Friday, May 31, 2013

Norm in The Wave: I Was Tossed From Anthony Weiner Rockaway Event and Governor Slow-Mo

It was beginning to rain fairly hard and some late arrivals were wearing rain gear to cover up. Was it the rain or the shame of attending this closed Weiner event? .....Weiner has $5 million to spend and not even a piece of strudel?... Why is Weiner, who bills himself as the champion of the middle class favoring these hedge-fund backed organizations?
Will Weiner tweet me a pic of a piece of strudel in his underwear?

This event occurred last Friday, May24th and was written on May 28th for The Wave:

True Confessions
by Norm Scott

 “Anthony Weiner attends a Rockaway Community meeting on Beach 139th Street, May 24, 6:45. Press: Open for photo spray only,” was listed in an online bulletin. I decided to drop by, not as a columnist from The Wave (Weiner was said to be ducking the press), but as a community member and retired teacher interested in hearing what Weiner had to say on education-related issues. It was raining when I arrived at the home of Sylvan and Rose Klein, both of whom I was meeting for the first time. A large “Anthony Weiner for Mayor” sign stretched across the front window. The living room was filled with people waiting for Weiner, who was running an hour late.

This did not look like a community meeting but a “meet and greet,” aimed at garnering support for Weiner.

Within 10 minutes of my arrival, I was asked to leave by Klein because “you write for The Wave.” I said I was not covering the story for The Wave but was there for what was billed as a “community” meeting (I live a few blocks away). I do not get paid by The Wave - hear that Kevin - and am not working press. I have no idea what a “photo spray” is. But even with my connection to The Wave, given Weiner’s strong connections to Rockaway’s paper, one would hope for some basic courtesy from Klein like, “Please don’t write about this.” In fact I told Klein I wouldn’t be writing about the event. He didn’t want to hear it. “I’m asking you to leave,” he said pointedly, his voice rising, officially entering him into the book of “not nice,” especially since I didn’t even get a piece of fruit. Weiner has $5 million to spend and not even a piece of strudel?

Waiting outside – the real press: Newsday, the Columbia Spectator, a big truck from NBC Channel 4, a reporter from the NY Post who said, “I cover crime - homicides.” Made sense to me, since Weiner committed homicide on his career. But in the fantasy world of politics, anyone can be resurrected. It was beginning to rain fairly hard and some late arrivals were wearing rain gear to cover up. Was it the rain or the shame of attending this closed Weiner event? I went home to dry off and eat.

Governor Cuomo said “it would be a shame” if Weiner became Mayor with one report saying, “Cuomo and other leading Democrats are more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of Weiner actively campaigning for one of the country's highest-profile positions. A Times story about Weiner's wife, the longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, says Bill and Hillary Clinton are particularly unhappy with it too. Weiner's old boss, Chuck Schumer, acts as if he wishes the whole campaign would just go away.”

I supported Anthony Weiner as our Congressman, especially as the lone voice calling for single-payer (Medicare for all) health care system. I was disturbed over the fundamental lack of judgment accompanied by a pathetic cover up in the big scandal but look at candidates based on where they stand in the education wars. I lean to Liu and de Blasio due to their pushback against the privatization of public education and the blatant anti-unionism.

Figuring out Weiner on ed is a project. How about this headline? “Weiner Says If Teachers Want Raises, They Must Concede On Health Care Costs.” Bloomberg denies teachers the 4% pattern raise given to other unions and this is Weiner’s response?

Weiner supports the co-location of charter schools with enormous wealth as they compete for resources with public schools. The day before Weiner’s Rockaway visit, Democracy Prep charter rented out the Central Park Zoo for a fundraiser honoring Joel Klein, the patron saint of rapacious charter schools. Protesting were a small group of poor adult ed students whose struggles to complete high school were being impacted by Democracy Prep being handed precious space in their building.

Eva Markowitz’s Success Charters raised $7 million in one night at their “gala” and spends millions plastering the streets with advertising to lure kids out of public schools which don’t have galas or money to advertise. They’re lucky to have paper. While PCB lights explode in public school spaces, Success replaces their lights, enforcing a separate, unequal climate that has been termed “educational apartheid.”

Why is Weiner, who bills himself as the champion of the middle class favoring these hedge-fund backed organizations? A good question to ask both Weiner (if we ever get the chance) and Sylvan Klein, an educator who should be concerned over supporting a candidate so willing to help wealthy privatizers pull the plug on public education.

Norm blogs at

While I'm on The Wave, here is an editorial by our new editor (since Sandy) Kevin Boyle, who slashes Cuomo in comparison to Christie. Frankly if forced to make a choice between them in any vote, both my wife and I go hands down for Christie -- I'm sure Mike Schirtzer, my favorite (and only) Republican in MORE is cheering.

Governor Slow-Mo

We look at Governor Christie visiting one beach town after another in New Jersey and we start to wonder about our governor. Where is Andrew?
Christie goes and sees with his own eyes – not only the destruction but the repair and rehabilitation. Again, where’s Andrew?

Christie is seen in ad campaigns which boasts New Jersey as Stronger than the Storm. Cuomo is running an ad campaign, too. It’s called New York State Open For Business. He’s using federal relief money and promoting areas untouched by the storm.

Christie promotes business and resiliency. Cuomo says maybe we should let Mother Nature have her way, tell those people to move on.

We’re not comparing records of the two governors beyond their connection to people affected by the storm. On that score, Christie far outshines our governor.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Cuomo told residents of Breezy Point that in a year’s time the place would be back better and stronger than ever. Two months later he was saying about coastal communities: “At one point, you have to say maybe Mother Nature doesn’t want you here. Maybe she’s trying to tell you something.” He hasn’t been back to Breezy since.

We’re checking the news accounts. As far as we can tell, the last time he came to Rockaway was November 21st. Less than two weeks later he reinstated the tolls on the Rockaway bridges. Volunteers and displaced people had to pay full tolls. What was that about, Governor? What was the rush?

