Saturday, August 31, 2013

EdNotesOnline Blog 7th Anniversary: Reflections on 15 Years of Ed Notes

The real reason I got to meetings: rice pudding
With Aug. 2006 being the founding month of ednotesonline, I thought it time to reflect after seven years of ednotesonline (4954 posts) and 15 years of Ed Notes, when including the published versions.

I was inspired by 3 blogs:
  • NYC Educator who began in spring of 2005 but gained a big audience with his opposition to the fall 2005 contract.
  • Jeff Kaufman starting the ICE blog during that contract fight.
  • Ms. Frizzle who I met at a robotics event and began to follow her blog when she wrote about the event.
The blogging world has changed. With the proliferation of an amazing team of bloggers hitting hard on every issue, the original work of getting the word out no longer seems as necessary.
With Diane Ravitch posting every 10 minutes on the very same issues I used to write about there is no longer that need to get up early to post about things. I go to Perdido or NYC Educator or all the other great blogs on the blog roll. In fact I spend so much time reading them I forget to blog myself. Increasingly, I think it is not as important for me to say my puny 2 cents but to collate what all the others are saying in a way to reinforces their points

And then there is all the organizing work I feel takes priority. I just do not want to be a keyboard warrior -- using blogs and social networks without trying to put real people in real places together to build real organizations at the local level. Thus the migration from ICE to GEM (a sort of bridge org - in retrospect) to MORE, the first org I've been with that has been able to develop some structure with the potential to scale up. (Very early stages, of course.) In fact there are so many young(er) MOREistas that my work is no longer necessary - I don't feel guilty about not doing anything and have been able to restrict what I do to a few areas like the upcoming MORE newsletter modeled somewhat on Ed Notes (3 or 4 times a year - and I hope you will sign up to distribute in your school).

The first ednotesonline blog post was this:

All these guys are gone (Buffy on the left at the end of 2003, the girls on the right in 2011 and 2009) replaced recently by these gals in 2011 and 2012 who sort of just popped up - like an unplanned pregnancy.

Penny left, 1 yr old, Bernie rt, 2 yrs old

Really, I expected to be living in Paris by this time. Now I'm stuck with a young set of cats that will outlive me. We could always take them with us to Paris. Parlez Vous, Pousse?

My second Aug. 2006 post was this: Ednotes Online - August 31, 2006 which focused attention on ICE.

By the time I began this blog almost 8 years after starting Ed Notes, I was focused on helping build the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) the caucus that Ed Notes helped spawn. But by the 2007 UFT elections it seemed clear that ICE was not going through the kind of growth I had hoped for - in fact it was shrinking -- and I began to refocus.

ADDED: When Angel Gonzalez came to ICE in 2008 he pointed out many of the organizational flaws, which led to the more activist GEM, which is how we met Julie and a bunch of other people who would never have come to ICE.

This blog was an extension of the hard copy of Ed Notes which began in 1998. I lost a whole lot of them due to Sandy but am in the process of trying to get them all online so there is a complete record for anyone to use my rantings for a book or article about the history of ed deform or the history of the UFT since Randi -- her takeover corresponds with the birth of Ed Notes -- and in some ways she helped inspire it -- she seemed to offer in her early years a reform message and Ed Notes was an attempt to influence those reforms -- which never came.

We have been fighting a 3 front war: ed deform nationally, the NYCDOE, and the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership.

We are proud to have been one of the first in NYC to warn against ed deform as far back as 2001 due to our George Schmidt connection in Chicago. Thus my warning headline in Sept. 2002: COMING SOON TO A SCHOOL NEAR YOU: MAYORAL CONTROL.

The DOE since Bloomberg has been the local/devil's incarnation of ed deform.

The UFT leadership has been a longer term battle -- since I became an activist in 1971. I was active 'till the early 80s then spend over a decade working on my house and getting an MA in computer science, teaching as an adjunct at Brooklyn College, etc.

When I became chapter leader in 1994 that pulled me back into union work. But I was no longer viewing the leadership as the enemy. My main focus was on my principal so I wasn't paying much attention beyond that. Though I opposed that first 1995 contract -- Randi's first disaster -- I did not take part in the bigger battle to defeat it  -- led by people like Bruce Markens -- remarkable in that he was the elected Manhattan HS District Rep -- and to their credit, New Action, which actually functioned like an opposition should at that point -- though never really able  or willing to go deep into the grass roots. It was only when I took a sabbatical during the 1997-98 school year that I began to look at central UFT policy more closely.

Randi took over at that time and she was insecure, so she reached out to Ed Notes -- in fact embraced it in some ways -- soon I was receiving offers to join Unity Caucus. For at least 3 years I actually supported her. Given the poor state of the opposition -- even pre-sellout I thought New Action a poor organization with little hope of making much of an impact. So in those early years I aimed to use Ed Notes to lobby Randi to reform the union -- and she managed to play me very well - which I why I am an expert on Randi duplicity -- a Randiologist.

It was only in the spring of 2001 that things began to get clearer that Randi was not only not a reformer, but a dangerous force who began to restrict democracy even further than Shanker and Feldman had done, using her style to fool people into submission.

After the UFT elections in March 2001 I attempted to use Ed Notes to get all opposition people together but that fell apart. So, reluctantly, through the 2001-2002 school year, I began to think about what it would rake to build a new opposition. One thing was clear: I would have to retire in order to make that effort. Thus in July 1, 2002 I retired and immediately set out to expand Ed Notes from a delegate assembly newsletter to a citywide tabloid with 10-20,000 copies in circulation. That led to meeting enough people through the 2002-03 school year to form ICE in the fall of 2003 which led to GEM which led to MORE.

For me the 11 years of retirement have been very fruitful personally, mainly because of the amazing people I've met and worked with.

And I meet new people every day. Yesterday afternoon I went to a Change the Stakes action meeting. A 17 year old student at a NYC HS had attended the meeting we had on Tuesday (see rice pudding photo above -- and YES I had another one yesterday) and came back again as she wants to help organize students to oppose high stakes testing. What a powerhouse this little slip of a girl, whose family comes from Southern Asia, is. I felt such a connection to this kid who is 51 years younger than me. As we walked to the subway she told me her story and I told her mine. I walked down the stairs feeling I had made a friend. How amazing that I could meet and connect with someone like her.

So that is one reason why I keep doing this.

