Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On the Sunnyside of the TDR Street

Posted by Norm Scott

TDR posts of the day:

Slimed teachers take one for the team

We have already seen a number of teachers like Pascale Mauclair [nobly defended by Leo Casey] slimed and hounded by the NY Post [let us know if anyone is tracking down those NY Post reporters' home addresses so people can go over and knock on their doors and windows and talk to their neighbors]. I even came across an old pal of mine listed with a 0 at one of the top schools in the city for teaching reading when she has a Spanish license and was teaching mostly Spanish in the years covered (she may have had one reading class but no rating on her Spanish teaching).

I know the pain that many people are going through but if we look at the long run this may be the best thing to happen for our side since the beginning of the war – a war declared choose one: a decade, two decades or 3 decades ago on the entire educational community by the usual suspects [I'm just too tired today to list them again].

Gates, Tisch, Kopp, et al. trying to cover their asses

It is not an accident that people like Bill Gates, Merryl Tisch, and even the always lying Chris Cerf now say they are opposed to the release of TDRs. And who can blame them? They were hoping to use these evals behind closed doors to wipe out huge swaths of teachers. Opening up the process has led to the light and the cockroaches are scattering. As Reality-Based Educator reports - If Merryl Tisch Is For It, It Must Be Bad. Add Gates, et al to the mix and we can  begin to see the sunny side of the issue.

And with the forced release of selected charter school data we are also seeing another side of the TDR issue and why increasing numbers of ed deformers are now pulling back. Charter school parents are denied the right to see the same data parents of public school data can see. Since charters are given the choice --- their favorite word -- whether to hand over the data to the city or not parents of the charter schools who choose NOT do not get the choice to see the data. How nice. But what a good talking point for our side.

And I believe we will be able to shame/force the charters out of the closet and people will see that all the noise about creating a dual school system will come to naught. That charters -- even with creaming --- will not show much difference from comparable public schools. And we will also see that the vaunted Teach for America and other alternately recruited teachers will show little difference or in fact be inferior. Thus Wendy Kopp's opposition to the TDR release.

The coming counter-revolution: the most active and informed parents are increasingly rejecting the ed deform model

I received the following analysis from a long-time associate going back to the 70s and through ICE who I am keeping anonymous because of close relatives and friends in the schools she refers to. I think it expresses the enormous amount of harm the TDRs have done to the ed deformers – way more harm in the long run than to the named teachers.
I don't mean to minimize the harm that the publication of teacher scores is doing. There will be all kinds of of anger and chaos out there, which will hurt some teachers and some schools, but hopefully will stir a few people to make courageous choices. The first principal to speak out was from PS 321K, and she only did it so readily because she knows she has full support from her parents. Also her school is in no danger of losing students--it's the most sought-after school in Brooklyn. Hopefully she will spur other principals to do the same. And she knows full well that publishing the scores is nowhere near as destructive as having to lose teachers two years from now because of the value added punishment.

I'm sure that the principals at [2 schools in Brooklyn I know well] won't be pleased to see that their best fourth grade teachers got the lowest scores. In these two cases, for example, I would be surprised if any parents reacted by blaming the teachers or the school.

Likewise, in a top elem school in Manhattan where some of my family members go, I would be very surprised to see parents react in a negative way to the teachers whose scores are low. Especially since I believe that this was true for the teachers in the two inclusion classes. Parents there have constant access to their children's classes (there are "family days" once a month), and they have a good idea of how their children are doing. If their kid got a perfect score in the 3rd grade, I don't think they'll blame a teacher if he or she got two answers wrong on the fourth grade test. Looking at the map on p. 17 of Saturday's NY Times, it looks like many of the poorest value added scoring schools were in the best scoring neighborhoods (eg. Bayside, Queens, Borough Park, Windsor Terrace, Tribeca). It's all so absurd.

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

March 1 - Stand UP! Speak OUT!

Calling all students, parents, teachers, education workers and community members to take part in a national day of action to defend public education...

Stand UP!  Speak OUT!

Join Right to Education, Occupy the DOE and Southside Community Schools Coalition for:

2PM MARCH starting @ Department of Education Headquarters (52 Chambers Street)
led by Right to Education

4PM SPEAK OUT @ Fort Greene Park (Dekalb Avenue side)
facilitated by Occupy the DOE and Right to Education

5PM PRESS CONFERENCE @ Brooklyn Technical HS (Dekalb and Ft. Greene Place) 
led by Southside Community Schools Coalition

At 6PM the Panel for Educational Policy will vote to co-locate more charter schools in public schools. Various students, parents, educators and community organizations have called to boycott the PEP.


March 10 - STATE OF THE UNION PART 2: TIME TO FIGHT BACK ---- See Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FOIL: final performance evaluations all members of Chancellor’s leadership team

Leonie will have to wait 'till hell freezes over. Let's see the NY Times follow up on this one. Send your own FOIL for the rest of the Tweedies.
February 28, 2012
Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, NY 10007
By email:

Dear Records Access Officer:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, I hereby request a copy of the following records or portions thereof:

The final performance evaluations of all of the members of the Chancellor’s leadership team for 2009, 2010 and 2011, in the NYC Department of Education, including but not limited to every Deputy Chancellor, as well as the performance evaluation of the Chancellor himself.

According to Robert Freeman of the NYS Open Govt. Committee, the performance evaluations of all public employees in NY State are available to the public through FOILs, except for police and correction officers and firefighters.

These requested records are not exempt from disclosure under FOIL. To the extent that information contained in the requested records is protected please redact such information and provide us with the remaining information. In the event that all or part of this request is denied, please cite each specific applicable FOIL exemption and notify us of appeal procedures available under the law. 

To the extent that these records are readily available in an electronic format, we request that they be provided in that format. Please provide responsive records as they are identified, rather than waiting to gather all records.

I request to be notified of any fees associated with this request of over $100.00.

The Freedom of Information Law requires agencies to respond within five (5) business days of a records request.  

