Friday, September 23, 2016

School Scope: Education and Local Politics – Why I Am Not voting

All politics is local - or so they say. There is a local State Assembly race between a Republican former teacher and a Democratic former Paraprofessional and PTA president, the daughter of our former State Assembleywoman who "retired" and is now in the cushy job of Queens County clerk. Here is my Wave column for this week - I don't even have a 3rd party choice.

School Scope: Education and Local Politics – Why I Am Not voting
By Norm Scott

With the departure of Phil Goldfeder, Rockaway is faced with a choice between a Democrat (Stacey Pheffer Amato) and a Republican (Alan Zwirn) for State Assembly. While Phil is a lawyer, both Amato and Zwirn worked for the NYC school system, Zwirn as a teacher, Amato as a paraprofessional. So we expect there to be some focus on educational issues in their campaigns.

Zwirn did announce he was holding a rally at John Adams HS “to call attention to NYC’s floundering school system.” I wouldn’t expect anything less than an attack on the public school system from a Republican. After all, the Republican party has been all about the dismantling and privatizing the school system, led by its national candidate Donald Trump who has attacked teachers and their unions and calls for a voucher system which would leave public schools with only the kids no private school or charter school want. The article in the Wave last week had Zwirn’s views on education but so much was left out.

Charter school shill Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly voted to force the Mayor to give space to charters or pay for space if they rent. Charters toss kids they don’t want back into the public schools through a variety of ways. They brag about their scores – which of  course will be higher once you rid the schools of low-scoring kids. If we track the most “successful” charters we see a big drop in the number of students as they progress through the grades. Most of these schools don’t accept students to fill these spots so they can keep their scores high.  

Cuomo and many people who send their kids to non-public schools favor an education income tax credit. I have no problem if people want to send their kids to non-public schools but not on my back. Hey, I might want to hire a private sanitation carting company instead of using our publicly supported sanitation department. People would laugh if I asked for a tax credit. What next? Charter fire and police? After all if you believe in competition, why not privatize everything?

What about teachers being rated based on how their students score on one or two big tests, a system that has been proven faulty where in one class a teacher can be rated the best and in another class, the worst?

Both the Republican and Democratic Party have been awful on many educational issues, both parties signing off on an agenda of phony education reform (deform). Though I liked Phil Goldfeder personally, I found his views on education issues regressive and if he ran this time I would not have voted for him based on those views alone. I also like Alan Zwirn, who I bet will not denounce Trump’s views on education (I don’t know Amato). How anyone who spent their life as a teacher can take Trump seriously is beyond me. I don’t expect Amato to denounce Cuomo for his attack on educators. So I’m suspecting that I will not be voting for either of the choices for Phil’s replacement but I’m open to being surprised.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

DNA Study Proves Everyone is Black: White Supremacists on Suicide Watch

  • White people have only been around for a relatively short period of time. 
  • White supremacists say time only begins when white people showed up.
  • Suicide watch for people opposed to #blacklivesmatter
Today's NY Times has a piece affirming what has generally been understood - that  human migration came out of Africa from one source.
Examining their data separately, all three groups came to the same conclusion: People everywhere descend from a single migration of early humans from Africa. 

How We Got Here: DNA Points to a Single Migration From Africa

The estimates from the studies point to an exodus somewhere between 80,000 and 50,000 years. Time sure flies. It took only 80,000 years for a chunk of humanity to become assholes. That gene is still to be identified.

While the issue of when and where white or Asians diversified is not dealt with in the article, the guess has been that whites diversified when migration reached colder climes with less sun.

The KhoiSan, hunter-gatherers living today in southern Africa, above, are among hundreds of indigenous people whose genetic makeup has provided new clues to human prehistory. Credit Eric Laforgue/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images
Above is a photo from the article -- the people who are the ultimate mommies and daddies. Somewhere deep down I have an urge to hunt and gather. I'm going into my garden to pick a raspberry. And hunt a bear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Deal with the Devil: UFT/CSA in One-Sided "Non-Agression Pact"

Time for the UFT to say to CSA "fuck the rights of principals "-- me

Our pal Harry Lirtzman, who was harassed out of teaching commented:
'Harris L.Sunday, September 18, 2016 9:00:00 PM
The UFT and the CSA surely have a mutual non-aggression pact and any moves by the UFT to hold administrators accountable would be deemed a significant violation of that pact.' I'd bet thousands of dollars that there is a tacit understanding between the two unions that keeps the UFT in check.... comment on ICE blog, UFT NEEDS TO FORCE DOE HAND TO ENFORCE CHANCELLOR'S REGULATION C-33
Only the UFT is the non-aggressor while Principals can run rampant. They are working from a blueprint on how to get rid of people and divide the staff -- one of the major points is to remove or control the chapter leader -- I said this in my speech at the EB meeting -- a fundamental attack on the union at its root. How can we allow the CSA members to do that without retaliation?

At the Ex Bd meeting Leroy Barr said they had a blueprint - please share that with us. He also defended district reps after I raised the point that at their montly meetings they do not address school issues and share with each other but instead dish out what the UFT wants from often beleaguered CLs - like get the staff to vote for Hillary to stop Trump.

How interesting that there are hundreds of mini-Trumps running schools and the UFT is not interested in challenging them.

Also speaking at the Ex Bd was MORE member Dermot Myrie, who has defended himself and his wife over attacks by abusive principals - since they are black, some of these attacks racially motivated. Myrie and I are on the same page -- the UFT reps are major culprits - and he laid that out in his speech on Monday and asked how district reps can be held accountable -- he openly said that many of them were complicit with the principals and often tell teachers and entire staffs they have to figure out ways to get along.

