Thursday, June 30, 2011

Joy to the world -gangsta charter investigated - NY Post

"It's about time the AG's Office takes a look around -- they'll have a lot to work with," said one ex-staffer. "Mr. Melendez always likes to say that finances and compliance are the two things he and the board handle exceptionally well, but this doesn't pass the laugh test." 

Just desserts in today's NY Post article (below) by Yoav Gonen for Believe Charter network founder Eddie Calderon-Melendez who harassed Susan Ohanian with threats after she wrote about his chater takeover of the library at IS 126. Teachers who left the school had been in touch after Ed Notes wrote about the school but were very afraid to talk. We broke the story in May 2010 of the $100 reward recruitment poster that Jenny Medina at the NY Times picked up on. There is no better example of inequity that these schools are still open -

Here was a comment from a teacher at the school:
I'm currently a teacher under the Believe network and would love to whistle blow... once I am no longer employed by the network. In fact, Melendez received public criticism a few years ago for firing a teacher without due process who circulated the DOE pay scale among her WCHS colleagues and mentioned the dirty u-word. No one at the school who hopes to continue to work there for more than 48 hours would dare approach the UFT or even think about doing so, since firings come fast and furious. Right now our best hope is that someone who made it out can fight the good fight (from a safe distance) 
I've been in touch with the teacher who is now teaching in another state and I think I asked her to contact Yoav who has been following up on the story for months. I imagine some of the hordes of former teachers are talking to Yoav, who used Ed Notes source material as part of his investigation.

Here are some links to Ed Notes articles:
Dismantling the IS 126 Library

May 09, 2011
Ultimate charity fund-raising event: A roast of Eddie Calderon-Melendez. Charge $50 a plate and invite current and former employees (mostly former). We'll make enough to cure cancer. Williamsburg Charter High School has ...
Oct 06, 2009
Eddie Calderon-Melendez , founder of the Believe High School Network, which runs the charters, said the use of shared space is negotiated every year. ...
Jun 04, 2010
Ultimate charity fund-raising event: A roast of Eddie Calderon-Melendez. Charge $50 a plate and invite current and former employees (mostly former). We'll make enough to cure cancer. Williamsburg Charter High School has been unfairly ...

Charter $$ probe

AG eyes 3 schools in W'burg

Co-Locos Exposed

In Patrick Sullivan’s opinion, the only real hope for PS 9 is if the chancellor has a change of heart, and grants them the right to expand into a K-8 school. “Rather than help successful public schools,” Sullivan said, “the DOE is more focused on giving preference to charter schools…and certainly the fact that the money behind the schools is from a lot a people the mayor knows helps the charter school agenda.”

Julie Cavanagh also believes cronyism is at play, and points out that the founder of PAVE, Spencer Robertson, received $26 million to build his charter school after his father, hedge funder Juilan Roberson donated $6.75 million to Bloomberg’s New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, and various other pet projects of Bloomberg’s. (There are other claims of the Robertson Foundation and Bloomberg’s funny business here.)

Good article on co-locations from popular Brooklyn Based blog

Comments on the NYCEDNews Listserve:

This article has some serious factual errors.  Though clearly there are far more co-locations now, and many more highly damaging ones b/c of increased overcrowding and an administration out of control, there were far more than 12 co-locations when Bloomberg came into office in 2002.  

The article completely ignores the fact that the  small schools reform movement, which resulted in many co-locations, was founded by Debbie Meier and Ted Sizer about 25 years ago.

Leonie Haimson

I never said the therapists do not see kids if they can't find a space. I said they find a substandard space such as staying in the classroom, or spend their time looking for space. I did mention programs being canceled due to space, but not mandated programs. I cited my boys group, a partnership with the Red Hook Justice Center, which I had to cancel on a few occasions because we didn't have a space to meet. No less egregious, but want to be clear that we make every effort for our kids to get their mandated services despite the cancer that has consumed our school building.

Next year we will have two rooms that seven related service providers will have to share. One of those rooms is not a room "assigned" to ps 15, but a room our community partner will share with us. I have no clue how we will meet our kids needs after next year and the last several years have been insufficient in terms of space.   I will continue to repeat myself on this issue ad nausium until it is fixed: the DOE MUST account for services for children with special needs in the instructional footprint. Any less is discrimination.

Thanks to Nicole for this article- it is impossible to navigate this issue and get it all right, but this was a fair piece and does a good job of highlighting the inequities of co-location. It is a very complicated problem; I understand space is an issue across the city-- but we shouldn't deny space to some for the benefit of others. You can't rob occupational therapy from Paul to give Peter's charter school office space.

Julie Cavanagh
While I feel like an old timer  pointing to  a more accurate vision of "history' ,  there are some slight nuances to the points made  in this article that deserve mention. As the article makes clear, "Bloomberg and then-Schools Chancellor Joel Klein resurrected NYC’s small school movement."  Indeed, the small schools movement that predates these gates funded "reforms"  differes greatly from the 'close 'em and start over w/ new kids' model BloomKlien set up after taking control of the governance of our schools in 2003.A number of East Village school were spawned  a result of that earlier movement;  new, alternative-visioned schools, sharing space in the traditional district schools that had emptied out during the city's fiscal crisis. When DoE employee, MAK Mitchel, the Executive Director of School Governance for the Department of Education,  states that:  "Few schools were co-located back then", which she estimates  as " less than 12",  she negates the trans-formative nature of  these new schools and the all-choice equity and diversity based  admissions plan the elected school board introduced in District One.  By 2005 when BloomKlien began parachuting charters and other new schools into communities, more than 80% of District One  community schools were sharing space. The prior methodology, based on 5 years MOU's  that took into account growth and changes in programs; building councils consisting of all the stakeholders;  and a common supervisor, the community superintendent, to set the vision and work through conflicts, worked to actually reform the community district schools.The history of schools within schools goes back well before it was captured by this administration's attempt to reform schools by offering a portfolio  of choices , privatization of public education , and accountability by high stakes standardized tests.Those attempts have failed miserably- maybe it is time we go back to our roots- our grass roots, and let communities make decisions about our kids and schools again. 
Lisa Donlan

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

David Greene - Why I ain’t ain’t marching anymore (with apologies to Phil Ochs) - Save Our Schools (SOS) March- July 30 in Washington

I march because of what this war on education will do to my former colleagues and the new teachers with whom I work.
I march for change.
I march for reform.
I march for academic freedom.
I march for curricula and methodologies to develop the best-informed, critical thinking, problem solving students in the world.
Most of all I march for our kids.

David Greene

 I said the following to an ed deform slug from CEC6 at Monday night's PEP - a guy who loves Joel Klein and anything the ed deformers do - he got up at the mic and attacked the NAACP and UFT law suit as a job protection program - he said to me why can't people be civil - I responded: "There is a war on. One side has the atom bomb and the other side - the side of truth, justice and the American way – has pee shooters and he has chosen to be on the side of the people with the bomb." Sort of shut him up.

As I reported this morning, at yesterday's DA Yelena Siwinski asked Michael Mulgrew about the SOS march in Washington DC on July 30 ( and whether the UFT would support it. Mulgrew said they would support(we think he said that) and the AFT has already endorsed but that every major education leader would be in South Africa that day. I love that because we don need no stinkin leaders there – imagine Randi Weingarten preening in front of that crowd, though it wouldn't surprise me if she didn't figure out a way to be in 2 places at once.

