Friday, July 31, 2009

LA Deamin'

The meetings in LA with teachers from a bunch of cities has been quite revealing for the 30-40 people who have been attending. The charter school invasion has been one of the primary topics, along with organizing in the local unions. These are committed teachers, many of them young and their opposition to the ed deformers is an exciting thing to see and be part of. More coming.

In the meantime keep checking the side panel for events in NYC.

We heard some news that there may be a contract coming soon in Washington DC coming where the AFT/Weingarten crew is selling out to Rhee while figuring out a way to make it look like a great victory for the teachers.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

PS 123 & Harlem Success Academy: More Equal than Others

"PS 123 has gone from an F-rated school to a B-rated school, and you’d think that would merit some encouragement from the Department of Education. You’d be mistaken. Rather than expand upon the progress they’ve made, the building that houses PS 123 has become a civics lesson for all who teach and study there—a newly designed two-tier education system. 55 years ago, Brown v. Board of Education stated, “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” At PS 123, separate educational facilities can be found within the same school building."

Arthur Goldstein at Gotham Schools

Read this superb piece: More Equal than Others

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Praise to Politicians (a few at least) on Wanting to Put a Stake in the Heart of Mayoral Control

UPDATED 7/29 -6am

Anti-Mayoral Control Press Conference Small But Significant

State Assemblywoman Inez Barron organized today's press conference condemning the deal, or sellout, by some of the very same people in the state senate who stood on the same steps just last Thursday claiming they would stand firm on getting parents a real role in the governance scheme. Her husband, city councilman Charles Barron, made his usual powerful speech.

Charles Barron attacked the senators leading the conference last Thursday while it was going on. When asked why his wife Inez was standing with the senators, he said she was her own woman.
See our report here , some videos of what some of the senators Adams, Perkins, Huntley, Kruger and Diaz said here and a video of Barron laying waste to Monserrate and Espada at

Today the Barrons were totally on the same page.

What's been interesting in this process is the tenuous but growing relationship between the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) and some politicians.
Now you know what I think of politicians but some of these guys (and gals) have been on the money standing firm against mayoral control. No tweakers here. We've gotten to feel real comfortable with Barron and his staff and Bill Perkins has made his office available for organizing meetings in Harlem. The staffers we've met seem to be very sharp.

The Barrons of Brooklyn today were no less than spectacular.
I came in the middle of Inez Barrons wonderful speech but David Bellel got it all. Don't miss one second.

Inez spent over 30 years in the NYC school system so she knows whereby she speaks. As Leonie said tonight over at the NYC Parents blog,
"From class size and "creative confusion" to the NAEPs, Barron tells the real story behind the Bloomberg myth. She even quotes John Dewey and Martin Luther King Jr. on the meaning and purpose of education. Inez Barron for Schools Chancellor!

What a great idea! Inez Barron for chancellor.

Could hubbie Charles top her today? He said he doesn't want parents to have just a role like parent training centers and other fluff in the bills. He wants parent power, not mayoral power. And power for educators. I'll call it a tie but see for yourself.

Now, the surprise to me was the appearance of City Council Ed Committee chair Robert Jackson, who has said numerous times he supports mayoral control with controls. So what was he doing at a Barrons of Brooklyn total-opposition-to-all-forms-of-mayoral-control event? Jackson, who was not well received at the rally at Tweed a few weeks ago where Barron (Charles) stormed the steps of Tweed, seems to have had a change of heart – on the surface, at least.

After all, Jackson is so tied at the hip to the UFT which supports the mildest form of tweaks. But there he was thanking the Barrons for opening his eyes. At the end of his speech, there was an awkward hug with Charles Barron, who is seizing the reigns of the anti-mayoral control debate in sections of the black community. (See the Jackson video

And why not? What happened to the movement in the 60's calling for black parents to have a say in the control of their communities? We know what happened as local political forces in the white and black districts, with the help of the UFT, turned that movement into patronage mills where may white and black activists throughout the city were bought off. Now it's been Bloomberg doing the buying off. But that game is beginning to wear off as the calls for community power, BloomKlein's worst nightmare, are reemerging and slowly taking hold.

Tweak This
In the we'll take anything but going back to the old system of community control caucus, there are still serious anti BloomKlein forces supporting the Huntley bill which will supposedly forge a parent partnership with the mayor. If anyone has looked recently, you can't forge a partnership with this megalomaniac.

The Brilliant Barrons of Brooklyn are talking about really changing governance, not throwing tweaks at it. Let's go back to community control and tweak that.

The recent uprisings in the black community against BloomKlein must be making them sweat. They're even sending out their champion Geoffrey Canada to debate our champion Sam Anderson this Thursday on WBAI at 7 AM. Kick his ass Sam.

I'm heading out to LA early tomorrow with a NY contingent to meet with our teacher counterparts from other cities, so blog posts may be sporadic over the next few days. Unless Sally Lee let's me use her cute Macbook Air.

And don't forget to check the sidebar for some important events coming up. Teacher activist Mark Torres has sent a big list to keep people busy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keep Pave Academy Charter School at PS 15 to the 2 Year agreement

GEM met with a large group of teachers from PS 15 last week and they are a wonderful group of passionate and commited educators.

We find that many charters worm their way in by claiming they are looking for space, when in reality their goal is to steal the top kids and push out the public school and take over the building. Hey! Free is better than paying rent. The DOE cooperates fully in this process.

From our friends at PS 15 where PAVE Academy wants to break their agreement to leave after 2 years.

Please take a look at this petition.
All we are asking is the charter school to stick to their agreement...that is all.
Please keep forwarding this ... we need a lot of help.

There is a request for a donation not by PS 15 but by the petition web site. You do not have to donate if you don't want.

Is New State Ed Commissioner Steiner Same Old, Same Old?

Progressive ed reformers would rather have seen Bill Cala become NYS Ed Commissioner. He actually taught in high schools and rose to superintendent of the Fairport schools and ran the Rochester school system for a while. Bill once said that anyone who doesn't understand that lower class sizes is a crucial element is stupid. Bill is also part of the test resistance movement. I guess having these credentials automatically disqualified him.

So, we have a state ed commissioner coming down from the ivory tower (see NY Times article). But isn't David Steiner a professional educator who ran teacher training programs (which have been so vilified by the Teach for America supporters and other ed deformers)? Well, though we certainly don't want lawyers like Joel Klein and Randi Weingarten making decisions real teachers should be making (ever guess why the UFT so easily accepted the waiver for Klein), the record of ivory tower types hasn't been much better. Note how unprepared to deal with the urban classroom so many classically trained educators have been.

Did Hunter College have a 29% grad rate and does it matter?

A comment on ICE mail by Bill made this point:
Dr. David Steiner is being hailed as a true reformer who is in favor of merit pay for teachers, but according to college data records, Hunter College students have a graduation rate of only 29% after 5 years. This is an abysmal record when compared to the NYC public school graduation rate of over 50%. I think Mr. Steiner should be advocating merit pay for college professors instead of public school teachers.

Interesting point Bill. How about merit pay for doctors whose patients don't die? Or for lawyers whose clients don't go end up on death row?

JW responded:

Yes, but the 29% grad rates at Hunter are probably somewhat more nearer the truth than the 50% in the schools. I guess that's a plus.

Sean responded:
All those who have been wringing their hands for a 'professional educator' can breath a sigh of relief now. Finally at last, someone with an graduate degree in education as straw boss, yeah, that's real progress.

