Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yvette Felarca Opposes Weingarten for AFT President - First contended election in AFT since 1974

UPDATED: June 30, 12pm

We heard from Berkely Ca. teacher Yvette Felarca who will be running against Randi Weingarten for AFT president next week at the AFT convention in Seattle.

Hi Norm,

It would be great if you could send my campaign flier and invitation to run with my slate to the listserves.

I especially appreciate it if you get the info. to particular people who you think might be interested in running, whether they're coming to Seattle or not (they can still run).

And of course, if you're a delegate, I need your vote!

Thanks again.

Only delegates can vote- and we know that with 800 Unity slugs going at our expense, they will control the convention. But it will be interesting for future reference just how well Yvette does. Maybe having Bill Gates be a feature speaker will spur people to vote for her.

Unity Caucus held a meeting last week for THE EIGHT HUNDRED to tell them how to vote and to train them on monaipulating Roberts Rules to their advantage (I'll do a follow-up on this meeting later). Apparently they were spreading some hysteria about the Felarca candidacy even though they know Randi can't lose in such an undemcratically controlled union.

One of the things the Unity crew told the delegates was that this was the first contested election since 1974 when Al Shanker ran against the incumbent David Selden, who had been Shanker's mentor. (I seem to remember some other elections but can't pin them down.)

The story of that 1974 election is chronicled in a Wiki which is a must read.
It talks about the ideological underpinnings over the Vietnam War where Shanker was the war hawk and Selden was opposed.

I was at that 1974 convention in Toronto and got to ask Shanker some questions at the candidate forum. Whenever I had the chance, I asked Shanker why he favored guns over butter. The next year a bunch of us went to Hawaii for the 1975 convention to hand out The Case Against Shanker, a pamphlet we wrote. (Our Unity pals were thrilled.)

Remember, the 1975 convention was a short time before the 1975 financial chrisis devastated the NYC school system. My guns/butter questions to Shanker grew more pertinent.

Ed Notes will be in Seattle covering starting on July 6 and through the 11th.

Here is s section from Yvette's leaflet, which is posted below- click to enlarge or email me at for a pdf.

Education Must Be a Right –
Our Children Are Not for Sale

Save Dr. King's Vision for America

• Organize Independent Mass Actions and Build the New Student-Led Civil Rights Movement to Defend Public Education from Pre-K Through College
• Stop Relying on the Democrats to Save Us
• End "Race to the Top" Now – Release All Federal Funds to States Based on Need
• No More Charters, No Vouchers
• Save Public Education: Stop Union Busting, Get Rid of Arne Duncan Now
• Build Independent, Integrated, United Teacher/Student/Community Action to End Legislative Attacks Against Teachers and Black, Latina/o, Immigrant, and Poor, Working-Class and Middle-Class Students of All Races
• All Our Students Can Learn and Excel – Reject High-Stakes Testing & Market-Economy-Based School Reform Plans
• Stop Teacher Bashing. Defend Our Union's/ Teachers' Dignity, Ability, & Character

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Verdict is in: Obama is NOT FDR - How About Hoover? Or LBJ?

A Hooverville from the 1930's

"Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it."

Some think of this as a hackneyed expression.

I live by it.

(Actually, Santayana said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," a statement that can be applied to world and personal histories.)

As a history major in undergrad and grad school my sense of current and future events is rooted through links to what I understand about the past. Having studied the Great Depression of the 30's, I have always been worried about The Big One hitting again, probably one of the reasons I have always been very fiscally conservative waiting like some spinster for deflation to strike once again.

But all those years I was reassured that it couldn't happen again - Glass-Steagall and all that stuff, you know. But with the complicence of the free-market Democrats - Clintons and the rest of the skunks - in the 90's, and the Bush/Chaney crew this century, we may be getting into the same territory.

I monitored the lost decade and beyond in Japan. How the nikkei - the Japanese Dow - was once close to 40,000 in the late 80's and is less than 10,000 today. People in Tokyo were walking away from their highly priced apartments as the real estate market crashed.

When the crisis here hit in 2007/8 and the market tanked, followed by a supposed recovery, I was remembering my history lessons. That after the 1929 crash, the market rebounded. The full depression didn't hit until 1932. So by my accounting, we are somewhere in 1930 or 31.

So whenever I get into big political arguments - mostly with my wife's family, many of whom will vote for Sarah Palin over Obama no matter how much they protest - and they talk about coming threats of inflation (Obama will just print money they say) - I always say I'm holding onto my cash - or rather continue to sleep on whatever I can stuff into my mattress.

I'm a very big fan of Paul Krugman, who always makes sense to me and Monday's column (The Third Depression) made a lot of sense. He is predicting that with the world-wide retrenchment in lieu of stimulus spending, we are headed for what he calls the third really deep depression. He feels that the deficit can be solved while a deflationary spiral cannot. He reminds us that as the FDR spending spree began to bring us out of the depression in 1935/6, FDR was worried about the Republican attacks for the 1936 election and was also convinced it was time to deal with the deficit. So spending was cut- and whammo - right back into the much by 1937. It took WWII to bring us out of it.

When Obama was elected in the midst of an economic crisis - the major reason he won - I wrote:

Will Obama turn out to be a great president or a failure? An FDR or a Herbert Hoover, who had an even lower approval rating than W? It could go either way. When you think of great presidents, they seem to emerge only in times of crisis. Think there are just a few lurking? FDR ran for president with a very different agenda than he ended up enacting due to desperate times. He showed the kind of flexibility that was needed. Policies that had a major impact for generations.

The only thing I have to fear is fear of Obama's dependence on the same old, same old Clinton people, who come out of places like Goldman Saks when we need some truly radical thinking.

Well, that THAT question has been answered and we know he is certainly no FDR. If Krugman proves to be right, Obamavilles will spring up all over the nation - similar to those shantytowns of the 30's (there was one in Central Park). At least Obama is calling for more stimulus spending, so he will not be looked at in the same exact light as Hoover, who was fiscally conservative.