Please contact me by phone at the below number or by email at  with any questions. Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this request.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
NY Post reporters who wrote stories on Pascale Mauclair:
Additional reporting by Kevin Sheehan and Daniel Prendergast

Is it time to head over to the homes of NY Post reporters who write these stories?


March 10 - STATE OF THE UNION PART 2: TIME TO FIGHT BACK ---- See Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

Finally, Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents for Our Public Schools (WAGPOPS) were heard by the media:

The Battle Continues:

Local news has been friendlier to our cause.

And here's a timely article about the former chairman of Teacher For America Los Angeles and founder of Citizens of the World Charter Schools, Mark Gordon:

It turns out that this charter school DOES know something about sharing space. Their office suite is shared by scandal plagued The Wonder of Reading.

LIKE us on Facebook:
and follow us on twitter:!/WAGPOPS

March 10 - STATE OF THE UNION PART 2: TIME TO FIGHT BACK ---- See Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

Charter school TDRs are now online at the NYP


We all know this stuff is crap for charter school teachers too. And this anonymous email does take aim at our of our favorite targets.

Sixty Minutes did a feature on Zeke Vandehoek who is the 125K a year maven for paying teachers. Where's the follow-up? In fact I don't necessarily believe TEP is a bad school or any worse than many other schools and in fact may be better. His results may be a sign he is not creaming and in fact playing an honest game. What Vandehoek is discovering is that unless he creams he will be branded a failure no matter what he pays the teachers. He is also a hero of sorts in the movie American Teacher which I've written about - a movie that claims all it takes is paying teachers more money -- with the usual caveat that teachers have to be accountable -- code for measure them, evaluate them to death and place the blame on them when things don't go right but when they do be sure to credit the school or district leadership.

Fascinating little insight: TEP charter school, headed by that publicity hound Zeke Vandehoek who bragged about how he would get great teachers w/ higher pay and that class sizes didn’t matter at

Has two teachers listed, both below average.

One of the TEP teachers who is featured in the movie American Teacher got an 18.

The eight winning candidates, he said, have some common traits, like a high “engagement factor,” as measured by the portion of a given time frame during which students seem so focused that they almost forget they are in class. They were expert at redirecting potential troublemakers, a crucial skill for middle school teachers. And they possessed a contagious enthusiasm — which Rhena Jasey, 30, Harvard Class of 2001, who has been teaching at a school in Maplewood, N.J., conveyed by introducing a math lesson with, “Oh, this is the fun part because I looooooove math!” Says Mr. Vanderhoek: “You couldn’t help but get excited.” Hired.
March 10 - STATE OF THE UNION PART 2: TIME TO FIGHT BACK ---- See Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

Obama Admin To Apply Race to the Top to Airline Pilot Evaluations

For The Wave - by Norm Scott

The Obama administration, recognizing the success of RTTT in education, especially with the enormously popular publication of teacher data reports in NYC, has decided to institute a version for the airline industry.

An admin spokesperson said the idea of Race To The Top  was a perfectly named program for an industry which races to the top with every flight.

"Given that the pilot is the most important factor in a successful airplane flight, we think it crucial to find out who are the good and bad pilots," said Arne Duncan, who has been put in charge of all Race to the Top programs which will be applied to many other areas of industry. Merit pay will be given to the top pilots as an incentive to fly better.

"Arne has been chosen because he is so tall," said the spokesperson. "Get it -- Race to the TOP --- tall, top -- we can be so clever."
Lowest rating a pilot can get

In this extension of RTTT, the Obama administration is reaffirming its belief in choice as has been applied to the public school system. In its "Choose your pilot" program, upon arrival at the airport passengers will be allowed to look up their pilot's rating and if not satisfied switch to any other flight with a pilot that has a rating more to their liking.

The spokesperson said, "The public has a right to know whether a pilot is Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective, or in the lowest category: Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye."

A pilot is rated in the latter category will be given time to improve while all passengers on flights flown by these pilots will be given double insurance at a discount.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Real Story Behind UFT Push for Legislation on Charter Co-locations

  • Limited proposal to have local CECs vote on Charter Co-locos while closing schools removed from agenda.
  • No role for District Leadership Teams (DLTs) or School Leadership Teams (SLTs). 
  • Now that the UFT's two co-located schools in District 19 in East NY Bklyn will be removed after the UFT gets its own building, it is safe for them to enter the water of challenging co-locos.
  • Does UFT move undercut alliance to kill mayoral control?

Ask people at the 33 threatened closing schools or the ones already closed and threatened to be closed if they want CECs to vote on this issue --- but won't happen in UFT proposed legislation.

Amidst charges by some parents of a betrayal and hijacking of their agenda, the UFT will be holding a joint press conference on Tuesday Feb. 28 at 10:30AM at Tweed to announce proposed legislation that would give Community Education Councils (CECs  - the Tweed version of local school bds) a vote on charter co-locations in public schools.

Various parent groups and individuals had been working on legislation in the fight towards ultimately ending mayoral control and wanted inclusion of both colocos and school closings in the legislation but feel their efforts have been hijacked by the UFT who rounded up their usual arm candy/paid off usual suspects to join with them.

While lots of Assembly members have been invited among the usual suspects are DFER Darling Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (who is running for Congress - see below if you think he is not a DFER darling) and Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright who not long ago declared he would oppose renewing mayoral control, (if you're asking why the UFT would climb into bed with a DFER Darling you haven't been reading this blog). Wright will be pushing the bill with Jeffries joining in -- when he isn't spending his DFER money on his congressional campaign. [I must throw in that Martine Guerrier is going to run for Jeffries' seat with lots of DFER support. Martine's story deserves its own post].

Wright deal after Wadleigh turnaround on closing: Do you smell school closing politics?

