Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where the UFT Money Honey Flows

This email dropped in from an anonymous source soon after our earlier post -
UFT/Unity Machine Facing Cuts? Why Not Just Raise Dues So They Can Continue to Live in Style?

Follow the UFT’s Money 
by He/She Who knows Too Much
Anna Phillips’s story on today’s Gothamschools.org about shrinking UFT dues is wrong. We have 36,000 brand new members--the health home care providers! What’s happpening with that dues money?
Meantime, here are my recommendations for curbing the UFT’s elite socialist paradise and capping its unconscionable dollar leaks:
►Rent out the 40 parking spots in the UFT building instead of rewarding Mulgrew's pampered class who park for free instead of being with the great unwashed on the subways and buses.
►Cut back on the consultant contract with Glover Park, whose partner is Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg's deputy mayor. Remember the mayor, the guy who wants to destroy public education in New York?
 ►No more open bars at chapter leader weekends, thus saving $30,000 per weekend.
 ►Force Mulgrew meet his deadline for reading every word in the New York  Teacher. His delays cost the union tens of thousands in extra printing and mailing costs.
►Pay cuts to $100,000 for everyone who earns over $100,000, the top teacher salary. CFO David Hickey makes $205,000 a year. (You can check everyone's top pay at ICEUFT.
 ►No more expense accounts for Hickey to travel to Coney Island to hang out with Mulgrew at the Cyclones ballpark to "throw out the first pitch." (N.B., Mulgrew keeps striking out when trying to get us a raise).
►Make sure the cut in hours is across the board and not fall on the mainly black and  Hispanic support staff, most of whom make around $30,000 while whites makes triple and quadruple that sum.
 ►Reduce TV and radio ads--one million bucks--which do nothing but promote Mulgrew.
 more to come. 

From the ICE blog side panel (top).

UFT Reports Filed With Labor Deparment

Each year our union is required to file UFT employee salaries, membership, and disbursements reports. The form, called an LM2, is available here. These reports were prepared on December 30, 2009 and reflect transaction for the year ending July 31, 2009.

UFT/Unity Machine Facing Cuts? Why Not Just Raise Dues So They Can Continue to Live in Style?

Anna Philips at Gotham has an interesting report on the loss of 2000 UFT members and how it is causing the UFT to cut back.
The bags of swag at the city teachers union’s regular conferences might be lighter this year, the catered dinners less lavish. The recession has caught up with the union and it’s beginning to cut back.
Hit with the combination of a two-year hiring freeze and typical teacher attrition, the United Federation of Teachers has lost roughly 2,000 members in the last year. With them has gone about $2 million in dues.

As usual, some of the comments are fun to read. NYC Educator nails the 800+ Unity junket to Seattle. I left my own dropping:

With the lifting of the charter school cap watch for the UFT to lose more members to charters. And with the cuts coming see if Unity still offers perks - like those elaborate chapter leaders training weekend sessions in Princeton - a major area of recruitment into Unity.

It was over 800 people sent to Seattle. They took staff and had guests. They each received around $1750- $2000 to cover expenses. A hundred dollars a day in meal money - and there were so many free vendor parties and meals we who paid our own way didn’t have to spend all that much on food.

And watch those yearly NYSUT conventions where the same 800 get to play - this past April they went to Wash DC. Even when they hold it at the Hilton in NYC all 800 get to stay at the hotel on our dime.
And David Hickey - the LM-2 UFT reports lists his whopper salary.

Check how many UFT staffers make over $150,000.
Would it surprise anyone to see them try to sneak through a dues increase at the rubber stamp delegate assembly?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Is Obama Toast? Is Hillary Waiting in the Wings?

Last Update: Tues. Aug. 31, 10am.

When Obama was elected we posed the question: Would he be a Herbert Hoover or an FDR? Well, now that this question has been answered, the next question is: Will he be a Herbert Hoover or an LBJ?

I know a lot of people are comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter - a sitting president who lost in a re-election bid as opposed to LBJ, a sitting president who chose not to run.

Carter, who I have a lot more respect for than most people do (his energy policies), was caught in the midst of the gas crisis, the Iran revolution/hostage situation, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which many think was the nail in the coffin for the Soviet Empire. Hmmmmm, serious irony here in that under Reagan, the Taliban and Bin-Laden were enabled in the cause of defeating the Soviets.

So let's look at the deterioration of Obama support to the extent that it looks like he has no chance to be re-elected. And I should remind you that he only won with 53% against a weak, under financed candidate saddled with at the time a nincompoop VP candidate running for a party that had destroyed the American economy in the midst of two horrendous wars.

The economy, stupid
We have a double dip recession or even a great depression coming. Remember that the 1929 crash was a precursor to the real heavy stuff that came in 1932. So in essence we are somewhere in 1931. As a student of history who studied the Great Depression I was always worried about another one but felt the laws put in place in the 30's would protect us. Naturally, they stripped them all away in the 90's - yes, Clinton helped it along.

I've always felt deflation is a real threat and even a few months ago when I brought it up in family discussions with my wife's family - a polite term for screaming all out wars - they laughed. Yet, you hear the word being mentioned more and more, especially by Paul Krugman. See his July column The Third Depression.

Keep in mind, if not for the financial crisis that broke a few months before the election Obama may not have won or if he did, it would have been by a hair. By 2012 it will be Katy Bar the Door time.

Political gridlock - total inability to address the issues
Today Krugman, a Nobel prize winning economist who always manages to convince me, does politics. In "It's Witch-Hunt Season"  he truly takes apart the Republican game plan - no matter who the Democratic president is. He reminds us of the endless waste of time over White water and blue dresses. But he points out in the 90's the economy was humming. When the same thing happens after the Republicans take power in the House and or Senate and investigate everything Obama does, including whether he uses too much toilet paper, we will be in beyond gridlock territory.

So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they’re gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a “wave of committee investigations” — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I’d put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.
It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get.
If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe.
Organizing ability now goes to the right
And let's not forget the ability of the Republicans and far outers to organize their base through the tea party movement. Thus, the vaunted Obama organizing has been copied and trumped by the right while his organization has been dissipating. They claim they are using the Aulinsky tactics of the left to disrupt and take control of meetings and the political process. They are certainly outflanking the center and left in every way.

A perfect storm
Obama is facing a perfect storm. Bad economy and possible depression (Hoover). Bad war (LBJ). Republican constant assault (Clinton). The gulf disaster. Plus these factors:

Alienation of Obama base
Add alienation of his own base, especially rank & file teachers, who I predict will be extremely reluctant to drag themselves out to actively support Obama (they may vote for him reluctantly but won't go to Allentown, Pa. on a Sunday morning like I did in 2008) no matter how much their union leaders threaten them with Palin or Beck or whatever flotsam ends up being the 2012 Republican candidate. Reality Based Educator who blogs at Perdido Street School expresses the level of outage at Obama that the ed deform movement has engendered, though he goes much further when it comes to Obama economic policy.

