Saturday, February 28, 2015

UFT Closes Charter: UFT Charter Created Wrecked Co-Located Public Schools in its Wake

We won't even get into the millions of dollars from who knows where - our dues? -- the UFT spent to support the charter. Will ed deformer supremo Eli Broad ask for his million dollar contribution back?

From Day 1 members of ICE, many now with MORE (I included) took a strong stand against the UFT's opening a top-down run charter school (are they capable of anything else?) in 2005 while the UFT's house opposition, New Action, supported the charter. I remember attending an info meeting with Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno from ICE where we raised the problematical issues to a representative of the leadership while the New Action people sat on their hands. Michael Fiorillo made an eloquent statement at the Delegate Assembly as to why this move was not in our best interests.

To be perfectly fair, James Eterno was a New Action Ex Bd member and reminded me of this point:
I was on the Exec bd in 2003-2004 (last NAC year) and I was the lone no vote on the charter school. I remember my argument with Randi well. What a waste.
James would not fall into Mike Shulman's bullying NAC people to vote to stay in Randi's favor. I was at that Ex Bd meeting. Good for James -- one of the reasons he and Ellen Fox were pushed out of New Action. (I hope their new allies have fun defending their actions over the years.)

Every single member of Unity Caucus went along, including the Unity chapter leaders of schools that are getting decimated by charters. Don't forget this in the upcoming chapter elections.

Arthur Goldstein has a strong piece today: UFT Charter School--Another Spectacular Failure for Leadership, and I love his cartoon enough to steal it.

Chalkbeat, reporting on the decision to close the school:
The move, while not unexpected, is an embarrassing one for the union. When the school opened in 2005, then-UFT President Randi Weingarten said its success would demonstrate that unions could play a starring role in efforts to improve the school system and show that a union contract was not the “impediment to success” that education leaders like then-Chancellor Joel Klein portrayed it to be.
Of course they announced this on Friday and then slunk away without comment. Arthur gives them some credit for not creaming like some other charters. 
UFT leadership, to its credit, was not willing to play that game. 
Even if they didn't cream consciously, the very idea of placing a school in direct competition with a co-located public schools leads to creaming. They co-located into 2 public school buildings in District 19 (East NY in Brooklyn) with space given to them by their pal, Superintendent Kathy Kashin. One of those buildings was George Gershwin - MS 166 - the school I graduated from in 1959. Gershwin, due to the erosion of kids creamed by the UFT charter, was declared a failing school and is being closed. At a PEP meeting, parents, teachers and the principal who I interviewed on tape said the UFT charter played a role in their closing.

At that hearing, the UFT charters were being consolidated into another middle school and the chapter leader, PTA president and a number of parents and teachers were there to oppose the move into their building as a threat to their existence. (I have some of these comments on tape.) That was a Bloomberg PEP rubber stamping the UFT charter request. Backscratching 101.

And then there is the back story of Michelle Bodden, principal of the charter. Bodden, who many of us liked, was at one time the heir apparent to Weingarten and a UFT VP. Suddenly, she became principal of the school and Mulgrew replaced her as the heir. More backstory -- in 1998-9 I pushed the idea of TEACHER RUN charters with UFT support. Randi basically told me, "How can we trust teachers?" She put me on a committee headed by Bodden to explore the idea of a union charter. But it became clear to me this charter was not what I had in mind --- a top-down run by the union leadership, not by teachers -- and yes, Virginia, there is a difference. That was the turning point for me in terms of charters.

Arthur nails the political weakness of the UFT's support for co-location.
But just like they did when they failed to allocate enough money to pay recent retirees, they played a weak chess game. They failed to look ahead. They failed to see what they charter movement was all about. They assumed it was somehow idealistic rather than a direct assault on public schools. And in the end they were unable to compete with their utterly unscrupulous privatizing colleagues.
Not only that, but they weakened our potential as a force for truth. By supporting charters, they failed to anticipate what the charter movement was about. By actually indulging in co-location, they made it very difficult for us to argue against it. And by actually failing, they gave our opponents ammunition to make the false argument that union contracts are an impediment to student achievement.
 In fact I have evidence, which I will present early next week, that the UFT still support co-location when their interests are involved.
The UFT serves as the collective bargaining unit for 21 charter schools, including the University Prep Charter High School, where Weingarten, now the head of the American Federation of Teachers, is still a board member. But the vast majority of the UFT’s 110,000 members work in district schools, and many remain deeply critical of the sector. ....Chalkbeat
Yes, if these 21 schools need to co-locate, the UFT machine will run all over the interests of the public school, as they are doing at PS 157 in Brooklyn. More on this in a few days where we are helping the teachers and parents of PS 157 organize AGAINST the UFT's plans to infiltrate a charter into that school.

Some people may be celebrating the UFT's decision to close the charter.

See Capital Education report:

And a reader comments:
Randi turns everything she touches to shit!

Friday, February 27, 2015

What the UFT Should Blanket the Schools With But Won't: Three Steps to Refusing the PARCC Test:

Download this as a printable PDF to share at your school:
Three Steps to Refusing the PARCC Test

Three Steps to Refusing the PARCC Test:

• Make the decision. As a parent, it is your right to direct your child’s education.
• Submit your OPT OUT letter. See the Sample Opt Out letter below.
• During testing days, either send your child to school with alternative work, or keep them home. It’s a great time for students to pursue their own learning interests, visit museums or get caught up on some rest and relaxation.

Additional Resources

PARCC FACT SHEET (The Colorado Department of Education):

Sample Opt Out Letter

We are respectfully notifying _______(your child’s school) that __________(your child’s name) will not be participating in PARCC or CMAS testing. (She/He) has alternative work and is prepared to complete (his/her) studies in the library.
We fully trust ______ (student’s name) teachers and their assessment of our childs' educational progress and needs.
We support a meaningful education, one filled with passion, inquiry, research, discourse, higher-level thinking - all wonderful and essential elements of learning cultivated by the excellent teachers in _______(school district) - and those very conditions that High-stakes testing jeopardizes. When it comes to accountability, parents are the first line of defense and it is our job to advocate for our children, a quality education, and worthwhile assessments.
PS - Please make this part of our child’s permanent file.