But also because we are turning the tide.

Fred Smith recently wrote:
Call the "reformers" profiteers, one-percenters, privatizers, corporatists, powers-that-be, smart-money guys--call them realists.  And call us parents, teachers, dreamers, organizers--yes, call us idealists.  But don't call us losers.  Because in the end we're going to win.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Scott Stringer? Patrick Sullivan on the PEP and Beat Evil Eva Mosowitz

It was not small feat for Scott Stringer to give us the gift of Patrick Sullivan on the PEP, the lone consistent voice of the people over the years challenging the Tweedies time and again, at times on the verge of a fist fight, at times coming down off the stage to join the audience during certain disruptions. Now I know people say, "So what? Bloomberg doesn't really care about one or two voices in opposition. So Stringer could gain some political capital (with yahoos like you) while costing him nothing.

Well, it's enough for me to vote for him even if he won't get the sex worker vote (I've been told I am not being PC when using the term "prostitute"  -- ooops!.

In addition, Stringer beat the evil one in the Man B Pres election in 2005. Now you may say he did her a favor as she has gone on to charter school heaven, heading for a 100 schools one day. I'll bet that never happens as the bubble will not only bust due to the anti ed deform crowd, but the charter school crew itself is often outraged at her --- and guess where these 100 schools will be going? In direct competition with the current charters. Let's see them start talking about choice when there are no public schools to kick around and the choice is only between them.

WHY De Blasio? Make Evil Eva Moskowitz Pay the Damn Rent

That's enough for me to vote for him. Do I actually think de Blasio will deliver on his promise to make charters pay rent? Slim to none. I don't see the charter lobby sweating much over his rise in the polls. I wonder if some secret message with a wink has been sent. Fact is I don't trust any politician and I think we will be sold out. But I still don't necessarily see him winning over Lhota. Just wait - after a runoff what will happen. And interesting if it's Quinn and Bill what does the UFT do, especially given Randi's attack on De Blasio over the pre-k funding plan.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Urban Ed Blog Takes Shot at Peter Cunningham

....people on the other side will respond with public jeers and snickers and will invoke the children in order to marginalize these very real concerns and discredit the people who express them. This is how their kind always responds to criticism and dissent. ... Urban Ed
Our pal at Urban Education exposes Peter Cunningham, who used to work for Arne Duncan, after he went after Diane Ravitch's new book we are all so excited about. (I'm going to every Ravitch event here in NYC -- in fact I would pay her to carry her bags as she goes around the nation promoting the book. (Hmmm, what a great documentary that would make as she interacts with anti-deformers around the nation?))

Here are excerpts:

Ed Reform Gone Wrong: How Teachers Are Required to Engage in Unethical Conduct

I was just recently reminded of this trait (of discredit critical professionals) when I read this piece by Peter Cunningham, former media relations assistant to USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan. He went to great lengths to discredit Diane Ravitch, who works harder than anyone else in the country to responsibly criticize the Ed. Reform movement under the Obama administration. Apparently, Mr. Cunningham, who is now a privately paid consultant for the very same US Department of Education he once worked for (see his Linkedin profile here) wasn't happy that Dr. Ravitch is about to release a new book which squarely takes aim at the reform movement itself, including the need to spend so many oodles of public money on private consultants (like him).  Views expressed in the book, if well received, might possibly change public opinion and threaten to bring policy changes that may effect the bottom line of his very own company; Cunningham Associates.

While it would be unfair for me to opine that Mr. Cunningham's true stake in this discussion is to advance his own personal profit, it should be pointed out that it was unfair for him to leave the bio  "Former Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education"  under his byline as he entered this discussion of "Ravitch vs. the Reform Movement". I say this because he left out the fact that he is now a paid consultant. Cunningham Associates is nowhere in his byline. But that's what they do: They level hard and harsh critiques on dissenters without making clear what their stake really is, where they're coming from or how they might personally -financially- benefit from continuing the current policies. This is why I cringe whenever anyone says the profession of teaching has changed for the worse without attempting to offer any proof. Profit making reformers like Mr. Cunningham will take to the public airwaves and simply slay us (smote, I believe, may be a better term) with snickers and jeers and a good dose of discredit.
Read it all: 

I left this comment:
Excellent points. All that lamenting and hand wringing sometimes irks me too. No matter how much that goes on -- and it does have some impact in turning the discussion -- the only true solution is to organize and activate people to take action. For me that has always started with the one institution that if turned around would be a key player in the fightback - maybe THE key player -- is the union. Imagine if the UFT had fought a full frontal war against ed deform. It might be bloodied but the teachers in this city would be much more prepared to engage in this political war. Instead we have people angry, disillusioned and weaponless. And that takes me to why I have put my flagging energy into building MORE even with some of the problems we have seen crop up -- the only game in this town for teachers. A MORE chapter in every school will do MORE to change things than anything I can think of.
I'm leaving these comments on all the blogs. We can't only be keyboard warriors. So few people read the blogs relative to what I view as the target audience --- UFT members which is the group I hope to organize into an effective force. In fact I know that most of the activists in MORE do not read the blogs which I believe is a mistake since they miss so much of what they need to really  do the organizing work necessary -- knowledge is power.

But I see every day as the infrastructure of MORE grows and starts accomplishing things just how important that aspect is. You need active bodies to do all that work -- just our little 5 person newsletter committee has put in a lot of work getting it ready -- intense work at times. One little aspect of the overall work. Look at the job Julie did on the evaluation -- she has worked with others to hammer out a lot of points -- MORE has an eval committee and a contract committee -- each group is in many ways semi-autonomous so it can work under its own rules.  Actually, these points are fodder for a separate post. So signing off for now.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fred Smith in DN: One sad measure of Dr. King’s dream

King would not have accepted test scores that only confirm the profound inequities that plague poor kids. Nor would he have blamed teachers for the problem. Rather, he would have let his voice ring out about the need for sound education designed to prepare students to lead fulfilling lives and provide a means for overcoming economic injustices.  ... Fred Smith
What a day. We got 2 of our published pals for the price of one. First MORE's Julie Cavanagh on the MORE blog (The Noose or The Sword: Choosing Your Evaluation) and Change the Stakes' Fred Smith.

New York State schools named after the civil rights leader have a dismal record of raising achievement

The poor scores of schools with Martin Luther King’s name is a sad legacy.

