) rises, the only time I have seen him speak at the DA. Casey has been described as one of the most intellectually dishonest people around and he certainly fulfills his promise here. He makes a rousing speech, his voice almost reaching Randi's level of hysteria at times, about how we don't demonstrate for catharsis but to win politically. He was present at all stages of the deal and watched how Randi worked with each groups of the coalition and they all got something out of the deal. Hmmm. Maybe a pitch to be the next HS VP when Volpicella retires. But then he may not have the time to spend his days reading what the opposition blogs are saying or writing long-winded pieces for Edwize.

Phew! Unity's Greg Lundahl, CL of Washington Irving HS who is one of the Unity people who replaced the ICE-TJC reps on the Ex Bd., rises and in his deep mellifluous tones says, "I call the question." Greg has found his calling.

I know how this drama ends and exit left to go find a banana.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tweed school budget plan is NOT about shifting quality teachers to struggling schools...

David Bloomfield, a parent, a Professor at Brooklyn College and President of the Citywide Council on High Schools, in a powerful summary of his opposition to the agreement between the Mayor and the UFT-led coalition, has one statement that I feel needs some elucidating. Read his full comment below my analysis.

When Bloomfield says....

"One of the best mayoral initiatives – equalizing school funding and the distribution of quality teachers – has been left in tatters" ...

.....I'm concerned he and others might be misled by the rhetoric coming out of Tweed and City Hall. The irony of the entire mayoral initiative on the school funding issue has been missed by many. While claiming to want distribute “quality” teachers - and I would take issue that a 20 year teacher is necessarily more adept than say a 5 or 7 year teacher - the reality has been that attempts to drive senior teachers from the system have taken place in many schools.

In fact, many of us saw the funding plan for what it was -- an attempt to create a system of “peace corps” teachers who stay no longer than 5 years by giving principals a further incentive to drive senior teachers out. Just think: low salaries, docile teachers who don’t know their union rights, few pensions, etc. The mantra is to teacher-proof the process in an assembly line manner and use professional development (often by non-public organizations - see the 9 whatever they call it groups) to train a constantly turning over staff.

The idea that they want to distribute “quality” teachers is a sham because they could have done so by offering incentives to teachers to teach in certain areas. (When I started teaching in the late 60’s they gave every teacher in Title 1 schools extra free time to prepare/recover.)

If you remove teacher salaries from the equation, what other areas has the DOE been able to point to for other inequalities in funding? And since Tweed has total control, what has stopped them from moving money around over the last 5 years to change this? The current reorganization has been unilateral until now and will be so again. This is all about politics, as usual, not education. But it was never about education in the first place."

Note: We hear the "teacher quality" argument used by Klein to argue against class size reductions,ironically today by Michael Rubel, a top Randi Weingarten ally. How come they never talk about "teacher quality" as it relates to teachers coming under attack in so many quarters and how quality is affected by the consequential resulting exodus that makes crossing the Red Sea look like a stroll in a stream?

Bloomfield's complete post to nyceducationnews list:
I think yesterday’s (Apr. 19) agreement allowed the Mayor to indulge in a classic divide and conquer strategy. Privatization and an extremely flawed accountability system, for example, were left unaddressed. Special education? The incoherent supervisory structure? The mayhem of principals disregarding their schools while they try to make sense of the restructuring and start the endless process of trolling for ESOs, LSOs, PSOs? One of the best mayoral initiatives – equalizing school funding and the distribution of quality teachers – has been left in tatters. Promises of consultation on class size, drop out prevention, and middle school reform seem little more than crumbs. Elected and statutory parent voices were abandoned. I am extremely disappointed, especially when many of us have stood side-by-side supporting our coalition colleagues, expecting reciprocity. The High School Council and others called for a broad public discussion of the interconnected pieces of the Mayor’s plan. Yesterday’s surprise announcement has done a great disservice to public school students by seeming to foreclose that comprehensive, transparent public review. But we should continue to fight for that debate and for constructive DOE responses to unresolved issues. While our bonds are strained, I hope they are not broken.

