Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Message to Farina and de Blasio: Undo the Damage

"The schools of Baghdad and Kabul will recover sooner than the NYC school system under your management." ... Norm Scott to Joel Klein --- quoting my self from a c.2004-6 PEP meeting.
I love to quote myself. Carmen Farina was sitting next to Klein, I believe, when I made that statement at a PEP meeting sometime between 2004 I think. Not long after Farina was quoted chastising someone who referred to me -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- "you're talking about someone who compared us to the Taliban."

That's not what I meant at the time, but if you really think about it, weren't BloomKlein educational terrorists with an avowed aim to destroy what existed? Well, they did allow girls to go to school.

With de Blasio and Farina now in charge, they have a hell of a lot of work to do undoing the damage. The true test of the deB/Farina administration will be how they treat schools ravaged by the Bloomberg policies.

As I've pointed out numerous times (Farina With Support of Real Reformers Has Chance to End 12 Years of Toxicity), Farina over the past few years has made a stand of sorts by supporting the PS 15 community in Red Hook after they survived the invasion of the body-snatching PAVE charter school. I only wish deB could take back that $25 million Bloomberg gave to PAVE for their own building in Red Hook where another school was not needed.

I know a lot of other bloggers are talking about the testing and evaluation and even salary issues but to me the key is what they do with these horror story, power hungry principals out of control. They could start with Linda Hill at IS 49SI -- everyone knows she's not capable of running a school like that, but they turn the other way and persecute Portelos instead for challenging her.

Another issue is the phased out schools still alive - barely. Jamaica HS is one such and below James Eterno (who is still there) and Marc Eptstein, a former faculty member, make a case for keeping the school alive.

Diane Ravitch posted it on her blog with this intro:
Marc Epstein taught at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York City, for many years. The school is under a death sentence, which means the end of many programs that served children with different needs. Here he makes a plea to Mayor de Blasio to save some of the doomed schools.
And James Eterno sent out this appeal.
Hi Everyone-

My colleague Marc Epstein has written an excellent plea for clemency for Jamaica High School and other closing schools.  You can read it at Diane Ravitch's blog.


I have copied it at the ICEUFT blog.


Now we need your help to make the public aware of this issue. 

Please spread the word and click on comments on either blog to add your voice.

Happy New Year!

James Eterno

Monday, December 30, 2013

Newark: Cami Anderson Uses Network Model to Kill Neighborhood Schools

UPDATED: If Carmen Farina wants to make a quick mark she should begin dismantling the Networks - ASAP. They are a mechanism purposely designed to destabilize the links between a school and the neighborhood. As our pal from Newark points out here, they are a national tool of ed deform to make it easier to soften up neighborhoods for charter school invasions.

Reports from a Newark teacher:
Cami Anderson has implemented a One Newark policy whereby students will be able to register across the district regardless of where in Newark they live. 
Teachers and parents in the Ironbound are particularly concerned because their schools are "overcapacity.
Social interaction nowadays is relegated to Responsive Classroom and Turn and Talk. All contacts are highly structured.
While Cami Anderson ostensibly uses Responsive Classroom to build school communities, she has implemented a system of networks to replace the former regional subdivisions of the school system that largely conformed to the political wards of the city. The network system, however, separates schools according to proficiency levels on standardized tests. For example, low performing "renew" schools are currently grouped together in one network. Since Newark is a city of neighborhoods divided by race, class and ethnicity, parents are more likely to organize along those lines rather than the academic levels of their children.

For the 2014-2015 school year, Anderson has proposed a plan entitled One Newark to further erode Newark communities by increasing the number of charter schools and transporting children around the city to attend various schools. City Councilman Ras Baraka, on leave from his position as principal of Central High School to run for mayor, is the lone strong voice in Newark seeking to halt the expansion of charter schools. 

To date, the Newark Teachers Union has mounted a weak response to Anderson's attempt to destroy the Newark Public Schools. Should Anderson succeed, the few remaining Newark Public Schools will serve children requiring Special Education services, English as a Second Language instruction and those who have been "counseled out" of charters.



This is so much shit it is not funny. They make veteran teachers' lives a living hell. They transfer us, give us lousy evaluations and refuse to listen to a word we say. The administrators in my two most recent schools all parrot the same crap about Common Core. It is like talking to the wall. The newbies live in fear.

Summer School for Teachers Report from an Undisclosed Urban Location

Dropped from a drone, found on a Rockaway beach. I won't say which city but it is not NYC.
I had the privilege of attending ten days of training in a Summer Institute. The primary advantage of attending the institute is I lost the last two weeks of my treasured summer vacation.

My district has adopted Responsive Classroom, which I have nicknamed snapping and clapping. When the teacher is pleased with a student response, a ten finger whoo may be given. Please practice now with me. Hold out your arms in the air, wiggle your fingers and shout, “Whoo.” 

Another highlight of Responsive Classroom is clarifying procedures. Find a partner. Script the rules you will give to your students for walking in a line. Share the rules with your partner, get feedback and revise the rules. Then switch partners. Yes, you have to write down exactly what you plan to say to your students.

My favorite part of Responsive Classroom is the opportunity to line up pretending to be students and march around the school. I was honored to play the teacher role. The secret to maintaining an orderly line is to stand toward the middle of the line.

Did I learn anything academic? I participated in two sessions of training on Core Knowledge the new language arts literacy program in the district and one session of Math in Focus training. All I can tell you is both programs are scripted. The teacher stands in front of the classroom and reads from the teacher manual. In kindergarten sounds are to be taught not letters. For example, this is the mmm sound and this is the symbol for the mmm sound. The name of the letter is not mentioned. Somewhere along the line after teaching 270 sounds, letters are introduced. Math in Focus involved solving very difficult third and fifth grade word problems.

All of my questions were answered with, either “I will get back to you,” or “Send me an e-mail.” I have a binder full of notes I cannot decipher and handouts I do not plan to read. Should you require any more information about Summer Institute, please ask someone else. I have no clue.

Farina With Support of Real Reformers Has Chance to End 12 Years of Toxicity

The appointment of Carmen is the best news that has come out in education in 2013. I am eternal optimist and believe that maybe, just maybe things will turn around. After going to some training that Carmen gave way back when, I completely changed the way I taught. Those were the best years of my very long career.... Loretta Prisco, ICE

May amateur hour be finally and mercifully over.... Raging Horse
I'm not one to cheer any chancellor, though in a funny way the only one I liked was Cortines - he truck me as someone who really taught and had a sense of what went on in the classroom - though his later years in Los Angelos disappointed me.

