Thursday, January 31, 2013

Aaron Pallas at the Earth School Feb. 7: What's in a Grade?

Jia Lee, MORE candidate for Exec. Bd, elementary school, is one of the organizers of this event at the school where she is chapter leader. Having the decade long teacher, parent and activist working with MORE is a real feather in our cap and Jia is one of the new generation of union activists. I am constantly impressed with the people running with MORE (including the great Gary Rubinstein who will be working on VAM stuff for MORE) and Jia, who is also fierce critic of high stakes testing and brought an entire crew from the Earth School to the MORE rally at the Jan. DA, will increasingly be heard from.

In case you are not familiar with the always fascinating Aaron Pallas, he used to be the notorious Schoolboy who at times blogged with the famed Eduwonkette - Jennifer Jennings. Aaron was Jennifer's prof and mentor. Aaron who comes across like a professor on the surface, happens to be one of the funniest people if you subscribe to his facebook page. I'm hoping I can get to this event to tape it.

(How much do we miss the work of Eduwonkette, one of the first academics (along with Aaron) out of the box tearing down the fabric of ed deform? That was in pre-Diane Ravitch days so Jennifer was a major voice. I don't even think we can find the remnants of her blog anymore, a real shame.)

Jia informs us they will be showing this film posted on you tube where she documented "the work we do as educators (descriptive reviews of practice and of children, curriculum development, the real role of administrators, work with students with special needs, etc.) to present to parents, general public,  that is being denied in the name of high stakes testing and compliance based reform."

What’s in a grade? 

How is our school’s grade determined? What do they measure?

What is the impact on our children? 

Guest Speaker: Aaron Pallas Professor of Sociology and Education at Teacher’s College

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn, discuss and ask questions regarding school progress reports. 

When: Thursday, February 7, 2013 @ 6:00 p.m.
Where: Neighborhood School Auditorium (lower level)
121 East 3rd Street, NYC 10009 **Childcare and Refreshments Provided 

Aaron Pallas is Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has also taught at Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Northwestern University, and served as a statistician at the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education. Professor Pallas has devoted the bulk of his career to the study of how schools sort students, especially the relationship between school organization and sorting processes and the linkages among schooling, learning and the human life course. He is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and an elected member of the Sociological Research Association. His most recent projects are explicitly designed to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about conditions in New York City public schools. 

Inquiries: @The Earth School: Jia-;
@TNS: Carol--, Rachel 

David Bellel Book Signing

David was out photoshop king for many years. Here's wishing him luck on the book.

Lower East Side Then & Now: Book Signing Thursday Night

The LES History Project’s Eric Ferrara and David Bellel are out with a new book.  They’ll be signing copies of “Lower East Side Then & Now” and making a presentation tomorrow night at the Italian American Museum, 155 Mulberry Street, at 6:30 p.m.  The book uses side by side images to compare the dramatic changes that have taken place in the neighborhood in the past century.

The new project also includes a forward by Joyce Mendelsohn, author of “The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited.”   There are dozens of rare photographs that have not been published before.  Here’s a YouTube preview.  Yes you can buy the book online, but better yet, patronize local businesses! The LES The & Now is available in the Tenement Museum Bookstore, 103 Orchard Street, and E. Rossi, 193 Grand Street.

Get a Life: Norm's Social Notes

Ahhh, just back from hot yoga: an hour and a half of hot hell followed by 48 hours of cool, relaxed bliss.

Every so often I feel I have to counter the impression some people seem to have that I don't have a life other than being involved in the ed wars. Like tonight I'm giving up a MORE conference call with chapter leaders and delegates to go see Downton Abbey's Matthew (who cares what his real name is) in The Heiress on Broadway. Now all the ladies, including my own Lady Mary, are crazy for Matthew, who I think of as sort of a whimp. I'm way more interested in seeing his co-star tonight, Jessica Chastain who is one of the hottest (I mean popular - I be no sexist) actresses around.

Now just to show you how things change as you get older, my MORE pal Mike Schirtzer is also missing the conference call to go to a Ranger game where not long ago I would have been. But wife [many add: long-suffering] wants to go to a Broadway show, here I go. (I am a bigger whimp that Matthew). Yesterday she even got me to agree to go see Cinderella the day before Valentines Day. Do I still have to get her flowers that the cats will eat?

Bernie gets friendly. Penny still under bed
Speaking of cats, Penny got spayed on Monday. A formerly feral cat, she is too wild to coral in the Pet Taxi so we spent a week feeding her in there. Since she was a runt and is always hungry, she would walk through fire for food. Pretty shrewd animal, but not that shrewd. Bernie however is not all that swift. Penny was away for about 7 hours but Bernie has been acting like we got a new cat -- growling and hissing like she did when we first got Penny, who is needless to say more than a bit confused. Bernie was so upset he actually sat on my wife's lap for the first time in the 15 months since we found her. (Though if you followed the foundling story you know that for 8 months we thought she was a he --- let's blame identity confusion for her behavior.)
Howard Beach Vet with the great Dr. Weinstein reopened fort the first time Monday morning and it was packed already. The doc was in that day luckily and he was so happy to see everyone coming back. He thought he had lost his entire business and seemed so affected he ended up in a weakened state and with pneumonia. That seems to be going around as Barry, my alarm guy also has it.

Yesterday was a big day. I finally managed to finish wiring 2 new basement lights to add to the 2 the electricians had left me. I spent a month planning the op, replacing lost tools one at a time until I got the final piece -- a tool to cut BX cable -- the biggest pain in the ass -- in the old days I used to use a hack saw -- which a nice Home Depot guy found for me on the top shelf of the storage area. I had been going from Loews to HD to another HD to look for this tool, which had been flying off every shelf due to all the Sandy  work being done. Of course I couldn't figure out exactly how it worked unitl I found a you tube video.

Let there be light
Well this project took over a week to put all the pieces in place. I ran this like a military op worthy of the Bin Laden assault -- Katherine Bigelow has been in touch for the film rights  -- figuring out a strategy that wouldn't get me fried. So I ran the cables from light to light and then to the box with the switch. I had to turn off lots of circuit breakers -- all brand spanking new. But I had to drill through all kinds of beams, including a triple one, which delayed me a week while I had to buy different drill bits until finally buying one of those foot long ones. What a thrill to see the wood fly away. (I also spent 2 months deciding on what Makita drill/driver set to buy).

Tuesday night I went to the 2nd session of a new venture -- a storytelling group where we all, well, tell stories. Not all that simple in that you have to think about it and structure it like something you would write, but instead perform. This is a 3 hour class over 5 weeks followed by a performance at a club in front of a (gulp) audience on Feb. 21. I did stories on my First Kiss and Sandy -- both disaster movies. The other people in my class are fascinating -- 7 of us all together -- and I have already learned so much. One of them is a Chinese immigrant/artist who is riveting and another young lady is an improv performer. I really have to do more of this "get a life" stuff.

