Friday, June 25, 2010

BloomKlein's Very Own Gusher: Spill, Baby Spill

by Norman Scott

School Scope Column
The Wave, June 25, 2010

You don't have to drill a mile down into the ocean or run a drilling rig into oblivion to create the disastrous muck of an oil spill. Or go to The Gulf to see the impact. We have our own education version of the disaster right here in the NYC Department of Education, better known as "Tweed" for the courthouse built by the original corrupt politician known as Boss Tweed.

The Tweedies are at it again with the umpteenth reorganization. Let's see now. First we had districts. Then regions. Then no regions. Then districts again. But only sort of. How about empowerment zones? Then no empowerment zones. There were those LSOs, LMOs, LSMFTs. How about just plain LOSERS?

The latest craze are Childrens First Networks where all women network leaders are strong, the men who do the bidding of Klein good looking and the children are above average - way above average after taking the rediculous NY State tests rigged to make BloomKlein look good. Support services have been reorganized from districts to regions to boroughs and now into these networks. Truly, almost no one has a clue but the prime directive is that jobs must be found for all. Just make sure no one gets so pissed off they spill the beans that BP is a master of competence compared to Tweed. BP chief Tony Hayward for Chancellor, anyone?

NY Politicians create own version of the spill
Let's never forget that the reason BloomKlein have been able to send globs of muck onto the shores of the schools is because they were handed the reins through the overwhelming endorsement of the politicians in both the city and state. Now we know the NY State legislature is considered one of the most dysfunctional political bodies in the world, finishing in a tie with Kyrgyzstan. (The Obama administration considered swapping the NY State Assembly with the Kyrg version, but was turned down in the interests of better government - for the Kyrgs.)

We are real lucky here in Rockaway to have some of the leading lights of the legislature and their current and former pals in Congress - Malcolm Smith, Gregory Meeks, Floyd Flake. The NY Times has been paying particular homage to our crew. The front page of the June 18th edition focused on Flake, the leader of the pack with this headline: "2006 Sale of Ministry Property Positioned Queens Pastor to Gain Riches." They devoted a full page - a full page - with pictures and all sorts of sidebar goodies on the financial manipulations that went on around a senior citizen center. There was a whole lot of political influence with Bloomberg and even Elliot Spitzer. The best part to me was reading that court clerk Gloria D'Amico - the same Gloria D'Amico who signs our call to jury duty notices - was a key person signing off on the deal. The added detail was that her son was one of the partners in the Flake deal. The next time you get a jury duty call from Gloria, write her a few choice words.

While the Times story didn't connect all these guys to the charter school games they are involved with, it did manage to dredge up the ugly Aqueduct story where Malcolm Smith was in up to his ears, with Meeks playing a role too. The story also pulled in Governor Patterson. But as readers of The Wave you know all the gory details. I hope you saw the wonderfully alliterative headline from last week: "Meeks' Non-Existent Non-Profit Profits From Public Money."

Helen Marshall refuses to yell "Fire" in a crowded school system
And then there's our Borough President who appeared on WNYC to proclaim schools in Queens were no longer overcrowded. Leonie Haimson on the NYC Public School Parent blog had this comment: "According to official DOE data (which most experts think underestimates the problem), 67 percent of elementary school children in Queens attended overcrowded schools; and 77 percent of high school students. And this does not count thousands of students in trailers. Class sizes are still increasing rapidly throughout the borough, and as of this March, nearly 800 Queens children were on waiting lists for their zoned Kindergartens."

Washington educational oil slick
Of course we can't ignore our federal government's attempt, led by Obama basketball buddy Arne Duncan, who ran the Chicago schools into the ground, to take over the nation's schools through Race to the Top. RTTT has forced school districts and unions to modify contracts to conform to the test till you drop mode of education, a system guaranteed to bring forth masses of graduates who will be adept at working the cash registers at the two largest employers in the nation - McDonalds and Walmart, one of the major backers of charter schools.

Chicago, Chicago, a wonderful town
The Duncan/Daley tandem in Chicago has so turned teachers into a hostile force, a new leadership led by younger progressive teachers has taken over the union. The Caucus of Rank & File Educators (CORE) is a two year old caucus led by the new Chicago TU President Karen Lewis who is already becoming a national voice to counter AFT president Randi Weingarten's capitulation to the education deformers. Lewis declared: "What drives school reform is a single focus on profit. Profit. Not teaching, not learning, profit."

Beach Channel stays open for an extra year, but are any future freshmen registering?
Remember that "successful" UFT/NAACP court suit to keep the 19 closing schools open that has extended their lives for a year? Joel Klein made it clear that the DOE would do whatever it takes to close these schools next year - the UFT suit was based on Tweed not following procedures in state law, so next time they will do it "right." It seems the feeling of inevitability of the school's closing has kept many 8th graders from registering. (Jamaica HS has had a similar experience.) Schools that enter the death spiral of closing down have a growing feeling of despair and a loss of services as the enemies at Tweed who are sworn to manage the schools, do exactly the opposite. While I was for the UFT lawsuit, I also felt it did not go far enough and had more than a touch of a public relations stunt (there was a UFT election going on at the time and Mulgrew's 91% - and yes I am a 9% dissenter - was padded by that suit). Anyone who has watched the slick Tweedies knew full well they would do what they could to undermine the schools but the UFT did nothing to extend the suit - like force them to do more to recruit new classes for these schools. How about a budget approaching what charter schools get to put out those slick brochures?

There was a wonderful letter in last week's Wave from Beach Channel's Drama Club Director, Marjorie Damashek Levine listing the successful events Beach Channel still has going, closing with "YES, Beach Channel High School is alive and kicking."

And so am I as I close this year's series of School Scope columns. Have a good summer and look for my daily rants on my blog:


  1. It's not only that residents have given up on enrollment--it's that the DoE sends out letters actively discouraging it. They tell parents what an awful school it is, but if you want to send your kid there that badly, fine with them.

  2. Yes. That is always their tactic. That the UFT suit did not take this into account is shameful. That's why I call the suit mostly PR in that they knew it would not have a long-time impact.

  3. CFS's and all of their predecessors are intended as one thing only:

    Keep schools and principals from forming ties/connections/foundations with the support systems that the Tweedies send out.

    Although it is true many DOE support people are inept, there are some good people who genuinely help schools but then get pulled after one or two years and it drives principals nutty. Jack Welch!!


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