Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Demographic Shift of Eva Moskowitz - The Grim (and Almost All White) Faces of Success Academy Parents

A large group of MOREistas joined parents opposing Eva Moskowitz's politically and economically (not educationally) motivated Success Charter expansion into the most expensive real estate in the world, a clear shift from the stated purpose of serving poor kids of color - which from day 1 we never believed. Eva used these kids as cover for her real purposes.

Some speakers were benign towards these obviously wealthy and almost all white parents, saying they understood that they wanted what was best for their kids. I saw it differently. I'm betting that what they see as best for their kids is to not be in classrooms with poorer kids of color. Their smirking at some of the positive comments about how many good public schools there were set me off.

MORE's Mindy Rosier, a teacher at the Mickey Mantle school whose kids Eva wanted out in the street - one of the 3 schools where de Blasio actually stood his groung, posted:
What surprised me the most was the SA parents. It's like they stepped out of the Stepford Wives movie and they pretty much said the same thing. They did not care what was happening to any other parents and kids as long as they were happy. Much to our delight, public school parents later called them out on that.... Mindy Rosier
Here is a video of my speech (I'm working on the others).

I took photos of the Success Academy parents and officials and their camera and sound guys - Why do they all look so grouchy?

Oh the horror

My kid is better than your kid

Grim and more Grim

My kids get gym, your don't - na na na na

A proud lawyer

Anyone named Courtney must be a charter school parent

One of the few I found likeable

Success officials - wishing they were in witness protection program

Do we really need to listen to this? Eva - you owe us a bonus
One of the regular Success cameramen

and the sound guy -
More from Mindy:
Last night's Success Academy's co-location hearing in District 2 & 3 had a huge showing. Found it interesting that even at a hearing you saw clear separation. Most pro charter on the right side of the room an most publi school education warriors and parents on the left. Success Academy had their own film team and we had our ever so faithful Norm Scott filming as well. The hearing took place in the conference room of District 2. Many people spoke from both sides. Members from CEC, MORE, advocates, parents, etc., all gave powerful, passionate speeches!!! Was so proud to be in the room with them. The were no officials from Success Academy there to speak however there were 7 "observers" present. There was one from the Success Academy team that spoke, she is the SA President of Parent Council and claimed that no one has been hiding anything and will answer all questions and after many demanded transparency from SA and a moratorium from SUNY. (Yeah, right!) I took many pics and posted most them to Twitter. (Check out my page for the live Tweeting and pics.)

What surprised me the most was the SA parents. It's like they stepped out of the Stepford Wives movie and they pretty much said the same thing. They did not care what was happening to any other parents and kids as long as they were happy. Much to our delight, public school parents later called them out on that. Most of those SA parents had children with special needs and two of them had ELL's. Hmmmmmmmmm. Those are the two areas that SA gets slammed for and those parents just so happened to be in attendance AND give testimony. Planned much!?!? I spoke to one of those parents after the hearing after she spoke to a few others. This woman claimed to be a labor lawyer. She told me she defends teachers all the time. Some of the things that came out of her mouth really surprised me. About Special Ed Teachers, she felt they are ALL too young and inexperienced and that's why they leave and the kids don't do well in pubic special ed programs. I called her out on that. I have 17yrs experience. Most of the teachers/paras in my school are seasoned. She stumbled. About teacher attrition, she dismissed that saying it doesn't matter. "SA teachers have very long days and work very hard." I replied, "yes they do and they burn out and leave. How is this good for children?" We calmly talked overall for about 10 minutes. She just didn't seem to get it. She only cared about her kid, (I understand parents always wants what's best for their kids,) however she clearly dismissed all of us because it does not fit into her vision of SA. So sad how much tunnel vision there is. I'm sorry, Success Academy CAN be compared to a cult with Moskowitz as their leader.

Appocalypse Soon - DC Watch Debate: Guns and Race

"When government officials distrust their people, they disarm the people to protect themselves from the dangers they fear from them...." - Gary Imhoff, DC Watch
You know I've been thinking along these lines. That with the .01% stealing resources with the ultimate possibility of unrest, the bringing home of the military and the flood of heavy weapons into police departments --- well, draw your own conclusions. There won't be jobs and the social net will be gone. Plus add the upcoming massive impact of climate change - will the powers use the excuse of unrest to decide to thin the herd?

The main problem the super wealthy face is that all these missions to Mars will not make that planet feasible as an escape valve from an uninhabitable earth for quite some time - but maybe their

descendents. They can always build temporary space stations in the sky. Why do you think all these billionaires are starting companies in a race for space while things fall apart down here?

Is this a further rightward drift of my thinking?  Or maybe I am moving further towards anarchism/libertarianism. Maybe I've had too much of a dose of certain leftists, with their tiny little bands of sectarians. Actually, there's almost a coming together of the left - always mistrustful of government and the right - more recently mistrustful of the government. A major difference is that the right sees the government as a liberal conspiracy and the left sees government as a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporations and wealthy.
I've subscribed to Gary Imhoff's DC Watch for years but haven't been paying much attention recently due to the influx of email. This caught my eye this morning. Here are both sides of the issue on arming the populace not against criminals, but against the criminals who control our society.

