Sunday, February 28, 2010

PS 198, Lower Lab School - Inaccuracies in Thrasher Voice Story

If you read Steven Thrasher's Village Voice article
there were some shocking revelations - or allegations to some. Ed Notes fave Patrick Sullivan came off as somewhat hypocritical in Thrasher's view. But knowing Patrick, it seemed there had to be another side to the story.

Leonie Haimson provides some enlightenment, followed by Patrick himself (both on the NYCEducationNews listserve.)

On Feb 25, 2010, Leonie Haimson wrote:

I believe that Tony Alvarado is responsible for the creation of this school and its placement at PS 198.

The uncomfortable but undeniable truth is that many gifted programs through the city are segregated; even G and T programs in regular public schools. The Chancellor’s policies of mandating that admissions be based solely on high stakes test scores has made this even worse; as has his extension of test-based admissions to many more high schools.

The reality is that NYC is a very segregated city and there has been no effort in recent years to integrate classrooms; in fact the reverse has occurred under this administration.

Lisa Donlan can tell you about how they have fought bitterly to try to keep D1 schools integrated; against fierce resistance from the administration.

It’s all very sad.

However, the picture the author gives of huge classes at PS 198 compared to Lower Lab is not true. According to DOE stats anyway, most classes at PS 198 still average about 20, while those at Lower Lab are 28 and up, including in Kindergarten, making teaching assts a very reasonable requirement

For a portrait of PS 198 the first year smaller classes came to NYC schools ten years ago, and the revolutionary changes it brought, you can check out the report I wrote in 2000, Smaller is Better at

Patrick Sullivan adds:
As a PTA co-president at Lab, I imagine I'm on the hook to respond here. There are some very serious inaccuracies in the story. I've asked David Cantor to help set the record straight but as he is probably busy, I will get started myself.

Front door / back door: Everyone used to use the front door but that was kind of crowded so it was decided that Lab, as the smaller school would use the back door. The reporter got this backwards. Parents use whatever door.

Class size: Lab is 28 average, 198 is 23.

Funding: 198 gets about $2,700 more per student. Lab is one of the 10% of schools that is not Title I.

Lab parents have been actively looking to move. This article will only accelerate that. So what should replace it were Lab to go away? This building is at the north end of District 2. The local zone has enough kids to fill maybe a third of the school. Rezone? Charters? Keep in mind that removing G&T doesn't erase the racial differences between the 198 zone and the overcrowded zones around it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

PS 15 Charter School Suit Over PAVE

This may grow into a big story as the counter attack on the BloomKlein policy of inserting charter schools into public school buildings is getting some serious push back. If you've read our and other reports of the PEP meeting the other night it would appear the charter school movement is garnering lots of support and may be extended to other invaded schools. (See the video of the CAPE presentation at the PEP the other night.

Now I don't have much faith in the state ed commissioner Steiner since he was chosen by Bloomberg/Klein pal Meryl Tisch but the state ed dept is a political creation and this type of pressure might have a long term impact.

Check out the complaint itself, prepared by Advocates for Children, at Gotham. Leonie calls it "Very compelling stuff!"

Two parents at a Brooklyn district school who have strongly resisted the city’s plan to let a charter school extend its stay in the district school building are appealing to State Education Commissioner David Steiner to halt the plan.

The parents, John Battis and Lydia Bellahcene, allege that the city of violating state education law in its plan to allow PAVE Academy charter school remain in the same building as P.S. 15 until 2013. The citywide school board voted to approve that plan in its January meeting.

The appeal, which parents filed to the city today and expect to deliver to the state education department in Albany on Monday, claims that vote should be nullified because the city revised its timeframe for PAVE’s stay without having a second public hearing, as required if the city changes a plan for how a building will be used. It also argues that the city failed to give enough information about how the plan would affect students at both the schools.

Lawyers with the advocacy group Advocates for Children are working with Battis and Bellahcene on the appeal.

Julie C. of CAPE commented at Gotham:
Wanted to thank all of the posters so far for your supportive words; I also want to note the commitment of and thank, with the greatest pride, John and Lydia for taking the lead on this and showing what we can do when parents take the leap and get involved with education policy. We have been so fortunate in the Red Hook Community to have an amazing collective of parents and teachers who work together fighting for their children. John, Lydia, and other parents and teachers have sacrificed much in this fight, but it is all worth it to us; we know how important it is to protect our children and the public education they ALL deserve. I just want to note to one poster, PS 15 parents are not ‘fighting against PAVE parents’… we have kept the tone and tenor very much focused on the DOE and the PAVE founder and board. Their decisions and motives do not serve PS 15’s children, nor the children who attend PAVE Academy. The destructive policies of this administration, and those who have hijacked the charter school movement for personal gain and an ideology deeply rooted in a privatization agenda, are shameful. We will continue this fight and hope more parents, teachers, and policy makers get informed and get involved.

Witnesses Testify on Evil Moskowitz at PS 30 Hearing

Report 1:
I was at P30 that night, but not in time to see the march into the auditorium, thankfully.
It was enough to remain quiet in my seat throughout the evening because of the continued bad behavior of the charter school crowd. I stood next to Moskowitz for most of the evening, who sat in the chair looking at papers, not even paying attention to what people were saying. She looked disheveled. Two very good points were made by P30 speakers, one parent and one teacher, that got the audience's attention. When the parent spoke about how the community was being divided, neighbor against neighbor, by Klein and Bloomburg, there was a lull in the crowd. He lost the charter parents, however, when he criticized Moskowitz for getting an exorbitant pay check and not even being interested in addressing the crowd (remember, disheveled and reading papers all night). At this point, Moskowitz stood up, like Mussolini, papers in hand, and the charter crowd roared. The other point, strongly delivered by a P30 staff member, was concerning Eminent Domain; this got some attention since Bloomberg supports the real estate developers that are daily walking up and down the streets, viewing buildings in East Harlem. All in all, it was a disgusting evening.

Report 2:
I got an earful about Moskowitz and her goons at a meeting at our school PS 30M. There was a meeting about whether or not to house her latest charter school in our building. Her parents entered our building having been fed pizza and given t-shirts with the charter slogan on them. They entered chanting, "Share your space." They were pretty riled up.

When one of our parents was on the stage speaking (it was a big thing for her to speak in public and she was very nervous) she stumbled in her speech and one of the charter school t-shirt wearers shouted out, "You see their parents cannot even read!" At no point in the meeting did Moskowitz stand up and separate herself from this statement. In my twenty years of teaching experience I have seen that the thing that most motivates children to learn is to have some moral or ethical purpose. It was shocking to hear Moskowitz beginning a brand new charter school with such questionable morals and ethics seeming to be at the forefront. It appeared that the charter school parents came fighting and wanting to "beat" the other parents out of their space. There was no desire to listen or learn. NONE OF THIS WAS CORRECTED by Moskowitz. Is this what she stands for? Survival of the fittest (or the ones with the newest t-shirts and the loudest chants)? How sad that our school, which we have pulled out of its SURR status to turn it into a model school and have consistently increased our reading, math and attendance scores as well as other markers of success, is being so dismissed and mocked! Moskowitz should want to learn how we pulled ourselves up from so low a position. We should all be learning from each other so we can be better able to help the children. That is best practices. I don't see that happening in this case. This new charter school will fail because no one has the moral vision to call to the best and deepest thing in our children.

Report 3
I now understand that these gatherings are no more than circuses with trained charter school acts. I might add that the staff of P30 were quiet, dignified and beautiful, presenting themselves in the most elegant manner. I was proud to support them and will continue until Bloomberg and Klein are defeated or out of office. I am totally confident that we will win in the end and preserve public education.

