Thursday, August 23, 2012

Worth Reading: Charters, Chicago, Tenure, Testing

Lisa North reports: A rep from the NYC Charter School Center came up after and asked why NO UFT reps EVER come to these meetings! As I was walking away I realized it was because they can't talk against charters as they SUPPORT them! I think it is time for the UFT to have a different position on charter schools. They could say that they have run their own charter schools. From that experience they have learned that there is NO silver bullet to improve student learning. It takes resources to help struggling students like smaller class sizes, programs for parents, social supports for students and families, in school intervention programs, and high quality after school and summer programs, to name just a few. The UFT could call for a stop to all new charters and instead for the resources to be used for our struggling public schools. No one is blaming the current charter school teachers who mostly want to help students, it is just that the charter school experiment has NOT worked.
----Lisa North presented the case against charter schools, and for fully funding public education, at a hearing in Brooklyn on Tuesday -- reprint from the ICE blog.
Lisa works with GEM/ICE/MORE. James Eterno posted her complete report on the ICE blog:  TEACHER ACTIVIST LISA NORTH SPEAKS OUT AGAINST CHARTER SCHOOLS

Tuesday Lisa did the work the UFT should be doing. Really, that is why MORE/ICE/GEM/NYCORE exist -- to pick up what falls off the back of the UFT truck.

I could do a list of great stuff to read every day but there are people like Larry Ferlazzo doing an amazing job at Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day and also his best of 2012 so far.  I recently started checking Larry's work out and you can spend all day following the links.

BREAKING from New York City Eye
8/22/12: CTU House of Delegates OKs Lewis Give 10 Day Strike Notice Capping a Week of Nasty Leaks From CPS

Ed Notes is an education blog (duh!) but I don't have to worry about doing all the educating (that sounds arrogant -- I prefer "sharing").

There are so many good blogs and articles to read every day, I'm finding I don't have time to write the more thoughtful and analytical pieces I used to do when I was putting out the hard copy version of Ed Notes from 1997-2006. Sort of funny when you think about it --- print is so permanent that you make extra sure and don't just toss it up on a blog which can be fixed later. (I know most bloggers don't do that but I do because I'm so impatient and that has gotten me in lots of trouble -- more than once.) I know I take a lot more care with my columns for The Wave and do a much better job of writing.

I will have a lot of posts to put up today before I have to leave for the MORE Chicago support event tonight at 6:30 and the ICE meeting at 3.

I'm just going to toss up some more stuff from people I know and/or work with.

Parent activists Anne Stone and Jeff Nichols have been involved with our Change the Stakes group since they wrote an oped for the NY Times on how they took a 3rd grade test and were horrified. They have joined the growing opt-out wing of parents
Larry Ferlazzo chose Anne Stone and Jeff's wonderful essay A Lesson in Teaching to the Test, From E.B. White. Larry chose it as one of the best of 2012 so far (check out his entire list) and called this "is a must-read commentary... In it, Anne Stone [and Jeff Nichols] shares a great excerpt from E.B. White’s “The Trumpet of the Swan” and relates it to today’s education policy issues." Also read Susan Ohanian's great commentary on this article.

By the way, last Friday we had a 5PM CTS meeting at CUNY. 22 people -- parents and teachers -- showed up on a Friday in August -- and if people hadn't been away we would have had over 30. Do you think the high stakes testing issue is hotter than a hot day in August?

Arthur Goldstein: The Battle Over 'Predator Teachers' at Schoolbook
Arthur nails the incompetent (intentionally?) press which doesn't report this crucial part of the story like Arthur does:
I’ve now read multiple reports stating the problem with the system is that the United Federation of Teachers gets to select the arbitrators. These reports often fail to mention that the arbitrators are co-approved by Mayor Bloomberg’s Department of Education. As far as I know, no one held a gun to Mayor Bloomberg’s head and forced him to hire these people.
Do the arbitrators make errors? It’s possible, and if that’s the case the city has every right to appeal their decisions. When courts are perceived to err, there is the remedy of appeal to higher courts. This is not sufficient for Mayor Bloomberg’s Education Department, which seeks the right to overturn independent arbitrators. What, then, is even the point of an independent arbitrator?
In fact, if you read Assailed Teacher (A Very Close Look At Tenure) and South Bronx School (Christine Rubino Gets The Shaft) as companion pieces, the question we would ask is how the UFT allows an arbitrator like Randi Lowitt to stay in business?
In many cases, the lawyers advise the teacher to resign even before the hearing begins. The same thing can be said for union leaders at both the school and district level who, as I have seen on many occasions, advise teachers facing 3020a charges to merely lie down and die by allowing the DOE to take their careers from them. Therefore, even before the pre-hearing begins, the union, the supposed defender of the teachers, beats it into the teachers’ heads that there is no hope. How hard, then, do you expect the union to fight in a teacher’s favor? Campbell Brown says the United Federation of Teachers goes to bat for sexual predators. In reality, they do not go to bat for anyone.
In fact, the UFT has been way more lenient in allowing "bad" arbitrators through while the DOE will get rid of the ones they don't like (see the David Pakter case). Teachers on the whole fare much worse than the DOE in these cases and if the press were doing the job Arthur is doing they would point this out.

I can't pass this link up from Gotham on John O'Mahoney's extortion racket to get his wife a job and keep her from being excessed: Former network leader fined for helping teacher wife get hired. That he could do this so blatantly makes it clear that these guys get the wink and nod from Tweed that anything goes. See my comment and the other comments to get the full sense of the deep corruption and old-boy network that goes back even further than the Bloomberg takeover. (There were always some interesting links between my District 14 and District 24 -- like you hire my relative and I'll hire yours back to the 80s).

Mother Jones (no, I don't know MJ but read this anyway): Everything You've Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong


And I can't resist one more from Gawker:

Campbell Brown Is Incapable of Understanding the Concept of ‘Disclosure’

If a journalist wants to get married to an influential government official, that's fine, but they can't be covering politics and government at the same time. "I don't care if you fuck an elephant, just so long as you don't cover the circus," as the old saying goes.
Sorry, I was about to press PUBLISH when this one popped up from Lois Weiner who is in Colombia where she reported a major demand of the teachers is that they not be shot at or assassinated.

Lois Weiner
Colombia seems far away, but it's the same struggle...

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

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