When Government Distrusts the People

Dear Washingtonians:
When government officials distrust their people, they disarm the people to protect themselves from the dangers they fear from them. My introduction to the last issue of themail caused some controversy for referring to the racial roots of the antigun movement in America, and how this distrust and fear of black Americans continues to motivate the antigun movement today, even in DC.
For a personal story of how the disarming of black Americans was used as a tool of racial repression, I’d recommend Robert F. Williams’ 1962 memoir, Negroes with Guns, that tells the story of his presidency of the Monroe North Carolina, chapter of the NAACP, and how he got a charter from the NRA for a rifle club to train people in self-defense against the KKK. (For those who don’t remember Williams, he later left the US to live in Cuba and China.) For more scholarly studies, try two 2014 books, one by Charles E. Cobb, Jr., a veteran of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible; the other by Nicholas Johnson, a professor at the Fordham University School of Law, Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms.
I’d say that the racial motivation of the antigun movement isn’t buried very deeply. Its rhetoric makes it open and evident. The Second Amendment, we are told, may be all right in rural Wild West places like Montana, but it can’t be abided in urban environments like the District of Columbia, Chicago, or New York, where there is more danger. What makes an urban environment dangerous? The same thing that makes urban music or urban fashion different from middle-American music and fashion. And we all know what that is.
Marc Battle, below, in an eloquent refutation of my thesis, argues that “the proliferation of guns will further exacerbate the already unacceptable level of police aggression in many communities,” and that forbidding guns to the people will therefore make the people safer from the police. But I don’t see how that refutes my point, rather than reinforcing it.
Gary Imhoff


Manage the Proliferation of Guns
Marc Battle

Your comparison [“Council Antics,” themail, September 24] of DC government officials' efforts to legislatively manage the proliferation of guns in DC to "the southern states’ strategy of massive resistance to Constitutionally mandated desegregation" is dead wrong on too many levels to thoroughly discuss here. Your analogy attempts to equate the "plight" of would-be gun owners in DC, including those who want an open carry policy, to African Americans who suffered under centuries of oppressive state-sponsored racism that was enforced by physical and psychological violence. All of this was done to perpetuate a morally repugnant and intellectually dishonest mythology of white supremacy. With this as your contextual premise, your argument is fatally flawed and cannot be taken seriously.
Just as the First Amendment is understood to be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, so too is the Second Amendment. The Bill of Rights has never been interpreted as a recitation of limitless activities. Elected officials have a tough job balancing the rights of gun owners with the understandable concern of citizens who do not want to live in a Wild West society where people walk around armed to the teeth. And in a society where unarmed African Americans are far too often shot by police, one must consider the effect of how the proliferation of guns will further exacerbate the already unacceptable level of police aggression in many communities. Simply put -- there are legitimate reasons for elected officials to limit the presence and use of guns in a community. However, there was never any legitimate reason to subjugate African Americans to racism, discrimination, and violence.
There are many additional issues to debate regarding guns in society. But comparing the tactics of DC officials to those of racist segregationists adds nothing of value to this important discussion.

Monday, September 29, 2014

EIA: Providence Teachers Union Prefers Convicted Felon to Charter School Director

My question to Mike Antonucci is: What exactly is the difference?

Providence Teachers Union Prefers Convicted Felon to Charter School Director
The executive board of the Providence Teachers Union “overwhelmingly” endorsed Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr. for mayor. “Mr. Cianci had a little bit more experience in terms of the city’s schools and had a better understanding of the fundamental needs of the schools as they exist in this point in time,” said PTU president Maribeth Calabro. Cianci also picked up the endorsements of the police and firefighters unions.

MORE Takes a Stand Against Eva Moskowitz at Hearings - Last Monday and Today in Manhattan

Thanks so much to all of you dear sisters and brothers who organized around getting folks out or going to the charter school hearing on Monday. These pics from DNAinfo are worth a thousand words and clearly show who's active and ready in the fight for Public Ed! So proud to wake up and see this today, so proud to stand in solidarity with all of you! 
A gaggle of 9 MOREistas attended the hearing last

Monday in Brooklyn as Eva intends to invade more gentrified areas in Districts 13, 14, and 15. The CEC presidents of all these districts, joined by District 23, are working together to address the charter problem. Noted Connecticut charter scoundrel Steve Perry, strangely, attended the hearing but left when MORE's Gloria Brandman did her "Eva the witch" impersonation.
MORE's Pat Dobosz with CEC14 Tesa Wilson behind her

Most of us spoke and the community people were very happy we were there to support them. Here's the full video with all of the speeches, followed by the announcement of today's hearing on 7th Ave in Manhattan.

See news story at http://dnain.fo/1xhTsyY

Charter Hearings Monday 9/29

MORE Caucus


PLEASE join us tomorrow today.
333 7th ave, 7th floor Conference Room NYC
A public hearing is being held to solicit comments regarding a new charter school application. Success Academy proposes to open 14 new charter schools in various 
Community School Districts (CSDs) in New York City.

Success Academy Charter School NYC 1 & 2 have expressed interest in opening in CSDs 2 & 3. 

Speaker Registration: 5:30pm
Hearing starts at 6:00pm

Stand with public school parents,
students and teachers!

Once again we are here to Say NO to the displacement of public schools by charter schools.


*Public schools with limited financial support, forced to compete against charter schools with
ample funds for the newest resources
*Overcrowding as schools deal with fewer rooms
*Competition between schools for access to the school's libraries, gyms, auditoriums, and cafeterias
*Parents pitted against parents in the same neighborhoods due to inequitable funding between charters and the district public schools.
*Increased importance of high-stakes tests to determine the future of students and teachers
*The excessing of quality teachers into the ATR pool of rotating teachers, as fewer rooms mean
fewer classroom teachers
+Separate and unequal Schooling for our students!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NYCFIRST LEGO League Kickoff - Photos

I had a great time yesterday at NYU/Poly on Jay Street at our annual FLL kickoff. We have about 170 NYC teams registered so far for the Challenge which is called World Class, all about learning. Kids not only build a robot for the game field - below - represent different styles of learning - but also do and present an extensive research project on the subject.

Teams spend  the next 3 months prepping. Borough qualifiers take place in January. Finalists go to citywide event at Javits on the weekend of March 14. The winner of that may be eligible to go to international event in St. Louis in late April.

I've been working with NYCFIRST since practically the day I retired - actually from that first day in Sept. 2002.

The amazing Rich Wong - engineer and teacher extraordinaire

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Secret to Eva Moskowitz’s ‘Success’

Another curious fact about Success Academy is the attrition of both students and teachers. For schools that are widely acclaimed, this is surprising indeed. Why do so many students and teachers leave?... What we can learn from Success Academy is that it is possible to winnow out the most intractable students and be left with the best and most compliant ones by selective attrition. But that is no model for public education....The Nation
MORE people spoke at Monday night's charter school hearings - and I particularly pointed out that this was the plan from Day 1 - to use Success as a battering ram to undermine and ultimately destroy the public school system and the unionized teachers. And it has been working, due in part to the lack of resistance (other than backstage) by the UFT. If the UFT wanted to close down the Brooklyn Bridge with a mass demonstration it could do so - there is enough anti-Eva sentiment amongst UFT members.