Fiorillo on Wall St. Robber Barons as Ed Deformers

Michael Fiorillo, ICE-TJC candidate for UFT HS Exec. Bd debates Kitchen Sink, a charter school operator at this Gotham Schools post

Kitchen Sink:
Just as a point of fact, the rich hedge fund/Wall Street/robber barons, whatever you want to call them, donors and board members of charter schools: they GIVE money to the schools, adding resources to the public schools in NYC. They don’t TAKE money.

They give, don’t take. If you need me to say it louder, they GIVE, don’t TAKE.

Are their motives all pure? Certainly not. Are their politics diverse? Certainly yes. But remember, they GIVE, don’t TAKE.

Let's take a look at this issue of finance capital (which on these pages, hedge and private equity funds are usually a proxy for), it's role in society and its more recent role in education.

The ostensible purpose of finance capital is to allocate money from those who have it to those who can productively use it, and make interest and/or fee income in the process. So far, so good: that's how capitalism works, and as long as there is some kind of healthy balance between lenders and borrowers/producers, then a market economy can function well according to its own terms.

But it that what's really happening in this country, or globally, for that matter?

No. What we have seen over the past 35 years is the financial end of the economy becoming engorged with capital and power, at the expense of both the productive economy and the democratic process, which has been captured by those financial interests. Look no further than home, where NYC's executive office has been purchased by a Finance/media mogul.

The past 35 years have seen:

- the rescinding of usury laws that limited interest charges, resulting in those 30% interest charges on credit cards.

- the shrinking of the productive, goods-producing (and unionized) side of the economy, with finance becoming an ever-greater percentage of GDP. This has led to the physical and social decline of huge regions of the country that were once major economic engines for the US. This has not been some "natural" process, as mainstream economists would like to fantasize about (or propagandize, depending on your point of view), but has occurred while Finance, through merger and acquisitions, private equity takeovers and outsourcing, has directly based much
of it growth on cannibalizing the patrimonial wealth that the goods-producing part of the economy generated over many decades. In fact, this is what is driving both the current financial crisis and the attack on public schools: these fundamentally parasitic forces have extracted so much wealth from the private sector that they are now driven to go after society's public wealth. Thus the ever-increasing attacks on public education and Social Security.

- Because their wealth and power is increased by enlarging how much they can skim from every corner of the economy, in the form of rents (interest, fees, royalties and actual rents) there is ultimately a negative relationship between the expansion of Finance and the overall health of the economy and society. This doesn't mean that some, even many, don't benefit: they do. What else accounts for Manhattan becoming a Xanadu of opulence and ostentatious wealth in the past generation? And there is some trickle down: art auctioneers, designers, high-end
caterers and restaurants, valet parking attendants all get their little cut, but the overall effect is the decline of long-term, real wealth-generating capacity. As Finance has fattened off the land, the poverty rate in NYC has increased (and NYC has fared much better than many other parts of the country).

- Because there is a limited amount of wealth-producing opportunities for Finance to invest in, and because the money must go somewhere, it goes into ever more abstruse financial instruments that are ever more abstracted from the physical world of work and wealth: credit default swaps, trading of interest rate indexes, futures trading by parties that have no relation to the commodities being traded, foreign exchange plays, etc. As all of this grows relative to the "real" economy, the system becomes top-heavy and more susceptible to crisis. That explains the increasing incidence and severity of financial crises over the past 35 years, most of it directly related to the credit system: NYC's "bankruptcy' (really a banker's coup) in 1975, a succession of Third World debt crises in the 1980's, the S&L crisis of the late 80's and early 90's, the Asian debt crisis and Russian default of 1997, the LTCM crisis, Dot Com meltdown, and our current crisis, which is entirely fueled by debt and "financial engineering" (really just a euphemism for an ever-expanding financial casino gamed by big players).

What does any of this have to do with education? Well, as I said, these immense amounts of money must go somewhere, and opportunities for "investment," which has devolved into systemic extraction of wealth, must be found. Enter the the public schools, "the Big Enchilada" (actually just the "Pretty Big Enchilada:" Social Security is really the Big One) according to Jefferies and Co.

But Finance has a PR problem. Most people (rightfully) don't fully trust Wall Street gamblers. And don't be fooled: a hedge fund is nothing but a gambling machine, creating no tangible wealth whatsoever. Their "investments" are short term bets, which often (as we're seeing right now in the case of Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal) have negative consequences. So plutocrats and Wall Street gamblers must start foundations, and have Society benefit balls, and make patronizing statements about their concern for the "underprivileged." Look at the very term"social entrepreneur:" there is a (deluded or deceptive) notion that marketizing the right to an education will somehow benefit people. Sorry, that's not how postmodern capitalism works.

Meanwhile, they have dollar signs in their eyes. Having ignored if not benefited from the decades-long disinvestment in inner city schools and communities (which were largely a result of their own investment decisions, combined with their political efforts to reduce their taxes), they become part of the chorus chanting about the failures of public education (which in reality does have many problems and shortcomings, problems that these very same people have an indirect hand in as a result of what they do for a living every day).

Finance makes "investment" decisions that often reduce the productive capacity of the nation, leaving communities and entire regions (Upstate NY, the Great Lakes, etc.) hollowed out: that's a TAKE.

Finance captures the political process to extend its power and wealth, further
skimming wealth: that's a TAKE.

Finance (along with its political and media assets) uses its increased power to create an echo chamber that endlessly harps on the failures of public education (and the public sector in general) and the faults of teachers and their unions in those failures: that's a TAKE.

Finance helps establish a parallel, privately-run (but publicly-funded) educational system that consciously skims, filters and creams some students, and excludes or counsels out others. At the same time, it diverts money from the public schools system: that's a TAKE.

Finance works to create the political climate for the diversion of funds from the public schools by imposing executive (mayoral) control over school systems, disenfranchising school communities, in particular the minority communities they claim to serve: that's a TAKE.

Now, KS, what exactly do they GIVE?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Panel for Educational Policy, Feb. 24, 2010: Alev, Khem, Julie, Lisa

CAPE and GEM and a few parent activists were few voices heard standing up for public education in a sea of charter school supporters.

"Where is the UFT?" was a constant refrain we heard last night from reporters and even from some of Klein's Tweedies. Good question as the massive charter school outpouring of parents imprinted an anti public school message, with lots of teacher bashing.

The biggest message left to every public school teacher and parent who supports public schools and every political operative there last night was the utter failure of the UFT, the only agent capable of standing up. But that is nothing new as the UFT did nothing for this meeting, feeling I guess it had done enough on Jan. 26.

Getting Special Access: Moskowitz/Klein, Dancing Stars

David Bellel at it again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Evil Moskowitz/Joel DeKlein Lovefest

Evil was in the house last night with loads of the HSA gang. What a good time for this story to come out on the day after. The Daily News did a Freedom of Information (FOIL).

Klein helped Evil get a million bucks from Eli Broad. Must have come in handy last night for the buses and pizzas. Charters who cry they don't get the same money as public schools always seem to have bus and food money.

Eli also gave Randi a million for the UFT charter school. Did Klein also help his friends out too? Can someone FOIL the Randi/Klein emails?

Here is a link to the must read Gonzalez piece. Photo from the DN web site enhanced by Bellel.

Read the email exchanges between Eva Moskowitz and Joel Klein.

Anti Public School, Anti Union, Anti Public School Teachers Charter School Message at PEP

CAPE and GEM and a few parent activists were few voices heard

Check back for updates and links to other stories later

"Where is the UFT?" was a constant refrain we heard last night from reporters and even from some of Klein's Tweedies. Good question as the massive charter school outpouring of parents imprinted an anti public school message, with lots of teacher bashing.

