Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kathryn Wylde Goes Wild on Ravitch - Tweed Hit Job

Wylde photo lifted from the eduwonkette blog which has excellent commentary on this issue. Also check out the brilliant Halloween parade of ed stars.


See Leonie Haimson and NY Sun article below showing Wylde's NY Post article aided by Tweed - thanks to
reporting by one of our favorite reporters, Elizabeth Green. Yo, Wyldewoman, who's the one without integrity now? And to David Cantor, Tweed head of public relations: want to see a good file? Check out Bloomberg's file on sexual harrassment. Finally! Holy crap - I'm on the same side as Randi Weingarten and Sol Stern on this one. Gotta get my head x-rayed.

Bloomberg hack & flack Kathryn Wylde, one of those dilettantes dabbling in educational policy as president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, went wild in a vicious attack on Ravitch’s integrity for her daring to say the union bested BloomKlein. The wild Wylde writes, “When it comes to public education in NYC [Ravitch is] no longer a source we can rely on for fair-minded commentary.” Wylde wrote this in the NY Post, that paragon of fair-minded commentary.

While I agree with Wylde that this was not a win for the union, her attack on Ravitch is a sign of how critics of Ravitch’s stature are getting under the BloomKlein skin. And while I often disagree with Ravitch, I have absolutely no doubt about her integrity and indeed, have increasing respect for her for her stand on BloomKlein.

UPDATE from Leonie Haimson and NY Sun below
  1. Yesterday, the NY Post published an oped by Kathy Wylde, head of the NYC Partnership, which claims to represent all the business interests in this city. The oped was a blistering, personal attack on Diane Ravitch.

Diane is a personal hero of mine. She’s the top expert in the country on the history of the NYC public schools, and a relentless critic of this administration’s wrong-headed education policies, whether that be holding back kids on the basis of their test scores, to the new merit pay proposals that will pay principals, kids, and now teachers for higher test scores at schools.

Diane has also been a big proponent of the need to reduce class size, and the right of parents and the public at large to be involved in the decision making process when it comes to our schools, which puts her at odds with this administration.

Today’s NY Sun reveals that this oped -- ostensibly written by Wylde – originated at Tweed. (See below article.)

Apparently, their highly paid PR department spent days researching in a file on her – to try to show that she had switched positions on a number of issues to use in an attempt to label her as hypocritical.

Yet if anyone is hypocritical, it is really the Mayor and the Chancellor, who refuse to reduce class size, and instead are trying to squeeze out better test scores by bribing principals and teachers and students. All their efforts are turning our schools into the sort of joyless establishments that they would never consider sending their own children to.

Clearly, the administration has decided that they cannot stand any dissent but are now using Wylde and the NYC Partnership as their attack dogs. It’s becoming like the Nixon White House with their enemy lists -- and our taxpayer money is paying for this!

Here is a link to yesterday’s NY Post oped, attacking Diane :

The NY Sun article is below.

Please write a letter to the NY post in defense of Diane and her courage and integrity in speaking up for our kids, when so many others have been cowed into submission.

You can also write a letter to the NY Sun – decrying the city’s efforts to smear her, and the way our taxpayer money has been used in this effort:

  1. The administration’s dishonesty was also in evidence in their attempt to obscure the fact that on their own parent survey, class size came out as the number one concern of parents from throughout the city. As recounted in articles in the NY Times, Post, and on our blog, the Mayor actually claimed that “enrichment” came out over two to one over class size, whereas smaller classes were chosen by 24% of parents, compared to enrichment at 19%.

Steve Koss, PTA pres. at the Manhattan Center for science and math HS and former CEC member, has just written a devasting expose on our parent blog – showing that parents at nearly 50% of our general ed public schools opted for smaller class sizes over all other nine options – as did parents at more than 55% of our failing schools – many of which continue to have classes of 30 or more.

There’s a lot more fascinating detail in his analysis --check it out at

But first, read the piece in the NY Sun below, and then write a letter to the Post and/or the Sun in support of Diane.

We need people like Diane, strong enough to stand up to the bullies in this administration, more than ever before.

Feud 'Twixt Wylde, Ravich Laid to City's Machinations

BY ELIZABETH GREEN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 31, 2007

A scathing opinion piece deriding a prominent critic of Mayor Bloomberg's education policies was generated with the help of city officials, sources said yesterday.

The article, written by the president of the Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde, and published in yesterday's New York Post, accuses Diane Ravitch of opposing the Bloomberg administration irrationally, despite formerly supporting the policies it has implemented, perhaps because of a personal grudge. It concludes that Ms. Ravitch is "no longer a source we can rely on for fair-minded commentary."

Ms. Ravitch yesterday said the piece plainly originated from the city's Education Department, calling it a "paid hit job" meant to silence all critics of the Bloomberg administration. "They're trying to intimidate me, and they're trying to silence me, and I'm not going to be silenced," Ms. Ravitch said.

Ms. Wylde said the idea for the piece was her own, but that she wrote it with the help of a research file composed by the Education Department that chronicles Ms. Ravitch's policy positions over the years. The seven-page document, titled "Diane Ravitch: Then and Now," tallies quotations by Ms. Ravitch on nearly a dozen topics, comparing comments she made in the 1990s to statements in recent years.

A spokesman for the department, David Cantor, defended the decision to make a file on Ms. Ravitch. "She's the most influential educational commentator probably in the United States. If she is typically either distorting what we're doing, or if she is reversing long-held opinions in order to attack us — that's an indication that there's something more there than fair-minded observation," Mr. Cantor said.

A former education aide to President George H.W. Bush who has written numerous books on American education, including the definitive history of the New York City schools, Ms. Ravitch was a strong supporter of Mayor Bloomberg's move to take control of the public system but has since ridiculed many of his education efforts.

Ms. Wylde's article accuses her of abandoning former support for more than a handful of policies, including merit-based pay for teachers; increased autonomy for principals; standardized testing as a way to set high expectations for achievement, and even the belief that every child is capable of academic success — all points that appeared in "Diane Ravitch: Then and Now." The reversals, Ms. Wylde writes, "seem more tied to her unhappiness with the personalities in the Bloomberg administration than its policies."

Ms. Ravitch condemned the characterization of "an odd Ravitch turnaround," saying it is grounded in misunderstanding.