David Bloomfield
Professor, Brooklyn College
President, Citywide Council on High Schools

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What if......

by a veteran teacher and chapter leader, unaffiliated with any political group in the UFT.

what if they gave a rally to replace the one now on the back burner, and
everybody came.
no, not the usual suspects.
no, not the union folks.
nor the coalition of political personalities that arrive in time for the
rally and then scurry away, back into the shadows.

what if they held a rally for the disenfranchised
the teachers,
the parents,
and the children that are never really part of the equation anyways.

what if the all came together from near and far
by train, by bus, by car, by feet
what if they came enmasse,

and their shouts echoed in the canyons of the city.
and said we don't accept the duplicity.
we don't accept the deals made in darkness.
we wont accept the use of our children as pawns in some elaborate power
driven chess game.
we reject the denigration of our lives, our hopes, and our dreams
we do not agree to the scorn heaped upon us by those we used to trust.

we want the cleansing action of sunlight, on a new day, on a new idea
we want to birth a new reality

what if....

Parents speak out....

Emails from the NYCEducationNews List: writes

The ironic thing is that neither Martine Guerrier, nor her employer the DoE, have, or ought to have, any say on who's included in that coalition. It does appear, though, that the majority of the coalition members ceded control of the makeup of the coalition to the DoE.

The "compromises" reached here are a collective failure by the DoE-aligned groups to adequately represent their constituents. Even to suggest that the immigration groups "got a lot" is probably wrong, since
the immigration constituency and the special ed constituency overlap with each other as much as with any other constituency.

It appears to me that the leaders of the larger groups are attempting to score symbolic points for political usage. The leaders of the smaller groups have been suckered into thinking they're going to advance their
causes with "a seat at the table". It's all very pathetic.

Fair Student Funding is fundamentally flawed. A renegotiation of weights for different needs groups doesn't address the core problem one bit.

The cogent and critical arguments against the impoverished brand of standardized test - based "accountability" have been cast aside; our students will continue to be trained as test takers.

The concessions on teacher salary do not address the essential problem that principals will still have an incentive to give unduly high priority to cost cutting.

There are no substantive gains on the issue of class size -- the DoE will work hard to water down the regulations currently awaited from the state, and has only committed to "develop[ing] a ... set of
recommendations on how best to implement the regulations" recommendation Frog has more teeth than that.

Members of the organizations who betrayed the coalition need to understand that their breach of trust will make forming the next coalition far more difficult. The way this was conducted is a gross insult to the people who showed up at rallies, who wrote letters and sent faxes, who campaigned personally and got the word out in communities, with the understanding that a broad coalition had our backs.

Richard Barr, VP of District 3 (PTA) Presidents Council writes:

Much has been written on these lists in the aftermath of the press conference earlier this week announcing an "agreement" among the administration, UFT and others about modifications to the planned reorganization of the school system.

In my opinion, public school parents, who themselves don't always speak with one voice on schools issues, are sometimes on the same page with other entities, sometimes partially so, and sometimes not at all. So although gatherings, press conferences, demonstrations and "agreements" attract more attention when they bring together coalitions of forces, an event peopled primarily by parents and, perhaps, their schoolchildren is a more accurate rendition of what we really think and want to see happen (or not happen) with the school system.

I agree with others who have written that we should go ahead with the previously planned City Hall demo about putting the reorganization on hold, whether it's on May 9 or another day. Many of us have been passing resolutions in our schools and districts asking that the reorganization be placed on hold until it can be properly vetted. Instead, we were informed that it was the demo that had been put "on hold", by not-specifically-named others, and soon after, a press conference with the Mayor, Chancellor, other officials, the Union, and other groups convened to announce an "agreement" to modify parts of the reorganization and move forward.

No one was speaking specifically for, or was authorized to speak specifically for, the bulk of the parents at that press conference, although, again, it's near impossible to characterize precisely what the bulk of the parents want from issue to issue, or who can really speak for them.

So let's have an event where we speak for ourselves, even if that isn't in one neat voice. Mixed gatherings have previously been spun by the disgraceful right-wing tabloid editorialists, and the columnists, op-ed commentators, and think-tankers on the same page with them (as well as, lamentably, some of the elected and appointed officials who control the schools) as puppet shows where one entity (the Union) is pulling everyone else's strings.

If sympathetic public officials wish to stand with us, that would be nice, but we need to make clear that we, on our own, have real issues and that the idea wasn't just put into our heads by others with their own agendas. And we don't need to be co-opted, picked off one-by-one, or to have others claim to be speaking for us if they are primarily speaking for themselves.