Talking points from the Diane Ravitch fan club and the UFT may be forthcoming soon tentatively endorsing this reliance on the 'professionals' to get the job done. I wonder what the PSC has to say about Steiner? (Psst - College teachers really are smart - they already voted Unity caucus out a few years ago)

Let me take a wild guess, Steiner receives a thumbs up from Bloomberg and Weingarten and everything is in place to collaborate with Arne Duncan. If Bloomberg/Mulgrew win their respective races and this mayoral control deal is sealed, the corporate ed deformers and entrepreneurs will have all their ducks lined up in a row, neo liberal local, state and national elected officials, and institutional heads, marching in lock step with the Unity caucus officials bringing up the rear, riding shotgun in the caboose. It's a love fest amongst the elite! Satyricon USA!

The upcoming UFT and mayoral elections are an opportunities to build the grassroots resistance movement I urge everyone to participate in them in some way.

I agree with Sean – except for that Ravitch dig - yes I am in the Ravitch fan club.

I don't know about the comparison of grad rates, but Steiner is already questioning the teacher certification process, which he says has a 90% success rate and therefore should be suspect.
“It seems to me that a gateway certification test that has that high a pass rate should give us pause,” he said.

Yes, what we need is something like the Bar Exam where the pass rate has sunk from 70% to 65% over the past 15 years. Hey, I have an idea. Why not have teachers just take the Bar Exam. It will tell us as much about how they will really do as teachers as the current teacher test. Another sign Steiner doesn't have a clue? Well, he does say “It’s just a test that probably doesn’t put the bar high enough, but whether it’s even the right bar is something that we have to look at.”

Maybe Steiner does get it. Mentions the word "bar" twice in one sentence. See. He agrees with me about the bar. Actually, the right bar is one I know on 14th Street.

Well, Steiner sounds a hell of a lot like Jack Welch. In replacing one of the worst state ed commissioners in the nation – Richard (Dickie boy) Mills who turned the NY State Ed Dept. into a political shill – we may just be seeing someone with the potential to be worse.

Hunter College is one of the largest training grounds for NYC teachers, with 2/3 of its graduates (let's see, 2/3 of 29% is---you do the math).

What exactly has Steiner done to merit this post? The Times says
Since becoming the dean of Hunter’s education school, Dr. Steiner has developed a comprehensive system of filming student teachers to evaluate their mastery of skills.

Ahhh. Filming your lessons. Brilliant. I was involved in a program that videotaped lessons and analyzed the results for effective questioning techniques – in 1970. What goes around comes around.

Steiner said: “Nothing makes more of a difference for a child than the quality of the teacher that is in front of her or him."

Here we go again.

One of those "teacher quality" freaks. Guess he never heard of the impact on teacher quality of smaller class size (a great quote on this from a comment on a Pondiscio post in the sidebar – Even ineffective teachers are more effective when class sizes are smaller…and sure, it would be better to get rid of the ineffective teachers, but I don’t see that happening).

Until the powers that be at least recognize this point even if they say we can't pay for it (see one Bears Sterns bailout and ask why not), then we will remain on the hamster wheel of ed deform.

Now look at this "innovation"
Several New York City charter schools and some teachers at public schools run by the city’s Education Department have been participating in an experimental program at Hunter that places would-be teachers in classrooms right away and grants certification based, in part, on whether students improve on tests.

Based in part on student improvement on tests?
What part? Bet it's more than any other factor. There certainly is no opportunity to even use whatever bogus value added stuff is around. Call it the luck of the draw as to which kids you get.

When one reporter asked him if he had spent time teaching in a high school or elementary classroom, Dr. Steiner, who had not, said:

“I have had the pleasure of teaching about 2,000 students in the last quarter of a century,” he said of his time in universities. “Of course I have spent a lot of time in schools and I look forward to doing ever more of that.

Not someone who walked a mile in our shoes.


Ivory tower.

In spades.

We're doomed.

Doomed to more testing and more judging of teachers based on the wrong criteria.

Take a look at the list of characters posted at Gotham Schools that love the Steiner appointment and you'll get the idea.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is the Charter School Concept Inherently Anti-union and Racist?

Angel Gonzalez says yes:

Charter Schools:
  • are privately operated and exempt from govt & labor laws that provide public oversight. While taking public $$, they operate under private mode.
  • are union busters and deny pension, tenure, and other important labor/educator rights
  • have private & undemocratic governance - no parent, educator & community voice in decision-making thus helping to destroy neighborhood school concept.
  • reflect another institutional racist pattern in the education of public students. Charters are being imposed by NYC dictatorial decree predominately Black & Latino neighborhoods. See attached map. White middle & upper class communities of NYC have not sought these out. Blacks and Latino poor and working class communities have not sought these charters out. Folks want democratic quality and equality public schooling ....and these charters are what have been handed down from above by the corporate-government and those Black & Latino politicos, officials, community groups, ... that have bought into the deceit.
  • split a school with their disparate elite treatment of their charterees with smaller class size, better maintained facilities, materials, (Can do so because of greater corporate dollars pumped in as they seek to initially capture the student market.)
  • contribute to a greater multi-tiered school system ...not two tiered system. We have smaller new visions type schools in buildings that contribute to the tiered system and the regular school without outside supports, the elite-select schools like Bx Science, Stuyvesant, Bklyn Tech, and now Charters (private although they claim public)

Sean and Angel bat the issue of charter use of non-unionized labor on ICE-mail, posted at Norms Notes.
Charter Schools and Non-unionized Maintenance Workers

When Charter Schools Hit the Wall

Ed Notes has been slightly preoccupied with the charter school issue over the past few weeks. And we will posting lots more today and in the next few days before I head to LA later this week to meet with other ed deform resisters from around the nation to share strategies for the growing resistance movement by the true progressive ed reformers.

That it has become a flashpoint was indicated by a meeting I and some of my ICE/GEM colleagues attended with teachers from a school where a charter that wanted to stay only for a short time has asked for extended time. Ten teachers from the school showed up on a rainy afternoon in July.

They feel the charter wants to push them out completely and take over the school. The entire story of how they were looking for space and couldn't find any was a crock. So for schools being sold on the same bull, watch out. They lie. And Tweed is behind them all the way and gives them info they can use to recruit your best kids and has even been known to manipulate kids out of your school so they can then claim you have so much room a charter can enter.

Similarly, people at PS 123 in Harlem which was invaded by Moskowitz' HSA, have also been coming out for protests.

But hope is on the way.

The charter school movement will be hitting a wall before long as teachers working long hours for less pay start to unionize (see today's NY Times), private funding for all those little extras like lower class size starts to dry up, and they find that they are in competition with each other to cream the best kids (see Harlem where Moskoswitz's HSA is now looking to invade District 4 (East Harlem) after charters have skimmed so many kids from central Harlem's District 5 (the largest concentration of charters in the nation - see charter map).

Now, on the unionization issue, guess who is doing the unionizing? Our old friend and now head of the AFT, Randi Weingarten (who our Washington contacts say wants to make a deal with Michelle Rhee that will give them the same ATR life we have here in NYC).

I know, I know. Better an AFT/UFT type charter than nothing.

What are the issues of contention when we talk about charter schools? Some people are only opposed to charters if they stay out of their schools. Others oppose all charters. Ed Notes will explore this issue further later.