This week, Governor Christie got another visit from President Obama – it looked like a bipartisan effort to get things done. Maybe Cuomo and our Mayor should try it. Or has the governor just conceded power to Mayor Bloomberg? Is Cuomo just a coat holder for the mayor?

Some relief money is being split: half for the city, half for the rest of the State. Does that mean Cuomo is free of responsibility to city dwellers affected by Sandy? Of course not.

Maybe he’ll come when the A Train resumes service. Will he get off the train long enough for a good look at Rockaway? We doubt it.
Cuomo’s grandfather used to own a building on Beach 116th Street (coincidentally it’s vacant now). Curiously, he’s skipped over the mid-peninsula, instead making stops in Breezy and Far Rockaway after the Storm. Did Andrew get roughed up on the beach when he was a kid? What gives with his total disregard – or is it contempt -- for Rockaway?

Most curiously, he announced this week – seven months after Sandy -- appointments to positions focusing on New York's storm recovery efforts. Seven months? Well, here’s something equally troubling. This team is also supposed to address issues stemming from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

That’s a governor in slow motion. If he’s hiring people now to help with Tropical Storm Lee we should be grateful it’s only seven months since Sandy.

Politicians don’t have to be seen to be effective; but sometimes they should be seen.

Where’s Andrew?
2013-05-31 / Editorial/Opinion

This is new….The PAVE Pre-K contract is listed as WITHDRAWN!

Yesterday we reported on the outrage of PAVE charter being handed 400 grand by Tweed to help them steal pre-k kids from the local public schools in Red Hook, which have had their requests to expand their own pre-k programs denied by the criminal privatizers at Tweed (DOE Allows Charter Schools to Set Up Stealth Pre-K programs to Further Undermine Public Schools.)

We have been challenging the tepid NYC ed press corps to put all the pieces together of the assault on the public school system by the very people who are running it into the ground - on purpose.

Then last night the teacher who wrote about the story for us emailed that the PAVE pre-k proposal had been withdrawn from the PEP contract meeting on May 22.

See page 4!

While we can't take credit for this -- it will probably pop up again somewhere, maybe there were some press inquiries that caused them to withdraw it or maybe the refusal by some city agency with a conscious to hand over space being used by a senior citixen center forced out of their home by Sandy left PAVE without space for the program. Look for them to be back and they might move it to some dark corner where no one will notice. I'm sure our teacher correspondent will stay on the case.

Be ever vigilant.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

DOE Allows Charter Schools to Set Up Stealth Pre-K programs to Further Undermine Public Schools

DOE is approving over 400,000 thousand dollars to PAVE for their pre-k program. They are getting about 30,000 less than PS 15 does for Pre-K, but we run 4 classes and PAVE will run 3..... Public school administrators all over this city must fight or beg for every resource they bring to their schools, while charter school operators clearly have people in high places simply making things happen for them, regardless of laws, procedure, or decency.... Teacher at PS 15K
The criminals at Tweed are at it again. And where is the UFT on these blatant thefts of kids out of public schools? The charter lobby push to get their mitts on pre-k is getting intense. If they can steal these kids right off then they capture the early creaming crowd. 

From my very first day of teaching we learned that the kids who registered for pre-k ended up being the top performing kids in our school for the rest of the time they were there. They made up the "one" class while the kids who did not go to pre-k often ended up struggling. Was it the fact that they had an extra year in school or a sign that the family was more aware and education conscious? A combo of both but I lean toward the latter. You would likely find less single and more working parents. Charters know that full well.

Ed Notes first reported this story on the day of the hearing (NYCDOE Charter Hits Keep Coming on PAVE Favoratism) with a slap at the NYC Press corps for ignoring this important aspect of charter school greed and theft of public monies by stretching the law to grab pre-k kids before they get to the local public school. Eve did this to PS 123 in Harlem which ended up losing pre-k classes. In DOE-Tweedie land, public school parents must go on line to register for pre-k (and many parents in poor neighborhoods may not have access) while the charter school pre-k scams allow parents to register in person.

I actually got an email from a reporter for a major media outlet chastizing me for criticizing them for not covering a story that was breaking that night. Of course she is (purposely?) missing the point of the larger story told here by a teacher at PS 15 in Red Hook that fought against the PAVE invasion until they were given 30+ million dollars to build their own school, another aspect of the shameful NYC ed press corps which would jump on a teacher for stealing a dime. Now they are given another 400K for a school run by a billionaire.

As readers know, we have been involved in the struggle over PAVE/PS 15 since it began. That is how we met Julie Cavanagh through GEM's support. PAVE finally left the building after Bloomberg gave them 30 mil for their own building, a true theft of public funds.

Now PAVE was trying to get the space being used by the senior citizen center which was forced out by flooding for their prek program, later denied, but a sample of their avarice and arrogance. Why doesn't Bloomberg just build them another building?

Here are reports on the "hearing" which was held on very short notice.
Several weeks ago, I ran into an employee of PAVE Academy at a shop in Park Slope.  We were familiar with one another from the required "Shared Space" meetings that co-located schools are required to hold. We exchanged greetings, and she excitedly told me, “We’re getting a Pre-K now!”  "We" being PAVE Academy, and the Pre-K is a not-yet-approved program, for which PAVE has been advertising job postings online since January. To most of us, this is what we call putting the cart before the horse, but in charter school land, it’s just another day. 

Monday May 6, a “public” hearing was held to recognize PAVE’s application to amend their charter to hold their kindergarten lottery 17 months ahead of the kindergarten start date.  Once approved, and I’ve never seen an application of PAVE or most any other charter school denied, this would allow the school to hold a lottery early enough to accept students into their alleged “separate entity” Pre-K.  But the lottery was already held in April and the Pre-K doesn’t exist yet, as it hasn’t been approved. 