10 Reasons for Parents to OPT OUT of PARCC

Your child is not a guinea pig – PARCC tests are not proven reliable valid measures.
You value experiential collaborative learning – Standardized tests reinforce the lowest levels of thinking and learning.
You want more money for your child’s classroom and more time for instruction – Government mandated testing has created a 1.7 billion testing market and a monopoly for Pearson with zero return for taxpayers and zero benefits for students. By the time your child graduates from high-school they will have spent the equivalent of one full school year taking standardized tests.
You trust teachers – standardized tests are graded by temporary workers and have a long record of failures that incorrectly label students and create barriers to future opportunities.
You agree students should not be labeled at early stages in development – standardized tests are not developmentally appropriate, especially for young children. Students’ progress at different rates and have unique talents and abilities that fall outside of shaded bubble measurement tools.
You believe in an equitable education system – socioeconomic status has the highest correlation to test scores. Tying indicators of school or teacher quality to test scores incorrectly labels high-poverty schools as failing and unfairly rewards high-income schools reinforcing an unequal and increasingly divided education system.
You understand the meaning of accountability – An informed and engaged citizenry is designed to hold political representatives and government institutions accountable, not the other way around.
You recognize that parents have the right to direct their child’s education – Opting out is a means to leverage power and assert that a student’s learning should be for their own purposes.
You are committed to protecting your child’s privacy – student data is sold and shared without your knowledge or consent. Massive amounts of data and metadata are collected by these online tests; this data is currently not protected by privacy laws. Data will follow your child and be shared with third parties through federal, State and corporate agencies. The collection and unregulated distribution of the data has the potential to interfere in your child’s future opportunities for college, military and career.
You have had enough of testing and tracking – Instead of punishments and sanctions you support curriculum and assessment choices and real opportunities for students, teachers and families.

Prof. Bruce Baker Points the Fickle Finger of "Failing" Schools Directly at Cuomo

Presumably, these are the very schools on which Angy Andy would like to impose death penalties – or so he has opined in the past.
The report identifies 17 districts in particular that are home to failing schools. The point of the report is to assert that the incompetent bureaucrats, high paid administrators and lazy teachers in these schools simply aren’t getting the job done and must be punished/relieved of their duties. Angry Andy has repeatedly vociferously asserted that he and his less rabid predecessors have poured obscene sums of funding into these districts for decades. Thus – it’s their fault – certainly not his, for why they stink!... Bruce Baker

Angry Andy’s Failing Schools & the Finger of Blame

Baker aims his arrow right at Cuomo:
I have addressed over and over again on this blog the plight of high need, specifically small city school districts under Governor Cuomo.
  1. On how New York State crafted a low-ball estimate of what districts needed to achieve adequate outcomes and then still completely failed to fund it.
  2. On how New York State maintains one of the least equitable state school finance systems in the nation.
  3. On how New York State’s systemic, persistent underfunding of high need districts has led to significant increases of numbers of children attending school with excessively large class sizes.
  4. On how New York State officials crafted a completely bogus, racially and economically disparate school classification scheme in order to justify intervening in the very schools they have most deprived over time.

Condemnation of DeB/Farina PEP as "Same Old Song" And Increasing Opposition to Mayoral Control

Yup. Making mayoral control permanent would guarantee
that the next mayor, whoever he or she may be, could push even harder to privatize our public schools, close them by the hundreds, and push NYC kids to corporate-run charters and outsource their education to tech vendors, testing and curriculum companies – and get whatever corrupt contracts they like approved, no matter what watchdogs warn or how parents, teachers and community residents feel. It would be playing right into the hand of the hedgefund/privatizers/ profiteers.... Leonie Haimson
There are 2 interesting blog posts:

Leonie Haimson on the PEP contract fiasco: Approval of the huge Computer Consultant Services contract -- what de Blasio said that day in Albany, and the failure of mayoral control
and Arthur  Goldstein at NYC Educator Why Does Bill de B. Want Mayoral Control?

Leonie is livid:
[The PEP] proved once and for all that that the contracting and accountability reforms that were supposed to improve mayoral control are NOT working.   Yet de Blasio argued in Albany yesterday that the State Legislature should make mayoral control permanent, leading Chalkbeat to say: the move towards mayoral control “illustrates a growing consensus about how the city’s schools should be governed.”  Really? 
“Before mayoral control, the city’s school system was balkanized,” de Blasio said. “School boards exerted great authority with little accountability and we saw far too many instances of mismanagement, waste and corruption…. [Making mayoral control permanent] would build predictability into the system, which is important for bringing about the deep, long-range reforms that are needed.”


Funny, as opposed to this “growing consensus” for mayoral control that Chalkbeat imagines, many key Democratic Party groups in Seattle have voted against giving their Mayor two out of seven appointees on their school board.  And Chuy Garcia, who is in a run-off against Rahm Emanuel for mayor of Chicago, supports eliminating mayoral control in that town and creating an elected school board – though Chicago has had one of the longest runs of mayoral control of any school district in the country.  I don’t know of any city that has adopted mayoral control since Washington DC adopted it in 2007.

Former PEP people's champion, Patrick Sullivan - and it is clear why de Blasio wouldn't reappoint him --  suffered through the debate:

I watched the contracts debate last night. It was painful. The DOE procurement people could and should have used the years since CCS was party to the fraud to manage them out. Instead DOE only increased their dependency on them and had the audacity to claim their more expensive bid was considered more attractive because of CCS's track record with us. They basically claimed that we were painted into a corner and had no choice but to suck it up and give them the contract. Three years to watch that paint dry. Thank God for Robert Powell. The rest of them were thoroughly disappointing. I turned it off after Robert made his stand and before I had to watch him get voted down alone. And thank God for Leonie. Without her, DOE would have gotten away with getting the contract approved without anyone the wiser. The ironic thing is that DOE is let the whole thing explode in the Post and Juan Gonzalez's column on the very day de Blasio is in Albany asking for permanent mayoral control, essentially handing the legislature exhibit A against the case for permanent mayoral control. I bet City Hall was happy about that. Where's David Cantor when you need him?
A parent commented:
Ironically, the Chancellor made a comment that night about how this is *not* the same PEP as the last administration, and everyone laughed. Sheep, all but one of them. So far, the only substantive difference I've seen is that they "delay" a vote for a month....then vote the way they were going to anyway.
Back to Leonie:
Fabulous comments from Miriam Farer Aristy, given on her behalf by [MORE Steering Comm Member] Mindy Rosier.