There is no educator I respect more than Loretta so I have to take what she says very seriously. Right next to Loretta  is Julie Cavanagh who has known Carmen since she began teaching and has worked with Carmen on the PS 15 project over the past few years. Until a few weeks ago I had no idea of Julie's relationship with Carmen and that Carmen has been supporting the school after the ravages of the battle with over the invasion of PAVE charter school. Apparently here was first-hand evidence of the dangers of co-location and a good sign that Carmen has been there to help the school recover.

There is joy over in the Mark Naison/Liz Philips household. Liz runs one of the most progressive schools in the city and began her career as a student teacher in Carmen's 4th grade classroom.

As an elementary school teacher myself, mostly in grades 4 and 6, I have always felt we had a certain broad sense of school and community that the more subject intensive high school teachers, whose schools are not rooted in a community, don't get. (Cortines was also an elementary school teacher).

I know many teachers were extremely turned off by the early forced feeding through Diana Lam of the Teachers College methods. I and others in ICE were philosophically in favor of child-centered classrooms - Lisa North is a TC grad - but against the insane way it was pushed.

Farina has a lot on her plate and no one expects miracles. If teachers think this means loads of money coming their way they should think again. I'm sorry I can't make the first meeting of the reconstituted PEP -- which we expect will change it's name from that Bloomberg brand.

Right up front will be the issue of the forced co-locations passed at the October meetings, including a bunch of Eva Moskowitz schools.

Leonie is part of a law suit on that issue as reported on her blog. City Council members and Letitia James are part of the suit.

Press Release: New York City Parents and Elected Officials File Suit Seeking Injunction To Stop Bloomberg's 42 Recently Approved School Co-locations

Will the new BOE fight that law suit?

Why is there a sense of relief - cautious on my part - in the real reform camp?

Here's the take-away from Raging Horse
It is, I think, impossible for someone who has not taught in the NYC public school system in the past decade or so, to grasp how deeply and insidiously Bloomberg (with help from his fellow “reformers” up to and including Obama ) has degraded the lives of students and cheapened, almost beyond recognition, the noble and ancient vocation of teaching and the very idea of education itself. 

The mere fact that she is an educator — not a former federal prosecutor (Joel Klein ) or a magazine publisher (Cathy Black) or a political appointee ( Dennis Walcott) — is, as absurd as it sounds, a major move in the right direction.  
Raging Horse, a chapter leader, saw first hand the ravages of an out of control empowered principal who literally took away the livelihoods of a gaggle of people and had raging horse on the ropes until he was saved by the new principal. Will that attitude of "support any principal no matter how awful" be ended under Farina? I am not sure that will happen. What she has to do is recognize that under WalBloomKlein a whole bunch of monster and incompetent administrators were created and they must be curbed or wars will continue to break out.

Weed these people out as soon as possible because there can be no progress in the school system as long as they are allowed to run schools. End the Discontinue that kills a teacher's career immediately. Revamp DOE Legal and OSI.

I will not be cheering for Carmen Farina until I see some changes in these policies. She ought to walk across the street one day in January and observe the Portelos hearing -- maybe have a laugh or two. We'll even take her to lunch at our favorite pizza place.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Farina the Choice

Bloomfield also predicted that Farina and her staff would implement a longer-term cultural change at Tweed. “There will be a new system-wide respect for educational experience,” he said, “there are a lot of people fresh out of college who either as a matter of data expertise or particular program expertise tell principals what’s needed. There will probably be an early but not immediate conversation from a technocratic staff to a deeper educational staff. People who have taught, and really taught.”
Friends and colleagues of Farina and de Blasio say they share a single educational philosophy, with a focus on progressive education, a skepticism of standardized testing and charter schools, and a focus on racially and economically integrated public schools.

Update from Capitol NY

Carmen Farina to be named D.O.E chancellor

Carmen Farina, a Department of Education veteran and a longtime informal advisor to Bill de Blasio, will be named chancellor Monday after months of speculation about who would manage the city’s school system.
De Blasio will name Farina head of the nation's largest public school system at M.S. 51, the Park Slope middle school his children attended.