Furthermore, New York State Charter Law states that charter schools may not operate Pre-K programs. So to summarize, a lottery was held before the hearing  to request to hold an early lottery and job postings were up before the jobs existed and the program approved. Oh, and the hearing was not advertised anywhere in the community, nor the usual places online.  The few people I know who even heard about it, learned of it hours before it began. 

This kind of shady backdoor dealing is typical of the DOE’s Office of Charter Schools, and the Department of Education in General.  Does anyone remember the emails between Eva Moskowitz and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein? I certainly remember PAVE Academy having the address of my school listed as their own on a charter school directory website before their co-location was officially approved. 

It is well known that Spencer Robertson and his partner in Crime Cooper Westendarp have their eyes on NYCHA’s Miccio Communty Center in Red Hook to house PAVE’s Pre-K. This is the very facility that allowed PAVE Academy to use space during their displacement due to hurricane Sandy.  

Currently, this facility is being used as a replacement location for the Red Hook Senior Center, as the Senior Center was flooded and ruined by the hurricane. It makes little sense to renovate and return seniors to a basement space in a flood zone, so for now, the Miccio is all they have. Which explains why a large group of seniors walked over to attend the hearing. But Mr. Westendarp stopped all of them in the lobby, stating the meeting had nothing to do with their space (and who knows what other fiction he shared) causing confusion among the group, who ultimately left the building.   

For those of us that know how the DOE works, and how charter schools work, we know the hearing had everything to do with their space. You just have to connect the dots. The few attendees who made it past Cooper Westendarp and did show up to the hearing made the connection, and not one community member or parent spoke in favor of the amendment to the charter.

There are many other things to consider here, one being that just because the DOE has shirked state laws to allow charter school darling Jeffery Canada to open a Pre-K program in Harlem, does not make it right or legal to extend such a favor to Mr. Robertson.  Also, the need for more Pre-K seats within the Red Hook community is debatable.  

The principal of P.S. 15 was previously denied additional requested Pre-K classes, and wasn't granted one until she agreed to open a Dual Language Pre-K program, which opened this year.   P.S. 15 currently has 66 seats available for zoned students, and although many more than that have applied for these seats, about half of the applicants are students from other neighborhoods.  

This shows the need for additional Pre-K seats clearly exists not so much in Red Hook, but within the communities of Carroll Gardens, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace and Park Slope, the places where the other applicants live. 

The principal of Red Hook's other public elementary school, P.S. 676, has been repeatedly denied from expanding her Pre-K as well, after applying for additional classes for  years. P.S. 676 is willing and happy to expand their program this fall to meet any such need that may exist in the Red Hook community. Of course in order to do so, the principal needs the Department of Education’s approval— a favor clearly reserved for charter school operators. As I write this I worry that the Department of Education will use information I've shared to take classes away from my school, as they have denied us programs in the past because of our five year co-location with PAVE academy. Public school administrators all over this city must fight or beg for every resource they bring to their schools, while charter school operators clearly have people in high places simply making things happen for them, regardless of laws, procedure, or decency.
Here is an email -- edited a bit by me to remove some of the details of how many pre-k kids, etc  ---- the teacher sent to the charter school office of the DOE. The teacher gave me permission to use her name but I'm redacting. It contains similar material as above but I like the raw day-after outrage --- which I would also direct at the UFT leadership which is oh-so silent. Maybe the UFT silence is why PS 15 is such a strong supporter of MORE. Where is that COPE money being used to defend public education? Maybe they want the UFT charter to do the same thing.

Subject: PAVE Academy Charter School
Date: May 7, 2013 6:50:24 AM EDT
This email is to serve as a record of my opposition to the revision of PAVE Academy's charter to hold their Kindergarten lottery 17 months ahead of the student's actual kindergarten start-date.  The reason for this revision is to allow PAVE to open a Pre-K program, which is illegal under New York State Charter Laws.  Allowing them to create a non-profit "separate entity" claimed to be run by a separate board of trustees is simply this city's way to circumvent state laws, which is despicable. 
Speaking of despicable, the meeting last night was clearly in violation of the guidelines set forth for such meetings, as it was not publicized on the DOE website at all, and as shown by poor attendance, not made public to the community of Red Hook in any way. There is a larger issue that DOE representatives refused to address at the meeting. Although, as usual, rules and laws rarely apply to Mr. Robertson, PAVE's founder and director. He has his eyes on space owned by NYCHA that is currently being used to house displaced senior citizens whose Red Hook facility was flooded and ruined due to hurricane Sandy. (He had his eyes on my school's building as well, and before our public hearing, the address of my school, P.S. 15 was listed as  PAVE's on the charter school directory online.)  

Therefore, it's hard to pretend that yesterday's meeting was simply about adjusting a charter to  allow the school to run their Kindergarten lottery 17 months ahead of time, as they have already held their lottery for next year and enrolled students in their not-yet-approved Pre-K program, and have job postings all over the internet for their not-yet-approved PreK program. Of course, Spencer's colleague Cooper Westendarp very cleverly and deceptively told a group of senior citizens who attempted to attend the meeting last night that it had nothing to do with taking their space, and who knows what other lies, causing the entire group to leave before the meeting began.  In fact, he stopped them in the lobby, so they didn't even get near the meeting space.

There are many other things to consider here, one being just because rules and laws have been shirked to allow your favorite charter rockstar and John Legend's best bud Jeffery Canada to open a PreK program, does not make it right in the eyes of the law (or this tax payer and public school teacher) to extend such a favor to Mr. Robertson in  a neighborhood where the need for more PreK seats is debatable.  For example, my principal was previously denied additional requested Pre-K classes, and wasn't granted one until she agreed to open a Dual Language Pre K program.  Furthermore, the principal of Red Hook's other public school, P.S. 676 has been denied from expanding her Pre-K as well, and she has openly stated that she has room to open 2 more classes, and is willing to do so and will apply to expand her program to meet any such need that may exist in the Red Hook community.