Miriam wrote:
I could not be here so a representative (Mindy Rosier) is speaking on behalf of CEC 6 myself and many outraged parents in Northern Manhattan. As our DOE struggles to regain trust, transparency and more funding from our Gov how can we approve such a proposal with Custom Computer Specialists when we know they have cheated our children before?

How can we continue to give them our business and excessive amounts of money when we know they did us wrong before. If you truly embrace the Chanecellors new pillar, and community engagement, you will listen to the people tonight. The bodies in this room are not as many as those on social media outrages at this company even being considered again. Again I urge you to vote against the proposal to give Custom Computer Specialists more of our money.

It would be the right thing to do and send a strong message about who the DOE is today, not who they were. By approving this you will prove all the naysayers right that nothing has changed and never will.

Not to mention you are giving fuel to the opposition to critique the DOE and rightfully so. Again do the right thing stop corrupt past practices, VOTE no for Custom Computer Specialists, no place for that in our and Carmen’s DOE.

Thanks you, Miriam Aristy-Farer, CEC 6 President representing 41 Washington Heights, Inwood and W. Harlem elementary and middle schools.
List of PEP appointees here:

One of the Mayoral appointees is Norm Fruchter --- who ran the Annenberg ed operation here in NYC for years --- I never liked him and always saw him as a closet ed deformer; another is Roberto Carrion, son of a city agency head – which, according to Leonie, may conflict with at least the spirit of the conflict of interest laws which bars city employees from serving on the PEP.

Norm in The Wave: Oh, Sweet Suspensions, Wherefore Art Thou?

This week's column in the Rockaway beach weekly, The Wave.

Oh, Sweet Suspensions, Wherefore Art Thou?

By Norm Scott

Norman Scott  
Norman Scott 

 “City planning significant changes to school discipline rules to cut down on suspending students,” proclaimed a headline in the Feb. 16 edition of The Daily News, resulting in yet another hail of attacks on the liberal policies of Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Carmen Farina for hastening the end of western civilization.

The critics just love those charter schools in the city which suspended students at almost three times the rate of the public schools during the 2011-12 school year, the last year for which public data is available. Eleven charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students according to Chalkbeat, the education blog. Given all that has been going on about race recently, it should be no surprise that discipline and suspension rates have also become hot racially tinged topics. The News reported, “Stats for the 2013-2014 school year show roughly 90 percent of 53,000 suspensions in city schools involved black or Hispanic kids.” On the other side, people raise the issue of whether these numbers represent racial bias.

Now, as a teacher, I was opposed to suspensions and harsh discipline, feeling that having to resort to them was an admission of failure on my part. That or an admission of failure to the administration. As an outspoken teacher, I never wanted to give my supervisors an edge on me by asking them for assistance. And if one of my kids got suspended, what do I do when he (most suspensions are boys) returned from a number of days out of school or my classroom? I preferred to deal with things on my own.

Things can get pretty ridiculous in this debate. An editorial slamming the policy stated, “Principals will now have to get written approval from Department of Education headquarters before suspending a kindergarten to-third-grade student, or a student in any grade who commits one of the most common infractions: insubordination.” I taught in elementary schools for 30 years and yes there was some bad behavior by kids in K-3 grades but suspend kids that age? A school can’t manage to figure out some alternative? If a child has serious emotional issues then they need help, not suspension. I never taught high school where some students may be more threatening if they engage in serious misbehavior and containing them in the school might be a problem. But there are answers for schools willing to explore alternatives to suspension. Restorative justice (RJ) programs where students must face and take responsibilities for their actions in front of a peer pressure group have been having enormous positive impacts on schools where discipline was an issue and have resulted in some remarkable transformations. Wary educators without direct knowledge of these programs fear they may be just a cover up for another failed onslaught in the blame the teacher game over the past 15 years.

My friend who teaches at a high school in Brooklyn was one such skeptic. Now he has the entire school involved in restorative justice programs.

He reports, “I visited a few schools, one a 300 student school that had 150 suspensions (some students suspended multiple times). They dropped to 63 suspensions after they initiated a new disciplinary program in 2012/13. Now in the second year of implementation they have had only 2 principal's suspensions.” These are hard facts pointing to the success of RJ programs. He told me about mediation programs where “two students, who engaged in a verbal or physical fight, meet in a room, sit across from each other, and each one has a student representative trained in meditation. Both students tell their side of the stories, the objective being to get both sides to understand the other, discuss calmly how they could have handled the situation differently and come to a compromise agreement on what will happen now. Most mediations end in the two students hugging and becoming friends.”
If a school with a rational administration – not always easy to find – wants a shot at solving the suspension issue, giving restorative justice a shot is the way to go.

Norm restores himself daily at his blog,

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paul Krugman Goes KIP -- He Needs a Bit More Knowledge Than Just Blaming the Right WingNuts

 ...while agreeing with Krugman, many blamed the "right wing." I wish he'd come right out and lay the blame at neo-liberals we well as right-wingers. ... Susan Ohanian
Krugman basically says: It's poverty stupid. I've been intending to write about what bothered me about the Paul Krugman piece in Monday's NY Times - Knowledge Isn't Power.

I'm glad to see Susan Ohanian agrees. I take a harsher view of the Krugman piece, which gives cover to Obama and the Democrat ed deformers when he says: given the determination of one major party to move policy in exactly the opposite direction, advocating such an effort makes you sound partisan. Hence the desire to see the whole thing as an education problem instead....