Obama may be more LBJ than Hoover: Will he run in 2012?
In addition to the possibility of a depression, we can't expect a war to bring us out of it. Because we are in a war. And have been for 9 years. A war that is doomed to fail. Vietnam-like quagmire, anyone?

LBJ was elected overwhelmingly in 1964 and was viewed as a shoo-in for 1968. Let's view the 2012 election in that same light.

Obama is much weaker than LBJ at a comparable time after the election. We are still in 1966 territory. So let's project this scenario:

  • Democrats get smashed in 2010 mid-term elections.
  • We sink into economic crisis ala Krugman.
  • The war gets worse and worse as Obama removes some troops for political purposes and body bags accumulate. The right attacks him for being weak. The left is totally disgusted.
  • It becomes pretty clear he cannot win in 2012.
  • Sarah Palin kicks Mitt Romney's ass all over the place and looks to be a real possibility to be the Republican nominee.
  • Rampant fear races through the nation at the prospect she will be president.
  • Enormous pressure is put on Obama to withdraw.
  • Hillary Clinton comes to the rescue and becomes the Democratic nominee.
  • Election 2012: Palin vs. Clinton.

How much more fun can a politcal junky have?

That is if you are observing from your new residence in Canada.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Class Size Victory in Chicago

The Chicago management tried to use threats of class size increases to get parents riled up against teachers but the new Chicago Teacher Union leadership - CORE and the parent -PURE- alliance held.

Leonie sent this:

Even though the Chicago Teachers Union has no power to negotiate class size limits, they may end up w/ smaller class sizes than we have in NYC!

A (partial) victory for the new CTU leaders and for teacher-parent cooperation:

From PURE:

First (and partial) victory for new CTU and for parent-teacher cooperation

No to 37!

It really didn't take that long - CEO Huberman has already backed down on the 37/35 in a classroom threat.

Elementary class sizes are back to 2010 levels, though Huberman is still saying that high school class sizes have to go up from 31 to 33.

And he thinks the teachers should make up the rest of the supposed deficit by giving back the 4% pay raise called for in their contract.

To their great credit, the Raise Your Hand group, which CPS had invited to join Huberman at the press conference, disagreed, according to the Sun-Times, saying it was up to "lawmakers and Mayor Daley, not teachers, to work on filling the remaining budget gap."

Parents and teachers working together - so far, so good.

Listen to Your Elders: A Young DC Teacher Who Supported Rhee, Gets the Message

Candi Peterson gets a letter from a former critic. I've always thought that one of the scams in Teach for America has been the fact that they know full well if a teacher stays in a public school much beyond 2 years they will go over to the "dark" side. Thus, get them into charters or into so-called educational "policy" positions, anything but - horrors - a long term teaching career in the classroom. I mean, why waste all that "talent" on actually teaching kids for too long a time.

Since most teachers, especially young ones, don't get to see a lot of other teachers work, it is easy for an evil admin with a vendetta to target some teachers and make everyone think they are awful through in internal public relations system. Note the teacher's closing: I need to find this one teacher I thought was so terrible three years ago and apologize, because now I see.”

Letter From A Second Year DCPS Teacher

Candi Peterson,

Having grown up in a family with much older grandparents, I always valued the opinions and words of wisdom from my elders. I learned early on that wisdom and life experience bring much needed insight and it pays to listen to your elders. I think some people often refer to it as going to the school of “hard knocks.” Several years ago I met several younger teachers who overwhelmingly supported the Washington Teachers’ Union’s infamous red and green contract proposal mainly due to the hefty salary increases. I couldn’t help but realize they didn’t even know the half of what they were embarking upon. Little did I think that I would ever be able to convince them about what was happening on our educational landscape. The Washington Teacher blog was born out of a desire to offer another view point to union members like them about how the red and green proposal would strip DC teachers and school personnel of long earned tenure and seniority protections and almost always lead to termination, amongst other things. Needless to say, due to elevating this issue, the red and green proposal soon became history.

Much to my surprise, I received an E-mail from one of these teachers, who is now a second-year teacher. Several years ago, she along with her cohorts chastised me on blogs and in person for not supporting Rhee’s reform model and the WTU red and green tiered proposal. This teacher’s recent correspondence gives new meaning to the colloquialism “listen to your elders.” I am thankful that she was able to write me, share her story, and admit that she made a mistake. I don’t believe that I always know what’s better, but like my elders before me I have been there, done that, and have a T-shirt with my name on it. I am sharing this E-mail from a teacher. I believe her E-mail offers a glimpse into what many DC teachers are currently experiencing under Chancellor Rhee’s reform model.

“Hi, Candi, It’s been a long time since I’ve written on your blog, but I read it faithfully. It took a long time but I have to say, you and DCPS teachers have been right about so many things. At my school the teachers are very supportive of me, a still-new second-year teacher. I have struggled with writing and teaching effective lessons, managing student behavior, and organizing my classroom. However, I am new, motivated, and teachable. I left a better-paying career to teach. So you would think the administration would value my attitude and willing spirit. This administration heaps criticism on me and has not offered mentoring to me, nor has it ordered coaches to come into my room to model lessons. The administration takes incentives from my students (recess, field trips, computer use, daily prizes) but blames me for having an ineffective behavior plan. Having a master educator observation has been encouraging to me because the difference between my fall and spring observations showed significant progress. However, I am so disillusioned with my administration that I don’t think I even want a post-conference for my last principal observation. The only reason I haven’t broken down psychologically is because of my friendship with God, who sustains me, and because I have seen the administration belittle and humiliate other teachers at the school so I know it’s not all about me. Teachers have walked out (and others have threatened to walk out) of staff meetings. Turnover is high. Teachers are pitted against other teachers during meetings. Teachers on your blog have been saying all along — it’s not so much the teachers as it is the parents and the administration. I once was blind. I don’t know what my plans are for next school year, but based on my principal’s IMPACT scores, I may not be in DCPS. My heart was really set on helping the most disadvantaged students in DC. Moving to another school system won’t be so hard for me because of my age and lack of children who depend on my income and health insurance. However, I feel for teachers at my school who are older, sometimes parents, and either leaving DCPS or considering leaving. They have told me that it is really a leap of faith. I regret, though, having gotten my feet wet in DCPS then moving to the suburbs. The first two years are when teachers make the bulk of their mistakes. There’s a huge learning curve those two years. Now I may have to take all that knowledge gained at the expense of DCPS’ students to the ’burbs. I need to find this one teacher I thought was so terrible three years ago and apologize, because now I see.”

