Thursday, September 30, 2010

Removing Superman's Cape

The Real Facts About Waiting for Superman, prepared by Mass. Citizens for Public
Schools and FairTest - available as a flyer in pdf and in text below so you can adapt
it for your own use.

The Real Facts About Waiting for Superman

Waiting for Superman may be good melodrama, but the movie fails the test of accuracy, and its purported solutions will not improve education.

We agree: Too many young people, mostly low-income, do not graduate from high school or get a strong education. The questions are why, and what can be done about it. Waiting for Superman and its unprecedented hype risk leading us dangerously astray from real solutions to real problems by making a number of misleading or factually incorrect claims in a number of important areas:

Public school quality: The most recent Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll found that 77% of Americans would give the public school their oldest child attends an A or a B. Does this suggest our public schools are failing across the board, as WFS says? In international comparisons, most of our middle class schools do well. Under resourced schools that serve low-income kids who are disproportionately African American, Latino, or recent immigrants, do far less well. However, they face challenges that schools, alone, can never address adequately.  Improving schools is part of the solution - but the changes must help all children obtain a high-quality education.

Poverty matters a lot – and the movie shows that it does, even while trying to tell us it does not. The Harlem Children’s Zone spends heavily to provide services to needy children and their families, services the government does not provide. Two-thirds of HCZ funding is private, not public – making it like a well-funded private school. Who will pay for these services for all the children who need them?

Unions: States with the most unionized teachers do better than states with weaker or fewer unions, and countries with strong educational systems mostly have strong teacher unions. WSF’s demonization of unions ignores the real evidence.

Tenure says you cannot be fired without due process and a good reason: you can’t be fired because the boss wants to hire his cousin, or because you are gay (or black or…), or because you take an unpopular position on a public issue outside of school. A recent survey found that most principals agreed they could fire if they needed to. While WSF may have its own opinions on the value of tenure, it may not have its own facts.

Charter schools: Charter schools get public money but are run by private groups, which means there is less public oversight. The most extensive national study found that 46% of charters did about the same as regular public schools, 37% did worse, and only 17% did better. Meanwhile, charters routinely accept fewer students with disabilities and fewer English language learners. Since charters only serve 4% of the nation’s K-12 students, they represent a distraction and a drain from the focused work needed to renew quality schools for all children. They are not a solution.

Using standardized tests like MCAS to evaluate teachers: The National Research Council and many other researchers say that evaluating teachers based on student test scores is inaccurate and unfair. Several reports found that some 20-25% of teachers in the bottom groups one year are in the top groups the next - and vice versa. This is because many more things affect student learning or teacher's rankings than just the teacher's own efforts.

Using standardized tests to tell us if schools are successful: Most test score differences are not due to what schools do, but to the kids’ ZIP codes. As opportunity, health and family wealth increase, so do test scores. When schools focus on boosting scores on tests like MCAS, they ignore important subject areas and teach to the test, leaving children less prepared for the future. We need a lot more than test scores to know if schools are doing well and to help schools improve.

How students learn: Most people know what science confirmed years ago: learning is an active process. Pouring disconnected information into kids’ heads, as the movie shows, has no lasting value, and it does not educate students for citizenship, college, lifelong learning or employment. Why didn’t the movie show us what excellent teaching looks like?

Competition: There is no evidence for the claim that competition will improve education. Teachers competing against each other will endanger cooperation among teachers and reduce their ability to help children most in need.

Since No Child Left Behind, the rate of school improvement has declined!  This film pushes for another generation of failed reforms.

Don’t wait for Superman. Take the time to inform yourself, to find out the real stories from teachers, parents and principals.  Get the real facts on which to base your opinion, and consider how you can make a difference by doing what is right and good for children, not what “Superman” tells you to do.
Citizens for Public Schools and FairTest

For more information and genuine ways to improve schools, see and
Real Facts about waiting for superman.pdf92.42 KB

Building a Man Cave: A Tale of a Forty Six Inch Tub of Hummus

I'm a trial and error guy. Sort of a throw it up against a wall and see what sticks attitude. And that was often the way I taught - which I think may be a bit taboo today since T&E takes a lot of time. When faced with a problem - a math problem, fixing something or a social situation, I often just try something and see if it works, most often a disaster in the latter situation.
I often applied T&E in teaching - which made me an awesome teacher at times and  awful teacher at others. Probably not the best way to bring stability to a classroom, but it certainly kept the kids on their toes - and somewhat engaged in a guessing game of "what's coming at us next?"

When it comes to home projects, living with someone who is the exact opposite - who needs all the answers before tackling a problem – can be a bit of a challenge. And therein lies a tale.

I was out in Cedarhurst yesterday getting a special pair of computer glasses made up by my pals at Central Vision Care - maybe I will no longer have to stagger around half blind - a serious problem when you are about to drive. On the way back I stopped off at Costco to buy gum and a tub of hummus.

I've been looking for a 42" set to put in my work area while writing and doing video - guaranteed to make me even less productive than I am. Also a room for my buddies and I to watch Jet games without being disturbed. My Man Cave. I convince my wife to go for the 42. She measures and measures to make sure it will not be too big. I mean she is exact. She finds an Ikea TV cabinet that will be just the right height for the TV- to the exact quarter inch. I'm rolling my eyes. Just get anything and I'll do T&E and figure out how to make it fit. No dice.

First, I had to get a new carpet - it is the only room in the house with a carpet because it is over the garage and gets pretty cold in the winter. This part of the project took over a year. But with the old carpet turning green - and not with envy - my wife finally made the move and we ordered from Costco - a nice lady came to the house and the arguments started breaking out with the first sample. She wants a deeper pile. Hmmm. A good idea - she couldn't see all the the broken taco chips that get buried. But, no, better to just fess up and vacuum every 6 months.

Then comes the color argument. She wants light. I want the carpet to be the color of salsa so you don't see the stains. I win this one when the carpet lady pulls out a nice shade my wife likes. So we wait weeks and finally this past Tuesday the carpet guys come and do the installation. (Three hours late of course, which almost makes me late for Leonie's Parents Across America press conference at NBC's Education Shmation.) Carpet looks fabulous. So next on the list is the TV.

I always take a run by the TV sets at Costco but never buy. I've been researching this LG 42LD550 with internet access. Cheapest price was at Amazon for $750. So I'm strolling down the aisle and there it is. For the same price. Quick decision. Wrestle it into the cart. Is there still room for the humus and gum (and the special jumbo franks for my dad-  almost 93 and eating freakin Hebrew National crap, God bless him)?

Okay. Go grab the other stuff I need - phone calls are coming in with new additions to the list. Do I need 2 carts?" Buy a white shirt for the wedding this Saturday," (sorry all you guys going to DC on Oct. 2. I am really partying.) "What size am I?" Okay, you ladies, I know what you are thinking. And you are right. "I'll go look and call you back," she says. I want to get that LG sucker home so I get shirts with 2 possible sizes and will return the one that doesn't fit. T&E baby.

