Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An outline of education reform proposals in budget

Words fail me. Burn the contract -- it doesn't exist. I'm not clear why Cuomo left teachers with a lunch hour. Maybe get that next time. Once the idea that you can reach tenure is removed we will see an erosion of people wanting to teach.


An outline of education reform proposals in budget


ALBANY—The final budget bill containing education funding and policy, introduced on Tuesday afternoon, included modified versions of many of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s original reform proposals, including an overhauled teacher evaluation system.
Lawmakers will vote on the bill Tuesday night.
The following is an outline of what’s in the bill, by topic.

A new teacher evaluation system will be based on two components: student performance on state exams and observations. It will be based on the same scale as the current system: “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” and “highly effective.”
The component that's based on student performance on state exams includes a mandatory state test and an optional one.
Educators who teach English and math to third through eighth graders will be evaluated based partially on the federally required state tests in those grades and subjects. Similarly, those who teach high school classes that culminate in Regents exams will be evaluated based on those state tests.

Don't ask, but do tell if they should happen to ask - Mulgrew will not lift a UFT finger to assist opt out

One the question of opt-out: On NY1 Mulgrew said that parents should do what is best for their children.  If they ask us, we would tell them that the tests don't tell parents or educators anything about how their child is doing.

WTF. If they fuck'n ask us? What a pathetic excuse for a response.

MORE calls on the Mayor and Chancellor to remove Dewey principal as investigation is conducted

Ed Notes readers know all about Dewey Principal Kathleen Elvin. The MORE statement below talks about the March 25 PEP meeting where Marcia Kramer directly challenged Farina on the Dewey case. In fact we know that Tweed has been informed for a very long time - even by UFT people outside the school -- and has allowed Elvin to brutalize people --  and appointed a new Supt who is a slug - while promoting the old double slug Supt.

Teachers are forced into illegal or immoral acts. Guess who will get the brunt of punishment?


Save John Dewey High School

As you may know, a determined group of teachers at John Dewey High School have blown the whistle on Principal Kathleen Elvin.

Since her arrival at Dewey in March 2012, Elvin’s  brutal and mercenary  policies have involved blatant and virulent harassment —–mainly directed against 55 plus teachers.
Simultaneously, Elvin oversees corrupt and fraudulent Credit Recovery and Project Graduation programs designed to pass through and ultimately send to graduation hundreds of students—in the process, establishing for Dewey bogus school statistics and for Elvin, financial remuneration!
During the past week alone, Elvin’s sickening practices have been exposed by the CBS Evening News, WPIX and the The New York Post.

On Wednesday, March 25th 2015, CBS News Chief Political Correspondent, Marcia Kramer brought the issue of Kathleen Elvin at Dewey directly to the attention of Mayor DeBlasio and Chancellor Farina during a meeting at Brooklyn Automotive High School.

Regrettably, the Mayor and Farina seem poised to cover up this scandal. The effect of such a policy would be disastrous for the teachers and students of John Dewey!
At this critical time, your help is greatly needed to maintain public pressure and hopefully hasten the departure of Elvin and her cronies from Dewey, restoring in the process, a desperately needed measure of decency and integrity to a once proud and respected NYC High School!

Please utilize your blogs to the fullest possible extent showing your solidarity and support for integrity, public education and the efforts of a truly courageous and dedicated group of teachers!

MORE calls on the Mayor and Chancellor to immediately remove the principal as they conduct their investigation. The C-30 panel should have the final decision on new administration.

AFT Partnering with Coca-Cola and Ending Its Short-Lived Boycott

I hope Randi Weingarten at least got a lifetime's worth of free product for advancing Coca-Cola’s interests over the well being of children.  --- Ray Rogers, Director of Corporate Campaign, Inc. and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
How many ways can you sell out? Let me count the ways. Didn't the AFT convention pass a resolution on Coke this past summer that Randi had the AFT Exec Council overturn?

Why is she getting our union involved with Coke? Is Coke providing any funding for AFT activities?

From: Lew Friedman
Date: March 29, 2015 at 11:49:09 PM GMT+1
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: AFT president bows to Coca-Cola: final revised statement for Corporate Crime Reporter--done Sunday 3/29
Hi All:

The AFT Exec Council decided to end the Coca-Cola boycott that was presented at last summer's convention and later passed. In addition, Randi and the AFT is partnering with Coca-Cola to address child labor.  The following is a statement by Ray Rogers, Director of Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.


Corporate Crime Reporter Editor Russell MoKhiber asked for a comment on 3/27/15 AFT announcement which follows:
Statement by Ray Rogers, Director of Corporate Campaign, Inc. and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke: Response to American Federation of Teachers' Announcement on 3/27/15 That The Union Is Partnering with Coca-Cola and Ending Its Short-Lived Boycott

Randi Endorses Opt Out - Will Mulgrew be next? Will UFT/AFT put skin in the game?