Obama/Duncan Ed Deform Policy
When so many people on the ground in education condemn the RTTT policies with such vehemence, everyone who gets it - and these numbers are increasing daily - begin to question other Obama policies. If he can this so wrong on issues we know, what else is he screwing up. Economy? War? Environment? It becomes a laundry list of failing confidence. Notice how this is the one area that the Republicans are in total agreement with the Obama policy despite the fact that it imposes the feds on what has historically been local rights over school policies. Pretty hypocritical. Why aren't the tea parties screaming about this? Libertarians are more serving of anti-unionism than of some principal of local control when push comes to shove.

Wall Street/Financial Money Dries Up
Obama 's victory in 2008 was fueled by the financial disasters brought on by Bush which brought vast disaffected financial monies into the Obama camp. Much was made of the Obama campaign ability to outflank McCain. In 2010 and 2012 the situation will be reversed.

Loss of the Jews
In 2008, Jews supported Obama 70-30. Those numbers have been reversed, mainly due to the perception he is anti-Israel (which is totally untrue.) So Jewish money, organization and votes will desert Obama from now through 2012. Think Florida.

And then there is Afghanistan - and Iraq
Obama takes credit for leaving Iraq -which gets some support from the left. If Iraq totally blows up again and the 50,000 American troops still there start coming under assault of some kind, look for people to accuse him of going backwards

Afghanistan is bound to come undone and that is Obama's war. So think Tet Offensive in VietNam and its aftermath. Around March 1968 Johnson, realizing he can't win, announces he will not run in the 1968 elections and will instead work for peace.

Given that just about everyone agrees that the midterms will be a disaster for Obama - just how bad is what is being discussed - and even Democrats are abandoning him - similar to what Republicans did with W in 2008 - Obama will be dealing with an ungovernable, vastly polarized nation where he will be helpless to take action.

Obama faces primary challenge, or pulls out altogether: Enter Hillary
As it becomes clear that under no circumstances - even with Palin as Republican candidate - can Obama win in 2012, pressure builds in the Democratic party for him to stand aside to save the country from Palin. If he refuses, look for a Eugene McCarthy type primary challenge to Obama from the left - or also someone from the Dem right. Who knows anymore?

At this point, people are pleading with Hillary Clinton to come in and save the party and the nation. Could she pull a Bobby Kennedy and actually enter the primary?

If all this happens, the concept that history repeats itself will be written on every lamp post in the nation.

After Burn
GEM's Angel Gonzalez is in Puerto Rico for the month and look at all the trouble he is causing. As  many of you may know, Angel's best pal is Puerto Rican teachers union president Rafael Feliciano and has been in the middle of the fray. Angel checks in with me every few days and he has loads of video, pics and reports on the strikes and job actions.

PEP Meeting: Stop Bloomberg test fraud Monday, August 30, 2010 - 5:30pm

Location: LaGuardia High School, Amsterdam Ave. btw W. 64th St. & W. 65th St.: A, B, C D trains to 59 St.-Columbus Cir. or #1 to 66 St.-Lincoln Ctr.; map http://bit.ly

Think the testing scandal is outrageous? Come out the PEP meeting on Monday! Let em' know!

What: PEP meeting
Where: LaGuardia High School, 65th and Amsterdam, A, B, C D trains to 59th or 1 to 66th.
When: Monday August 30th, 5:30.

Welcome back to another fun year of hard work and loud protests.

As everyone knows the DOE and Bloomberg were recently exposed for 8 years of out and out lying about the progress that NYC public school students have been making on standardized tests. We doubt that anyone on this list serve was surprised.

However the indignation and actions that have bubbled up (no pun intended) over the last few weeks in response have been exciting to see. At the August 16th PEP (panel for educational policy, the mayor's rubber stamp for his educational policies) the DOE presented an explanation of the test scores and hundreds of parents were not having it. They closed the meeting down. Watch below.

They are going to try to make their presentation again this coming Monday, August 30th. We are hoping for an even bigger turn out, especially of teachers, to let the panel and the DOE know that no one is buying their nonsense.

Please come if you can. Try to get in early and sit front and center.

Let's start this year off right!


Patrick Sullivan's comments at the last PEP meeting after the DOE presentation trying to explain the testing fiasco.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_TGCwlaIYY [3]

Parents response after being denied the right to speak back to DOE's presentation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvnnzqC8lb4 [4]

In Spanish with English subtitles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej7vkvI3roc [5]

Join our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/NYCoRE [6]

Follow us on twitter: nycore3000

Sunday, August 29, 2010

CPE Convention Thoughts

Aug. 29, 2010, 7am

Background info: Coalition for Public Education (CPE) Convention Sat. Aug. 28

It seems I just rolled in from the day's events yesterday and in a sense that is almost true. I decided to drive into Manhattan for some crazy reason and had loads of trouble finding a place to park. I almost gave up and pulled into a lot but luckily asked how much for the day. "$47," I was told and I pulled right back out. I finally found a spot on some place called Herbert St. and had a long walk back to Barclay St. for the convention. But what a pleasant walk along Greenwich St. on a wonderful sunny day, past numerous restaurants with sidewalk cafes.

I got to the DC 37 building around 11:30 while Assemblywoman Inez Barron (wife of Councilman Charles) was speaking. As usual she makes so much sense it makes your hair hurt. She was a teacher and principal and besides all her political insights I find her analysis of the curriculum that is being forced down teachers and students throats in Test Prep, USA very enlightening. Barron has a vision of how students should learn and how a school should work. I also loved what she said about discipline. Talking about some of the insane "gotcha" policies today, she said, "We did what we had to do," she said. "But first we made sure the parents were on board."

Bill Perkins makes an appearance 

Harlem State Senator Bill Pekins, who held hearings on the abuse of charter schools (I taped about 7 hours) and has become the leading target of charter schools, hedge fund millionaires and the NY Post, was there in the afternoon. They dug up someone named Basil Smickle to run against Perkins. Read my posts of last week on Smickle campaign contributions from hedgehog funders:

NY Post's Carl Campanile underestimated Smikle's charter lobby contributions
NY Post's Carl Campanile Discovers Dem Who Opposes Perkins, Ignores Hedge Contributions

Perkins is not popular in parts of Harlem for complex reasons, so he is not a shoo-in. And he does have flaws. But if he loses to Smickle no politician will stand up against the charter school lobby and Eva Moskowitz, who is using her charter school parents as shock troops against Perkins, will be the big winner.  So, if there is one campaign you contribute to make it Perkins. And if you have time, check in with his campaign and volunteer. Tired and busy - just think of Evil Moskowitz and Joel Klein gloating. Or just look at this picture - again and again. Some Perkins links: here and Mona Davids endorsement  and here. [I'll be doing more on the Perkins/Smickle race soon.)

