Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Is Attempt to Close JHS 145, a Political Giveaway to Eva Moskowitz?

...a full 3 weeks before the DOE’s closure proposal even becomes official, and 2 months before the PEP vote takes
Stop Eva from getting this building
place, and despite the DOE’s claim that the closing has NOTHING to do with the charter school, Success Academy’s website has begun advertising for applicants to its new middle school, opening in 2017, at JHS 145. In recent weeks, Success Academy staff members have been measuring our classrooms, apparently 100% confident that the PEP will rubberstamp our demise in March.... JHS 145 teacher Jim Donohue
Last night at the UFT Exec Bd meeting, I had the pleasure to meet JHS 145X teacher Jim Donohue who  has led a noble fight to save the school he has taught at for his entire seventeen year career. Jim and a colleague, published an op ed in the Daily News recently.

Ed Notes has published an account of the battle to keep the school open before:
Many of us in MORE have taken up the fight and the MORE connected bloggers are telling the story he told to the UFT leadership - minus Mulgrew who was not present. I can't speak for the Unity Caucus crowd but those of us in MORE and New Action who were present were immensely impressed with Jim, who has been in touch with MORE recently and was encouraged to attend this meeting to ask for assistance in the struggle directly from the UFT leadership. At the next two PEP meetings, Feb. 28 and March 22 - when the PEP vote will be taken - we will try to be there to support the school community and hopefully the UFT leadership will bring people out to show their support too. Since there is a DA scheduled for March 22, I would urge them to adjourn early and head over to the PEP, which will be at Fashion Industries HS on 8th Ave and W. 24th St, en masse.

I've always considered school closings political not educational decisions. Eva wants the building and the de Blasio/Farina administration is willing to sacrifice the school to keep her quiet because they know she and the FES people will go on the attack for keeping a struggling school open. It's an election year, after all.

Here is what Jim Donohue said to the UFT Ex Bd.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

BIGLY YUGE Anti DeVos Rally at Tweed Monday 5PM --

Don't want DeVos? There's a BIG rally beginning at 5pm on Monday outside Tweed Courthouse (52 Chambers Street).

The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP aka NYC's School board) is holding a Special Calendar Meeting for a "Proposed Resolution Opposing the Confirmation of Nominee Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education of the United States."

NYC is the country's largest school district and there will be a lot of attention to this rally.

We have heard from members of both the Mayor's office and the Chancellor's office that national media will be in attendance to cover this historic vote as NYC sends a clear message to the nation regarding the future of our public schools.

We need to show up in great numbers to make the message heard that DeVos' agenda for public education is not shared by NYC public school parents.
We need public school parents to show up in YUGE numbers!!

Jersey Jazzman: Reformy In the Age of Trump

Here's one of the very, very few positive things to come out of the Trump presidency: the neoliberal education "reformers" finally have to take good, long look at the conservatives they've made common cause with. For those who've clung tight to their moral superiority while defending the "reform" agenda, it's a cold slap in the face:---- Reformy In the Age of Trump
I wanted to call attention to Jersey Jazzman's post, especially given that the Democratic Party is looking for people to run opposing Trump policies, but when it comes to education, they are befuddled. That Corey Booker and Cuomo looks like best bets to go for the nomination in 2020 is a sign of how bad things are in the Dem party.

The DeVos stuff has shaken some of them up, though it was nice to see Eva come out for Betsy. 

I see how agitated even some of the core teacher Trump supporters who are teachers are by DeVos -- as if beating her off will lead to much better. I'd rather have an incompetent ideologue than some slick dude with like Duncan.

Now the Democrats are so nervous because DeVos may turn into Cathie Black and totally screw the Dem program which leaves a sliver of public schools to handle the kids no one wants and also to leave a sliver or teacher unions whose leadership is so good at managing the members and tamping down on militancy.

JJ points to Justin C. Cohen,
as reformy a centrist Democrat as you will find, telling us he will be  disappointed -- that's right, disappointed -- to no longer be able to work with the conservatives who are currently moving to install DeVos into the federal Education Department.
JJ argues that the Dems are as ideological as the right wingers and the so-called "evidence-based" argument is a beard.
Because the notion that neoliberal "reform" advocates are in reality "technocrats" is completely contradicted by their record. Many of the "reformers" on both the right and the left are driven by ideology, not evidence.

Sure, there is some evidence some charter schools in some cities with special conditions (Boston and New Orleans are on that list) get marginal practical gains in test scores. But only an ideologue would ignore the large and growing body of evidence that charter proliferation has incentivized bad behavior, abrogates the rights of students and families, segregates students by special education need and other factors, and has pernicious effects on public schools. Only an ideologue would blithely claim we should just "charter better" while problematic charter chains become the norm in the sector.
Sure, there is some evidence that test-based accountability led to marginal practical gains in test scores. But only an ideologue would argue that mandating employment consequences for teachers with these tests is warranted by the evidence, or that our current testing regime hasn't had the effect of narrowing the curriculum, especially in schools serving many disadvantaged students.

They applauded while Arne Duncan expanded charters and threatened to punish schools whose parents who opt their children out of testing, all while school funding stagnated. They cheered when John King, one of their own, took over at USED, even as they ignored the glaring problems with his own brand of educational "reform."