For years I've been talking about the underlying reason the UFT has been so passive in the face of a massive assault on UFT school workers by principals and assistant principals, both members of the Council of Supervisors - the CSA. I wrote about UFT Secretary Howie Schoors comments at the Exec Bd meeting Monday - UFT Exec Bd Report: Leroy Barr Tables, Howie Schoo...
where he pretty much said there are limits as to what we can do because supervisors are in a union and they have rights. I say "fuck the rights of principals"  - of those who show a pattern of behavior that goes over some line - which we still must define. There are some great and supportive principals who we know might come under political attack from above for one reason or another, especially from the newly empowered District Supt under Farina, some of the most awful people on earth - many of them who were also abusive principals.

I don't consider the CSA a real union - they are bosses.

The UFT must begin an honest assessment of every principal in the system using their own school surveys and also stats like school turnover rate, stats on age, race breakdowns in schools and how that changed under various principals. This info should be published in the NY Teacher, CSA reaction be damned.

The CSA is small and the UFT has much more leverage with some politicians. Plus the ability to run publicity campaigns. It is time to use whatever weapons the UFT has in this war.

Tell Ernie Logan to call off his dogs or we will go after them and their union. If they really want a non-aggression pact then that must work both ways.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

UFT Exec Bd Report: Leroy Barr Tables, Howie Schoor Reveals Reason for Union Reluctance to go after principals

"Principals have a union, the CSA. The have rights. There's a yin-yang in how we respond." ... Howie Schoor, UFT Secretary closing statement at UFT Ex Bd meeting
Is the UFT a subsidiary of the CSA?
We've known that the alliance between the UFT and CSA was a key issue in the lack of response on the part of our union since the late UFT president Sandy Feldman told me as much back in 1997 when I made a reso at the DA calling for supervisors to not have tenure. So it was nice to hear Howie Schoor, who I've known for 35 years, pretty much say that openly. A principal union can in no way be compared to a union of their employees, especially since they've been given unfettered power and control over UFT members with barely a peep out of the UFT.

My response would be to call out the CSA to get their rabid dogs in line or lose any future alliance with the UFT.

Yesterday I reported on the upcoming UFT Ex Bd meeting - MORE Members Elected to UFT Exec Board attend first meeting

Arthur Goldstein has a blow by blow account: NYC Educator: UFT Executive Board September 19th


The theme of the evening were calls on the UFT to do something about abusive principals. MORE used the 10-minute speaking time before the meeting for non Exec Bd members to put up speakers who raised the issue as a warm-up. Originally I called in on my own but when Dermot Myrie and Rema Margi stopped by the MORE/NA pre-meeting we urged them to call in for time to tell their stories of principal abuse. Then when we got upstairs we ran into old pal Sam Lazarus, retired CL of Bryant HS and Georgia Allignu who was running for CL because the old CL was forced to transfer due to attacks by Horror Principal Dwarka (which takes guts to put your head in the noose). Georgia was there to speak to ask for nominations to be re-opened so she could run - which was done.

Arthur- NYC Educator -  has good summaries of all our statements.

Mulgrew, unlike Randi, drops in to make his report at some point - really, why should he have to listen to questions or regular members who get up to speak during the 10 minutes? He said it will soon be June. Oh these meetings are such a chore.

Mike Schirtzer presented the MORE/NA resolution on abusive principals (see below) and Leroy Barr urged tabling so they could take a closer look at it. MORE's Marcus McArthur followed up with his own story of principal abuse. I'm copying and pasting here:
Mike Schirtzer MORE—Speakers told stories of abuse. Abusive administrators are big problem. Bloomberg years remain as 2-year teachers became principals. They really do have blueprints on how to make people miserable, run them out of schools. In fact, schools have budget issues. Ours does because of veteran staff. This causes bad admin to run people out.
We must do something as a union. Teachers, counselors, social workers ought not to feel threatened and harassed. We are a union of 200K and we must take action using any means available to us. Admin with two unfavorable ratings from staff should be removed. If this happens to teachers, why shouldn’t it happen to them?

We need a check and balance, and we need to be the check and balance.

Leroy Barr
—Rises to table. We have been engaged with trying to get APs either checked or removed. We had a program principals in need of improvement. Some items here are the same as we’ve pushed. We know they are there, we are engaged in those fights every day, we have no problem bringing entire weight of union against them.

Can’t be scatter gun. Depends on nuances of individual schools. Agree with essence. We want to make sure we are creating a great environment and ensure it for our kids. Want’s to raise title of District Rep tonight. You will never know all the work they do to save the jobs of our members. They do the work every day and you don’t know what they do. Some are behind closed doors. Some members want to leave. There is a variety of answers. We need to talk about how we solve and create good environment for both teachers and students. Asks we table this tonight.

Secretary—Invites voice of support

Marcus McArthur
MORE—I walked into a building 6 years ago, my first job, and CLs classroom had been defiled, garbage everywhere. Principal was responsible. Still in power, in that school. Was a lot of fighting and conflict. Was traumatic.

While union has tried, it has been a catastrophe for those who had to work under these conditions. For me, as new teacher, I was completely at mercy of that principal. Didn’t get a classroom, placed with another teacher to retaliate against that teacher. Was a big threat to me remaining as African American male, as special ed. teacher. Without support of staff, I’d have left system like half of special ed. teachers.

Asks reconsideration of resolution. We must take all action in our power. Cannot tolerate such abuse.

