Monday, September 18, 2017

Today: Support Charter/Spectrum Workers on Strike

If you were a Time-Warner subscriber, the sale of that company to Charter Cable/Spectrum was not a good thing for the workers and I bet ultimately the customers. I'm going to try to make this event.

Brothers & Sisters,
We are ONE day away from coming together as NYC Labor to to march across the Brooklyn Bridge and rally in Foley Square with IBEW Local 3. 1,800 cable workers at Charter/Spectrum have been on strike for six months, and we are with them in their fight for a fair contract.

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson will join Local 3 Business Manager Chris Erikson, NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, NYC CLC AFL-CIO President Vinny Alvarez, and labor leaders and union members from across NYC to stand up for our striking sisters and brothers.  We are asking you to stand with Local 3, too.

We'll assemble in Cadman Plaza and march across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan for a rally at 4PM in Foley Square.
Find out more about Monday's march and rally here.

Adult Education Teacher to UFT Exec Bd

The Adult ed chapter of the UFT has been under assault since Supt Rosemary Mills took over. A group of teachers attended the UFT Ex Bd meeting last week, as I reported the other day, First UFT Ex Bd Meeting of Year - A Stephen King Horror Movie.

The fact that the UFT has allowed the chapter itself to flounder is not an insignificant factor -- like a UFT official sitting there quietly whole Rosemary Mills berated a UFT member at a meeting. I suspect, based on my instincts of how some of the UFT hacks have operated in the past, that if you are not viewed as a Unity Caucus loyalist you are under suspicion. I am told there is no chapter leader at this crucial time and people have been forced to do things ad hoc. The UFT's Patti Crispino is supposed to be on the case. If you knew Patti like I knew Patti --- don't expect much.

Note this comment from Fran Myers:  Mills knows what’s going on in chapter more than we do. We need info on discontinuance and percentages to strategize. Demand transparency.

Peter Romani read the following statement at the first UFT EB Meeting of the year:
To the Executive Committee of the UFT,

The steering committee of the Adult Education Chapter has formed the Adult Ed Action Committee. Our chapter has been under attack by Superintendent Rose Marie Mills of the Office of Adult and Continuing Education for close to 5 years.

Having consolidated her power through her close colleagues at the highest levels of DOE, she has been empowered and enabled to supervise a decades old program with 150 full-time adult education teachers and hundreds of per session K-12 teachers with absolute impunity. Noteworthy that our numbers have been shrinking every year, not by accident.

As a result, she has successfully overwhelmed every successive chapter leader with hostility, intimidation, and by running them ragged all over the 5 boroughs in this city-wide program which serves 35,000 adult students. The disciplinary hearings have increased exponentially and the paperwork redundancy and petty policies are designed in part to render any chapter leader ineffective and exhausted. We have lost yet another chapter leader this summer, retiring from the position after one year and from DOE in disgust and frustration. You may be aware that this past June we saw 20 – 30 annual “U”ratings, along with several discontinuances of vulnerable teachers. Out of 150 or so full-time teachers, this is an alarming percentage of U ratings. The observation process under Mills has become nothing more than a tool to meet quotas of harassment, hostility, early retirements, and terminations.

The Adult Education Action Committee has been formed out of a desperate attempt to continue advocating for this once proud program and the chapter members, as Ms. Mills now breaks or bends every rule, policy, or protections she arrogantly believes she can get away with. We feel let down by our union and betrayed by Chancellor Farina, Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson, and Senior Superintendent Laura Feijoo.

We are concerned that there will continue to be a vacuum in the chapter leadership and that Superintendent Mills will surely try to discreetly install a candidate of her choosing, knowing that there are few if any left in the chapter who would willingly run for this position. We strongly urge our UFT leadership not only to intervene meaningfully on our behalf, but to implement the following common sense remedies:

• Reconfigure and expand the chapter leader position to allow for multiple chapter leaders, perhaps one per borough citywide, in order to meet the inordinate time demands and duties of this chapter.
• Provide for a mechanism whereby the Adult Ed Action Committee can schedule meeting space on a regular basis at UFT headquarters for chapter-related business.
• Assign a separate District Representative dedicated solely to this superintendency and the needs of the Office of Adult & Continuing Education exclusively.