"If the new standards had been in place for the class of 2009, the city’s graduation rate would have been roughly 45%, instead of the nearly 60...

Jenny Medina has a pretty good piece in today's Times. Titled "New Diploma Standard in New York Becomes a Multiple-Question Choice" it lays waste to some of the BloomKlein distorted stats. Here are some highlights:

The new requirements do not take full effect until the class of 2012 graduates. What is clear is that if they were in place today, New York City’s graduation rate would almost certainly drop after years of climbing steadily.

Currently, the state awards two basic kinds of diplomas. The tougher one, called a Regents diploma, requires scores of at least 65 (out of 100) on five Regents exams: in English, math, science, global history and United States history. The other type, called a local diploma, requires a 65 on three of those tests, and a 55 on the other two. In two years, the local diploma will cease to exist. Students who want a diploma but have not passed all five tests by the end of senior year will have to retake the missed tests in a following year or seek a G.E.D.

And now the most telling points (my emphasis added):

If the new standards had been in place for the class of 2009, the city’s graduation rate would have been roughly 45 percent, instead of the nearly 60 percent that city officials boasted of, according to city statistics. Among black and Latino students, barely more than one-third would have qualified for diplomas.

A Regents diploma is supposed to signify that a student is prepared for college. Today, most New York City graduates who enroll in an associate degree program at a City University of New York college need to take remedial courses there.

Read it all because it is an important article that over time undercuts the ed deformers - and their enablers in the UFT /AFT - which I will get to on a follow-up post.

Now, add this piece from Chaz on credit recovery, which Leonie posted on her listserve (the most influential ed listserve in existence) and you get the bigger picture of the ed deform scammers.

DOE's New Idea For "Credit Recovery" Double Credits For Summer School.

In the DOE's never ending quest to artificially raise the graduation rate of the high schools, Tweed has come up with the idea of splitting summer school into two three week sessions and giving the students double credit if they take both sessions. It is bad enough that many of the students don't have to show up during the year and are given "credit recovery courses" to artificially inflate the high school graduation rate. Now the DOE has quietly approved "credit recovery" for summer school by allowing students to get full credit for a semester by showing up for just three weeks. Students that show up for the entire six week course will get credit for both semesters or double the credit that summer school had previously allowed.

Over the years the DOE has approved the "credit recovery program" without so much as a guideline on what is "credit recovery". Principals, who are under pressure to raise graduation rates have gone to great lengths to use whatever means that are necessary to push out students to artificially raise the graduation rate and increase not only the school grade but to receive a financial bonous to the Principal as well. For example, the Principal at Lehman High School was accused of doing just that. I am sure every struggling high school in New York City can look at their own school and see abuses of the "credit recovery program". While the State has promised to look into the practice in New York City, So far the State has done little or nothing about these abuses. It is more important to artificially raise the graduation rate then to give a student a meaningful education. It is all about the numbers not about the quality of education.

Tweed's "children last" continues.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A DOE Favored Principal Takes A Hit - Way too Late: Where Was the UFT?

Leonie Haimson has done yeowoman work at the NYC Parents blog this weekend following up on the retired - suddenly retired - Principal of JFK HS in the Bronx after he learned he was being investigated a few months ago based on the misuse of money by staffers. (He was then hired as a principal in Pleasantville, NY. Good luck, guys!)

Saturday's Daily News reports that Anthony Rotunno, who retired as principal of Kennedy HS last month, allowed staffers to improperly spend money from student bake sales on parties, among other financial improprieties, according to a new audit from State Comptroller DiNapoli.

teachers despised Rotunno, and in 2005 charges were made by many English teachers at the school that he had improperly student Regents scores to passing. When the DOE finally finished their “investigation” they concluded that he did change scores, but that this was perfectly okay. So much for accountability at DOE!

Michael Winerip wrote in 2006 about the resolution of these allegations, backed up by written evidence of changed scores:

So far, only one person has been punished, Maria Colon, Kennedy's union representative, who was the first to speak out publicly about the changed scores. She was removed from Kennedy and assigned to a holding room pending a hearing on her case. Her crime? She allegedly used a school fax to send a Newsday reporter documents revealing the scoring changes.

A few months later, Winerip wrote a follow-up column, called "Cheapening the Cap and Gown," about new accusations made by guidance counselors that Rotunno had allowed kids to graduate without the required credits.

Read it all at: Anthony Rotunno, and the culture of "accountability" at Tweed: read "anything goes"

The NY Times' Elissa Gutman had done a puff piece in 2004 lauding his “tough guy” approach but the Times ignored it when Rotunno destroyed her career. (Ironically, today Gutman has a piece on a principal who takes the opposite approach to "tough Guy".)

Note Leonie's mention of pal Maria Colon, who was placed in the rubber room for exposing the scandals. Maria was the chapter leader and to my mind the lack of strong UFT response in cases of chapter leaders coming under attack (see Peter Lamphere at Bronx HS of Science) is one of the lynch pins of the DOE assault on teacher rights due to the failure of the union to protect people. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that many principals are being trained to go after "non-cooperative" chapter leaders but the UFT has no answer for chapter leaders in defense - it would probably take something the union has no stomach for - job action. Or at the very least, declaring to the DOE - NO DEALS. NO DEALS ON ANY ISSUE (MERIT PAY, TEACHER EVALS, ETC.) UNTIL YOU STOP TAKING OUR PEOPLE HOSTAGE!

Leonie followed up with this:

More on Anthony Rotunno and the culture of "empowerment" at DOE

More on this in today's Daily News:

Pleasantville School District officials said it wasn't until they saw the Daily News' front-page story Friday that they learned Rotunno was in charge of a school where staffers ran a giant swindle. "Reference checks were extremely positive and no wrongdoings of any nature were reported," the statement says...