Friends and colleagues of Farina and de Blasio say they share a single educational philosophy, with a focus on progressive education, a skepticism of standardized testing and charter schools, and a focus on racially and economically integrated public schools.
Farina, who is 71 and retired from the D.O.E in 2006, will have her work cut for her.
Experts say she'll face the immediate challenge of overseeing the negotiation of a contract with the United Federation of Teachers, whose members have been without a contract since 2009. She and de Blasio will have to decide who to appoint to the Panel for Educational Policy.
Then there are the longer term questions: How the de Blasio administration will treat the city's growing charter school movement; how to raise graduation rates; the fate of increased standardized testing in the city's schools; and how to continue to implement the Common Core after waves of criticism over the new standards along with the new teacher evaluation system.
Former D.O.E. officials and city education experts say Farina will have to balance a delicate set of priorities in her first hundred days as schools chief.
Eric Nadelstern, a former deputy chancellor under Joel Klein credited with helping to implement some of the Bloomberg administration’s biggest educational reforms, says the first months of Farina’s tenure should be marked by a clear commitment to raising the graduation rate, which is still below 70 percent.
“I don’t think the chancellor should come and nitpick their way through the system, saying ‘I like this’ or ‘I don’t like that,’” said Nadelstern.
“I think the first 100 days needs to be about putting together the most talented team they can possibly find and then working with that team to develop a long range plan on how to to go from a 66 percent graduation rate to a 100 percent rate in five years,” he said.
Critics of the DOE's controversial new teacher evaluation system will also lobby for changes and updates to the system, which some advocates say relies too heavily on the results of standardized tests.
Adjusting the teacher evaluations would require altering the consequences of new, Common Core-aligned exams and negotiating with the state education department about changes to the system.
“Clearly the teacher evaluation system will be on the table immediately,” said David Bloomfield, a professor of educational leadership at CUNY, “that would be my day one activity if it hasn’t started already.”
Bloomfield added that he expects the de Blasio administration to make an announcement on the D.O.E.’s current grading system for schools — which de Blasio has vowed to do away with — shortly after the mayor-elect takes office. “Getting rid of the grades is wholly within de Blasio’s power,” Bloomfield said.
Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at NYU, said the network system that replaced the traditional district model of school organization could be reconsidered early in Farina’s tenure. “Given that there’s some evidence that these networks haven’t worked better in a lot of cases, they might consider going back to the district model, they might consider a hybrid with some district level support and leave the networks that are working well alone,” he said.
Noguera also said Farina will need to double down on the continued Common Core rollout. “The department will need to figure out how to make sure they don’t take as big a hit this year as they did last year.”
De Blasio is in luck on that matter: Farina is well-known for her focus on professional development, which both advocates for and critics of the Common Core agree is needed to improve outcomes on the Common Core-aligned curricula and exams.
Bloomfield also predicted that Farina and her staff would implement a longer-term cultural change at Tweed. “There will be a new system-wide respect for educational experience,” he said, “there are a lot of people fresh out of college who either as a matter of data expertise or particular program expertise tell principals what’s needed. There will probably be an early but not immediate conversation from a technocratic staff to a deeper educational staff. People who have taught, and really taught.”
And then there are the immediate logistical issues. Farina will have to consult with de Blasio about whether they will want to reverse some of the most controversial charter school openings and co-locations pushed through by Bloomberg’s P.E.P during the administration’s final months. Public Advocate-elect Letitia James has said she'll push for the reversal of some of the proposals.
Getting students to school after winter break may also prove to be a serious headache after one of the city’s largest busing companies, Atlantic Express, filed for bankruptcy in November, leaving 20 percent of the city's bus routes unaccounted for.
Farina and de Blasio have known each other for years, and worked closely together when Farina was superintendent of District 15 in Park Slope and de Blasio, whose children attended P.S 372 in Park Slope, sat on the D15 school board.
Dorothy Siegel, a fellow member of the D15 school board and a longtime friend of Farina’s, called de Blasio “a pupil” of Farina.
Farina’s extensive history as an educator provides major clues both how she’ll lead as chancellor and what her top priorities might be.
Her former colleagues say she has been on the forefront for a battle for racial, socioeconomic and academic inclusion in the city’s public schools.
While she was the principal at P.S. 6 on the Upper East Side, long considered one of the city’s best public elementary schools, Farina disbanded the school’s gifted and talented program and made the school entirely general education.
One of District 15’s most popular schools, the Children’s School, where de Blasio sent his two children, is the city’s only all-inclusion elementary school with a mix of special needs and general education students in every class.
Farina took a stand against what she perceived as an over-reliance on standardized testing at P.S 6. In a teaching and learning guidebook for instructors, Farina wrote, “My dilemma upon assuming the principalship was that the students scored high on the standardized tests while little student-centered learning was going on. Veteran teachers, for the most part, ran traditional classrooms. How could I effect change in an environment where many parents and teachers were content with the status quo?” One answer was a significant staff turnover: she replaced 80 percent of the staff in eight years.
While Farina recently avoided criticizing charters, she actively fought against one of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies moving into her neighborhood in 2011. After Farina retired from the D.O.E. as a deputy chancellor under Joel Klein, she teamed up with a local assemblywoman to counter Moskowitz’s plan to open a Success Academy in Cobble Hill, where Farina worked and currently lives, with a proposal to open a pre-K center. Success eventually won the battle for the space.
As a teacher and administrator, Farina was known for her focus on creating literary-focused curricula, teaching students about Civil War history by having them read historical novels from the time period, or visiting the Brooklyn Museum to look at Civil War-era art. She often held workshops for other teachers on how to construct their own curricula, according Siegel.
Farina’s name has been floated for the position for months, as she seemed the most obvious choice in a pack of contenders who were either uninterested in the job or would have been politically risky choices for de Blasio, who ran and won his campaign partially on the promise of a new educational agenda for the city with less emphasis on testing and a moratorium on charter school co-locations.

December 29, 2013

De Blasio Is Said to Choose Schools Chancellor

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will appoint Carmen Fariña, a former top official of the New York City Education Department, as the next schools chancellor, a person with knowledge of the decision said on Sunday.
Ms. Fariña, 70, is a veteran of the school system, having served as a teacher, principal and district superintendent, and retired as a deputy chancellor in 2006. She met Mr. de Blasio in the late 1990s while he was serving as a school district board member in Brooklyn and emerged as an influential adviser on education during his bid for mayor. Ms. Fariña shares Mr. de Blasio’s skepticism of standardized testing and his focus on early education.
Aides to Mr. de Blasio did not respond immediately to a request for comment late Sunday. Reached at her home on Sunday night, Ms. Fariña declined to comment.

Who's to Blame? Round up on Lawrence Scott and Natalya Sokolson Gordon

Let's see now. An investigator for OSI so abuses his position by trying to extort sexual favors from a teacher under the threat of a losing her job and the most that happens to him is that he is forced to resign? Shouldn't he be doing a perp walk?

I posted the story this morning - NY Post Points to Corruption in OSI, DOE Investigations Unit? and others have too.

Chaz reminded me that he did an expose of SCI corrupt investigative practices in October, 2008

The SCI Investigation Of Teachers Is Almost Always One-Sided And Biased. Especially When The Principal Pushes It!

Portelos reminds us that the same investigator also threatened him and has the tape to prove it.
Protect Portelos: A DOE Investigator Did What? – Part 1 -Threat

I was thinking this morning that on the surface this looks like a slam dunk for the teacher but the reality of the DOE legal slime is that they feel it perfectly OK for Scott to do what he did while they look for an excuse to blame the teacher.

And South Bronx (NYC DOE Investigator Lawrence Scott Texts Privates to Teacher He Is Investigating for Corporal Punishment) points to Betsy Combier's  quote in the Post article, "they are still making the victim a culprit" because Ms Gordon did not "report him and that she texted back."

He raises some questions:
Why Investigator Scott is not facing criminal charges is beyond the pale. But three other things concern us here at SBSB.

One, are there any other victims of Investigator Scott's perverse proclivities. Second, has he made such "moves" in the past and was rebuffed, and if so, how did this play in his investigations. And lastly, what other improprieties have occurred OSI over the years?

In the meantime, the Portelos case will go on throughout January when we will go over the 20 day mark for his 3020a hearings (hearing officer alone: $1400 a day, Portelos salary, witnesses who need to be cover and between 2 and 4 DOE legals at the hearing. You could run an entire school for months on the cost of the Portelos hearing alone.

Patrick Sullivan resigns from NYC Board of Education (formerly the PEP)

This is a sad day for the children, teachers and parents of the city. I've watched Patrick Sullivan often be the lone voice of sanity in the midst of the sickness of ed deform.

We hope that one of Bill de Blasio's first steps is to appoint Patrick back to the newly constituted Board of Education (which we no longer expect to be called the PEP since by law -- which Bloomberg violated for 12 years -- it is supposed to still be the BOE).

How nice would it be for Patrick to bring his considerable skills to the table with a working majority instead of the Bloomberg era PEP puppets.

Of course, newly elected borough president Gale Brewer could also reappoint Patrick as Manhattan borough rep -- we will be watching her - and all the new borough presidents - to see what level of ed deformer or real reformer they appoint.