Eva Moskowitz (Photo courtesy of House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats, CC 2.0)
This article is adapted from the author’s blog, DianeRavitch.net.
The media have long been in search of a ”miracle” school, a school that can succeed in turning poor children of color into academic superstars. Of course, there already are poor children of color who are academic superstars, but they’re the exception, not the rule (the same is true for poor white children). The defining characteristic of low test scores is poverty, not color. The titans of our society are especially interested in the pursuit of miracle schools because finding them would relieve those with high incomes of any obligation to alleviate the poverty that interferes with academic achievement.
Today we have that very school—or chain of schools—in New York City: Success Academy. It was declared a success almost from the day it opened, back in 2006, as Harlem Success Academy. Founded by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz and backed by a team of Wall Street financiers, Success Academy schools have delivered spectacular results on state tests. While everyone else lagged behind on the new Common Core tests, Moskowitz’s schools did well.
Success Academy schools have been consistently delivering high test performances for several years. And that record has not gone unnoticed. Madeleine Sackler, daughter of Connecticut multimillionaire Jonathan Sackler, made a film about Moskowitz and her charter schools in 2010 called The Lottery, which portrayed them as miraculous institutions holding the key to families’ hopes and dreams. The much-hyped documentary Waiting for Superman also featured Moskowitz’s celebrated lottery. Just recently, The New York Times Magazine published a fawning article about her, seeming to position Moskowitz as a future mayoral candidate.
What are the secrets of Eva’s success? To begin with, there’s the lottery itself. As the Times reported in 2010, Moskowitz spent as much as $325,000 to market her charter schools in Harlem, while the neighborhood public schools could afford no more than $500 to advertise their offerings. The goal of Moskowitz’s marketing was to build her brand and generate excitement about the lottery. This gave her schools an aura of prestige, with the lucky winners clutching their tickets. But the very fact of a lottery is a screening device, since the least functional families—i.e., those who are homeless—are too busy trying to survive to enter it.
Moskowitz often says that she enrolls exactly the same types of children as the public schools, but this is not true. Success Academy has very few of the students with the most severe disabilities (in some of its schools, the number is zero). In Harlem’s public elementary schools, by contrast, the average proportion of such children is 14.1 percent. Also, Success Academy has half as many English-language learners as the neighboring public schools. Whether this is the result of a screening process at the outset or because these children have been “counseled out” is unclear; what is undeniable is that Success Academy has significantly fewer of the children with the highest needs.
Another curious fact about Success Academy is the attrition of both students and teachers. For schools that are widely acclaimed, this is surprising indeed. Why do so many students and teachers leave?
The only Success Academy school that offers grades three through eight (the testing grades) tested 116 third graders but only thirty-two eighth graders. Three other Success Academy schools have expanded to sixth grade. One tested 121 third graders but only fifty-five sixth graders; another, 106 third graders but only sixty-eight sixth graders; and the last, eighty-three third graders but only fifty-four sixth graders. Why the shrinking student body? When students leave these schools (for whatever reason), they are not replaced by other incoming students. In public schools, students also leave, but they are usually replaced by new students. Of the thirty-two eighth graders to finish at Success Academy, twenty-seven took the competitive exam to enter one of New York City’s prestigious specialized high schools. Despite their excellent scores on the state test, not one of these students gained admission to a specialized school like Stuyvesant or Bronx Science.
Teacher attrition at the Success Academy charter schools has also been unusually high. Journalist Helen Zelon wrote in the magazine City Limits that in Harlem Success Academies 1 through 4, “more than half of all teachers left the schools ahead of the 2013–14 school year. In one school, three out of four teachers departed.” On a website called Glassdoor, many former teachers expressed their candid views about the “oppressive” work climate at Success Academy schools.
Also, as the result of “co-locating” a charter school in a public-school building, the educational climate comes to feel very separate and unequal. The Success Academy children get spiffy new facilities and the latest technology, while typically the host public school loses space, such as its computer room, music room, art room, science lab or even its library. In PS 149, a school for special-needs children lost all of these things and will lose even more space now that Success Academy’s request to expand has been granted. Last spring, following a public battle between Moskowitz and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the State Legislature required the city to give charter schools whatever space they requested and to pay their rent if they needed private space as well.
So even though Moskowitz can raise millions of dollars in a single night; and even though she is paid more than $500,000 a year to supervise her schools; and even though Success Academy has a private board well populated by hedge-fund managers, Moskowitz’s charter schools do not have to pay rent to use public space.
The fundamental question is this: Are charter schools like Success Academy a model for public education? The answer is: they are not. If public schools were able to exclude, one way or another, English-language learners and students with severe disabilities, the schools would have higher scores. But they cannot do this because, with the exception of a small number of exam schools, public schools are required to accept all students, regardless of their language skills, learning disabilities or test scores. If public schools could refuse to accept new enrollees after a certain grade, they could “build a culture,” as Success Academy’s fans say it does. But public schools must take all enrollees, even those who show up mid-year.
What we can learn from Success Academy is that it is possible to winnow out the most intractable students and be left with the best and most compliant ones by selective attrition. But that is no model for public education.

NYC Teacher Steve Ryan's Play - A Beautiful Mourning - At Manhattan Rep Theatre Oct. 16, 17

The boy can act, sing dance - and now we learn Steve Ryan, a teacher at Leon Goldstein HS in Brooklyn, a colleague and pal of Kit Wainer and Mike Schirtzer (and a MORE supporter) can also write. His play will be featured at Manhattan Rep for 2 days next month.

Steve is also appearing this weekend (tonight, tomorrow and Sunday matinee) in Godspell at the RTC. One of the fun things is when Steve's students come out to see him perform - their reactions to their teacher doing all kinds of shtick is often very funny.