I'm on the checkout line when I notice the TV box. "46LD550." 46 inches? For $750? I assumed at that price it was a 42 so I never looked carefully. What to do? Ahhh, buy it and take it back if it doesn't fit. T&E.

So, I wrestle the humus and TV upstairs. And the battle begins. Out comes the tape measure. "Go look up the dimensions. I measured exactly and it won't fit." Oh, boy. "Why don't we just set it up and see if it works?" T&E. Nooooo. Printing dimensions for the 42 and 46. It comes to maybe an inch difference in the height. "I'll raise the shelves," I scream! Okay. That gets settled.

Then it's off to Ikea to buy the stand. That's another story altogether.

How am I going to put this sucker together? Don't need no stinkin' directions. T&E baby. T&E.

Right now I am surrounded by cabinet parts all over the salsa colored carpet. I'd take a picture and show you but if you know me, there's plenty of time. It will look the same in a week.

Update: Sat. Oct. 2: It's hummus, stupid
I knew something was missing when I tasted the humus. It was an "m". But just eat the stuff, not look at labels.

Hedge Fund Pair o Dice - Another Rap Inspired by Real Reformers

This just came in over the transom. Real Reformers: Get out those capes.
Inspired by the Real Reformers calling BS on all those slim shadies. As Tom Lehrer used to say, "Every revolution needs a folk song.... Ready, Aim, SING."


Hedge Fund Pair o Dice
-- Schoolio

As I walk through the city and my mind is bereft,
I take a look at my grades,
And mediocrity’s left.
'Cause I've been tested and messed with so long,
That even Obama thinks that my mind has gone.
And his homeboy Arne Duncan said we need a Katrina,

To overhaul the schools, or he’ll squeeze us like sardines, yo.

To the suits in the news we need nuthin’ but charters,

To them an inner city kid’s political barter.

They act like there ain’t nuthin’ to rampant co-location,

But damn if you’d see their Muffy in a bowl-shit situation.

Don’t gimme EIP’s -- how’s an IEP gonna fit, son?

Fool, I’m the kinda G that little homie’s wanna be like,

On my knees in the night,

Prayin’ for a “3” in the street light.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Playing with a hedge fund pair o dice.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Playing with a hedge fund pair o dice.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Living in a hedge fund paradise.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Living in a hedge fund paradise.

Proficiency ain’t suffient, see?

Excellence be gettin’ hell away from me.

In my situation, a graduation proclamation,

No regents scholar, diploma and a buck can’t even buy a dollar.

Remedial classes just to fit in with the masses,

Credit recovery, where’s the class room that I didn’t see?

Where’s MY Campaign for Frickin’ Equity?

My mama brought the suit, and still there’s nothing left for me!

My passion is my destiny.

I know the truth, now which of you all fakers got the guts to say I’m free?

I scored a “2” yo, will I live to see a “4”?
I need recalibratin’, if I’ma raise my score.

Tell me why are some still blind to see,

Their only move -- blame the UFT.
- Show quoted text -

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Playing with a hedge fund pair o dice.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Playing with a hedge fund pair o dice.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Living in a hedge fund paradise.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Living in a hedge fund paradise.

Power in the money, money in the power,
Pay me for my test score! hour after hour.
Everybody's cramming, but half of them ain't booking.
It's going on in Tweed,
Where School Prog Reports are cooking.
They say I gotta learn,
Sent an intern here to teach me.
If they can't understand me, how can they reach me?
I guess they’re tryin,
But inside I’m dyin.
They blame it all on tenure,
But that’s Bloomberg manure!

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Playing with a hedge fund pair o dice.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Playing with a hedge fund pair o dice.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Living in a hedge fund paradise.

They’re spreading edu-lies,

Living in a hedge fund paradise.

[Refrain – and Retain]
Tell me why are some still blind to see,

Their only move -- blame the UFT.

Tell me why are some still blind to see,

Their only move -- blame the UFT.

-- Schoolio

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Real Reformers Stood Up: Video of the Rap at the Waiting for Superman Gap

Here is a compilation of the performances Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up at the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater at the Waiting for Superman premiere on Sept. 24, 2010. It includes a brief section of the Real Reformers running into Michael Moore on the street (It was opening night at the NY Film Festival.) See press release below.

Press Release                                  
Date:  Wednesday, September 29, 2010   
Contact: Norm Scott: 917-992-3734

Parents and Teachers, the Real Reformers, Organize Response to “Waiting for Superman”

On Friday, September 24th, parents and teachers participated in a demonstration outside of the premier of “Waiting for Superman”.  The film, which has garnered significant publicity in recent days, has taken the lead in framing the conversation regarding education reform.  A grass roots group, The Real Reformers, reject this framework and offered an alternative voice to the conversation.

Explaining the impetus for Friday night’s actions and the development of a forthcoming grassroots documentary, Julie Cavanagh, a teacher in Red Hook, Brooklyn said, “We felt compelled to demonstrate a resistance to a film that can be described only as propaganda.  The film continues to propagate myths about the so-called crisis in education and further espouses false claims about supposed reforms and reformers that are garnering much of the media’s attention right now.  It is time for Real Reformers to stand up, and lead the conversation on what works in our public schools, and the policies needed to improve our public schools.  There are no easy answers.  Viewing charter schools as a silver bullet and blaming teachers, the vast majority of whom work tirelessly for students and families every day, is part of a larger movement to privatize public education.  We must be vigilant in protecting, while improving, true public education, the pillar of our democracy.”

Lisa Donlan, a public school parent and President of Community Education Council One added, “For too long now our children have been the pawns of powerful politicians and their handpicked bureaucrats who paint themselves as reformers while they reinforce the status quo, depriving our neediest children of the quality education that is their birthright. No man, not even Superman can alter the sad reality: the achievement gap persists, our schools and communities are segregated and less money is spent on students despite tripled budgets.  In the words of Frederick Douglass in 1857:  "If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Outside of the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater, the Real Reformers stood up and presented their vision for real education reform.  The Grassroots Education Movement provided two pieces of literature including:  “The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman” which outlined information regarding misleading and factually inaccurate claims in the movie and “The Truth About Charter Schools”, a brochure that outlines “myths” and “truths” about charter schools.  The group also released the trailer for their upcoming documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”, which will be shown in New York City neighborhoods, and across the country, this fall.  The trailer for this film is posted at
Parents and Teachers also engaged in a flash mob performance of “Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up”.  (The video of this performance and the movie trailer can be found at (see the trailer at:

Various groups were represented at Friday night’s event.   Attendees expressed a myriad of objections to the film, while joining in a shared mission to expose the narrow lens with which Guggenheim tells his story. 

Mona Davids, President of the New York Charter Parents Association commented, “The so-called education reformers consisting of hedge fund millionaires and billionaires do not respect parents and the communities of color they serve.  Charters in NYC have been denying parents their civil rights by vehemently opposing PA/PTA's in charters.  NYCPA in it's one year of existence has brought about charter reform including charters serving special education and English Language Learners; PA/PTA's in every charter in NYC; audits by the state comptroller; public lotteries; monthly board meetings, stronger conflict of interests requirements and the ban of for-profit charter schools, to name a few.  These reforms should have been enacted 10 years ago.  It's hypocritical of the charter lobby and education reformers to say this is the civil rights issue of our time when they are refusing to comply with the revised charter law requiring PA/PTA's in charters and violating the civil rights of charter parents.  Apparently, their children attending private schools can have PA/PTA's but not the children of color attending publicly funded privately run charter schools.  Charter parents don't matter. Just the per pupil funding does!”

Sam Coleman, a teacher in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and member of Grassroots Education Movement and NYCORE, had another take, “The insinuation that teachers and teacher unions are to blame for what ails public education is insulting to teachers and distracts from the real issues. Talk to students who are getting police records for school hallway scuffles about what is stopping them from graduating and getting a job. Talk to high school students who are also parents and are forced to drop out because there is no childcare in their schools. Talk to immigrant students who cannot go to college because of their immigration status, or to queer youth who are bullied and pushed out of school. Ask any of them; their stories reveal the complexity of what ails our educational system. Let’s stop blaming teachers and teacher unions. Let’s give control of education to communities and educators. Let’s fund communities equitably and let the corporate lawyers hold bake sales to buy their shredders."

Visit: for more information

Additional Contacts:
Lisa Donlan, Parent: 917-848-5873
Mona Davids, Parent: 917-340-8987
Sam Coleman, Teacher:  646-354-9362
Julie Cavanagh, Teacher: 917-836-6465

Diane Defends Detroit - Advice From Ravitch and Nancy Flanagan: Never Stop

Nancy Flanagan writes: 
I asked Ravitch how teachers can organize to preach our own experienced truth, if our unions have been rendered toothless and the media juggernaut has overwhelmed reason and research.

Oh--never stop, she said. Teachers need to build their own networks of social capital. Form and join groups. Read good books to arm yourself with information. (She recommended Richard Rothstein, Daniel Koretz and Linda Darling-Hammond.) [see ] Know that the struggle will last for a long time. Refer to other high-achieving nations as models--countries that have systemically designed their public schools and their teaching profession as long-term investments in civic excellence. It can be done. So don't give up.

[Flanagan closes with] In education policy, we are witnessing a power grab of epic proportion; the very folks we hoped would lead us toward equity and opportunity have decided that it's easier to rely on the market. Oh well. Never give up. Never give up.
So, yes. Follow Diane's and Nancy's advice. Don't give up. Blog. Join groups. We have choices here in NYC. Last night's GEM meeting was packed with a bunch of new teachers, mostly young, who we met through our action at the Superman opening. Will they stay? Let's hope so. Join them. GEM's next meeting is Oct. 26 and will focus on closing schools. 

And look for our new video of the rally coming out today on ed notes, gem and the inconvenient truth behind... blogs.

I posted Nancy's full piece at Norms Notes. Here is the original link:

From Teacher Magazine - Education Week's Blog, Teacher in a Strange Land, Saturday, September 25, 2010. See

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Real Reform on Front Page of NY Times - HUH?

Yes, kiddies, on the very front page of the NY Times we see some example of Real Reformers at work at the giant Brockton HS in Massachusettes. (4,100 Students Prove ‘Small Is Better’ Rule Wrong.)

It took real teachers without interference from administrators. Union teachers who followed the contract to a tee. And one of these teachers became the principal instead of the 30 day wonders who know nothing about education. And it has taken over a decade.
What makes Brockton High’s story surprising is that, with 4,100 students, it is an exception to what has become received wisdom in many educational circles — that small is almost always better.
That is why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade breaking down big schools into small academies (it has since switched strategies, focusing more on instruction).
The small-is-better orthodoxy remains powerful. A new movie, “Waiting for Superman,” for example, portrays five charter schools in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere — most with only a few hundred students — as the way forward for American schooling.
Brockton, by contrast, is the largest public school in Massachusetts, and one of the largest in the nation.
Ooooh! Is that a smash mouth directed at Bill and Melinda?
At education conferences, Dr. Szachowicz — who became Brockton’s principal in 2004 — still gets approached by small-school advocates who tell her they are skeptical that a 4,100-student school could offer a decent education.
“I tell them we’re a big school that works,“ said Dr. Szachowicz, whose booming voice makes her seem taller than 5-foot-6 as she walks the hallways, greeting students, walkie-talkie in hand.
She and other teachers took action in part because academic catastrophe seemed to be looming, Dr. Szachowicz and several of her colleagues said in interviews here. Massachusetts had instituted a new high school exit exam in 1993, and passing it would be required to graduate a decade later. Unless the school’s culture improved, some 750 seniors would be denied a diploma each year, starting in 2003.
 Wow! Teacher driven. And the teacher who led it became the principal.
Fear held some teachers back — fear of wasting time on what could be just another faddish reform, fear of a heavier workload — and committee members tried to help them surmount it.
“Let me help you,” was a response committee members said they often offered to reluctant colleagues who argued that some requests were too difficult.
Brockton never fired large numbers of teachers, in contrast with current federal policy, which encourages failing schools to consider replacing at least half of all teachers to reinvigorate instruction.
You mean they didn't fire the entire staff? What would Obama/Duncan say?
Teachers unions have resisted turnaround efforts at many schools. But at Brockton, the union never became a serious adversary, in part because most committee members were unionized teachers, and the committee scrupulously honored the union contract.
An example: the contract set aside two hours per month for teacher meetings, previously used to discuss mundane school business. The committee began dedicating those to teacher training, and made sure they never lasted a minute beyond the time allotted.
“Dr. Szachowicz takes the contract seriously, and we’ve worked together within its parameters,” said Tim Sullivan, who was president of the local teachers union through much of the last decade. 
Union rules strictly followed. My goodness.

So why not try a radical idea? See what students think:
..the school retained all varsity sports, as well as its several bands and choruses, extensive drama program and scores of student clubs.
Many students consider the school’s size — as big as many small colleges — and its diverse student body (mostly minority), to be points in its favor, rather than problems.
“You meet a new person every day,” said Johanne Alexandre, a senior whose mother is Haitian. “Somebody with a new story, a new culture. I have Pakistani friends, Brazilians, Haitians, Asians, Cape Verdeans. There are Africans, Guatemalans.
“There’s a couple of Americans, too!” Tercia Mota, a senior born in Brazil, offered. “But there aren’t cliques. Take a look at the lunch table.”
“You can’t say, those are the jocks, those are the preppy cheerleaders, those are the geeks,” Ms. Mota said. “Everything is blended, everybody’s friends with everyone.”
 So, let's sum up: unionized teachers, contract followed, experienced teacher in same school becomes school leader, takes a decade, teachers not fired but won over, large school with a full range of activities and services you can't find in small schools. And the kids seem to love it.

