Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Police and Teachers, Their Unions and the March

There is so much to write about the relationship between UFT, the PBA, Mulgrew and Lynch, and the rank and file teachers and cops. So much to write that I have trouble sorting it all out. I have no personal issues with the police I have run into through my lifetime. But then again I am not black. 

I do have a problem with Patrick Lynch's assault on Mulgrew for a lack of union solidarity. I can't seem to recall any solidarity on Lynch's part towards teachers - or even other unions. Thus his attack on Mulgrew, to the glee of the NY Post, was a little over the top.
“Mulgrew knows that the UFT is under siege from all sides, and this is purely an attempt to distract attention from that mounting criticism,” Lynch wrote, referring to the union’s chronic battles over teacher tenure and charter schools as well as the “substandard” contract Mulgrew recently negotiated for his membership.
Lynch is right about the substandard contract, but how about this comment?
“How would he like it if police officers lined up with the activists who oppose his efforts to shield bad teachers and undermine effective charter schools?” Lynch fumed.
Hey Lynch, I call this lining up with ed deform. In fact, since we haven't had a word of support over the years of attacks on teachers, in essence lining up with these so-called "activists"  like Campbell Brown, is exactly what you've been doing with your silence.

Inside MORE, there has been a week-long debate about how to deal with the rally, the UFT role in it, the undemocratic nature of decision-making in the UFT, the role of Al Sharpton, and so much MORE. Julie Cavanagh written a personal and remarkable statement on the issue at the MORE blog: For Deion.

I won't get into the weeds on the internals at this point but will point out that MORE debates these issues. Inside Unity Caucus there is no debate. Just a thousand or more lemmings who will follow whatever Mulgrew tells them to do. And if he reversed himself tomorrow and said the march was not a good thing, they would all change course and march off whatever cliff he tells them to match off of. And Leo Casey would jump in to make the case for either side.

Afterburn
The Unity lemmings cheered Bill Gates at the 2010 convention and booed the people walking out. When told to reverse course by 2012 when Ravitch took the slot Gates had occupied 2 years before, no problem for Unity.

Here is the video we put together with David Bellel on Unity lemmings.
BillGates at the AFT - 1984




I have such antipathy for Al Sharpton that I have a problem taking part in something he is leading. That the UFT has been funneling money to his organizations all these years does not make me happy. I stopped watching MSNBC when they gave Sharpton his own show.

Which reminds me of the joke my right-wing brother in law once told me.
Standing in front of you is Sharpton, Hitler and Stalin. You have a gun with only 2 bullets. Which ones do you shoot?
Answer: shoot Sharpton twice.


The Trouble With Frank Bruni

How far are we from the day when Whoopi, Campbell and the rest of the ed deform crowd flat out blame the death of Michael Brown on bad teachers?

Joining the anti-teacher fray is former NY Times food writer Frank Bruni, another clueless NY Times columnist writing on education (see David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Joe Nocera, Brent Staples, and even one bad column from the great Paul Krugman).

I think we need VAM for food columnists. How about basing it on how many calories you gain? 

I was going to do my own assault on Bruni yesterday, but, always a day behind and a dollar short, Arthur Goldstein and Lois Weiner have said it all.
Another argument bigots favor is, "I'm not a bigot. I know some of those people." And waddya know, Johnston has teachers in his family. So he must be totally objective. And Bruni writes for the NY Times. So he must also be objective, with no ax to grind whatsoever. Doubtless it's mere coincidence that he was a guest at the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Campbell Brown, and that he failed to disclose it.... full piece at NYC Educator
Lois Weiner, writing at New Politics, sends an

An open letter to Frank Bruni about tenure for NYC teachers

Dear Frank Bruni,
            I enjoyed your restaurant reviews in the NY Times. Reading your descriptions of the food and ambiance allowed me to experience vicariously many restaurants. We seem to have a similar sensibility -- about food.  You seemed not to allow  restaurant publicity and PR to influence your ratings or judgment, maybe because you know good food and the restaurant business thoroughly enough so that you could see through hype.
            But that’s not the case in your columns on educational issues, in particular your analysis of tenure, which reads like the talking points from Teach for America and Students First, groups funded by billionaires who aim to transform schooling in ways they think best - that is, best for them and profits.... An open letter to Frank Bruni about tenure for NYC teachers.


           

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Commentary on Cavanagh Students - Campbell Brown and Mona Davids Wants Her Fired

You can have a conversation with Julie Cavanagh on any topic but nothing lights her up more than talking about her students, two of whom are heading off to college. Julie has taught special needs children and what a joy to see these kids break out of that mold. Read her email (Julie Cavanagh Former Students Head For College - Help Them Out) and head over to GoFundMe to help them out at Herkimer College, a SUNY school upstate.

I know I'm taking some privilege in turning this appeal for funding into a political message and Julie will probably be pissed at me, but I can't help it.

There is little that makes a teacher happier than seeing former students on the right track, especially elementary school teachers like Julie Cavanagh who see these outcomes years later. (Seeing my former 10-11 year old students as adults with their own children is one of the fruits of teaching younger kids - some of my favorite stuff on Facebook.)

Julie doesn't go deep into the support that she and her husband have been willing to provide her former students - Julie has always pointed out - and did so in our film - that one of her teachers helped find a college for her - Indiana U - and drove her out there almost 20 years ago. And Julie and Glenn are paying it back by doing the same with these students this week. But Julie is careful to point out she is no heroic teacher taking over the lives of these students, telling me "they came to us with a the plan and the school, we just helped cross the t's and dot the i's."