How do you measure a dream? Today marks the golden anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s visionary speech.
There are many metrics of the current status of African-American young people: school segregation, test scores, graduation rates, college attendance, income levels. The results are mixed.
I looked at a different indicator, one that’s admittedly unscientific but potentially revealing.
Nine New York State public schools that educate third- through eighth-graders honor King by carrying his name . They are located in counties and districts that range from Buffalo to Brooklyn, Rochester to Yonkers and Wyandanch (in Suffolk County) and across the tier of cities that includes Syracuse, Utica and Schenectady.
Taken together, 91% of the children enrolled in these schools are black (67%) or Hispanic (24%); 13% are considered to be limited in English proficiency. About 90% receive free (85%) or reduced-price (5%) lunches.
At these schools, 2,883 students took the statewide English Language Arts exams and 2,921 took the math tests — providing 5,804 test scores. Most students were in grades 3 to 5.
This was to be a pivotal year. The state Education Department called for tests that contained more difficult items, popularly referred to as the Common Core, purportedly to raise learning standards.
State and city officials forecast that the results would nosedive. They assured us that this was necessary to get children on track for college and careers. They’ve insisted the numbers will rise as teachers and students adjust to the material.
But what of the 8- to 10-year-old children whose educations, hopes, formative development and chances for future success are bound up in these wonderfully named schools where circumstance has placed them?
In 2009, when the state exams were discredited for being ridiculously easy, 55% of the heirs to King’s legacy were found to be proficient in reading, as were 71% in math. By last year, with the advent of tougher “more rigorous” exams, the results had fallen to 24% and 31%.
The April results released this month fulfilled the prophecy: 7% and 6% proficiency in reading and math at the nine schools.
The overall 2009, 2012 and 2013 statewide figures show English exam decreases from 77% to 55% to 31% proficiency over the testing periods. In math, the drop is from 86% to 65% to 31%. It’s a precipitous decline any way you slice it — with a sharper falloff in the nine schools.
As for the school in Brooklyn , obviously a limited sample, the percentages of students judged proficient fell 53 points — from 72% to 19% — in English Language Arts and 72 points (86% to 14%) in math between 2009 and this year. Citywide, the corresponding results were 43 points (69% to 26%) and 52 points (82% to 30%)
Another part of this unsettling story is revealed by the increased percentage of students who were at Level 1 in 2009 and now. Level 1 is described as being “well below proficient” on the tests.
This group grew from 2% to 32% and from 3% to 33% of the state test population on the English and math exams. At the nine King schools, the students deemed to be low achievers shot up from 6% to 63% in English Language Arts and from 7% to 68% in math.
King would not have accepted test scores that only confirm the profound inequities that plague poor kids. Nor would he have blamed teachers for the problem. Rather, he would have let his voice ring out about the need for sound education designed to prepare students to lead fulfilling lives and provide a means for overcoming economic injustices.
We honor King in words and monuments. It would be a far better remembrance to take actions to realize his magnificent aspiration.
Smith, a testing specialist and consultant, was an administrative analyst for the New York City public schools. He is a member of Change the Stakes, a parent advocacy group.

Julie Cavanagh Analyzes Teacher Evaluation Options

If only our current union leadership could communicate to teachers how best to protect themselves in what is going to be a very challenging and dangerous school year for everybody - students, teachers and administrators - as well as Julie Cavanagh does. ....Perdido Street School blog
Decide to get involved:  I am convinced the overwhelming majority of educators, after navigating this evaluation system, will be moved to action.  Do not get discouraged; do not believe we cannot affect change.  Whether you donate, sign a petition, attend a rally, come to a meeting, run for office, or join an organization-- the time is now to stand up and fight the tidal wave of attacks on public education.... Julie Cavanagh
Julie has spent a lot of time this summer learning the ins and outs of this mess. She shares her thoughts in this post on the MORE blog which I am cross posting.

This is not only about Julie's wonderful work in breaking all this down but also expresses Julie's philosophy of working together which so attracts people.
Make decisions based on what will bring you together:  do not allow these decisions to divide you.  Stand in solidarity together, take care of each other, and do what benefits students and teachers collectively.
This is important stuff to working teachers but for people like me the details give me a headache. But if you want clarity, read this all the way through. Julie's piece should actually be a pamphlet.

The Noose or The Sword: Choosing Your Evaluation

by morecaucusnyc
Analysis and Guidance Regarding Teacher Evaluation Choices and Decisions
By Julie Cavanagh PS15k Chapter Leader
I have yet to meet a parent, teacher or student from a school community who tells me they believe the new teacher evaluation system being implemented in NYC is a good thing, for anyone.  It seems most people understand this system is nothing more than another cog in the wheel of a machine with one clear purpose:  the destruction of our public education system.  This system and the accountability and testing measures and movement preceding it, reduce our students, our teachers and our schools to numbers and data, dehumanizing our schools and our profession. 
There is a growing movement that says, “Don’t feed the beast! Deny the data!” My heart lies with this sentiment, but in terms of the teacher evaluation framework, it may not be the right one.  Let me be clear, this system is irrevocably flawed, and the illusion of choice is no choice at all.  But while the system is fundamentally flawed and hurts our schools and profession, we can choose to participate in order to mitigate the damage to individual teacher jobs as well as our schools and students.
MORE members and allies have received multiple requests for guidance and analysis concerning the decisions UFT members and local committees must make regarding the teacher evaluation system.  Below I attempt to lay out, as I see them, the pros and cons of the choices individual teachers and school-based evaluation committees must make in the coming weeks.  This is by no means complete and it would be immensely helpful if folks offer their additional comments, analysis, and suggestions in the comment section!
The Lay of the Land
There are basically three “paths” to journey on as you make decisions as an individual UFT member and as a committee:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Seattle public school teachers reject proposed contract

Seattle is a hotbed of teacher activism. The revolt last spring when teachers refused to give a standardized test (scrap the map) was more than a warning shot.

Seattle teacher Dan Troccoli (SEE Caucus) joined MORE's Julie Cavanagh, NEWCaucus (Newark)' Sanyika Montague and CORE's (Chicago) Jen Johnson in a panel discussion at the Social Justice Unionism Organizing Conference in Chicago (Aug. 9-11).

Here is Dan's presentation (preceded by Ellen Friedman's 5 minute intro to the panel).