Last night I attended the regular meeting of the 6 year old writing group (mostly fiction) I helped found. Only 2 of the originals are left and with a few others leaving we are down to 4 people so we are going to recruit some more -- 7 or 8 is optimal. There have been a few novels written and a collection of short stories published by a former teaching colleague who I recruited to the group. Though another schlep into the city, it is worth it. My problem is that I haven't touched the novel I started a few years ago. It is/was Rockaway based with The Wave playing an important role. I was always planning to use their 125 years of archives but all are gone in the storm (though I recently met someone who has a friend who lives near The Wave and found some in the street.)

And of course, there was last Friday's massive celebration of my wife's birthday where we were supposed to go to one of the most expensive restaurants in New York just days after taking our great friends who were so kind to us during Sandy to another expensive restaurant. Luckily, my wife changed her mind and we did a movie (quartet) followed by tea at the Palm Room at the Plaza Hotel -- yeah, 50 bucks for tea and some snacks but way cheaper than Del Posto.

My biggest regret that day? We never got over to the MTA office where my wife could get her half-price transit card --- paying that extra dollar 20 on the way home when we didn't have to is so irksome.

Today we make up for it when we head into the city before the play this afternoon to get the most important thing you can get at a certain age --- the pleasure of a half fare card. Plus of course my wife now being eligible for medicare --- eat shit Paul Ryan. Of course it took mucho phone calls to GHI and an endless and fruitless wait for the UFT people to get it done.

My new fave tool - I love to cut BX in the morning

Where I could have gotten electrocuted- bzzzzz

Success Academy Charter Schools Parent/Guardian Contract

Cultural infractions at Success Academy
We will be instituting a new way of following up on culture infractions for 2013 using water boarding.
Coming Soon: I will attend all bogus political events Eva maneuvers me into.

Not adhering to these rules will get their ass tossed right back to the local loser public school you trash came from.

Hello Success Academy Families,

Happy 2013!  Attached please find a copy of the Parent Contract that you signed at the beginning of the year for your reference. You do NOT need to submit the contract again; this is simply for your reference.

As we enter the new year we would like to reiterate the expectations around school culture.  Attached you will find a copy of the Success Academy School Contract that you signed at the beginning of this school year. Please review your contract.  We will be instituting a new way of following up on culture infractions for 2013.
Success Academy Charter Schools Parent/Guardian Contract
As a Success Academy Parent, I pledge to take ACTION to succeed in the following ways:
  • I will teach, model, and live by the Success Academy values every day. I will inspire my child to love learning and strive to be exemplary.
  • I understand that every minute of instructional time counts. I will ensure that my child attends school every day.
  • I will notify the school of an excused absence no later than 8:15am on the day of the absence and send my child with a note when he/she returns to school.
  • I will ensure that my child arrives at Success Academy every day by 7:45am.
  • I will pick up my child on time.
  • I will read and check carefully all papers and flyers that my child brings home.
  • I will ensure that my child completes and turns in all homework assignments on time.
  • I will read to my kindergarten, first, and second grade children every night and complete all reading logs by the due date.
  • I will ensure that my third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade children read every night and complete all reading logs by the due date.
  • I will be an active member of my school community. I will interact with Success Academy staff frequently and call my child’s teacher before problems arise.
  • I will respond to school communications within 24 hours.
  • I will treat all members of the Success Academy team with respect.
  • I will ensure that my child observes the guidelines for expected behavior at Success Academy.
  • I will make sure my child comes to school in his/her complete uniform ready to learn every day.
  • I will attend all family meetings and academic events
  • I pledge to follow these steps to ensure success. I understand that these school policies are essential to the success of my child. I will succeed.
    Child’s Name: _____________________________________________________ Date:__________________ Parent/Guardian Signature: ________________________________________
    Parent/Guardian Name Printed _____________________________________

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Success Academy Picket Plans Against Mayoral Candidates Opposing Co-Location Plus Village Voice on Invasion of Charters

Invasion Of The Charter Schools: Former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz, with Bloomberg's union-busting blessing, is pushing her Success Academy edu-franchise into Brooklyn. The natives aren't buying. --- Village Voice
Before you get to this naked misuse of public money as a political organizing mechanism, see the article above, one of the first signs the mass media is increasingly scrutinizing Eva and the other charter crooks' schemes.

Here is a follow-up to the letter Suckcess sent out to manipulate parents (Eva Violation: Using Parents of Success Cheater Schools).

And see Brooklyn Parents in Williamsburg/Greenpoint File Suit

Parents will be picketing in front of the following mayoral candidate offices tomorrow, from 8:45am-9:15am.  You are welcome to attend at any location:

(1) Bill Thompson for Mayor, 349 5th Avenue (on 34th at the corner)
(2) New Yorkers for de Blasio, 30 Broad Street (near City Hall)
(3) Office of the NYC Comptroller John Liu, Municipal Building, One Centre Street (near City Hall)

Please be sure to let me know if you have any questions, and thanks again for your interest.

Thanks again!
Norah Cooney – Associate Director of Advocacy
Success Academy Charter Schools
310 Lenox Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10027

If you are in the neighborhood, drop in and let them know what you think. How nice that they can hire Norah as ASSOCIATE Director of Advocacy which means there is more than one. Money that might have gone to reduce class size.

Here is the Voice article featuring the always amazing Brooke Parker.

When the hipsters of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick are ready to add a little hipster to the family, we inevitably join the Brooklyn Baby Hui. The hui (it's a Maori term for "community," natch) has all the information anxious new parents need on making their own organic beet purees, which Mayan-style woven baby carrier and wool diaper covers to pick out at Caribou Baby boutique, and how to co-sleep on your vacation to Istanbul. I've lost a big chunk of my life to the hui since I had my baby in the winter of 2011.

But starting that spring, the list exploded into flame wars, deleted posts, trigger warnings, and bans on longtime members. The source of the friction was the entry of two charter elementary schools into the local District 14. First came Success Academy, a controversial and aggressively expanding chain founded and run by former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz. Then, in April, Moskowitz's husband, Eric Grannis, an attorney who runs a separate charter-promoting organization called the Tapestry Project, e-mailed the hui to gin up support for Citizens of the World, the first planned East Coast outpost of a Los Angeles–based chain that arrives trailing its own cloud of protest and scandal.

Success Academy Williamsburg opened this past fall. Citizens of the World was approved in December to open in the fall of 2013—unless a lawsuit by local parents, who have taken their campaign from the hui to City Hall, manages to stop it. In other words, a full-on cage match is brewing near the shops and bars of Bedford Avenue. But it's more than just #firstworldproblems—it's a struggle over the urban soul and a microcosm of the national education debate. Each side claims to be concerned only with what's best for all children, implying that others are acting out of spite, greed, or bad faith. But the basic principle in play here is simple: Who should decide the educational needs of a neighborhood?

"Choice is not a problem. Quality is not a problem. Parents in this district don't have complaints about our teachers. City planning says these new charters are a bad idea."