Thank you, Randi, for personally and unambiguously endorsing opt out! Encourage your members across the nation to join those who are defending their students and their profession. It is hard to stand up alone; in unity there is strength... Diane Ravitch
Fred Smith from Change the Stakes writes:
I hate when they are spineless until they are forced to do the right thing---and then they have the balls to take credit for it. They are complete cowards, phonies and revisionists. What a sick labor world--when Randi, with no teaching experience, can continue to act out her hollow charade.
I hope Diane is not falling for this. Fred hasn't. Let's see what Randi does - ie AFT money into supporting opt out - not what she says.

People have been in touch asking what is going on just a week after Unity caucus rejected the MORE DA reso on testing and then failed to even get to their own tepid reso at that meeting.  I reported yesterday:

Did NYSUT Pres Magee Just Endorse MORE Testing Reso That Unity Rejected?

I wasn't at the DA but here is my analysis.

The MORE reso got too much support from non-Unity delegates and was a warning sign to the leadership that we had a hot issue. I believe they purposely made sure their own reso wouldn't come up as time ran out -- they could have extended if they wanted to. So they went into their "let's co-opt the issue before it takes hold."

Massive kudos to MORE's Mike Schirtzer for devising a brilliant strategy and leading the charge. He wrote most of the reso with some input from me.

They also see opt out as the only weapon - and look for some loosening of support for common core as they see themselves on the wrong side of history - as they always seem to be.

Now we know to watch what they do, not what they say. Now that Ravitch is reporting: BREAKING NEWS: AFT President Randi Weingarten Endorses Opt Out! we can expect the UFT to start making similar noises.

But reality will be if they actually do anything by using their ability to reach into every school in the city - sending their people out to spread the message, attend PTA meetings -- which CTS is doing. After all, when there is a contract or elections or anything they really want they inundate the schools - how about some literature - print up some of the CTS resources -- in case they don't know where to find them: https://changethestakes.wordpress.com.

Now we know from Randi's past, this is probably just rhetoric - let's see the AFT jump in with money to support opt out.

Ravitch argues for opt out in ways teachers can use with parents asking questions:
Opting out is not about helping the teachers' union or opposing accountability. It is a clear, unambiguous message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control. Testing is not teaching. Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong. The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools. Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd "cut scores" (passing mark) pegged to NAEP's proficient level.
 Here are some of Randi's social media meanderings -
@lacetothetop et al have asked what I'd do if I had kids in NYPS—based on what I’ve seen, if I had kids, I’d opt them out of the PEARSON (PAARC) tests this yr
It’s crazy what’s happening in NY, w/ Cuomo leading the misuse of testing. We understand why @NYSUT and parents are calling for an opt-out
We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We’ve said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA.
Randi tries to say she has been consistent in supporting opt out, belying the Ravitch "Breaking" headline.
I've been involved with the opt out movement for years and for the first time it seems to be reaching deeper into the schools and UFT membership who are beginning to see opt out as the only thing that can save them from ed deform - when thousands of parents use their choice -- Eva's parents don't get choice -- to vote with their feet.

Already 3 schools in one building? Why not give Eva space and make it 4? Or 5?

Don't forget to include space for the dungeon
CONCOURSE VILLAGE — Parents, students and teachers are fuming mad about a city proposal to expand a Success Academy charter school into a Bronx building that already houses three middle schools, arguing the addition will make the school crowded and dangerous. "The impression I get is that their kids are more important than our kids," said Jim Donohue, an eighth grade English teacher at Arturo Toscanini, one of the middle schools in the building. "I don't understand why they get to push half a school aside." ....DNAinfo
Really, how much has changed in Tweed since BloomKleinCott left?
The Department of Education has proposed adding grades three through five of Success Academy Bronx 3, now located at 968 Cauldwell Ave., into the building at 1000 Teller Ave., which currently houses three schools serving grades six through eight: Arturo Toscanini, the Urban Science Academy and New Millennium Business Academy Middle School.
The building also contains an Alternate Learning Center for students who are serving suspensions of up to 90 days.
They don't know the half of it as Eva's minions start demanding space for every non-classroom activity they can make up - a farting room, anyone?

Bronx Middle School Parents Angered at Success Academy Co-Location Proposal


I can pretty much guarantee at least 1 or more current schools will be gone to make space for Eva to grow.

The area is near Yankee Stadium --- there must be some gentrification going on --- use my personal gentrification warning signal - where Eva wants to go.

Change the Stakes Bronx Forum: Time to Talk About the Tests - Weds, April 1

CTS - doing the work the UFT won't do.
Change the Stakes
Bronx Forum: Time to Talk About the Tests - Spring greetings! Change the Stakes is very excited to promote this important discussion on testing this Wednesday, April 1st, in the Bronx. Please share... 
Make my day, ed deformers
As a member of CTS steering committee I've monitored the extensive work and prep these ladies put into these events. Oh, what warriors they are ---

Spring greetings!  Change the Stakes is very excited to promote this important discussion on testing this Wednesday, April 1st, in the Bronx.

 Please share this event with your Bronx networks and any parents, educators & others who might be interested.

Download flyer



Jamaal BowmanBronx meeting 04 01 15

Monday, March 30, 2015

Opt Out meeting in Queens this Wednesday night!

