Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Would Anyone Expect an Honest Book From Steve Brill? But He Does Love Randi - Plus Hurricane Parteeee Report

Guest Post: The Facts Not Included in Steve Brill's Tell All

Steve Brill is part of the new growth industry "education pimp" class - people who are leaping out of failed careers to make money off the ed deform movement. Are you surprised that the only "teacher" he likes is pseudo teacher Randi Weingarten who has less experience in the classroom than Sydney Morris?
Mike Winerip's column today gives us a pretty forceful rebuttal to Steven Brill's latest adventure in teacher-bashing. Specifically, he finds a pretty bald-faced falsehood. Did Brill even bother to check this stuff before publication? Hasn't he got an editor?
Thus comments NYC Educator in today's post: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Everything but the truth. Winerip titles his article:  Teachers Get Little Say in a Book About Them

But Brill also knows GEM's Brian Jones, who co-narrates our film The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. I will give Brill credit for getting GEM's Brian Jones on last September's Education Nation - a panel narrated by Brill that also included Canada, Rhee and Randi - Brian went head to head with Canada and the look on Rhee's face as Brian goes at them is priceless. See Brian's account of that event: Education Notes Online: Brian Jones at HuffPo: What I Learned at ...

Brill likes Randi but not a real teacher like Brian. Perfect Ed Deformer mode, especially since I consider Randi an ed deformer even though my crusade to convince even my fellow activists has not been all that successful - yet.

Leonie Haimson fact checks Brill:

Blogger Gary Rubinstein has also been fact-checking Brill's book.

On August 24, 2009 I wrote this about Brill, who has done hatchet jobs on rubber room and ATRs:
Hamilton Nolan wrote this past June in The Persistent Failure of Steven Brill. Check the site directly for the links, but here is the text.
Steven Brill has a reputation for being a media wise man—a deep-thinking mogul who's always spotting the opportunities of The Future. Which is kind of strange, since the majority of his projects have been ostentatious failures.

Brill's latest company, "Clear," which was supposed to save rich people a half hour standing in security lines at airports in exchange for $128 a year, is shutting down. Let's do a quick and dirty balance sheet of Brill's successes and failures—keeping in mind that to do your best is all your mom really asks.


The American Lawyer: Brill launched what would become the nation's leading legal magazine in 1979. This is not an unqualified success, though, since American Lawyer Media (now Incisive Media) is having problems right now.

Court TV: Brill created the network (now truTV) in 1991. After receiving a huge popularity boost from the OJ Simpson trial, it was sold it to Time Warner in 1997. For which Brill got a tidy sum.

Emily Brill: Steven's daughter, the ultimate narrator.


Brill's Content: Launched in 1998, this mediacentric mag was supposed to capitalize on America's insatiable thirst for news about the news! Turned out not that many people really care about the news about the news. Not enough to pay money, at least. Stopped publishing in 2001. A website selling "a variety of content ranging from thesis papers to ebooks." Closed in 2001. The legendary media site that launched the careers of many top media reporters and also failed to make any money. The magazine version of Inside was merged with Brill's Content, and the website was part of a convoluted plan with Primedia to corner the market on media trade publications, but the whole thing was shuttered in 2001.

Clear: In the post-9/11 world, Brill noticed, airport security sure was a hassle. People would pay to be "verified" beforehand so they could breeze right through! Right? 165,000 people did, reportedly, and Clear raised more than $100 million from investors, but now it's dead, unable to afford to keep going.

Brill also wrote a couple books which didn't sell all that well and a column for Newsweek, but you can judge those on their own merits. He's not out of the game, though—his other ongoing venture is Journalism Online, a company that plans to help various magazines and newspapers charge readers for online access. Bet on it!

Hmmm. Steven Brill with a persistent record of failure, now reduced to writing about rubber rooms and ATRs.

If they had rubber rooms for the things failures of people like Brill do, he'd be writing about himself.

Here are some more Brill references on Ed Notes over the years:
May 19, 2010
It is written by Steve Brill, who did an unfair piece for the New Yorker on the rubber rooms. It seems as though one can make a pretty decent career now in hack journalism, as long as you attack the UFT. ...
Mar 04, 2010
Reports began surfacing that Steve Brill is gnawing around the charter school story – he was probably hired by the charter school crowd to do a hatchet job on the defenders of public education like he did on the rubber ...
Aug 13, 2010
Pro-charter spin by WSJ; very Steve Brill-esk, unfairly comparing the test scores at Girls Prep to PS 188. Why not compare them to the autistic kids, while you're at it? About Girls Prep "The girls are mainly black, Hispanic and poor. ...
Aug 24, 2009
Very disappointed of Steven Brill's article which is so one sided. As a African American himself, he knows well that the portraited villains have often been the hapless victims. However, I am not surprised to see the ...

Today's Reading Supplement at Perimeter Primate:

The four horsemen of our apocalypse?

Racism, Poverty, Militarism, Materialism. The apocalypse reference may sound dramatic, but the current condition (and trajectory) of our society is looking pretty bad.

Like a Hurricane:  Parteeee

Well, I guess it was for many people. Living on a barrier island like Rockaway, we expected the worst and evacuated, though most of the old-line Rockaway people, being old hands at this stuff, stayed put. We're only out here for 32 years, so we're newbies. We left once before during Gloria in 1985 I believe and were laughed at.