Duncan and King were better Secretaries of Education than DeVos will ever be -- but if we're setting the bar that low, we've got problems. Obama's SecEds were just as enamored with the "Poverty is no excuse!" arguments we now hear coming from the voucher pushers on the right. They were just as willing to sell the soft privatization of charters as DeVos is the hard privatization of vouchers. They were just as willing to gratuitously beat up on teachers unions and university-based teacher prep programs and suburban testing skeptics as the pseudo-intellectual pseudo-libertarians are now.
 Read more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2017/01/reformy-in-age-of-trump.html

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Dark Side of Education Reform: Students as Victims and the Destruction of Manhattan's Murray Bergtraum HS

U.S. News and World Reports ranked Murry Bergtraum High School for BusinessCareers on Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan among America’s “Outstanding High Schools” in 1999.... Up until about the year 2000, Bergtraum offered a wide array of academic and business courses. Students could study Latin, French, Italian, or Spanish. There were Advanced Placement classes, music and art courses. There was a literary magazine, a yearbook,a school newspaper, a band, a debate club, language clubs, and sports teams. Like Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, and other selective specialty high schools in the city, students applied and competed for admission to Murry Bergtraum.
Thus begins the testimonial of a former Bergtraum teacher, Andrea Dupre. Retired CL John Elfrank-Dana sent this link. What happened in 2002? Bloomberg/Joel Klein.
But by 2011, New York State identified Bergtraum as a School in Need of Improvement (SINI) and its New York City School Report Card grade fell to a “D.” Ironically, the arc of the school’s fall began in 2002 with recently elected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s four-pronged approach to reforming the city’s schools. These included centralizing control at the mayor’s office; carving up large high schools into smaller schools; utilizing “disruption” as a means of managing faculty and administrators; and eliminating “bad” teachers. In 2002, Bergtraum was one of those large high schools, enrolling about 2500 students. So were Stuyvesant in Manhattan, Francis Lewis in Queens, Lehman in the Bronx, and Edward R. Murrow in Brooklyn. None of these large successful schools including Bergtraum were on the mayor’s list for closure. Yet as the others maintained stable programs and staff throughout Bloomberg’s three administrations, Bergtraum
collapsed, its once fine reputation now a thing of the past.
Read Dupre's entire story below and keep in mind that Bergtaum was a key school building on Eva Moskowitz's radar -- she is in there now and one day the entire building which was state of the art when built in 1976, will fall into her hands.

As for the UFT:
Bergtraum’s beleaguered UFT chapter leader struggled to get support from the evasive teachers’ union, reluctant to break rank with the mayor. As Diane Ravitch explains, New York City’s teachers’ union essentially established a holding pattern in its criticism of the mayor: The only group that might have stymied his [Bloomberg’s] goal was the United Federation of Teachers. But the union leadership was grateful to the mayor, because he had awarded the teachers a 43 per cent salary increase and a
generous boost to their pensions. Randi Weingarten, the union’s president, endorsed continuation of mayoral control (Ravitch, 80).
As the conditions at Murry Bergtraum deteriorated, the UFT, like the DOE, chose to bury the dark side - effects of reform policies: a school community’s sense of isolation within a large, centrally controlled system, the unsettling consequences of reform...
The Dark Side of Education Reform: Students as Victims and the Destruction of a Manhattan High School


I Said, “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore”: I Lied - And Putting Marches in Context

Hell, we survived Thanksgiving and our family of mixed Trump and Hillary supporters are going on a cruise next month and expect to have a fun time. I’m just staying away from the railing.
The march was exciting but let's not jump to conclusions. Before we think a revolt is at hand, check out this NY Times piece from Friday - Does a Protest’s Size Matter?
Two enormous protests, two disappointing results. Similar sequences of events have played out in other parts of the world. This doesn’t mean that protests no longer matter — they do. Nowadays, however, protests should be seen not as the culmination of an organizing effort, but as a first, potential step.
...But if those protesters are not exchanging contact information and setting up local strategy meetings, their large numbers are unlikely to translate into the kind of effectiveness the Tea Party supporters had after their protests in 2009.
Also see this week's Bill Maher on HBO where he does a riff on Democrats and identity Politics.

Bill Maher Hilariously Picks Apart Trump’s Chaotic First Week In Power

In the meantime, I had a good time at the march but it won't change what I do with myself ---


I Said, “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore”: I Lied
By Norm Scott

I was walking across Lexington Avenue on Tuesday and two African-American woman walking next to me were telling a friend about the last Saturday’s Woman’s March. “It was so diverse and people were so excited and friendly and everyone we met bonded,” one of them said. I, who rarely speak to strangers, turned to them and said, “I was there too.” They smiled and one of them said to her friends, “See, that was what it was like.” “See you at the next one,” I said as we waved and went our separate ways.

Exhilarating, energizing, unifying, a life-changing experience, among other accolades for an event millions of people all over the world participated in. An era of good feeling and organizing that might translate into local levels of activism, maybe even here in Rockaway, where a map of the Red/Blue divide was stark as 75% of the west end voted for Trump and a similar percentage voted for Hillary on the east end. Talk about a tale of two communities. Apparently, a group of Rockaway women did march but they are keeping their identities under wraps for now. (If any of them read this, email me. My wife and some friends are interested.)

I haven’t been very big on the usefulness of marches for political action for a long time. They don’t seem to draw enough people to really make a difference and what do the people who show up, other than the usual regular activists, do the day after? Maybe feel good about having “done” something. So basically, when I do go to a march, it is to hang out with my leftist buddies, who will march for every cause, and to find a post-march bar to – er – talk things over.

But the marches last Saturday seemed different. They had a buzz about them that I hadn’t seen in other marches. Well, showing up with 399,000 others here in New York, certainly did create a buzz. People who rarely, if ever, march were getting on buses at 4 AM to go to Washington, where a reported half a million showed up – but actually only a dozen according to alternative facts. I had taken an early morning bus for an education march in Washington back in July and we were so speechified for so many hours, by the time we got to actually march, it started to rain and our bus was ready to leave. Giving every celebrity and politician who wants their time in the limelight time to speak while people are waiting to march makes one wish for any kind of march to start – even the Bataan Death March.

So I decided to stay local this time. Meet up with my buddies from the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE/UFT) and join up with other UFTers at the advertised meeting spot on 47th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave at 10AM, head over to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza between 1st and 2nd Ave for some speechifying – they said about a half hour – then start marching at 11 down 2nd Ave, 42nd St to 5th Ave and then up to Trump Tower – should take about an hour – find a bar to hoist a few.

And then I would be off to meet my wife and her friends and march again with her crew at 2 PM (so many people registered they were given start times based on their last name), get done around 4PM and maybe find someplace for us all to eat.