NYC Educator takes the NY Times to the whipping shed for today's piece on unionizing charters.
In yet another shallow and superficial article, the New York Times maintains its standard as the paper that asks the fewest questions and holds the least curiosity about education. It manages to ask the obvious questions about unionization in charter schools, but doesn't bother to examine what actually happens when charters unionize.
More at: The Grand Tradition

Race to the Bottom

Diane Ravitch (Obama's Heavy-handed Education Plan) at Politico nails the Obama/Duncan plan to use stimulus money to extort states into pushing the ed deform program down our throats. You know the drill: mayoral control, teacher bashing, merit pay, charters galore.

Diane's summary of ed deform is more elegant than mine:
...lots more charter schools; lots more privatization; evaluate teachers based on the test scores of their students; open more alternate routes into teaching to break the grip of professionalism.

It's worked so well in Duncan's Chicago, which has ruined a generation over the last 14 years of mayoral control. Diane's point here is one that should be blasted all over the nation to counter the deformers.

If Duncan knows so much about how to reform American education, why didn't he reform Chicago 's schools? A report came out a couple of weeks ago from the Civic Committee of Chicago ("Still Left Behind") saying that Chicago's much-touted score gains in the past several years were phony, that they were generated after the state lowered the passing mark on the state tests, that the purported gains did not show up on the federal tests, and that Chicago 's high schools are still failing. On the respected federal tests (NAEP), Chicago is one of the lowest performing cities in the nation.

Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation (not a foe of ed deform, by the way) calls it "Washington Knows Best at its worst." Diane asks,

"What if Washington doesn't know best?" What if the "reform" ideas are wrong? Just a few weeks ago, a respected Stanford University study reported that 80% or more of charter schools are no better than or worse than their neighborhood public school. Why replace struggling public schools with worse charter schools? There is a ton of evidence that evaluating teachers based on student test scores is a lousy idea (see the work of Jesse Rothstein at Princeton , for example).
Why is Washington pushing "reform" ideas that have so little evidence behind them, as well as ideas that will positively harm public education in America ?

Robert Pondiscio at Core Knowledge:

See a compilation of raw posts from the NYC Ed News listserve, including Diane's full piece, posted at our storage facility Norms Notes: Several Posts re: Obama/Duncan's Race to the Top

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama Health and Education Policies at Odds

No matter how many tests or procedures are performed, they [doctors] take home the same amount of money.

This was a striking quote in Saturday's NY Times article on the Obama plan on health care.

How ironic that Obama and Arne Duncan are using threats of withholding stimulus money for education systems if they aren't willing to use differential pay to teachers based on test score results.

Where in the health care proposal do we a similar plan to pay doctors based on making their patients well - let's call it closing the health gap between wealthy and the poor?

A few more quotes for your reading pleasure:

“Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses finally are free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care,” the president said

Doctors in the United States are usually paid fees for each service they provide. The more procedures and tests they order, the more money they pocket. There is widespread agreement among health policy analysts that many of these procedures are unnecessary, raising costs in ways that often do nothing to improve patient health.

By contrast, Bassett — like the Cleveland Clinic and a small number of other health systems in this country — pays salaries to all of its doctors. No matter how many tests or procedures are performed, they take home the same amount of money. Medical costs at Bassett are lower than those at 90 percent of the hospitals in New York, while the quality of care ranks among the top 10 percent in the nation, surveys show.

Paul Moore: Business Roundtable Hands Off To ObamaAdministration

It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over - Press Conf on July 28 to Protest Side Bloomie/State Senator Deal

Dear NYCNSC Member:

There will be a Press Conference held on the steps of City Hall to protest the side deal made by Bloomberg with state senators. City Councilman Charles Barron is sponsoring the event with other politicians.

Please come out and support

Press Conference to be held on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 1 P.M.

See you there!

Let's talk about a Chancellor with real "Education Credentials"!
Let's talk about term limits for members of the PEP!
Let's talk about a CEC for each district with authority to influence policy!
Let's talk about a two year suset for the bill!
Let's talk about the No Bid Contracts!
Let's talk about the Unfair Labor Practices(U ratings and Rubber Rooms)!
Let's talk about the Independent Auditor and Inspector General to check the books!
Let's talk about Union Busting!
Let's talk about a Commission for Public Education!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

NY State Senators Speak at July 23 City Hall Press Conference

State Senator Eric Adams from Brooklyn.
These guys are doing Bernie Madoff math in our schools.
Read my lips. We are not going to pass a bill that does not have parental involvement.

Sorry Eric, I think that's exactly what you did.

State Senator Bill Perkins from Manhattan and GEM teacher Brian Jones and PS 123 parent Bill Hargraves

Perkins: The Mayor has stepped on the third rail. He has stepped on the parents. And when you step on the third rail - psssssss! Teachers need a voice.

Jones: teachers refuse go be divided from the parents. We are seeing the destruction of public education. We want to do experimentation too. We want to experiment with lower class size.

Hargraves: We have to let them know the power is in the people.

State Senator Shirley Huntley

State Senator Carl Kruger

We have left out Espada and Monserrate for obvious reasons.

BloomKlein's Worst Nightmare: PS 197 Protests Democracy Prep Charter Invasion

PS 197 chapter leader and GEMer Antoine Bogard leads the protest at

Video by Angel Gonzalez (does that guy EVER rest?), who put up this post on you tube:

July 22, 2009 - Harlem Parents, Teachers & Community protested the further privatization of PS 197 now with the Democracy Prep Charter. Already the Harlem Children's Zone Charter operates their afterschool program. GEM, the Grassroots Education Movement in Defense of Public Education, participated. The UFT-AFT leadership has supported privatization with charter schools and thus the union-busting that comes with it! Fight this privatization pushed by the DOE & the UFT!

Note the number of Blacks and Latins in this protest. That is why I said this type of activity is BloomKlein's worst nightmare.

The Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) in alliance with various groups around the city, have been engaging in these type of actions over the past few months since GEM was founded less than 5 months ago (not too shabby).

Until recently, BloomKlein have been staking out the high ground by using the language of civil rights to give the impression that the only people who opposed them were middle and upper class whites who wanted to deny them the control of the schools they needed to meet the needs of the Black and Latin community.

They even hired Al Sharpton to stand with them. But as the black community has begun to rise up in Harlem and other areas of the city, note how Sharpton has shrunk back, even endorsing Thompson for mayor against his buddy Bloomberg. (We think Mike will understand and still funnel the bucks over to Al as he will be of some use in the future after the election.)

When confronted by the possibility that groups led by Sam Anderson and Jitu Weusi and Councilman Charles Barron were going to picket the fancy event he up on with the Educational Equality Project a few months ago, he got all 'fraidy cat and offered Barron a chance to speak to avoid the possible press coverage of black people picketing his event.

See Barron's slap down of BloomKlein and Sharpton

[Barron video removed to speed up loading. Go directly to You tube to view]

Enjoy the next 4 years of dictatorial control Mike and Joel. Your time is coming.

Why Black and Latino Parents Need To Be Leery of Charter Schools

Charter Schools Can’t Save The Black and Latino Communities

by Pam Garrison
Special to Ed Notes

The black community and the Latino community both have to be very careful when it comes to charter schools: Charter schools, instead of bringing positive change to a community, eventually divide and conquer that very same community (See the article I wrote on P.S. 160 in Co-op City and The Equality Charter School).

Moreover, charter schools exploit the house slave/field slave, crabs in a barrel, Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome issues (see the work of Dr. Joy Degruy Leary) within the black community. In other words, charter schools tend to create a dynamic in which a black family or a Latino family will only focus upon the education and educational needs of their own child(ren) at the complete and total expense of the education and educational needs of the rest of the children in their respective communities.