The shady way in which this meeting was held, and the fact that not one parent or community member spoke in favor of granting the charter revision to PAVE should be of some significance.

A parent activist comments on her reading of the law:
My (inexpert) reading of the law is that this is not against the law. It seems charters may not get state funding for pre-k, but the separate entity certainly is allowed to do so. Look for more of these as pre-k funding increases. It is a loophole for sure and goes against the spirit of the law ( lottery and pre-k) but charter schools ( like most corps) have been exploiting loopholes for profit as the backbone of this nation since the dawn of capitalism and free markets.

Here is one article

Red Hook Charter School Launches Pre-K Program

PAVE Academy Charter School Looks to Start Pre-K Program
RED HOOK — A new pre-K program is coming to Red Hook this fall, sponsored by a local charter school.
PAVE Academy Charter School is launching three full-day pre-K classes with a total of 54 4-year-olds in September, after winning approval from the city's Office of Early Childhood Education earlier this month.
The school held a lottery for the seats in April and allowed winning pre-K families to also reserve a kindergarten spot for the following year, said Spencer Robertson, director of PAVE Academy, who started the K-8 charter school in 2008.
The pre-K program, which will be run by a separate nonprofit because charter schools are not allowed to run their own pre-K, recently applied for $453,521 in funding from the Panel for Education Policy.
Robertson had hoped to house the pre-K classes in the PAL Miccio Center, a New York City Housing Authority building that now contains a senior center and was formerly used by a Head Start program, but the school was denied use of the space, Robertson said in an email.
“We understand the decision and are now looking for an alternate space in Red Hook where the pre-K program can operate,” Robertson said.
Some local education leaders said they did not see a need for more pre-K programs in the area. While other neighborhoods in District 15, such as Sunset Park, South Slope and Park Slope, have issues with large class size and overcrowding, Red Hook has not faced that issue, said Jim Devor, president of the Community Education Council in Brooklyn's District 15.
“Frankly there is no need for pre-K space in Red Hook,” Devor said.
The Department of Education added 4,000 new pre-K seats this year to boost early childhood education throughout the city. Community-based organizations like PAVE Pre-K have an application process that is separate from pre-K application for public schools.

Here is the NYC Charter school center lobbying for charter pre-k. Don't gag.
New York has nearly doubled access to pre-K education over the
past decade. But we are still far from providing truly universal access. The 2013–2014 budget’s $25 million for expanding access to high quality, full-day pre-K services is a step in the right direction, but there are more steps ahead.

To continue making progress, New York’s high-quality public charter schools must be given the same opportunities as any other public school. That means authorizing high-quality public charter schools to provide pre-K services and granting access to new state funding streams.
From the conclusion of a policy brief by NYCAN, the advocacy group, that argues for charter schools to be allowed to offer pre-kindergarten programs, which state law currently prohibits. The issue is one that charter school advocates across the state have made a top priority for this legislative session, but education bills face an uphill battle even to be considered this year.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Video - Mayoral Debate on Education: The Winner is ..... Moderator Zakiyah Ansari

Republished with full video coverage:
No one was more impressive than Zakiyah who dominated the debate with her no-nonsense take charge approach. I guess many of the candidates did not know much about her but every single one of them took notice.

Zakiayah for mayor.

The press corps was massive due to Weiner -- a major victory for NY-GPS in getting him to show -- did they have to guarantee him the seat next to Zakiyah which got the most camera work?
The biggest loser? Quinn by far, who was ridiculed. She is slipping into oblivion. Will we see a Weiner/Thompson run-off?

Video of entire debate plus my one on one post debate questions to Thompson and de Blasio.

Friday I will publish my Wave column on how I got tossed from a Weiner appearance in Rockaway last Friday.

Read Leonie's report.
Read press accounts:
NY Times, Daily News, WSJ, NY PostHuffington Post, NY Mag, City and State. GothamSchools

Newark Union Election: NEW Vision Opposed by Randi/Unity SAC Slate

NEW Vision exposes the SAC (of you know what) slate which is similar to Unity here and the Chicago crew that opposed CORE which was also attacked by the ed deform press just as NEW Visions is attacked by Star Ledger. SAC (of you know what) followed the team of Randi Weingarten and Klein disciple and now Newark Supe Cami Anderson, a TFA ed deformer supremo. (You know the old saying -- lie down in a SAC of you know what and get fleas -- not to insult fleas.)

We wrote about the bad deal Randi sold to the teachers back in October (Newark Contract: Weingarten is a Serial Pusher of ...) and in April where we channeled blogger Jersey Jazzman (Randi Sellout Tour Coming to Fruition in Newark).

This summer MORE and NEW Caucus may be doing some joint events.

Here is the missive from NEW Caucus:

1)  By now, many of you have probably received the first of the negative (and expensive!) SAC Slate mailers that will go out this week as ballots go out.  SAC Slate is the current NTU leadership, and they are doing whatever is necessary to take our eyes off the serious
problems that the NTU faces, and to discredit the NEW Caucus and the NEW Vision Slate

Below, see NEW Vision Slate's response to that mailer.  

2)  More important, BALLOTS GO OUT TUESDAY!  You should be receiving your ballot by mail by Thursday or Friday at the latest!  If you do not receive a ballot by Friday, you should call the NTU offices immediately at 973-643-8430.
Vote ONLY NEW Vision by checking the box above the NEW Vision column on the right-side of the ballot.  DO NOT VOTE FOR ANYONE ELSE!

Here is the response the the SAC mailer (which we don't have).
By now some of you have received a mailer from the Solidarity Again Caucus (current NTU leadership) for the upcoming election.  NEW Vision is concerned that negative mailers like this further divide and weaken our union.  We would like to address a few points about this mailer:

1.     NEW Caucus is still alive and fighting.  NEW Vision was created to unite other members of the NTU that may not necessarily be in the NEW Caucus.  In fact, check out the April edition of NEW Views (click here).

