Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jim Callaghan Talking Baseball at the Wall Street Journal

A New York Baseball Giant Through and Through

By Jim Callaghan (fired by the UFT in July for trying to start a union at the NY Teacher- UFT Firing of NY Teacher Reporter)
As the San Francisco Giants take on the Texas Rangers in the World Series, Johnny Antonelli is watching the games from his home near Rochester, N.Y., and remembering a different Giants team—the New York Giants.
That's the team he pitched for in 1954, the last time this venerable franchise won a world championship.
Back then, in the days before hard pitch counts, five-man rotations and bullpens stocked with set-up men, long relievers, short relievers and closers, Mr. Antonelli was the winning pitcher in the second game of the 1954 series and, two days later, came in to close out the Cleveland Indians in a four-game sweep. Unlike the drawn-out marathons of today, this Fall Classic was over in four straight days.
Later, in 1955, Mr. Antonelli pitched a 16-inning complete game, a feat that is unlikely to be replicated.

  *This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.


Reformers Win Round One in D.C. Teachers Election

Reformers Win Round One in D.C. Teachers Election

by Howard Ryan | Fri, 10/29/2010 - 1:10pm

A slate of union reformers won a narrow victory Wednesday in the first round of a teachers’ union election in Washington, D.C., and they are well positioned for a larger victory in the run-off to be held in the next few weeks.
The 24-member reform slate, led by presidential candidate Nathan Saunders, currently the general VP of the Washington Teachers Union, came together this year to challenge WTU President George Parker, who offered virtually no resistance to the mass teacher firings and school closures implemented by recently resigned D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee.
The election in the 4,000-member WTU has far-reaching implications because Rhee and the D.C. school district have been celebrated as national models for the corporate version of school reform being carried out by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Both Saunders and running mate Candi Peterson, a WTU trustee and blogger who seeks the General VP slot, strongly oppose the corporate school agenda that blames teachers for the problems in public education and emphasizes privately run, non-union charter schools.
Unofficial results, with challenged ballots not yet counted, gave Saunders a slim lead of 334-313. With two other candidates in the presidential race, none received more than 50 percent of the vote, as the WTU constitution requires, so a run-off will be held.
The election involved four officer posts plus 20 other executive board seats. Three of the candidates fielded full 24-member slates, and “most people voted slate,” said Sean Dria Jackson, a school psychologist who serves on the WTU elections committee. Thus the run-off is expected to pit the Saunders full slate against the Parker full slate.
Jackson believes the 234 votes for the other two candidates also represented an “anti-incumbent” vote, and that these voters will support the Saunders slate in the final round. “Sixty-five percent of the vote were teachers saying they are tired of what they’re getting,” said Jackson. “They want a union that’s a union.”
Jackson also commented on the remarkably low turnout (22 percent) in what has been a hotly contested and highly visible race. “The non-voters are just fed up,” she said. “We tried to schedule an election four times this year, and it kept getting tied up by Parker.” The WTU election was constitutionally supposed to be completed by June 30. After a series of election irregularities and one lawsuit, the American Federation of Teachers, WTU’s parent union, imposed a trusteeship over the local and is now supervising the election

Friday, October 29, 2010

Do you work in one of the 47 schools slated for closing? Seeking Teachers to Mobilize Students in These Schools

Do you work in one of the 47 schools slated for closing? The Urban Youth Collaborative is seeking teachers who can help UYC organize the students in those schools to fight back! Contact Hiram Rivera at: or 212-328-9256

UYC's call to teachers is below:

The DOE has announced the names of the 47 schools they plan on closing...47!  The Urban Youth Collaborative has committed to working with teachers, students, & parents on stopping these closings. In order for us to do that, we would need to identify teachers in those schools willing to identify student leaders and students willing to organize in their schools to save their schools. Because we're a collaborative of high school students, we're looking to organize groups in high schools. Our parent organizers (NYC Coalition for Educational Justice) are going to be organizing middle and elementary schools.

Here's the list of high schools slated to be closed. Can you please help us by identifying teachers and/or students in these schools who you think would be open to letting us come and help organize students in their high schools:

The Bronx

Christopher Columbus

Monroe Acadmey for Business & Law

Fordham Leadership Academy

Grace H. Dodge Career & Tech

Jane Addams HS for Academics and Careers

John F. Kennedy HS


Beach Channel


August Martin

Grover Cleveland

John Adams


Richmond Hill


Metropolitan Corporate Academy

Paul Roberson

William H. Maxwell

Boys & Girls

John Dewey

Sheepshead Bay


Norman ThomasHS for Graphic Communication Arts

Washington Irving

For more info contact Hiram: or 212-328-9256

Thank you.

Ravitch Reviews Waiting for Superman: The Myth of Charter Schools at NY Review of Books

Most Americans graduated from public schools, and most went from school to college or the workplace without thinking that their school had limited their life chances. There was a time—which now seems distant—when most people assumed that students’ performance in school was largely determined by their own efforts and by the circumstances and support of their family, not by their teachers. There were good teachers and mediocre teachers, even bad teachers, but in the end, most public schools offered ample opportunity for education to those willing to pursue it. The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

Waiting for “Superman” and the other films appeal to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if American kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to blame. At last we have the culprit on which we can pin our anger, our palpable sense that something is very wrong with our society, that we are on the wrong track, and that America is losing the race for global dominance. It is not globalization or deindustrialization or poverty or our coarse popular culture or predatory financial practices that bear responsibility: it’s the public schools, their teachers, and their unions. 


Everybody Loves Tony Avella - GET OUT THE VOTE

Even the UFT which is not supporting the lousy incumbent for a change. The tributes are pouring in for Tony. And the NY Times too.

When he ran for mayor many of us fighting the ed deformers really got to know and like Tony for his stands. When GEM came out to support the PS 123 community in Harlem against the Evil Moskowitz HSA invasion, Tony was there at 8am. Boy if he had been the Democratic candidate instead of Bill Thompson, who was apparently half in Bloomberg's pocket we might have had some real fun.
Now Tony is running for NY State Senate- WOW! INTEGRITY in that body – if he wins.

Gary Babab posted this on the NYCEdParent Blog:

Tony Avella for State Senate

I usually write parody for the NYC Parent Blog, but this is not parody. I usually don’t make political endorsements on the blog, but this is a political endorsement. Why? Because so much hangs in the balance in NY State Senate District 11 (Northeast Queens), and Tony Avella warrants the support of parents, teachers, and anyone else who values public education in NY State.

Tony’s positions on education are long standing and unequivocal. He has been a fierce critic of Chancellor Klein’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s dictatorial control. He has called for the firing of the Chancellor, the hiring of a real educator for the position, and for the re-establishment true parent involvement in the schools.

Tony’s opponent, incumbent Senator Frank Padavan, was instrumental in the renewal of Mayoral control. And lest anyone wonder about Padavan’s relationship with the Mayor and Chancellor, during a hotly contested 2008 race, the DOE renamed the Glen Oaks school campus for Mr. Padavan – jumping the gun by a good number of years, judging by the Senator’s apparent good health, given that one is supposed to be deceased to have a school named after him.