But Kennedy PTA President Robert Bosolet Sr., said he long suspected staffers were plundering the students' account. "Each year, there were always kids complaining that they did fund-raising, and they never saw a dime from it," fumed Bosolet, whose triplet sons graduated this year.

"Every time an event happened, and we asked where did that money go, we were never provided with that information."Bosolet said he e-mailed his concerns to the Department of Education, but he couldn't provide evidence.

A DOE spokesman said it "hadn't received a credible accusation of financial mismanagement at the school" prior to the audit.

And then a link to blogger jd2718 (Rotunno and JFK High School Investigations: A History) where a piece written by former Bronx HS District Rep Lynne Wynderbaum who had preceded Maria Colon as UFT Chapter leader at JFK is posted. Lynne is one of the UFT/Unity Caucus staffers who had a clue but unfortunately when UFT top-level policy is to do little the soldiers have to go along. She is now retired.

Lynne writes:

There have been at least four major investigations into allegations involving Mr. Rotunno since 2004 by the Department of Education’s investigatory arms, the Office of Special Investigations, the Special Commissioner of Investigations, and the Auditor General. Each time, the investigators returned with a finding of no guilt. I do not know what it took to get the state comptroller’s office to finally step in, but it can reasonably be said that if the Department of Education’s investigators had conducted fair investigations, this principal’s wrongdoing could have been revealed years ago.

Some of my points about the UFT relative silence are being fought out in the comment section where Under Assault says:

I admire the individuals staffers who fight, and told them so. My problem is that the UFT is not using its enormous weight to expose all the levels of misconduct that has become commonplace in the DoE at this time. How many hundreds of professional educators have to lose their careers before the UFT plants its feet on the ground and says: Not on our watch.

Unity hacks back with this comment by Rick Mangone:
The UFT has repeatedly fought the DOE and complained in the media and in court about the unfair practices by the DOE when needed.

Jeez Rick, give us a break. Wouldn't Lynne's piece have looked nice in the NY Teacher? What about using the UFT bloated PR machine to actually tell the world something useful?

JD2718 follows with (my emphasis added):

It’s one thing to complain about the DoE’s unfair practices – we do do that, though less than we should. Those happen at the school level, and centrally. It is quite another to expose the anti-teacher bias of the investigative units, which Lynne has done here. Lynne documents a pattern of ignoring misconduct. Some might conclude that that pattern was in and of itself misconduct. We need to speak openly about the conduct of the investigators. Thank you, Lynne.

I thank you too Lynne. I don't blame you and I bet you were willing to push against the UFT leadership resistance to making a big case out of the DOE unfair practices but hit a stone wall. And as an Exec Bd New Action member I would hope JD2718 would make the "less than we should" point at every single meeting until they stopped doing less than they should. Since I don't go to EB meetings I don't know what New Action does there but from past history New Action leaders are reluctant to go too far in pushing the UFT leaders since the entire caucus is so dependent on the support of the leadership.

Under Assault responds with:

Again, when you say “We need to speak openly about the conduct of the investigators,” who is the “We” ? Whistleblowers have certainly spoken out, and so have a number of brave CLs and DRs. The opposition caucuses and practically all of the edblog community has been consistently, comprehensively and tirelessly speaking out. The great big missing “We” that has most certainly NOT been speaking out is the entire leadership: Randi Weingarten then, Michael Mulgrew now, plus most members on the union’s successive executive boards. They couldn’t because their strategy — top-down from the getgo — has always been clandestine deal-making and preemptive participation. As long as they stay this course, we’re going down.

I won't hold my breath that we will see much of a change in the way the UFT functions.

There is another scandal that the NYC Parent blog discusses:
Leadership, empowerment and accountability according to the Chancellor...not to mention tax fraud

On the other hand, I was originally suspicious of Sunday's NY Times piece in the Metropolitan section by Elissa Gootman that appeared to be another puff piece on a principal in the Bronx (posted at

But then I got an email from a trusted source who has talked about this principal before. Here is his email:

I've spoken about the school and the principal, but this is a chance to see it for yourself. It's exciting for us. We were on a planning retreat when it came out.

Nice article. Even better video.

If this guy is the real deal, there's nothing like tossing off the Rotunno slime and taking things in a better direction. But if it turns out to be another puff piece you would have to wonder what can be believed in the Times. Mike Weinrip is no longer doing ed columns to contradict the puff pieces.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I have some questions about a u-rated teacher in my school

UPDATED: June 27, 10pm


This came in over the transom. Email me or leave comments if you have answers:

A teacher came to me -teaching less than 10 years; tenured. Got all S's, except this year: U rating.

Showed me the 5 or 6 observations, and I couldn't tell which they were considering "formal" or "informal". I believe some were meant to be informal because they filled in after

They did not include one observation in this back up material. It was an "S" observation.
Apart from that, they made the standard weird comments — like saying the kids were not engaged, yet they attached the paperwork that showed that the kids were in fact quite engaged and doing the assignment.

Can anyone help me with some of these questions?

1. The UFT website says to contact the dist. office for help. Are they actually going to do something for you, or is that a waste of time?

2. Art. 21. (Due Process) says in the last clause (D.3) that: " 3. Teachers who receive doubtful or unsatisfactory ratings may appeal under Section 4.3.1 of the by-laws of the Board of Education." I don't think it's talking about probationers at this point, correct? If so, do you do this with the district's help, or on your own?

3. How can you tell what's formal and what's informal? Is there a special "procedure" they've not followed if you can't tell the difference between one observation report and another?

4. Is the district going to do that with or for this teacher when he/she contacts them?

5. Where does it stay that if you get a U rating your salary freezes on a certain step? I can't find it.

BloomKlein's Very Own Gusher: Spill, Baby Spill

by Norman Scott

School Scope Column
The Wave, June 25, 2010

You don't have to drill a mile down into the ocean or run a drilling rig into oblivion to create the disastrous muck of an oil spill. Or go to The Gulf to see the impact. We have our own education version of the disaster right here in the NYC Department of Education, better known as "Tweed" for the courthouse built by the original corrupt politician known as Boss Tweed.