The Wright story is a prime example of how closing down of schools is political and not educational. Not long after Wright threw his bomb about not supporting mayoral control (coming from a supporter in Harlem this is not good news for the charter lobby or Bloomberg) the school he was trying to keep open  -- Wadleigh -- where Cornel West visited --- the DOE pulled them off the list and Wright goes silent on mayoral control. Watch the UFT leaders brag how they worked behind the scenes to keep the school open -- while selling everyone else out.

CEC would get vote on co-locations but not on closing schools
While the bill would keep the DOE from force-feeding charters into public schools –  some parents think this would be a significant victory even if mayoral control continues – a sister provision put forth by some parents requiring a CEC vote on closing schools was not included despite a big push from many real reformers, leading to charges that the charge of UFT hijacking.

No little irony here considering we have been attacking the UFT leadership for many years for putting on a phony show about fighting closing schools (after almost a decade of supporting this policy). Ask people from the schools closed and about to be closed if they wanted the CECs to vote on closing schools.

More usual suspects:
*AQE, NYCC and CEJ, all in some way receiving funds from the UFT will be in attendance supporting the gradualist approach to corralling the mayoral control monster. At the rate they are moving, we might see some progress by the next century. I hope you're all still reading ed notes then when we can trumpet the victory. *[Alliance for Quality Education, NY Communities for Change - formerly ACORN and Coalition for Educational Justice --- one day I'll do a piece on all these orgs -- are they real or are they memorex?]

All I will say now is, this deal is the ultimate in dirty politics where everyone from DFER to UFT leadership to Bloomberg get a little bit of what they want and preserve some of their power while parents and kids and teachers lose. Another example of a big tent created to serve multiple motives, instead of supporting truly parent led legislation that would really help our kids and reign in mayoral control which is out of control.

Charter lobby begin campaign to take control of selected CECs in districts they want to occupy --- in a year the UFT bill will be an anachronism. Note these 2 Gotham Schools reports.

Charter lobby pushes for seats on the CECs 
Feb 7, 2012 ... The request was the centerpiece of this year's Charter Lobby Day, which drew more than 1200 charter parents to Albany today to push the CEC ... support/
Feb 8, 2012 ... On Tuesday, more than 1200 charter school parents traveled to Albany as part of Lobby Day. Their main ask was that legislators set aside seats ... inclusion/
There is even more irony in that the charter lobby's main legislative ask is for seats on the CEC, their way of using their muscle to control the CECs so these selected CECs will vote for the charter co-locos.

In fact charter parents who live in the district already have the right to be on CECs via Borough President appointees or if they are a parent of kids in a district school in the past 2 years. Thus, gaining a "victory" as is usual with the UFT, may very well prove Pyrrhic if a quid pro quo is reached where CEC's are allowed to vote on charter colocos but charters get to use their money to push themselves into control of CECs. Can you imagine the day when Eva tosses an enormous pot of money into pushing her candidates for CEC? What would it take? Just buy off selected public and charter school parents in targeted districts for charters. If a public school parent works for a charter org that still allows them to be on CEC.

Push for more parent and teacher voice scuttled
Some parents were pushing for a role for SLTs and DLTs as a counter to the "CEC only" option but are being ignored in the deal, not surprising given that including SLT's, though also severely flawed, might allow for a rank and file teacher voice in the process. (Does the UFT fear that the teachers in the two schools the union charters co-locate might vote them out?)

What is a CEC and how is it chosen?
The CECs are the Bloomberg created versions of local school boards from the old days, but eviscerated of any real power and chosen in a severely limited process that is far more undemocratic than even the old school board elections pre-mayoral control. I won't get into any more detail here other than to say that with each election cycle the DOE screws things up more and more. [Parents sue to stop Community Education Council ... - Ed Notes Online].

Summing up
A coalition of parents were pushing a comprehensive plan to at the very least limit the absolute power a mayor would have over the school system, with an ultimate goal of ending mayoral control and were working with some political forces to accomplish some of their program. The UFT moves in and coopts them while severely weakening the controls they were asking for. Standard op procedure for the UFT.

Now also notice how deeply entrenched up the ass of DFER the UFT's partner, Hakeem Jeffries, is:
Just in case you have not had enough, this was posted to a listserve by a parent activist and former charter school parent:

The charters ALREADY have their bill introduced for charter parents to be on the PEP and CEC. It's been introduced in the Senate and Assembly. They're lobbying hard for this in an election year with loads of campaign cash to give out. Legislators haven't heard from any public school parents who object to charter parents being on the PEP or CEC's.

This is why parents AND teachers at all schools must have a say in school closings and co-locations. We already have charter parents who are BP appointees to the CEC's, we have those whose child has been in a public school in the last two years who are eligible to serve and now we'll have it in the law any charter parent can serve.

Funny thing is they're still not complying with the 2010 law requiring them to serve a comparable amount of students with special needs and ELL's and every charter have a PA/PTA but they want charter parents on CEC's and the PEP.

I guess it's okay to violate charter parent rights under the law and use us as puppets to undermine public school parental involvement structures to create more charters where more parents' rights will be violated.

Please start calling your legislators and tell them NO to charter parents
on the PEP and CEC's and that they should enforce the 2010 charter


Read the bill below -- if you dare:

What ICE Said About Mayoral Control: Feb. 2009

Without handing control of the schools to one person we would not be seeing charter co-locos, school closings except in the most extreme cases, crazy teacher evaluation systems and the publication and shaming of teachers in the press.
 I know the publication of the TDAs is the issue de jour but let's look at the bigger picture. Today's NY Times claims the publication bolsters Mulgrew's standings with the rank and file. I think that is a misreading of the issue and that many teachers BLAME the UFT leadership for the debacle. But in case people start to forget history I am here to remind them.

With the battle over mayoral control of schools beginning to heat up again and with the UFT talking out of 12 sides of its mouth I will once again restate my position that I have taken for over a decade: that no matter what words come out of the mouths of UFT/Unity leaders, they will continue to back mayoral control no matter how bad it has been for all parties --- parents, students and especially teachers.