I know people are asking for the UFT to provide a bus for those who want to go on July 30 and come back that night. Many of us in GEM are going to the pre- march 2 day conference on July 28 and 29 (our film is being shown in two auditoriums at the same time at American University on July 29 and we are doing a GEM workshop on July 28 at 10:30 AM). But if you want to go for the march only send me your name and if we get enough people the UFT may get that FREE - I repeat - FREE - bus.

Well, here are a bunch of good reasons to go in an absolutely brilliant post from David Greene.
(and read Diane Ravitch on Reasons for Hope).

David Greene On Why He Is Joining the "Save Our Schools" March in Washington where he makes an apt comparison to the Vietnam War. Instead of the military-industrial complex we have the edu-industrial complex.
Why I ain’t ain’t marching anymore. (with apologies to Phil Ochs)

The last and only time I marched on Washington D.C. was the Moratorium to end the Vietnam War in November 1969. Hundreds of thousands marched through the cold streets of Washington D.C. while FBI agents took pictures of us as we shouted “Peace Now” and waved our flags and signs. My friend and I had constructed a giant (we thought it novel) Peace Flag that was eventually used up on the speaker’s platform. We were so proud. We slept on the gym floor of a local parish church. When it was time to leave, at first we couldn’t find our bus to go back to NY, but eventually we did. Frankly, it is all a blur but a well worthwhile one.

I was not a joiner, a marcher or a protester. I was not much of an activist either. I had friends who were deeply involved in the movement but I was happy to get involved in conversations and do my little part to convince people, one at a time, that the War was wrong. However, when friends were deployed I felt it important to do more. So I marched.

Here we are 42 years later. I will march on Washington this July because again we must stop a war. This time it is the war against teachers, students, and education. Over the past 10 years what started as an intervention has become a full-scale assault. The parallels with Vietnam are astounding.

Now as well as then presidential decisions to begin by giving assistance in “the battlefield” became congressional acts to fund, arm and send troops. Corporations were enlisted to fund and manufacture the goods to fight. Escalation became the operating word.

This time I was content to argue against standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, and most recently, Race To The Top. This time I pointed out not how a military-industrial complex gained control of foreign policy, but how a new education-industrial complex had seized control of education policy, for their own profit.

In addition, what seemed like a good idea, TFA, had morphed into what I now call a 5th branch of the armed forces. At first it innocuously sent advisors in small numbers to educational “battlefields”. But now its power and numbers escalate as we idly sit by.

Not for nothing, but TFA recruits young men and women in a not so unfamiliar way. “Join the Army- Be All You Can be? Join the Marines- Looking For A Few Good Men? Join the Navy- It's Not Just a Job, It's An Adventure? Join the Air Force- Aim High? TFA- This could be the best career decision you make?”

TFA recruits are also thrust into a war zone, yet less prepared than my friends were 42 years ago. Often misled and naive 20 somethings, they are unarmed when they go to war to defeat the enemies of education: poverty, poor training, poor leadership, and a host of other saboteurs.

So now 42 years later I go to Washington to march again. But this time I go as more than a marcher. I go as an organizer, presenter, and activist. I do all this because the Chief Executive, Congress, and an Industrial Complex including TFA threaten the avocation I have loved for 41 years.

I march because of the high school kids and programs I see threatened by this assault.

I march because of what this war on education will do to my former colleagues and the new teachers with whom I work.

I march to teach how good high schools can be if we let professionals do the work.

I march to fix how we train new teachers (traditional and TFA) to be better able to fight the real war they and our students face day in day out.

I march to get TFA to change; to work with traditional teacher training institutions; to stop vilifying veteran teachers and actually recruit them to train their recruits; to help us recruit top talent to stay in teaching; to become "lifers". I march to get TFA to listen.

I march for change.
I march for reform.
I march for academic freedom.
I march for curricula and methodologies to develop the best-informed, critical thinking, problem solving students in the world.

Most of all I march for our kids.

David Greene

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.

Getting Physical and UFT Delegate Assembly Reports from James Eterno

UPDATED: Weds. June 29, 7:45AM
Balancing the budget on the backs of ATRS is not quite as awful as balancing it on the backs of newer teachers who would have been laid off but it was totally unnecessary. With Bloomberg’s poll numbers on education sinking to "Bushian Post Hurricane Katrina" levels, the UFT was holding all of the cards and should have insisted that to save money that the DOE should be compelled to place all of the ATRS into positions in their districts. 

Teacher bashing continues. When firehouses close, the firefighters aren't blamed and they are sent to another firehouse. When police precincts redeploy whole precincts because of corruption scandals, the clean cops who worked in the corrupt precinct don't have to apply to other precinct captains. They are transferred. Only teachers face the indignity of having to pound the pavement to seek a job because a program was downsized or closed. President Mulgrew said this union leaves no educator behind. This is not totally true as the ATRs have certainly been left to basically fend for themselves.--- James Eterno at the ICE blog
As much as it pains me to admit this, it's not really a bad deal for most of the membership.- Miss Eyre at NYC Educator
It is absolutely a bad deal for most of the membership - at least anyone in front of a class--- Norm Scott
I hope you all had a great final day of school. It wasn't all that great for the people who had to miss school parties to attend the UFT Delegate Assembly to vote on the recent budget agreement - see some of my posts on that over the last few days.

Today: UFT Delegate Assembly to Sell Deal, Bloombe...
For Shame! UFT Victory Lap at Settlement Pilloried...(MUST READ FROM LORETTA PRISCO)

(E$E also had an end of school year party at a bar on the high line - fancy shmancy - for all their people who are not popular enough to be invited to their own school parties. I know one thing - I bet there weren't 2400 people who supposedly support them there.)

Health and welfare
I had my annual physical with Dr. Mark, who all my pals from the UFT activism of the 70s are using because he is such a good doctor. He's a pretty liberal guy. He brought up an article by Joel Klein in the Atlantic and said it made some sense. My blood pressure shot up. I gave him a copy of our film to set him straight and we talked ed deform. He gave me a prescription to lower my horrible cholesterol and told me to lose about 15 pounds. "I don't care if you drop dead tomorrow," he said - did he join Unity Caucus? - "but a stroke that disables you is something you don't want to happen." Clarence Clemmons dying at an age only 3 years older than me is certainly scaring me into trying to avoid those Little Debbies, (though the first thing I did upon leaving his office before heading over to the DA was to grab a slice of pizza). Before I left his office I went over to pay anything I owed - nada - thank goodness for Medicare.

The Delegate Assembly
They actually let guests into the DA because the place was not full but I am not in touch enough to give a cogent report of the DA. But the Unity faitful outdid themselves in patting themselves and Mulgrew on the back to such an extent chiropractors had to be called in to deal with wrenched shoulders. Many of their speakers were pre-planned (I heard conversations downstairs).

There were lots of winks but no details from Mulgrew on how the ATRs were protected but he couldn't talk about it - like he was the smartest guy in the room. After the meeting PS 193 chapter leader Yelena Siwinski and I paid a visit to Bloombergville where I took some pics and video (I'll post later).

Yelena got the floor at the DA yesterday to remind Mulgrew of the SOS march in Washington on July 30 after Mulgrew announced a major labor march on Washington on Aug. 27. Mulgrew said the UFT is supporting the SOS march but labor has to get is act together - he said he and most major ed leaders will be in South Africa at the end of July. GEM is going down for the showing of our film at American U on July 29 and we are doing a workshop on July 28. Come march with GEM on July 30.

Later in the eve, 13 of them were arrested for civil disobedience, a tactic I am hearing more and more of being used. NYC teachers have been intimidated from participating in CD due to stringent enforcement of the DOE - like jaywalk and you can be fired  - especially if you are an ATR -   ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit.

