Monday, February 29, 2016

Public Support For Reigning in Charter Schools -

  • “School choice” ranks last in a list of the biggest concerns voters have for K-12 education, with only 8% listing it as a concern.
  • Far more popular than “school choice” or unaccountable charter schools is the concept of community schools, which serve as community hubs, ensuring that every student and their family gets the opportunity to succeed no matter what zip code they live in.
The school choice bullshit which means undermining neighborhood schools and bringing in charter carpetbaggers is wearing thin.

This is progress, though I am waiting for the poll that shows the public supports putting a dagger to the heart of these charter scam-a-lots.

National Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Reigning in Charter Schools

New National Polling Shows Large Majorities of Voters Support Reforms to Address Fraud, Mismanagement, and Poor Academic Performance in Charter Schools

Washington, D.C.—As the number of charter schools continues to rise, few states are paying adequate attention to how to hold these schools accountable to parents, communities, and taxpayers. Now, new poll results released today by In the Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) show that Americans embrace proposals to reform the way charter schools are authorized and managed.

The poll shows overwhelming national support for initiatives to strengthen charter school accountability and transparency, improve teacher training and qualifications, prevent fraud, serve high-need students, and ensure that neighborhood public schools are not adversely affected.

“A severe lack of public oversight and real accountability has created what are essentially two separate school districts in many places, each competing for students and funding,” said Donald Cohen, Executive Director of In the Public Interest. “This is increasing inequality in public education, and these results confirm that parents and communities want to fix that.”

The poll’s key findings include:
  •  Overwhelming majorities, as high as 92%, back proposals to strengthen transparency and accountability, improve teacher training and qualifications, implement anti-fraud measures, ensure high-need students are served, and make sure neighborhood public schools are not adversely affected.
  • 92% of voters support requiring companies and organizations that manage charter schools to open board meetings to parents and the public.
  • 90% of voters support requiring companies and organizations that manage charter schools to release to parents and the public how they spend taxpayer money.
  • “School choice” ranks last in a list of the biggest concerns voters have for K-12 education, with only 8% listing it as a concern.
  • Far more popular than “school choice” or unaccountable charter schools is the concept of community schools, which serve as community hubs, ensuring that every student and their family gets the opportunity to succeed no matter what zip code they live in.
A statewide poll of Colorado voters showed that 69% rate the quality of education at public schools in their neighborhood excellent or good—an even higher percentage than those that feel that way nationally. Colorado voters also overwhelmingly support proposals to reform the way charter schools are authorized and managed.

The national poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by GBA Strategies January 5-11, 2016 on behalf of In the Public Interest and CPD. A memo detailing the poll can be found here. The statewide poll of 500 registered voters in Colorado was conducted January 10-13, 2016. A memo detailing the Colorado poll can be found here.

Kyle Serrette, Director of Education at CPD, said, “State lawmakers have created charter laws without meaningful oversight provisions. The result? Over $100 million in taxpayer dollars have been lost to fraud, waste, or mismanagement by charter officials and over 100 thousand children currently attend charter schools that are failing to meet the needs of children. It’s time for lawmakers to add stronger oversight provisions before more money is lost and more children are enrolled in failing charter schools.”

For more information on the poll results, please contact Jeremy Mohler at or 202-429-5091, or Asya Pikovsky at or 207-522-2442.

In the Public Interest is a research and policy center committed to promoting the values, vision, and agenda for the common good and democratic control of public goods and services.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Correction - Monday Mar 7 @PS 84K - Williamsburg/Greenpoint District 14 Panel on NY State Testing/Opting Out

The oppressive DOE has tried to strangle the opt-out movement here in NYC through misinformation and threats directed at parents and teachers. The brave parent leaders in my old school district are standing up. Tell people about this event. I'm hoping to be there to tape.
Please join parents, teachers, and the Community Education Council for District 14 (CEC14) for a panel discussion on Testing / Opting Out / Refusing the State tests.

Find out why 20% (240,000) of NYState parents refused the NYState Common Core ELA/Math tests last year, and why over 60 NYC DOE schools did not meet their 95% testing threshold. Learn how Opting Out has made a difference in state education policy.

Where and when?  March 7th at 6pm     PS84 Auditorium, 250 Berry Street (between Grand & S1st), Brooklyn.       No RSVP Necessary.

The default setting is for students to take the state tests, but parents have the right to Opt Out.

Whether you Opt OUT by refusing the state tests or Opt IN by having your child take the tests, it’s YOUR choice. You have the right to make your decision for your child based on accurate information.

Please SHARE WIDELY with your friends, your colleagues, and other parents. 

Parent Coordinators have been asked to get this flier invite into every child's backpack in D14 K-8th grades, but sometimes emails get buried under others. Please make sure that your parent coordinator has the flier about the forum and that parents at your school receive this flier too.

For more information about Opting Out, visit: or
Print and share the flyer with people you know.

#MORE2016 - Randi Believes In Proportional Representation in Democratic Party But Not in Winner Take All UFT

Mrs. Clinton was expected to win 39 of South Carolina’s delegates to Mr. Sanders’s 14... Under party rules, most delegates are awarded proportionally to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders based on their shares of the vote in congressional districts.... NY Times

How ironic that Democratic Party super delegate Randi Weingarten is part of a system in the many primaries that are not winner take all. After Bernie was routed by almost 50% points yesterday he still gets 14 delegates. Of course many states ARE winner take all, like the UFT.

Let's look at the UFT elections where 750 AFT/NYSUT delegates are up for grabs -- I mean awarded to Unity. In the last election MORE received about the same percentage that Bernie got in South Carolina. If the UFT were run like the Democratic Party, MORE would have gotten about 150 out of the 750 delegates. They got none and will get none in the upcoming election.

Since the majority of the UFT Exec is elected at-large - meaning everyone votes, the winner take all gives Unity all those seats. In a proportional rep world, MORE would have gotten about 20% of those seats.

In some Democratic Party primaries, seats are allocated based on votes in regions. Imagine if we voted by school districts in NYC - the 32 plus the high schools and other special units. Say each gets to choose about 25 delegates based on district voting and they are divided by slate proportions. In strong Unity districts they would pretty much get all or most of the votes. In areas where MORE is stronger, we might get a bigger portion of the delegates. In high schools we would get about 40% to 50%. The outcome would still give Unity an overwhelming majority but not 100%.