"Why," you might be asking? Because the UFT cannot live with any alternative to mayoral control. In their world they still prefer having to deal with one person --- even a Bloomberg -- than with community groups all over the city. In 1969-70 the UFT had the power to influence the decentralization law to weaken it to such an extent that 30 years later when push came to shove, they were able to push the baby they helped create off the ledge by handing power to Bloomberg. This time around they think they will do better. Thus we hear Mulgrew taking a page from the past by saying, "Only blah, blah days 'till we get rid of Bloomberg." They said that 4 years ago but punted on supporting an opponent and they said the same things about Giuliani and Koch. That is the extent of the message to the members which is code for "Next time we will do better with Christine Quinn, most likely, or whoever."

Without handing control of the schools to one person we would not be seeing charter co-locos, school closings except in the most extreme cases, crazy teacher evaluation systems and the publication and shaming of teachers in the press.

So no matter how loud they scream, those screams of UFT leaders are akin to the guy who murders his parents and asks for mercy on the grounds he is an orphan.

But watch the duplicity and back room dealing by the UFT as it tries to put out different messages to different people. On the deep inside within the Unity Caucus hawks, they will push the horrors of any plan that turns control of schools over to local forces even if those forces includes teachers at the school level.

Just to give you a clue as to how the leadership feels about the rank and file, I had a conversation with Randi Weingarten about 13 years ago where I urged her to support ideas that would empower teachers at the school level. Her response was, "How can we trust...." before she shut her mouth as she realized what she was saying.

In the last renewal for mayoral control, Randi set up committees and borough meetings and all kinds of crap for show and then overturned all the recommendations to do her own thing in supporting mayoral control --- claiming they got enough tweaks to curb Bloomberg power. How has that worked out?

When it came time to a vote at the DA, ICE members who had participated on the committee put our a minority report for the Feb. 2009 DA.
Remember these points as you watch the UFT leaders begin to dance once again around this issue.

Mayoral Control:
Bad for Teachers, Students, Parents and Communities 

One of the major planks in the corporate agenda for education is to put large urban school systems under dictatorial mayors who are free to shut out parent and teacher input while undermining the union, especially at the school/chapter level. To continue this policy, even with checks and balances, invites disaster. 

Mayoral Control Has Been a Disaster for Teachers:
  • Attacks on tenure, seniority, working conditions and the professional status of teachers.
  • Teachers don’ t know where incompetence ends and the malice begins.
  • Throughout the United States, mayoral control of the schools has been the vehicle for privatizing
    public education, bringing in charter and contract schools that are overwhelmingly anti-union, and that have few or none of the protections and benefits that UFT members expect and deserve.

  • Mayoral Control Has Been a Disaster for Students:
    • Students subjected to a stultifying, stress-filled regime of high stakes testing, with the wholesale loss
      of classes and activities that are unrelated to test prep. Science, art, music and physical education
      have all been cut back to meet the single-minded focus on testing in math and reading.
    • Time and again, mayoral control has shortchanged students, whether it was the fiascos with bus
      routes, cell phones, or the willful chaos they’ve brought to Special Education.
      Mayoral Control Has Been A Disaster for Parents:
Over and Over, Bloomberg and Klein have shown their contempt for parents, ignoring them, patronizing them, and creating an opaque, impenetrable system where it’s impossible to even get a phone call returned, let alone remedy a problem. 

Mayoral Control Has Been a Disaster for Communities:
Under mayoral control, the reorganization and closing of schools, many of which have served their communities for generations, has accelerated, and there has been no opportunity to give communities any voice in the process. As a result, the democratic process itself has been harmed, and the community fabric has been undermined. 

The UFT Must Do Better!
The UFT Governance Committee wasted a golden opportunity to stand up for democracy by failing to call for a return to some form of school governance procedure enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of communities in the state and nation, namely, direct elections of school board members. Rather than come up with a governance system that would serve our and the students best interests, the committee started off with the assumption that our vision would be rejected by the press and other critics; that we had to water it down before we could even formulate a better vision. Not that we shouldn’t be willing to compromise when actual negotiations over governance begins, but was it wise to eliminate what we really wanted before we were publicly engaged? 

Members of ICE (The Independent Community of Educators) participated on the Task Force, and repeatedly pointed this out, but to no avail. We could not support a position that in reality will mean more attacks on teachers, students and communities. Consensus means agreement is reached by all, not majority rule.
NOTE: Link not working at this time-- email norm for
We urge you to read the ICE minority report on school governance. 
Independent Community of Educators (ICE) 
Dear Delegate,
At the helm of our system are a Mayor and Chancellor who know little about education and care more about test scores, do little for our public schools, and care more about privatization and charterization. There has been more damage heaped on our students, their education, our profession, and our professional lives than at any other time in the history of public education. 

We need to minimize the roles of politicians, make a Chancellor accountable to us, and put experienced educators back in academic leadership roles. The UFT recommended governance plan does not do that, ICE’s plan does. 

Please consider substituting or amending the UFT report when voting this afternoon. 

The major points included in the ICE recommendations, missing from the UFT plan. 

ICE proposes:
  • SLTs appoint their principals.
  • The SLTs of a District select their Superintendent.
  • The DOE must be politically neutral and not tied to any one political office.
  • A Central Board will be made up of one member elected from each borough; one appointee from each of the borough presidents, three Mayoral appointees and a UFT representative. The Central Board will appoint a Chancellor.
  • Evaluations of schools and students should be based on multiple measures and should be used for gathering information in order to provide support.
  • All schools provide the core curricula subjects, performing and visual arts, health and physical education, career and technical education, and technology.
  • The school leadership committees will determine how funds are spent.
  • All contracts will be put out to open bid and made public via the Internet.
  • All registered voters and parents are eligible to vote for district councils and a representative to the Central Board from their borough.
  • Chancellors, district superintendents and supervisors must have a minimum of 5 years classroom experience, no waivers granted.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Video: Merit Pay, Teacher Pay, and Value Added Measures

Exposing ROADS Charter School Invasion of Schomburg Satellite Academy

I know the publication of TDRs is causing much anguish but the charter school invasion is as big a menace. Thank goodness teachers are still fighting the good fight.