The biggest message left to every public school teacher and parent who supports public schools and every political operative there last night was the utter failure of the UFT, the only agent capable of standing up. But that is nothing new as the UFT did nothing for this meeting, feeling I guess it had done enough on Jan. 26.

There is a lot to say about the contrast between the Jan. 26 and Feb. 24 PEP meetings. The former dominated by the pro public school debate, with the enormous booing of Joel Klein
Ed Notes was handed out at the UFT Delegate Assembly on Wed. Feb. 24 warning them that their presence was needed to counter the massive charter school outpouring at the Feb. PEP. Mulgrew's pathetic response was that he wanted to end the meeting by 6 so people who wanted to go can leave. Useless. They needed to be there at 4. The entire DA should have convened in front of Fashion Industries HS. I'm including the Ed Notes pdf below.

In some ways there was joy in hearing the very people who cheered Joel Klein last night, in contrast to the massive booing he received on Jan. 26, made a strong impression that the schools he was in charge of were not up to the level of charter schools he is pushing. I thought there was great irony in that parent after parent talked about the failures their children faced in his schools.

I left around 10 and the meeting went till 12. There are reports surfacing of the meeting and I am processing some video to post here later in the day of the wonderful statements made by CAPEers, and parents Lisa Donlan and Khem Irby.

Ed Notes Feb 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Download the ICE UFT Election Leaflet for Your School

Forward to your friends.
Make a donation to the campaign. Make copies for your colleagues at schools. Stop by nearby schools to put some in the mail boxes (you have the right in the election season.) If you wish we will send you copies. Email with the number of copies you need. Or call Norm at 917-992-3734.

ICE UFT Election Flyer

White Flight: PS 92 Lefferts Charter School Hearing Notes - Video to Follow

People in Lefferts Gardens want their own charter school and the DOE decided to house it at PS 92 in Crown Hts. A hearing as is required was held Monday night though everyone know that issue has been decided in favor of the charter and will be voted up tonight at the PEP meeting.

I attended the hearing on Monday night and taped it. I know something about the school. My wife graduated from there in 19$% and her dad had a grocery store on Rogers Ave a block away and they lived over the store. But no matter how hard I tried to pursuade her to join me, she wouldn't go. After I retired, I mentored six teaching fellows at the school and so knew the lay of the land. Also, Vera Pavone, an ICE founder, was the school secretary there for three years.

The mostly white charter school crew claimed to be home grown, talked about options and choice, praised PS 92 as being a great school (but they wouldn't send their kids there) – you know, if you've been to these things before, they all use the same arguments - they are well coached. And of course, it is all temporary since one day they will have a building of their own. Duck, that flying pig is coming straight at you. But then again, why shouldn't Tweed hand over millions of dollars for them to build their own school - as long as they know someone with influence and money like the Robertson clan and Malcolm Smith.

Parent activist Carla Phillip, a PS 92 grad, spoke at the meeting and sent this report to the NYCEducation listserve (Leonie's List- who as I write this is about to appear on Fox after Joel Klein to discuss the charter school invasions- oops, just saw it and it was only sound bite).

Here is Carla's report:

The public hearing at PS 92 was well attended. There were a good amount of parents from PS 92 and Lefferts Gardens. This was the first hearing that I have been to where it was racially divided (blacks and whites). The Charter school tried to convince the public on the benefits of their school. To which I had to correct them on, in the sense of being a modern day form of segregation, where you have the haves and the haves not.

At one point in the hearing, you could literally cut the tension with a knife. I bought to the panel's and community's attention the Chancellor's letter on DOE's website stating the placement of Lefferts Gardens in PS 92 in September of 2010; and asked why are we having this hearing, when the decision was already made on January 8th? Yes, I had to go there. To which they said that the decision would be made on Wednesday at the PEP meeting. Now, we all know its going to be rubber stamped. That's what Bloomberg's appointees do - rubber stamp everything.

All in all, the parents and alumnis of PS 92 kept saying:
- Where were you (Lefferts Gardens), when we were bringing the school up to par?
- Charter schools need their own buildings
- Why your kids cannot attend the school now and help further improve it?

Meanwhile, Lefferts Gardens was stressing the fact that the school is an option and helping the children of the community. If this is a new option, why are they not pushing for their own space, but rather co-location?

And yes, there was a public official in the audience, Mr. Mel Faulkner from Assemblywoman Barron's office came to support. Thank you, Mr. Faulkner for taking the time out to come and its not his district. He understands that it is about the children and empowering the parents.

Finally, thank you Senator Adams for sending out the initial email and informing the community of the hearing.

And the struggle continues.

Carla M. Phillip

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whose Map Is It?

Feeling the heat James?

Dear Norm,
I have in front of my a brochure from your organization (dated August 9, 2009) that uses our map prominently. While I certainly have no problem with you using the information on the map, I do have a problem with you using the map itself. Its colors, look and feel, are very much associated with the Center and therefore your use of it confuses the reader that we support the positions taken in the brochure. Accordingly, I must insist that you cease immediately distributing the brochure with our map image in any shape or form—equally please remove the map from your website.

I thank you in anticipation of your cooperation.
James D. Merriman
Chief Executive Officer
111 Broadway, Suite 604, New York, NY 10006
T: 212.437.8302 F: 212. 227.2763
It's about great public schools

GEM Scares 'Em: Klein Urges Achievment First Charter School Parents to Come Out

GEM on the radar. This was passed on from a parent.

Of course while the charter schools are rallying at 4:30 the UFT will be holding another staged Delegate Assembly, leaving the field open. I rsvp to Courtney telling her that GEM will be there and thanking her for the plug.

The UFT is holding a Delegate Assembly tomorrow and thus won't have much of a presence unless they follow my advice and adjourn the meeting and take them all uptown to counter the pro-Klein forces. But how does the UFT organize to stop co-locations when they have their 2 charter schools occupying public schools? I was at the PS 92 charter school hearing last night and no presence from the UFT.

Thus, the Jan. 26 action at PEP looks like a one-shot deal for the UFT. Now let the courts do their thing? Rip Van Winkle time?

Note how the letter mentions GEM and uses " around grassroots. As if GEM was being organized anywhere outside of the schools. Ironically, though GEM as an organization is not involved in the UFT elections, almost every activist in GEM is running on the ICE-TJC slate in the elections against Mulgrew's Unity. So any attempts to paint the opponents of charter schools as a union front group will not work.


I wanted to invite you to be a part of an exciting and important event in the fight for NYC school reform. This coming Wednesday, February 24, 2010, the NYC Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy will meet to decide whether to allow public charter schools to have continued access to NYC public school buildings. In fact, one of our newest schools, Achievement First North Crown Heights / AF Apollo (Jabari Sims’s new school), is up for specific discussion and decision. As you know, the Chancellor has been incredibly supportive of high-performing charter schools and sees us as a vital part of his overall reform strategy – but there is increasing opposition to his policy of providing charters with access to public school buildings (for example, see attached literature from GEM – a “grassroots” group that is opposing charters and spreading false information). At a local hearing specific to the new AF school last week, protestors outside chanted “We don’t want you in our school!” and, as Jabari says in an email to his fellow principals pasted below, pro-charter folks were outnumbered and out-organized. The Chancellor has asked AF specifically to step up, help turn the tide, and to have a big turnout for the city-wide hearing on Wednesday night; he views it – and we agree – as one of the biggest battles to date in NYC’s overall school reform movement.

This is a case where numbers matter. Our NYC schools are organizing a big parent turnout, and we hope to have at least 200 AF parents and staff who will join with likely a thousand or more charter school supporters from around the city. It should be a heck of a night. In order to make it easier for everyone, we have arranged for a bus to leave from Waverly at 3:30 P.M. to take any AF staff (and AF Endeavor families) who are interested to the High School for Fashion Industries in Manhattan where there is a planned rally for charter school supporters at 4:30 P.M., followed by the hearing itself at 6:00 P.M. Our buses will leave to return to Waverly around 8:15 P.M. (arriving before 9:00) – but it will undoubtedly be a long night of testimony for anyone who wants to stay later and enjoy all the fireworks.