Having non-Unity voices at the AFT/NYSUT  and UFT Exec Board would go a long way towards protecting the UFT from the ravages of a Friedrichs ruling. All many people who feel unrepresented by the UFT want is a more democratic operation where they can present their views. If the system is fair and they lose the vote, at least they had the opportunity and can try to win people over.

Unrepresented groups like the ATR would get their voices heard since MORE would include them in the people chosen.

In the delegate assembly, most of the chapter leaders and delegates are elected from the schools. But many come from the functional chapters. The key functional chapter is the rigidly controlled Retiree chapter which elects 300 delegates to the delegate assembly in a winner take all chapter election that took place last May. The Retiree Advocate slate ran against Unity and received I believe in the neighborhood of 25% of the vote. In a proport rep system, the Retiree Advocate should receive 75 delegate positions. They got none.

Imagine if we implemented that system. I and other retirees who stood up to Unity at the DA. Our experience with how they operate and how to counter them would change the nature of the DA -

---one more reason why you will never see proportional representation, unlike in Randi's beloved Democratic Party, come to the UFT.

Robotics: FIRST LEGO League March 12 - Volunteers Needed

If you are free for the day on March 12, you will have a blast volunteering, especially as a judge. And you might want to start this program in your own school next year.

I've been working with NYCFIRST as a volunteer since I retired in 2002. I handle the communications with the teacher/coaches. The area where the kids sit at tables is called the pits and I sit at the front on a desk taking care of any issues and needs of the teams, including doling out participation medals to each child.

If anyone would like to volunteer for the March 12 80-team event at Javits read below. FIRST LEGO League is for ages 9-14 year olds and we have schools from all over the city - public and private taking part in this year's theme Trash Trek. The winner goes to the internationals in St. Louis.
We also have a Junior FIRST Lego league exhibition for 6-9 year olds in the morning. Plus expos.
And at the same time about 70 high schools from around the metro area and from other states and nations will be taking part in a 3 day event (Friday-Sunday) in the big hall.
Farina is coming Sat morning I believe and possibly Mulgrew too - hope that doesn't scare anyone away. There is a lot of corporate support for this event though nothing from the DOE. Maybe this will change, though Uncle Joel used to come too and gave nada.
If you are not interested in volunteering, come down anyway - event is free and open to the public.
I will be handing the pit table in front of where all the FLL schools are based so come say hello.
Email me offlist if you want info. And you can see a list of FLL schools and teams at:

NYCFIRST Update: Teams Going to Championship Round on March 12, 2016

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: ed notes online
Date: Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 10:16 AM
Subject: [NORM'S ROBOTICS] March 12- Vounteers Needed for First LEGO League Championship at Javits

Last weekend we completed our FLL Qualifiers and THANK YOU for helping us this season.  We now need your help for the GRAND FINALE at Javits, Saturday, March 12th.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!! Many roles to fill, specifically Judges and Referees….you will be trained if you aren’t already.  Also needed, queuers, scorekeepers, field resetters,  day before set up volunteers, general volunteers, etc.  
We will be conducting Referee & Judge Trainings prior to the main event and I will send those details to the registered volunteers for these roles by end of this week.
Please FEEL in getting your friends and family involved. 
Please see the event information below; sign up and select an event through the Volunteer Information Management System (VIMS) and contact the volunteer coordinators if you have any questions or concerns. For information about the various FIRST programs please click here:

Step 1  - Register in the Volunteer Information Management System (VIMS)

All of our event volunteers need to register with our national volunteer database, as everyone needs to be screened through our Youth Protection Program (
Step 2 - Within VIMS, please select an event (or events) listed below:
(Most events run from 7:30-8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; breakfast and lunch provided)
FIRST Lego League FLL (FLL)
Volunteer Coordinator: Elizabeth Almonte -
 Friday, March 11th, 2016      -- FLL Citywide SET-UP – Javits Convention Center --- 4pm – 8pm shift
Saturday March 12, 2016 - FLL Citywide Championship - Jacob Javits Convention Center  
Friday-Sunday March 11-13, 2016 - Jacob Javits Convention Center - Manhattan
(You can volunteer one, two or all three days.)

A volunteer coordinator will contact you with details once you are assigned to an event!  Please feel free to reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

UFT Announces Health Care Changes - Is a HIP in Everyone's Future?

Upon receiving the UFT Welfare fund announcement yesterday about rises in copays, the first comment from my wife, a lifelong health care administrator who understands the ins and outs of healthcare plans, was that they are trying to ultimately force everyone into a HIP-like plan where you have to use their doctors, which would lead to significant savings.

Since we were married close to 45 years ago, my wife has adamantly taken the position of HIP- NO WAY because of the things she saw and heard on her job. The approval process and rigidity of certain aspects of HIP could be strangling.

I seem to remember that when HIP and GHI merged it was supported by and pushed by Randi and the UFT, which I wrote about on Ed Notes in 2008:

Jul 18, 2008 ... GHI/HIP. During the next 4-6 weeks, CAP will ask that every politician in NYC go on record regarding this issue (especially politicians involved ...

Mar 3, 2008 ... Recently, we have been made aware of the dangers of the GHI/HIP merger, which is supported by the UFT and most other unions. Guess what ...

May 10, 2008 ... The conversion (privatization) of GHI & HIP will fully expose 4 million people in NY State to the worst effects of this system. A number of ...

The MORE member and candidate who runs the Doenuts blog has been our resident expert in this issue and writes about it today:

Why Are Our Copays Going Up!!???


Friday, February 26, 2016

#MORE2016 Multiple Events Today Through Sunday

I can barely keep up with these folks. Today I am hitting 2 MORE afternoon happy hours in Brooklyn and Manhattan and the NYCORE event tonight. Tomorrow I'm taking the day off. Sunday I am going to the Brooklyn MORE meeting but I have to leave early to make an exciting event - a 2PM reunion with my 6th grade students from my 1979 class who are now in their late 40s and older than almost everyone in MORE.

