Tuesday, February 28, 2017

AQE: UFT Astroturf or Independent? Plus UFT Ignores March for Pub Ed Saturday

Executive Board February 27th--We Won't March Because We Don't Want to Offend Cuomo...Arthur Goldstein Ex Bd report

Jonathan Halabi—New Action—After Women’s Marches there was a sense of energy. Delegate asked when we could get back on bus. At this point there are specific actions. Where do we stand. People’s Climate March April 29th? That is particularly important place to demonstrate our concern. Week before, there are science marches. This contradicts some of the admin stances.
This coming Saturday there is a march in NYC for Educational Justice. Are we going to get involved with AQE?

—Send us info. AQE is group we donate to, but
How many strawberries does Cuomo weigh?
don’t march lockstep with them. They are planning TV ads against governor. This is budget season. We are focused on millionaire’s tax. 3 billion to state budget. We need to weigh that.
Now there's the militancy we are looking for from our union leaders: SEND US INFO.

This was funnier than anything Jimmy Kimmel said the other night.

I've been ambivalent about going to the AQE march this Saturday but after reading Jose Vilson:  Why I Will March (Stand For Something) and James Eterno (AQE AD SAYS CUOMO=TRUMP ON EDUCATION) yesterday I decided to sign on and join the MORE contingent for the march and a beer (or 2). Saturday is part of my weekend 72 birthday (Friday March 3) celebration which begins this Thursday. So why not include a march?

For years I've been skeptical of the positions of Alliance for Quality Education due to its relationship with the UFT leadership. Some people in MORE have been closely involved with AQE and have told me that there has been a greater degree of independence, though never expect outright criticism.

AQE has been supportive of opt out while UFT has opposed and AQE has taken on Cuomo while the UFT/NYSUT plays footsie with him. James reports on this great ad comparing Trump and Cuomo on education.
..... at the State level, The Alliance for Quality Education, often accused of being a front group for the teachers unions, has a magnificent ad that goes way farther than our unions would dare to go as it compares the education policies of President Donald Trump and Governor Andrew Cuomo and finds them almost identical. Great stuff AQE. 

Jose Vilson makes a good case by contrasting to the Eva marches.
I would love for you all to join the coalition in resisting the ways that education have cemented inequity in this country. To my knowledge, these education protests, like so many I’ve attended before, don’t have the largesse of other so-called grassroots undertakings. We can’t turn off our lights for day or two and rally in front of Albany on a weekday. We can’t bully parents into marching and threaten them with expulsion for not attending. We can’t tug at Cuomo’s pocket to attend the rallies and endorse our vision in commercials across the state. We won’t have Trump affiliates tour our halls without a reminder of how Trump sees public schooling as a monopoly worth breaking up.
That's right -- no hedge fund paying us off to march. Talk about paid protesters. Eva is the queen.

Michael Fiorillo Shares a Blast From A Year Ago Predicting Trump Win If Sanders Not the Nominee

if Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race and throw her every ounce of energy into supporting Sanders. If this does not occur, the resulting consequences for Muslims and Mexican immigrants of a Trump presidency will be fully the responsibility of Clinton and the Democratic Party. To run a candidate who can’t win, or who is a very high-risk proposition, is to recklessly play with the lives of millions of people. So much depends on stopping Trump; a principled defeat will mean nothing to the deported, or to those being roughed up by Trump’s goon squads or executed with pigs’ blood-dipped bullets.-----
Nor are the demographics going to be as favorable to Clinton as she thinks. Trump’s populism will have huge resonance among the white working class in both red and blue states; he might even peel away her black support. And Trump has already proven false the prediction that he would alienate Evangelicals through his vulgarity and his self-deification. Democrats are insistently repeating their belief that a Trump nomination will mobilize liberals to head to the polls like never before, but with nobody particularly enthusiastic for Clinton’s candidacy, it’s not implausible that a large number of people will find both options so unappealing that they stay home...
Trump can’t clown around nearly as much at a debate with Sanders, for the simple reason that Sanders is dead set on keeping every conversation about the plight of America’s poor under the present economic system. If Trump tells jokes and goofs off here, he looks as if he’s belittling poor people, not a magnificent idea for an Ivy League trust fund billionaire running against a working class public servant and veteran of the Civil Rights movement. Instead, Trump will be forced to do what Hillary Clinton has been forced to do during the primary, namely to make himself sound as much like Bernie Sanders as possible. For Trump, having to get serious and take the Trump Show off the air will be devastating to his unique charismatic appeal....
Clinton will be forced to pay attention to Trump because of his constant evocation of her scandals. She will attempt to go after him. She will, in other words, feed the troll. Sanders, by contrast, will almost certainly behave as if Trump isn’t even there. He is unlikely to rise to Trump’s bait, because Sanders doesn’t even care to listen to anything that’s not about saving social security or the disappearing middle class. He will almost certainly seem as if he barely knows who Trump is.
Nathan Robinson, Current Affairs, excerpts, one year ago
I can't help replaying the election despite this Disclaimer from Michael:
If you absolutely cannot read another word about the 2016 election, delete this now, but this fellow uncannily predicted one year ago how things would go down, in great detail… in retrospect, it’s all so clear, but this guy had a crystal ball...

Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, A Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency

Instinctively, Hillary Clinton has long seemed by far the more electable of the two Democratic candidates. She is, after all, an experienced, pragmatic moderate, whereas Sanders is a raving, arm-flapping elderly Jewish socialist from Vermont. Clinton is simply closer to the American mainstream, thus she is more attractive to a broader swath of voters. Sanders campaigners have grown used to hearing the heavy-hearted lament “I like Bernie, I just don’t think he can win.” And in typical previous American elections, this would be perfectly accurate.

But this is far from a typical previous American election. And recently, everything about the electability calculus has changed, due to one simple fact: Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Given this reality, every Democratic strategic question must operate not on the basis of abstract electability against a hypothetical candidate, but specific electability against the actual Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.
This campaigning style makes Hillary Clinton Donald Trump’s dream opponent. She gives him an endless amount to work with. The emails, Benghazi, Whitewater, Iraq, the Lewinsky scandal, ChinagateTravelgate, the missing law firm recordsJeffrey EpsteinKissingerMarc RichHaitiClinton Foundation tax errorsClinton Foundation conflicts of interest“We were broke when we left the White House,” Goldman Sachs… There is enough material in Hillary Clinton’s background for Donald Trump to run with six times over.

It’s easy to see that Trump has every single advantage. Because the Republican primary will be over, he can come at her from both right and left as he pleases. As the candidate who thundered against the Iraq War at the Republican debate, he can taunt Clinton over her support for it. He will paint her as a member of the corrupt political establishment, and will even offer proof: “Well, I know you can buy politicians, because I bought Senator Clinton. I gave her money, she came to my wedding.” He can make it appear that Hillary Clinton can be bought, that he can’t, and that he is in charge. It’s also hard to defend against, because it appears to be partly true. Any denial looks like a lie, thus making Hillary’s situation look even worse. And then, when she stumbles, he will mock her as incompetent.
Charges of misogyny against Trump won’t work. He is going to fill the press with the rape and harassment allegations against Bill Clinton and Hillary’s role in discrediting the victims (something that made even Lena Dunham deeply queasy.) He can always remind people that Hillary Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon.” Furthermore, since Trump is not an anti-Planned Parenthood zealot (being the only one willing to stick up for women’s health in a room full of Republicans), it will be hard for Clinton to paint him as the usual anti-feminist right-winger.

Nathan J. Robinson is a Social Policy PhD student at Harvard University, as well as an attorney and children's book author. He is the editor of Current Affairs.

Read full story

EIA on Union Endorsements -

Neither union has an endorsement process for party chair, but both NEA president Lily Eskelsen García and AFT president Randi Weingarten took it upon themselves to make personal endorsements. Chagrined over previous decisions or not, they both chose Ellison. He lost.....
The 2016 presidential election was decided by a relative handful of voters – many of them from union households – in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Why couldn’t NEA and AFT swing those voters, or at least increase turnout among Clinton supporters?
EIA - Interecepts
Interesting analysis on AFT and NEA endorsement process by Mike Antonucci. Both Randi and Lily endorsed Keith Ellison, seeming to break with the neo-liberal Clinton wing. But we know Randi and that can't be true -- I think it was a front runner (at the time) endorsement and then she couldn't unendorse.

We know Randi is playing some kind of political game -- trying to align herself with politics trending left? You can't change your stripes so easily on a dime. But at the AFT convention this past summer, it was all about social justice -

So Randi is tacking left - and given that both Chicago and Los Angeles TUs are leftish -- and MORE in the UFT, which at least showed some element of muscle in winning the high schools and gaining almost 11,000 votes, may make sense -- outflank your potential enemies. MORE may be out there screaming about being the social justice caucus but it has to explain why Unity is not - a point I make constantly - which if mostly ignored.

That's how I view the Ellison endorsement -- covering criticism from the left and a wink at Perez - and I'm sure Randi is still in the Clinton/Obama house.

Posted: 27 Feb 2017 10:43 AM PST
It might not seem so, but the national teacher unions are employing the scientific method when it comes to endorsing candidates for various positions in the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, the scientific method they use is trial-and-error.

The trouble began in October 2007 when the American Federation of Teachers endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, months before the first primaries or caucuses. The National Education Association had the opposite problem: it was deadlocked between Clinton and Barack Obama, and failed to endorse until the nomination was already decided.
AFT endorsed Clinton again in July 2015, while NEA leaders manipulated the union’s endorsement process to recommend her in October 2015. The goals were to unify the party, gain early influence within the Clinton campaign, and positively affect down-ballot races.

It’s easy to second-guess these decisions in hindsight, but one must also confront the fact that they failed in all respects.

The next dilemma to solve was to identify the person to lead the Democratic National Committee out of the wilderness. The two front-runners were Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. Ellison was considered to be the voice of the Sanders wing of the party, while Perez was thought to be the establishment choice.

Neither union has an endorsement process for party chair, but both NEA president Lily Eskelsen García and AFT president Randi Weingarten took it upon themselves to make personal endorsements. Chagrined over previous decisions or not, they both chose Ellison.

He lost.

The problem then is not an incorrect way of choosing candidates; it is identifying the people who will choose the winner and effectively influencing them to your point of view.