Brooke Parker answers the door of her rented Greenpoint townhouse in her sweatpants, two days after Christmas. Her kindergartner is racing around with a playdate. Parker has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and has two daughters and a stepdaughter. She used to work in film; her husband, Erik Parker, is a well-regarded contemporary artist. She is funny, profane, intimidatingly well informed, and talks almost nonstop for more than an hour. The co-founder and representative of Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents: Our Public Schools (WAGPOPS), the parent group spearheading the opposition to Success Academy and Citizens of the World in District 14, she has a bracing message for outsiders like Grannis and Moskowitz coming into the neighborhood: "What the fuck? Who the hell are you? How do you get to decide we need a new school?"

This isn't some Waiting for "Superman" scenario wherein charters swoop in to save a broken, overcrowded public school system. Quite the opposite. As a rule, Williamsburg's schools are neither overcrowded nor broken. With Hispanic and Italian families priced out and white families moving in, the number of children in District 14 is actually dropping (when you don't count the Satmar Hasidim living south of Broadway, who propagate enthusiastically but tend to shun the public schools). So there is plenty of room in the local schools, and parents aren't obliged to send their kids to the one they're zoned for—they essentially have their pick of the neighborhood. And plenty of the existing choices are quite good. "Several district schools in the neighborhood received an 'A' or a 'B' on the 2012 Progress Report," notes Devon Puglia, a Department of Education spokesperson.

The flip side of under-enrollment, however, is that it opens up a vacuum in the district school buildings. Charter elementary schools like those in Moskowitz's chain, Success, save money by "co-locating" in existing school buildings; they see the depopulated hallways in a place like Williamsburg as an empty niche waiting to be exploited. Already, the 28 elementary schools in the neighborhood include five charters. If Citizens of the World goes forward with the sixth, Williamsburg will rival only Harlem in its charter school concentration. There are 136 charter schools in the city today, enrolling 5.4 percent of the city's schoolchildren—more than twice the percentage nationwide. Fifteen more charters were authorized to open this fall across the city. The wave seems to be building.

The New York State Charter Schools Act of 1998 authorized the establishment of charter schools in New York State in an effort to promote choice and innovation: "Charter Schools offer an important opportunity to promote educational innovation and excellence," as insists. "Charter schools bring new leaders, resources, and ideas into public education." Here, as elsewhere, charters have been seen either as a life rope from the skies or a Trojan horse designed to turn public education into a voucher-based commercial enterprise.

Charters operate independently and autonomously, free from union work rules that prescribe everything from the length of the school day and school year to pension packages. Teachers' unions have seen them as a threat from the jump and have been tirelessly opposed: Not only are these non-union shops a threat to teachers' collective bargaining power, but charters also compete with district schools for tax money and other resources.

What about "innovation and excellence"? Well, your mileage may vary. According to a 2009 study published by Stanford, only 17 percent of charter schools nationally outperformed nearby public schools, and 46 percent did about the same. In New York State, charters tend to do much better, with more than half beating their district equivalents in math.

But the issue at stake in Williamsburg is not the virtues or the evils of charter schools. This is about the basic American democratic principle of local control, the notion that families should have meaningful input in determining their own educational needs and that a few entrepreneurial carpetbaggers pulling down six-figure salaries—with the backing of an unabashedly free-marketeering, union-hating mayor—shouldn't be allowed to trample parents' rights in order to advance their own philosophies and agendas.

Whether they are not-for-profit or for-profit, and they can be either, charter chains are businesslike—and they compete aggressively for students. Success Academy spent a reported $900,000 on marketing last year, including $250,000 to the lobbying, PR, and crisis-management firm SKD Knickerbocker. The chain also bought space for a set of large ads in the Bedford Avenue L subway stop.

Both Success and Citizens of the World are zeroing in on Baby Hui habitués like Miwako Dai, a lawyer who has lived in Williamsburg since 2006. "After our first child was born, I started worrying that there were no good public school options in this neighborhood," she says. "We looked at schools and properties in Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn with the hope of relocating to a good public school zone but didn't find anything that was convincing enough to make us move." She says she was "skeptical" of Success at first, but "my son is challenged at Success and comes home with a curious mind every day."

According to Parker, the charters are picking off newer residents in the neighborhood who also happen to be new parents. "This all started on the Brooklyn Baby Hui, which, as my stepdaughter calls it, is 'white people's problems,'" says Parker. "What stroller [to buy], blah, blah, blah. Very few people on the hui have kids who are already in school. And that's how the charter schools do their marketing. They go right to people who don't have kids in schools, and they feed directly into any fears you may have about urban education, and then say they have the solution for them."

Many parents have the same shimmering vision of the perfect public school: one that's progressive, with art and gardens and recess, but also with strong academics and good test scores without getting too obsessive over test prep. It's cozy and friendly with a strong community but not too many fundraisers or committee meetings. It's not crazy competitive to get into; it's integrated and diverse, but not depressing or scary or over-strict.

In short, it sounds a lot like P.S. 84 Jose de Diego, on Grand Street and Berry.

P.S. 84's success is the product of years of hard work. In the mid 2000s, police officers were regularly attending PTA meetings there to try to keep peace between the Hispanic parents in the upper grades and white parents putting their kids into the kindergarten. The school went through several principals before finding peace in 2009 with the hiring of Sereida Rodriguez-Guerra, who grew up in the neighborhood and has two children at the school. P.S. 84 hosts fundraisers by the likes of TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe and bake sales to benefit Occupy Sandy. In the past two years, a giant, colorful mural has appeared on the building with the help of local community organization El Puente.

"P.S. 84 is a progressive, balanced-literacy, project-based school," says Stephanie Anderson, whose daughter is in the dual-language second grade. "We're building a 1,500-square-foot rooftop greenhouse; we've got a working hydroponic classroom, relationships with local community organizations, performance arts, dance, music." Anderson got involved in WAGPOPS, she says, because she loves her school so much. Parker and Anderson and their fellow parents argue that P.S. 84 and similar neighborhood public schools are achieving a delicate balance on the knife's edge of gentrification—a balance that is threatened by the entry of outside charters.

"Nothing that they offer is unique or needed," says Anderson. "Our neighborhood schools are being overrun in a way that defies any logic."

For Mayor Bloomberg, as well as his former schools chancellor, Joel Klein (now an executive at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., where he oversees Amplify, the company's "education unit"), and his current one, Dennis Walcott, the logic is business logic. The three men are some of the most prominent boosters of charter schools nationwide, and when they talk about education, they speak the language of choice, investment, and free markets. "We're committed to developing a portfolio of schools for families to choose from," says Puglia, the Department of Education spokesperson. "While there are excess seats available [in District 14], communities have asked for more parent choice and additional high-quality options."