The announcement is at NYCParents blog.

I heard that Patrick would accept another appointment. Who else would be great for the new BOE? Leonie, of course if she wanted it. But my guess is that de Blasio will go middle of the road - which may be a problem, given that there will be 5 borough people (from Bklyn Eric Adams - who often backs charters, Queens Melissa Katz who is hooked up to Curtis Sliva, Brewer who I know nothing about and the new guy in Staten Island who might put a better person on than in the past.

The 8 mayoral appointees for a change need to be from the progressive wing. Some Patrick/Leonie like people to create some balance.

Skynet is Coming: On the movie "Her", artificial intelligence, neural networks and The Terminator

In coming years, the approach will make possible a new generation of artificial intelligence systems that will perform some functions that humans do with ease: see, speak, listen, navigate, manipulate and control.  NY Times
The scary thing is that I actually understood today's NY Times front-page story "Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience." In the late 80s I really did study this stuff in the MA and PhD computer science programs at CUNY/Brooklyn College -- I did get my MA and also a Phd - ABTandMC -- all but thesis and most courses -- actually 2 courses were all I took towards the Phd.
The new computing approach, already in use by some large technology companies, is based on the biological nervous system, specifically on how neurons react to stimuli and connect with other neurons to interpret information. It allows computers to absorb new information while carrying out a task, and adjust what they do based on the changing signals.
The "new" method of computing is based on a brain-based design called "neural networks" and if I hadn't lost my 2-volume texts on the subject last year during the Sandy hurricane I would be pawing my way through them right now. You see, somewhere around 1988-9 I actually took a course on neural networks at Brooklyn College.

Interestingly it was in the Psych dept and given by a psych teacher, not the computer science department, which at the time looked down on this "advanced" stuff. In fact one of my other AI courses was taught by a physics teacher -- and both these guys were shunned by the CIS Department "scholars" who felt the program should be business-oriented. But I digress.

I think we had to write a program programming the reactions of one neuron to stimulus and how it would use feedback to adjust itself to changing light conditions.

I believed even 25 years ago that a computer could be built to mimic the human brain and when that happened we were finished. Hal would look like a chump when that happens.
 I.B.M. announced last year that it had built a supercomputer simulation of the brain that encompassed roughly 10 billion neurons — more than 10 percent of a human brain. It ran about 1,500 times more slowly than an actual brain. Further, it required several megawatts of power, compared with just 20 watts of power used by the biological brain. Running the program, known as Compass, which attempts to simulate a brain, at the speed of a human brain would require a flow of electricity in a conventional computer that is equivalent to what is needed to power both San Francisco and New York, Dr. Modha said.
Oh, oh. We are at 10% and once they figure out how to reduce the power consumptions, Skynet here we come.

Thus my fascination with The Terminator movies where smart individual computers networked to form Skynet and then programmed itself to wipe out all traces of humans. Think of the equivalent of the leading ed deform robots who want to wipe out all traces of real educators.

Then we saw "Her" the other day where a smart-phone operating system morphs into a romantic partner and then (spoiler alert) joins up with others to form a network -- what is billed in some reviews as a benign version of Skynet.

The point is that this will not be one computer but the networking of millions of computers that will team up to doom us. Already I can't drive 5 blocks without my GPS (and me a formerly great map reader/navigator).

I took as many courses in artificial intelligence (1984-89) as I could because I didn't trust my real intelligence. I was interested in artificial vision -- I wanted to see make sure the future Geordi on Star Trek could see without those goofy goggles. In fact my last course was in pattern
recognition which relates to artificial vision and the prof even offered me a chance to work with him - probably getting coffee - but the math threw me -- our eyes work on a system of differential equations -- or something like that.

I also took a course in natural language processing where you program a computer to engage in a conversation -- I did Dear Blabby, a gossiping Jewish mother. And a course in Expert Systems which run stuff like environmental catastrophes and how to detect where a chemical leak might be coming from. (Thank goodness for my very smart fellow teacher/computer geeks Ira Goldfine and the late Jim Scoma for holding my hand through all this).
“We’re moving from engineering computing systems to something that has many of the characteristics of biological computing,” said Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist.  Designers say the computing style can clear the way for robots that can safely walk and drive in the physical world, though a thinking or conscious computer, a staple of science fiction, is still far off on the digital horizon.
Far off? Really? How long before an Arnold-like robot lands naked in your backyard?

For Geeks only
Neural networks only make sense when computers are built using different concepts from the von Neumann machines upon which almost all current computers are based. I remember arguing this point with people when I attended 2 American Association of Artificial Intelligence conventions (89 in Seattle and 90 in Minneappolis). I was one of the few who thought it possible to build machines with billions of processors at a time when most computers had only one - mostly they still do in some sense -- some pushed the idea of parallel processing with a bunch of processors but that was strange stuff -- the neural net idea was the only one that made sense. So read this part of the article to get a sense of where we are 25 years later -- and I figure that another 25 might just do it --- hmmm if I can only get to 95.

Until now, the design of computers was dictated by ideas originated by the mathematician John von Neumann about 65 years ago. Microprocessors perform operations at lightning speed, following instructions programmed using long strings of 1s and 0s. They generally store that information separately in what is known, colloquially, as memory, either in the processor itself, in adjacent storage chips or in higher capacity magnetic disk drives. The data — for instance, temperatures for a climate model or letters for word processing — are shuttled in and out of the processor’s short-term memory while the computer carries out the programmed action. The result is then moved to its main memory. The new processors consist of electronic components that can be connected by wires that mimic biological synapses. Because they are based on large groups of neuron-like elements, they are known as neuromorphic processors, a term credited to the California Institute of Technology physicist Carver Mead, who pioneered the concept in the late 1980s. They are not “programmed.” Rather the connections between the circuits are “weighted” according to correlations in data that the processor has already “learned.” Those weights are then altered as data flows in to the chip, causing them to change their values and to “spike.” That generates a signal that travels to other components and, in reaction, changes the neural network, in essence programming the next actions much the same way that information alters human thoughts and actions. “Instead of bringing data to computation as we do today, we can now bring computation to data,” said Dharmendra Modha, an I.B.M. computer scientist who leads the company’s cognitive computing research effort. “Sensors become the computer, and it opens up a new way to use computer chips that can be everywhere.”
Read the entire article here

NY Post Points to Corruption in OSI, DOE Investigations Unit?

In a meeting at his office on Nov. 14, 2012, Gordon said, Scott boasted that he could get teachers fired — or off the hook. “I have the power to get rid of you just like that,” she said he told her, snapping his fingers, “or I can make everything go away.” The scandal undermines the integrity of the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations, where Scott worked for three years... NY Post
Lawrence Scott...the lead investigator investigating my principal. I have him recused threatening me. He dragged investigation of Linda Hill out over 700 days and resigned.

