Friday, August 31, 2007


What is everyone so negative for? I intend to have a great school year. It is such fun to sit in my air conditioned office while all those stupid suckers are sweating and toiling to get their rooms ready. I can't wait to see how many of those old slobs I can get rid of this year and hire new fresh blood and get 2 for the price of one. I'm all geared up to walk in and see how many U's I can give. I can take any lesson plan and find something wrong in it. That's why they pay me the big bucks. Thank you mayor mike for my new pay raise. I just love going back to school. The smell of fresh books and pencils excites me as does the smell of frightened teachers. I can't wait to strut my stuff and walk around with my notebook and pencil writing up those snails. I like seeing them sweat. When I was a teacher many years ago I liked scaring the students but now that is "child abuse". I would never raise my voice to a student, that is so politically incorrect. But I love berating teachers all day. That is why I became a principal. It sucks being a teacher. I love being me. Power to the Empowered. Oh and thank you Randi for making my job an even more delightful one.

Your Newly Empowered and Powerful,


Posted to feedback,

How Weingarten Helped Undermine Almontaser

“I agree wholeheartedly with your editorial,”Randi Weingarten letter to the NY Post

"...the campaign against Almontaser was a “high-tech lynching.”Rabbi Michael Paley, scholar-in-residence at United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York

"If it was a lynching, my union did not string up the rope, but it was the UFT that kicked away the stool." - Steve Quester, UFT chapter leader

The Indypendent has printed an updated version "Teachers’ Union Undermines Arab School" of Steve Quester's piece published on this blog. Steve, a UFT chapter leader in Brooklyn, goes into more detail on the role Randi Weingarten played. I've gotten lots of response on this issue with people arguing back and forth as to whether a school such as the Khalil Gibran school should even exist, from rational points of view like those of Diane Ravitch, to the right wing calling the school a training ground for Bin Laden. (See Sam Freedman's recent column in the NY Times.) Then there were the usual anonymous personal attacks on Steve in comments on his original post.

People have assumed that because I published Steve's piece, I support the concept of the school. Actually, I have mixed feelings, probably leaning towards Ravitch's position. My interest lies in the way Bloomberg and Klein and Weingarten, the holy trio, functioned in this situation. While all 3 express support for the school (I hear Leo Casey on Edwize does all sorts of dances on the head of a pin to justify the UFT position) the results of their actions have undermined the school – sort of like that Republican Senator from Idaho explaining his actions.

Here are excerpts from Steve's latest piece:

Before Almontaster was ambushed by the New York Post, KGIA endured months of vitriolic attacks from right-wing websites like Stop the Madrassa, Militant Islam Monitor and Little Green Footballs.

Predictably, the Post, the New York Sun, Fox News and New York State Assembly Member Dov Hikind jumped eagerly into the fray.

The Post submitted questions in advance before the NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) would agree to let them interview Almontaser. All of the questions were about KGIA. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked offhandedly what “intifada” means.

Almontaser, who is after all an educator, looked up the word in the dictionary, and translated it accurately: “shaking off.” The reporter then told Almontaser that the Yemeni-American organization on whose board she sits shares office space with Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media (AWAAM) and that AWAAM had produced a T-shirt with the words “Intifada NYC.” Almontaser, to her credit, refused to throw the girls from AWAAM under a bus, instead referring to their nonviolent struggle to shake off oppression in their own lives.

The Post quoted her as saying “I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don’t believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City. I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society … and shaking off oppression.”

On the same day the article appeared, Almontaser wrote in an e-mail to community supporters, “I was misrepresented and trapped by the reporter. Those were not my exact words, and the words I did use were taken out of context.” Later that day, she released a statement through the NYCDOE that read, “The word ‘intifada’ is completely inappropriate as a T-shirt slogan. I regret suggesting otherwise. By minimizing the word’s historical associations, I implied that I condone violence and threats of violence. That view is anathema to me.”
On Aug. 7, the Post, without reference to Almontaser’s Aug. 6 statement of regret, ran an editorial asking, “What is she doing with the job in the first place?”

On Aug. 8, the Post published a letter from Randi Weingarten, president of my union, the United Federation of Teachers, in which she wrote, “I agree wholeheartedly with your editorial,” and, “While the city teachers’ union initially took an open-minded approach to this school, both parents and teachers have every right to be concerned about children attending a school run by someone who doesn’t instinctively denounce campaigns or ideas tied to violence.”

In her letter, Weingarten chose to ignore both Almontaser’s Aug. 6 statement and her proven record as a peacemaker. On Aug. 9 the Post quoted Weingarten saying, among other things, “maybe, ultimately, she should not be a principal.” On Aug. 10 Almontaser resigned, perhaps under pressure from Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and/or Mayor Bloomberg.

In her resignation letter, she wrote, “I have spent the past two decades of my life building bridges among people of all faiths — particularly among Muslims and Jews. Unfortunately, a small group of highly misguided individuals has launched a relentless attack on me because of my religion.”

Rabbi Michael Paley, scholar-in-residence at United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York (Paley’s daughter is in charge of enrollment at KGIA), told Jewish Week that the campaign against Almontaser was a “high-tech lynching.”

If it was a lynching, my union did not string up the rope, but it was the UFT that kicked away the stool. I’m at a loss to explain why my union, which continues to support KGIA, piled on when the attacks on the school’s principal were at their shrillest. The union leadership insists that we were acting on our deep commitment to peace and nonviolence, but that’s a strange excuse for joining in a transparently racist and Islamophobic attack. I suspect that Weingarten, sensing which way the wind was blowing on Aug. 7 and 8, decided to play to the basest instincts of some of her rank and file.

The membership of the UFT is middle class and majority white, and many are Jewish. Not all middle-class white Jews lend credence to the Almontaser witch hunt — I’m middle-class, white, and Jewish myself — but Weingarten was counting on many of her members being solidly behind the Post on this issue. She may be right. But I don’t think that she counted on the firestorm of criticism she was to endure after Almontaser’s resignation. Those of us in the UFT and outside of it, who are outraged at the attacks on Almontaser, are not going to just let this matter drop. We will continue to expose the racist consequences of Weingarten’s statements, so that the next time the right-wing media hit squads go after an educator, she’ll think twice before lending them her voice.

Steve Quester is a Brooklyn-based UFT Chapter leader and veteran early childhood educator. For more, see Jews for Racial and Economic Justice ( and Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media (

The entire piece is posted on Norm's Notes. Also check out Meredith Kolodner's piece in The Chief also posted on Norm's Notes.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

George Carlin on Education...

... Dumbing down America.

Testing, standards, NCLB, and all the other crap being shoved down our throats by the Eli Broads, Bill Gateses, Warren Buffets, Joel Kleins, Bloombergs, the Democratic politicians and their allies in the unions (yes, I mean the UFT) etc. are exposed here.

You can't get it more right than George does.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Carnival of Education is now open

Hosted this week by Matthew Tabor at:

What's the Real Difference Marcia Lyles?

Marcia Lyles, Joel Klein's deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, following on the heels of Diana Lam, Carmen Farina (Lyles took over for Farina when she left Region 8) and Andres Alonso (now chief of the Baltimore school system) gave a revealing interview to Jennifer Medina in today's NY Times (posted at Norm's Notes.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I worked in a 2-day a week F-status job for one of Lyles' top assistants during the 2003-04 school year and have many contacts in Region 8, so I have a bit of an inside view of how the region was run under her tenure, plus some knowledge of how she ran District 16 before the age of BloomKlein. I never met her during all that time but she seems to be a very nice lady and no one had anything bad to say about her, so I won't go there at this time. One of the 4 superintendents chosen in the latest reorganization, about 12% of the schools signed up with her, which put her 2nd to Judy Chin's 27%.

Her story is that she went to public schools in Harlem and spent her entire career as a teacher and supervisor in the NYC schools. Long-time observers of the ed/political scene see her (and her predecessors) as figureheads for the MBA types looking for bottom-line narrow test results who are really driving teaching and learning. Lyles almost admits as much when she says:
"When the music changes, so does the dance.”
“I learned all the new steps,” she said. “I just moved with the changes, that’s what you have to do.”

Medina writes:

While some teachers and principals say the Klein administration desperately needs an educator’s voice in a headquarters packed with lawyers and consultants who have little patience for the city’s education establishment, they question whether Ms. Lyles is aggressive enough to be heard.

But the most revealing part of the interview was her own childhood experiences. As a high school student at the dreadful Benjamin Franklin HS she cut school regularly until an aunt found out.

Convinced that the school was too easy, her aunt, who was raising her, forced her to transfer from Benjamin Franklin High School to Jamaica High School, making an hourlong trip to and from Queens near the end of her sophomore year. There, Ms. Lyles was shocked to learn that after being in the top of her class at Franklin, which was largely black and Hispanic, and finding school so easy that she could skip out, she was struggling to keep up at what was then a largely white Jamaica High.

It was her first lesson in the problem that still preoccupies the nation’s largest school system — the racial achievement gap.

Joel Klein (and Bloomberg) have seized on this issue, trying to play the race card by turning it into a civil rights struggle and calling the inability to close this gap "the shame of this nation."

Ironically, Jamaica HS was recently placed in the list of most dangerous schools. Knowing Chapter Leader James Eterno from ICE, I know that picture is misleading. But what has changed at Jamaica from Lyles' student days? Analyzing how that school is turning into what Benjamin Franklin was would provide some interesting data for Aris and the MBA's at Tweed to crunch.

Lyles, who had found school so easy now had to struggle and ended up flourishing.

I just thought, wow, what’s the difference?” she recalled of Jamaica High. “What’s going on, now I have to play catch up? That’s when I saw about inequity, that’s when I saw about low expectations.”

There it is. She was just a victim of the low expectations by the teachers at Franklin while she somehow escaped the low expectations of teachers at Jamaica. In other words, racism. Next she'll be telling us that if the teachers at Benjamin Franklin had gotten merit pay things would have been different.

What was the impact of the role Lyles' aunt played?
Did the fact that Lyles had an aunt who acted in a way that made the crucial difference in her life play no role at all? Did the fact that she was now in a better learning environment without being surrounded by other students who were struggling make a bit of a difference? Did the fact that the students at Benjamin Franklin clearly needed so many more resources than the white students at Jamaica - more guidance counsellors, lower class sizes, etc. to make up the racial gap mean anything at all? Does she really agree with people like Chris Cerf and Joel Klein that if they had swapped the entire staffs of Jamaica and Franklin at that time things would have been much different?

If Lyles publicly recognized all these issues, that would be an admission that no matter how many times BloomKlein reorganize, or manipulate test scores, things will not change until there is a will to spend the money needed to make a real difference rather than rely on gimmicks. The refusal of BloomKlein to take any of these factors into account and just close down schools while blaming the teachers is the true shame of their administration.

Marcia Lyles won't go there. She has learned to dance to whatever tune is playing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hundreds of teachers excessed in District 79

NYC teacher Marjorie Stamberg sent in this message to ICE-mail on the massacre of teachers in District 79, which services some of the most at-risk students in NYC.
We are always interested in the response, or lack of such, by the UFT. Marjorie does a nice job of pointing them out. Just another example of how the UFT does a great imitation of a company union and more proof of our thesis that...


Here are some excepts from Marjorie. You are urged to read her entire post at Norm's Notes.

When school starts Thursday, there will be hundreds of GED, ESL and other teachers "excessed" from their jobs in District 79. I am sending this out to alert teachers and educational groups throughout NYCDOE, CUNY and the New York area who need to know of this outrageous attack on NYC teachers.

In the D79 "reorganization", many terms of the final agreement which the union signed off on June 29, have been violated by the DOE, and have gone unchallenged by the union. In fact, the UFT leadership has never provided to the teachers effected the actual text of this agreement.

So what has been the UFT's leadership's response? The UFT has told teachers to individually appeal and grieve if they feel they were unjustly rejected in the interview process! If they win their appeal, they will be reinstated in the "next reorganization" of D79, which could be as late as 2008. And what is this "next reorganization", about which we know nothing? This issue is not about individual appeals. This is a collective massacre of teachers' jobs!

Marjorie Stamberg
ESL teacher, GED-Plus

Monday, August 27, 2007



What has No Child Left Behind meant to your school/student/child? The ability to teach relevant curriculum? True educators know the entire underpinnings are wrong. It is time to stop politicians from deciding on educational policy. Unfortunately, groups like the UFT and the AFT, which should be leading a fight to stop any renewal of NCLB, are playing footsie with Democratic politicians who just want to tinker.
Hundreds more cartoons available.

It is time to KILL NCLB.

ATR's: What's Next?

..... there’s a clause in the contract especially for you.

If you are an ATR, fill out our info form here:

NOTE: The author of this post has posted an important revision - see comment 9

11. Voluntary Severance For Personnel Excessed More Than One Year

The DOE may offer excessed personnel who have not secured a regular assignment after at least one year of being excessed, a voluntary severance program in an amount to be negotiated by the parties. If the parties are unable to reach agreement on the amount of the severance payment, the dispute will be submitted to arbitration pursuant to the contractual grievance and arbitration procedure. Such a severance program, if offered, will be offered to all personnel who have been in excess for more than one year. In exchange for receipt of such severance, an excessed person shall submit an irrevocable resignation or notice of retirement.

To a lot of us, a "voluntary severance program” means Boss offers Worker cash for his resignation, which he accepts or declines. But that's not what this is saying, and it's so lawyer clever. If Worker doesn’t agree to leave, he’s still given the boot, regardless of that “for show” arbitration stage they’ve shoved in between “You’re outa here” and “Bye-bye.”

This is the end of the line for anyone who's landed up as an ATR for a year - be the person good, boring, talented, workaholic, brilliant, sluggish, helpful, above average or below, maligned, ordinary, wrinkled, bi-focaled, bleached blond or tattooed.

It’s not been determined yet whether this severance program will be offered, but Randi Weingarten has to tell us right now:

Why she thought this was good for us (especially when so many of us landed in ATR positions through no particular fault of our own),
What we got in return that's equal to our careers,
Whether it's going to happen at all, and
What kind of money it involves.

Because some of us have to plan the rest of our lives.

That's not to say we didn't already try to do this already.

By choosing the NYC public school system to work in, we knew the classes would be huge and the pay less than the suburbs, but at least we’d get to really teach and really make a difference in kids’ lives, be free from administrative abuse as long as we did our job, and what was that other thing? Oh, yes, and have tenure.

The above was sent to Ed Notes Online by a newly minted ATR - Absentee Teacher Reserve for the uninitiated, a category of teacher established by recent contracts signed by the UFT which effectively ended seniority rules, allowing principals to hire newer (and cheaper) teachers while senior teachers are forced to be day-to-day subs. The UFT sold the idea that "isn't it wonderful to be an ATR - no paperwork and they can only send you to a few other schools but aren't you lucky, you can stay in the district" while downplaying what increasingly looks like a non-voluntary severance program. And even if the DOE doesn't use that clause, they can "counsel" people out of the system by assigning them the worst classes and giving them U-ratings for incompetence.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Untamed Teacher...

Follow the trials and tribulations of a teacher who, after 20 years of teaching gets her first unsatisfactory observation, followed by a U-rating for the year. From a Leadership Academy principal - naturally.

Administrators count on teachers bowing their heads and hiding in shame. And of course the UFT says SHHHHH! File a grievance. Quietly. Don't make a political fight out of it. Shhhhhhhh!!

But this teacher won't go meekly.
"Somewhere else in Bloomberg's New York City Department of Education there is another teacher who has received or is about to receive a negative letter and is heading for an unsatisfactory rating at the end of this year just like I am. But no one will ever hear of it, because it all takes place behind closed doors and in secrecy. As soon as a teacher gets one of these letters, she feels ashamed. She wants to hide it from everyone. She quietly endures one letter after another--until one day she just disappears. "Whatever happened to good old Mary?" People shrug their shoulders and quickly change the subject. "This won't happen to me. I am going to make this a very public shaming, shunning, or what-ever-you-want-to-call-it. This isn't going to happen in some little dark corner of Bloomberg-land. So, if you want to see the step by step destruction of a very long, and, I think, very proud teaching career, then come for visit."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rating BloomKlein: The True Picture

Posted on ICE-mail, Aug. 24, 2007. The identity of the author is being kept secret due to the police state mentality that exists in the NYC school system.

Once again, school starts next week.

It's been a wonderful summer- catching up on my sleep, seeing family and friends, having good times at the beach and other summery activities.

I actually feel HUMAN again! The past two summers, I worked summer school, found it to be a terrible experience ( hot overcrowded classrooms, little supplies, administrators that did not give the students or teachers much support), so that's something I won't be doing again.

Now, about this year- Am I ACTUALLY looking forward to returning? I DEFINITELY have mixed feelings, given my DOE experience ( now going into my fifth year).

From what I've seen of the DOE, it is one bloated and unorganized bureaucracy. Never mind that
Bloomberg and Klein seem to feel that they are doing a good job. Being in the trenches, I know they are NOT. How easy to deceive oneself, when the heads of the organization
are not doing the daily work that we as teachers do. Witness the grades that the Chancellor has received on the News 1 poll. Apparently, he and the Mayor are the ONLY ones that feel they are doing a good job. Is THIS any way to run an educational system??? I think not....

Will this be another year of NO textbooks, no supplies, poor or little direction from the administrators? Not to mention the endless paperwork that seems to be the norm with the DOE. Are there appropriate disciplinary procedures set in place for students that I will not be able to control in the classroom, for whatever reasons? Sure, I can set the structure and tone of the classroom, but, realistically there is just so much that I can do with classes that have thirty five students or more.... Each with their own unique personality and issues that they are bringing into the
classroom from outside of the school walls.

In addition, in my time with the DOE, I have seen how teachers AND students alike are treated so poorly by the administrators ( myself included- I'm a Lafayette High survivor- '
nuff said). Aren't we supposed to be PROFESSIONALS? As I write this, I am thinking of the many stories I have heard from my colleagues that are now ATR's, can't get jobs through the Open Market System, are being harassed by their respective administrators, if they still have a position in
the school they are working in. How about those that I
know that are in rubber rooms, not knowing WHY they are in there? So far, in spite of my travails, I still have managed to keep working. This is no cause for celebration- the other shoe could drop at any time!

My question to myself and others- WHY are we willing to put up with this harassment? I remember a day when Principals, teachers, students, and staff actually WERE working together, and school was a place for learning and activities ( admittedly, this is what I remember from growing up on Long Island, NOT the city). Still, shouldn't there be some sense of esprit d' corps in the schools? How did the situation in NYC schools degenerate to this US vs. THEM mentality? Sad for everyone, mostly for the students to have to live with these shenanigans.

Anyway, I'm just venting- In my case, I'm going to see how this year plays out. If it's just more of the same, my mind will be made up to leave the NYC/DOE system. It's not worth the constant aggravation. This is NOT why I wanted to be a teacher- to play
CYA games with
administrators and my colleagues. I was hoping to be able to make a contribution to society, and give back by teaching.

Sadly, the reality of working for the DOE/NYC and the ideals are incongruous. What a pity for our society.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Klein's New Digs and Charlie Rose (updated)

Being Chancellor is nice work if you can get it.

"He and his wife Nicole Seligman, a Sony executive vice president (and an ex-lawyer for both Oliver North and Bill Clinton) have paid $1.7 million for their second apartment at 95-year-old 565 Park Avenue."

"if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, don't be surprised if Joel Klein and Nicole Seligman leave the moneyed precincts of Park Avenue for the less lucrative, but no less powerful, streets of Washington."

Weingarten still earns 100 grand more than Klein. They can all party in Washington, or maybe at cabinet meetings. Check out the "Boy Did You Guys Get It Wrong" post. And she has just a few connections to the Clintons too. More proof that Weingarten and Klein were separated at birth.

Also check out Charlie Rose's suck-up job on Klein. Go there and leave a comment. I left the following comment:
"Outrageous piece of work where a biased one-sided point of view is expressed. As someone who is very familiar with the NYC education scene (, seeing this lack of balance makes me question every other report Mr. Rose presents. Mr. Rose should put together a panel of people like Leonie Haimson and Patrick Sullivan, NYC parents who have stood up to Mr. Klein and have exposed the major fault lines in his administration. Klein has lost the confidence of an overwhelming majority of teachers. In the so-called business model for education Klein is pushing, such a performance would lead the end of a CEO's tenure. Mr. Rose should include in his panel rank and file teachers (as opposed to union leaders who are as far away from the classroom as is Mr. Klein) who will provide a balanced picture of the level of devastation that has taken place in the schools under Mr. Klein's tenure.

Monday's PEP: Patrick Sullivan Reports on...

.....Middle Schools Initiative, School Safety & Cell Phone Ban

at the NYC Public School Parent Blog

Let's reform middle school with more Lead Teachers and professional development but ignore recommendations to reduce class size. Of course, that fits into the "it was the teachers fault all along" theme of the BloomKlein administration. Just more of "let's make it look like we're trying to solve the problem rather than actually finding solutions that will work."

Patrick provides a unique perspective as the only truly independent member of the PEP - Panel for Educational Policy (BloomKlein's bogus replacement for the old Board of Education) - who can report from the inside.

NYC Teaching Fellow and author Dan Brown explodes the Joel Klein and his Tweedledee approach in his post "Solving the Middle School Mystery" at the Huffington Post.

Aug. 14, 2007

Why do standardized test scores drop -- sharply, in many cases -- when students hit middle school?

Today, The New York Times reported on NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's answer to the $64,000 question of education:

"Generally speaking, those in elementary school do what you tell them to do. And I think it's also true by the time they get to high school, they don't. It's in those middle years where they transfer from one to another."

He went on to present a maddeningly misguided and half-hearted plan of dedicating $5 million toward 50-performing New York City middle schools.

The mayor of New York City's distillation of our urban education crisis is baffling and offensive. Firstly, how can he be so sure that "what you're telling them to do" is actually in their best interest? Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, NYC elementary schools have fixated on testing, testing, testing. Today's middle school students have lived with counterproductive mania for this their entire scholastic lives.

Urban kids in sixth and seventh grade are hip to the fact that the test preparation craze that has dominated their years in school is actually a superficial, bureaucratic charade that has nothing to do with their own personal futures. An alarming number of sixth graders taught English Language Arts by my wife in the Bronx pointedly told her last January: "The test is over. I'm done." Scores are dropping now because those children have been failed repeatedly since Day One, and their foundation of enduring skills and understandings was never built in the interest of manufacturing short-end bumps on test score graphs.

Rather than making school a nurturing and personal experience, kids, as early as kindergarten, are jammed into overcrowded classrooms, denied support services like fundamental skills tutoring, denied much-needed counseling, and are supervised by administrators more worried about test scores than their real needs. It's no wonder that they "stop doing what you tell them to do," as the mayor says. Bloomberg is blaming the victims here. (And also, who is the "you" that Bloomberg mentions? Does "you" contain the families of the Bronx, for example? It doesn't seem so.)

Students don't spontaneously combust in middle school. When a student's "achievement" on the line graph tumbles, something undetected has been wrong for a long time. Solving the mystery of the middle school decline will require a genuine look at dedicating real resources to truly support every student -- from birth through high school graduation day.

Bloomberg shows little interest in such a difficult, expensive yet crucial undertaking. The New York Times reports:

"But the mayor shied away from adopting the most far-ranging changes recommended in the reports, like significantly reducing class sizes, creating a special middle school academy to train teachers about early adolescence, and removing police officers from city schools to create a more welcoming atmosphere."

How will voiceless public school students get real solutions, not stunts, from their elected leaders?

Dan Brown is a writer and teacher in New York City. His memoir of his first year teaching, The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle, is being released this month by Arcade Publishing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The More Things Change….

Updated (thanks to DB for finding typos.)
I wrote this column for the upcoming special edit
ion on education in The Wave due out August 24.

So this email comes in from Wave editor Howie Schwach asking for a column for the Wave’s “Back to School” special edition. Back to School? It’s not even the middle of August. And then I remembered - teachers have to go back in August. Two days before Labor Day. Oh, The humanity!

Some have told me of all the indignities of the 2005 contract this may be the worst. Those daye last week before school began and coming back on Labor Day are gone. Some people now feel they have to go in two days before the two days to set up their rooms, as the other two days will be used for professional development, which obviously, every teacher need globs of. The little butterflies that used to start to gnaw away in mid August now show up a week early and grow bigger as the month goes by till they turn into dragons. (By the way, the only way to conquer these dragons is Twinkies, lots of them.)

Well, off to the task at hand. Howie wanted something on how schools are opening without supervision from districts or regions or whatever. All new school years begin with a review of old material. So let’s see what you remember. There will be a high stakes test at the end of this column where your car will be confiscated if you don’t pass, so pay attention kiddies.

In 2002, new Mayor Michael Bloomberg led a charge to give total control of the system to the mayor, a practice that has been growing nationally. This effort was supported by the UFT. Joel Klein, a lawyer without any experience as an educator (other than a supposed 6 month teaching stint in the late 60’s when the draft board was breathing down his neck – my reason for getting into teaching too) was appointed Chancellor joining the national trend to choose non-educators to head large urban school systems. The smell was in the air: Don’t trust educators to make basic decisions about education. What’s next? Having bureaucrats at HMO’s make medical decisions?

In a major move, BloomKlein changed the name from the BOE to the DOE. There was no more BOE. This was replaced by the PEP (Panel for Educational Policy – mostly appointed by the Mayor). In a major reorganization, all districts were combined into 10 regions, some even crossing boroughs. The special ed district was kept intact. All power emanated centrally.

The result? Disaster! Disaster beyond anyone’s imagination as teachers and parents were totally shut out of the system (previously they had been only 90% shut out but it was by people supposedly trained to some extent as educators) no matter how bizarre the decisions coming down from central. I won’t go into the gory details since they require a multi-volume book. Let’s just say experience as an educator didn’t count. And the Klein lawyer/MBA whiz kids types were now in charge. Massive changes in curricula and teaching methods were forced down everyone’s throat as the baby was thrown out with the bath water. Even great ideas were mangled in translation. I won’t even get into the immense amounts of money that was thrown down the tubes as privateers flocked to the DOE. To sum up: almost universal incompetence as everything they touched turned to doo-doo.

Witness the latest exercise: the implementation and follow-through of the Kahil Gibran International Academy with the predicted resignation of the respected educator Debbie Almontaser, who had run interfaith healing meetings after 9/11 and the appointment of a Jewish successor – to run an Arabic language school. We won’t even get into the discussion of whether such schools should exist. But for those people out there who like to jump on anything related to Arabic or Muslims (i.e., the NY Post), someone should check out what’s been going on in Williamsburg for the past 35 years where there have been bi-lingual Yiddish classes in public schools with all Hassidic teachers and kids. Guess the Post is not all that bothered by the concept.

Come 2006, guess what? Bloomberg and Klein (forever joined at the hip in these columns as BloomKlein) decided to reorganize again. Regions were out, districts back in. High schools were now out of the local districts and back into five borough districts, which is how they have been organized from say, 1890 ‘till 2002. The more things change….

But there were some major twists as BloomKlein institute a management system that has not been used anywhere. (If Bloomberg ran his business this way he would probably have ended up working as a clerk. Or maybe teaching 4th grade.) All power now resides in the hands of individual principals with supposedly little oversight from above – unless something goes wrong.

All principals were required to choose a support network from the following: Four networks led by former regional Superintendents (including Region 5’s Kathy Cashin), a centrally managed Empowerment Zone - a network of over 300 schools, or from a list of 9 private support agencies. How do you spell M-E-S-S?

Schools will now be giving 6 tests a year to prepare them for the BIG ONE. It is all about data and outcomes, saith BloomKlein. And outcomes do not mean that a teacher manages to do wonders with a difficult child in terms of their behavior. Or hold kids in an oversized class in check. Nada. Outcomes mean solely the results of these tests. Schools will graded from A-F and principals with an F will be fired (but probably recycled into some other bureaucratic job.) Attempts will be made to use the outcomes on these tests to evaluate the performance of teachers. Results will be used by principals to deny teachers tenure and U-rate teachers with tenure as being incompetent because Johnny can’t move from a Level One to Level Two. The UFT (who are they again?) will put on a show of objecting. But only a show. They will tell teachers to file grievances which will take a year to be heard. And teachers that are fired will not be recycled but blacklisted from ever working in the system again.

District superintendents will function mainly to evaluate schools based on the results of tests and will have no role in support. Just in evaluation.

I spoke to Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters who has the best handle on what is happening in Tweedledom. “The separation of support from evaluation is a model that has not been tried in any educational system I know of, and from what people tell me, not even the corporate world. Usually, the person evaluating is also responsible for helping to fix what is wrong.” District Superintendents will not even be evaluating schools in their own district and will not know the specific needs of the schools they should be most familiar with.

“The $80 million IBM Aris system will be inputting and spitting out data. But the data will be severely circumscribed and will not include factors such as class size or overcrowded conditions. Principals are supposed to be able to manage them. Haimson pointed to Murray Bergtraum HS, one of the large schools that have been affected by the closing of other large schools and the placement of small schools in their place. It is 125% over capacity, with triple shifts and maximum class sizes, with many more needy kids pushed out of closed schools, while the favored small schools and charter schools have lower class size limits that allow Tweed to brag about higher grad rates (don’t get me started on how these numbers have been arrived at.)

“Their strategy of fixing problems by shutting down schools and opening new ones rather than actually providing these schools with a chance to improve demonstrates the emptiness of their vision of school reform,” Haimson said.

“They only push problems from school to school. Their refusal to cap enrollment at large schools at least as a start to fix these schools instead of closing them is an admission they do not know how to do it. They absolve themselves of responsibility when they refuse to go beyond the idea that all it takes is proper management of a school and good instruction. In other words, failures are the fault of principals and teachers, not systemic. They claim they have changed the system from bad to good. To get to great all they have to do is unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of individual school leaders. It is the wild west.”

It is also the free market and competitive system brought to the schools, which will prove to have the same impact as if it were brought to firefighting (a bonus to the first fireman up the ladder?)

Haimson points to some obvious outcomes based on principals’ fears of being fired or the incentive to earn bonuses if “successful.” Poor performing students will be forced out or discouraged from attending the school in the first place. Cheating on tests and pressures on teachers to pass failing students to inflate the graduation rates will be rampant. Since schools get grad credit for kids passing the much easier GED (about an 8th grade level) students will be channeled in that direction. Things will appear to look much better. In reality, the more things change…

(Note: While the outer surface of the system may have been changed mucho times, for the overwhelming majority of students, the long-term results will not be much different.)

Additional material:

Historical background
Until circa 1968 schools were centrally controlled but with some oversight by a board of Education. But it was pretty much under the control of the mayor. There were districts for managerial purposes and superintendents appointed centrally.

In 1968, power over K-8 schools was taken over by locally elected school boards divided into 32 geographical districts. These boards had to hold public meetings every month. Nobody cared. Few voted. Few attended unless there was a pressing issue. The performance of the districts varied greatly depending on – guess what -- the abilities the kids brought to the table when they entered school. Duh!

High schools remained under c
entral control divided into roughly 5 districts. There was also a centrally controlled special ed district though local districts had their own special ed operations. Geez, I’m tired already.

There was some hanky panky in some districts that resulted in demands for more oversight at the central level. In the late 90’s, some power was given to the Chancellor (did I say there was a revolving door for this position?) to choose the district superintendents. There was a different level of hanky panky in the centrally controlled high schools but no one bothered to mention this.

Demonstration supporting Debbie Almontaser at Tweed, Aug. 21

Monday, August 20, 2007

Klein's Drill and Kill... in the womb


"There's no question in my mind we ought to start our students much earlier," said Klein, a self-proclaimed "public school guy" who took his job exactly five years ago today.

"We should have all of our students start and have rigorous standard-based programs at age 3, age 4, age 5," he said.

He added that it's especially important in high-poverty areas where private preschool is not necessarily an option.

There was a good thread of discussion on this article on the NYC Education Listserve. I posted parts of it on Norm's Notes.

Oh man, did your readers leave stuff out!

Remember the comment from Son of Unity (you promised to come back - pleeeze, we could use more material) about all the incredible stress UFT leaders are under from having to deal with the likes of BloomKlein on our "Stress Relief for UFT Leaders" post and our top 10 stress relievers? This follow-up comment by the ghost of Eugene Debs deserves a post all it's own:

-Randi makes at least over 350 grand on three payrolls- UFT, NYSUT, AFT. Plus an unlimited expense account-worth tens of thousands- to entertain and feed herself, deputy mayors and candidates, consultants, hangers on and newspaper folks. She has an SUV and a driver- he makes 120K to ferry her back and forth to the Hamptons. Add it up- gasoline, insurance, lease payments, maintenance, parking- it's all free for this "average" person.

Add: she is in the NYC pension system for her part-time job at Clara Barton [where she worked as a full-time teacher for only 6 months, partime for 6 years]- so the value of her pension is increased every year, just like teachers- except she hardly taught!!

Add: she has surrounded herself with sycophants whose main job is to say "yes" to whatever crazy scheme and or sellout Randi comes up with. She tolerates no dissent, rewards her sycophants, allows the incompetents who are her friends to scam the union, punishes those to speak up (think principals) and is wholly owned by BloomKlein and Wall Street- she does whatever they tell her to do.

She hires $20,000 a month consultants who wear different hats with other clients (Murdoch, the Jets, the Post. Whose side are they on?)

Question: How does she get away with filing the LM2 reports a year and a half after they are due? The figures on the last report should be raised by whatever increase teachers got. Someone should ask the Department of Labor why they allow this.
[Ed Note: An older LM2 is available at the ICE website or email me and I'll send you one. Or go to the US Labor Department and download the last one available yourself - UFT File number is 063-924].

ADD - Unity folks get free parking at 52 Broadway that is worth $40 a day because they refuse to ride the subways. Plus they get their tolls paid for and $32 a day to use their car for "UFT business." (going to one school).
[Ed Note: I've seen this myself as they line up with their union credit cards after Exec bd meetings to get their cars. The UFT has around 40 spots and Randi micromanages the doling out of these spots to her favorites.]

ADD- The Unity crew - 50 of them- treated themselves to a five-day vacation in Philadelphia the July 4 week- for an NEA convention! This defines chutzpah.
[Ed Note: Hey, they worked hard all year. Think they actually sat in on meetings? Besides, they were layng the groundwork for the ultimate merger of the AFT and NEA so Randi can lead the entire educator labor movement as the springboard to AFL-CIO leader.]

keep it coming folks-

-Eugene Debs.

Generally, I have not made a big deal about the salary earned by UFT leaders and I never viewed Randi Weingarten as being in it for the money - power is way more important to her. Some people feel they couldn't care less how much Weingarten earns if she had delivered great contracts instead of selling the "Look how bad BloomKlein are and we did the best we could under terrible conditions" line.

But now, it's getting obscene when the union leader earns 4-5 times the salary of the average teacher. Not only at the very top, but throughout the hierarchy of the UFT/Unity Caucus staff, people have an incentive to sell bad contracts as long as there is money in it - for them, since they all get the same percentage raises as teachers do without the negatives - though Randi has ordered all staff members to do lunch duty - at the nearest restaurant. Even the gap between district reps, the people at the union staff level most in touch with the schools, and teachers, has been growing.

And the gap grows between the daily lives of teachers and union officials - who many of us in the opposition think work hard and put in long hours, but that is oh so different than teaching. I worked at the district level for the last 4 years of my career - I worked hard and long hours too, but that was a joke compared to what teachers were doing.

I have been more concerned with Weingarten's lack of real teaching experience just as I do about principals who have not really taught because that gives one so much insight into the emotional core of people - ie, a visceral understanding of the impact of the reinstitution of lunch duty or the longer day or the even why going back a measly 2 days before Labor Day is so disturbing to people or what it means to have a vicious Asst. Princ. on your back or teh humiliation of having a kid curse you out in front of the whole class and have nothing done about it.

Weingarten was/is a lawyer for the UFT when she was hand-picked by Sandra Feldman to succeed her (which everyone knew about) and was carefully placed at Clara Barton HS - not at the scary Prospect Hts. HS across the street. She was treated like a celebrity by the staff and administration and chapter leader Leo Casey assured she would be taken care of, a favor that has been returned 10-fold by Weingarten. This history is such a sore point that Weingarten feels the need to lie and distort the truth, even declaring in a NY 1 interview that she taught 5 periods a day for 6 years.

I hear vets speculate all the time about what Shanker and Feldman would do in today's climate. Some people, even Unity vets, mutter to me at the Delegate Assemblies, "Shanker is turning in his grave." Even their vehement opponents feel Shanker/Feldman had a real sense of "union" that Randi seems to be lacking. They were true Social Democrats, albeit right wing SD's in the SDUSA party, while Weingarten is a liberal of the Clinton variety, which means not all that liberal in the classic sense. When Casey and I used to communicate, he swore Weingarten was not SDUSA.

I'm not so sure if they would have made any difference, but they could not be happy with the state of the union, especially in the schools. Of course a major difference is that Shanker was so smart and confident, he surrounded himself by very smart and capable people. As Eugene Debs points out above, Weingarten is too insecure and needs sycophants and YES people around. People outside the UFT who have worked with them complain at the lack of people around Weingarten one could respect.

Since 1970, I fought against Shanker and Feldman. But today, I actually miss them.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

On This and That

Fringing in NYC: Farmer Song
For the past 3 years I've been volunteering with the NYC Fringe Festival ( running until August 26 - 190 plays at 19 venues in the Greenwich Village vicinity. The other day I met Joel Perkins, a computer programmer from Iowa who is appearing in "Farmer Song, The Musical." The play is about the farm crisis in the 80's and is written and performed mostly by people who grew up on a farm and in some cases, continue to farm. The rolled into town in a van and a pickup truck and spent the last week soaking up NYC while doing 5 performances. (The last one was yesterday afternoon and they headed back to Iowa with some great stories to tell about their experience.)

We headed over to the New School Theater on Bank St. on the far west side on Friday and enjoyed the show with it's unusual political message. The cast seemed most impressed that our friends from Western Australia had attended, certainly the award for coming the furthest (you can't get any further from NYC than Perth.)

Yesterday, I was asked to come down and film an interview at Fringe Central (Carmine
& Varrick St) and low and behold, it was with the entire cast and crew of "Farmer Song." They were all as delightful off stage. The gang at Fringe are working on a documentary about the festival and the Iowans should be a great feature as they are true Fringers.

Speaking of which, a bunch of us are going to see Staten Island teacher Nanci Richards' "Pedagogy" [Can working for the Department of Education be worth more than just a $10 co-pay?] this Weds. Aug. 22 at 5:30 at the Center for Architecture (536 LaGuardia Place).
"I wanted to do this show because I was sick of the story of the "hero"
teacher. We only seem to hear about teachers when it comes from some myth that Hollywood creates. I wanted to tell a story about a group of people, (teachers ) who we all seem to talk about , but barely seem to know."
All tickets are $15, no reserved seating.
Some of the ICE gang are going out to eat afterwards but I may be on duty taping...

Jaspora... the same venue by Chicago actress of Haitian decent Nancy Moricette's one woma
n show (she bills herself as "An Imitation Haitian") at 7pm. I met Nancy the other day and I hear she is dynamite. Where else can you see back to back performances for $30? Only at the NYC Fringe.

Today we are going to see "Williamsburg, the Musical" which should be fun since I spent 35 years working in what was considered a ghetto but is not the hippest place on earth.

We're going with Dan & Robyn Scherr, our house guests from Fremantle, Australia. Dan grew up in the Williamsburg Houses off Bushwick Ave. and went to JHS 50, which is nea
r the epicenter of the Williamsburg revolution. (Think one day soon the reading scores at some of these schools may rise? Oh yes, if they do it will probably be due to things like paying teachers merit pay or better staff development, according to the pundits at Tweed.)

Dan should be catatonic from culture shock. Last night we got together with our college friends and Dan's co-Williamsburg buddies from JHS, Jeff Gleicher and Ken Shrednick. They were responsible for my ending up teaching in Williamsburg, where they also also taught for a number of years. They grew up in the South 9th Street area, where Jeff's parents owned a cleaning store on the corner of South 9th and Bedford. I once went up to Jeff's apartment in a tenement on South 9th and even coming from east New York, it was somewhat shocking. They both left the Burg for Long Island to raise their kids. Now Jeff just bought a condo on North 8th and Kent St. for, let's say, a few shekels more than the rent at the old South 9th st. tenement.

I've become an ancient Rome nut. Fueled by our recent visit at the end of May, my first trip there. Actually, always I was. As an undergrad history major and with 30 grad credits, I still never took a course on Rome. But I read Robert Graves' "I Claudius" and "Claudius, The God" when I was in high school. (I was looking for the sex scenes.) Imagine my delight at the PBS series "I Claudius" my favorite TV program ever. I even have a complete set of tapes still in shrink wrap that I swore I would watch as a marathon when I retired 5 years ago. Still haven't got to it. That damn union crap keeps getting in the way.

Digression: With Rome on my mind I can't help thinking of how the UFT/Unity Caucus empire will last longer. Augustus/Shanker set it up real good. You could actually get rid of Roman Emperors but Unity is forever with hand-picked successors. By the 22nd century Leo Casey's grandchild will be saying "we just have to wait out this mayor."

Oh, yeah, back to Rome. I don't have HBO but friends have humped the 2-year series "Rome" as an amazing piece of work. So for the past few weeks I have been avidly watching the dvds and they were right. Covering about a 10-15 year slice of Roman history (turn on the little notes you get to explain some of the background) it is a great companion piece to "I Claudius." Why does Octavian/Augustus remind me of some of the Tweed types we see around?
I've also got a few books by Julius Caesar and Livy and even a volume of Gibbon's "The Decline and Fall." That ought to keep me off the streets.

My First Screen Credit

MSG has been showing "The Irish Ropes" - last week after a tape of a recent John Duddy fight. Duddy is an Irish fighter who is undefeated. I'm not a boxing fan but I was recruited by retired NYC teacher and current filmmaker Bob Sarnoff as a cameraman for the film, which is about a boxing club in Rockaway in the Arverne section. We followed the fighters through Golden Gloves matches which took place all over the metro area - from Freeport to the Copacabana to Brownsville. The owner if the Irish Ropes club (it has closed) was Eddie McLoughlin who is Duddy's manager. The film includes a visit to my alma mater Thomas Jefferson by McLoughlin and Duddy where a teacher who is a Golden Gloves fighter invited then to speak to the kids.

This MSG version is shortened from Sarnoff's original film and emphasizes Duddy, whereas the full version deals much more with the amateur fighters, many of whom are from Arverne in Rockaway. The Ropes attracted a group of people of all races and ages and even though I was involved towards the end of the life of the club, it was obvious the potential for filling a gap in an area of Rockaway that could really benefit was lost.

I wrote a column about the sad closing of the Irish Ropes boxing club in Arverne in The Wave in Sept. 2006. Sarnoff's full version of the film is still to be released.

Sarnoff, myself and Mark Rosenhaft, my long-time partner in NorMark Productions (non-profit - meaning we have never made a dime) are currently working on "Dispatch," a Rockaway-based film on a local car service. Cab, anyone?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is it racist to criticize Barry Bonds...

... or antisemitic to criticize Israel?

Both seem to be two sides of the same coin.

Sometimes I seem to be spiraling in space.

I received the following email from a colleague in ICE:

How can you be 100% that Barry Bonds took steroids?
This is the type of thing that offends many in the black community.
And many Latinos.

I'm often accused of not getting it. Some might say "It's a black thing." It is common to attack non-Jewish critics of Israel as antisemitic and Jewish critics as self-hating Jews. Or I am accused of being a self-hating Jew when I have defended - or more likely explained - the motivations behind the actions of Palestinians or, in years past, over the actions of members of the minority community in response to certain education situations, especially in the 70's when the repercussions of the '68 strike were still being felt most strongly (and they still are today.) Jewish colleagues at my school in the early 70's used to tell me I should not worry so much about Blacks and Puerto Ricans but about Jews. One of them was a Holocaust survivor and also happened to be my first Hebrew School teacher at the New Lots & Pennsylvania Ave. Synagogue. I could understand where he was coming from but that didn't make it any less racist.

To be criticized by both ends might just be where I want to be.

The recent turmoil over the Kahlil Gibran school and Steve Quester's post that was critical of Randi Weingarten on this blog resulted in an anonymous attack on Steve - "He hates Israel." Not that he is critical of the policies of Israel, but a personification of Israel as an entity beyond criticism. Like people opposed to the war in Iraq (or Vietnam) are anti-American. Or better yet, the opposition to the UFT leadership are traitors to the union and are even funded by Bloomberg - the rumor Unity used to spread about Ed Notes. (New Action used to claim it was Unity giving me money when Ed Notes was critical of them.) Sure, I used to get all that money from a submarine off Rockaway. These are the
attacks made by singleminded sectarians who only see their own narrow point of view.

I responded to my ICE colleague:

Why are blacks and Latinos offended?
To me that is racism.
Jason Giambi is white and I believe he took steroids. I'm not offended as a white person.

He came back with:
Why is the media so intended to attack Barry Bonds? And why was Hank
Aaron attacked when he was chasing Babe Ruth"s record?
To me this is racism.
And I said:

Aaron was not attacked by the media but by racists. He was breaking Babe Ruth's record. I don't remember the media being against Aaron. There was more of a hubbub when Maris was breaking Ruth's record.
In this case the media seem to support Aaron.
Bonds has been a jerk to the media - arrogant, etc. The media responds to that. There are many other examples both white and black. I remember Mickey Mantle being under attack by people like Dick Young in Mantle's early years because Mantle's shyness was taken as arrogance.
Bonds is under attack for breaking another black man's record. Aaron is being defended as someone who did it legit.
The fact that Bonds' major home run hitting came after he was 36 and admissions from people that he took steroids makes it a pretty good bet he took them.
Personally I don't really care. Pitchers took steroids too.
Question: If Bonds were white would you give a shit? Do you think he wouldn't be criticized given the exact same conditions? To me that smacks of a racist attitude. Like black and Latinos defending OJ. When he was acquitted half my school screamed in victory and cheers and there was a party attitude. The other (white) half were mortified.

Maybe it's true. I just don't get it.

The Excessed and ATR's Want to Meet

Calls and emails are coming in from ATR's. Each story has its own backdrop, but I'll stay away from these now. There is certainly a feeling the UFT has nothing for them. There are calls for a meeting of ATR's to discuss the situation.

Our July 14th post:

The Bronx is Burning ... with ATR's
A UFT official writes in an email to one of my correspondents: "The number of veteran teachers in excess in the Bronx is huge. 33% of the teachers at Stevenson have been placed in excess this June and a whopping 56 employees from Evander Childs have been excessed. Dozens from Walton are out, including the Chapter Leader. Meanwhile, on the hiring committees that I have been attending, at least 3/4 of the applicants have been Teaching Fellows with shiny new Trans B licenses."

This was followed by "Excessing," a guest editorial from one of these ATR's and resulted in some comments by anonymous UFT officials (most likely Zahler or Casey and maybe their lapdog Redhog). The editorialist demolished their specious arguments in a follow-up comment.

The lack of any effort on the part of the UFT to seek out and provide any level of support to ATR's as a class (they only do things on an case by case basis when an individual contacts them - call this the Deflection modus operendi - see UFT: Masters of Deflection) led to a follow-up:

Calling All Teachers in Excess on July 23 which set up a special email address ( and a form (see below) to be filled out for people to respond so information can be gathered that can be presented to the UFT. The idea is to form a pressure group of excessed and ATR's that can force the UFT (the only way they will act) to defend their interests as a group.

A UFT Tea Party?
This came in the other day:


Why pay dues, when the union bosses have gone AWOL under the unremitting attacks by corporate educrats and unprincipled principals.

– ATRs abound.

– A union-condoned Open Market system that demolishes seniority protections.

– A contract left undefended (Article 17B on excessing procedures).

– Senior teachers with S-ratings (or fake U-ratings), their careers in ruin.

One would think that if you’ve just taken a hit through school restructuring or a cut position, you could go to the UFT’s own website for guidance and help.

Think again. This debacle has been playing itself out all summer, but shamelessly and for the world to see, the UFT website doesn’t even set up links for Excessed Teachers or ATRs. And if you search those terms, you’ll get nothing but gems like this one: “You can receive, upon request, individualized assistance from ... Human Resources on how to maximize your chances of success in being selected for a transfer.” What? How we can increase our “chances” of being selected? They can’t be writing all this pollyanna spin stuff for me or for anyone else who wants real help getting back into a real job.

Don’t be deluded either by the link "Denied a Transfer." I told them a couple of months ago that people who don’t even get asked in for an interview are not actually being denied a transfer. The name of that link doesn’t fit any of us left out here in the stone cold, especially senior teachers who are eliminated flat out for their big salaries alone. Why would we even think that link applies to us? No response from the union on that one. They never changed it because they don’t care and they don’t want to know.


As for the Edwize blog, another joke. We could read all the stuff they post there on (By the way, check out the picture of Randi and Bloomberg. She’s in a white suit, all smiling and happy. We suspected they're in bed together, maybe they just got married.)


The computers at union headquarters can tell the people we’re paying our dues to all kinds of stuff, like the numbers of teachers in excess, our ratings and seniority. A little trolling for senior teachers with problems getting new jobs would turn this union into a viable one. Our dues would mean something then.

Silence on their side doesn’t mean lie back and play dead on this side. We’re collecting information about teachers who have been thrown under the wheels of this UFT/DOE juggernaut. If you or someone you know is excessed and having trouble getting another job or likely to be an ATR next term, please contact us (or tell them to contact us) through this form. Copy and paste the questions below in a new email, answer the ones you want to answer, and send them to You don’t have to give your real name, and you can sign up for updates.


Your real name (optional) OR a pseudonym to prevent duplication: ________ 

When were you excessed? Month ________ Year _____ 

Seniority at the end of June 07: _________________

If you're a teacher, your subject: ______________

Otherwise, your title: _______ 

Used the Open Market yet? Y/N _____ 

No. of schools applied to: _______ 

No. of interviews you were granted: _____

No. of interviews you attended: ______ 

Has the DOE tried to place you yet (as stipulated in the contract)?
Y/N ______ 

Any factors you think make your excessing not your fault (e.g., school closing): ________________________

Any factors you think make it unlikely you'll be placed in a permanent position

(e.g., politics, race; optional, but probably very important): ________

Additional comments: ________________________________________

Do you want to be contacted with updates on the statistics? Y/N ______

If so, your email address: _____________________________

Daily quote of the day from infoweek update
"Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good." -- Samuel Johnson