Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is John Owens Really a Bad Teacher?

This must read account of a career-changer who had a highly successful career but found that teaching in a dysfunctional school with an all too typical principal turned him into a failure - by the measure of the  system. He lasted through February. Owens was no different than I and so many other first year teachers were. But we were given time and more support than he received. Just his bad luck to get this school and not one with a reasonably sane leader. He would still be teaching.

In fact, Owens was reaching the kids in his own way and would have found his style - like I and others did in days of yore - but...
John Owens is an editor and writer who survived his detour/U-turn into teaching, though he misses the kids.

John Owens's Salon stories

Monday, Aug 29, 2011 19:01 ET

Confessions of a bad teacher

I took a job in the NYC public school system because I wanted to make a difference. I ended up living a nightmare

Commentary by Arjun Janah

This initially enthusiastic teacher, John Owens, a corporate veteran who ventured into teaching, lasted a year in the New York City classrooms. He taught in one of the small public schools launched by the Bloomberg administration under his Chancellor, Joel Klein.  As has been the practice, this school was created after closing down the large school that used to occupy the building in which it, along with other such small schools, are currently housed.

Mr. Owens' sincerity was an insurmountable obstacle. He remembered what schools were (and still are, to a large extent, where the problems are fewer).

He accurately (and engagingly) depicts a few of of the problems faced by teachers in our schools. Some of us have lasted in these for a quarter-century or longer, and have, in our time, met and had to deal  with some of the things described here by him -- and many other things, besides, that Mr. Owens would have gone on to discover if he had stayed for a while longer.  But many, who have not taught in a typical urban classroom such as described here (or forgotten how it was or do not know how it is now), should read on.

As with the Iraq war and others like it,  a bit of background knowledge on the part of the general public could have avoided-- and could still limit -- a senseless waste of human lives.

A problem has to be acknowledged before it can be solved. And the causes of the problem need to be understood. Treating a cancer patient with antibiotics may not be the best way to go in most cases. As with cancer, the symptoms described here, as well as the underlying ailment, require sober attention. And there is no fast and easy cure.

Having spent many years breaking up larger schools, dismissing most of their teachers and creating smaller schools in their buildings, and with little to show in the way of success, the Bloomberg administration is now turning more and more to charter schools -- initially a concept pushed by teachers, but now part of a push, backed by big business and Wall Street hedge funds, to privatize the management of the schools while maintaining their public financing. Typically, teachers in such schools have even less rights and more pressures than Mr. Owens did in the school that he (unfortunately) taught in.

The idea that the unions are active in supporting teachers in the schools should also be put to rest. While there are exceptions, this is generally (in my experience) far from the case. And this is even more so currently.

-- Arjun

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Listen to me, Arne Duncan: It’s poverty, stupid. And that’s not an excuse, that’s not an excuse, it’s a diagnosis.

Speech by John Kuhn, superintendent of Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District in Texas at the SOS Rally

SOS Rally 2011

Share it widely.

Here's an abridged text:

Let me speak for all public school educators when I say unequivocally: We will. We say send us your poor, send us your homeless, the children of your afflicted and addicted. Send us your kids who don’t speak English. Send us you special-needs children, we will not turn them away.

But I tell you today, public school teacher, you will fail to take the shattered children of poverty and turn them into the polished products of the private schools. You will be unacceptable, public school teacher. And I say that is your badge of honor. I stand before you today bearing proudly the label of unacceptable because I educate the children they will not educate.

Day after day I take children broken by the poverty our leaders are afraid to confront and I glue their pieces back together. And at the end of my life you can say those children were better for passing through my sphere of influence. I am unacceptable and proud of it.

The poorest Americans need equity, but our nation offers them accountability instead. They need bread, but we give them a stone. We address the soft bigotry of low expectations so that we may ignore the hard racism of inequity. Standardized tests are a poor substitute for justice.

So I say to Arne Duncan and President Obama, go ahead and label me. I will march headlong into the teeth of your horrific blame machine and I will teach these kids. You give me my scarlet letter and I will wear it proudly, because I will never cull the children who need education the most so that my precious scores will rise.

I will not race to the top. I will stop like the Good Samaritan and lift hurting children out of the dirt. Let me lose your race, because I’m not in this for the accolades. I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it because it’s right. I am in it because the children of Perrin, Texas need somebody like me in their lives.

Our achievement gap is an opportunity gap. Our education problem is a poverty problem. Test scores don’t scream bad teaching. They scream about our nation’s systematic neglect of children who live in the wrong zip codes.

Listen to me, Arne Duncan: It’s poverty, stupid. And that’s not an excuse, that’s not an excuse, it’s a diagnosis. We must as a nation stop assuaging the symptoms and start treating the disease.

Let me ask you a simple question: Where is adequate yearly progress for the politician? Will we have 100 percent employment by 2014? Will all the children have decent health care and roofs over their heads by their deadline? But wait. They don’t have a deadline. They aren’t racing anywhere, are they?

When will our leaders ensure that every American community offers children libraries and little leagues instead of drugs and delinquency? Lawmakers sent you into congressional districts that are rife with poverty, rife with crime, drug abuse and poor health care, but lawmakers will never take on the label of legislatively unacceptable because they do not share the courage of a common school teacher. I say let us label our lawmakers like they label teachers. Let us have a hard look at their data. Let us have merit pay in Congress.

Congressmen, politicians, if you want children that are lush, stop firing the gardeners and start paying the water bill. Politicians, your fingerprints are on these children. What have you done to help them pass their tests?

President Obama, why don’t you come and join me in a crucible of accountability. We have talked enough about the speck in our teachers’ eyes, let’s talk about the plank in yours.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

Follow what is happening in Chile, where the Ed Deform Model Was First Tried

Why Chile? Well, if you know of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, Chile was the laboratory in the 70's for neo-liberalism and the privitization of everything they could get their hands on. I won't go into the details of the role our union played in aiding and abetting the process of repression by using front group teacher unions to undermine left unions - you know the drill - kill off militancy and Allende while you're at it. George Schmidt wrote a document in the late 70s documenting all of that stuff.

Here are some reports of the latest uprisings in Chile.

The students are being joined by many others/unions.  The student leader, Camila Vallejo is amazing.
Perhaps we can follow Camila Vallejo's lead.  Her words are direct and clear.  For example....

"We do not want to improve the actual system; we want a profound change – to stop seeing education as a consumer good, to see education as a right where the state provides a guarantee.
"Why do we need education? To make profits. To make a business? Or to develop the country and have social integration and development? Those are the issues in dispute.