My wife, after almost 50 years of not showing enormous interest in political activism, has been on the war path since the election – and this was the first march she dragged me to instead of vice versa. I wasn’t going to miss this making of a radical activist for anything.
But after standing on 47th and 2nd Avenue not able to move, with people crushed together up and down 2nd Ave for 10 blocks with the crush growing as more and more people arrived, I began to realize it would take a very long time to reach Trump Tower. I had lost track of my friends once we began to move slowly down 2nd Ave. I decided to meet up with my wife and friends and march with them but instead of going to the starting point where things were moving very slowly, we decided to join at 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue where we moved about a block an hour across town. It finally loosened up after Park Ave and some people made it as far as Trump Tower or just a few blocks short. The question always is what happens next? The next batch marches are set for April 15.

Trumpies on facebook and twitter were calling the marchers “Sore losers, whiners, babies, libtards,” and whatever else they could throw at them. They will be proven right if all these millions of people do is march and take no action in between.

Will the group that is meeting in Rockaway that seems concerned about possible harassment from Trump supporters eventually emerge and engage in some civic action on a local level? If that happens all over the nation the marches will lead to positive outcomes. Hell, we survived Thanksgiving and our family of mixed Trump and Hillary supporters are going on a cruise next month and expect to have a fun time. I’m just staying away from the railing.

Norm blogs at ednotesonline.com. His email is normsco@gmail.com

Union Numbers Slip Nationwide and in New York State - It will Only Get Worse

Two reports on the drop in union membership:

Mike Antonucci at Intercepts:
Posted: 26 Jan 2017 10:54 AM PST
I’ll have much more on this next week, but the headlines on the annual union membership report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are these:
  • The percentage of wage and salary employees who belong to unions is 10.7%, down from 11.1% in 2015.
  • In the private sector only 6.4% of workers belong to unions, down from 6.7%.
  • 40.3% of local government employees, which includes public school teachers, firefighters and police officers, were unionized, down from 41.3%.
  • Though there were about 2.4 million more workers in 2016, there were 240,000 fewer union members.
  • The states with the largest drops in union share of the workforce were Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Nevada and Oregon.

City Limits


Union Numbers Slip Nationwide and in New York State

The number of U.S. workers who belonged to labor unions fell by a quarter million nationwide in 2016, continuing a decline of worker power that has spanned decades.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday that 10.7 percent of wage and salary workers belonged to unions, a 0.4 percent drop over 2015 and the lowest share of the workforce recorded over the 33 years for which detailed statistics are available. With 14.6 million union members, the U.S. now has 3.1 million fewer than it did when reliable data begins in 1983, when one in five workers belonged.
Public-sector workers continued to have far higher unionization rates than their private-sector counterparts, and from 24.7 percent in 2015 to 23.6 percent in 2016. New York’s union membership fell from 2.038 million to 1.942 million last year.
BLS state-level data only goes back to the year 2000, and 2016 displayed the second-lowest unionization rate on record; only the 23.2 percent seen in 2012 was lower.
“Simply put, workers’ wishes to engage in collective bargaining far exceed their ability to do so because of our inadequate laws,” Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement. “The resulting erosion of collective bargaining exacerbates our decades-long problems with wage stagnation and inequality, hurts not only union workers but also nonunion workers whose wages are higher in industries and occupations with high union density, and weakens workers’ voice in our political life and democracy.”

Friday, January 27, 2017

Farina Dream of Destroying Progressive Central Park East 1 Comes to Fruition As UFT Remains Silent

  • [Principal] Garg received poor marks on the DOE’s school survey for her first year at CPE 1, with a 45 percent approval rating. That compares to an average 95 percent across the city. In five out of eight categories for “effective leadership,” no teachers rated her competent.
  • The school, founded 41 years ago by legendary educator Deborah Meier with a distinct philosophy that favored collaboration with teachers and parents, has long been hailed as a model in the progressive education movement.
  • “It’s a school that is falling apart. It is chaotic, incoherent and rudderless,” said Kenya Dilday, parent association co-chair and the mom of a third grader.
  • Parents say that more instructional support is needed for the 200-student school where 11 out of 17 teachers are new since last year.
  • “We are listening to the concerns of this school community and providing support to ensure we are meeting student and family needs,” DOE spokesman Will Mantel said.
 ------ https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170127/east-harlem/central-park-east-1-progressive-education

This is a great piece by Amy Zimmer that exposes the Farina regime. The only problem is that it makes the DOE look incompetent when in reality the destruction and chaos at Central Park East 1 was and is intentional. Remember other top performing schools like Townshend Harris and La Guardia where these type of principals have been installed.

The principal of CPE 1 is a Farina Hit Woman sent in to destroy the schools. Garg should get a bonus for accomplishing her mission. The first step is to drive out the established teachers (10 of whom Garg had investigated and one sent to a rubber room). The 11 new teachers who were hired by Garg must love her.

At what point do we hold the Farina led DOE accountable for the outrages? And where is the UFT?

Kindergarten Applications Plummet at Once-Coveted School Amid Controversy

By Amy Zimmer | January 27, 2017 9:28am
 Central Park East Mixed Chorus performed at Carter Burden Center for Aging on January 21, 2015.
Central Park East Mixed Chorus performed at Carter Burden Center for Aging on January 21, 2015.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Sybile Penhirin
MANHATTAN — East Harlem mom Kaliris Salas-Ramirez had to wait a month to get off the waitlist and score a spot just to tour Central Park East 1 when visiting elementary schools for her son two years ago.

This year, the school at Madison Avenue and East 106th Street had barely enough parents to fill the tours.
At a recent evening open house, “literally one parent showed up,” Salas-Ramirez, now co-chair of the parent association.
The small and diverse lottery-based school — considered the forerunner of progressive public schools in the city — garnered more kindergarten applicants per available seat than any other school in the city for the the 2015-2016 school year, according to Department of Education data.
Nearly 570 families listed the school as one of their 12 choices on their kindergarten application, vying for just 30 seats. That breaks down to about 19 applicants per seat.
But that was before Monika Garg took over as principal last September, touching off a revolt from long-time teachers and parents who claim she is not supporting the school’s progressive foundations of inquiry-based, child-centered learning.
This year, according to school insiders, roughly 280 families applied. That’s still a high number given the dearth of seats, but it’s half the number of families who applied in 2015.
“It really has been heartbreaking to see a school like CPE I that has such an incredible reputation and amazing teachers be destroyed in a year,” Salas-Ramirez said, noting that parents who did tour have expressed grave concern about the new leadership.
After the school community launched a petition last year to oust Garg, tensions are still high at the school.