There was mucho schmoozing going on all day. Some of the GEM film crew were there doing interviews for the film we are doing. I interviewed Sam Anderson of the CPE and Black Educators, who way too many people are not aware of. I don't know him personally and have only had limited contact with Sam but he is always so incredibly articulate and knowledgeable I can talk to him forever. But he had duties to take care of for the convention so we only had a brief interview. I am going to meet him in Brooklyn and he is going to give me a tour around the public school that is being closed and also the new charter school going up nearby to replace it.

Then I spoke to Harlem parent activist Bill Hargraves. See Bill in action leading a walkout at a Harlem Success Academy so-called public hearing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7bb1OrfbAE. Bill always drops loads of goodies.

Finally, I managed to corale Magnificent Mona Davids, the charter school parent activist who has been demanding parent rights. She had some important things to say. So much great footage, so little time. (Her endorsement of Perkins made news.)

I was on an afternoon panel with Leonie Haimson, Special ed parent activist Patricial Connelly and the legendary Jitu Weusi of 1968 strike fame (and beyond). This part of the CPE event will need a separate post.

Outside Schmooze
As often happens, the follow-up to these events often turns out as interesting as the event itself. A large group gathered outside towards the end - around 4:30 - and just kept chatting. It seems ed activist are so wrapped up they can't stop. Lots of fun talking about the security we will face at the upcoming PEP meeting on Monday night (at LaGuardia HS near Lincoln Center.)

We finally broke up and I was walking with 2 parent activists (who shall remain nameless). They said they were getting something to eat and I who can't miss a meal hogged my way in. It was around 5pm.

When we left the diner at 8PM we had laughed our way through salads and burgers and some fabulous sharing of info. Boy do I get gossip, but of course they would have to kill me if I spilled.

I wasn't through yet it seems. I got a call from my wife's 20-something cousins who were taking the ferry from New Jersey to meet some of their cousins in Chinatown. So after a long walk to my car, I spent a half hour stuck in traffic getting there. Luckily one of the parents came along so we could continue to plot - 3 hours just isn't enough, you know. I finally connected with my relatives around 9pm. Their 5 cousins from Florida, Long Island and Manhattan joined us.

So now I wsa surrounded by 7 twenty somethings with platter after platter of delicious food coming out. There were 2 teachers amongst them, one of them at a private school in Manhattan, so there was some ed talk, but mostly sports- thank goodness.

"Didn't you just eat," some of you might ask? Never stopped me - notice my belly when you see me. But at least I didn't join them at the follow-up half-nighter in a bar.

I rolled home at 11pm when my wife reminded me I had to go feed my friend's cat.

No matter how hard I tried, Oreo wouldn't discuss ed deform.

As always, there were a batch of GEM and ICE people at the CPE - I counted at least 7-  to show support. GEM and Ed Notes shared a quarter page ad in the CPE journal. There is some irony in that at least one of the active CPE folk is connected to New Action, which as usual had no presence. At one point this past year before the UFT election there was some unfriendly fire directed at James Eterno.
New Action head Michael Shulman was later invited to speak to a CPE meeting, part of the Unity/New Action campaign to disparage ICE. It was something I was not happy that the CPE allowed this underhanded stuff to take place at the time and still am wary of that element of the CPE. I don't hold it against the CPE, but I hope the hypocrisy is noted.

Double Burn
I have to miss my acting class this morning. One of my frat brothers' daughters is getting married at 11:30 in Long Island. Last week I auditioned for one of the card playing roles in The Odd Couple at the Rockaway Theatre Co's December production.

I originally was going to go for Murray the cop but he seemed too affable.

When I read the part of the nasty, sarcastic, wise cracking Speed, I said "Eureka."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Let's Take a Meeting

I can't tell you how many people tell me they have tried to contact Michael Moore to ask him to make a film about education, with the hope he would expose the ed deformers. My answer has always been, with so many so-called liberals jumping on the ed deform platform, how can we be sure he is not sympathetic to the ed deformers himself? Well, anyway, no one seems to have had a response from Moore.

Yesterday, a group of NYC teachers gave up a beautiful sunny afternoon and took a meeting. A meeting to discuss ideas for a film to respond to the ed deformers.

That old movieland expression – take a meeting–  expressed with irony about the world of Hollywood, with more than a hint of "what a waste of time these meetings are" was belied by the quality of this meeting.

The teachers are from a new generation of teacher activists – 30 somethings with an average of a decade in the system – they have spent most of their careers under the rule of the BloomKlein ed deform system and have been activated by the very deforms. To them, BloomKlein represent the new status quo. Dedicated and highly professional educators, popular with colleagues and parents - and yes, their supervisors  – the very people the ed deformers claim they seek as saviors.

But they are fierce defenders of the public school system, unalterably opposed to charter schools because of the damage they do, the high stakes testing regime, and critical of the collaborationist policies of the UFT and Randi Weingarten – activists who are intent on organizing masses of teachers and parents and community to make a stand.

They are the ed deformers' worst nightmare.

Speaking of Moores, let me include a piece from Paul Moore (no relation to Michael), from an older generation of teachers who teaches in inner city Miami.
The Achievement Gap

Addressed to Bill Turque, Education Writer for The Washington Post:

Hey Bill, back before the US Civil War, standardized tests would have no doubt measured an "achievement gap" between white children and children of color. But no rational person would ever have allowed it to be given such an absurd label. The abolitionists, the Quakers, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and the rest would have put the blame for the testing disparity where it belonged, on slavery! That vicious system made it a crime for a child of color to even pick up a book and attempt to learn to read.

Oh, the slaveholders certainly would have welcomed a debate over the "achievement gap" while the existence of the institution was ignored. While chattel slavery is a historical relic now, its racist economic underpinnings are very much alive in this nation. Racism still provides greater corporate profits in workplaces across the country every day. Racism generated huge profits for the banks until their sub-prime mortgage schemes went bust. It's doing the same thing today for Kaplan's "sub-prime" Universities and the Washington Post Company.

The new corporate masters of US public education oversee an apartheid-like system where schools are strictly segregated, where teachers of color are steadily driven from the classroom to make room for white "Teach For America" missionaries and where a second-class education for children of color has been institutionalized. Little wonder the modern overseers are so comfortable making their stand on the "achievement gap" while the economy's ingrained racism and the profound and disproportionate effects of severe poverty on children of color are ignored.