The reason for all this activity is connected with trying to get the petitions for the UFT election completed so we can get on the ballot. I posted earlier, John Elfrank-Dana Calls on Teachers to Help Get MORE on the Ballot.

I have a love-hate relationship with the UFT petition campaigns to get on the ballot every 3 years. This is the 3rd or 4th time I have coordinated the effort for ICE and MORE. I get obsessed with making this work smoothly and getting it done with time to spare. The work keeps me off the street.

This year there is a push to get as many people and schools involved in the campaign. Petitions are due at the UFT on March 10 but since we are coordinating with New Action we need everything in by March 5 when we are putting everything together for the 300 candidates (and still coming in.) We can sign people right up the March 5 to run for AFT delegate - there are 750 positions available.

If you want to circulate the officer petition you have until March 5 when you can drop them off in midtown or mail them to me. Here are the download links:

Front Page:
Back Page:

What is interesting is the lag time between the petitions and the May 5 ballots being sent out - the vote count will be May 26. This gives the Unity machine time to send out the people whose salaries you pay to sell Mulgrew and also it coincides with getting a retro check. MORE will not be inactive between March 10 and the end of May. MORE will need everyone on board to get info into as many schools as possible and since we don't have any employees we have to try to match the Unity machine.

I am available to come to your school to tell them about MORE if you have a Unity slug come in to your school. Or even if you don't.

Here is the most recent MORE email
It's UFT election petition count-down time! 

There are only 7 school days left before we collect petitions on March 2, and we need 1000 signatures to get our Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates on the ballot. 
Thanks to all of you who have been collecting signatures and hosting petition-signing parties at your school. A special shout-out goes to Arthur Goldstein at Francis Lewis HS, who has already collected over 130 signatures.  Can you beat Arthur? 
It's time to take a tally and see where we stand.  Please reply to this e-mail, by Friday, (tomorrow) with the number of signatures you have collected. 
If you do not have an officer petition and want to get involved, reply with your school address, and we'll get one in the mail to you right away. (We'll need it back by March 2!) If you'd like funding to host a petition signing party (with food!) at your school, let us know that too by replying to this e-mail, and we'll help you plan.

Finally, we have TONS of events this weekend and in the coming weeks.  Come out and get involved at the event(s) closest to you!

FRIDAY Feb 26:
Brooklyn Happy Hour at Abilene Bar
Friday 2/26 3:15pm
442 Court Street
Educators from Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Boerum Hill, and across the city meeting, mingling, and consuming tasty beverages (1st one free!) and food after work on a Friday afternoon.
Facebook link here

Manhattan Downtown Happy Hour, 3:30-7
Professor Thom's
219 2nd Ave, New York, New York 10003

MORE meeting/ petition signing
at 12 PM - 3 PM
Ps 58 The Carroll
330 Smith St, Brooklyn, New York 11231
Uptown Petition Signing and Meeting -RSVP by replying to this email with your file number :-)
Saturday 2/27 12pm-3pm
Gregorio Luperon High School
501 W 165th St @ Amsterdam (1/A/C to 168th) NYC

Tired of how standardized testing is distorting our classrooms and schools?

Want to fight for paid parental leave for city workers?
Do you think our union needs to support opt-out and other movements against education deform?
We need your help to get a member-driven alternative on the ballot in our union elections.

Jia Lee and our top slate of officers needs 900 signatures to get on the ballot, and all of our nearly 300 candidates need 100 signatures each...

Email your name, school and file/EIS # and you can help sign all 300 petitions!
Are you running yourself? Bring your petition...

Come to pick up your election leaflets and plan how to get them into neighboring schools.

Pizza and beverages will be served

email to reserve childcare

Facebook link here

John Elfrank-Dana Calls on Teachers to Help Get MORE on the Ballot

John Elfrank was kind enough to scan and post the officer petition which holds 40 names. We need 900 to get on the ballot but I aim for 1000- 1200 to cover all bases. With most schools being fairly small, we need a lot of people going around a lot of schools to reach that number.

By circulating this petition you are letting people in your school know that an election is coming. It might help get out more votes in the schools when ballots are sent out on March 5.

Here is what John sent out:
Tired of not getting tenure?
Frustrated by gotcha observations?
Angered by more busy work being dumped on you?
Feel the UFT doesn't get it (Mulgrew and Company)?
Do you want to change the UFT leadership?

Let's help the Movement of Rank and File Educators Caucus (MORE) get its candidates on the ballot.

What you can do.
Print out the petition on LEGAL length paper. 
Make it a TWO-SIDED DOCUMENT (not 2 separate pages, copy on the back).
Front Page:
Back Page:
On your lunch break, before or after school get as many UFT members in your school to sign, ask others on their lunch to get signatures.
Pass off to the other schools in your building their own copy. Share with them this email.
Collect and Mail to Norm Scott by Saturday, MARCH 5:
518 Beach 134 Street, Rockaway Park, NY 11694 

Send me a copy, take a picture of the envelope too if you can.

You need not fill up the sheet. Just get as many UFT member signatures as you can- 5, 10, 20...

Things won't get any better until we change the leadership.

Here's MORE's web site for more on their candidates.

In solidarity,


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Philly Union Election Results - WE Gets Around A Third

WE's challenge brought the most robust internal leadership battle in decades. .... Of about 11,500 PFT members, 46 percent cast ballots in the election. CB received 3,348 votes for its entire slate. WE garnered 1,429 votes for its entire slate. Another 528 votes split between the two factions....With about 70 percent of the vote, CB defeated the Caucus of Working Educators, which promoted a "social justice" ideology with aims to expand the union's focus on the issues that affect the district's most disadvantaged students.... Incumbents prevail in internal Philly teachers union election | Philadelphia Newsworks
CB has been in power since 1983. WE was recently formed and ran in its first election. While disappointing, WE has a base to build on with about 30% of the vote. CB did not even have an opposition in the last election in 2012. WE offered enough of a threat that there were some emergency moves by Randi to buck up the CB leadership. There are 3 ways to look at the push by WE for social justice issues. It either lost votes for them or won votes for them. Or was a wash. I think they need to poll people to see. 46% of the people did vote which is double what happened here last time.
The hope is they keep building and not get discouraged which I believe happened to ICE after the 2nd election in 2007 and the 3rd in 2010 when the numbers didn't budge. MORE's numbers in 2013 didn't budge much either. Remember, New Action's numbers in the 90s were much higher and at the very least an opposition in NYC needs to build back up to where it was 20 years ago.