Message to Paul: BOTH MAJOR PARTIES. Let's not pretend that Krugman is ignorant of that fact. My take is that a guy I usually admire is pandering and covering up for the Democrats - and I include the so-called left like Elizabeth Warren (who was shameful in her statements when Jia Lee testified in the Senate.) And that shakes the trust I have in Krugman.

Ohanian Comment: I posted the following comment at the website of this article.
The public would be better served if people on the New York Times Editorial Board would read Paul Krugman before writing editorials about NCLB and assorted education policy.
Comments must be approved by the New York Times before they "appear." This one was not approved.
That said, there were good comments. My quarrel with many is that, while agreeing with Krugman, many blamed the "right wing." I wish he'd come right out and lay the blame at neo-liberals we well as right-wingers. 
Here is the complete Krugman piece:
Regular readers know that I sometimes mock "very serious people"-- politicians and pundits who solemnly repeat conventional wisdom that sounds tough-minded and realistic. The trouble is that sounding serious and being serious are by no means the same thing, and some of those seemingly tough-minded positions are actually ways to dodge the truly hard issues.
The prime example of recent years was, of course, Bowles-Simpsonism -- the diversion of elite discourse away from the ongoing tragedy of high unemployment and into the supposedly crucial issue of how, exactly, we will pay for social insurance programs a couple of decades from now. That particular obsession, I’m happy to say, seems to be on the wane. But my sense is that there’s a new form of issue-dodging packaged as seriousness on the rise. This time, the evasion involves trying to divert our national discourse about inequality into a discussion of alleged problems with education.

And the reason this is an evasion is that whatever serious people may want to believe, soaring inequality isn't about education; it's about power.

Just to be clear: I'm in favor of better education. Education is a friend of mine. And it should be available and affordable for all. But what I keep seeing is people insisting that educational failings are at the root of still-weak job creation, stagnating wages and rising inequality. This sounds serious and thoughtful. But it's actually a view very much at odds with the evidence, not to mention a way to hide from the real, unavoidably partisan debate.

The education-centric story of our problems runs like this: We live in a period of unprecedented technological change, and too many American workers lack the skills to cope with that change. This "skills gap" is holding back growth, because businesses can’t find the workers they need. It also feeds inequality, as wages soar for workers with the right skills but stagnate or decline for the less educated. So what we need is more and better education.

My guess is that this sounds familiar -- it's what you hear from the talking heads on Sunday morning TV, in opinion articles from business leaders like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, in "framing papers" from the Brookings Institution’s centrist Hamilton Project. It's repeated so widely that many people probably assume it's unquestionably true. But it isn't.

For one thing, is the pace of technological change really that fast? "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters," the venture capitalist Peter Thiel has snarked. Productivity growth, which surged briefly after 1995, seems to have slowed sharply.

Furthermore, there's no evidence that a skills gap is holding back employment. After all, if businesses were desperate for workers with certain skills, they would presumably be offering premium wages to attract such workers. So where are these fortunate professions? You can find some examples here and there. Interestingly, some of the biggest recent wage gains are for skilled manual labor -- sewing machine operators, boilermakers -- as some manufacturing production moves back to America. But the notion that highly skilled workers are generally in demand is just false.

Finally, while the education/inequality story may once have seemed plausible, it hasn't tracked reality for a long time. "The wages of the highest-skilled and highest-paid individuals have continued to increase steadily," the Hamilton Project says. Actually, the inflation-adjusted earnings of highly educated Americans have gone nowhere since the late 1990s.

So what is really going on? Corporate profits have soared as a share of national income, but there is no sign of a rise in the rate of return on investment. How is that possible? Well, it's what you would expect if rising profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns to capital.

As for wages and salaries, never mind college degrees -- all the big gains are going to a tiny group of individuals holding strategic positions in corporate suites or astride the crossroads of finance. Rising inequality isn't about who has the knowledge; it's about who has the power.

Now, there's a lot we could do to redress this inequality of power. We could levy higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and invest the proceeds in programs that help working families. We could raise the minimum wage and make it easier for workers to organize. It's not hard to imagine a truly serious effort to make America less unequal.

But given the determination of one major party to move policy in exactly the opposite direction, advocating such an effort makes you sound partisan. Hence the desire to see the whole thing as an education problem instead. But we should recognize that popular evasion for what it is: a deeply unserious fantasy.

— Paul Krugman with Ohanian Comment New York Times

Unity Caucus "City is Broke" Lie During Contract Battle Exposed

I know a Unityista who's a chapter rep at an elementary school in the Bronx. Last summer, he told me how the city is "broke". I laughed at him and asked him if the union thinks we are all that uninformed and stupid. He also told me what terrible teachers the ATRs are. I asked him if his school closed and he wasn't rehired, how he'd feel after a couple of years of changing schools every week. Such callous scum, these so-called Unity representatives.... Ms. Tsouris, comment on ICE blog,


Comptroller Scott Stringer has found an extra billion dollars over what Mayor Bill de Blasio projected in the city budget.  Are the Unity supporters still saying the cupboard was empty when we settled for 10% over 7 years and we will have our retroactive payments for 2009-2011 deferred so we won't be made whole for those years until 2020?  How much more money has to be found before Unity will admit that Michael Mulgrew did not get us the best deal possible?
The ICE and NYC Educator (Look What Bill de B. Found in the Sofa Cushions) blogs have stories today exposing the sham selling points for the contract ratification battle last May where the contract was passed with 75% of the vote where over 90% of the 108 thousand UFT members voted. I looked at the fact that despite the lies, 16,000 classroom teachers and 4000 non teachers voted NO. If only they would come out of the woodwork and become active in a struggle to take back the union. Even a few hundred who were willing to distribute literature to their colleagues in their schools would make a difference in battling the Unity machine (email me at

The fact is that lie is allowed to fester because most teachers don't read the blogs and I bet if you share the news about how much money there really was people would be surprised. I'm not even just talking about more money in salary -- but all the other lack of resources you don't get ________ (fill in the blank, starting with the impact a billion bucks can have on class size).