Now I know that some may say that concerned, committed, and active parents shouldn’t have to be concerned with “other people’s children”. However, this just isn’t the case because no one’s child grows up in a vacuum, completely and totally isolated from other children. Therefore, since your child(ren) can’t grow up in this world without being around other children, those of you who are parents have to have a healthy concern and care for all of the “other people’s children” because what happens to “other people’s children” has a direct bearing upon your child(ren).

More importantly, neither the black community nor the Latino community has arrived at a time when they can afford to simply not care about the other members of their respective communities. After all, President Obama even said in his July 16th speech to the NAACP, at their 100th Anniversary Convention, that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to help black and Latino children to achieve academically. Moreover, Obama talked about how the U.S.A. would not be able to maintain its status as a world power and as a top producer of college graduates if the black and Latino communities, as well as America as a nation, didn’t do something to help black and Latino youth achieve academic success.

In conclusion, charter schools with their lottery admission systems and creaming/skimming off the top of the local public schools’ population tactics can’t be a panacea or an all-encompassing cure for either the black community or the Latino community.

And yes, it still takes a village to raise a child. So that means that all black and Latino parents have to, while they are advocating educationally for their own children, advocate and support Cookie’s children, Luz’s children, Nadine’s children, and Julissa’s children as well.

The black community and the Latino community can’t afford to do anything less.

Pam Garrison teaches in NYC and is a member of the Grassroots Education Movement

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gotham: Diaz, Monserrate walk out of control talks, but “it’s a done deal”

who should rule the schools

July 24, 2009

Diaz, Monserrate walk out of control talks, but “it’s a done deal”

Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Hiram Monserrate walked out of Senate talks about school governance this afternoon, but they signaled that their disagreement with the Democratic leadership wouldn’t kill a mayoral control deal reached with the Bloomberg administration yesterday, Anna Phillips reports from outside the Lower Manhattan building where the talks are happening.

“It’s a done deal, but we’re not all in agreement,” Diaz said in Spanish to a group of reporters. “The four amigos are divided today.”

Full story

Ed Note:

Videos of what they said at the press conf yesterday will be up later. Compare what they said yesterday with today.

Lisa Donlan on Ending Mayoral Control

Bloomberg's entire autocratic, bullying, intolerant, name-calling response to his lack of political control over just one elected body of government is THE REASON we must end mayoral control and work for a democratic partnership in its place.

Dictatorship under any form is unacceptable.

Moreover, its not even like the trains (or yellow buses) even run on time.

We have no accountability, transparency or balanced decision making of any kind; no evidence that the schools are improving and that students are learning more, or that equity and social justice have increased in any way.

So just what have we traded all this control for anyway?

Lisa Donlan

Coming soon: Lisa Donlan on Mayoral Control: The Video

The City Hall Press Conference on Parent Power, Round 1


It was a fun afternoon around Chambers Street yesterday. The press conference at City Hall was a highlight. (Photo from Epoch Times.)

I went over to the press conference at City Hall after spending some time at the David Pakter hearing (what a hoot!) across the street and taped most of the speeches. There was lots of disdain on the faces of DOE people and many reporters (CBS' Marcia Kramer was priceless) as the much disparaged State Senators Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada led the parade in calling for more parent power with a large crowd behind them on the steps of City Hall.

But there were also good speeches by very reputable state senators Shirley Huntley, Bill Perkins and Eric Adams. GEM's Brian Jones and PS 123 parent activist Bill Hargreaves also spoke. I'm working on putting up videos of the non-scoundrels. The Epoch Times has a report with a quote from Brian and a counter quote from the UFT:

Brian Jones, who has been a teacher in Harlem for six years, said that the states’ allocation of funding to create and remodel charter schools is an attempt to privatize education. He is a member of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), which seeks to “save our schools from privatization,” said a flier.

Ron Davis of the UFT denied the threat of privatization posed by charter schools by saying that charter schools are public schools that have specialized programs.

The full story is here:
Senators and Parents Protest Mayor’s School Control

City Councilman Charles Barron had a different angle, despite the fact his wife, Assembley woman Inez Barron joined the others:

Barron On Amigos' Mayoral Control Battle: 'A Front' And 'A Fraud

Charles Barron talked to Elizabeth Benjamin at The Daily Politics:

"accused the amigos of trying "to undermine black leadership," adding: "We should have left their behinds over there (with the Republicans)."
"I'm down with stopping mayoral control; I'm not down with Espada and Hiram Monserrate and Kruger and Diaz," Barron continued. "They betrayed the cause for them to go over and try to empower Republicans until they got their little personal agenda satisfied."

"This ain't about mayoral control for them; it's not about decontrol, vacancy decontrol. It's not about the people's agenda. He finally got, Espada, a position he should not have had, and Hiram probably cut some deal somewhere, too. This was never about what they're trying to front about now...It was about Hiram's agenda and Espada's agenda...This is a fraud."

Wayne Barrett in The Voice on a pending deal - Holy Cow - Debbie Meier was the sticking point!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prisco: Extending mayoral control is a recipe for failure

by Loretta Prisco

Proponents of Mayoral Control state “improvements” in scores as justification. Scores have jumped in cities without mayoral control proving this a fallacy. Teachers know the secret recipes.

The Not-So-Secret Recipe for Increased Scores:
1. Negotiate a $118 million testing company contract that dumbs down the tests.
2. Eliminate social studies and science, throw out the arts and turn schools into test prep factories.

The Mayor’s Sure-Fire Recipe for Increasing Graduation Rates:
1. Transfer failing students to special programs (Goodwill, drug programs) that are not required to report dropouts.
2. Offer failing/ truant students the opportunity to do a simple project for credit in lieu of attending/ passing classes all term. (Credit Recovery).

The Miraculous Recipe to Close the Achievement Gap between Students of Color and White Students:
In scaling scores, make it easier for students to move from a Level 1 to Level 2 and from 2 to 3 (requiring fewer correct answers for Level 2). Voila –– the gap is closed.

The Mayor’s Secret Recipe for Improving Scores of English Language Learners (ELL):
Give extra test time to these students even though have mastered English and passed the NYSSLAT test that moved them out of ELL programs.

Bake and watch the cake rise.

Loretta Prisco
Staten Island, New York

Two Press Conferences, a 3020 Hearing, a Brooklyn GEM Meeting and a Bloomberg Watch Meeting

There are lots of activities to check out today.

First up will be the continuation of the ridiculous attempt to terminate David Pakter at his 3020a hearing over his giving kids with 90 averages expensive watches from his own watch company and his buying of artificial plants for his school. Hearing date after hearing date. Paying a hearing officer and lawyers and taking principals and APs out of their schools for days at a time. Across the street from Tweed. (See David's note below.)

If you noted the comment in the side bar on Frank McCourt, he would be as likely to have been sent to a 3020a hearing as David. Imagine the hearing. "You mean you tell kids stories? How will THAT close the achievement gap?) In the world of BloomKlein, there is no room for iconoclastic teachers.

Then at 12:30 there will be a press conference at City Hall with the state senators who Bloomberg compared to Chamberlain (Neville or Jaba?) or Nazis or something like that. For the best summary out there of what has transpired so far, read Jason Horowitz at

Following that will be a rally/demo at Tweed over the charter school invasions in schools in Harlem. 1:30.

See, I never have to leave the area. Up to this point.

Then it's off to a meeting in Brooklyn of the brand new Brooklyn GEM committee which is meeting with the crew from CAPE at 5pm.

