Saturday, December 31, 2011

Politically Inspired U-ratings MUST be tied to Battle Against Evaluation System, With Emphasis on Union Reps

We are going out to dinner in a group of 8, where 5 are/were ed activist founders if ICE (and active in the opposition caucus in the 70's and 80's) - which means a long night of boredom for my poor "I'm sick of this ed crap" wife. But since she's not driving, I will ply her with lots of wine so she won't whine.
UPDATED: Jan. 1, 2AM
“Sadly,” he said, “the adults in charge of the city’s schools have let the students down.”  ---- John King, Chief NYSED Ed Deform Pimp
 Are there any better code words for an ed deform pimp than the hackneyed use of the "adults" vs "students"  _ as if he and the other ed deformer adults who stand to make a fortune and  who are pushing hours of testing down the throats of 3rd graders - and would do it to pre-k if they could get away with it - are not screwing kids. Jeez, we've been hearing that from Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee for over half a decade.

John King might as well get a broom and take a picture for the cover of Time mag. [ANYONE WILLING TO DO A PHOTOSHOP JOB ON THAT?]
Mr. Mulgrew asked the city to let independent reviewers rule on the appeals. He said some principals had used the ratings as a means of punishing teachers with whom they had clashed, and he cited several examples, including the case of a Bronx principal who doled out unsatisfactory ratings to teachers whom she wanted out of her school.  --- NY Times, Dec. 31, 2011
I was pleased to see this comment from Mulgrew, who is finally doing something we have called on him to do for a long time -- tie the eval battle to the political nature of the attacks on teachers.

But he unfortunately did not take my advice of focusing on the outrageous Peter Lamphere (Bronx HS if Sci) case where the entire math dept (and not the socials studies dept too) were wiped by vindictive principal Valerie Reidy. Peter got 2 U-ratings charging him with incompetence in retaliation for his role as chapter leader. Instead of making this into a major case, the UFT worked quietly behind the scenes to arrange Peter's transfer to a small high school before he got a 3rd U-rating that threatened his career.

UPDATE: I Challenge Dennis Walcott On Peter Lamphere Case at PEP 12/14/11
Improved audio with assistance from Bronx HS of Sci parent (tale to be told later).

UFT/Unity Caucus prefer principal choice of Chapter Leader over opposition
This is not surprising since Peter is a prominent voice in the opposition caucuses to Unity Caucus, the UFT leadeship party that controls every seat on the Exec Bd and the AdCom and has been in power for almost 50 years. By removing Peter from one of the few large high schools left, both the DOE and the UFT leadership benefited. While it is obvious that the DOE gained in Peter's removal by reducing union presence in the school and giving Reidy more control over the staff, Unity Caucus also benefited by diluting the voice of the opposition on a large school. I have contended for 40 years that given the choice of a Peter Lamphere rigorously defending teacher rights or a Unity hack in the pocket of a principal, the UFT/Unity leadership absolutely prefers the latter (one day I will re-tell the story of the ICE chapter leader at Forest Hills HS who had an election stolen by Queens Borough rep Rona Freiser so she could be replaced by a Unity hack who the principal favored.)

I should point out something I wasn't aware -- that the UFT got NYSUT to pay for the court appeal of the 2nd U-rating but not the first.

Peter Lamphere commented on the Ed Notes post to correct the record:
Just to be clear, the recent legal victory in my case was won by lawyers from NYSUT at the urging of the UFT leadership.

As Norm indicates in his post, I also have another case about my first U rating, which touches more directly on the issue of anti-union harassment and I funded with the generous help of supporters and allies but without UFT assistance.

Both cases highlight the potential for arbitrary and harassing U ratings and the need for our union to stand strong in the evaluation negotiations, as they have done so far.
The UFT has to explain why Peter had to raise money to fight a U-rating that clearly was motivated by his union activities. And yes do explain why you refuse to use the Lamphere case publically - [you may laugh out loud at this point.]

So, one strand in out battle is to make the connection to political persecution of teachers, in particular union reps.

Another is on the failure of the Value-added methods, as Reality-based educator points out at Perdido St. School.

Another is the absolute waste of the disappeared $60 million at the turn around schools which Perdido and NYC Educator and Leonie Haimson are pointing out.

Key Blogs on this issue:  NYC Educator takes a shot at Gotham Schools coverage:
It's a disgrace that the state pushes baseless unproven nonsense, and a further disgrace that sleepy journalists can't be bothered to look beneath the surface and inform readers about it.
An emergency headline from vacationing Gotham Schools blares that we're going to lose a ton of money, but doesn't bother to inform readers of the limited purposes for which the money can be used.
This, of course, leaves readers with the impression the evil UFT is obfuscating so that the lazy worthless teachers won't be accountable. To balance this coverage, Gotham features a DOE employee in their community section telling what a great job the DOE is doing (along with the usual pontification from failed teacher Ruben Brosbe).
He gives the NY Times more credit for talking a bit about how the money is spent - or misspent. But there is not coverage like the truth pointed out by NYC:
....will replacing principals and half the staff change anything? Will subjecting teachers to even more useless staff development from the people who close schools and have no idea how to improve them help students?In fact, there are 33 so-called transformation schools getting almost two million each a year in these funds, and reports have been less than glowing. Firsthand reports tell me teachers are miserable, the schools are not better places for anyone, and the Danielson framework is a truncheon to beat staff into submission, or more likely to beat staff for no reason whatsoever. Shall we pursue further funds to expand this practice citywide?
OK, he does claim the UFT is hanging tough and maybe they are, but as RBE points out in a comment more along my line of thinking:
As for the evaluation system fight, I hope the UFT sticks to its guns on this, but I fear there will be a last minute deal that sells out teachers.  Leo Casey will hail this deal as "scraping the skies" it is so good (as he once hailed the odious 2005 contract which is the root of so many of the problems we have in the system these days - esp. the ATR problem.)  
The UFT either cannot or will not frame the battle as you have framed it, NYC.  This  RttT money is worse than useless, as it cannot be used for meaningful and useful things like books, smaller classes, etc. It can only be used for harmful things that Bloomberg and his corporate cronies love and make money off of - like new standardized tests, testing materials, data tracking, data tracking systems, online education programs, firing teachers and extending the school day for more Pearson-approved test prep. Frankly I have to assume that the UFT leadership is NOT interested in framing the Race to the Top money for what it is - a corporate education reform bonanza that will mean more money for Pearson, McGraw-Hill, News Corporation, Microsoft, etc. and is meant to bust the unionized public school systems and promote non-unionized charter schools
 So why won't the UFT take on RTTT? and the NYSED?  Well, there's that Obama endorsement coming this summer. And then there is the fact that the UFT/AFT have historically supported a whole lot of the ed deform program, including massive teacher eval programs sponsored in partnership with Bill Gates. Why? Well, maybe a long story that I'm still working out in my head. But they do want that seat at the table and they do not have the internal organizational strength (due to total lack of democracy as one reason) to engage in a war with the powers that be. But the praise for John King and Merryl Tisch is sickening.