We didn't think our lives were in danger but were worried about storm damage to the house - like having the extension we added that I helped build 25 years ago - oy! - blow away. What could we do if we were here? And losing one car to a nor'easter flood in 1992 was enough to make the decision to get both cars into Brooklyn an easy one, especially with the generous offer from friends Ira Goldfine and Sheila Rashal to join them, their daughter and son-in-law who had just flown in from vacation and were staying over too -  and the 4 cats. Of course, not having our own 20 year old cat anymore to move made the decision to leave much easier. Plus the offer of loads of food, lots of drinks and a hurricane party atmosphere.

And parteeee we did.I had beer, wine, hard liquor and lots of food we ordered from the local pizza shop. Plus great anti-ed deform conversation all evening.

We brought enough stuff to stay for a month - I still had visions of sections of missing house, no power for months and all the other evil storm effects we were hearing about. I was up half the night listening on the radio - I couldn't seem to get the TV or internet to work but as awful radio reports from Long Beach, about 10 miles away came in I was getting increasingly nervous - until at 8AM I called my friend who lives 2 blocks away and as a Rockaway native doesn't heed no stinkin' evacuation orders. He walked over to my block and reported little water even a half hour after the first high tide surge - we are 3 blocks away and just a trickle of the ocean got to our driveway. I was more worried about the bay a half block away but the water was still 3 feet below the top of the wall. But in the nor'easter of '92 water came back up the storm sewers. Not this time.

So, I was so relieved, I gulped down at least 3 pieces of delicious french toast Sheila made and we headed home at noon after calling the Gil Hodges bridge number to see if it was open. The entire house, including basement was dry except for a bit of water backup through the garage door and one of the always leaky skylights. All that needed doing was cleaning up some schmutz which my wife has been doing all morning thanks to my still one-armed state - thank goodness - I think I'll try to milk this for months.

One of the interesting sidelights had to do with our cars, the protection of which from flood damage was a main reason for evacuating (our Rockaway buddies took their cars to Kennedy airport and parked them on the 2nd floor of the terminal). When we got to Brooklyn we were relieved to see so many parking spots in front of Ira's house, which is on a tree-laden block. "Don't park here. Look for a spot on a street without trees," Ira told us." And he was so right. During the night a massive branch came down across the entire street in front of his house (cutting the cable wire which is why there was no internet and TV) that would have crushed sections of both our cars if we had parked there. Another lucky break for us.

If this was the once in a century storm we won't be around for the next one, especially since the Republicans have declared global warming a myth. Next they'll be pushing the upcoming ICE Age. Now all we have to worry about are glaciers encasing our cars.


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 comment:

  1. Leonie and I both fact checked Brill before Winerip's article came out-
    Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2011 1
    Subject: RE: [nyceducationnews] klein's review of Brill book

    I did this here:

    Leonie Haimson

    On Behalf Of Lisa Donlan
    Sent: Saturday, August 20, 2011 5:52 PM
    To: nyced newsgroup
    Subject: RE: [nyceducationnews] klein's review of Brill book
    the salesman and protectors of the new status quo ( what else would you call the last ten years of failed policies?) must be on the run, I mean truly running scared if they choose to tip their rhetorical hand like this.

    So here we have it: the deformer reframe in outline form, complete w/ co option and coining of new terms-
    like "grass roots educators"( no doubt like Eva?), "traditionalists" (for those who fight the deformers), and even the use of "deformers" to describe how the "traditionalists" describe the self-styled reformers!

    I especially like this section:

    There is, for instance, the story of two New York schools sharing a building in Harlem: PS 149, a traditional public school, and Harlem Success Academy, a nonunionized charter school. According to Mr. Brill, both schools draw "similarly qualified, or challenged students" from "the same community," with PS 149 spending about $1,000 more per student. Nevertheless, at PS 149 only 29% of the students are performing at or above grade level in English and 34% in math, while at Harlem Success the comparable numbers are 86% in English and 94% in math. That difference, Mr. Brill asserts, "provides the most vivid argument for school reform. . . . Parents who had their kids, or who had neighbors with kids, on both sides of the building didn't need much convincing that all kids could learn if their schools were operated without all the constraints imposed on the public school side.

    If one examines the demographics for PS 149 one sees that, according to the school's CEP in 2009- 10 (the year for which Brill compares the test scores) , the poverty rate was 100%, the number of special education students was 22/433 or 5.5%, , the number of ELL students was 44/433 or 10%, and that 8 students/433 were overage, or 1.8%, and that 17/433 or 4% were in temporary housing ( it was 5% the year before).

    Of course the DoE website lists NO data for HSA I for comparison so I had to look at the NYSED report card from 2008-09 to try to compare the demographics of the two schools. I am hoping, though that maybe someone on the list has a better data source for 2009-10 enrollment at HSA?

    While the two populations are quite similar in terms of size, and race/ethnicity, they seem to me to be fairly disparate in terms of concentrations of high-needs levels of the students, according to nystart for 2008-09:

    HSA 1 PS 149

    Enrollment 398 385

    Free lunch 49% 68%

    Reduced lunch 21% 2%

    Stability 100% 91%
    SWD 2.3 (9/398) 13% (50/385)
    LEP 0 5.7% ( 22/385)
    disadvantaged 11% (43/398) 62% ( 240/385)

    Any more data we can compare would be useful if anyone has better data sources.
    Don't these book and newspapaer editors ever check sources/ or am i nitpicking here?


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