Teachers who read this blog must take an active hand in supporting the opt out movement as the only way to counter the total assault. Join NYC Opt Out on facebook. Go to the Queens meeting on Wed. if you can.
Janine Sopp posted in NYC Opt Out

Opt Out meeting in Queens this Wednesday night! Spread the word! There will be a public forum about opting out of the State Tests hosted by a Jackson Heights, Queens neighborhood organization called People for Public Schools.

The meeting will be on April 1 at 7:30pm at the Community United Methodist Church at 81-10 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights. For more information you can email peopleforpublicschools@gmail.com

Breaking: School funding and teacher evaluations are linked after all, a top official with the state education department said late Monday.

Ask Mulgrew if his "Our hard work has paid dividends" statement still holds? Oh where oh where are our Unity trolls?


Norm in The Wave: Condemning State Budget Plan as UFT/NYSUT Tries to Put Lipstick on the Pig

Posted to The WAVE for publication April 3, 2015

Condemning State Budget Plan as UFT/NYSUT Tries to Put Lipstick on the Pig
By Norm Scott

As I hit deadline (Monday afternoon) details of the state budget agreement pertaining to education have been emerging all day. UFT President Mulgrew Mulgrew, in a wtf moment for me: 
“Our hard work has paid dividends: In a rebuke to the anti-public-school agenda of hedge-fund billionaires, the state Legislature tonight reached agreement on a new budget and a package of education proposals that will immediately increase aid to public schools, ensure that teacher evaluations do not hinge on state test scores and ensure local oversight of struggling schools.”
 Let's see:
·      Extending tenure to 4 years – with principal options to extend it further year after year.
·      Bringing in outside observers to observe teachers (how would police unions react to that?).
·      State receivership of "failing" schools – another way to funnel money away from public schools and into private hands.
·      Expedited teacher firings based on test scores ("ineffective" on the test component and you have to be rated "ineffective" overall - two straight "ineffectives" and you're fired.)
·      Turning over all unresolved issues to the crooked NY State Ed department.

These are dividends? The UFT is parsing at its best. One of the things Cuomo didn’t get – yet – is raising the charter school cap. That battle is still to come. I have some solace in that Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder assured me that while he supports charter schools (shame on him) he doesn’t support raising the cap – I will be watching for his vote. Unfortunately Phil also supports the Education Tax Credit giveaway to private/parochial school interests which would funnel up to $300 million a year to parents who choose to keep their kids out of public school – they want choice, let them pay for it. (As I pointed out to Phil – I might like to have a private carting firm pick up my garbage on more convenient days – can I get a tax credit?)

Jeanette Deutermann, a  parent test opt out leader from Long Island didn’t quite agree with Mulgrew:

“Our sellout lawmakers just agreed to turn our classrooms into testing factories. They agreed to make our children worth no more than a score. They have put us firmly down the course to dismantling our unions, and have decided that our voices don't matter. All that is left for us is to say is "we refuse". This classroom killing deal can only work if they get our test scores. We will deny them the weapon being used to destroy our schools. WE DO NOT CONSENT!!!!!! … And UFT/Mulgrew declares victory????? Mulgrew it is DEFINITELY time for you to go. City teachers, time to rise up. I rarely get involved w UFT politics, but his praise of this horrendous deal shows how this has happened. I've had enough. NYSUT, we're waiting for a response, and it had better be a strong one.”
Karen Magee, NYSUT (the state-wide union) president, did respond Monday afternoon:   
“We are encouraging parents to opt out… we will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this.”   
This was surprising to some, given Magee is considered a Mulgrew puppet. The Mulgrew led Unity Caucus at just last week’s (March 25) Delegate Assembly had turned down a strong ant-high stakes testing/pro opt out resolution proposed by MORE, the caucus I am a member of (morecaucusnyc.org/2015/03/25/opt-out-resolution-defeated-by-uft-leadership).

The rejected MORE resolution called on the UFT to:

·      declare its opposition to the use of state- or federal-mandated standardized tests for the purposes of making grade promotion, graduation, teacher evaluation, or other high-stakes decisions regarding students or teachers.

·      supports the right of parents and guardians to choose to opt-out their children from any or all state- or federally-mandated testing, and supports the right of teachers to discuss freely with parents and guardians their rights and responsibilities with respect to such testing, all without any negative consequences from NYC DOE.

·      will fully support and protect members and others who may suffer any negative consequences as a result of speaking about their views of such testing or about the rights and obligations of parents and guardians with respect to such testing.

·      will use its organizational capacity to inform members in every chapter about the right of parents/guardians to opt-out their children from state or federal mandated testing.
·      will support and defend members who are conscientious objectors to administering standardized assessments.

·      will demand an immediate halt to all Common Core based testing, curriculum and standards, until it has been properly field tested.

What’s not to like? The UFT has the ability to reach out to every school in the city to inform and promote the advantages of opting out and to support parents who are threatened and denied their rights by school administrators. As the education disaster movie plays out, my guess is that the UFT/Unity Caucus will start to see some merit in aspects of the MORE resolution relating to opt out. If the tests are going to be misused, deny them the data.

As I was closing, NYSAPE, a state coalition of parents headlined: Legislators MUST Vote NO to Budget bill (www.nysape.org/legislators-must-vote-no-to-budget-bill.html). Come on Phil, take the pledge.

