Saturday, February 3, 2007

Did Washington go to Vegas before he crossed the Delaware while his troops were freezing at Valley Forge?

Randi Weingarten was at the AFT convention in Vegas for a week with her top aide Maureen Salter who is not an AFT delegate. Before she left, she declared to staffers, "We are at war with Bloomberg." But as one wag said, "We have no troops or ammunition or machinery or war plan or rations. But, man, can we write press releases."

We are at war and the general is in Vegas plotting her move out of New York. Did washington go to Vegas before he crossed the Delaware while his troops were freezing at Valley Forge?

Of course the "war"is one of those phony wars for the consumption by the members in this election period. Can't you just envision the phone call:

RW: Hello, Mike. I just wanted to let you know we are at war until the end of March when the elections are over.

MB: Ha, Ha. That should be fun. Coming with me to opening day at Yankee Stadium this year to sit in my box? The election will be over and we can be seen in public again. And by the way, we'll miss you when you go to Washington. But I might end up there myself. Then we can reform the AFT like we did the UFT.

A question was asked in a recent email:

Is Christine Quinn a deputy mayor or Council Speaker? She is smiling with the billionaire mayor because he was gracious enough to give the Council $64 million (for 51 districts) in a $55 BILLION budget. He's got that smirk on his face. "ok- now go away little girl." Where is the whistleblower bill she promised Randi last year?


  1. You're an idiot:

    New York Daily News -
    Pass Spitzer, fail Klein
    Sunday, February 4th, 2007

    Gov. Spitzer's far-reaching education plan is already being spun as a victory for some and a defeat for others. While I disagree with some aspects, the truth is the governor has done something very important: He has effectively blown the whistle on the education wars. That stands in stark contrast to the confrontational approach consistently taken by New York City's schools chancellor, Joel Klein.
    Spitzer's reforms provide a powerful example of the importance of listening to stakeholders, relying on proven policy and pushing for strong and fair accountability measures - backed up with the tools and funding necessary to help educators meet the high standards we all want.

    First, the governor has put settling the long-running Campaign for Fiscal Equity case within sight. The $3.2 billion in state school funding he has proposed over the next four years (not including the city's share) is well above the $2 billion court-ordered minimum. And we should welcome the fact that he wants to tie that money to proven reforms - like lowering class sizes, providing for universal prekindergarten and improving teacher training.

    All this is in stark contrast to the path chosen by Chancellor Klein. Spitzer uses accountability as a tool. Klein uses it as a weapon.

    For instance, Spitzer's plan would hold everyone from chancellors and superintendents on down accountable, while the chancellor's new reorganization of the city's schools transfers all responsibility for education onto principals and teachers, yet fails to give them the resources and professional latitude necessary to meet their responsibilities.

    Gov. Spitzer's plan requires schools to choose from a short list of proven reforms. Chancellor Klein's plan upends the school structure for the third time in five years - on the gamble that it will improve student outcomes. Gov. Spitzer's plan is focused on what happens in the classroom; to me, Chancellor Klein's plan looks simply like another organizational chart.

    And then there is the key difference in approach when it comes to getting the most help to the neediest children. The governor proposes reworking a complicated funding formula in order to deliver additional resources to all our schoolchildren. In contrast, Chancellor Klein wants to shift to an untested funding scheme that purports to having a set amount of money follow each child, but actually will destabilize good schools that have more experienced staffs.

    After the November election, Spitzer solicited input from teachers, parents, principals, administrators, researchers and others to try to find solutions that would have the best chance to help our kids succeed. Chancellor Klein has repeatedly shut parents, teachers and other stakeholders out of his consultations, opting instead for a top-down approach that puts structure ahead of instruction.

    Of course, we have some concerns with the governor's plan. We believe he ought to have placed a stronger emphasis on investing in class-size reduction - giving it the same high priority as expanding prekindergarten programs to all 4-year-olds. And we don't support giving another entity - in this case Chancellor Klein - authority to approve charter schools, as Spitzer would allow. SUNY and the Board of Regents, the current chartering authorities, have strict standards; if the chancellor wants more charters, he should go through the same process as the rest of us.

    But all in all, Gov. Spitzer has laid down an important marker in the education debate. Without saying so, he has effectively called for a ceasefire in the education wars, reminding us all that the best solutions for our kids aren't Democratic or Republican, they just need to be proven to work and backed up by the investment necessary to see them succeed. It's that simple.

    Weingarten is president of the United Federation of Teachers.

  2. You're an idiot Part II:

    New York Daily News -
    The bus stops here, Mike

    Sunday, February 4th, 2007

    As school leaders who have made "accountability" their watchword, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein came up miles short in their handling of the great bus bungle. It took all week before the mayor conceded what thousands of parents knew: He coulda and shoulda done better.
    What started as a well-intentioned plan to cut costs by streamlining routes and enforcing eligibility rules ended up a great big botch, with kids being put on buses before dawn, 5-year-olds being issued MetroCards for mass transit, siblings in the same schools being assigned to different buses and buses arriving at school well after classes had started.

    The number of complaint calls fell through Friday, possibly indicating service had gotten smoother, but the damage was done. By ordering route changes midyear - without a dry run, without full public warning - and then by failing to quickly acknowledge that some things were going haywire, the mayor and Klein put themselves where they should never be - across a great divide from parents.

    There may be a computer somewhere smart enough to redesign a system for transporting 84,000 kids on 2,040 routes to 1,400 schools so it becomes cost-efficient - while pleasing all parents. But lacking such a laptop, Bloomberg and Klein made a fundamental error in communication.

    In the runup to the changes, they could have held a full-dress press conference to explain that pupil transportation costs have soared to roughly $1 billion, that the aim was to shift money into the classroom and that a small portion of the costs stemmed from driving ineligible students.

    Most important, they could have issued clear warnings that the changes would result in some snafus, and they could have kept parents abreast of developments. Their failure to do so played into the hands of entrenched interests girding to fight Bloomberg and Klein's ambitious reforms.

    With no persuasive arguments, opponents resort to caricaturing the mayor and chancellor as anti-parent autocrats. The great school-bus bungle played right into that stereotype.

    Also appearing in today's Daily News is an article by United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who is fighting fiercely for greater school control. It belongs in the paper because, by virtue of her position, it is inherently newsworthy. It is also a stellar example of the demonization of Klein, at its core inherently unfair.

    Weingarten creates the impression that Gov. Spitzer and Klein are at odds on school reform. In truth, the governor and the chancellor have parallel plans that hold teachers and principals accountable. Yet according to Weingarten, Spitzer is entirely good, while Klein is thoroughly bad. She writes that Spitzer views accountability as a "tool" while Klein uses it as a "weapon," leaving out that both men plan to track student performance and to act when schools or principals fail to deliver, and that both would require teachers to demonstrate competence before winning lifetime tenure.

    In fact, the only real distinction between them is that Klein will hold Weingarten's members to account. So she paints him as a man enamored of "risky" budgeting that will "destabilize" successful schools. Hogwash. The only thing at risk under Klein's plan is teachers' ability to cluster in the least-challenging schools.

    The approaching accountability will likely bring more such attacks as defenders of the status quo campaign for parental support. That's why, in the spirit of full accountability, Bloomberg and Klein must go out of their way to assure parents they learned painful lessons in the bus fiasco - and will never fail a similar test again.

  3. Since you're probably a Unity hack, this won't make a difference. But for those who are not, follow the prime directive:

    Ignore anything Randi says.
    Watch what she does.
    Measure the outcomes.

    An idiot savant


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