More blogs:
NYC Educator: We Don't Follow No Stinking Rules

A bunch of recent blogs from Pedidio Street Schools:

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

James Eterno and Jeff Kaufman Comment on the Evaluation Impasse

Before I even start I should remind people that both these guys represented ICE on the UFT Exec Bd from 2004-2007 - ICE and TJC shared 6 members out of 89 - but James and Jeff carried the load, raising insightful questions about UFT policy in those crucial years. Even 2 voices like theirs was so offensive to the leadership they made sure to offer New Action total support in the 2007 election to assure these voices would be stilled.

Here Jeff comments on James post on the ICE blog:  DOE WALKS OUT OF NEGOTIATIONS ON TEACHER EVALUATION

Jeff Kaufman said...
Thanks, James for an insightful piece. There is a small wrinkle which might cause unforeseen consequences to rejected the DOE evaluation offers. While the law is clear about union input it is less clear about impasse. Impasse might yield the DOE getting its own way as legislators blame the union or the courts side with traditional decision makers in evaluation systems. In most scenarios other than the loss of the money the City has calculated that it will ultimately prevail. The union must show overwhelming political strength to stop this...something they clearly are not prepared for.

UFT WalBloom Impasse in Talks: DEO To Try End Run

UPDATE and Correction: NYUST paid for one of the U-rating court appeals for Peter Lamphere but not the other - go figure since both were due to his activities as chapter leader and not his teaching ability though they were made to. [See my follow-up to come and Peter's comment in the comment section.]

School reform has  become the feeding ground for profiteers, consultants and those who  have built careers and celebrity out of disparaging teachers and deriding public schools. ---Long Island Principal Carol Burris, one of the originators of the principal revolt vs. the new NY teacher eval system
In his letter, Walcott suggested to King that a solution might be found without the union’s consent.
Will the DOE try an end run around the UFT and try to get a unilateral agreement? Wouldn't this give the UFT a way out where they won't take much of a hit from the members and could just throw up their hands and shrug, "what could we do, we tried our best?"

Hmmmm. You can see my wheels turning.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent a letter to King arguing that the UFT was trying “to protect the very worst performing teachers,”
Sure, the UFT bureaucrats who view teachers under attack as guilty until proven innocent. I'm going to go to the next PEP and put a list of outrageous DEO support for principals who engage in political vendettas in front of Walcott's face.
Walcott also said the union has also thrown up roadblocks to dismissal proceedings for teachers the city is trying to fire, a separate issue from the new evaluations.
What should the union response be?
Peter Lamphere, Peter Lamphere, Peter Lamphere,
Peter Lamphere, Peter Lamphere, Peter Lamphere,
who won round one of hsis U rating appeal in court (which he paid for himself). And mention his principal Valerie Reidy and Iris Blige and the hundreds of Leadership Acad slugs who have little interest in quality teachers but value loyalty above all and hand out U ratings like water at a marathon.

Here is the Gotham story.
City, union declare impasse in teacher evaluation negotiations
by , at 12:29 pm
The city and teachers union won’t meet this week’s deadline to hammer out a new teacher evaluation system — and it doesn’t look like they will reach an agreement any time soon.
State Education Commisioner John King this week issued a strict ultimatum to New York and nine other districts: Agree on new teacher evaluations by Dec. 31 or lose special federal funds to overhaul struggling schools. The city is receiving about $60 million in the funds, called School Improvement Grants.
Union and city officials were locked in negotiations as recently as yesterday but gave up today, citing irreconcilable ideological differences. Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent a letter to King arguing that the UFT was trying “to protect the very worst performing teachers,” while UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the city had turned down the union’s suggestion that a third-party negotiator step in on sticking points.
The main points of contention, according Walcott and Mulgrew, is whether outside arbitrators hear appeals of teachers who receive the two lowest ratings under the new system.
Walcott also said the union has also thrown up roadblocks to dismissal proceedings for teachers the city is trying to fire, a separate issue from the new evaluations.
“Almost every step of the way, the UFT has insisted on conditions that I believe would undercut real accountability,” Walcott said in his letter.
Mulgrew said the union’s position is that the evaluation system should help teachers get better and should not focus on low ratings.
“We are hoping that we can have a system that will help teachers improve, because that’s the spirit of the legislation,” he told GothamSchools yesterday, presaging a more detailed statement today. “The DOE, I don’t think they look at it the same way we do.”
In his letter, Walcott suggested to King that a solution might be found without the union’s consent.
“The city stands ready to continue discussions on this matter directly with the state, and I hope that you will consider the seriousness with which we are approaching this matter as a sign of our commitment to creating a meaningful teacher evaluation system for our schools,” he said.
Earlier this week, King sounded firm on the cutoff date to agree or lose funding. The exact implications of a funding freeze are not clear and DOE officials declined to comment on them today. The 33 schools have hired personnel, contracted with nonprofit groups, and paid for extra teacher training that could all be threatened if the funds are terminated.
Long Island Principal Carol Burris writes at Valerie Strauss:
Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/30/2011

Forging ahead with nutty teacher evaluation plan

This was written by Carol Corbett Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State.