As to the SJ issue I believe in a balance with teacher focused issues and if a caucus tilts too much one way or the other there is a distortion. In MORE there is always a struggle to keep that balance.

Here are Philly news reports.

Incumbents prevail in internal Philly teachers union election | Philadelphia Newsworks

Jerry Jordan wins the PFT leadership battle | Philadelphia Inquirer

Retired WE Caucus member  Wilma De Soto comments on FB:

The WE Caucus has nothing to be down-trodden about. Knowing how often things one never expects tend to reveal themselves after the fact, WE's campaign has been closely monitored by many who were afraid to speak up and has lit a spark that will ignite in others. 

• Awareness of issues facing teachers nationally and globally 

• Examination of past practices and how those practices have rendered the 
PFT into the sorry state it is today 

• Revealing how vigorously and nastily people will cling to their Union jobs even though they how they have used those positions for personal gain rather than for the good of the membership, our students and families 

• Realization of how the Union's short-sightedness has hurt its members and how many of us cannot see the big picture. 

These were issues that dared not be discussed among rank and file members for quite a while. Just that alone will go a long way as people will be watching and thinking about all this during the next four years. If conditions for teachers continue to deteriorate with no relief, more and more members will seek out WE. 

Continue to support teachers and students, don't allow others to label WE as a gadfly fringe faction, be present and accountable for students and parents. 

Above all provide an viable alternative for the teacher supports members will need when the Union Leadership does not provide answers or address their concerns. Soon, they will come to you because they know they will be served. 

I am proud of the WE Caucus; first, last, always!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Can Deans Be Granted Tenure?

The Dean at my school is up for tenure this year. My principal is very supportive of her but is unclear on what a Dean should submit in their portfolio. Does anyone have any experience or guidance on this?
UFT/Unity stance on tenure
The above was today's question posted on the MORE chapter leader listserve. The discussion is useful for people who may be in the Dean position in your school. Clearly there is little or no guidance from our esteemed union, which basically acts like there is no such thing as nontenured teacher rights as it has allowed tenure rules with unlimited extensions to be used as a political football and slapped all over the place. Here are the responses.
There's no such thing as a Dean's license. It would be in her license area.
I don't know the exact process but my principal also indicated there is a separate tenure process for Deans. Our Dean is licensed but is a full-time Dean and is up for tenure. She has been told by admin she is being recommended for tenure but has never been observed because she doesn't teach any classes and just confirmed last month with admin that Deans can be granted tenure differently. If that is definitely incorrect, please let me know what you find!
Well let's hope she gets tenure but there is no Dean license. I'll be surprised the Supt approves it without classroom experience. As CL I would never allow a full time comptime position. 
Now we hear from a CL about our UFT Is Not At Work:
This happened at my school. The superintendent didn't inform the principal, and neither did the UFT, that a dean up for tenure needed to be teaching 60% of their day in order to get tenure. No one is really sure where this number came from, but it was cited as the reason our dean's probation was extended. The next year he taught one more class and was granted tenure. I would recommend that the principal and/or teacher check with the superintendent ASAP about portfolio expectations and any other expectations that are generally not communicated. 
This is just one other outrage against the non-tenured. Do we know that the 60% number of classes that must be taught is citywide or just one district supt making it up as she went along?

Oy Vey for Randi: CORE votes to endorse Bernie Sanders... Caucus leading the Chicago Teachers Union rejects earlier Clinton 'endorsement' by the American Federation of Teachers leadership...

The [CORE] endorsement vote came in part in response to the fact that for more than six months, the Chicago Teachers Union (and hence all CORE members) had been forced to support the Clinton candidacy....The AFT endorsement of Clinton enabled Randi Weingarten and a faction in the AFT leadership to devote AFT resources, including money and people, to Hillary Clinton's campaign....George Schmidt, Substance,
The endorsement of Bernie Sanders by the CORE Caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union, the 2nd largest union in the AFT, may have some repercussions for the CTU leadership. George Schmidt points out that Chicago teachers by virtue of the dues they pay to the AFT have been dragged into the Randi/Hillary orbit by hook or crook.

Note: This is not a Bernie endorsement by the CTU itself but only by the caucus of the leadership. And it looks from what George says that a Bernie endorsement may not be forthcoming before the March 12 Illinois primary.
What was not taken was a vote, that had earlier been discussed by not decided, to call for a special meeting of the union's 800-member House of Delegates prior to the March 15 Illinois voting.
The CTU leadership has had to walk on eggshells since they took power in relation to Randi because their struggle against Rahm Emanuel requires some level of support from Randi and the AFT in their battle.

George continues:
Because millions of dollars from the CTU budget goes annually to the AFT, CTU members had in fact been providing support -- in dollars and in other ways -- to the Clinton candidacy for more than six months.
I can only imagine the reactions of CTU leadership supporters at the CORE meeting, as George points out:
Contrary to what a small faction within CORE tried to claim while they tried to filibuster the debate over the CORE endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, had already let Chicago know where he stood. There were some attempts by people at the CORE meeting to stall the vote on Bernie (or adjourn the meeting early). Nevertheless, the debate was thorough, and Bernie won cleanly. 
One of those trying to deny the Bernie endorsement claimed was that Bernie had not been active in Chicago on "our issues." In fact, the opposite was true. As the photo at the top of this article shows, Bernie Sanders was the national candidate who came to Chicago and supported "our issues." Hillary Clinton, the former Wal Mart director, was at the time avoiding Chicago, apparently counting on the manipulation of the tiny AFT leadership clique to bring her money and "support." 
"A small, [unnamed] faction of CORE tried to stop this from happening. I can just imagine the phone call from Randi. [Speaking of which - RUMOR: when Randi found out the progressive, social justice national caucuses were meeting in Newark last August, she made a phone call to some unnamed person to bitch.]

There should be some concern over the impact of the Bernie/Hillary-Randi split in Chicago and how that will impact other issues. Read the comments on the Substance site.