Steve sent along this message:
Read the bottom of the flyer if you want to reserve for "series A"   It is a 50 seat theater.  Tell him what show you are reserving for.  Both nights start at 6:30pm.  Get there early because they start promptly. Hope you can come! 

Updated: Kathleen Elvin and AP Emily Creveling Use Terror Tactics to Intimidate

Corrected and Updated
These comments on our earlier post (John Dewey Principal Kathleen Elvin Discontinues Iraq War Vet and Mother) provides some more detail on the reasons behind the discontinued Iraq war vet and mom. Are Elvin and Creveling the local version of ISIS, using this teacher as a hostage in retaliation for actions taken by the union - beheading the teacher, economically, by taking her job.
The actions of Principal Elvin, along with Emily Crevling, the Assistant Principal of the English Department in John Dewey High School, regarding the termination of a untenured teacher, who was teaching a mere 4 months, should be viewed as nothing less than malfeasance. The teacher was hard-working, followed school policies, and the students attended her class because she established a rapport with them. Her only misstep was voicing a difference of opinion and questioned Ms. Crevling on a particular matter. I suppose this teacher would have needed more than 4 months to realize that in John Dewey High School one never questions Kathleen Elvin or her puppet assistant principals. This teacher, had she been given the opportunity to continue to teach in John Dewey, would have quickly learned that Principal Elvin prides herself on running a tight ship. So tight, that staff is not allowed to disagree with her or else she will find a way to retaliate. So tight, that she has managed to bring on [the blog post] John Dewey Principal Kathleen Elvin Discontinues Iraq War Vet and Mother

This is just the latest disgusting act of this power-mad, vengeful, menacing, and roundly-hated "Closer" Principal, who I have sent out diatribes about many times, to no avail. Elvin has not only gone after teachers who she takes a dislike to, like this one, for no explicable reason, but has decimated entire Dept's. since her arrival 3 years ago: there are at least 5 tenured teachers who are internally " rubber-roomed" through 30-20a terminations, and many others, including myself, who were forced out, through retirement as in my case, or by transferring to a less dangerous school administration. Now, I heard that she changed the locks on all the teacher' s lounges, just for sheer spite, and staff are left to eat/ get down-time in their own classrms (not very private!), or their cars!!! She has used sycophantic and spineless and heartless and careerist dept supervisors like Creveling, as well as her emasculated APO Messenger, who was an ATR up til last school year, to terrorize and destroy those on her Blacklist ( which includes other supervisors,paras, aides, as well as teachers ), and she has ruined a great school with paranoia, divisiveness, and a mania to " know everything"....a Stalinesque horror show. She must be curbed, and exposed for the true crimes she goes on committing against hardworking staff , who are virtual prisoners.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

John Dewey Principal Kathleen Elvin Discontinues Iraq War Vet and Mother

 “We’re sorry you won’t have health insurance for your child and thank you for serving your country. You’re fired!” 

• Single Mother
• Iraq War Veteran
• Teaching for Only Four Months

This is who Elvin and the AP of English wanted to terminate this past June. Termination would have meant that she could no longer teach in any New York City Public School. She dared to have her own ideas. She dared to want a voice. So charges based on nothing of any real consequence were brought against her. In fact, most of us believe they were trumped up.....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "No Change of Tone at John Dewey HS: Principal Kat...":
I've known about this case since the Discontinue at the end of June. Every teacher who came into contact with this woman praised her and people would have been shocked she was Discontinued and had her license lifted so she could no longer teach in the DOE - except they know the vicious retaliatory principal, Catherine Elvin, plays games with people's lives for political reasons. The story I heard was that this teacher, given some bullshit idiocy to do asked why and what was the point. Enough! You dare to ask a question? End of job. End of career.

I heard the teacher's former commanding officer spoke up for her for the appeal - which are pretty much useless with people who are associated with the principal making the decision.

My suggestion was for the teacher to show up at a PEP in full military uniform with her child and confront Farina and the panelists - along with teachers testifying in her behalf.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roots of the UFT: Max Shachtman, Al Shanker Mentor

Vera Pavone and I wrote a review of the Shanker bio in New Politics: Albert Shanker: Ruthless Neo-Con | New Politics which delved into the roots of Shankerism which still dominates the UFT today.

It is important for people to know how the UFT/Unity party was born out of Trotskyism and the the firmament of left-wing politics, then morphing into socialism and then into vicious anti-left right wing social democracy with Max Shachtman as a leading light - the Social Democrats USA (SDUSA) of which most of the union leadership were members of, including Al Shanker and his successor Sandy Feldman. As for Randi and Mulgrew, with the end of the cold war, it is not exactly clear if the party still exists and if it does what their relationship to it might be. Leo Casey ideologically seems to be tied to the politics of SDUSA but I don't pay all that attention. Many years ago when I was in the early stages of Ed Notes and not blatantly anti-Unity, Leo and I were in touch for a while and he was sending my comments on my commentary. Now that we are no longer at war, the next time I see him I may ask him some questions from his view for some balance with the views of my friends on the left. I'm sure my discussion here is fairly shallow. (At this time I see myself as a left-wing social democrat, which is as far right as I want to drift.)

So for those who wonder why the UFT/AFT take positions far beyond teaching, there are roots in anti-communist social democracy. Shanker learned his lessons so well at the feet of Shachtman that the leading ideologues in the UFT feel they must control every aspect of the organization not only as a power play - like what would it mean if real opposition caucuses gained a few seats -- but as a way to keep left ideology and terminology out of official bodies. Other than to use certain leftists to their advantage in order to paint the opposition as a far out left.

Shanker used the UFT as an instrument of his political ideology nationally and internationally. (See George Schmidt - The American Federation of Teachers and the CIA which Vera retyped and we published for George.

