Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Seniority and Pakter Non-Hearing

UPDATED (see below):

I attended the David Pakter 3020a "hearing" today but there was no hearing (search this blog for background if you don't know about this case as I'm too lazy to get the links). Or at least while I was there. I left at 2 when they broke for lunch. David will update us soon.

We had quite a cast of characters. The wonderful hearing officer, Douglas Bantle - who is such a decent guy the DOE is getting rid of him. The NYSUT lawyer, Chris Calegy, who whenever I see him in action is impressive. Betsy Combier, who is always there for people and her sidekick Polo Colon. I alerted Gotham's Anna Philips about the hearing and unfortunately she showed up and wasted 3 hours waiting for a hearing that never took place. I owe her lunch - or at least an ice cream. But I did give her an earful for classifying New Action as an opposition caucus instead of bottom-feeding weasels. (See my recent post: UFT election figures for New Action Over the Years)

Ken Hirsch tagged along with Anna. Ken is the most likable ed deformer, some kind of hedge fund guy who helps fund scuzzy charter schools like HSA and Girls Prep and who knows what else. He also helps fund Gotham, which is a good thing, despite the fact some people feel they tilt (I am not yet convinced of that.)

I always have very deep discussions with Ken. He is a guy who while may not be convinceable about the errors of ed deform, is always willing to engage and listen - which with me around is just about all you can do. So we had a brief discussion on a number of issues and touched on the seniority issue. I pointed out how the longevity of teachers in one school creates a certain level of stability and teachers make strong connections to families over time. I'm talking about the elementary school level. Of course, with charter schools parachuting kids and teachers in from all over the place and the destruction of the neighborhood school concept by the deformers, this concept become irrelevant.

I get home and low and behold find that Diana Senechal wrote a great piece at Gotham on this very issue. Accountable Talk linked and wrote his own piece.

The Other Argument for Seniority

There's a nice piece in the Community section at Gotham Schools that lays out the case for seniority, especially in light of possible upcoming layoffs. I won't repeat any of the author's arguments here; you can read them for yourself and decide if they are compelling. I think they are. I'd like to address an argument for seniority that I rarely hear, but it warrants discussion. I believe that ignoring seniority as it exists now would ruin education in the future, and here's why.

Head over and read both pieces and all the comments.

After Ken left, who should show up but blogger South Bronx School, one of my faves – he goes even lower than I do. He's not happy that Gotham doesn't link to him and told Anna so. She defended herself. This was better than the hearing that wasn't taking place. I love SBS but I can understand them not linking. He was promising Anna not to be so raunchy while I begged him to keep it up. What would Whitney Tilson and Thomas Carroll do if he toned it down?

If you dig beneath the crust of SBS, you find the instincts of a teacher who gets it and gives a crap. I'd rather have the fun crusty stuff than see links on Gotham, which often links to Ed Notes. What am I doing wrong?

Since I posted the above a few minutes ago, I have been in touch with 2 former students who friended me - my 4th grade class in the early 80's and -listen to this - the son of a former student from 1976. His mom brought him to my house when he was one month old and we put him on a blanket on the floor and my cat came over and was bigger than him. Look at him now. His mom was one of my favorite kids of all time and we stayed in touch.

In the small world department, his dad's (his parents never were together) sister was the mom of a couple of kids I had and she was a parent who I always like a lot and I got to know a lot about the family. One day I was at the UFT and I see someone familiar and she said, "Mr. Scott." It was her daughter who I had in my computer classes. She has been working at the UFT - now in the tech department (think those Apple IIe's got her ready for the job market?) - for many years and we run into each other every so often and she fills me in. She has kids herself and her mom is doing fine.

Jeez. The more I am hooking up on facebook, the more the memories come flooding back. One of the students is a NYC teacher and we are getting together soon - the first time I will see him in over 25 years and next week I am meeting a student from the late 70's for lunch - I haven't seen her since she was in high school.

Sorry, but this is my "data."

Some former 4th graders had an elementary school reunion in Feb. I can recognize 4.



Re: David Pakter Teacher Trial

It is well after 3 o'clock in the morning and just when I thought I could call it a day or a night, I decided to check the blogs of the good people I know who have followed my battles with the NYC DOE for literally years.

Not surprisingly all those good people showed up at my Hearing today, en masse, at 49 Chambers Street. How can anyone miss a trial where one of the charges is that the accused brought a plant to his school without Official Permission from the DOE.