More skulduggery from the partnership between the DOE and any charter that comes along. Posted by our friends at Schomburg Satellite Academy.
The blog, which I added to the blog roll, is at:

ROADS Charter School:
The plans are hidden, but the consequences are pefectly clear.

On February 2, 2012, the DOE quietly posted plans on its website for a new charter school, ROADS II, slated for co-location in the Bronx Regional high school building. The school is scheduled to open in September of 2012.

As of today, parents and students still have not been notified of the proposed changes, despite a critical Joint Public Hearing on the school scheduled just two weeks away.

Why has the DOE kept this charter school under wraps from the community? What will its impact be on students at the existing schools? And why is it facing nearly unanimous opposition from those who know about it?

FACT: The DOE claims that the ROADS II school will have “no educational impact” on existing public school students, despite the fact that the charter school will take over 1/3 of the classrooms in two of the existing schools schools by 2015.

FACT: The charter school will reduce the current students’ access to the computer labs, the science labs, gym classes, the library, and all other shared school facilities.

FACT: Last year, one of the public schools in the building, Schomburg Satellite Academy, developed an entirely new schedule based on best practices for the transfer school population. Attendance this year has increased by 5%, ELA Regents scores have increased by 30%, and Science and Social Studies scores have increased by 30% under the new schedule. Adding a new charter school to the building will render this cutting-edge schedule impossible.

FACT: New York Education Law Section 2852 states that charter schools must "locate charter schools in a region or regions where there may be a lack of alternatives and access to charter schools would provide new alternatives within the local public education system."
The proposed ROADS school and the exiting public schools (Bronx Regional and Satellite Academy) both serve over-aged, under-credited students though a competency-based program that culminates in a special capstone project. The charter school and the public schools would serve the same population through very similar programs. In this respect, ROADS II may violated New York state law.
(See page 5 of the linked PDF's for details on the mission of Bronx Regional and Satellite Academy.)

FACT: There are currently three programs in the building. The two District 12 high schools in the building are losing classrooms to ROADS charter school. The one District 79 school in the building will not lose any classrooms. The Executive Director of District 79, Sarah Sandelius, is an adviser to the ROADS board.

FACT: The ROADS charter schools are backed by Centerbridge Partners, a private equity investment firm located on Park Avenue.

FACT: Under the proposed plan, the ROADS II charter school will be allowed to grow while the existing public schools will have their growth capped indefinitely.

FACT: The ROADS II school will grant preference in admission to students who have been in the juvenile justice system. In doing so, it will concentrate an at-risk population who studies have shown have far better educational outcomes when integrated into the mainstream public education system.
(See page 10 of the linked PDF for details on admissions criteria.)

FACT: The DOE released information about the co-location on its website on February 2, but has given no notice to parents and students about the planned changes that would radically alter the character of their school.

Why does the Department of Education favor the ROADS charter school over the existing programs in the building?
What does Centerbridge Capital have to gain through its involvement ROADS charter school?
Why has the DOE not shared this information with parents and families?

The Joint Public Hearing for the ROADS II charter school co-location will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Bronx Regional school building at 1010 Rev. James A. Polive Ave. in the Bronx.

For more info, follow our blog at

Saturday, February 25, 2012

NYT and TDRs, Walcott Meets With WllmsbgComm Reps, Eva Hubbie Invades District 14

There is so much stuff coming in I have to consolidate posts. Follow me on twitter if you want more: normscott1.

All of the reports below connect up --- one thing a union working in our interests would be doing but Unity won't.

Follow the Chicago story -- today Karen Lewis said grief counselors for the children should have been sent to closing schools. So much more on twitter:
Even better is this:

Lewis claims Rahm told her that 25% of the children in this city will never amount to anything, and he's not throwing more money at them
This just about says it all -- the racism behind ed deform. But that requires its own post.

I tweeted this morning - "NY Times excuse for publishing TDRs: The devil made me do it." Leonie pointed to the article today that showed how Cerf and Turf (Joel Klein) just about forced them to FOIL for the info while they refuse to give up stuff to so many FOILs people have given up. I tweeted back that they could have printed this article as a justification as to why they will refuse to allow Tweed to manipulate the press.

FAIR: In today's newsletter--takes the New York Times to task--if the scores aren't accurate why publish them in the first place?

NYT Sues for Right to Publish Bad Teacher Data

The charter school battle in Williamsburg/Greenpoint heats up.

Walcott met with some comunity people last week. It was an interesting meeting where he refused to remove the Moskowitz co-loc from the March 1 PEP agenda. I'll report more on this meeting (with a juicy Walcott quote) when I can.

Parents battle Eva hubby Eric Grannis invasion
This came in from a parent group:

As many of you have heard, District 13 and District 14 are being targeted for the co-location of TWO MORE charter schools. These two charter schools are coming from a Los Angeles charter school chain, Citizens of the World Charter School, that has only been in operation for a single academic year.

Note that all Eric Grannis (Eva Moskowitz's husband) had to do was have a few meetings with a small roomful of affluent parents and now BOTH of our districts must scramble madly to fight TWO more charter schools seeking to co-locate in our public schools.

Here's a link to the Letter we sent to Krupa Desai and SUNY:

We hope you will find this information enlightening and that you pass it along to your colleagues and your school communities.

LIKE us on Facebook to get regular

Follow us on twitter:!/WAGPOPS


Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents for Our Public Schools
I'm going to include the letter here below the fold. I urge you to read it. We have to build alliances with every group fighting ed deform.