By Carol Corbett Burris
New York State Commissioner John King is about to get tough with 10 school districts that have not finalized negotiations on their teacher evaluation plans. He threatened to take away their schools’ improvement grants if they do not comply. With little or no consideration of countervailing concerns, the commissioner’s approach illustrates the 'My way or the highway' mantra of Race to the Top reformers. The plan, of course, is to blame the unions that are wisely looking at evaluation mandates with a critical eye.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

More Calls to Reject King Ultimatum and the RTTT Blood Money

A follow-up from this morning's post:  Is a Smellout Coming? UFT Should Reject John King Threats to Withhold Money That Doesn't Go to Classrooms Anyway

The more we hear from the 33 schools the more we hear horror stories on the eval system. And bad news is filtering in from the other 100 pilot schools. The UFT has been inundated with complaints from members which really puts the squeeze on the leadership. Ignore the members and satisfy the editorialists and other critics - something they can never do until the union disappears and that still won't be enough for the NY Post which will blame the ghost of the UFT for problems in the schools? Maybe that is why the leadership is pushing changes in the constitution to further restrict democracy by giving more weight to retirees than they have had in UFT elections and diluting even further the already restricted voice of classroom teachers in the halls of UFT power..

One of the joys of Leonie Haimson's listserve - the most watched and read anti ed deform listserve in the nation - are the wonderful range of comments and commentary and just plain important information. And then there are the comments from such notables as Diane Ravitch and Deb Meier, both of whom are represented below in today's reaction to the John King threat to withhold RTTT money - boo, hoo John. What is being exposed is how that money really has little to do with giving the schools improved resources that affect children, as Marian Swerdlow and Leonie Haimson point out in this selection from today's comments on the NYCED listserve:
So here's an issue that the UFT, the Daily News, Walcott and Diane all agree on:  better no deal than a bad deal to get the $60M in fed funds (though I'm sure they would disagree about what a bad deal would include.) --- Leonie Haimson

Getting the money will cost more than what is given. There are costly strings attached  - Diane Ravitch

I note tht there's 0% for professional contributions to the school itself (support for other teachers, etc etc that can't be "observed or teted), and 0% for relatiomship with families. ---Deb Meier

DoE didn't have an opportunity to put forth a pilot program first.  Isn't it true, that the schools impacted by losing the funds already under performing.  My opinion, DoE already has a 'tough evaluation' process in place for them; closure/oops phase-out phase-in. There may simply be too much oversight to which the DoE fails to encourages transparency. -- Monica Ayuso
Leonie follows up with:
See comments below from Marian Swerdlow about SIG grants, which the city is now in danger of losing b/c of a non-agreement on teacher evaluation; any parents or teachers on the list who think these funds are ever being used correctly to actually help kids learn?

She doesn't even mention all the out-sourcing of school management to private organizations with little or no connection to the community or record of success.

I myself feel similarly about the RTTT funds, most of which are being wasted on more consultants, more testing , and hundreds of new out of classrooms positions, like "innovation coaches " and "achievement coaches" too many of whom will likely remain on the city payroll when the federal funds run out.

Marian Swerdlow:
We should remember what this money CANNOT be used to do.  It CANNOT be used to increase the number of teachers in order to reduce class size.  It CANNOT be used to hire more Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists and other support workers that our students so desperately need. It CANNOT be used to buy new, badly needed textbooks.  It CANNOT be used to buy classroom supplies, such as paper or ink, toner or stencil rolls for duplicating  machines.

We should understand what it IS used for.  It IS used for often useless "professional development" that REMOVES teachers from their classrooms when they should be teaching.  It IS used to buy uselessly elaborate and exorbitantly expensive technology such as so-called "Smart Boards" and "Promethians."  These machines are flashy but few if any teachers find they help students engage or learn. 
Our schools need better funding.  However, the "strings" attached to these funds do not allow us to use the money in the most useful ways.  To accept a deeply flawed new teacher evaluation system in order to get these highly conditional funds is definitely lose - lose.   
Read more:
UFT: We won’t agree to a bad deal

Better to lose $60 million than have a weak rating system:  Walcott must hold firm on teacher evaluations

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

Is a Smellout Coming? UFT Should Reject John King Threats to Withhold Money That Doesn't Go to Classrooms Anyway

“The clock is ticking. When the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the money drops off the table, and it will be difficult to get it back,” said state Education Commissioner John King.

John King master of ed deform
Message to John King: FUCK YOU! Take your blood money and chew on it. Oh, and John King ran a charter school op in his previous life. Double FUCK YOU!!

And that should be the UFT's message – in more polite terms. Or maybe not more polite terms. But the UFT leadership wants its seat at the table.

Around NY State, principals are rebelling: Principals' Rebellion Against Evaluations Grows ... - New York Times and the UFT should make that point every hour if necessary instead of caving in. Apparently most principals in NY State (but only 50 of the NYC principals had the guts to sign in a sea of lilly-livered careerists).

As Michael Fiorillo pointed out on WBAI's "Wake-Up Call" this morning (I'll add a link when the archive is up), that money is not exactly going to the classroom with a third to consultants - ed deformers with a mission to push out teachers - the backdoor method to end Last In First Out by creating a fool-proof teacher evaluation system to allow the removal of any teacher through manipulation.

NYC Educator pointed out in a comment/critique of Gotham School's story:
"The money, known as school improvement grants, is supposed to help the schools lift their results through a series of changes, like replacing principals and at least half the staff members; giving teachers extra time for training and preparation; and extending the school day. In New York City, it offers, in essence, an alternative to the most common approach to dealing with failing schools, which has been to close them."