Think about how the parents of these kids feel. There must be some joy at seeing the kids going to college, but also some apprehension given recent events in Staten Island and Missouri. Will some cop in a small town upstate get the wrong idea? Teachers (and especially police), need to also think like social workers and and we need to have deep conversations about what our students face and how we as educators have a role and a responsibility in fighting for racial, social and economic justice.

Which forces me to make this point - which I will over and over again. Kids of color face more danger from bad police than from tenured teachers. Where is the Moaning Mona Davids and Campbell Brown lawsuits to hold police and their unions, which stand up for anything cops do, accountable?

Teachers like Julie continuously put themselves at risk with their activism on so many levels. As was pointed out in my post yesterday about parents supporting teacher tenure - Why Parent Leaders Should Join Court Intervention in Support of Tenure.

I remember when Jeff Kaufman in 2005 helped out one of his students at Rikers by smuggling college prep materials into him and Jeff then spent months in the rubber room and would have been fired if the Moaning Mona and Brown suits are successful.

If we had a union that really wanted to defend tenure they would be making these cases every single day - even threaten to punch people in the face for daring to put people like Jeff and Julie in jeopardy.

I have such outrage at these bogus lawsuits, but especially at self-serving Moaning Mona Davids, who was befriended by Julie and knows as well as anyone the kinds of risks Julie took over the years to stand up for students, parents and teachers - like signing on as one of 2 teachers (the fab Seung Ok was the other) in the suit to hold a demo at Bloomberg's house, which Moaning Mona was happy to support. (And then blew up a year of Julie's work when she vindictively destroyed our film's website - I wonder how much she tried to extort from the ed deformers for doing that.)

Does anyone think it impossible under certain conditions (outspoken teacher as target) to be brought up on charges by a vindictive principal for taking former students into her car, even if to college - also note the Jeff Kaufman/Rikers story above? And how many teachers are so fearful of consequences of not having tenure that they will think twice before getting involved?

Yet Moaning Mona wants to put the protections teachers like Julie and Jeff have in danger.

Campbell Brown may be a slug but Moaning Mona Davids should not be able to look at herself in the mirror.

UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers Union Matter? - Weds Aug. 20, 4PM

Some of us in MORE are talking about a new teacher support group where we pair vets - especially retirees who might have the time - with newbies. (If you are a retiree or even currently teaching who might be interested, email me at normsco@gmail.com).

I am somewhat surprised at how many people - and not just the usual suspects -- have been coming out to the summer series. There have even been a bunch of newly minted Teaching Fellows who are about to begin teaching. Oh, did we have stuff to tell them. Like they need to know how to navigate the political minefield of school politics. Where does the chapter leader stand in relation to the principal? A buddy and lackey who will repeat anything to say and thereby get you on the shit list and possible discontinued? Some lessons in how to bow and scrape with dignity until you get tenure. If you CL is Unity, handing out MORE lit may get you hung - ask us so we can look up your CL to see if one of the 800 who go to conventions.

But this is more than for new members.

UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers Union Matter?

by morecaucusnyc
"A say in the priorites of our Union? (UFT) Sure, we'd like MORE."
A plea for union democracy


Our last summer series event of 2014 is Wednesday 8/20/14
Dark Horse Pub
17 Murray St NYC

UFT 101: Why Does Our Teachers' Union Matter?
Are you entering the teaching profession or new to NYC schools? Are you wondering what the teacher union is all about and what it means to you and your students? Is it something you should be active in? Do educators, parents and students share common interests? Can unions be vehicles for social justice? Meet with new and veteran teachers to discuss these questions and more in this introduction to teacher unionism.
This promises to be a fun, interactive meeting where you can meet educators that are just coming into the school system, some going into their second year, and experienced educators too!
Save the date, our first general meeting of the new school year will be Saturday Sept. 13th in Manhattan. Check back here for more information on this and meetings/happy hours in neighborhoods across NYC.

Arkansas University Charter School Productivity Report -- Indefensible

An academic review finds the claims made by the report rest on shaky ground and suffer from multiple sources of invalidity, rendering the report useless. Nothing in the report provides any guidance for educators or policymakers ... Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Shouldn't there be calls for the bogus University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform (DER) to lose accreditation for tainted and biased research?

When the Great Lakes Center sent out the original report the other day, I didn't even bother to read it, knowing the source and the bias (paid for by ed deformers).

The GLC does some great followups with their "Think Twice" exposures. So glad to see this one.

Charter School Productivity Report, Recommendations Indefensible








GLC Logo


Contact:
Gene V. Glass, (480) 294-1120, gene.glass@asu.edu
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Charter School Productivity Report, Recommendations Indefensible
Nothing in the report provides any guidance for educators or policymakers

EAST LANSING, Mich. (August 19, 2014) – A recent report from the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform (DER) on charter school productivity claims superiority of charter schools in producing achievement per dollar invested. The report, the third in a series of reports, asserts charter schools are more effective in producing achievement on standardized tests and are also less costly per pupil than traditional public schools. An academic review finds the claims made by the report rest on shaky ground and suffer from multiple sources of invalidity, rendering the report useless.
Gene V. Glass, Regents' Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, reviewed The Productivity of Public Charter Schools for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report utilizes findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and "revenues received" to support that charter schools spend less per pupil than traditional public schools and produce achievement as good or superior to that of traditional public schools.
In his review, Glass found the report inaccurately utilizes NAEP test results while discounting the fact that demographic differences between the two sectors are highly correlated with NAEP performance. In short, Glass says, "The sector with the higher percentage of poor pupils scores lower on the NAEP test."
Additionally, Glass also finds that the assessment of expenditures is based on questionable data, leaving readers with little evidence on which to base any valid conclusions.