NYC Educator says:
Man, when I read things like this I just don't know what to say. Just a few short months ago I was at the New York Hilton with my school's delegates and Punchy Mike Mulgrew was regaling us with tales of how the cupboard was bare and we'd have to wait an extra ten years for the money most city employees had received by 2010. It was the best they could do. Retro pay was not a God-given right.
You see, until that point, I'd thought the city pattern was sacrosanct. After all, when we wanted to get a little more than the pattern, we were told we had to give back, and boy did we give back. We gave up seniority rights and sentenced thousands of experienced teachers to be wandering ATRs. We made sure thousands of teachers would be patrolling lunchrooms, halls and bathrooms. Because perish forbid anyone should have more than 40 minutes to prepare the classes that Charlotte Danielson demands these days. But every time I turn around, there's more money.

Video: CTS/MORE's Jia Lee Featured at Testing Forum on Long Island, March 7, 4PM

At The Village Center, Port Jefferson.

A forum dedicated to educating our communities on high stakes testing and the dangerous education reforms being enacted in New York State. Featuring keynote speaker and Teacher of Conscience Jia Lee, Comsewogue school board member Alexandra Gordon, Long Island Opt-Out founder Jeanette Deutermann, and the Co-President of the Suffolk County Middle Level Principals Association Andy Greene. RSVP to For more information visit

NYSAPE: Rolling Anti-Testing Billboards in Long Island

And great ads on TV from the New Jersey Teachers Association -- The kind of imagination or political theater you won't see from the UFT. You know why? Because they are not really opposed to testing other than to mouth a few words to try to keep their base confused.

From Patch --- Thanks to Joel, sitting by a pool in California --

Common Core Critics 'Roll' Message Across Long Island
Talk about taking your message to the streets.
A truck, wrapped with the message “More Teaching, Less Testing: Refuse the NYS Common Core Tests,” is making its way across Long Island.
The campaign is the message of NYSAPE, NYS Allies for Public Education, whose members reside across the state.
“We’re not anti-test or assessment,” said Lisa Rudley, a Briarcliff parent, who serves on the organization’s steering committee. “We’re for well-rounded classrooms.”
“Our mission is to stop the test-prep environment in the classroom and protect data privacy,” she added.
Tuesday was the mobile billboard’s second day on Long Island. From now into sometime in April, around the time of the state’s last standardized test, the truck will travel across Nassau on Tuesdays, and Suffolk County on Thursdays and Fridays, Rudley said.
  • Sign up for your local Patch newsletter and breaking news alerts here.
The group aims to take the campaign statewide, with traditional billboard ads going up in Syracuse, Kingston, Albany, and Amsterdam. The group raised nearly $10,700 through an Indiegogo campaign to fund the advertising. They are also looking into print advertising, Rudley said.
The idea for the truck ad came about as NYSAPE members sifted through various zoning laws and costs.
“The truck gives us more bang for the buck,” Rudley said.
The organization will also have a presence at St. Patrick Day parades in Rocky Point and Bay Shore, Rudley said.
On Long Island, the truck will travel across “the most high volume streets” near gyms, coffee shops and wherever else parents and grandparents gather, Rudley said.
Billboards on Wheels, the Ronkonkoma company handling the outdoor mobile advertising on Long Island, has been posting its route on Facebook. On Tuesday, the truck was in Port Washington, Glen Cove, Searingtown, Syosset, Plainview and elsewhere on the North Shore.
The effort seems to be gaining traction, at least on Facebook, where followers suggested the truck visit Babylon, Merrick, the East End and other destinations.
That momentum is good news to Rudley, who said the group might add another day on Long Island.
“We’re going to be fluid about it,” she said.
For Long Island NYSAPE forums featuring information and speakers, click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kristof Doesn't Deserve Praise for Mea Culpa on Unions - He's Still a Slug and Ed Deformer

In recent weeks, we’ve been repulsed by some of Kristof’s work... Increasingly, Kristof’s work seems sloppy and strange. Maybe he’s simply over-extended. Do you believe he recently learned that corporate tycoons can be greedy?
... The Daily Howler
Too many people cheered when Nick Kristof, the NY Times house liberal, semi-reversed his opinion that unions in this country are more of a threat than ISIS. Nice to see my pal at Raging Horse blog take this shot in his must-read piece on the Kristof column.
How nice of Nicholas Kristof to arrive at that conclusion that unions should not be “eviscerated.” But note well, my fellow public school teachers, Kristof’s stipulating that the non-evisceration be limited “to the private sector ” which, in the all out war against all public institutions, should strikes us as particularly weasel-like and ominous.
Such words, in an article that ostensibly defends unions, could only bring comfort to the likes of Obama, Cuomo, Walker, Rainer and all their patrons who know that the first step to a “Right To Work” or union free nation is the evisceration of public unions. Nicholas Kristof is not our friend.
Former teacher Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler takes an even harsher tone by eviscerating Kristof himself:

Will the real Kristof please stand up!


Like Brian Williams, a brand:
Once again, we find ourselves puzzled by Nicholas Kristof’s latest column. It appears in this morning’s New York Times. The column starts like this:

KRISTOF (2/19/15): Like many Americans, I’ve been wary of labor unions.
Full-time union stagehands at Carnegie Hall earning more than $400,000 a year? A union hailing its defense of a New York teacher who smelled of alcohol and passed out in class, with even the principal unable to rouse her? A police union in New York City that has a tantrum and goes on virtual strike?

More broadly, I disdained unions as bringing corruption, nepotism and rigid work rules to the labor market, impeding the economic growth that ultimately makes a country strong.
I was wrong.
All through the column, Kristof says he’s been wrong, oh so wrong, about unions—at least about private sector unions.
What a guy! Here’s how the column ends:

KRISTOF: Lawrence F. Katz, a Harvard labor economist, raises concerns about some aspects of public-sector unions, but he says that in the private sector (where only 7 percent of workers are now unionized): “I think we’ve gone too far in de-unionization.”
He’s right. This isn’t something you often hear a columnist say, but I’ll say it again: I was wrong. At least in the private sector, we should strengthen unions, not try to eviscerate them.
In comments, the usual suspects rushed to praise his honesty and his courage. We had a different reaction to the puzzling fellow’s latest puzzling column.
Kristof is 55 years old. He went to Harvard, then to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. For all those reasons, we think this part of his column is rather hard to believe:
More at Will the real Kristof please stand up!

Teacher Union is Real Winner in Chicago Mayoral Election

What did you think when President Obama came in earlier this month and, essentially, made a campaign commercial for Rahm?
Jesse Sharkey: I thought, “Oh, come on, really?” It’s such a desperate, last-minute campaign maneuver. The mayor has a zillion dollars, and a sitting president gives you a hug. Then you get Magic Johnson. It smacked of cheap celebrity endorsement. And it was ineffective....I’d like to see national labor come in a little more. One thing which I found sort of disgraceful is all the trade union people up on stage with Rahm. The fact is that the union rank and file didn’t vote for Rahm.
How do you compare these outcomes in Chicago to the awful outcomes the UFT has had in elections here in NYC? Remember how they couldn't even get their candidate, Bill Thompson, into a runoff with de Blasio a year and a half ago?

Hmmm. Maybe it's the difference between a social justice oriented union with real grass roots instead of the UFT's astroturf.

Let's face it: Chuy Garcia as a candidate barely exists if not for the CTU, which drafted him as an emergency replacement for Karen Lewis when she had to drop out due to illness. And I have no doubt if Karen had run she would have got as many of not more votes than Rahm and he would be running behind her in the runoff.

Now this doesn't mean Chuy is the next mayor -- all sorts of desparate dirty tricks will be played, if not out and out fraud and theft of the election. Remember, a major issue her is Rahm's ed deform policies. Obama stopped by recently to show his support. How big a blow is this vote for Obama in his own home town? I bet he wouldn't get elected mayor.

Here is an interview with Jesse Sharkey who ran the CTU at a crucial time when Karen was ill and the mayoral decisions and organizing had to be made.

I think Jesse's declaring Rahm being finished in Chicago goes beyond whether he holds on to win. A 2nd term will turn out to put him in Cuomo-like hell and hopefully end his political career.

CTU’s Jesse Sharkey Thinks Rahm Is Finished in Chicago

The interim head of the Chicago Teachers Union is one happy guy this morning

It’s the day after Election Day, and most of the analysis undoubtedly will center on what exactly happened that forced Rahm Emanuel into a runoff election against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on April 7. And while that may be the biggest headline, one other shade to this year’s municipal elections is just how much the Chicago Teachers Union flexed its muscle. 
This morning I called Jesse Sharkey, the 45-year-old former high school teacher who took over as head of the CTU when Karen Lewis was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last fall (she has since returned to work). For more on who Sharkey is and what drives him, read my interview with him from last November (part 1 here, part 2 here).

Sharkey was on his way to work and tired—out late at Garcia’s victory party—but exalting in Garcia’s victory, not to mention the slew of victories (or at least forced runoffs) of CT-backed aldermanic candidates. Garcia will be the next mayor, Sharkey says, adding that politics in Chicago has changed forever.
How important is it that Chuy has forced Rahm into a runoff?
Extremely important. Remember, Chuy got in late [he entered the race in late October]. He announced his candidacy with only three weeks to go before nominating petitions were due. We brought a lot of very committed people to this contest, especially in parts of the south and west sides. We had 100 percent committed volunteers working outdoors in brutally cold weather.

MOREistas Posted on Diane Ravitch Blog Twice Today

Diane reprinted the letter from the co-chapter chairs at PS 321k to parents on why Cuomo is wrong
and Ednotes calling for public school children to learn civics in Albany on lobby day.
Thanks for the shout-out Diane!

Public School Teacher Wants to Take Class on March 4 Field Trip to Albany for Civics Lesson on How Govt "Works"

Help this teacher sell this class trip. Send me lesson plans related to how to teach your kids what scum Eva and crew are.
Norm, just stumbled upon you.  I tried selling our BOE on the same idea that I just read on your blog (Time for Massive Civics Lesson on March 4).  Super didn't know if we could do that with our public school buses. I teach Elem.Spec.Ed.- do you know if there are any generic "field trip civics lesson plans" out there to expedite my push to make this legit?  People won't get off their asses and take action; all we get is "write your legislators".  Actions speak.
I proposed this weeks ago right after Eva announced she was closing schools on UFT lobby day, March 4, to take them up to Albany. Why not get hundreds of NYC classes to take a field trip to Albany for a civics lesson on how public money can be misused to get away with just about anything. Note how the teacher gets it about the business as usual without imagination UFT plan. Even though March 4 is the day after my 70th birthday I would go along just to get video of a lone teacher making a stand.

My response included a plea to the UFT for funding a bus.
It would be great to give this a shot.
Why not try uft for help and maybe funding?
Even do a press release - lone nyc teacher stands up to Moskowitz juggernaut.
As for a lesson plan I'd be glad to brainstorm some ideas.
Teach children about the issue.
Public fundraiser?
You would set an example. Exciting idea if you can pull it off.
Related: NYC Educator is not going to lobby day:
I had exactly the same experiences on my 2 or 3 trips to Albany in the mid-90s before I stopped going-- really, they have done the same exact thing year after year - which is why Eva can run rings around them.

Harvard Student Writing Paper on '68 Strike Looking to Interview People

Hi Norm,

I'm from Rockaway, and I used to write a column for The Wave, and I know that you still do! Anyway, I am a junior at Harvard now, and am writing a paper on the teachers' strike of 1968 and the Ocean Hill Brownsville controversy. I would like to interview several teachers who were involved in the strike, and maybe even those who taught in district. I know that you were in the system for a long time, so I figured you might have some contacts. Would love to pick your brain as well.
I hope he doesn't pick too much of my brain -- not a lot left. I have an interesting POV on that strike -- not in line with the automatic left analysis which comes down to: Community GOOD, UFT BAD. I did not cross the picket line -- but I was also not politically conscious. When I became so 2 years later, all the people I met and who influenced me had crossed the picket line. I think over time they began to rethink some of their views -- my crew places blame on the then version of the Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, which played a very anti-union role. My position has been that even if you thought the strike was wrong, if you wanted to organize inside the UFT in opposition to the Shanker machine you could not cross that line and hope to have much credibility. Fight that battle internally.