The final event is the Fed UP NY Bloomberg Watch meeting where they will be distributing news letters. See Mike Dang's comment below. 6pm

Leonie writes about the City Hall and Tweed events and has some comments on other issues.

There will be a press conference tomorrow, Thursday July 23, at 12:30 PM with the Senators who are fighting for changes in the Padavan/Silver bill that would rubber stamp mayoral control. Please stand up for those who are standing up for a better school system, one that’s based on listening to parents, teachers, and actually improving classroom conditions rather than based on expensive and wasteful private contracts and inflated test score results.

At 1:30 P.M. tomorrow, there will be a rally with the parents and staff from PS 123/PS 197/PS 375 on the steps of Tweed, where charter schools are being forcibly inserted into their buildings – creating adverse learning conditions for the children in those schools.

Come join us at these two events!

In recent days there have been two important audits from the City Comptroller’s office as regards the manipulation of graduation rates, and lax monitoring of the test score results. For the graduation rate story, read this article in today’s Daily News, and check out the audit itself here;

The audit found that in the cases of 20% of the students sampled who were reported as having graduated, they did not have the required attendance rate of 90%. In 30% of cases, their transcripts had at least one change made in their original grades or credits.

The changes generally reflected improvements in students’ grades; some of them resulted in students passing classes that they were previously recorded as having failed,” the audit said. The DOE does not dispute any of the above findings, but claims that in most cases of changes in grades or credits, students performed “make up work” or “independent study” after failing the course, as solely verified by the principal’s statement.

When a principal’s bonus or continued employment depends upon rising graduation rates, this should not be considered sufficient proof. In fact, this audit reveals that the practice of credit recovery is far more widespread than originally suspected. More than 20% of the students had changes in their transcripts within a month of graduation — sometimes for courses taken in previous years. Some of these changes were made after the student had already graduated!
For today’s test score audit, check it out here:

I haven’t had a chance to read it carefully yet, but one finding is especially interesting. The DOE refuses to do any computer analysis to track and identify possible cases of systemic cheating at schools. Moreover, the old BOE testing unit under Bob Tobias used to regularly do erasure analysis, also to identify possible cases of cheating; but apparently stopped this routine practice in 2002 – just when Bloomberg came into office. And they claim heightened accountability under Mayoral control!

Leonie Haimson

Mike Dang of Bloomberg watch
Just a reminder that we are holding our next grassroots meeting tomorrow:

What: Second Meeting to Organize Against Bloomberg
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2009
Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: The LGBT Community Center — 208 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 (13th St and 7th Ave). Kaplan Assembly Room 101.

Several people will be speaking for 2-3 minutes on how the Bloomberg administration has affected our communities in a range of issues. If you intend to speak, but haven't notified me, please let me know. We'll be having these stories recorded, uploaded and shared via YouTube.


Mike Dang

David Pakter writes
The Trial continues Thursday, July 23 and then on Wed and Thurs August 5 & 6
Location: 49 Chambers Street, 6 th Floor at 10 AM on all Trial Days.

Request Hearing Room of the Hon. Douglas J. Bantle, Esq.

I have several Federal Lawsuits pending against Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq. in the Federal Court for the Southern District which include 14 other DEFENDANTS.

They can run but they cannot hide.
The Wheels of Justice turn slowly but they grind exceeding small. In time the DOE will lose the present battle.But far more seriously and significantly. former Federal Prosecutor Joel Klein, Esq. is going to lose a far larger war. However it is a war he chose to initiate. He will rue he did so.

David Pakter

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

UPDATE: Scott Stringer Video at PS 123 After Walk-Through and Answers Questions from GEMers

UPDATE VIDEOS: PS 123, Harlem, July 10, 2009
(I'm reposting this with some new material)

When the DOE ruled in HSA's favor in its invasion of PS 123 on July 9, two days after we rallied there after teachers physically prevented HSA movers from removing their stuff, we held a rally up there on the morning of July 10. Tony Avella and Scott Stringer came by.

In this new video (also viewable in the Ed Notes sidepanel) from July 10 PS 123 July 10 2009: HSA Press Release Discussed GEMers and others review the Harlem Success Press Release attacking Stringer and ACORN as UFT lackies. The release calls the failing schools "UFT schools" when in reality they are Joel Klein/Mike Bloomberg schools and have been for 7 years. The press release attacks the UFT for trying to preserve a "luxurious" teachers lounge.

Remember, Stringer defeated Eve Moskowitz for Manhattan Borough president with strong UFT support, which the press release talks about.

In this video posted yesterday (
Scott Stringer at PS 123 After Walk-Through and Answers Questions) Scott Stringer emerges from PS 123 after his walk through om July 10, 2009. After a speech, members of GEM question him about the influx of charters. He tries to duck and keep it to the local situation. Some of the locals are a bit nervous at the direction this is going.

Here is JW's excellent report at the GEM blog:

GEM people asked all the right questions and made all the right points.
Stringer: "We're on the case."

Stringer: "We're going to work."
But, they haven't been on the case, and they're only going to get on it if it becomes politically expedient.

You could tell there's a long way to go after Norm Scott asked:
"If Bloomberg and Klein run the schools for 7 years, they're in charge of every school, how do they manage to push the idea of a charter school, which basically absolves them of the responsibility.

In other words, isn't that an admission of their failure if they say that public schools are failing and they need charter schools. Isn't there a contradiction in that very concept?
Stringer dodged it, claiming his purpose that morning was to see what's going on at 123 and try to figure out a solution.
Stringer: "Today's not about THAT fight."
Of course it isn't — to him. Because he and his colleagues on the City Council have watched privatization for seven years, first with the Gates money and now with the charters. The flood of no-bid contracts, non-educator corporate ideology, and inflated PR teams are not new, and it's obvious these people have bought into the process. In fact, it's in their interest to let their constituents, not to mention the entire nation, believe that the NYC school system is a model of "accountability" and "transparency," with scores going "up" and graduation rates "on the rise."

The fight that Stringer sidelined at Scott's question is the fight, no two ways about it. And it's going to have to get much louder before elected officials like Stringer get down with making quality facilities equal for all public school kids.

— JW

All videos of the PS 123 rallies on July 7 and July 10
PS 123 July 10 2009: HSA Press Release

Scott Stringer at PS 123 After Walk-Through and Answers Questions

Scott Stringer, Tony Avella at PS 123

PS 123 July 10 2009 (Angel Gonzalez and George Scmidt)

PS 123 Rally

PS 123 Harlem Parents Make Their Case Against Harlem Success

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

UPDATED: Frank McCourt on Teacher Voices, the UFT, Class Size and More

There is some irony in the accolades coming toward Frank McCourt from the UFT at Edwize. McCourt used to have the typical teacher attitude toward the UFT before the UFT started courting McCourt. In this 1998 interview by Sara Mosle in the NY Times magazine, McCourt captures the voice of the teacher perfectly.

Is teaching any easier now?
I wouldn't like to be a young teacher going into the schools. The teachers are overwhelmed — not only with the teaching they have to do but with the clerical work they have to do. Teachers tell me that hasn't eased one bit. Administrations are always remote. They have forms to spew out. They don't know as much as you do. The higher you go in the educational food chain, the less experience of teaching there is, until you get to the chancellor, who usually has none.

How do you feel about [former Chancellor] Rudy Crew?
I like the way he stands his ground with the politicians. I don't think they should have anything to do with education. It's like telling the surgeons how to operate in the surgery room. I knew Rudy would come through against the voucher thing. I think he's solid. But I think we'll lose him because he's good, and the dollar sign will be dangled in front of him and then goodbye, Rudy.