The Tweedies are at it again with the umpteenth reorganization. Let's see now. First we had districts. Then regions. Then no regions. Then districts again. But only sort of. How about empowerment zones? Then no empowerment zones. There were those LSOs, LMOs, LSMFTs. How about just plain LOSERS?

The latest craze are Childrens First Networks where all women network leaders are strong, the men who do the bidding of Klein good looking and the children are above average - way above average after taking the rediculous NY State tests rigged to make BloomKlein look good. Support services have been reorganized from districts to regions to boroughs and now into these networks. Truly, almost no one has a clue but the prime directive is that jobs must be found for all. Just make sure no one gets so pissed off they spill the beans that BP is a master of competence compared to Tweed. BP chief Tony Hayward for Chancellor, anyone?

NY Politicians create own version of the spill
Let's never forget that the reason BloomKlein have been able to send globs of muck onto the shores of the schools is because they were handed the reins through the overwhelming endorsement of the politicians in both the city and state. Now we know the NY State legislature is considered one of the most dysfunctional political bodies in the world, finishing in a tie with Kyrgyzstan. (The Obama administration considered swapping the NY State Assembly with the Kyrg version, but was turned down in the interests of better government - for the Kyrgs.)

We are real lucky here in Rockaway to have some of the leading lights of the legislature and their current and former pals in Congress - Malcolm Smith, Gregory Meeks, Floyd Flake. The NY Times has been paying particular homage to our crew. The front page of the June 18th edition focused on Flake, the leader of the pack with this headline: "2006 Sale of Ministry Property Positioned Queens Pastor to Gain Riches." They devoted a full page - a full page - with pictures and all sorts of sidebar goodies on the financial manipulations that went on around a senior citizen center. There was a whole lot of political influence with Bloomberg and even Elliot Spitzer. The best part to me was reading that court clerk Gloria D'Amico - the same Gloria D'Amico who signs our call to jury duty notices - was a key person signing off on the deal. The added detail was that her son was one of the partners in the Flake deal. The next time you get a jury duty call from Gloria, write her a few choice words.

While the Times story didn't connect all these guys to the charter school games they are involved with, it did manage to dredge up the ugly Aqueduct story where Malcolm Smith was in up to his ears, with Meeks playing a role too. The story also pulled in Governor Patterson. But as readers of The Wave you know all the gory details. I hope you saw the wonderfully alliterative headline from last week: "Meeks' Non-Existent Non-Profit Profits From Public Money."

Helen Marshall refuses to yell "Fire" in a crowded school system
And then there's our Borough President who appeared on WNYC to proclaim schools in Queens were no longer overcrowded. Leonie Haimson on the NYC Public School Parent blog had this comment: "According to official DOE data (which most experts think underestimates the problem), 67 percent of elementary school children in Queens attended overcrowded schools; and 77 percent of high school students. And this does not count thousands of students in trailers. Class sizes are still increasing rapidly throughout the borough, and as of this March, nearly 800 Queens children were on waiting lists for their zoned Kindergartens."

Washington educational oil slick
Of course we can't ignore our federal government's attempt, led by Obama basketball buddy Arne Duncan, who ran the Chicago schools into the ground, to take over the nation's schools through Race to the Top. RTTT has forced school districts and unions to modify contracts to conform to the test till you drop mode of education, a system guaranteed to bring forth masses of graduates who will be adept at working the cash registers at the two largest employers in the nation - McDonalds and Walmart, one of the major backers of charter schools.

Chicago, Chicago, a wonderful town
The Duncan/Daley tandem in Chicago has so turned teachers into a hostile force, a new leadership led by younger progressive teachers has taken over the union. The Caucus of Rank & File Educators (CORE) is a two year old caucus led by the new Chicago TU President Karen Lewis who is already becoming a national voice to counter AFT president Randi Weingarten's capitulation to the education deformers. Lewis declared: "What drives school reform is a single focus on profit. Profit. Not teaching, not learning, profit."

Beach Channel stays open for an extra year, but are any future freshmen registering?
Remember that "successful" UFT/NAACP court suit to keep the 19 closing schools open that has extended their lives for a year? Joel Klein made it clear that the DOE would do whatever it takes to close these schools next year - the UFT suit was based on Tweed not following procedures in state law, so next time they will do it "right." It seems the feeling of inevitability of the school's closing has kept many 8th graders from registering. (Jamaica HS has had a similar experience.) Schools that enter the death spiral of closing down have a growing feeling of despair and a loss of services as the enemies at Tweed who are sworn to manage the schools, do exactly the opposite. While I was for the UFT lawsuit, I also felt it did not go far enough and had more than a touch of a public relations stunt (there was a UFT election going on at the time and Mulgrew's 91% - and yes I am a 9% dissenter - was padded by that suit). Anyone who has watched the slick Tweedies knew full well they would do what they could to undermine the schools but the UFT did nothing to extend the suit - like force them to do more to recruit new classes for these schools. How about a budget approaching what charter schools get to put out those slick brochures?

There was a wonderful letter in last week's Wave from Beach Channel's Drama Club Director, Marjorie Damashek Levine listing the successful events Beach Channel still has going, closing with "YES, Beach Channel High School is alive and kicking."

And so am I as I close this year's series of School Scope columns. Have a good summer and look for my daily rants on my blog:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eduwonk Takes Note of Events in Chicago as Karen Lewis is Turning into the Anti-Randi

With new Chicago union chief Karen Lewis taking office on July 1, expect her to become the anti-Randi. Eduwonk has noticed while Alex Russo who writes a Chicago blog while living in Brooklyn has his head in the sand. But both are open or closet ed deformers.

Eduwonk is Andrew Rotherham, a chief ed deformer - a Democrat who worked for Clinton so you know where the bread meets the butter - who went to some extent to challenge and expose Eduwonkette when she was anonymous.

Truth Stranger Than Fiction I

AFT President Randi Weingarten has collaborated with Race to the Top and other White House education initiatives, even at the cost of retreating from the union’s opposition to merit pay and defense of tenure as the basis for teacher job security. But the election in the CTU–the third largest teachers’ union local in the U.S.–is a clear signal that rank-and-file teachers have different priorities.