Garg received poor marks on the DOE’s school survey for her first year at CPE 1, with a 45 percent approval rating. That compares to an average 95 percent across the city.

In five out of eight categories for “effective leadership,” no teachers rated her competent.

Parents say that more instructional support is needed for the 200-student school where 11 out of 17 teachers are new since last year.

A consultant came in September to observe, parents said, but there was no follow-up. Another consultant versed in progressive education arrived this month, after families pleaded with the DOE to send more help.

“There is structure with progressive education,” Salas-Ramirez  said.

“That’s why you need mentorship and leadership, teamwork and collaboration. You have to be so intentional in the work. You have to direct the conversation of these children in a way that get kids to have an ‘a-ha moment’ without you telling them what it is.”

The school, founded 41 years ago by legendary educator Deborah Meier with a distinct philosophy that favored collaboration with teachers and parents, has long been hailed as a model in the progressive education movement.

With its focus on social emotional development over a more test-centric approach, the school has drawn a lot of families — across East Harlem’s District 4, Harlem’s District 5 and the Upper West Side’s District 3 — who opt out of the state’s standardized English and math exams.  

Yet, while the number of students who sit for the test remains small, they typically outperform citywide averages — until last year.

The scores of the children who sat for the tests fell below the state average for the first time ever — and that was after Garg instituted a test prep program and teachers have been implementing a more “hybrid” traditional/progressive model, according to parents.
“It’s a school that is falling apart. It is chaotic, incoherent and rudderless,” said Kenya Dilday, parent association co-chair and the mom of a third grader.

“We feel that the many new teachers could well turn out to love and excel at CPE1’s particularly pedagogy.  But as of now, they are confused.”

Dilday fired off a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña complaining of various problems with the school's leadership, including a $100,000 grant application that the principal said she filled out through the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.
While all other schools that applied were awarded the grants, CPE 1 was not, Dilday said.

The Borough President’s office told parents it never received the application, and the principal told parents that she applied but couldn’t find the school’s name on the drop-down menu for the application, so she filed it under Central Park East High School.
This year, Dilday is taking over the responsibility of filing the application, she said.

“The parents are working so hard, the teachers are working so hard,” Dilday said. “It’s a sad place now, but maybe one day it will be happy again.”
Garg did not respond to a request for comment.
DOE officials said the superintendent was continuing to support the school, noting the progressive education consultant who was recently dispatched there.

“We are listening to the concerns of this school community and providing support to ensure we are meeting student and family needs,” DOE spokesman Will Mantel said.

Some more articles on CPE1

Ed Notes Online: Parents at Central Park East 1 Issue Press Release ...

Apr 14, 2016 - Parents at Central Park East 1 Launch a Website and Petition Drive to Defend Their School's Progressive Practices and Remove Principal.

Save CPE1

As a result of her actions, more than 1/3 of veteran staff members are leaving the ... and maintained by a large group of concerned parents at Central Park East 1.

Central Park East I School in New York NY - SchoolDigger.com

Rating: 2 - ‎Review by SchoolDigger.com
Central Park East I school profile, performance trends and NY state ranking. See how Central Park East I ranks with other New York schools.

New Principal Ruining Legendary Progressive Public School, Parents ...

Apr 13, 2016 - Parents at Central Park East 1 in East Harlem are calling for the ouster of the new principal.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Antonucci: The Strange Disappearance of 69,000 AFT Members

I hate linking to the Campbell Brown faux journalism site The74
but Mike Antonucci is one anti-union journalist who does a degree of honest, though biased reporting. (You will rarely read a positive report on a teacher union.) His report below is loaded with some
juicy info on the AFT - Mike covers the NEA more extensively.

I did some editing to focus on the AFT - if you must go read the entire article at the - ugh - 74.

Why are numbers of AFT members pertinent? A good chunk of UFT dues goes to the AFT, which is run by Randi Weingarten in the same vein as, oh say, your average dictatorship. But also once the national attacks come on the teacher unions, especially post-Friedrichs, these numbers will be a base point.

Mike after doing research has not found what happened to the drop in 69,000 AFT members over the past year.
When I started work on the article I thought I'd be able to determine where AFT lost the members, but no affiliate reported losses of that magnitude (except for WV). I think maybe they miscounted in 2015 and corrected in 2016. But they'll never tell me.
Maybe given that we may see big drops in membership over the next few years as non-union charters and vouchers decimate public schools, they decided to adjust the numbers so the losses don't seem to come so fast?

Here are the key bullet extracts from Mike's piece with some appended Editorial Notes.
  • AFT routinely claims it has 1.6 million members.
  • AFT reached a record-high 1,613,448 members in 2015.
  • [L]ast year - 2016 - the union reported 1,544,143 members.
  • More than 600,000 working AFT members belong to merged NEA/AFT local and state affiliates. Though their dues and representation rights are split between NEA and AFT, both national unions count them as full members.
[Ed Note: So when you add up the NEA and AFT totals -- subtract 600,000].
  • Almost 41 percent of AFT’s members live and work in New York and so belong to New York State United Teachers. But NYSUT reported a 13,000-member increase in 2016.
Now you can see why NYSUT is so crucial to the Unity machine. Check out Arthur's report on the talks between Stronger Together and Unity -- Stronger Together Brings a Stop Watch to a Long Game

I'll have my own comments on the Unity/Stronger Together talks, maybe later today or tomorrow. People ask me what ST brings to the table and I say - the mere act of running against Unity is an existential threat. All dictatorships see elections as a threat even if they expect to win by 90%. I guarantee that Putin is concerned that 10% votes against him. Randi won re-election in the AFT last summer with well over 90% of the vote. And we know that does not reflect reality.
  • 357,000 AFT members are retirees, who pay no dues 
  • 330,000 AFT members are part-time employees.
    AFT’s 1.6 million members equate to a dues-paying equivalent of 854,000 full-time employed teachers.  
[Ed Note - I questioned Mike on this point since we pay dues in the UFT though not sure if any of that goes to AFT-  Also - 60,000 of the retirees are UFT. What about the nurses and home daycare workers and any other AFT members who are not teachers? And then in NYC there are over 40,000 UFT members who are not teachers per se -- social workers, paras, guidance -- functional chapters.In NYC the numbers of classroom teachers are less than 70,000 in a union of around 170,000.In the last contract around 106,000 people voted - over 90% - retirees didn't vote.In the election all UFT members could vote -- around 170,000.]