Back in 2007 Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno, just as their terms on the UFT Exec Bd were coming to an end, tried to get the UFT to hire paralegals to do their own investigations instead of leaving to the "gotcha" squad at the DOE. Unity Caucus naturally voted it down -- let's let teachers charged hang in the wind.

I believe the investigator in this scandal reported by Sue Edelman at the NY Post was also on the Portelos case, though I do not think he asked for sex in exchange for "getting Portelos off." Betsy Combier who is quoted (see her report on scuzzball Queens Principal Anthony Lombardi is Accused of Sexual Harassment at PS 49), told us this story was coming a few weeks ago. Did you know that the DOE had another corrupt investigator, the now famous Louis Scarcella (See yesterday's NY Times': Louis Scarcella's Ex-Partner Is Coming Under Scrutiny in Brooklyn Cases), working for them?

The den of thieves at DOE Legal have a good partner.

Teacher: Prober said sex would get me off hook

A Department of Education detective tried to have sex with a Brooklyn teacher he was probing in exchange for letting her keep her job, she charges.

Investigator Lawrence Scott, 40, allegedly sent scores of X-rated texts, a photo of his penis and explicit demands for sex to Natalya Sokolson Gordon, a computer and fifth-grade teacher at PS 329 in Coney Island.

“I like it dirty,” Scott text­ed the tall brunette soon after inviting her to call him when she got “the courage.”

Over 2¹/₂ months, he sent Gordon a barrage of pornographic messages and requests.

Gordon, 44, admits she sexted back — even sending him topless and bottomless photos of herself, which he requested. She claims it was a desperate bid to save her career from what she called false accusations.

“I feel so stupid for believing he would help me,” she told The Post, tears streaming down her face. “I was scared I was going to lose my job. I felt I had no choice. He had my life in his hands.”

Modal Trigger
TEXXXTS: The schools investigator sent lurid come-ons like this one.

In a meeting at his office on Nov. 14, 2012, Gordon said, Scott boasted that he could get teachers fired — or off the hook.

“I have the power to get rid of you just like that,” she said he told her, snapping his fingers, “or I can make everything go away.”

The scandal undermines the integrity of the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations, where Scott worked for three years. He resigned his $65,000-a-year post in October when confronted with the texts.

“It was the dumbest mistake I ever made,” Scott told The Post, but he denied he exploited his power to seduce Gordon. “She initiated it. I never forced anything on her. There was no quid pro quo.”

Gordon also has filed complaints that Scott groped her breasts and put his hand between her legs during a discussion of her case in a closed-door meeting at her school.

Scott denied assaulting Gordon. She secretly taped the meeting, which includes slapping sounds — she says she fought him off.

On Jan. 31, Gordon was charged with yelling at and grabbing several students the previous year, and of making an obscene gesture in reference to Principal Salema Marbury.

Gordon was yanked from her school and sent to a rubber room, then assigned clerical duties in the same Brooklyn building where Scott worked. Fearful, she said, she asked for a transfer.

Scott started sexting Gordon with banter about sex positions; “Some may force u to scream,” he wrote. The texts are rife with crude slang.

The married Scott, who lives near Gordon in Staten Island, texted: “We can just enjoy each other’s company . . . A lot if we’re naked lmao.”

Gordon turned over 275 pages of texts last October to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools Richard Condon. But after Scott quit, Condon’s office told Gordon that she, too, was under scrutiny “because I didn’t report him and I texted him back,” she said.

“They’re making the victim a culprit,” said Betsy Combier, a paralegal helping defend Gordon against her disciplinary charges.

Gordon’s lawyer, Peter Gleason, could find no written report by Scott.

“His interest was in gratifying his own deviant desires,” Gleason said.

DOE spokesman David Pena said Scott is still under investigation.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Paul Krugman on the imbalanced boss-worker power relationship applied to NYC principals and teachers

The massive power imbalance between principal and teacher in NYC is not due to a weak economy but to a weak union. Let me expound on this point.
...employment generally involves a power relationship: you have a boss, who tells you what to do, and if you refuse, you may be fired... We don’t know how much of this profit surge can be explained by the fear factor — the ability to squeeze workers who know that they have no place to go. But it must be at least part of the explanation. In fact, it’s possible (although by no means certain) that corporate interests are actually doing better in a somewhat depressed economy than they would if we had full employment...
...  Paul Krugman, The Fear Economy, NYT
As he so often does, Paul Krugman writes an interesting column that says much but leaves out so much more.
Some people would have you believe that employment relations are just like any other market transaction; workers have something to sell, employers want to buy what they offer, and they simply make a deal. But anyone who has ever held a job in the real world — or, for that matter, seen a Dilbert cartoon — knows that it’s not like that.
The weakness in today's otherwise strong NYT Krugman column about the unbalanced power relationship between boss and worker is the lack of his mention of the weakening of unions to the point of their being snuffed as a factor.

Just think of the change in the power relationship in NYC schools under Bloomberg between principal and teachers (and the rest of the unionized school workers).

The irony here is that in our situation, this massive disparity in power in the NYC schools is not due to a weak economy and the law of supply and demand or the lack of a union (I know, I know -- some of you are giggling already). In fact, the UFT has a major presence with fingers in every pie. Yet somehow this little thing called "protection of workers' rights" is a place where our esteemed leadership chooses not stick its fingers in too deep -- if at all.

Just think about how senior teachers fare with fair school funding giving principals power over hiring higher priced senior teachers. Or how tenure can be delayed year after year. Or how untenured teachers are at the mercy of a principal who can end their career with a swipe by giving them a Discontinue which blackballs them from working in any school in the city even if a principal wants them.

All this (and more) with barely a peep out of the UFT leadership. In fact if you want to look back at a list of 15 years of failure of the UFT leadership, possibly this imbalance (which even when I taught I thought was too much in the principals' favor) is now at the point of insanity. Truly, on many levels and in many schools the union just doesn't exist -- I think there are teachers in Mississippi with better balanced principal-teacher power relationships.
The fact is that employment generally involves a power relationship: you have a boss, who tells you what to do, and if you refuse, you may be fired. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If employers value their workers, they won’t make unreasonable demands. But it’s not a simple transaction. There’s a country music classic titled “Take This Job and Shove It.” There isn’t and won’t be a song titled “Take This Consumer Durable and Shove It.”
So employment is a power relationship, and high unemployment has greatly weakened workers’ already weak position in that relationship.
Krugman goes on to talk about the "Quitting rate" as a measure -- and I'll have an analogy to our teaching situation in the other end of the quote that contradicts Krugman's point.
We can actually quantify that weakness by looking at the quits rate — the percentage of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs (as opposed to being fired) each month. Obviously, there are many reasons a worker might want to leave his or her job. Quitting is, however, a risk; unless a worker already has a new job lined up, he or she doesn’t know how long it will take to find a new job, and how that job will compare with the old one.