Here's a partial list of the new masters and their housekeepers who shed "crocodile tears" over the achievement gap in public exclusively for personal or political gain. It's quite the diverse group but put them all together and their true concern for the children of this country wouldn't fill up a thimble. Hypocrites all!

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Parents Across America Fight Ed Deform

Here are comments from two of my favorite NYC parent activists- Lisa Donlan and Leonie Haimson. Leonie has joined in a nationwide parent network to resist ed deform called Parents Across America.

They wrote a letter to Obama which appears on the Washington Post. I won't reprint the letter but here are some of the people who signed on that I know of: Oakland's Sharon Higgins (who I had the honor of introducing to Leonie and Lisa at a lunch I organized last December) and Caroline Grannan in San Francisco. And I see Dora Taylor from Seattle who I think I met at the CORE party at the AFT convention. And I know of Chicago's Julie Woesthoff's work with PURE.

I'm thinking if we teachers do our part to educate our colleagues on the issues, organize them into an active force despite UFT co-optation and develop the ability to mobilize people  along the lines of the way the Tea Party has been doing so successfully, and then join with these kinds of parents, the ed deformers will be on the run. Just do it!

Here, Lisa responds to an email Leonie sent out which I posted on Norms Notes:

DOE is eliminating the EGCSR program

I love Lisa's referring to the ed deformers as "the new status quo."

From Lisa Donlan

Hang on- do I understand this correctly?

Essentially this DoE has taken state money that was allocated for a well proven strategy- small class size in the early grades ( K-3) and is allowing principals to spend those funds on anything they want?
In a recession that has forced schools to reduce staff and cut programs well past the bare bones?

Are all the pundits and pols out there who believed mayoral control would raise academic achievement, bring about greater transparency, equity, and standardization by removing corruption, uneven local management and priorities, increase funding to the schools and remove political agendas and tug-o-wars from our school system PAYING ANY ATTENTION?

Is mayoral, control making good on its promises? Has education in NYC improved these past 8 years?
I really want to know what I am missing from those of you who still believe!

This fish stinks from the head down- ever hear John White talk about how he taught science from a cart?

These guys will one day soon regret their inhumane experimentation with our kids along with the use of  cooked books to justify their games, constructs and best guess theories.

But at the cost of too many children's "health, well being and education"  for too long.

This "new status quo"  has wasted billions on new fangled ideas and reorganizations, vendors and cronies; has  not improved outcomes, raised achievement or closed the achievement gap;  but instead  has brought us to a true state of education emergency.

All our kids need saving at this point!

Come tell it to the PEP on Monday!

Lisa Donlan

From Leonie Haimson

1. I will be speaking tomorrow at the Coalition for Public Education annual conference, Sat. August 28, from 1-3 PM; at DC 37 headquarters; 125 Barclay St.  The entrance is on Murray and the West Side Highway, map here; directions here: More information about the conference is here.  Please join us!

2. Sec. Duncan’s education priorities, which are driving those throughout the country, including many of the test-based accountability systems we have seen fail here in NYC, are very unpopular among voters.  And it’s hurting Obama:  See new poll results here: 59 percent give the president a C, D, or F for his education policies; worse than his ratings overall.

For those of you who thought that NY State’s winning the Race to the top money would help improve classroom conditions, no such luck.  That money is supposed to be spent primarily on more of the same: more data collection, more testing, and more teacher evaluation and merit pay based on test scores.

3. We have formed a national network of parents to work for more positive education reforms, called Parents Across America, and our new letter to Obama is reprinted in today’s WaPost Answer Sheet at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/parents/dear-president-obamasincerely.html ; I also reprint it below.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Remember the federal education jobs bill that was passed a couple of weeks ago?  It was supposed to give $200 million to NYC schools so they could hire more teachers, prevent sharp increases in class size for this coming school year and provide economic stimulus besides?

Unfortunately, at this point, the administration has signaled that they want to keep $170 million unspent to save for next year, despite an expected jump in 18,000 students and a loss of 2,000 teaching positions in our public schools this fall.  They have also cancelled their Early Grade Class Size Reduction program, which had existed since 1999, and which they promised to keep as part of their citywide class size plan in their “Contracts for Excellence.”  This program was designed to hire extra teachers and keep classes to twenty or less in grades K-3.

 If class sizes are huge when your child enters school in a couple of weeks, you know who to blame.

Our letter to Obama is below; if you agree with its sentiments you can send your own message at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

More soon,

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Dear President Obama...Sincerely, Parents Across America

Following is a letter about education policy being sent to President Obama from parents representing a number of organizations across the country. It is a followup to a May letter sent about Obama's Blueprint for Reform, which you can find here.

Read it at:

Coalition for Public Education (CPE) Convention Sat. Aug. 28

*8am-5pm. DC-37, 125 Barclay St. Manhattan. The meat of the event, the Caucuses, will occur from 1:00-3:15pm. The convention is aimed at creating a Human Rights based People's Board of Education. Transform America will be part of the parents Caucus to help parents create the root and base for the People's Board of Education; "People's Community Councils" at every school. Free to attend.
Aug. 27, 2010, 8am

I reported last week on activist community/parent groups:

Parents and Teachers Prepare for the Gathering Storm
CEJ Front and Center

...but did not get into the CPE because I wanted to wait for their convention which is tomorrow - free and open to all.

I attended the CPE founding convention a year ago and will be attending again this year.A number of politicians were present last year, including John Liu who made a strong statement against mayoral control.

I am scheduled to be on one of the panels between 1pm and 3. I believe Leonie Haimson will also be on one of the panels. I'm not sure who else. I am supposed to speak about the union role in education. Heh-heh-heh! I'm twirling my imaginary mustache. Should I lay my Vichy analogy on them? (UFT/AFT: Think Like Vichy).

For one CPEer view of the UFT (not necessarily the official views of the CPE), see co-chair Mark Torres' analysis posted on Norm's Notes: CPE's Mark Torres' View of the UFT. Mark is a chapter leader in the Bronx.

I've been mentioning the CPE - Coalition for Public Education - over the last year without getting into historical details.

The CPE was founded a year ago out of a coalition of community activists, parents and teachers who were trying to end mayoral control of the schools. They held some rallies and other events. Last August they came together to form the CPE. You see, some good has come out of Bloomberg's naked grab for power.

The CPE developed somewhat along parallel lines with GEMNYC  (Grassroots Education Movement) whose founding preceded CPE's by a few months. GEM so far has been more focused on teachers than the CPE which does have a teacher component.

There have been lots of opportunities for CPE and GEM to together and even better possibilities for the future. The two different focuses of the groups increase the organizing capabilities of both.