Now, here's my caveat. The article talks only about the narrow judgement through the lens of test scores and data. There's probably more to this story. I do believe it is possible to have an impact even when money remains the same. Due to the unique relationship between the teachers and the admin - one of them ended up leading the school - I believe it is absolutely crucial that teachers have a major role - along with parents - in choosing the school leader. As a matter of fact, though it is ignored in the article, it just may be the missing ingredient.

So, okay Bill Gates, let's funnel some of that cash for a true reform that would work- teachers and parents elect the principal.

Brian Jones Made Sure to Touch on Ruelas Suicide on Education Nation Forum

Boy I bet they are sorry they allowed the fox into the pen. Standing all alone (don't count Randi on his side), among all the other points, Brian Jones made sure to bring up the suicide of Rigoberto Ruelas toward the end of the forum on MSNBC's ed deform fest.
People have been asking for links but I can't find any. Since Brian's points dominated the discussion, they probably burned the tapes.

We will be at Rockefeller Plaza today at 4pm with Leonie Haimson, Mona Davids, Julie Cavanagh and others - Parents Across America, Class size matters - CAPE, GEM and NY Charter Parents Association - to let them know what we think about this sham. map here.
After Brian brought up the story, LA Teachers Union President AJ Duffy called out from the audience to confirm the story about a well respected teacher being so distraught over the embarrassment of having been publicly identified as a poor teacher. For most people it is hard to imagine but when a teacher goes so far beyond the call like Ruelas seems to have done, the devastation must have been intense. (See Brian's panel here:

Sunday night I and a whole bunch of bloggers wrote about Rigoberto. You can find links in this post.

Blood on Their Hands

This morning GEM received this email from a colleague of Rigoberto:
Hello Fellow Educators,

I am a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School located in South Los Angeles. Recently, the elementary public school teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have become the subject of a series of articles published by the LA Times which focus on the creation of a database that publicly ranks our performance as educators using a highly controversial evaluative method known as Value-Added Methodology (VAM). The pressure to increase test score output, along with the humiliation that came from receiving a widely disseminated poor review have seemingly resulted in the loss of one of our most beloved educators, Rigoberto Ruelas. This type of evaluation that is so highly regarded by proponents of "Race to the Top" brand of educational reform has caused irreparable damage and is being used as a weapon to destroy public school education. I ask for your help in spreading the word about what has happened to us and to stand in solidarity with us as we fight on behalf of our dear friend, Rigoberto Ruelas, and all educators and students across the nation who are being damaged by the policies of NCLB and the current administration.

Here's a link to an article about Mr. Ruelas:

Peace and Justice,
Grace Marroquin
Also read this piece in the LA Times, which is trying to wash the blood off its hands.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Join us Tuesday, Sept. 28 to protest Education Indoctrination, NBC's non-stop propaganda

I'm all excited. My co-editor on the new video going up now deals with the GEM/CAPE – Real Reformer rally at the theater showing WFS.

Lots of discussion of the film today at the NBC sham Education Nation. I neglected the issue until today when I focused on Brian Jones' great work sitting right next to Michelle Rhee and a few feet away from Randi Weingarten, with Steve Brill in between and the head of the Gates Foundation along for the ride. Viewers might have thought Brian and Randi were allies, but of course Brian ran with the opposition to Unity and is with Teachers for a Just Contract. And has been somewhat active in GEM. Brian made a stand on merit pay and Randi waffled. Brian is a Real Reformer (he was at our rally on Friday - see my video interview with him in post below). Randi is not. I view her as a quasi ed deformer who in many ways has more in common with Rhee (who actually taught longer than Randi) than she does with Brian.

Many bloggers have been out there on this issue - see my blog roll - Failing Schools, Flowers and Sausages, Accountable Talk to name just a few.

But let's get to Tuesday's events: GEM meeting at CUNY at 4:30
But before that at 4pm:

Join Parents Across America, Class Size Matters, GEM, CAPE, and the NY Charter Parents Association at a press conference tomorrow, to protest Education Nation’s total exclusion of NYC parent voices and its unilateral presentation of views, unrivaled in its propagandistic flavor since the days of the Soviet Union.

Ed Notes will be there to tape it.

Here is a message from Leonie:

Since Sunday, NBC and MSNBC have been running a non-stop series of programs called Education Nation, touting the top-down policies of school closings, privatization, charter school expansion, teacher-bashing and high-stakes testing that have failed so miserably here in NYC to improve the quality of our public schools.  (For more on our recent test score debacle, and how NYC has fallen behind other cities since the Bloomberg/Klein policies were put in place, see my testimony today at the City Council hearings.)

At the very same time as members of the City Council, the Bronx BP Ruben Diaz and the UFT head Mulgrew were lambasting the fraudulent use of data by the DOE and the lack of positive results in terms of student achievement, MSNBC gave Bloomberg 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to read a speech on air, in which he touted the progress of schools under his command, without reporters being allowed to ask a single question.

They have invited not a single NYC public school parent onto any of their panels, and have excluded prominent critics including Diane Ravitch.   Brian Williams spent two thirds of tonight's nightly news, with rosy segments about charter schools and the movie "Waiting for Superman.”

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when MSNBC scheduled a show, originally entitled, “Does Education Need another Katrina?”   (For more on this, as well a critique of "Waiting for Superman," see my Huffington Post column, Education Indoctrination)

Please join Parents Across America, Class Size Matters, GEM, CAPE, and the NY Charter Parents Association at a press conference tomorrow, to protest Education Nation’s total exclusion of NYC parent voices and its unilateral presentation of views, unrivaled in its propagandistic flavor since the days of the Soviet Union.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 4 PM
Where: 50th and Rockefeller Plaza, in front of the ticket booth for the Observation deck; map here . (subway: take the B, D, F, M to Rockefeller Center.)

Please join us tomorrow and make your voices heard! 

And whether you can make it to the press conference, please send a message to  the President of NBC News, by signing the letter from Parents Across America,  here:

Email me at if you’re interested in making a statement at the press conference tomorrow, and please forward this message to others who care..

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

Follow me on twitter @leoniehaimson

MSNBC -Brian kicking Ass

Brian just laid all of them out on merit pay.
Brill asked Randi why she went for merit pay - is she squirming.
Brian is dominating the conversation.

GEM's Brian Jones on MSNBC at 4:30 - streaming live

Brian Jones who works with GEM and ISO will be on a panel today at NBC - unless they shoot him - with Rhee, Randi and Canada. Ed Deform apologist and slug Steve Brill will be moderating.

Brian was at our rally at WFS on Friday and I did an interview with him and another teacher from his school on how the invasion of one of Eva's schools has impacted on their school.

Brian has written a piece for the International Socialist web site that is as good as it gets. There is so much good stuff in this essay that you have to read it 3 times. He closes with this:

There's a racial dimension to these questions that can't be ignored, either. It irks me to no end to hear hedge fund managers refer to the charter school cause as the "civil rights movement of our generation." Education Secretary Arne Duncan says that Waiting for Superman is a "Rosa Parks moment."
Interestingly, Black voters in Washington, D.C. and in Harlem recently--and overwhelmingly--rejected pro-charter school candidates. That's why I think it's more appropriate to call this a Glenn Beck moment. That is, a moment when we should realize that these people are wrapping themselves in the mantle of a movement to which they bear no relation.
Dr. King once said, "The forces that are anti-Negro are by and large anti-labor." Apparently, Black voters are beginning to think that the reverse is also true.
But folks from the business world have an extremely hard time shaking off their faith in free-market principles and their hostility to unions. Evidence and research be damned.
There is more than a slight element of hypocrisy here. To hear the billionaire school reformers tell it, class size doesn't matter, resources don't matter, and experienced teachers are standing in the way of success. But when these same people spend five figures to send their kids to private schools, what do they insist on? Small classes, excellent resources and experienced teachers.
How can we make every public school a great school? Those three things--the things that the wealthy demand for their children--would be a perfect place to start.

NYC Teacher Brian Jones: What I want to say on NBC today: Stop scapegoating teachers

Answer No. 1: Stop scapegoating teachers

As part of its "Education Nation" summit, NBC invited New York City teacher Brian Jones to participate in a panel discussion on the future of the teaching profession. Joining him on the panel are Michelle Rhee, the Schools Chancellor of Washington, D.C.; Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone Project, a network of charter schools; Allan Golston, president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
The title of the panel is "Good Apples: How do we keep good teachers, throw out bad ones and put a new shine on the profession?" The discussion will stream live at today at 4:45 p.m. (Eastern time).
First, though, Brian has a few thoughts to share before the bell rings.
The entire essay at Norms Notes

Sunday, September 26, 2010

GEM Heroes on TV and Broadway

Boy am I glad I passed on the appearance on Fox Friends early Sunday morning. There is no way I could have performed with such grace and sagacity as Julie Cavanagh and Mona Davids did. I would have blown my top over the narrow and short, tight format. Right after watching it I felt bad for being involved in dragging Julie home from out of town and causing her to lose half a night's sleep. But she called right after and was really upbeat. Boy, it's good to get some optimism thrown at you.

Julie responded on the "union protecting bad teachers" issue brilliantly, making the point she would not be sitting there if not for tenure which allows teachers to join parents in advocating for children. She slammed them by pointing out how anti-union right to work states have some of the worst outcomes in the nation while the much lauded Finland has a unionized teaching corps.

Julie did a more effective job in one minute than MulGarten have done in 15 years.

Mona said it all: "class size matters." Leonie must have been doing cartwheels.

What can you say about Mona Davids, who I met a little over a year ago when she was dubbed Moaning Mona for her take no prisoner approach to defending charters and attacking teachers. How quickly she has morphed into Magnificent Mona, becoming an ally of so many activists in NYC, always quick with info and assistance. And she did our movie web site.(

You can see Julie and Mona on Fox

I've been working with Julie on various projects for about a year - I only met her last summer - and she delivers every single time. Helping get rallies organized at Bloomberg's house or the opening of Waiting for Superman? A press advisory or press release? A leaflet? A policy statement? Making a film? Working with teachers and parents at her school to fight back against a charter invasion? Giving wise advice on almost anything? Bingo. I don't tie my shoelaces without asking her whether I should start with the right one of the left one.

Oh yeah, and she also teaches a class of special ed kids with severe difficulties.

One of the best things I have ever done is introducing Julie to Leonie Haimson - what a powerhouse that combo has proven to be.

One of the most laughable things about the WFS film is that Michelle Rhee is the hero and not Julie Cavanagh or Leonie Haimson or Julie's school parent pal, the awesome Lydia Bellachene.Or any number of people we've been meeting.

But then again that is the whole idea of the film - The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman - (oh yeah and Julie is also working on the screenplay - does that woman ever sleep?) - we are making in response. Pointing to the parents and educators in the trenches who are the real heroes.

Inconvenient Truth Behind Superman - The Trailer

And there were a hell of a lot of them out there on Friday, old, young, in between - including ICE stalwarts James Eterno and Ellen Fox. ICE, GEM, NYCORE, ISO, a TJCer. What a party!

Where was the UFT?
One of the first things I was asked by both the NY Post and a reporter from Fox was about the UFT. I didn't go into my 40 year history of being a critic but told them that this rally was not only independent of the UFT even if by mostly UFT members, but that many of the people rallying didn't view the UFT as fighting the Real Reformer battle and in fact saw them as making too many compromises with the ed deformers.

It is funny that ed deform slugs like Whitney Tilson are branding the rally as a UFT operation. Boy is this guy clueless. And he's not the only ed deform numb skull (What's in a Not? An Ed Deform Knothead.) 

And by the way, our trailer has 3000 hits in the 5 days it has been out. We're working on a follow-up based on Friday's "Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up?"

Here are some other reports on the rally at the GEM blog along with some pics:

GEM REAL REFORMERS: Smashing Broadway Success!

I spent a whole day Sunday editing footage from Friday. I went up to Williamsburg to work with another GEMer on the project and we almost finished before we both got wiped out. We had an exciting day piecing together the footage and trying for a coherent piece. (We included the footage of Michael Moore who they just happened to run into.) The creativity between us really flowed - you forget how creative video editing can be until you are immersed in it.

This stuff for us amateurs is complex - matching sound and video of the 5 or 6 performances we taped on 3 cameras. It is shaping up but won't be done as well as we would have liked since we are in a rush and using Imovie instead of Final Cut Pro, which I don't know and need my friend to do for me. But I'm saving him for work on the actual film. Some of this stuff makes my hair hurt.


Blood on Their Hands

Last Updated: Monday, Sept. 27, 6:55 am

LA Teacher Dead of Suicide: Was One of LA Times' Victims

Here is a news report

Earlier today this email came across from a teacher in LA:
Rigoberto Ruelas is missing.  He is one of our own, a long-time teacher and TA at Miramonte Elementary in South Los Angeles.  With all of my heart, I hope he is well and will make contact soon with his family.  I know all of us feel the same way and will keep him in our hearts untill he is safe again. He called the sub desk on Sunday night to request a substitute for Monday and Tuesday.  He talked to his brother on Sunday and his father on Monday.  He didn't return to school this week and no one has heard from him.  Reports are that he was stressed out from work.  In particular, Mr. Ruelas had been called less than effective(or however they put it) by the L.A. Times valueless "value-added" data base. This for a teacher who had always enjoyed a great reputation at the school.
Of course there could be many, many reasons for his disappearance.  How much of a role the Times played is pure conjecture at this point.  I do not fault those that would say to bring it up for discussion without the facts is perhaps irresponsible or self-serving.  I would ask us to consider the deeper ramifications before leaving it at that.  The UTLA home page calls the Times use of "value-added" data "reckless,destructive."  I do not want to imagine how destructive in the matter of Mr. Ruelas.  Do we really have to wait any longer to point out how awful, not just this latest attack on teachers is, but the entire immoral climate brought on by a well-financed campaign to scapegoat and discredit teachers?
I sincerely pray that the unthinkable does not have to happen before those behind the blame-the-teacher barrage stop and assess the damage.  The wounds to teachers' reputations pale in comparison to the harm already done to thousands of our students. Their stress endured, the blame assigned imprints not just them but their families. These are flesh and blood human beings.  Schools designated low-performing because of the tyranny of testing do, in fact, feel shame. A culture of hate and fear serves no positive purpose. To those who seek to privatize and charterize, however, the instability is key to their tactics.  Simply put, Mr. Gates, Mr.Walmart, Mr. Broad, Mayor Villaragosa, Mr. Cortines(and too many others to list), when is enough, enough?

Mat Taylor English teacher, Elizebeth Learning Center  UTLA South Area Chair

Rest Peacefully, Mr. Ruelas. (Or, #NBCFail, Part II) 

Awesome ubber blogger Sabrina at Colorado-based Failing Schools reports:

September 26, 2010
by Sabrina
I could talk here about my frustration with being subjected to yet another hour of conversation dominated by the same people who hog the normal conversation about ed reform– Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada (in whom I’m sincerely disappointed as of late), and Randi Weingarten.
I could talk about my frustration over the irresponsible “journalism” NBC is practicing by creating a public forum just participatory enough to include rapid-fire snippets of a useful conversation, but not participatory enough to ensure proportionate representation of those whose futures depend on the outcome of this conversation.

I could talk about my frustration at watching a network  wonder aloud about “why shouldn’t we use money to inspire teachers?”. (ETA: Apologies for language, I’m just so angry about this…)
I just learned about this a little while ago, and obviously I don’t know all of the circumstances of this man’s life. But it bothers me profoundly that when this man went missing, the first thing his family thought of were his complaints about his stress at work.

To the spectators and grand-standers in this conversation, especially those who make six- and seven figures a year while teachers toil in some of the toughest places in our country for a mere fraction of that; who send their kids to tony private schools while poor, hungry children sit 35 to a room in public schools that are falling down; who have the leisure time and disposable income to show their children the world, or hire others to help them when they’re unavailable; who can’t imagine why more money couldn’t inspire someone to work harder; who can find a sympathetic ear when they complain of their troubles at work and  beyond, and don’t know what it’s like to be accused of not caring when you give your ALL at a job for which you receive little to no appreciation; who casually reduce children and teachers to test scores, and blame poor parents for not making more hours in the day to read to their children after coming home from scrubbing their floors; who can’t imagine the kind of desperation regular people feel when facing the prospect of losing their life’s work– in any field:

Is this just a game to you, or what? For those of us in the trenches, it most certainly isn’t. Enough is enough. Deal with the real issues, approach us from a place of humility and respect, and offer genuine support. Put up, or SHUT UP.

My heart goes out to Mr. Ruelas and his family. I hope he finds some peace, wherever he is, and that he’s no longer suffering the kind of pain and turmoil that would drive someone to such a desperate act. May you be the last to suffer so.
South Bronx School reports on the breaking news in LA:
There is sadness in education today. Unfortunately, this day was all too inevitable. It had to happen, it had to come to fruition. What is sad it was all too avoidable. Today, Rigoberto Ruelas killed himself. According to KABC-TV, Ruelas was found dead about 9 a.m. Sunday in the Angeles National Forest, and a teacher ratings report by the Los Angeles Times did not score Ruelas well. Family members said the teacher evaluation scores may have caused him to go missing.
There is a whole list of people SBS charges with having blood on their hands. Check out the list.
Blood On The Hands Of Jason Felcha And Richard Buddin

This great piece came in overnight:

Dear Norm,
A short while back, I sent your post about stoning teachers with low test scores to our union rep...thought it was amusing, then...
I will be teaching kindergarten tomorrow, and I am blessed and so fond of my students this year, each one...but I can't sleep for thinking about Rigoberto Ruelas, a young man, obviously conscientious, fighting the odds in the LA Public Schools for fourteen years with almost perfect attendance, taking what must've seemed like the weight of the world upon his shoulders, teaching 5th grade, when kids are really developing a strong sense of autonomy.  Probably to many of them, he was someone stable and constant, perhaps even a father figure.  He must've made many sacrifices throughout the years, as all conscientious teachers do...and then to have his life and reputation sullied by questionable "value-added" standardized test scores surely was stressful, painful, humiliating.  What if the tables were turned and the Billionaire Boys, the hedge fund managers, the privatizeers and education deformers were suddenly to be appraised based on their sense of humanity, of loyalty to country, of devotion to democracy?  Would they dare for one night to take down their guard and unlock their doors?  How must it feel to always have to hide from the people you are destroying?  What if the greater picture were to be seen by looking at the families affected by outsourcing and job loss, by foreclosure and lowered wages?  Would there be any links found between the pain of families, the struggles of students and their teachers, and the policies promoted by WalMarts and the rest of the business world?  What if we were to give them multiple choice, bubble-in tests to measure their knowledge and understanding of the masses they mean to manipulate, for example:
1.  Mark the BEST definition of a teacher:  O  Interchangeable widget, same as any worker
O  Dedicated, educated public servant   O   Bad, commie unionist criminal
O  Stupid person, most likely female
2.  What is a Parent?   O  Someone who a company we invest in has probably laid off
O  A consumer of educational programs  O  Another cog in the big machine of capitalism
O  All of the above.
3.  What is a Student?   O  A sentient, growing human being with unlimited potential
O  A person who is learning and working toward self-development  O  another brick in the wall   O  Anywhere from $5 to $15K per head.
4.  What is Democracy?   O  Something to be erradicated ASAP  O  One voice, one vote per person  O  Equal opportunity for participation   O  Our biggest threat and nightmare.
5.  Who was Rigoberto Ruelas?   O  A conscientious 5th grade teacher  O  A father figure
to kids who needed one  O  a 14 year veteran educator with nearly perfect attendance
O  Just another irrelevant nobody to us, same as everybody.
Rest in peace, Mr. Ruelas.  The LA Times is not the final judge!

What's in a Not? An Ed Deform Knothead

Some ed deform blogger named Kyle came across our rally at the WFS film the other night and called it a union organized event. Poor foolish Kyle. He also didn't like the GEM pamphlet we gave out called The Truth About Charters. Oh my GOD! He found a typo, which means all public school teachers are idiots, you know. I left this comment on his posting. Go over and day "hello."
I was one of the organizers of the Friday event and if you ask anyone in the UFT hierarchy I have been one of their biggest critics for 40 years. And many of the rallying Real Reformers have run with the opposition to the UFT leaders for many years.

Your misreading of this rally as being union instigated is a sign of just how out of touch you are. The reform train crashed in Fenty/Rheeville about 10 seconds after leaving the station and is coming apart as the very people you all are trying to manipulated into privatizing the public schools for your fun and profit are increasingly rejecting the deformers. You guys are the new status quo.

Congratulations on your great discovery, clearly along the lines of making you the new Columbus, of an extra "not" in a pamphlet of two thousand words. I take responsibility for that "not" due the failing eyesight of a  proud retired public school/unionized teacher who spent 35 years teaching elementary school in the inner city in Brooklyn, NY.

What's your excuse?

To one of the commenters: Oh, and exactly what was the class size in that private school you went to where your parents obviously wasted an enormous amount of money? You better thank them.

Paul Moore: Wishing On A Star Now?

Miami teacher Moore's response to Klein's Huffington Post piece on Waiting for Superman:

Chancellor Joel Klink*, I sincerely want you to enjoy your warm fuzzy delusions about "Waiting For Superman" because they may not last very long. I mean, did you hear what happened to Michelle Rhee? She's plays a "chancellor" just like you right? And she was one of the stars of your movie right?

Excuse my French, but damn Joel, she didn't even make to the big premier yesterday in NYC and LA, before she was turned into a quivering bowl of jello standing next to the man who will fire her soon in DC. If you haven't heard about Sept. 14th in Washington, that mayor that Bill Gates put in charge of the public school system, Adrian Fenty, got stomped in a re-election bid. I mean he got beat like a hedge fund manager trying to steal something from Sen. Perkins there in the city! Go figure. Rhee, the "warrior woman", campaigned for him and everything.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she like to mouth the same hypocritical blather you do about education being "the Civil Rights struggle of our generation" while overseeing a thoroughly racist public school system. You may want to retool that Newt Gingrich-ish slogan, paragon of the Civil Rights Movement that he is. It looks like people may be on to you folks. Rhee kind of made it easy. Just before the election she entertained her new teachers with a story about taping the mouths of Black children shut to keep them quiet. According to her, there was blood when the tape came off, but for some reason she wasn't arrested. Would have been off to the rubber room under your leadership right? And I know you are slicker than Michelle, all that CEO training, and you don't have any classroom stories to tell, because you've never set foot in a classroom, except to visit one of your precious charter schools and say hello to Eva or Geoff.

But I digress, because I just have to tell you the most startling thing of all. As a civil rights crusader, you need to really put your ear up close to this essay now. D.C. is broken up into eight or nine wards for purposes of voting. In the wards where white voters are concentrated, four out of five supported Adrian Fenty. I mean Joel, those people love themselves some Bill Gates, some quisling mayor, and a chancellor who will tape those Black kids mouths shut and take a broom to the teachers. But listen, in the African-American wards, where parents actually have their children in the DC public schools, and where the Black teachers replaced by white Teach For America missionaries live, voted four out of five to run Michelle Rhee out of town!

Joel, you do know that Superman is fictional character? Ironically, he was a D.C. Comics creation. Seems like an omen maybe. You might want to check and see if there's a seat for you on Bloomberg's plane to Bermuda when Superman doesn't show up.

* The misspelling of CEO of Bertelsmann Inc. Joel Klein's name was an intentional act of ridicule and an homage to the long running TV series Hogan's Heroes. My apologies to the family of the late actor Werner Klemperer and his memory for associating him with an unaccomplished bureaucrat like Klein.

Fab Faux, Faux Fox

I'm waiting for the appearance on Fox and Friends of a Real Reformer. Supposed to be on at 7:50.

Watching Faux News on Fox for the first time may be appropriate since I was at last night's salute to John Lennon by the Fab Faux, the incredible Beattles cover band, at Radio City. Imagine, 2 hours plus of Lennin music done to perfection.

Segment about to begin so hold on. Back in a few.

I'm back. So it was CAPE/GEM's Julie Cavanagh and charter school parent activist Mona Davids.

Here is link:

Each had maybe 30 seconds. Julie got in a defense of tenure and mentionned our web site for our film "The Absolute Truth About Waiting for Superman"* and Mona got in the class size issue (Leonie will be doing cartwheels) before they were both cut off. Think of it: Fox sent a car for each of them. They had hair and makeup done - not that they needed it —They both looked gorgeous. All for a few minutes when they had an opportunity for a substantial discussion. But this is Faux Fox.

Not that the NBC network with their big education week coming up is any better. They stacked every forum. Faux NBC. Back with more on THAT issue, later.

After even a few minutes of Faux Fox, gotta go and take a shower.

Julie just called and said she and Mona felt pretty good about their appearance. The web site (created by Mona, by the way) will be posted on Fox and there seemed to be an interest in our film. We'll see.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Waiting for Superman: A Real Reformer on Fox and Friends Sunday at 7:50 AM

I was asked as a GEM rep to appear but a) hadn't seen the film - though I could have - ugh!- ran out today  b) am scheduled to edit the footage of last night and c) there is someone much better than me at articulating the issues - a real reformer/classroom teacher with a great finger on the pulse of the ed deform movement with personal experience - watch it and see.

Details to follow tomorrow

Waiting for Superman, Oprah--Message to staff of FLHS from CL

Arthur Goldstein is chapter leader of Francis Lewis HS, one of the most overcrowded schools in the city.

From: Arthur Goldstein
Date: September 24, 2010 6:03:07 PM EDT
Subject: Waiting for Superman, Oprah

Dear Colleagues,

It's a tough PR week for teachers.  Oprah has decided to feature folks like Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, and the maker of the new film sociologist Aaron Pallas dubs, "An Inconvenient Truthiness," Waiting for Superman.   Here are some stats about what Oprah presented.  Note that voices of reason, like Diane Ravitch, were not invited.  There's a petition on Facebook to get Oprah to invite Diane.  I urge you to sign it if you frequent Facebook.

I'd like to introduce you to a variety of voices that give a different message than the one mainstream media will be pummeling you with in weeks to come.  Links are below.  Remember that oft-touted statistics are achieved by preposterous means, often by outright fraud, and that we teach everyone, all comers, be they special ed., ESL, or whomever.  Know that when Superman hero Geoff Canada could not achieve the test scores he was "Waiting" for, he dismissed an entire cohort of kids from his charter school.  Can you imagine the sort of stats we could rack up if we had options like that?  Not that we would resort to such nonsense.

Charter schools account for approximately 3% of American schools.  Few do better than we do, one in five if you believe the documentary.  We are the ones doing the heavy lifting.  We are the ones who educate everyone.  And we are the ones who take every single child turned away by the charter schools--who don't count them in their statistics and attribute the failures of those kids to us.   If they were as miraculous as the media says they are they'd take these kids and run with them, but ultimately that's our job.  Be proud of all you do for kids and be proud to be union.   As you can see below, there are plenty of people out there who know nonsense when they see it, and some who know what we really do every day of our lives.

Best regards,


Real Reformers Also Wear Capes- and they ran into Michael Moore too

This is going to be a quickie because I have all day commitments to our FIRST LEGO League Kickoff at NYU/Poly in downtown Brooklyn (come on down).

Before I get to the rally, make sure to check out the video I took of Diane Ravitch and Eva Moskowitz at the Economist Forum last week.  I got exclusive Ed Notes interviews with both.

Yesterday's rally sponsored by GEM at the opening of "Waiting for Superman" was highly successful.
One of the interesting sidelights:

They met at the fountain at Lincoln Center to rehearse their rap song "Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up?" and ran into Michael Moore who was there for the NY Film Festival opening. The irony is too delicious since people have been trying to reach Moore to do a documentary on the ed deform scam. Since he wasn't responding, we decided to do our own film. We have some tape of the RRs talking to Moore and his response it is a shame they are scapegoating teachers.

Here is a Fox report where they naturally spent more time talking to pro movie people and ignored all the people wearing Real Reformer capes.

I hear I am quoted in today's NY Post but don't know what I said.

A booker for Fox Friends saw me quoted and invited me on for tomorrow morning to discuss the film but since I didn't see it yet and have a full day and won't be able to catch it today, I may have to decline. We are trying to get one of the people involved in our response to WFS - The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman - to confirm. Still waiting.

Make sure to go to: to view the trailer for the grassroots documentary response to "Waiting for Superman"...

Tomorrow we are editing the footage from our rally and should have some good stuff up by Sunday night.

In the meantime here are some quick pics I took. The people I am working with are so brilliant. Note the tags they were wearing to engage people in conversation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Katie Couric Assistant Comes Calling- Be at Lincoln Square Today at 6PM to See Real Reformers

I watched holding my sides laughing as Katie Couric interviewed WFS' Davis Guggenheim, who seems more pathetic every time I see him. (He loves unions by the way. Only not teachers unions.) If you read the review in today's Times they make the point that Randi Weingarten comes off as the villain in the film. What a joke when the Real Reformers also see her as a villain, but for entirely different reasons - like her abandonment of the fight for education equality - no matter what she says - remember the mantra - watch what she does - like appease the deformers on just about every single issue - and she was part of the deal with Rhee in DC. And Detroit - Oh, My! And Gates in Seattle.

So presenting Randi as our rep is beyond a joke.

Then there was that awful teacher who wants to give up tenure for money. Doubly pathetic. And they didn't exactly have a lot of screen time even if they had more to say.

So when I got this email from Erica Anderson who works at CBS with Katie urging me to promote her interviews with Guggenheim, I resisted the urge to delete.

I read your post ( on Waiting for Superman in Education News Online. You brought up some very thoughtful points which is why I want to share with you the just-released interview on @KatieCouric today. Today Katie interviewed Davis Guggenheim and brought on a panel of educators from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College to pose questions to him.

I hope you will consider watching the videos and sharing with the readers of Education News Online. The only request I have is that you provide a credit to @KatieCouric on

Kind Regards,

Erica Anderson
Hi Erica,
Thanks for getting in touch. I would be interested in promoting Katie's interview with Davis Guggenheim but am ambivalent when there are so few voices in those videos. The people you had up there representing "our side" were fairly pathetic. It is not about salary to many teachers like the one you talked to.

For an educator like me who spent 35 years working in a high risk neighborhood in Brooklyn, mostly teaching elementary school, the things Davis Guggenheim has to say are almost laughable. Notice how he uses the term "status quo" for the old guard when in fact the new status quo has been the very "reforms", or deforms as we are referring to them, that have been in effect in places like Chicago for 16 years and in NYC for 7 years and have proven to be a failure. He talks about the 20% of charter schools that are doing great things. You don't think that 20% of the public schools are also doing great things? With unionized teachers with tenure yet.

It is no accident that Michelle Rhee has gone down in flames in DC. To call her a hero when the very community that she was supposed to be "saving" undermines Guggenheim's film.

We have a group of young dynamic teachers here in NYC who call themselves Real Reformers. I am working on a film with them called "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" and you can see the trailer at I urge you and Katie to watch it.

Today at the opening of Waiting for Superman" at the Loews 68th st theater, these teachers will be there to perform their rap version of Eminem's "Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?". We are calling it "Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up?"

Many will be wearing homemade Superman capes and other logos. They include former Teach for America teachers who are staying in the classroom. Twenty and Thirty year old teachers who are committed to their students and also to saving the public school system from the charter school onslaught and market bases solutions (like merit pay - believe me these teachers would get merit pay because many of them are so good - ask them why they are against it)  that have brought the US economy down in flames. Many have had their students negatively affected by the charter school invasion of their schools.

Read a fabulous review of Waiting for Superman by one of these teachers I posted on my blog:

So if you want to talk to Real Reformers, send a crew over to the theater today or we can arrange for them to be available to talk at Katie's convenience. I'm betting she will walk away with a whole new point of view and see Davis Guggenheim's film for what it is.

Here is the press advisory.

Press Advisory                         
Date:  Thursday, September 23, 2010   
Norm Scott: 917-992-3734

Parents and Teachers, the Real Reformers, Organize Response to “Waiting for Superman”

When:  Friday, September 24th, 6:00 P.M.
Where: Lincoln Square 13 Movie Theater, NY, NY

On Friday, September 24th, parents and teachers will participate in a demonstration outside of the premier of “Waiting for Superman”.  The film, which has garnered significant publicity in recent days, has taken the lead in framing the conversation about education reform.  The Real Reformers reject this framework and intend to offer an alternative voice to the conversation.

Parents and teachers will be located outside of the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater at 6:00 P.M. The Real Reformers will stand up and present their demands and vision for real education reform.  The Grassroots Education Movement will provide literature, a special feature, and will be releasing the trailer for their upcoming documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”, which will be shown in New York City neighborhoods, and across the country, beginning in late October. 

Together, parents and teachers are united in calling for Real Reform Right Now:  Smaller Class Size, Excellent Community Schools for ALL, More Teaching- Less Testing, Parent Empowerment and Leadership, Equitable Funding for ALL Schools, Anti-Racist Education Policies, Culturally Relevant Curriculum, Expanded Pre Kindergarten and Early Intervention Programs.

View the Trailer for GEM’s upcoming documentary at: or

Additional Contacts:
Lisa Donlan, Parent: 917-848-5873
Mona Davids, Parent: 917-340-8987
Sam Coleman, Teacher:  646-354-9362
Julie Cavanagh, Teacher: 917-836-6465