This is what the funds may be used for. Articles simply stating we may lose money, without pointing out that this money is earmarked for specific practices tend to mislead readers. Have any of these practices been proven to benefit students (or even improve test scores, something Bloomberg's "reforms" have failed to do after a decade)?
So, really, who gives a shit about money going to administrative bullshit which has little impact? And I don't need no stinkin' research to tell me that.

Amen to VOTE NO's comment:
They  should  give  the  money  back!  The  33  PLA  schools  in  NYC  have  turned  into  complete  disasters!   There  is  nothing  more  upsetting  to  the  public  than  the  government wasting  money.   The  pilot  program  for  the  new  teacher  evaluation  is the  greatest  part  of  the  problem.  It  was   implemented  with  haste,  and  has  led  to  a  toxic  atmosphere  among  the  staffs.  Teachers  are  retiring  mid-year.  Some  are  quitting  mid-year. Many  more  are  looking  to  leave.  The  state  should  listen  to  the  over  1000  principals  that  have  signed  a  petition  stating  this  evaluation  is  deeply  problematic,  and  should  be  phased  in  over  time.  The  Master  teacher  positions  in  the  PLA  schools  have  not  been  helpful  for  the  vast  majority  of  teachers,  and  much  of  the  rest  of  the  money  has  gone  to  out  of  state  consultant  firms.  These  firms  have  done  very  little  but  further  demoralize  the  staffs  in  the  buildings.  The  money  is  NOT  going  to  the   classrooms!   It would  be  better  for  the  schools  to  "lose  the  money"  to  restore  order  in  the  schools.

We had an ICE meeting yesterday and the horror stories from the 33 turnaround schools using the Danielson Frameworks being shoved down everyone's throats - by the union too - is profound. The teachers (and often the admins) in these schools are in an uproar - and many of them are blaming the union. When this crap hits all schools next year the shit will really hit the fan.

So what will the UFT leadership do? Join in the attack on the plan or cave?
We get this from the Daily News article:
City and union officials downplayed the state’s warning, saying they have been working together to meet the deadline. State teachers union officials took issue with the threat to revoke funding for New York City as well as seven other school districts around the state. They noted the State Education Department had applied for an extension in meeting several Race to the Top deadlines the agency faced but not for an extension on the districts’ deadlines.

Do I smell a sellout coming? Or a smellout.

How does the UFT leadership/Unity Caucus respond to the coming storm? They are proposing constitutional amendments that will increase the influence of retirees and weaken the working teacher influence in the union to buffer themselves from the coming storm. (Oh, how will New Action waffle its way through this one and still hold onto its gift Exec Bd seats from Unity?) I have a copy of the proposal and will try to type it up for a later post.

Check out stories:
Gotham: State says districts without evaluation deals to lose funds Jan. 1 
Daily News: City schools stand to lose $60M in funding, state Education Commissioner John King says

I'll leave you with one more comment from Michael Fiorillo at the Gotham post in response to some KIPP Klone (apparently) named Josh Kilroy who disparaged class size as a solution with the usual suspect: "research shows" but doesn't cite the research (send him to a year of reading Leonie's posts).
"Research" - buzz, whirr, click - "better teachers, better ways of evaluating them" - buzz, whirr, click - "privileges of adults served by the status quo" - buzz, whirr, click.

Really, can't you folks come up with one original thought on your own? Is the indoctrination so complete that you can't even develop your own take on these arguments, or at least give your talking points some personal character or expression? Or do you just assume that people are so stupid that they will forever be taken in by the same scripted responses, the same ideology and self interest masked as "research?" Perhaps you haven't noticed, Josh, but the political and economic interests that fund the production of your cliches, are the status quo in education.Before you finish having your cup of coffee in a classroom - if indeed you even are a teacher - consider one simple fact: King, Tisch, Bloomberg, Duncan, Kopp, Rhee, et. al. along with the "Let's-feel-good-about-ourselves-before-we-go-work-for-Goldman-by-lifting-up-the-worthy-poor-and-creating-Skinner Boxes-for-their-training" folks ARE the status quo, having set the terms of debate for many years now.Absolute mayoral control of the schools has been in place for almost ten years in NYC, and over fifteen in Chicago. The ideology and practice of corporate dominance and monetization of the schools has controlled the discourse on education for the better part of two decades, at least. Yet the ed deform cohort, literally engorged with billions from Gates, Broad, the Waltons and administrations both Democratic and Republican, continues to cast itself as the bold, courageous outsiders willing to take on the big, bad teacher's unions. That they cast themselves as underdogs clearly demonstrates the deception, self-deception and bad faith at work. The "research" you refer to is in fact little more than pseudo-scientific, content production-for-hire, with an academic gloss. It's yet one more facet of the Big Lie of corporate education reform. You obviously expect others to believe it, but do you? If so, I wish you great success selling mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps in the near future. Then again, maybe you'll be one of those "education leaders" that Wendy Kopp and her husband groom to parachute into an urban district and dismantle the public schools, for which you'll be amply rewarded. Yes, Josh, in the Brave New World you are a mouthpiece for, there really is money to be made in education.

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Will UFT Renounce This Deal? Randi on the Board: Confidential Student And Teacher Data To Be Provided To LLC Run By Gates and Murdoch

UPDATED: 11PM - SEE FOLLOW-UP on Norms Notes:
How the feds are tracking your kid

I'm bringing this up again. This article by Leonie Haimson on Huffington is so disturbing given that Randi Weingarten has endorsed this and is on the board.


How about a reso at the DA? Then see if Mulgarten defends it. Bet he does.

Oh yes. And those slugs NY STATE ED/Regent Merryl Tisch and John King just love this.