In his conclusion, Glass says, "The report continues a program of advocacy research that will be cited by supporters of the charter school movement." Despite its many shortcomings, charter school supporters will attempt to utilize the report for an expansion of funding for charter schools.

Read his full review at:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org
Find The Productivity of Charter Schools on the web:
http://www.uaedreform.org/the-productivity-of-public-charter-schools/
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu
- ### -

Why Parent Leaders Should Join Court Intervention in Support of Tenure

Some folks should take some time and school parents and leaders in the history of NYC and schools.  Political cronyism was rampant in NYC during the early part of the last century. This politicization of jobs and schools resulted in chaos each time a new administration came into being.  Teachers were fired wholesale unless they belonged to the right political part AND to the right political club within the party.  We are setting ourselves up for a repeat of the early 20th Century job for votes governance that ended with corruption probes and arrests.... a NYC parent

Why Parent Leaders Should Join Court Intervention in Support of Tenure







If you are interested pl fill out form below and email to aschwartz@afjlaw.com thanks Leonie

Why Parent Leaders Should Join
Court Intervention in Support of Tenure


Over the last few weeks two lawsuits have been filed in New York, one in Staten Island and one in Albany, seeking to have the Courts declare that tenure for teachers is unconstitutional under the New York State Constitution.  According to these lawsuits, the 80-year-old system of giving teachers job security undermines the right of school children to a “sound basic education.”
In New York, tenure is a system whereby a teacher who retains employment after a three year probationary period cannot be fired or disciplined without the presentation of formal charges and the right to a hearing before a neutral hearing officer.
At first blush, parents might look at this controversy and ask, “What does it matter to me?  This is a problem for teachers and their union to deal with.”  But a growing group of parent leaders have decided that the voices of parents need to be heard in this controversy, and they plan to intervene in these lawsuits on the side of teachers and their job security.  Why?
·         Those who bring these suits blame the problems of our school system on “too many bad teachers.”  Parent leaders all know that the problems we deal with in getting our children educated arise principally out of inadequate funding.  A lack of money means overcrowded schools, classes that are too large, a lack of basic resources, a lack of subjects like music and art, and insufficient money to provide adequate instruction to special needs children.  These lawsuits divert attention from this issue, and parent leaders need to keep pointing to funding, not “rotten teachers,” as the root of our problems.
·         Teachers everywhere are under attack, and fewer and fewer of the best college graduates are attracted to teaching.  Tenure means that you can make a career out of teaching and be assured that taking on difficult schools won’t result in unemployment.  We need more teachers, not less.
·         Job security promotes creativity.  Statistics show that the schools with the highest scores on standardized tests are in states with tenure, and that in states where job security doesn’t exist, school performance is lower.
·         A lack of job security will not only undercut creativity, it will undercut whistle blowing by teachers.  Parents need to know that teachers will speak out about poor administration, inadequate resources, and poor curriculum planning.  Teachers who fear that they will lose their jobs will not speak out.
·         Job security also assures that administrators will not act to have friends and cronies at the expense of a dedicated, experienced workforce.  Tenure was put into place in order to eliminate arbitrary behavior in the hiring process.
·         If anything, teacher tenure laws need to be strengthened because the country is bleeding teachers, especially in large urban districts.  Between 40 and 50 percent of teachers nationwide leave the job within five years.  If we make the terms of employment less favorable, more will leave.
                Can we do a better job of training and developing teachers?  Sure.  But removing tenure doesn’t do anything to get us closer to that goal.  In the meantime, teachers’ rights are a convenient scapegoat.
                Teachers are an ally in the fight for better budget priorities.  Parent leaders should stand with them.

FORM

____     I wish to be an intervenor in the lawsuits challenging tenure and I want to be on the side supporting tenure. I understand that this will make me a party to the lawsuits.

____     I agree to retain the public interest law firm Advocates for Justice to represent me in the lawsuits. I understand that this representation is pro bono.


_________________________________________
                         Signature

Name___________________________________

Address__________________________________

City_____________________________________         State________________         Zip__________________

Home phone_____________________________         
Cell phone___________________________________

Email address________________________________

School which my children attend_____________________________________________________________

I am a parent leader. I hold the following positions:_____________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________


Return to Arthur Schwartz, at 212-285-1410 (fax) or email to aschwartz@afjlaw.com

Monday, August 18, 2014

Julie Cavanagh Former Students Head For College - Help Them Out

Dear Friends, Family and Colleagues:

Two of my (in some cases for those receiving this, "our") former students are heading to college next week!  
Sterling Baker and Devine Fludd attended PS 15 and I had the privilege to teach and learn with them for two years (and additionally have remained in each other's lives ever since then... Sterling calls me every year on my birthday and even called me on my wedding day :) ). We will drive up to Herkimer College next Wednesday, almost 18 years to the day that one of my high school teachers drove me to college.  

Sterling and Devine have not only endured but thrived in the face of monumental challenges in their lives and have created this opportunity for themselves with little support and minimal resources.

Sterling will be studying Sports and Recreation Management with the goal of transferring to a physical therapy program in two years.  He will also be playing basketball.

Devine will be studying Communication Arts:  Music Industry Marketing and Management.  Devine is a talented artist and poet and wants to work in the music industry.

We created a Go Fund me page for each of them to help with transitional expenses (they will each be living on their own for the first time and furnishing a dorm room is expensive!), books and supplies, traveling back to Brooklyn when their dorms are closed and other incidental needs that arise in college.  Both men have been working for the last year and will work in college, but will also need additional support.  