2.     The Star Ledger article referring to NEW Caucus as liars was prepared by the same "Editorial Board" that has consistently supported Cami Anderson's attacks. They've also criticized the Chicago Teachers for their brave action against the attacks on Chicago teachers and schools.  In other words, it is a good thing to be attacked by them, since they have attacked our friends and supported our enemies.

3.     It is almost comical to suggest that NEW Vision simply aims to gain control of the NTU dues. In reality, as current NTU contributors, we do not receive information about the NTU budget or how it is spent.  Other than a list of expenditures at the January meeting, we never see what the NTU is spending its money on.  We do want to change that and make sure you know how every dollar is spent.  We will also encourage members to be part of the decision making process over how dues are spent.

4.     When this contract was first revealed NEW Caucus was adamant that it undervalues education workers and students. The contract justified Anderson's aggressive school closings. Additionally, we are currently seeing the effects of the "Election to Work" agreements, and we aim to challenge the ability of administrators to pressure workers into opting out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. As said in November - the current contract has the potential to destroy our union as it splits members into two different pay scales.

Whether as NEW Caucus or NEW Vision, we have said that we will reenergize and motivate the union membership to stand up and fight back.  It won't be easy, but it will be done.  As is evidenced by this negative and desperate mailer, the current leadership lacks vision.

NEW Vision calls on all education workers, especially those in the Solidarity Again Caucus, to publicly condemn this mailer and stand with NEW Vision for a stronger, united union.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Next Phase in Refuting the Status Quo of Ed Deform: Offering Alternative Assessments

With the turn against ed deform the resistance needs to begin to offer alternatives to the status quo. And how nice to turn the old SQ tables on the deformers who have been seeing things going their way since c. 1994 in Chicago. I even heard that Arne Duncan was forced to defend his disastrous turn as Supe of Chicago schools for 7 years by claiming he reduced testing. We must keep focusing on the testing battle since it is the force that unites teachers, parents, students, academics and all rational and sensible people.

Monte Neill sent this from Fair Test as a follow up to what we posted yesterday (The assessment reform movement continues to gather steam).
Assessment that Supports Education
Recently, Boston area students and teachers organized an excellent conference, “Creating the Schools We Deserve.” It focused on what schools should be like and how we can win them. The conversations made clear that most people have never had the privilege of experiencing the kind of life-affirming, engaging, supportive, and multicultural schooling we can see at Boston’s Mission Hill School.

Understanding schools like Mission Hill can help students, parents, teachers and members of the community grasp just what wonderful schooling looks and feels like. So watch the video series, A Year at Mission Hill, if you have not yet done so. In 10 short segments, this beautifully shot, intimate and emotionally moving film portrays a truly remarkable school. 

The question, “How do we know what and how well students are learning?” frames the most recent segment (9), “Seeing the Learning.” It reminds us that “assessment” comes from the Latin, “to sit beside.” It illustrates how “direct contact and conversation are the most accurate way to judge if a child has mastered a skill or concept.”
This episode introduces viewers to the Mission Hill portfolio system, collections of student work that complement the observations and interactions. As one teacher explains, “I really believe in looking at a student’s work as the best indicator.” The portfolios guide feedback to and evaluation of students. They also help teachers reflect on their teaching, individually and collectively. 

Grade 8 graduation portfolios and exhibitions in multiple subjects are the culmination of students’ work, demonstrating their readiness for high school. They include a defense before a committee that includes an outside expert who brings new eyes from the adult worlds of work, college and civic engagement. If a student’s portfolio is not yet good enough, s/he has time to revise and complete it. (In much of this, Mission Hill resembles the New York Performance Standards Consortium.

Though it’s not shown in the video, the graduation portfolios include on-demand tasks that students complete independently. Because students get detailed feedback from teachers and peers along the way, the school wants to ensure that students really can do quality work on their own.
The segment shows how the school uses authentic assessment in the context of its mission and daily practice. As a school focused on student-centered, project-based learning and led by strong educators who work collaboratively, Mission Hill prioritizes authentic assessment that values complex learning and teaching. But as a regular public school in Massachusetts, Mission Hill students must take state tests in grades 3-8 in math (that count for NCLB “accountability”) as well as some science tests. The school also has to avoid wasting its valuable instructional time on standardized “interim” tests offered by BPS central office. 

Mission Hill should not have to jump through these hoops. As the school shows, better ways to evaluate students, schools and teachers exist. Winning such changes will require building political power – something that has clearly begun with this spring’s protests against standardized tests in cities around the nation. and
The video series and this segment provide great evidence that our nation can develop educationally beneficial assessment. Most important, the film shows us why students and teachers – and we the public – deserve far better than test-based accountability.

Arthur Goldstein, Gary Rubinstein to be Honored at Skinny Awards Dinner, June 18

Wow! What a twosome in the blogging world and beyond. Has anyone accomplished more in the battle over ed deform than Leonie Haimson over the past decade?

I just bought my ticket. If light and sound are decent I might tape it.

I might as well use Diane Ravitch's posting.