Angel Gonzalez writes:

Please watch links below see to articles, powerful pictures; videos of street protests in Chile this week and this past month. Inspiring to hear song (the people united will never be defeated)of the MIR and Allende 1970's era being song by huge throng of thousands. 

Two days of a general strike (students and labor united) this week included the demand of free quality public education.

Chile since the 1970's has been suffering from neoliberal reductions in the standard of working class living conditions, diminished labor rights,services and in particular devastated school system plagued by a private profiteering & voucher systems.

Conditions have reached intolerable levels and are at a boiling point, as evidenced by these recent series of massive protests.

We here with the Obama-Bush privatized education agenda (NCLB), using a massive and expensive media hype deceptive campaign, are being driven down that same road -  the failed Chilean model.

The privatized education model imposed in the 1970's in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship was facilitated with the backing of the good-ol'  USA - CIA - AFT - AFL alliance
and under the tutelage of economist Milton Friedman's & his Chicago Boys (see Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein).

El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido.

Angel FG

  Go to this link to see series of photos:

Thousands in Chile take to streets, demand change

Federico Quilodran, Associated Press
Friday, August 26, 2011


Press conference Tuesday to demand Verizon pay back the money it owes our schools

Verizon/DOE 20110829223556] (Patrick Sullivan, Manhattan BP appointee to the PEP)
11am, Tuesday, August 30th

Make Verizon Pay Back the Money it Made from a Fraud on our Schools and Settle a Fair Contract with its Workers

What:   Education advocates, labor unions, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and other elected officials will join together to demand Verizon pay back its ill-gotten gains from our schools and settle a fair contract with its workers.

When/Where: 11am, Tuesday, August 30th in front of the Municipal Building.


            On August 17th, the Mayor’s PEP approved a $120 million contract with Verizon.  According to the Special Investigator for the Schools, Richard Condon, Verizon knew about and profited from an overbilling fraud scheme[1].  Verizon’s direct profits in the scheme were at least $800,000, according to the investigator, but the PEP approved the contract anyway.

            The fight is not over: Verizon should pay back the money it made off of the scheme and make the schools whole through a restitution – and settle a fair contract with its workers.   This issue also deserves more scrutiny from the NYC Council, which Councilman Cabrera has promised.

            Verizon has contradicted itself on the schools contract, allegedly telling some members of the PEP and the media that it may pay back its proceeds from the scheme.  Verizon also sent a letter to the PEP denying its role in the fraud and falsely claiming that the Schools Investigator’s report did not say that Verizon was aware of the fraud. 

Verizon is demanding massive givebacks from its workers, including: freezing pensions for new and current workers; raising health care costs by thousands of dollars for current and retired workers; cutting benefits for workers injured on the job; and shipping more jobs overseas.

            Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s representative, Patrick Sullivan, was one of four PEP votes against approval of the controversial contract.  Borough President Stringer, CWA, education advocates and other elected officials (list in formation) will call on Verizon to pay back the money, make the schools whole, and settle a fair contract with its workers.  Please join us!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Repercussions of UFT No-Layoff Deal

Was the UFT the handmaiden to Bloomberg "divide and conquer" strategy?

I do hope people make the connections to the damage that is done when the UFT signs onto a no-layoff deal that ends up screwing fellow school workers who happen to be in another union. My position it that they should have challenged Bloomberg to lay people off and try to run the schools without them. But the UFT was desperate to avoid the LIFO issue. So now (mostly white) newbie TFA and Teaching Fellows get jobs and ATRs get paid while the poorest school workers (mostly people of color) lose jobs. And silence when it happens.

But silence can come from many places. See New York City Parents Union Statement on School Staff Layoffs. Really a great statement - except for neglecting to mention the impact of the UFT role in the story. C'mom Mona, tell it like it really is.

DC 37 layoffs (see the Times article at
These layoffs are clearly a result of the budget deal that the UFT cut in June, which averted teacher layoffs in exchange for concessions and leaving DC37 high and dry. Teachers are still feeling the pinch through the massive excessing caused by budget cuts and the ATR crisis, which the Times outlines pretty well. Students will of course suffer the most, in the form of reduced services.
See Gotham Schools story: DC-37 official: Cutting school aides won’t save city much money

And Juan Gonzalez in the DN shows which districts get punished- again silence from the UFT. And from Gonzalez on the connection to the UFT no-layoff deal.
Department of Education layoffs hit poor areas hardest


The disparate nature of the cuts - the biggest layoffs at any agency in the Bloomberg era - became apparent yesterday, when officials gave Local 372, which represents nonprofessional school employees, a detailed hit list.

Under the plan, District 5 in Harlem and District 6 in Washington Heights will lose almost 8% of their school aides, parent coordinators and community workers - 77 out of a total of 998.

At the same time, only five of 942 similar workers in Staten Island's District 31 - less than 1% - will get pink slips.

Likewise, three school districts in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, East Flatbush and East New York will lose 4.4% of their nonprofessional workers.

But three more middle class districts in South Brooklyn that include Dyker Heights, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Mill Basin, will lose only 11 of 1,900 employees - less than 1%.

Those who could lose their jobs are some of the lowest-paid workers in the city and overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. School aides, the biggest group targeted, average about $11,000 a year for part-time work. Even with health insurance and pension costs factored in, the city pays about $27,000 annually for each of these workers.

"We've been trying for weeks to meet with Chancellor [Dennis] Walcott, and each time they canceled ... at the last moment," said Santos Crespo, president of Local 372.

"On Monday, they just called us in and hit us with these cuts," Crespo said. "They didn't even want to discuss ways we could cooperate to reduce costs."

At a time when the school system is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for more outside contractors and consultants, it's crazy to cut the most vulnerable workers.

DOE officials say Crespo's parent union, District Council 37, is to blame.

"During the budget negotiations this June, the chancellor called Lillian Roberts [executive director of DC 37] work avert DOE layoffs," agency spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said.

"Unfortunately, the union would not agree to any real savings ... so schools took a larger budget cut than might have otherwise been necessary."

In other words, if you don't do what Bloomberg wants, you and your members will suffer the consequences.

But why hit poor districts so heavily?

It could be just a coincidence, but some of the biggest cuts occurred in neighborhoods where City Council members were vocal critics of the mayor.

Ravitz said principals made all the decisions on cuts.

"Schools received their budgets at the end of June and made school level decisions about which staff they were keeping and which staff to excess," she said.

Several principals I spoke to yesterday disputed that version. They say budget officials from Tweed encouraged them to look to their nonprofessional staff for cuts.

Nevertheless, one thing seems clear: if these layoffs take effect, the poorest districts will suffer most.