Here is Seattle teacher Jesse Hagopian who helped lead the test boycott at a MORE forum back in May.

Here is today's article on the contract rejection

Seattle public school teachers reject proposed contract

by James Lynch
Q13 FOX News reporter
SEATTLE — The Seattle Education Association board of directors and the representative assembly both unanimously voted to reject the current contract proposal on the table from the Seattle School District.
Monday night, thousands of union members endorsed that decision by voting to reject the proposed pact. Negotiations with the district are expected to continue Tuesday morning.
The sticking points include a proposal for elementary teachers to work longer days after students leave the classroom.
The union says that is time for which the teachers won’t get paid while at the same time the district wants to eliminate supplemental pay those teachers get now.
The union says that amounts to a pay cut.
And speaking of teacher pay, compensation is another big issue.
The district is offering a 4% salary increase over the next two years and full restoration of a 1.3% salary reduction that was mandated by the state Legislature.
But union leaders say that is simply not enough to keep up with the high and rising cost of living in Seattle.
Also at issue are caseloads for educators and staff associates, and teacher evaluations.
Superintendent Jose Banda released a statement which reads in part; “We have been negotiating since spring and are committed to continuing discussions with SEA. We are hopeful that a fair agreement will be reached that focuses on the best interests of our students.”
SEA President Jonathan Knapp issued a statement that said, “By a near-unanimous voice vote Monday night, members of the Seattle Education Association rejected the Seattle School Board’s latest contract proposal, which they said falls far short on several major issues that directly affect students. The current contract ends Aug. 31, and school is scheduled to start Sept. 4. SEA members plan to meet again the evening of Sept. 3 to either approve a contract or take further action.”

NY Times to Adopt TFA Model: Will Fire all Reporters With More than 2 Years Experience

"Strong newspapers can withstand the turnover of their reporters," declared the Times on its editorial page. "Experienced reporters grow tired and less effective."
Ed Notes satire

New reporters will undergo two and a half weeks of training before being sent to locations like Syria and Egypt. An extra week of training will be required to cover the White House.

"Novice reporters will receive constant feedback from their bureau chiefs," said the editorial. "Reporters with the lowest 20% of readership of their articles will be terminated."

The Times will adopt the "two claps and a sizzle" celebratory chant for reporters whose stories go viral.

The Times is actively searching for a 27 year old with at least 3 years on the job to run the paper.

RBE at Pedido:

“It’s two claps and then a sizzle.” 

I dunno, maybe I'm a fool.

I never wanted to go on to something "better."

I like working with students in a classroom.

I think it's important to have experience at this job.

I have gotten better every year I have taught (I start my 13th year next week.)

The social and emotional learning skills I have picked up over the years as I have grown older myself have really helped me as a teacher.

I know how to reach students better now than I did in my first few years - sometimes that means academically (okay, that way of teaching isn't working, let's try this way...), sometimes that means emotionally (diagnosing what is holding a student back and then finding a way to begin helping the student through that issue...)

This is not the skill set a third year 24 year old TFAer has.

John Owens' "Confessions of a Bad Teacher" Making Waves

I finished reading the entire book by John Owens about a week ago. I had to stop often to absorb -- and relish -- the devastating attack on the Bloomberg version of ed deform by Owens, who changed careers to go into teaching only to end up in a school with a principal from hell on his first - and only - teaching job. John, a teaching fellow, went back into his original field, publishing.

Normally I would resent a teacher with less than a year under his belt racing off to write a book about the poor lil children. But not John, who I got to meet at Leonie Haimson's Skinny Awards in June. I'm proud to have a blurb of mine on the book cover. When John asked me for a blurb back in May I looked over my shoulder and said, "who me?" As usual I procrastinated and only had time to read a few chapters of the pdf he sent, but saw right away John had nailed so much of it, amazed he was able to "get it" in such a short time in the system.

I don't agree with everything he recommends as a solution -- if John had remained in the system I believe he would have come to see that nothing will change policy wise without a political movement within the union to engage teachers and parents in an active fightback (he does make recommendations with a list of orgs to join). John wasn't around long enough to see the bigger picture of the neo-liberal assault on public education. He would be a MOREista I believe -- and I would like to make John an honorary member -- maybe even gift him a MORE tee-shirt.

I've been working on a more comprehensive chapter by chapter analysis (not review) of the book and want to compare it to a play I saw at the Fringe Festival this past Sunday by another career changing teacher in the Bronx ("Why You Beasting" -- which will be performed in the fall and I will be getting some group discounts for teachers).

I'll just let Diane Ravitch carry the load (so nice of me).

Today (Aug. 27)
A terrific interview in USA Today with John Owen, who patiently explains what is really happening today in education.

A sample:

Q: You call yourself a “bad” teacher. When did this idea first occur to you?
A: I was a bad teacher because I was a teacher. Today, “bad teacher” and “teacher” have become almost interchangeable. Listen to billionaire “visionaries” such as Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, as well as “experts” such as Michelle Rhee. The problem with our schools is bad teachers. Almost immediately, I realized that I was destined to be a bad teacher because many of my eight- and ninth-graders had learning problems, and I couldn’t fix them in the 46 minutes I had them each day. Many of my students had behavior problems, and I couldn’t fix those problems either. And I wasn’t very good at masking these problems, so my “scholars” didn’t look like they were learning when they weren’t learning. I also couldn’t keep them from getting excited and boisterous when they were learning.
Last week:

I Recommend This Book

by dianerav
This is a book written by John Owens, who left his own comfortable job in publishing to become a teacher in a high-poverty school in New York City. His eyes were opened by what he saw. This is his story of what he learned.
"An explosive new look at the pressures on today’s
teachers and the pitfalls of school reform,
presents a passionate appeal to save
public school education, before it’s too late.
"When John Owens left a lucrative publishing job to teach English at a public school in New York City’s South Bronx, he thought he could do some good. Instead, he found an educational maelstrom that robs students of real learning to improve school statistics at any cost, cons parents and taxpayers into thinking their children are being educated, and demonizes its own support system: the teachers.
"The situation has gotten to the point where the phrase “Bad Teacher” is almost interchangeable with “Teacher”. And Owens found himself labeled just that when the teaching methods that were inspiring his students didn’t meet with the reform mandates.
"With first-hand accounts from teachers across the country and practical tips for improving public schools, Confessions of a Bad Teacher is an eye-opening exposé of the dire state of American education and galvanizing call-to-action to embrace our best educators and incite real reform for our children’s futures."
Open the link to order the book.