Mike replied:
AFT says, "Retiree Members are members for life and pay no dues during retirement." It's UFT alone that's charging you. NEA charges $30/year, which might help explain why they have fewer retired members than AFT even though they're twice the size.

Nurses and other certificated employees pay the teacher rate. Full-time support workers pay about two-thirds of that. Part-timers pay according to whether they work 1/2 time, 1/4 time or 1/8 time. This is all just the AFT portion. Local dues vary greatly.
Here is most of Mike's analysis:
Analysis: The Strange Disappearance of 69,000 AFT Members

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trumpers and Trumpets So Sad After March: Not Having As Much Fun As Hillary Supporters

A tide of whining arose enmasse from Trump supporters who had
to watch as millions of people worldwide has a joyful day marching on Saturday while they had to stay home and stew about the "lib sore losers" while at the same time absorbing a barrage of alternate facts.

"I had to spend my entire weekend studying alternative facts while all those losers were having a blast," lamented one Trumpet, a woman who had difficulty coming to grips with the woman's march.

"Most of those millions of marchers were the same people who voted illegally in the election, thus depriving our glorious leader with the electoral majority he deserved," said a make Trumper. "They are criminals and should be arrested and they will be once we expand the prisons to the size of stadiums. Pinochet did that in Chile, didn't he?" When it was pointed out that many of those in the Chilean stadium after the overthrow of Allende were never seen again, the Trumper said, "Aha, there are your millions of illegal votes."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NYSUT COPE Sells Out to DeVos Supporter Flanagan

Long Island Presidents (teacher union local leaders) led the fight against Senator John Flanagan's reelection in 2016... NYSUT would not endorse Flanagan's opponent in the election...
Flanagan has rewarded our generosity by signing a letter in support of confirming Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. He is the only New York official who signed the letter.... James Eterno at ICE
Andy Pallotta brought John Flanagan to that Board of Directors meeting to try and convince the Board of Directors to overturn what the LI Presidents decided... Beth Dimino
James Eterno has a piece at ICE on what has been going on over the NYSUT max contribution to the awful John Flanagan and the post by Beth Dimino on FB: PORT JEFFERSON STATION TEACHERS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO SENATOR FLANAGAN ENDORSING DEVOS

I always remember the late Gene Prisco's usual comment when the UFT or NYSUT supported someone awful -- they were good on our dental plan.

A note from PJSTA President Beth Dimino…
NYSUT Members…

Flanagan alt fact
Here’s a reminder that I believe is pertinent at this time. Last August there was a NYSUT President’s endorsement conference to decide who NYSUT would endorse in the November elections. Well, even though I knew it was a farce, I went to that meeting to represent my members. The Long Island Presidents were tasked with deciding whether or not Flanagan and Marcellino should get a NYSUT endorsement. Not only did we as a group demand that these men not get the endorsement, we had other candidates that NYSUT could have endorsed. Our recommendations went to the NYSUT Board of Directors. Andy Pallotta brought John Flanagan to that Board of Directors meeting to try and convince the Board of Directors to overturn what the LI Presidents decided.

NYSUT leadership has their own agenda completely devoid of the needs or wants of rank and file. As the Executive Vice President of NYSUT, Pallotta, has gotten us Tier 5/6, 50% of our APPR dependent upon our student’s scores on the NYS Assessments, and another term for Flanagan and Marcellino. Pallotta has unfettered access to ALL Vote Cope Funds. Donating any money at all to Vote Cope is counter productive and is in direct opposition to our own best interests. Call your business office tomorrow and reduce your Cope contribution to $0 until NYSUT Leadership changes.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Valerie Strauss: Democrats Paved the Way for Betsy DeVos But She Leaves out the union complicity

If DeVos does become education secretary, Democrats will of course blame the Republicans.... But the record shows that Democrats can’t just blame Republicans for her ascension. It was actually Democrats who helped pave the road for DeVos to take the helm of the Education Department. Democrats have in recent years sounded — and acted — a lot like Republicans in advancing corporate education reform, which seeks to operate public schools as if they were businesses, not civic institutions..... Valerie Strauss, WAPO
Explaining Corey Booker -- I have had to tell too many people who said they would like to see Booker as the Dem party candidate in 2020 about his history -- as ed deformer supremo - with his pal Chris Christie -- his vote for big Pharm, his being connected to Betsy DESasaster. I saw a pic yesterday of my friend's daughter proudly standing with Booker and I wanted to gag.

No Dem ed deformers will be acceptable for any future campaigns and our union leaders better get this straight or they will go down to another disaster in 2020. But then again, by then there may not be much of a union left.

I have my own theories about DeVos. The Dems now need the teacher unions more than ever and need to put on a show. It is the Republicans I believe who are getting nervous, especially those who are aware of the Bloomberg appointment of Cathie Black, which turned into a national joke until Bloomberg pulled the plug after 3 months. Trump will never admit he made a mistake and will stick with Betsy even as she sinks and threatens the entire deform movement with ridicule. Lamar Alexander has postponed the vote and I believe they may be working behind the scenes to have a quick backup that will be on the surface better but in reality worse because they won't be a joke and will execute a lot of what DeVos would have done but with competence and slickness. Ideally from their point of view, it will be a person of color, preferably a female. Not Rhee but someone black.