Confidential Student And Teacher Data To Be Provided To LLC Run By Gates and Murdoch

 Leonie Haimson

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NY Board of Regents approved the state's sharing of student and teacher information with a new national database, to be funded by the Gates Foundation, and designed by News Corp's Wireless Generation. Other states that have already agreed to share this data, according to the NY State Education Department, include Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana and Massachusetts.

All this confidential student and teacher data will be held by a private limited corporation, called the Shared Learning Collaborative LLC, with even less accountability,  which in July was awarded $76.5 million by the Gates Foundation, to be spent over 7 months. According to an earlier NYT story,  $44 million of this funding will go straight into the pockets of Wireless Generation, owned by Murdoch's News Corp and run by Joel Klein.

The Regents approved this project, despite the NY State Comptroller's veto this summer of the State Education Department's proposed no-bid contract to Wireless to build a state-wide data system, apparently because the state is not paying money to participate. The Comptroller -- and the public as well -- had opposed this contract, in large part because of privacy concerns and the involvement of Murdoch's company,  which is still embroiled in a major phone-hacking scandal in the UK.

Here is what SED writes, in explanation of their intent to share this confidential data:
The cost of the development of the SLC will be the responsibility of the SLC, not New York State. Consistent with the Comptroller's concerns regarding Wireless Generation, no New York State funds will be paid directly or indirectly to Wireless Generation or any of its subsidiaries for the development of these SLC services... As mentioned above, each state and school/district will retain sole ownership of its data. Only anonymous data will be used for SLC system development. As in any system development project, a limited number of authorized vendors will need to access actual educational data for system operation and improvements.
Including Wireless, one must assume. But this is not all. Here is more from the SED document:
The Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC) is a consortium of states organized to help increase the benefits and long-term sustainability of data, curriculum, and instructional improvement initiatives. The SLC is facilitated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and has received initial funding from the Carnegie Corporation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Participating states include Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.
A primary purpose of the SLC is to help promote the efficient expenditure of taxpayer funds by coordinating the efforts of multiple states to provide for the common needs of all participating states, including shared infrastructure and services that integrate, deliver, and display educational data and curriculum resources for educators, students, and families. Legally binding agreements will ensure that each state's data remain separate and distinct from the data of all other states...
Along with  Wireless, some of the other companies involved will be two consulting companies: Alvarez and Marsal, who were behind the disastrous reorganization of NYC school bus routes in the winter of 2007, and McKinsey, which led the first reorganization of the NYC Department of Education in 2003, which included dissolving the community district structure (contrary to law) and totally ignoring any parent input.
Here is an excerpt from a Gates' fact sheet about this project:
In addition to making instructional data more manageable and useful, this open-license technology, provisionally called the Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI), will also support a large market for vendors of learning materials and application developers to deliver content and tools that meet the Common Core State Standards and are interoperable with each other and the most popular student information systems.
In other words, companies will be making more money off our kids' test scores.
Meanwhile, it is not reassuring that the Gates document says that "the long-term governance model" of this national database "is still in development."
They add a standard disclaimer, that "Designing protections for student privacy will be addressed throughout the development of the system, and data access and usage models will be designed to support compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and other privacy laws" without any assurances of how this will be achieved.
SED adds:
The SLC is making plans for its long-term governance, including the protection of data privacy and security; the development of a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization structure; and the articulation of a business model for long-term fiscal sustainability. This work will be guided by participating states and informed by input from a panel of expert advisors, including Cheryl Vedoe, President and CEO of Apex Learning; David Riley, President of the Alembic Foundation and an open source technology expert; Dr. Michael Lomax, President and CEO of the United Negro College Fund; Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Michael Horn, Co-founder and Executive Director for Education at Innosight Institute; and Andrew Rotherham, Co-founder and Partner of Bellwether Education Partners.
I wonder how many of those organizations receive funding from Gates.
Where are the independent experts on privacy, and even more importantly, the input of parents, who really should be allowed to opt out of this national database?
Follow Leonie Haimson on Twitter:

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

Support Bill Thompson for Mayor? NOT

It is time to lay to rest the phony myth of Bill Thompson as a good mayoral choice for UFTers. See the  email exchanges below on ICE mail:
Christine Quinn will be a continuation of Mayor Bloomberg, Ray Kelly will remain as Police commissioner to continue his stop and frisk reign of terror which is meant to scare blacks into leaving the city. 100,000 have left the city in the last 10 years. This enabled Bloomberg to get a 3rd term. Thompson only lost by 50,000 votes. Denis Walcott will continue his jihad against city schools. Christine Quinn will be Mayor Bloombergs proxy in retirement. Nothing will change. The UFT must support Bill Thompson for Mayor. He is the only candidate who will stop the destruction of our schools.

I absolutely disagree with you on Thompson Bill while agreeing on Quinn.
There's proof that Bloomberg preferred Thompson and there was some deal with Bloomberg supporting Thompson's wife's museum (See below). Lots of people wondered at the poor campaign Thompson ran. Don't get fooled again. He's a stalking horse. In fact there is no candidate that will defend our interests.
We need to be able to put thousands of people in the streets to force change and embolden our kind of candidates to emerge. First and foremost we need an Arab spring in the UFT.

Thompson was visiting DC37 to make a stump speech. He was invited to a CPE meeting. He knew he was talking to a group opposed to mayoral control. The question of mayoral control was put to him. He said he supported it. We know that it not just the question of which mayor is in control and he knows that too.
Here is the Ed Notes posting Jan. 10, 2010:  Barrett reveals Thompson as Dirty
The next time you read a New Action leaflet bragging about how they were the only caucus to endorse Bill Thompson, suggest people read this revealing Wayne Barrett piece in the Voice about Thompson's girlfriend/wife museum scam and how Bloomberg helped out.