The 2016 presidential election was decided by a relative handful of voters – many of them from union households – in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Why couldn’t NEA and AFT swing those voters, or at least increase turnout among Clinton supporters?
The unions boasted of their monumental effort to deny Betsy DeVos confirmation as Secretary of Education, but could not identify, never mind sway, one or two Republican senators who might have gone their way.

The DNC electorate consisted entirely of 447 members. Why endorse at all unless you feel you have some influence over others?
Union setbacks in the wider political world can be blamed on the actions of their opponents, in places like Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa. To what are we to attribute union setbacks within the Democratic Party?

NEA and AFT perform better with core education and funding issues than with candidates or a broader agenda. Maybe it’s time to concentrate fire on targets you can hit.

Monday, February 27, 2017

All Out Tuesday 2/28 Save JHS 145 and Immigrant Rights

WHEN: Tuesday, February 28

WHERE: 5pm press conference
Dr. Ronald McNair Park, across from Prospect Heights Educational Campus
883 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

5:30 speaker sign up and 6:00pm PEP begins in the Prospect Heights Educational Campus

WHAT: At press conference before the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting, a coalition of public school students, teachers, and families will applaud the Department of Education’s initial steps towards protecting immigrant students, and present their demands for further action. This will conclude a Day of Action for Education, Not Deportation at schools across the city, which includes lessons, activities, a social media campaign at #immigrantyouthdayofaction, and rallies. We also proudly join with the Save Junior High School 145 Bronx campaign to urge Farina and PEP members to remove them from the school closing list.

We ask Chancellor Fariña and the NYC Department of Education to:
  1. Put an Immigrant Liaison in Every School: Create an official role designed to provide resources and support to immigrant students.
  2. Restrict ICE Access: Require that ICE obtain approval from the Chancellor’s office before entering schools.
  3. Postpone the decision to close Junior High School 145:  Remove this decision from the March 22 PEP agenda until DOE, UFT and JHS 145 community can work together to offer alternatives to closure that fully support their students, half of whom are immigrants.
  4. Implement Multicultural Curricula: Available to all teachers, developed by teachers, and embracing our multicultural community.

WHO:  Students, educators, parents, and community members from the following groups make up this coalition: New York State Youth Leadership Council, TeachDream, MORE-UFT, Teachers Unite, IntegrateNYC4me, NYCORE, New Action-UFT.


Here is a tool-kit for 2/28 and beyond with articles, links, and resources to help you educate, organize, and mobilize others around immigrant rights.

Please share with other educators and community members!

Here are samples of power-points and fliers that schools are using on Tuesday for lessons, activities, and rallies 

After school, pease join us at 5pm for the press conference at Dr. Ronald McNair Park across from Prospect Heights Educational Campus, in Brooklyn. At 6:00pm in the Panel for Educational policy meeting, we will present our requests to Chancellor Farina. Wear green to show your support.

We will also join with the JHS 145 community to ask that the decision to close their school be postponed. JHS 145 serves many students who are immigrants and English Language Learners. The vote to close this school is scheduled for the 3/22 PEP.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Political Attack: Superintendent Alexandra Estrella Orders Chapter Leader Removal from Central Park East I - Sign the Petition

Marilyn [Martinez] is the UFT chapter leader for the teachers and paraprofessionals at CPE1. She is on the SLT and has been an integral part of providing support for our new teachers. She is on the hiring committee. She is our liaison to the PROSE program. She is a strong advocate and example of CPE1 style progressive education. She has her own child at our school. From the type of case it seems to be, there is the possibility that Marilyn could potentially lose her license to teach. We have consulted several DOE and UFT veterans who have commented that this is unusual: to remove a teacher with a misconduct concern who is not accused of impropriety/endangering their students from the classroom....
The attack on the staff, parents and children at Central Park East I goes on. Having a class of children lose teacher due to political reasons is educational malpractice. Not only Estrella but Farina must bear the load --- the removal of any chapter leader should call for a strong and immediate public response from the UFT.  Don't expect it --- some Unity apologists will whine about how much they are doing -- behind the scenes.

Reality Based Educator at the ICE blog nailed the UFT:
...they tell us how swell things are, how much better the system is under de Blasio when, if you polled teachers who have been in the system 5 or more years, I bet you'd get an overwhelming majority saying things are MUCH worse now under de Blasio than they were under Bloomberg. That's not to say Bloomberg wouldn't be pushing this stuff too... But at least under Bloomberg, the UFT made some modicum of effort to push back. slight as it was. As things stand now, there's not only no effort coming from the UFT to pushback against Farina's nonsense, there's not even the appearance of it. Nope - instead they tell us all is well and if you don't think that way, you're crazy.

Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump - Paul Street

With a view to the DNC chairman vote which re-installed the Obama/Clinton wing of the party --- read this Glenn Greenwald piece at the Intercept  ---- Key Question About DNC Race: Why Did Obama White House Recruit Perez to Run Against Ellison? which asks this question: if Perez is like Ellison — in both his politics and ideology — why bother fielding him in the first place?”

But this is about a more general issue than the DNC.
Paul Street:  Consistent with his earlier history and with his boss’s militantly neoliberal world view , Duncan’s six- year reign atop the Department of Education was marked by consistent support of charter schools, a relentless obsession with standardized testing, and endless arguments with teacher unions. 
Paul Street on liberal hypocrisy, with an in depth analysis of Arne Duncan's career even before he became ed secretary and how he didn't face any push back.