Before we get to the reso itself I want raise a point from Jeff Kaufman on the ICE blog who thinks it was correct for Leroy to table this because surveys are a weak tool.
Jeff Kaufman said...
While it is rare that I actually agree with Unity, tabling this motion was the right thing to do. In fact it should never have been raised. Allowing a survey to determine placement of a principal or supervisor is as misguided for principals as it would be for teachers (which would become a reality in the next contract). Our Union should be forced to take seriously members concerns about abusive principals and take affirmative steps to reassign them by showing they are abusive. The survey tactic is proposed out of weakness. Let's argue for a contract provision which shows how a principal is being abusive and allows our Union to submit to arbitration. While both provisions are probably violative of the Taylor Law let's not support a tactic which not only could be used against us but is not supported by evidence.
Blogger James Eterno said...
We have that already Jeff in Chancellor's Regulation C-33 which can be used in arbitration via Article 20. Point is a strong union would make reigning in abusive supervisors a priority. I think a vote of no confidence should trigger the process.

My comment:

ed notes online said...

Jeff has a point on the surveys which are often tainted by principal involvement who tells the staff bad results will lead to punishing the school. I think turnover rates are a clue but also chapters should be given a hearing at the UFT to lodge their complaints and trigger a UFT investigation. I think the reso must go further. There must be a significant portion of a staff willing to take action even if behind the scenes to protect themselves. The very act of a UFT investigation would cause principals to get nervous esp if publicized.

I think MORE and New Action need to think take Jeff's comments into account - and mine too. Let's not give Unity a convenient out on this issue. Leroy's argument that they do a lot must be attacked with example after example. In reports from the districts we heard nothing about what they do to protect UFT members but a hell of a lot about the charity work - good they do that but that is not their main job. I was struck by the Dist 4 DR report on her charity work but no update on the battle at Central Park East 1 where within a few months the principal had 10 teachers under investigation.

Here is the MORE Post:

UFT Leadership Tables Resolution Against Abusive Adminsitrators

Voted  to table by Executive Board. All Unity members voted to table. All MORE/NA voted against tabling resolution.
Notes (minutes) from meeting to follow tomorrow.
Resolution to Use School Survey to Identify and Remove Abusive Administrators
Whereas, UFT members in many chapters are working in fear because of abusive administrators; and

Whereas, too many UFT members are being given unfair adverse ratings by autocratic supervisors; and

Whereas, many administrators have very little experience in the classroom and are provided with a blue-print by superintendents and Department of Education lawyers to remove veteran and new teachers; and

Whereas, our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions so when a UFT member is being unfairly treated it has a direct negative impact on students’ learning environment; and

Whereas teachers have a limited opportunity to anonymously express their concerns about principals through the New York City School Survey Report, including whether “I feel respected by the principal at this school” and “I trust the principal/school leader at his/her word” and “The principal at this school is an effective manager”;

Resolved, that the UFT will publish the name of any school administrator in email updates, social media, the print and online versions of the New York Teacher and a press release the names of any administrator who receive less than a 50% favorable rating on the NYC School Survey Report from UFT members or when there is a chapter vote of no confidence in that administrator; and be it further

Resolved, that the UFT will use any means available to pressure the Department of Education to remove from a school any administrator who receives two years of unfavorable ratings from their staff.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paul Krugman's Dishonesty as he Goes Begging for Hillary Votes

I used to be a big Paul Krugman fan. But since he has turned into a rabid Hillary and Democratic Party supporter I've been examining his columns with more scrutiny. Today's column (Vote as if It Matters) certainly verges on dishonesty.

Today: MORE Members Elected to UFT Exec Board attend first meeting

The 5 members of MORE who were elected by the high schools to the UFT Executive Board will have their first opportunity to attend a meeting as voting members later tonight at 6 PM. They will be joining the 2 New Action members who were elected, one of whom, Jonathan Halabi, has already been a member of the board.

At this point a general working consensus between MORE and New Action is expected to be in operation though each caucus is free to operate independently, as are the individuals in MORE. To get a resolution on the agenda it must be signed by 5 EB members.

I'm going to be watching to see if MORE people become incrementalists like New Action has been -- where you trumpet a big victory because you get Unity to change a few words or support elements of a resolution you are bringing up. That is acting like the union leadership which will brag that class sizes didn't go up.

And yes I will be as critical of MORE as I will be of New Action -- that is if I actually go to some of these meetings.

Looking forward to Peter Luger catered meal

A few members of MORE will be attending to support their colleagues (all UFT Ex Bd meetings are open.) If I go I will report on anything significant but I'm sure Arthur Goldstein will do a comprehensive report on his blog. I hope he includes food ratings.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Randi Spends Dough on Clinton Projects While AFT Affiliate in Newark Runs Go Fund Me Campaign

The Newark Teachers Union (NTU) an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) opened a account as reported on Bob Braun's Ledger Facebook page on Friday.  Donated funds are to be funneled through ERC Foundation. Repeated Google searches, however, have unearthed no information on the mysterious charity. Requests for clarification from the NTU have not been returned.
To make matters worse, the AFT is flush with cash. totaled up $1,273,694 in 2016 AFT federal campaign contributions. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton raked in $22,880 while former Democratic candidate Senator Bernie Sanders got a measly $8,229.  Unfortunate Democratic Senator Corey Booker was only granted $15. Back in 2015, detailed AFT donations to Clinton affiliates as $250,000 to Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Foundation, $250,000 to Clinton Global Initiative and $100,000 American Bridge 21st Century (a Clinton allied research group).

The AFT has plenty of money to spend on political candidates and politically aligned organizations with questionable agendas in regard to the future of public school education, whereas the teachers the union purports to represent have to resort to begging.