Please donate if you can and share where you see fit.  All money raised will be well managed and go directly to their college needs (and I don't mean Friday night pizza!).

http://www.gofundme.com/c2l9xg  Sterling's Go Fund Me page

http://www.gofundme.com/cte3yc  Devine's Go Fund Me page

Thank you!
Warmly,
Julie

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Inside Colocation - Success Academy Charter Misuse of Space Exposed

...some of Success’ classrooms have remained empty for entire years, not a single classroom in the building’s public schools has been “underutilized” in the eleven years I’ve been in this building. .. Inside Colocation blog
This teacher blogs sporadically but when he/she does it is worth reminding everyone of the perfidy of the Eva Moskowitz's operation. Here are the June and August posts. Note the maps and the fragmentation of the public schools in order to keep Eva's space intact - and "clean" from contamination by public school teachers and students. What is the future of this school building looking ahead? Total occupation by Success, with the public schools moved or eliminated.

Inside Colocation

The public school where I've been teaching for over ten years has been "colocated" by a Success Academy charter school. Most people don't know what a colocation looks like, or how it impacts the existing school community. I've been maintaining this blog since Success first moved in to document the process. 

Entering the third year of co-location, you can see that International has lost space and is spread widely throughout the building, evidencing many grueling classroom moves. Global has also lost considerable space, while Success now occupies space on two floors. While some of Success’ classrooms have remained empty for entire years, not a single classroom in the building’s public schools has been “underutilized” in the eleven years I’ve been in this building.
Entering the third year of co-location, you can see that International has lost space and is spread widely throughout the building, evidencing many grueling classroom moves. Global has also lost considerable space, while Success now occupies space on two floors. While some of Success’ classrooms have remained empty for entire years, not a single classroom in the building’s public schools has been “underutilized” in the eleven years I’ve been in this building.
As of Thursday, the final day of the school year, our school lost five more classrooms to the charter school, despite our ever-increasing enrollment of students. Teachers packed up their classrooms in boxes. They have fingers crossed that everything makes it to their new rooms ok, as many supplies were lost on the previous move. Renovations were scheduled to begin first thing Friday morning, and I’m sure as of this moment, they are already well underway. These rooms, which have served our school for over a decade, will be utterly transformed by September, using a combination of taxpayer and corporate funds. As of Thursday, the final day of the school year, our school lost five more classrooms to the charter school, despite our ever-increasing enrollment of students. Teachers packed up their classrooms in boxes. They have fingers crossed that everything makes it to their new rooms ok, as many supplies were lost on the previous move. Renovations were scheduled to begin first thing Friday morning, and I’m sure as of this moment, they are already well underway. These rooms, which have served our school for over a decade, will be utterly transformed by September, using a combination of taxpayer and corporate funds. As of Thursday, the final day of the school year, our school lost five more classrooms to the charter school, despite our ever-increasing enrollment of students. Teachers packed up their classrooms in boxes. They have fingers crossed that everything makes it to their new rooms ok, as many supplies were lost on the previous move. Renovations were scheduled to begin first thing Friday morning, and I’m sure as of this moment, they are already well underway. These rooms, which have served our school for over a decade, will be utterly transformed by September, using a combination of taxpayer and corporate funds.

As of Thursday, the final day of the school year, our school lost five more classrooms to the charter school, despite our ever-increasing enrollment of students. Teachers packed up their classrooms in boxes. They have fingers crossed that everything makes it to their new rooms ok, as many supplies were lost on the previous move. Renovations were scheduled to begin first thing Friday morning, and I’m sure as of this moment, they are already well underway. These rooms, which have served our school for over a decade, will be utterly transformed by September, using a combination of taxpayer and corporate funds.

Danny Dromm, NYC City Council and Former Teacher, Takes a Stand Against Charter Expansion

"We are being oversaturated with charter schools," said Tesa Wilson, president Community Education Council in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "It's tax dollars being poured into a black hole with no accountibility."
City Council Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), who heads the city Education Committee, said the city has no control over the charter schools even though they are given $13,000 per student. An investigation into harsh discipline, rigged admissions and other allegations needs to be completed, reads a letter the committee will send to the state... NYDN
When I went out for dinner with Michael Fiorillo and Patrick Walsh the other night after the MORE "Lessons of Chicago" event, we ran into one of the few politicians we trust, Danny Drumm - Patrick made sure to thank him for his work. I was reminded I had this DN piece to report on from a few weeks ago. With Moskowitz asking for 14 more schools to build her political machine, this is an important initiative. The UFT is silent but for all we know they are working behind the scenes so as not to appear to be spearheading this, though that strategy is a joke, given that any words of criticism towards charters is seen as union inspired. Even people like me have been lumped in. So why not just come out there firing and use your resources to support Drumm? We know that we are heading for a war over lifting the state charter cap and we know where Cuomo will stand.

Now we know SUNY is a scumbag operation and will approve any charter that comes across the table, so this letter by 10 NYC Council members will go ignored. But imagine of there was an organization capable of organizing thousands of people to march on SUNY - after all there are so many schools inundated with charters, I think it possible. The UFT has its fingers in just about every community organization out there and they won't make a move without them.

(And let me drop this in, given the lessons of Chicago. That city has independent community groups not connected to the union for decades. So when we hear that part of CORE's success in organizing its run to take over the union was due to social justice community work, we do not face that comparable situation here in NYC.)