So let's just do it, even if organizing it and getting attention paid to it will be more difficult without the weight of the P.R. apparatuses of others behind us.

Richard Barr
V.P., District 3 Presidents' Council

from Leonie Haimson:

People have asked me about the history of these negotiations – which I was only peripherally involved in. This is what I know:

A week ago last Friday, there were several hours of negotiations at City Hall between the City and the UFT, ACORN, and some other advocacy and parent groups in the loose association that had formed. I was not invited and did not participate. I found out about this only after the fact, on late Friday, when I was told that some sort of deal had been worked out, but was not told the details. I did learn that some sort of concession had been made on the part of the DOE that they would try to work with the UFT and our coalition, NYers for Smaller Classes, as well as other stakeholders, to draw up the city’s class size reduction plan. There were also concessions made to the various groups who were more directly involved in the negotiations. On Saturday morning, there was supposed to be a meeting at the UFT office to go over the details, w/ a possible press conference to follow.

Sat. morning before I left home, the whole deal was called off, apparently by the city.

Switch to Thursday afternoon. I participated along with many other groups, including CPAC, in a conference call, where elements of the agreement were discussed in more detail. It was clear that the city had agreed not to cut the budgets for any school for at least two years – a big concession as far as I was concerned. The Immigration Coalition had the city’s agreement to raise the weights of ELL students; there were also separate agreements that DOE would work w/ CEJ on middle school reform, the Urban Youth Collaborative on their Student Success Centers, and some other points. At 3:15 Pm, I heard that a press conference was set for 3:30 PM at City Hall. I rushed down to City Hall. The main reason I went was I wanted to see exactly what the Mayor and the Chancellor would say about class size. (which turned out to be little.)

I felt then and feel now that the city made major concessions – and received few in return. The City agreed not to cut school budgets (which is a very big deal for my son’s school and many other schools throughout the city – which justly feared losing millions of dollars.) I also felt and still feel that in good conscience I could not reject the opportunity to talk directly to DOE and test their willingness to collaborate on their class size reduction plan – however this process turns out.

Among those at the press conference, standing behind the Mayor, next to Randi and the other groups who were there, were Robert Jackson and Luis Reyes – two men whose integrity and commitment to the cause of public schools no one could possibly question. I don’t feel as though any of us sold anyone else out. I certainly don’t accept that any of us “used…our children as pawns in some elaborate power-driven chess game.”

I think that if parents want to hold the rally on their own on May 9 that’s great. We can help publicize it on the list servs and the blog and elsewhere. I also feel that the most important thing now is to continue working so that our schools can be fundamentally reformed, to make all the changes that our children really need. Clearly this agreement is only one modest step, to forestall some but not all the destructive aspects of the reorganization. The outcome of the process of talking directly w/ DOE is uncertain and there is so much work to be done. I know I will continue to fight for real change, and I hope others will be there too.

Leonie Haimson

Class Size Matters

124 Waverly Pl.

New York, NY 10011


Teacher War Stories and Class Size

Posted to ICE-mail by Lisa North, chapter leader, PS 3. Lisa, a founding member of ICE, was the ICE/TJC candidate for elementary Vice President in the recent elections.

Two articles about Ric Klass’s book about teaching in a large Bronx HS, “Man Overboard: Confessions of a Novice Math Teacher in the Bronx.” Ric, a former aerospace engineer and investment banker, decided what he really wanted in life was to teach in the NYC public schools, but lasted only one year, largely because of the problems he faced in reaching all his students in huge classes:


“He does hold out some hope for schools that spend their money on smaller class sizes. “Given the discipline issues, the teacher will only get their attention when there are about 15 students in the class. Small schools, such as those being promoted by the Gates Foundation, are not the answer; it's smaller class sizes.”

And today’s Education supplement of the NY Times features a review of several memoirs of teachers, including Ric’s and another by Dan Brown, a former filmmaker who was assigned to an elementary school in the Bronx, “The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle.” In both, the authors describe their unwieldy class sizes as their most insurmountable challenge. Both fled the public school system and are now teaching in elite NYC private schools where no classes are larger than 15 students.

Ric’s story, in particular, puts the lie to Klein’s claim that we cannot reduce class size because of the shortage of qualified math and science teachers. If we could provide them with smaller classes, more people like Ric – who had all the right credentials, including degrees from MIT and Harvard Business School -- would hang around longer and we’d have a more qualified and effective teaching force. It’s the attrition rate – not the lack of applicants –that doom so many of our students to less effective and experienced teachers.