Abigail Shure, Newark Teacher


Newark Teachers Union Goes Begging

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Sep• 19•16
GoFundMe is an online fundraising site usually reserved for people with steep medical expenses or charitable causes, but now it’s the home of an effort by the Newark Teachers Union to “stop the war on teachers.”
The union of about 3,000 members has a goal of $100,000 for its campaign, but after the first four days it has raised zero. The union claims this unique project is necessary because “we don’t have access to the same funding sources as those who want to destroy our public schools.”
That might be literally true, but NTU has an annual budget of about $3.4 million and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, a parent organization whose budget is $188 million. The idea that it requires a GoFundMe campaign for $100,000 is laughable.
It’s possible this is merely a PR stunt to rouse the zeal of activists in the state, or perhaps AFT refused to fund this particular scheme. But if you have a few extra bucks, I suggest you bypass NTU’s page and instead donate to Bonnie’s bullet removal surgery.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Education Notes Publishes Again - Addressing Fair Student Funding, Abusive Principals and MORE

  • “Fair” Student Funding Unfair to Students AND Teachers
  • The Hit Job: Farina’s Crew Found the Right Bitch for the Job
  • Unity-UFT Leaflet Attacking MORE on Opt-Out Could Have Been written by Cuomo, King, Gates. Slammed by Parent Group
  • MORE captures almost 1/3 active teacher vote and majority of high school votes but has NO AFT/NYSUT delegates 
 Ed Notes Returns to Publishing

 Last week, for the first time in a decade, I put together and distributed an edition of Education Notes for the September 14 UFT Chapter Leader meeting. The pdf is available - download if you feel it worth sharing.

I know, I know -- so many of the people at these meetings are in Unity and basically talking to most of them is like spitting in the ocean. I don't even bother giving it to many of them - why waste copies?

I published an edition for almost every Delegate Assembly from 1997-2004. I was a chapter leader and was frustrated at the fact that getting the floor at the DA was totally dependent on getting called on - so Ed Notes was my proactive response -- I would hand out my point of view in advance of the meeting to try to influence the debate. In the early years Ed Notes was geared to trying to use logic to appeal to Unity and the UFT leadership. This was the point where Randi Weingarten replaced Sandy Feldman - and she and her minions reached out to me, telling me Randi was ushering in a new day for the UFT, promising reforms. I was critical but not on the attack. The state of the opposition consisted of 3 caucuses and I found none of them satisfactory all of of them narrow in their vision. I raised issues that none of them had any interest in - mayoral control, testing, abusive principals, protection of chapter leaders. Ed Notes was critical not only of Unity but also the other opposition groups. At one point it seemed everyone at the DA was reading Ed Notes. I began to meet like-minded people.

I guess it was when it became clear that Randi was making changes that made the UFT less democratic while also aiding and abetting ed deform that made it clear that Unity would never change -- that holding and consolidating power was the mantra, with the blatant briber offered to New Action, the leading opposition, being a final straw in 2003-4. Old and new Ed Notes supporters felt it was time for an opposition caucus that tackled issues in depth, thus leading to the birth of ICE (Independent Community of Educators), followed by the spin-off GEM (Grassroots Education Movement), not an opposition caucus but a joint effort of teachers and parents, and finally the realization in 2011-12 that an attempt must be made to bring together the various stands of activists in the UFT into one organization - MORE. I moved Ed Notes to a blog in 2006 and devoted time to the various groups I worked with. While I had some influence I was also no longer using UFT meetings to put out  my own point of view using my style of writing -- group leaflets and newsletters often get neutered in the group process. So I decided that this year I will occasionally bring Ed Notes back to union meeting when I feel I have something to say that goes beyond the blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ed Deform Coming Unhinged

Is ed deform, mistakenly labeled as a real reform movement, coming apart at the seams? The opt-out movement where 220,000 did not take the test in NY State is the most obvious sign. Also the media criticisms of Eva and Success Academy as the press becomes more skeptical of charter claims.

Look at the media coverage on charter scams, testing, the attacks on teachers as the cause of the problems there has been a turning - you can hear it in commentary as many former ed deform supporters have begin to see the light of the failures of those policies.

Now don't get me wrong -- ed deformers are loaded with dough and have bought a chunk of ed coverage -- ie - Chalkbeat and the Campbell Brown phony The 74 ed media as examples, plus the Gates, Walton, hedge funds etc. They claim the anti-ed deform movement is fueled by the teacher unions when we know full well how little the unions have done as they waffle on the fence though Randi and crew have become more bold as the worm turns - always tailing but we'll take what we can get from them.

In just the past few days here are some things to munch on.

Ravitch: Jesse Hagopian: The Black Resistance to Charters and Corporate Reform is Just Beginning

The New Yorker - wonderful piece: Stop Humiliating Teachers

The lawsuit just filed on behalf of the receivership schools

Fred Klonsky: In Chicago, DFER has been run out of town

Washington State Supreme Court: Charter schools are unconstitutional


The Charter School Movement Is a Vehicle for Fraud and Corruption

The Fight to Bring Transparency to California’s Charter Schools

E.D. Hirsch, Ed Reformer Pivots -rethinking his position on blaming teachers

A blistering opinion should shame Connecticut lawmakers, who have failed to address the problem of educational inequality.

Ed deform is racist in nature:

Ed Deform Racist Policies Attack Black Teachers - a Civil Rights Issue for Our Times


Charter privateers on the defensive but not giving up on their Orwellian takeover schemes 


Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Best PD Ever: A Day With Former Students 37 Years Later

Sept. 10, 2016
 Every teacher should be so lucky to see how the lives of their students turn out even if 37 years later.  I had the immense pleasure yesterday of spending an entire afternoon with 5 students from my 5th and 6th grade class from 1978/79 at the home of Deborah, one of the students who graciously hosted the event at her lovely home in East New York in a newly developed area right behind the Gateway Mall off Erskine St.