Here's the first page of a 7 page article:

Bloomberg and Thompson: The (Really) Odd Couple

Now it can be told: The surprising ties between the billionaire mayor and the poor slob who ran against him

This is an odd story about an even odder couple, and the surprising ties that bind them. It's a tale of intrigue about a mayoral contest that left New Yorkers feeling so cheated fewer of them voted than in any election since 1917. It also reveals how one of these odd partners compromised the other, subverting the independent checks and balances required of a mayor and comptroller by law.

As the curtain opens on 2010, the stars of the year in city politics, Mike Bloomberg and William Thompson, who were awkwardly allied since being inaugurated together eight years ago, are each moving on to new and uncertain phases of their public lives.
Bloomberg, who has suffered recent stunning setbacks in the City Council, has already discovered that third terms and narrow wins can diminish even mogul mayors. Thompson—entertained at Gracie Mansion at a post-election private breakfast and praised by Bloomberg as "a quality guy" who the mayor hopes "stays in public service"—is still considering a 2010 race against our unelected senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, or unelected state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli ("Go for it," cheers Bloomberg). Friends of Thompson expect him to try, like loser Rudy Giuliani did in 1989, to stay in play on the sidelines and run for mayor again in four years, when a departing Bloomberg might throw him an endorsement or some checks.
Thompson, who only promises he will run again sometime for something, has suddenly become a darling of the media, which are now overcompensating for relying too obsessively on inaccurate polls that failed to anticipate a four-point margin of victory. Thompson, it turns out, got virtually the same total vote Fernando Ferrer did in 2005, while Bloomberg pulled in 180,000 fewer votes than he received last time. Thompson's close margin was less a result of his underappreciated strengths—the Times' Mike Barbaro correctly reported two weeks before the election that his "biggest obstacle" was "his own undisciplined campaign"—than they were of a result of Bloomberg fatigue. Thompson, in fact, had an "oddly relaxed" campaign schedule, with a single event some days, observed Barbaro, and was "chronically late" and often failed to appear at all. He spent more than half his money before the mid-September nominal primary, forcing him to rely on blink-of-an-eye, 15-second TV commercials in November.
But that wasn't enough. Thompson's real role, for Bloomberg at least, was to help force the feared congressman, Anthony Weiner, out of the race, a goal that Bloomberg guru Howard Wolfson has openly acknowledged. Thompson obliged, giving up a sure third term as comptroller. Weiner himself explained in a Times op-ed when he withdrew in May that "running a primary against Thompson would only drain the ability of the winner to compete in the general election." Having lost to Ferrer in 2005 by 11 points, Weiner understood that minority candidates have won all but one of the Democratic mayoral primaries since 1985. So when the leading black politician in the city decided to make his improbable run, Weiner had nowhere to go but out. Thompson and Bloomberg might as well have had a first-round victory party together that night.
Like other powerful New York pols, Mike Bloomberg wanted to pick his own opponent. Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer spent a year setting the table for 2010, and, as one-time putative opponents Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney can attest, the incumbent pair used every knife and fork available. Ed Koch picked his opponent when he derailed ex-congressman Herman Badillo and won a third term in 1985, and Giuliani did it when he submarined a possible challenge from Alan Hevesi in 1997. Faced with internal polls that we now know rarely put Bloomberg above 50 percent, he preferred an opponent whose vulnerabilities were well known to him, having already exploited them for years.
Thompson couldn't, for example, attack Bloomberg's development policies since, as a member of the city's Industrial Development Agency, he had voted 876 times in favor of the $9.6 billion in bonds that underwrite the projects, opposing them only five times. Charged under the city charter with assessing Bloomberg's budgets and auditing his agencies, Thompson had instead gushed about the mayor for most of his two terms, leaving him with virtually no viable way of distinguishing himself from his golf buddy when the two ended up on opposite sides of the ballot.
What Bloomberg got with Thompson was a made-to-order challenge, so tame at times that a reporter, frustrated by Thompson's unwillingness to say a single critical word about Bloomberg at one September press conference, asked why he'd called it, and so over-the-top at other times (as when he promised to fire Police Commissioner Ray Kelly), that he looked grotesquely out of touch. The Daily News' Adam Lisberg captured it in a classic headline: "Nice-guy Thompson can't find the jugular." Thompson curiously decided to make schools the core of his attack on Bloomberg even as his key campaign consultant, Roberto Ramirez, was lobbying in Albany on behalf of a Bloomberg-tied group championing mayoral control. Thompson often looked like a befuddled shadow-boxer, tied to Bloomberg at the hip while serving up obligatory campaign lip. As for Bloomberg, he'd contended in 2008 that all the term-limits extension did was give voters the additional choice of voting for him, a supposed "expansion" of the franchise even as he overrode the result of two referendums. Then he maneuvered successfully in 2009 to narrow that choice to the opponent he wanted to face.

Read it all here. 

Guest Blog by Robert Rendo: The Rich and Education

The opinions below are solely those of the author.

No wonder the rich are so passionate about education; they stand to change the way young brains get wired, schools get financed, and who we become as a society. Moreover, who can ignore their capture and reinventing the vast public realm of American schools into an even vaster capitalist empire of goods and services? One such byproduct of the reform movement is the fixation on standardized testing, which is one of many ways of assessing students' strengths and weaknesses. Left alone to stand by itself or used as the dominant mode of assessment, it quickly gains the accurate status of "efficient, relatively cost effective, and weakly empirical".
Rob Rendo

There is no metric out there that is sensitive enough to truly measure everything a student knows. Our so called language proficiency tests for English language learners, for example, are a prime example in which students are taught hundreds of elements and aspects of English, but are only tested on a few, randomly designed array of those elements. It's hit or miss when students perform on such tests, unless, of course, the students have had substantial amounts of test preparation, most often at the hideous cost of crowding out other types of knowledge. For example, when a student's augmented lexicon contains 3000 items, but the tests look for literacy skills such as decoding "wr" and "ch", then the child's true linguistic acumen is not only measured inaccurately, but is mischaracterized. Literacy and reading skills, while ultimately critical, are learned and tested at the dire expense of children's true rich oral language, which develops saliently through experiences and the five senses. It makes sense to lower the stakes on standardized testing, therefore, so that the tests can serve their main purpose: to inform the teacher and drive future instruction. The test should only function as a data tool and not as a politicized castigative whipping post.