Please Attend the Skinny Awards in NYC

by dianerav
If you are within driving distance of New York City, please come to the Skinny Awards.
I will be there, along with many other friends of public education.
The Skinny Awards are the opposite of the Broad Awards, which are given to urban districts and charter schools that raise test scores. The Skinny Awards recognize character, courage, valor, and integrity in support of sound education ideas.
Leonie Haimson is the genius behind the Skinny Awards.
Benefits go to Class Size Matters, which advocates for reduced class size, opposes invasion of student privacy, and supports teachers and public schools. Leonie runs Class Size Matters on something less than a shoestring.
Here is the announcement:
Please attend our Fifth annual “Skinny Awards” Class Size Matters fundraiser
And enjoy a four-course dinner with wine
When: Tuesday June 18 at 6 PM
Where: FAGIOLINI ON 40TH, 120 E. 40th St. (betw. Lexington and 3rd Ave.)
Purchase your tickets here.
Each year we give an award to the individuals who provide the real "Skinny" on NYC schools. Past recipients of the award include Diane Ravitch and Juan Gonzalez. This year, our “Skinny” award will go to two brilliant teacher/bloggers:
Arthur Goldstein,  an ESL teacher at Francis Lewis High School in Queens
Gary Rubinstein, who blogs at Teach for Us and is a math teacher at Stuyvesant HS in lower Manhattan
This dinner is always a highlight of the year, with delicious food, good wine, and great company.
This year, it is especially important to attend and/or contribute to our work. As always, Class Size Matters relies on your donations to keep our organization going. We have continued to advocate for smaller classes and an end to school overcrowding, as class sizes swell throughout the country. We also have become leaders in the fight against high-stakes testing, privatization, and the violation of student privacy.
Nationally, we spearheaded the battle against the sharing of confidential student data with a corporation called inBloom Inc. inBloom Inc. plans to put children’s personal information on a vulnerable data cloud, and share it with private vendors without parental notification or consent.
For the last few months, the tabloids and corporate reform blogs have featured attacks against me personally, evidence of the prominent role that Class Size Matters plays in the debate over education policy. One of the best ways to show your support for our work is to contribute whatever you can to keep our organization alive.
If you believe that class size matters, and that it is important to keep our public schools and children’s personal information out of the hands of private corporations, please make tax-deductible contribution now to Class Size Matters and/or purchase a seat at our fundraiser dinner June 18 by clicking here or here: .
Please forward to others who care and hope to see you there, Leonie
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
Follow me on twitter @leoniehaimson
Make a tax-deductible contribution to Class Size Matters now!
Subscribe to Class Size Matters news by emailing
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Assaulting the Walls of Ed Deform, NYSUT June 8 "One Voice" Critiqued

"One voice" is more about drowning out  the people's voice with a droll compliant whimper in true Weingartian style.... This is not a social justice rally.  This is a 'let's make believe we care' rally. It's play acting by the AFT/NYSUT/UFT gang.  We can play along, relieved that at least they are doing something, but their "something" is really business as usual.  --- Sean Ahern (see below for full text).
NYSUT Press release: Rally in Albany June 8.
Members of the more than one dozen organizations will join other parents, teachers and educators in speaking out against the state’s over-emphasis on standardized testing and misuse of test data to improperly label students and teachers. Rally-goers will call for a moratorium on the use of standardized tests in high-stakes decisions for students and teachers until the State Education Department and Regents properly implement the state’s new Common Core learning standards.
Well we know all about NYSUT/AFT/UFT and their role as enablers. When the water is at the top of the wall they decide to stick their finger in the dyke.

I know many people opposed to the testing regime who are going. And people in MORE are working on organizing. The UFT has buses available.

I am on the fence -- for a number of reasons from inconvenience to doubts about jumping on a NYSUT/UFT managed event -- the very people who enabled and even helped nurture the testing movement in the first place under the "we teachers have to show our willingness to be held accountable". Which reminds me of an old joke.
Lone Ranger: Tonto, we are surrounded by Indians.
Tonto: What to you mean "we," white man.

Yeah. The AFT/UFT leaders are certainly willing to have teachers be accountable while they are accountable for nothing.

Sean Crowley in Buffalo who does the B-LoEdScene blog also has some doubts about the rally. He sent some of his tweets:
NYSUT takes half a mill and AFT takes 4.4 mill from Bill Gates. Is anyone still wondering why reachers are getting bent over? (

Thinking a big sign at the NYSUT rally: GIVE BILL GATES HIS MONEY BACK! (

Here's one to show on the busride to Albany for the June 8th rally. Ianuzzi has to go.…  (
There has been some great back and forth on the listserves. Our own Sean - Ahern - does a hard-hitting piece, followed with a comment from Change the Stakes parent activist Jane Maisel.

Sean Ahern
"One voice" is more about drowning out  the people's voice with a droll compliant whimper in true Weingartian style.

NYSUT/UFT says the tax cap issue is about the democratic principle of majority rule. What about democracy and majority rule for NYC parents and educators?  Funny how mayoral dictatorship in NYC, the polar opposite of democracy, is not even mentioned by this "one voice."  

What a pathetic farce for Weingarten to  demand that we should be better prepared to enforce this new sorting system.  The common core is more aptly  described by Susan Ohanian as the "common bore."  It fits Emerson's description:  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do...Speak what you think to-day in words as hard as cannon-balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today."  But in 21st century America the common core is far worse than a "foolish consistency." "One voice" and  common core have a totalitarian stench.    

As PSC President Barbara Bowen put it plainly, "Capitalism gets the education system it wants."  Education does not reduce inequality, it reproduces it and the common bore promise to do so with greater efficiency and oversight.  The problems with "common core" go far deeper than the lack of teacher preparedness.  This is all standard Weingarten triangulation crap.  

Mandatory grade retention, school closings, charter push-ins, the disappearing of Black and Latino educators,  the exclusion of parent and educator voice, the push out of youth on to the streets and on to prison, no raises for public sector workers, the use of high stakes tests to sort by race and class, reducing the teaching staff step by step to at will employees,  all of this and more would have had push back from community controlled school boards in NYC.  Yet mayoral control,  which eliminated whatever was left of democracy in NYC schools, was enacted with the support of NYSUT/UFT, the 'one voicers." 

On these matters The "One Voice" of AFT/NYSUT/UFT is silent. For UFT members facing their fifth year without a contractual raise we cannot build a working class movement in NYC to fight for decent contracts by skirting the deeply white supremacist character of the corporate education reform.  Silence doesn't build solidarity.

This is not a social justice rally.  This is a 'let's make believe we care' rally. It's play acting by the AFT/NYSUT/UFT gang.  We can play along, relieved that at least they are doing something, but their "something" is really business as usual.  