I have dealt with Tony Avella, through my work, since he was elected to the City Council in 2001. I have had a number of conversations with him over the years about education, and have found him to be consistent and sincere in his support for parents and children, with a keen grasp of the issues.

But beyond that, I have found him to be that rare creature, an honest politician. One example: He declined to serve on the advisory board of the program I direct – not because there was anything wrong with doing so (other politicians serve on such boards), but because, since he obtained discretionary Council funding for the program, he wanted to avoid even the slightest hint of conflict of interest.

Tony is also that rare politician who actually takes the time to listen, and would never run out from our events after just a speech and a few minutes of shaking hands. I’ll never forget our annual barbecue, or our program’s gala anniversary dinner last year, when he and his wife hung out, schmoozing, enjoying the company and the entertainment, and comfortably fitting in like the members of the community that they are. I urge everyone in Senate District 11 to get out and vote for Tony Avella on November 2. He will be a true friend in Albany.
And this came in from Magnificent Mona Davids:
Subject: Tony Avella for Senate GOTV

Hi there,

I'm writing because I need your help in getting parents, teachers and students to help out with Tony Avella's Get Out The Vote campaign.  You all know the teachers, PTA folks and community/education activists in Queens.

We really NEED Tony Avella to win and if we can get folks to volunteer with canvassing, we can do it.  It'd be great to have him in the State Senate.

I know many of you know he's a great supporter of public education.  He stood up against mayoral control, he speaks out against the ed deform movement and supported term limits.

He will be our greatest supporter and ally in the State Senate.  The 11th Senate District covers Bellerose, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Jamaica Estates, New Hyde Park, Floral Park, Whitestone, College Point and Hollis.  

Surely, there must be schools on DoE's hit list from those neighborhoods. 

Thank you.
The person to contact to volunteer is Zoe Waltross, her email is
GOTV Schedule for Volunteer Activities
Friday, October 29th, 2010
7 am - 9 am Visibility at Trains & Subways
5 pm - 9 pm Door-to-door canvassing
5 pm - 7:30 pm Visibility @ Trains and Commercial Strips
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
11 am - GOTV Rally @ Avella HQ (38-50 Bell Blvd, Suite C)
11 am - 2 pm Visibility
12 noon - 5 pm Door-to-door canvassing
2pm - 6pm Visibility
3:30 pm - 5pm Community Walk in Jamaica - Location: Meet at Hillside Ave & 179th Street
5 pm - 6:30 pm South Asians for Avella GOTV Rally - Location: 257-10 Union Tpke 3rd Bellrose
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
10 am - 2pm Visibility
1 pm - 4 pm Door-to-door canvassing
2pm - 6pm Visibility
Monday, November 1st, 2010
7 am - 9 am Visibility @ Trains & Subways
5 pm - 9 pm Visibility @ Trains and Commercial Strips
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 - Election Day
5:30 am - 8:30am AM Visibility 
10 am - 3 pm  Midday Visibility
2:30 pm - 8:30 pm Door-to-door canvass
8:30 pm - 9:30 pm Poll closing operation

NY TIMES ENDORSEMENT and KIDS PAC Endorsements of Avella.

Ruben Brosbe Gets Whacked.... a 2x4. No, make it a 2x10.

NYC teacher and Gotham Schools contributer Ruben Brosbe must feel like a quarterback facing an 11 man rush since he wrote a NY Post article shilling for the publication of teacher data reports.

First he gets hit smacked by South Bronx School who actually went back and read stuff Brosbe has written (I've never indulged).

Ruben Brosbe Shortcomings Are A Shock To Him

There are many Rubens I like and enjoy. I enjoy a hearty Rueben Sandwich sans Russian Dressing. I remember when my father introduced me tho this treat back in 1976 in Philadelphia. The best Rueben I ever had was an open one at the old Marty's Mug and Munch in Ardsley. I always enjoyed the erstwhile Rueben Kincaid, manager of the Partridge Family, and flunky in all of Danny's get rich schemes. And of course the singer/actor Ruben Blades. If you have never seen him on "Disorganized Crime" do so now.

A Ruben I have no use for is New York Post guest columnist, and Gotham Schools contributor (dear God, why?), and blogger Ruben Brosbe. Ruben is one of those nebbishy, I am smarter than thou, Ivy eggheads that thinks he is smarter than everyone else, has an extremely narrow minded view of the world, and just lacks plain common sense. As my grandpa once said, "The smartest people turn out to be the stupidest." MORE
And then Ruben gets totally whacked by NYC Educator in a "Must read" piece.

Value Added Is Awesome, Dude

Like, the New York Post called me?  And they were all like, dude, can you write us a column do it, dude!

But then it came out, and it was all, well, I was all for releasing the scores because, like, not releasing them could make the union look, ya know, bad and stuff?  And like, I want to look good.  So then I was all, like, hey, let's release the grades, but let's let people know that there's other stuff we do in schools, like learning and stuff, which I, ya know, think is way cool.  And that, like, I don't just give tests in my class, but that we do all this other stuff that's mad cool.  And like, the other day, I was, like, absent, so I stayed home and the next day they were all, like, hey dude, where ya been?

So anyway, what I want to say is, like, I want to be one of those reformer guys?  Like, I could make up cool new stuff to do in schools and get paid for it and then I could tell everyone else to do all the cool awesome stuff that I do?   And we could, like, go out to lunch and stuff?  So, anyway, they released my grades and they weren't so good, but this makes me want to make my next grades totally AWESOME, dude.  And so they should do that for, like, everyone?
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest:
Recently published:

Labor Notes: ‘Superman’ Tugs Heartstrings by Thumping Teachers

Reformers Win Round One in D.C. Teachers Election

Bloody, Bloody Cheesecake

 It was night out again to a show - many start at 7pm on Thursdays - and for the second week in a row, the show has no intermission, a prime motivation to get out early. Of course my main motivation was checking out Juniors cheese cake after last week's great show (Brief Encounter) and lousy cheese cake experience at Lindy's (A Brief Encounter with Lindy's Cheese Cake).

So when we heard this discussion with Jackson bio Pultizer Prize winning author John Meacham last week we got tickets to "Bloody, Bloody Jackson." The evening started out well. High in the mezz where the seats are so tight you have to sit semi-sideways. But for the 6th time in a row my wife pulled lottery winners from TDF with an aisle seat for me (you don't get to choose your seats in TDF), no mean feat. Maybe she should try to get into Harlem Success Academy.

Well, that had to be the bloodiest awful show we have ever seen. Yes, worse than "Capeman." Less than sophomoric - freshmoric - or 8th grademoric - with historical inaccuracies - I started reading Meacham's book to get some background and also have read other stuff on Jackson recently in addition to watching a PBS documentary. So this mess tried to be both Saturday Night Live - also a dog of a show to me - and make serious political points - and it was boring too. If there were a second act, we wouldn't have been there.

But Juniors was just down the block.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Baltimore Redo is New York Contract circa 1995, Take Three

We know that the Baltimore teachers rejected the contract a few weeks ago. A contract in which Randi Weingarten played a major role as part of her national strategy of selling teachers onto elements of the ed deform movement.