City Council committee puts the brakes on charter school expansion due to lack of oversight

A City Council committee has come out swinging against a slew of city charter schools set to open in 2015 and beyond, saying they are poorly regulated and their expansion should be halted.

Ten City Council members who make up the Education Committee signed a letter urging the State University of New York to stop the planned schools.
“We oppose any further expansion of charter schools,” reads the letter that will be sent Thursday to SUNY. “Hold off on authorizing new charter schools until you address the lack of oversight and accountability.”

Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools are not managed by the city, but instead must seek permission to open from SUNY or the state Board of Regents.
Education Committee Chairman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) said the city has no control over charter schools, even though the city must pay them more than $13,000 for each student they enroll.

“The city has to pay for privately run, unaccountable charter schools,” said Dromm.

Dromm and the others who signed the letter ask SUNY officials to investigate harsh discipline, teacher and student attrition, rigged admissions and other allegations.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

UFT Endorses Espaillat Over Robert Jackson

That chickenshit union is SICK... An activist
Has there been any politician more supportive of teachers and parents than Robert Jackson?

Here is one view of a parent/activist.
After Cuomo endorsed Espaillat, so did the UFT, which probably also played a large role in getting the Working Families Party to endorse Cuomo.

That chickenshit union is SICK.

They are destroying parent support for it on issues of teacher evaluation and tenure, as parents can rightly say that the union cares more about its members wages than about issues of direct concern to parents such as class size and availability of resources, which were the centerpieces of the Campaign For Fiscal Equity initiated 20 year ago by Robert Jackson, who as a State Senator would be an impediment to the Education Deform movement spearheaded by Cuomo, and supported by Espaillat.

Parents and Educators Reject the Tests, the Scores and Corporate Agenda of NYSED & Pearson

Fred Smith, a test specialist formerly with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) stated, “The State Education Department took a half-step by releasing 50 percent of the English and math questions from the April 2014 exams. It was a half-step not just because it falls halfway short of full disclosure, but also because SED fails to provide data at its disposal that would enable objective evaluation of the questions, each of which is a brick in the wall of the testing program.”   
Where is our union - UFT/NYSUT/AFT? Just the other day, NYSUT Puppet President Karen Magee led a phony tearing up the Pearson contract event. I'll let Arthur over at NYC Educator make the case: NYSUT Takes a Stand. Or Is it a Sit?



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  August 14, 2014
More information contact:
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) www.nysape.org
Parents and Educators Reject the Tests, the Scores and Corporate Agenda of NYSED & Pearson
Today Commissioner John King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch released the test scores of the state exams in 3-8th grades, showing that, more than 68% of the state’s students were judged not proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and more than 64% not proficient in Math.  The overall results were largely flat with little to no change year over year with only small gains and drops for specific demographic groups. 

Members of the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator advocacy groups, challenge the quality of the tests, the accuracy of the scores, and the motives of those who have manufactured these results.  This past spring, NYSAPE estimated that at least 44,000 students had opted out of the state exams; today the Commissioner admitted that the number was as large as 60,000 compared to 10,000 in 2013.
As the growing problems with New York's excessive and speculative testing reforms are exposed, parents across the state are outraged and calling for an overhaul at the state education department.
Lisa Rudley, Westchester county public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, “Though Commissioner John King assured us that the new Common Core state tests would be a much better reflection of the skills students will need for ‘college and career’ success with the release of 50% of the questions last week, we learned what educators were forbidden by law from telling us:  these were flawed tests, riddled with vague questions, inappropriate reading passages and multiple product placements. In its new Pearson contract signed amidst a financial crisis, NYSED doubled annual spending on testing and even worse, eliminated the transparency of the previous McGraw-Hill contract.  Where is the management from NYSED and the oversight from the Board of Regents?"
Dr. Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School on Long Island said, "Considering the more than $28 million taxpayer investment in curriculum modules, this paltry increase in scores is one more indication of the ineffectiveness of State Education Department's reforms, and the inappropriateness of the Common Core tests. Parents should take heart in knowing that the ‘college readiness‘ proficiency scores have no connection with reality. My high school and many other well-resourced high schools in NY have proven records of preparing students for college success that are no way connected to the state's newest measure of proficiency."

Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE said, "If the released questions are this bad, you have to wonder how much worse the other half were.  I have no confidence in the results released today. Parents now demand new leadership for a Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education who repeatedly fail to adequately respond to their legitimate concerns.”
“Many of the multiple choice questions required up to five steps and compelled 8 year olds to flip back forth between numbered paragraphs. The question becomes more of a measure of attention, memory and test taking skills rather than their deep understanding of a text. The commissioner has stated that education should not be about test prep, but these tricky assessments all but ensure that test prep will continue -- to the detriment of real learning,” said Bianca Tanis, an Ulster County public school parent and special education teacher.

Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Opt Out said, “This past spring, 55,000 to 60,000 New York State students were spared from yet another year of test scores that were designed to show a large majority of failures. The number of opt outs will steadily grow until NYSED takes the concerns of parents seriously and makes the necessary changes to our children's excessive high stakes testing regimen. High stakes testing and the Regents Agenda have hijacked our classrooms, and every day more parents become aware of how they too must protect their children from these harmful policies.”
Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent and educator notes, "Until the NYSED acknowledges that these developmentally inappropriate exams take time away from instruction, cost taxpayers, and set kids up to fail -- in an attempt to perpetuate the false narrative of Governor Cuomo’s ‘death penalty’ for schools -- parents will continue to refuse to allow their children to participate in these state tests.”