Who exactly the "community" is and what they've asked for is just the question at stake in District 14. "There are schools in the area with real needs," says Tesa Wilson, a mother and longtime neighborhood resident who has served eight years on the local parents' school advisory board, known as the Community Education Council, or CEC. When charter schools co-locate, they compete with the "host" school, which may well have lost resources as it lost head count. The CEC in District 14, for example, has asked for the past seven years to have enrichment programs reinstated, libraries reopened, and new high-quality middle and high schools established to relieve the pressure on the district magnet schools, says Wilson. Instead, they got new kindergarten classes run, outfitted, and freshly equipped by Success Academy.

It is the commercialism, expansionism, and self-interest that gets Moskowitz's opponents riled. In 2010, Moskowitz's private not-for-profit took in $12 million in funding, $3 million of it from the state and the rest from private donations. It paid Moskowitz, the CEO, $336,402 in salary that year, according to Success's tax returns. Moskowitz has said that she wants eventually to open 40 schools across New York City; six more Success Academies are already planned for the fall of 2013, three in Manhattan and three in Brooklyn.

"We've had a good relationship with long-established charter schools like Children's Charter 1 and 2," says Wilson. "Our first real fight was with Success." Wilson says the CEC tried for months to get someone from Success to come to one of its meetings; they finally sent a communications director, which "left a bad taste in our mouth." This year, District 14 lost an A-rated high school, so they asked the city to replace it. Instead, "we were told we'd get Citizens of the World. We were like, you've got to be kidding me."

So the neighborhood groups got organized and lawyered up. Advocates for Justice, a local public-interest law firm, filed petitions last year to stop the opening of Success Academies both in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill, but they were dismissed due to statutes of limitations. The parents' groups argue that they didn't hear about the schools in time to register objections, due to the same meager public outreach they were complaining about in the first place.

"I don't think people are against charter schools in general—our office has actually fought to keep some open," says Advocates for Justice attorney Arthur Schwartz. "It's that they should not be developed by people who don't care about the communities. In Williamsburg in particular, parents have worked really hard to have these integrated, well-balanced schools that a lot of people really want to go to, both yuppie parents and Hispanic parents. And plopped in the middle are these schools that change the balance. The concern is that they start pulling children out of schools that are actually functioning really well."

In January 2013, Advocates for Justice filed a new suit against SUNY's board of trustees, the organization that authorizes new charter schools in New York City, to stop Citizens of the World's entry into District 14. A long list of local officials—including Borough President Marty Markowitz; councilmembers Stephen Levin, Lisa Bloodgood, and Diana Reyna; State Senator Martin Dilan; Assemblyman Joe Lentol; and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez—has spoken out in favor of both suits, each of which argues that the charter organizations failed to comply with state regulations requiring broad community outreach to secure feedback and support for the proposed schools. For example, Citizens of the World claimed in their applications that they held information sessions at mixed- and low-income housing units. As their sign-in sheets showed, however, the sessions were actually held in Schaefer Landing and Northside Piers, high-end glass towers on the waterfront whose city-mandated affordable units are located elsewhere. (Citizens of the World says it also did outreach at six local Head Starts.)

Whatever outreach they did do doesn't seem to be working: At the public hearing for Success Academy Williamsburg on January 17, 2012, there was one couple in favor of Success and approximately 400 parents against. At a second hearing, in February, there were three local parents in favor, plus dozens of Harlem supporters bused in for the occasion.

The irony of all this skirmishing is that both sides claim to have the same goal: a high-quality school with a balance of kids of different colors, incomes, and abilities, something rare in a country where schools are more segregated than they have been since 1968.

"My parents grew up in Jim Crow in the South before the civil rights movement," says Tesa Wilson. "They were sent to a school that was subpar in every way. I have a real problem when children in this day and age don't get equality of treatment."

The fear underlying the hot rhetoric from opponents of chains like Success and Citizens is that for these charter schools, "diversity" really means picking off white and high-income families, the organized and affluent ones with the social capital and the time to agitate to make public schools better—the ones who would otherwise stay in and strengthen local public schools.

Currently, New York City charter school applicants are far more likely to be African-American than the average public school student, a pattern that's true nationwide. According to a study, "Choice Without Equity," by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, 70 percent of black charter school students nationally attend highly racially isolated schools that are 90–100 percent black.

Moskowitz, who attended the prestigious (and public) Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan before moving on to the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins, says she's trying to reverse that trend. Hence Success Academy's expansion into neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and Cobble Hill, where the chances of attracting diversity—i.e., white children—are better than in Harlem or the South Bronx. "It's Martin Luther King–ish and old-fashioned, I know," says Moskowitz, in a rather unlikely comparison. "But people going to school with people that are different than themselves is a very positive, healthy experience."

That seems like both a truly laudable goal and, given the unfortunate brand message the above race statistics transmit, a smart business decision as well.

Citizens of the World shares Success Academy's target demographic. Citizens' initial proposal to SUNY set a goal of 55 percent white enrollment in Williamsburg—a far higher percentage than you'd find at any local public school there. In a tour de force of PR spin, Citizens' community engagement director, Tara Phillips, says, "We wanted to create a school much more reflective of the diversity of the community relative to other public schools." In English, that means recruiting more white, affluent families to the school.

But diversity is a multi-dimensional metric. So while New York City charters have more minorities, they also have far fewer English-language learners than local schools (6 percent versus 14 percent) and fewer high-need special education students (2.1 percent versus 7.7 percent). The Success Academy I visited in Williamsburg had almost no special-ed kids. Critics like education historian and analyst Diane Ravitch say this is the result of charters' creaming off the students who don't need as many resources. The phenomenon of charters starting to pursue more white kids could add a whole other meaning to the term "creaming."

The mission statement of Citizens of the World focuses on community, peacemaking, and global citizenship. Phillips mentions "diversity" and "community" five times each in a 25-minute interview. Yet their community-relations problems didn't start in Brooklyn. Citizens' founder, Kristean Dragon, faced allegations of financial and ethical mismanagement and cronyism in relation to her previous organization, Wonder of Reading, which got millions of dollars to renovate Los Angeles school libraries before it folded. And Dragon met stiff opposition when opening in Silver Lake, a Los Angeles neighborhood that is a gentrified blend similar to Williamsburg. Stephanie Anderson, the WAGPOPS mom, connected with Silver Lake parents on Facebook and actually flew out to meet with them. "They did a lot of race-baiting in those neighborhoods," she recalls. "Saying, 'you don't want your kids to go to school with low-income Hispanics, do you?' It was the same playbook they're trying in Brooklyn."

Despite these long-standing issues, "the opposition has taken us by surprise," says Phillips, who can't keep a petulant note out of her voice when she talks about WAGPOPS. "The false accusation that we were targeting only white families just wasn't true. . . . It's been a very frustrating process to have the opposition throw lies at us to defeat our cause when there's so much work to be done."

"What's wrong with offering more choice to kids?" asks Abby Johnson, the principal of Success Academy Williamsburg. The upstairs hallway of classrooms within a middle school on South 3rd and Roebling is cheerful and orderly on a sunny Tuesday morning in January. In one room, kindergartners are playing with blocks; in the science lab, they are conducting experiments in growing bread mold; and in art class, they are painting pictures of cake à la Wayne Thiebaud.

