Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mulling IT Over: To Go to Delegate Assembly, To Not Go to Delegate Assembly

GEM Teach for America alums will be live blogging from the 20th anniversary in DC this weekend. We will be spending the weekend doing semi-final editing on "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" for our sneak rough cut preview on Feb. 17 and will be transmitting the blogs to the GEM blog.

Today's Diary:
Goal- Do long awaited analysis on Moskowitz/Mulgrew strategy on Feb. 1 and Feb. 3 in bringing out hordes of people to the respective PEPs.

I got up at 5AM to take my wife to the airport for her trip to a fancy resort in Cancun with her former co-worker gal pal, a celebration of sorts on her first anniversary of retirement. How did I feel driving in the dark in 14 degrees? (&*(***). That leaves me and Pinky to hold down the fort and eat cat food together. I think I'll head over to hot yoga to warm the old bones.

Ahhhh, back from yoga. An hour and a half in 100 degrees. I'm warmer than my wife will be in Mexico. There's a UFT Delegate Assembly today. Maybe I'll skip this one and stay warm at home. But then again I have to go over to my 93 year old dad in Brooklyn and take him food shopping. He's gained 5 pounds since he got half a set of teeth. He consumes tubs of Bryers ice cream. Can't wait till I hit real old age instead of semi-old age and can eat all day and all night.

Once in Brooklyn, I'll make a game-time decision. I have nothing to give out at the DA. Expect a wild afternoon with so many dislocated shoulders from all pats on the back from the Unity Caucus faithful over their semi-disruption and walkout at the February 3 PEP, there will be emergency medical personnel on the premises.

I expressed a bunch of reservations about the walkout, (Debating UFT Strategy on PEP Walkout as a A UFT Leadership Member Declares: "We're Going in a New Direction"), though not the rally and demo which I think should have continued throughout the meeting until the PEPSQUEAKS walked off in frustration.

I was thinking as we all were screaming "puppets" at the Pathetic PEPpers: How different are the Unity Caucus clones than the Bloomberg PEPers? Both sets follow the orders of their leaders mindlessly. I considered putting out an Ed Notes today for the DA to address these issues, but who am I really talking to other than a majority of Unity people who will walk off the cliff if told to. If I go to the DA I might get riled up enough to expand on this point. Well, off to shower after that hot yoga class.

Here is a piece I wrote for this Friday's edition of The Wave:

PEP Votes to Close More Schools, Including Beach Channel
by Norm Scott, Education Editor

A raucous crowd of 2000 students, teachers and parents organized by the UFT, the Coalition for Educational Justice and the Urban Youth Collaborative
shouted, blew whistles, and booed throughout Chancellor Cathie Black's speech at the February 3 Panel for Educational Policy meeting, the 2nd meeting that week.

After an hour of disruption, most of the body left in a pre-planned walkout, leaving a sparse crowd to observe the Mayor Bloomberg dominated Panel complete its major order of business, which was to vote for the phasing out of an additional 12 schools and to allow co-locations in eight more public schools, including Queens high schools Beach Channel and Jamaica, with a new small high school to be opened in each.

Two days earlier, the PEP had voted to close ten schools and co-locate five more. Both meetings generated an outpouring of politicians, mostly from Brooklyn and Manhattan, who are opposed to the drastic DOE policies, but no politician connected to the Rockaways showed up to defend Beach Channel.

While most people supported the UFT-led walkout, some organizers opposed to the closing and co-location policy of the Department of Education were critical of the decision. Julie Cavanagh, a teacher in Red Hook, Brooklyn and a member of the Grassroots Education Movement, a group of NYC teachers organizing and fighting the school closure and co-locations said, "I didn't feel right about the walk out and didn't participate in it. To me, it would have been much more powerful if everyone there either a) stood in solidarity with the parents, students, and teachers who came out to speak for their school, b) we all participated in a vigil of some kind or c) if instead of walking out, we walked forward and really took the needed steps towards a revolution (which, in a dictatorship is not that radical).  The messaging of a walk out is 'nothing matters'- that is fatalistic and serves no purpose. I doubt any political capital was gained from the action."

Jeez, can Julie nail an issue or what? Where was she hiding all these years? I don't think I've ever seen someone go from zero to a 160 in a little over a year. Well, maybe not exactly zero. - I had to say that since we'll be editing the film this entire weekend and she'll probably kill me.

And you  must check out Paul Moore's commentary on the Michelle Rhee controversy over her claims she radically raised test scores, which retired Wash DC teacher and blogger GF Brandenberg proved was bogus. (His blog is on my blogroll-GFBrandenburg's Blog- How Teach for America Could Have Been Useful – But Wasn’t.) 

Rhee shill Jay Mathews acknowledged the work Brandenberg did but Moore won't let him off easy.

Well Mr. Mathews, your death bed confession is on the record. But you must count heavily on the most merciful of gods. For the monster you helped to create still roams the land. One day standing beside the teacher-hating Governor Christie in New Jersey, the next day visiting an Opa-Locka charter school with voucher loving Governor Scott in Florida. One day sitting before Oprah Winfrey's national TV audience and being lauded as a "warrior woman", the next collecting the checks of the oligarchs and the Wall Street bankers for her teacher's union busting cult.

I'm at a loss to understand the distinction you make between lying and memory lapse. I got the distinct impression you were a proponent of "data driven" education. Data is precise. Test scores are there or they are not. But I'm going to give your new take on this a try. When they come to rate me as a teacher on a value added basis, no matter the scores, I'll tell them that I clearly remember teaching my students those test taking skills.

Wish me luck and may God have mercy on your journalistic soul.

And just for old time sake, one more time, "The Fable of Michelle Rhee" by Jay Mathews.

Once upon a time, there was a young Ivy League missionary with a couple years to kill before getting on with her life's work. Rather than backpacking through Europe or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro after a safari in Africa, our intrepid heroine plunged into the mean streets of Baltimore where children who live in poverty test poorly.

One day the Ivy League princess was struck down like St. Paul on the way to Damascus. Sit the poor children in a circle, the voice told her. And sit them in a circle she did.

They forevermore scored like rich children on tests. Just take my word on that. I swear its true. And they all lived happily ever after. No, no really, stop laughing. How rude. Ok, that's enough, get up off the floor. Geez, its a fairy tale. You know like Pinocchio?

Paul A. Moore
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.


  1. For a couple of weeks, I almost thought you were nice. I guess you went off your happy pills.

    Well the best thing to say about you is that you are not Evan and Sydney.

  2. Me, nice? When it comes to PEP - er- Unity puppets? How's that mayoral control thing working out for ya?


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