I'll repeat James Eterno's important reports from the ICE blog below which also talk about the lack of democracy (does the earth turn?). When Mulgrew had to allow an opposition voice IS 218K chapter leader Tom Crean spoke eloquently on why we should not agree to this deal - I asked Tom to write it up for Ed Notes and he said he would - even Mulgrew was impressed and said he couldn't disagree with many of the premises - thus the Aug. 27 march and call for a millionaire tax (I better check my TDA.)

James Eterno on the DA on ATRs

Tom laid out the big picture as to what people will be facing with the cuts, especially with rising class size (Mulgrew admitted during Tom's speech we have lost 8-10,000i teaching positions in the last few years) in essence a response to this statement by Miss Eyre over at NYC Educator that it is not really a bad deal for most of the membership. It is absolutely a bad deal for most of the membership - at least anyone in front of a class.
As much as it pains me to admit this, it's not really a bad deal for most of the membership. Although ATRs will be doing per diem substitute work, they'll be doing it for appointed teacher pay and benefits.  It's not good for them, I realize, and they're in the original situation for the terrible crime of having worked in a school that closed.  But they do still have jobs, with the same pay and benefits they've always had, and it's going to be pretty tough to U-rate them now because they can't be expected to properly plan or participate in the life of a school.
Well, I wouldn't bet they are not going to be U rated. I think that's the plan. What does the DOE lose in U-rating someone? It can take a year to adjudicate and in the meantime the teacher is barred from earning extra salary (there may be some other penalties) and can get so stressed that they end up leaving, especially those nearing retirement age. Call this an end run around LIFO.

This question was raised on ICE-Mail:
How assignment in district for a week at time will work for ATRs in D79 who could be sent anywhere in the city. The answer at last night’s Executive Board was that it will be looked at by the Joint Oversight Committee that is part of the agreement.

James had 2 reports, one focusing on the ATRs and the other on democracy at the meeting. I'll let you read the latter at the ICE blog (A DELEGATE ASSEMBLY THAT LEONID BREZHNEV WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD OF) while here is his report on the ATRs. Personally, I think long-term the ATRs are in trouble - the problem is most teachers don't see themselves as potential ATRs (which they may very well be once Bloomberg gets LIFO killed and they can start closing down any schools they want without worrying about the ATR issue) while I say every teacher should wear the emblem: "Ich Bin un ATR."


We have an agreement between the UFT and the city that eliminates the possibility of over 4,000 layoffs this year. We also gain increased hiring opportunities for Absent Teacher Reserves to be hired provisionally and to get considered for positions at reduced costs to principals. In exchange the UFT has agreed to suspend sabbaticals for 2012-2013 and to allow the DOE to move Absent Teacher Reserves who are not lucky enough to secure a permanent position from school to school on a weekly basis.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew's report at tonight's emergency Delegate Assembly highlighted the no layoff part of the agreement, which we are all happy about. Nobody in their right mind wants to see over 4,000 teachers lose their jobs. Mulgrew also thanked everyone for doing work with the state and city council. He told us the mayor said he wanted non seniority layoffs. He talked about opposing the mayor with the city council. He didn't, however, talk for too long about the part of the agreement that dealt with Absent Teacher Reserves becoming nomads.

The new agreement forces each principal to interview at least two ATRS per semester if they have vacancies and they are supposed to hire ATRS for vacancies and leave replacements. I don’t quite understand what happens if they interview two and don’t like them. Can they then hire someone from outside or give the classes away in a secondary school as a sixth class for special per session pay or to substitutes? UFT leadership believes these new procedures will lead to a big reduction in the ATR pool. I hope they are correct because anyone unfortunate enough to be left behind in the ATR pool risks becoming a teacher gypsy.

The agreement on page three contains the following ominous clause: "An Excessed Employee/ATR shall be assigned to a school within his/her district/superintendency each week. A 'week' shall be Monday through Friday, or shorter if the work week is less than five(5) days." Then there is clause C which says: "An Excessed Empoyee/ATR shall be notfied no later than Friday (or the last work-day of the week) if he/she will be assigned to a different school the following week and, if so, to which school. An ATR who has not been notified that he/she has been assigned to a different school by Friday shall report on Monday, or the first work day of the work day of the work week, and for the duration of that week, to the last school to which he/she was assigned." In other words, if a teacher does not find a permanent job on his or her own, buy a good GPS.

Besides the obvious problems of ATRS not having stability from week to week and not being able to bond with students, or know which person in each particular school to go to in order to resolve issues with payroll or their sick bank days or other items, this makes it virtually impossible for ATRs to do any per session work (extra activities for money that are pensionable.) We are truly worried that ATRS will now become third class citizens.

One of the worst parts of the horrible giveback laden 2005 contract was the loss of placement rights for members whose schools close or are excessed because their school or program is downsized. Since then, there has been a pool of teachers ranging from the hundreds to thousands called ATRs who have no permanent job and must substitute. Under current rules, ATRs usually stay in a school for a year and then can be reassigned. It is not a very professional existence but we are told by UFT leaders that at least the ATRs have jobs. In 2008 the DOE and UFT came to an agreement to allow principals to hire ATRs and only get charged on their budget the cost of half of a starting teacher for seven years. (The teacher still gets full pay.) The UFT predicted this would basically end the ATR problem but it didn't. The reasons ATRs are not hired are either because they have obscure licenses or they are activists who are not going to say, "How high?" when a principal tells them to "Jump!"

UFT Secretary Michael Mendel told me the ATRS will have a much greater chance of getting a full time position under this new agreement. Again, I truly want him to be right but I fear he might be wrong. The subsidies didn't lead to the withering away of the ATR pool and neither will this as I see it because unfortunately some principals don't care about cost as much as they care about control. Furthermore, having teachers do coverages is much cheaper than hiring someone they don’t know.

Balancing the budget on the backs of ATRS is not quite as awful as balancing it on the backs of newer teachers who would have been laid off but it was totally unnecessary. With Bloomberg’s poll numbers on education sinking to "Bushian Post Hurricane Katrina" levels, the UFT was holding all of the cards and should have insisted that to save money that the DOE should be compelled to place all of the ATRS into positions in their districts. That would save some money for sure as it would eliminate the ATR pool if DOE was not allowed to do any new hiring until every ATR in a license in a district was placed. Any remaining ATRs could cover classes in an individual school so as not to create the potential chaos that this agreement could bring.

Teacher bashing continues. When firehouses close, the firefighters aren't blamed and they are sent to another firehouse. When police precincts redeploy whole precincts because of corruption scandals, the clean cops who worked in the corrupt precinct don't have to apply to other precinct captains. They are transferred. Only teachers face the indignity of having to pound the pavement to seek a job because a program was downsized or closed.

President Mulgrew said this union leaves no educator behind. This is not totally true as the ATRs have certainly been left to basically fend for themselves.


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.

U Ratings Galore, UFT Ignore

UPDATED: Weds. June 30, 3AM

(If you have numbers on your school send them in)

Reports are coming in of high numbers of U ratings handed out today. Supposedly Jane Addams had 20 15 and JFK 12, including the newly elected Chapter Leader.
I wonder if any of this will surface at the UFT delegate assembly today.
If you have numbers for your school send them along.
So expect our 6 figure salaried (with double pention) Unity Caucus slug to complain about our carping and point to all the teachers who didn't get U's as a victory.

This comment came in:
At Jane Addams, 15 teachers received "U" ratings, and one received a "D". I teach there, but I am one of the lucky ones.