I've been following articles from left/center taking on the liberal double standard. Daily Howler always does a number on what he calls "our tribe." [See Our tribe's commitment to total defeat!]

People I talk to on the Trump side are always whining about this double standard which has many germs of truth -- that the left let Obama off the hook - and Hillary too -- just as they are not letting Trump (and the Bush neo-cons) off the hook. Trumpets also somehow don't remember the Republican absolutist attempts to make Obama ineffective - not that his responses always made sense.

Note - I don't like to see the word "liberal" thrown around loosely without defining it - as I began to do over a week ago -- I Come Neither to Bury Nor to Praise Liberalism - ...

A little long but worth it.
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump


Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/24/liberal-hypocrisy-late-shaming-and-russia-blaming-in-the-age-of-trump/

“An Arrogant Clod” Harkening the “Downfall of Our Nation”

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Classroom environment -- Is Your Classroom Overdecorated? - EIA

....more thought should be put into the question of whether there is too much visual noise in a particular classroom. Certainly teachers shouldn’t be judged harshly if they create an environment that leans toward the sparse rather than the busy.... Mike Antonucci, Is Your Classroom Overdecorated?

We know the DOE is often insane over this issue. When I attended Peter Zucker's hearing, the biggest issue they tried to use against him was the so-called "classroom physical environment" or the outside bulletin boards.

Now as a self-contained classroom teacher I worked on the environment and tried to make it stimulating.

So I found Mike A's comments interesting -- next time your principal hassles you wave this in his/her face.
Some teachers devote a lot of time to each painstaking detail, while others can’t understand why principals and administrators are so fired up about the latest holiday decoration and not so much about how the kids are doing.
With all this in mind, it was interesting to find this research from Carnegie Mellon University concluding “children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed.”

Friday, February 24, 2017

Opt-out leaders running for NYSUT board: Politico Reports on ST vs Unity NYSUT Election

ST leadership was shortsighted not to give MORE a seat - we signed up a lot of people to join ST -- I can't vote in this election and can only give moral support to ST -- but if they make this election about opt out, in a state with the highest opt out numbers in the nation out of NYC, they can inflict some damage on Unity even if ST can't win.... NS
I've been following the sturm and drang about the fate of the St
caucus and its run against Unity in the NY State union elections coming up April 7-9 at the NY Hilton. I don't have time to compile the various blogs from Arthur, James, Peter Z and the comments of Mike Schirtzer. Only James is supporting the ST effort. The big sticking point for some people is that there was an attempt by ST to reach out to Randi to broker a deal for a united slate. That would clearly have left MORE out of the equation -- last time MORE sort of ran in coalition for seats they could not win - only Arthur Goldstein was on the top slate, running against Andy Pallotta who was the Ex VP of NYSUT - the big money position occupied by Al Shanker and Alan Lubin before him.

Shanker brokered a deal over 40 years ago that helped forge the NEA/AFT merger in the state whereas the UFT would control the Ex VP money while non-UFT - upstate and Long Island - would get the presidency and 2 of the 5 seats. The UFT would get the other seat, thus creating a balance of sorts even though everyone knew the real gorilla in the room.

So when Unity decided to dump Dick Iannucci 3 years ago and form a phony caucus to challenge him, Stronger Together formed in opposition around Iannucci. And MORE played a role in that, giving ST somewhat of a city presence, though we never ran on their slate -- they were the ones who were nervous. Karen Magee was put in as the non-UFT president but broke ranks at one point in taking too strong a stand against testing, which doomed her.

Now the UFT is pulling its biggest power play since the Shanker merger by openly taking over the presidency and installing Pallotta -- and I imagine they will also keep tight control of the Ex VP money position. They will win of course.

But ST by putting itself out there as the opt out movement vs Unity is a very smart move. Now there is the Jia Lee conundrum -- ST is not running 5 candidates but 4 and there was pressure to include Jia at the 5th candidate. What voice has been stronger for opt-out than Jia? The current leadership of ST is still nervous about being associated with the only direct opposition to Mulgrew. And they did try to make a deal but were rejected. I get the picture.

Some of my good friends do not agree and have smashed Lillis. However at this point I don't see why not back ST against another Unity Caucus power play? Given the reality of state politics, at this point MORE is not a relevant player. On the other hand, ST leadership was shortsighted not to give MORE a seat - we signed up a lot of people to join ST -- I can't vote in this election and can only give moral support to ST -- but if they make this election about opt out, in a state with the highest opt out numbers in the nation out of NYC, they can inflict some damage on Unity even if ST can't win.

Some posts from other blogs- read some of the weird comments on this ICE piece from James who endorses Lillis:


And James posts sections of Pen is Mightier than the Person blog:

Arthur takes a counter position:
NYC Educator:
Stronger Together Minus Jia Lee=Neither Stronger nor Together
Without Jia Lee Stronger Together is Weaker Apart (UPDATED 2/22/17) 

Here is a great piece on the election from Politico.
Opt-out leaders running for teachers' union board
By Keshia Clukey 02/23/2017 05:16 AM EDT

ALBANY — Members of a group that has championed the test refusal movement are running for positions on the executive board of the state’s largest teachers’ union. The candidates say they want to better mobilize the union and its 600,000 members on behalf of the opt-out movement.