Stephen Sawchuk at Ed Beat terms it Baltimore Tentative Contract, Take Two.
....teachers were to receive raises by collecting "achievement units" for getting good performance evaluations and participating in professional development. Hailed in some quarters as a landmark proposal, the contract also earned some snarky reaction—teachers could earn some achievement units for serving as a building rep [chapter leader in NYC]. 
But it didn't go over well with the teaching corps, who voted down the contract by a 3-to-2 margin. The vote sent the district and union scrambling back to the bargaining table and resulted in a bunch of news stories about a perceived lack of communication between senior union folks and the rank-and-file teachers.
Sawchuk could have very well titled his story New York Contract circa 1995, Take Three.

In 1995 Sandy Feldman still ran the union and Randi was the clear heir apparent. She was given the job of negotiating a contract. I won't go into the details, but they so miscalculated and the contract was rejected for the first time in history. They were so confident that people would accept a 5 year deal with double zero raises in the first 2 years, a penalty for new teachers, along with extending the time it took to reach top salary from 20 to 25 years (female teachers who gave up years for child care made pointed remarks about how Feldman and Weingarten had no children) that they neglected to send out the Unity hordes to sell it.

So they made a few modifications - 22 years for top salary instead of 25- and removed the new teacher penalty - and this time took no chances as they sent out the entire union Unity Caucus machinery to invade the schools. I was the chapter leader and wouldn't just let the District Rep filibuster the union line and forced him into debating me.

 Now Randi full well knows from here in NYC that the building reps have enormous power - which is the core of Unity strategy in controlling the union - all new reps are pulled away for weekend training sessions in which they are bound, gagged and locked into rooms and not allowed to communicate with outside forces. Actually, they are just plied with food and liquor and access to top union officials who then recruit them into Unity.

So in Baltimore they decided to encode perks for building reps right into the contract as way of selling it. Sawchuk continues:
Now, the word on the street from sources is that the district and union have essentially finalized a second (tentative) pact—and that the BTU was essentially shopping it to its unions' building representatives today during a four-hour meeting. "They had us all over, had us released from school, they fed us an entire meal, chicken, all this stuff, and gave us a gift at the end and sent us off with the 'newly revised' contract," a source told me this afternoon...... There appear not to be many substantial changes to the contract, merely the addition of some clarifying language, the source told me.
Randi's henchwoman Marietta English had all sorts of excuses for the defeat. What is Randi to do with her current and former loser allies? See Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC - where Nathan and Candi got the most votes and are now in a runoff with George Parker, one of the biggest jokes of a union leader.

Mike Antonucci at Intercepts asks Is the Baltimore Teachers Union Underestimating Its Own Members?
After having its much-lauded contract voted down by the rank-and-file, the Baltimore Teachers Union has responded by… presenting virtually the same contract again. This isn’t sitting too well with some of the people who opposed it the first time:
“The major reason we wanted a delay in the vote was for the democratic process and to have these details,” said Robin Bingham, a teacher who started an electronic petition against the contract until the evaluation system is complete. “I feel it’s really disrespectful to dress up the same contract and present it again.”
The BTU campaign to get the thing approved this time seems to consist of “regional information sessions for its members with the American Federation of Teachers” and schmoozing sessions with building reps (who already have a plum in the new contract).
 Even Mike throws up his hands at this one:
I’ve sworn off predicting the outcome of contract ratification votes, but I’ll be waiting to see if these tactics work.
Not me. I know for a fact those tactics do work. I'm betting they sell this baby- a short term victory for Randi and crew. Give the contract a year or two in operation and then watch what happens in Baltimore.

Can someone photoshop "Baltimore" and "2010 - and beyond" on the Randi sell-out photo?

Ed Notes recent articles on Baltimore contract:
Oct 16, 2010
It seems, in a modest way, that teachers in Baltimore have essentially just handed a defeat to the education direction of the national government, our national union leadership, our local union leadership, the public schools CEO here in ...
Oct 16, 2010
Chicago, Baltimore, perhaps detroit, LA, who knows maybe there can be some movment if AFT locals fire back. What happened in D.C. did the opposition to AFT win that local? The movement must come from the trenches up the leaders at UFT ...
Oct 07, 2010
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called me last week full of excitement over her Baltimore local's new teachers contract. Education leaders often exaggerate when talking to journalists, but Weingarten has taken ...
Oct 02, 2007
BALTIMORE -- Baltimore city school teachers concerned about their contracts are planning to set up what they call informational pickets. They said the goal of the picketing is to put pressure on the administration to sign on the dotted ...

Leo Casey to NYC Public School Teachers: My Word Is Not Worth Much Either

Not a day goes by that the actions of the UFT/AFT/Unity Caucus leadership doesn't remind me of the joke about the guy who murders his parents and pleads mercy on the grounds he was an orphan.

I rarely read Edwize, the UFT useless propaganda forum for Leo Casey, who almost never fails to reveal his intellectual dishonesty. I certainly don't read Casey with a full stomach. But I was tipped to this priceless piece titled "Joel Klein To NYC Public School Teachers: My Word Is Worthless"where Casey castigates Joel Klein for lying about the publication of teacher data scores. Casey opens with his first misdirection, taking out the crying towel.
 As part of an agreement between the NYC DoE and the UFT on the then new Teacher Data Initiative [TDI], a “Dear Colleague” letter was sent by Chancellor Klein to all New York City public school teachers in October 2008.
Who co-signed the letter with Klein? Someone named Randi Weingarten.

I'll let Casey go on so I can get this over with and eat. Try not to injure yourself as you roll on the floor with laughter.
 According to the letter, the TDI was to be:
…a new tool to help teachers learn about their own strengths and opportunities for development …The teacher Data Reports are not to be used for evaluation purposes. That is, they won’t be used in tenure determinations or the annual rating process.
Now we all knew that the TDI was a crock and that the assurances Casey and the gang gave the members meant nothing. And they knew it. Klein had so often lied and manipulated every agreement with the UFT people were left thinking: How stupid could people like Casey and Weingarten be? But you know I don't think they are stupid. I think they are Vichyite collaborators. Leo continues to whine:
Klein chose the venues of an letter and an op-ed [to defend his position on releasing the names] because it meant he would not have to answer reporters’ embarrassing questions about his broken promise to NYC public school teachers.
Oh, those broken promises. Is that why Casey is writing on Edwize - so he won't have to answer to his own broken promises? Now comes the best part:
It doesn’t matter that the NYC DoE Teacher Data Reports have been discredited as meaningful measures of student learning: based entirely on state exams found to be invalid by national testing expert and Harvard University Professor Dan Koretz, using an underdeveloped methodology that has as many as 1 in 4 teachers fluctuating from the highest to lowest percentiles year to year, and filled with dirty data that misidentifies the students a teacher has taught, the TDRs are just the latest example of deliberate misinformation from Tweed promulgated solely for political purposes.

OK. I just finished smacking my head against the wall. Leo - we always knew this stuff was invalid. BUT YOU SIGNED ON TO TDI ANYWAY. Watch Casey wiggle away by saying the studies came out after they gave the teachers away on a platter.

Try telling me the UFT leadership is not Vichy.