See excerpt here:

“In practically all the foxhole memoirs there is a common villain: standardized testing, which the authors agree has been so overemphasized that it is now an obstacle to the very education it was supposed to measure. And there is a common, if nearly impossible, remedy as well: smaller classes, more resources. Mr. Klass stumbles on this partly by accident when he is asked to take over a group of special ed students and discovers that they do much better than his other classes, simply because he can give them more time.”

Apparently, as in the reviewer’s case, even those who admit that reducing class size is the key to improving our schools believe is a remedy that is “nearly impossible” to achieve shows that the biggest challenge we face is changing people’s minds about what is possible.

Woodie, the Rock Star

by Norman Scott

April 20, 2007

(From The Wave,

He is tall and lean, his thinning gray hair swept back in a long ponytail. His usual garb: jeans, sneakers and a dungaree jacket covered with names signed in multi-colored markers. He towers above the hordes of teenagers who often surround him waiting patiently for his autograph and the opportunity to find an open spot on his jacket to place their names (he has markers available for them to use.)

Another rock star from the ‘60’s on yet another comeback tour? No, he is Woodie Flowers, professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he is an international superstar in the worldwide robotics community.

Read an account of my wonderful visit to the World Robotic Festival, sponsored by FIRST, in Atlanta where thousands of kids from elementary, middle and high schools gathered from around the nation and the world. When the MC shouts Isaaaac, the kids shout back "Newton!"

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rubber Room, The Movie

Greetings all,

The last few months for us here at Five Boroughs Productions have been hectic but very productive. The production of our documentary has progressed well and, in addition, we have just finished updating our web-site.

We hope that you find the new web-site more informative, dynamic, and comprehensive. Please feel free to contact us with any comments and check back periodically for updates and a sneak preview of our upcoming documentary "The Rubber Room".

Jeremy Garrett
Executive Producer
Five Boroughs Productions

Friday, April 20, 2007

UFT Incorporated

Sean Ahern posts a lengthy analysis/critique of the UFT leadership and the opposition and poses suggestions for a new direction.

After four years NAC (pursuing the change from above) has pretty much disappeared into Unity without discernible effect on the mothership. ICE/TJC's challenge to Unity(change from below) may be likened to 'grabbing an elephant by the tail', not much in the way of a budding insurgency here.

I used to think the UFT was a labor organization ultimately subject to the expressed will of working teachers. I know there are dedicated Chapter Leaders on this list who have held the fort in their schools and kept members active and involved. I applaud such efforts at the school level, I just don't see how the positive change can go much beyond this.

Consider for a moment that the UFT is neither a teachers union, nor a company union, nor a corrupt union, nor a retiree association, but a management corporation, UFT Inc., with two large office buildings, a health insurance plan, the $40 billion TRS, The Teachers Center and other properties and investments, perks and privileges to maintain.

Read the rest at Norm's Notes

A unique opportunity has been missed

A unique opportunity has been missed
by Norman Scott
April 20

(Posted to nyceducationnews listserve)

The May 9th demo scared the hell out of Bloomberg and would have made a national splash and focused attention on so many of the awful policies as a result of his control of the school system.
In addition, it looks like the back of the coalition forming to stand up to him may have been broken. Divide and conquer, used to perfection. With the cooperation of the UFT.

But the major parties involved are only interested in short-term solutions. Bloomberg hopes he's heading for Washington and so does Weingarten. Probably Klein too.

Andy Wolfe's analysis makes some good points:
"The mayor is intent on neutralizing his opposition and may now have succeeded. Political aides to the mayor fear that the education issue could undermine his nascent presidential bid.
The turmoil over the mayor's education initiatives also has led to serious questions being raised by key leaders in the city's business and philanthropic communities, up to now the mayor's strongest supporters.....
In trying to sell the agreement to the uncomfortable parent groups, speaking on a conference call, Ms. Weingarten termed officials of the Department of Education as "absolute and complete assholes" who "can't be trusted."

Just the usual Weingarten rhetoric, words without substance. In the last 10 years I've had the occasion to use this expression so many times: Et tu, Randi?