Monday, August 26, 2013

NY Times Distorts Mexico Teacher Revolt Which is About fighting Neo-Liberalism in the Streets


Omar Torres/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Teachers blocked access to a government building in Mexico City on Thursday. The city’s central square was also occupied.
A radical teachers' group mobilized thousands of members in Mexico City last week, chasing lawmakers from their chambers, occupying the city's historic central square, blocking access to hotels and the international airport, and threatening to bring an already congested city to a halt in the coming days... NY Times

Why hasn't this happened in the USA? Because the bosses of NEA and AFT would oppose every bit of it. They're the misleading Quislings of completely rotten and corrupt organizations, much like all the fake "professional" organizations and the opportunist saps who run them. ... Rich Gibson
The Times report  (see below Gibson's piece) made a radical teacher takeover of Mexico City appear to be a reaction to the removal of the teacher union's corrupt leader -- sort of like calling a MORE rally against the neo-liberal agenda as being about support for the queen of neo-liberals, Randi Weingarten.

Rich Gibson pretty well nails our union leaders as neo-liberal defenders of the status quo - not the old SQ ed deformers refer to, but a deeply supported SQ of increasing wealth misdistribution. Union leaders will over manage us into oblivion. Their reward will be that they will be allowed to be left standing in the shell of what remains of the unions with their role to maintain the fiction that they represent the workers and not their overseers.

And RBE at Perdido Street just nailed Randi's ass to the wall for doing exactly what Gibson accuses her of:

Randi Weingarten Attacks Bill De Blasio Over Pre-K Plan

You see, Randi is bothered by this:  
“When you put out a plan that basically says, ‘We’ll raise money from the rich so that we can actually fund pre-K’ when Albany has already called it dead on arrival’... it sounds non-serious,” said Weingarten
 Oh, that 1 percent is just itching to crawl out from her. We don't really want to ask the poor rich people to pay more for pre-k and it's dead on arrival because the UFT with its so-called political operation is not interested in mundane issues like universal pre-k.

But the increasing radicalized Diane Ravitch jumps into the fray against her old "friend" Randi.
De Blasio on Monday parried the attack in part by unveiling an endorsement from education historian Diane Ravitch, who in a campaign release specifically cheered the idea of gleaning more money to fund pre-K by taxing high earners.
We have a MORE correspondent on the scene in Mexico City and should get some reports - and maybe pics -- soon.

Susan Ohanian sent this comment and links: 
In Mexico, when education reformers tried to declare teachers unfit, politicos got run out of their offices. You can 'read' this the way the New York Times does. Rich Gibson offers an alternative reading.
Here is Gibson's comment

Mexico's School Workers Fight Back

Publication Date: 2013-08-25

by Rich Gibson

Why hasn't this happened in the USA?

Because the bosses of NEA and AFT would oppose every bit of it. They're the misleading Quislings of completely rotten and corrupt organizations, much like all the fake "professional" organizations and the opportunist saps who run them. .

Because the teaching force is pacified and for the most part bought off.

Being bought didn't work so well for, say, the UAW rank and file. When the payoff stopped, they were lost--jobs and income, and ideas, gone.

Still, people in pacified areas become instruments of their own oppression, and to a considerable degree, responsible for it.

Mexico's tactics are worth examining, if not the limited analysis they represent.

Barbarism rises, world wide, largely in several forms of fascism: the demagogue Obama to the Catholic invaders under Reagan/Bush to the Syrian/Libyan/Pakistani jihadists, most backed by the USA which so many patriots still love as "theirs" when it is, in fact "Theirs."

Try to catch up and good luck to our side. We won't like, and won't win, WWIII

The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism,Fifth Estate, 1984
And the NY Times piece today while even though presented in a distorted manner, expresses the remarkable takeover of Mexico City - not by drug dealers -- but by teachers.

Fighting Education Overhaul, Thousands of Teachers Disrupt Mexico City

By Karla Zabudovsky
New York Times
August 25, 2013

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s highly anticipated education overhaul program — intended to weed out poorly performing teachers, establish professional hiring standards and weaken the powerful teachers’ union — is buckling under the tried-and-true tactic of huge street protests, throwing the heart of the capital into chaos.
A radical teachers’ group mobilized thousands of members in Mexico City last week, chasing lawmakers from their chambers, occupying the city’s historic central square, blocking access to hotels and the international airport, and threatening to bring an already congested city to a halt in the coming days.

Ed Notes Redux: UFT Election Results, 1999 - New Action Vote Drops 75% Over Years But They Gain More Ex Bd Seats

New Action Off the cliff
New Action  received 31% in ‘91. New Action received 24% in ‘99. PAC received 2%.... Ed Notes, May, 1999 election analysis
New Action with this tremendous drop in vote totals between '99 (11,500) and '13 (3600 - half from retirees) goes from 'winning" 6  Ex Bd seats in '99 to ten EB seats in '13. Ahhhh, democracy at work! 
I've been going through the archives for a project geared to making print copies of ed notes available online. Until that is done I am publishing items of interest that might provide perspective.

Note the trend from '91, soon after NA was formed from a merger of Teachers Action Caucus and New Directions in 1990 when they got 31% of the vote. By '99 the opposition totals dropped to 26% -- call it the Randi effect -- she was initially selling reform of the union. That had disappeared by 2001 but NA was not capable of organizing and when totals dropped again in the 2001 election Randi jumped in to buy herself an opposition caucus.

For the record, as an independent Ed Notes, after the 2001 election I tried to broker a united front between all opposition forces but it fell apart, which led me to start thinking of the need for an alt caucus and the concept of a citywide edition of Ed Notes (beginning in Fall, 2002 after I retired) which became the basis of ICE. It took another 10 years to forge the highest degree of a united front with MORE (except for the now outlier, New Action). So much irony all over the place.

There were 2 opposition caucuses running in 1999: New Action and Progressive Action, a group focused on the licensing issue. Note return totals- so much higher than today. Did the NA sellout have an impact on lowering vote totals? NA in the high schools with Paul Milstein running for HS veep received 2880 to John Soldini's 2517 yet Soldini was elected because the entire union voted for that position. Union dues without representation. Throw that tea in the bay.