Three of the four candidates running for leadership roles at New York State United Teachers as part of the “Stronger Together Caucus” have been active in the opt-out movement in their communities.

The caucus nominations come as leaders of the test refusal movement have begun to expand their activism beyond simply encouraging parents to opt their students out of the state standardized, Common Core-aligned math and English language arts exams. 

Opt-out activists became involved in local and state elections this fall, backing candidates and trying to oust those who they felt didn’t do enough to change education law and policy in the state. 
Some of the parents, who also are teachers, are now looking for further solidarity from the union in terms of testing and pushing harder to repeal legislation that more heavily weighs the use of students’ state test scores in teacher evaluations.

“They have not been using the power that they have,” Bianca Tanis said of the current union leadership. Tanis, an Ulster County parent and special education teacher, is running for executive vice president under the Stronger Together Caucus line.

A statement on the Stronger Together Caucus website says that "very little has changed for students still being compelled to sit for flawed assessments that are too long and yield little to no usable information,” adding that the “message from headquarters to locals was not strong enough.”

The caucus is involved in other issues, including the union's governance, in addition to the opt-out movement.

Michael Lillis, a teacher in Lakeland and a parent who supports the opt-out movement, is the caucus' nominee for NYSUT president. He said he wants the union to take a stronger position on standardized tests. “I refuse to accept NYSUT’s ineffective action on issues which are critical to our profession,” he said in a campaign statement. “The struggles of educators will be the struggles of NYSUT.”

NYSUT, under the current leadership of president Karen Magee and executive vice president Andy Pallotta, has said that not enough progress has been made to restore the trust and confidence of parents and educators in the state tests. Pallotta and Magee could not be reached for comment.

The union vehemently opposed the heavy use of students' state math and ELA test scores in teacher evaluations, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo championed. That battle and the union's relationship with Cuomo became less adversarial after the Regents placed a moratorium on the use of the test scores in evaluations in December, 2015, at the suggestion of a Cuomo-appointed task force that included union leaders.

Official nominees for the union’s leadership positions will be likely be announced Monday. Delegate members from across the state will gather April 7-9 in New York City to elect a president, executive vice president, first and second vice presidents, and a secretary-treasurer, for three-year terms.

The Stronger Together Caucus candidates include Lillis, Tanis, who is a founding member of the statewide coalition of parent groups, New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE); Shenendehowa elementary school teacher Megan DeLaRosa, who is running for first vice president; and Malone high school teacher Nate Hathaway, a leader of the opt-out movement in his community, who is running to be secretary/treasurer.

NYSAPE, the group that lead the test refusal movement, has expressed frustration over the continued use of student test scores in teacher evaluations, over-testing and the use of the Common Core standards, which they say are not developmentally and age appropriate.

The parent coalition last spring called for the resignation of state Board of Regents members and endorsed new candidates for the board. 

Tanis said the Stronger Together Caucus would push for another review of the standards, as well as repealing the teacher evaluation law all together. "We would push for more transparency," she said.

Read Tanis’ campaign statement here and Lillis’ statement here.
To view online:


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Democrats and DeVos - 2 noteworthy Blogs

I wanted to call attention to these blogs for their analysis of the Democrats' links to DeVos and DeForm. I watched some of the DNC debate last night on CNN and the issue of public schools and where the choice movement and the charter as "public school" argument needs to be addressed. I don't accept the UFT argument that if charters were unionized that would be OK. That is not OK to me. Charters are not OK at all as I pointed to Bob Braun's blog last week - Charters are cancers. There are no good cancers–and charter schools are metastasizing throughout education.

Here are 2 more blogs:

Jersey Jazzman:
Give [Dem for Ed Reform Shavar]Jeffries credit: the man knows how to stay on message -- he never turns down a chance to beat up public schools. He also brazenly tries to lump a fundamentalist free-marketer like DeVos in with "traditionalists," which we all know (at least, those of us up to our necks in education policy) is code for "teachers unions."

But what's remarkable here is the attempt to separate DeVos from the entire "reform" project -- just like the center-right is trying to separate itself from Trump. Sorry, my reformy friends, but you don't get away that easily. In the same way "moderate conservatives" have set up Trump, you've set up DeVos.

Republicans Must Own Trump; "Reformers" Must Own DeVos

Daniel Katz: 


Democrats, after all, have been full members of the education reform club for some time now. As Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post notes, Democrats who opposed DeVos’ confirmation have not been shy about joining the education reform coalition in the past two decades:

Betsy DeVos Broke the Ed. Reform Coalition – For Now

City Hall Rally Friday Against Townsend Harris Principal Jahoda

Peter Lamphere to MORE Listserve:

I'm unfortunately out of town, but for those of you who haven't heard, the abusive assistant principal who I battled (along with my 19 colleagues from the math department), at Bronx Science, was recently promoted to be the interim acting principal at the renowned Townsend Harris HS in Queens. She immediately managed to provoke resistance from the faculty, parents and students (who staged a sit in within months of her arrival), and there is an ongoing campaign to make sure she doesn't end up being appointed to the permanent principal position.