If you are able, please join us with us. Please RSVP to

What: Meeting of the Panel of Education Policy

When: Wednesday, February 24, 6:00 p.m.

Bus Departs Waverly at 3:30 P.M.

Charter School Supporters Rally at 4:15 P.M.

Hearing at 6:00 P.M.

Where: The High School of Fashion Industries

225 West 24th Street, Manhattan

It should be a big and important night. We’re fired up, and ready to lend AF’s strong voice to the Chancellor’s reform effort. Please join us if you can.

Many Minds, One Mission.

On Boycotts on Paperwork

In ref to yesterday's post on paperwork and lack of UFT response:

I received some email saying a boycott wouldn't work.

I am not saying do this just anywhere. The UFT should look for the most vulnerable principal who is forcing this down peoples' throats. Hold meetings with the staff to prepare them. Have a strategy in place to respond if people are harassed. Make a big deal of it. Create a confrontation with the DOE in every forum. Press conf etc. By focusing on one school - it is like a magnifying glass. Expand to the district if this is widespread.

There needs to be some creative thinking at the UFT. But if there is not we have to do it ourselves.

Ed Notes and maybe ICE might set up a task force to address these issues. Get case studies school by school. Let's target the most abusive principals and expose the lack of UFT action at the district level. Embarrass the Dist rep and borough office.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We are DROWNING in paperwork, UFT Reacts With DUH!!! Ed Notes Says, "BOYCOTT!!"

There are endless examples of how the UFT leadership talks out of twelve sides of its mouth at the same time. If you go to them with a complaint they often refer to some law suit (remember the senior teachers, class size, and now the closing schools law suits along with numerous others I can't remember). Here some mid-level functionary used the same tactic in regards to paperwork. The screams of anguish coming from many teachers, in particular, elementary school teachers, needs to reach a crescendo before there will be action.

Here is an illustration of how the UFT operates on so many planes. The frustration grows. ICE and Ed Notes only have the power to expose. We could try to bring up another paperwork reduction reso at the DA - if you can even get into the Mulgrew locked meeting and get the floor during the new motion period. But what would be the point? Can you embarrass them into actually doing something - like a boycott of useless paperwork, something that if every teacher were told to refuse might actually have an impact?

Why not try a boycott, even in one district? But the UFT would have to stand firm for each and every teacher who might come under attack. On second thought.....

Not long ago, I received this email from a Chapter Leader in District 24:

Norm, The staff is totally demoralized here. The principal has decreed that everyone should have detailed lesson plans, strategy lessons, and guided reading lessons for every single lesson(as a suggestion but you can get a U if you don't have it). Who can I go to with this? The [UFT] District Rep is of no help. Changes her story on what is acceptable, what is not. I have nothing to stand on. She was here with the borough rep, who had the audacity to say to an entire grade that she doesn't see fear on their faces, therefore things can't be bad.

The principal said that block plan books with just the teaching point are not acceptable. The Dist rep said contract doesn't allow this one day, next day said "You can't just write the teaching point." When I asked for specifics she fumbled, said to write what the activity is. I said the teaching point is the activity. We cannot teach anymore there's no time left if you're going to do every bit of paperwork that they want. And you had better do it, because that's what they look at: DATA They are DATA crazy. DATA that you "collect" to get the paperwork done. DATA drives instruction, yes, out the door. What to do? Can you get someone to bring it up at the DA?

Here is another email sent to ICE a year ago:

We are DROWNING in paperwork. "Data collection" to be specific.

It's special ed : Ieps, report cards, assessment rubrics, project logs, homework logs, log logs , BFAs and the mother lode of all paperwork sinkholes: Alternative Assessment porfolios. I'd conservatively estimate that the job is, at this point, 10% pedagogy and 90% clerical.

The contract says this: "Committees composed equally of representatives of the Board ( sic) and the Union shall be established at the central, district and division levels to review and reduce unnecessary paperwork required of employees." (P.52)

Here's my question: where are said committees? Do they even exist? Can I participate in one?

UFT phone person says it should be addressed via chapter consultation committee. Is this true?

Bad news for us if it is 'cause we don't have one, far as I know and we don't even have chapter meetings.

ICE members responded with JW doing some research:
From JW's Email #15

The Paperwork Overload campaign. The union built a "paperwork committee" into the 2006 contract, in Art. VIII on Educational Reform:

I. Reduction of Paperwork
1. Committees composed equally of representatives of the Board and the Union shall be established at the central, district and division levels to review and reduce unnecessary paperwork required of employees. Any proposed additional paperwork shall be reviewed by the appropriate level committee and such committee may make recommendations to the Chancellor, community superintendent or division head as appropriate. The Board shall not act unreasonably on the committee’s recommendations.

then made a big deal about it in the spring of 2007 with a survey, and pushed it again in a DA resolution a year later (Jan 08). Nothing has come of any of this that I can see. In fact, at my school they're trying to turn some of the teachers into scribes, demanding that they to transfer attendance data into a separate file, probably for Quality Review purposes and for zero added value in the teaching of our kids. We are already taking student attendance probably twice: on the bubble sheets and for our own personal records. If we have HS homerooms, we do it a third time. If I were asked for this third (in some cases fourth) version, I would just turn over xeroxes of my attendance records and ask them to find someone else to extract the data — or pay me per session.

PS: I know teachers are caving on these demands all over town. The union has stopped making solidarity a priority, and we all suffer for it.

The story continues with this report back the other day from the person who emailed ICE with the steps taken and the UFT response:

I decided to approach the issue as a "special education complaint" and entered the essential info the space reserved for that purpose on

Got good instant feedback from the assistant ("liason"?) to the DR who forwarded it to the the then interim DR who also sent good feedback with promises that there WAS a committee that dealt with the city on paperwork reduction issues, that it DID meet regularly and he'd see to it that my 17 pages of sample redundant paperwork were forwarded to the right people.

DR has left, replaced by an (*appointed*, I understand) permanent replacement.

New DR doesn't respond to emails apparently but in a conversation came back with a quickfire account of how bringing it to a committee really wasn't necessary 'cause the UFT had a suit pending in the courts as we spoke that would deal with this problem.

Searched the net. No mention of any suit, that I could find, anyway. Wrote back to DR. Silence. That was about 1 1/2 mos ago.

So basically the union's had me jumping thru hoops for over a year and have nothing to show for it other than MORE PAPERWORK THAN EVER and a long chain of forwarded email correspondence that establishes that I've been dutifully following this up thru appropriate channels for over a year.

So.... I'm back to square one, asking ICE for advice on my next move.

Charter School Scams Go On as DOE Forced to Cancel Co-Location

UPDATED, Monday, Feb. 22, 3pm

The Daily News is reporting today that two DOE officials also serve as board members of a charter school seeking space from the DOE.


The city has pulled the plug on a deal to house a controversial charter school in a Bronx school building.

The surprise move came after questions from the Daily News about the charter's current and former board members - two of whom hold powerful jobs at the Education Department.

"It's clear the [Education Department] checked its facts and the numbers just didn't add up," said Dick Dadey, executive director of the Citizens Union. "This was a bad decision that raised all kinds of ethical issues."

Last month, the New York City Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries won the prized space inside Alfred E. Smith High School, which is being phased down.

Irma Zardoya, a high-ranking Education Department consultant who works at its Tweed headquarters, is the chairwoman of the charter school's board.

Santiago Taveras - an interim acting deputy chancellor with the Education Department - was a board member for the charter until June.