And an email below from a teacher which on my Blackberry I misread as FDR. I did find out that 11 or 12 teachers at FDR has their tenure extended. I am hearing from people that a number of tenure extendees are so pissed they are leaving but not telling. We'll see if anything comes of this - keep an eye on that 2600 estimate of retirees and leavees. I got a call from someone Tuesday around 3pm who left a message that he was in the act of handing in his retirement papers - a 3 or 4 year ATR who has many valuable skills but just was worn down by being an ATR - the very purpose of course. I hope he shares his skills in helping to build GEM now that he is retired.

I emailed back for more info which I will add to this post.
Hi Norm,
At FDNY HS 11 teachers of 24 received U ratings.  That has to be a new record.  And the s-o-b principal bragged today about the great graduation rate and the regents passing rates.  Who the heck is responsible for that, if not the U-rated teachers?

And to ICE-mail:
Anecdotally, at least, there appears to be a spike in U ratings this year ... at least in my district ( D75) and from what I've heard, elsewhere as well.

Lots of 'em handed out to people retirement-eligible or and/or to people top scale. Probationer got one in my school and an ATR as well, I understand. The would have *easily* passed in previous years.

Has UFT acknowledged this phenomenon? Anyone collecting data on this?

Scary stuff for everybody, but esp so for those holding the U s.

I would NOT want to be looking for a teaching position at this time, in this economy with the added onus of a U rating.

We live in a beautiful world.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today: UFT Delegate Assembly to Sell Deal, Bloombergville Protests, Plus Video of Activists at PEP Last Night (And Happy Last Day of School!)

Tues. June 28, 2011
More on the PEP last night later tonight.

Here is a video I taped last night of Bloombergville activists singing a song to cheer people up.

Here is a press release regarding today's actions:

This spring thousands of teachers, parents, youth and allies made it clear to Bloomberg that we would not accept teacher layoffs or the manufactured education budget "crisis." While we continue to analyze
the compromise reached this past Friday, it is important to note that grassroots organizing by teachers, parents, youth and allies has been crucial to building the pressure on city and union leaders.

Let's keep up the pressure on City Council as the vote on the final budget on Tuesday. While wide-scale teacher layoffs and firehouse closings may have been averted and City Council is restoring the Geriatric Mental Health Services and Elder Abuse treatment and prevention programs, we need to support a full-scale restoration and INCREASE to ALL city services, the education budget and public sector jobs!

Join us on Tuesday 6/28 for the following actions:

Noon: Protest Bloomberg's Budget Cuts

Where? Bloombergerville, Broadway & Park Place

What? March to 49 Chambers Street where the City Council ‘Stated Meeting’ for Budget vote will take place at 1:30pm.

5pm: Family Day of Action at Bloombergville

JOIN THE BNS/BCS Political Action Coalition for FAMILY ACTION DAY TODAY   at 5:00pm to support the protesters at Bloombergville and Tell Bloomberg not to cut vital city services.

WHO? Kids, parents, families who want to keep sending the message that the remaining city budget cuts to city services and public employees will hurt New York schools and children

BRING? NOISEMAKERS -- maracas! tambourines! pots and pans! your voices!

WHERE? 250 Broadway near City Hall. Take the N/R to CityHall or 2/3 to Park Place or 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge

LOOK FOR Mike and Amy in the straw cowboy/girl hats

WHAT is Bloombergville? Go to or search for Bloombergville on Facebook or Twitter: #bloombergville

CONTEXT. There are real revenue options that City Leaders can use to increase education and city budgets. Download the May 12 coalition report on Real Revenue Options here:


You can also read:

Call Bloomberg's bluff - analysis of the layoff deal from SocialistW

Monday, June 27, 2011

PEP Peeks

The early returns
Not a big crowd. Seems to be more security than audience. I am #2 to speak. What can I say in 2 minutes? I'll think of something.
Some NAACP and UFT and a small batch of Success people all handed orange tee-shirts by the handlers. Success Teachers wear blue. Basically no big push from Eva tonite since its a slam dunk.
Big Walcott innovation - give his report by coming off the stage.
Walcott spoke like he was doing standup. Except when teachers from Clara Barton started heckling him. He threatened to have them removed. Would love to have seen if he could get away with it. They shut up. Darn.

Patrick Sullivan asked Walcott about disastrous CEC election policy. He agrees it was flawed. Has he been dep mayor for education forever?

Cec speakers. Khem Irby and Noah Gotbaum nail them. My turn coming up. Later.
Norm Scott

Education Notes

Grassroots Education Movement

Education Editor, The Wave

Robotics blog

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

UFT Rolls Over When Eva Comes to Call

UPDATED: Tues. June 27, 2011, 8am

I find this infuriating. It expresses precisely why these battles have to be fought at the grassroots levels.

Leroy Barr, a union vice president, and parent Sabrina Williams and Lynwood Shell, a Morehouse College student who is working this summer in the education division of the United Negro College Fund, which works with Achievement First charter schools.
Williams and Shell accused the union of trying to diminish choice for families who have opted out of traditional public schools. But Barr told them that the UFT’s objection is not to charter schools or even to the concept of co-location, but to the process that the Department of Education has used to allocate school space.
“So why is the lawsuit not against the DOE?” asked a parent who had been listening in.
“It is,” Barr said. “You are a byproduct of our fight with them.”
Eva sends out her political operatives and the UFT lays on its back with its paws in the air. Pathetic. Like someone said - they are like a boxer who says "no mas" in the first 30 seconds of a fight. No wonder Eva is so emboldened.

You know, some people would say it is a brilliant move for the UFT to come out and offer snacks and coffee - I can live with that. But make the case for the ultimate goal of charters instead of nodding about how much they agree on. I have had dialogues with HSA parents and they actually agree with lots of what I say - but say they are doing what's right for their own kids. I tell them that they are the ones who are the key not HSA and that their kids would do well anywhere because if their interest in their child's education. I tell them it is fine to send their kids to Success but why are they allowing themselves to be used as political shock troops for Eva's personal ambitions. At least try to create a little doubt.

I tend to whine when I see no spine.

Tonight PEP Votes on Budget Without Info and Charters Expand - Work already started at IS 33 for Eva before the vote tonight

We discovered at IS 33 this morning that work has been ongoing to prep the space for Eva Moskowitz' Brooklyn Success school in the fall despite the fact that the PEP vote tonight has not taken place yet. A local/activist lawyer on the scene told us this work may be illegal.

Meanwhile, expect a somewhat raucous Panel for Educational Policy meeting tonight over charter co-locos. The rubber stamp PEP will vote on a budget they haven't seen yet. We will try to be there to capture the follies on tape. Here is Leonie Haimson's take:
The PEP will be voting on the budget tonight; as well as several controversial charter co-locations, and the public is supposed to give informed comment beforehand.

Yet we still have no information about what this budget deal actually means for our schools.

We know that at least 2600 teachers will be lost to attrition, which will mean sharp increases in class size. In grades K-3, class sizes will likely rise to their largest level in 12 years, despite promises by Bloomberg when he first ran for office to reduce them to twenty or less. We are told that principals are being briefed today, and being warned that the cuts will still be large.

If budgets are cut sufficiently, many schools will also likely to be forced to “excess” some of their teachers into the ATR pool, so the impact on classrooms and kids and schools would be the same as if there were actual layoffs.

Here is the information about tonight’s PEP meeting:

When: Monday June 27, 2011 at 6 PM (sign up between 5:30 PM -6 PM if you wish to speak.)