Randi/AFT manipulation of Hillary endorsement will have negative repercusions for Hillary

With so many teachers being involved in the Bernie/Hillary war of words, putting the endorsements on the table of a caucus or union invites some heavy lifting, which is something I am allergic too and why I urge my compadres in MORE to stay away from this battle as a caucus, especially in a UFT election year. It can only distract people. Fact is, in a small group like MORE it is not easy to find many Hillary supporters, but there are some practicalists - fear of Trump/Rubio/Cruz or whatever slug they put up. People can't wrap their heads around Bernie winning the presidency even if he wins the nomination.

The well-respected all too infrequent blogger, Accountable Talk,
just posted Yes, I'm Voting for Hillary. And No, I'm Not Sorry.

I know I am voting for Bernie in the NY Primary but after that we will see. I hear so much bad Hillary history stuff - a neo-liberal to her core and they were the ones who gave us ed deform. There is no way teachers do any better under her than under Obama. I think a surprising number of teachers will vote for Trump while another sizable number will refuse to vote for Hillary even if faced with Trump - with hatred of Randi playing a role - there is a Green Jill Stein pushed from the left to send a message. As for the left/left, Bernie is attacked for not being a real socialist - but a social democrat - he wants to preserve capitalism and maybe save it ala Roosevelt and to the far left that is taboo.

Here is the entire Substance article.

CORE votes to endorse Bernie Sanders... Caucus leading the Chicago Teachers Union rejects earlier Clinton 'endorsement' by the American Federation of Teachers leadership...

After a heated debate, the Caucus Of Rank-and-file Educators (CORE) of the Chicago Teachers Union voted at its February 22, 2016 regular meeting to endorse the candidacy of Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the March 15, 2015 Democratic Party primary in Illinois. The vote was overwhelming in support of Sanders (this reporter is a member of CORE and was present and voting at the meeting). 

Contrary to what a small faction within CORE tried to claim while they tried to filibuster the debate over the CORE endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, had already let Chicago know where he stood. Above, Sanders, right, spoke to a rally in South Chicago in support of the candidacy of Sue Sadlowski Garza (left) against incumbent John Pope for alderman of Chicago's 10th Ward. Joining Garza and Sanders on stage during the event was mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (center), who ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Rahm Emanuel. In The Times photo. The endorsement came at the end of a lengthy meeting which also considered issues ranging from the ongoing contract negotiations to the threat by Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool to institute a seven percent pay cut against CTU members in late March by rescinding the so-called "pension pickup." 

The endorsement vote came in part in response to the fact that for more than six months, the Chicago Teachers Union (and hence all CORE members) had been forced to support the Clinton candidacy. The Executive Council of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) had endorsed the Clinton candidacy after a controversial "push poll," which AFT President Randi Weingarten tried to characterize as a "survey" of the union's members, hence justifying the early Clinton endorsement. 

Because millions of dollars from the CTU budget goes annually to the AFT, CTU members had in fact been providing support -- in dollars and in other ways -- to the Clinton candidacy for more than six months. Despite attempts by some speakers during the debate to end the meeting early, the debate continued until a final vote was taken. What was not taken was a vote, that had earlier been discussed by not decided, to call for a special meeting of the union's 800-member House of Delegates prior to the March 15 Illinois voting.
The CORE meeting of February 22, 2016 was one of the biggest meetings in the history of the caucus, with more than 80 people in attendance. At the meeting, the caucus, which has run the CTU since July 1, 2010, began the circulation of its nominating petitions for the May 20 union election, discussed in detail the contract negotiations currently underway between the CTU and the Chicago Board of Education, and voted to support the struggle of fellow unionists in the Chicago Transit Authority. Photo by John Kugler. The

February 22 meeting included more than 80 people, making it one of the largest meetings in CORE history. 

Although the debate was heated, the vote was clear, with a significant majority of the CORE members voting for the Bernie Sanders endorsement. The big news from the February 22 CORE meeting -- that CORE has endorsed Bernie Sanders, in opposition to the AFT's endorsement of the former Wal Mart director, Hillary Clinton, needs to be repeated widely. 

There were some attempts by people at the CORE meeting to stall the vote on Bernie (or adjourn the meeting early). Nevertheless, the debate was thorough, and Bernie won cleanly. 

One of those trying to deny the Bernie endorsement claimed was that Bernie had not been active in Chicago on "our issues." In fact, the opposite was true. As the photo at the top of this article shows, Bernie Sanders was the national candidate who came to Chicago and supported "our issues." Hillary Clinton, the former Wal Mart director, was at the time avoiding Chicago, apparently counting on the manipulation of the tiny AFT leadership clique to bring her money and "support." 

The AFT endorsement of Clinton enabled Randi Weingarten and a faction in the AFT leadership to devote AFT resources, including money and people, to Hillary Clinton's campaign. As the struggle for the Democratic Party nomination became more and more intense, Hillary Clinton's record in support of racist attacks on working people (the three "reforms" promoted during the Clinton administration -- welfare reform, housing reform, and school reform) and actual support for some of the most odious union busting entities on Earth -- Wal Mart. 

The AFT leadership has never been challenged to explain how with these records, anyone supposedly representing the working class can still back the Clinton candidacy.

David Cantor Sells Out (Again) - Beware Faux Ed News Campbell Brown-run

Some of you may remember David Cantor head flack at DOE press office during most of the Klein/ Bloomberg years.  he is now working as an editor at the corp reform "news" outlet run by Campbell Brown, funded by Bloomberg, Walton, DeVos and a bunch of wealthy charter supporters like  Daniel Loeb and Jon Sackler.  Roots of a revolution? Really now.... Leonie Haimson
A "reporter" from this operation,, called the MORE hotline. She said she was doing a story on UFT union dues. I had never heard of the operation or knew its connections and put her in touch with some people. Then we began to investigate who was backing them and pulled back. When I checked the site about 10 days ago it was clear it was a Campbell Brown op but they seem to have buried some of that info.