And the risk of quitting is much greater when unemployment is high, and there are many more people seeking jobs than there are job openings. As a result, you would expect to see the quits rate rise during booms, fall during slumps — and, indeed, it does. Quits plunged during the 2007-9 recession, and they have only partially rebounded, reflecting the weakness and inadequacy of our economic recovery.
So Krugman finds that the quit rate has dropped as the power relationship in favor of the boss (due to the slump) has risen - an inverse relationship.

Now let's apply that to the NYC school system where as the power relationship has tipped so far in favor of the principal the quit rate seems to have risen (I have no data here only word of mouth) -- which makes perfect sense --- as teaching becomes intolerable people will leave. Or go to another school -- so maybe I am taking the broad look at "quit" to include leaving the school of an abusive boss -- turnover rates at schools are an indication.

But of course, the power imbalance between principal and teacher is not due to a weak economy but to a weak union.

Krugman explores the debate in progressive circles:
There’s been a somewhat strange debate among progressives lately, with some arguing that populism and condemnations of inequality are a diversion, that full employment should instead be the top priority. As some leading progressive economists have pointed out, however, full employment is itself a populist issue: weak labor markets are a main reason workers are losing ground, and the excessive power of corporations and the wealthy is a main reason we aren’t doing anything about jobs.
Yes, 'tis the power of corporations and the wealthy, who own the politicians (and don't bet they don't or won't own de Blasio).

Now, here is the crux of Krugman's piece with a lot of truth. The poor economy and weakening of labor that goes with it is GOOD for corporate profits, not bad for them.
The economic recovery has, as I said, been weak and inadequate, but all the burden of that weakness is being borne by workers. Corporate profits plunged during the financial crisis, but quickly bounced back, and they continued to soar. Indeed, at this point, after-tax profits are more than 60 percent higher than they were in 2007, before the recession began. We don’t know how much of this profit surge can be explained by the fear factor — the ability to squeeze workers who know that they have no place to go. But it must be at least part of the explanation. In fact, it’s possible (although by no means certain) that corporate interests are actually doing better in a somewhat depressed economy than they would if we had full employment.

What’s more, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that this reality helps explain why our political system has turned its backs on the unemployed. No, I don’t believe that there’s a secret cabal of C.E.O.’s plotting to keep the economy weak. But I do think that a major reason why reducing unemployment isn’t a political priority is that the economy may be lousy for workers, but corporate America is doing just fine.
Thus explaining the corporate/politician complex of killing labor, cutting spending that makes life for working class worse, and killing the safety net for those falling.

once you understand this, you also understand why it’s so important to change those priorities... the excessive power of corporations and the wealthy is a main reason we aren’t doing anything about jobs. Too many Americans currently live in a climate of economic fear. There are many steps that we can take to end that state of affairs, but the most important is to put jobs back on the agenda.

Sorry Paul, the "changing priorities, putting jobs back on the agenda" train left the station a long time ago. It will take a hell of a lot of bodies marching in the street to change the conversation. With American workers and unions being so dormant where can we get some zombies?

Read the full Krugman column in the order in which it was written (call me Paul if you need an editor):


Not a Wonderful Life: Education Writer’s Block

The Wave - Published Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 - www.rockawave.com

Not a Wonderful Life: Education Writer’s Block
By Norm Scott
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ahhhh, a chance to write an end of the year column. I can sum up all that happened in education over the past year and make predictions or a wish list for the future – class sizes of 15, retroactive pay raises for all. When you are involved in education, as I was from the age of 5 until 57, when I retired, you think of a year ending in June and beginning in September (my Jewish ancestors who established the New Year over 5000 years ago were on to s omething). So from the view from School Scope, this is not really an end-of- the-year column. Or maybe it is.

Kevin Boyle emailed the other day suggesting a column name change from “School Scope” as a way to open up a broader range of issues to write about. I did inherit the column from former Wave editor (and teacher )Howard Schwach who showed a lot of faith by turning his baby over to me when he became Wave editor. I am reluctant to see the franchise totally disappear. Since Sandy I have been doing less writing in this column on education issues. I do enough of that on my blog. So maybe the time is right to use this space to broaden out. I started to throw possible column names out to Kevin. “School Scope Plus” was one idea. After a few others Kevin wrote, “Stop being a kvetch.” It does my heart good when an Irishman demonstrates his knowledge of  Yiddish – though I believe Kevin thinks “Kvetch” means “pain in the ass.”  How about calling the column “The Kvetch”?

But do I really want to continue my usual kvetching if I break out of the education writing mold, allowing my thoughts of dystopian doom to depress everyone? I want  to do a column that will lead to world peace and saving the human population from extinction. Eight hundred words every two weeks should do it.

Well, when presented with this opportunity to write about ANYTHING, I end up sitting here all morning with writer’s block. Too many choices have led me nowhere. What should I write about? The wonderful movie we saw Saturday night, “American Hustle”? Or the equally wonderful novel “How Green Was My Valley” which I read after seeing the 1941 film on TCM? My landscaping project? Robotics? My house a year after Sandy? Damn you, Kevin, you’ve opened up a Pandora’s box and I can’t think of anything to write about.

Well, the good news is that I can spend 3 hours tonight watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the hundredth time, with commercials and all (we need those bathroom breaks now).  One would think that an avowed atheist would not go for that “angel gets his wings” mumbo jumbo. But if you look at the movie from only a religious perspective you are missing key points about the movie’s critique of unfettered capitalism. Jimmie Kimmel did a hilarious riff with his FOX News version, “Mr. Potter and the Commies of Bedford Falls.”

The trailer says it all: This capitalist had a dream: to transform Bedford Falls into a modern entertainment and business mecca, creating hundreds of new jobs. But one man would stand in his way: Draft-dodger George Bailey and his socialist Building and Loan. Will Henry Potter's common sense reforms win the day, or will George Bailey succeed with his scheme to redistribute wealth? How far will Bailey go to destroy free markets and economic progress? How low will he sink? (See it at: tinyurl.com/nl2d8hw).

Hey, I know of one guy who can reconcile the dual religious and socio-economic themes of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the new version of the movie, playing the role of George Bailey:  Pope Francis – except for that wives and kids thing. (Sorry Zuzu).