In the 2013 election New Action got 452 slate votes to MORE's 1430 and Unity's 1592. Even better. NA's total votes has dropped in 14 years from 11,500 to 1900 working people plus 1800 retirees, many of whom still think NA is a real opposition. In other words almost half the NA vote came from retirees in '13. So how is that collaboration deal with Unity working out?

Yet, even better, New Action with this tremendous drop in vote totals goes from 'winning" 6 (or 7) Ex Bd seats in '99 to ten EB seats in '13. Ahhhh, democracy at work!

Think of these numbers given that 30,000 more ballots were mailed out in 2013 and about 4000 more in HS. Also note that over 17,000 votes were returned by retirees in '99 and about 22,000 14 years later with a much larger membership pool. Even though 52% of the total vote in a weak turnout, even retirees (with 25,000 more ballots mailed) are losing interest.

Here is my commentary from the May 1999 edition of Ed Notes:

UFT Elections: Looking at the numbers (non-slate votes not included). PAC votes basically irrelevant,except in Academic HS, so not included. 

Interesting Points 

Retirees are the happiest people in our union. They returned the highest percentage (51%) of the ballots, because they clearly had the time to wade through all the names. (The other 49% were too busy getting ready for The Earlybird Special.) Retirees are happy with the way things are going and voted for Unity by 85%. The 33,000 retirees are the 3rd biggest block in the union. After the massive retirement expected in 2 years, they will clearly be the largest voting block. At some point we have to deal with the issue of the impact retirees have on the working conditions of active teachers. If retirees didn’t vote, Unity would have received 67% of the total vote in- stead of 74%, still a significant victory.

Election Facts
Ballots mailed: 136,565
Ballots returned: 49,108 (36%)
Ballots not returned: 103,023 (64%)
Ballots mailed to active members: 103, 023 Ballots returned by active members: 31,908 (31%) Ballots mailed to retirees: 33,542
Ballots returned by retirees: 17,200 

There has been little change in voting patterns for last 5 elections. Unity’s share of the vote has grown from 69% in 1991. NAC received 31% in ‘91. New Action received 24% in ‘99. PAC received 2%. Their impact was minimal, other than perhaps causing some people who would have voted with the opposition, to not vote at all and could explain, to some extent, the higher than usual (69%) of ballots not returned by active teachers. That’s over 70,000 ballots not returned
by ctive teachers. Is it apathy or a silent vote against all caucuses?

Academic High Schools
The only division where New Action had some success. They won half the Academic high school Executive Board seats (the rest were at large) and received about 52% of the vote. With PAC’s vote added in, the opposition polled 55% of the vote in this division. They did not win the Academic HS VP position because these positions are voted on at large, a change instituted by Unity Caucus after the last time an opposition candidate won this position.This is a bad policy for the union as it disenfranchises the divisional voters. 

Carol Burris: Common Core tests widen achievement gap in New York

The time to “reform the reform” is long overdue.....In the coming months, the fruits of the poisonous tree will be much examined, sorted and discussed.  But the fruit is rotten and parents are warning their children not to bite. The opposition to testing grows and soon the tree will finally fall.
Carol Burris at The Answer Sheet
Another wallop at ed deform from Carol with Valerie's assistance.
Common Core tests widen achievement gap in New York
By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 26

Here’s the latest post from award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York, who for more than a year on this blog has chronicled test-driven reform in her state (here, and here and here and here, for example). Burris was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010,  tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is the co-author of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student test scores. It has been signed by more than 1,535 New York principals and more than 6,500 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens. You can read the letter by clicking here. 
By Carol Burris
The New York Common Core test results are the fruit of a poisonous tree — what should be useful evidence of student learning is, instead, data without value.  Commissioner John King refers to the Common Core test results as  “baseline data.”  Producing baseline data was never the intent.  Chancellor Merryl Tisch said that if we educators were not prepared for the Common Core, we were “living under a rock.”  Since the results were published, however, her tone has changed.  At a recent public forum, Tisch remarked,  “We need to do a great job communicating why these new test scores that we’ve just seen are not an indicator that there’s been no learning or teaching going on.” If one muddles through the double negative, the takeaway is that the results of the tests for third-to-eighth graders are meaningless.

They may be meaningless, but they are not inconsequential.  The results expanded the black/white achievement gap.  In 2012, there was a 12-point black/white achievement gap between average third grade English Language Arts scores, and a 14-point gap in eighth grade ELA scores.  This year, the respective gaps grew to 19 and 25 points.  In 2012, there was an 8-point gap between black/white third-grade math scores and a 13-point gap between eighth-grade math scores.  The respective gaps are now 14 and 18 points.  The gap expansion extended to other groups as well. The achievement gap between White and Latino students in eighth-grade ELA grew from 3 points to 22 points.  Students who already believe they are not as academically successful as their more affluent peers, will further internalize defeat.

The percentage of black students who scored “below basic” in third-grade English Language Arts rose from 15.5 percent to 50 percent. In seventh-grade math, black students labeled “below basic” jumped from 16.5 percent to a staggering 70 percent. Nearly one-third of all New York children scored “below basic” across the grade level tests. Students often score “below basic” because they guess or give up. Principals and teachers cannot get accurate feedback on student learning.  Although Ms. Tisch may say that “this does not mean there’s no learning going on,” what will parents think? Students will now need to be placed in remediation, or Academic Intervention Services.  Schools that serve a predominately minority, poor student body will be fiscally overwhelmed as they try to meet the needs of so many children.  Those who truly need the additional support will find that support is watered-down.
You don't hear deformers talking very much about the old AG anymore. Note how they shift the ground as each deform fails. Now it's teacher effectiveness (which used to be teacher quality but when the holes in that were pointed out they moved the ball.)

When all those anti-union states get rid of every teacher they can and the old AG stays stuck or drops where do they go next? We ought to have a contest. Carol, the Rational Educator, continues:
Experienced educators understand why the reform agenda is not working. Reformers “wish” their unrealistic goals and expectations to be attainable, and then “whip” educators and schools using test scores, in order to make their wishes come true.  But the “wish and whip” strategy of school reform simply does not work. Michael Fullan, a scholar of school reform, has continually warned that test scores and punishment cannot be successful strategies to transform schools.