Going along with the above as the Chicago establishment tries to challenge CORE even before they take office on July 1 here are some links from Gotham.

Chicago’s schools chief wants more than just seniority to determine layoffs. (Catalyst)

Chicago’s school board agreed to lay off teachers by quality rating, not seniority. (Chicago Sun-Times)

CORE will be sending 146 delegates to the AFT convention in Seattle (July 8-11.)


See the Karen Lewis interview with Labor Beat:

If you haven't been following events in Detroit, Gotham has this link:
Momentum is growing for mayoral control of Detroit’s schools. (Detroit Free Press)

Now the Detroit union has also been in a state of flux and is sending 20 anti-Randi delegates to Seattle. Rest assured, the Chi/Detroit totals pale in comparison to the 800 Unity junketeers who dominate the convention.

Lisa Donlan on Legal Loopholes in Charter Law

One of the reasons focusing on the legal route - ie. see UFT suit on closing schools - is that there are always loopholes. And when there are not, they often just ignore the law and say "Bite me." And the wus politicians put their tails between their legs and skulk away after making some whimpering noises. My strategy: build organizations capable of backing up legal actions in the streets. (Even that relatively mild walkout at the HSA ameba hearing led by Bill Hargraves has some impact in terms of rallying the troops. But imagine when we can have a thousand people? Remember the Marine Park rally that stopped a charter school invasion last year? (Have to run and no time to find the link - but if you search the blog you will find it - May 2009.)

Here Lisa Donlan in a comment on the video of the walkout points out the loopholes:

I recently posted this recap of the legal issues we ran across (that DoE has run a truck through to quote our top Regent) in the charter re-authorization process. It is a way of expanding charters that escapes the latest laws and attempts at checks/balances, transparency.

I hope folks are disturbed by these legal loopholes that have benefited charters and blocked public discourse about our public schools:

SUNY only holds hearings for initial charter sitings in DoE buildings - expansions get a total exemption from the hearing process and any public scrutiny/feedback.

SUNY hearings in connection with schools’ use of NYCDOE space, only have to be held prior to the first time a charter school occupies a particular public school building.

SUNY outreach is only as good as DoE outreach- and we know how good that is (per Judge Lobis)!

SUNY does not have access to NYCDOE parents and students, backpack or mailed notice is accomplished with the assistance of the NYCDOE.

You have to FOIL renewal applications. The Institute does not at this time post renewal applications online; they are readily available through the Freedom of Information Law.

Whatever the intentions, the language of the law means that only the Chancellor's feedback is legally considered in these hearings.

Comments received from “school district” in the parlance of the Charter Schools Act means the New York City School District as a whole rather than a community school district such as CEC One. Therefore, it is the New York City School Chancellor’s comments that SUNY CSI must legally “consider”

Finally, the charter authorizers rely on the charter and DoE to tell them that there is sufficient space for the co location.

The Institute’s initial recommendation that Girls Prep’s plans for the future, which included expansion in PS188 was based on Girls Prep’s analysis of its space needs as well as the space utilization analysis and related material prepared by NYCDOE, which indicated that the space was under-utilized and that expansion of Girls Prep would not have an adverse impact on either of the other schools in the building.

Lisa Donlan

Sexually Harassed by Your Principal? You will be removed

This Daily News article says it all about how the NYCDOE has a double standard towards principals and the school workers they rule.

A Bronx principal found to have sexually harassed a staffer last summer is under investigation again on similar allegations, the Daily News has learned.

Investigators with the office found last year that Richard Bost of Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology groped his payroll secretary and repeatedly made lewd comments about her clothing and cleavage, sources said.

The Education Department removed the secretary from the school but kept Bost in place.

Read more:

The best part of this story is this:

An Education Department official noted that none of the findings involved students. "If further allegations are determined to be true, we will take swift and appropriate action," said Danny Kanner. "We strongly encourage anyone who has been treated improperly to come forward, and we will investigate."

Sure. "Swift and appropriate action" means they will give this guy a promotion. I mean, come on. As long as the school gets good test scores, what's the problem?

I've even heard stories about non-tenured teachers who brought sexual harassment charges and won a judgement at the EOC being given U-ratings and fired.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Anatomy of a Walkout at Hearing Over HSA 3 Charter Expansion in Public Space - Revised

[Revised video to slow the crawl of the Jiminez letter to SUNY's Jonas Chartock.]

Harlem activist Bill Hargraves points out the shoddy methods in how the DOE runs a so-called public hearing and then leads a walkout.

From Concerned Educators Network:
There was a walkout at the DOE sham hearing to expand Harlem Success Academy in a Public School building on Monday June 21, 2010. Those sham hearings have become a pattern around the city set by the Bloomberg/Klein DOE bureaucracy. They always say, “we come to hear your concerns” only to go back and proceed with their own agenda anyway, namely, close down schools, undermine, underfund, and sabotage them in a systematic way. The New York State Education Law makes the provision for these hearings where communities get to make their voices heard. However, after watching several of these hearings around the city, we have discovered a major flaw in the law. There is no oversight as to the real implementation of the law from beginning to end. In other words, there is no oversight to make sure the DOE honestly and respectfully give weight to the communities concerns in the decision-making process. There is never any change in the DOE’s original proposals, no adjustments that show they really take into account anything members of communities present at those hearings. Therefore, those hearings are pure sham, pure fraud. They become meaningless until such a time when concerns of communities really carry some weight in the decision-making process.

Bill was able to expose some of the mechanisms of this sham and fraud at the “hearing”.

For background info see:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Walkout at Harlem Success/Mosaic Prep Hearing

UPDATED, June 22, 2010, 12pm
There was a mini explosion at the Harlem Success attempt to expand for more space at Mosaic Prep hearing last night as people walked out over the procedures, which they claimed were illegal. Some parents from Mosaic were supportive of the walkout, but they also wanted to say their piece, so some didn't walk out and others came back. The people who walked out said there was no point in going through this sham since the DOE wasn't going to listen to any of the comments. Bill Hargraves pointed out that the meeting wasn't being taped and no notes were being taken so how could their comments be heard? There was no table up front so people has a sense of where their comments were being directed. The DOE people went scrambling, as the DOE rep sat in front with a notebook and pretended to take notes. The looks on their faces were priceless.

