Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gotham Schools Involvement in Ed Deform Panel Controversy - Teachers Protest E4E Faux Teacher Sydney Morris Inclusion - Ravitch Resigns From Panel

  • Storm of Protest over City Hall News/Gotham Schools ed deform event. 
  • Ravitch withdraws.
  • Gotham Schools protest of innocence and neutrality comes into question

We've been tracking this story since word came through Thursday morning when Leonie Haimson came across the announcement (see original announcement at end of this post) that City Hall News and Gotham Schools were co-sponsoring an ed deform panel next week. Leonie added this comment: "Strangely constituted and lately announced."

Strange indeed. Gotham Schools, a supposedly independent source of school news was co-sponsoring an event stacked with ed deformers. NYC State Regent slug Meryl (I'm not a crook) Tisch, Evil Moskowitz, non-entity Bill Thompson (Bloomberg's hand-picked opponent in the last election) and best of all, faux teacher Sydney Morris of E4E. No real teacher. No real parent. But Diane Ravitch was on the panel as the lone Real Reformer. Not good enough for many of us.

The blow back was fast and furious.

To City Hall News:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I write to express my feelings concerning your inclusion of Ms. Sydney Morris in your On Education breakfast of August 25 who is there, presumably, to represent teachers. Please understand that I speak for tens of thousands when I tell you that as a teacher I find her selection nothing short of appalling and grossly offensive. Ms. Morris is a part time employee of the Department of Education which have egregiously granted her and her fellow Educators for Excellence co-founder something called F status which allows her to work one day a week in the profession she so arrogantly claims to represent and even lead. It has been documented in the New York Times and elsewhere that Educators for Excellence is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and represents less than one percent of New York City teachers, the overwhelmingly majority who find their views astoundingly ignorant and abhorrent. In short, Ms. Morris is an employee of Bill Gates working for a union busting front group. In no way can she be considered an authentic voice for NYC teachers.

In the name of decency and fairness I strongly urge you to reconsider your choice or failing that at the very least counter the presence of Ms. Morris with a real teacher representing the real views of other real teachers. I would happily assist you in this quest.

Thank you for your time,


Patrick Walsh
NYC Teacher
Other teachers sent private letters of protest to Gotham asking how E4E gets on the panel but no reps from Real Reform groups like GEM, NYCORE or Teachers Unite are not considered.

Word from Gotham quickly filtered out along the lines of "Who me? We're just moderating and had no say in the panel." Gotham furiously began to back pedal and word seeped out that the old standby, UFT VP Leo Casey and Tweed top level official Shael Polokaw-Surnansky had been asked - to create balance? I may have made peace with Leo at SOS but he is far from a Real Reformer.

Question: Gotham wasn't sensitive enough in the first place to see this stacked panel would create a storm and question their credibility?

Well, I as a trusting soul gave Gotham the benefit of the doubt. They weren't partnering with City Hall News but just moderating - until I saw the revised announcement.Well, apparently there was some lobbying going on and Gotham blogger and legit teacher Stephen Lazar was added to the panel to balance Sydney Morris, causing a bit of joy in the Mudville listserves.

Sorry, folks, I'm not appeased. While I am glad Lazar is on the panel, I don't see him as representing any of the Real Reform groups - GEM, NYCORE, Teachers Unite _ that counter the E4E paid for ed deformist line. Appeals to Gotham were unheeded to lobby for an official rep from these orgs just as Sydney is advertized as the founder of E4E (why is she always representing an org with supposedly over 3000 members - a number dwarfed by the number of people supporting Real Reform orgs. Why not show us some of those faces? Or maybe another one of the 6 people employed by the Gates/DFER funded E4E?

But then again we know how much love the press and Gotham (by linking to every scrap of E4E press coverage) has shown to E4E over its brief existence. Evan or Sydney blow a bubble and FOX, the NY Post and the Wall St. Journal have an article on them. E4E is Rupert Murdoch's dream organization - and there are other E4Es around the nation which I will post about next week.

Sydney Morris is clearly on the panel to push the E4E 5th column line. Why should E4E which has less influence in the schools than the real reform groups like GEM, NYCORE and Teachers Unite be represented and they excluded? So E4E could put out press releases that they are at a level to sit on a panel with Tisch and Moskowitz, creating another layer of false legitimacy?

There is an anti-Gotham sense amongst a sub-set of some teachers and parents that Gotham is biased toward charters and ed deform in general - the idea that the biggest money gets you what you pay for. No one in that camp has convinced me yet, though I have hammered Gotham over the attention paid to a faux teacher group while mostly ignoring Real Reform groups like GEM, NYCORE and Teachers Unite.

Gotham, by originally seeming to have few qualms about participating in an ed deform event with a faux teacher representing a faux organization, has harmed some of its credibility in my eyes. I would go down and protest - If I didn't have to do my hair Thursday morning.

South Bronx School imports a guest commentator to compare Ed creds of an E4E and GEM leader.
I don't buy into the opinion of bias by Gotham - the have responded to pressure to give the Real Reformer groups some coverage and have featured RR writers in the community section. But in the interests of fair and balanced, here is an alternatative viewpoint.

Some comments on Gotham bias and E4E from NYC Educator

The Audacity of Corporate Nonsense

And Good Morning to You, Too

Like, Thanks, Gotham Schools!

Holy Grail of the "Reformers"

Charters 4-Union 1That's the score at Gotham Schools

NY Post, Fox News, and Gotham Schools

The original announcement below. The updated one here.

On Education

It has been a tumultuous summer in the education world, full of budget fights and labor showdowns. Heading into the new school year we are sitting down with a panel of leaders and influencers in the education field to better understand how the past year’s fights will play out in the school year ahead and how these events will impact education policy, city politics, teachers and parents for years to come.
Andrew Hawkins
Managing Editor at City Hall News

Philissa Cramer

Managing Editor of GothamSchools.Org
AUGUST 25, 2011
8:00 a.m.
Networking Breakfast

8:30 -9:30 a.m.
Panel Discussion Followed by Q&A

Con Edison Building
4 Irving Place (@14th Street)
New York, New York


$30 for individual tickets/
$250 table of 10

AFTER 8/24:
$40 for individual tickets /
$350 for a table of 10
*$20 ticket for government and non-profit employees
FOR MORE INFORMATION or sponsorship opportunities
call 646.442.1662 or email us here.
Co-Founder of Educators 4 Excellence

Former City Council Member & Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Success Charter Network

Research Professor of Education at New York University & Former Assistant Secretary of Education

Former President of the NYC Board of Education & Former NYC Comptroller

Chancellor of the NY Board of Regents

Thomas Hunter Professor of Public Policy at Hunter College


  1. Diane Ravitch decided to turn down her invitation.

  2. Only two things to say here:

    1) I agree with your points about E4E and Gotham. Even if Gotham doesn't really feel that way, they're consistently showcasing E4E without showcasing a counterbalance to that group.

    2) From what I understood about what you're saying. I disagree with your assessment from Mr. Lazar. Please let me know what you meant by that. Thanks.



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