Friday, April 2, 2010

Catching Up

I got a call yesterday from ICE colleague Julie visiting her daughter in LA asking why I wasn't blogging so she could keep up with the breaking ed news. (Check out her talented daughter Lucy's preview of the upcoming release of her next album.) Why does a retired educator still feels the need to take off for the break? When you think of it, we develop this habit from the day we enter school a 5 year old, so it is hard to break.

With wrapping up the UFT election distribution, dealing with the 25 people who invaded my house for a Seder on Monday - with an age range of 1.5 to 92, going to a friend's funeral, dealing with the loss of a cat, wrapping up the FLL robotics tournament and trying to control my 92 year old dad's interest in young women - which in his case means women in their 80's - it's been a busy few weeks and I haven't had much time for blogging. Or maybe it's all the Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga wine I swill all day. We still have an 18 and a half year old cat who is hanging in there and we're trying to decide whether to bring her in to the vet for a checkup or just let things lie. My hot yoga teacher, who has often cared for the cats, told me we were crazy and just let her be. As long as the cat keeps tearing up all those Staples bags, which my pals at the local store's copy center give me, I figure she is doing a OK.

(Here is Pinky feigning semi-indifference towards her late sister, Pippin, who she generally ignored when she was alive, but still is checking to find out where she went.)

There's so much to write about with the ed news that has been coming in from all over the place. In election news, here is a message from the UFT's Ray Frankel, who has run the elections for almost 40 years:

The ballot count will take place on Wednesday, April 7, at the Park Central Hotel, 870 Seventh Avenue (55th Street), the Manhattan Skyline Room. The count is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. with the opening of two envelopes.

This count is done by the American Arbitration Association and we will be there observing. Anna Philips from Gotham promises to be outside to pick up tidbits she can report. I told her I will trade tidbits for food.

No matter what the results, it is always fun to watch the process, especially with Unity and New Action always taking the results so much more seriously than ICE and TJC. Unity wants to keep ICE and TJC off the Exec Bd even it only the 6 HS people where we have the best chance. New Action is even more desperate to stop their slide and if they lose the high school seats, they will still have 5 EB seats handed to them by Unity, but they will be even more inconsequential than they are. There are still people who vote New Action thinking they are an opposition and Mulgrew's total will reflect the Unity plus New Action count and so will be higher than Unity alone. There is hope he can beat Randi's numbers which if it happens will make her cry.

ICE and TJC see the election as part of a building process from the ground up and most of us were more involved with the grassroots activities of GEM than with the elections. Most GEMers did run and were active in promoting the elections in their schools. The numbers of activists - the true test of building an opposition - are still small but the greater interest and outpouring of people handing out lit, while it may not translate into votes, is a sign of building up a new infrastructure (which was lost when New Action sold out to Unity). As some of our younger activists pointed out, this was a learning process for them. Thank goodness. Next time I can just put my feet up and enjoy the show.

The court case and school closings are at the top of the list of news here in NYC. Leonie's listserve has been active as usual and there's so much good stuff I want to save and publish, I just can't keep up, though I did put up a load of stuff on Norms Notes (which you should check out even over the past week for some great articles), which is where I try to throw up as many interesting articles and posts from others as I can. One of the most interesting was an advance copy of Rethinking Schools' article on Teach for America, which led to this comment:
Anonymous Alice Mercer said...

THANK YOU! Our district is looking at bringing in TFA even in the face of what was originally 700 layoff notices. I had "heard" about this piece and I'm glad we will have it in time to share with board members before the next meeting.

There was the NYCORE conference a few weeks ago and my appearances at some schools to talk about the elections. Steve Conn from Detroit has been in touch and is urging a group from NYC to go on the march in Washington on April 10 calling for Arne Duncan's resignation. I attended the Diane Ravitch Manhattan Institute luncheon on Wed. which I will write about later and met up with ICE-TJC Elementary school candidate Yelena Siwinski afterwards for a few hours of good ed chatting, followed by an evening robotic year end wrap up at Credit Suisse. I wore a jacket and tie for the Ravitch event and actually looked like a teacher for a change. I ended up in a dumpy pizza joint at 9pm for some greasy pizza.

My attempt to diet has really suffered in the midst of all this. Lucky I had my physical a few weeks ago at my low weight. The doctor, who is now treating almost all of our friends, does not take kindly to fat, cholesterol laden people. I better jump off that Snickers bandwagon real fast before my next blood test.

I am working on dealing with the anti-Randi factor in the elections - does anyone in Unity and without have something nice to say?

Also some thoughts on the Ravitch event and some issues I have to take with where she is coming from. I am in the midst of the book and may do chapter by chapter summaries and comments.

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