Norm continues to blog about education every day (sigh) at ednotesonline.com.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Walcott Public Schedule - To Hand Honorary Diploma to 100 year old

Come on Norm he's just trying to improve the graduation numbers.... Jane M from Change the Stakes
And so it comes to this -- but not the worst way to end it – Unless Walcott closes the nursing home on the way out or opens a charter nursing home next door so Rose Shimony's other birthday present could behaving a choice of nursing homes.

For Planning Purposes Only
December 26, 2013


Friday, December 27, 2013

10:30 A.M.
Awards Rose Shimony with an Honorary Diploma in Celebration of Her 100th Birthday

The Sephardic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
2266 Cropsey Avenue


Contact:  Chancellor’s Press Office (212) 374-5141

Without a Bang or a Whimper: Dennis Walcott and the Banality of Shilldom - Unless I missed something, contrary to the hagiographic sendoffs to Joel Klein, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott has passed ...

Farina Delay: Charter lobby, ed deformers and UFT and allies working behind the scenes?

Who might be opposing a Farina appointment? I know some people are left scratching their heads at what seems on the surface an unholy alliance. Can we talk?
We know that de Blasio has been getting pressure from the Obama administration to appoint a pro-test person. As Naison says, given that she wants the job and de Blasio supposedly wants her, Farina should have been announced a week ago. That she wasn't means there is something funky going on behind the scenes.... RBE at Perdido St.
I often trust Vera Pavone's instincts. She looks at the delay from the point of view that Farina is not so desperate for the job as to be a lap dog and in fact is making her own demands to de B for certain resources and personnel if he wants her to be chancellor -- probably the only person he can choose at this point that would not lead to a massive public outcry of "sellout... Ed Notes
With many real reformers having settled on Carmen Farina as the best we could do at this time, what seemed like a slam dunk 10 days ago is causing concerns over the delay given that we are days away from the end of the Bloomberg reign. Farina is certainly not perfect given her ties to the old ed deform BloomKlein regime but for educators with a progressive, child-centered view, Farina's history before the BloomKlein era might point to a lowering of the test-tosterone.

Last night I was with a friend who confirmed she got it directly from Farina when she left Tweed that Farina was told (not sure by whom but I'm guessing Klein) that she didn't have the skill set for the job.

Mark one for Farina.

RBE at Perdido Street School has a post today worth sharing. No Chancellor Pick Announcement Coming Today 
And so we wait, and the longer we wait, the more I wonder what is going on behind the scenes to delay the announcement. Mark Naison has been tweeting all kinds of warnings about de Blasio picking a reformy chancellor, suggesting that is what may ultimately happen:
Kamagana @ya_kamagana
@McFiredogg you are scaring me with your posts.. do you have inside information?

Mark Naison @McFiredogg 
@ya_kamagana Some. Carmina Farina should have been appointed a week again. Something happened and it's not good.
So, Mark Naison has some inside information and he is concerned. His wife is a long-time progressive principal in District 15 and probably has some ties to Farina. Which to me means there is concern in the Farina support camp.

RBE points to Obama/Duncan.
I would agree that the delay is unsettling. We know that de Blasio has been getting pressure from the Obama administration to appoint a pro-test person. I would say one thing - you can bet the reason for the delay in the chancellor announcement from de Blasio is not a good reason. 
While Obama - and maybe the Clinton's - might be doing behind the scenes work -- and given Farina's original ties to BloomKlein -- I don't see why they would think her such a great threat to the testing program as to get involved -- I
have a somewhat different take and view things in a more local manner.

My friend Vera Pavone shared her analysis at a party we were at last night when I brought up the story of the Farina appearance at PS 15 2 weeks ago with Diane Ravitch (and Julie Cavanagh) basically at the flash point of an expected announcement by deB for her as chancellor. I believe there is a connection to the delay.

But first let me bring in the UFT which prefers Cashin and I imagine they and their astroturf supporting orgs worked behind the scenes. (That Cashin has disappeared from the conversation is not a slam dunk she is done -- from what I know of her she will not give up until Yogi Berra sings to the fat lady.

One interesting thing happened -- an internal email inside the UFT requesting "information" on Farina. I didn't hear a similar request for Cashin.

Back to the PS 15 story.

When I heard the day before the Ravitch/Farina event that Farina was going to introduce Ravitch, I said, "No way she'll show" given the swirl of her pending announcement. I was assured she would show but was still surprised she did.

There were a few factors in my reasoning that she might be hurting her candidacy with this act.
  • PS 15 was the epicenter of one of the major co-location battles with a charter school and Farina was thus sort of taking sides in her support of PS 15. The charter lobby must be fuming.
  • Support for Ravitch, who by the way as a major deB supporter but in the deform community is poison.
  • Julie Cavanagh and the prominent role she has played in the battle against ed deform (especially our movie) plus of course her role in MORE and the fact she ran against Mulgrew. PS 15 is a MORE school top to bottom. How does the Farina connection to the school play inside the UFT?
When I heard Farina did show I figured she might be making a mistake and until Vera's analysis last night, was sure she had.

So Vera's point is that Carmen knew exactly what she was doing that evening and in fact was sending a message to de Blasio and the ed deformers -- and maybe even the UFT leadership (as opposed to the rank and file teacher) that she would not be a patsy and if de B wanted her it would be as much on her conditions as on his.

I often trust Vera Pavone's instincts. She looks at the delay from the point of view that Farina is not so desperate for the job as to be a lap dog and in fact is making her own demands to de B for certain resources and personnel if he wants her to be chancellor -- probably the only person he can choose at this point that would not lead to a massive public outcry of "sellout.

If this is true my respect for Farina rises. But I worry that she adheres to the ed deform concept that the way to improve education is to improve the teachers (or replace them). Meaning: PD and U-ratings will not go away.

A litmus test would be just how a Farina admin would address a Portelos-like case where an outstanding teacher who sacrifices enormous amounts of time to do stuff for the school eventually comes up against an incompetent and repressive school administration.

Read the Gotham Schools Report on the PS 15 event (also check the comments).

Chancellor candidate Farina praises Ravitch, but keeps distance

Will de Blasio's DOE rescue Adult Education from Superintendent Rose-marie Mills?