In my opinion "One voice" means no voice.

Sean Ahern  
Jane Maisel
Hi Sean,
Thanks for your excellent response to the call for the NYSUT rally in Albany. I would only want to go if we could surprise NYSUT by  doing a counter demonstration--a sea of red MORE t-shirts. We could take UFT's buses up there, though we might need to take an ambulance going home. This is not coalition building, this is reducing the discussion to meaningless Randi slogans, which I do not wish to support. 
Jane was urged by others on the listserve to go to Albany and march under banners saying what needs to be said. I'm waiting to see if something from MORE and other groups get something going. Otherwise I'm staying home.

NYSUT Release

Monday, May 27, 2013

The assessment reform movement continues to gather steam

Attack, attack, attack ed deform and the deformers. We are on the offensive. High stakes testing is the wedge of ed deform so every little bit to undermine and discredit HST wears away the cover. The list below show signs that media coverage is growing.

From Monte Neill at Fair Test:
This week's stories highlight high-stakes testing protests -- and victories -- in more than a dozen states with additional resistance activities planned for the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
Remember that previous editions of these updates are available at:

South Carolina Exit Exam Could be History

Florida Test-Based Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit May Impact Other States

Seattle Teachers, Students Celebrate Historic Victory Against Standardized Tests
School Testing Fails the Test

Texas Senate Passes Bill Reducing Testing in Lower Grades

Why I Opted Out of Standardized Tests -- by FairTest Board member Nikhil Goyal

Am I Part of the Problem or the Solution, featuring FairTest Board member Deborah Meier

Chicago Parents Say "No" to Excessive Standardized Testing

GAO Finds 40 States Probed Cheating Allegations
see FairTest Survey on Confirmed Cases of Cheating

Providence Student Union Challenges Ed. Commission to Debate Grad Test Requirement

New Jersey Activists to Protest Tax Breaks for Pearson Testing Company
Take the Pearson Test to See Whether You Also Qualify for Millions in Tax Breaks

Upcoming New York State Rally Against High-Stakes Tests and For Better Educational Practices

Parents Take Stand Against Standardized Test

Schools Add to Test Load Just to Assess Questions
Teachers Union Opposes Over-Testing Students

Principals Launch Campaign Against High-Stakes, Common Core Tests
Principals Pledge Not to Use Test Scores to Screen Students

Why Our New Educator Evaluation System is Unethical

Testing Companies Are Clear Winners in High-Stakes Exams Debate

Columbia Teachers Graduates Protest Award to Leading Promoter of High-Stakes Exams

How to Avoid Nevada's Testing Train Wreck

Forum Takes on Standardized Testing

Testing Policies Becomes Local School Board Election Issue

Fallout from Computer Testing Glitch Continues

Oklahoma Investigates Field Test Opt-Out Campaign

A Family Decides to Opt Out

Campaign for Artful Resistance -- a creative initiative from Save Our Schools

Authentic Assessments Must Be Included in Teachers' Tool Box -- by Oregon's chief state education officer

Spinning Around Again on Education Testing Carousel

Student Test Scores Are Faulty Measure of Teacher Effectiveness

What if Finland's Great Teachers Taught in the U.S.?

How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform

Education Reform in the New Jim Crow Era

Teachers Call Social and Emotional Learning "The Missing Piece" in Schools

Change the Purpose of Education

UPDATE: Weiner Agrees as Quinn Drops Out of GPS Debate

Quinn is sinking so fast she better not move those deck chairs.

UPDATE: Anthony Weiner has agreed to participate, making this his first appearance at a mayoral debate, and Christine Quinn has dropped out of the debate, after agreeing to participate

New Yorkers for Great Public Schools to Host:
First Actual Mayoral Debate on Education

*Update: Christine Quinn Drops Out; Her Campaign Says it Does Not Want to do a Debate on Education*

NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South
Tuesday, May 28 3:30 to 5:00 PM

Mayoral Candidates will arrive at 3:45 PM;
Debate will start at 4 PM and end at 5 PM 

WHO: Democratic Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, Bill Thompson, John Liu, and Sal Albanese

Please note: We are still in active discussions with Anthony Weiner about his participation, and Christine Quinn has dropped out of the debate, after agreeing to participate. Her campaign said it does not want to do a debate.

WHATNew Yorkers for Great Public Schools (NY-GPS), a citywide coalition representing thousands of parents, students, teachers, and community leaders, will host the first major education debate among Democratic mayoral candidates. Parent leader Zakiyah Ansari will moderate the debate, and a panel of parents and students will ask the questions.

The debate format will be as follows: an opening crossfire round, a lightning round, a final round of questions, including an instant rebuttal where mayoral candidates can rebut the statement of an opponent, and brief closing statements. Throughout, mayoral candidates will engage each other on hot-button education issues and stake out clear positions that will shape the Democratic primary. In Speaker Quinn's absence, other candidates will still be afforded the opportunity to rebut her public positions on key questions. This is a major news event not to be missed.

WHERE: NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, NYC

WHEN: Tuesday, May 28 3:30 to 5:00 PM

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dear Mr. Condon: On May 18, 2013, Dennis M. Walcott crossed the line

Hi Norm,
My mother (a NYC resident) will be going to the post office this week to mail her letter (pasted below). Although she will include her name and address on the letter I redacted both in this email.
.......Elementary school teacher in the Bronx
It's great to see entire families involved in battling the ed deformers:

Mr. Richard J. Condon

Special Commissioner of Investigation

80 Maiden Lane - 20th floor

New York, NY 10038

Dear Mr. Condon:

On May 18, 2013, Dennis M. Walcott crossed the line. He used the authority of his office as the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education to provide a venue on public property paid for with public funds to express his personal political opinion to a captive audience of school principals attending an education conference in Brooklyn. He used an educational forum to push a political agenda. Mr. Walcott’s opinion was no mere slip of the tongue and clearly violated the very rules he is obligated to obey. Rules, I might add, that were established by his office (Chancellor’s Regulation D-130).