I was ambivalent about the walkout because I could see the Mosaic people were confused as the walkout was not part of a plan. I stayed to continue taping.

A section of HSA parents at times looked stunned over the vehemence and passions unleashed.

One of the Harlem Success Charter (Eva Moskowitz) parent activists who is passionate about charters has become sort of a buddy at these meetings - always comes up and wants to chat. We ere on the same panel at the Pekins hearing. He often brings a stack of books to show how well his daughter is reading at Harlem Success. He is a very nice guy - a NYC policeman. Last night the rubber met the road in a sense when he said he understood the attacks on the teachers was based on anti-union and he was disturbed by it. We will continue the dialogue.

On the train going home I thought about this guy. In our conversation we touched on many issues, including history and politics (a lot to cover in 5 minutes) and he is clearly a well educated guy, though he told me he was a knucklehead in high school. I thought - here is a guy who is a wonderful parent. His children's success is due to his efforts yet he goes all over giving Eva Moskowitz the credit for why his child reads so well. I asked him if he taught her to read before she ever set foot in HSA. "Of course," he said. He added - and I'm paraphrasing - "No one should expect the schools to do the main teaching" - I can't remember exactly what he said schools should be doing. HSA requires parent participation, while public schools can't. He blamed the parents who don't do what he does.

And therein lies the genius of the HSA propaganda machine. His children will do well in any school because of HIM and his passion. But he is convinced that HSA deserves the credit.

The public schools are losing these parents to charters.

I have some good tape from this meeting, including the mass walkout.

I had to leave before Jim Devor, the lawyer who also heads CEC 15 in Brooklyn, spoke but maybe the 2 man film crew HIRED by Harlem Success Academy will loan us the clips.

Boy, the charter money flows at a higher rate than the BP spill.

Some Facts: HSA vs. PS/MS375 Mosaic

----------------------HSA Mosaic

Number of students 186 305
Special Ed (Ungraded) 0 54(17%)
Free lunch ------------53% 94%
Reduced lunch -------13% 2%
Limited Eng Proficient 2% 16%
Hispanic/Latino/a ---- 27% 65%

(excuse the rough formatting)

Look at the last numbers: the area is 65% Hispanic yet they are only 27% of the kids in HSA.

From Parent Leader Annette Jiminez

Thank you everyone for your support today at the hearing in our school mosaic prep academy which we all know was a total fraud and it was finished off by the presentation of our lawyer who let them know that everything was illegal and they would be held accountable. Please stay encouraged we will win the fight against this charter epidemic. I love you all for what you are, stand and fight for,

Your sister in the struggle
Rose Annette Jimenez

Important background info at Norms Notes: Mosaic Prep/HSA Charter Invasion Follow-up

Annette Jiminez writes a letter to Jonas Chartock who heads the SUNY charter authorizing center - and yes he is biased, Patrick Sullivan gets involved and points out a few things to Ralph Rossi if SUNY about how state law is being violated:

Ms. Jimenez refers to the schools governance law passed by the State Legislature in August. As the Manhattan member of the city school board ("Panel for Educational Policy") I can assure you that none of the legally mandated process for such a significant change in utilization of a public school building was followed in this case. There has been no Educational Impact Statement, no joint hearing of the Mosaic SLT with the Community Educational Council of District 4 and no vote of the Panel for Educational Policy.

The SUNY trustees have a legal obligation to ensure all legally mandated procedures are followed prior to allowing the expansion of a SUNY chartered school. Expansion of HSA 3 in the Mosaic building without adherence to the above process constitutes a violation of law for which SUNY trustees must be held accountable.

Frankly, given that SUNY recently came very close to losing its chartering authority, I am extremely disappointed that its first instinct is to deny any responsibility for compliance with the very clear guidelines under state education law. This law was implemented to protect public school students from the very type of encroachment now being attempted by HSA. Instead of washing their hands of the very real issues facing Manhattan public schools in co-location
situations, I suggest the trustees begin to more seriously consider their moral and legal obligations to help all our students.

Patrick J. Sullivan
Manhattan Member
Panel for Educational Policy
NYC Board of Education

Monday, June 21, 2010

DC Union Leader George Parker Sends a Message - Pins Weingarten as Culprit in Election Mayhem

The AFT will do anything it can to keep Nathan Saunders from becoming President of the Washington DC union. They lost Chicago and don't want things to spread too far. This message from George Parker nails the AFT as the reason the scheduled elections for May were postponed. Randi knew her little sweetheart deal with pal Michelle Rhee would be endangered if Saunders won.


The WTU is aware that several candidates seeking to run for a WTU elected office have distributed misleading and inaccurate information regarding the AFT’s postponement of the May 2010 election of WTU officers (Aril 29, 2010 membership letter form AFT President Randi Weingarten) and the WTU constitutional process for setting the new election schedule. Within the next two weeks, the WTU Executive Board will send a letter to the homes of all WTU members to provide you with correct and accurate information regarding the election process and the new fall schedule for election of WTU officers.

"Rescued" Closing Schools Dying a Slow Death Due to Lack of Incoming Freshman

Many people cheered when the UFT/NAACP "won" the law suit over the 19 school closings a few months ago. While schools got a year extension to stay open, the DOE went ahead with plans to install new schools in their buildings, knowing full well the reality would be that the extra year would become an empty shell due to a lack of incoming freshman. James Eterno's post on the ICE blog brings home this reality.


A high school needs freshmen to keep going but the Department of Education has basically starved the closing Queens High Schools of new students. You can read all about it at these links. We are quoted extensively and are still fighting this injustice. Please help us if you can.

Today at Norms Notes:

Boston Teachers Get a Dose of Ed Deform

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What They Remember

A former 4th grade student from around 1983 found me on Facebook:

As I recall, I recieved my introduction to computers from you. At the time you stressed how important it would be to know how to use one! You were certainly right! I also remember going over to your house with a small group of other students from the class. If my memory serves me right, you had built a telescope that year.