I hadn't seen Debbie in all these years but recognized her instantly.

Debbie had been only in my 5th grade class while the rest had me for both years - I looped with them. I guess about 60-75% of the kids suffered me for 2 years. How did they manage to survive a teacher who ignored data, took them on too many trips instead of doing test prep and generally wanted them to have some fun in school. And they said yesterday that the most memorable times were those trips and other activities.

To hear them say I wasn't boring was the best evaluation I could have ever received.

I also learned that the stairway outside my room was "kissing" territory. And the gals learned who Herbie, the only guy there, had a crush on back then. (I won't tell).

This was a followup to a reunion back in February 2016 that I wrote about: Where a Group of My Former Students Pass the Highest Stakes Test of All - Life

I can't think of a better professional development experience for a teacher or even a retired teacher. Hearing about their lives as students and parents and work and so many other issues was enlightening.

They are all approaching 50. One has fairly young children. Three are grandparents. One became a grand parent at the age of 36. I heard amazing stories of perseverance in the face of the crack culture of the times, teen pregnancy and raising a child as a teen while working and going to school. Another a widow who lost her love while she had young children. Heroic.

Some brought their kids and one brought a grandchild. Another one still lives across the street from the school and keeps an eye on her grandchild who goes there where she sent her own kids. Three generations at PS 147.

Ahhh, the old soon to be lamented concept of a neighborhood school where most local kids attend and mingle and for better or worse manage to get an education.

Most of them work in areas connected to health care - as secretaries or admin assistants or hospital administrators.  One is back in school for a masters in health admin. Most own a home of condo. Many found spouses or partners from the neighborhood. When one of the gals couldn't attend the others pleaded with her to bring her wife next time.

Oh, what stories and memories of growing up in the projects in Williamsburg on Bushwick Ave, of what was then considered one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods. Most of them either still live in the neighborhood or have roots there. They all attended the zoned middle school, which was considered a horror story at the time (while the kids in the top class were funneled away from that school to the one MS in the district where the top students were sent.) I tried to explain some of this to them yesterday - the tracking and sorting based solely on reading scores. Almost all of them attended Eastern District, the local high school or another high school in the area.  Some dropped out at one point before finding their way back.

Some of them told how their parents when they were born had given them a Spanish name and the hospital ignored them and they have lived under the way the person in the hospital named them.

They talked about a dangerous but real community, a spirit they felt growing up in those projects. One who still lives there told me how the drug culture had lessened but the hipster gentrifiers had ironically brought some of that drug culture back. 

We are planning another one as they search for more students from those classes. The principal of PS 147 told me a few months ago she would love to host some alumni.

The February reunion and my poor attempt at a selfie

Friday, September 9, 2016

Some NYC principals use 'Limited Access Letters' to ban activist Parents

A little-known letter that's supposed to be used to protect schools from unruly parents in the wake of aggressive incidents is actually being used to unfairly silence outspoken parents in low-income black and Hispanic schools, critics say. "Limited access letters," which an Education Department staffer advised should only be used in case of a “serious incident at the school that required the involvement of School Safety Agents,” have been given out without any apparent oversight or supervision to parents across the city, DNAinfo New York has learned. The letters, which effectively serve as temporary restraining orders against parents, can be given out by principals or superintendents who feel a parent has threatened them or a staffer in some way..... DNAInfo
Much like the power principals have over untenured to make them disappear through discontinuence, they can do the same to parents.
This fits totally in line with the Farina authoritarian model of "my way or the highway."

The blueprint for principals to gain total political control of their schools includes controlling and removing resistant parents and teachers. While they have enormous power over teachers, parents who don't go along either have to be bribed or removed. Now you can't make them move though you could try to get their kids out by ising charter school tactics - harass them until they leave. But if they won't then they can resort to this tactic as reported by Amy Zimmer at DNAInfo:
How some NYC  principals use 'Limited Access Letters' to ban activist Parents from their kids’ schools

Trump and Putin - Assassinate Opponents, Matt Lauer Savaged Over Trump and Clinton Treatment

Liberal lambs, can we talk? The notion that Clinton is disqualifyingly corrupt has been the essence of the press corps' framing of her over the past several years. Those "questions" define an aggressive attack. They land in a well-scripted sweet spot.

Has Candidate Trump ever committed an act which might be seen as "disqualifying?" We think it's astonishing that someone like Lauer would inject such a suggestion into a presidential forum. But if we agree that sauce for the goose might sometimes be sauce for the gander, we can think of at least one offense with which Trump might have been confronted:

Didn't he once spend a year lying about the birth of the reigning commander-in-chief? Had there been any truth to the various claims he advanced? Had everything he said been a lie? Was the entire thing slander?

----- Daily Howler
How Trump is never held accountable for the birther shit is beyond me.

Before I get to the above, let me address the Trump/Putin story.

Don't you love the people who say Trump is just being rhetorical and democracy is safe because of congress and the constitution and the Supreme Court. Trump loves Putin because of how he runs Russia - obliterate the opposition and if necessary hire hit men to remove opponents. It was no accident that Trump hinted at using  the same tactic to stop Hillary after she got elected.

And of course he will fire all the generals and put people in to run the army who would back him when he suspends the constitution for emergency reasons.

There was once this funny guy with a little mustache running around not being taken seriously. He promised strength they and to make his country great again and used the big lie every 5 minutes.

