Thursday, October 11, 2007

Today's Quickies

October 11, 2007 (updated 12 pm)

Reminder that today is the High Stakes Forum at Fordham at 6PM. It's pretty well booked but if you are in the area, check in (see details in post below.) I am doing the videography, so SMILE!

Baltimore teachers are calling for the resignation of Supt. Andres Alonso just 2 months after he left Tweed to fly on his own. The day he got the job we predicted problems with the teachers union. Of course he appointed a general to help him run things. (Do a search of this blog to read the Alonso stories.) Alonso seems to be at a big disadvantage compared to Klein. He actually is facing a non-collaborationist union with some spine. Follow their actions at As an AFT local expect them to be advised by their new president next July that collaboration is the way to go with old UFT pal Andres. I posted the article from the Baltimore Sun on Norms Notes.

Baltimore teachers stood up to Alonso's bullshit almost from day one while the UFT praised and sucked up to Klein. People in Baltimore are already raising governance issues that led to Alonso being appointed with a general as an assistant.

When Klein was appointed we heard nothing from the UFT but praise and when Children First was announced, Randi's "It's all breathlessly possible." Even at this time there has been no call for Klein's resignation or a vote of no confidence which about 98% of the teaching staff (and a hell of a lot of principals and even admins above them) would sign on to.

The Bronx High School of Science "Quack" story has been humming as the mainstream press seems to be getting involved after our post a few days ago. It has been interesting following the postings of the kids at the school as some seniors worry about revenge by school administrators and guidance counselors in relation to getting into college while others talk about leaving their legacy so future generations do not forget the "quacking" story. One former student commented that his favorite Reidy quote was "Asians speak Asian." The animosity towards Reidy by the kids seems to be more intense than that of teachers. And I received an email from a parent leader that indicates many of them feel the same. WOW! Reidy has united parents, teachers and students.

Call it for the revenge of Bob Drake, the untenured PhD chemistry teacher who Principal Valerie Reidy hounded out of the system. Drake enjoys a job at a public school in Conn. at mucho times the salary. THANK YOU, VALERIE REIDY! Betsy Combier has a bunch of stuff on Drake and Science on her parentadvocates web site. The cartoon from the Riverdale Review, which has done a number of stories on the case, was posted by the students on facebook. Andy Wolfe in the NY Sun did a piece in May 2005 and we should see some articles today or tomorrow in some the NY Dailies. And check out the blog of a former student here.

I posted an old but very worthwhile piece by Lois Weiner on Albert Shanker's Legacy on norms notes. Lois is a former NYC teacher and UFT delegate and she fleshed out some of the missing pieces in Kahlenberg's recent book - 10 years ago. I guess Kahlenberg somehow missed talking to people like Lois or citing her work. I'll revert to the old standby "I'm shocked, shocked to find out there's gambling going on here." Look for the Shanker apologists to start counter attacking. Kahlenberg will be appearing on a symposium with Diane Ravitch (closely tied to Shanker) and Debbie Meier (who if I remember correctly was a critic) at NYU at the end of October. I'm hoping to attend.

Lois recruited Bruce Markens and me to review the Kahlenberg book for New Politics. Lois also wrote a wonderful piece on neoliberalism in 2003 and education which illuminates many connections between the actions of the Democrats, BloomKlein, Gates, Broad, Weingarten (posted on the norms notes blog recently.) I am 2/3 through the book and it is must reading to get a full picture of what is going on today. Personally, I do not take the black and white (partially a joke if you know Shanker's views on race & quotas) view of Shanker and am finding a lot to agree with - in theory. But when you put it all in context, the angle changes. I'm still sorting it all out and hope to meet with Bruce and Lois (who I've never met) next week.

Did you see the Time-Warner full-page ad on the back page of the NY Times metro section lauding their award to five outstanding principals in NYC? Money that could have gone to help teachers and kids. But maybe the Times gave a big discount for a promotion of BloomKlein.


  1. The UFT is supporting its brothers and sisters in Baltimore. All they want is what we already have here. Planning time is for teachers: that is a professional responsibility and freedom.

  2. Brothers and sisters indeed!

    You miss the point, as most UFT/Unity people do - that the Baltimore teachers stood up to Alonso's bullshit almost from day one while the UFT praised and sucked up to Klein. People in Baltimore are already raising governance issues that led to Alonso being appointed with a general as an assistant.

    When Klein was appointed we heard nothing from the UFT but praise and when Children First was announced, Randi's "It's all breathlessly possible." Even at this time there has been no call for Klein's resignation or a vote of no confidence which about 98% of the teaching stuff would sign on to.

    They use shills like Peter Goodman/Ed in the Apple to slam Klein behind the scenes while he denies comments to people who expose him. And Goodman, whose son is principal of one of UFT charters schools, earns money from the closing of large schools and opening of small ones while using his anon blog to criticize Klein and small schools. Typical Unity!

    No guts, no glory!

  3. I found this on the Baltimore Sun education blog
    (gee, why can't the Times have one)

    "The Parents Trapped
    The Baltimore Teachers Union protest got most of the attention at this week's city school board meeting. But during the public comment portion of the meeting, two desperate mothers stole some of the thunder.

    One was Sheila Slade-Lee, whose 7-year-old son is in second grade at Northwood Elementary. He has hearing problems, sensory and auitory processing disorders, attention deficit disorder, and possibly dyslexia, though she hasn't been able to get the school system to test him for that. In two years at the school, she's called 16 IEP meetings, and the boy still isn't getting the special education services he needs. She said staff at the school have told her that he's getting more services than his classmates with disabilities. "These are the kids where the parents don't fight for the children," she said.

    And special education is only one of the problems. In two years, she said, her son has never brought home a piece of artwork that he made. The cafeteria, she contended, "is pure chaos." Paint is peeling off the new doors at the school, and it's falling off the ceiling. There aren't enough books for children to bring home.

    Slade-Lee works as a nurse at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center, the correctional facility on Madison Street. She said she asks the young inmates she meets there, "'Why are you here? What started you on the path to this destruction?' Guess what it was? School. They couldn't read. They couldn't write. They couldn't get a job."

    The other parent was Blondelia Caldwell, past chair of the city's Special Education Advisory Committee. In Baltimore education circles, she is known for her activism. Until this week, her grandson was enrolled in eighth grade at George Kelson Elementary/Middle, where she ran a support group for other grandparents.

    Two weeks ago, much of the public comment at the board meeting centered around praise for Kelson, as parents and staff turned out to praise the school's partnership with the Enterprise Foundation. This week, Caldwell was there to tell a different story. On Sept. 27, Caldwell said, she was at the school when some bigger kids tried to attack her grandson. She got in the middle of the fight, and, she said, one of the boys accused her of threatening to stab him with a pencil. She was arrested and charged with second-degree assualt and spent the night in jail. Her pastor accompanied her to the board meeting to urge system officials to resolve the charges against her. Caldwell transferred her grandson to another school this week.

    Caldwell's description of the middle school portion of Kelson was similar to Slade-Lee's description of Northwood: "out of control."

    "Every year for five years, it's been a new principal," she said when I talked to her Wednesday. "They can't handle the school." Of the self-contained special education class where her grandson was enrolled, she said: "Those kids run the hall every day. They should be in the classroom with instruction going on. There's nothing."

    School board Chairman Brian Morris assigned staff to follow up with both the women.

    UPDATE: Slade-Lee met with a system administrator on Wednesday who promised to get her son the help he needs."

    So Alonso is going to the mat with the teachers
    insisting they give up one of the 3! preps they get PER WEEK (in elementary schools) for collaborative planning and professional development, as if that will be the cure all for the momental problems that
    thye Baltimore system has. Remind you of anything?

    Here's what he says:
    Alonso argues that a hallmark of successful schools is collaborative planning time, when teachers from a particular grade level or subject come together to share strategies.

    "What can I say?" he said. "I am here to make great decisions on behalf of kids. Every decision I will make will be what's right for kids. I feel strongly that teachers planning together is a great and necessary tool for the improvement of schools."

    What an arrogant putz. He won't last much longer than another Alvarado inspired putz, Frank DeStefano, who got booted out of Baltimore

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