Norm got the story correct up to a point but what appeared to be a non-Hearing in the room was anything but, behind closed doors throughout the morning. The old analogy- still waters run deep.

For the courageous few who returned after the late Lunch break and stayed till the end, they had an opportunity to witness where the case is going and even got a preview of what is going to happen at the next two Hearings on May 10 and 11.

What visitors did not get to see today, because of all the behind the scenes activity, I can virtually guarantee those visitors will get to see in double spades on May 10 when the DOE spends the entire day Cross-Examining me.

To say it will be a lively Hearing on May 10 and 11 would be an understatement. So much so that for anyone who felt they were cheated today due to all the closed door meetings that took place I make this solemn pledge.

If you attended today, I will treat you a swell Lunch at the place we accused Teachers (and even DOE General Counsel Michael Best) like to frequent for their great Italian cuisine just around the corner from 49 Chambers Street.

So, once again I thank all those wonderful folks Norm mentioned in his great story who attended today's Hearing- and be well advised that May 10 and 11 are going to be better than most Broadway plays.

Be there so I do not have go searching for you all over Gotham to deliver that Italian Lunch promised above for those who felt shortchanged at today's Hearing.

And dwell on the positive and consider how all you great people, Norm mentioned, whose beat is the NYC Education scene enjoyed some wonderful comeraderie at today's Pakter Hearing, chewing the fat and arguing about where the heck the whole world of Education in Gotham is going.

See you all on May 10 and 11 and don't forget your seat belts because those two days should produce some noteworthy Testimony and verbal sparring. Those who stayed till the end today know why but they are Sworn not to spoil things for anyone who could not.

Polo Colon said...

Yes, Norm, I was there as Betsy Combier's "sidekick" as well as David's and yours, for that matter. (I do sense a somewhat condescending tone there!) I didn't have to be there on one of my days off from work.

I showed up to support Pakter in this hearing, who is sickeningly being railroaded by a corrupt and bankrupt system that just borders on the criminal in the insanity of its blatant violation of the legal tenet of "intent"!

Just as importantly, I also witnessed a reluctance on the part of the education forums you mentioned to come together and link in one to another to create a strong union that the NYC DOE could not ignore. Such disunity is tailor-made for the DOE and only serves their divide and conquer strategies, which apparently, some unwisely and unastutely fail to recognize. This was an unfortunately wasted opportunity to form a stong bond, the reason for which is what? Distrust of one another?

That South Bronx School is too inflamatory? (I happen to believe that the DOE and their goons only respond to such radical representations of their true nature!)

That Betsy and I and prentadvocates.org is not liked for stepping on too many toes at the DOE? (This has to be done to expose those who are incomptently and obscenely violating the rights of students, parents, teachers and the community at large!)

So, is Gotham Schools, as well as Education Notes Online going to continue to remain rival entities, so aloof that they cannot accept the validity of their differences in focus and not appreciate that this diversity actually helps the cause of the holistic discourse of the public discussion that might actuyally lead to changing things and creating solutions to the dire straits we have been facing?

Will their subscribers abandon them for becoming more inclusive and less exclusive?

As for the David Pakter case, we must all at least agree that what the DOE has been attempting to do to one of our ranks is to smear him and assasinate his character, even to the point where a major newspaper has created for themselves a lawsuit (which they no doubt will lose) for intentionally lying that Pakter was also involved with some sexual misconduct!

It is simply part and parcel of their regular modus operandi of retaliation for anyone who exposes their incompetence and administrative atrocities! We had better come together and unite or we will fail and fall together!

If they can do this to Pakter, the end result will be a warning to all whjo oppose them that theyy will surely fail against the powers to be and that indeed, it is futile to fight city hall. The power structure is invincible and gets to win again!


ed notes online said...

You always seem a tad sensitive and touchy. I think you are way too worried about whether Ed Notes recognizes you or your work. Ed Notes is just me, not a group and I never ask for recognition from anyone.

You talk about linking as if that will make a difference. A tiny fragment read what we write. It will take organizing on the ground not sitting at a computer to create change.

I also work with groups like ICE and GEM and teachers Unite. Funny how you charge me with being divisive when I have been involved with all these groups and with all the attacks going on and all the union work to do I never see you involved with any of it other than your own issues.

Try to look at the big picture. It is not all about hearings for people being railroaded. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Fighting the individual battles is important but they will never end until we turn the tide against the corporate invasion of our schools. Let's fight that one too.