From Patrick Sullivan

Below is a note I sent to one of them, Irma Zardoya. I never got a response.

Ms. Zardoya,

I understand you currently chair the board of the New York City Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries (AECI), which is seeking space in a Board of Ed facility currently housing the Al Smith HS. I am a member of the Panel for Educational Policy and will vote on this proposal.

At the same time you hold this position with AECI, you appear to be a DOE employee or at least have an administrative role at DOE as "Executive Director of Children's First Initiative". Here I list your directory information.

Name Phone Office Title Company
Zardoya Irma (212) 374-4243 Executive Director of Children First Intensive NYCDOE

I have some questions for you:

Can you explain your status with DOE? Are you an employee? Press accounts have identified you as a retiree.
Who pays for your compensation?
Who is your supervisor?
Has your arrangement been cleared by the Conflicts of Interest Board?

While I don't mean to intrude, it is fairly obvious that holding positions simultaneously with DOE and with a charter school seeking space from DOE could present a conflict of interest. If I am to vote to allocate Board of Ed space to your organization, I feel obligated to perform this due diligence.

Patrick J. Sullivan
Manhattan Member
Panel for Educational Policy / Board of Education
Appointed by Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer

For background see:

NY Times on Bronx Charter School Scam

Friday, February 19, 2010

NYC Educator and Fiorillo Debate UFT Shill

At Gotham Schools, Lost in the school closing debate: what happens to the teachers:

A worthwhile insight into the UFT/AFT thinking on the role of unions as UFT shill Peter (undoubtably Goodman/Ed in the Apple) talks about "nimble" leadership - read this as "give ground because we don't have the ability or chops to fight them" - as he apologizes for all of Weingarten policies. If anyone thinks that this ideologue and Mulgrew are on different pages you are drinking the old K-aid.

In fact, the AFT/UFT cannot fight them because they run a top-down union without rank and file participation and in fact fear such participation because an active rank and file would see them for what they are and toss them out. So, keep 'em ignorant and barefoot.

Luckily, NYC Educator and Michael Fiorillo were there to respond.

I extracted the pertinent comments and posted them at Norms Notes:

NYC Educator and Fiorillo Debate UFT Shill Peter [Guess who and win a free tour of 52 Broadway]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Reckless Reorganization of District 79

Here is a classic case in detail of how the UFT collaborates with the DOE to sell out one group of teachers at a time. This is their modus operendi.

This is a follow-up to our post yesterday [What the UFT Has In Store - After the Elections, Of Course] where we quoted Peter Goodman- Ed in the Apple- and his praise of the District 79 reorganization - "some iteration of the District 79 Reorganization Plan" which he claims can serve as a model for a new contract.

Roz Panepento's comment: What happened to us - to the staff, the students, the program – set the stage in miniature – with the missteps and complicity of the DOE and UFT – for the drama that is unfolding.

Michael Mulgrew was in charge for the UFT. 'Nuff said for those who are fooled by his election season rhetoric. Just watch what happens after April. Unless there is a big enough vote for ICE-TJC to scare him. I highlighted the pertinent sections relating to UFT actions.

Thanks to Marjorie Stamberg for sending this along.


By Rosalind Panepento

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you know, I was the ASHS chapter leader at the time of the 2007 "reckless reorganization" of District 79, and the closing of our schools. I have been reflecting on our unique situation: we were some of the first to suffer the chaos of school closings, resulting in hundreds of students education interrupted, and hundreds of our colleagues ending up as ATRs. Now that the Board of Ed is closing 19 more schools, I think our particular struggle is more relevant than ever. I invite you to read this "retrospective" and welcome your comments.

-- Roz Panependo

On January 26, 2010, a rally was held to protest the closing of nineteen city schools by the Department of Education. Over the last few years, the Department of Education has taken it upon itself to close major schools. This time they have gone too far. Schools like Jamaica High School, Norman Thomas High School, Alfred E. Smith Vocational and Maxwell Vocational are among the schools slated to be closed. Despite protests from community leaders, politicians, educators, students, the DOE is doggedly proceeding, claiming they know what is best. The rally was held at Brooklyn Tech, the site of the January PEP meeting (The Panel on Educational Policy was formed by Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg – the majority of members are Bloomberg appointees). Hundreds of people came to speak in front of an overflow and angry crowd of parents, students and teachers. But the P.E.P. was impervious, riding over these voices and ramming through their agenda of school closures.

I have an urgent need to share information and hope to be able to speak at this meeting. I have a unique perspective. I was a teacher and a UFT chapter leader of a GED program that was closed in May 2007. At that time, there was not the outrage that there is today. We were a program – with no parent base – we were a stepchild of the Board of Ed. What happened to us - to the staff, the students, the program – set the stage in miniature – with the missteps and complicity of the DOE and UFT – for the drama that is unfolding. Like any drama there are themes – but in all drama – there are subtexts. Given my perspective and experience, I may be able to give some information and shed some light on a situation that I believe should never have been allowed to get to this disturbing point. In New York City school system which is still experiencing the aftershocks of 9/11, it is egregious that the Mayor and his cohorts should pursue reform – reckless reform – by jeopardizing the security of staff, students and entire communities. Let me begin at the beginning:

April 2007 – I, along with two former UFT chapter leaders of Auxiliary Services for High School Students* met with members of the DOE to find out the fate of our program for September. Over the past few years, staff had been excessed. (Excessed – displaced – sent to other programs), including many math teachers. There was not much that we could do. But at this April meeting, we were told that our program would be fine. We went away and I told the staff of the good news. *ASHS was to remain intact.

May 2007 – The Friday before Memorial Day Weekend – I was invited to a press conference that Chancellor Joel Klein and DOE District 79 Superintendent Cami Anderson had convened at the last minute.

The press conference was at our site on the Lower East Side. It was announced at this meeting that our GED program, as well as three others, and the high school for pregnant and parenting teens would be closed.

At the press conference, many questions were asked of Klein and Anderson. Answers were not readily available. There was a great deal of stonewalling. Art McFarland, the education reporter for Channel 7, kept asking Chancellor Klein why he was closing the high schools; why not keep the schools open and work with the staff and students? Klein kept repeating that this was what the “girls” at the school for pregnant teens wanted. In fact, New York Times reported a few days later that the staff at Pregnant Teens had no idea about the closings and were very upset.

The UFT special rep for District 79 sat next to me. At the end of the meeting, he got up and left. Usually, he and I would talk and mull over the situations presented. I was surprised by his hasty exit. (I was to learn later from Mike Meehan, then the education reporter for Channel 1 News that the UFT had already signed off on this closing back in April!

The five GED programs would be consolidated into one – to be called GED-Plus. A major question was how many staff would get positions in this reorganization. We were never, ever able to get an answer to this question. Carrie Melago, the education reporter for the Daily News, told me the following September that there were going to be about 276 staff members brought on board.

Originally, we were told that the staffing would be done according to Article 32-B in the UFT contract. Under these UFT/DOE guidelines, only ONLY 50 percent of the original staff can be rehired in the new school. What happens to the rest of the staff? What and who determine who gets to be part of the staff that goes to the new program? However, in the face of our strong vocal protests and angry meetings with reps at the UFT headquarters, the union declared a crisis situation under “Impact Bargaining.” They won an agreement from the DOE that all jobs would be filled from staff at the closed schools. However, the number of jobs in the new schools would be drastically reduced--by the hundreds.

We were told that there would be interviews. We were not given dates or criteria for these interviews. Those who didn’t get assignments would be placed in the now –infamous *ATRs or Absentee Teacher Reserves. These are teachers – usually older- who through the closing of schools and programs – not through their own actions – no longer had regular classrooms.