The time to “reform the reform” is long overdue. The first step in that process will be a difficult one for reformers to accept. They must re-examine their belief that college readiness is achieved by attaining a score on a test, and its corollary — that it is possible to create college readiness score thresholds for eight year olds.  It is, at its essence, an absurd assumption that is wasting a fortune in tax dollars while leading us down a fool’s path.

As I explained in my last blog post, the cut scores for Common Core tests are based, in great part, on finding correlations with other tests’ so-called “college readiness” scores. Here are three reasons why this strategy is folly.

READ all the reasons here

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Classy: AFT leader Randi Weingarten cuts off 9-year-old kid at March on Washington event; Updated

I watched C-span last night half asleep after a full day in the Poconos. Asean read a statement. He paused then said something like Oh one more thing. Randi pulled the like out of his hand, patted him on the shoulder and gently turned him away as she started her screaming diatribe. It just made me gasp... Pat D.
Oh, what fun this is turning out to be.
One tweet:
Omar Moore @popcornreel
Kind of ironic that Randi Weingarten, pres. of the Amer. Fed Of Teachers, takes the microphone from Asean Johnson. AJ's only 9. Geez.
Loads more comments here:

I Get Bar Mitzvahed (Again)

Rescued from the storm, my Bar Mitzvah album. Each pic pulled from the plastic and dried (unfortunately, not done with the wedding album which had a shot if I had done the same -- Freudian slip? -  then ended up gone), handed over to cousin Howie Levitz (Photog supremo, Williamstown MA --TGL Photoworks - Williamstown, MA - Film Processing and Output) where he created a you tube video. I'm the guy with the cigar. And the money.
Try to find the great Marty Needelman still leading Williamsburg Legal Services and the skunk who got me activated and into this mess.

Howard Schwach: What in the world was the state thinking?

What in the world was the state thinking? NYS exams highly flawed; people in charge have little or no classroom experience & don’t know what they’re doing.
It is good to see my former editor at The Wave still plugging. Howie went from a teacher doing a column which he turned over to me when he became managing editor at The Wave. Howie with me supplementing education coverage put The Wave at the forefront of coverage of the ed deform movement from the beginning -- probably the only community newspaper doing so. Howie deserves enormous credit for leading that and giving me as much space as I needed.

The Sandy storm caused enough disruption inside The Wave that
 Howie left, leaving me to do a column every 2 weeks. Howie's work will be missed in Rockaway but it is good to see him working out at his new job at the Long Island Herald.  

What in the world was the state thinking?

Howard Schwach
Howard Schwach Herald File Photo
From the first moment that I looked at some practice tests for the English Language Arts tests that were given recently, I knew that the kids and their teachers were in trouble.
Let me say first of all, that I am something of a test expert. For several years, I wrote test items for the eleventh grade American History Regents exam, travelling to Albany each year to work with a team of teachers from all over the state. In addition, I was a staff developer for the New York City system and the managing editor for the city special education division’s Curriculum Development Unit.
And, as a classroom teacher for more than 25 years, I developed thousands of tests for my own students.
Throughout all that time, there was one guiding principal: never test students on skills or material that you have not taught and practiced.
To do so not only would have been unfair to the students, but it would have made the tests unreliable and downright useless at a measure of student ability and knowledge.
That is why, when I looked at the practice test, my first thought was that the questions were in the deep end of the pool when the kids were just learning how to swim.
One that stuck in my mind was a passage from a 1920’s magazine about aspirin.
Because the source article was written nearly 100 years ago, it contained some archaic language and syntax that would have been confusing to today’s adults, nonetheless eleven-year-olds.
So the kids were at a disadvantage right away, trying to figure out the words they had never seen before, working them out through context. Then, the question called for skills that have never been tested before, nor taught by the teacher who showed me the sample questions. She admitted that she had been “teaching to the old test” for the past several years, trying to keep her kid’s all-important test scores up while trying to keep her job.
“Education has nothing to do with what we have been doing for the past couple of years,” the teacher admitted with a nervous laugh. “It has been all about the numbers.”
“The only skill we have taught is how to answer a four part multiple answer test question.”
After reading the page-long article, which talked about the development of aspirin and why the new drug could be important, students had to answer a series of questions.
The first question asked students to find two words used by the author that showed he thought that the new drug would have a positive impact and then defend their answer in writing. Since the two words that I found to fit the answer were archaic and no longer used, I found it hard to believe that 11-year-olds would know enough about the meaning of those words to answer the question.
There was another question in the sequence that clearly had two right answers and it was a crapshoot as to which one the state would mark as correct.
I knew then, and do did the teacher, that the test would dissolve those kids who care into tears and lead teachers to pull their hair out.
The state’s ed department and Board of Regents, of course, do not care about that. They needed to force the test on the kids in order to qualify for money under the draconian Race to the Top program that is nothing more than a bribe to get states to do the bidding of President Barack Obama and his acolyte, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, an old New York hand whose ideas were discredited when he worked for the city but who then became a genius when he was promoted to national status.
Educators do his bidding not because he is right, but because he has all the chips in the game.
I have nothing against standards. I have nothing against the Core Curriculum, although I would like to see it field-tested somewhere prior to the state’s being forced to adopt it whole hog. The fact that it has never shown to be successful in helping kids reach either college of career goals is sort of left in the wind. I would like to ensure that it works before we all dive in.
Under Race to the Top, that is impossible. Every state has to just accept on faith that Duncan and his minions know what they are doing. That’s a laugh.
Both the state and the federal bureaucracies are made up of Phd’s from Penn State and Ohio State, Yale and Harvard. They are chosen directly after getting their degrees and have little or no classroom experience.
I know from experience, after meeting with they for years in the World Trade Center (does that now date me) that they have little idea about the problems faced by classroom teachers, nor do they care. The trick is to use all that high-tech learning theory they just acquired whether it works or not.
To understand what is going on, you have to turn to a real expert like Dianne Ravitch. Since the 1960s, she had been involved with education and in writing about education. Her first book, “The School Wars,” detailed the long 1967 New York City three-month teacher’s strike, in which I served as the chapter chairman in a large junior high school in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the neighboring district to Ocean Hill-Brownsville, the community that sparked the strike by firing all of its Jewish chapter leaders.
Ravitch, who was deeply involved in writing the “No Child Left Behind” law with its testing component as an member of the federal department of education, said that she realized in 2004 that the high-stakes reliance on testing was bad for education and became an opponent of the law and the testing programs that was its most important component. In 2010, she wrote a highly-acclaimed book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education.”
“Did the students suddenly become stupid,” Ravitch asks, referring to the results on the most-recent test. “Did their teachers become suddenly incompetent overnight? Did schools fail en masse? None of the above. The state Board of Regents, having decided that the old tests were too easy, changed the tests and raised the passing mark. Three years ago, they did something similar — raising the passing grade on the grounds that the tests were too easy, the bar too low. This time, however, the state has aligned the tests with a set of ostensibly national standards known as the Common Core, which have been heavily promoted by the Obama administration as a measure of college and career readiness. But Common Core has never been subject to trial or field-testing anywhere. No one knows whether it measures or predicts readiness for college and career readiness. Nobody has explained why eight-year-old students in America should be tested to see if they are on a path for college. As for careers, most of them probably want to be cowboys, police officers or astronauts.”
She added, “The scores should not be taken seriously. There is no science involved in setting the passing mark. It is a judgment call. It is subjective. State Education Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch could have set a passing mark wherever the chose. They chose to set the bar so high that most students would fail. This is like raising the hoop higher in a basketball game or pushing the wall further back in a baseball game to make it harder to score.”
One last comment, this one from New York City principal Carol Burris, who was recently named the state’s teacher of the year.
Recently, in her blog, Burris wrote, “The chapter is a chilling and uncanny allegory for the data-driven, test-obsessed reforms that are now overwhelming our schools. This week, New York’s “hard times” measures were made public. There was no surprise when the new definition of “proficiency” was about 30 points below the old one. That’s what the system was designed to do. Yet the new, imperious Gradgrinds will predictably use the results as the rationale to propel their reforms. They have built their careers, reputations and, in some cases, their fortunes, coming up with inventive ways to show public school teachers as inept and to present the vast majority of public school students as below par. “Their failure, of course, was preordained. This drop was predicted by Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz in March before the last test was sealed in its packet. If a teacher in my school told me that he designed a test that was so hard that the passing rate would drop by 30 points and the majority of his students would fail, I would walk him to the door.”
Enough said.