Norm blogs too often at: ednotesonline.org

Did NYSUT Pres Magee Just Endorse MORE Testing Reso That Unity Rejected?

Going on the offense, NYSUT’s Magee calls for test boycott

“We are encouraging parents to opt out,” Magee said explaining that instructions for an opt-out are on their website. She also said “we will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this.”.... Capitol Confidential
AA (Always Amazing) Lauren Cohen makes reso at DA
I was asked just now what does nysut support for opt out means given the UFT/Unity turning down the MORE reso that called for support for the opt out movement
- see reso and commentary at nyceducator: DA Takeaway.
My response:
good cop, bad cop ---- desperation -- watch uft begin to reverse on opt out -- maybe even common core --- walls closing in.
I usually get uft motivation but on reluctance to jump in with both feet on opt out i just don't get. I need to understand why uft resists jumping on the bandwagon - fear of tabloids accusing them of acting like a union?

Really, think about it. An all out assault on the tests in support of opt out by the uft could double or triple the opt out movement and undermine Cuomo's victory lap.  Imagine uft staffers actually being used for good? Send reps to every PTA meeting in every school. Do what NJEA did with hard hitting opt out ads. Now that's something even I would contribute to.

MORE Reports on The #ProtectOurSchools Rally

I won't comment at this time on the effectiveness of a rally that the uft helped organize that drew a reported 2000 people - the uft will spin the budget deal as a victory - [satire alert] maybe those 2000 people in front of his office scared Cuomo into giving up --

Perdido sees things like I do ---

NYSUT, UFT Bring Us Another Disaster

So much for all those rallies, ad and rhetoric from union leaders that they're not going to let Governor Cuomo destroy public schools. The budget agreement was announced last night and in it we got details of the new teacher evaluation system and other education reforms agreed to by Cuomo, the Assembly and the Senate.
Three parts should be particularly galling to you if you're a teacher:
 We don't need no stinkin' details to know we were screwed -- if there were no rallies or actions, would the result have been much different? I'll do some details another time.

For MORE, though, the rally was a win, with some of our key people - Jia Lee, Patrick Walsh and Mindy Rosier - all current or past members of steering - playing roles.

Here is the report (morecaucusnyc
#ProtectOurSchools Rally) from the MORE blog:

UFT members, parents, and supporters of public schools all around New York State took part in rallies, protests and forums, created wonderful signs, reached out to the press and used social media to spread our love for public schools. These actions culminated in a rally at Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office with thousands of people demanding that the Governor work with us, not against us.

MORE believes these actions should be the start, not the end, of a mass mobilization of educators and parents to have our voices heard. Too many decisions have been made without our input. This needs to change now!

Our due process tenure rights are under attack as is the very concept of being in a union. We must continue to build actions alongside parents, students, and the communities we serve to show our strength.

MORE was well represented at the Rally To Protect Our Schools on March 28 with Mindy Rosier, Jia Lee, and Patrick Walsh all featured as speakers.

Noah Gotbaum - Parent Advocate

Mindy Rosier - Jeremy Dudley - Teachers

Patrick Walsh - Teacher

Jia Lee - Teacher

Thousands joined to #protectourschools in Manhattan today! Speakers included Zephyr Teachout, Robert Jackson, Lisa Rudley, PS 321 principal Liz Phillips, Karen Sprowal, Noah Gotbaum, and more!

Here's the lone press report on the rally
Students, parents, and teachers protest New York governor's plan to tie standardized tests to teacher evaluations

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bloody Budget Sunday

Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Heastie Announce Agreement on 2015-16 Budget

I'll leave it to wiser heads to analyze what it means. But bloody it may be.

off to sleep, per chance to dream - counting crooked politicians.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hand Saga 3: Three nights in Hosp of Joint Diseases - I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else

Puncture wounds are always relentlessly risky. Septic conditions… that is truly frightening. I have 2 contractor friends who have both nearly died from precisely this type of injury. I hope all is well with you, please be careful!... email message

Sending love and healing....
 From my good pals at Change the Stakes

A get well photo to Norm from 3rd Ave

i'm at the rally - sort of
I'm writing this as a lessons to learn multi-part saga. The first 2 parts:
After i got home from the hospital friday i saw mike, the contractor who does work next door, using a Passlode gas powered light nailer and told him my story. He said he had to go to the hospital on 3 separate occasions with similar injuries, once with an entire nail through his hand with the head butting up against his skin - he pried it out with a plier. ugh! Who knew about this stuff?

Let me take you back to Tuesday afternoon, March 24. I was going to pick up the high school newsletter in Flushing at noon but it was delayed until 5. My hand kept getting worse and I called Dr. M. He said I had to go to a hand surgeon who would open it up to drain it and gave me 2 names, both in the same office.

Hand Saga 2: Nail Guns

My wife, not a fan of my blog, has urged me to share my story as a warning to others.