Sent to Ed Notes anonymously:

Laura Feijoo                                                                                        December 2013
Senior Superintendent
District 79
New York City Department of Education

RE:      Removal of superintendent Rosemary Mills

Dear Senior Superintendent Feijoo,

We in New York City adult education are perhaps very close to a tipping point in the relentless attack upon the morale of the instructors and support staff of the Office of Adult & Continuing Education programs and services. There will come a time in the near future when a room filled to capacity with OACE teachers and staff will express serious concerns about Superintendent Mills, and the numerous non-adult education administrators that she has brought in and imposed on this program in such a short time. We are heartened to see that more voices are beginning to surface (see attached internet article) and we request that this matter be addressed as soon as possible. While some of Ms. Mills’ questionable practices during her previous tenure at District 19 are known anecdotally, we want to be sure that this time there is a readily available paper trail documenting the issues.

In light of the increasing concerns regarding accountability in public education we respectfully request that this and all previous letters regarding the removal of Superintendent Mills be placed in her file.  Someone in such a vital and critical role should be capable of facilitating, supporting, and understanding the needs of adult educators and by extension, the 40,000 students they serve year in and year out. This superintendent has demonstrated quite the opposite, alienating a vast majority of the personnel in this program and displaying little care, respect, or understanding for adult learners or adult educators and support staff.

Our concerns with regard to Superintendent Mills are numerous, but chief among them:

*A superintendent who has had zero experience in adult education, bombarding OACE teachers and staff under a with an increasing barrage of P-12 based policies, including obsessive preoccupation with Common Core standards and poorly aligned textbook and classroom resources. Not a single, veteran Instructional Facilitator within this program was consulted on the purchase of several hundred thousand dollars worth of books, resulting in a massive waste of money on materials that are not aligned with adult learners.

*An overbearing, punitive and unthinking approach to the closing of classes based upon a new policy of ADA 20 students, “or else”.  Where did this number come from?  Are there budgetary concerns because of the dramatically increased layers of administrative personnel that the superintendent has brought in to OACE in just one year, none of whom have had a single moment of adult education experience? There seems little appreciation for the realities of adult learners and their numerous life issues.

*Increasingly onerous, punitive and misguided workplace regulations governing:
·      teachers leaving their room to use the bathroom or for any justifiable reason,
·      Ever-increasing and redundant paperwork , increasingly data-driven mentality that sacrifices real teaching for mindless, rote, mis-aligned policies that do not serve adult students and demand increasing time and energy from teachers who have never had any prep time.

*Increasingly onerous, P-12 teacher assessment models and micro-managed lesson plan and preparation requirements  that demand ever increasing time and resources, including  a slavish devotion to one-size-fits all approach in the classroom, demonstrating little ability to think critically about adult learners and their educators.

*The elimination this year of any type of outside professional development towards the mandated annual PD hours, and in its stead, repetitive and redundant exposure to the Common Core standards and Danielson framework. These are adult students and we are adult teachers. Even P-12 schools are rejecting the Common Core. In past years teachers were afforded the flexibility to select meaningful professional development beyond the limited offerings of OACE.

*The sell-out of the Manhattan Adult Learning Center in Harlem to yet another Charter school co-location. Indeed, was Ms. Mills brought in to facilitate the shrinkage and eventual demise of the largest adult education program in the country, which every year serves 40,000 immigrants, parents, people of color, and hardworking adults seeking to improve English, High School equivalency, technical skills and certifications in an increasingly disparate city?

*An inability and unwillingness to engage in any type of meaningful dialogue with or respect for the decades of experience in adult education of the vast majority of instructors and support staff in this program.

We respectfully demand a change in leadership, one that will serve, facilitate, and honor the practices and successes of this long-standing adult education program, the largest adult education program in the country.

Let the Office of Adult & Continuing Education return to its primary goal of service to the community, not obsessive worship of state testing rubrics and P-12 Common Core standards which have little relevance to androgogy (pedagogy for adults).

When you have one of Ms. Mills’ hand-picked principals resigning in protest, you have ever-increasing evidence that her leadership is very problematic.

Ms. Mills seems to be of the opinion that she was specially selected to serve as Superintendent of the Office of Adult & Continuing Education.  If this is so, we would respectfully ask who made the determination that this excellent program, which has served disadvantaged and deserving adults since the 1960’s, has been targeted for such morale-crushing, insensitive leadership?

In the spirit of accountability in education, we repeat our earlier simple request: 

Please distribute a guaranteed anonymous survey to all administrators, educators, and support staff in this program in order to assess the performance of superintendent Rose Marie Mills. Leave room for comments.

Cc:       (w/enclosures)
Dr. Dorita Gibson, Deputy Chancellor
Carmen Farina, Mayor de Blasio transition team
Tara Colton, Executive Director, Mayor's Office of Adult Education
Dennis Walcott, Chancellor

Schools Matter on union leader duplicity - or how many sides of your mouth can you speak out of at the same time?

As a follow up to our Newark post the other day (Randi, Cami and Newark: Anyone for a Quisling Refe...) and after some flame wars with Randi and Leo on twitter today (which I hope to follow up on) here is a piece from Schools Matter worth checking out.

On December 10 Randi Weingarten flew into Newark with her gold-plated bullhorn to protest the entirely predicted outcome to a teacher contract that she helped negotiate just over a year ago.  

At the time, the Newark agreement gave bragging rights to Republican governor Chris Christie for making New Jersey the first state in the Union to base teacher pay on student test scores and on a teacher evaluation scheme that was nothing more than a Christie promise when Weingarten signed off on it.   

Now, with teacher grievances piling up based on the meritless merit pay plan that Weingarten approved of last year, a visit to Newark was called for in order to pretend that Randi was against the contract all along.

The facts tell a different story, however. Upon approving of the new contract last November, Weingarten gushed,

“This agreement ensures that teacher voice, quality and experience are aligned with increased professionalism and better compensation.”
In an interview on December10, 2013 Weingarten had something quite different to say about the contract that her posse of lawyers helped to craft in 2012:
Weingarten aimed some of her harshest and most personal criticism at the teacher contract ratified last November, criticizing not only state appointed schools Superintendent Cami Anderson, but also the man who appointed her, Gov. Chris Christie, who gave the final go-ahead to that labor agreement.
“A lot of people feel a huge sense of betrayal,” Weingarten said. . . “You made a promise to act differently, and you have instead acted exactly the same,” she said of Christie.

Classic Weingarten, who knows more about betrayal than she is willing to admit.
Excerpt from Schools Matter

Remember Newark?  Just exercise a little trust in corporate ed reformers to get it right. What can go wrong?
So remember – the next time that Weingarten comes to your town with her bullhorn and satin handcuffs, along with her posse of fellow lawyers trained in obfuscation and the art of the diplomatic lie, and her well-rehearsed expressions of solidarity with parents, children, and teachers, I hope that you will ask her which of the policies that she now protests are ones that she did not support at some point in the very recent past, or even the present, or even the future--if we can just get it right.