CPE is very oriented towards the communities of color, as is CEJ (and be careful not to confuse the organizations), which is rooted at the Annenberg Institute with some funding support. CEJ is also a coalition of different groups.

Personally, I've gotten to know some superb activists in the CPE and many of them send a lot of love towards Ed Notes. They have some excellent ideas and some very articulate people who have a vision for a future school system without mayoral control and under community control - a system that worked for many districts pre BloomKlein but was vilified by the ed deformers so they could seize power. That system could have been fixed in a much easier way than the conflagration of disaster ed deform that has ensued.

CPE is calling for a people's tribunal examining the failures of BloomKlein and a People's Board of Education - their own version of the PEP.

It will be interesting how well they and CEJ play together.

Tomorrow, Saturday Aug 28th, the Coalition for Public Education will be holding their 2nd Annual Convention come on down. Here is the flyer and below is a video I shot of their March 4 press conference at City Hall.

CPE Blog: http://forpubliced.blogspot.com

CPE holds press conference at City Hall- March 4, 2010

I was there to tape it. Watch Klein walk by and the place erupts in boos.

This from a mostly black audience toward that great fighter for civil rights. It may play slow in this window so here is the direct you tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIN2ZtYJohs.

I will be there with a video camera to interview some people for a film I am working on with other NYC ed activists - our response to the ed deformers. So if you are there put on your makeup.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tying Up Loose Strings

Some thoughts based on a variety of input coming in.

Aug. 26, 2010

Why Did Louisiana Not Get Race To The Top?
Louisiana lost out to the Race To The Top is that so few school systems statewide were willing to collaborate with the Louisiana Department of Education.  Why?
Because they have had an up-close view of what happened in New Orleans when the state took over the system and privatized schools, abolished democratic control of local schools, and replaced veteran teachers with temporary untrained teachers.  New Orleans was a beachhead for the anti-democratic forces of privatization, and the market reformers who see democracy as an obstacle to progress tried to impose limits are board authority statewide. They also were more likely to see the research that shows virtually no change in the rate of student performance before and after the takeover. Ultimately, Louisiana lost the Race To The Top because local schools officials learned from experience that trading democracy for technocratic top-down control is a bad deal.

Lance Hill, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Southern Institute for Education and Research
Tulane University

Rachel Maddow is in New Orleans tonight and while she didn't address how they privatized the school system, her show addressed the housing issue where homes for the poor were knocked down in favor of gentrification. Same issue in essence. She and a guest talked about privatization and the pushing out of the poor.

Now that ties in with the bogus super duper success of the New Orleans schools since they basically wiped out the public schools and the teachers union with it. Paul Vallas, who ruined Chicago and  Philly was brought in to bring in a Katrina like disaster to the school system. By the way, he is leaving. But he said that no more than 60% of the schools should be charters. Of course, they got rid of poor people but they have calculated there is enough left that they don't want sullying their charter schools with.

AJ Duffy on The Mind of a Bronx Teacher radio show - NOW

An excellent discussion with Duffy, a Brooklyn native by the way who used to hang out on Ave J - is talking about the situation in LA. Now we know that he seemed to be waffling - Randi is getting credit for this in her adoring ed deform press - but he is talking about the flaws of value added. He was diplomatic when Bronx Teacher made an anti UFT comment.

Duffy just made a very good point. Some teachers in LA started off saying, "Sure, I'm a good teacher. Let them come in and evaluate me any way they want." Then they found out that some of the best teachers they know were not coming up roses in the Value-added system the LA Times is using to expose teachers.

Uh-oh. He is talking about self policing out profession. We can't self police until we along with community people get to pick the school admins.

A call from blogger Queens Teacher. Hi QT. (I wanted to say hello but couldn't log on.)
Now he's talking about why the short time teachers are so favored by ed deformers - no health care or pension costs. They can give them decent salaries but it forces them to teach dumbed down curriculum through Open Court systems.

He says: "They're doing away with a wonderful profession."

Ahhh. "The same people who push "smaller is better" - small schools, etc. - deny class size is important. A contradiction. We should throw this back at them (I'm paraphrasing here)."

Bronx teacher says he went to small high school. All the teachers knew him. Bad break for them.

Some great original reporting by SBS. He spoke to LA Times reporter Jason Felch who did the story.

Mr Richard Buddin And Jason Felch Man And Wife

NYC Teacher Expresses A Perfect Level of Outrage

"We had to find a way to change the educational direction of Mayor Bloomberg and [Schools] Chancellor [Joel] Klein," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. "That's what we used Race to the Top for."

The quote above from a Daily News article on NY winning RTTT funds led to this response from on the NYC Education listserve:
Huh?  Aren't many of the 'programs' that Race to the Top will fund expanding and extending the educational direction of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein?  Am I missing something?  

This statement is similar (in its duplicity) to the one teachers received when we were notified about how the UFT "saved" teachers choice; we should be oh, so thankful, for $110. 
Considering I have spent about $800 on my classroom this week in preparation for the school year, I'm not feeling too thankful.  And while $700 million in education funding sounds great, I am thinking I am not going to be too thankful for my "teacher report card" tied to student test scores, more emphasis on testing, expansion of the leadership academy, more charter co-locations... on and on.  I wonder if, at the very least, teachers will finally get some pencils with that $700 million?  For that I would be mildly grateful... throw in some paper and I might not know what to do with myself.
By the way, a NYC teacher told me she was out spending almost a thousand dollars of her own money. Apparently two charter school teachers overheard that public school teachers get $110. They expressed outrage at the unfairness of it all.

Jim Callaghan Goes Missing: UFT Deletes History

At the Labor Research Association dinner in March 2008, Randi Weingarten calls Jim Callaghan "one of the best historians in New York" and thanks him for helping write her speech, then introduces him to the crowd.

The disappearance of Jim Callaghan 

Go to UFT .org, then to the NY Teacher and type in Lee McCaskill, the vicious principal who Callaghan investigated and exposed - it led to his being removed.

The site claims Callaghan's Brooklyn Tech story is there but when you try to open it, no luck. Here is what it says:
Teachers the real heroes at Brooklyn
As principal of Brooklyn Technical HS, Lee McCaskill was a schoolyard bully, harassing and intimidating teachers, inventing bogus charges of corporal punishment and insubordination, and driving brilliant teachers out of the school.
Click on the link and you get this:

Page Not Found

Sorry, the page you requested could not be found.
If you typed in the address, check that it was typed correctly. The page may have been moved to a different location on our Web site. You can try searching for it using our site's search engine.
Please click this link to alert us to the missing page. By sending us this broken link e-mail, you are providing us with vital information to quickly remedy the problem.
We will either fix the broken link or tell you that the file you requested has been removed from the Web site.
They have cut Callaghan down to 41 stories over 13 years with lots of other stories by others going back 10 years.
Callaghan is being DELETED and DISAPPEARED

What next, a bond fire burning old NY Teachers with aricles by Callaghan?

Stop by and tell them to restore the links.

Summing up how Mulgrew views unions for writers as opposed to other workers:

From Steve Brill Story on teacher unions in Sunday Times mag, May 2010:
Next to Mulgrew was his press aide, Richard Riley. “Suppose you decide that Riley is lazy or incompetent,” I asked Mulgrew. “Should you be able to fire him?”
“He’s not a teacher,” Mulgrew responded. “And I need to be able to pick my own person for a job like that.” Then he grinned, adding: “I know where you’re going, but you don’t understand. Teachers are just different.”
Are writers different than carpenters? In the world of Mulgrew they are.

Here's something by Callaghan still up there. Read it while you can:

Steiner and Tisch: Race To The Top Hostage Photo

A Scary Thought: These People Run the NY State Ed Dept.

Let's see now. Meryl Tisch - yes that family - owns Giants and all kinds of stuff. Also Bloomberg next door neighbor - we picketed her too at our January '10 demo a Bloomberg's house. She also does Passover with Joel Klein. Very non-partisan.

And David Steiner who used to be at Hunter College - you know the place. Lower 4 year grad rates than some high schools that were closed. And remember how Hunter and Joel Klein tried to team up to take over the Julia Richman complex on 2nd Ave and 67th St - one of the multi-school buildings that has actually worked since the early 90's.

Photo from Gotham Schools

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Labor Dept. Rules Randi Take Over of Nurses' Union Illegal

“The trusteeship appears to have been imposed to prevent disaffiliation,” according to the ruling. “It is the Department’s position that it is unlawful to impose a trusteeship for the purpose of preventing.”

But too late to help displaced union leaders.

Last year we reported on how Randi Weingarten sent in the AFT goons to invade the offices of a nurses local in Portland Oregon after they held a meeting to discuss disaffiliation from the AFT (see below for links). We had been contacted by one of the people in the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017 (OFNHP).

Now, this was beyond outrageous. Hold a meeting to discuss disaffiliation and get 20 people invade your union and put you under trusteeship.

(Included in the goon squad was the head of the UFT Nurses' chapter Ann Goldman, whose husband is Jerry, the former Manhattan borough office President - he was supposedly the only high level UFT employee ever fired though no one will talk about the reason. Their son was supposedly hired by the PR dept - the entire family was taking down around 400 grand in our dues money.)

Randi must have remembered the time when the AFT lost 40,000 members when the Puerto Rico teachers union left the AFT in 2003. The leader of that walkout was Rafael Feliciano, who called the AFT "dues sucking vampires" or something like that. (Feliciano is a pal of our own Angel Gonzalez and we have had the opportunity to meet him numerous times - Angel is in PR right now getting film and stories to bring back.) Search this blog for "puerto rico" and find all our stories.

 Diane Lund-Muzicant reports in her Oregon based Lund Report:
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) took control of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017 (OFNHP), establishing a trusteeship, after the union tried to hold a special membership meeting to consider disaffiliating from AFT by amending its constitution. 
To protest, Kathy Geroux, the deposed president, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor in Seattle.
On Aug. 10 – a year after receiving the complaint – the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the trusteeship violated Title III of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959.
“The trusteeship appears to have been imposed to prevent disaffiliation,” according to the ruling. “It is the Department’s position that it is unlawful to impose a trusteeship for the purpose of preventing.”
Six months earlier, in February, the Department notified AFT of its findings, but decided not to file a lawsuit, according to Mike Shimizu, regional director of public affairs, who said, “The trusteeship was not recognized by us.”

Now here's the rub. The Labor Department withheld the ruling to protect Randi according to the people displaced. They claim the ruling came after the AFT convention in Seattle to keep it from becoming an issue. Shows you which side the ruling bodies are really on, which is what I tell my friends who want to got to court all the time.

Diane Lund continues
Yet lingering questions remain, particularly for Geroux, a cardiology nurse at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital, who’s convinced the ruling was purposely withheld until after AFT’s national convention in Seattle last month.
“Had we known,” she said, “it would have been a big victory for us; we would have mustered hundreds of people to show up at that convention. They (AFT) would have been scared to face us. Up until then, they kept up the conversation about the bad things we had done. ”
Geroux considered running again for president, but feared she’d be demonized by AFT. “They (AFT) played this like a fine instrument,” she said. “They didn’t want me back in; that’s why this information was withheld from me.”
If the Department of Labor’s decision had been announced earlier, all the former officers would have walked right back in, said Carol Posluszny, who retired recently from Kaiser as a licensed clinical social worker. “What happened was illegal,” she said.
Bing Wong, a clinical lab scientist at Kaiser, is convinced the Department of Labor took sides by showing its non-partisan leanings.
But in the end, Geroux who was president for 8 ½ years feels victorious – the ruling, she said, proves she did nothing wrong by holding an emergency meeting last July to talk about disaffiliating.
“They wanted us out; it was all built on untruths and was a cover-up,” she believes. “Otherwise we would have created the domino effect and taken other unions with us. Now they’ve taken the union back in time; it will take them a decade to catch up. No way will they ever let the local disaffiliate.”

In the small world department, I was on a subway train in Manhattan in July 2009 and saw a couple and their daughter trying to decide what stop to get off. I offered to help. I asked where they were from. "Portland, Or" the woman said.

"Funny" I said, "I was just writing about takeover of a union by the AFT a few hours ago."

"Local 5017," she said. She was Diane Lund-Muzicant on a NY vacation with her family. She said she was going to try to interview Randi about the situation while in NY. She never got that interview.

Come on now, what starts were aligned for that? It turns out Diane is a leading health care writer and puts out the Lund Report. So I subscribed and that's how I heard about the Labor Department ruling, which of course you will not read about on any UFT/AFT or mainstream press.

Here are links to my reports on local 5017, including my July 20 '09 report of the subway meeting with Diane.

Jul 11, 2009
Portland OR--At 9am Tuesday July 7, approximately 20 representatives from American Federation of Teachers Healthcare national offices arrived at Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017 and put the health care ...

Jul 13, 2009
On July 7, 2009 Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Local 5017, a small healthcare local in Portland, Oregon was taken over by its parent union and put under trusteeship. We want Local 5017 back! ...

Jul 20, 2009
Kathy Geroux, who was removed as president of Local 5017, declined to comment. But she and union leaders released a statement defending their actions, saying the bylaws allow special meetings. "We believe that everyone on the executive ...