My little accident on March 19 occurred using a framing nail gun I wasn't used to. Normally I use a battery-powered finish nailer for thinner wood. But 2x4s require a 2-3 inch full size nail to hold boards together. In the old days hammers were used - and how often would I mash my thumb - I wasn't very good at hammering either -- nowadays most people use guns -- you can hear the constant thwack on construction jobs.

We have a state of the art gas-powered Passlode (expensive) framing gun. I was building a bench and had to nail  two 2x4s together. I used my left hand to steady the wood and shot the nail with my right. I didn't have the gun lined up correctly and the nail passed through the first piece but missed the second by a hair, apparently nicking the tip of the fleshy part of my palm just below the area of where the thumb meets the forefinger. The nail did not embed - there was little pain or blood - just a small indentation.
[Spoiler alert -- later revealed to not be the result of nail but a small piece of wood - a very big splinter - shot into my hand and embedded.]

I thought little of it. I pressed a paper towel - probably not clean - against it and went on to finish nailing the rest of the bench. One thing I realized on the shot that got me - this tool is very powerful and has a kick - so I was pretty careful in using it from then on.

A former doctor was working with me on the bench and urged me to wash the wound and use the first aid kit -- i put some antiseptic and gauze over it and when i got home i put some iodine. I went to the city and by the evening there was pain in my fingers and inflammation beyond the wound. I took advil when i got home and swelling went down and pain went away -- that was my solution -- masking the dangers.

Friday i told my wife and she said i should go to local urgent care. i was too busy. Same on Saturday - but by evening it was clear i had to go. As i chronicled in a previous post i went sunday morning -updated - talk to the hand - Lessons Learned: The quality of a doctor matters more than that of a teacher - you can lose your hand to flesh-eating bacteria the urgent care doc was not alarmed. He should have been. Sunday night we decided i had to go to my doc. And he sounded an alarm - hoping a dose of IV antibiotic would work. Monday eve at Gigi - it seemed to be working. Tues morn it looked to be reversing. Tues afternoon things were getting bad.

Tired from typing with 1 finger. Back next time with next chapter.

Opt Out: CORE CAUCUS (CHICAGO) does what Unity caucus won't

What a shame that tiny grassroots groups like Change the Stakes has to strain its resources to reach out to parents when the uft has the infrastructure to reach every school in the city -- just watch them when there's a lousy contract to pass or a uft election. I helped Mike Schirtzer write this plank in the MORE testing reso turned down at the DA.

CTS has the kind of resources you can use on its site.

NEW!!! Opting Out of the State ELA & Math Tests in NYC: Frequently Asked Questions

Share with your colleagues and parents -- opt out is our only defense against the onslaught and the uft is missing in action.

CORE which runs the 2nd largest teacher union in the nation has a different approach:

http://www.coreteachers.org/ provides resources to teachers and parents. Here are a few.

Is NY Times Incompetent Ed Coverage Intentional?

Do reporters at the New York Times know that cheating occurs? We’re fairly sure they do! Just last Tuesday, a news report in the Times ran beneath this headline:“Closing Arguments Begin in Test Cheating Trial of 12 Atlanta Educators”. In the past few years, cheating scandals have been so huge that even our most famous newspapers have managed to report them. But by force of habit and dint of culture, reporters still fail to connect the dots when it comes to a topic like this.

Has Governor Cuomo thought about this? We don’t have the slightest idea! Our mightiest paper, the New York Times, seems disinclined to ask.... Daily Howler
One of my fave topics is the biased, but mostly no-nothing reporting on education - and probably most other issues. The tabloids have long-time ed beat writers who get to know the local ed scene but often distort their reporting to reflect editorial. The Times has a different tactic - inexperience - sort of a tfa for ed reporting. People who really know the beat, like Mike Winerip or Anna Philips, are pushed out for new blood that doesn't have a clue. Why? Because the more experience, the more the ed deform scam becomes clear and if honest, a good reporter can't really distort the issues in favor of the deformers.

Leonie has a good piece on her blog: NYC Public School Parents:
Is the tug of war on education policy between liberal "reform proponents" and the unions, as the NY Times argues, or the 1% and nearly everyone else?
in the process of writing about this ideological battle, the reporter, Maggie Haberman, characterizes Democrats for Education Reform, one of the principle hedge fund-backed lobby groups as a “left of center group,” which is absurd.  For some reason, DFER has managed to persuade reporters that it has any liberal credentials, despite the fact that as Diane Ravitch pointed out, the California Democratic Party has repudiated it.  

Parents Across America wrote an open letter to the NPR ombudsman in 2011, objecting to the fact that Claudio Sanchez, the NPR reporter, had called DFER a “liberal” organization, while quoting their criticism of the progressive participants in the anti-corporate reform Save Our Schools march in DC.   

We also pointed out that DFER’s founder, hedge fund operator Whitney Tilson, admitted that the only reason he put “Democrats” in the organization’s title and focused on convincing Democrats to adopt their pro-privatization agenda was that GOP leaders were already in agreement with most of their positions.
And the Howler takes the Times to task on reporting on the evaluation issue where he raises the purposeful ignoring of cheating as a factor -- go test some of Eva's charter kids at random in June - or September.