Defending the Art of Teaching: Assailed Teacher

At a PEP meeting many tears ago when few people attended I raised the concept of measuring teachers. I asked the PEP members and Joel Klein to think back to the 10 best teachers they ever had and what made them that way. I could actually see a brief moment of thought on their faces. I pointed out that you know a good teacher when you see one. All else is pretty much beside the point. There was possibly a second where Klein gave a short nod.

Another long post from Assailed Teacher but here is the essence of teaching as an art that cannot ever be measured. It has been my pleasure to recently meet this blogger who has been teaching for over a decade and said something so important. I'm paraphrasing: "For most of my career I thought all I had to do was focus on teaching my classes to the best of my ability. But now I see there is a much bigger fight going on. It is time for me to get involved." Boy can the movement use guys like this in this struggle.

If one is to list the crimes the UFT leadership has committed against its members, at the top of the list is the refusal to engage in a defense of the core of teaching as this blogger and people like Leonie Haimson do, instead pandering to the ed deformers insane assault on the teaching profession by accepting the very concept that teaching can be measured in any way whether by tests or Danielson.

Value Add This

The New York Times beat everyone else to the punch by releasing the teacher data reports last night. The rest of the news outlets are sure to release them throughout the course of the rest of today.

No, I am not linking to them.

I have taught United States History for as long as I remember. My students generally do well on the U.S. History  Regents. Since I have been at my current school, my  students have had well above a 90%  pass rate every year. Two years ago 100% of my students passed the Regents with over 60% of them scoring 85 or higher.
Teachers like me who generally have students with high pass rates should be  just as outraged over what the DOE and the media are doing with this “value added” garbage as anyone else.

First, the U.S. History Regents is cake. The scoring rubric is so generous that an average  student has to literally try to fail it. Second, the test is usually given to 11th graders, who are more serious and mature than underclassmen. The ones at risk of dropping out have usually done so before the 11th grade.

The scores of my students do not reflect my quality as a teacher. When I used to teach 10th grade Global History, the Regents pass rates of my students were lower. Take me out of 11th grade and put me in front of a 10th grade class and my stats would take a hit.

It reminds me of the famous Casey Stengel line after he went from managing the championship-addicted New York Yankees to the hapless Mets, essentially moving him from first place to worst place. He said “I guess I got dumb in a hurry.”

Read the entire piece: Value Add This

A Parent "Gets" the UFT But Doesn't "Get" the Membership

...if the union isn't WITH you, it is effectively against you. From where I sit, it looks like they are in the latter category. Unless YOU do something about that, you're screwed in a big, far-reaching, long-term way. I'd really like to know how it has come to be that the people that make up the union seem to be the last ones with any say at all in what it does "for" them.

The way I see it is this: the union leadership is working with the legislature and Governor 1% to basically redistribute YOUR wealth to themselves, their cronies and their districts. No teacher I've ever spoken to thinks a) the union works FOR the teachers (it's the other way around where they work for the union), b) that they have any power to effect any changes within that structure, and c) that it is inevitable they will be screwed by the system so why bother?

I believe that the union power structure making these far-reaching decisions that are counter to the best interests of the membership, makes those decisions based on the "lack of objection equaling consent" principle, and that the rank and file membership remains docile and takes what they get handed to them without any unified protest - as long as the union delivers good benefits and (dwindling) job security.
I watched "The Train" last week with Bert Lancaster. What a story of the French Resistance. If you look at history with the odds stacked and how some people respond it is thrilling. I understand the reality for many people but that is pretty much true throughout history -- until some plug gets pulled for enough people to begin to make a difference. We can never tell when that time comes. The Middle East a little over a year ago? All I know is that the arrogance of power, whether a dictator or a mayor or an Eva or a UFT leadership, at some point makes enough people say, "Ive has enough.  

This was posted to the Dump Duncan group on Facebook on Feb. 23 by a NYC public school parent. He just about says the UFT is Vichy without actually using the term.
I have a question...

I'm father of two kids in the NY public school system, in 3rd and 5th grades. I see the stark difference between the kind of schooling I received as a child of the '70s and what millenials are subjected to by what the system has become. Beyond dismaying, it makes me very angry to see my kids' creativity and their love of imaginative learning stifled by the requirements of rote indoctrination into a system the discourages individuality and creative thinking, while inuring them to mindless repetitive tasks. The test prep regime strikes me as little more than training them to be factory workers, content with their lot as they purposelessly screw endless nuts onto endless bolts. Equally dismaying is the response of teachers and especially the teachers' union.

As a reader of Dump Duncan, it is also quite clear to me that the anger and dismay I feel as a parent is shared by the teachers in classrooms across America. And while I admire an initiative like Dump Duncan (and I signed it!), I don't see it gaining any kind of meaningful traction in the general population for a few key reasons:

1) the transformation of the school system has proceeded gradually, so the metaphorical frogs have no idea how hot the water has become,
2) the media's cooperation in the demonizing of teachers has caused the public to become *skeptical of educators' claims* that the problems are structural rather than holistic, and
3) there's big money to be taken from the teacher's unions (in the forms of compensation and pensions) that private - and public - interests would like very much to get their hands on.

Once the traditional vehicles of profit stalled - real estate, credit and derivatives markets, to name a few - and all the wealth to be easily had had been extracted from traditional public sources like industry subsidies, defense contracts, Social Security, medicare/drug contracts and mineral rights markets, it became imperative to find new ways to extract public money from non-traditional sources.

Unfortunately for all of us, America's schools and pension annuities are a ripe fruit waiting to be juiced.

The truism holds: be very leary whenever government tries to "help".

I'm not going to go into a history of the "Testing-Industrial Complex" - if you're not familiar with it, there are a multitude of easily-found sources that cover it completely.

The purpose of this post is to ask why *nothing meaningful* is being done to counteract the stunningly aggressive, rapacious takeover of our educational heritage by the corporate parasites who care about nothing but maximizing their "share" of the public loot.

Again, I appreciate Dump Duncan, but how on earth do you expect parents to know or care about Arne Duncan? How can you expect someone like me to know that my kids' teachers are as appalled by the shift in the educational paradigm as I am - especially when criticizing the regime could end a career?