Read more:

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

Why Would Anyone Expect an Honest Book From Steve Brill? But He Does Love Randi - Plus Hurricane Parteeee Report

Guest Post: The Facts Not Included in Steve Brill's Tell All

Steve Brill is part of the new growth industry "education pimp" class - people who are leaping out of failed careers to make money off the ed deform movement. Are you surprised that the only "teacher" he likes is pseudo teacher Randi Weingarten who has less experience in the classroom than Sydney Morris?
Mike Winerip's column today gives us a pretty forceful rebuttal to Steven Brill's latest adventure in teacher-bashing. Specifically, he finds a pretty bald-faced falsehood. Did Brill even bother to check this stuff before publication? Hasn't he got an editor?
Thus comments NYC Educator in today's post: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Everything but the truth. Winerip titles his article:  Teachers Get Little Say in a Book About Them

But Brill also knows GEM's Brian Jones, who co-narrates our film The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. I will give Brill credit for getting GEM's Brian Jones on last September's Education Nation - a panel narrated by Brill that also included Canada, Rhee and Randi - Brian went head to head with Canada and the look on Rhee's face as Brian goes at them is priceless. See Brian's account of that event: Education Notes Online: Brian Jones at HuffPo: What I Learned at ...

Brill likes Randi but not a real teacher like Brian. Perfect Ed Deformer mode, especially since I consider Randi an ed deformer even though my crusade to convince even my fellow activists has not been all that successful - yet.

Leonie Haimson fact checks Brill:

Blogger Gary Rubinstein has also been fact-checking Brill's book.

On August 24, 2009 I wrote this about Brill, who has done hatchet jobs on rubber room and ATRs:
Hamilton Nolan wrote this past June in The Persistent Failure of Steven Brill. Check the site directly for the links, but here is the text.
Steven Brill has a reputation for being a media wise man—a deep-thinking mogul who's always spotting the opportunities of The Future. Which is kind of strange, since the majority of his projects have been ostentatious failures.

Brill's latest company, "Clear," which was supposed to save rich people a half hour standing in security lines at airports in exchange for $128 a year, is shutting down. Let's do a quick and dirty balance sheet of Brill's successes and failures—keeping in mind that to do your best is all your mom really asks.


The American Lawyer: Brill launched what would become the nation's leading legal magazine in 1979. This is not an unqualified success, though, since American Lawyer Media (now Incisive Media) is having problems right now.

Court TV: Brill created the network (now truTV) in 1991. After receiving a huge popularity boost from the OJ Simpson trial, it was sold it to Time Warner in 1997. For which Brill got a tidy sum.

Emily Brill: Steven's daughter, the ultimate narrator.


Brill's Content: Launched in 1998, this mediacentric mag was supposed to capitalize on America's insatiable thirst for news about the news! Turned out not that many people really care about the news about the news. Not enough to pay money, at least. Stopped publishing in 2001. A website selling "a variety of content ranging from thesis papers to ebooks." Closed in 2001. The legendary media site that launched the careers of many top media reporters and also failed to make any money. The magazine version of Inside was merged with Brill's Content, and the website was part of a convoluted plan with Primedia to corner the market on media trade publications, but the whole thing was shuttered in 2001.

Clear: In the post-9/11 world, Brill noticed, airport security sure was a hassle. People would pay to be "verified" beforehand so they could breeze right through! Right? 165,000 people did, reportedly, and Clear raised more than $100 million from investors, but now it's dead, unable to afford to keep going.

Brill also wrote a couple books which didn't sell all that well and a column for Newsweek, but you can judge those on their own merits. He's not out of the game, though—his other ongoing venture is Journalism Online, a company that plans to help various magazines and newspapers charge readers for online access. Bet on it!

Hmmm. Steven Brill with a persistent record of failure, now reduced to writing about rubber rooms and ATRs.

If they had rubber rooms for the things failures of people like Brill do, he'd be writing about himself.

Here are some more Brill references on Ed Notes over the years:
May 19, 2010
It is written by Steve Brill, who did an unfair piece for the New Yorker on the rubber rooms. It seems as though one can make a pretty decent career now in hack journalism, as long as you attack the UFT. ...
Mar 04, 2010
Reports began surfacing that Steve Brill is gnawing around the charter school story – he was probably hired by the charter school crowd to do a hatchet job on the defenders of public education like he did on the rubber ...
Aug 13, 2010
Pro-charter spin by WSJ; very Steve Brill-esk, unfairly comparing the test scores at Girls Prep to PS 188. Why not compare them to the autistic kids, while you're at it? About Girls Prep "The girls are mainly black, Hispanic and poor. ...
Aug 24, 2009
Very disappointed of Steven Brill's article which is so one sided. As a African American himself, he knows well that the portraited villains have often been the hapless victims. However, I am not surprised to see the ...

Today's Reading Supplement at Perimeter Primate:

The four horsemen of our apocalypse?

Racism, Poverty, Militarism, Materialism. The apocalypse reference may sound dramatic, but the current condition (and trajectory) of our society is looking pretty bad.

Like a Hurricane:  Parteeee

Well, I guess it was for many people. Living on a barrier island like Rockaway, we expected the worst and evacuated, though most of the old-line Rockaway people, being old hands at this stuff, stayed put. We're only out here for 32 years, so we're newbies. We left once before during Gloria in 1985 I believe and were laughed at.

We didn't think our lives were in danger but were worried about storm damage to the house - like having the extension we added that I helped build 25 years ago - oy! - blow away. What could we do if we were here? And losing one car to a nor'easter flood in 1992 was enough to make the decision to get both cars into Brooklyn an easy one, especially with the generous offer from friends Ira Goldfine and Sheila Rashal to join them, their daughter and son-in-law who had just flown in from vacation and were staying over too -  and the 4 cats. Of course, not having our own 20 year old cat anymore to move made the decision to leave much easier. Plus the offer of loads of food, lots of drinks and a hurricane party atmosphere.

And parteeee we did.I had beer, wine, hard liquor and lots of food we ordered from the local pizza shop. Plus great anti-ed deform conversation all evening.

We brought enough stuff to stay for a month - I still had visions of sections of missing house, no power for months and all the other evil storm effects we were hearing about. I was up half the night listening on the radio - I couldn't seem to get the TV or internet to work but as awful radio reports from Long Beach, about 10 miles away came in I was getting increasingly nervous - until at 8AM I called my friend who lives 2 blocks away and as a Rockaway native doesn't heed no stinkin' evacuation orders. He walked over to my block and reported little water even a half hour after the first high tide surge - we are 3 blocks away and just a trickle of the ocean got to our driveway. I was more worried about the bay a half block away but the water was still 3 feet below the top of the wall. But in the nor'easter of '92 water came back up the storm sewers. Not this time.