I am not sure how your office works. Is my letter considered an official complaint or is there some form that requires my completion? Therefore, if my letter is sufficient to file a complaint, then please consider it as such. If not, please provide me with any further instructions needed to make my complaint official.

My concern in this matter is really quite simple. Chancellor Walcott abused his power and violated a Department of Education Regulation that states, “Any officer or employee who violates the provisions of this regulation is subject to disciplinary action.” In keeping with your authority to investigate such misconduct I must ask, what is your office doing about it?

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our New York City School District. I expect to hear from you within a reasonable period of time.

Yours sincerely,
 Here is the D-130 reg copied from a previous post on ed notes by A.P. Salamander, my favorite amphibian:

Department of Education’s Chancellor’s Regulation D-130,
( which clearly states, “ School buildings are not public forums for purposes of community or political expression.”
And: “ Any officer or employee who violates the provisions of this regulation is subject to disciplinary action.” 

“ No rallies, forums, programs, etc. on behalf of, or for the benefit of any elected official, particular candidate, candidates, slate of candidates, or political organization/ committee may be held in a school building.”
And: “The use of any Department of Education school after school/business hours by any person, group, organization, committee, etc, on behalf of any elected official, candidate, candidates, slates of candidates or political /committee is prohibited.” 
Read my original post from last week which also appeared as my column in The Wave: Whining Walcott in Blatant Misuse of Position

Friday, May 24, 2013

SHAME: Gala More Proof Success Charter and Wealthy Supporters Steal Space and Resources from Public School Kids

Do you think they could afford to get their own buildings? They'll step over the bodies of their former "scholars" who they've tossed back into public schools.

Scene Last Night: Loeb, Christie, Jones, Tepper, Singer

Daniel S. Loeb put aside discussions with Sony Corp. (6758) last night to be the first honoree at the first gala for Success Academy Charter Schools.
With a “no counterparty left behind” philosophy, and feeling “a little bit like Don Fanucci” in “The Godfather,” as he put it, Loeb, the chief executive officer of Third Point LLC, rallied impressive support from the financial-services industry. David Einhorn, Paul Tudor Jones, Rich Handler and John Griffin were at his table; David Tepper, Paul Singer and Scott Bommer were at others, all decorated with “Success” pencils.
John Vogelstein, managing director and senior adviser at Warburg Pincus LLC, and Daniel S. Loeb, CEO of Third Point LLC. Vogelstein gave Loeb one of his first jobs in finance. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
Eva Moskowitz, Success Academy founder and CEO, David Saltzman, executive director of Robin Hood Foundation, and Campbell Brown, a journalist. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, right, arrives at the lectern to deliver the keynote speech, greeting Daniel S. Loeb, CEO of Third Point LLC. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
David Einhorn, president of Greenlight Capital Inc. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
A screen brings the classroom to the ballroom at the first fundraiser of the Success Academy Charter Schools. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
Margaret Loeb and Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
Regina Scully, CEO of Artemis Rising Foundation, and John Scully, co-founder of SPO Partners & Co. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
Richard Pzena, CEO, Pzena Investment Management Inc., David Tepper, CEO of Appaloosa Management LP, and Shahryar Mahbub, a managing director at Citigroup Inc. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
John Petry, of Sessa Capital, a co-chairman of the Success Academy network board, and Karen Petry. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
John Griffin, president and founder of Blue Ridge Capital LLC, Allison Mignone, and Roberto Mignone, portfolio manager at Bridger Management LLC. All three worked together when Griffin started Blue Ridge. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
Shane Handler, a college student, and Rich Handler, chairman and CEO of Jefferies Group LLC. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
“Success is a completely disruptive business model,” Loeb said in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental. “Not only does your money go to changing kids’ lives, but if we really succeed, we’ll set a higher bar for all schools to meet.”
The Success model includes teachers whose intensity is a mix of Internet startup and trading desk, and a vast amount of training, maniacal attention to data and replicable processes, Loeb said.
“It’s the Google of charter schools. We’re growing faster, it’s logarithmic,” he added, saying that 11,500 students will be enrolled in two years, up from 7,000 in August.
Loeb and his wife, Margaret, have founded three Success schools in Brooklyn and he is a trustee of the Success Academy Network board. Initially sparked by a screening of the documentary “Waiting for ’Superman,’” Loeb has confidence in Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, whom he called a “kindred spirit, my long lost sister.”

Big Change

An activist like him, she joked that she liked his “fiery” comments before she knew he was known for them. “Dan has a unique way of urgently pressing for big change, but always thinking about our kids and how to support them,” said Moskowitz, onetime New York City council member.
Loeb, who sat next to former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, introduced the keynote speaker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Education “is more important than any other domestic issue in our country we’re discussing today,” Christie said. “If we don’t get this right, we won’t have the next generation of entrepreneurs” creating “a middle class that’s the envy of the world.”

Besting Scarsdale

Success Academy opened its first school in Harlem seven years ago. In August it will have 23 elementary and middle schools in New York City, each located in unused spaces in public schools.
According to Success Academy, by their third year the schools operate solely with public funding for each pupil. In state tests, the schools have outperformed ones in Scarsdale, an affluent New York suburb.
The gala program began with students from the Tufts and MIT class of 2022 introducing themselves (they’re currently at Success Academy Harlem West). Loeb spoke of his favorite high-school teacher. “I still cherish her nickname for me,” -- Milo Minderbinder, from “Catch-22” -- “in honor of my capitalist interests even back then.”
At “recess,” waiters served salmon. Afterward guests convened outside the ballroom for milk and cookies.
The event raised $7 million including a $1 million gift from the Robin Hood Foundation and a Loeb-family contribution of $3 million. Most of the money will go toward startup costs of new schools in the network.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at or on Twitter at @amandagordon.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at