Read the Klein/Weingarten letter:

Run, don't walk, to reread my Aug. 24, 2010 post:
My favorite Vichy moment happened at last October's Delegates Assembly when Mulgrew opposed a resolution in favor of endorsing Bill Thompson for mayor. In a shocking surrender of conscience, he winked that the delegates could vote for ....

This just came in on the NYCED News Listserve

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rhee Legacy in DC: Nathan & Candi Got the most votes, now to a runoff

From Bill Turques blog

Breaking: Saunders forces Parker into WTU runoff

George Parker's five-year run as Washington Teachers' Union president is at risk, based on the preliminary count in a WTU presidential race with a stunningly low turnout. Nathan Saunders, the union's general vice president, edged Parker 334 to 313, forcing a runoff between the two former running mates turned bitter foes. Rules require that the winner get a 51 percent majority. Phelps High School teacher and veteran union activist Elizabeth Davis received 196 votes, and H.D. Cooke teacher Christopher Bergfalk got 38 votes.
All three challengers have been critical of Parker's leadership during the chancellorship of Michelle A. Rhee, and contend that he gave too much ground in negotiations for the contract that was signed and approved by teachers this past summer.
What will Randi Weingarten do? If Nathan and Candi win and she loses another city to her critics the next AFT convention in Detroit in 2012 will turn interesting, though with the NYC Unity machine, no worries. However, her prestige would take a major hit. So look for all stops to be pulled out supporting the hapless Parker. Randi might have to personally go to every DC teacher home to lobby. Follow the drama on Candi's and Bill Turque's blogs.

Gorbachev Says Weingarten Obstructs Democracy

MOSCOW — Mikhail S. Gorbachev is voicing growing frustration with AFT President Randi Weingarten’s leadership, saying that she has undermined democracy by crippling the opposition forces. He cited the buying off of New Action, the former opposition party, as a key sign of the deterioration of democracy and growth of authoritarianism in the AFT/UFT.

"Just watch what happens in the election in Washington DC where Weingarten favors the undemocratic current union leader over progressive forces led by Nathan Saunders, said Gorbachev.

“She thinks that democracy stands in her way,” Mr. Gorbachev said.

“I am afraid that they have been saddled with this idea that teacher union needs authoritarianism,” Mr. Gorbachev said, referring to Ms. Weingarten and her close ally and replacement, UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “They think they cannot do without it.”

In an interview, Mr. Gorbachev even described Ms. Weingarten’s governing party, Unity Caucus, as a “a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party.” Mr. Gorbachev said party officials were concerned entirely with clinging to power and did not want teachers to take part in the civic life of the union.

Mr. Gorbachev was especially disparaging of Ms. Weingarten’s decision in 2003 and again in 2007, when she was UFT president, to attempt to eliminate elections by offering New Action a deal for not running a candidate against her.  All positions are now filled by 52 Broadway appointees. The impact of this change was illustrated in Mr. Mulgrew’s dismissal in July NY Teacher longtime investigative reporter Jim Callaghan, who was replaced with a Weingarten loyalist.

“Democracy begins with elections,” Mr. Gorbachev said. “Elections, accountability and turnover.”

“For those who want to change the country in order to advance these processes faster, advance democratic processes, the participation of people is needed,” he said. “It is necessary to have opposition groups. But go and try to find a viable opposition group!”

“The AFT and UFT have a long way to go to usher in a new system of values, to create and provide for the proper functioning of the institutions and mechanisms of democracy — the institutions of civil society,” Mr. Gorbachev said. “All this is done through a major transformation in people’s brains. And this, clearly, is changing very slowly.”

Putin and Medvedev, Russia's equivalent of the Weingarten/Mulgrew tandem "only wish they had the power and control over the Russian people that the AFT/UFT leadership hold," said Gorbachev.

"The KGB has used their manuals for 40 years but to no avail. If we had followed the model set up by Al Shanker more carefully, the Soviet Union would still be alive and well and I would still be ruling the roost. Boy, that Weingarten and Mulgrew. Rulers for life. Every dictator in the world bows down to them. Saddam was a particular admirer but look how it ended for him. He never had the Unity Caucus manual into Iraqi. Bad error trying to interpret it on his non-native language. I blame that for his downfall."

Original NY Times article

Teacher Sex Data Reports to be Made Public

Banned from use by Tweed
Leibman to forge unique value-added data set.

Ed Notes Exclusive:
Gotham Schools had these bullets today -
  • Hundreds of teachers have reported errors on their data reports. (GothamSchoolsDaily News)
  • Researcher Eric Hanushek says teachers’ scores should be public even if they’re flawed. (Daily News)

These were just a few of the hundreds of recent headlines over one of the major controversies over the past few weeks - the release of teacher names and data reports. Education reform poster boy Hanushek doesn't really care if the reports are accurate - just find the nearest teacher and string him or her up.

It seems that Chancellor Joel Klein urged the press to do a Freedom of Information request and had the info in their hands before they hit the "send" button. Anyone else asking uncle Joel for info has found it was easier to get data from the Kremlin.

The scores are based on a value-added concept - measure teachers based on how their students do from one year to the next even though the value-added approach has been unproven with variations of up to 30-40%, meaning that the same students can take tests on different occasions and results will be skewed. The idea of judging a teacher's career based on a one test day snapshot strikes some people as more than a little witchcrafty. But with a witch with a shot at a Senate seat in Delaware, why not go in that direction?

More teacher data reports to come
But the story doesn't stop there. A crack investigation team at my Education Notes Online blog has discovered a new wrinkle on the story.

In the interests of the public right to know, Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg have ordered a new round of tests to judge teacher proficiency. Starting in the 2011 school year, every NYC teacher will be required to have sex on October 15 and again on April 15 at the same time of day, the exact hour to be determined. Strict time limits will be enforced.

Their partners must fill out an extensive rating sheet, which will be computed into a number. They will be rated from Levels One to Four. They must reach at Level 3 to be considered proficient. All teacher scores will be released to the press in June 2012.

"We decided to give teachers a year to get their skills up," said a DOE spokesperson. Former DOE testing czar Jim Leibman will head up the program and will design a value added component to assure fairness. "We are looking for some improvement in performance on the April 15th test from September 15th," said the spokesperson. "Untenured teachers will be fired if there is no improvement in 3 years. Tenured teachers are another issue. We've maintained that tenure is a huge issue. We will go to the state legislature to try to try to reduce the size of this problem."

"What about inflation," we asked, thinking of the recent scandals on test scores? The response was, "Absolutely no artificial devices will be allowed. None of those blue pill thingies, for instance."

"But how can you monitor all this activity?"

"Ah, we received 100 million dollars in stimulus money from President Obama and education secretary Arne Duncan to install cameras in teachers' bedrooms. The live feeds will also be made available to the public. After all, parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are proficient."
The UFT announced it would bring a legal challenge for all teachers who could prove the data reports were inaccurate. But if in the legitimate case of Level Ones or Twos the teachers sex life might face reconstitution or a complete shutdown. A UFT spokesperson said, "if the statistics are not good, we can't argue that improvements are needed."