NYC Parent Urges: Consider opting out of the tests next year as a way of resisting corporate education reform and the monetizing of our children's school experiences

Dear Parents and Guardians,
Your child's scores are now available on ARIS Parent Link. For what it is worth, there are a few things that I think we should all do:
1) Ignore the test results and do not tell our children what their "number" is, no matter how high or low;
2) Know that these tests are part of a movement to privatize public education by convincing parents that our children are underperforming, compared with other countries, and a massive restructuring of the public education system is the only thing that will save the future of the US; this would involve higher standards, better teachers (which requires a de-unionized teaching force), more charter schools, vouchers for private schools, and market-based methods to make parents consumers of "public" education; they say that this is needed because of the "new" US economy, where because of economic and labor policies, we have an increasingly bimodal distribution of jobs (you are either a Walmart Greeter or a Scientist, with few solid working- and lower-middle class options left);    
3) Recognize that no elite NYC private schools use high stakes standardized tests in this way and that the country that is held up as a model of universal, high quality public education, Finland, also does not use test scores in this way; 
4) Know that our state has purposefully set up our children to fail in order to "shock" us into submission and turn on our children's teachers and their unions;
5) Resist the urge to pressure our children's teachers and schools to do better on these tests; this will only totally eliminate the arts, sports, sciences, recess and other activities that have been diminished in the pursuit of high scores and that children desperately need; these are the things that keep some of our most vulnerable children in school;
6) Be aware also that our children's test scores are being given by the state to inBloom, a private company that will store all of children's data in a "cloud" and offer it to other private companies to make more educational "products" that are typically "personalized" and computer-based and designed to further undermine face-to-face instruction, classrooms and human teachers.  See here for inBloom:  See here for criticisms of it:
7) Consider opting out of the tests next year as a way of resisting corporate education reform and the monetizing of our children's school experiences.
So that is what I think we should do; feel to agree or disagree!
(D6 parent)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rhee, Ravitch, Randi Too Upcoming in Philly

Ken Derstine from Philadelphia sent this to his email list.

People should be aware that Michelle Rhee's Town Hall in Philadelphia on September 16th (the day before Diane Ravitch's author event at the Free Library) will be a full scale assault on rank and file teachers in the midst of the crisis in the District.

According to this Politico report "Michelle Rhee invites teachers union reps to new town halls":

"Rhee will have company on her cross-country tour, which includes stops in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Birmingham, Ala.,Steve Perry, who founded and runs the Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Connecticut and former Washington Teachers’ Union President George Parker will both join her at each event.
Also invited — but not yet confirmed: the brass from teachers unions city or state chapters, as well as their rank-and-file membership. An invitation from Parker was sent to those union leaders on Wednesday."

Some background on former Washington DC union president George Parker. I went into his history in my February 24th  article "Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?"

In the section "The Broad Foundation and the unions" I said:

"On June 3, 2010, at their union leader’s urging, the Washington D.C. Teachers Union ratified a contract with the Washington D.C. School District, headed by Chancellor Michelle Rhee, which included performance pay linked to test score growth, and a weakening of seniority and tenure. Union President George Parker called the ratification of the contract “a great day for teachers and students.” On November 10, 2010, Parker was voted out of office by the union rank-and-file. On May 20, 2011, Michelle Rhee announced that Parker was joining her corporate reform organization StudentsFirst. Rhee had resigned as Chancellor of Washington D.C. schools on October 13, 2010, and started StudentsFirst soon after. Rhee’s Deputy Chancellor and chief negotiator of the 2010 teachers’ contract, Kaya Henderson, replaced her. Henderson recently announced the proposed closing of 20 schools due to “under enrollment”."

On Friday, August 23 Randi tweeted this about Diane's author event:
@ParentsUnitedPA @DianeRavitch -i will be there introducing Diane.


National teachers union leader points to St. Louis as model
St. Louis Post- Dispatch - August 14, 2013 
School Standards' Debut Is Rocky, and Critics PounceThe New York Times - August 15, 2013
Teachers at Green Dot Charter Schools OK Merit Pay
(See immediately preceding article.)
Diane Ravitch's blog - July 11, 2012

These are the Philadelphia School District "contract proposals" to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers