Friday, September 17, 2010

Follow Up on Leonie at NY Law and Exclusive Video Interview

UPDATED Sat, Sept. 18, 6am - info on Finland

There were some comments on the NYC Parent listserve about the actions of NY Law in relation to the Haimson/Suransky Smackdown. See my 2 previous posts if you missed them.

Leonie Smackdown Redux

Leonie Haimson KO's Tweed in a Knockdown

I'm printing the comments below along with a comment/correction Leonie left on my last post. And here's a link (NY Law School Ban on Taping) to the correspondence between NY1's Lindsay Christ and Nancy Guida (who I believe is the woman who gave me such a hard time) from the law school. Read in reverse order. Enlightening. [By the way, lots of people consider Christ one of the best ed reporters in town - did you know that she was a teacher for a few years before she got this gig? It shows.]

First, I have a bit of follow-up video I did with Leonie in her garden shortly after the NY Law appearance, which as you know they did not allow to be taped. We did it for the movie we are doing - The Absolute Truth About Waiting for Superman but this piece relates to some of the things she touched earlier that day - Finland, class size, teacher bashing - she calls teachers true heroes. Really eloquent stuff. It is a worthwhile 4 plus minute clip.

[Putting videos up seems to slow up this blog so I will leave it up here only for a day. Here is the you tube address if this gets slow.]

{A Chapter leader sent this in after investigating ed in Finland. Info from Ministry of Ed}
1)  What is the average age of a Finnish teacher (elementary through secondary, not university professors)?

 female 44 and male 47
2)  What is the average number of years a Finnish teacher has been working?
see question 1 and 3: about 20 year
3)  What is the average age of a beginning Finnish teacher?
4)  Do the teachers in Finland belong to a union?
about 95 % teachers belong to  union OAJ  
5)  Do Finnish teachers receive a pension after retirement?
6)  What is the average age of retirement for a Finnish teacher?
now its 60 but it will be 65-68.
7)  How many months throughout the year do Finnish teachers work?
teaching time is 38 week / year
8)  What other benefits do Finnish teachers receive? (like healthcare)

Vesa Ilves

Vesa Ilves


Thanks for the kind words Norm; but one minor correction. I said there was no standardized testing in Finland; of course the schools there have regular classroom tests. Your point about the teacher's union in Finland is very interesting. Shael went on about how Finland was successful because it attracted the best students to teaching; I talked about how in Finland they give a lot of respect to teachers,and alot of autonomy. And I contrasted that w/ the total lack of respect that this administration gives teachers, and Klein's very low approval rankings in teacher surveys. I said if this administration and the Obama administration really respected teachers, they would listen to their prescriptions for education. Over and over in national surveys, teachers respond that reducing class size would be by far the best way to increase teacher quality and teacher effectiveness, over salary increases, teacher performance pay, more professional development, or anything else. And yet they don't listen, because they don't respect teachers or care what they think. Nor do they respect parents or care what we think either!

I don't see anything the least bit surprising in this, other than NY Law School's craven submission to the probable bullying from Bloomberg/Klein.


For Klein & Company, It's all about controlling the message. THEY get to control the data, THEY get to decide how it will be spun, THEY get to control when, where, and how, and -- most important -- THEY get to limit or control, at least in their chosen forums, how much information is made available from "the other side." Knowing that they are probably well aware of Leonie's positions as well as her encyclopedic command of the facts and figures, they had every conceivable reason to suppress public distribution of this "debate." It would be OK for a few law school students to hear her side, but heaven forbid that it get out via NY1 or YouTube or EdNotes.

Just think about it for a minute. Had Shael been there by himself to make a presentation and do Q&A, does anyone honestly believe there would have been the least objection to it being taped by NY1 or anyone else? This was all about controlling the message and stifling the dissent -- nothing else. It's not rocket science, but it is smart, at least from their standpoint.

Steve Koss

New York Law School itself has a series of "Citylaw" breakfasts which are always taped for broadcast on cable TV--I forget at the moment whether it is on one of the City stations or CUNY TV (ch. 74 or 75 where I am in Manhattan). You can also access tapes of them at their website, I just checked it and saw that, for example, the tape of Joel Klein's appearance there as featured speaker on 4/3/09 is still available, including the Q&A, where I successfully confronted him with several examples of how, given that he's essentially one of the Mayor's Commissioners, he does not have the ability or the inclination to stand up for the school system when other city agencies are pursuing policies that are harmful to the schools.

I bring this up to point out that it is curious that, in the case of yesterday, the School seemed so unwilling for a recording to be made.

It was meant primarily for students, but the organizer (who was a student, but it was clearly taken out of his hands by the administration) had encouraged me to invite members of the public as well so I did. The moderator said they had never gotten so many RSVPs.

Check out Norm's column on how they were apparently pressured by DOE not to let the discussion be videotaped by either him or NY1.

I have never seen a PR person from an academic institution so nervous about getting publicity; usually they love the attention. First she said that taping was barred because they didn't get the permission from the participants; then she changed her story when I said that they had my permission, and that probably Shael would agree as well.

But in this case, Kathleen Grimm of DOE had apparently made their desires known strongly, behind the scenes to one of the deans. Whether another college or university would have reacted differently, and not given in so quickly, who knows.

The PR person came up to me afterwards, and demanded that I "remove" her email to Lindsey and me from the list serv about how they were barring any videotaping, as it was a private communication. I was astonished.

I said to her, not only do you want to keep the event private, but you also want to keep it secret that you want to keep it private?

If DOE didnt want Shael to be on a panel w/ me they should have asked him not to appear. But to prevent the wider public from being able to see the event is really shameful -- and I think it is esp. craven of a law school , that should be insisting on freedom of political speech to cave in this way..

Leonie Haimson

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