Krytstallnacht for Muslims:
I hear people wanting Trump to take strong stands on Muslims every time we have a terrorist act. If you don't know what this is click the link. What excuse did Hitler use to send out the brown shirts and the populace one night to destroy every Jewis business?
The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew living in Paris. Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany's broader racial policy, and the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust.[8]
Yes - a terrorist act of sorts by one Jew.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't trust Hillary but I don't expect we will end up in a dictatorship.

There is the flap over both the Paul Krugman column chastising Hillary critics (Hillary Clinton Gets Gored) and leftist Glenn Greenwald chastising Krugman, accusing him and other Hillary backers of trying to do their own version of Trump in going after Hillary critics even if from the left.
Finally, the Daily Howler takes his shot at biased reporting especially after Matt Lauer has been savaged

(Matt Lauer Fields Storm of Criticism), (The bashing of Matt Lauer: Why many of the attacks are driven by partisanship)

over his favorable treatment of Trump compared to Hillary the other night. His target is the press and the so-called liberals in the press and how their reporting in essence gives Trump so many breaks. He can say anything no matter how outrageous "Trump says Hillary is an alien from Mars" and they will report it.

Lauer astonishes. So does Chait! finally occurred to him (Chait) that Candidate Trump might win the November election. Welcome back to earth!

We think Trump has an excellent chance, and we think that people like Chait have helped create the world in which that might happen. Meanwhile, have you tried to fight your way through Josh Marshall's account of last evening's forum?

Sad! For now, one last rumination:
Lauer started Clinton off with a lengthy set of questions about the email matter. The questions have all been asked and answered about a million times by now. Perhaps for that reason, Lauer gave his initial question on this topic a bit of a booster shot:
LAUER (9/7/16): The word “judgment” has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year-and-a-half, and in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were secretary of state. You’ve said it’s a mistake.

CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: You said you made not the best choice. You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn’t it more than a mistake? Why wasn’t it disqualifying, if you want to be commander-in-chief?
We'd have to say that's amazing. In his first real question of the night, Lauer directly suggested that Clinton's conduct may have been "disqualifying."

Lauer burned almost forty percent of Clinton's segment with this topic, asking questions which have been asked a million times by now. When his own inquisition was done, the first question from the audience concerned the same topic.

We assume that the audience questions were screened. The first audience question was this:
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for coming tonight. As a naval flight officer, I held a top secret sensitive compartmentalized information clearance. And that provided me access to materials and information highly sensitive to our warfighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.

Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are entrusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?
We assume the questions were screened. That said:

In Lauer's first question, he suggested that Clinton's conduct may have been "disqualifying." In the first audience question, Clinton was told that she had "clearly corrupted our national security." It's suggested she should be in prison.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Case of Eva and the Disappearing Sucess Academy Clueless Training Videos

....taking down of 430 out of 485 videos is an extreme — even paranoid — response to the analysis of one blogger about four of their videos.  I hope they put the videos back up soon but I’m assuming they won’t.
Update:  On Thursday September 6th the videos, for a brief while, temporarily reappeared, all of them, but a few hours later every video became password protected.  So we went from 485 to 56 to 485 and then to 0 all in 24 hours.....
these videos were posted originally, presumably, to help the public schools learn what they can do to be as high performing as Success Academies.  These videos were a public service.  If this is true, it seems very harsh, cruel even, to take them down just because some blogger links to four of them and criticizes them. If they’re going to do this, why leave up 56 videos?  The truth is that I did not sift through the 485 videos looking for incriminating stuff.  Basically, I can pick pretty much any video they have and the issues I had with the other videos I wrote about are all clearly there... 
One thing about this video is that the teacher seems to have some warmth while in the videos that were deleted, the teachers were somewhat hostile.  The other videos had teachers doing some very bad things, for example, making kids raise their hands to reveal to the entire class that they got a poor score on an assignment. Another deleted video had an assistant teacher putting a sticker on a child’s face as the assistant teacher circulated around the room.
The videos seem to show that Success Academy is a place where students live in fear of their over-controlling teachers.  It does not look like a place where kids get the opportunity to be kids.  I do think there there is a subset of kids who can do well in this environment, but most, I think, can’t.
........Gary Rubinstein
Gary Rubinstein is on the case. There were 500 videos up and Gary was critical of the 4 he watched. So Success took them all down. And then they put back their "best of" 50. And then they took those down and then.... well, let Gary tell the story:

Success Academy Scrubs Their Public Video Page: Updated

There’s a famous saying, I think it originated with Watergate, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up.”

My last two blog posts have been based on videos I found on Success Academy’s public video site on Vimeo.  This is the collection of videos that they promised in The Wall Street Journal back in May after a few very public scandals.
Now Success Academy is very private about what happens in their schools so you’d figure that all their videos contain things that they are proud of.  Surely they spent considerable money producing these videos and there were many people involved in what sorts of things would be permitted to be in these videos.

There were 485 videos on the page when I first came across it a few days ago.  Randomly clicking on a few of them I found four videos among the nearly 500 that I analyzed, three in the first post and one in the second post.  I noticed in a comment today on the most recent post that the video I wrote about was taken down from the site.  Then I looked at the first post and found that two of those three videos were also removed from their site.  I went back to their site to find that all that remains of the 485 videos that were up just 24 hours ago is now down to just 56 videos.

 more at  Success Academy Scrubs Their Public Video Page: Updated

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

NYS Senate candidate Micah Lasher Has Been a Dishonest Slug Since High School

Robert Jackson is the obvious choice over Lasher and other candidates. But for me Lasher, former head of Students First, is as despicable as Trump. And a chorus of people agree with me.

Retired Stuyvesant HS teacher charges Micah Lasher charged with ageism, dishonesty and crookery going back to high school days.