“The test content was not sufficiently disclosed and there was no quality assurance or mechanism for parents or educators to obtain valuable feedback. The bottom line is that students are getting hurt, money is being wasted and precious time is being spent on high stakes testing at the expense of more meaningful instruction. The system surrounding the NYS testing program is dysfunctional to say the least,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

Fred Smith, a test specialist formerly with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) stated, “The State Education Department took a half-step by releasing 50 percent of the English and math questions from the April 2014 exams. It was a half-step not just because it falls halfway short of full disclosure, but also because SED fails to provide data at its disposal that would enable objective evaluation of the questions, each of which is a brick in the wall of the testing program.”     

“Like many other parents, I see how flawed the tests are as a measure of learning, and fear for all those millions of students who are told, unjustly, and at an early age, they aren’t ‘college and career ready’. These tests which ask our children to prove the existence of Big Foot and expose them to numerous and inappropriate product placements are the furthest from rigor one could imagine.  I question the motives of the bureaucrats and the testing companies who are forcing these inappropriate exams onto our children – to try to prove to the public that our schools and children are failing, so they can better pursue their privatization agenda and the outsourcing of education into corporate hands,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters.
###

Friday, August 15, 2014

#AFT14 Video - Sarah Chambers and The Speech that Triggered Mulgrew "Punch in Face" Comments

Common Core Debate - Sarah Chambers, Michelle Gunderson vs Michael Mulgrew - Note how Mulgrew was set up at the mic to follow Sarah Chamber's speech. Not a coincidence. Another UFT leader, Leroy Barr (not included in this video) was set up at the mic following Mulgrew - also not a coincidence. Unity Caucus uses placeholders at strategic mics as a way to control the debate.



The battle between NYC and Chicago: Providing context for the common core debate at the AFT14 convention

The Chicago Teachers Union, (CTU), suffering almost 2 decades of ed deform based on testing regimens and corporate takeovers of education, has become one of the most militant voices in opposition. They view the common core standards as another plank in this takeover.

The New York City union, the UFT, has collaborated on many of the issues the CTU has opposed, including the common core. The UFT supports the CC but complains it was implemented poorly. They call for support (resolution 2) but with what they term "accountability."

UFT President Michael Mulgrew's speech during the debate has received wide notice for its "punch in the face" comment. Immediately preceding his speech, CTU's Sarah Chambers made a strong speech opposing the CC, pointing to the damage the rigid testing regimen that goes with it has done to the children of Chicago.

Following Mulgrew's response, I added CTU's Michelle Gunderson's words?

Norm Scott

Julie Cavanagh on Common Core in Daily News, Major Contrast to Mulgrew

Julie Cavanagh won't punch you in the face if you support common core as she makes a clear and concise statement in her article in the DN that is way more powerful than what we hear coming out of our union leaders.

As Mulgrew's opponent in 2013 election she is quite a contrast to Mulgrew as she makes similar points Chicago teachers made at the AFT convention in that debate on the floor and in committee where Unity slugs used thug tactics.
You heard none of Julie's points made at the convention by even one of the 800 Unity Caucus loyalty-oath pledged delegates who were elected in that winner take all election, thus disenfranchising the thousands of teachers who agree with Julie. The use of the Unity horde to distort and tilt and control the common core debate on the city, state and national levels is what has allowed the ed deform movement to gain such a strong foothold. Leo Casey's attempt to brand CC opponents as tea party influenced is one example (video). Leo can be assured that Julie is no tea party advocate, as he full well knows since he knows Julie.

That is why I put time into building MORE in the belly of the UFT/Unity Caucus beast. Because nothing will change with the unions unless we make those changes here in NYC. And Ed Deform cannot be defeated until the teacher unions become more Chicago-like -- willing to spit in the face of the deformers and use their resources in organizing opposition. Having powerhouses like Julie Cavanagh committed to this goal makes the work

Cavanagh: Common Core testing creates a narrative of failure

Last year, our students were assessed for the first time according to the new standards. State Education Department officials predicted a steep drop, and scores plummeted. This year, small gains were predicted, and that’s what happened, to the astonishment of no one.

SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, August 15, 2014, 1:32 AM
Julie Cavanagh (center) is a special education teacher and chapter leader at Public School 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Siegel.Jefferson Julie Cavanagh (center) is a special education teacher and chapter leader at Public School 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Four years ago, a group tied to testing and publishing companies, and bankrolled with Bill and Melinda Gates’ money, brought us the Common Core Learning Standards.
Cash-strapped states that wanted to win federal Race to the Top dollars had to adopt the standards, and more than 40 states, including New York, did so.
Last year, our students were assessed for the first time according to the new standards. State Education Department officials predicted a steep drop, and scores plummeted. This year, small gains were predicted, and that’s what happened, to the astonishment of no one.
Predictions are easy to make when you define what constitutes proficiency.
There will be an attempt from all factions to spin the results: The state will say the reform agenda is working, the city will argue the scores show the need for pre-K, and charter schools will claim they show their importance as high-quality alternatives.
Let’s get off the hamster wheel.
The truth is, these tests were designed to create a narrative of failure, and the trends are not so different from those we saw on the old tests: we are failing our children with special needs, our English language learners, our children who live in poverty, and a disproportionate number of black and Latino pupils. Siegel.Jefferson 
The truth is, these tests were designed to create a narrative of failure, and the trends are not so different from those we saw on the old tests: we are failing our children with special needs, our English language learners, our children who live in poverty, and a disproportionate number of black and Latino pupils.
It is no surprise that the results mirror the struggles and deep flaws in our society. Of course, the goal was never to actually fix our schools — there are no profits in doing that. There are no profits in providing small class sizes, experienced educators and services like counseling, tutoring and family support — proven reforms that would benefit all students.
Instead, the focus is on unproven standards and the tests that supposedly measure our student’s competency — written by the very people who profit from their use.