Wolfe's point is right on:
many parent leaders believed "we've got them where we want them," wanting no concessions, and preferred holding out for the state Legislature to modify — or eliminate — mayoral control. To them the mission was not to protect the interests of senior teachers looking to retain their ability to move about the system, but to "put the public back in the public schools."

One can't say this enough times. A unique opportunity has been missed.

The NYTimes today says this on the funding plan "compromise":
"The change means that when a veteran teacher paid nearly $100,000 a year retires, a principal can hire a similar teacher or hire a rookie for about $50,000 and use the remaining $50,000 for other expenses."

If this is true, will a principal chose a senior teacher or take the 50 grand? This seems like little change in reality.

The agreement still affects teachers who want to transfer, as that issue is still in grievance, and if you look at the rate of grievance victories (low single digits) that has little chance. With so many teachers already forced into retirement, the transfer issue is just as important. To have left this to the grievance process is a capitulation. People will say, "well in negotiations, there is give and take."

There has never been any give from Tweed, only take. That they sat down at all is a sign of weakness. Instead of negotiations, there should have been take it or leave it demands. The May 9 demo was long overdue.

The basic idiocy of the reorganization plan
is still in place (ok, gang, everyone compete, total power in the hands of principals (all too many power hungry and pathological) - except they need permission of the district Superintendents).

The fact that the continued idiocies that will result from mayoral control seem guaranteed to continue in perpetuity. Nothing has changed for the people in the school community who have suffered over the past the past 5 years.

On class size, I don't care what they say or what committees they form. They do not believe that reducing class size will have the same impact spending money on professional development will. That is their mantra, inherited from Anthony Alvarado. They will say one thing and do another. To put any trust in Tweed given their record is a mistake.

It is funny that Tweed can say they are going to do A,B,C,D horrible things and when they modify D, everyone cheers like it's a victory.

From the very beginning, the focus on the reorganization rather than the entire package of control of the schools by big city mayors and its impact on the schools has made a deal like this likely. And when the leader, the UFT, is always looking to make a deal, the entire movement seemed doomed from the beginning. The groups left out of the process were used and will be very reluctant to get involved in the future. An historic opportunity to bring forces together to become an educational force has been lost. But long-time observers of how the UFT operates are not surprised.

From day one of BloomKlein, the UFT wanted a seat at the table and seems to have gotten it. They also are and will continue to support mayoral control. Their candidate Spitzer confirmed it today.

The strength of any coalition is in the numbers they can bring to the table.

As pointed out, "
CEJ is one of the many Community Involvement organizations financed by the Annenberg Institute of Social Reform at Brown University, headed up by Norm Fruchter, formerly of NYU."

How do they get to be considered representative of local parent groups while groups actually elected (and which had passed resolutions against the reorganizations, no small reason why they weren't at the table) are left out? Who does Fruchter, who has supported much of what Tweed has done, represent?

Where was the "transparency" in these negotiations so many people on this list have been calling on the DOE to show?

The proper way to go about the process would have been to get reps together of all groups to decide on a strategy. But the UFT is always looking to make a deal even at the expense of some of its allies.

A unique opportunity has been missed.

Or has it?

There still is a need to hold a demo at Tweed. People opposed to this agreement should go to Tweed on the afternoon of May 9th and hold a silent vigil.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Deal Announced on Reorganization: Did BloomKlein Blink?

The UFT Exec. Bd. will meet on Monday, April 23 to rubber stamp the just announced deal between BloomKleinGarten and various so-called parent reps, though those actually elected in various regions seem to have been left out of the process. A special Delegate Assembly has been called for April 25 to do the same. A memo was sent out by the UFT saying the May 9th demo is postponed. Read: Cancelled. The chance to finally give people an opportunity to vent their anger and frustration at Tweed seems to have gone up in smoke.

It was increasingly clear. The foment concerning the May 9th demo at Tweed involving leading parent groups and the UFT as a follow-up to the Feb. 28th rally was putting BloomKlein on the defensive. The alliance of parents and teachers and community elements had to be broken by them. BloomKlein will get a reprieve from what would have turned out to be a embarrassment that would force the national and local media to reevaluate their adulation of the BloomKlein "reforms." What a lost opportunity to take the fight against the corporate model to the next stage. If you read all the way through this , you will also see that BloomKleinGarten have also driven a wedge between what looked like a united front that was forming. Divide and conquer used to perfection.