School Scope in The Wave

My June 11, 2010 column in The Wave

by Norman Scott

It may turn out to be a minor quake, the equivalent of two rocks rubbing against each other, or something much bigger. It started at PS 24K in Sunset Park where teachers decided to picket on the morning of June 4th. The Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) that I work with started to promote the idea and other schools began to pick it up. By June 4th over 20 were participating, focused on the budget cuts, the on again, off again Bloomberg game with layoffs and other issues of importance to the schools. GEM produced a toolkit for schools to use: a press release, a flier, a petition and signs.

The week before a group of us gathered in Prospect Park for a sign-making party. Someone said it is a shame that all the schools can't get together. "Let's go to Tweed after school," someone said. And we did. Maybe a hundred people but this was not a manipulated rally. There are reports and videos (and a list of schools) for the individual schools and the Tweed rally on the GEM blog:

On Seniority
When The Indypendent's John Tarleton asked me to do an article in defense of seniority, I started tossing in all the things I wanted to say, starting with a complete history of Joel Klein's use of the issue, from his early years to claim the "best" - senior teachers - were not in the schools most in need because of the UFT transfer policies - to the fair funding formula that made senior teachers an economic liability to the schools. The bullshit the Ed deformers throw around would fertilize a small nation. Shill, baby, shill! When I stopped writing I had 2200 words, well over double the space John had given me.

John was the editor on the piece and we had a few very long conversations that revealed the complexities of the seniority issue. I found it a very rigorous exercise to go through a process like that with someone who was very astute but not tuned into all the details that boil up when you start drilling. John took my scattered thinking (see the recent front page article in the Times on the distractions of the internet to see why) and focused things in a way that makes sense, to such an extent that I hesitate to take total credit for the article.

The article is at

Bloomberg Machine to Run City Until 2225- at the very least
Term limits? Don' need no stinckin' term limits. Last week's NY Times puff profile on Bloomberg's mate Diana Taylor is practically an announcement that she will run for mayor when his term is over. And when her term is over, Emma will be ready. Add the Unity Caucus lifetime control of the UFT with designated successors and, you see, we do live in a monarchy. Long live the king (and queen).

No thorns in Cactus Flower
I did the video of the Rockaway Theatre Company's' current production of Cactus Flower last Saturday night and the RTC keeps topping itself. In a play that takes perfect comic timing to pull off, the RTC players have perfect comic timing. Every single performance is of the highest quality. The set design is stunning. And the direction by Susan Corning as stunning as every other thing she does at the RTC. Three performances left to see a play that costs as much as many movies today. You are crazy if you are spending hundred of bucks going to Broadway and miss this Broadway quality play for fifteen bucks.

Guess the School?
This comment was left on my blog.
Guess the school and win a
When? When will this nonsense stop? On June 2, 2010, there was a ‘Code Blue’ at PS ____ and principal ---- was not in the building. What does it takes to remove this crook? She showed up at 2:35PM after she was called about the ‘Code Blue.’ She did not drive her car when she finally showed up at 2:35PM because of course she was pretending that she was already at work. Liar, she is late every day. Who is she supervising when she shows up for work at 2:35PM? She is blatantly stealing time. Check with the teachers in the building she has been on time on no more than four occasions this school year. If the NYCDOE is lucky she shows up by 11:30AM. She has the acting assistant principal, math coach, IEP teacher, senior school aide, Core Knowledge facilitator, and parent coordinator covering for her.

Superintendent Michele Lloyd-Bey, you must be aware of this blatant theft of time by now. What do you intend to do about it? I must remind you that you are also paid by taxpayers’ dollars. Does this scoundrel have secrets for you? Why aren’t you doing your job? We all know she is incompetent but you can relief her of her position because she blatantly steals time. She has not earned her pension or sick time. Who is keeping tabs? Certainly not a particular OSI investigator. I wonder what his hours are? He ‘investigates’ at PS ----- late evenings when the principal shows up.

The mayor and school chancellor should be investigating the principal of PS ----and the superintendent for district 27. They should not be allowed to collect their paychecks. One for theft of time and the other for negligence. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The people of Far Rockaway pay taxes and deserve better for their children. Who cares for the poor? Wake up people in authority and get rid of the crooks running this school.

Eva Moskowitz Wants Mosaic Prep Academy- Hearing, Monday

It goes on and on. Co-locations are temporary - for the public schools, not the charters, which by growing a grade a year while the public schools are stifled, will take over public school building after public school building. Monday it happens again. Be there if you dare.


To whom it may concern

I Rose A Jimenez Parent Association President at Mosaic Preparatory Academy in East Harlem am writing this letter to invite you to our School on Monday June 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm to a hearing hosted by Harlem Success Academy 3.

You all know Mosaic has been housing this Charter School for 2 years and now they have put in a proposal to take over our School Building and all the procedures have been done in an illegal manner so the East Harlem Community is outraged and is standing up once again to fight back as we have been for the last year and a half, only this time we are asking for the resignation of our Principal because Mosaic Parents and Scholars WANT a Leader whom is not scared to stand toe to toe with their Parents and Community to provide an Equal Education for our Kids.
Our School has everything a Charter School has including the College readiness theme with very little money we make sure our Scholars receive a Quality Education.

Please come out and join us the Parents, the Community, the Boro-President Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Council Woman Melissa Mark-Viverito, all the candidates for the 68th Assembly District seat, community Leaders, Organizers, UFT Reps, CEC4, Presidents Council 4 and many others to save Mosaic Prep Academy and be a part of History in East Harlem because we will WIN, WIN, WIN!

Yours in Education,

Roseannette Jimenez
(917) 406-1091

From the GEM blog:











(917) 406-1091



We Demand that ALL New York City schools be held to the same standards to ensure every child in the city has access to a Quality Education!

Charter Schools should not come into our neighborhoods and expand at the expense of the District Schools the Parent Associations of our Schools is telling DOE NO MORE!!!!