So, I was so relieved, I gulped down at least 3 pieces of delicious french toast Sheila made and we headed home at noon after calling the Gil Hodges bridge number to see if it was open. The entire house, including basement was dry except for a bit of water backup through the garage door and one of the always leaky skylights. All that needed doing was cleaning up some schmutz which my wife has been doing all morning thanks to my still one-armed state - thank goodness - I think I'll try to milk this for months.

One of the interesting sidelights had to do with our cars, the protection of which from flood damage was a main reason for evacuating (our Rockaway buddies took their cars to Kennedy airport and parked them on the 2nd floor of the terminal). When we got to Brooklyn we were relieved to see so many parking spots in front of Ira's house, which is on a tree-laden block. "Don't park here. Look for a spot on a street without trees," Ira told us." And he was so right. During the night a massive branch came down across the entire street in front of his house (cutting the cable wire which is why there was no internet and TV) that would have crushed sections of both our cars if we had parked there. Another lucky break for us.

If this was the once in a century storm we won't be around for the next one, especially since the Republicans have declared global warming a myth. Next they'll be pushing the upcoming ICE Age. Now all we have to worry about are glaciers encasing our cars.


Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Class Size and the UFT Followup: Historical Context

Loretta Prisco who was part of our activist group in the 70s fleshed out yesterday's post on class size.

Do you remember many years ago when the UFT was trying to negotiate that we be paid per kid?  I remember sitting at the DA and some guy saying "break down the wall, I'll take all they  they can shove in" - but it have must have been a Unity guy.  Most of us were appalled. I remember Gene saying "why not by weight?"
When we raised class size when talking about the contract at DAs, Shanker usually had one of 2 replies, "that is an education issue, not  a contract issue"  or "there is either money for class size or salaries, if we reduce class size, there won't be money for a raise".  I remember so clearly, because it is when I first realized that working conditions are learning conditions.  Teaching was tough, I would have rather been a successful teacher with smaller class size than one with a few extra bucks in my pocket. 
My daughter was at Vanderbilt in Nashville in the 90's and I remember reading about the Tennessee Star Study on class size in the local paper.  When I raised the issue here, no one had heard about it, and the response locally was "it is only one study" .


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The UFT/AFT Abandoned the Fight For Lower Class Size 40 Years Ago

Randi Weingarten/AFT - and yes, the UFT - on Class Size: fagetaboutit.

Last night, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters posted:

Randi's deeply flawed agenda for a quality education
Randi writes her rebuttal of Brill here: which led me to the AFT agenda for a quality education which though very long, does not even mention class size - the #1 way that the vast majority of teachers believe would improve their effectiveness the most. People esp. teachers and members of her union should feel free to email her at
I posted the entire AFT statement on Norms Notes Randi Weingarten/AFT Forgets Class Size

Leonie's post got me to thinking about the 40 years I and others have spent trying to move the UFT to make class size reduction a priority item. Here is my comment on the NYCEdList serve:

All these years Ed Notes lobbed accusations that no matter the rhetoric the uft/aft didn't really care about class size and their petition campaigns which went nowhere was more about PR.

They gave up the class size ghost, oh, around 1970. Throughout that decade the group I worked with fought with the uft leadership over closing the wide CS loopholes. If they weren't going to reduce class size in the contract at least make that attempt. No interest.

In the early 90s the strategy of using the city council to force some class size reductions worked for grades 1-3. We brought up resolutions caliing for extensions to grade 4 and beyond but were ignored. Today even those city council limits are being ignored.
Over the last decade ICE and Ed Notes made repeated attempts to make class size reduction a priority contract negotiation at least to put it front and center to the public (as opposed to joining with the doe on merit pay and other money wasting schemes.)

So go ahead and email Randi. Maybe she'll take a minute from collaborating with the likes of Bill Gates to respond.

And for those who see the uft as somehow different from the aft watch the 800 UFT Unity Caucus delegates to AFt/nysut conventions (mulgrew amongst them) endorse every single Weingarten policy with enthusiasm.

Want to see class size on the agenda? The next time Mulgrew or another uft official comes to your school don't let them get 3 words out of their mouths before interrupting them with a class size question. Do the same at Delegate Assemblies. And maybe even at the uft exec bd. It is time to stop being polite to union officials who are so willing to go along with policies that harm teachers and students.

One more point. When Al Shanker signed onto The Nation at Risk in 1983 he set the teacher unions on the road to ed deform where we make an assumption that all it takes is better school management and better teachers to turn things around, thus minimizing class size. We in the opposition to Unity Caucus/Shanker in the 70's could see it coming because to the UFT/AFT leadership (once Shanker took over the AFT in 1974) it was more important to spend money on fighting communism around the world than full funding of an equitable education for all.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.


As one commenter stated re: DiNapoli:
oh-oh! A certain state official better be careful with his cell phone calls after this.

Chalk it up to the hacks: New York scraps $27 million education contract with Murdoch firm

Saturday, August 27th 2011, 4:00 AM
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the scandal shrowded News Corp. empire, lost an almost-sealed deal with New York schools after passionate protests.
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the scandal shrowded News Corp. empire, lost an almost-sealed deal with New York schools after passionate protests.
ALBANY - The Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal has prompted the state to kill a controversial $27 million contract with one of the media mogul's subsidiary companies.
State Controller Thomas DiNapoli this week quietly rejected the Education Department's contract with Wireless Generation, a News Corp. affiliate.
Wireless Generation was to pocket $27 million of the state's $700 million in "Race to the Top" funds to develop software to track s tudent test scores.
News Corp.'s British tabloid "News of the World" was shuttered last month amid a phone hacking and police bribery scandal.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is reviewing whether reporters from Murdoch's media empire hacked the phones of any 9/11 victims.
The controversy prove d too much for the state to stomach.
"In light of the significant ongoing investigations and continuing revelations with respect to News Corp., we are returning the contract with Wireless Generation unapproved," DiNapoli's office wrote to the Education Department.
DiNapoli's office also cited an "incomplete record" about Wireless Generation's qualifications as a cause for concern.
A spokeswoman for the company declined comment Thursday, and said Wireless Generation had not received any notification from the state.
Steamed state education officials slammed DiNapoli, accusing him of caving to teachers' unions - whose members opposed handing over data to Wireless Generation.
"The controller has allowed political pressure to get in the way of vital technology that would help our students," Education Department spoke sman Jonathan Burman said.