Friday, March 27, 2015

updated - talk to the hand - Lessons Learned: The quality of a doctor matters more than that of a teacher - you can lose your hand to flesh-eating bacteria

Friday - March 27, 10:30 pm -

[update - this was one of my last blog posts -- originally posted Tues march 24, 2015 but reverted to draft as new info on my hand came in -- back from 3 nights in joint diseases hospital today [friday] after operation on hand - yes very scary stuff -- when i wrote this tues morn i was optimistic - by late afternoon i figured i was being attacked by flesheating bacteria - not true - i hope -- excuse one hand typing -- will give details in follow-up tomorrow with perspectives on health care and a surprise about what they found in my hand --- and you wont be seeing me at tomorrow's or any rallies or events for a while. thanks to those who sent best wishes.]
march 24, 12pm

The assault on teachers is so outlandish - and seemingly accepted by so much of our society and the press - that the lack of similar calls for other professions is stark.

Let's look at doctors -- I had a very personal experience with over the past few days that illustrates an important point -- there is a qualitative difference between physicians --- and it is not something that can be quantified.

This is a lesson to anyone who thinks they might have a minor, self-treating injury.

A tale of 2 treatments

Last Thursday, I was building a bench for a project and using a gas-powered framing nail gun, a tool I had not used before, I shot the first nail and it went in on an angle and the tip caught a bit of the fleshy part of my left palm -- it looked like maybe an eighth of an inch. There was no pain and little blood -- I wrapped it in a paper towel. One of the guys is an ex-physician and urged me to wash it out with water -- the best thing you can use he said. "It's nothing," I said but did use the first aid kit about a half hour later to dab it with some antiseptic and put some gauze on it. When I got home I put some iodine and a bandaid and went off to the city to see a movie and meet a friend for dinner.

It began to hurt like a bitch while I was on the subway -- my fingers were bothering me and there was some swelling. When I got home I took some advil and it felt better. The Advil seemed to control the swelling and inflammation and the pain.

Friday I worked at the theater building sets and it wasn't really bothering me but the area was inflamed. Friday afternoon I went off to the city - in the snowstorm - to check out the NYCORE rehearsal for the next day, then on to the downtown MORE meeting and finally off to the gala Rockaway Theatre Company party at El Caribe in Mill Basin - I didn't get home 'till midnight - took some Advil and again felt better.

Up early Saturday morning for the all-day NYCORE conference. By the afternoon my hand was looking real ugly -- I took the band-aid off to show Janice who was working with me at the MORE table and she winced. Gloria and Lisa thought I should head home and skip the after party  -- so I headed home at 6PM -- my wife took one look and said I should go to a local urgent care clinic Sunday morning -- which I did.

The doctor said it was infected, put me in antibiotics, gave me a topical salve and gave me a tetanus shot. He said give it 2 or 3 days and come back if it wasn't getting better. Then I was off to my acting class at the theater.

By Sunday night every part of my hand was inflamed. How could it be from such a little nick? We were going into the city on Monday so I called my doctor whose office is on 38th street and got an appointment at 3PM.

He took one look and shook his head at the remedies the urgent care doc had given me. The anti-biotic was not really a very good one and the salve was useless. I needed an anti-biotic IV, which he gave me for about a half hour and prescribed a new anti-biotic. The IV was essential, something the urgent care doctor didn't seem to recognize.

My doc told me I was in real danger if I had neglected this- necritis - hand injuries are very dangerous due to confined space. That this was a tiny entry wound that closed up and didn't bleed much in essence trapped the infection. It would have been better if the nail had gone straight through.

Then we were off to dinner and a show - a preview of Gigi.  He told me to come back Thursday for another IV if the swelling doesn't go down. I still feel like I'm in danger as there is still ugly discoloration -- I'd show you a pic but don't want you to lose your appetite.

So, coming back to the beginning issue: The urgent care doc was not as astute as my personal doc in understanding the situation - which is why you get 2nd opinions.

Clearly, the reason I shlep into the city to see my doctor is because he is so good.

I don't see Cuomo very worried about rating health care workers. I don't advocate doing that to them - or to teachers - or any profession.

There will always be degrees of competence in any profession and that will never be fixed.

It is only when it comes to teachers that the world has seemingly gone crazy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fred Smith Exposed NY State Ed/Pearson Test Tamper Scams

“They produced a defective product, and don’t want you to know about it,” said Fred Smith, a former city test analyst who discovered the missing items... The alterations suggest serious flaws in the high-stakes tests, which Gov. Cuomo wants to rely on more heavily to rate students, teachers and schools, said Smith, who published his findings last week in City Limits magazine... NY Post

Fred, a stalwart Change the Stakes core member followed up with this:

We must use SED's dishonesty to support the following:
  • An independent investigation of the NYS Testing Program and the SED/Pearson relationship.
  • A sufficient reason for parents to opt their children out of the April exams and for teachers to actively encourage them.  And leverage for MORE to use against the UFT's double games.
  • The implementation of better assessment alternatives as a replacement for the current useless year-to-year abominations.
  • The ouster of Ken Wagner, SED's chief stonewaller, and the above-it-all Chancellor Tisch.
  • A demand for transparency and revision of the NYS Truth-in-Testing Law.
  • Pressure on the Regents and politicians to do what's necessary and in their self-interest by supporting this agenda.  Better late than never.
NY Post piece below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Opt Out in the black community: Meeting With a Brooklyn Elementary School PTA

Others talked about how their children loved school - until they hit a testing wall - and started not liking school in the 3rd grade. The very same stories I hear coming from white parents.... My Report from a PTA meeting.
There is a common assumption that opting out of tests in urban areas is for the gentrified white middle class - the Arne Duncan line - but also something I hear from my friends on the left.