So, you're not for vouchers?
Only if you want to kill public education. That sucking sound you hear is the sound of public schools collapsing with the voucher system.

If you could change anything in the system now, what would it be?
I'd give teachers more of a voice. The union is there and the union is supposed to speak for the teachers, but union officials generally have about as much teaching experience as bureaucrats. Teachers are in touch with the kids every day. Yet they have these people from the union, from the Board of Education, these idiots from think tanks. Everybody's an expert on education, but don't reach into the classroom and bring out John Smith, a teacher who's been teaching for 25 years. Never consult him. It's my dream that teaching become the glamorous profession. The ones who are in the public-school system are heroic. There should be a Teacher Hall of Fame. It should be the biggest event, bigger than the Oscars — "Ms. Smith of P.S. 13 has just made a big breakthrough in teaching the dangling participle. She gets Teacher of the Year!" — with everybody jostling to get near Ms. Smith to shake her hand. "How did you do it, how did you manage to get through to them about the dangling participle?" But as long as the middle class has abandoned the city schools, the schools are going to remain depressed and neglected, because the African-Americans and Hispanics, they don't have the power. All they have is anger, like me when I arrived here.


I posted a Jan. 2008 interview with McCourt at Norm's Notes (Stop Hijacking the Education System with Hijinks) about politicians and education.

Leonie Haimson at Huffington on McCourt and class size:

"If you were named Schools Chancellor what would you do?"

Frank McCourt: "I'd certainly go to Albany and get more money for the teachers' salaries...and I'd cut the school day and certainly cut the size of the classes, because they're monstrous. And I've have a parliament of teachers, no supervisors and certainly no politicians."

John Merrow, who shares the ed deformer agenda (search his name in Ed Notes) is honoring McCourt by running an interview with him. McCourt's views of education obviously had zero impact on Merrow.

In 2000, I got to talk with Frank McCourt on my NPR radio program, The Merrow Report. He read passages from his teaching memoir 'Tis (1999) and shared his thoughts on entering the teaching profession and reflected on what had changed over the years.

We've brought the program out from the archives to honor Frank McCourt's passing—and his life as a remarkable teacher. Listen to him talk about teaching, standardized testing, alternative certification programs and why a teacher can learn more about teaching by hanging out in the school cafeteria than from sitting in a college classroom. Listen to the interview here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Randi In Portland (OR) and a Weird Subway Meeting

If you followed our reports on the goings in Portland (AFT Hack Attack) where the leadership of AFT Local 5017 (sue me AFT) was removed and the union put in receivership for considering the very idea of disaffiliating from the AFT and looking elsewhere for another union, today is the day Randi went out to talk to the local. There's a report in Oregon Business News:
A three-member committee composed of three of AFT's 36 national vice presidents will conduct a hearing in about a week to decide whether the temporary takeover is warranted and to determine how local leadership should be restored.

Sure they will decide in the usual fair honest manner. Any takers on the outcome?

AFT locals have the right to break away, but they must follow proper procedures in doing so, said Weingarten in an interview with The Oregonian
Oh, yea! They have the right only when prove they are able to swim the English Channel with one arm.

Now, are you holding your sides?

"The goal here is to make sure members have a right to make a decision," said Weingarten, who just completed her first year as AFT president. "It is not about the leaders. It is about the members' democratic rights and their economic rights."
Excuse me a minute while the pain from the laughter goes away......

Thanks, I've recovered.

Kathy Geroux, who was removed as president of Local 5017, declined to comment. But she and union leaders released a statement defending their actions, saying the bylaws allow special meetings. "We believe that everyone on the executive board will be vindicated of all the charges made," Geroux wrote.

Kathy, I hate to tell you this, but the deal is done. You are experiencing what is known in NYC as "the Unity Caucus squeeze", where an "impartial" body from a UFT, a Unity Caucus controlled borough office rules a chapter election null and void when a non-Unity elected official breathes on a ballot.

Now, it is not impossible for Randi to offer you a deal to make things look good for the press. But there will be a packing of the Exec Bd that will make Roosevelt's attempt to pack the Supreme Court look like he was playing with toy soldiers. And, you vill not disaffiliate from the AFT. You never intended to disaffiliate from the AFT. And you vill never ever let such evil thoughts ever, ever, ever enter your brain case.

Now, in the totally weird department, MEETING ON A TRAIN:

I'm on the subway today heading up to the demo in Harlem at PS 123 when I see some people with luggage and a subway map looking a bit lost. I offer to help and it turns out they are heading to a hotel near Madison Sq Garden and are from Oregon. Portland.

"Oh," I say. "I've been writing about a situation in Portland about Local 5017 (just try and sue me you AFT goons for using this "copy written" term), a health care union.

The lady's eyes go wide. "I know all about it."

What! I meet some people on a subway who are trying to find their stop for their hotel and she knows the same obscure story that about 10 people in this country know?

"I write a blog on healthcare," she says. "I got a call from the AFT asking me if I wanted to interview Randi Weingarten while I'm in Manhattan. Is she an important person?"

"Nahhh," I answer.

"I heard she met with Obama," she said.

Well, they agree on so much about education: merit pay, charter schools, screwing teachers.

Well, it turns out my accidental friend is Diane Lund-Muzikant, editor-in-chief of THE LUND REPORT. She has spent the past two decades writing about our healthcare system. Her About Me says, "Diane is the founder and former executive director and editor of Oregon Health Forum/Oregon Health News, an organization she ran for 16 ½ years. Under her leadership, it became the leading resource for health policy issues in the Pacific Northwest. Earlier, as a freelance journalist her work appeared in Good Housekeeping, People Magazine, The Oregonian and national health policy journals."

"Send me some questions to ask Randi," Diane said, as we came to her subway stop and we exchanged cards. She seemed to be with her husband and possibly daughter,who was rolling her eyes by this point in the same manner my wife does when I get into blogging mentality mode.

They finally get Diane away to New York for a few days so the family will not be haunted by the obsessed of the blogosphere (and believe me, I saw the same light in Diane's eyes that I see in mine), they are not even at their hotel, and she meets another blogging nut.

On the subway, no less. (Well, where else would you meet a nut in New York?)

By the way, check out The Lund Report. Can't wait to read that Randi interview. Maybe Diane will take me along as a cub reporter. After all, Randi actually invited me to go to Portland with her at the UFT Ex Bd meeting recently.

Related news:
Can the UFT hold an election without Jeff Zahler, who has been in DC as AFT staff director practicing up on his hackism, to do some old-fashioned red baiting? Will Randi firm up the team to support Mulgrew? Or just make sure to keep an eye on him so he doesn't get that lean and hungry look. Et tu, Randi?

Worth Reading: Bracey and Horn

Bracey at Huffington Post – Mayoral Control of Schools: The New Tyranny
[Excerpt] "The Spring 2009 issue of Rethinking Schools, said that, as Daley's man, Duncan "has shown himself to be the central messenger, manager and staunch defender of corporate involvement in, and privatization of, public schools, closing schools in low-income neighborhoods of color with little community input, limiting local democratic control, undermining the teachers union and promoting competitive merit pay for teachers."

The most important corporate involvement involves the 132-year-old Commercial Club of Chicago. Yet that organization recently published Still Left Behind, slamming Chicago's public schools as awful and that the reforms they've endured were designed to make the adults running the schools look good, not improve the lives of children. You could say the Club stabbed Arne in the back except that they did it upfront in the open, without once mentioning Duncan's name. The Club report backs up its case with many data.