That rally, which was billed as a means to fight the reorganization for the 3rd time in 5 years rather than an attack on the negative impact of control of the school system in the hands of this mayor or any future mayor, could have been used as a springboard to force BloomKlein into further concessions. There is nothing in the agreement described below that reverses any of the incompetent, self-serving, misdirected, cruel, etc. policies that have so damaged the school system and many of the people - parents, teachers, children - in the educational community.

Except for a few instances, the wording is full of the kind of promises to consult, recommend, participate but contains little or no elements that bind the very people at Tweed who have engendered such distrust in the past.

On the surface the agreement does look like a win on the funding formula that penalized schools with high salaried teachers, at least for the next few years. I might be wrong here, but I seem to remember Klein saying all along they would not implement it right away. But there are wrinkles.

The NYTimes says this on the funding plan "compromise":

"The change means that when a veteran teacher paid nearly $100,000 a year retires, a principal can hire a similar teacher or hire a rookie for about $50,000 and use the remaining $50,000 for other expenses."

If this is true, will a principal chose a senior teacher or take the 50 grand? This seems like little change in reality

Not trusting BloomKlein on anything, seems to force them to hold off. We think. Who knows what they will actually do and I recommend watchdogs keep a very close eye on them. On the other hand, I believe that many Kleinite principals won't hire senior teachers anyway for a lot of other reasons than just salary (look what has been going on in the schools for years with attacks on senior teachers who might actually want to see the contract, what is left of it, enforced.) They can get away with it because the UFT gave up so many seniority protections in the contract.

From Day One of BloomKlein, the UFT has been more miffed at the fact that they were not allowed to sit at the table like they had done with the old BOE than they were at the decimation of the union at the school level. When I hear people say BloomKlein want to kill the union they are wrong. They only want to kill the union at the bottom, which they have managed to do in so many places. They want and need the current UFT leadership at the top to do exactly what they have done in this case: kill a potential rise in militancy on May 9th and control and deflect any signs of militancy that might arise. So many people are angry at Tweed both among parents and teachers that this rally promised to be unique - possibly the first such joint action in a long time, if not in history.

The sentiment was rising against mayoral control. We have said all along that the UFT has always, and will continue to back mayoral control, albeit with minor modifications. A further sign was in the UFT supported Spitzer's comments in favor of mayoral control today, where he erroneously stated he would veto any attempt to kill it, deliberately misleading people as there doesn't have to be any law to kill it. It sunsets automatically and we revert to the old system unless the legislature renews it.

The basic idiocy of the reorganiztion plan is still in place. And the fact that the continued idiocies that will result from mayoral control seem guaranteed to continue in perpetuity. Nothing has changed for the people in the school community from the past 5 years. I don't care what they say or what committees they form. They do not believe that reducing class size will have the same impact spending money on professional development will. That is their mantra, inherited from Anthony Alvarado. They will say one thing and do another. To put any trust in Tweed given their record is a mistake. What I find funny is that they can say they are going to do A,B,C,D horrible things and they drop D and everyone cheers like it's a victory.

BloomKlein blinked, on the surface. But they showed a nimbleness in responding that none of their opponents have shown. The may have broken the parent coalition uniting against them with the UFT. The actions of the UFT are not surprising. It is a shame that there are so-called parent reps who scrambled for the crumbs dealt out by BloomKlein just to get a seat at the table. But who will be the real long-range losers? Bet on the rank and file teachers and parents, along with the students.

The statement below by Tim Johnson, who made such a strong statement against mayoral control at the Feb. 28th rally, indicates that non of the elected parents took part in this deal (unless behind closed doors, a violation of the very openness some of them have been calling for.) Following this statement are the DOE and then the UFT press releases.

See the follow-up interchange between Marge Colb and Martine Guerrier, a clear sign that BloomKlein has broken the parent united front that was forming by divide and conquer. That Martine would respond in this way -- attacking the elected CPACs instead of standing for their involvement is a clear sign of what we thought all along the role she might end up playing.

Statement released from Tim Johnson, CPAC (Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council)

Dear CPAC Members/Friends:

I released the following statement today in response to the Mayor's press conference announcing an agreement between the City, the UFT, & other organizations:

"This agreement provides no relief for disenfranchised parents, who were once again denied a seat at the table. Not one elected parent leader stood with the Mayor today. Our fight for full empowerment for public-school parents continues."