Julie Cavanagh is a special education teacher and chapter leader at Public School 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn .

Michelle Rhee Joins Scotts Miracle-Gro, Adding More Manure to the Pile - Teachers Call for Boycott

I've had to inform my wife that she will have to find other ways next year to fertilize her veggie patch, most likely with night soil.
“I’ve always wanted to switch to natural fertilizer – so long Miracle-Gro,” an Indiana teachers union president wrote. A math teacher in Illinois said he’s disappointed that he doesn’t buy Scotts products, “Because it means my boycott will not cost them money.” “No more miracle grow for me! Teachers boycott Miracle Grow!!” wrote a music teacher in Georgia.
Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. after the company appointed school-reformer Michelle Rhee to its board, but Scotts is standing behind its new director.
After the Marysville-based company appointed the former head of Washington, D.C., schools this week, teachers from across the country have left comments on the story pledging not to buy Scotts’ lawn-and-garden products....
Rhee's role will be to duct tape all products that are returned.
It’s important to note that no teachers unions have said they’ll boycott Scotts.
I'd like to see our union call for boycotts when top-level ed deformer slimebags are involved.

Full story here. Thanks to Jeff Kaufman for posting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

NYSUT Double Switch Game Leads One Parent to State the proverbial WTF?

They did a big press op shredding the Pearson exams last week and today they say "The vast majority of questions do appear to be age- and developmentally appropriate."... NYC Parent.
Oh, you mean Karen Magee and cohorts did one thing on one day and the opposite on the next? I'm shocked, just shocked.

Oh, NYSUT, NYSUT Revivalists,
Is there no end to your perfidy?
(See Eterno at ICE: STATE UNION WON'T OPPOSE CUOMO).

Teacher Diversity Petition

MORE is helping sponsor this action of the work of the Teacher Diversity Committee, an independent group of teachers affiliated with MORE.

Anyone who has been around for a while knows that Sean Ahern (who was one of the founders - co-conspirators) of ICE) has been relentless in his pursuit of this issue over the past decade. I think we all learned a lesson when Sean took things to a new level by calling meetings around the issue and reaching out to all corners of the education landscape. Bit by bit the committee has attracted a diverse group of people who have been working with Sean. Below are some of the fruits of their labors. Please sign.

Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City

August 14, 2014 — Leave a comment
To be delivered to Carmen Fariña and The New York City Panel for Educational Policy

Since the 2001-2002 academic year, there has been a 57.4% decrease in the number of Black teachers hired by the New York City Department of Education, and a 22.9% increase for white teachers hired during this same period of time. We ask Chancellor Fariña and the Panel for Education Policy to:
• Make a policy statement that acknowledges the value of teacher diversity and the lack of such diversity in New York City public schools.
• Centrally monitor the racial demographic of hiring and firing in NYC public and charter schools. In public school data reports include the racial profile for the teachers and administrators in each school as is currently done for the students.
• Raise the percentage of Black and Latino teachers hired in the system overall, with a special focus on raising the percentage of male teachers in those groups.
• Raise the percentage of persons of color in the NYC Teaching Fellows program to more closely match the NYC student body demographic. Make public the number and racial demographic of NYC Teaching Fellows hired.
• Settle Gulino vs. Board of Education, in which a recent court ruling found that the NY State LAST certification exam was not validated yet was used in 2002 to dismiss thousands of NYC teachers who were disproportionately Black and Latino.
• Invest in a clear and distinct paraprofessional-to-teacher career path that offers qualified applicants provisional teaching licenses while completing graduate degree requirements and subsidizes both undergraduate and graduate tuition at CUNY and SUNY

PETITION BACKGROUND

In a school system that is 67.5% Black and Latino (as of 2012 – 13), the 34% combined percentage of Black and Latino teachers in the system is disappointing at best.
This lack of diversity reinforces already existing practices of segregation and leaves out diverse cultural perspectives that inform curriculum, pedagogy and practice. It also shortchanges our students by replicating and reinforcing false societal structures that devalue the contribution and perspectives of non-dominant racial and cultural groups.
 
 

When Mulgrew Won't Punch Someone in the Face: Breaking NYS Charter School Cap Will Doom Public School System and Unions

Will the UFT/NYSUT leadership oppose this with every bone in their body - witness the silence over the Cuomo charter giveaway law last spring. But the UFT/NYSUT leaders will challenge those who oppose the common core.

Leonie Haimson comments:
If the de Blasio administration doesn’t oppose this with every bone in their bodies we are doomed.

Moskowitz] is sitting on a goldmine, and would make a great advocate to make the case for lifting the cap," said Rees, whose group recently appointed Moskowitz to its "charter hall of fame." A spokeswoman for Moskowitz declined to comment.
Devora Kaye, a Department of Education spokeswoman, said "as we work to support all children and educators, we look forward to collaborating with all community stakeholders." ... Leonie Haimson


Also available on Norms Notes. 

Paralysis

I'm having a very interesting problem. I, as everyone else, am under a bombardment of heavy exploding shells loaded not with shrapnel, but with information. Information which explodes in my mind, branching off into threads of thought processes, any of which could lead to a blog. So many threads that I can't make decisions on what to write about. Thus, paralysis.

I always heard that as you get older, you lose your ability to concentrate - to focus - a shorter attention span - increasing attention deficit disorder.