Where: Prospect Heights Campus, 883 Classon Ave, Brooklyn (take the 2,3 , 4, 5 S trains to the Eastern Parkway/ Brooklyn Museum Station); map here.

It’s really unbelievable that they haven’t even bothered to update the link on the PEP page on the budget since May 6.

I’ll let you know if I get a response from the Chancellor; pl. do the same and let me know if you hear back from him.

The City Council will vote on the budget either Tues. or Wed., am trying to confirm the date and time and will let you know that as soon as I hear back from them.

Thanks, Leonie

Dear Chancellor:

The PEP is voting on the budget tonight and the public is supposed to give comments beforehand.

And yet this  link to the total DOE budget has not been updated since May 6. 

The information  provided in the first place is entirely inadequate, stating only overall dollar amounts and not how much will be allocated to schools and how much spent on other Tweed priorities, including the central and mid-level bureaucracy, testing, data systems, charters, contracts, consultants and the like.

But most egregiously, this information also is no longer correct, since the budget deal was announced Friday night that supposedly eliminated the need for 4100 teacher layoffs.

When are you going to provide parents with the real numbers?  Any time before the budget is voted upon tonight?


Leonie Haimson

For Shame! UFT Victory Lap at Settlement Pilloried

--we sold out - not just ourselves and the communities we live in, but just as importantly, the families we serve. For shame! ---Loretta Prisco

If I were a parent of kids in the schools, I would be pissed. Parents and students supported the teachers, rallied with them, made phone calls, etc. There will be approximately 7,000 teachers less than a few years ago - and the student population has grown. Increased class size, less support for kids, many schools with closed libraries, not getting gym twice a week, and we call it a "victory"! For whom? The only way that we can get what we all need in this city is to raise revenue from those who can afford it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if teachers raised their voices in one loud unified "no" to this settlement?

Don't hold your breath as the mayor's tactics of threats and intimidation worked once again. Funny how if you say there is no money time and again - and your leaders go along - you begin to believe it. Is there a surplus? Does Tweed spend money on wasted projects like water? Should the UFT/AFT leadership take a stand on the way easy money appears when, oh, say you want a cool billion to go to bombing Libya. We know that a stand won't shake the money loose but the union is the only entity that could be out there making the case and trying to win people over to the revenue fight. Even though we started hearing "Wall St." words from the leadership, when push came to shove, the very concept of pointing out where the money is has disappeared from the lexicon.

I find it interesting that even some blogging friends have been looking at the deal between the UFT and Bloomberg through the narrow lens of the teacher. Loss of sabbaticals for a year? Many people think they were gone anyway. The ATRs as subs has created a but of concern. I agree - it is always worse than the UFT will present it at the DA on Tuesday, the last day of school, a day when people like to go out with their colleagues at school but now have to go to a meeting where they will really not have any decision making power.

We cannot separate the ATR issue from the closing school issue. The creation of ATRs was done jointly by the UFT and the DOE in the 2005 contract. That allowed them to accelerate the closing of schools. This agreement is part of the overall plan to force out ATRs after schools are closed by making the job as intolerable as possible. It opens the door to remove them from their school support network and as we know day to day subs - even experienced teachers - struggle. Suddenly subs teaching goodness knows what will be given the worst classes and written up as incompetents. Add that pressure to all the others and people will begin to flee - and the UFT leadership will do little to help and support them. Is this a way out for them without having to be charged with selling out ATRs?

But most important are these comments by retired teacher Loretta Prisco who still mentors new teachers about what this agreement does to the teaching/learning conditions. There is lots more to say - like does this mean that Christine Quinn - that Lilly livered anti- LIFO Bloomberg suckup will be the UFT choice for mayor as the UFT will argue mayoral control with her in charge would be better?

The threatened loss of 6,400 teaching jobs captured so many, kids or not, teachers or not, to this fight. We should have spoken in one, loud, unified voice ---- we had the pressure going, the Progressive Caucus of the City Council was pushing the Alternate Budget as proposed by the May 12th Coalition, we had the support of the community ---Loretta Prisco
Here is Loretta's full statement:

Looking at news reports, a teacher asked me to summarize what we really lost. After all, it didn't look like we lost much to save over 4,000 jobs. This was my response. We lost lots a golden opportunity - more than we will ever get back.

Specifically, no sabbaticals 2012-2013. You can count on this being the beginning of the end of sabbaticals. One rarely gets back what one gives up. We have NEVER gotten back anything given up. When I began in the system, at the very beginning of the union, every contract was a win-win. And every year, as our contract improved, so did teaching and learning conditions, because they are tightly woven together. Now not only do we give back when a contract is negotiated, we give back when we are not even negotiating and don't even have a contract!

Also, we must look larger at the fact that will not be filling those positions lost by attrition. Principals have been told to U rate and harass teachers, and I think purposefully. Let's look at motive. The Mayor is not concerned with maintaining good teachers. I don't think I have to convince you of that. All he and the Chancellors past and present under Mayoral Control, want are drones - young, will do as they are told, are cheap and will never collect a pension - and that they go steadily through a revolving door. Klein said years ago that he wanted to increase teaching by computers - cheaper and more controlled - with big contracts going to tech companies and those who sell programs. U ratings are designed to reduce the teaching force by pushing teachers out. We have lost over 6,000 positions in the last few years while our enrollment continues to grow. Translate that to increased class size. More on that later.

Having ATRs work as per diem subs? First of all, all the ATRs that I have met, have been doing the work of per diems by covering classes. So I am very suspicious of this. It is not saving money, so why was it negotiated as a financial issue. This has not been spelled out and I am concerned that this will be making it tougher for those who have done nothing wrong, except dedicated their teaching lives in underperforming schools.

Now let's look at what this has done to the communities we serve.

To save teaching jobs, (to keep class size down) parents joined forces with us - wrote letters, rallied, demonstrated, went up to Albany, and signed petitions. It was encouraging to hear parents say such nice things about teachers over the last few months. For too long we have been kept at each others throats. What did we do? How did we say thanks to our allies? Saved our own jobs ( no doubt important and I am not minimizing that) but we did not continue the battle to fill all positions so that class size would be maintained. We folded our tent and went away, leaving our allies out there alone. I am embarrassed by that.

But the reality was that we were never going to lose those positions, and Mulgrew knew that. The Mayor's motivation was political, not financial. He used the threats to defeat LIFO, but didn't get it. So Mulgrew and the Mayor "negotiated" a giveback. They come up winning. Our kids come up losing. We went to a party about 10 days ago and met an old friend who works for city government. He was clear - there will be no cuts and the announcement will come on Friday - and it did.

Now let's look at the really big picture - truthfully the city does have reduced funds - and it will get worse. The answer is the dilemma is to raise revenue, NOT CUT SERVICES. And Mulgrew knows that. He talks about the millionaire tax - and "we will work on it". Not good enough. We must get funds - now. For the super rich, with all of their loopholes and much of their wealth from capital gains, a millionaire's tax will undoubtedly help the city big time, and will mean that most of the wealthy will be paying under $10,000. They will not leave the city, as the Mayor keeps insisting that they will because in reality, it will cost them so little. But it is not just the millionaire's, but the banks and corporations that are profiting handsomely, no sinfully. Mulgrew doesn't even mention it.