Tim Johnson, Chairman
Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council (CPAC)

Marge Kolb email:

After reading about the agreement the city reached with teachers and parents regarding the reorg and fair funding, I emailed Martine Guerrier on Thursday night and had the following exchange with her:

Dear Martine:

I'm wondering why there is an announcement of an agreement between parties, including parents, on the reorganization and yet the Chair of CPAC, Tim Johnson, has posted the statement (above).

What parents were involved in the discussions among parties? I went to the CPAC meeting last Thursday and there was no announcement that parents were invited to discussions with the Mayor and/or Chancellor. I, as a CEC member, know of no invitation for CEC members or even
just CEC presidents to participate in talks.

Marge Kolb

Reply from Martine: The parent from CEJ may not have been featured highly enough.

Then Marge wrote: I don't know what CEJ is. And are you saying there was ONE parent involved in the discussion? And, why wasn't it the Chair of CPAC which is the CHANCELLOR'S PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL?

Martine replied:

NYC-CEJ (CEJ) is a coalition of PUBLIC SCHOOL PARENTS citywide who have been fighting to improve our schools alongside CPAC for our kids. They are just as valid in representing parents as you are and it is wrong to belittle the participation of any parent organization
representative. I believe it is a good thing to have many parent organizations involved and representing important issues, even if they are not CPAC. It is time to support the opening of doors to more parent representatives and voices. There is plenty of work to go around, so I am glad to see progress in recognizing parent leadership from other parent organizations.

You can disagree with me, but I believe it is about time that more parent leaders are recognized.

As an aside... ACORN, AQE, BEC (one of many organizations in CEJ), WFP, Small Class Size Coalition, UFT, and others who are part of the announced taskforce have been members of the parents rights movement for a long time. Please let me know: Is it your position or CPAC's
that these groups are not really valid representatives of the school community?

My final reply of the night:

Dear Martine:

My position is that the DOE and/or State Legislature have over the years insured parent involvement in the public school system by forming the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council (pursuant to Chancellor's Regs) and the CECs (pursuant to state law) - both of which are made up of parents ELECTED to represent other parents citywide. Why then would the DOE fail to involve parents from either of these groups in very important discussions about the organization of the school system, especially since CPAC and a number of CEC's have raised concerns and questions (many of which remain UNANSWERED) about the reorg and the fair funding proposals?

Marge Kolb

DOE Press Release (with some comments by me in italics below some sections)

PR- 117-07
April 19, 2007


Teachers Union Supports Department's Fair Student Funding Plan and English Language Learner Strategies

City Commits to Work with Teachers and other Stakeholders on Class Size, Parent Engagement, and Middle School Initiatives

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten today announced a renewed commitment to work together to strengthen and implement key reforms to bring greater accountability and equity to New York City's public schools. The Mayor was also joined by City
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Council Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition Chung-Wha Hong, NY ACORN Executive Director Bertha Lewis, and Irania Sanchez representing the Coalition for Economic Justice and Make the Road by Walking. In particular, the
City and the Union announced agreement on a Fair Student Funding proposal that will correct historic inequities in school funding, while also ensuring continued stability for all schools. They also announced new collaboration on a range of other issues including teacher tenure, class size, parent engagement, and middle school improvement.

"I strongly believe in the need for mayoral control and a clear line of accountability running all the way up to the mayor," said Mayor Bloomberg. "But I also believe in bringing people together around a common goal. The Chancellor and I appreciate all the people who have come together today behind these initiatives. I think they will make a big difference for our schools and our students."

"After weeks of public discussion and debate, we have today a set of criteria that will strengthen our schools and provide a better educational experience for families and students. Working with the Mayor's office, teachers, advocates and the Council, we have put together a work plan to lower class size, support educators, protect English Language Learners and improve our middle schools, with the full engagement of parents and school communities," said Speaker
Christine C. Quinn.

"Since the mayor's State of the City address we have voiced areas on which we agree and disagree. I am pleased we have reached agreement on some of the major instructional and funding issues that affect our 1.1 million students and the more than 100,000 educators who serve them - and on the mechanics to continue the dialogue," said United
Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. "The bottom line is how we help kids. Listening to parents and teachers is the vehicle to accomplishing that."