D24 CEC Meeting Last Night - Depty Chan Shael Suransky

Seriously folks, below is an email from District 24 (west/central Queens) parent Marge Kolb on last night's (Oct. 26) meeting with Tweed's Shael Suransky, who some people say is a good guy. His personality seems to be able to deflect criticism from some quarters - you know, if they guy is likeable he gets some rope - look out for post-Klein likability ed deformer with ed credentials - they are the most dangerous. But you tell me after reading this - note how Marge is incredulous.
He stated that Chancellor Klein could have released the ratings at any time but is choosing to wait for the UFT legal case to be decided. I questioned him about Klein's editorial in The Post advocating for the release of the scores and he said that the editorial DIDN'T say that - it simply said the scores should be released because the law requires it [Marge comment: unbelieveable!]
Sure. Requires it. When Klein was the instigator in getting the FOIL going. The UFT actually seemed useful for a change, though the D. 24 mentioned might be Unity hack Rosemarie Parker.
Our D24 Chapter Leader then distributed copies of an October 1, 2008 letter from Chris Cerf to Randi Weingarten which stated "In the event of a FOIL request for (Teacher Data reports), we (the DOE) will work with the UFT to craft the best legal arguments available to the effect that such documents fall within an exemption from disclosure."
Wonder what Shael had to say about that. Suransky's Clintonesque parsing of words does not make him a good guy. I say qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.

I'm glad I was there to witness Leonie kick his ass at NY Law School back in September. (See links below the fold.)

Click below for Marge's complete report:

Monday, October 25, 2010

UFT Unity Caucus Flack Attack and Diversion at Jane Addams HS

A smoking gun - or derringer - pointing to the UFT as ed deformers in drag.

Before you even start reading this, note that over 100 schools have been or are about to be closed by the DOE over the last 5 years while the UFT played twiddle and dee. It took the in your face outrage of closing 19 schools at one shot to get them to take any action at all and even that has not reversed any closings except for one component of AE Smith HS (the chapter leader will be speaking at the GEM meeting on Tuesday). And they are trying to come up with a plan for Columbus which will be tricky indeed.

I was sent this email that Unity Caucus' Anne Millman sent out to Jane Addams HS for Academics and Careers staff members in response to a call for people to attend the GEM meeting on closing schools. Aside from the personal attack on me, comparing me to Sarah Palin - they always resort to the personal when they don't have much else to stand on - there is inherent in the email a blame the people in the school for not getting parents involved. This quote from Millman in which she uses the ed deformer "status quo" expression is indicative as to where the UFT really stands -
if the statistics are not good, we can't argue that improvements are needed. Certainly one area that stands out is the lack of parental involvement, which is a key component that helps some schools improve. The UFT recognizes how important it is for teachers to work with the parents and community in any effort to save a school. For the teachers to protest school change -- even a school closing -- without that parental and community support can look like a self-serving demand for the status quo and that's not good for teachers or for students.
Millman and the UFT know full well that gathering parent support it difficult if not impossible for a school like Jane Addams but in essence dooms the school - the UFT will not fight for teachers because it looks bad - looks bad to the ed deformers who will attack the UFT for supporting the teachers. Note how she even defends the DOE:
I looked at the document the DOE put out and it follows the process the UFT helped negotiate. It doesn't really bash teachers...
Gag, gag, gag. Like the UFT doesn't know the major reason for closing schools is to dump out the teachers and often the students. Well, maybe the leadership never told Anne what is really going on.

It has been pointed out by Glenn Tepper, a teacher at Addams that they were handed a poison pill. I  printed Glenn's email which included information passed on by a teacher there who was outraged at the actions of the DOE. Glenn said
Chancellor Klein and the rubber-stamping DoE deliberately force-fed Jane Addams a series of poison pills, over a period of several years, all with the intended outcome of causing the school to implode over time. And now all the band-aids in the world can't stop the hemorrhaging. All along, the plan was to destroy the school.
The other teacher at the school had written:
They are coming after us... The superintendent came to school on Thursday and Friday. The report below is what they plan for us. They are blaming the teachers. . . it is crazy. This week we are having both the quality review and people from the state to look at our school and decide what to do. But, they pretty much have their minds made up. They know that the parents won't speak up. We only had 3 parents at the meeting. It was supposed to be at 3pm and we had 6 parents. But, the superintendent said she was told it was 5pm. So the 3 of the parents left. We are an easy school to close because parents aren't going to fight. Anyway, please forward this information on to people who care because we need to speak out. We need to be heard.
If you look at the numbers - that despite the fact that we have 500 fewer students in the last 5 years. . . we have more special ed students. We also now have more ELL learners with IEPs and about the same number of overage students. In 2006 we had 19 kids in temporary housing, last year we had 105.
None of these facts count to the DOE/ed deformers not it seems to the UFT flacks like Anne Millman. Here is her email:
Norman Scott of Greenroots [sic] Education Movement has been a fixture for decades among anti-UFT factions on one issue after another. He used to belong to various anti-Unity caucuses in the union but he's such a maverick -- a la Sara Palin -- that even those anti-establishment groups have distanced themselves from him. He's a publicity seeker and tends to attract people who want to make noise, not get results.

The fact is that the UFT has taken the school closings very seriously, went to court in some instances and waged a publicity campaign that together prevented the DOE from closing schools unilaterally. The prime example was Christopher Columbus. [Ed Note: Hmmm Anne, that only leaves 18 schools from last year alone that didn't make your prime example cut.]
I looked at the document the DOE put out and it follows the process the UFT helped negotiate. It doesn't really bash teachers, even says that they have worked hard to make improvements. It provides for a comment period to respond to the DOE's plans, which are not yet set. As I read it, they could either leave the school open and try to help it improve OR close and restructure it. Maybe that's not a sincere alternative but you can't ignore it either. [Ed Note: I may vote for this as the funniest line- but oh so many choices, though the next two are in the running also.] If you and others who care about the school prefer one to the other, send in your comments to that effect. Even better, get parents and people in the community to send in comments of support.

There's no doubt that the DOE targets some schools as dumping grounds and JA may well have been one of them. Still, if the statistics are not good, we can't argue that improvements are needed. Certainly one area that stands out is the lack of parental involvement, which is a key component that helps some schools improve. The UFT recognizes how important it is for teachers to work with the parents and community in any effort to save a school. For the teachers to protest school change -- even a school closing -- without that parental and community support can look like a self-serving demand for the status quo and that's not good for teachers or for students.

-Anne Millman
 Note Millman's solution: If you and others who care about the school prefer one to the other, send in your comments to that effect. Even better, get parents and people in the community to send in comments of support.

She is trying to sell them on the idea that Joel Klein actually will hear the comments and they will make a difference, offering the hope that they can reverse things through the DOE's own fake process. More UFT ice water in the winter. 

What will it take? Only by organizing ALL the schools into a collective body instead of following the UFT policy as evidenced by Millman's comments of isolating each school can a movement be started to point out that closing or reorganizing schools is a political and not an educational move, can we begin to see reversals. It hasn't worked in Chicago or other urban centers and it is not working here in NYC. The GEM closing schools meeting on Tuesday Oct. 26 is designed to begin to forge such alliances, something the UFT and the DOE are desperate to stop, as evidenced by Millman's missive.