As for our wonderful unions, the DeVos situation is a distraction from the real local battles we meed to be fighting. The last Unity leaflet bragged about their leadership nationally on this issue -- remember how they sat on their hands like little mice for over a decade or more while NCLB, RTTT, bogus teacher accountability plans, mayoral control -- all the trappings of ed deform. They are so demoralized that they want to brag about a win of any kind. Beat Betsy and then whatever comes after no matter how bad is pushed as their victory-- and there will be little fight left in them -- they are always fighting the wrong battles.

Valerie Strauss in WAPO wrote a piece exposing the Dem complicity -- Democrats reject her, but they helped pave the road to education nominee DeVos
By embracing many of the tenets of corporate reform — including the notion of “school choice” and the targeting of teachers and their unions as being blind to the needs of children — they helped make DeVos’s education views, once seen as extreme, seem less so.
Diane Ravitch linked to this piece today but also leaves out the union.
Valerie Strauss wrote an excellent article about the hypocrisy of Democrats who now loudly oppose Billionaire Betsy DeVos, but spent the last eight years bashing teachers, unions, and public schools while pouring billions of dollars into the proliferation of privately-managed charter schools. Once Democrats became cheerleaders for school choice, they abandoned the principle that public schools under democratic control are a fundamental public responsibility.

I urge you to read this article, which recounts the perfidy of Democrats who fell for privatization and betrayed public education. In many cases, support for charter schools opened the door to billionaires and hedge funder donations, to groups like Democrats for Education Reform and Education Reform Now and Families for Excellent Schools. Think Corey Booker, Andrew Cuomo, Dannell Malloy. Think of the silence of the Democrats as the U.S. Department of Education spent more than $3 billion on charter schools. How do they now express opposition to DeVos’s love for charters (and vouchers). She has exposed their hypocrisy.

Diane has been viewed by some as a defender of the Dem party. Though we saw some of that we also have seen her go after Dem ed deformers as she does in the rest of her post to supplement the Strauss piece:
In March 2011, President Obama and Secretary Duncan were in Miami with Jeb Bush to celebrate the “turnaround” of Miami Central High School. At the same time, thousands of working people were protesting the anti-labor policies of Scott Walker in Madison. Neither Obama nor Duncan ever showed up in Madison to show support for the teachers and union members who support Democrats.

The other point that needs to be added is that a month after Obama, Arne, and Jeb met to toast the turnaround of Miami Central, the state education Department in Florida listed it as a “failing” school that should be closed. I reported this in “Reign of Error.” The press never did report it. Why were Obama and Arne burnishing Jeb’s “credentials” as a “reformer?” Paving the way for Jeb’s good friend Betsy DeVos.
Public education was seen as a civil right. Republicans have looked at public schools less as vehicles of social equity and more as places that are supposed to prepare young people for college and careers, an endeavor that should be measured with the same types of metrics businesses use to gauge success. Some Republicans have looked at public schools with suspicion, in some cases seeing them as transmitters of liberal and even godless values.....

But now some Democrats who were entirely or largely on DeVos’s education reform page are having second thoughts. Booker said he had some “serious” concerns about the Trump education agenda. DFER, after initially putting out one statement that tried to separate their pleasure at the DeVos nomination from their dislike of Trump, issued a second one that said: “From what we know about the education agenda of President-elect Trump and Mrs. DeVos, we are deeply troubled.” Then, on Inauguration Day, it put out a statement saying it could not support her nomination. So now we have Democrats worrying about DeVos’s tenure at education 
Also See: To Trump’s education pick, the U.S. public school system is a ‘dead end’] and
[Tech billionaires like Democrats more than Republicans. Here’s why.]
But then again many of our UFT members, seeing the past 15 years of Bloomberg and de Blasio also think the NYC public school system and the union as a dead end and once the assault comes on heavy may just sit on the sidelines asking, "exactly what are we defending?"

A Magnificent Day but for Faux Fox News: What Rallies?

Patrick Walsh at Raginghorseblog:
I marched in New York. It was the most poorly organized march that I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to many. At the same time it may have been the most inspiring. For some reason, thousands were made to stand almost immobile in penned areas for hours with no idea of what was happening. But so we did. And at last the march began. And then everywhere you looked you saw more people coming. And more and more and more. Hours later, more were marching. And you knew it was worth it.  ..... Mass Revolt Against Trump in New York and Across America
Took part in the most magnificent march in NYC today. Since there were staggered times for people to arrive there is no easy way to make an accurate count. Word is that is was 400k.  I saw Patrick at about 10:30 for about 30 seconds around the MORE banner but then we all were split up and stood still for hours in gridlock but who cared? We expected to end up at Trump Tower but when we finally began to move around 1PM is was a slow crawl. And no cell or internet service so at 45th st and 2nd ave I cut over to 3rd Ave to call my wife who was meeting a bunch of ladies over at our place. So I headed over there to march with them.

We periodically checked in on the coverage. Faux Fox news ignored the rallies or mocked them. Have fun boys trying to not cover what is about to happen.

175,000 in Chicago. Hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles. 125,000 in Boston. 500K in DC. World wide? Millions. And it is only the beginning.

With some MOREs before being separated

I was on 3rd Ave before 10 AM and people on every block were streaming east all morning.

We were with a MORE contingent which got separated on 2nd Ave and 47th Street.

The UFT was supposed to have something to gather around but no one I know saw anything. No sense of organizing at such an opportunity.
Every person on the street seemed to be involved in the march. I've never seen anything like it here.

So many women of all ages with men there too. People were happy but also pissed.

My wife, not an activist, was as gung-ho for this as anything I've seen in almost 50 years. I pity Trump.

I am not articulate enough to make sense of all this so I'll leave it to Patrick:
Nothing like this has ever happened before in American history: one day after the swearing in of a new president, a massive nation wide revolt and rejection.
No American president has ever inspired such a response, but then no American president has so repulsed and frightened and insulted the American people as deeply as does Trump. 
.....Mass Revolt Against Trump in New York and Across America

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hillary Haters, in Despair Over Nothing to Do With Their Lives, Commit Mass Suicide

For the Hillary Haters (HH) who have spent most of their time over the past 3 decades bashing the Clintons, the reality of the Trump inauguration finally hit home today that the rest of their lives will be meaningless.