Well, Hello aging.

I write great blogs - in my head while sitting on my porch or on the subway - most forgotten by the time I force myself to sit down at the computer.

At yesterday's MORE event on the lessons of Chicago, there were so many threads of interest, I started threads of 20 blogs in my head - mostly forgotten by now, especially after a great post-meeting dinner in Chinatown with Michael Fiorillo and Patrick Walsh.

I begin writing multiple threads - and as I read the wonderful stuff from fellow bloggers, different strands open up and I save a partially written blog as a draft. An hour later something else comes up and I begin another round of partially written blogs. Right now I have a 1000 drafts. I need to locate a delete button.

My solution is to avoid - head out to the porch and write another great blog post - in my mind.

I would do a blog post now but I'm off to a more pleasurable experience - two and a half hours of dental work on my root canal.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mel Levy

I just wanted to inform you Mel Levy head of TA Engineers union died this week.  He is a huge loss for all unions because he had a voice and was fearless.  It would be nice if the UFT would acknowledge him for all he has done for the city.  
Barbra Nahoum

The Case for Tenure: South Bronx School Tells His Story

There are so many personal stories out there about teachers under assault, while principals get off scot free no matter what they do. Peter Zucker tells his story.
http://www.southbronxschool.com/2014/08/my-own-story-why-teachers-so.html

One of the Campbell Brown parents has a kid at PS 106 in Rockaway where the principal, Marcella Sills, was exposed on many grounds and is not in the rubber room (no time now - google her). Campbell Brown and that parent blame the tenured teacher. "nuff said.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Breaking: NY State Ed Department Releases 2014 Test Results (Fred Smith Parody)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York State Education Department Releases April 2014 Test Results:

Students Statewide Make Progress Meeting Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS)

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and State Education Commissioner John King, Jr. announced gains in English and math this year.

They made the announcement outside Kipp Tech Valley Charter School in Albany.  Consistent with the aims of Common Core, the school web site says Kipp “opened its doors with the promise that hard work would lead to academic success and the road to college.”

Core-aligned assessments were initiated in 2013.  The 2014 tests provide the first chance to weigh student performance against the Common Core baseline established in 2013.  The percentage deemed proficient this spring was higher in English and math for grades 3-8 combined.

The CCLS are integral to the Regents Reform Agenda to develop the critical thinking and analytic skills of students and deeper understanding of math.  More rigorous tests identify which students are ready for college and careers and which will need academic help to succeed after high school.

Tisch said, "These results vindicate New York’s efforts to aggressively implement higher standards, more accurate assessments, a more content rich curriculum and a teacher evaluation system to support teaching excellence."  She noted that teachers, principals and superintendents worked extraordinarily hard to launch the Common Core.

King said, “This work for college- and career-readiness, citizenship-readiness, helping students be prepared when they get to college, so they don't end up in remedial courses—this is ultimately a patriotic endeavor.” 

In a departure from past practice, the Department is not providing information on overall changes in percentages or scale score comparisons with previous results.  Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner explained that the decision was made because of the upset caused last year by releasing results that appeared to show a large decline in performance.  Unfortunately, the public took this negative progress to mean that schools were failing, although students faced very demanding assessments.

As the core-aligned exams were being rolled out, the Chancellor and Commissioner were reassured by a panel of privately-funded Regents Research Fellows and outside testing experts that the instruments were properly developed and valid.

The 2014 data show gains by minorities, English Language Learners, students with disabilities and districts in all need/resource categories.  Each Big 5 city also improved, as New York City outpaced the others.

Wagner added several points about the 2013 and 2014 exams:

·   Data processing was completed in June, enabling SED to analyze and release the results in 27% fewer days this year.
·   The 2013 Technical Report has just been posted.  It will allow researchers to study the quality of last year’s foundational Core exams.  While this is more than a year after the test was given, SED wanted the information to be accurate and provide a “transparent baseline.”
·   A year ago, to calm parents who felt the tests were too long, he did an item analysis concluding that students had enough time to finish the exams. Parts of it will appear in the 2013 Report
·   Nevertheless, the 2014 tests were shortened. This concession is contrary to SED belief that having more items lets a wider range of performance indicators be tested at varying degrees of difficulty.
·   Revealing all items would expose embedded field test items, precluding their use on future exams. But SED has posted more items online this year despite concern that disclosure encourages too much time to be spent on test preparation.
·   While some objections to giving students stand-alone field tests in June may have merit, this approach is a necessary, if less than ideal, complement to embedding items.
·   Kentucky, the first state to administer core-aligned testing in 2011, saw a 2% rise in reading and math proficiency the next year.

The Commissioner acknowledged how perplexed he and the Chancellor are, knowing that after No Child Left Behind, the “tragic achievement gap” persists.

King said we are still in a transitional mode and do not know the precise course testing will take over the next few years as our standards evolve into multi-state standards.  There will be continuity, however, because Pearson will remain the test developer after its five-year contract expires in 2015.

In reflecting on the work being done here, Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Terry Holliday said, “New York has shown great leadership in raising the bar on student outcomes to the level of college- and career-readiness.”

The Chancellor reminded New Yorkers that “since the idea of the Common Core began to take hold in 2010, there have been signs of positive movement—evidence that pursuing the Core was wise—in spite of a few growing pains.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

union predicts "slight rise" in test scores this year



see also Fred Smith on unusually high no. of “clunkers” on 2013 exams

http://www.citylimits.org/conversations/265/testing-and-transparency
Reasons behind Fred Smith parody - see below the break