Thus, Teachers Action Caucus (TAC), the major opposition party to Unity in the 70s was banded as scabs and made little headway. It took a generation and a merger with another opposition group (New Directions which was more to the right - or more opportunistic in hiding their politics) in 1995 to form the current New Action, which purged itself of left politics and made itself tenable for the sellout deal with Unity in 2003 -- though old-time red-baiting Unity people never forgot the New Action TAC roots and used to grouse  about how Randi never should have done it and how Shanker, if alive, would never have allowed it because he had such disdain.

Email me if interested in being interviewed.

Beware of E4E Geeks Bearing Gifts for Chapter Leaders

Will Cullen - Don't drink the coffee
Educators for Excellence, the group funded by anti-teacher union pro ed deformer, is attempting to appear to be pro-union as it works to undermine tenure rules, promote high stakes testing, and charter schools. It is making a concerted attempt to reach out directly to chapter leaders and burrow beneath the UFT structure.

Will Cullen, Outreach Director of E4E in New York, sent the following to a chapter leader associated with MORE. E4E vets people to keep out spies but I suggest people go to these events and report back. E4E is as closed and undemocratic an organization as you can find - no outside their box thinking allowed - but this attempt to go right at the heart of the UFT in schools where Unity Caucus is weak is an escalation of their program. It seems E4E is pushing its people to run for chapter leader in the upcoming UFT chapter elections. MORE's March 14 CL training might even attract some E4Eers ---- they should come and see how a democratic organization operates -- they won't see that in E4E or the UFT/Unity operation.

E4E has reshaped its message to try to appeal to teachers and obviously because, despite its large budget and multi-full-time employees, it hasn't been getting very far in NYC or even LA - now their effort is in Minnesota. The "output" of their educational policy teams is pathetic.

And what has happened to the E4E budget -- only offering coffee? Hey Will, how about offering a sandwich? I'd meet you for something decent to eat.

Here is Will's linked-in profile:

Leadership Opportunity for [CL Name]

Hi xxxxxx,

I hope this email finds you well! My name is Will and I am an Outreach Director with Educators for Excellence, a non-profit that works to get teachers involved in the policy conversations that affect their classrooms. More specifically we have opportunities for teachers to write policy as well as advocate for those policies to elected officials and other stakeholders.

You can learn more about us by visiting our website:

I am reaching out to you because of your leadership at xxxxxx High School. We strongly believe in the power of union participation and currently have a series of events, trainings, and networking opportunities for existing chapter leaders across all five boroughs and for other teachers considering stepping up to become more involved in their chapter.

I would love to grab coffee to discuss further! I can meet wherever is most convenient for you.

Looking forward to touching base!


Will Cullen | Outreach Director
Educators 4 Excellence-New York
Tel (212) 279-8510 ext. 19 | Cell (732) 266-9158 | @willpcullen
333 West 39th Street, Suite 703, New York, NY 10018

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Danny Dromm Goes After Charter Scammers, Charter Slug Merriman Trots Out Usual Suspect - UFT

Message from earth to James Merriman: the UFT favors charters and even co-locations since they run one themselves. Why won't Merriman call for charters, which claim to be public, to turn over their paperwork like every other group feeding at the trough of public money.

Moreover, note in the photo below, next to Dromm, one Patrick Walsh, recently a member of the MORE steering committee, a group CHALLENGING the UFT/Unity leadership.

Councilman Daniel Dromm noted that charter schools 'receive over a billion dollars in taxpayer funds and we don’t know what’s going on.'

A lawmaker is asking the city’s charter schools to hand over paperwork showing how they use millions of dollars in tax money. And they have five days to do it.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who chairs the Education Committee, said he is troubled by the “lack of transparency and accountability” of charter schools.
“They receive over a billion dollars in taxpayer funds and we don’t know what’s going on,” Dromm, a Queens Democrat, told the Daily News on Monday.
Dromm sent a letter to all 197 charter schools in the city asking them for copies of their committee board minutes and fraud prevention policies. He also asked if they would voluntarily submit to the city Conflict of Interest Board to examine relationships between school board members and developers.
Dromm’s action comes after The News reported in November that an analysis by the Center for Popular Democracy found more than $28 million in questionable spending and probable financial mismanagement in 95% of the charter schools examined by state auditors since 2002.
James Merriman, CEO of the New York Charter School Center, dismissed Dromm as an “attack dog” for the United Federation of Teachers, which is opposed to charter schools.


Principal Brian DeVale on WNYC Opposed Cuomo Plan

We've had our issues with out of control, incompetent, ego-driven, blame the teachers administrators and feel their unbridled power should be controlled-- but not the way Cuomo wants to do it by taking evaluations of teachers out of the hands of people being paid 150K a year.
Among several education reforms tied to an increase in school funding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a plan that he thought would make teacher evaluations more objective. Many New York City principals told WNYC they were not convinced. Cuomo said in his budget address last month that too many students were performing poorly on state standardized tests, while only a tiny fraction of teachers received low performance ratings. The disconnect was a problem, he argued, and the solution must be found in the ratings given by school principals to their teaching staff....WNYC
On the other hand, so many people have been driven into misery by so many principals I have mixed feelings. The UFT argument in favor of using student outcomes on tests was the claim that principal evaluation is subjective. Now they argue that we need that subjective evaluation -- their heads must be spinning off.

I am ambivalent myself. Not every principal can be like Brian DeVale.

I'm proud to call NYC Principal Brian DeVale, an ed notes reader, a friend and a leading fighter in the war against ed deform. Brian heads the CSA in District 14 and has more fight in him than just about anyone connected to the UFT. I never thought I would say this, but if given a choice between MulGarten and Brian DeVale for UFT leader, we'd be better off with the principal.

Brian DeVale, principal of PS 257 in Brooklyn, isn't shy about criticizing Cuomo's plan. He says the governor sounds like he's "out to fire teachers, plain and simple." (Yasmeen Khan)

Brian spoke out against Walcott and Klein and Cathy Black in the past, so this is not new.
Cathie Black at CEC14 - Brian De Vale - YouTube

When Brian was up for principal of PS 257 in the earliest days of the BloomKlein administration, Farina was the Region 8 Supt in charge of District 15 (her old district) and District 14 (my old district) and was very prejudiced against D. 14 and favored her people in D. 15. And it looked like anyone from the old D. 14 admin might be shut out of being appointed principal. After all -- he actually came out of the schools and was not some kid with 3 months of teaching who was heading to the Leadership Academy to be Jack Welshed. According to my sources Farina backed Brian at that time. So I'll chalk one up for her. I'm not a Farina defender but I also want to be fair. She, like Brian, took a stand against the Cuomo plan, something we would not see from her predecessors who would have jumped on it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Letter from PS 321K teachers regarding Governor Cuomo's education proposals

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I'm sure many of you have heard about Governor Cuomo's (very alarming) education policy proposals. 

The staff at 321 is extremely concerned about these proposals. We have put together a letter we are sending out today to the school's families about these concerns. I wanted to reach out and share this with you, as well as a primer we have created which illustrates some of the proposals in further detail.

Please feel free to pass on, share, adapt or use in any way that might best help us all as we work together to hopefully protect our profession from the deleterious effects some of these proposals would have were they to become law.

Alex (Co-Chapter Leader)
Lauren Cohen, co-chapter leader

On Morality and Charters: Do Former DOE Officials Michael Duffy and Sonia Park Violate Ethics in Running NYC Based Charters?

I say they should not be allowed to have used their positioning as public employees to profit. If they want to open charters let them go to another city.


Great Oaks Charter MS, run by Michael Duffy (former head of DoE's charter school office), wants to move to D1 [in permanent (?) space}, following the lead of Innovate Manhattan Charter School that moved form D2 to D1 a few years back,  and as SACS/Eva  just tried to do recently.

Michael Duffy looks to join his colleague Sonia Park (also a former head of the DoE's charter office and now the Executive Director of two Manhattan Charter Schools,- one DoE authorized, the other replicated by SUNY CSI) running a middle school charter in D1.
MCS is up for a renewal and has proposed expand ing to middle school grades.

This charter feeding frenzy is fueled by the media and the Governor, both heavily subsidized by the hedge fund-run charter lobby.

 D1 just received word of yet another charter middle school proposal: City Arts Charter.
The arts charter proposal  for a new middle school was heavily critiqued at a CEC meeting last year as uninformed and not needed.
 The request for a charter was rejected by the authorizers, but the charter is back, with a new proposal for a MS in D1.

Increasing middle school seats, of which there is currently an overcapacity according to the DoE student assignment planners, will have disastrous impact in our all-choice district.

The small DoE-created MSs that currently serve very high proportions of high needs students  (ELLS and students with IEPs, the students these charter schools do not take in proportion to our community schools) will lose student enrollment,  thus increasing the proportions of high needs student and decreasing the resources available to them.

Running separate and unequal parallel education systems in an uncontrolled market place does not work for students, families and communities.

That charter schools are not held to the laws passed 5 years ago mandating that they serve proportionate numbers of high needs students is a travesty.  The charter authorizers have refused to regulate themselves and the schools they spawn, dragging out the implementation of the law over 10-15 years.

Meanwhile our students with disabilities and our English language learners are largely concentrated in high needs schools, while the charters  cream and then preen over their superior  test scores.

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Bogus Pro-Charter "Study" Exposed

 Separating fact and fiction.....the reviewers found that the report's main purpose appears to be the "repetition or 'spinning' of claims voiced by advocacy groups and think tanks that promote privatization and school choice." Furthermore, the reviewers found that it relied almost exclusively on advocacy documents rather than more careful and balanced empirical research, and provides only a superficial examination of any "criticisms" regarding charter schools.... Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
I give them credit - but I didn't need no stinkin' study to tell me what they find.
National Charter School Report Misleading and Superficial, Review Finds

Gary Miron, (269) 599-7965,
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 23, 2015) — A report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) attempted to "separate fact from fiction" about charter schools. The report addressed 21 "myths" regarding charter schools, which were quickly rejected. However, an academic review of the report finds that it perpetuated its own myths and fictions about charter schools rather than adding to the discourse surrounding school choice.
The report, Separating Fact and Fiction: What You Need to Know about Charter Schools, was assembled by NAPCS with no author identified. Gary Miron, Western Michigan University, William J. Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, and Kevin G. Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Succinctly, the original report addressed various claims about charter schools in such areas as financial equality of charter schools, lower teacher qualifications, student selection demographics, academic outcomes, segregation, and innovation.
Yet, the reviewers found that the report's main purpose appears to be the "repetition or 'spinning' of claims voiced by advocacy groups and think tanks that promote privatization and school choice." Furthermore, the reviewers found that it relied almost exclusively on advocacy documents rather than more careful and balanced empirical research, and provides only a superficial examination of any "criticisms" regarding charter schools.
The review is organized in a format that lists each of the criticisms identified, and then provides a short commentary based on the extant research literature. Where the original document overlooked research evidence, the reviewers provide readers with a valuable tool to examine charter school criticisms.
Additionally, the reviewers find that the report fails to redirect the sector toward its original ideals, "Charter schools were originally designed to be a new form of public school. They were supposed to be small, locally run, innovative and highly accountable. They were supposed to be open to all and were expected to provide new freedoms to teachers to creatively innovate and serve their communities."
Instead, the reviewers point out the most disappointing non-myth that comes out of the research: "In reality, the main outcomes of charter schools have been to promote privatization and accelerated the stratification and re-segregation of schools."
The reviewers conclude, this report is unlikely to be of any use to "the discerning policy-maker" and fails to engage the important underlying issues.

Read the full review at:
Find Separating Fact and Fiction on the web:
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review can also be found on the NEPC website: