Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tell the New Chancellor Your Thoughts at the PEP, Wed. April 25-- sign upto speak at 5:30

Here's you chance to talk to the chancellor. Or sing to him.

I am going with a few people and will tape. There are a bunch of charter co-locos on the agenda. Anyone can get 2 minutes which is more than you get elsewhere.

Murry Bergtraum HS. 5:30 sign-up to speak, meeting starts at 6 but often starts about 6:15-6:30. They must stay there till everyone who wants to gets to speak. They should do that at a DA. 

This came in from Leonie:

Subject: PEP meeting w. new Chancellor tomorrow night re PS 25

Thanks to all who have helped with the lawsuit to save PS 25. 
Please if you can, come and speak at the PEP meeting tomorrow night – the first time that the Chancellor Carranza will be presiding.  Sebastian and I plan to speak as well – but we also have to address our class size lawsuit and school overcrowding.
Panel Meeting
April 25, 2018 - 6:00 P.M.
Murry Bergtraum High School
411 Pearl St.
New York, NY 10007
All Chancellor Carranza has to do is say no, and the school will not close. It’s certainly worth trying to make our case directly to him.
Come at 5:30 PM to sign up to speak; it’s a convenient location right behind City Hall and  near many subway stops. More info below:
If you want some talking points there are many available here:
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Monday, April 23, 2018

CORE Attempted Purge of One of Founders George Schmidt Failed in Chicago - Eight Women of Color Speak on George's Behalf

George Schmidt:
.... the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" tried to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm)......the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
I offered to report on the history of the struggles against white supremacy going back to my high school days in New Jersey, continuing through my two years in Western Pa. (as a member of the Greensburg PA NAACP) and then continuing through our work against segregation and those dramatic marches against the Nazis in the 1970s.
However, I had to remind people that when we were discussing historical facts we needed to have some reality principle -- not such yelps as the outburst from the Barretts that everyone knows I'm a racist and a sexist. More than a dozen people spoke eloquently about the work that I've done on behalf of the union, CORE, and justice..... George Schmidt, Feb. 26, 2018
Comment from a member of ICE Caucus: Norm, since you are NY's George, can your trial be far behind? ....
Can it be far behind indeed.

The vote was 27-17 in George's favor. Imagine, 17 people in CORE voted to toss out one of its key founders. I'm shocked, just shocked that a similar scenario is being played out in MORE. (see afterburn below).

The charges of racism and sexism are common in caucus purges as a way to remove political dissenters. How embarrassing that 8 women of color spoke up for the work George has done over 40 years to fight racism and sexism. These 17 people have no sense of respect for history.
Here is George's email from Feb. 28:

1. CORE PURGE FAILED. Despite an attempt by the steering committee of CORE to purge me from the CORE membership, tonight's CORE meeting voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal and retain me as a member of CORE. The meeting which was attended by more than 70 people at its peak, included an agenda item which read: "George Schmidt's removal from CORE, based on multiple violations of Article III, Section Iv of CORE's By-Laws."
After a lengthy meeting, that item came up at the end as an "announcement." There was lengthy debate, during which the majority of speakers (many of whom are reading this -- thank you) denounced the CORE steering committee's position and then voted twice to reject the attack. First, the members voted 27 - 17 to reject a motion by Natasha Karecki that CORE refer the "complaints" against me to a "Reconciliation Committee" (the names of whose members are not known). After that motion was rejected, we debated and voted on a motion to reject completely the "Announcement" to remove me from CORE. The details of all this will be reported at substancenews.net if someone (other than me) wants to report and analyze that event.

2. LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND CORE STEERING COMMITTEE CLAIMS... The attack on me (and it included an attack on Substance) was based on lies, some ridiculous and some repeated enough to sound plausible to people without the time to pay attention. The facts included the fact that I had not "left" CORE to "join" Members First and that the claims (by a handful of CORE people now hiding out) that I was a "racist" and a "sexist" (among other things) had to be proved by citing certain specific actions, not by "feelings."
I offered to report on the history of the struggles against white supremacy going back to my high school days in New Jersey, continuing through my two years in Western Pa. (as a member of the Greensburg PA NAACP) and then continuing through our work against segregation and those dramatic marches against the Nazis in the 1970s. However, I had to remind people that when we were discussing historical facts we needed to have some reality principle -- not such yelps as the outburst from the Barretts that everyone knows I'm a racist and a sexist.
More than a dozen people spoke eloquently about the work that I've done on behalf of the union, CORE, and justice. It was nice to be there, but sad that it had to have been fought out. Now it needs to be discussed how the majority of the CORE "Steering Committee" could try to lead the caucus into what amounted to a Purge Trial (or, as one speaker said, to turn CORE into something out of Orwell's Animal Farm). Were I asked I have suggested that the "steering committee" resign and schedule a new election, since one of the main points of the discussion was that CORE is evading the issues facing the members in the schools and instead murking around in stuff like this attempted purge.

3. SUBSART. A couple of the CORE leaders (Craig and Drew most loudly) claimed that Substance has been unfair to CORE by publicizing Members First meetings with announcements and reports while ignoring CORE meetings. I've already called one of those and offered him a change to report for Substance, with editing (as we all face). As you know, for months I've been begging for SUBSART about Chicago's schools and the mounting problems facing the rank and file in the schools, at times to no avail. I know that everyone (including those I love most) are facing enormous pressures at the local level, from poor security and discipline to raging "Network" attacks at the classroom level, but I can only post at substancenews.net what we get in accurate reportings. Let's see how this works out in the future.

4. OF COURSE IT'S TIRING...and I'm not getting any younger. But there is now way that we can or should allow this kind of unprincipled stuff to go on. One of the paradoxes of the tirades against me (Craig and Drew in this case) was that Substance had published stuff that had been said inside CORE (on the listserve I'm guessing). One of the people who wanted to talk after the meeting told me that Craig & Co. can't have it both ways. Either they want us to report on CORE -- accurately and completely, which means from meetings, committees, and the listserve -- or they want to do everything in secret. I'm hoping that people will now take on those reporting jobs.
After Burn
The ideological roots of the people who urge purges in CORE and MORE are similar and the tactic is a standard one in certain circles on the left.

George was also charged with publishing reports on CORE in Substance. There are already hints that some people in MORE, closely associated with the same political forces in Chicago, are criticizing my publishing info coming out of MORE and at some point I would not be surprised to see attempts to expel me from MORE.

Recently there was a suggestion from a prominent MORE leader to expel someone from MORE over a nasty email that was sent. In the background are the same vague charges of sexism directed at certain males. I am trying to avoid contact and private conversations with some of these people because anything I say or do can be distorted.

MORE is very tied up with UCORE. Some leading UCORE people from Chicago voted to have George expelled. Now that's social justice unionism for you.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Why Teacher Uprisings May Hit Blue States Too - Jeff Bryant

Jeff Bryant is an excellent reporter who exposes ed deform.


Jeff Bryant
April 20, 2018

The Left, Social Justice and UFT Caucuses

I found this in draft mode from Oct. 2017

Michael Fiorillo has left a new comment on your post "Luis Reyes on UFT: I believe in social change, red...":
Unions by definition are institutions that enable social justice, by focusing on democracy in the workplace and fair treatment for all workers, which is to say, most people in society.

It's a shame that what remains of the Left in the US fails to realize this, and it's a major reason it is so easily ignored. As long as it refuses to focus on issues that affect working people, it will continue to be ignored, and will deserve it....

Michael Fiorillo
My evolving position has been that I don't want to be in a caucus that doesn't pay attention to social justice work. But I also am concerned when a caucus focuses mostly on SJ work and doesn't pay enough attention to the daily travails of UFT members. And when we sense some imbalance we try to push back to get the ship balanced. That is not always easy when dealing with social justice warriors who salivate at a cause but yawn at issues such as bad bulletin board policy.

One of the problems I've had for years with MORE is the declaration that it is THE social justice caucus - as if Unity and New Action are not interested in social justice issues like MORE is. I know New Action people for a long time and  they often kept the SJ stuff out of their work which focused on bread and butter - I remember being critical of them for that 15 years ago -- they are also supportive of SJ work as individuals.

When I've been in an opposition caucus in the UFT at various times since 1970, they have always had elements of social justice. And they have always been left, which is why the leadership so despised them. In those early years, we had real issues with the leadership over SJ due to the 1968 strike and certain positions the UFT leadership took on many issues.

This was pointed out by Luis Reyes in his comment:
In the 1970s, Albert Shanker (R.I.P.), wrote in his that bilingual education was "...unamerican and separatist."
But the UFT began to change - at least on the surface, as pointed out by Reyes:
In 1984, I reached out to  Sandra Feldman (R.I.P.), to start a dialogue with the UFT leadership. Latino and other bilingual leaders met with leaders of the UFT; and, together we started a movement that resulted in the UFT changing its position on bilingual education and supporting state LEP Aid. Today Evelyn DeJesus, a Puerto Rican bilingual educator from the Lower East Side is the Vice President for Education and Carmen Alvarez continues to be the V.P. for Special Education. 
When Randi took over for Sandy around 1997 she escalated the union's work in the SJ arena and mended many fences Shanker had breached. She is in fact a genius at doing this kind of work.

So if a caucus is to dent the Unity machine it will not be on the basis of it not doing SJ work. As a sage person told some of us in an email yesterday:
The UFT membership at large is as pissed as I have ever seen. Some teachers hired from September 2004 onward are just figuring out now that they have to do the 100 hours of PD on their own dime and time. I was surprised that there are people who still don't know this. Some are vowing not to do the PD and let themselves get fired. I don't know if they are serious but they blame the UFT. Virtually everyone hates Danielson, even if they are highly effective. Teachers kill the UFT on Danielson. Did I mention an ATR or two might just be a little angry with the UFT response to the press attacks? Then there's the lousy raises, lack of support on grievances or just for speaking up, the ordeal of getting tenure, teachers having to pass every kid whether or not they deserve it, school safety, abusive administration, etc.... I could go on and on. Someone quite correctly said we have to eat a shit sandwich every day.
The wise man names just a few issues of concern. Unless a caucus focuses on addressing these issues, it won't resonate with enough members to make much of a dent.

At an Ex Bd meeting we heard case after case of the UFT's work - Arthur reports examples:
Serbia Silva—Stands on behalf of Evelyn de Jesus. ELL event amazing. Evelyn thanks volunteers and staff. Second—same goes for Making Strides. Walked in five boroughs and LI. Thanks all volunteers.
Howard Sandel—Nurses—Rescue work—9/18, Maria made landfall on Dominica. We had nurses there up all night organizing. Set up 53 medical volunteers. Were there 7 days. Visited villages, cared for 818 patients, conducted home visits, distributed items across island. With help of this union we provided rescue workers with backpacks. She expresses gratitude to union. Will be stories in NY Teacher. Nurses gave up two weeks vacation in PR, were not allowed to distribute supplies. Stuck in San Juan. Started Gofundme page. Finally moved. Showed people how to purify water. Thanks everyone.
UFT Executive Board October 16, 2017--We Were Against APPR Before We Were For It -
Mulgrew, who has been so much more responsive this year at the EB meetings -- he even answers questions from the opposition and actually acts like they are in the room --- and I believe this is due to the wonderful work our EB people have been doing --- said this:
We have 30 nurses in Puerto Rico. Leaving Wednesday. May go to Texas. Florida progressing. Huge burden on all of those members. In PR teacher building is hub for distribution. Spoke with governor and mayor. I would like to not have holiday party and make major contribution to those places. Right thing to do. So many people hurting. When we hurt from Sandy people came from all over to help us. This would say a lot. Asking them in lieu of coming to contribute to our disaster relief fund.
Unity is doing social justice work -- and is so much more diversified racially than the opposition groups. Something nags at me in saying THE SJ Caucus, as if the other work doesn't count.

That led to Michael Fiorillo's  comment.

I am going to repeat myself:
A group of us in MORE have been contending that if we want to challenge the UFT leadership, it has to be on issues where they have not supported the members, not on how social justicey they are.

Greece is the Word - Yassas

I wanted to share a few words about my first trip to the cradle of democracy. I learned all about ostracism in ancient Greece ---

"Ostracism (Greek: ὀστρακισμός, ostrakismos) was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively."

A happy wife makes a happy life
Which is very funny considering some of the things that I found going on in MORE when I returned. Did they have sectarian political parties in Greece? But more of that in future posts.

The trip was fairly brief - a long way to go for 8 days - actually 5 days on the tour and 2 plus in Athens. But we were hoping to get back to do some serious gardening and found it still too cold. We should have added a few days and seen the islands.

Greece was not a nation until the 1820's - in ancient times it was all city-states. The Olympics and other similar events were ways to stopping the fighting and all Greeks to come together. Maybe we can have some relay races between caucuses in the UFT.

But this was a land tour only. We went with Insight Tours, a British based company, which was great. Best tour we've had. We already booked Croatia through Road Scholar for October but next year we may do Ireland and Scotland through Insight.

We left late Saturday night, April 9, and got to Athens at 4 PM on Sunday, Greek Orthodox Easter.  All eateries around our hotel were closed - so we rested at our excellent hotel for an hour and then headed out for a very long walk to the Plaka -- I think we did over 3 miles over all - jet lag and all and ate at the first place we found - not great -- we saw after that if we had walked another block we would have found lots of great places to eat. We passed ancient ruins all over the place - remarkable stuff over 2000 years old.

The Acropolis towers over everything -- and Athens may be the only city with mountains you have to walk around.

Surprised to see a statue of me
And all of Greece was so green - the weather was perfect all week.

Monday was also a holiday - we began with one of the best buffet breakfasts we've had -- and I made at least 4 trips - yes I gained about 6 pounds on this trip-- but some things were open and we covered all parts of key areas of Athens. We learned to use an excellent subway system. We took it to the Syntagma Square near parliament where we saw the changing of the guard and then walked around the ancient Agora -- where the central market was thousands of years ago. Then walked around The Acropolis area - ate some lunch and finally headed back to the hotel for a rest before looking for a place for dinner - which we found a block from the hotel and it was so good - especially when they gave us soup, dessert and a shot on the house.

Tuesday we did the Archeological Museum and some other things that were not on the tour, which began Tuesday night with a meeting at the hotel. It's hard to get your head around how civilization goes back so far - even to 3500 BC. I'm not sure if we have advanced much at all.

We had met the guide on Monday when she called us and said she'd be around the hotel. Lovely lady - born in Scotland, grew up in the maritimes in Canada and married a Greek from Lesbos. She introduced us to an Australian couple and another Aussie traveling solo - they hadn't known each other but lived near each other around Brisbane, which we had visited 25 years ago.

We met everyone else at the Tuesday night meeting, followed by a buffet dinner at the hotel. We had 3 Aussies, Canadians, an English mom with 3 kids, a guy from the Philippines and another man from Hong Kong, now living in Pittsburgh -- and he's 83, and a nurse from California. Some had been on a 4 day cruise of the islands a few days before. Later we were sorry we didn't do that too but we may go back soon.

That is why we love to go on tours - meeting and bonding with so many people we would never have met. One couple we got close to is from Western Canada - they are 3rd generation farmers and I learned how a combine works. I may go out and visit and pick some crops.
The next 5 days were a whirlwind but we still felt fairly rested. Wednesday we met the coach and headed for the Acropolis and the museum for half a day. Hey, the Parthenon - I got a hundred photos from all angles. We had some lunch and then the coach left Athens to take us for a few hours drive to the Meteora monasteries, another world heritage site. We stayed for 2 nights in Kalambaka.

Thursday we did the monasteries --
So high up in the mountains -- that famous "For Your Eyes Only" James Bond/Roger Moore film where he escapes from there. Impossible to get there you would think. We went to 3 of them and then some of us walked down the mountain and back to the hotel and then off to a great lunch the guide, Moraig, took us too. That night she took us to a wonderful town called Trikala and a group dinner outdoors. She always made impeccable choices for us.

Two days and we felt we had been gone for a a long time already and also bonding with our tour mates.

Friday we headed for Delphi- after another buffet breakfast. Urp! - lox, lox, lox. Spent the day touring and moving and eating. Crossed the bridge over the Sea of Corinth -- and entered the Peloponesus -- basically a giant island that is half of Greece. We stopped at another seaside town - Napfpaklos -- wow - I could live there. Too busy a day to write everything.

Saturday - A half day at Olympia where it all began -- 776 BC - imagine - the Olympics basically went on for a 1000 years until they were ended when the Christians became ascendant around 350 AD -- there was the actual track they used. So much interesting stuff. I was taking a zillion photos. This is where they light the torch for all current games. We had lunch and some went back to the hotel while a few of us stayed in the town of Olympia to check it out for a few hours. A couple of guys went to an interesting little museum devoted to Archimedes and his inventions. Astounding stuff - we were in Syracuse on Sicily a few years ago and I bought an Archimedes tee shirt.  Then we went for a beer - I loved the Greek beer - until we caught the coach back to the hotel where we went for a swim in the pool. Moraig had a trainee - a woman originally from South Africa and her boss, Feona, who was from Scotland and married a Greek too - along on the entire trip. They took us to an outdoor restaurant where we learned to cook and then 2 lovely ladies led us in Greek dancing -- Feona took some video of me dancing and cooking -- I hope they never see the light of day.

Sunday -- our last full day -- unbelievable how fast it's gone but we were also felt we had done so much. Another buffet breakfast.  Headed to Mycenae - but  stopped at another seaside town - Nafplio - another place I could live -- I bought a pipe -- and then to meet the Mycenians - well not really, since they were a thousand years - 1600BC before the Greek heydays of 500-400 BC. Really hard to wrap out heads around all this - think of a thousand years ago for us - so Greeks in 500 BC were tourists to visit the ruins of Mycenae.
The main thing about Mycenae is that it is the supposed site of The Iliad -- now we have to go Troy in Turkey. 

Then crossing back into mainland over the Corinth Canal -- a narrow slip of a thing that in effect turns the Peloponnesus into an island. It was proposed 2000 years ago but not built until 1893 -- sort of like the 2nd Ave subway.

Farewell dinner that night at a local restaurant -- another great choice. Back at hotel we all hugged our new friends and went to our room. A knock at the door and our new Canadian friends -- the farmers asked us to help them finish off some ouzo. He is a Toronto Blue Jays fan and will be catching a game there in July. We may meet them and hope they come to NYC and stay with us.

Monday -- plane leaves at 4:30 PM and we are being picked up at 1:45. A final buffet breakfast - lox, lox, lox and more -- we run into the Aussies and say another good bye.  The guy traveling alone has a few months more to go -- an amazing guy who is in almost permanent travel mode. I told him I would check his itinerary and jump in some time -- the farmer from Canada even said he might be interested. A boys' trip.

We had a few hours. Most museums are closed Mondays but one was open and we walked over to the Museum of Cycladic Art - the Cyclades are islands between Greece and Turkey and had some remarkable civilizations 3200-2000 BC -- finally something older than me.

We got back to NYC around 9:30 PM at Newark and got home around 11. We signed up for Global Travel and got whisked through passport and customs control -- worth the $100 for 5 years.

Our cats were well -- we have an awesome 16 year old young man as a sitter and feel totally comfortable - he's a HS junior at Midwood and we hope he goes to Brooklyn College so we have him for another 5 years.

Tuesday I was back at hot yoga and all the stiffness from the trip was gone. And Weds I went to the delegate assembly and caught up on the MORE wars and all the tenseness that was gone on the trip came back.

One of the things I learned from the trip was that it is time to think about pulling back from blogging and UFT and MORE stuff. It's like a disease I can't get rid of.

Had a long noontime conversation with newly retired James Eterno who is so happy. We are both addicts to UFT politics.

We need a 12-step program.

Friday, April 20, 2018

School Scope: Opt-Out Spurred By Awful Test Experience, Cuomo Rescues Unions From Janus

Published in The WAVE, April 20, 2018, www.rockawave.com

School Scope:  Opt-Out Spurred By Awful Test Experience, Cuomo Rescues Unions From Janus

By Norm Scott
April 17, 2018

I was away traveling in Greece but Ed news managed to filter its way into my consciousness.

The reviews of the state ELA tests last week were awful, with massive computer issues, kids who couldn’t finish breaking down in tears, and the usual reports of ridiculous questions.

Resistance continued to high stakes testing despite the many attempts to put a stake in the heart of the movement. The new chancellor continued the tradition of the old chancellor by trashing the opt-out movement and some parents in NYC schools who tried to opt out faced intimidation.  This was not the case in Long Island, the national center of test resistance, where there are reports of up to 50% opting out.

People need to keep in mind that a massive testing-industrial complex (TIC) has sprung up in partnership with the education bureaucracy. The massive charter industry also supports high stakes testing because that is what fuels their movement, in fact the entire Ed deform movement that has undermined public school systems all over the nation, especially in urban areas where parents have little or no control over their local school boards, which often don’t exist at all in schools controlled by politically and economically motived mayors who get campaign contributions from the TIC – an appropriate acronym since they suck the blood out of the public.

There is still time to opt out of the math tests.

Another issue that I noticed as we toured the cradle of democracy 2500 years ago was the Cuomo attempt to rescue the unions in our state from the upcoming Supreme Court Janus decision which will turn every state into a right-to-work state like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky – all states where the rank and file have pushed back against a weakened union leadership to take action on their own and engage in illegal wild cat strikes and school closures. Unions have made the case that they are not just antagonists but also partners with the people running the schools as they provide a framework for controlled teacher activism. Then again there is the giant Unity Caucus controlled UFT, which is in the “too big to fail” category for so many state and city politicians. Cuomo, expecting to make a run for president in 2020 absolutely needs the UFT and its national parent organization, the AFT, which Unity Caucus also controls.

So Cuomo pushed through a provision where union won’t have to offer services to those who don’t pay dues, which I support, one of the few times I support anything that slime dog backs. While the UFT/Unity machine is what it is and should be fought, I don't advocate leaving unless people who left actually tried to organize an alternative. But most of these people are whining but not capable of really doing much. So screw them.

I have been predicting for a year that the UFT and other unions are too much a fabric of the control of the members to be allowed to be weakened by Janus. And the red state rebellions with wildcat strikes have reinforced that point, though it won't stop the Supreme Court from making us all right to work. Unity has such tight control they can counter any moves towards militancy.

If interested in more details check out these blogs:

Cynthia Nixon, Andrew Cuomo, and the UFT Learning Curve - http://nyceducator.com/2018/04/cynthia-nixon-andrew-cuomo-and-uft.html

Norm’s blog is like a TIC on people’s butts: ednotesonline.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This year's tests are a disaster! -- NYSUT President Andy Paliotta

A companion piece to my earlier post:

NYSAPE: Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents Continue to Fail New York’s Children; Parents Demand the Immediate Removal of Commissioner Elia

For months NYSUT has raised strong concerns and questions about SED's rush to implement computer-based testing. After a data breach earlier this year, NYSUT wrote a detailed letter to the State Education Department (SED) and Board of Regents, calling on them to put the brakes on computer-based testing. NYSUT has been expressing concerns about inequity for low-wealth districts; a lack of infrastructure and poor Internet capability in some schools, and whether computer-based testing accurately measures student learning — or just how well students can maneuver around a keyboard.

Notwithstanding NYSUT's warnings and concerns, students in nearly 300 schools sat down to their computers last Wednesday to test-drive the new English Language Arts computer-based tests in grades 3-8. Widespread reports of technology failures from teachers detailing disastrous system crashes; log-in failures and nonsensical answers for questions on the tests came flooding into NYSUT, news outlets and across social media.

Email the Commissioner and the Regents and share your experience with this year's first round of state testing.

Teachers in Victor, Saranac Lake, Shenendehowa and Spencerport, for example, reported some schools were unable to administer the computer-based tests properly because of technological failures. In at least one fourth-grade class in the Capital Region, students' entire tests were wiped out by malfunctioning computers. In Yonkers, some students "lost" their tests, while others attempting to answer multiple choice questions reportedly could only choose between four answers — all of which said “system error.”

While SED tried to call it a "glitch," NYSUT called last week's rush to computer-based testing nothing short of disaster! If children are going to sit for state standardized tests and are prepared to do their very best, SED must be able to guarantee that the tests are fair and accurate, and they don't leave kids anxious and rattled.

Last week's disastrous foray into computer testing, coupled with ongoing concerns about the benchmarks and developmental appropriateness of the tests, left children frustrated and teachers angry that their warnings were ignored. If SED wants to restore the trust and confidence of parents in its testing system, this isn't the way to do it.

Email the Commissioner and the Regents and share your experience with this year's first round of state testing.

Concerned about state testing? Get the Facts! Know your rights on opt-out.

In solidarity,

Andrew Pallotta
NYSUT President
P.S.:   Whether this testing disaster affected you or not, get the facts about opting out.

NYSAPE: Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents Continue to Fail New York’s Children; Parents Demand the Immediate Removal of Commissioner Elia

Brooklyn public school parent and founding member of NYC Opt Out, Kemala Karmen, is calling on SED to notify every single parent of their right to refuse May’s upcoming math assessment. She added, “The state can and should halt its hellbent race towards computerized testing, for which it is clearly ill-prepared; stop farming out test construction to dubious for-profit companies; truly shorten the exams; and, most important, remove high stakes attached to the assessments.”... NYSAPE statement 
I have two posts (at least two) on the testing scandal/scam - this one from NYSAPE - the parent group and coming later the state teacher comments from NYSUT's Andy Pallotta -

This year's tests are a disaster!

Which is pretty interesting given that Andy was put in by Mulgrew and yet Mulgrew and the UFT are silent - but more on that later.

More information contact:
Lisa Rudley: nys.allies@gmail.com
Jeanette Deutermann:  nys.allies@gmail.com
NY State Allies for Public Education - NYSAPE

Link to Press Release

Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents Continue to Fail New York’s Children; Parents Demand the Immediate Removal of Commissioner Elia

Parents across the state demand that the Board of Regents act immediately to remove Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. It is time the Board of Regents exercises control over the State Education Department to stop the runaway train of anti-public school “reform” that the commissioner represents.

Last week’s 3rd-8th grade ELA testing was an epic--and avoidable--fail for the children of New York State. The problems began before the tests were even administered, continued during their administration, and will persist unless there is a radical shakeup in the leadership of the State Education Department; in the way in which information about the tests and participation in the tests is communicated to families; and in how the tests themselves are constructed, administered, and scored.

The twin disasters of this year’s botched computer-based tests and an even more flawed than usual ELA test design prove that Elia is unequal to her duties and lacks the competence to helm the education department. Our children deserve better.

Leading up to the tests, some districts sent letters to parents asking whether their children would be participating in the assessments. Others, including the state’s largest district, New York City, sent home testing “info” riddled with spin, distortion, and outright lies regarding test refusal and its consequences. Many disadvantaged communities told advocates that they did not know they had a right to refuse the tests, even though it is their children who are most likely to suffer the negative effects of school closure.

Amy Gropp Forbes, a mother active in NYC Opt Out, wrote in a letter addressed to Chancellor Betty Rosa, “I urge you to issue a formal statement that clarifies a parent’s right to refuse state testing for their children. If the state allows some parents the right to opt out of state exams, it MUST give ALL parents this right, and consequences to schools and districts across the state must be equitable.” Gropp Forbes received no reply.

That the BOR and SED stood by and let this situation transpire despite having been made fully aware of the inequity--a statewide NYSAPE letter writing campaign generated over 200 complaints of “misinformation and intimidation”--is inexcusable. The absence of state-issued guidance also allowed some schools and districts to intimidate potential test refusers by instituting “sit and stare” policies.

Further evidence of a dereliction of duty on the part of BOR and SED came last week during the state ELA exam. The problems far exceeded the typical complaints associated with the state’s standardized exams. In fact, the problems were so egregious that one Westchester superintendent felt compelled to apologize to his entire community for what students had to endure. Social media flooded with teacher and proctor reports of children crying from fatigue, confusion, angst, hunger, pain, and more.

“Any good teacher knows how to judge time in lessons and assessments,” stated Chris Cerrone, school board trustee from Erie County. “As soon as I saw the format when I received the instructions I knew something was wrong. Day 1 would be short. Day 2 would be too long.”

Jeanette Deutermann, founding member of NYSAPE and LI Opt Out questioned, “Who was actually responsible for the construction and final version of these assessments? SOMEONE is responsible; that someone is Elia and the Board of Regents. The worst test since the new rollout has happened on their watch. Until a more capable leader is in place, we demand that all work on the construction of future tests be suspended immediately.”

Ulster County parent, educator, and NYSAPE founding member Bianca Tanis attributed last week’s fiasco in part to the state’s adoption of untimed testing. “Both SED and members of the Board of Regents continue to ignore the egregious consequences of untimed testing, misleading the public by claiming that the tests are shorter. For many educators, administering this test was the worst day of their career. The truth is out, and it cannot be ignored.”

“Enough is enough,” declared Dr. Michael Hynes, Superintendent of Long Island’s Patchogue-Medford district. “Not only are children and educators suffering, but with this untimed policy the state is in violation of its own law, which caps testing at no more than 1% (9 hours) of instructional time. Where’s the enforcement?”

“For a decade or more, SED and its vendors have proved themselves incapable of creating valid, well-designed, non-abusive exams that can be reliably used for diagnostic purposes or to track trends in student achievement over time,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.

“Since the Common Core was introduced, these problems have only gotten worse, with tests so difficult and confusing that teachers themselves are at a loss as to how the questions should be answered. A report from the Superintendents Roundtable revealed that the NYS exams were misaligned to excessively high benchmarks, meaning far too many students are wrongly identified as low-performing,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator, and BATs Executive Director.

Brooklyn public school parent and founding member of NYC Opt Out, Kemala Karmen, is calling on SED to notify every single parent of their right to refuse May’s upcoming math assessment. She added, “The state can and should halt its hellbent race towards computerized testing, for which it is clearly ill-prepared; stop farming out test construction to dubious for-profit companies; truly shorten the exams; and, most important, remove high stakes attached to the assessments.”

Here’s a compilation of observations made by parents, administrators, and teachers about the numerous problems with this year’s NYS ELA state test, and the suffering it caused students.

NYSAPE calls on the Board of Regents to stand up for equitable and authentic learning & assessments and immediately remove Commissioner Elia.

#OptOut2018 Test Refusal Letter: English & Spanish

NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ed News Overflows While I am Away - Cuomo Protects Unions From Janus

I've been traveling in Greece and will return later today but have tried to keep in rudimentary touch with the ed news. There is so much to report and my fellow bloggers have been doing a great job --- just check out the blogroll. Opt out and the awful tests is a hot item and with math tests coming soon I have a lot to report. But not till I get back and go through the backlog.

Another story is the rescue of the unions in our state where they won't have to offer services for those who drop out. I actually called for that a year ago but was told it would be illegal. While the UFT is what it is, I don't advocate leaving unless people who left actually tried to organize an alternative. But most of these people are whining but not capable of really doing much. So screw them.

I have been predicting for a year that the UFT and other unions are too much a fabric of the control of the members to be allowed to be weakened by Janus. And the red state rebellions with wildcat strikes have reinforced that point though it won't stop the Supreme Court from making us all right to work.

I believe that Unity has such tight control they can counter any moves towards militancy.

I don't have time to get into more details, so check out Arthur, James and Chaz and the comments.


Cynthia Nixon, Andrew Cuomo, and the UFT Learning Curve



We have copied below the entire new New York State law protecting unions. Thanks to Bennett Fischer for sending us the law.


Governor Cuomo Rescues The Unions From Janus

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Oklahoma Teachers End Walkout After Winning Raises and Additional ...

In a rush. Lots breaking out of Ok and Arizona - Diane Ravitch is posting like crazy on the news so check out her blog, like every hour.

More for ny times oklahoma teacher strike

Oklahoma Teachers End Walkout After Winning Raises and Additional ...

2 hours ago - For the second time in recent weeks, a teacher walkout has ended with educators extracting some concessions. ... Saying it had achieved all that it could with a walkout, Oklahoma's largest teachers' union on Thursday called for educators to return to the classroom and to shift their efforts to supporting ...

Teacher Walkouts Threaten Republican Grip on Conservative States ...

10 hours ago - As Arizona teachers laid the groundwork this week for a walkout, thousands of Oklahoma teachers stayed out of the classroom to protest low school budgets, and some in Kentucky continued their ... Last month, West Virginia's Republican-controlled government made concessions to striking teachers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Fee-payers comprise about 11.8 percent of the United Teachers Los Angeles bargaining unit, 8.2% for San Diego Education Association

That's a pretty high number for LA before Janus. And there are reports the union may be pushing for a strike. That might keep more people paying - or the opp
But in the red states many strikers are not paying union dues though I haven't seen numbers. So when the stuff hits the fan it may not make a difference in some ways. But in others where the union leaderships are  weakened figuring out outcomes is a chess game. Do weaker union make it easier for rising wildcat actions? Will those looking to spark red state actions in strong union states see a sunny side of the street? Or will a weakening lead to an even further deadening of the members?
It is never about how good things should be but about how bad things are getting.
Antonucci at EIA and LA Report
Over most of California, the loss of agency fees will have only a small immediate effect on teacher unions. But in some areas and in some job categories the loss of revenue will be dramatic.

Unions keep details about the numbers and location of their fee-payers close to the vest, but I have those details for the California Teachers Association. For K-12 teachers and in almost all regions of the state, the number of fee-payers is small, ranging from 2 to 5 percent.

There are two key cities where the percentage is much higher —

Puerto Rico: Six months after Hurricane Maria, the island’s Department of Education announces plans to close 283 public schools.

The Indypendent

Six months after Hurricane Maria, the island’s Department of Education announces plans to close 283 public schools.

The Puerto Rican Department of Education announced Thursday that it would close 283 of the island’s public schools this summer.
Citing a decline in enrollment of nearly 39,000 students following Hurricane Maria’s battering of the island in September and severe financial problems stemming from the island’s fiscal crisis, the department stated that more than a quarter of Puerto Rican public schools are set to shutter.
This comes weeks after Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed into effect an educational reform law that authorized the creation of charter schools and use of school vouchers.
‘We are in the middle of a huge attack against public education’
Charter schools receive public school funds but are privately managed, often by for-profit corporations. They are almost always non-union and tend to hire young, inexperienced teachers who will work for less than their veteran peers. School vouchers divert public education funds to families who choose to send their children to private schools including religious schools. Since the school voucher covers only part of the cost of attending a private school, they mostly benefit wealthy families.
Hundreds of Puerto Rican students, parents, teachers and union leaders protested repeatedly in the months after Hurricane Maria as hundreds of the island’s schools failed to reopen. Noting the near-total privatization of the New Orleans public school system after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, they said they feared that the Department of Education would use the hurricane to further a pre-existing agenda of privatizing public schools for the benefit of private interests.
Rafael Feliciano Hernández, a former president of the Puerto Rican Federation of Teachers, spoke with The Indypendent about the Department of Education’s delays in reopening schools in November. “They wanted to close the schools for four months then to reopen them as charters,” he said. “We fought. We joined forces with the community.” Hernández and the other protesters succeeded in reopening more than 90 percent of public schools.
But with the latest news, protesters in Puerto Rico are taking to the streets again. Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día newspaper reports that the latest closures could displace more than 60,000 students and 6,000 teachers.
“We are in the middle of a huge attack against public education,”  Edwin Morales, vice president of the Federation of Teachers told The Indypendent. More than 10,000 rallied in San Juan after Governor Rosselló’s education plan was announced.

More - https://indypendent.org/2018/04/c-is-for-closure-public-education-in-puerto-rico-to-be-gutted

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

San Diego Unified, Teachers Union OK Tentative Deal with Raises, Maternity Leave - Times of San Diego


Bucking a trend of labor strife in other states, the San Diego Unified School District and its teachers union the have reached a tentative three-year agreement that includes a new maternity leave benefit.

The parties reached agreement early Wednesday morning, following a 16-hour bargaining session and months of collaborative negotiations, the district said.

“We worked diligently with our partners at the San Diego Education Association to reach an agreement that will support the success of all our students,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten.
“This agreement will help compensate our teachers for their hard work, while also helping the district attract and retain new educators.”

The three-year tentative agreement includes

Monday, April 9, 2018

"GED Program to be cut in half, so charter school can expand"

Marjorie Stamberg: 

I'm hoping this can come before the E-board tomorrow and that we can get a resolution at the D.A. to stop the charter invasion and for everyone to come to the PEP April 25th for the vote.  This is not just another co-location (they are all important), but an attack on a historic African-American school in the heart of Bed-Stuy.  It's a push for gentrification that will drive long time residents out of the neighborhood.

Here is some information about our school's current struggle against a charter co-location that will cut our Brooklyn hub in half, as well as impact two transfer schools, a LYFE program and a D75 school. It's in the old Boys High School building on Marcy Avenue in BedStuy.  A key issue here is the gentrification of BedStuy which is pushing the public schools out.

Here is some local press coverage:

Here is a statement from a teacher
To Whom It May Concern, my name is Nicole Greaves and I am a teacher at Pathways to Graduation (P2G) an alternative program within the NYC Dept of Education (DOE) that prepares adolescents ages 17 - 21 years old for the TASC(GED) Examination. Currently we are located in the Old Boys High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Marcy Avenue along with Bed-Stuy Prep High School, Brooklyn Academy High School, Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School and the LYFE Center. P2G has maintained a presence in the building for over 20 years and has serviced thousands of Brooklyn youth during that time. 

On February 15th the Dept of Education issued a proposal to reallocate classroom space in the building which includes: 1. Consolidating Bed-Stuy Prep HS and Brooklyn Academy HS into one school. 2. Pathways to Graduation losing four classrooms, one administrative office and storage space in the basement 3. Relocate Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter Middle School into the building from their current location at PS9  

The proposed Building Utilization Plan (BUP) would give an overwhelming majority of classroom space to Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School and Middle School. They would occupy the 1st, 4th, 5th floors, four rooms on the 2nd floor and the basement. This reallocation of classroom space creates numerous and varied problems for the other three existing schools in the building. P2G would lose four classrooms and one administrative office if the plan is finalized. This would surely be a serious blow to our program and diminish the level of services and resources we can offer to our students. 

The teachers and staff at P2G are committed to saving our school and maintaining our presence in the Bedford Stuyvesant community as long as possible. There are a series of public hearings that will be taking place to address this issue before the final PEP Vote on April 25th at Murray Bergtraum High School. 

The first public hearing was held Monday evening in the auditorium at Old Boys High School, where students, staff and community members alike shared their concerns for the possible closing of schools and reduction of youth educational services in the neighborhood.

We would really like to get the word out to the city about the battle to save our school, the services we offer and the overwhelming need for our services in the community.  http://p2g.nyc/  If we could get an article in your publication that would help us out greatly in reaching the greater New York community. 

Recently, our school was featured on News12 Brooklyn "Cool in School" news segment for the Bike Repair Program we offer our students. If the proposed reallocation of space were to happen, the classroom where the bike program is housed is threatened to be taken away and the program possibly ended.