The UFT and DOE kept reassuring everyone – ATRs would be getting their pay. That’s good, but our dedicated teachers want to be in the classroom doing what they do best – teaching. This was in the beginning period of the ATR phenomenon. The situation grew out of the disastrous 2005 UFT contract which gave away seniority transfer. Before this, if a school or program closed, the teacher could put his or her name on the transfer list and be assigned to another school. But now the Board of Ed has given over all hiring rights to the principal – to hire whomever he wanted. Under a new funding formula, the teacher’s entire salary would come out of the individual school budget. What principal could “afford’ to hire a senior teacher, when he could take two beginning teachers for the same price?

This was the beginning of the vicious press campaign against experienced teachers. Over the next few months, years the press has vilified these teachers who are ”costing the city millions”; who, it was said, were poor teachers, or rated “unsatisfactory.” This was a deliberate untruth. As of the closing of my program, I can assure you that the teachers in my school were not unsatisfactory teachers and did not ask to be placed in this situation. I had to go back to the ASHS staff and give them news contrary to the news I had delivered in April. I had to wait to speak to them in person after the Memorial Day weekend. I had no real specifics about interviews to give them. What we felt about the success of our program did not matter. This was a fait accompli.

JUNE 2007 – Teachers had made summer plans and wanted to know more about the dates of the interviews – not unreasonable, but the DOE never got back to us. We were not told what to tell our students about what was going to happen in September. There was so much uncertainty. We turned to the UFT for assistance. Finally, after repeatedly insisting, we got the UFT to agree to hold a meeting for us one day after the last day of school. The UFT was not too pleased to be dealing with almost two hundred teachers who were very upset and unsettled about the closing of the program that they loved.

Forget the fact that we were unsettled; the UFT leadership complained that we were rude and tried to end the meeting after two hours. Here we were on our time and they had their custodians pulling up the carpets. We had to beg and plead for more time. UFT-then president, Randi Weingarten tried to ramrod us into accepting the DOE’s plan to take the deal under which the schools would be closed, with the union’s acceptance and hundreds of jobs would be lost.. We could go after the DOE for what they were doing, said only one dissenter. Weingarten humiliated him publicly and said that this was what we should do.

This shoddy acceptance of re-hiring WITHOUT set dates and parameters and equal criteria for interviews would come back to haunt – to this day the UFT and DOE have created the monster that is rearing its head by closing more and more schools until even sleeping dogs have been awakened and alerted to the rally on January 26.

We left the UFT meeting that day frustrated and with no more information about the interviews than we had when we walked in. The DOE had betrayed us; the UFT was rude and probably signed off on the terms of the re-hiring practices which were shoddy and set the stage for major trouble in the future.

JULY 2007- we clear out our classrooms – no news of the interview dates. Teachers had made summer plans but we were uneasy – our program was ripped away from us; we had no information about interview dates. In the meantime, the UFT became more sensitive to our situation and had their offices open to us so that we could get our resumes together. Still no definite dates for interviews.

MIDDLE TO THE END OF AUGUST 2007 – Teachers who made travel plans waited for news of the dates of interviews. One of them – a teacher who was in France – did not make the interviews and to this day is still an ATR. Another teacher was in China taking a course -- they planned to interview her over the phone from China!

I was on the way to Buffalo and finally I heard that my interview was to be the next day. I had been around all summer. I finally got another interview date which was to be during the last week of August.

I went to the interview and was informed in a few days that I passed. However, some of the teachers who were not in the City were interviewed on the phone – one of my colleagues was interviewed on the phone while he was working his summer job, helping the food service in a DOE school cafeteria. He is today still an ATR. Some of the ATRs who were out of town could not get dates rescheduled. All of this was chaos- before the beginning of a new school year with a new program that had not even been planned out. Be aware that the hiring practices were not thought out nor was the creation of this new program..

BEGINNING OF SEPTEMBER 2007 – I called a meeting of our staff to discuss how we should support each other during this very stressful time. The UFT was not terribly helpful, so we felt we had to be proactive. One of our members, Marjorie Stamberg, started to blog to inform our co-workers, parents, and staff across the city of our plight. The issues were not only where the teachers would go, but what would happen to hundreds of GED students when they arrived at school, only to find their schools were gone, their programs destroyed.

Teachers were told who had passed the interviews; The teachers who did not do well on the interviews were told to report to “hiring halls” on the first day of school. Again chaos reigned. It was unclear what these teachers would do. The teachers who did not pass the interview process were never told why they did not get hired. We subsequently filed grievances for these teachers to find out why they did not get hired. It took months of prodding UFT to get the status of these grievances. Most of the grievances were simply dropped or died because there were no slots on the limited number of UFT grievances that can go to arbitration.

To this day, I am haunted by a colleague of mine whom I represented, who did not get re-hired. She told me that she realized that she would probably not get her job back but she just wanted to know THE REASON. It is this teacher and the other teachers like her, veteran teachers who loved what they were doing, who prompt me to go to rallies and meetings and wonder why this ATR situation really was created.–In September,

The hiring halls were chaotic and teachers were not given clear directions as to what to do. Interestingly, a UFT rep told me that the teachers, themselves were to blame for not being successful in the hiring halls and the days after. Forget the fact that the situation was the whole creation of the DOE, to throw hundreds of S-rated teachers out of their classrooms.


What happened to the teachers who landed in the ATR pool? Some were brought back into our reconstituted program on a one-year trial basis, which could or could not be made a permanent assignment at the end of the year. A number of these teachers eventually got hired in the program, but many did not. Across the city, our ATRs were left to try to get by in the schools they landed in--some situations were better than others. Many of the ATRs who were created in 2007 – remained in this situation until 2009!

As Daily News reporter Carrie Melago told us, about 270 of the original staff of over 700 were hired. The others were left to be ATRS. School started and the fate of students and staff of GED Plus was hit and miss.


The crisis of the ATRs was growing;--there were frequent articles in the New York Post and Daily News and New York Times drawing attention to the ATR situation. The numbers rose to as high as 1,400 and 1,600, as more schools were closed. We were, as I said earlier, the beginning. The articles begin to hammer the ATRs as costly and unsatisfactory. They, as the press reported during this period, were costing the city around 78 million dollars. (A computer that the DOE purchased to track student attendance cost over 80 million dollars but no-one is critical of this) Again, the message seeps out that the Chancellor would like to “terminate” the ATRs who have not work for themselves within a year.

We begin to watch and read carefully the actions of the DOE. We do some serious networking and appearing at Executive Board meetings to highlight the plight of the ATRs takes place. If the ATRs are terminated it would be the end of tenure. This I have suspected all along is the elephant in the room.

At this point, we formed the Committee to Support ATRS, and began to circulate petitions in the schools calling for a citywide rally to draw attention to the ATRs and demand union action to get positions for all who want to be placed. We call for a moratorium on all hiring until all ATRs want positions are placed. This touched a chord with teachers across the schools. “If you’re not ATR now, you could be next!” Petitions flooded in; these were raised at the Delegate Assembly in October, and a rally was planned for November 24. 2008.

Pressure is mounting, now, by many teachers to force the union to do something to quell the numbers of ATRs. Other teachers are beginning to experience what we went through in 2007 and they are frightened that what happened to us will happen to them.

We kept the pressure on. We go to speak at PEP meetings and criticize the closings of schools and the creation of even more ATRs. Chancellor Klein and company exhibit the same manner of stonewalling that they exhibited at the original press conference. We speak to other ATRS. Some have become very discouraged. In the meantime, Teachers for “Teach for America” are still getting jobs. How is this happening and they’re ATRs with no regular classrooms still?