There is a rally at City Hall on Friday at 11 - please join the students there to support them (I'm unfortunately out of town but will be there in spirit).




Alex Chen, THHS Senior and SU President, and the students are rallying Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday, February 24th from 11am-noon on the steps of City Hall to remove the interim acting principal immediately while the C-30 process is ongoing and before she does any more damage to our school and their futures.

Alex has asked THAA to invite alumni, Susan Karlic to invite the parents, and (CL) Franco Scardino to invite the faculty - friends and family are welcome too- to join them at the demonstration. Elected officials will be addressing the students at the rally. Please arrive at 10:30. The demonstration permit includes City Hall Park for any overflow beyond the 300 person limit for City Hall plaza. Please share and invite others.

In a letter to the Classic, Alex writes, "Freshmen, make your first year at THHS memorable. Sophomores, mark THHS history. Juniors, inspire the underclassmen. Seniors, all of whom can now vote this November, make your voices heard as Bill de Blasio prepares to run for re-election. As Mayor of NYC, he has authority over the Department of Education, which has not been hearing our voices even though they keep saying they are."

Alumni, as voters who live in NYC, let's go support the students and let Mayor de Blasio know that the THHS community share the same goal.

As Alex points out, "The last line of the Ephebic Oath says, 'I shall not leave my city any less but rather greater than I found it.' In the history of Townsend Harris High School, this line has never mattered more."

Comrades, let's keep fighting with them.

For Alex's full letter, please click on the link below:

I'm out of town too so can't make the rally. Where does the UFT stand on supporting

Monday, February 20, 2017

Is CIA the Good Guys? US Secret War in Laos - CIA Killed 10% of the Population

I watch the outrage over Trump and the intelligence agencies coming from so-called liberals, most of whom attacked the shit out of the CIA/FBI assassins for 60 years. Because we hate Trump so much are we lining up with the bad guys?

And by the way -- let's not forget the crap Obama pulled. This is not a defense of Trump but let's be real.

Read the NY Times book review of  The Not-So-Secret War: Revisiting American Intervention in Laos

This excerpt is a key:
“How many did we kill in Laos?” Nixon asked Henry Kissinger one day in a conversation caught on tape. Kissinger replied: “In the Laotian thing, we killed about 10, 15” — 10,000 or 15,000 people, he meant. The eventual death toll would be 200,000.
What made “the Laotian thing” possible was secrecy and deception. C.I.A. officers created a fake headquarters for Vang Pao to receive visiting congressmen and other dignitaries and fool them into believing they were supporting a shoestring, purely Hmong operation. Testifying to the Senate in 1971, Sullivan blatantly lied about the United States’ role in Laos, and blithely assured the senators that his appearance was “a very sincere token of an open society.”

Saturday, February 18, 2017

DeVos to Tour Schools With Randi - Marshals Doubled to Protect Randi From Union Members' Outrage

With Betsy DeVos mocked throughout the nation and  on the run, Randi Weingarten has legitimized, or normalized, her by arranging to go visit public schools with her. Some people are speechless. For long-time Randi observers this is totally in line with her modus operendi. Thanks to Abby in Newark for the story.

DeVos faced a storm of criticism before her confirmation vote, with critics arguing she lacked public school experience.
Protesters then tried impeding DeVos’s entrance into Washington, D.C.’s Jefferson Middle School during a Feb. 10 visit after she was sworn in.
DeVos ultimately entered the school, and Weingarten condemned those attempting to stop the visit, which was organized by the Washington Teacher’s Union, a group which also opposed DeVos’s confirmation.

“Just heard a protester blocked & almost knocked Secy @BetsyDeVos down at Jefferson,” she tweeted Feb. 10. "We don’t condone such acts. We want her to go to pub schls."

Right to Work Coming Soon to a State Near You as Iowa Joins Other States in Assault on Public Unions

If you check comments on some blogs there are a whole batch of NYC teachers who just can't wait for Right to Work to come along so they won't have to pay dues.
Garotte is New Iowa state symbol

As Iowa joined Wisconsin and other states in the assault, we can see that there is a lot more than paying dues involved.
Under the legislation, most public-sector union contract negotiations will be limited only to base wages. Unions will be banned from negotiating with their employers over issues such as health insurance, evaluation procedures, staff reduction and leaves of absence for political purposes. However, public safety workers such as police and firefighters will have a broader list of issues to be considered in contract talks. All unions will be barred from having union dues deducted from public employees' paychecks and unions would need to be recertified prior to every contract negotiation.
The legislation also changes the arbitration process when contract talks reach an impasse. Currently, the union and management would make their best offers and an independent arbitrator would be required to choose the most reasonable of the two. The legislation requires an arbitrator to consider the employer's ability to finance any wage increase. It also puts a cap on how much an arbitrator can raise wages. The wage increase could not exceed whichever is lower: 3 percent, or a percent equal to the cost of living increase outlined in the consumer price index.

An often hapless Democratic Party is left without any means to stop these assaults and the unions are so weak internally, they can barely mount a response. Too many people just don't give a crap.

Well, maybe as they see the joint assault that is coming from Betsy DeVos in destroying public schools our non-dues payers may very well find themselves fighting for their jobs and even pensions and possibly health care.