Oral language development has not become a substantive standard in and of itself, and this absence reflects the egregious incompetence and disconnect of policy makers. In the United States, we sacrifice language acquisition for rigid, inflexible and perniciously dominating tests.

Equally worse and unjust is the evaluation of teachers; if the child is to be assessed holistically, so must the teacher’s tutelage and custodianship. The two are inextricably linked. It leads one to easily infer that part of the "education crisis" is indeed manufactured, and the “manufacturing process” has very thickly coated the product with politics. The rich and their tentacles in education have brought us to the astonishing realization that those who create and enforce educational policy are far removed from the educational process and have succeeded in swaying the commercial media and its audience into buying the “product”. Such policy makers vacuum up the humanism in teaching and learning.

Which, really, is why the FIRST thing we educators must do is to remove people like Randi Weingarten, Bill and Melinda Gates, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Steve Brill, and Michael Bloomberg, just to name a very few from the educational scene. And the aftermath of such a purging should also involve the cabinet installation of true cognitive scientists and researchers who observe and empirically prove what learning really is all about. . . . people like Steven Krashen, Linda Darling Hammond, Noam Chomsky, Jim Cummins, Pedro Noguera, etc. We would also add to this mixture actual veteran teachers who are Nationally Board Certified and some who have taught diverse student populations. If we were to systemize and institutionalize this, we would nearly eliminate achievement gaps and substandard levels of literacy, math, and science. We would also be fostering a more well balanced and well adjusted youth who would exude productivity in the workplace and in civic life. That very balance would propel and protect democracy. It would probably begin to ravage poverty. I think that this trajectory, seen by connecting all these obvious dots, scares not the ninety-nine percenters, but rather, the one percent.

Until we really convince and educate the public about what it means to learn, to teach, and to be educated, we will be absorbed into this cyborg-like plutonomy, all to have but a distant memory of what it was to be like to be creative, innovative, highly verbal, and critically thinking. And that, however subtly accomplished over a generation, would relegate the great populist masses into accepting a crime against humanity that no one should ever have to think of.

-Robert Rendo, New York

The commentator is a veteran Nationally Board Certified teacher in the public schools and teaches low income students. He is also a nationally award winning editorial illustrator with works in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. See


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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Straddling Fault Lines in New Zealand

Monday evening, Dec. 12, we returned from two weeks in New Zealand. I'm still a bit jet-lagged and not sure if it's yesterday or tomorrow. I slept over 8 hours last night and have been over the last week and I NEVER sleep much more than 6. All I know is we left on a Sunday, Nov. 27 and arrived on Tuesday, skipping Monday, Nov. 28. If you traveled that way and missed your birthday would you never get older? Then on the way home we left Wellington (the capital) on Monday at noon and got back to NYC on Monday at 6 after 28 hours of travel.

You would really have a hard time going much further than New Zealand from here. Just look at a globe and realize just how far south it is - the tip of the south island points right at Antarctica. Brrrr. Even Australia seems closer. (We have been there twice so skipped it this time.)

I really didn't do much homework for this trip, expecting to rely on the tour guide(s). And they certainly came through. I have a much greater understanding of NZ, a country I knew little about. We went with Overseas Adventure Tours (OAT), a branch of Grand Circle. These are small tours - we had 14 people - all roughly our age. Two couples from Wisconsin (not happy about the attempt to recall that putz), and couples from Baltimore and LA and a few singles from California.

NZ is basically on one big fault line with earthquakes threatening every part of both islands.

Bob Wilkerson, the tour guide, a rigorous typically active Kiwi, is close to 70 - a true outdoorsman and a passionate defender of New Zealand's social welfare system. He was not happy at the recent victory by conservatives, who actually took office on the day we left. We had a tour of Parliment the day before - an earthquake proof building that rests on flexible concrete pillars - probably one of the safest buildings in the world - even though Wellington is on a major earthquake fault. As a matter of fact, pretty much all of NZ is on a fault.

I can write about this trip in so many ways: the scenery, the meeting with Maori guides who gave us so much insight. I was surprised at how political the tour was. Bob said OAT tours don't hold anything back and give the full range of the good, bad and ugly. Bob is a strict environmentalist and was so proud of the rigid laws protecting and preserving and restoring the environment. He showed us trees thousands of years old that if they were cut down could fetch a hundred grand each. But they are never touched. Imagine where they would be in this nation. You'd see FOX News railing about how cutting them down could contribute to the economy.

We covered areas of both the north and south islands but spent more time in the south where the southern tip points right at Antarctica. Bob was from Christ Church which suffered 2 devastating earthquakes last year with the 2nd one in Feb. basically dropping all of the downtown into one big hole - just about every single historical building lost. (There was another one just the other day.) SO we only got to the city's airport to take off for Wellington.

We stared in Auckland on the north island  - the largest city with 1.4 million of the 4 millions people in the entire nation, where I connected up with the Occupy Auckland crew and actually filmed an important General Assembly and since I was the only one filming they were excited to have that footage. And also to have someone from NYC stop by. (I connected one of their tech guys to Justin from OWS here in NY.) There are probably more sheep. They hate possums which were imported and wrecked the environment but did discover they could be used for more than road kill - the fur fibers retain warmth and they mix them with merino sheep. I now have a possum/wool scarf to wear.

The treatment of the indigenous population has improved tremendously over the past 30 years and Bob was very proud of that - though as my dermatologist said after I told him that - "yeah, after they killed most of them off."

I took hundreds of photos and hours of film and will blog more about what is happening with education there another time. Happy holidays and here are just a few pics.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nocera/Krugman Let Bloomberg Off Hook on Fannie/Freddie

Nocera and Krugman expose the fallacy and open lies the right and Republicans engage in with their making excuses for the corporate greed in pushing sub-prime mortgages by placing the blame in Fannie/Freddie Mae. But guess who also adhere's to the same lie? No less than our esteemed mayor.

I left a comment about their ignoring Bloomberg at Krugman's blog hours ago but so far it hasn't appeared. Maybe it's just Xmas eve and the moderators at the Times are doing last minute shopping  - let's see -  if you call Republicans idiots and liars and Bloomberg says exactly the same thing are you  protecting Bloomberg's idiocy?

Thanks to Leonie Haimson for making this connection with this tweet:

Nocera refutes Big Lie that FMacs caused the ec collapse omits repeats same myth
Nocera also wrote about the FMac distortions in a previous column.

Not only Nocera but one of my idols, Paul Krugman who in commenting on and complimenting Nocera on Nocera's  column in today's NY Times says on his blog:
Joe Nocera Gets MadAnd it’s a beautiful thing to see.
Today Joe once again goes after the Big Lie — the claim that Fannie and Freddie caused the crisis — and drives home the point that the people advancing this story aren’t just wrong but are acting with intent, engaged in deliberate deception:
Basically, Joe is arriving where I’ve been since 2000: what’s going on in the discussion of economic affairs (and other matters, like justifications for war) isn’t just a case where different people look at the same facts but reach different conclusions. Instead, we’re looking at a situation in which one side of the debate just isn’t interested in the truth, in which alleged scholarship is actually just propaganda.

Saying this, of course, gets you declared “shrill”, denounced as partisan; you’re supposed to pretend that we’re having a civilized discussion between people with good intentions. And you’re supposed to match each attack on Republicans with an attack on Democrats, as if the mendacity were equal on both sides. Sorry, but it isn’t. Democrats aren’t angels; they’re human and sometimes corrupt — but they don’t operate a lie machine 24/7 the way modern Republicans do.
Ooops Paul. Not JUST Republicans operate a lie machine 24/7. We can name a whole lot of big city mayors who are so-called independents like Bloomberg and even Dems like Rahmbo Emanuel in Chicago who operate a lie machine 24/7.
Bloomberg: 'Plain and simple,' Congress caused the mortgage crisis, not the banks
Nov. 1, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning that if there is anyone to blame for the mortgage crisis that led the collapse of the financial industry, it's not the "big banks," but Congress.

Speaking at a business breakfast in midtown featuring Bloomberg and two former New York City mayors, Bloomberg was asked what he thought of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

"I hear your complaints," Bloomberg said. "Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I'm not saying I'm sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn't have gotten them without that.

"But they were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody. And now we want to go vilify the banks because it's one target, it's easy to blame them and congress certainly isn't going to blame themselves. At the same time, Congress is trying to pressure banks to loosen their lending standards to make more loans. This is exactly the same speech they criticized them for."
Read the entire Bloomberg piece:
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Closing Schools Folly Exposed, So Why Was UFT In Favor For So Long?

“A lot of my good good teachers have left,” she said. “I hate the term jump ship, because of Columbus … But they told me they didn’t want to wait until the end and risk going into the Absent Teacher Reserve pool,” where teachers who have lost their jobs rove from school to school as substitutes. 
--- Linda Fuentes, Principal, Columbus HS from Gotham Schools.
All the cards fall into place. We all know that the ed deform agenda is about destroying the career and pay track and the unions of teachers. But teachers cannot be teacher centric in this war. (See the Milwaukee Teacher Education President Bob Peterson on Reinventing the Union – Social Justice Unionism in Action).

Ed deform while claiming to be about children/student first is also about segregation and inequality of students.and is exposed by the number of push outs and disappeared kids which the privatized schools don't want to deal with. See (Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Era in U.S. Education)

Any hope of claiming improved results is dependent on this and despite all kinds of games being played their results are still crappy as public schools with limited resources often perform as well or better. (See Gary Rubinstein's work on proving the fallacy of closing schools like Washington Irving High School — another school unfairly closed and Come Back To Jamaica HS.)

The master plan of the privtizers is hinged on destroying public schools building by building, creating a domino effect as the most difficult children to educate are moved around like chess pieces to the next school down the line to become a target. This was established as a plan decades ago by the free-marketeers. 

The UFT/AFT supported closing schools as a solution until recently
But no matter how clear this was to many of us and no matter how hard we screamed at the UFT leadership, they aided and abetted this policy. Remember Al Shanker? He was a cheerleader for closing down "failing" schools from the early 80's and Randi picked up on the policy (remember her" Lafayette HS should be closed" statement?) And UFT/Unity shills like Peter Goodman was being paid to go around and take part in the dismantling of schools like my own alma mata Thomas Jefferson in East NY Brooklyn.

Before 2005 it was not easy to close a school - because the teachers had some seniority rights. But after the 2005 contract with its free market and the creation of ATRs the DOE was freed to go full speed ahead.

After being patsies and enablers for so many years, Tweed spit in the face of the UFT in 2009 when they announced the closing of 19 schools and the UFT began to stir - a bit. 

An article at Gotham Schools focuses on closing school Columbus HS in the Bronx, one of the dominoes. At Columbus, students and staff grapple with looming closure 

 Leonie Haimson points out: "Yet DOE still sending them kids."

In response to questions of where they are stashing the kids, Leonie pointed people to various links:
There is a new law that says DOE has to report on what happens at closing schools.  There have been many reports on this as well. See our report which shows sharp spikes in the discharge rates:

also see:


There were lots of reports of substandard credit recovery programs at Tilden HS for example as it was phasing out. Ssee for example

Leonie Haimson
Class Size Matters
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Click on the link above to support Leonie's work (and for a hundred bucks get a prized Class Size Matters mug).

The Gotham Story below. Worth reading as students and teaches get screwed.