We understand that the political winds of public education are not blowing in our favor, but no one should have to suffer for so long in this manner at the hands of a superintendent with unchecked power, zero accountability, and the arrogant abuse of power that naturally follows from the blind, entrenched, backing of the Department of Education.

--- Peter Romani

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Memo From the RTC: Elephants and Tap Dancers in the Closet

We talked a lot about the visa process. What is going on really does hit home when you meet people in that situation.

Welcoming dancers from Japan to Rockaway at Tony's barbecue (without the tap dancing)
For the Sept. 15 edition of The Wave.

Memo From the RTC:  Elephants and Tap Dancers in the Closet
By Norm Scott

I’m looking forward to Friday’s opening of “The Elephant Man” at the Rockaway Theatre Company in Fort Tilden. I never saw the play because at the time it won the Tony the subject matter wasn’t interesting to me. But this time I am excited because any production directed by Frank Caiati will be worth seeing. or call the ticket hotline at 718-374-6400.

I used to be an occasional theater goer, going mostly because my wife wanted to go. But since getting involved in the RTC and learning so much about so many aspects of the theater on the stage and behind the scenes, my interest has perked up and I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the theater experience (except being squeezed into tight seats with my knees pressed against the seat in front of me – and people with big heads.) Now I notice the lighting, the sound and especially the sets and how they are manipulated, often with the thought of how RTC master builder Tony Homsey would manage to do it, expecially given our stage size limitations and the lack of our ability to make things rise from underneath of have things fly in from the top or the wings. We got a tour of a Broadway theater backstage a few years ago and the amount of space was astounding. So the limited space at the RTC makes for some very creative approaches to making the sets work. Last year the RTC invested in two more sets of curtains set back from the main curtain, thus providing some flexibility. But space limitations don’t offer room for a lot of tricks. Very often set pieces have to be moved in and out the side doors. Due to some creative set design, that doesn’t have to happen this time. One more treat is having Suzanne Riggs back to stage manage the show.

Another treat of being part of the RTC is getting to meet so many new people, sometimes from far away. Over the past few years we’ve had some native Japanese actors studying dance in New York who have found their way to our theater for various shows. And through them we have been introduced to some of their friends, many of them dancers too. Recently, we were paid a visit by tap dancer Makiko Kuri, whom we met in Guys and Dolls. Makiko, who comes from the city of Kobi (of Kobi beef fame), brought along two  friends who were visiting from Japan. All three ladies are studying or teach tap and have lived and worked in New York at various times. Tony hosted them at his house in Breezy for a steak barbecue (but not Kobi beef) after they came back from whale watching. He will deny it but I believe the supposed stage shy Tony was hoping to pick up some tap dancing tips so he can lead the tap line in a future show. After the delicious barbecue feast Tony put together, none of us could get off the ground.

Norm often taps his feet while doing his blog at

Photo credit: Makiko Kuri
Caption: East meets west  at Tony Homsey’s kitchen table.

First UFT Ex Bd Meeting of Year - A Stephen King Horror Movie

NYC Principal in uniform
I felt I had walked into "It", the new Stephen King horror movie, where we hear of principals in clown suits knifing teachers in the back.... and when the Executive Board, controlled by Unity Caucus, is asked to remove the knives, the Unity Caucus votes it down by saying a knife in the back with the fingerprint of the principal is not enough data. Isn't it possible the teacher tripped backwards and fell on the knife?
Monday night was the first UFT Ex Bd meeting in almost three months.

Read NYC Educator on the Ex Bd meeting:
Noted in Arthur's report is this comment from a teacher to the Board:
—School founded six years ago to teach construction trades, was happy place. Were productive. Sent students into trades making more than college grads. Principal was removed. Don’t know why. Joyce Polfis new principal. 21 of his colleagues left willingly, out of 30. It’s like a different school. We look the same, but we aren’t. If everyone who wanted to leave did, there might be only 6 left. I returned to support students. This was done by design. Principal encouraged open market. his shows disregard for well-being of our students and community in S. Bronx. We had the attention of the mayor, teachers looked forward to coming to work, and kids would stay late. Clear we have crisis of leadership.
[Read about this principal at:]

What do you have to say when a teacher reports 80% turnover after a new principal comes in and when the UFT leadership is asked to publicize a list of such schools, it turns it down?

A summer of freedom from hearing rank and file teachers showing up to tell their horror stories can make one forget. Before the meeting officially begins any UFT member who signs up in
advance can speak for 2 minutes. After hearing the numerous stories as Arthur chronicled below, I felt I had walked into "It", the new Stephen King horror movie. In the version we saw at the EB meeting, principals dressed up as clowns stab teachers in the back and when the Executive Board, controlled by Unity Caucus, is asked to remove the knives, the Unity Caucus votes it down by saying a knife in the back with the fingerprint of the principal is not enough data. Isn't it possible the teacher tripped backwards and fell on the knife?

I excerpted a few comments by Arthur:
Bronx School founded six years ago to teach construction trades, was happy place. Were productive. Sent students into trades making more than college grads. Principal was removed. Don’t know why. Joyce Polfis new principal. 21 of his colleagues left willingly, out of 30. It’s like a different school. We look the same, but we aren’t. If everyone who wanted to leave did, there might be only 6 left. I returned to support students. This was done by design. Principal encouraged open market. his shows disregard for well-being of our students and community in S. Bronx. We had the attention of the mayor, teachers looked forward to coming to work, and kids would stay late. Clear we have crisis of leadership.... Notes from .... NYC Educator
UFT Executive Board September 11, 2017--
Rose-marie Mills

Villains to note: Rosemary Mills, Supt of Adult ed whom the NY Post excoriated in this Sue Edelman piece:

Many blame Superintendent Rose-Marie Mills, who has led OACE for three years. They charge she has squandered funds, hired friends without adult-ed experience as administrators and failed to give teachers the curriculum they need to help students. “There’s no feedback, no support, no curriculum. We’re left to our own devices,” said a veteran teacher.
Joyce Pulphus

Principal Joyce Pulphus - Bronx Design And Construction Academy --

More from Arthur's report:

Roberta Pikser—Adult Ed.—In June dismissed with no reason after 16 years. Never got U rating before. Got 2 U observations last year. Year end U rating. Dismissed via email. Teaching adults very different. Many uncertified teachers working. Many U ratings this year by new principals. All appointed by Rosemarie Mills.

Had meeting of 20 teachers, most of whom never had U ratings before. She’s waiting on grievance. Mismanagement destroying program. Asks EB for support. Asks for info on how many teachers let go, and how many U ratings. Asks for resolution against harassment. If they can mistreat us, will mistreat you.
Dianne Jenkins—Adult Ed.—Number of students who vitally need adult ed.—those who don’t have HS, English skills, tech skills. 40,000 per year. Rosemarie Mills, from day one, put us on notice they are in a battle and she planned to win. She had no experience in adult ed. Nor do those she hired. Staff rude, walks into classrooms, stop lessons and harass in front of students.  Teachers walking on eggshells expecting U ratings and discontinuance. They serve parents of K-12 schools. Need able help. Asks for help.

Fran Myers—Adult Ed.—Mills knows what’s going on in chapter more than we do. We need info on discontinuance and percentages to strategize. Demand transparency.

Peter Romani—Adult Ed—Has Action committee—has been under attack for 5 years. Numbers shrinking each year, not by accident. Has intimidated every CL. Discipline hearings increased, CLs rated ineffective. 20-30 annual U ratings, and also discontinuances. Observations used to meet quotas of hostility. Mills breaks or bends every rule. We feel let down by union and betrayed by DOE. Vacuum in chapter leadership. Mills will install candidate of her choosing. Need to reconfigure and expand CL position, provide mechanism for AE committee to meet, asks for own DR. No one should suffer so long with supe with unchecked power and entrenched backing of DOE.
Also see: ICEUFT Blog

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Families for Excellent Schools busted - Pro-charter school group pays state’s largest campaign finance penalty

A wealthy New York organization that poured $15 million into last year’s unsuccessful ballot question to expand charter schools in Massachusetts was hit Monday with the largest fine in state campaign history after officials found the group was illegally hiding the identities of its donors.

Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy, a nonprofit that was the single largest funder behind Question 2 in Massachusetts, was slapped with a $426,466 fine, the largest in the 44-year history of the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.... Boston Globe

Chair of the board overseeing charter schools gives half a million to promote charters? Bald blatant corruption! Prosecute! Fire! If a Democrat did that the GOP would be totally on fire! ... Comment on Boston Globe story on FES
The shit hit the fan on the actions of the slime ball astro turf Families for Excellent Schools on their actions in Massachusetts.
The list of donors is here:
Check out this story and please share in NY threads. Note that the Chair of the MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave - in secret- $500k to support the charter ballot question last fall.

a small but meaningful victory
Barbara Madeloni
Jia Lee writes:
The Massachusettes Teachers Association, under Barbara Madeloni's leadership and EDU's (their social justice caucus) organizing, worked successfully against millions in dark money to fight a charter ballot question AND now this!

The outrage is that the press, especially Chalkbeat, acts like FES is a legit grass roots org. This quote from the story:
Maurice Cunningham, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said the cloak of secrecy helped Families For Excellent Schools-Advocacy project an image as a grass-roots organization focused on helping urban youth.
“You can’t say, ‘We’re Billionaires for Excellent Schools,’ ” said Cunningham.
Leonie Haimson:

The only NY donor at first glance was Kenneth Langone of Home Depot.

Problem is there is about $3M listed from FES - which means the money is still dark and probably from NY as well.  Wonder if anyway we can get identities of those donors.  If not, perhaps there should be a letter to the NY AG and/or legislators, demanding action on the dark money issue similar to the disclosure laws they have in MA.

Also troubling is that while FES is barred from campaigning in MA for 4 years, their major donor the Walton Foundation has now set up another fake AstroTurf org in MA apparently called Mass Parents United.
See Ravitch on the story:

Massachusetts: State Fines Dark Money Group $426,000 in Charter Battle

Here is the complete Boston Globe Story  where you should read the comments. Also below the page break.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A WTF Moment: Marc Sternberg Comes Down From the Mountain to Attack ATRs

Marc Sternberg, the director of K-12 education for the Walton Family Foundation, was a deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Education during the Bloomberg administration.... NY Times Op ed

Isn't an attack on ATRs below Mark Sternberg's pay grade? Dragging out a major ed deformer warrior like Marc Sternberg, one of our leading Joel Kleinites who made his bones (and fortune) in the ed deform industrial complex and now occupies a top level position with the Walton Foundation, to attack the ATRs in our city in a NY Times op ed is a sign of desperation among the deformers.

The establishment of the ATR pool in 2005 in agreement with the UFT, despite its attempt to rewrite history (UFT's Fake History - Denies Responsibility for ATR Pool), is one of the linchpins of the assault on teachers nationwide because it opened a major wedge in the seniority protections and allowed them to start closing schools with impunity without having to worry about placing teachers from those schools.

The real reason there has been so much press and publicity and ed deform frenzy is that the ending of the ATR pool with forced placement of the teachers undermines one of the pinnacles of ed deform -- ending the seniority system in total and making every teachers an at will employee -- vis a vis the charter schools which have proven they cannot retain teachers and must rely on a constant turnover pool of young, inexperienced teachers to keep them going. Witness the current controversy over the attempt to reduce NY State requirements for teacher certification for SUNY authorized charter schools do a minimum.

Sternberg claims he hired fantastic teachers when he was 90 day wonder principal - how would he know when most of them had little or no experience? How can he claim in his op ed that having a great teacher is so crucial when he helped implement a system that focused on hiring TFA types with 6 weeks training? In other words, the goal is not great teachers, but cheap and replaceable parts teachers.

Note how Sternberg focuses on the minority - not calling for those who have had good ratings to be placed. Part of the duplicitoud, dishonest nature of these people -- and Sternberg was one of the worst, along with John White, not the Supt of Louisiana schools, Michelle Rhee, Cami Anderson, etc -- a veritable rogues gallery of Joel Kleinites.

Sternberg points to "Other big cities, like Chicago and Washington, have set reasonable limits on the period of time that unplaced teachers can continue to draw a paycheck."

It is true that the ATR pools in other cities do lose their jobs and those systems are or have been in chaos.

The ed deform movement and its accompanying fawning press has been thrown into a dizzy by the attempt to place around 800 teachers from the ATR pool, two thirds of whom have had no disciplinary actions taken against them but lost their positions due to schools being closed or from budget cuts. And of the third (around 280 teachers) who did have some disciplinary actions against them, an arbitrator ruled that whatever they were charged with was not consequential enough to fire them.

Arthur Goldstein posted a piece on Diane Ravitch's blog, Arthur Goldstein: The Myth of NYC’s “Rubber Room” of “Bad Teachers”
in response the op ed by Sternberg.

Diane shakes out the Sternberg bio:
... became an instant principal during the Bloomberg-Klein regime and left to join the rightwing billionaire Walton Family Foundation, as director of its K-12 program. The Waltons despise public education and spend hundreds of millions backing charters, vouchers, and other modes of privatization. The WFF claims credit for funding one of every four charter schools in the nation. The Waltons individually spend millions on political campaigns to support privatization and undermine the teaching profession. They are avowed enemies of public education, the teaching profession, and collective bargaining.
Sternberg was a golden boy in the Bloomberg-Klein era. He graduated Princeton in 1995, joined Teach for America, picked up an MBA and MA in education at Harvard. Only nine years after finishing college, he was a principal in New York City. He quickly became a Klein favorite and moved up to become Deputy Chancellor in a few short years.
Now, at the pinnacle of rightwing power, with hundreds of millions to dispense every year, what really annoys him is that Mayor de Blasio plans to place hundreds of displaced teachers into classrooms.
I used to run into Sternberg time and again at various closing school hearings, PEP meetings and other events. The last time was at some tony event around the time of the Chicago Teacher Union was talking strike in 2012. He came up to me to ask what I thought would happen in Chicago. "I hope they strike," I said. "And I hope one day we do that here too."

He put on a phony look of concern - "Can it happen here," he asked, knowing full well Mulgrew was a puppet of Randi the collaborator.

"Not with your pals at the UFT in charge," I told him. He objected, saying something about Mulgrew making militant noises.

I laughed, referring to Mulgrew as a weak-kneed lackey who would do nothing to resist. He didn't argue.

Recent Ed Notes blogs on ATRS
The Sternberg op ed

Saturday, September 9, 2017

School Scope: Schools and Hurricanes - Norm in The WAVE

Published Sept. 8, 2017 in The WAVE,

School Scope: Schools and Hurricanes
By Norm Scott

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017
I noticed that another school year has begun. I got a hint when staff members’ cars from the school up the street began appearing on the block. I still get a hint of those Labor Day butterflies leftover from having attended or worked in schools from the age of five through sixty. Fifty five years of habit is touch to break even a dozen years later. Having so many school worker friends posting their laments and excitements on social media has kept me in touch. Some teachers are hesitant to share the fact that despite the end of another glorious summer, there are excited to get back to work. The main problem I had was the end of two months of freedom, but every year I also had feelings that I couldn’t wait to get back. Too much freedom can be a dangerous thing. Almost every retiree I speak to say how much more productive they were when they were working. Now if they get one thing done a day they celebrate – some say they get much less done than when they were under a time gun.

My continued involvement with alternate voices in the UFT challenging the leadership has also kept me in touch with the political issues facing teachers. Testing continues to drive the agenda in judging student, school, and teacher performance. The scores from last spring were published a few weeks ago in the dead of August. Minor gains in the city were championed by de Blasio as victories. Some de Blasio supporters had hoped he would take on the test mania but instead, he and his partners in the UFT leadership have continued running the same train down a broken track.

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, posted on the NYC Parent blog: “State test scores increase again; but is it real? Opt out rates remain high.” She wrote, “… the NY State Education Department has appeared unable since 2002 to produce a reliable test and score it consistently enough to allow one to assess if there’s been any sort of improvement in our schools. Instead, Commissioners and their staff have repeatedly changed cut scores and set proficiency rates to make political points.” Call this cheating at the highest levels.

Leonie also points to the still very high opt-out rates in the state, the highest in the nation, though NYC lags far behind the rest of the state due to massive repression and threats to punish schools with high opt out rates from the top officials of the NYCDOE. Read Leonie’s very insightful post at

For decades before Sandy, since we moved to Rockaway in 1979, I had been tracking potential and actual hurricanes from their earliest stages. I remembered the stories of the bay meeting the ocean from the early 60s and with every hurricane that threatened our area that nightmare was always on my mind. We evacuated twice over the decades, the last time with Irene in 2011, which so lulled us we didn’t leave during and after Sandy in 2012 when the bay met the ocean in spades. Everyone in Rockaway understands what Houston is going through and sadly, this will not be the last time somewhere in the coastal USA there will be some similar disaster on an increasing basis.

Just as Harvey was slamming Texas we began hear of Irma, which at the time was forming off the coast of Africa (and Jose following behind). As I write Irma is a Cat 4/5 storm pushing through the Caribbean and heading for a possible landing in Southern Florida or if it shifts north, the Carolinas or even with a bigger curve north, maybe us, which if it hits will be a week away and scary. Just in case, we are making plans to get stuff out of the basement and onto higher floors. This time evacuation will be more likely for us. The cats however, are not sure they want to go.

I don’t want to get into the weeds of the politics of global warming or the role humans have in increasing the rate. I believe we have been a warming trend for 15 thousand years – remember, massive glaciers covered most of NYC. These changes came in slow enough increments to allow humanity time to adapt. Remember those pre-Indians who walked across the land bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska? They had some time to adjust to not being able to go back as the seas rose. The issue is the rate of warming which has been increasing at a higher rate over the past 150 years as the industrial revolution proceeded. Rising seas and warmer ocean waters make for bad hurricanes (is there a good one?) and more violent weather. To me that is a given. The question to me is not whether human actions at this time can reverse the rate but rather slow things down just enough to give humanity time to adjust. The Greenland ice sheet is melting as is the Antarctic ice shelves, which will raise sea levels hundreds of feet – imagine even the highest sky scrapers sticking up in a world of water.

But don’t fret – it won’t be all bad living in Venice on the Hudson.

Norm frets daily at

Friday, September 8, 2017

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch - Or Is There?

I'm real happy the NYCDOE has decided to offer every child a free lunch. As a classroom teacher it always seemed crazy to send home those forms for parents to fill out when almost every kid was entitled. And no one was checking to see if someone was lying. I do remember a few kids who were supposed to bring in money to pay every week and that became such a drag the schools just began to ignore it. Someone in the school had to deal with all the paper work involved and there were just not enough resources to do that -- often a school aide ended up doing it.

So this is a not only a rational progressive move but also a real time saver for schools and the system administratively.

I just heard on The Takeaway that 75% of NYC kids are entitled to free lunch even if a third of them don't eat it. There was talk of shaming and how kids felt eating the school lunch was degrading. Maybe in schools where there are significant numbers of people who come from incomes high enough - in my school even teachers tried to scam a free lunch even though we were required to pay for them technically. When we were on lunchroom duty we felt we were entitled -
Joey Chestnut - get rid of those dogs and go for beef patties
How many Jamaican beef patties can you eat in 50 minutes? I was the Joey Chestnut of the school lunchroom.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

KidsPac - de Blasio's Education Report Card

Don't mistake KidsPac for one of those astroturf ed deform groups just because they are legitimately holding deB accountable. Many of our parent allies are involved. It is funny to read the illegitimate attacks on deB from the likes of Eva and other charter slugs because their whining for more space hasn't led to him putting them at the top of his To Do list. He has not done very well in terms of resisting their outrageous demands which are also based on lies and distortions of their needs as they attempt to disguise their real goals -- to take over entire swaths of valuable real estate while squeezing public schools into oblivion. deB doesn't get a very good grade in resisting this trend. 

Chalkbeat links:
REPORT CARD A parent advocacy group gave Mayor Bill de Blasio poor marks on school policy. DNAinfo, Chalkbeat (Sept. 5)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Join us today at 11:30 am for the release of the NYC Kids PAC 2017 education report card for Mayor de Blasio

I foresee some bad grades in the de Blasio/Farina future.

For more information contact: 
Shino Tanikawa:

Parents, kids & advocates release Education report card for Mayor de Blasio

WHO: Parents, kids and education advocates
WHAT: Release of the 2017 NYC Kids PAC education report card for Mayor de Blasio, on issues ranging from testing, class size, school overcrowding, to funding, transparency, special education and diversity
WHERE: On the steps of Tweed, 52 Chambers St. in downtown Manhattan
WHEN: Tues. Sept. 5 at 11:30 AM

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Real Work of Organizing in Brooklyn Vs Fighting Dead Statues

There is an interesting article in Sunday's Times about The New Kings Democrats- the hard and often frustrating work of challenging the established Democratic Party in Brooklyn. It points to a way forward to capturing power at the lowest levels. I know, I know -- rallying and fighting Nazis is more fun and gratifying - and it is true you can do both -- but in reality most people don't do both, as pointed out by some critics of Antifa (can't find the link), people tend to take one path or the other for their major involvement -- organizing rallies, protests, counter rallies, etc - takes energy, just at the work inside politics takes energy and people with jobs, families, etc don't have time for both.

I've seen it in MORE - where a rally gets people salivating. Going to CEC, PEP, UFT DAs etc -- not so much. When even a small org like MORE has the balance tilted the resources get shifted in that direction.

The  left - and I have been among them - toss away the Democratic Party as being a waste of time. They dream of a labor party of sorts -- as much a dream as going to Mars at this point. Why? Because the left has little mechanism for getting along with each other -- though some hope the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) can be that party. I am doubtful - sectarians will always be there -- and then there are the police/FBI infiltrators to disrupt things on the left, as they always have,

Now, I an wary of the number of people involved in the New Kings Democrats who have migrated to working for the de Blasio administration - is this just another insurgency - the new boss, same as the old boss?

I'm glad this article exposes the sellout Lou Fidler who turned his back on public educators while trying to give the impression he was a supporter in the battles over school closings and charter infiltration in his district when he was a City Councilman.

Search Results

In Brooklyn, Challenging the Party Establishment - The New York Times

Sunday, September 3, 2017

On Identity Politics - Salon

A long but interesting read by Anis Shivani even if I don't agree with some of the points. He doesn't distinguish between liberals and the left and lumps them all together and I think there are significant differences between anti-capitalist socialists - though many also play in the same identity politics field. And I also don't agree about his points on FDR's New Deal.

I did recognize some of the points just from my experience in MORE over the past 6 years where identity politics are played out constantly to the point where white men and their privilege are buried. Is there white male privilege? Hell yes. But the way it is addressed is often divisive - which from my earliest days as a union activist we could see separating people ideologically. At MORE's first big meeting there was contention over the order people would be called on - known as progressive stack - where people of color and women were given priority. I can agree with progressive stack but would include anyone who doesn't get to speak often, even white males. But the way it was implemented was so ham-handed, some people never came back.

Well, as they say, all politics is local.

Time to give up on identity politics: It’s dragging the progressive agenda down -

School Scope: Eclipse Eclipsed by Texas Floods - Norm in The Wave

Published Sept. 1, 2017

School Scope: Eclipse Eclipsed by Texas Floods
By Norm Scott

August 28, 2017

I spent a few hours viewing the eclipse in the parking lot behind my friend Mark Rosenhaft’s Central Vision Care in Cedarhurst. Mark, an amateur astronomer, set up a telescope with a filter and attracted a crowd of people oohing and ahhhing at the views. Mark got some great photos too.

News is moving so fast. The heavy news from Charlottesville was overtaken by the big eclipse news of a week ago was which was soon eclipsed by the Texas floods. And then there is Korea. Of course on the daily Trump beat, the beat goes on. On education news, the scores from last spring’s tests are out ­– (why does it take them so long, one might ask?) – and the press is going nuts over reporting on the 800 or so ATRs (Absentee Teacher Reserves who may be placed into schools against the will of principals (which occurred in the system from its beginning a century ago through 2005). My problem is – too many choices. I would love to be able to tie all the hot button issues together in a sort of grand unification package in a positive way to counter the sense that life on earth may be doomed.

There was a sense of sock when America saw Nazis giving the Hitler salute and shouting anti-Semitic slogans marching so openly in Charlottesville. I was interested to see the reaction of some of my fellow Jews who had not been as perturbed when Muslims or African-Americans were attacked. Some segments of the Italian community connected to the shame of the Mussolini fascists. Identity politics runs deep. I heard a lot from some Jewish friends about doubts over the removal of Confederate statues – you know people who went to war against the USA to preserve the enslavement of black people. “Even so, history shouldn’t be buried. How about the slave owners’ faces on our money,” they said? When I asked how they would feel if Germany had statues of Hitler to “preserve” history or if they had his face on their money, I got silence. Remember, in the south, Lincoln was and still is the enemy for ending slavery and preserving the union. Not a lot of statues went up to him below the Mason Dixon line for decades ­– I’m still not sure if there aren’t more statues to Lee and Jefferson Davis than to Lincoln.

We began to hear a lot about the Antifa – the antifascists, often consisting of anarchists, who believe in making a stand against fascists,  or those they brand as fascists. I have mixed feelings about how to respond but the Trump response that there were good people defending their statues celebrating people who were not just slave holders but were out to destroy the nation and just ran into a Hitler-inspired march caused much outrage. The actions of some Antifa in some ways defused the power of a peaceful protest and gave the right a wedge argument that might appeal to some potential allies. What is clear is that the left – whatever that means nowadays - has no coherent strategy compared to the Steve Bannon led alt-right.

Speaking of Bannon, some on the left actually line up with some of his positions. Like Korea – the last straw for Trump was when Bannon in speaking to left wing press said there was no military solution in Korea, thus also enraging the globalists/neocons from both Republicans and Democrats, as does the alt-right position on Russia, which has been under assault by the deep state for a hundred years. The Bernie wing of the left also dovetails to some extent on economic populism. Remember, NAFTA in the early 90s, which came out of both Bush I and the Clinton admins, was vilified by the left, including a massive protest in Seattle at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in 1999 which included an Antifa-like wing smashing windows.

One thing we all can agree on is that flooding is bad whether in Houston or NYC, though we are remembering those Texas politicians (Ted Cruz for instance) who voted against fed support for us after Sandy. But people who point this out don’t want retribution and want the big, bad federal gument to keep funding people in trouble. What we don’t seem to agree on is the extent of global warming and what is causing it. Harvey is record-breaking and to assume there is no factor of global warming involved is short-sighted.

And speaking of waterways, how some kudos for a change to Bill di Blasio for bringing a massive possibly game-changer to NYC transportation with ferry system that for the most part works very well at a great price? And Rockaway was at the top of the list to get it going and it has worked even with the small boats. Instead we hear a lot of carping over the details as they get worked out. With the Wall St.-Astoria with a stop at 34th St. connection opening this week things become more intriguing. Just don’t expect things to take less time given getting to the ferry (even those little bus shuttles work like a charm) and wait times to change to another ferry. (When I want to go uptown I walk from the ferry to the 4,5 for the East Side and the 2,3 for the West Side.) For people commuting to work, the A train – if it worked better can still be a better option. Maybe the local politicians and  press should spend a little more time on fixing the “A” than chasing unicorns with the mythical Rockaway Rail Line.

Norm never stops chasing after unicorns at