And oh yes, Anne, I am a noise maker and proud of it. I just love all those "solutions" you guys have come up with over the last 8 years. How's that teacher data report "solution" working out?
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest:

Antonucci Issues a Bogus Challenge to "The real effect of teachers union contracts"

In today's Answer Sheet:

The real effect of teachers union contracts

Teachers unions are a big target today of some school reformers who view these organizations as the biggest obstacle to improving student achievement. The film "Waiting for Superman" certainly did. So why are states without binding teacher contracts among the lowest-performing in the nation? Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, located in Washington, D.C., looks at this issue. A version of this post originally appeared on the institute’s blog. A follow-up to this post presented a supplemental analysis of the data. MORE
 Then we get this ed deform response:

"Stating there is no significant difference between bargaining and non-bargaining states when it comes to student achievement is not a winning argument for unions. We pay a 20.7% premium to have unions. Isn’t the onus on them to demonstrate their worth to students, parents and taxpayers?"
---Mike Antouncci - right wing/libertarian critic of teacher unions at EIA- Intecepts

No Mike. The onus is on the ed deformers, who have blamed low achievement on teacher unions to come up with a response to why union states have higher NAEP test scores.

He is dealing from both sides of the deck. When we talk about other factors for low scores we are attacked as "excuse makers" but Antonucci jumps right in here and says agrees that there are "other factors" when it looks like a snapshot of a test makes unions look good.

Many of us are not happy using narrow test scores to make judgements even when these are in our favor. So we hesitate to go there.

Pretty sad that he has nothing more of a response than to dare unions to prove they are worth the 20%. But look for the ed deformers to come up with some convoluted reason.

It unions are going to come under attack as being the cause of low achievement, isn't the onus on the attackers to prove that there are factors other than the union that cause states with non-binding contracts to have poorer results?

And if he is talking about the 20% premium for binding contract states, what about the higher salary levels attracting a wider recruiting pool - and is that a factor?

I'm sure there is a lot more to say on this issue as a jumping off point for this response to WfS propaganda. Here is Antonucci's complete post:
Posted: 25 Oct 2010 09:50 AM PDT
Today’s The Answer Sheet features a column by Matthew Di Carlo of the Shanker Institute wherein he compares the NAEP math and reading scores of states “with binding teacher contracts” to states without. He finds the contract states to have scores an average of 2.65 points higher.
He concludes this way:
If anything, it seems that the presence of teacher contracts in a state has a positive effect on achievement.
Now, some may object to this conclusion. They might argue that I can’t possibly say that teacher contracts alone caused the higher scores in these states. They might say that there are dozens of other observed and unobserved factors that influence achievement, such as state laws, lack of resources, income, parents’ education, and curriculum, and that these factors are responsible for the lower scores in the 10 non-contract states.
My response: Exactly.
Di Carlo isn’t comfortable claiming flat out that collective bargaining increases student test scores, but emphasizes that the opposite argument – the absence of teacher contracts would benefit test scores – lacks evidence. In his follow-up blog post, Di Carlo delves deeper into the numbers, and finds:
Finally, in all four models, the association between scores and whether or not states have binding contracts is not statistically significant at any conventional level (even at the 90% confidence level).  So, while this analysis is far from conclusive, I certainly find no evidence that teacher union contracts are the among the biggest reasons why achievement is low, as Davis Guggenheim and countless others imply (see here and here for more thorough analyses, which actually show small positive benefits of unions).
It’s going to be difficult for some to resist the temptation to argue about what effect, if any, teacher contracts have on student test scores from state to state, but it entirely misses the salient point that the purpose of teacher contracts is not, and never has been, to increase student test scores. In states with collective bargaining, contracts define the salaries, benefits and working conditions of public education employees. Since compensation accounts for upwards of 80% of all public school expenditures, we might learn something about the “real effect of teachers’ union contracts” if we compare per-pupil spending in states with binding teacher contracts to states without. Here, I use U.S. Census Bureau figures for 2007-08:
Average per-pupil spending in AL, AR, AZ, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX, and VA – $8,904
Average per-pupil spending in the other 40 states and DC – $10,745
Stating there is no significant difference between bargaining and non-bargaining states when it comes to student achievement is not a winning argument for unions. We pay a 20.7% premium to have unions. Isn’t the onus on them to demonstrate their worth to students, parents and taxpayers?
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The UFT and Class Size: Thumbs Down

Once a union agrees that teacher quality is the  most important factor, class size gets moved so far down the line as a factor it become irrelevant.

No matter what the UFT says about class size, the reality is they gave up the ghost on this issue - like around 1971. Once the teacher unions began to buy into the idea that teacher quality is the key issue or that some schools can be way more "successful" than others with the same funding or demographics - all that has to be done is replicate, replicate, replicate - and do lots of professional development, class size faded. It has taken Class Size Matters' Leonie Haimson to keep the class size issue glimmer of a flame burning.

Defiling class size as a factor is a major attack by the ed deformers - thus they push teacher quality. We all know that at almost every level of judging teacher quality you want to use - there is a direct relationship between the number of kids in a class and the ability to be more effective as a teacher (and I'm not using the narrow test score but real effectiveness that works for kids). I know plenty of great teachers at elite private schools who taught in public schools and left over the class size issue. One friend told me he couldn't survive and ended up teaching for decades at a top private school.

Ed Notes and class size
I will take a bow for Ed Notes which consistently has raised that issue over the 15 years of existence (in my rush to do the Ed Notes history on Weds for the DA, I actually left it off my list which I updated  (I added some new material about the founding of ICE and GEM, so take another look.)

I printed a picture of a button in every issue that said "Class Size Matters". It certainly attracted attention. At one DA a delegate came over and said, "Is that connected to Leonie Haimson's 'Class Size Matters""? "Who," I asked? Thus I first heard about Leonie, contacted her and began to promote her work in Ed Notes.

Class size vs. toilet paper
Ed Notes brought the issue to the DA numerous times, calling on the UFT to make class size reduction a key contract demand. Those of us calling for this were called "stupid" by Unity. Why take money out of our salary pile? We argued that parents and other forces weren't going to fight for our salary but would fight for class size and the pile of money could be expanded. I used to tell them "I don't see you counter posing that money for toilet paper comes out of our salary." After all, if teachers volunteer to bring their own Charmin (which many do anyway), we could get another 50 cents raise.

In the fall of 2000 I brought a reso to the DA calling on the NY Teacher to print every year a list of every over class size so we could track them. At that point Randi and I were at the height of a friendly relationship. "Come on up here and make your resolution," she said, offering me the podium, something unheard of at the time. I used her mic - and caught her cold. After that it was all downhill between us. (The NY Teacher did follow the reso and print the lists - in 2001 and in 2002 after I raised a point of order - by that time Randi and I were no longer on good term.)

Remember those UFT class size petition campaigns which chapter leaders were asked to get loads of names on - twice. I heard that a million bucks of our dues were thrown into this ditch. Naturally, Ed Notes attacked. "You are always so negative," I was told. Sure I'm negative when I see another obvious scam. "MAKE CLASS SIZE A PRIORITY CONTRACT DEMAND and show us one positive result and I will be leaping for joy." Outcomes, baby, outcomes. Not PR.

How about those class size grievances?
I'm not even going there at this time but will leave it for ICE's James Eterno, chapter leader of the apparently doomed Jamaica High School, one of the 19 target schools from last year that Klein made sure would have as little incoming freshmen while the UFT sold them out with a deal allowing Klein to put a competing school inside the building - which has some lovely real estate for future charter, by the way.

Cross post from James Eterno at the ICE blog


The UFT contract gives principals the first ten school days of a semester to lower oversize classes. After that, the chapter leader grieves (I filed for 83 oversize classes for Jamaica High School) and a month later there is a hearing at the American Arbitration Association in Manhattan. It would be easy to assume that a month and a half is sufficient time to reduce all classes in a high school to the contractual limit of 34 pupils in a class. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen at Jamaica or many other schools that were also grieving oversize classes.

At the hearing this morning, the principal, who is represented by a DOE lawyer, said he can't fix many of the oversize classes. I don't think there is enough space to start new classes in part because two new schools opened inside our building that now occupy many rooms. But that is not the argument administration made. The DOE lawyer asserted over and over the half class size loophole in the contract as justification for oversize classes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ed Notes Report to the October UFT Delegate Assembly


When I woke up Wednesday morning I had no intention of handing out Ed Notes that day. But realizing not doing so would make me miss my 15th anniversary and also that there might be a whole new batch of delegates and chapter leaders (there really wasn't) I decided to put together a document chronicling the history of Ed Notes. It kept growing from one page into a second before I had to stop or go to 9 point type to get it all in.

I had been intending to write something like this since the summer when Ed Notes online completed its 4th year as a blog but never seemed to have the time. The time pressure of writing and getting it printed on the morning of the DA forced me to focus for a change and it was done in about 2 hours. There is a lot more to say but I need a deadline of sorts to actually get it done.
I remembered the push-button issues for me that got me re-started as a union activist (I had been active in the 70's): lower class size, high stakes testing which drove me out of the self-contained classroom, being under attack by my principal for being chapter leader, and union complicity or being oblivious to all of it.

Education Notes at the Delegate Assembly: October, 2010

As we begin the 15th year of Education Notes at the UFT Delegate Assembly and the 5th year of Ed Notes as a blog, there is much to reflect back on. When I began publishing in 1996 I was in my third year as a chapter leader at an elementary school in District 14 in Williamsburg. Facing a hostile principal who threw a hissy fit and punished the entire staff for “allowing” me into office, I threw myself into trying to organize the chapter into an effective force (with clearly mixed results). I made great use of the power of the press, putting out an enormous amount of material, aided by my little laptop that I took to all meetings to take notes. The output was enormous and my chapter was probably as well informed as any in the city as during the 1996 school year I put out over 45 newsletters, all of them with a few jokes (remember in the early days of email jokes flew around the internet) but none sent to me by Carl Paladino.

A brief history
The principal took over in 1978 and instituted one of the first high stakes testing/test prep-all-the-time regimes. As a progressive educator I fought her all the way through the early to mid 80’s, fighting to teach my way to my self-contained classes (4th, 5th or 6th grade) over the years. Eventually she wore me down and from 1985-87 I took time off to pursue an MA in computer science. Yes, I was thinking of leaving teaching after 19 years. Of course, needing one more at least to make a pension magic number of 20, I went back in ‘87 and remained in the school for another decade (I turned out to be a lousy computer programmer). But my years as a self-contained classroom teacher, which I loved, were over. You see, she didn’t want teachers who would not go along with the test prep regime to endanger her scores. So I became a computer cluster, which I also loved doing, but those intense relationships I had developed with children and their families in my 17 years as a self-contained teacher were over.

Over the next 8 years or so my relationship with the administration had ebbs and flows. I was openly critical of the school policies but not being directly involved in the testing program, I was able to stand aside. I guess things heated up when it was time to appoint an AP and her pal who was acting was clearly going to get the position. I ran for the committee and the principal spent 2 days going around the school lobbying (and threatening) people to vote against me. I got the highest vote total by far. That got me to thinking about running for chapter leader. When the principal crossed the old chapter leader he threatened her. He would stand aside and let me take over to make her life miserable. And so he did. And so I did (make her life miserable - my principal friends told me she would get up at meetings and say she had the chapter leader from hell).

Over the next 3 years I faced threats of retaliation - not in terms of my job - one thing about my principal – she didn’t go after people and in today’s world I would run over and hug her - but against my ability to build a computer program. When I appealed to the District 14 union leadership, I found they were tied in with the district admin, in essence, an alliance between the UFT and the people running my district. When I finally left the school in 1997 after 27 years for a district computer job (I always felt the only reason I was offered the job was to get me out of her hair) she told my new boss, “My car was stolen today but this makes up for it.” That she was thrilled to lose a teacher who put a lot of time and effort into the school in favor of a lackey who knew little made it clear that loyalty was valued over education. I saw that unfettered power in the hands of a principal was dangerous for teachers, children and parents (she constantly manipulated the PTA elections).

As chapter leader in those 3 years, I learned that you couldn’t get people organized unless you first give them the information they need to make a balanced decision. On school issues and beyond. They were getting one side from my school administration and on bigger issues from the UFT.

I had been an activist delegate throughout the 1970’s as a member of the opposition to Unity Caucus, the ruling party in the UFT since its inception in the early 1960’s, but had lost interest through most of the 80’s. I had also been part of an activist group of teachers in District 14 through those years, attending school board meetings to challenge the ruling powers, an alliance between local politicians and the UFT (the UFT District Rep eventually became the Superintendent as he built an unassailable machine. My principal came out of that machine, so our relationship was strained from the day she came to our school.)We put out a newsletter called "Another View in District 14" and were viewed as Public Enemy #1 throughout the 70's as we raised issues over the use of funds for political favors instead of going towards reducing class size. Sort of just like the BloomKlein regime.

Becoming chapter leader in 1994 brought me back into the fray both at the district and citywide level. I started attending school board meetings and Delegate Assemblies after over a decade of absence.

In terms of the opposition in the mid-90’s I wasn’t happy with what I saw (I won’t go into details.) So I began to function at DA’s as an independent voice, especially focusing on teacher rights, protection of chapter leaders, limiting the power of principals and high stakes testing. Mostly I was interested in getting the classroom teacher more influence over educational policy. Frustrated at not being able to get called on at the DA, I converted my chapter newsletter into DA Notes, later changed to Education Notes. By getting my positions out to the delegates before the meeting it wasn’t all that important to get called on. But because everyone seemed to be reading Ed Notes during the meeting, my position was significantly strengthened and I got called on fairly often. And I had a hell of a lot to say. Ed Notes grew over time from 1 page to a full-sized 16-page tabloid during the 2002-4 years. I was able to do that kind of work because I retired in July 2002.

Relationship to Unity caucus and the leadership
Having grown up under the Shanker/Feldman regime, I initially found Randi Weingarten a breath of fresh air. And she reached out to me with late night emails and friendly overtures (even an offer from an emissary to join Unity Caucus), at one point holding up Ed Notes at the beginning of a meeting and declaring, “I love to read Ed Notes.” Thus, from the late 90’s through 2001 I was a friendly critic of union policy but didn’t attack the leadership as my goal was to convince Unity to move the union in another direction, which Randi and her pals were giving me the impression they intended to do.

The education deform movement takes hold

Video of District 3 Press Conference Over HSA Invasion at PS 145

On 10/19/10 the District 3 Community Education Council (CEC3) held a press conference at PS 145 that included members of CEC 3, parents, teachers and students from PS 145 and elected officials who stood unanimously against the DoE's plan to give space at PS 145 to Eva Moskowitz's and Harlem Success Academy Charter School (HSA).
The DoE's planned co-location, according to Noah Gotbaum, who is the President of CEC 3, is taking place without any public comment, without any discussion with the schools or district and without a vote. This planned collocation by Joel Klein and the DoE puts an $11 million dollar grant for 8 Harlem public schools in serious jeopardy. The DoE is willing to sacrifice both PS 145's and the 7 other District 3 public school's share of the of the $11 million dollar grant. Watch the videos to learn all about it. They may be long, but the speakers speak powerfully about the hostile takeover and destruction of public education in the Harlem Community.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

MORE INFO ON DIST 3/HSA BATTLE - check my posts over the past 5 days and

Community District Education Council 3 on the potential co-location of a new Success Charter Network School

See also Class Size Matters' Comments to SUNY board on the application of Success Academy charter in District 3 (pdf) and Comments to SUNY board on the application of the Bronx Success Academy charter in District 7 (pdf)
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest:

A Brief Encounter with Lindy's Cheese Cake

It was Thursday night out with TDF tickets to "Brief Encounter", one of the most creative plays you can see, especially delightful if you are familiar with the 1945 movie. There are so many fun surprises (the children played by puppets, for instance and the amazing use of multi-media - but I won't give anything more away). It is short play - starting at 7 last night and we were out of there by 8:45 - luckily since we were in nosebleed territory where the seats are too close together for most men to be able to sit without having legs up to your chin - but again luckily my wife came through for the umpteenth time by drawing seats that put me on the aisle. We hit the bathrooms before leaving and on the way down the stairs heard music and singing and were delighted to find the entire cast sitting and standing on the ledge at the back of the orchestra putting on a post-show little review, with audience members who were about to leave joining in. The spirit of the cast that had just put on a performance was wonderful and everyone left with a smile on their faces.

As we headed for the subway, we decided to try a slice of Lindy's "famous cheese cake". The place certainly looked shabby but in the interests of research we needed to do a comparison with Junior's cheese cake. So, almost $30 later - cappucino, milk shake and cheese cake, we discovered this: cheese cake delicious but no better than Junior's, while the size of the slice was almost half as large as Junior's. I was ready to walk on down to Junior's to take another sample and finalize the research but my wife had enough.

"Next time we go to Juniors," my wife said. "Size does matter."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More District 3 Parents vs Harlem Success at CEC Meeting Over Videotaping

This follow-up to our stories this week concerning this epic battle over HSA co-locations is just one more example of the current school wars, with Tweed always lining up on the side of the Charters. The UFT, which could be an organizing force is toothless due to its own charter co-locations and teachers and public school parents are getting more and more restless. Are there any more despicable people than the HSA crew? Even other charter schools despise them. As they continue to overreach, one day it will all come crashing down. Just imagine, HSA takes our public money but has enough money to pay videographers to tape all their meetings. And how much does their PR person Jenny Sedlis make? How much does the PR person in your public school make?

Make sure to see the video I posted of a parent with a special ed child rejected by HSA.

I'm trying to sort out what happened last night at the District 3 (Upper West Side and parts of Harlem) CEC (Community Education Council) meeting. The report in the Daily News that Harlem Success Academy was stopped from taping the meeting by CEC chair Noah Gotbaum. I found it hard to believe this was simple story of cencorship even though it sent a chill down my spine for the rights of free speech, no matter how obnoxious HSA people can be. Knowing Noah I knew there had to be some back story. I left this comment on the NYCEd listserve:

Is this [Daily News] report a distortion of what really happened? Does this mean we can be barred from taping public meetings without permits? Why would they ever give a permit? When I went to tape the CEC 15 PS 15/PAVE hearing I was told by a charter school advocate that I couldn't tape. I stood my ground and Jim Devor backed me up.

Frightening to free speech and open access.

It turns out that someone from GEM filmed the CEC 3 event the other day with a pen camera and it will be going up on the net soon. Can people be forced not to use cell phones from taping? Reminds me of the hysteria in the UFT when I taped Randi's wine and cheese party that led to a ban on taping at UFT delegate Assemblies.

I saw video of another group that barred HSA videographers from filming during the summer by blocking the camera (an alternative tactic that I also don't agree with) and though outraged that Moskowitz takes public money while using other funding (supposedly) to hire videographers the idea that we are handing the DOE a weapon to stop filming is chilling. I think we ought to film them filming and show how they take our money and waste resources on political action.

We'll have to go out and buy those small cameras that attach to your glasses. But unless there is other info I'm missing I support the right of HSA and GEM to film these events. Do TV networks have to get individual permits to tape public meetings? I bet not.
This email came in from a parent activist:

ALL Public Meetings can be videotaped and are subject to the Open Meetings Law. This includes CEC meetings, PA/PTA meetings, SLT meetings, Charter Board meetings, Charter Committee meetings and Charter Sub-Committee meetings.
HSA has every right to videotape AND the public has every right to go to HSA board/committee/sub-committee meetings and videotape too.

Some more context from a D3 parent who prefers to remain anonymous:
At last night's CEC3 meeting at PS145, Elizabeth Rose presented on space planning in District 3. Harlem Success brought a crew of people in orange shirts who were aggressive and loud, for instance clapping and hooting when Elizabeth Rose said that parents want choice. Harlem Success also brought a photographer and camera man to record the meeting.

CEC3 President Noah Gotbaum asked them to put away their equipment, saying that the CEC itself had been forbidden from filming in meetings without a permit in the past, and the same rules should apply to everyone, not everyone except Eva Moscowitz. The photographer and camera man at first refused to stop, then put away their equipment until the meeting restarted but quickly took it out again. CEC3 members objected and stood in front of the camera to block it. The camera person held the lens high to keep taking pictures over their shoulders.

A woman in an orange HSA shirt came out and walked around the room with an iPhone, taking movies with a big "dare me" smile on her face, and even blew a kiss at the PS145 parents. Security was called. Soon there was a message delivered via a DOE rep to Noah Gotbaum. The message was, the Chancellor was speaking to Eva.

Later in the evening a tiny woman came up to speak, surrounded by her three small children. "I'm going to tell you something very personal," she said to Elizabeth Rose in a shaky voice. "I just escaped from 26 years of abuse. At PS145 I found a safe place where I feel welcome. I want to tell you, you remind me of my ex-husband."
Now it's beginning to make sense. One day there will be a massive confrontation at one of these meetings that will turn real ugly indeed.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: