Saturday, December 15, 2007

An Ugly Thread on the UFT and Class Size

“To its [the UFT's] credit, the city is already taking some smart steps. Its small "lead teacher" program and its new performance pay initiative, both developed with the United Federation of Teachers, will provide bigger paychecks and new career paths to successful teachers in poor schools. That will give those teachers new reasons to stay in the Bronx and Brooklyn rather than move out to Westchester or Long Island.”

Robert Gordon in the Daily News praising the UFT after trashing parents who support class size reduction.

Of course to me it all falls into place. It is no accident Gordon lauded the UFT/company union which will be supporting his wife's boss for president.

Gordon is married to Hillary Clinton's domestic advisor.

Robert Gordon attacks class size and praises the UFT - he full well knows they have much higher priorities than class size.

I've always said the UFT was playing a game on class size.

The AFT and NYSUT already endorsed Clinton and the UFT will follow. Randi will become pres of the AFT and use that platform to try to elect Clinton if she's still in the game.

Klein could become Sect of Ed in a Clinton admin.

Oh, the ties that bind!

Follow the thread below between Leonie and Patrick Sullivan from the NYC Education News listserve.

Leonie Haimson posts:

Hilary Clinton’s domestic policy director, Catherine Brown, is married to Robert Gordon, yes, Robert Gordon, the infamous designer of FSF and current attack dog of the DOE against the “obsession” with class size reduction, as he put it in his oped in the Daily News yesterday.

(For more on the education staff and advisers of the various candidates see:

If you want to hear about how Brown and Gordon met and fell in love, here’s a revealing account of his quick-witted charm from the NY Observer:

“Ms. Brown, a slender, blond outdoorsy type with a warm smile, mentioned that she’d just bought a ski condo in Park City, Utah. “That’s very grown-up of you,” Mr. Gordon said. “I didn’t realize you were that mature.”

“Is it that obvious?” Ms. Brown quipped.
“It’s a good thing,” he said. “Being immature at this stage of life.”

Patrick Sullivan comments:
I met with Gordon toward the end of his (full time) tenure at DOE.

When I voted against Fair Student Funding at the May PEP, Klein asked me to talk to Robert Gordon.

I told him I was coming in and wanted an explanation as to why two thirds of D4 ( East Harlem) schools were getting hold harmless and why 7 of 8 schools on the SURR/SINI list would get nothing as well.

Despite the fact that he had the question in advance, he said, "gee, looks like the schools in D4 are smaller and maybe that's why". Sticking the schools with a radically different budgeting methodology without understanding or concern for the impact on the ground is irresponsible, to say the least. For many of these people, our schools and our kids are one giant sandbox to try out the latest academic fad. And no need to test on one District, just go crazy and do it to 1.1 million kids. Gordon represents the worst of that bunch. Now he's safely in his think tank.

That day I kept asking what they would offer these schools, the only answer I ever got from Tweed was "accountability"

Leonie follows with:

But he’s not safely in his think tank; he’s still working as an adviser to DOE, writing attacks on class size in the Daily News (which I’m sure he was paid handsomely for), distorting the research by referring to those “giants” in the field of education like McKinsey and the Parthenon Group, and married to Hilary Clinton’s top policy adviser.

No doubt his inside the Beltway perspective will risk poisoning who ever becomes the next president.

And what is he? Just another arrogant lawyer.

Perhaps his being married to Clinton’s top policy adviser led him to express his animus on parents instead of the UFT.

Parent Josh Karan responded to Gordon with a letter to the Daily News:
Robert Gordon's pitting of improving the teaching corps against reduction of class size is like asking which eye you would rather have -- your right or your left. Like stereoscopic vision, they work together. Reducing class size will help even the best teachers reach their students more directly, and will help retain teachers, who find the workload impossible. In middle or high school --- where Mr. Gordon wrongfully claims there is no evidence for the efficacy of reduced class size -- how can a teacher review & critique even weekly writing assignments for a
hundred and fifty students, the number commonly taught by NYC teachers? Just giving a paltry 10 minutes to each would require 5 hours every day outside the classroom in addition to regular lesson planning. I am sure that Mr. Gordon does not put in those kind of hours, nor do the teachers in elite schools with classes of 15, where intensive development of students ability to write is indeed possible because teachers work with so many fewer students. He is right,
however, that providing equal education would cost a boatload, which is why the rich & powerful who don't pay their fair share of taxes reserve such education for their own. As a society, the consequence is well stated in the bumper sticker "If you think education is
expensive, try ignorance".

Josh Karan
District 6 Washington Heights
The district which initiated the Campaign For Fiscal Equity lawsuit