Friday, August 26, 2011

GEM's Brian Jones and Diane Ravitch on Democracy Now!

 teachers need to be more active in their unions. There needs to be a movement of ordinary teachers to challenge what we see, because we’re the ones who see it it happening in the classroom. I think we need to unite with parents and try to build a kind of social justice unionism that takes on not only questions of our working conditions, which are learning conditions, but also questions of curriculum and pedagogy. The group I’m a part of, the Grassroots Education Movement,, is trying to do just that right here in New York. ---Brian Jones

Must watch video
Good Afternoon,
I am writing to you because I thought you might be interested in an interview about education policy on Democracy Now! this morning. We spoke with longtime education scholar, policy maker and author Diane Ravitch, as well as New York City public school teacher Brian Jones.

Ravitch was once a supporter of No Child Left Behind, but is now critical of conservative education policy. Both Ravitch and Jones spoke about increased standardized testing, teaching to the test, and recent budget cuts in education.

When you have a chance, please take a moment to watch the interview. Ravitch and Jones are both advocates for education equality and public education.

If appropriate, please consider posting the interview on your website, blog, Facebook page and/or Twitter accounts.
My Best, 

Katherine Kusiak Carey
Social Media and Online Outreach Intern
Democracy Now!

“Poverty Is the Problem”: Efforts to Cut Education Funding, Expand Standardized Testing Assailed

Selection from Brian:
BRIAN JONES: Well, to me, the students are cheated even before the test is taken. Look, the cheating, the real social cheating, happens in the way that the high-stakes standardized testing distorts school itself.
Let me tell one story. I was doing a science experiment with a group of fourth graders. We were in the middle of a week-long science experiment, and we had—everyone had trays out on their tables, and they were pouring and mixing and investigating. We were having all kinds of rich discussions. And an administrator came in and said, "You have to stop what you’re doing right now," handed—put down a pile of workbooks and said, "You have to begin doing this right now." I begged her, in front of the students, "Please, let us just finish this experiment right now, in the next few minutes, and then we’ll do that." She said, "No, you have to put all this away right now and get working on the workbooks." So, the kids are cheated ahead of time. It teaches teachers to jump through these hoops, to not encourage critical thinking. It teaches all of us that knowledge is somewhere produced by Pearson or by one of these test companies, and you can’t create it, you can’t investigate it, you can’t do any of that. All you have to do is, more or less, remember it.
Here’s another way students are cheated. In elementary school, which I teach, we tend to go through genre studies. We take a genre of literature at a time and go through it. Well, now what more and more schools are doing is teaching the test itself as a genre—that is, studying the features of a test, as you would a novel, or as you would historical fiction or mysteries. You’re laughing, but this is very serious.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

In the Belly of the Rhee/Kevin Johnson Beast: Sacramento GEM Movie Showing

Hi all:
I wanted to let you know that our screening of “Superman Truth” last night was a great success. We had almost 70 people and signed up 6 people for house parties. We had people from as far away as Oakland and Truckee (near Lake Tahoe) attend.  I’ll have to put the word out because I think there were people there with real cameras that might have pictures we could share. All I had was a camera phone. There are at least a couple of other screenings been planned for the fall. I’ll keep you informed.
Thanks for producing this great movie.
Kate Lenox
Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Show THIS Movie, Dammit

It's almost a year since Waiting for Superman was unleashed on the public and the Grassroots Education Movement response film which was released May 19 still has a lot of catching up to do. Consider showing the film in your school community this year. If you are in NYC contact us if you are interested in setting up a panel. See the video below of the backyard showing in Boston and the upcoming showing on Aug. 29.

From the ITBWFS Web Site

As we prepare for the upcoming school year, consider organizing a screeing in your area.  Screenings were held across the country this summer including this one in Boston.  Share your experiences with us and share the film with others!

Order your copy of ITBWS on the DVD form found on this site.  For additional assistance or questions email:  Folks are free to share the film during public screenings and you can burn dvd copies; we only ask you do not upload the film to the internet and do not use the film for profit.

On July 19th, 2011 almost 100 teachers, parents, students and stakeholders attended a community viewing of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” – a response to the film “Waiting for Superman.” We held the screening backyard-theater-BBQ style on Wakullah Street in Roxbury, MA and everybody pitched in to bring food, blankets, a projector, speakers, and good vibes. Bree Picower from NYCoRE made the trip up from New York in order to give a talk before the movie and moderate a discussion afterwards.

If you would like to catch another screening don’t miss out on our next one. This time we will be showing the film on August 29th in the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library on 65 Warren Street in Roxbury, MA from 5:30 to 7:45. You can click here for the flier and help us promote this screening in your neighborhood or school.

TAGBoston Screening- Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman 07/19/11 from TAG Boston on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NYC Teach For America Members Under the Radar

EdNotes has been pretty rough on Teach for America over the years and there has been some buzz about bringing local dissident TFAers together for a chat.

Along with Mark Naison, who hosted, I helped get some TFA corps and alumni together for a fascinating meeting last night which was illuminating for Mark and I as the TFAers drilled down into the culture of the organization. In one exercise each participant listed the positive and negative aspects of the organization and we as non-TFAers received some serious insights.

The call for the meeting emerged from the responses to critiques of TFA by Mark and on Ed Notes (see Musings of MAB tab at top of this blog) along with a push within NYCORE to begin to address some of the core issues that disturb so many core members who are not drinking the Kool-aid.

Can a group within TFA gather enough steam to force changes at the top level in the TFA approach? Like longer training periods, an end to data munching as the way to judge success and failure for students and teachers, urging teachers to look beyond their classroom and into the families and broader school community, and encouraging TFAers to remain in teaching and put down roots in one school community as the best way to have a long-term impact?

There was lots more discussed with plans to expand the initial group and meet again. If you know TFA people looking to nudge the organization in another direction, have them contact ed notes.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Updates: Gotham, Wristology, Etc.

Those Cheat'n Hearts
I'll just point you to others' comments- just the tip of the ice berg, but teachers, not the lying skunks who run the system will get the blame:

Head over to Teachers Unite - I am today. Doing a UFT 101 workshop at 1. Oy!

Wristology Update
The bad news is that my over vacation from doing just about anything other than eating and sleeping 5 weeks (today) after my operation  may be over sooner than I thought. I'm actually beginning to use my right hand a bit to type this. Which is bad news for those who have had some relief from Ed Notes uber blogging. The skinny is that last week the doc told me the ulna - the bone that had almost pushed out of my skin - had actually healed after only 4 weeks and the radius which has the titanium plate is healing well. He told me to come back in 6 weeks and start removing the brace around the house. (Meanwhile therapy goes on 2 days a week - love to fondle that putty.) Darn. Can chores be far behind?