Newsweek said the [Chicago] district "is mired in urban woes--and, in some cases, a sense of complacency." Complacency? Daley has had control of Chicago's schools for 13 years and Duncan was there for seven of them, but the test scores above are evidence that they didn't do much to stir anything but the public relations pot. [Make sure to read the entire thing as he also deals with dicator Bloomberg.]

Jim Horn at Schools Matter –Right Wing Sludge Tanks Gush Over Obama's "No Excuses" Philosophy
In fact, "no excuses!" is not new at all, but the title of a book by the high-powered Brahmin couple, the Thermstroms, whose 2003 No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning sounded the clarion call to declare all-out war on the deficient cultures of the black, the brown, the poor--anyone outside the acid vanilla values of a shrinking middle class scrambling for the front seats of the global economic bus. It was the official opening of the the 21st Century anti-cultural war against the weak (see Edwin Black for history of the 20th Century version), a war that is being spearheaded by the push for segregated corporate charter boot camps intended to brainwash poor children with the worldview that comes naturally to soccer-playing, carefree lads of the leafy suburbs.

Video of Brooklyn Dreams Public Hearing in District 22


Public hearings are required for for charter schools in each district. Brooklyn Dreams has applied to more than one. Here are videos of the hearing at Shell Bank MS in District 22 in south central Brooklyn held on July 16, 2009. There is a growing movement to make these hearings battlegrounds for charters, as exemplified by the battle at Marine Park MS in May where the Hebrew Language Academy attempt to take space in the school was shot down (Ed Notes coverage is here).

Not very charter school has the resources to turn out busloads of people to these hearings like Moskowitz' Harlem Success, which requires parents to come out to these rallies. Brooklyn Dreams said they had 1100 signatures, but few showed up.

There was a small group of supporters and from a visual estimate, they were mostly black. I have some tape of some of the back and forth but it is disjointed, so I am not uploading it. I did have a good conversation with one of the parents who spoke in favor of Brooklyn Dreams and there was some common ground, but there are a lot of discussions that have to take place.

We hear the major arguments presented are about giving people a choice - a choice by setting up a school with more resources, free from many of the requirements to educate every child, with lower class sizes- and using public money to do so. This is a bogus choice. (I know this is stretching the analogy, but what if in areas with higher crime, a private police force with high private funding was set up to compete with the local precinct?)

I am not pretending to present a fair and balanced view. Charter schools have plenty of slick advertising plus the total support of Tweed and many other resources to do that. There were a few arguments made in favor of Brooklyn Dreams from the audience, but they were not well presented. I do have 10 minutes on the Brooklyn Dreams presentation, which was trashed by many commenters as being very poor.

Don't forget to view the GEM presenters (moi and Gloria) where we try to move the debate from "Put charters in other places, but not here" to "No charters anywhere. FIx the public schools." We handed out a GEM leaflet.

The videos are cut into six short pieces based on the subject or the particular speakers. (Light and sound system– not great.)

City Councilman Lou Fidler, one of the few politicians who stand squarely against charter schools.

Class size and unions
A back and forth between the CEC panel and Brooklyn Dreams over class size and unions. Don't miss this one as the Brooklyn Dreams people say they are not against unions but since they are not required why have them? And the class size stuff is at the core of things.

Two parents and a principal
The best statements from parents I heard and a supervisor who identified himself as being with the CSA (Supervisors union).

Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) speakers Norm Scott and Gloria Brandman, both also with the Independent Community of Educators (ICE). Check out the GEM blog for lots more.

A UFT rep made a decent presentation, pointing to the connection of Brooklyn Dreams with an organization that promotes the teaching of Creationism. But the fatal weakness for the UFT in these situations is that the UFT has charter schools that have taken over parts of two public schools in East NY, something even Brooklyn Dreams is not asking for (supposedly.)

The Brooklyn Dreams presentation

Coverage at Sheepshead Bay Bites which makes it appear to be a UFT fest in Gotham's words.

My comment there:
For the record, it cerainly seemed to me there were only a few UFT people who spoke. More parents than teachers spoke. And a few principals and CSA. I and another teacher spoke but we are vehement critics of the UFT leadership.

And I would check whether BDCS has actually signed the deal for that Parkville St address. They didn't even seem sure exactly where it was.

Today at PS 123: The Resistance Grows in Harlem, 12:30



Monday, July 20th

- Demonstration at PS 123

Time: Gather at 12:30pm / Start at 1:00pm

Location: 301 West 140th Street ( 8th ave) NY, NY 10030

Until recently, BloomKlein claimed the high ground of civil rights. They spent enormous amounts of time going to black churches selling their program. And they did get support. The early resisters to BloomKlein seemed to come from the whiter, more affluent areas of the city, areas that seemed to be doing fairly well in pre-mayoral control days when activist parents were able to have a role but now feel totally shut out.

Parents in Harlem and other areas with struggling schools were not as worried about the role they played as much as the state of the schools. The BloomKlein appeal worked – for a while, at least.

But in recent months, the black community seems to be rising up. The old community control struggles of the 60's seem to be re-emerging where black activists are asking the same questions about dictatorial control of the schools as the white activists. The heavy hand of the Moskowitz invasion of Harlem schools has not helped BloomKlein. I bet they are rethinking things a bit and HSA might even look to lower her profile and put in more blacks as figureheads. But can Eva's ego handle that?

GEM has been serving a role in trying to bring teachers. parents and community activists together in a black/white/Hispanic united front. We have been taking a firm stand against mayoral control (NO TWEAKS) and against charter schools in any form.

Here is the latest

UPDATE FROM SENATOR BILL PERKINS OFFICE based on a meeting that was held on Weds (07/15).

The following is a reminder concerning the meeting times and locations for this upcoming week.

Monday, July 20th

- Demonstration at PS 123

Time: Gather at 12:30pm / Start at 1:00pm

Location: 301 West 140th Street ( 8th ave) NY, NY 10030

Tuesday, July 21st

- Demonstration at PS 375

Time: Gather at 12:30pm / Start at 1:00pm

Location: 141 East 111 Street ( Between Lexington and Madison) NY, NY 10029


Wednesday, July 22nd

- Demonstration at PS 197

Time: Gather at 12:30pm / Start at 1:00pm

Location: 2230 5th Avenue (136th Street) NY, NY 10037

DOUBLE CHECK contact Cordell Cleare in our office at 212-222-7315

- Meeting at Senator Bill Perkins Office

Time: Starts at 5:30 pm

Location: 163 West 125th Street (9th Floor) NY, NY 10025


Thursday, July 23rd

- Demonstration at Tweed Courthouse

Time: Gather at 1:00pm/ Start at 2:00pm

Location: 52 Chambers Street NY, NY 10007

Thank you for meeting yesterday and we look forward to seeing you next week.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Cordell Cleare in our office at 212-222-7315 or respond to this email.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Paul Moore on the "Narrowing" Achievement Gap

Ed Notes wrote about this item (The Study That Should Make Milwaukee Famous)
the other day and we mentionned "poor" Kati Haycock. Nice to see this piece from Paul in response to a posting by Leonie Haimson.

Achievement gap in NYC has not narrowed in any grade or subject since 2003 according to the NAEPs. The new report is here:

Miami teacher Paul Moore's response to the NY Times article:

Back before the US Civil War, standardized tests would have measured an "achievement gap" between white children and children of color. But the abolitionists would never have allowed it to be described in such absurd terms. The Quakers, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Beecher Stowe put the blame for the testing disparity where it belonged, on slavery! That vicious racist institution made it a crime for a child of color to pick up a book and even attempt to learn to read.

In this day and time, those of us who seek to meet the corporate attack on the public schools should be very careful about fighting that battle on the enemy's terms. The slaveholders would have loved to debate over an "achievement gap" while the existence of slavery was ignored.

Today, chattel slavery is a historical relic but its racist underpinnings are very much alive. The masters of US public education oversee an apartheid-like system where teachers of color are steadily disappearing from the classroom and a second-class education for children of color has been institutionalized. Little wonder they are so determined to make their stand on the "achievement gap" while the society's fundamental racism and the profound and disproportionate effects of severe poverty on children of color are ignored.

Look at the all-star line-up of public school bashers who publicly cry crocodile tears over the "achievement gap" and pose as civil rights crusaders before deciding to play the game on their terms.

George W. Bush
Rod Paige
Margaret Spellings
Ruby K. Payne
Eli Broad
Joel Klein
Michelle Rhee
Arne Duncan
Bill Gates
Paul Vallas
Jeb Bush
Wendy Kopp
Newt Gingrich
Rush Limbaugh
Michael Bloomberg
Armstrong Williams

Judging by the New York Times article of today, you can add the name of someone named Kati Haycock to the list. She apparently makes a lot of money pretending that something called the Education Trust gives a hoot about Black and Latino children.

Paul A. Moore

NY Times, July 14, 2009: Regional Shift Seen in Education Gap

Press Conf Today at City Hall to Congratulate State Senators

Some things I just don't get. There will be a press conference today on the steps of city hall sponsored by the senators who voted for the best of the mayoral control bills offered, but not a great one. This press conference is about supporting a set of fairly mild tweaks on mayoral control. No one involved wants to end it.

These senators do need some support since the Bloomberg gestapo are making robo calls to their constituents to turn the population against them. So if only for that, I'm all for this press conference as a way to fight the Bloomberg machine.

Generally, I'm not for wasting time organizing or catering to politicians. Let them play in their playpen. I'm not saying ignore politicians, but let's not cater to the least offensive.

I spoke to an aide from Bill Perkins' office last week at the PS 123 demo and Lynch also doesn't oppose mayoral control but seems open to listening. I like what he is doing this week with demos and meetings all week in Harlem on the charter school issue, culminating in an action at Tweed on Thursday (see sidebar.) He is tailing a movement that got started without politicians, but he is trying to take some leadership. Charles and Inez Barron have also been taking strong positions opposing mayoral control. And Tony Avella is garnering more and more support from teachers in his campaign for mayor.

This is a sign that if people start taking action, politicians will jump on board. It all depends on the numbers and organization. Build it and they will come. The question I still have: Do we really care if they do or don't? Their involvment will often lead to subversion as people look to them for solutions. The solutions lie with a movement of rank and file parents and teachers that can build credibility to force policians to act in their interests.

Fernandez: More city grads lacked basic skills under Bloomberg

Gotham's Green in Explosive Interview with Bronx Bd of Ed Rep Fernandez

Part one of the interview:

Part two:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Responding to Obama Admin's Joanne Weiss' Threat to NY Tenure


Ed Notes addressed this issue recently:

Obama Admin Hits New Low on Ed Deform as it Seeks to Gut NY State Tenure

Here are some further responses by Susan Ohanian and Mark Torres based on this Gotham posting.

Obama official to New York: Change your tenure law or else

Gotham Schools, 2009-07-09

Comment by NYC teacher Mark Torres of People Power Coalition

Sisters and Brothers,

The article above makes it clear, despite all of the data indicating that state's are manipulating test scores and statewide exams, that president obama is behind the curve on this one. his insistence on making testing and charter schools (the privatization of public education), the center piece of his education policy will put us on a collision course with his administration. Making tenure decisions based on test scores will only constrain what we can teach in the classroom. There is pressure now to raise test scores and only teach to the test, imagine what it will be like when our tenure will depend on it. This is part of a consistent effort to destroy the rights of teachers and our unions. why destroy our ability to organize and defend our profession? Because it facilitates the ability of corporations, yes the same entities that pushed our economy over the edge, to install charter schools while taxpayers pick up the tab.

Charter schools represent the privatization of public education, not a movement to better education or provide for greater parental, student or teacher involvement. According to the research, charter schools are more expensive to run but produce mixed results. Some are great, some are mediocre and some don't improve learning at all. The research shows that charter schools produce these mixed results at a much higher cost.

To whom do these costs (profits) go? of course, to the private corporations who have invested in charter schools. instead of using public money to fund charter schools we should have used that money to continue replicating public school models that work. Let's look at what works in one school and copy those good administrative and teaching practices in order to replicate success. let's get parents, students, educators and the community to take a stake in education. Instead, Obama wants us to feed the lie and steal corporate mentality that is destroying this nation.

It is unfortunate that obama's historic election will not be known for supporting public education but instead for supporting the corporations that are heavily invested and reaping the benefits of the drive to create more and more charter schools. He should know better than to support the same corporate forces that were the "base" of the bush administration. It appears that the democrats and republicans have agreed that supporting corporate america is more important than supporting the united states of america. The few good apples in the democratic or republican parties should not keep us tied to those parties, we need a new political party that will look to promote the interests of the whole nation not just the interests of a very small group of bankers and corporate elites.

It appears that the meeting Obama had on wall street before his election, his unflinching support of the bank baillout, and his continued support of wars overseas show his willingness to support wall street corporations even when it jeopardizes our country as a whole.

We have a long struggle ahead to defend our public schools and improve the quality of education for our students. Only by understanding what is going on and what we need to do will allow us to be successful.

Thank you,

Mark A. Torres
Member of the People Power Coalition

"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

Commentary by Susan Ohanian:

Here is Joanne Weiss's official biography at New Schools Venture Fund. Read it and weep. Then get angry and resolve to fight back. When will we take to the streets? [Note to Susan: people in NYC are beginning to take to the streets.]

Susan Ohanian

Prior to joining New Schools Venture Fund, Joanne was CEO of Claria Corporation, an e-services recruiting firm that helped emerging-growth companies build their teams quickly and well.

Before her tenure at Claria, Joanne spent twenty years in the design, development, and marketing of technology-based products and services for education. She was Senior Vice President of Product Development at Pensare, an e-learning company that created business innovation programs for the Fortune 500 market. Prior to Pensare, Joanne was co-founder, interim CEO, and Vice President of Products and Technologies at Academic Systems, a company that helps hundreds of thousands of college students prepare for college-level work in mathematics and English.

In the early 1990s, Joanne was Executive Vice President of Business Operations at Wasatch Education Systems, where she led the product development, customer service, and operations organizations for this K-12 educational technology company. She began her career as Vice President of Education R&D at Wicat Systems, where she was responsible for the development of nearly 100 multimedia curriculum products for K-12 schools.

Joanne has a passion for education, and has spent much of her career pioneering innovativ e ways of using technology to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes. She holds a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University.

Reminder: Since its founding in 1998, NewSchools has raised over $125 million from grants and donations from private individuals, corporations, and philanthropic foundations. NewSchools’ major fundraising milestones have included:

May 2007: $5 million grant from The Broad Foundation to invest in public charter school management organizations and other entrepreneurial ventures working to increase the number and quality of public charter schools nationwide[20].

June 2006: $22 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop additional charter schools[21].

December 2002: $4.74 million grant from The Broad Foundation to support Aspire Public Schools in creating seven new charter schools by 2007.