In his January 2007 State of the City speech, Mayor Bloomberg promised to correct decades of inequity in school funding by adopting Fair Student Funding, which will fund schools based on the number and needs of students. Since then, the Chancellor, his staff, and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott consulted with almost 6,000 people at more than 100 meetings throughout the City in order to gain feedback and refine the proposal. Based on these conversations, as well as those with the Union over the past week, a series of refinements have been made.
These adjustments include:

* A "hold harmless provision," which assures that successful schools will not be destabilized by reduction in funds. Schools will carry forward their hold harmless from 2007-2008 to 2008-2009.
(Hasn't Klein been saying they will have a few years of grace all along?)

* A commitment to fund schools so they can continue paying for existing faculty, even as their salaries increase in the future. This protection will be available to all faculty positions where it is currently available (i.e., "base teacher" positions).
We've seen "commitments" ignored so many times in the past our heads are spinning.

* Allowing schools to keep any "hold harmless" funding from the current year that is connected with teachers who choose to retire or leave a school. This provides schools with the financial ability to replace departing teachers with other senior teachers.

In addition, the Administration will invite the Union, as well as the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, to become members of an advisory group that will analyze the impact of Fair Student Funding and recommend refinements over time. While the Administration and the Union agreed to work together to implement FSF, the UFT continues to believe that using "actual teacher salary" as a consideration in hiring decisions under the Open Market Transfer System is impermissible under the teachers' contract and has filed a grievance to that effect.


Teacher Tenure
In his January State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the City would strengthen the criteria by which the Department of Education awards tenure to ensure that teachers who receive tenure deserve it. The Department is forming an internal committee to develop the criteria for which teacher tenure will be granted, and will invite the UFT to participate in this process.
What does 'participate" mean? What if there's no agreement? Does UFT have veto power? Bet not!

Class Size
After the New York State Education Department issues class size regulations, which are expected within weeks, the City's Education Department will work with the UFT and other stakeholders such as New Yorkers for Smaller Class Size to develop a joint set of recommendations on how best to implement the regulations.
If they are truly joint and not unilateral then this might be a win.

Parent Engagement
The DOE will create a committee next week to design improved processes for parent engagement. The committee, led by the department's Chief Family Engagement Officer, will encourage the City Council, ACORN, the Coalition for Educational Justice, and other appropriate stakeholders to participate. The committee will focus on recommending steps to improve parent engagement and ensure that all schools have a functioning School Leadership Team, comprised of teachers, parents, and other members of the school community.

Who decides on the "appropriate" stakeholders? Recommendations are just that. If they were to be trusted that migh be ok. But are they to be trusted?

English Language Learners
The Department of Education will significantly increase the weights for English Language Learners to reflect the specific challenges these students face. The Department will ensure that English Language Learners with low academic achievement will receive additional support.

Middle Schools
As part of the Department of Education's effort to improve middle school education and results, the department will consider the recommendations of Speaker Quinn's middle school task force. If the Chancellor accepts the recommendations, the DOE, in conjunction with the Center for Educational Justice, the City Council, and other
stakeholders, will work together to implement the proposals in at least 50 schools.

Consider? Trust?

Student Success Centers
Working with the Urban Youth Collaborative, the Department will explore the idea of developing Student Success Centers, designed to work with high school students to increase graduation rates and help prepare students for college and careers.

Again a word like explore, expect unilateralism.

UFT Press Release

Union, parents, city reach agreement on reorganization

New York City teachers, parents and students have finally been heard.

The UFT and our coalition partners have come to an agreement with the city on some of the most troubling issues in the DOE’s latest reorganization plan, including school funding, tenure, class size, parent engagement, ELL funding and a middle school strategy.

We believe the agreement, which was announced at a Thursday (April 19) afternoon press conference, will protect members and avert the destabilizing effect of the new funding formula on schools.

In addition, the agreement will give educators, parents and others a continuing voice in decision-making through several new central committees and revitalized School Leadership Teams.

UFT President Randi Weingarten said she still has qualms about some aspects of the reorganization. She said, "We believe in additional funds for the kids traditionally left behind, but not at the expense of schools that work. This agreement eliminates all the economic incentives to destabilize good schools."

In light of the agreement, we are calling for a special meeting of the Delegate Assembly on Tuesday, April 24, at 4:15 p.m. at UFT headquarters, 52 Broadway to discuss the next steps in our work.

Please make every effort to attend. The details of the agreement will be discussed.