A social democratic party, as do most leftist parties, take wide-ranging positions. I find the fault lines emerge when these parties push their ideologies in the mass organizations they either control outright (Unity Caucus and the UFT) or in organizations they participate in -- like MORE and New Action, for example. And always not in the most forthright manner, which often leads to internal splits. I'll review the history of these splits and realignments in the opposition over the past 50 years in a future post - I was part of the MORE summer series this past summer when we ran an event on this topic - there is video available.

You know the old joke - put 2 Trotsyists in a room and you get 3 groups. Splitting is endemic to the nature of these parties and that is why you end up with a tower of babel on the left. But more on this in future posts where I'll delve more into the history of the groups presently involved in the UFT.
From Wikipedia, Max Shachtman (/ˈʃɑːktmən/; September 10, 1904 – November 4, 1972) was an American Marxist theorist. He evolved from being an associate of Leon Trotsky to a social democrat and mentor of senior assistants to AFL-CIO President George Meany.

Individuals influenced by Shachtman's organisations have shared his opposition to Stalinism. A number of political organizations have emerged from the Trotskyist movement which have considered themselves to be Marxist. This broad tendency is described as "Left Shachtmanism", but does not include followers of Tony Cliff such as the International Socialist Tendency[23] as Cliff himself was greatly critical of Shachtman's entire political life and theoretical work.[24]
Glotzer argues that Shachtman's theory of bureaucratic collectivism has also informed unorthodox approaches within Marxism towards the class nature of the Eastern Bloc.
A number of Shachtman's former followers became leading figures in the neo-conservative movement.[25]
Inevitably, there are UFT members to the right of the UFT leadership and we see some of that playing out today over the Garner march. But again, I'll do some political analysis in the future.

Shachtman's wife was Shanker's assistant.

Yetta Barsh Shachtman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yetta Barsh Shachtman (1925-1996), American socialist politician, married to Max Shachtman, a Marxist theorist. She wrote most of Albert Shanker's weekly ...
And see my post on Norms Notes with an article by Lois Weiner:


Oct 11, 2007 - After Albert Shanker's death in February 1997, the numerous .... The intellectual mentor of this group, Max Shachtman, was well known in ...
And I came across a piece by our own Kit Wainer and Marian Swerdlow that no longer seems to be available.

Yetta Barsh on Shachtman - Marxists Internet Archive

Marxists Internet Archive
Aug 18, 2013 - Max Shachtman Collection, Tamiment Institute/Ben Josephson Library.
Albert Shanker, Image and Reality (Obit by Marian Swerdlow and Kit Adam Wainer)

Where Are the People of Color in the Movement?

....there aren't enough people of color in this picture... Jersey Jazzman raised this issue on his blog after a meeting of Jersey bloggers.

I left this comment:
JJ - you make a point that I've been hearing here in NYC in all the various white dominated activist groups. It always seems to come down to something we're doing wrong - we're not sensitive enough. People of color feel uncomfortable in a room full of white people. Our message needs to be targeted at people of color - and this is a divide even amongst the left - that tailoring the message will make a difference. That somehow people of color want a tailored message rather than addressing broader issues that affect all teachers. So where are they? Somehow that is not being explored. In NYC over 40% of the teachers are not white. They work side by side with the activists. Has anyone bothered to actually ask them? Do they bear any responsibility for their non-activism in ed circles? Are they active on other areas?
JJ raises a question that has often come up at MORE, and before that GEM, meetings. In fact that is an issue that has created somewhat of a divide in MORE, especially between the Race at the Top people and the people, mostly from ICE - who are older and out of the 60s and 70s civil rights and school race struggle (1968 strike) and who view things more in terms of class than race. In fact, it was Camille Eterno, who is from Jamaica, made what many of us thought was the most important political statement at a recent MORE meeting --- connecting class to race. It went over the heads of too many people who are locked in a narrow straight jacket of race-based ideology.

You know when I ask people what do the people of color they work with think or have they surveyed them I often get a blank stare. Oh, well.

One of the big issues on the agenda at that MORE meeting was the position MORE took on the Garner march where people were holding MORE's feet to the fire for not being more supportive of the march. Given that over 40% of NYC teachers are people of color, I have asked how in a march that drew only 3000 people, the fact that the overwhelming majority did not feel so impelled to make a statement to attend? If that march was a seminal moment why weren't there 300,000 people there like a climate march? How about 30,000? In essence, most UFTers of color did not feel it absolutely crucial to attend. But loads of white people I know did. Some call this white guilt. Or a moral imperative to make a statement. I'm not always clear but those not willing to make this statement are branded as racially insensitive, as was a portion of MORE.

I have been told in the past when I raise points about race that I should take racial sensitivity training and I understand. I get that -- my level of racial sensitivity has definitely been raised through contact with people like Sally Lee of Teachers Unite, who really gets it and I find myself lining up with her on race issues. Maybe I'm not there yet -- but...

You know, I did actually teach all kids of color for 30 years, had contact with their parents and was active in the community struggles in the 70s. So I'm not a total racial klutz (I was called a n_gg_r lover by a white cop and oh some of my white colleagues at school were often horrified at my views).

My answer to the question of "where are the people of color in the UFT" is "Unity Caucus." To Randi's credit she did the most to create diversity in Unity - and even at our moments of rancor I complimented her on that. Go to a convention or a DA and Unity is quite diverse. And it's funny how some of the anti-Unity folk who are most racially sensitive often respond with, "they do it for the perks." Pretty racially insensitive itself -- I feel many people of color are proud to be in Unity because it offered them an opportunity for leadership and influence. I believe Mulgrew's support for the march was in part influenced by his own constituency.

Hey, maybe Unity is the social justice caucus of the UFT if you measure by diversity -- and I bet a white group like MORE posturing on race leaves many of them rolling on the floor with laughter.

Which is interesting - both Unity/UFT and MORE have come under attack for being too social justicy. That would be like Israel and Iran/Hezbollah working together to go after ISIS. Not that I'm comparing the right wing critics in the UFT to ISIS.

More from Jersey Jazzman

The Hidden Voices of New Jersey's Teachers of Color
I know some of the people in this picture very well; others I met for the first time. So I won't claim to know how everyone here identifies themselves, but I do think it's fair to say that there aren't enough people of color in this picture.
Now, I want to be completely fair. There were, in fact, people of color at this event: Sean Spiller, Secretary-Treasurer of NJEA, was present for the entire thing (even if he let us do all the talking). Eskelsen Garcia herself identifies as a Hispanic. But let's be honest: this group needed some more diversity.
Part of "unpacking your privilege" is admitting you're a human being and sometimes you screw up, even if you think your intentions are good. So I appreciate people bringing this up; I will do better in the future.
JJ hits a key point in the racial sensitivity issue but the unpacking white privilege point becomes a major dividing point. The work of MORE's Sean Ahern, who is white, in organizing the Teacher Diversity Committee has been bringing in teachers of color.
JJ continues:
I don't always agree with NJEA on everything, but I have found them to be a good group of people who genuinely care about their members, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed. But they still have some work to do (as do we all), and part of that work is making a more concerted effort to bring teachers of color to the table for events like this.
I'll confess: I would love to see some more New Jersey teachers of color take up blogging. Facebook and Twitter are great as tools for organizing and disseminating information, but I don't think they match blogging as a forum for fully exploring important issues. If we want to get the "voice" of teachers into the conversation, blogging is hard to beat.
And we desperately need that voice of teachers of color right now. As much as I've written about how teachers in Newark and Paterson and Camden are taking in on the chin, I don't live it. I can't give the full story because I'm not there. I can do my graphs and charts and whatever, but I can't tell you what it's like to be working in these classrooms. 
This is a place where I believe the NEA and other teachers unions can help: we have to start creating safe spaces for teachers to express themselves without fear of reprisal on their jobs

But no one is going to speak out if they don't think they will be heard. And you can't be heard if you're not present. So let's amplify the voices of teachers of color, whether they blog or not. And let's make sure their voices are heard first on issues of race and urban education.
Because right now, those are the voices we need to hear the most.
- See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/#sthash.Fv9FAklM.dpuf
The final points JJ makes are what we are hearing from some people in MORE - using pretty much the same language. Creating safe spaces for people of color -- in essence that puts the onus on all of us. NYCORE focuses on this very aggressively. The problem people raise in MORE is that as a caucus supposedly engaging in a struggle for union power, making this your primary message, in a UFT with 60% white teachers, will only attract a small number of activists - mostly white while also leaving many people of color scratching their heads - some MOREistas say the people they work with are actually turned off by such a constant drum coming from a mostly white group.

And where are the black education based teacher groups which if they existed we could open dialogues and build alliances?

And do we ever  hold educators of color accountable for their absence while placing the blame on something white people are doing - or not doing?

Oh, my hair is beginning to hurt from all this thinking -- whatever I still have left.

Teachers and Police

After the roiling of the waters between the PBA and the UFT I've started writing a series of articles for my column in The Wave on teachers and police. Here are the first two.
School Scope: Teachers and Cops
By Norm Scott
Published in The Wave, Sept. 5, 2014

Welcome to the new school year to teacher and parent School Scope readers. For those involved in schools, the new year really begins in September. (Those Jews were really onto something.) Thanks to the Wave for continuing to feel education matters enough to continue offering the space. Rockaway isn’t all about surfing and ferries and de Blasio bashing. While I’m not his biggest fan, I imagine more people in Rockaway are impacted by his new and enormously high cost pre-k program that will offer daycare and education for their children at no cost than the loss of the ferry. Reading the Rockaway press, one would never know – though the Wave did do a story on pre-k recently. I better stop going on about the ferry because my wife loves the ferry and since I don’t cook I don’t want to starve.

What I really want to talk about is the situation between the police and teacher unions and the relationship between rank and file teachers and police. We all know about the situations in Staten Island and in Ferguson Missouri and the Al Sharpton led march in Staten Island, which UFT President Michael Mulgrew supported and was slammed by PBA president Patrick Lynch. There was and continues to be much turmoil inside the UFT, with some teachers starting school wearing tee-shirts as a response to the UFT participation in the protests by wearing "UFT for NYPD" t-shirts with the logo, “New York’s Brightest Supports New York’s Finest: Thank you #NYPD.” There are also large groups of teachers who are outraged when they hear this and want to wear counter tee-shirts like “Copwatch.” And then there’s the Al Sharpton issue.

Oy! And you think I can sort all of this out in 800 words? Mark Healey would have to give me an entire issue of the Wave. Well, I have to head off for Anita Ruderman’s Hot Yoga class, which will clear my head so I can deal with this issue in a rational manner. Look for a series of follow-up articles. As usual you can find my daily diatribes on ednotesonline.org.

Teachers and Cops
By Norm Scott
Published in The Wave, Sept. 19, 2014

A few weeks ago I started writing in this space about the sometimes delicate but often interesting relationship between the teacher and police union, brought to a head by the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island and the Al Sharpton lead march which was supported by UFT President Michael Mulgrew who was trashed by PBA head Patrick Lynch. Lynch made a pointed reference to what he termed Mulgrew’s “defense of bad teachers” and how would he feel if the PBA supported efforts to go after these teachers. First of all, unlike the PBA which will defend any cop anytime under all circumstances, the UFT often abandons teachers in trouble even when there is flimsy or no evidence against them. I’ve seen 30 year teachers with perfect records chopped to bits over one alleged transgression, at times arrested by the very members of Lynch’s union. At no point have I ever heard Lynch make a peep about this situation or offer any support to teachers and the UFT. Maybe behind the scenes he had conversations with his members – hey, give our fellow unionists a break when called into a situation – like use your judgment and act accordingly bases on your assessment of the situation.

Somehow I don’t think this happened. So when Lynch went ballistic on Mulgrew I sort of rolled my eyes. I personally did not support the march because of Sharpton’s leadership and because the entire concept of a march for social justice is more to make the participants feel good than to accomplish much. I do believe in due process for police officers, just as I strongly fight for due process for teachers – that is called tenure. I wish the PBA had taken a stand for us all these years that teachers have been under assault.

Next time I’ll talk about the record of the cop who applied the choke hold, tell some stories of 2 African-American teachers accused by children of “hitting” them and how different police officers reacted when called to the school.

Norm blogs at ednotesonline.org

Monday, September 22, 2014

Comment from Roseanne McCosh a rank and file MORE and long-time Ed Notes supporter

A caucus that hopes to break free of Unity's control of our union will never get the support it needs from members when distractions such as the Sharpton march or whether or not to wear blue and support NYPD divide us. My colleagues range from left leaning liberals to right wing conservatives with most of us in the middle. We disagree on various political issues of the day but we are pretty much united in our disgust with the DOE and Mulgrew's UFT. That is the only issue that will unite us. ... Roseanne McCosh, PS 8X
Roseanne basically defines the divide in MORE- those who aim for a center/left caucus that appeals to people like Roseanne AND social justice people who won't put MORE in an ideological straight jacket. I am as social justicy as anyone but also a strong school worker advocate and a realist.

Much of what Portelos is about is himself with a lot of bullshit tossed in - his is a self-defined caucus and we know how one person rule ends up -- easy to do at first but when one voice dominates it doesn't attract activists and when it does the big voice in the room feels threatened and pushes them out -- but he is smart enough to define a cogent message and for that reason I joined his new caucus while remaining with MORE and ICE, which is looking for new ways to be active. MORE does not have the "advantage" of one man (75% of teachers are women) rule so it gets real messy - fast. My struggle in MORE and ICE and the UFT - and maybe Solidarity - is for democracy - because that is the only system that truly represents people's interests. Portelos had no patience for that system and working with others and grew frustrated - like I often am - over not getting things done. He can do that now - but at what expense? I'll stick with the mess.

Roseanne had her school in the Bronx mobilized for MORE in the 2013 elections and in the contract battle. Is MORE interested in people like Roseanne and the people she works with? If we don't reach the Roseanne's MORE is not a movement of rank and file but MOLE - Movement of Left Educators - which seems OK with people - apparently there is a determination by part of the left faction in MORE that more and more people are left and that is the fertile ground for MORE to troll in. OK. Try it.

Check the outcomes in terms of members, activists and votes in a UFT election over the next year and a half - and no excuses. The people pushing MORE in this direction must be held accountable for outcomes. I'm in this for 43 years and I know how these movies end. But I'm patient.

There is a counter view in MORE that a narrowly focused message is not the way to go. Portelos didn't have the patience I do to work things like this out - he can come see me in the nursing home when he's 69 years old and we'll chat about it. Portelos has his good points but frankly I saw too much at his hearings and know too much to say I can still give him unquestioned support.

I am going to be very forthright on Ed Notes and report things as I see them even of I have to be critical of MORE, ICE and whoever and whatever.

Roseanne's full comment on NYC Educator blog in a post written by co-blogger Arwin.

Note how she is critical of both sides - those who support police and those who marched.
I have not fought the fight as hard as some of you. I certainly have not been targeted and suffered as many of you have at the hands of treacherous administrators. So I humbly offer my opinion based on what the teachers in my school talk about... Teachers want a union that doesn't preoccupy itself with causes that do not directly affect their working conditions. These preoccupations includes marches for social justice and charity runs for breast cancer. There are many worthy causes out there but we feel we are at war and the focus should always be on us. A caucus that hopes to break free of Unity's control of our union will never get the support it needs from members when distractions such as the Sharpton march or whether or not to wear blue and support NYPD divide us. My colleagues range from left leaning liberals to right wing conservatives with most of us in the middle. We disagree on various political issues of the day but we are pretty much united in our disgust with the DOE and Mulgrew's UFT. That is the only issue that will unite us. Anything else put before us results in eye rolling or disinterest. MORE should not concern itself itself with Portelos' actions and the idea of UNITY dancing in the streets. MORE and any other caucus that hopes to gain momentum with the members on the front lines needs to fight the battles that affect those on the front line. Those battles and nothing else. At this point in my career I am readying for retirement. I have no agenda other than to speak the truth as I see it and get the hell out of this system as soon as I turn 55. It would be a sweet send off for me to see some group of union members unite us with an agenda/philosophy that is only about us. We can't save the world until we save ourselves. Perhaps Portelos is an arrogant, hot-head who isn't the best person to attempt this but he's the only one out there trying. But as a fellow arrogant, hot-head, I offer him my sympathy and good wishes. MORE too has my good wishes but Portleos has a point that I deem valid. Roseanne McCosh

I Didn't March Anymore on Climate But Did Pick up and Plant a Fig Tree

I really was going to go to the climate march even though I wrote- Another March and Why I Ain't Marchin' Anymore - U...

I did include the caveat that I would march if I could get a beer at a bar afterwards. And lo and behold I received an offer from 2 lovely young ladies that if I marched they would buy me a beer. So I was in. Until my wife reminded me I was scheduled to pick up a fig tree at 10AM in the Rockaway tree give-away program. (The lovely young ladies buying me a beer had nothing to do with her reminder.)

I was told the trees would be 4-8 ft and possibly up to 40 pounds, so STRONG MAN needed - my wife claimed. But it was just a little guy. Can you see it by the fence? Even has a little fig growing- which the bastard squirrel will probably get before I do as it has been doing to the fig tree in front of my house.

The program is run by people active in the climate change movement and the lady told us we were fighting climate change by planting a tree - and that we should do so when we got it home as it had been in the pot for a long time. And so I did -- and also mowed the lawn.

I'm wearing my SOS Washington 2011 tee
Luckily I received this photo from a 1st grade teacher who went to the march with her class and their parents. Don't tell people in certain teacher only groups that have banned the word "children". A teacher with her kids on a Sunday? And no per session pay?  Horrors.

Disillusioned Parent Pulled Daughter from Girls Prep Charter - another hedge funded scam

.....because of their personal guilt over what minorities must endure in order to make it in life in their twisted, unfair system, they think they can go into 'the hood' and save the little poor children. Much often, they alienate themselves from the community and establish schools that fence themselves off from the community, thinking that parents are too poor, uneducated, or tired to deal with their children's progress at school. .....I mentioned "corporal punishment" and they dismissed it as "enforced exercise". ... My daughter and her peers were being "emotionally abused" at the hands of this administration....Girls cannot burp, sneeze, cough, feel sick or lean against their chairs because they will be punished by taking points away (merit system). Girls cannot raise their hands to ask questions - they have special hand signals for bathroom, water, pencil, one on one, tissue, etc.). From the beginning the girls have been put in numbers (like a jail system) and must travel that way or get penalized.--My daughter's education for the last two years was non-existent..... former Girls Prep parent
This was sent to me in Feb. 2012 and I found it in my draft folder. Since I did a piece on Girls Prep charter the other day (picked up by Chalkbeat) where they threatened parents who picked up their kids late that they would drop the kid off at the local precinct and call ACS. So much crap about this charter has been coming in over the last 24 hours I can do a month-long series.
Hi there: My name is ------- and I just saw your video. WOW! I totally agree with you, but there is one thing the public needs to know about the Charter Schools that nobody seems to be addressing at these hearings and it is very important:

I will start by introducing myself. My name is ------ and I am the mother of a wonderful 6th grader, who ATTENDED Girls Prep for 7 years, since the very first day it opened its doors until December 22, 2011. I had to pull my daughter out of that school as it had transformed itself into a "boot camp" with children being trained to be robots. The elementary school has not been affected with this plague, yet.

My daughter and her peers were being "emotionally abused" at the hands of this administration. The principal is a liar who labeled, and in writing (in the girls records) classified almost an entire classroom as "bullies", my daughter being one of them. Bullying is a very serious accusation with many consequences. If my daughter is labeled as a bully just because the principal feels she could do this (no accountability) and I saw the proof, in writing along with some other parents that does not even constitute the "notion" of bullying then my daughter's future is at stake. What if someone asks to see her records? I had voiced this and all they said "it is for GP eyes only" - I don't care, it shouldn't be there. The principal and administration want the girls to feel, and be seen as these horrific kids.

Girls cannot burp, sneeze, cough, feel sick or lean against their chairs because they will be punished by taking points away (merit system). Girls cannot raise their hands to ask questions - they have special hand signals for bathroom, water, pencil, one on one, tissue, etc.). From the beginning the girls have been put in numbers (like a jail system) and must travel that way or get penalized. In the beginning of the year I spoke up about the girls constantly being threatened and made to go up and down the stairs as punishment, carrying all their books with them as they were not given a few minutes to go to their lockers to swap books all day long. I mentioned "corporal punishment" and they dismissed it as "enforced exercise". I fought for this school, tooth and nail, when they were trying to find a home as I BELIEVED that they had my kids best interest at heart; that they would deliver on the elite education in a nurturing environment that was promised, but no they didn't. My daughter's education for the last two years was non-existent. My girl has never done an ESSAY, BOOK REPORT or any other WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT that I remember doing when I was in school and if they did, the teachers never checked/corrected any spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors....to them, it was more important that they see "what they are thinking". In the real society, nobody is going to care what they they if they can't spell correctly, or don't know how to use the grammar and punctuations correctly.
> The teachers are mean and scream in the girls faces, and in my daughter's case were told by the teachers that they "don't care". I have many stories but you can get an idea by reading this article of what goes on: (pay close attention to the comment #5 - I am so sure this was done by a staff member, but in either case it was done from their view - how dare they perceive us like that). http://eastvillage.thelocal.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/amid-headlock-allegations-parents-complain-about-disciplining-at-girls-prep/
> Have you seen the parent reviews: http://www.greatschools.org/school/parentReviews.page?id=8287&state=NY The big kicker is that Eva Moskowitz's husband, Eric Gannis is on the board at GP. This school is spiraling down and out of control. Use it as an example as to what happens when the kids get to middle school, the voices of the parents and students are non-existent. I would not want to subject any kids to this - it is clearly emotional abuse (you should hear the stories). A teacher had already left the school by mid-October, 5 or 6 students had left by the beginning of October and 3 or 4 more pulled out on Dec. 22, 2011. Many of the girls are not allowed to use the bathroom and have had "accidents" in the classroom. They've gone as far as suspending students who scurry out of the classroom because they just cannot hold it anymore while the teacher makes them wait purposely or ignores them. They do not want to soil themselves, out of sheer embarrassment. Parents are not notified when the kids have in-school suspension, and on many occassions haven't been notified when incidents occur within school walls. Incidents that occur are covered up, denied at school meetings, and parents are told it "never occurred". They do this to make the child/parent look wrong, so they can save their own a--.
The list goes on and on, and MANY parents are NOT coming back next year. At one point I whole-heartedly supported charter schools, excited about their new ideas and innovations. Yet, I have been let down. I do not support the disrespect and mistreatment towards our children, and the alienation of all parents. Charter schools are supposed to be unique, "innovators", a different approach towards education. Those qualities went out the window after charter schools started taking on such harsh punishment, and even weaker academics. For some reason, because of their personal guilt over what minorities must endure in order to make it in life in their twisted, unfair system, they think they can go into 'the hood' and save the little poor children. Much often, they alienate themselves from the community and establish schools that fence themselves off from the community, thinking that parents are too poor, uneducated, or tired to deal with their children's progress at school. The 'ambitious' staff works around the clock in order to reform and act like The Saviour. Somewhere, there are good schools in which children can learn and have fun simultaneously. I do believe that there is a way to teach the wild child. I don't like the way some charter school children are treated because adults with power want more power, praise, and money for turning things around. It doesn't seem to be about the children. They gave power to the wrong people. If this could help in your battle to stop these "monsters", please feel free to reach out to me at ------ so we can discuss. I hope that we can stop all these charter schools that are spreading like wild fires, because it has become clearly proven to us that our needs are not their concern. In fact, charter schools have got it twisted...forgetting that they NEED US more than we need them.