The school appeared both progressive and regimented. I saw students, clad in uniforms, being repeatedly reminded to sit up straight and make eye contact with the teacher. Class sizes are at the high end (to make room in the budget for specialized teachers and a school psychologist), and the extended school day goes from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting in kindergarten, there is a relentless focus on college graduation, with each classroom named and decorated after the teacher's alma mater.

"That military, rigid discipline, that 'look me in the eye,' 'no excuses' stuff—I get that Eva Moskowitz is sociopathic enough to put her own kids in this school to prove a point," says Parker. (Two of Moskowitz's three children attend Success Academy Harlem.) "But the president wouldn't put his kids in a school like this. No person of means would. They think somehow this is OK for poor kids, but you don't see the suburban schools operating that way."

"Our pedagogy is incredibly progressive," counters Moskowitz. "Discovery-oriented science, constructivist math, THINK literacy. Our commitment to recess and blocks is deep and wide. We have yoga!" (She clearly sees yoga, offered only at the Williamsburg branch of Success, as some kind of dog whistle to parents of my breed.) "I think you'd be hard-pressed to come to the conclusion that it is 'no excuses,' " she continues, referring to a tagline associated with the more militaristic KIPP charter chain.

She might consider herself progressive, but Moskowitz's communication style hasn't made her hearts-and-minds campaign any easier. "Eva Moskowitz has quite a reputation," says Wilson, laughing. A 2009 post on asked, "What is it about Eva Moskowitz that attracts so many enemies?" (Conclusion: It's mostly a matter of personality, combined with that salary.) Neither she nor her husband will speak on the record about their separate-but-equal working relationship or about the somehow unseemly fact that they are pushing dueling charter chains on the same neighborhood.

Grannis says the help he offered Citizens of the World was limited to a single e-mail sent to the hui to arrange a meeting for local parents interested in charters: "My role has been greatly exaggerated by people who find my connection to Eva useful in pitching the vast-right-wing-conspiracy angle." Moskowitz prefers to believe in a vast left-wing conspiracy, writing off most of her opposition—including the multiple lawsuits and public hearings with hundreds of parents turning out against her schools—as the product of the unions and their "surrogates." "Randi [Weingarten, head of the United Federation of Teachers] made it very clear that it was part of her mission to stop Success Academy," she says.

WAGPOPS and the CEC, for their part, say their opposition has nothing to do with the unions. It's "pure grassroots," says Parker, adding that her group hasn't shared resources with, or even consulted with, union leaders. "The UFT does not employ me, nor do they give me a check," agrees Tesa Wilson. "What we do is volunteer work. We don't even get a plastic chicken dinner or a certificate from the DOE or the teachers' union, either."

Citizens of the World is likely to go forward as planned, but Schwartz, Wilson, and the WAGPOPS crew hope that their protests and suits will move the city to amend the planning process for new charter schools to include more meaningful community input. They'd also like to see it conduct a review of the effect on communities when charters target the exact same families as existing high-quality public schools.

The moment is right for that conversation: As Mayor Bloomberg ticks down the last months of his term, the public has lost its enthusiasm for mayoral control of schools, which he acquired in 2002, and for the businesslike agenda of charter schools, high-stakes testing, and all that goes with it. A January 2013 poll from Quinnipiac found that 63 percent of city voters want shared control of the schools, a steep drop from 2009, when a majority favored mayoral control. And by a 53 percent to 35 percent margin, we now trust the teachers' unions more than the mayor to protect the interests of schoolchildren. Maybe it's time for the grownups to be grownups here, and make the children the one priority we can agree on.
Photograph by Kelly Schott
P.S. 84 Jose de Diego in Williamsburg. After years of work by local parents, the school is “balanced,” but on a knife’s edge.
Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz pulls down more than $300K per year.
Eva Moskowitz's husband, Eric Grannis, also pushes the charter school concept.

C.S. Muncy
Stephanie Anderson, whose daughter attends P.S. 84, says the influx of charters “defies logic.”

C.S. Muncy
Abby Johnson, 30, is principal of Success Academy Williamsburg, which focuses relentlessly on college graduation. “What’s wrong with offering more choice to kids?” she asks.
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More About
Williamsburg (Brooklyn)City Councilmember Eva MoskowitzBrooklyn (New York City)Education IssuesCharter Schools

Mulgrew OK With Handing Over Our Bargaining Rights to Cuomo

Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement that he “would prefer a negotiated settlement,” but supported state intervention if talks fail again-- Gotham Schools,  Cuomo proposes state takeover in NYC teacher eval impasse

We can't even classify this as merely a sell-out, but total capitulation. In order to be Vichy you have to surrender first. Parlez vous francais, Mulgrew?  Try this:  Je me rends.

RBE is waxing poetic at Perdido Street School, closing with this: Don't we want MORE out of our union leadership than this?

Mulgrew: I'm Fine With Cuomo Imposing An Evaluation System

Shaking the UFT/Unity Tree

The mantra: One school at a time.

At MORE UFT Presidential candidate Julie Cavangh's school, PS 15 in Red Hook, almost the entire staff signed the letter below. And the number of people from PS 15 running on the MORE slate in the UFT elections keeps growing.
"We as UFT members strongly oppose any deals regarding teacher performance evaluations.  We believe that they are based on faulty high-stakes testing data and subjective performance reviews.
As union members we expect the UFT to support us in a positive direction rather than settle for a deal that would undermine the integrity of our profession and is not in the best interest of any student.

It is alarming and disheartening that we have been working without a contract for the last four years.  Our dissatisfaction with the trends of this current leadership is the reason so many of us are considering voting for an alternative caucus, such as MORE.  We demand leaders who support us as professionals and who will negotiate a contract that is in the best interest of New York City teachers and students alike."
Given that Julie is in the school a letter like this is not all that surprising --- we find that wherever MORE has strong people representing the caucus, the staff often lines up with them. Just as where there are strong Unity people the staff often lines up with them.

The issue is what is happening in schools around the city? A great post a few days ago from Reality Based Educator at Perdido St. School gave us an idea.

Anger At The UFT Leadership Is Building In The Rank And File

The UFT leadership are a smug bunch.
They've been in power for a long time and the swagger they exhibit whenever they deign to come and talk to the rank and file makes me think that they think they're going to be in power for a lot longer.

Now I wouldn't bet against the Unity caucus staying in power in perpetuity or at least until the neo-liberals complete their privatization job on the NYC public school system, but I got an eye-opening look into something this week that I haven't seen much of in my 12 years as a UFT member - genuine outrage, anger and frustration aimed at the UFT leadership.

I graded Regents exams this week with teachers from a dozen different schools around Manhattan.

Many of them expressed outrage over the DOE, anger at Bloomberg and Walcott, and frustration over the latest ed deforms that are wreaking havoc across the system.

But there was also a lot of fire and brimstone aimed at Mulgrew and the UFT leadership for their collaboration with the deform movement and the DOE.
It seems that sending teachers to mark regents out of their schools and into shared space with other schools often turned into gripe sessions.
One teacher said, as we were talking about all the ways the UFT has caved to Bloomberg and the DOE since the infamous 2005 contract, "I can't think of one thing that they've really said no too that ended up really being no."
And it's true - they say there's too much emphasis on high stakes testing, but then they help develop the APPR system; they give the okay on the Teacher Data Reports with the assurance that the numbers will never see the light of day in public and when the DOE decides to publish them in the media, they half-heartedly fight that with ineffective lawsuits and the TDR's end up in the papers with names attached.

One teacher, now working in high school but then working in a middle school said "I can't tell you how angry that made me, when they published the Teacher Data Reports - angry at Bloomberg for doing it and angry at the union for not stopping him from doing it."

Someone else told a story about working in one of the SIG schools and how unhelpful and indeed toxic the union people were, almost as unhelpful and toxic as the DOE and network people were during the turnaround battles.

"All they wanted to do was sell us on the Danielson rubric and tell us how great it was.  But we were telling them that the administration was using it as a weapon against us and they didn't want to hear it.  They only wanted to hear how great the Danielson rubric was."

Someone else concurred.  "Yeah, the union people never really want to hear from you.  They want you to listen to them, not the other way around.  And that makes me really, really angry.  Why am I paying union dues?  What am I getting out of this?"

Someone said "Dental insurance?"

And everybody laughed. "Yeah - and shitty dental insurance at that!"
Someone else complained about all the perks the core UFT people get and wanted to know why they were getting those when so many rank and file members are fighting for their jobs. 
But to hear this same anger, outrage and frustration toward the union leadership in person from a whole swath of people from a dozen different schools was very informative for me. It means that the swaggering bullies in the UFT leadership had better watch out.

There is a huge amount of anger, outrage and frustration out there already and we haven't even gotten the APPR system yet with the official use of the 57 page Danielson rubric which you had better do well on or you're "I-Rated," and the Student Learning Objectives that require 170 folders with a dozen pieces of Common Core work graded per semester which you also had better do well on or you're "I-Rated," and the value added measurements based upon test scores which you had better show growth on or you're "I-Rated," and the additional meetings and paperwork that are going to come as a result of the APPR system.

Just wait until that stuff comes to fruition.
Yes, just wait. I always say that it is not in the DNA or in the guts of Unity leaders to really lead a fight back to save public education. To really do that you need a democratic union that would give the members a voice and the UFT cannot do that or risk losing even a share of their privileges. Did you know that even if MORE won a majority of the teacher vote in elem, ms and hs they would only get 23 out of 101 seats on the UFT Exec Bd? That is almost astounding to think of but they have so structured things to assure they can keep power. Don't get me wrong -- if this were ever to happen it would be cataclysmic and shake the teacher union movement to its roots.

RBE speculates on the future.
Now I hear this kind of anger, outrage and frustration toward the union leadership in the blogosphere all the time and I express this kind of anger, outrage and frustration myself toward the union leadership on this blog all the time.

My sense is that Mulgrew and his Unity hacks think they can bullshit their way through the APPR fallout just the way they have bullshitted their way through the odious '05 contract and the '07 extension to that, just the way they bullshitted their way through all the closings and the turnarounds, the TDR reports and the naming of names in the papers, and now the evaluation negotiations.

Experience says the UFT leadership are correct - they will be able to bullshit their way through APPR no matter how bad it is and maintain their power and privileges and double pensions.

But the anger, outrage and frustration I saw at the grading sessions this week leads me to believe that the UFT leadership will have a harder time bullshitting their way through the APPR fallout than they have over the other stuff in the past.

First, because all this stuff has built up - the odious '05 contract, the TDR's, the school closures, the co-location fights, the increase in "U-Ratings," the SIG mess, the Leadership Academy principals and the horror that is the ATR pool.  There is a lot in the pit already and when the APPR fallout hits, the pit is going to be close to overflowing.

And second, because we are now seeing anger, outrage and frustration aimed at the UFT leadership from teachers who used to be pretty apolitical folk but have found themselves politicized by the crimes perpetrated on them by the Tweedies that the UFT either ignored or couldn't do anything about.

Somebody mentioned MORE today during this discussion (not me, btw) and everybody at the table said they would be open to hearing from someone new, someone who would be willing to stand up for teachers rather than sell them out, somebody who would be more interested in political issues that mean something to teachers rather than just public relations opportunities to aggrandize themselves and further their own careers.

I'm not naive enough to think the Unity people won't win this coming election - Mulgrew will probably win another overwhelming "victory" that will put a smirk on his face and the double "g's" in his swagger.

But the same person who mentioned MORE at the grading session mentioned how Julie Cavanagh is an appealing leader who really could give Mulgrew a run for his money in the future.

I think that is right with one qualification - the future is farther off than this next UFT election.

We haven't hit bottom yet in the NYC system.

There is more horror to come, as Bloomberg attempts to go out causing as much chaos and destruction as he can.

And the state has some horrors up its sleeve too with APPR and the VAM.

I think after a year or two of that kind of devastation, the anger, outrage and frustration at the smug, swaggering Unity guys is going to be at a fever pitch and that will give some new blood - hopefully MORE - a real opening to do to Unity what CORE did to the entrenched CTU leadership.

If that happens, I will remember what I heard today from those teachers from a dozen different schools as they told their Tweed horror stories. 
I hope RBE is right but I have been so long at this game and always see the UFT leadership manage to send out its hordes to bullshit its way through these type of times. I saw it when the 95 contract was turned down and in the battle over the 2005 contract. The initial enthusisasm when ICE formed in late 2003 certainly fooled me. But maybe we messed it up. And given the way things move and the fact that we are 8 years behind the Chicago story which began in 1995, maybe we are on course. But unless MORE builds an effective organization all will be for naught. The power vacuum in the schools is what allows Unity to control. Challenge that and the game changes.

That is why I left this comment on Perdido St.
I can't stress enough how important it would be to get names and schools and recruit people to hand out MORE election lit to break the Unity monopoly.

Our best chance to win seats on the Ex Bd is in the high schools where Unity and New Action team up against MORE. 15,000 HS teachers did not vote in the last election. If we can get out this vote for MORE we can win at least a share of the Exec Bd but we need a mass of people to reach into every high school.

Email me offline with any names and schools and contact info. The election starts on Feb. 6.
I got some responses from this comment, including one from a large high school.

Been following you as well as other bloggers for a long time. I teach at ---- High School where I would say the overwhelming majority of teachers have very little knowledge to what is happening with the new evaluation or any other aspect of ed deform. I would be interested in distributing any literature about MORE personally to as many teachers as possible in my school.

 So, this teacher right now is interested in leveling the playing field and informing teachers who are not really aware. Not be an active MORE person in a school that seems to be Unity controlled. In a follow-up conversation I was told that they never heard of Unity or MORE and have little knowledge of the kind of issues you read about every day on the blogs. This reader is educated due to the blogs and wants to share with the staff. A very good start.  To challenge Unity we need MORE --an active person who challenges the Unity line.

If RBE is right, that day is coming as conditions worsen and the UFT leaders flail helplessly, trying to pass the blame and telling people let's just wait out the mayor -- Beat Lhota -- in 2021.

 Here are some more comments from the blog:
Our school's DA will be voting down any new evaluation deal that uses flawed data and utilizes DOE "gotcha" hit squad tactics. Also, every teacher in my small school will be voting MORE. (I have personally spoke to each and every teacher and they are fuming mad at Mulgrew.
  1. That's great to hear - We're trying to do the same in my school. And I certainly saw that this week at Regents grading.

Susan Ohanian lays bare the roots of ed deform going back to the Clintons

History counts my chickadees, so if you want to understand the roots of ed deform read this entirely through. Susan doesn't get into the role Shanker and the union played in supporting so much of this as outlined in the Kahlenberg bio - which Kahlenberg paints as a good thing --- no wonder both the UFT/AFT and Broad backed the book. Thus when people accuse Randi of changing the direction of the union and that Shanker would roll over, they are wrong. Randi just continued the line with refinements that Shanker laid down.

I met Susan when I and John Lawhead went down to Birmingham Al for a conference Susan helped organize to fight NCLB and those few days with a great crew of activists were very important in my development. I didn't see Susan again until SOS 2011 in DC and hope to see her on her next visit for a speaking engagement on May 4.
Goals 2000: What's in a Name?
More than a decade after President Bush the Elder and the nation's governors adopted goals for education for the year 2000,Phi Delta Kappan asked me to write a cover story on what had resulted. I said it was time to ask, Whose good is being served? Now, in this era of Obama and Bill Gates, Race to the Top and the Common Core, it's useful to take a look at what drove Goals 2000. . . and how it has affected our present condition. Many of the players haven't changed, and although the current administration is more ruthless about it, neither have the goals.
by Susan Ohanian

GEORGE BUSH the Elder called it America 2000. Bill Clinton calls it Goals 2000. I call it an alphabet soup of bureaucratic interference in the lives of children, and I say to hell with it: CEI, CIM, NAEP, NAGB, NASDC, NBPTS, NCEE, NCEST, NEGP, NESIC, NSP, NTFEEG, OBE, OERI, OLT, SCANS, STW, TFTP, TIMSS, TSWE, and more. Much, much more. I admit that NCEST is my favorite acronym. Not because I ever remember what it stands for, but because the way you pronounce it suggests the intertwined relationships of the fiscal opportunists and ideologues promoting Goals 2000.

Goals 2000 is, of course, the offspring of A Nation at Risk, a teacher- and school-bashing report representing not so much an evaluation of pedagogical practices and student achievement as a Zeitgeist of the early 1980s. I wonder what Goals 2000 says about our current ethos -- as we cheerfully, nay, avidly, look forward to a new age when leaders across the country will echo New York's commissioner of education, Richard Mills, in insisting that subjecting fourth-graders to a test they can't pass is a "good strategy." What can we say about an era that coins the term "raising the bar" to describe the way it thinks young children should be treated?

Writing in these pages exactly 15 years ago, I described the cheap rhetoric emanating from the corporate and political remittance men and their band of consulting mercenaries as being akin to "a nasty swarm of bloodsucking mosquitoes. Their bites may not kill, but they sure don't help us do our job."1 At that time, operating from a third-grade teacher's realpolitik of "This, too, will pass," I shrugged off the documents as just so much ugly rhetoric. I didn't meet one teacher in a hundred who even bothered to read the offal. Everybody knew that being a teacher meant keeping your focus on children and not allowing yourself to be distracted by tiddly-pom.

Times have changed. This time, we can't afford to shrug off the assaults on public education in general and on children in particular as just one more round of pricks from parvenu opportunists looking for easy, vulnerable targets. (Why don't CEOs ever take out after the members of Congress the way they do teachers? Why don't members of Congress ever take out after CEOs the way they do teachers?) We must not be lulled by the fact that as they co-opt the jargon of our trade for their own purposes, the rhetoric of the corporate/politico connivers has cooled. I, for one, don't find much comfort in being called an incompetent in need of scripted lessons rather than a cancer on the nation's landscape. This time, the sharp talons of the vultures dig much deeper. Before, they just annoyed us; this time, they're sucking our blood. This time, they can kill us.

By the time Congress passed President Clinton's Goals 2000: Educate America Act in March 1994, the infrastructure was already in place. Take a look at Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America's Public Schools, by Louis Gerstner, Jr., chairman and CEO of IBM (with Roger Semerad, Denis Doyle, and William Johnston).2 The fact that it was published within a month of the passage of Goals 2000 is no coincidence. One of the noteworthy features of Goals 2000 is that Gerstner and his cronies got to name the problem as well as define the solution: claiming the need for choice, competition, and technology in the schools; defining students as human capital and the teaching/learning compact as a "protected monopoly" offering "goods and services"; describing the relationship between teachers and the communities they serve as that of "buyers and sellers." Gerstner and company talk about measuring school productivity "with unequivocal yardsticks" (p. 69). They speak of the need for national tests and "absolute standards," insisting that schools must compare themselves to each other the way "Xerox, for example, compares itself to L. L. Bean for inventory control" (p. 70). Now that's a fine notion: teaching as inventory control.

Gerstner and his crew address the big questions of education: "How much do students learn each month . . . ? How great are these learning gains per dollar spent?" (p. 69). They define the business of teaching as "the distribution of information" (p. 155). Functionaries writing state standards quickly warmed to this metaphor. At their April 1997 meeting, members of the California Academic Standards Commission of the state board of education, whose job it was to approve academic standards in the various disciplines, showed a similar fondness for teaching as the delivery of skills: "A fifth-grade teacher would have a firm grasp on what skills and knowledge had been conveyed in grades K-4, and would deliver kids to the next grade ready to continue with the next set of expectations." How many minutes does a fledgling teacher have to be in a real classroom before she realizes that students don't pass by her desk like goods on a conveyor belt? You can teach and teach and teach. You can even teach the California seventh-grade history standards.3 But all your teaching doesn't mean those pesky students are going to learn - or deliver their skills intact to next year's teacher.

Testing, now known as high-stakes testing, is the crucial part of all of this. It gives results that let people in the suburbs know whether their property values are trending up or down in a given year. The testing process works like this: states that may or may not have enough money to buy a textbook for every student and to stock every school with a library and a professional librarian spend megamillions to buy tests made by an anonymous committee that doesn't have a clue about the specific, idiosyncratic needs of the individual, nonstandard children in classrooms across America.

I know, I know, we must work for the greatest good. But maybe it's time that we question whose good is being served when 98% of the schools in a state fail the test. Whose good is being served when educrats buy these tests and base promotion policies on the results because if they don't, they won't get their federal Goals 2000 lucre? Whose good is being served when, instead of denouncing and dismantling high-stakes testing, quisling academics publish books on how to train children to feel better about taking the tests? Whose good is being served when hapless teachers are manipulated into teaching from an impossible canon decreed by the politico/corporate cartel? Members of Congress and executives at IBM can sleep easy, knowing that every seventh-grader in the land will soon be trained to identify William Tindale. (For a reason known only to them and the Almighty, the California Standardistos who wrote this curriculum imperative insist on this third-alternative spelling.)

Read more:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teacher Uprising in Seattle: Garfield HS Test Boycott on Democracy Now

I don't want to lose that kind of money on a teacher's salary. But I'm willing to do it. Because that's the right thing to do. And it's also educational for my students to see me standing up for things that are right. --- Garfield HS Teacher
Teachers will not back down in face of Supe threat of 10 day suspension without pay. "Teachers will volunteer their time." This is must see as teacher Jesse Hagopian explains what the boycott is all about.

Here is the summary.
I am writing to share an interview we broadcast on Democracy Now! today regarding the unanimous vote to stop administering widely used standardized MAP tests at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington, earlier this month. We are joined by one of these teachers, Jesse Hagopian, alongside a former high school teacher, assistant professor at the University of Washington, and author of "Unequal by Design: High-Stakes Testing and the Standardization of Inequality."

Watch it here:

As you may already know, these teachers boycotting are calling these standardized tests wasteful and unfairly used to grade their performance - they are now facing threats of 10-day suspension without pay if they continue their boycott. However, teachers are not going to back down. Mallory Clarke, who teaches reading at Garfield High School, states, "I don't want to be away from my students for that length of time. I don't want to lose that kind of money on a teacher's salary. But I'm willing to do it. Because that's the right thing to do. And it's also educational for my students to see me standing up for things that are right."

Please feel free to share our report today by posting on your website, blog, Twitter and Facebook page. I have provided the link and video embed code below. The complete transcript will be posted soon on our website.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to speak more with you about this issue and/or our organization.

My best,
Susanna Choe
Social Media and Online Outreach Intern
Democracy Now!

Search you tube and check out these videos:

Seattle Teachers' Boycott of High Stakes Tests Spreads
by paulgoodnews•5 days ago•8 views
Educators nationwide support growing Seattle teacher boycott of high stakes tests
Seattle Teachers Boycott Standardized Test
by MOXNEWSd0tC0M•2 weeks ago•499 views
January 13, 2013 CNN
MAP Test Boycott Rally in Seattle, Wash. - Jan. 23, 2013
by NEAABS•4 days ago•289 views
National Education Association (NEA) members in Seattle, Wash., held a rally on Wednesday, January 23, 2012, to address their ...
MAP boycott press conference 1/21/2013
by Eric Muhs•1 week ago•64 views
A press conference provides updates on the spread of the MAP test boycott started by Garfield High School teachers, and now ...
Corporations wants students to be cogs in their profit machine...
by TheBigPictureRT•1 week ago•489 views
Academic Dean & Testing Coordinator-Garfield High School in Seattle, WA joins Thom Hartmann. Teachers in Seattle are fed up ...

Susan Ohanian: The best rebuttal of the Common Core. The BEST.

Susan has a plethora of common core critiques. Now, not being directly involved in teaching anymore, I really don't pay much attention to the details of common core. "So why are you opposed," I am often asked? Because of the people and orgs who are supporting it: Every ed deformer and the UFT/AFT. When Tweed and the UFT are on the same side, watch out.

Susan also highlights an article by MORE candidate for UFT Secretary Brian Jones:
Teaching By the Numbers
Brian Jones


New York City teacher Brian Jones explains  that standardized testing has more to do with controlling teachers than it does with improving learning.
Other bloggers like Ravitch and RBE have some CC pieces today:

Here is a batch of Susan's CC stuff (Updated):

A Weapon of Mass Distraction
Susan Ohanian with letter by Stephen Krashen

Here's a little quiz on the Common Core posted at the Christian Science Monitor.

Their side is winning.

Sense of Urgency
Stories from School: Practice Meets Policy blog

This teacher presents very clearly the harm Common Core rigor is doing to first graders--and then presents the only answer
Common Core State (sic) Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making
 Christopher H. Tienken
AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice

The Common Core State (sic) Standards Update on the Ten Commandments Susan Ohanian
Here's an update on the 10 Commandments.

------------------- Playtime's over, kindergartners: Standards Stressing Kids Out Susan Edelman
New York Post
The Common Core Standards are making kindergartners cry. Small wonder.

Where Bill Gates Got the Idea to Call CCSS 'State' Standards

The Final Word on the Common Core

Steve Krashen and I have a Test Your Public Ed Savvy quiz over at The Progressive. Please pass it on. The Progressive gives us a chance at talking to a different audience

I have reprised my cover story for Phi Delta Kappan Goals 2000: What's in a Name? because it offers a quite thorough look at what brought us to where we are now. I am struck by how similar the language of ed reform is. I urge you to read this, definitely proof of that warning: Those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it.
I've overloaded you with grim news. Don't miss the Good News: Bob Gliner's film is coming to PBS: Schools That Change Communities. We should rally around this film. It changes the conversation.
Plus some cartoons:
Why Isn't That Ever On the Test?
Improving on Reading Tests

Follow the Money Trail on Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CCSS Funding

Goals 2000: What's in a Name?
Susan Ohanian
Phi Delta Kappan
I wrote this piece in 2000 and even I am surprised by how very depressingly current it still is. It is actually informative about how we got to where we are today.

ASCD  Poll About Arts as Handmaidens of Common Core Subjects
Susan Ohanian
One more attempt to reduce the important of the arts.

Parents Beware! Teachers Had Better Wake Up Too
Susan Ohanian with extensive quotes from 2 Parent
Daily Censored
This is the massive data system funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will put your students' data up to the highest bidder and eat you alive. Why hasn't your union told you about any of this?

To the editor
Susan Ohanian
Sarcasm is undoubtedly a mistake in letters to the editor, but I like the letter.

To the editor
Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC
Education Week
GREAT letter.

Go Team! Three Cheers!
Robert Bligh

Go, Nebraska gadfly and true school reformer, Robert Bligh!

Schools That Change Communities Film Coming to PBS
Susan Ohanian
Schools That Change Communities
, a one hour documentary about schools that use their communities as classrooms has begun airing on many public broadcasting system stations across the country. Watch it. Order it for your school board and PTA.
Order the CD of the resistance:
"No Child Left Behind? Bring Back the Joy."
To order online (and hear samples from the songs)
Other orders: Send $15 to
Susan Ohanian
P. O. Box 26
Charlotte, VT 05445
 By the way, Susan is coming into town on May 4 to speak at a high stakes testing conference. I will keep you posted.