There was some hope when Ed Notes reached out to a lifetime HH member asking him what he would be focusing on.

"Joe Biden is our next target," he said.

"What have you got on him," I asked?

"Plagiarism," he said, but realizing how ridiculous that sounded so soon after the Monicka Crowley and the Melania plagiarism flap, he decided to join the others and jump.

Reporter Wayne Barrett

.... by the time he had graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1968, at the height of the antiwar movement, his politics had veered to the left. To avoid the draft, he became a public-school teacher in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where he moved with his wife, the former Frances Marie McGettigan, whom he married in 1969...
As a teacher, he became embroiled in a racially charged debate in the largely black Ocean Hill-Brownsville district over what should take precedence in the tumultuous transition to school decentralization: community control over hiring, or the seniority rights of unionized teachers.

Mr. Barrett sided with nonunion teachers on the hiring issue, but he also documented malfeasance by the local school board and reported it to prosecutors and in The Voice, revelations that led to federal corruption charges.... NY Times Obit
The death of reporter Wayne Barrett, who was born a few months after me, reminded me of the 2 times I met him. It was not long after my political activation in 1970-71 and local school board elections in those post 1968 teacher strike days were the hot bed of school politics, often between the UFT political machine and local community forces. The major battle ground was District 1 on the lower east side where a UFT slate was running against an activist slate which was supporting the local superintendent who I believe was named Luis Fuentes. Forces were needed on election day- which was in May - to reinforce the ground game against the power of the UFT. I took a day off to assist that day and went down to volunteer where I met a beautiful young couple who were there to volunteer too -- Wayne and Fran Barrett. We spent the day working the campaign and I really liked them both and hoped to spend some more time with them but that was it. After that day there was no contact.

The next time I ran into Wayne was years later at my childhood friend's -- Marty Needelman's -- wedding. Marty was a legal aid lawyer in Williamsburg where I taught and ran in the same circles as Wayne. Marty and crew had been involved in the local school board politics in District 14 and it was through him that I met Lew Friedman who, with people in his school - IS 318 -- had begun a local teacher based newspaper called Another View - me entry into both activist politics and a muckraking form of citizen journalism. By that time Wayne was already a famous journalist for the Village Voice.

It was Wayne who exposed Randi Weingarten's distortions about her teaching career. See links below for more Barrett articles on the UFT of which he was a major critic.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Poet Lauriate Fred Smith on Betsy DeLost

Goldy Locks

From Duncan to King,
From bad to worser
And now to DeVos,
We've gone to ursa.

From choices, if anything,
That now seem frivilous,
We've picked someone
Who's truly horribilis.

But don't be fooled;
Come to your senses.
Betsy's mom will soon have contracts
Selling schools bear traps and electric fences.


Hey Fred -- every school must use Blackwater for security and Amway products required for all schools.

Detroit Redux? Syracuse Union Suspends President - Looking for Randi's Fingerprints

"The Syracuse teachers union president says she was suspended after she uncovered a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of a computer during an audit.”
The Syracuse Teachers Association situation is escalating. President Karen Fruscello apparently discovered another union officer was routinely surfing for porn on an office computer. The executive board, consisting entirely of members from an opposing caucus, suspended Fruscello, reportedly for conducting an unauthorized investigation, but has yet to take action against the unnamed porn surfer.... Mike Antoucci at Intercepts/Educational Intelligence Agency.... 
There are some implications - possible for NYSUT - in the story currently playing out in Syracuse where the STA board removed the recently elected president, as reported by Mike Antonucci,
Lesson 1: NYSUT Elections

A NYSUT election is coming in April - remember that 3 years ago Stronger Together (ST) Caucus created a serious challenge to NY State Unity Caucus (which includes NYC Unity) and MORE was involved by running for 5 seats and Arthur Goldstein ran on the ST slate for NYSUT Ex VP against Andy Pallotta --- The Unity slate had the support of the big city 5  unions -- Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and of course NYC. If there would be a break from some of the big 5 -- say Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, and ST could get close enough to create a serious challenge and Randi's control of he AFT, where NYSUT has one third of the membership, could be threatened.

So what's really going on in Syracuse and does the fact that an independent was elected as president without having the support of anyone on the Ex Bd in any way relate to the NYSUT election picture? According to Antonucci something about porn is involved -- now I know you all are going to keep reading.

Lesson 2:  Historical record

I've always maintained that if one day MORE won power in the UFT and it was close, Unity would protest to the AFT that there were irregularities and the AFT would find an excuse to overturn the election. Back in 1985 when Michael Shulman of the NAC coalition of multiple caucuses (New Action emerged as one caucus in 1995) won the high school presidency, Unity wouldn't seat Shulman, protested to some agency and got another election 8 months later while Shulman had to sit and wait. Shulman got even more votes but his term of office was cut short, meetings were held without him once he took office. Unity dumped one of the major UFT founders, George Altomare for daring to lose to Shulman and  mounted a campaign to make sure he lost in 1987, which he did.

The New Action coalition came back in force in the 1991 election, winning both the high and junior high Ex Bd seats -- 13 - the most ever for an opposition -- but won nothing in 1993, which gave Unity 100% of the EB -- and they immediately pushed through a constitution change to make all divisional VP elections at-large - which NYC Educator explains in today's post --  Downsides of Democracy.

What about Detroit and Steve Conn, anti-Randi who was elected while the Ex Bd was tied to the former pro-Randi president? Steve was removed as president. Rules called for a referendum which needed 2/3 to get him removed but came up short -- while still over 50%. They just ignored that rule and refused to re-seat him. This story was a big bone of contention at the AFT2016 convention, pretty much the only bone of contention given the union leaderships of Chicago and LA having a love affair with Randi.

Here are the EIA/Intercepts posts on the Syracuse story.
Posted: 11 Jan 2017 10:45 AM PST
The lede in this story reads: “The Syracuse teachers union president says she was suspended after she uncovered a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of a computer during an audit.”
That doesn’t make much sense, and the details aren’t very illuminating either. Another story tells us what the inappropriate use was. But make your way down to the 12th paragraph and you see:
Fruscello first took office in July. She defeated six-year president Kevin Ahern in an election. The rest of the elected board ran with Ahern as part of the “Professional Partners” caucus. Fruscello ran as an outsider determined to disrupt business as usual at the union.
I don’t know if Fruscello is a crusader for transparency or another Steve Conn, but a careful examination of the Syracuse Teachers Association bylaws shows the union’s executive board has no authority to “suspend” anyone, much less the president.
It can recommend to the union’s representative assembly that the office be declared vacant if the president “has been grossly negligent.” It then takes a two-thirds vote of the RA to remove her.
How long before AFT sends in the paratroopers to restore order?
Posted: 13 Jan 2017 11:50 AM PST
* The Syracuse Teachers Association situation is escalating. President Karen Fruscello apparently discovered another union officer was routinely surfing for porn on an office computer. The executive board, consisting entirely of members from an opposing caucus, suspended Fruscello, reportedly for conducting an unauthorized investigation, but has yet to take action against the unnamed porn surfer.

Yesterday, acting president Megan Root released this statement:
The Syracuse Teachers Association deeply regrets that what should have been an internally handled personnel issue has become a salacious matter for the public. It is always STA practice to handle personnel matters in a way that preserves our members’ confidentiality and right to privacy.
The Association is disheartened that Karen Fruscello is so insistent in trying this issue through the press. Her statements and behavior do not serve the members or the Association and are regrettable. The Association needs to be able to conduct our investigations internally and privately to ensure that our members are given due process. Karen Fruscello’s actions are damaging, harassing, and interfere with the work of the Association.
The reference to due process is rich, considering the lack of due process for Fruscello’s suspension and the fact that STA’s bylaws do not authorize the actions the board has taken. The appeal to confidentiality and privacy is also a straw man, since the identity of the alleged perpetrator has not been disclosed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ed Notes at the Delegate Assembly: Teachers Call for Return to S/U Ratings Despite UFT Sell Job

The article below I wrote will be a lead article in the Ed Notes I prepared for handout at today's Delegate Assembly. If you are going stop by and say hello and take a copy -- I am only printing about 300 so first come first serve. If you want a pdf to print them out in your school email me.

Also make sure to pick up the MORE Delegate Assembly newletter today which has articles by Jia Lee and James Eterno on the evaluation system plus articles on defending immigrant students and using the Trump presidency to mobilize progressive educators.

Teachers Call for Return to S/U Ratings Despite UFT Sell Job
Our leadership has been telling us how much improved the evaluation system is over the old S/U system which principals could abuse. Now they tell us we have hard facts – hard facts? Based on how kids perform on tests? The abusive principal argument is a lame excuse for them to cave in to ed deform policies. Principals can abuse the process just as easily through drive-by Danielson observations. The union agreed to 4 evals while state law mandates 2.

Let’s say you are an experienced teacher who your principal has complete confidence in and doesn’t feel the need to observe you more than once a year. Tough. You know what I want these 150G people to be doing instead of observing teachers? Run the damn school. In my 35 years in the system, observing teachers was a fairly minor blip on what principals had to do. I mean schools are tough places to rum. Why pay them all that money if you don’t give them the right to decide how many observations a teacher needs?

Now, are there abuses where principals are out to get someone? Yes. But instead of wrestling these abusive principals to the ground by exposing them publicly and pressuring the de Blasio/Farina administration and the CSA to curb their attack dogs, the UFT plays nice.

Do ya think the de Blasio admin needs UFT support in the coming election? It is time for our leaders to put some skin in the game – to spend political capitals on going after these principals instead of using them as an excuse to make an already bad and unfair eval system worse.

A teacher comments [edited] on James Eterno’s ICE blog:
I am making $85,000 right now. I would take a ten grand pay cut if we could revert to the old "S" and "U" evaluation system with only one announced observation per year. I suffer severe anxiety and insomnia due to the stress of Danielson drive by observations. Every day I go into school wondering if today is "the day" of an unannounced observation. I feel like I am walking on eggshells filled with acid. I have a cordial relationship with my admin but the stress of the observations is overwhelming. My admin, like all NYC admins are forced to do these horrible drive by observations. Back when we had the "S" and U" system with only one announced observation, I loved my job and going in to teach. Now, it is like we are all treated like newbie teachers. You are only as good as your last observation. Each day is as stressful as the last wondering if today will be the day that an admin walks in with a Danielson list. After 18 years of teaching, this is the most stressful time to teach in my career. I do not, nor ever did really stress out over misbehaving students. That is something I can deal with on my own and is not a problem. However, the fear of somebody holding my entire career, home, and income, in their hands is what sends fear into my heart as well as those of countless other NYC teachers. The irony right now is the UFT had the chance just a few weeks ago to revert back to just two observations and only one of those observations would be unannounced. What did the UFT do? They left us out to hang dry. I am disgusted.
Talking Points
  • Why Not Use the S/U System Which Worked for – oh, a 100 Years? 
  • The Abusive Principals Argument from the UFT Doesn’t Hold Up. 
  • The JOB of the UFT is to FIGHT abusive principals, not use the excuse that they are the reason to support faulty evaluations systems. 
  • The witch hunts to root out the so-called “bad” teacher are bogus smoke screens to destroy the teaching profession by ed deformers. 
  • Why does our union aid and abet? Has anyone figured how just how much we are spending to evaluate teachers in this insane push endorsed by Obama, Cuomo and most Democrats and Republicans? 
  • How many teacher votes did the Obama/Arne Duncan assault cost Hillary?
See the MORE Caucus handout for articles by Jia Lee and James Eterno on the evaluation system.

Eterno on the ICE blog: Three times as many observations as the state calls for.

I also included Arthur Goldstein's class size article in the Daily News and a chart comparing the TWU and UFT contracts --

Resolution on Class Sizes Rejected by UFT Executive Board.

The numbers in this chart may not be totally accurate since our final two years are for 2.5% and 3%. For 28 months, TWU just got 2.5% and 2.5%. We just made up some of the lost ground. So check the math. James Eterno will be doing a comprehensive breakdown on the ICE blog.