I did manage to wangle a drive free trip to Albany and Saratoga over the weekend to visit my wife's relatives - for the first time in over 40 years she did all the driving while I hugged my comfort pillow. We actually won money at the Saratoga race track - 5 out of 6 races brought back a few shekels but we blew it on junk food and my wife's need to spend $26 on a tee shirt that said guess what - Saratoga.

Albany is charter school heaven but I was still surprised to hear our 80 year old hostess lay out an anti-charter rap to my brother in law who had no idea what a charter school was. (I gave him a copy of our film to take home - more on his astounding positive reaction to the film another time - he's an anti-union FOX kind of guy who disagrees with me on every issue.)


Gotham Schools Panel Update
I received some reactions to the Saturday post, especially over the issue of Stephen Lazar being added to the panel after Gotham lobbied for him. My sense is that Gotham wants to promote its Community bloggers, which includes GEM's Liza Campbell and that is why they pushed for Lazar instead of someone who could officially represent the point of view of Real Reform orgs since E4E is given official status on the panel as is the UFT through Leo Casey. How does E4E get equal billing as a teacher group with the UFT while more legit teacher groups like GEM, NYCORE, Teachers Unite are ignored?

Here is an edited email I received (the author asked for anonymity).
I think everyone is missing the real story behind the panel on Thursday by being distracted by Gotham's name.  First off: Gotham had zero say in who was on the panel other than Lazar.  Manhattan Media put the panel together, and then asked Gotham if they wanted to join.  They made the decision to join because they feel an obligation to help out other small media in NYC, even if Manhattan Media is for-profit. Putting their name on this panel is something they deserve flack for, though it's not fair to blame them for the makeup of the panel.

The much more interesting question then becomes what does Manhattan Media hope to gain from this? Why Bill Thompson was invited?  As I'm sure you know, Manhattan Media is run by Tom Allon, also running for mayor, and doing so with education as a key part of his platform.  I think the Allon/Thompson dynamic at this thing is what could potentially be newsworthy, as otherwise, it's pretty much the same old people having the same old arguments that have been going on for years. From what I can tell from talking to people at both Tweed and Gotham, no one (other than Fox News) with decision making or media power takes E$E seriously.  Sure, they can be trotted out to make a point others were going to make anyway, but I really think most of their power comes from the response they get from people on our side of the battle.

My response:
I've been pushing on Gotham for some recognition of the work GEM has done. Does our movie even merit one article? They had a reporter on the bus which was organized by people in GEM and ICE.Was there a story in the people on the bus after riding with them for so many hours? Not a word. Imagine if Evan and Sydney were on the bus. I feel there is a leaning to E4E vs gem/nycore on the part of Gotham.

There's a natl move to set up E4E in many cities. Don't take them lightly. Not only FOX but WSJ and Post and even NYT front page where the E4E platform as featured with links to the web site. When the same reporter did a story mentioning a person in GEM/NYCORE the groups weren't mentioned at all. Gotham links to every story in every Murdoch controlled outlet on e4e.

You say Gotham had no input. I say they are being disengenuous. The joined as co-sponsors knowing the panel and had no sensitivity to the reaction of teachers towards E4E. That says a lot. They only asked for input after the storm broke.

The Real Reform gps have more outreach. Maybe Gotham doesn't want to alienate certain funding sources. Gotham could have made case for Brian or Julie but chose not to.  Two teachers who could provide chapter and verse on the impact of colocations on their schools on the same panel with Eva to challenge her lies? Gotham punted on that one.

My complaints are about fighting for equal recog for the orgs out there organizing teachers parents and students in trying to build a movement.

Well, I'm heading over to spend the day at the Teachers Unite Organizing workshops. Yelena Siwinski and I are doing a UFT 101 workshop at 1. I'm depressed already.

The worshops continue tomorrow and Thursday.

Here is  the info:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lawsuit against NOLA's RSD and John White by fired principals

Nice to see that vampire John White getting flack.

From Leonie Haimson.

Interesting challenge of White's credentials and labor practices:

    For instance, Goodwin claims that Superintendent White, who served as "Hearing Officer" for Goodwin's due-process hearing, "made a recommendation to himself as to whether or not Mr. Goodwin would be retained as a principal."… He adds that White "has only a Bachelor's Degree, [and] has no academic or administrative credentials which would entitle him to conduct a due process hearing for a principal who has earned a Master's Degree and who has been certified in Administration and Supervision by the Louisiana State Department of Education."

Principals Say Louisiana Is Privatizing New Orleans Schools
Norm Scott

Education Notes

Grassroots Education Movement

Education columnist, The Wave

nycfirst robotics

Sent from my BlackBerry

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gotham Schools Involvement in Ed Deform Panel Controversy - Teachers Protest E4E Faux Teacher Sydney Morris Inclusion - Ravitch Resigns From Panel

  • Storm of Protest over City Hall News/Gotham Schools ed deform event. 
  • Ravitch withdraws.
  • Gotham Schools protest of innocence and neutrality comes into question

We've been tracking this story since word came through Thursday morning when Leonie Haimson came across the announcement (see original announcement at end of this post) that City Hall News and Gotham Schools were co-sponsoring an ed deform panel next week. Leonie added this comment: "Strangely constituted and lately announced."

Strange indeed. Gotham Schools, a supposedly independent source of school news was co-sponsoring an event stacked with ed deformers. NYC State Regent slug Meryl (I'm not a crook) Tisch, Evil Moskowitz, non-entity Bill Thompson (Bloomberg's hand-picked opponent in the last election) and best of all, faux teacher Sydney Morris of E4E. No real teacher. No real parent. But Diane Ravitch was on the panel as the lone Real Reformer. Not good enough for many of us.

The blow back was fast and furious.

To City Hall News:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I write to express my feelings concerning your inclusion of Ms. Sydney Morris in your On Education breakfast of August 25 who is there, presumably, to represent teachers. Please understand that I speak for tens of thousands when I tell you that as a teacher I find her selection nothing short of appalling and grossly offensive. Ms. Morris is a part time employee of the Department of Education which have egregiously granted her and her fellow Educators for Excellence co-founder something called F status which allows her to work one day a week in the profession she so arrogantly claims to represent and even lead. It has been documented in the New York Times and elsewhere that Educators for Excellence is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and represents less than one percent of New York City teachers, the overwhelmingly majority who find their views astoundingly ignorant and abhorrent. In short, Ms. Morris is an employee of Bill Gates working for a union busting front group. In no way can she be considered an authentic voice for NYC teachers.