I don't believe you can expect either. At the same time, I don't blame teachers for remaining silent on these issues, though, paradoxically, your silence will ultimately be your undoing.

And far more importantly, I have to wonder why the teachers' unions have done nothing to educate parents.

I'm going to insert a comment I made on Mark Naison's "Dark Day for New York" blog post yesterday - that went unanswered.

If it were MY union, I'd be harassing my rep, calling and writing the union management and generally raising hell. YOU are the ONLY ones with the ability to do so, as the union derives its power from YOU, not the other way around.

Tell me why the union - the only entity ostensibly on the side of the teachers, and the only entity with the skillset and capabilities - has not printed 1/2 page flyers giving an executive overview of the points of this debate and handed them to parents at the elementary schools as they go to get their kids?

I mean something like: "your kids' education is being transformed into a drastic testing regimen that SOUNDS good but has not been proven effective by ANY studies; that removes everything but test prep from the curriculum so that teachers can be "evaluated" and fired in order to help take pressure off of the state and banks that squandered the money that you've paid toward your schools and we've contributed toward our retirements (that they now blame US for!).

Add a couple action bullet points for parents along the lines of "call your community board/school board members who are Ms. X at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and Mr. Y at (xxx) xxx-xxxx, your state rep Ms. Z at (xxx) xxx-xxxx, state senator Mr. A at (xxx) xxx-xxxx, as well as your congressperson at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and Senators Schumer at (xxx)xxx-xxxx and Gillibrand at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and tell them to stop punishing the schools as though they are the cause of the problems the state has. And include a link to the Dump Duncan petition.

Why isn't this being done? A few interns at Union HQ could compile all that data and make the flyers in an afternoon.

Like I said earlier - if the union isn't WITH you, it is effectively against you. From where I sit, it looks like they are in the latter category. Unless YOU do something about that, you're screwed in a big, far-reaching, long-term way.

You bemoan lack of parental awareness and involvement, but that's like asking why the doctor didn't magically know you were sick and come over to your house to heal you. The only information we get comes from the papers, and the papers definitely aren't working to make you look good. If parents were really aware of the big picture surrounding what their kids - AND YOU - are being subjected to, you'd have more parental involvement than you knew what to do with. But the parents DON'T KNOW the deal, nor do they know that there's anything they can do. The educators need to EDUCATE them and ALIGN with them to work together against that hegemony. Or just give up and pray there's still a pension fund when you're ready to retire.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Save Coney Island Wood Boardwalk


I created a petition entitled New York City Parks Department: Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk and Save the Rainforests, because I care deeply about this very important issue. 

I'm trying to collect 5,000 signatures, and I could really use your help. 

To read more about what I'm trying to do and to sign my petition, click here: 

It'll just take a minute! 

Once you're done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!

Rob Burstein

NY Times

Wood May Give Way to Plastic on Coney Island Boardwalk

Memories, more than wood and nails, have long been embedded in the weathered Boardwalk of Coney Island: a first kiss, a marriage proposal, a roller-coaster ride, a hot dog and a custard cone, a seaside stroll in New York City.
But rites of passage take their toll. And one day soon, it seems, economic reality will pave over sentimentality.
After a yearlong fight over the city’s proposal to use concrete to replace the wooden boards along stretches of the aging, 2.7-mile Boardwalk, the city’s parks department is offering a compromise of sorts — but wood is not part of the plan.
Instead, the department is promising to use a combination of concrete and a type of recycled plastic that looks like wood. They want a 12-foot concrete section for emergency vehicles, with 19-foot-wide sections of the plastic polymer on either side for pedestrians.
This is not the all-concrete sacrilege that local preservationists had feared, but they still see the hybrid product as a travesty of tradition — not to mention a worrisome indicator of what could happen when the city decides to renovate other portions of the fabled walkway.
“It’s like putting a piece of plastic into a diamond ring, and this is our jewel,” said Rob Burstein, 57, the chairman of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance, whose online petition to keep the Boardwalk wood was signed by more than 1,700 people since the beginning of the year.
The five-block stretch in question is in Brighton Beach, a mile from the heavily-traveled historic district of Coney Island, where wood is still used.
Mr. Burstein, who lives in Brighton Beach, was offended that his neighborhood could not have wood. “What are we, chopped liver?” he said.
Two small sections of the Boardwalk are already concrete. The push for new materials followed a campaign by environmental advocates and a directive from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to reduce the use of tropical hardwoods from endangered rain-forest supplies.
The parks department’s plan must be approved by the Public Design Commission, whose members are appointed by Mr. Bloomberg. If the commission approves the plan, as it is expected to do, reconstructing the Boardwalk would take at least another year, said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner.
Some commission members said they would reluctantly embrace the synthetic wood-concrete compromise.
“I have pushed them to look at every possible wood alternative, and they have persuaded me that there aren’t wood alternatives that are practical,” said one commission member, Otis Pratt Pearsall, a trustee of the Brooklyn Museum. With that in mind, he said he would support the hybrid plan because “it is important to have the thing look as Boardwalk-y as possible.”
Another commissioner, Paula Scher, shared that sense of resignation.
“If you think we’re happy that wood is being replaced by material we find less appealing, that is certainly not the case,” said Ms. Scher, a partner at Pentagram Design. “It’s called a Boardwalk, and if you use other material, it loses its identity. I understand that, but it’s so much better to have a surface to walk on next to the beach.
“We love our icons of the past, and sometimes you can preserve them,” Ms. Scher said, but “things have changed.”
Mr. Benepe said the parks department had investigated every option, from natural woods like Douglas fir and black locust to treated woods like Southern yellow pine. They concluded that such hardwoods were neither durable enough nor, in the case of black locust, abundantly available. Opponents rejected this argument, and Michael Caruso, a forestry expert in West Virginia, said that black locust wood could be ordered in sufficient quantities.
The plastic composite, which can last 75 years, is cheaper than wood to build with and maintain, Mr. Benepe said. According to City Council member Domenic M. Recchia Jr., it costs more than $1 million a year to maintain the wooden Boardwalk.
Under the hybrid plan, it would cost the city $6.85 million to replace the 60,110-square-foot stretch of the Boardwalk from Coney Island Avenue to Brighton 15th Street. That is more expensive than concrete, but cheaper than some natural woods that could last just eight years, the parks department said.
“Given all the variables, this addresses as many of the desires as possible,” Mr. Benepe said.
The local community board, which has an advisory role, rejected the plan for synthetic wood last spring. One board member, Todd Dobrin, who founded a group called Friends of the Boardwalk, said the department was “disregarding the will of the public.”
Mr. Dobrin said it would be problematic to use concrete in any form. This winter, he said, the concrete sections have been dangerously icy, with poor drainage and numerous cracks.
“When you come to the Boardwalk, it’s such a peaceful realm,” said Soul Bryan, 48, who, like many local residents, takes a round-trip walk on the Boardwalk daily. “As soon as you go off the wood, it takes you out of your zone.”
But Mr. Benepe said economic considerations outweighed the historical importance of the wood.
“Suggesting that you can only have wooden Boardwalks because that’s what they were originally built of is like saying you should only have cobblestone streets,” he said.
Still, economic sense clashes with the emotional connection that many Brooklynites have to the Boardwalk.
Dan Klores, a public relations executive and filmmaker from Brooklyn, remembered running on the Boardwalk in the 1970s and encountering Abraham D. Beame, who was campaigning for mayor. The wooden boards were in disrepair then, Mr. Klores said, and Mr. Beame told the crowd that replacement wood was on order from Honduras.
One elderly man, Mr. Klores recalled, did not miss a beat.
“Honduras, shmonduras!” the man shouted. “We want the wood.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 22, 2012
An article on Monday about a plan to use a combination of concrete and recycled plastic to replace a stretch of the wooden Boardwalk in Brighton Beach, N.Y., misstated the timing of an online petition to keep the Boardwalk wood. More than 1,700 people have signed it since the beginning of 2012, not in the last year. The headline also misstated, in some copies, the status of the plan. It is under consideration; it has not been adopted.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Former DOE Official Michael Duffy: It's All About the Adults