Oct 21, 2009
I foresee road trips in my future, though Randi jokingly invited me to go to Oregon with her at the Ex Bd meeting the other day. My bags are packed, Randi. .. Education Notes Online: AFT Hack Attack on Portland Local 5017 (Jul 13, 2009) ...

Today's Hot Links: Doofus Duncan and John Merrow too

August 25, 2010
There is so much valuable info coming in. Check Gotham's Rise and Shine, but they can't do it all.

From Susan Ohanian's daily posts. Yes, she does this every day. And her comments to go with the articles are spot on.

So many great links, so little time. I highlighted the ones I am most interested in. Doofus Duncan, the NY Mag article on testing and the Seattle parents on Gates. And I always love it when John Merrow, who applauded the LA Times for publishing teacher names and scores, gets taken down. I can't resist a few comments on Merrow:

* Deborah Meier: "Shocking, awful, embarrassing–especially since I have long admired you both--Grant and, John. I often thought Grant's thinking cool/cold/logic without the common human touch, but I also respected the insights that flowed from his logic. I just can't believe you and he wrote that junk, John. What do you think it does to kids, families, human beings--even if the test evaluations were a good measure. Nobody in the field of testing would argue for it--as you surely know."

* Diane Ravitch: "The naming of names based on dubious measures is truly disgraceful. I am disappointed and shocked to see you endorsing this approach."

I'm shocked that Meier admires Merrow and Diane is shocked. Merrow is a long-time ed deformer and I've gone after him a bunch of times. (See after burn below for a selection of my hits on him.)
Can Our Schools Run on Duncan?
David Moberg
In These Times

This article gives a good rundown on how Secretary of Education Arne Duncan 
pushes Chicago's ineffective reforms on America's children.
Wishful Testing

New York Magazine

New York Magazine takes a look at Mayor Bloomberg's school reform.
The Lines of Influence in Education Reform
Dora Taylor
Seatle Education 2010

A Seattle parent connects some dots on Gates money.
Taking Note of John Merrow and Grant Wiggins
Joe Bower
For the love of learning blog

MORE if you have time

Carvers Bay enlists ninth grade: Freshmen all put in JROTC
By Gina Vasselli
The SunNews.com

The entire freshman class at Carvers Bay High School has been automatically 
enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, a military-sponsored 
program that trains high school students in military discipline and concepts.

To the editor
Don Perl
Washington Post

Don Perl rebuts Podesta's dangerous rhetoric.

Personal to the Los Angeles Teachers Union
Sam Smith

Uniting 4 Kids
Uniting 4 Kids

Take a look at Uniting 4 Kids.

What some teachers don't want you to learn
John Diaz
San Francisco Chronicle

The editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle gives an enthusiastic 
thumbs up to the Los Angeles Times. He invites reader comments.
After Burn
Aug 07, 2008
Merrow chaired an online conference this week on what to do about NCLB. Lots of familiar faces: Sol Stern, Randi, Ravitch, Cerf, Finn, Hess (American Enterprise Institute) and lots of others- Alexander Russo's TWIE has pics of them here ...
May 12, 2008
...would overlook Merrow's one-sided coverage of education on the News Hour With Jim Lehrer. (What other news are they doing one-sided reporting on?) A supposed non-commercial station, which always pleads for money because they claim to ...
Aug 11, 2008
I post a few snippets from this discussion on NCLB, narrated by pbs's John Merrow, Education Correspondent for The newshour with Jim Lehrer and President of Learning Matters Incorporated, as a warning. Should you wish to inflict more ...
Feb 27, 2008
Are the Merrow reports and podcasts fair and balanced? He's based in NYC. When will he take on the bloomklein story or is that too delicate in that he might have to actually hear the voices on these listserves? ...

Regulation of the Chancellor/ We Told You So!

We are cross posting this piece from our pals at CAPE (Concerned Advocates for Public Education) who have been fighting the brave battle of Red Hook in Brooklyn at PS 15 over the invasion of PAVE charter school. They have fought, and continue to fight, valiantly. They have gone out to other schools facing charter school invasions and have helped them in any way they can, including putting together a 50 page toolkit on how to fight back (email me for a copy). Is/Was it worth the struggle? See their latest below. If the UFT had the fightback qualities of these teachers and parents....
Also posted on the GEM blog.

Regulation of the Chancellor/ We Told You So!

No really, we told them so!

Over the last year parents and teachers have detailed the numerous and egregious errors with the Department of Education’s so-called policy and procedures in regards to co-locations. We carefully outlined the flaws as we advocated for our schools in two appeals filed by P.S. 15 parents with Advocates for Children to the State Education Commissioner. We revealed how the New York City Department of Education violates their own policies and bylaws as they champion free space for charter schools at the expense of public schools throughout the city. Some examples include:

1. Educational Impact Statements that declare “no impact” The DOE has been publishing practically identical and weakly written Educational Impact Statements for every school affected by co-location that declares, in every case, the there is enough room for both schools in the building.

2. Mathematically Challenged Instructional Footprints that disregard special education services and ESL services. The information in the EIS is, of course, is based on an also flawed “Instructional Footprint” that declares the amount of space schools and their services deserve.

3. Not properly notifying the public of the changes to their school. The date/time and place for public hearings about co-locations is buried on the DOE’s website, further isolating affected families who are unable to regularly access a computer (as if checking the DOE website is first on anyone’s list.)


And guess what changes are being proposed? Yes…

The quotes below come directly from the proposed changes to the regulation. These proposed changes are strikingly similar to every phone call, email, letter, and statement we shared at public hearings.

When parents, teachers, advocates, and local policy makers outlined these flaws we were ignored, denied, and in many cases insulted by Department of Education staff. Students at P.S. 15 and schools all over the city suffered from the way co-locations have been occurring throughout this city and we continue to suffer. Many public school communities watched as the charter school in their building was completely renovated, while their school did not even get its yearly coat of paint. Each year, teachers packed their entire classrooms up to move, to make room for the charter school as the “Footprint” allocated more space. It was the parents and community members who helped publicize the public hearings, using their own money for fliers and copies. To top it all off, our appeal was overturned, we were told we are wrong!

Meanwhile, it is clear that the work we have done has indeed brought about changes, well “proposed” changes to the way the DOE does its business. However, we must keep an eye out for shenanigans, as we know how keen this department is at finding loopholes, exceptions, and new ways to exploit laws, policies and procedures, even ones they themselves write!

Here are some of the proposed changes. Does anything look familiar to you?

#1: Changes to the Educational Impact Statements:
“guides for use in creating Educational Impact Statements (EIS) are added; EIS filing requirements are clarified and provide that the EIS must be posted online and filed in hard copy with the PEP, affected CECs, community boards, superintendents, SLTs, and certain other bodies, as applicable, with hard copies available at affected schools.

#2 Changes to the Instructional Footprint:

“It should be noted that the Citywide Instructional Footprint (the “Footprint”) is in the process of being revised. Such revisions include modifications to the definition of a full size classroom to align the Footprint with the Enrollment Capacity Utilization Report (the “Blue Book”). Certain upward adjustments to room allocations will also be made. The revised Footprint will be made publicly available shortly.”

#3 Changes to the way the public school buildings have been treated:

“…any capital improvements or facilities upgrades made to accommodate charter schools in DOE buildings in excess of $5,000 must be matched by improvements or upgrades of an equal amount for all DOE schools in the same building; a process by which charter schools must apply for Chancellor’s permission to perform capital improvements or facilities upgrades to charter school space in DOE buildings is established; and the statutory right to appeal charter school co-locations and Building Usage Plans to the Commissioner of Education is added.”

The full text is here:http://schools.nyc.gov/AboutUs/leadership/PEP/publicnotice/A190Reg_Oct2010

click here to read the entire document.

Address all questions and/or comments to:

Name: Gentian Falstrom
Office: Division of Portfolio Planning
Address: 52 Chambers Street
Email: RegulationA-190@schools.nyc.gov
Phone: (212) 374-2471

Date, time and place of the PEP meeting at which the Board will vote on the proposed item under consideration:

October 7, 2010
6:00 p.m.
New World High School
921 E. 228th Street
Bronx, NY

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

UFT/AFT: Think Like Vichy

Where I pose the question: Is Diane Ravitch our De Gaulle?

I've been criticized from all sides for my comparison of the UFT/AFT leaders to French Vichy in WWII (make sure to click this link if you are unaware of the historical context before reading on.) Even some of the anti-Unity buddies say I am going too far. The union after all, they claim, is still ours no matter how distorted their policies and accusations of collaboration go too far.

I don't agree.

I've been intending to clarify my position - I am not comparing them to Nazi sympathizers - but to a way of thinking.

Peter Goodman, UFT/AFT shill who will justify any policy, has been leaving droppings on his own Ed in the Apple blog and on Gotham.

Goodman made this "I surrender" ("je me rends" in French) comment:
From Seattle to Boston, from Florida to Chicago, from LA to NY, educational policy is undergoing a sea change. It is supported by the President and the States, it is accountability, core standards, free market driven: testing, ratings/remuneration by student achievement, value-added, charter schools, etc. Diane Ravitch and other scholars strongly oppose, however, the electeds are supportive across the nation. If the Republicans sweep to victory these policies wouldn’t change, the fed dollars would stop flowing. Teacher unions can either vigorous oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modify policies. It is easy to blame Weingarten or Mulgrew, the same policies exist in every state and every major city.
I really gag every time I read this, but here is my reasoned response, something I am not known for.

In France in WWII there was a choice. Oppose the Germans unequivocally or compromise - in Goodman's words  - "they could either vigorously oppose and isolate themselves, they are powerless to change these policies, or, attempt to cooperate and modify policies."

The French resistance chose the former, the Vichy government chose the latter. DeGaulle vs. Petain. After all Vichy reasoned, "The Germans were dominant." Vichy asked, "Do you want to be totally under their boot or have us there to modify their policies? We know they want to kill all the Jews but we can save at least some of them."

I am not calling anyone a Nazi sympathizer but I am using the most graphic example I can think of what I would call "The Vichy" mentality. A way of thinking that is so prevalent coming from the very forces that had the ability to put up a fight but instead think like Vichy.

Unions can fight for what is right for teachers and students and if done in a moral and democratic manner, they will not only not be isolated but will win people over to what is clearly right to so many educators and increasingly the public (see new leadership in Chicago). In fact it is the leadership of the AFT and UFT that is becoming isolated not only from its own membership but from the astute non teaching community.

It may look like the summer of 1940 in Europe to many. Maybe having Diane Ravitch (our De Gaulle?) not only join but help lead the resistance is akin to the US entering the war.

When Diane Ravitch and others break with your policy it is clear that it is you who are on the wrong side of history.

You can follow the thread here to see the comments go back and forth.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wishful Testing in this week's New York magazine

Posted on NYC Parents blog:

Check out the just-published piece in NY Magazine called Wishful Testing, featuring the comments of Steve Koss, blogger here, and which analyzes the state test score bubble, Campbell’s law, the over-hyped Harlem Village Academy, and connects the dots.

Between this, the recent Robert Kolker piece on the national craze of scapegoating teachers, and features by Jeff Coplon on Eva Moskowitz’ chain of charters and school overcrowding, the magazine has shown itself to be most valuable in dissecting the Bloomberg/Klein mirage.

Especially as compared to the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine, whose reporting on the subject has been execrable.

PEP Video August 16, 2010 Part 3

More raw footage. A child goes up on the stage and security removes him. The crowd reacts. Khem Irby and Patrick Sullivan speak. The PEP members return for another try but still want comments on testing to be at the end. Crowd will have none of it. They get a lecture from a PEP member. Chang adjourns the meeting. People say they will be back.

All 3 parts are at the GEMNYC blog:

Also at you tube. Part 3 URL: 

Daily News Editorial Doesn't Get Truth About MulGarten

A Daily News editorial (The UFT's worst nightmare: Public can see how well Los Angeles teachers teach) urges UFT leader Michael Mulgrew to shape up and be more like Randi:
And here's the beauty part: Randi Weingarten, who once led the city's United Federation of Teachers - and now heads the national American Federation of Teachers - is siding with Duncan. She told the paper that parents have a right to know how well their children's teachers are rated on appropriate employee evaluations. Now, she's not for the newspaper releasing that information to the general public, but she does want it to get into the hands of principals, and moms and dads.
Where does her successor at the UFT stand? A Mulgrew press aide issued this statement:
"The recent debacle around state test scores in New York makes it obvious that relying on test scores to make high-stakes decisions about students or teachers is a bad idea. Parents and teachers expect much more of their children's education than standardized tests."
Asked to be more responsive as to whether Mulgrew agrees or disagrees with Weingarten's position on transparency, the spokesman responded: "Our statement is our statement."
And obstinacy is New York's problem.
The Daily News editorial board should be reading Ed Notes know that MulGarten are 2 sides of the same coin and if Mulgrew isn't parroting the exact words Randi is using, it is because they have decided it is not politically tenable internally in the UFT to do so straightforwardly.

But make no mistake, Mulgarten's words belie their current and future actions.

Nostradamus Norm