The moment her disagreements with Mr. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, emerged, she said, exemplifies the point. She had indeed long argued for setting a single standard curriculum in the schools, but when Mr. Klein implemented a new reading curriculum around the idea of "balanced literacy," Ms. Ravitch said she balked. Balanced literacy is a method of teaching that mixes phonics and other approaches, but Ms. Ravitch said she had never meant to advocate for a standardized pedagogy. What she wanted, she said, was a single curriculum mandating, for instance, when to teach American history.

Ms. Ravitch said her support for standardized testing has not wavered, either, though she has sniffed at Mr. Klein's emphasis on tests. She said that is because she has lost confidence in the ability of local and state governments to administer fair and reliable tests — the temptation to let political interests affect results is too strong. She said she still supports a national test.

Ms. Ravitch said her most serious concern with the Bloomberg administration is the way it responds to dissent. She said that many educators who are professionally reliant on support from the city, through grants or contracts, fear voicing any differing opinions.

"It's a very sad situation, when people don't feel free to speak their mind," she said.

"The Legislature eliminated the independent board; they eliminated the community boards, and now the mayor and the chancellor are trying to shut down all independent critics," she added. "That's dangerous to democracy."

Ms. Wylde disputed that characterization, citing the city's recent agreements with the teachers and principals unions over merit-based pay as evidence of its ability to cooperate with critics.

She said she and city officials have mulled their frustration with Ms. Ravitch for years, but she said the Bloomberg administration did not ask her to write the article. She said she decided to write it herself after Ms. Ravitch published an opinion piece criticizing a program to bring merit-based pay to public schools — a plan that Ms. Wylde's Partnership is partially financing. She said the attack was reminiscent of other critiques Ms. Ravitch has made against programs supported by the Partnership, which Ms. Wylde said she also felt were unfair.

"The largest fund-raising we have undertaken are in public education," she said. "It's damaging to those projects, to our fund-raising efforts."

The president of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten, said Ms. Wylde's article offended her. "Anybody worth his or her salt in education has been both criticized and praised by Diane Ravitch," Ms. Weingarten said. "That voice should not be silenced."

Another critic of Mr. Bloomberg's education policies, the Manhattan Institute fellow Sol Stern, said: "It's been clear for a while that City Hall and the DOE want to cut off all serious debate about their education policies. But they've never stooped so low as to try to delegitimize the country's leading historian of education."

Randi does the Maury Povich show

UPDATED: Oct. 31 8pm with a 2nd RR reporter (below)

Here is a report from RRR - our Rubber Room Resident correspondent about last night's meeting (I didn't attend but was outside with someone from the Rubber Room Movie who would like to get some more video or audio reactions from people to the meeting. Anonymity guaranteed if requested.)

Catching Maury -- I mean, Randy. Tonight's meeting regarding the Rubber Room.
I knew we were in trouble when Randy walked in and asked us how we wanted to run the meeting -- did we want to hear her ten point plan or talk first? I didn't know how to respond to this, but my colleagues had better manners and did their best impressions of good students anxious to hear what the teacher has to say.

The Ten points were themselves reasonable. We weren't given copies, but here's what I remember.

1. That the arbitration process should be expedited in a fair, but fast manner. That we should have the 20 arbitrators the contract calls for as soon as possible.
2. That whistle-blowers should be protected and people should have access to all their rights under the law --- the disabled, to the protection of disability laws, for example.
3. That teachers should receive their charges within two days of removal from the classroom.
4. That a committee be convened including the teacher's peers to determine IF the person needed to be removed from the school.
5. That while there would not be UFT rep's at each site, there would be liaisons assigned to each center so that cases could receive more attention and be better managed.
6. That the centers not be warehouse-like in themselves.
7. That a suspended teacher remains on the school's payroll so he/she can't be replaced.
8. That people facing criminal charges who are exonerated in criminal court don't have to endure another trial from the DOE.

I would ask others at the meeting to add what they remember and impressions.

What disturbed me even about the presentation of the ten points was the feeling of "rough draft" to the whole process. It seemed that Randy intended this to create a kind of feeling of open dialogue (or, at least, that was her given intention). She asked if we thought these points were "on the right track." I guess, I would have preferred to have a sense that these points were part of a proposal to be made on a specific date with the intention of implementing them quickly. Frankly, also, I'd have preferred to be given copies of the proposal before the meeting so that I could've come in with specific questions. I realize that Randy is very busy -- these points were apparently hot off her notepad this afternoon.

What followed was mostly a long, dirge of a session, with person after person relating his or her story. A few of the speakers made specific suggestions -- one which very importantly related to untenured teachers. She pointed out that keeping the untenured teacher on the principal's payroll would just give the principal incentive to fire/excess the untenured teacher. Randy, at first, dodged the question, but finally said she would then have to re-think the suggestion on the proposal.

The microphone then passed among the crowd like a special edition of a morning talk show, with teachers telling their stories, some sadder than the others. There was almost a feeling of people bringing their stories to some sort of papal figure, as if something could be done for them at the moment. Randy did gesture to her SWAT team -- Betsy Combier, Jim Callahan, etc. that they pay attention to some of these and even directed one woman to the legal department.
I am sure some people, particularly those speaking, felt satisfied for their opportunity to vent/get some sense of immediate redress. For those of us who didn't speak, there was the opportunity to listen to some terrible, but not unfamiliar injustices. A colleague of mine suggested that perhaps Randy had no idea how many people would come and that is why she had no more formal system than passing the microphone around.

What happened, as the meeting moved closer and closer to seven pm (having started around five), was that the NYSUT lawyers began passing notes in the back, people started flitting around to talk with their lawyers or other people they knew, and the circle of keening became a small one with Randy slumped behind it.

Maybe this meeting will help Randy to see badly people have been treated. It was probably far more contact with the masses than she intended and she did listen, even when she might have been the only one still listening. But, it's unclear to me if any of the larger stories will help shape the proposal. For all the demands and re-demands that "two days is too long to wait" for your charges and insistences that principals, and even sometimes union reps, do not behave fairly, I had a feeling that Randy's rough draft was meant to be fairly close to final and that the negotiable points were really meant to be fine tuning -- not core re-shapings that, for example, insisting that people get their charges before they are removed would necessitate.

I'd be curious to see what other's thought -- which points other people remember. A lot was also mentioned in passing. Randy alluded to wanting to have five cases like those of David Pakter and Lenny Brown -- and I took this to mean five "poster children" to be used as test cases, for stories in the press/help give a public face to the rubber room.