Now they have recruited my old pal, David Cantor, who we used to spar with when he was Joel Klein's flack.
From: david cantor <>
Date: February 24, 2016 at 8:16:22 AM EST
Subject: Roots of A Revolution
Hi folks:

I've started as Executive Editor at The 74, an education news site launched last year by Campbell Brown. My job is to help the site produce great journalism across different media and influence opinion and policy, which bear influencing. 

Thanks for your support. Check out -- and let me know any time you have ideas about what we should cover. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Breaking: Eva Moskowitz Files for Co-Location Space in Guantanamo

EdNotesNews report:
Soon after President Obama's announcement today that he would make one final attempt to vacate Guantanamo, Eva Moskowitz made her move to put a Success Charter into the base in Cuba before they dismantle the torture equipment. Charlotte Dial is expected to be the principal of the school.

"Fiddly dee", was Moskowitz' response when questioned why Guantanamo was an attractive space for a YASSIC (Yet Another Success School Interrogation Chamber). "We believe in striking while the iron is hot.
Too many children are being coddled," she said. "We expect test scores to go through the roof at SAG( Success Academy Guantanamo) as we try out new techniques to wring the most out of our children."

WE Caucus Report: Philly Union Election Results Will be Announced Tomorrow

From WE Caucus, MORE's sister group in Philly. Their first election attempt was enough to scare Randi to intervene to prop up the old leadership. I remember sitting around a table in a bar in Chicago with some of these folks a few years ago and they were basically asking what is a caucus and how do you form one. This past summer we got to meet with them and other progressive caucuses in Newark.

No matter what the results, Working  Educators will be a force in Philly and the AFT.

About Those Election Results

Here’s a question we have been asked more than once since this election started:

Why did we decide to run for PFT leadership?  

We didn’t do it for the money, or the recognition, or the office on Chestnut street.  We did it because we want the PFT to be stronger, and this work was the best way to make that happen.
To be clear, we organized to win this election -- and we're excited to get the results. But our campaign was about so much more than just asking for votes. We believe that the true power of our union lies with the rank and file, so we seized this unprecedented opportunity to connect with educators across the district. Whether it was in schools, on the phone, or online, we got people talking and we listened to what they had to say. Here’s just a few things we learned:
  • Teachers want direct influence at the bargaining table. Educators told us that they want to fight for back pay owed to them after years of frozen salaries. We included that in our platform, which jump started an overdue citywide conversation about what the rank and file wants our leadership to fight for.
  • Schools are like islands -- but they don’t have to be. We visited every school in the district, and hosted events at half of them. Educators who had never met before suddenly got a chance to sit down, share ideas, and build a common vision for Philadelphia’s schools.
  • Our union infrastructure can be so much stronger. We visited an alarming number of buildings that had no active building committee, and sometimes not even a building representative. This can easily be turned around with basic union training and support.
These lessons directly influenced our election campaign as well as our plans for the future. Here’s a preview of the next phases of our work:
  • One PFT Campaign to help increase unity among members both within and across buildings.
  • A series of Building Power Trainings that will help rank and file members chart a course to activate and strengthen their school building committees.
  • Summer Organizing Institute to provide educators with a crash course version of everything we have learned over the last year, in Philadelphia and from unions around the country. And the return of our Summer Reading Groups as well!
So where’s the election results? We will share them as soon as they are made official on Wednesday, 2/24. After that, the Caucus of Working Educators will be moving forward with our work -- no matter the results of the vote.

If you’re not yet a member, join us today and support the work. Watch your inbox for announcements about upcoming events. And by all means, come celebrate with us on Saturday, February 27th at our Election Party -- for everything we have accomplished together, and everything that we will achieve in the future.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Exercise in Democracy: MORE New Steering Takes Office March 1

MORE has a new steering committee! The current steering committee gathered nominations of eligible members after the announcement went to our listerve between January 22­January 20th. Because exactly nine nominees accepted it is not necessary for there to be an election. The new committee will take over from current steering on March 1 for a six month term that will run through August 2016.... John Antush for MORE steering to MORE membership.
I was going to post this a few days ago. So I'm glad to see some thinking along the same lines from The Doenuts Blog,
MORE's New Steering Committee:
Strike a chord for a democratic way of doing things. As of March 1, The MORE candidate for UFT president, Jia Lee (whom I wholeheartedly support), is not part of the leadership Steering Committee of the caucus. This means the caucus' decision making processes aren't directly connected with the candidate who we would all like to preside over the UFT. 'How can that be?' you may ask. 'Doesn't a presidential candidate call all of the shots?'Not exactly. Democracy doesn't always require a cult of personality type in order to function. Hearing all voices means that it doesn't really matter who steers the caucus: The caucus members steer it. We all know what the caucus stands for because, well, we're the ones who are standing. That's a pretty cool way to do things and it's the kind of rank-and-file driven leadership that Jia will bring to the whole UFT.
DOENUTs is right. If you want to run the union one day damn well make sure you don't run your own caucus the way Unity does.

Call MORE one big experiment. For all my years I've been involved in unstructured organizations and caucuses in the UFT with not many rules or responsibilities. As a leftarian/semi-anarchist I view rules with suspicion. And in the early days of MORE I argued for a least restrictive environment. But as the group began to grow it was clear that some guidelines were needed. Certainly a steering committee of some sorts. But we know full well that a steering committee can become a permanent group of insiders who control the organization even if nominally democratic. Thus our 6-month terms and one year term limit.

In Chicago, CORE, the caucus in power, holds steering elections every 2 years and Karen Lewis, the president - or any successor, gets an automatic position on steering. I love Karen Lewis but if I were in CORE I would object to that automatic position. I think the people running the union at the top should not also be running the caucus. That is what happens in Unity.

MORE evolved a least restrictive ability of a standing steering committee by holding elections every 6 months and having a one-year term limits rule (one can run again after 6 months off). If you get a bad apple, as we've had in the past, the damage can be limited.

I also believe that how the caucus operates internally is a blueprint for how it would run the union if it should one day win. I love the revolving steering committee and this new one is a fascinating in the number of people not only new to MORE but new to the DOE. There is a good blend of people to address bread and butter and social justice issues as MORE moves forward toward melding what is viewed by some as contradictory concepts into a unified field force.

With this steering committee after 3 years and 6 terms I estimate over 30 people have spent time on steering. Some come back, some didn't find it their cup of tea at this time (like me).