In the name of decency and fairness I strongly urge you to reconsider your choice or failing that at the very least counter the presence of Ms. Morris with a real teacher representing the real views of other real teachers. I would happily assist you in this quest.

Thank you for your time,


Patrick Walsh
NYC Teacher
Other teachers sent private letters of protest to Gotham asking how E4E gets on the panel but no reps from Real Reform groups like GEM, NYCORE or Teachers Unite are not considered.

Word from Gotham quickly filtered out along the lines of "Who me? We're just moderating and had no say in the panel." Gotham furiously began to back pedal and word seeped out that the old standby, UFT VP Leo Casey and Tweed top level official Shael Polokaw-Surnansky had been asked - to create balance? I may have made peace with Leo at SOS but he is far from a Real Reformer.

Question: Gotham wasn't sensitive enough in the first place to see this stacked panel would create a storm and question their credibility?

Well, I as a trusting soul gave Gotham the benefit of the doubt. They weren't partnering with City Hall News but just moderating - until I saw the revised announcement.Well, apparently there was some lobbying going on and Gotham blogger and legit teacher Stephen Lazar was added to the panel to balance Sydney Morris, causing a bit of joy in the Mudville listserves.

Sorry, folks, I'm not appeased. While I am glad Lazar is on the panel, I don't see him as representing any of the Real Reform groups - GEM, NYCORE, Teachers Unite _ that counter the E4E paid for ed deformist line. Appeals to Gotham were unheeded to lobby for an official rep from these orgs just as Sydney is advertized as the founder of E4E (why is she always representing an org with supposedly over 3000 members - a number dwarfed by the number of people supporting Real Reform orgs. Why not show us some of those faces? Or maybe another one of the 6 people employed by the Gates/DFER funded E4E?

But then again we know how much love the press and Gotham (by linking to every scrap of E4E press coverage) has shown to E4E over its brief existence. Evan or Sydney blow a bubble and FOX, the NY Post and the Wall St. Journal have an article on them. E4E is Rupert Murdoch's dream organization - and there are other E4Es around the nation which I will post about next week.

Sydney Morris is clearly on the panel to push the E4E 5th column line. Why should E4E which has less influence in the schools than the real reform groups like GEM, NYCORE and Teachers Unite be represented and they excluded? So E4E could put out press releases that they are at a level to sit on a panel with Tisch and Moskowitz, creating another layer of false legitimacy?

There is an anti-Gotham sense amongst a sub-set of some teachers and parents that Gotham is biased toward charters and ed deform in general - the idea that the biggest money gets you what you pay for. No one in that camp has convinced me yet, though I have hammered Gotham over the attention paid to a faux teacher group while mostly ignoring Real Reform groups like GEM, NYCORE and Teachers Unite.

Gotham, by originally seeming to have few qualms about participating in an ed deform event with a faux teacher representing a faux organization, has harmed some of its credibility in my eyes. I would go down and protest - If I didn't have to do my hair Thursday morning.

South Bronx School imports a guest commentator to compare Ed creds of an E4E and GEM leader.
I don't buy into the opinion of bias by Gotham - the have responded to pressure to give the Real Reformer groups some coverage and have featured RR writers in the community section. But in the interests of fair and balanced, here is an alternatative viewpoint.

Some comments on Gotham bias and E4E from NYC Educator

The Audacity of Corporate Nonsense

And Good Morning to You, Too

Like, Thanks, Gotham Schools!

Holy Grail of the "Reformers"

Charters 4-Union 1That's the score at Gotham Schools

NY Post, Fox News, and Gotham Schools

The original announcement below. The updated one here.

On Education

It has been a tumultuous summer in the education world, full of budget fights and labor showdowns. Heading into the new school year we are sitting down with a panel of leaders and influencers in the education field to better understand how the past year’s fights will play out in the school year ahead and how these events will impact education policy, city politics, teachers and parents for years to come.
Andrew Hawkins
Managing Editor at City Hall News

Philissa Cramer

Managing Editor of GothamSchools.Org
AUGUST 25, 2011
8:00 a.m.
Networking Breakfast

8:30 -9:30 a.m.
Panel Discussion Followed by Q&A

Con Edison Building
4 Irving Place (@14th Street)
New York, New York


$30 for individual tickets/
$250 table of 10

AFTER 8/24:
$40 for individual tickets /
$350 for a table of 10
*$20 ticket for government and non-profit employees
FOR MORE INFORMATION or sponsorship opportunities
call 646.442.1662 or email us here.
Co-Founder of Educators 4 Excellence

Former City Council Member & Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Success Charter Network

Research Professor of Education at New York University & Former Assistant Secretary of Education

Former President of the NYC Board of Education & Former NYC Comptroller

Chancellor of the NY Board of Regents

Thomas Hunter Professor of Public Policy at Hunter College

Friday, August 19, 2011

PEP POP III: Diary of a Mad Parent

I'm outta here…once again amazed at politics in NYC. I think I'll look for a bar. There's a reality at the bottom of a glass that makes more sense than this.
Posted by a parent activist on the NYCEd listserve, it captures the PEP ambiance perfectly:

530 PM on August 17: streets crowded with Verizon workers in red shirts; police, lined up, hands on hips, staring into the crowd, whistles and loud speakers, honking car horns, disgruntled pedestrians…New York in the midst of a strike. It looked like Lindsey era turmoil. This time though, the strikers have a lot more to lose. This is an era of big business that would make Gould, Carnegie and Rockefeller bust the buttons of the vests over their very prosperous bellies. New barons wear LL Bean or $2000.00 suits

We walked along Pearl Street, past barricades and protesters to Murry Bergtraum High School, yet another high school shrouded in scaffolding and netting… like a widow staring stoically off into space while a beloved was buried. It was time for the PEP meeting. Jeez Louise, these meetings have become so depressing!

Getting into the auditorium took a bit of maneuvering; we went up a few steps to go down a flight of stairs. I couldn't help but think of Dante's inferno..which level would we be at when we stopped? The place was a sea of red shirts…for a moment I thought St. John's was holding a B-ball rally. But no, once the chanting began I knew we weren't at a college campus rally. Organizers handed out flyers, independently people began chants….Verizon sucks!. The people united will never be divided!….Do the right thing! Kids were there, some so young their mothers carried them in their arms. Workers were there. Parents were there.

The air was electric, but the PEP wasn't. Half of them weren't there yet and DOE staff was milling around on the stage…putting out water bottles seemed to be the most that anyone was doing. More security stared out at the crowd. I am not sure what was funnier, their stares or the crowds chants.