And gentrified areas are certainly where opt out started here in NYC, with the hot beds being Washington Heights and Park Slope.

We all recognized that from Day 1 but I eschewed the supposed reasons - that the black community wanted tests and the idea they viewed the opt out movement with suspicion would turn out to be overblown as the negatives of the tests were impacted their own children. After all, just look at the outcomes of the one-test judgement in the specialty schools like Stuy and Bronx High? Not a lot of their kids make it to those schools, though at Brooklyn Tech there always was a higher level of black students (including a bunch I taught in the 70s). I think even that level has dropped in recent years.

Change the Stakes made a conscious effort to start reaching out to the communities of color -- by sending reps to speak at district monthly Community Education Council (CEC) meetings - even if they are poorly attended. Newly posted-
Slowly, CTS has been making headway and when a Brooklyn elementary school PTA President asked Change the Stakes to send a representative to speak about opting out to parents at a PTA meeting last week, no parent was available that morning and I was asked to represent the group.

Two parent activists from Brooklyn New School (PS 146) also signed on to join me. BNS PAC web page materials: http://www.bns146.org/content/parent-action-committee-pac.
About 15-20 parents showed up to the meeting and almost all of them were black. I knew the school and had assumed it was more of a racially mixed school. It is a Title 1 school. My guess is that there is a strong middle class component amongst the black parents at this particular meeting - a key group in extending the opt out movement. I'm guessing we will see opt out hit black schools in eastern Queens and possibly Canarsie before places like Brownsville and East NY.

As for the charter schools inundating the city, choice is no choice when it comes to opting out. A parent opting out in an Eva school will be opted right out of the school.

I shared some of my personal experiences with the impact of high stakes tests in my own school with a principal who pushed testing above all else. Stories came flooding back to me of how students were impacted and how my teaching was affected. The BNS parents answered questions about opting out.

It was a lively discussion. One parent talked about how her child was impacted and suffered anxiety and depression. Another said her daughter would do fine and didn't have a problem. The BNS parents said their kids would also do fine but for them there were bigger issues. They didn't expect everyone to see it that way but they were there to make sure people knew their options to opt out. Others talked about how their children loved school - until they hit a testing wall - and started not liking school in the 3rd grade. The very same stories I hear coming from white parents.

I was very impressed with the PTA president - for her leadership and her ability to articulate issues. The school is very lucky to have her and her crew.

The principal was there for part of the meeting and sent her AP over to cover the rest. Both seemed like decent people -- but who really knows. After the meeting, she asked me to take a quick tour of the school with her to demonstrate they did not do constant test prep -- she felt my presentation about my principal might have given the parents the wrong impression.

My instinct was that this a school where the PTA is not controlled by the administration. A very good thing. The PTA president asked me to drop off a dvd of our film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, which I hope she shows at a future meeting. We became facebook friends and I am hoping she brings her talents to CTS and helps extend the outreach of the anti-high stakes testing and opt out movement.

She said she would see us at this Saturday's demo at Cuomo's office - and she was bringing her 3rd grade daughter.

Brownsville DID have a school with a big opt out last year! Parents from PS 446, Riverdale Community School joined with parents from BNS and Arts & Letters (Brooklyn's D13) for a joint press conference. Here is a link to video of a 446 parent at that event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7gNvimLp-k.

Dewey Principal Kathleen Elvin's Credit Recovery Graduation Scam -- DUHHHH!

The NY Post has a story today about John Dewey HS that has been all over Ed Notes for 9 months. Double DUHHHH! And I love how good old anti-teacher and union reporter Carl Campanile threads the needle:

Teaching kids takes so much effort, staffers at John Dewey HS in Brooklyn have found a quicker way to fix persistent failure rates...

Schmuck. Principal Elvin and her APs set up a fear factory and set policy and force people to adhere to it, especially the untenured - which Carl and his paper are so opposed to. Double schmuck.

Oh, la di da -- some "staffers" decided they didn't want to put effort into teaching children and out of the blue came up with a scheme. Triple schmuck.

When the DOE, which has been informed about these schemes for over a year or more -- but only when contacted by the press - and the Post is not the only one doing a story on this -- did they act like it was news to them.

Here are just a few Ed Notes posts on the Dewey and Elvin story -- in case Carl Campanile and the rest of the press want to really know what's going on.

Mar 07, 2015
Dewey has one of the highest number of ineffective rated teachers by Elvin while at the same time she claims enormous success due to fraudulent credit recovery schemes. Red flag anyone? Here are the latest comments:
Dec 25, 2014
Based on the comments, a major issue is a phony credit recovery scheme and some ridiculous work rules imposed by the Elvin administrators, some of whom seem to be so awful. Hearing about how these slugs continue to ...
Dec 10, 2014
Gerard Papa, 61, who runs Flames, a basketball tournament and mentoring program for 700 kids ages 8 to 19, says Kathleen Elvin, the principal of John Dewey High School, closed off the school's secondary gym last ...
Sep 26, 2014
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 ...
Sep 25, 2014
“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 ...
Jun 26, 2014
Kathleen Elvin was sent into John Dewey HS as a closer a few years ago - to make sure to drive the final nail in Dewey's coffin and remove many of the teachers, mostly senior. But the UFT lawsuit stopped that process over ...
Dec 17, 2014
Mrs Elvin, who was behind the non-stop attack on this teacher all last year and this year, was suddenly eulogizing her over the loudspeaker, and making sure everyone knew she was so deeply, deeply saddened by the loss of ...
 The Post story below the break.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Watching a great teacher work: What I learned in acting class on Sunday

Since I've gotten involved in many back and front stage aspects of the theater out here in Rockaway, I've learned to appreciate live theater in so many ways - from set design, lighting, sound and the essentials of acting.

There are reasons to go see revivals because different actors - and more important, directors, bring a wide variety of prespectives to the play and the various roles.

Thus my recent visit (I'm a Mad Man About Peggy) to The Heidi Chronicles with Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss' unique interpretation was just one slice of how that play could have been presented. (The Times gave it a top-level review).

I've been taking a Sunday morning acting class at the Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) with 28-year old Frank Ciaiti, a guidance counselor in the DOE, my 3rd or 4th class with Frank in the past 6 years. Frank was trying full-time acting when I met him and is now bringing his wide-ranging talents to his middle school in Brooklyn.

He was recruited to RTC over a decade ago as a student at Leon Goldstein HS in Brooklyn by some of his teachers there who are mainstays at RTC.

So in this class people are teamed to rehearse and perform a scene. My partner is a young NYC Queens middle school theater teacher. She chose a scene for us to do from "On Golden Pond" - where I play the Henry Fonda "dad" role - and my name is Norman, so that solves one memory issue. She plays the Jane Fonda daughter part. This is the famous reconciliation scene on the dock, with dad in the row boat and daughter on the dock. They never got a along. With great difficulty, she makes the first move. After we did a run through Frank jumped in with pointers. Since we are both static we needed a way to avoid each other so Frank told me not to look at her and to be fishing so I had something to occupy myself. I also played it with some sarcastic responses which he felt was not the way to do it -- but dad does say somethings that hurt daughter. So we do the scene and when I say these words, she starts to cry-- really cry. She tapped into something that made her emotional. Holy shit! Acting 101. She had to pull herself together. I have seen that on stage and always took if for granted. But to play an active role in it makes me appreciate acting for all it's worth. J is a wonderful actress - I've seen her in a few roles, notably as one of the stewardesses in Boeing Boeing and as one of the strippers in Gypsy. What a treat to be working with her -- and to have Frank to guide us.

There were other scenes performed today where Frank jumped in to guide people. In The Graduate, an older Mrs. Robinson had to seduce young Benjamin. The actress, a woman probably around 60 - a retired DOE teacher I believe - was working with a 23 year old - and seemed uncomfortable in going far enough to make the scene effective. Frank yelled -- "you want to screw him - every single line - even innocuous ones - must have that behind it. Stop being a Jewish grandmother." Then he tells her to touch him. She grazes his shoulder. Frank laughs. "Grab his inner thigh," he orders. I won't go on -- but this is amazing teaching.

And here is one more. Arthur Miller's "View From the Bridge" a Brooklyn waterfront drama. The 2010 revival with Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber, got good reviews.

This scene is between the wife and husband - he has a thing for the Johansson 17-year old house guest and is covering it up with anger at the young guy who is pursuing her - his wife gets what is going on. Now these are 2 veteran RTC actors - he played the Joe Hardy role in Damn Yankees and she had done many roles. So it was fascinating to see how Frank broke down the spots where each of them needed to ratchet things up or down. This was like going to a literary class studying the play. Much better of course. The emotion that emerged in different ways and how Frank adjusted things to get the emotion out at different times - and how skillfully the actors responded on a dime was like opening a window into so much I have always taken for granted regarding live theater.

Tomorrow we go to see Gigi -- and I think with some insights I might not have had before today.

Add on
So I also help build the sets. Last Wednesday I was using a gas powered framing nail gun and had my hand too close when I shot the nail on an angle and the tip of the nail clipped a bit of my palm. There was little blood and I put a bandage on it and some peroxide and took some Advil. But it's been bothering me and by Saturday's end of the NYCORE conference, even though some of my favorite people were going to the after-party at 6PM I felt I had to go home and take care of it. This morning I went to a local urgent care clinic and it is infected and I got some anti-biotics and some cream. It's burning like a bitch but here's hoping flesh-eating bacteria is staying away.

Lesson learned: Keep my free hand far away from certain tools. And go to the doctor sooner rather than later --I'd take a photo of my hand but you don't want to see that.