As you meet the new MORE steering committee taking over March 1 - in the midst of a UFT election campaign, which is quite daring, I want to make a special mention of Cayden Betzig, a first year teacher who is running on the MORE slate. I know Cayden since his freshman year at NYU when he got involved in some of our activities and was quite impressive. Cayden is an experienced facilitator and organizer and brings a lot to the table for MORE, especially in terms of helping plan and facilitate meetings.

Mike and Peter are the only returnees from the current steering. Janice, Kevin and Mindy are returning from a hiatus. I don't see much of Janice but every conversation we've had has been enlightening. Her background and knowledge are fascinating.

Kevin is one of the great chapter leaders in this city and managed to put himself out there as CL at a time when his principal was a known menace. His political skills and popularity were too much for her and she retired.

Mindy of course is very busy working in the Bernie Sanders campaign. The rest are new. I'm glad Roberta Reid has signed on since she is a long-time teacher who has retired and brings her wisdom and experience to the committee.

Ashraya, who is fairly newly active in MORE and has impressed people, has volunteered to be one of MORE's candidates for high school executive board, a possible winnable position, which means she would have to attend meetings every 2 weeks at the UFT and listen to more Mulgrew spoutings. She and the other candidates for those positions -- Schirtzer and Arthur Goldstein are others - deserve medals.

Meet the new MORE­UFT Steering Committee:
Cayden Betzig ​is a first year teacher at Eagle Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Prior to beginning his lead teaching career this school year he spent five years working in NYC and DC public schools as a teacher’s aid. As a student at NYU he campaigned vigorously for educational justice. He coordinated a campaign demanding that the university prioritize financial aid over real estate expansion. He also founded the NYU Public Education Project­ a group of pre­service teachers dedicated to social justice. He is passionate about moving MORE and the UFT to be a truly democratic organization that represents all teachers­ especially teachers of color and the untenured.
Erik Forman ​is a second­ year ESL and Social Studies teacher and current Chapter Leader at the High School for Language and Innovation in the former Columbus High School building in the Bronx. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade, teaching Adult ESL, substitute teaching, and teaching at a university in China. Before his life as an educator, Erik spent seven years participating in groundbreaking campaigns to unionize the US fast food industry with the Industrial Workers of the World. He wants to build the schools students deserve and the union teachers need.
Ashraya Gupta: UFT Delegate and Chemistry teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School, Manhattan. “We deserve a democratic union, representative of our members. For too long, teacher interests have been cast as oppositional to student interests. But our union should make it clear that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Let’s be the union we wish to see.”
Peter Lamphere ​Teaches math and robotics at Gregorio Luperón HS in Manhattan. During four UFT elections since 2004, he has learned the need to prioritize building a strong base and organization through our campaign. Throughout the fall he has focused on developing literature, fundraising and outreach plans, including a strong fall conference and membership drive. Also, he will continue to develop MORE’s organizing committee and the database of thousands of contacts we maintain, and contribute to local organizing in Washington Heights. He has a long record as a MORE/UFT activist, Chapter Leader and Delegate. But more important is a commitment to MORE’s social justice unionism model. This means that we can’t win against the deformers without broader support from families, communities and working people generally. We need not only parent and community support of our demands but also to support wider working class fights against budget cuts, for #BlackLivesMatter, and so on.
Janice Manning​ is currently a fifth grade Special Education Teacher in an Integrated Co Teaching Classroom at P.S. 503 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She started her teaching career as a fourth grade teacher in Fort Worth, Texas. After teaching in Fort Worth for a year, she taught English as a foreign language in Znamenka, Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She is passionate about working with other educators to organize ways to improve education for ALL students. 
Kevin Prosen​ is chapter leader at I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens. He campaigned as part of MORE’s slate for the executive board in the 2013 UFT elections, and has organized mass grievance campaigns at his school involving up to 35 members of his chapter. He has been active in the MORE chapter organizing committee and has been organizing outreach to other chapter leaders in the city. His writings on UFT issues have appeared in Jacobin and Socialist Worker
Roberta Reida native New Yorker, presently resides in the Bronx. She made a mid-life career change, returning to study and complete her Bachelor of Art degree at Lehman College of the City of New York to go into the Education Profession. Her service with the Department of Education of the City of New York commenced in 1991 as a Common Branch teacher, first, at CS 198, then at the Mohegan School, both schools in District 12 in the Bronx. In 2008, she ran unsuccessfully for Chapter Leader at CS67, Bronx. Roberta's career covered a span of 22.5 years until her retirement in June 2014. In May 2015, she made a first time run for the Delegate Assembly of the UFT Retired Teacher Chapter as an independent, garnering an impressive 151 votes.  She has always viewed social justice and equity as vital components of what the profession represents. 

Mindy Rosier ​is a native New Yorker who graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education and Fordham University with an M.S. Ed in Early Childhood Special Education. She has been a teacher for 17 years, including 3 years at the NY Foundling Hospital and currently 8 years with the Department of Education in a District 75 school. After seeing the hardships that her school has endured and after researching the education system itself, she became active to promote an improvement in the quality of education for all children. 
Mike Schirtzer:​ UFT Delegate and Social Studies teacher at Leon M. Goldstein High School, Brooklyn: “We Need New Leadership!” “Classroom teachers need a voice in our union and we will be that voice on the UFT Executive Board. Our leadership negotiated a poor contract, worse than other city unions. Micromanagement, Danielson, and 1% raises with delayed retro is not what teachers want or need.” 

The Guardian: Eva/Success Mainstream Press Critics Grow

Within testing years, the enrollment drop rate observed at Success Academy is greater than the enrollment drop rates at next door public schools 70% of the time. Furthermore, in 61% of these cases, this difference is so large that we can reject the hypothesis that it occurred due to random variation in attrition rates, at the 5% significance level.”...
Success Academy, New York City’s largest charter school network, loses more than 10% of its enrolled student population each year once testing starts, compared to 2.7% at nearby schools... The Guardian
Now we're getting to it as Eva gets more and more scrutiny and will have to engage in bigger coverups and maybe even back off some of its policies over time. It might even begin to affect their ability to grow, in addition to beginning to see some test scores go down as they are more sensitive to tossing kids out and thus have to suffer their test scores - unless they find a way to lock them away on test days of maybe slip in surrogate test takers. Who knows what they are capable of?