So what will happen in our schools and communities?
  • Senior services have been reduced drastically over the last few years. Funding for elder abuse has been cut.
  • Meals provided for the homebound are down to one meal a day in 4 boroughs - try surviving on that.
  • Culturals (providing so many wonderful enrichments to our kids) have been cut ( the Noble Collection alone that provides wonderful programs has been cut 85%).
  • Our streets will be dirtier.
  • Library hours cut.
  • Literacy programs will be cut for the parents of the kids we teach.
  • Our roads and bridges will continue to be in constant disrepair.
  • Services for immigrant families curtailed.
  • It looks like other city workers - probably parents of kids we teach - will lose their jobs. We know how unemployment effects families. And continues to put a stress on the city's financial resources. Council member Recchia from Brooklyn recommended that we cut the number of agents that collect money from the parking meters (how much do you think they make?) - and not a word about those who stealing from this city with tax loopholes, no-bid contracts, etc.
  • AIDS funding and other city services will be compromised.
The list goes on and on. Enumerating the list is to depressing for Sunday morning. The threatened loss of 6,400 teaching jobs captured so many, kids or not, teachers or not, to this fight. We should have spoken in one, loud, unified voice. Just to say, we had the pressure going, the Progressive Caucus of the City Council was pushing the Alter Budget as proposed by the May 12th Coalition, we had the support of the community, and we sold out - not just ourselves and the communities we live in, but just as importantly, the families we serve. For shame!

Loretta Prisco


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.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


With parents of autistic children set to boycott a Brooklyn school being invaded by Moskowitch and rally at Tweed, Moskowitz is trying to draw press coverage away from them. But of course since they will arrive at Tweed at 10:30 there is still time for the press to cover their arrival if not the official start of their protest at the school at 8:30AM. Ed Notes will be there to cover even if not other press shows up.
See my earlier post for the parent press release:cOutrage at Eva Moskowitz: Parents of Brooklyn Autistic Students to Boycott PS 368K, Vow Not To Move Aside for Success Academy Charter Invasion/PEP Monday Night

YES, CONTACT  Contact: Eva press flack Kerri Lyon  917-348-2191  to express your outrage


See the just-released press advisory  from Eva’s press/political machine below. 

This new protest tomorrow morning appears to be cleverly designed to draw media away from the long-planned boycott planned by the parents of autistic children at PS 368Kat 8:30 AM tomorrow, and their march to Tweed,  to protest the co-location of Brooklyn Success Academy at their school. 

Contrast their protest, organized by real life public school  parents who wrote their own press advisory, to the advisory put out by  Kerri Lyon, a PR flack now Senior Vice President at SKDKnickerbocker, one of the largest PR firms in NYC, hired by Eva to handle her media relations. 

Kerri was originally hired away as a reporter from Channel 2 news by DOE in 2007 at a large salary, reportedly to put a “good spin” on their news, and then was subsequently by the Charter School Center, probably at an even higher salary. 

Her official bio credits her for the following achievement: “She even booked Chancellor Klein on “The Colbert Report.” (though Colbert’s chief booker is married to Jon Alter, and is a big charter school booster herself, so this was probably pretty easy.)

her advisory follows the one from the parents of PS 368K.

Outraged Parents of Brooklyn Autistic Students to Boycott PS 368K and Vow Not To Move Asidefor a Brooklyn Success Academy Charter School Invasion

What, When and Where: On Monday, June 27 at 8:30 am, courageous, fed-up parents from PS 368K will gather for a press conference in front of their school at the IS 33 campus on 70 Tompkins Ave. Brooklyn. Then they will march with their children and travel from this site to Tweed at 52 Chambers Street, NYC for a second press conference at 10:30 am.

Who: Basilica E. L. Johnson, P.T.A. President of The Star/P368K program in District 75, is also the parent of a 10 year old autistic son, who attends this public school program of about 100 special needs students.. She has organized a parent walk-out to protest the co-location of Success Academy at K03370 Tompkins Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206 in School District 14.

Basilica EL-Johnson, email:  and   732-688-8099(cell) 

Contact: Kerri Lyon



(NY, NY)—On Monday, June 27 at 8:30 a.m., parents will picket outside UFT headquarters to demand the teachers union stop jeopardizing their children’s futures and allow their schools to open as planned. The UFT and NAACP have refused to withdraw their lawsuit hurting 7,000 children, despite the fact that all the claims in their lawsuit have been addressed.

With some charter schools set to start the school year in as early as
 37 days, these 7,000 families have no idea if their children’s schools will be able to open.

WHAT: Parents Picket Outside UFT Headquarters

WHO: Parents affected by UFT and NAACP's ongoing lawsuit

WHEN: Monday, June 27. Parents will picket starting at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE: Outside UFT Headquarters, 52 Broadway, NY, NY

Outrage at Eva Moskowitz: Parents of Brooklyn Autistic Students to Boycott PS 368K, Vow Not To Move Aside for Success Academy Charter Invasion/PEP Monday Night

Ed Notes will be there to cover events.

Panel for Educational Policy

On Monday, June 26 the DOE's Panel on Educational Policy will discuss Charter School Relocations at IS 308 in Brooklyn and a number of other schools. Join the UFT, NY Communities for Change and the Coalition for Public Education to protest at Prospect Heights High School 883 Classon Avenue (near Eastern Parkway)-- take the 2,3 or 4 trains to the Eastern Parkway/ Brooklyn Museum Station.
See you on Monday @ 6 PM!

 The Grassroots Education Movement will also be there.
Press Advisory
Date: Monday, June 27, 2011
Times: 8:30 am, PS 368 Entrance/10:30 am, DOE Tweed 52 Chambers St. 
Contact: Basilica E. L. Johnson (732-688-8099)
Outraged Parents of Brooklyn Autistic Students to Boycott PS 368K and Vow Not To Move Aside
for a Brooklyn Success Academy Charter School Invasion

What, When and Where: 
On Monday, June 27 at 8:30 am, courageous, fed-up parents from PS 368K will gather for a press conference in front of their school at the IS 33 campus on 70 Tompkins Ave. Brooklyn. Then they will march with their children and travel from this site to Tweed at 52 Chambers Street, NYC for a second press conference at 10:30 am.

Basilica E. L. Johnson, P.T.A. President of The Star/P368K program in District 75, is also the parent of a 10 year old autistic son, who attends this public school program of about 100 special needs students.. She has organized a parent walk-out to protest the co-location of Success Academy at K03370 Tompkins Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206 in School District 14. The school site currently houses three schools: Urban Assembly School for the Urban Environment-14K330, an existing DOE district middle school that serves sixth through eighth grade, the Foundations Academy-14K322, an existing high school that serves nine through twelfth grade, and lastly, an existing District 75 school "PS368 . The building also houses an Alternative Learning Center-88K988, a suspension center serving grades 9-12.
Why a walkout? 
Ms. Johnson asserts, “The Success Academy has already made it known that it plans to alter the gymnasium space allocated for the children of District 75, which includes a population of autistic, learning disabled and emotionally disturbed children. That will just be the beginning with no end. Once the Success Academy is in place, it will start devouring space like the beginning stages of a Cancer growth that spreads until it has consumed the entire entity. This is evident at P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn where special education students are receiving their services in hallways and stairwells, all so that PAVE Academy Charter School can have more classrooms. Or, at P.S. 241, in Harlem, where public school students are now forced to learn in basement classrooms bordering the boiler room, all so that Harlem Success Academy Charter School can have more space upstairs.

Help us to send a message to the DOE that public schools matter because our children matter. Help us send the same message to Eva Moskowitz, a former city-council member with no former teaching qualifications and whose only interest is that of her being the CEO of Success Academy. We do not want her idea of “change” at our school.”