Don't you just love it when every ed deformer says it's about the children not the adults -- like teachers--- when in fact an entire charter school industry has sprung up where adults like Michael Duffy go into the DOE for a short time before using that "service" -- a very loose term here --- to enrich themselves on the backs of children.

Here Leonie Haimson takes Duffy and Victory down. (By the way -- Victory used to be run by Peg Harrington, with a deep resume of working as a teacher, principal and top level official at the old NYCBOE. I think she got nudged out by Klein and went on to run Victory.)

Before you get to Duffy, check out Leonie doing about a 200% better job than any UFT official in defending teachers in her appearance on WPIX- 11 this morning: who is to blame for struggling schls. Hint: it’s not teachers.

Michael Duffy and the "turnaround" of Victory charter schools

A new charter school called Great Oaks is applying to the state to start in NYC’s District 2, to be located on Governors Island, though Downtown Express reports that the Education Committee of Community Board I opposes it.  The charter school’s letter of intent to NYSED lists as the lead applicant Benjamin B. Carson, described as a former “statistician” for the NYC DOE charter office, as well as the Co-Founder of the Great Oaks Charter School in Newark. 
The Newark branch only started last August and has no track record, but the letter of intent says the network has formed to “replicate the successful methods of the MATCH Public Charter School in Boston," featuring “high academic expectations, a No Excuses school culture, a focus on engaging classroom instruction and individualized attention to students’ needs via high-dosage tutoring.”
One of the co-founders of the proposed NYC school and a board member will be Michael Duffy, who is the former head of the NYC DOE charter office, well known for his blase attitude towards protesting parents during intense co-location hearings.   Duffy is also listed as the key contact for the Great Oaks Charter School in Newark on the NJ State website. 
Michael Duffy
Duffy is now employed by a company called Victory, which has started at least 16 charter schools in NYC, Philadelphia and Chicago.  
Victory has had a generally dismal reputation in NYC for charging large management fees while running some of the lowest-performing charters in the city. Here is what Kim Gittleson of GothamSchools wrote about the chain in 2010, after analyzing their management fees and results:
“I found that the five Victory Schools that had progress report scores in 2008-2009 placed in the bottom 35 percent of all charter schools and in the bottom 20 percent of schools citywide… These middling performance numbers come despite the fact that the seven schools paid around $2,163 per pupil to Victory Schools for the company’s services. This is 17 percent of these charter schools’ per pupil revenues from the state.”
DOE now intends to close Peninsula Prep charter, a school run by Victory until recently.  Unfortunately when NYT /School Book ran a story about DOE’s plan to close the school, Duffy was quoted as a approving of the decision, as an apparently disinterested observer, without noting that he currently works for the company that ran the school until June 30, 2010.  Indeed, in Peninsula Prep’s  most recent annual report to DOE, dated July 2011, the board made clear that they had dropped Victory as their management company, in an apparent attempt to persuade DOE to allow the school to stay open:

a. Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School disassociated itself from Victory Schools as a management company.
b. PPACS adopted the New York City Department of Education scope and sequence for Social Studies instruction instead of the Victory proprietary Core Knowledge Program. and: c. PPACS increased the student enrollment to from 300 to 350.

In the NYT/Schoolbook article, Duffy supported DOE closing of the school:
“I definitely think in 2012, what was good enough even five years ago is no longer good enough,” Mr. Duffy said.  (He should know!)
Duffy left DOE to work for Victory in July 2010, shortly after Victory’s Albany charter school, New Covenant, was shut down by SUNY because of poor performance.  
 Read more:  Michael Duffy and the "turnaround" of Victory charter schools