I admit I was surprised to see the well-respected Guardian take a good look at Eva. Hopefully, more to come.

'Got to Go': high-performing charter schools shed students quickly

Monique Jeffrey and her son, Brendin Smith. Photograph: Monique Jeffrey
George Joseph
Sunday 21 February 2016 13.16 EST

Brendin Smith was only four years old when his mother, Monique Jeffrey, realized her son was no longer wanted at Success Academy. Jeffrey says that administrators at one of the charter school’s Brooklyn locations told her the kindergartener “wasn’t going to make it”. Jeffrey later found out that Brendin was one of 16 students who been placed on the school’s “Got to Go” list, a list uncovered by the New York Times that singled out students that the school wanted to shed.

Success Academy, the largest charter school network in New York City, also has some of the highest test scores. Critics have alleged that the city achieves this in part by driving low performers out.

A Guardian analysis has found that the school system loses children between the third and fourth grade, the first two years of New York state testing, at a rate four times that of neighboring public schools. Success lost more than 10% of its enrolled student population from grade to grade, compared to the average rate of 2.7% at public schools in the same building or nearby during the same years.

The analysis compared Success and traditional public school populations in high poverty neighborhoods and therefore excluded data from one Success Academy site on the Upper West Side where only about 25% of students were classified as “economically disadvantaged”. This school’s relatively well-to-do student population features the only example of a Success Academy class that grew in size from second to fourth grade.

According to Jeff Jacobs, a researcher at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, chance alone cannot adequately account for these enrollment drop differences. “Within testing years, the enrollment drop rate observed at Success Academy is greater than the enrollment drop rates at next door public schools 70% of the time. Furthermore, in 61% of these cases, this difference is so large that we can reject the hypothesis that it occurred due to random variation in attrition rates, at the 5% significance level.”

Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who focuses on education policy, said: “It could be that Success is counseling out weaker students, encouraging them to leave, or it could be that Success is not backfilling [replacing students] in the same way that traditional that Public Schools do, or it could be a combination of those two things.”

Whatever the cause, Kahlenberg said the decline “provides a tremendous advantage to Success that we have be aware of when we compare the test scores”. Not replacing lost students with new ones in later years could provide Success a significant test score advantage, since highly transient students tend to do worse in school.

Brian Whitley, a researcher at Success Academy, said some of this enrollment shrinkage is to be expected since, up until last year, Success did not accept new students after the third grade. In an email to the Guardian, Whitley also argued that enrollment numbers don’t take into account whether public schools are losing even more kids and taking in new ones to replace them. Last March, Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz told the Brian Lehrer Show that if Success added new students in older grades, the incoming students’ lower academic preparation would negatively affect the schools’ other students.

To make its calculations, the Guardian pulled data from 25 Success classes that had enrollment numbers from pre-testing grades up until the fourth, and pulled comparable data from public school classes that were either in the same building or one block away from Success Academy sites.

The analysis also found that at sites where the majority of Success Academy’s student populations are from low-income families, classes in the school’s later testing grades served far smaller proportions of students with disabilities (13.2% vs. 27.6% ), students with limited English proficiency (2.4% vs. 16.3%), and poor students (78.7% vs. 92.1%). Such demographic data from many of the earlier grades is not publicly available, and thus it is difficult to determine whether these types of students are dropping disproportionately within Success Academy’s shrinking classes as schools approach the testing years.

Whitley said the disparities in limited English proficiency students and those with disabilities are in part a result of the fact that these students are quickly “integrated” into the general population. “Regarding students in poverty, we have a random lottery that allows kids across the city to apply, so it’s possible that’s because the district as a whole would have fewer poverty students than one of the schools we are co-located with,” he said.

But some former Success parents argue that the high enrollment decline rates and lower high-needs populations are also driven, in part, by a concerted effort to push out students through tactics such as repeat suspensions.

In January, 13 parents filed a civil rights complaint with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that Success Academy discriminated against their children because of their learning disabilities and repeatedly suspended them without due process.

Fatima Geidi, one of the parents in the complaint, said the treatment her son received at Success was, in part, driven by his inability to quickly complete Success’ mock state exams, which ramp up in third grade, the first testing year.

“Third grade was the most serious year of testing ever and they were suspending Jamir like crazy,” said Geidi, who claims her son had received around five suspension by the middle of the school year. “One day on a practice exam, Jamir’s teacher yelled at him. She said she was going to fail him because he wasn’t writing fast enough. After that, Jamir had an anxiety attack and had to go to the hospital. That was it for me. I decided I couldn’t fight them anymore. My son was deteriorating right before my eyes.”

Over the past few years, Success Academy has had suspension rates four times the district average, and seven times the average for public schools.

Last week, footage released by the New York Times raised new controversy for Success when it showed a “model teacher” chewing out a student for being unable to solve a math problem and ripping up the first grader’s paper.

In the face of numerous allegations, Success Academy’s high-profile leader, Eva Moskowitz has remained defiant. After the video was released, Moskowitz, a former city council member, hired a new PR firm and held a press conference, denouncing the newspaper as biased.

In January, Moskowitz brushed off the importance of a federal investigation of the school fir discrimination, saying, “If someone makes a complaint, OCR [the Office for Civil Rights] investigates. It means nothing in and of itself other than that a complaint has been made.”

Documents obtained by the Guardian, however, indicate that the federal civil rights office had already decided to initiate its own investigation into Success Academy for disabilities discrimination, months before parents had filed civil rights complaints.

“I wouldn’t say an OCR investigation is something that should be taken lightly,” said John Jackson, a former senior policy advisor in OCR. “There are certain situations where without a complaint the Office for Civil Rights can do an investigation on their own. Typically they do that if they see some data if it looks a little awkward,” continued Jackson, noting that the Washington DC staff sometimes alerts regional offices when they find red flags in schools’ enrollment data.

“They may say, ‘Have you seen this data at Success?’ They’re in tune with the pulse of what’s happening across the country. They read newspapers.”