Therefore, the emboldened parents of PS 368K with their special needs children are taking a passionate
stand to say NO MORE! Ms. Johnson insists, “Our children have been short changed and pushed aside
for too long. And let it be duly noted that autistic children do not conform to change readily. They cannot
be pushed from this space to that space, this floor to that floor and still maintain the fragile stability their
teachers so expertly nurture.”

Very Real Parent Fears: 
With unfair public school cut-backs, and so-called “modifications” to special education guidelines that supposedly “streamline” services, the parents of special needs children live in daily fear about what actions will be taken next to marginalize their children. Charter schools do not educate these high needs students, yet they flourish on billionaire funding and DOE privileges, absorbing more and more public school space and resources. Ms. Johnson concludes, “Are our children with special needs all going to be placed by the DOE in one-room school settings, where all needs classifications co-mingle together and where all mandated services, as per federal regulation orders, are only a pretense on an I.E.P. form?” What happened to real and humane differentiation of instruction?

Jitu Weusi, life-long activist for educational and civil rights justice, astute veteran of the successful 1968
Brownsville community-control-of-public-schools movement and current chairperson of the Brooklyn chapter of the city-wide Coalition for Public education, cogently predicts, “Success Academy has a history of vamping on the dreams of the poor. Their day of recompense is coming!”


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.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Follow-up: Comments on Mark Naison Teach for America Post

There has been a lot of reaction to Mark Naison's

Dr. Mark Naison - Teach for America and Me: A Failed Courtship

Some have left comments on the original post. Some have commented on the listserve. I've collated some of them below and will keep adding to them.

Mr. Naison,

I am a current Teach for America corps member in the Mississippi Delta. I read your blog earlier today via a colleague (also Black) who teaches at the same school, KIPP Delta College Prep in Helena, Arkansas. I wanted to say that I find your comments dead on, although I risk losing my Americorps stipend for going in-depth about how I feel as a first generation Black college student from the inner-city (Compton, California specially), I will say that I was very disappointed to see the low number of students of color who would be my peers in the organization. Furthermore, I was rather distraught in the beginning with the way that the "achievement gap" is framed through TFA and made it very public, which did not make me too popular, that while we come in as individuals trying to make a difference in the achievement gap, we by no means can look at others as the reason why there is one. That was a very delicate way of getting out what I sensed in the atmosphere, that they, are not "saviors." I could actually go on for hours, so I will digress.

To be completely honest, I sought Teach for America for the wrong reasons. I, too, thought it would help in my quest to apply for law school. After having a wonderful first year of teaching (my class tested science MAP results that put us in the top 20% percent of the nation in science concepts and general science), I'm going to take a big leap and apply to law school in the fall. God willing, I can get into a Southern California institution and I will explain why that area is where I would like to be specifically.  As originally planned, I do not want to attend law school to go into law; I have every intention of committing myself to public policy and public service. I have put heavy thought into starting a non-profit organization that offers the opportunity for ALL students willing to participate, regardless of race from low socio-economic backgrounds, a pathway to college readiness and gets them ACTIVELY thinking about themselves as students who can succeed on a college campus by taking them on trips to universities, studying for the SAT, focusing on their grades and mapping out realistic goals to get them to and through college.

As I think about this idea more and more, I've put heavy thought about getting together a small group of dedicated individuals that would be willing to see something like this happen. Specifically, college graduates of color that I have met through networking as a past Chair of the Black Student Alliance at my university and being involved in planning many California student of color conferences.

I am sharing this because I would like to know your thoughts on this. I plan on returning back to the community where I was born and raised and offering whatever I can because it was done for me. After a year of being in the Delta, I have realized how much I am seen as the "other." I am still a Black woman, still from a low socioeconomic background, but I am still foreign. I think developing a non-profit organization such as this, applying for grants to fund the program, and using grassroots methods of relying on people that I grew up with, that are like me and have attained a degree can be just as powerful as the concept of Teach for America.

I look forward to your response.
Amen, Prof. Naison, Amen! It's so good to know I am not the only one who feels this way about TFA. As an administrator at an Ivy-league institution where TFA recruits heavily, I have seen precisely the things you mention. I've had TFA teachers on my staff who have made it clear that teaching in low-income, urban schools was something to do while they studied for the GMAT, LSAT or GRE to enter graduate or professional schools to get to where they really want to be. Most of the ones I've encountered have no intention of pursuing teaching as a career or of having a profound impact on a child's education. For too many of them, (but of course, not all) there is no sense of commitment or altruism. As you state, it's just something that looks good on a resume. For the schools that rely on TFA recruits to fill teaching positions, the 2-year commitment guarantees a lack of dedication and continuity that does students more harm than good.


As an inner-city public school student in Philadelphia, I was exposed many
such "Urban Peace Corps" programs, but we always knew from the beginning
they were just passing through.

Teach For America however is the most insidious of all because students from elite private Liberal Arts Colleges and Ivy League Universities think SO little of public school teachers, they think the presence of their greatness for two years will elevate the "great unwashed students and teachers in urban public schools" to such an extent, a lifelong commitment is not needed.

I am certain many of them find they "cannot hang" as they were not prepared properly by TFA which blows their superior mindset out of the waters.

Still, amongst those who DO try to hang in there and make a difference, the disrespect, frustration and working conditions we teachers count as a given drive many away.

This is all a part of the "Anyone Can Teach" mantra which permits non-teachers of all stripes to dictate to education experts.  Renowned "entre-manures" tour schools and teach one lesson at the chalkboard etc. in an effort to show their commitment to urban education.  Please!

We teachers have allowed this as well, because we want to be accessible to our kids and their families.  It feels awkward to declare ourselves as education experts.

We need to get over this before it is too late!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sighs of Relief as UFT Snatches Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

Friday, June 25, 10:30PM -

 Planning a sabbatical next year (2012-13)? Forget it. UFT has suspended them, perhaps with other givebacks, to avoid the emergency layoffs that a 3.2 billion dollar surplus necessitates.  -Arthur Goldstein, chapter leader at Francis Lewis HS on Facebook

Protesters have come up the steps and are yelling, banging and chanting loudly outside front door of Tweed. Feels like Tweed is under attack- Tweet from Lindsay Christ, NY 1
Looks like our pals at Bloombergville are not happy. Imagine if they were joined by teachers with cancelled sabbaticals and the ATRs. Both group are losers in this settlement.

I use "relief" in the headline with irony as people are rejoicing over the deal between the UFT and Bloomdud to avoid layoffs. Bloomberg was bluffing, trying to use the layoff threat to browbeat everyone into giving up seniority. When that didn't work it was clear he wasn't going to lay off his favorite Teach for America and E$E newbies. We were also reporting a high number of retirees and scuttlebutt from the schools that so many 3rd teachers who had their tenure extended were disgusted enough to leave the system. We also felt that the system could not be run without some level of chaos if it lost so much personnel. [NOTE: thanks to Unity slug for pointing out that sabbaticals are for the 2012-13 year - still a loss and another part of the contract sold off even if people think it is minor - anyway, who is going to teach long enough to even get a sabbatical?]

So given that Bloomberg was in a box, the UFT handed him a crowbar.

Here was a chance to force them to cut out the bullshit consultants and high priced programs but someone blinked.

On the other hand, next year when Bloomberg tries it again who will believe him? But by that time they may have browbeaten seniority protections out of the system. If I were an ATR I would be worried as they are target number one. Is there anything in this deal that opens up the door to going after them since they are Bloomberg's major target?

Then there's the fact that even though no layoffs, there is attrition - with retirements and the fed-ups gone how many less personnel will there be?