Posted to FB group “Upstate Manhattan: Inwood and Washington Heights” by a retired teacher at Stuyvesant HS.
"I have had a chance to know Micah Lasher, since he was a teenager, when I taught at Stuyvesant High School. He was not in my class, but his reputation was notorious as editor of the school newspaper, and, even then, he was a despicable human being, a hack in every way. Unfortunately, the principal at that time let him get away with so much that she would never let other students get away with. The worse was when he slandered a teacher, the academic adviser for the Student Union, on the school newspaper, who was very well respected and popular with both students and his colleagues. However, when this teacher thought he was going to get the backing from the principal, she sided with him, so I blame this principal, as well as others, for enabling this unforgivable hack. 

Since then, he has demonstrated that he has no morals and will slander anyone if it helps advance his career. Starting from the cartoon of Freddy Ferrer kissing the behind of Al Sharpton and circulating it to voters in the Upper West Side for Mark Green to negative campaigns against long time activist, Sylvia Friedman, to cause her to be unseated by Brian Kavanaugh for the Assembly race, calling her an Albany insider, even though she was only in office for a few months, and making fun of her age and then working for Students First New York, the hedge fund-backed charter school lobby that only cares about measuring student success through standardized tests.

 Micah Lasher cannot be trusted. His ageist campaign against Sylvia Friedman unfortunately is what he used do to the older and more experienced teachers at Stuyvesant, whom he called "dinosaurs". There are teachers, current and retired, who still despise him. Former staff members for Eric Schneiderman, when he was State Senator for this district, came to me to express their disdain for him and told me how much they do not trust him. Unfortunately, Eric Schneiderman, whom I have always had a great deal of respect for, have also either failed to see his character or just do not care. I also blame the staff at Working Families Party, whom I am also a proud member of and have served as a ranking officer for, who have also given him a free pass because he volunteered for them since he was 16. WFP has remained neutral in this race. I am equally upset that the Times has also endorsed him, too, but, unfortunately, I am not surprised."

Labor's Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome: Feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor...
An interesting article from early August at Truthout about union capitulation to their own destruction ------ the frog in the boiling water. That goes along with a recent ed notes post: Jacobin: Labor’s Neoliberal Caucus Capitulation - Randi and Crew Are Charter Members.

This is a traditional left analysis calling for union solidarity instead of narrow unionism looking out solely for the interests of its members. This is tricky ground.
An extreme example is the Wisconsin trooper and firefighter unions endorsing Scott Walker's 2010 bid for governor, and being subsequently carved out of Walker's infamous, union-destroying Act 10.
Interesting -- police and fire make a separate deal to screw everyone else.

Some more excerpts:
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 00:00 By Andrew Tillett-Saks, Truthout | Op-Ed
In the 2016 Democratic primary, US labor unions overwhelmingly endorsed Hilary Clinton and invested millions of dollars in ensuring her nomination. Few eyebrows were raised, despite Clinton's questionable record and platform towards workers. Why not? Organized labor's support for political enemies of unions and workers is so common it has become expected. The labor movement suffers from a political Stockholm syndrome, embracing the very politicians who attack them. The embrace of Hillary Clinton, openly hostile to the current campaigns of some of the very unions who endorsed her, exposes the self-destructive absurdity of the situation. An intervention is needed or unions will be hard-pressed to reverse their current decline if they do not shake the Stockholm syndrome and adopt different political strategies.

The second rationale used for endorsing anti-worker candidates like Clinton is a narrow transactionalism -- unions cut a deal with the candidate, exchanging their support for a concession to their individual union. An extreme example is the Wisconsin trooper and firefighter unions endorsing Scott Walker's 2010 bid for governor, and being subsequently carved out of Walker's infamous, union-destroying Act 10. Other common examples include building trades unions securing Project Labor Agreements, service sector unions extracting guarantees of organizing neutrality agreements on forthcoming development projects, and public sector unions obtaining concessions in their contract negotiations.

 the pro-Clinton labor leaders argue that electing a genuinely pro-worker candidate is impossible in the current political context, so better to support the moderate candidate and pray for some reciprocation than to be left with nothing but powerful enemies when the pro-worker candidate inevitably loses. They are simply being "practical." Second, labor leaders often negotiate a concession for their own union in exchange for their endorsement, celebrating a narrow victory while claiming a realpolitik strategy of transactionalism. Both rationales are misguided.
Many unions took up the first rationale and endorsed Clinton in the primaries on the premise that Sanders couldn't win. A closer look at the evidence unveils a self-fulfilling prophecy; labor itself likely could have swung the nomination to Sanders.

The second rationale used for endorsing anti-worker candidates like Clinton is a narrow transactionalism -- unions cut a deal with the candidate, exchanging their support for a concession to their individual union. An extreme example is the Wisconsin trooper and firefighter unions endorsing Scott Walker's 2010 bid for governor, and being subsequently carved out of Walker's infamous, union-destroying Act 10. Other common examples include building trades unions securing Project Labor Agreements, service sector unions extracting guarantees of organizing neutrality agreements on forthcoming development projects, and public sector unions obtaining concessions in their contract negotiations.
The narrow transactionalism rationale exhibits the same shortsightedness that has haunted US unions for over a century. Failure to think as a class, as the proponents of working people in general, and focusing instead only on the narrow interests of their immediate members, is the misguided strategy that has repeatedly weakened unions and brought about its current near-death experience.