Randy also made clear that the UFT lost its age discrimination suit -- that the EEOC rejected the case as a whole as unworthy, though individual cases had merit. Somehow this loss blurred into a general answer about lawsuits -- implying that the union might not sue for discrimination against the disabled, for example as a whole, or might do so individually. She made clear she didn't want to take on the case of teachers who might be discriminated against because of their accents (a point raised in a RR resident's question) in the cold-hearted environment of Bloomberg and Klein, who might argue that the teacher could not be understood by the students. It will be up to the individual, it seemed to me, to bring his/her case to the union's attention and raise the issue of discrimination.

And then, all sorts of random facts some of us might not have known came out. I didn't know that if you have two "u" ratings you can get an independent person to evaluate you in your third year. It almost seemed as though Randy had been on a bone-up course/overdrive of "u" rating/3020a info and was just teeming with thoughts about it. That can happen both when you study hard and when you pull an "all-nighter" and get your paper done ten minutes before presentation. This is not to say she didn't have good intentions or ideas.

I just wished that things had been a bit more organized and objectives clearer. Maybe this is the fault of having been a teacher for too long.
RR Resident

Randi called a meeting of all the school systems' teachers reassigned to the rubber room.It was scheduled for 4:15 on Tuesday October 30th 2007. Over two hundred fifty people in rubber rooms from the five boroughs, as well as the entire nysut legal staff and many union district representatives were in attendance. Randi did not come to the meeting place until 4:30. No staff member said a word about the delay. Staff milled around and talked for one half hour. Randi then arrived and said that she could not get started because she was waiting for a power point presentation to be given to her. We waited another 15 minutes. She then began by explaining the reason she was late. A crisis had occurred due to a bomb threat at a Bronx school.
A teacher who came to class 30 minutes late would get a letter in his or her file. If a teacher arrived at a class and kept the class waiting for 15 minutes because he or she was unprepared, it would mean another letter for the file. Why was Randi involved in resolving a bomb threat in the Bronx? If a Union presence was necessary couldn't she have delegated someone to take care of it?
The experience of the first hour and fifteen minutes of a meeting with Randi was a crystalization of the problem. She was rude to the participants by showing up late. When she showed up she was not prepared. Finally, with a huge paid staff, she was unable to delegate responsibility meaningfully and as a result we, all of us in the school system, both in and out of rubber rooms are in the mess we are in.
Denizen of the RR

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rubber Room Movie and Harlem RR Report - UPDATE

Filmmaker and former teacher Jeremy Garrett a filmmaker and former teacher, who got the idea for the Rubber Room Movie when a colleague was unfairly assigned there, asked me to post a message that someone from the movie will be outside 52 Broadway at 4pm to ask people their opinions. I will try to be there with them to assist.

The movie has been long in the making and kudos to Five Boroughs Productions for being on the case before anyone else. The UFT gave them permission to film a discussion at an Executive Board meeting and they attended an ICE meeting to film one of our discussions. Check out their site at where a trailer will be posted soon.

Also, see a report from the Harlem Rubber Room by David Pakter below Jeremy Garrett's as David refuses to remove Van Gogh prints he bought and hung to liven up a windowless, drab space. David will be at the UFT meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30 and it should be a lively event.

We want to point out that while we remain skeptical, we support the attention being paid at long last to this issue by the UFT leadership, which all too often gave RR people the impression they felt they were guilty, giving one the sense the UFT only wanted to touch them with a 20 foot pole. Now that the mainstream press has picked up the story with some level of sympathy for a change (began when ICE's Jeff Kaufman's stint in the RR was featured in the NY Times and the NY Post), the UFT is trying to take the lead. They are welcome to the struggle and hopefully their advocacy and the pressure of the press will embarrass the DOE into changes.

Greetings Norm,

I have tried to contact the UFT in order to be granted permission to shoot at the Rubber Room Summit meeting that is taking place tomorrow (Tues, Oct. 30 at 4pm). I have e-mailed Randi Weingarten and spoken with [UFT Public Relations chief] Chris Policano but I have yet to receive a response.

Could you please post this notice on your blog to let people know that Five Boroughs Productions will be outside 52 Broadway tomorrow if we are not granted permission to shoot inside? We wish to speak with folks both before and after the meeting to address issues surrounding the Rubber Room and discuss what the UFT is finally doing to address the needs which are specific to reassigned teachers.

Obviously we are aware of the sensitivity surrounding reassignment, so we can grant anonymity to those individuals who have something to say but fear retribution.

Thanks for your continued support,

Jeremy Garrett
Executive Producer
Five Boroughs Productions

Rubber Room Update from David Pakter

As of today it was ordered that the Metropolitan Museum Prints be removed from the prison like walls of the Harlem Rubber Room. I have refused to comply. Can you possibly get this IMPROVED VERSION published all over the universe tonight because Randi Weingarten is holding a special meeting at the UFT, tomorrow, Tues at 4 PM for all 700 prisoners of the various Rubber Rooms. I want as many members of the press and public AS POSSIBLE to know about the situation in the Harlem Rubber Room before that massive UFT meeting begins tomorrow at 4 PM. The order to remove the Van Gogh prints is totally "Arbitrary and Capricious" and intended to make the RR's as painful/oppressive/uncomfortable as possible.

LATEST- Breaking NYC DOE Education News

For Immediate Press Release - Monday, October 29, 2007

Attention: Museum Art Curators, UNESCO, Cultural Organizations Worldwide

The New York City Dept of Education "Art Police" Demand

Metropolitan Museum Vincent Van Gogh Prints Be Removed

From A New York City Dept. of Education "Rubber Room".

Is It Because the Flowers Are Nude?

Please see previous Press Release attached below.
Regarding: The New York City Board/Dept. of Education
"From Inside the Harlem Rubber Room"
Open Letter To Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq.
Will A Teacher Be Charged With Hanging A Museum Poster?
Picture a small room without windows or even a water cooler on the 6th floor of a nondescript government building on West 125th Street in Harlem in New York City. Now imagine that you cannot reach that floor without being accompanied by a uniformed Security Guard and that once you enter that small windowless room, you are greeted by two uniformed Security Guards with badges, shoulder patches and the whole nine yards.

Is this a secret FBI uptown office or a local branch of the Homeland Security Administration? Hardly. Just one of the ten, (going on one hundred, at the present rate of expansion), NYC DOE teacher "reassignment centers", better known as "Rubber Rooms". These are centers set up by the NYC Board of Education to warehouse teachers who the DOE, in their infinite wisdom, has decided should not be in a school setting.

Some may perhaps deserve to be removed from their schools. But more often than not a huge percentage of these "reassigned educators" end up there for political reasons. In short removed from their positions due to being Whistle-blowers or having some type of disagreement with their immediate supervisor about what is in the best interest of the children in their care and who they have a fiduciary obligation to nurture, educate and protect.

In the NYC Dept of Education those in charge expect teachers to accept the premise that you surrender your First Amendment Rights once you pass through a school's front door. Most NYC schools now have metal detectors which can detect when a student is attempting to smuggle a knife or a loaded pistol into a school building.

Presumably, the way things are going, the NYC Board of Education may soon be installing "First Amendment Rights" detectors at the entrance to every school building just to ensure that no teacher becomes audacious enough to believe that he/she can successfully get away with smuggling a "First Amendment Right" into a school.

But getting back to the business at hand, it must be said that the term "Rubber Room", referring to the padded holding rooms in hospital psychiatric wards, (for the incarcerated person's own protection of course), is a term that was never so appropriate and fitting, as it is used by the NYC Board of Education. In particular to the teacher Rubber Room in New York's Harlem, which is in a space so absolutely perfect, whether by intentional design or not, to get the incarcerated teachers there to sooner or later start feeling claustrophobic, utterly cut off from the world and hence likely to start bouncing off the walls, sooner or later, figuratively speaking.

And to think the NYC DOE totally forgot to install the obligatory Federally Approved rubber padding that rubber rooms are required by law to contain, permanently affixed to the walls with Federally Approved, non-toxic glue and/or other approved adhesive material.
I realized this past week, as I enter my second year as an inmate of the 125th Street Harlem Rubber Room, that those four barren walls, with no windows, were definitely beginning to play tricks on my brain. At times there were days when I was even beginning to think that Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq. and the NYC Dept of Education did not like me. Was I becoming paranoid? Or what? Maybe I really did belong in a Rubber Room, medically speaking.

But then I had to remind myself that two years before, the Director of the NYC DOE Medical Office had tried to advance such an idea by knowingly claiming I was medically "not fit for duty" only to later incur a massive degree of public humiliation when the City's own hand picked Final Binding Medical Arbitrator, quickly saw through the knowingly false claims of the NYC DOE Medical Office. In fact the NYC DOE was forced to compensate me a full year's salary plus interest for that very foolish indiscretion and the last I heard the Medical Director involved has taken a "leave of absence for 'personal reasons' ".

(Sadly, I have been informed, however, that this same DOE Medical Office is continuing to Railroad innocent teachers out of the system on knowingly false Medical claims. This will all be leading to a $ 30,000,000 Lawsuit in due course. The "Official Notice of Claim" has already been filed with three separate government offices).

But returning to the question of whether the Harlem Rubber Room was beginning to take a toll on its inhabitants, that thought alone was sufficient to make me realize I had better take action before I went over the edge and got sucked into a Black Hole in DOE inner or outer space from whence there is no escape, ever.

I made the decision that I either had to paint, (as an experienced artist, see ) virtual windows on those four barren walls. Or else have real window frames installed, with built in flat screen monitors, continuously showing refreshing French Riviera scenes of gorgeous beaches with their foaming waves lapping at the sands or perhaps views of Venice with romantic gondolas, gracefully gliding by on azure waters.
But then common sense and a reality check rudely stepped in and made me realize that I might very well go over the edge long before I completed such an ambitious project. Then I recalled that my residence was just a two minute walk, (passing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's stately townhouse at 17 East 79th Street), from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose many gift shops offer no end of ravishingly beautiful, full color, luxury posters of paintings from their immense Art collection.

But there was one glitch in my anticipated solution to making the 125th Street windowless Harlem Rubber Room relatively inhabitable. Just recently one of the building custodians who is responsible for our Rubber Room, a gentleman named "Caesar", (no-you cannot make these things up), had informed the inmates that no person was to hang anything on our Rubber Room's pristine and glaringly barren walls, "under penalty of death", or worse still, having yet another charge added to his/her Official 3020-a Specifications, thus leading even more swiftly to that teacher's permamnent termination.

But it seems to me, coming from a long line of first rate lawyers, that there really is such a thing as "cruel and unusual punishment". Did not the United States Supreme Court issue such a finding just this very week? Are there not times and situations in Life when the punishment does not fit the crime and where the punishment imposed is so far in excess of what the alleged perpetrator, (in this instance- educators), deserves, that exception must be made lest our entire system of American Law become a mockery of Justice in the eyes of the entire civilized world.

So this past Friday afternoon, when all those teachers who are incarcerated in the 125th Street Rubber Room departed for the weekend, having more or less survived another week of "cruel and unusual/inhumane punishment", I put my survival plan into action.

I carefully unrolled the stunningly beautiful, large full color posters of paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, et al which I had purchased at The Metropolitan Museum gift shop and proceeded to install the high quality prints on the barren, (nervous breakdown inducing) walls of the NYC DOE 125th Street Rubber Room.

I could hardly believe my tired Rubber Room eyes. Suddenly I felt I had been magicly transported to Southern France to a kinder, gentler, lovelier, more peaceful age. Each wall in that formerly drab and barren Rubber Room seemed to have come alive as if they now contained real windows, looking out on beautiful green cypress trees being kissed by the wind and blue skies and floating gardens punctuated with shimmering, iridescent water lilies of every imaginable kind and color. All the flora of the world greeted one's eyes as one turned his gaze from one Rubber Room wall to the next.

North, South, East and West, has suddenly been transformed into a world that a reassigned teacher could live in, and even survive in, and miracle of wonders, even thrive in as they waited for months or even years for their "Trials" to begin.

"Was it a vision or a waking Dream- fled is that Music. Do I wake or sleep." as a great poet once said.

But that was late Friday afternoon and early on Monday morning, Caesar and two uniformed Security Guards, assigned to be our full time "KGB like minders", will make the astounding discovery that an inmate of the 125th Street Rubber Room has done "the unthinkable". That one of the prisoners has taken it upon himself to make that NYC DOE gulag liveable- just as millions of detained prisoners in US prisons do all the time by hanging whatever it is they paste on their own prison cell walls.

Will Caesar and the NYC DOE uniformed Security Guards be so cold hearted and such unforgivable cultural Philistines as to remove the greatest glories of French Art from the walls of that formerly barren and "cruel and unusal punishment" windowless incarceration room?
And will Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq. and the NYC Dept/Board of Education decide that in addition to the already insane and preposterous charges already leveled against a former "Teacher of the Year", including SPECIFICATION 6, which violates the United States Constitution and The Bill of Rights, yet one more preposterous charge.

Shall I not save them the time and expense of paying high priced lawyers, (at tax payer expense), the trouble of drafting the new and additional charge against me, that of posting prints of famous paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the walls of my/our prison cell.

SPECIFICATION X : Respondent, David Pakter, did knowingly and willfully, on or about October 26, 2007, cause a barren, drab, windowless, NYC DOE Rubber Room, (on the 6th floor of a building on 125th Street in Harlem), to become a moderately, liveable space in which to reside, six to seven hours per day, by posting and/or hanging on the four walls of that formerly cold and uninhabitable room, full color prints of famous and celebrated European paintings from the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
David Pakter, M.A., M.F.A.
New York City, October 27, 2007
"Teacher of the Year", Decorated by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in New York's City Hall
for "Exceptional Achievement in Education"
For further information see:

What If There Was a Fiscal Crisis?

Randi Weingarten bragged about the no-layoff clause in the contract at a recent meeting, slipping in the proviso "as long as there isn't a fiscal crisis." Remembering 1975 when contracts were rendered moot, this is a very apt observation and possibly a warning. ICE's Michael Fiorillo has raised this issue on ICE-mail and at ICE meetings.

The UFT in defending the open market system always points to the no-layoff clause, somewhat moot with so many new teachers recruited each year. They argue that ATR's always will have a job. In '75 as teachers were excessed they had seniority to protect them. What would happen today if there were a fiscal crises of the same scope?

Check out Reality-Based Educator's post Bull@#$% Market at NYC Educator for the state of the economy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

SUNY Approves UFT/Green Dot Charter

For Immediate Release (from the UFT)

SUNY Trustees approve Green Dot charter school for South Bronx

The State University of New York Board of Trustees on Oct. 26 approved the application for the Green Dot New YorkCharter School founded in partnership by Green DotPublic Schools, the most prominent charter school operator in Southern California, and the United Federation of Teachers, the labor union representing New York City’s 110,000 public school educators.

The approval by the SUNY trustees, coming just eight days after a District 7 Community Education Council hearing on the plans, sets the stage for final consideration by the State Board of Regents in coming months. If approved by the Regents, Green Dot will operate a high school in the South Bronx beginning with 100 students in grade nine and eventually expanding to include all high school grades through grade twelve. Class size will be capped at 25 students.

Ed Note: No matter how one phrases this, deals like this go hand in hand with the abandonment of public education as money is funneled into these schools. Search this blog with the label Green Dot for articles and also check NYC educator for articles there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Data Driven Destruction

by Paul A. Moore

Teacher, Miami Carol City Senior High School

One of the corporate wrecking balls brought down recently on America’s public schools is “data driven” education. The charade is a creation of the Business Roundtable and other forces that dream of a privatized school system that serves only their global profit making schemes.

Because their sinister intentions must be kept on the down low, data driven education is packaged and sold as economical but revolutionary pedagogy come to the classroom. Absurdity is the inevitable result. And so it is that our system of universal public education is now trapped in a scene from Woody Allen’s farce Bananas. The new leader has decreed that, “From this day on the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16-years-old are now…16-years-old!”

Promoting insanity in the classroom has proven to be quite an effective weapon of public school destruction. Teachers are being broken down and driven away at an unprecedented rate. One in five new teachers will not make it through their first year. Half of them will be gone inside of five years.

In still sane sectors of our society data is collected on a rational basis. The U.S. Census Bureau gathers data on population, infant mortality, life expectancy, health insurance and the distribution of wealth for the sake of a more effective government. In a sector of our society targeted for demoralization and destruction, data is collected for data’s sake. There is no earthly reason for most of the information teachers are now being ordered to collect and analyze through incessant testing of students. If the Census Bureau was put on the same footing they would be checking people’s underwear every half hour.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a high ranking leader of the corporate assault on public schools, right up there with Michael R. Bloomberg, Eli Broad, and the Walton (Wal-Mart) Family. Jeb Bush is not just a friend of big business; he is a big business! One of his wholly-owned subsidiaries is his brother Neil Bush and Ignite! Learning. Ignite is a software company that “helps” students prepare for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) with “portable learning centers” at $3,000 per kid. The business has contracts in 13 Florida school districts and rakes in millions.

During Jeb Bush’s final year in office there is strong evidence to suggest that FCAT scores were manipulated and artificially inflated. The “education governor” was apparently going to barnstorm with the “education mayor” Mr. Bloomberg as a prelude to a run for the White House. Big brother has poisoned that well for the time being but in those days there was speculation over another possible career path for Jeb.

Imagine if Jeb Bush had been tapped by National Football League owners rather than Roger Goodell as the league’s commissioner. The new commissioner could have applied his education philosophy to the NFL. Certainly the players would be more effective if they spent less time on the practice field and in the weight room and more time being tested daily in the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, vertical leap and bench press. Less time practicing football plays and more time being tested on the playbook. Or imagine the new policy if President Bush had named his brother to the Cabinet? As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Jeb Bush would surely have ordered the nation’s livestock weighed every few hours because even if it did cut into their feeding time it would certainly result in fatter cows.

Albert Shanker, Image and Reality

I came across this by TJC's Swerdlow and Wainer written shortly after Shanker died in 1997.

"The Shanker-Feldman vision has so weakened teacher unionism that government officials can now openly consider the privatization of public education. Therefore, the future of [public] education may depend on the ability of rank-and-file members to challenge the Unity/Progressive Caucus and replace the union's rhetoric of professionalism with a strategic vision of militance, solidarity and democracy."

Ten years later, we can see the results as the very future of public education and the power of teacher unionism at the school level is threatened like no time before. The combination of iron tight Unity Caucus control of the UFT and by proxy, the AFT, combined with Weingarten's strategy of coopting the main opposition - New Action - has left ICE and TJC to attempt to resurrect some semblance of opposition to Unity from scratch.

And I'm sure some people may have some critiques of their critique, so fire away.

The entire article can be accessed at Norms Notes at this link.

One more note: I've read interesting stuff TJC people have written that does not get out to the general membership. I think TJC people limit their scope by keeping apples and oranges separate. More openness would have mitigated the impact of Unity's "Red Scare" attack on Kit Wainer in the last election.

Anti-war demo today- UFT'ers to Stop the War

...will march with labor contingent. The last time some ICE, TJC, New Action and even some Unity people marched together without killing each other, so come on down. Around 11:30 at 17th and Broadway.

From inside the Staten Island Rubber Room

David Harris, who fought to keep Canarsie open and was defended by the community for his good efforts as principal of Canarsie High School, is now the official "principal of the rubber room." We were told by the HR chief, Angela Santoro that he would be her "eyes and ears" and would watch for infractions that I guess I would have to infer the security guads weren't catching. Is this unreal? One, that they excessed this guy against community support and then they made him the policeman of the damned? - email from a SIRR resident.

Are RR denizens turning out to be the promised nightmare for both Tweed an
d 52 Broadway?

Ed Note:
With so many schools in dire shape, the RR needs a principal? And one who had a good rep with teachers, parents, and students? Oh, I get it. Maybe not the usua
l attack dog Tweed is looking for as their ideal. So dump him into the RR as a supervisor? We wrote about David Harris and how he was screwed at Canarsie HS back in June (search this blog for his name for the article.) Hopefully, that experience will give him a sympathetic outlook. Our correspondents will be tracking his behavior, if indeed this comes to pass, as the potential embarrassment to Tweed might lead to this being rescinded.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Eduwonkette on NYC Performance Pay Plan

"I see this as an individual plan with an additional step - first, the school must meet benchmarks, and second, teachers can be differentially rewarded. Unless the committee of four announces upfront that bonuses will be distributed equally (can someone weigh in here about whether a distribution plan will be ratified upfront?), teachers are going to operate under the assumption that there will be unequal shares based on their students' test scores. Even if we see equal bonuses this year, the door is wide open and I see Mike and Joel on the horizon in a performance pay Mack truck."

Full post is here.

NY State Education Dept Needs Massive Reform

updated 12 pm, Oct. 26

D26 CDEC Testing Forum

At one point Senator Padavan spoke and said he will look into the possibility of limiting the high stakes testing by imposing limits on state funds to NYC; in a manner similar to the recent limits of CFE money for class size reduction."

Posted on nyceducationnews listserve as part of a report from a forum testing held in Queens last night. Appearing were Randi Weingarten, Bob Tobias (former head of accountability at the old BOE and a frequent BloomKlein critic on testing policy) and Jane Hirschman (time out from testing)

My comment:

As we learned at our high stakes forum a few weeks ago at Fordham, NY state has one of the most regressive and oppressive testing procedures that goes way beyond what NCLB requires. One thing the Senator can do is to focus on the process for appointing the state board of regents which appoints the state ed commissioner. Right now I understand the state assembly has the major role and Shelly Silver is instrumental.

If there is to be progress on reforming the state and city testing procedures it starts there. Holding politicians accountable is part of the process. So why am I, as usual, skeptical? Has the UFT put any effort into these kids of reforms? Appearing at forums and saying the right things is fine. But if it stops there then they are just words. If UFT reps appear at these forums they should be asked exactly what are their policies on reforming state ed and how far are they willing to go to back this up -- ie. withholding endorsements and support for candidates.


Leonie Haimson's entire post is at Norms Notes.

Comment by Melvyn Meer
Congratulations are in order for Rob Caloras who, on behalf of the D26 CDEC, hosted this important event. By dint of energy and hard work Rob has made the D26 CDEC a very credible voice for positive change in our area.

Bob Tobias was a "hero" in 2005 pointing out the politicization of the test results in that year in preparation for the mayor's reelection. I think it fair to say that his principal point was that, while testing has its place, the uses to which the current tests are being put are uses for which the tests were never validated. Hence, the "high stakes" consequences to the children, to the teachers, to the principals and to the schools are totally unjustified. But because of this the kids are being test-prepped to exhaustion and that is educationally dysfunctional.

Jane Hirschmann of "Time Out From Testing" very effectively made the case that all of this high stakes test prep going on in the schools comes at the expense of the real education process and of enrichment to that process. She advocated strongly that parents take control of their children's education. That led to questions and comments from parents
about what they can do in an environment where the DoE has stripped parents of any effective voice. Jane spoke about her organization's willingness to help parents organize to make their wishes known. There was talk of boycotts.

IMO Randi Weingarten had nothing important to contribute, notwithstanding that the majority of the audience were her members and expressed frustration with what they were being called upon to to do to their kids.

Melvyn Meer
Queens Community Board 11 Education Committee

Ed Notes Comment: when the policies of the UFT (recent merit pay plan endorsing high stakes testing plus issues raised above) run counter to the interests of the members who are clearly frustrated over the situation, there is not much one can contribute.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

When Fox News Came A-Callin'

On Tues. I got a call from Ben Evansky, a producer at Fox News (national). He came across articles on the rubber rooms posted on this blog. Ben sounded like a nice guy. Very sympathetic to teachers in that situation. The British accent helped. But I was suspicious. IT IS FOX NEWS. Rupert Murdoch - anti-union and the whole ball of wax. Ben said they were not looking to slam teachers, etc. But can they be trusted? I told him stories of people railroaded but warned him that they would be very reluctant to talk, especially to Fox. However, I figure people are adults and can make their own decisions, so I gave him a bunch of names.

Now it looks like there may be a substantial report. Randi is getting involved and that is a good thing - unless they John Stoessel her. (Remember how he manipulated and embarrassed her.)

Anyway, Fox wants to talk to teachers and I know a lot of RR people check out this blog.

They've posted a link that says: Should Bad Teachers be Banned to Rubber Rooms. They are asking for people to comment. Take your best shot.

Not a good sign, this title, since it has been explained that all too many people in the RR are not bad teachers, but political prisoners. Fox also seems more concerned with the conditions in the RR than the railroading. Maybe the heading on their site should be "Should teachers who whistle blow or have educational disagreements with their principal or stand up for basic union rules, be banned to rubber rooms?"

I never thought I'd say this, but let's give Fox the benefit of the doubt. And then again, there's always the comedy routine about RR's coming soon to John Stewart's Daily Show (see post below this) to cheer people up.

Off topic: A reminder to our Unity hacks to visit the Unity hack blog to leave their analytical and probing commentary.

John Stewart's "Daily Show" and the Rubber Room

A producer actually called today looking to do a rubber room story with a comedic twist for Stewart's show. I told her that somehow people in the RR don't find a lot of humor there but gave her some tips on where she might look. Could end up being a tv series. "Tales of the Rubber Room."

I wonder if any press will show up outside 52 Broadway next Tuesday when Randi meets with the RR occupants from all over the city? Fox News (national) also came a callin' but more on that later.

The Daily Merit Pay

The Luftwaffe got merit too. But only a chintzy medal.

There is still lots of fur flying on the school-based merit pay plan.

Leonie Haimson on the NYC public school parents blog has a summary of yesterday's action, highlighting some of the great work being done by Eduwonkette on this issue in her week-long series. (While at Leonie's blog, make sure to check out Gary's satire on Klein's resignation over merit pay - I picked Bobby Valentine for the next chancellor.)

Leonie focuses on Diane Ravitch's piece in the Daily News. Diane scored this one for the union - it could be a UFT PR piece. And probably will be used by the hordes of Unity hounds inundating the schools to win the hearts and minds of the members.

Leonie raised a few questions on her listserv:

Good oped by Diane in the News. One question; the variable conditions that she observes between classes at particular schools that might make teacher merit pay unfair vary even more between schools – esp. as regards class size and overcrowding.
So can anyone answer my question; how can this proposal be fair – if the measures for school improvement don’t take these differential impediments to success into account?
Also, I predict that the measures to determine which schools will receive these bonuses will primarily rely on test scores – like the school grades, with survey results and attendance relegated to a minor role at 15% -- really nothing more than a fig leaf. I’ve heard nothing so far that will effectively counteract the fact that, as Diane points out, “tests now in use are imperfect measures of children's learning.”

There were a few reactions to Diane Ravitch's piece on Leonie's NYCEducationNews listserve and on ICE mail. I posted this:

Diane's piece is based on theory, not the reality of most schools in NYC.

It also doesn't address the points made by Leonie and others on this list that the school-based merit system will only exacerbate the high stakes testing craze. I find it hard to believe that somehow the union outfoxed or "beat back" BloomKlein. Like, what did they have to gain in this? Since they've violated just about any agreement with parents and teachers, they must feel it was worth it to get the camel nose in the tent, as someone commented on NYC Educator.

You see, BloomKlein know full well what is going on at the school level, something the UFT is either blind to or chooses to ignore - That is the weakness of the UFT at the school level.

Thus, Diane's article doesn't account for are the objective conditions in the relationship between staff, especially younger staffs, and the administrators of many, if not most, schools.

So this "victory" for the union has to be seen in the context of empowered principals even beyond the classic czars that existed before the union came into existence.

Rubber rooms with trumped up charges, U-ratings, unfair observations, letters in the file that cannot be grieved due to the 2005 contract, dictatorial rules, fear on the part of staffs where an often helpless school union tries to make a stand, retaliation against school union reps who try to make a stand - -I could go on.

The name of the game in most schools is "intimidation." And the union just has no answer.

A teacher in one such school posted this on ICE mail:
"I like Diane Ravitch's views a lot, but I think she's missed it when it come to this "Committee" thing, for shares in any school "Bonus. Principals who are crazed, and who intimidate their staff, will forfeit the "Bonus" rather than vote to have teachers who they don't like share in the Bonus. What's more likely is that this kind of principal will intimidate the two teacher members of the committee into voting shares to teachers that are in the Principal's own network, in the school. So much for merit. Just another tool for crazed principal academy grads to wield even more power."

I faced a similar situation when I ran for one of the 2 positions on the teacher/parent group who chose the Assistant principal in the mid-90's. My principal spent 2 full days going around the school trying to intimidate people into voting for her candidates. When I won anyway (the other tied between one of hers and an independent) her efforts elected her person to counter me and she also packed the committee with parents of her choice.

Training in how to do these things are part of the Leadership Academy curriculum.

The same occurred in my school with the school leadership team. The "strength" of the union barely exists at this level and is weaker than ever.

So that is why we are seeing the visceral response and revulsion by teachers at this "merit pay" that Diane says is not merit pay from teachers who have faced these principals (what is your guess as to what % of all principals fit this model vs the truly collaborative principal where the plan could theoretically work.)

Of course it is not merit pay. Just as principals do not use money they have to reduce class size, they will act the same here. Reward their sycophants. Any objections? You'll be receiving a visit from a supervisor to observe you.

Teachers will find any attempt to get the union to do something will be met with "file a grievance" or "keep a log and when it grows to 15 pages give us a call and THEN we'll file a grievance."

An objective look at the pension winners and losers (the unborn teachers are real losers here, not the best ad for recruitment) as James Eterno has pointed out on the ICE blog.

Diane says about the pension issue: "This change was one of the union's top priorities."

Class size reduction was part of the same clause as pension and merit pay in the 2005 contract. Supposedly equally with the other clauses. In UFT-land all clauses are not equal.

Unfortunately, Diane's piece will be trumpeted far and wide by the UFT PR machine to counter the teachers who have been critical of the plan.

Diane may "score this one for the union." Maybe for the union leadership.

For the teachers in the classroom it is a loss.

Woodlass posted a more visceral response to Diane's piece:

There is so much to disagree with in Prof. Ravitch's Oct.24th editorial in the Daily News that I had to look up her biography to see if she had any public school teaching credentials. I couldn't see any (Wikipedia says she began her career as an editorial assistant at the New Leader magazine, then became a historian of education in 1975). I hope someone can say she has at least some experience in a classroom, particularly an inner-city one, because I am not at all sure she understands the dynamics of a school building, or the classroom, or the balancing act that each of us face period after period, day after day, maneuvering between the needs of the kids, admin, and other staff. Prof. Ravitch is called an education historian, in much the same way, I guess, that I was early on a musicologist, or music historian. I couldn't compose music and I couldn't play it at a professional level. I just studied it, wrote about it, and cataloged it.

When Ravitch says about this new Merit Pay cum Pension scheme: "Score this one for the union," perhaps she's not referring to the teachers at all, but rather to the union leadership. Yes, they did score one -- politically. But, alas, the rest of us did not

Her statement in paragraph 8 is the most naive piece of writing I have ever seen from someone so thoroughly versed in this subject: "When a school receives a bonus, the decision about how to divide it will be made by a committee in each school, composed of two administrators and two teachers. They may decide to give every staff member -- including not only teachers, but paraprofessionals, counselors and secretaries --an equal share, or allocate the money by title, or give extra money to the teachers with the highest score gains; the decision is theirs to make. If they are deadlocked, the school will forfeit the bonus."

Where is the "win" for teachers here? The whole scheme is subject, as many have already said, to the possibility of stunning abuse: admin to staff, teacher to teacher, major subject to minor one, tested subjects to not-tested subjects, etc.

She doesn't mention the veiled threat -- yes, threat -- that if a selected school doesn't opt in, it might get itself closer to being phased out. Here is the UFT's exact wording: "A school's agreement to participate in the bonus program shall be considered, along with other criteria, as a positive factor in determining whether the Participant School is to be phased out....."
That impurity alone in the procedure nullifies any good in it at all.

And not everyone involved in making a school successful would be eligible for this bonus. Only "UFT-represented staff" would get it, yet I know many other categories of people who are equal partners in making it a good place: supportive parent teams for one, custodians for another (Prof. Ravitch, have you ever tried to teach in a filthy room, or one that is not kept in good repair? Chaotic backgrounds make for all kinds of instability and wild behavior.) And I can't tell you how helpful the aides are in my school, who wouldn't get a share in the bonus either. They are frequently the softer and friendlier figures that make things run smoothly: the helpful, goodnatured women and men who man the offices, halls, gyms, and locker rooms. They are the wonderful authority figures that take a lot of the burden of crowd control out of our hands and a very welcome antidote to the sometimes overly aggressive security forces. We can't say thank you enough to these people when they do their job well.
And the APs, do they get a bonus from the principal's share, because they aren't in our union.

With regard to the pension scheme, there is much to read on the blogs about this, but James Eterno's analysis on the Ice blog would be a good start. He lists the Winners, the No Gainers, and the Big Losers for the pension scheme; for the merit pay, he gives the The Winners (nobody), and the Grand Losers (the whole lot of us).

Lastly, whereas each of these two schemes were benchmarked in the 2005 contract in separate clauses (and thus voted upon by the membership), union leadership negotiated their linkage without our knowledge. There was no discussion in the schools, and we had no idea they were going in this direction. An exec. board meeting was called a half an hour before it was announced at the Delegate Assembly. The board voted on it unanimously, and poof! a done deal. That was an extremely undemocratic and immoral thing to do to the membership.

So, I just can't understand where Prof. Ravitch is coming from in all of this, esp. where she says "The union won both parts of the negotiation and gave up nothing in exchange."

You can't win anything if you abandon some pretty core values of public education, democracy, and morality.

The Unity Caucus/UFT Hack Blog

Is your blog being clogged by Unity Caucus hacks with no valid criticisms other than personal attacks and inane comments?

Got a dumb comment on your blog from a UFT union hack? Delete it and post it at The Unity Caucus/UFT Hack Blog, which has been set up... the interests of humanity for Unity Caucus hacks with no life who spend days trolling the opposition blogs (often on your dues money), a meeting place for these hacks to gather and moult –

A one stop shopping place where they can attack ednotesonline and other opposition blogs willy nilly all the world can see why, with these people running the union, the UFT's rank and file are in so much trouble.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What happened to the Age Discrimination lawsuit?

The UFT has been making the rounds of the Reassignment Centers.
UFT Rep Jeff Huart was asked this question:

What happened to the Age Discrimination lawsuit?

Jeff Huart: The UFT is going forward with the lawsuit. People who believe they qualify should get their information in to the union.
Question: But information is out there that the UFT is not going forward with it.
Huart: The UFT is going forward with that one and the one for the people in the Reassignment Centers.
Question: Do teachers know about the general age discrimination lawsuit. Many teachers claim never to have heard about it.
Huart: District reps went to all the schools to tell about it.

How many schools do District Reps reach a week? Might as well use a milk carton and string to deliver the message. Not in the NY Teacher. Not in the UFT Weekly Updates to chapter leaders. Not a flyer handed out at the Delegate Assembly, or even an announcement to have senior teachers contact the union. But whispers from District Reps (those that are competent or awake). That's showing you are serious about age discrimination.

Remember: watch what they do, not what they say!

Pensions, Merit Pay, Class Size and Collaboration....

...UFT Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Updated 10/26 pm

James Eterno has written a piece today for the ICE blog on the winners and losers in the pension and merit pay plan, apples and oranges that have been merged by the UFT leaders (call it an appor.) One of the little tidbits James points to is that the original agreement in the horrendous 2005 contract where little bombs were set on pensions and merit pay that meant teachers voted for the future 2007 agreement when that passed the 2005 contract:

With regard to the long term recommendations the 2005 Fact Finders made subject to adequate CFE funding, the parties shall establish a Labor Management Committee to discuss the following issues: a)bonuses, including housing bonuses, for shortage license areas; b) a pilot project for school-wide based performance bonuses for sustained growth in student achievement c) salary differentials at the MA-5 through MA-7 levels; and d) a program for the reduction of class sizes in all grades and divisions. If the parties agree on the terms of any or all of these issues, they may be implemented by the Board using whatever funds may be identified.

Note provision d on class size reduction the one item ignored. Are you surprised? We have claimed all along on issues such as high stakes tests and class size, watch what the UFT does, not what it says. The merit pay plan endorses high stakes testing and the entire agreement shows where the UFT really stands on class size. Actions certainly do speak louder than words.

TJC's Peter Lamphere and Megan Behrent have written a piece on the merit pay issue which I posted at Norm's Notes here.

Eduwonkette is running a series this week on performance pay from her usual research-based perspective. And 8 year Teach For America's (see, some do stay) Ms Frizzle seems willing to try it based on the fact there's trust in her school. Schools where there's none should probably skip jumping in. Of course, there's no accounting for the high percentage of lunatic, power-hungry principals. In my continuing saga - "The Play's The Thing" posted a few days ago, all incidents are exaggerations based on the reality of my school. And that principal would be one of the better ones today.

On Collaboration
The NY Teacher is covered with the word "collaborate." Now, we haev used that word to brand UFT Leaders as co-conspirators with BloomKlein, Eli Broad, etc in their attacks on public education adn unions. So it nice for them to affirm what we have been saying all along, branding them as today's version of Vichy. And the fact that Vichyssoise will be added to the menu at Executive Board meetings affirms this point.

People have been telling us they are a bit tired of the constant use of the word. So we have decided to assist our buddies at the NY Teacher in an effort to make the paper more interesting.

Synonyms for collaborate:

act as a team coact cofunction collude come together concert concur conspire
cooperate coproduce fraternize get together go partners hook on hook up interface join forces join together participate pool resources team up tie in
work in partnership work together work with

Add one more: sellout