Now, does our union have a plan to battle this? From what I can tell from scuttlebutt, their plan is to retrench and shrink -- cut staff positions and salaries and offer less services. Watch what happens as each school has 2 lists -- UFT members and non-union members. The latter can be barred from union meetings and even though technically they are entitled to the same rights. But imagine a chapter leader trying to collect dues when faced with a non-payer who needs help. A mass of FUs will issue from school after school.
Reality is that the end will be near - a slow drip or a quick garrote.

I mean my plan would be to make it worthwhile to be in the union.

Friday, February 17, 2017

I Come Neither to Bury Nor to Praise Liberalism - Norm in The WAVE

Published Feb. 17, 2017 www.rockawave.com

I Come Neither to Bury Nor to Praise Liberalism
By Norm Scott

My wife and I got a major dose of American history last week when she won the Hamilton $10 lottery – first row baby. (Sorry, I had to brag at the paying off of my wife’s year long quest of entering the lottery every day.) The experience (the show was even better than I thought it would be) got me to thinking, which can be a dangerous thing. So let’s talk a bit about “liberalism.”

When people on the real “left” as opposed to branded “left” hear the NY Times and the Democratic Party – and Obama and the Clintons branded as “left” they pull their hair out. Maybe liberal or neo-liberal – which can mean different things but not what I consider the real left. But we’ll deal with my view of the left another time.

All people to the right of Genghis Trump have been branded as liberals, and by the more extreme alt-right wing as “libtards.” The liberal label has been much misused and misunderstood. For instance, I have not considered myself a liberal since the 1960s. I find no easy way to label my politics, which has ranged from Marxist to social democratic (Bernie Sanders style) to center-left. Many of us who have been on the defense of public education bandwagon have classified the assault by the “school choice” movement as a neo-liberal free market based attack on public institutions. One of the many contradictions in the choice movement is that they refuse to let the public hold votes on charter expansion and vouchers because the public almost always votes them down. So in essence they suppress democracy in the name of the free market. We’ll explore this contradiction another time.

Liberal, liberty, libertarian, and libertine all come from the Latin liber (free). Our system of government was one of the first liberal democracies (along with England) based on the European Enlightenment during the 17-18th centuries. The key was to reduce the power of the monarchy and to hold kings accountable. Early democracy was not for everyone. Certainly not women or the poor.

A major event was the beheading of Charles II* and the Glorious Revolution of the late 1600s which was a pretty effective way to show monarchists that they were going to be under some level of control. (It took the French another century to do the same to their king). The monarchy was kept in England but with major controls, like parliamentary supremacy, a bill of rights, habeas corpus and other basic building blocks of a liberal democracy. John Locke laid the groundwork for our own nation when he wrote about the consent of the governed and the rights of individuals and even the separation of church and state (hello Mike Pence) in the 1690s.

You may have noticed recently a lot of talk about checks and balances between the 3 branches (executive, legislative, judiciary) with the press (the 4th estate) being another check. On the French side, Voltaire and Montesquieu actually laid out many of the ideas (3 branches of government, separation of powers) used by the founding fathers to frame the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution which took shape from 1787 and was ratified in 1789. Hamilton and Madison played major roles in the process but once the nation began to function in the 1790s found themselves on opposite sides in the political wars – and there were political wars just as vicious as we have today. (See Aaron Burr/Hamilton duel which ended that feud in a pretty definitive way --- imagine settling our elections that way.)

Checks and balances are designed to prevent tyranny but don’t always succeed in many liberal democracies. But that can also lead to gridlock and a growing impatience over the messiness of democracy where maybe the trains always don’t run on time (see MTA transit) and a wish for a strong man (or woman) to shake the tree, democratic institutions be damned – see Mussolini and Putinism and the growing threats to European liberal democracies as the right wing rises.

Note: the far right is anti-liberal democracy, anti-globalism, anti-immigrant and pro-nationalist, which leads to some interesting thoughts on where we started. If liberal equates with free and individual rights, where does that leave us as the far right morphs into the mainstream?

Norm wrestles, not duels, with the alt right, the right, the left, liberals and the center on his blog ednotesonline.com.

*From James Eterno:
Hey Norm,

From Ed Notes:

A major event was the beheading of Charles II and the Glorious Revolution of the late 1600s which was a pretty effective way to show monarchists that they were going to be under some level of control. (It took the French another century to do the same to their king). The monarchy was kept in England but with major controls, like parliamentary supremacy, a bill of rights, habeas corpus and other basic building blocks of a liberal democracy.

Charles I got his head chopped off mid 17th century, not Charles II. Charles II died of kidney failure or the cures doctors tried to give him. James II was the king during the Glorious Revolution in 1688. He fled the country and lived out his life in exile in France after he failed to take back Ireland.


The following article is republished from Uncle John's Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader. Next time you feel yourself coming down with a cold, thank your lucky ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

DOE to Hire Former Principals to Do Hits on Tenured teachers - PEP Feb. 28 Vote

Consultants are assigned to cases involving teachers and other pedagogues who were rated unsatisfactory, and they prepare documentation related to the underperforming personnel. Team Leaders act as liaisons who offer support among the attorneys, Labor Support Consultants, and school administrators.  .... http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/EEE0FACB-A2CA-45C0-918A-1AD585730C21/207568/FebPEPAgenda013017.pdf
Teachers ought to go and give the PEP some input on Feb. 28. Note than any mention of the word "support" doesn't mean support of the teachers but of the administrator.

When Mulgrew sang the praises of de Blasio in his endorsement this wasn't mentioned. Let's spend another million bucks to support DOE legal. I know one of these guys. Believe me - you go in guilty. Will the UFT have any presence at the Feb. 28 PEP to address this?

San Diego School Board Pulls DeVos Invite

Monday, February 13, 2017

Charters are cancers. There are no good cancers–and charter schools are metastasizing throughout education

Has the public ed ship sailed? After rigthly declaring charters are cancers, Bob Braun asks a very pertinent question on his blog:
Do public school advocates have the will to fight Trump? Open question.
Sadly, we think not. On Saturday Braun attended a conference in New Jersey organized by advocates for public education. The conference included members and staff of such pro-public education groups as the Education Law Center and Save Our Schools. They were searching for some reason for hope given the lack of a sense of militancy in fighting off charters.
Don’t forget these were the activists, the advocates, the good guys, at the conference. But they argued against tinkering with the school aid formula, wrung their hands about seeking an end to charter schools completely, held out little hope about seriously integrating the public schools of the state, and believed that a mayor who hires school board members really means it when he talks about independent public education.
Even if Phil Murphy is elected, public education in New Jersey–and throughout the nation–is in serious trouble. 
Braun was clearly disheartened by what he heard.
Participants in the conference danced around the danger of charters–but they are starving public schools. Yet even charter critics like Mark Weber–better known as the blogger Jersey Jazzman–offered palliatives when, in fact, bulldozers are needed. Charters suspend and expel 20 to 30 times more students than do public schools, a good way of enhancing their student test results, and such behavior raises serious moral as well as political issues.
I too am often disheartened by the response to Trump where people are running around often chasing their tails -- like little yappy dogs seeing 10 balls and racing after every one until they get tired and lay down to rest. Watching our teacher unions scratch their asses as they face the end of the cliff is almost comical - almost. [UFT Message in Times of Right to Work--Do As I Say, Not As I Do]

I also attended a an event on Saturday - the monthly MORE meeting. I think at least the people attending see charters for the cancer they are - though I would like to see MORE get in the face of the union leadership for playing little games about how they can support charters that are open to more monitoring and unionization -- it is about dues after all.

Braun touches on NJ Ed Assoc Phil Murphy:
Part of the problem is that, among this group of advocates–and others, including the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union–Phil Murphy is the heir apparent for what passes for progressivism in New Jersey politics.  Yet Murphy–like Jon Corzine, a Goldman-Sachs alumnus–has said virtually nothing about public education and his message is as inspiring and thought-provoking as a lecture on lawn mowing.
Trump and DeVos want to turn public education upside down and shake out all the money from its pockets so it can flow to corporate managers. We know that. What will Murphy do? What do these advocates want done?
 It’s not as if the problems aren’t known. Bruce Baker, the Rutgers professor who is probably the smartest and most cutting critic of state educational policy, warned both about the regressive nature of school funding under Christie–and the growing acceptance of the segregating effects of charter schools, privately-operated, public-funded schools that help frightened parents run away from public schools. “We’ve lost momentum on the idea that pubic schools should be inclusive,” he said. “They”–the critics of public schools–“are making the opposite argument and they are winning.”
In short, the fundamental idea that public schools are and should be  engines of equality and diversity is losing support.

Braun wants more resistance and less tinkering at the edges.
And how will it [support for public schools] be restored? Baker and others–including Theresa Luhm of the Education Law Center (ELC)–were not hopeful. No, it’s not that they were pessimistic–they were all hopeful the last eight years of Christie’s contempt for public education could be reversed. But they also warned that any effort to rewrite school funding laws were inherently dangerous because they invited political interference in the pursuit of true equity. Better to leave well enough alone and tinker with the edges.
Like Phil Murphy’s expected candidacy, this is simply not enough. Something akin to a political tsunami has occurred that is about to wash away public education as we know it and something more than the restoration of the Bourbons to public education is needed.
Mary Bennett, a former Newark high school principal,  spoke about governance–specifically the return of local control to the Newark schools. But she neglected to mention that the path to local control was impeded, not by the will of the Newark people willing to fight for their schools, but by the unfortunate deal cut between Christie and Mayor Ras Baraka to end criticism of Christie’s policies in the city, including the vast expansion–doubling in ten years–of charter school enrollment.
Baraka, in short, impeded the pace of a return to local control and now takes credit for expediting it. The dangers public schools face now cannot allow such delusional political thinking–the enemies in Washington are too real and too powerful.
 Braun lists the dangers facing public education:
It is underfunded.
It is racially segregated.
It is in danger of being swept away by charters.
Its employees are demoralized.
It has been targeted for destruction by a national administration unlike any other in the history of the republic.
In short, without aggressive action to restore the promise of public education, it will continue to lose support among those who will turn to nuts like Trump and DeVos to find answers in alternatives like vouchers, private schooling, and home-schooling.
The leaders taking aggressive action should be the unions which should go after the very concept of charter schools with guns blazing. Instead we get