It's 6:20 and the PEP comes to order. We begin, as usual with the Chancellor's report. The Chancellor swings into action….grabbing a mike and jumping into the well of the auditorium. It would have been impressive except for one thing….he's being ignored. He starts his report with the opening day of school, September 8th, and the place erupts. People are shouting "We know that!" Unperturbed, he moves on to sex education producing cat calls and laughter from the audience. ELA and Math scores were next. A giant screen with facts and figures hung above the audience. Shael Suransky began to intone the DOE mantra…we had an increase. ELA 1.5%. Math 3.3% The house came down! Whistles, hoots, hollers, sneers, you name it people used it. Everyone in that room knew that these numbers were a sham and a shame. Fingers were pointed at the PEP. Shouts of "Shame on you" were long and loud. Suransky's presentation, such as it was, was drowned out in the ruckus.

The PEP Sec'y droned on and on. There were changes to Chancellor's regs 670 and 755
The crowd waited expectantly. Robert Jackson of City Council was already at one mike. Others had lined up at a second mike. Signs came up. People shifted and shuffled. And then bang, there is was: the proposal to okay the estimated budget. A wave of noise swept over the audience There were 14 items in the budget proposal. Jackson wanted to know which item was the Verizon proposal? Where was the proposal? Did anyone see it? Read it? Understand it? Other speakers had questions and comments.
The contracts included money for consultants, technology and testing. Why not revise your spending priorities and put the money back into the schools? 250 principals have appealed their proposed budgets. They are facing teaching staff cuts, program cuts. Why are we paying for consultants when students are going without teachers?

The Special Investigator had found Verizon to be guilty of swindling the DOE out of millions, yet a Verizon spokesman had written to the DOE insisting that Verizon was not part of the theft committed while Willard Lanham was a tech consultant for the DOE. Verizon made millions and was accused of stealing more and now the DOE should pay them? Why not call it a wash? Verizon provides the DOE with the service, the DOE doesn't go after them for over 120 million in suspected thefts? Shouts of "Raise test scores not corporate profits" were coming fast and furious.

The noise was overwhelming the speakers. PEP members were unable to hear the budget presentation. The Manhattan Boro President rep wanted a postponement. The Queens' rep agreed. The Verizon contract which had expired in January was never rescinded by Verizon. Yet, as the Manhattan rep pointed out, Verizon could back out of the contract if the strike prevented them from acting in accordance with the agreement. So, here we are, agreeing to pay money to an organization under federal investigation for theft. Is this crazy? You bet! Is it even crazier that the PEP voted to accept this contract? Nope. Insanity means you have lost your ability to recognize reality. The mayoral appointees, all of whom voted for the contracts, were adept at ignoring reality and acting politically. They were never supposed to be real, just vote. I wonder where they keep their rubber stamps?

I'm outta here…once again amazed at politics in NYC. I think I'll look for a bar. There's a reality at the bottom of a glass that makes more sense than this.


Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Things are still buzzing over last night's PEP. What people on our side miss when they call rubber stamp PEP meetings a waste of time and money is that these meetings are opportunities to bring and solidify the forces of opposition to BloomBloodSucker. The ed deformers in their open flouting of morals, ethics, law are the creators of a movement that will one day bring them down. So we lose every vote, but we gain strength in those losses.

Make sure to check out my earlier PEP Pops I which takes the UFT leadership to task for poor turnout at the pre-PEP rally and zero turnout at the PEP itself. But luckily there were powerful voices from the UFT rank and file to pick up the load.

"When will this administration put children first?"
Julie Cavanagh express R and F solidarity with Verizon strikers and expresses hope they will be back at future PEP meetings before lambasting WalSlick and crew for wasting enormous sums of money. Video by my new top notch assistant Pat Dobosz.

And what do you think of Julie's new hairdoo?

 Here is a link to Pat's video of the final vote.

Julie and Verizon new superstar Verizon striker and parent Amy Muldoon, who galvanized the PEP, will be at a rally for Verizon workers. (See below for details.) Here is a letter from Amy.

My video with Leonie and Peter and Mulgrew speeches
Here is my 18 minute video (using my shaky flip-like camera) of the Verizon workers coming off the Brooklyn Bridge and marching en masse over to Pearl Street where the rest of the mass was waiting for them. GEM/ICE people were stationed on the route to hand them signs relating to the PEP which they were grabbing like crazy. Thanks to David and Pat Dobosz for all their hard work in making them up and to Joan Seedorf, Yelea Siwinski, Lisa North and Vera Pavone for handing them out along with Pat and David.

UFT rank and file teachers join with Verizon strikers for a rally before the PEP planned to vote in favor of a $120 million Verizon contract which has come under attack for fraudulent past practices. The Brooklyn contingent marched over the Brooklyn Bridge and met up with the Manhattan strand and marched over to hear the speeches across the street from Verizon HQ and the school the PEP was meeting at. Symbolic? This video is the rally part only with a few of the speeches by Class Size Matters Leonie Haimson, GEM's Peter Lamphere, the UFT's Michael Mulgrew and a few others.

Tomorrow I'll put up some of the footage from inside the PEP - like Walcott in a hysterical sex ed rant - tell people of color to wear condoms.

Karen Sprowal,whose son, Matthew, was kicked out of Harlem Success charter school in Kindergarten, speaks for Class Size Matters about the devastating school budget cuts and the harsh effect on class size at last night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting.

Below this video is another of the audience shouting "Shame" after the Panel vote to approve the $120 million contract with Verizon.

Here is a video from GEM's Gustavo Mejias

Verizon and PEP mtg [HQ]

Rally at PEP meeting of the DOE in support of Verizon Workers and Against the DOE dealing with Verizon Executives


A Fight For Us All!

Saturday, August 20
4:00 PM
Musicians local 802
322 W. 48th St


  • Amy Muldoon, Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 1106
  • Vincent Galvin, CWA Local 1101 Rebuilders
  • Ron Spaulding, CWA Local 1101 Rebuilders
  • Julie Cavanagh, Grassroots Education Movement (GEM)
  • Member of the Transportation Workers Union (TWU)
*organizations listed for identification purposes only

SOME 45,000 workers at Verizon are on strike across the Northeast, in one of the largest labor actions in years. If they lose, employers across the country will be emboldened to sharpen their attacks. But if they win, they could galvanize working people to pick up where the struggle in Wisconsin left off.

More info/to endorse: 646-421-2035; To request free childcare: julerro@gmail.comEndorsed by: The International Socialist Organization, Grassroots Education Movement

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.