Due to this pressure, shortly before the rally, the UFT leadership announced a deal – a ”Side Agreement” with the DOE to offer principals special incentives to hire the ATRs. They tried to get us to call off the rally, and when that didn’t work, they organized a “wine and cheese” meeting at the UFT union hall to draw teachers away from the rally in front of Tweed! It didn’t work. Hundreds turned out to the rally that day. There was, however, little press there that day -- the UFT leadership tried their best to downplay the action at Tweed.

[Editor's Note: See my 2 part video of that day where UFT/Unity crew sip wine and eat cheese while ATRs and supporters rally at Tweed:

The Video the UFT Doesn't Want You To See: The ATR Rally]


Randi Weingarten e-mailed all of the members of the Executive Board at around 3 PM on Monday, November 18 to vote on the “Side Agreement” that she had negotiated with the DOE concerning the ATR situation. The pressure of the rally and many teacher/ATRs had forced her to take some actions. Suffice it to say because of the last minute notice, hardly any executive board members were able to make the meeting. They had to give their votes over the phone. I was technically not supposed to be allowed in this meeting. I was not an executive board member, but because of my involvement in this situation, I went and spoke to the issue at hand.

According to the Side Agreement, all ATRs would be “safe” – collecting full salaries, doing nothing much, unless principals wanted them to. Some ATRs went to work on a regular basis in regular schools but never were taken off ATR status. Principals didn’t want to pay their salaries and instead hired new teachers (who have not advanced along the salary "steps.". Among the proposals which supposedly would encourage principals to hire ATRs were:

1. Principals would be subsidized by the Central Board if they hired ATRs. Out of their budgets the principals would only have to pay beginners salary.

2. Chancellor Klein strongly suggested to principals that they hire these ATRs, but he never said that it was mandatory before any new hiring.

Since this was a side agreement to the contract, which was to expire in late 2009, It was not clear what would happen in 2010.

The Executive Board members – what few there were – agreed, for the most part with Weingarten. I did not. There were too many vagueries. I had seen this before. I wanted to know, if this was a Side Agreement to the present contract, what would happen after 2010 when the contract expired? I strongly felt that the chancellor should have mandated that principals hire the ATRs before any new hires. For these reasons, I voiced my objections. Weingarten listened but the Side Agreement was hastily passed;


By now, the economy is in serious trouble. Schools open in September. Prospective kindergarten students need to be wait-listed! Classes are overcrowded. More schools are slated to be closed. The public at-large is beginning to get savvy to the notion that all is not well with the DOE. Parents start stronger protests; Critics of this administration become more vocal. In the meantime, to the dismay and despair of all, Bloomberg has announced that he will run for a third term…something that he vowed he would never do.

My fear was that, with a third term, he would finish off what he had started, with the ATRs termination. Classes are very overcrowded but the ATRs are not being used to deal with the overcrowding and the press takes note of this. Finally, Klein does something out of character; because of financial necessity, he is now urging the principals to hire the very same ATRs he villified only a few months before.

The Side Agreement has been ineffective in placing the ATRs. After a steady diet of vilification of these teachers in the press, what principal is willing to hire these teachers.

So in May of 2009, the UFT and DOE negotiates a “hiring freeze”. This is a moratorium on any new hiring until ATR teachers are placed. There are a few exceptions in fields like Special Ed, and math. There is still little relief. Principals just don’t fill positions, juggling with subs and programming, sand-bagging until the hiring freeze is lifted. That October the DOE announces that principals will lose any funding for vacancies “left open” Finally, there is a bit of relief for the ATRs


Bloomberg literally buys a third term and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving goes to Washington, where in the presence of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, he unveils his plan for educational reform which contains some of these items…that he will hire city lawyers to go to Albany to help change the laws of New York State to obtain. They are:

1. He wants the cap on the limit on charter schools changed from 200 – 400
2. He wants ATRs who have not found a job after a year to be terminated. There it is in black and white.
3. He wants to expedite the process to remove teachers who are in “rubber” rooms.

Note: I was in Washington in October 2009 – it was curious that Michele Rhee, that city's Superintendent of Education, has closed schools, and over 400 staff were out of jobs. Seniority does not exist there. One teacher who had 32 years of experience was out of a job. There was a tremendous amount of public support but I don’t think they got jobs back.

4. More schools to be closed

There it is – eliminate these teachers. Right now the UFT is sticking by its stance of refusing to let the ATRs be abandoned. The union is insisting these dedicated teachers lost their positions only through the closing of schools or programs, and not through any failing on their part. This is a major obstacle to the mayor's plans. He would like to get a concession on this and impose a cap. By doing so he would effectively get rid of tenure. If a teacher can be removed from the classroom and then fired, there is no tenure. Say what we want, tenure is a necessary tool in a field that is as subjective as teaching. This would be a feather in the mayor's cap – he has hired Joel Klein who was one of the legal eagles who broke up Microsoft to break up the Board of Ed in New York City. Since mayoral control, it has been unrecognizable as any Department of Education. Fiscally, the DOE in its current form is as irresponsible, if not more than his predecessors.


The start of the New Year, and the closings of twenty schools have been announced. Next week we will see what will happen. What will it take to keep these schools from closing? How many new ATRs will be created by these closings? How many more sudents will be lost?

Thousands turned out on JANUARY 26TH at Brooklyn Tech.. We have to continue to make our voices heard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What the UFT Has In Store - After the Elections, Of Course

UFT shill Peter Goodman uses his blog to float trial balloons. Here is a goodie where he praises the District 79 reorganization plan (which was Mulgrew's baby if you are looking for signs as to where he really stands), the Detroit teachers contract (described in Substance as the worst in the history of the AFT) and New Haven contracts.

The dissolution of the ATR pool, the shrinking of the rubber rooms and an expedited discipline process, using student achievement data in the tenure granting process, salary compensation schedules that include raises for “merit” are all possible for the creative.

Some iteration of the District 79 Reorganization Plan, the Peer Review Plus Program (Article 21J), peer review (including teachers in the evaluation of probationary teachers), differentiated staffing similar to the Lead Teacher (MOA, 2005, para 13), perhaps some of the elements in the New Haven and Detroit contracts could produce a “win-win” contract. A contract that the mayor could laud as a national model and a contract that would satisfy the union membership.

Read the gory details at Ed in the Apple. GAG, GAG, GAG.

As one contact just wrote me, "2005 proves the membership will go for absolutely anything."

Michael Fiorillo wrote:
Someone I know works in District 79 (Alternative High Schools) and the reorganization (overseen at the time by Michael Mulgrew) was a disaster for teachers and students. Every teacher had to re-apply for their job, and fewer than half were re-hired. The resources are being cut back, students are seeing opportunities for schooling limited, and the district is infested with Ivy League and TFA know-nothing parasites.

Marjorie Stamberg responded:
Michael, your remarks on D 79 are well put! The recent NY Times profile on District 79 superintendent, Cami Anderson, a TFA "superstar" was revealing -- their most important "goal" -- not educating kids, but "moving up" the corporate school ladder with resume builders like the D79 "restructuring ' (i.e., closing schools, throwing teachers into the ATR pool, losing kids, denying special ed services, etc).

Roz Panepento, former chapter leader of ASHS, (Auxiliary Services for High Schools) one of the D79 schools which was first down-sized, then closed, has written a retrospective on the catastrophic 2007 reorganization of D79 and our battle to save staff positions and save kids. I would like to post it on some of the blogs, for colleagues information.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Charter Scams Will One Day Make Extinct Community Control Scandals Look Clean

Susan Otterman's NY Times story is a good follow-up to Rachel Monahan's piece on the 3 charter school scam in the Daily News yesterday. Meanwhile the Post worries about a few rubber room people whose total salaries come to a flea speck compared to these scams.

Wait till the money flows through Arne's scam artists. There will be no crook that won't open a charter - the John Gotti Charter School of Fashion? The Rudy Blogo School of Hair Design?

Remember the days when people in some districts made headlines by taking home dilapidated pianos and how the crooked districts was a major justification for mayoral control? Read the tea leaves as these scandals grow and grow and we see the day when the same arguments will be used to dismantle mayoral control.

Even my wife, who is generally sick of 40 years of ed talk was outraged at today's NY Times story.

Susan Ohanian in her daily email says:

When the mayor is in charge of the schools then pseudo-teachers tell students to
write an essay about carpentry instead of handing them a hammer. See

At Bronx Vocational School, Concern Over Plan for Charter

Ohanian Comment:
This is a page 19 story. One can wonder why it isn't headlined on page 1. It is so quintessentially ripe with the elements of Mayor Bloomberg's control of the schools. For some reason, there's no place for reader comment at tne New York Times site.

At the soon-to-be-closed Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School, students learn trades--like heating and ventilation, plumbing, electrical installation, carpentry and architectural engineering. At the A.E.C.I. charter, teachers say they use the building trades as an academic theme, discussing architecture in global history class and asking students to write essays about opportunities in construction.

A total of 22 technical shops at Alfred E. Smith are scheduled to close. Let them write essays about opportunities in construction!

And look at the qualifications of the mayor's man who is the city's technical education chief:

Gregg B. Betheil: Prior to joining the New York City Department of Education, Mr. Betheil was senior vice president of the National Academy Foundation. Take a look at who's on the board there. Betheil has served as assistant principal of Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in New York City, where he also taught American history and finance. Mr. Betheil is a former member of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in New Jersey. A public high school graduate, he holds a BA in government, law and history from Lafayette College, an MA in social studies education and a MEd in educational administration from Columbia University.

And take a look at the connections here:

Richard Izquierdo Arroyo: The nephew of City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo resigned as head of a Bronx charter school she helped fund -- a day after he was charged with embezzlement.

Richard Izquierdo Arroyo -- who's also Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo's grandson and chief of staff -- notified the city he was resigning as chairman of the board of the South Bronx Charter School for International Culture and the Arts.

His city councilwoman aunt sponsored $1.5 million in taxpayer funds this fiscal year to help build a permanent facility for the school, which is temporarily housed in a public school.

$1.5 million so students can write essays about opportunities in construction.

One can wonder what Richard Izquierdo Arroyo's qualifications were to head a high school--qualifications other than blood, that is.

In Charter Scam in New York City Exposed, Larry Miller notes:

Smith accepts all students who apply. AECI only takes students by lottery.

At Smith, 21% of the students are in a special education program; at AECI, only 9% are.

At Smith, 71% of the students come from such low-income families that they qualify for the federal free lunch program; at AECI, only 47% do.

What happens to the poorest kids, to that huge special education population, to those who need the most help?

Miller also notes that AECI doesn't seem to be able to keep a teaching staff, and he concludes that new City controller John Liu needs to ask tough questions fast. And he needs to follow the money going to charters, because Klein's people are not.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Five "Honorees" of Bunkum Awards Announced for their Contributions to Sub-Par Education Research

About the Bunkum Awards
The term 'bunkum,' meaning essentially 'nonsense,' came about because of a long-winded and pointless speech given in 1820 on the House floor by Congressman Felix Walker of Buncombe County, North Carolina. The Bunkum Awards help to highlight nonsensical, confusing, and disingenuous reports produced by education think tanks.

Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Education and the Public Interest Center. School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder. Arizona State University

Five "Honorees" of Bunkum Awards Announced for their Contributions to Sub-Par Education Research

February 15, 2010

High-Production Values and Eye-Catching Charts and Graphs Can Never Replace Strong Methodology and Sound Research Practices
BOULDER, Colo. and TEMPE, Ariz. (February 15, 2010) -- State education agencies and local school districts are increasingly asked to make evidence-based decisions about school reform initiatives, often assuming that all evidentiary claims are the result of high-quality research. Unfortunately, much of the evidence offered in policy debates is based on research reports that have bypassed the quality control mechanisms of academic research.
In an effort to help education policy makers separate the wheat from the chaff, expert third party reviews are provided by the Think Tank Review Project, a collaboration of the Education and Public Interest Center (EPIC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) at Arizona State University. Each year the reports identified by experts as the worst of the worst are awarded a "Bunkum." The Think Tank Review Project today announced five "honorees" for 2009.
While the social science of the winning reports was sub-par, they typically had very high production values, glossy paper, multi-color printing, and artful layouts. "Given the bibliographies, footnotes, charts and tables, policymakers or laypeople may be forgiven for thinking that these honoree reports are based on the highest quality research. We hope that our expert reviews have helped to correct that impression," said EPIC director Kevin Welner.

The 2009 Bunkum Award honorees:
The Time Machine Award
Weighted Student Formula Yearbook 2009
Authored by Lisa Snell, and published by the Reason Foundation.
In a truly breathtaking innovation, the report enters its time machine and attributes positive reform outcomes to policy changes that had not yet been implemented.

The Data Dodger Award
How New York City's Charter Schools Affect Achievement
Authored by Caroline M. Hoxby, Sonali Murarka & Jenny Kang, and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
New York City's charter schools might genuinely be improving student outcomes; however, this study -- because of the information it withheld and its methodological shortcomings -- does not and cannot resolve the issue.

The Misdirection Award: Keep Our Eyes Off What Works
Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut
Authored by Checker Finn and published by the Hoover Institution.
The report misdirects readers from a mountain of empirical, peer-reviewed and widely accepted evidence, and instead cherry-picks a few weak studies to critique proposals for universal preschool.

The Innovations in Promoting Alternative Certification Award
An Evaluation of Teachers Trained Through Different Routes to Certification: Final Report
Authored by Jill Constantine, Daniel Player, Tim Silva, Kristin Hallgren, Mary Grider & John Deke, and published by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.
The authors report 'no evidence' that traditionally trained teachers provided better student scores than alternatively trained teachers. The report does not bother to set forth caveats to the 'no evidence' conclusion, but there should, in fact, have been many, many caveats -- including small sample size, sampling methods, and a failure to distinguish the treatments. Also interesting: the study actually included many analyses that found traditionally trained teachers outperformed their alternative route counterparts. It's just that the authors chose not to fully report and acknowledge these findings in the report's conclusions.

The Annual Friedman Foundation Johnny One-Note Award
Multiple Reports by the Friedman Foundation
Multiple authors, all published by the Friedman Foundation.
The Friedman Foundation has, over the past three years, cloned the same study on the cost of drop-outs in at least seven states, a tax credit voucher report in at least six states, and opinion polls on school choice in 15 states. Amazingly, all these reports lead to the same conclusion: vouchers and other forms of school choice will save money and improve student outcomes. The basic technique used by Friedman researchers is to take the same report, change the name of the state, plug in some state-specific data, vary the title a bit, and come up with the predetermined conclusion.

This year's honorees were selected following expert third-party reviews of research reports published by think tanks and other research organizations. Reports reviewed by the Think Tank Review Project are carefully selected. Every day the web sites of prominent think tanks are visited to identify new research publications for possible review. If a report is deemed of sufficient importance, it is then assigned for review to an independent scholar with expertise in the area of inquiry.

A complete analysis of this year's Bunkum Award winners can be found at:

About the Bunkum Awards
The term 'bunkum,' meaning essentially 'nonsense,' came about because of a long-winded and pointless speech given in 1820 on the House floor by Congressman Felix Walker of Buncombe County, North Carolina. The Bunkum Awards help to highlight nonsensical, confusing, and disingenuous reports produced by education think tanks.

Nikki Rashada McCord
Associate Director
Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC)
University of Colorado at Boulder
(303) 735-5290