Selling out the rest of the working class in the name of a union's own members -- the essence of the "narrow-transactionalism" political strategy -- never has worked and never will. Ironically, when unions only "look out for their own members," they doom these very members to eventual slaughter. As unions fight only for improvements on an ever-shrinking island of union workers, they eventually drown in the rising tide of non-union poverty and powerlessness.
Unions must stop supporting politicians who brutalize working class communities, gut public education, abolish social welfare programs, redistribute wealth upwards by fighting higher wages and raising corporate subsidies, privatize public services and criminalize Blacks and Latinos.

Ed Deform Racist Policies Attack Black Teachers - a Civil Rights Issue for Our Times

In Philadelphia, the number of black teachers fell 18.5 percent between 2001 and 2012. In Chicago, it dropped 40 percent... 26,000 African American teachers have disappeared from the nation's public schools—even as the overall teaching workforce has increased by 134,000. .... Mother Jones

At the very same time as Joel Klein branded his "reform" of the NYC school system a response to the civil rights issue of our time, as did many ed deformers at the time, he was also instrumental in forging policies that led to a reduction in the number of black teachers being hired in the NYC schools -- a policy based on bringing in mostly white Teach for America and Teaching Fellows instead of the teaching programs coming out of CUNY and the career ladder that allowed paras to become teachers.

When I retired in 2002 and turned Ed Notes into a city-wide newspaper Sean Ahern, a high school cooking teacher, saw a copy in his school mailbox and sent me a snail mail letter and after that we began hanging out -- our meeting was one of the sparks of that led to the founding of ICE. Since that time Sean has often focused on the disappearing black educator issue - even being instrumental in getting the UFT DA to pass a reso on the issue, though nothing very much has been done about it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Jacobin: Labor’s Neoliberal Caucus Capitulation - Randi and Crew Are Charter Members

Service Employees International Union (SEIU), both major teachers’ unions — the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) decided to caucus separately [from the other unions at the DNC].

At this year’s DNC, four major unions solidified some of the most concessionary tendencies within the labor movement... The caucus break represents the culmination of a long, steady trend in American trade unionism toward neoliberal unionism — a unionism that espouses collaboration with corporations instead of conflict and upholds free-market capitalism as reconcilable with labor’s interests..... Jacobin
Mike Schirtzer found this article which delves into the capitulation of our union on so much of the neo-liberal ed deform movement, among other issues.
...the breakaway caucus unions represent a new way of dealing with these types of politicians, shifting from strategic alliances to sycophantic servitude. In pledging allegiance to Clinton so immediately and so fervently, the four breakaway unions appear to have lost the ability to identify labor’s own interests and enemies.
The NEA and AFT, for their part, have also continued to donate profusely to Democrats (over $30 million in the 2012 election cycle alone) while much of the party leads the charge of anti-union and anti-public-education “reform.”
The proliferation of this model of unionism would spell disaster for the American labor movement. Our movement’s success depends on how widely and how militantly we can organize workers to fight corporate power and the 1 percent, not embrace them.
What I find funny about this piece is that it tries to make a case that this is a new thing when those of us in education know that our AFT/NYSUT/UFT capitulated to neo-liberalism a long time ago. Our union was founded almost 60 years ago on the basis of defending the essentials of capitalism even as it devolved into the essentials of free-market, non-regulatory, privatization of government services based neo-liberalism  - as opposed to the FDR New Deal model neo-liberalism aims to destroy.

Also read in the DN: Richard Greenwald: How labor unions lost their way

Labor’s Neoliberal Caucus

Sunday, September 4, 2016

John Oliver take down of charter schools - Over 5 Million Views - Charter Lobby on Attack

I'm sure ed notes readers have seen the John Oliver charter school video take down.

Leonie had some comments on her blog. Here are excerpts with links.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Charter privateers on the defensive but not giving up on their Orwellian takeover schemes

It's been a hard few weeks for the charter lobby.  First, members of the NAACP overwhelming approve a resolution calling for a national moratorium on charter schools.

Then, the Black Lives Matters movement called for an end to the privatization of our schools:

John Oliver on HBO's Last Week Tonight did a terrific take down of the corruption and chaos that charters bring to our public school system.

John Oliver's satires can be quite influential.

See how his critique  of testing companies in 2015, including the infamous Pearson Pineapple, helped influence parents to turn against standardized testing in a nationwide survey:

But don't feel too bad for the charter lobby. Backed by millions of dollars of "dark money" from right wing corporate interests and Wall St. hedgefunders, they aren't giving up.

Predictions: Hillary Impeached, Beyond Trump

If Hillary weren't damaged goods she would win in a landslide. But she won't and if the Republicans maintain control of both the Senate and House we will have 4 more years of stalemate. When people bring up the Supreme Court as a reason to vote for Hillary they laugh when I tell them the Republicans are willing to wait out the 4 years since they think they can win for sure in 2020.

But then again when we think of the flimsy Bill Clinton impeachment fiasco why not double down by impeaching Hillary using email crimes and Benghazi as reasons.

So imagine the scenario - sometime in the 3rd year, especially after the mid-term elections in 2018, they tie her up in impeachment.

Now that may be dumb in some ways in that wouldn't they prefer running against her again in 2020? So why put her in a position where she might not run again and have the Dems come up with a better candidate?

While some people assumed there might be a movement from the left in the Dem party what we have is a party totally controlled by the old guard -- the DFER types.  That is where the money is coming from.  With the Bernie movement fizzling and fighting with each other, the future of the progressives doesn't look good as an organized force. It can only happen outside the Dem party and Green has not caught on enough or evidence the ability to organize much.

In the meantime, the Republicans will also undergo some post-Trump issues. There is a good comprehensive piece with the 4 scenarios from Trumpism taking over the party to status quo.

Beyond Trump

Where will the Republican Party go after 2016?

They have some other interesting articles:
United States of Trump A Party Divided