Well, by the reactions, people seem happy so far because they look at this short term. I'm with Reality Based Educator who commented on this post:
I think the agreement should have been that the CityTime and DOE tech consultants work as per diem subs, but only in their own districts. Well, at least the ones that haven't been arrested for stealing.

I'm Hot, You're Not: The Longest Day Redux (And I Get Treated Like a Dad)

Boy my behind is behind. Here is a follow-up to Tuesday's (June 21) The Longest Day. And was it long. I got home at 10:30 and fell into a rare full-night's sleep.


HOT Yoga
No, I didn't get to Times Square in time to get a mat (they gave me a piece of cardboard), or even a good spot in any of the 3 main locations for the 12:30 Bikram yoga class. I ended up on the sidewalk in front of the Marriott, gazing wistfully up at my favorite 8th floor bar where we love to get a drink before or after a show while looking down on Broadway.

There had to be thousands of people in 3 or 4 holding areas from 48th St down to 45th. Now, Bikram is HOT Yoga in 100 degree rooms so even though it was warm out, this was fairly light stuff for me. By the end of the hour and a half class I was sweaty but not drenched. Sometime during the class I realized that I could go up to the Marriott bathroom and clean up a bit before my next ventures. And so I did after class ended at 2pm. Here is a video link and another one from my Blackberry.


NAACP/UFT in court
I called Mona Davids from the Marriott to see if they were still at the court house for the UFT/NAACP law suit and I headed down there but all I saw was the NY 1 truck and one of their camera women, so I was too late for the dueling press conferences. At least the NAACP and UFT haven't sold out - yet. (Remember last year how the UFT settled with the DOE during the summer for more resources for the closing schools and spend the year crying about how the DOE violated the agreement - DUH!) I don't know, I smell a sell-out since the DOE/Charter tag team always will win as long as the UFT doesn't get into the full match instead of looking for ways out.

Here is a good report from Leonie:
The courtroom was so full of an army of attorneys for the charter schools today that only five people were initially let in the room who weren’t attorneys or press. Only one of these lawyers actually participated in the arguments, a  Paul Weiss attorney; and he didn’t seem to impress the judge very much.

GS says these firms are representing the charters  for free—two of them representing Eva’s chain. Outrageous that corporate America should represent them for free; where are these law firms when it comes to representing public school parents?  Thank god for Stroock, the UFT ‘s law firm, and Chuck Moerdler, who did an excellent job in court today.

The firms are heavy-hitting corporate practices, all of which are representing the charters pro-bono. They are Kirkland & Ellis LLP (New Visions High School, New Visions School for Advanced Math and Science, Teaching Firms of America, Invictus Prep), Arnold & Porter LLP (Upper West Success Academy), Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (Bronx Success 1 and 2 and Brooklyn Success), SNR Denton (Explore Excel, KIPP Infinity, Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy 1 and 2 and East Harlem Scholars).
Check out all the stories at Gotham. And I put up Leonie's take-down of Beth Fertig's coverage of the suit on NPR at Norms Notes: Parents Slam NPR Education Coverage

City Hall Press Conference

Next I went over the City Hall for the May 12 coalition press conference with many of the Coalition for Educational Justice groups showing where the money to be saved could be found. A bunch of politicians were there organizing the event. I often have mixed feelings about CEJ stuff for complex reasons (sometimes unseemly ties to the UFT)- as do other activists in NYC - but the work they do has to be supported. The press conference was followed by a march around City Hall Park after which we went over to join the crew at Bloombegville on the corner of Park and Broadway where they are camping out. See some more pics I took below.

I shot some of the press conference but there are vids up on you tube already from others (links will be here when I get them). Here is a short piece that shows the march from City Hall over to Bloombergville on Broadway and Park.

Dad for a day: Julie Cavangh treats
I had a 5PM meeting so I left Bloombergville and headed uptown. After the meeting Julie Cavanagh took me out for a "father's" day dinner of fish 'n chips. She used to introduce me as her advocacy husband but since I'm exactly twice her age "dad" seems more appropriate. Sometimes she refers to me as "grandpa" during my increasing senior moments.

Last summer, Julie asked me what my goal was. I answered, "Finding 50 more like you." I'll take 5.

It is hard to realize that I know Julie less than 2 years since we have done so many projects together. I've proudly watched her go from zero to sixty at super speed as an activist. Her activism stems from her concern for the children and parents she works with - the invasion of PS 15 by PAVE charter school has helped create a force of nature.

A year and a half ago no one knew who she was. Now there is not an event where she is not in demand or an activist who is not in touch with her. She will be in Chicago and Washington DC in July and will begin to play a role in the national stage. Her ability to organize, get things done and lead is unparalleled. And she will also be taking on the job of chapter leader at her school. Oy! She's never attended a Delegate Assembly. This will be fun to watch.

But for all the accolades (Leonie Haimson at the Skinny Awards dinner called her one of only two people she's met who have star power - Diane Ravitch is the other) Julie has also proven to be one of the kindest, most generous, supportive, people I've ever met with some of the best instincts to do the right thing based on moral imperatives that sometimes leave me shameful at my inattentiveness  – her giving me hell for throwing my gum in the gutter because pigeons might choke on it made me feel like a heathen - though a car would get them way sooner than my gum. Now I walk around with gum stuck in my pockets.

While she often mentions me as one of her mentors, I have learned a lot more from her than she has from me (like loving animals as opposed to loving just your own animal). She insists on doing things right and is often a demanding perfectionist  – that doesn't always mesh well with my often slovenly "it's good enough for government work" attitude. She is someone I listen too all the time and she should be credited as the first person to have the ability to shut me up with one look. I'm a proud poppa indeed.

Well, those fish 'n chips were sure good. Too bad she's a veggie or I would have tried to wangle Peter Lugers for next year.

Well, at least Julie has promised to come visit me when I end up in the nursing home. But then again, so has my 93 year old dad who at our visit to his doctor the other day told her his only problem was that he doesn't have a young woman. I reminded him that young to him is a woman in her 80's.

Photos from the City Hall Rally

Thursday, June 23, 2011

SOS March in Washington July 28-31 - GEM Participation

Members of the Grassroots Education Movement are excited to be participating in the SOS march and activities in Washington from July 28-July31. Our film will have a double concurrent showing on the evening of July 29 at American University, the night before the big march. We also found out that cites around the nation are supporting the event with their own activities. Our film will be shown on July 30 in Las Vegas and Tuscon. Here is an update from Julie Cavanagh, who is coordinating for GEM:

This week Diane Ravitch wrote a piece detailing why she is marching with the Save Our School Coalition this July:  (Please share widely)

The weekend in DC, with the march set for Saturday, July 30th, is shaping up to be an exciting event with real education reformers from around the country lined up to give workshops and speak and there will be a film series as well:

The Grassroots Education Movement will be there presenting a workshop on Thursday, July 28th on building grassroots power and parent-teacher-student- community partnerships and our film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, will be screened twice on Friday evening.
Please consider attending the SOS march.  Visit the site, donate to the cause, and hope to see you there in July!

GEM has a committee working on plans for the march.  If there is anything we can do to support you in your plans to attend please let us know.  We are working on organizing a NYC contingent, more information to come.  In the meantime, Amtrak is offering discounts for the weekend of the march.  The information is below, make your reservation now!

To all SOS WASHINGTON DC Marchers:  Get a discount on your trip!!


Amtrak will offer a 10% discount off the best available
rail fare to ( Washington , DC ) between (July 25, 2011 – August 03, 2011).

To book a reservation call: Amtrak at 1 (800) 872-7245.

Ask for: Save Our Schools March Convention Rate-X08H - 929.