It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Which figure triggers a NYC primary run-off?

No telling which figure triggers a run-off primary for the Democratic candidates.

No telling from wikipedia, New York City official election office sites or any other sites, as to which figure will trigger a run-off.

Here is an August 26, 2009 Quinnipiac University report on polls as to who is ahead in the city-wide races (mayor, public advocate and comptroller). The latter two races are for open seats.

NYC comptroller candidates' debate, summarized

Crain's "New York Business" reported July 22, 2009 on a debate of the New York City comptroller candidates.

City councilors Melinda Katz and John Liu favored raising taxes on the wealthy to bolster the city's revenue. Liu and councilor David Weprin agreed with current comptroller William Thompson's call for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fire Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein.

More specifics on Klein and the city Department of Education, direct from the Crains article:
Mr. Liu said he supports an assembly measure that would extend mayoral control, but that would make the DOE subject to examination by the comptroller.

“It’s the largest agency in the city and it’s ridiculous that the comptroller can’t touch it,” he said.

Mr. Weprin agreed, saying the comptroller’s office should have a right to audit the outside contracting budget of the DOE, which he said totals $2 billion a year.

Ms. Katz would not say whether she thought Mr. Klein should be fired and Mr. Yassky said he would not fire Mr. Klein.

For other details, see this link on the debate.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Brooklyn Paper story on comptroller candidates' debate

"Watch our comptroller debate now!"
By Jeremy Walsh, August 25, 2009, "The Brooklyn Paper"

Who should be our next comptroller? Decide for yourself by watching our exclusive debate featuring all four hopefuls.

Last week, Councilmembers Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Weprin, all of Queens, and Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), were grilled by reporters from Community Newspaper Group, the parent company of The Brooklyn Paper, in a debate held in conjunction with Brooklyn Independent Television on the BCAT TV Network.

Though it aired last week, you can watch it right now by clicking the screen above.

It’s certainly worth your while. The debate was fast-paced, and, while mostly genial, there was a little back-and-forth between Weprin and Yassky.

All four candidates focused their attention on examining the books of the Department of Education — a new oversight responsibility given to the comptroller when the state legislature reauthorized mayoral control of schools earlier this month.

And all four said they favor collective bargaining with unions over reducing pension benefits for new employees in order to rein in the budget.

The candidates differed on their reactions to Mayor Bloomberg’s ongoing program offering one-way tickets for the homeless to cities where family or friends were willing to take them in.

“Isn’t the question why we have so many homeless people in the city of New York?” Katz said, noting the city needed a comprehensive plan to create more jobs and a dedicated program to keep people facing foreclosure in their homes.

Liu opposed the plan, calling it “ill-conceived” and warning there was no clear way to measure its success.

“I’m willing to bet that, a year from now, this program will be discontinued,” he said.

Weprin was ambivalent.

“It’s something we should be looking at, but I’m not committed to it,” he said. “It’s not something I would make a priority.”

Yassky was more enthusiastic.

“It may well be cost-effective,” he said. “We have a large homeless population. It’s our job to get them settled.”

The candidates also differed on how to reform the city’s discretionary funding process. Three members urged more transparency in the dispensation of member items, while Yassky called for the practice to be abolished.

The candidates agreed that if no-bid contracts were abolished in discretionary spending, a cost threshold should be set, below which community groups like Little League clubs could still receive annual funding without competing in a public request for proposals.

Katz asked Liu how he felt about federal stimulus money being used by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for pay raises.

“The flow of these funds, it should not be used to plug the deficit,” he said.

Weprin challenged Yassky’s commitment to the office, pointing out the councilman’s previous bids for Brooklyn district attorney and Congress.

“How do we know you’re not going to change your mind?” Weprin said.

Yassky touted his accomplishments in the Council, including helping file a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for the Greenpoint oil spill and supporting tenants’ rights.

“I’m running with a record that tells New Yorkers that I will use every tool in the comptroller’s office,” he said.

Other debates in the Community Newspaper Group/Brooklyn Independent Television series are archived at

©2009 The Brooklyn Paper

Racial disparity, widening, in NYC SAT scores

Here's serious analysis, in the blog media, at GothamSchools:

SAT Scores in New York City: A Large and Unrelenting Gap

by Aaron Pallas,, August 26, 2009

Yesterday, the College Board released its annual report on the SAT, and New York City was quick to follow suit with data on the performance of NYC high school students on the SAT. Citywide average scores fell a few points, at the same time that the numbers of Black and Hispanic students taking the SAT increased. Writing in the Daily News, Rachel Monahan summarized the DOE spin, courtesy of DOE spokesman Andy Jacob: (a) More Black and Hispanic students took the SAT, and fewer white students did; (b) the increasing numbers of SAT-takers are less likely to be high performers than SAT-takers in the past; (c) therefore, let’s focus on the increased representativeness of the test-taking group, and ignore the fact that scores fell among Blacks and Hispanics, and that the achievement gap is still huge.

I don’t think that we should pay too much attention to single-year changes in test scores of any kind, and especially the SAT, which commenter CarolineSF points out are taken by a self-selected group of high school students. But this year’s snapshot nevertheless reveals some hard truths about the performance of New York City’s high school students.

Let’s address the representativeness issue first. Is there evidence that the rising numbers of Black and Hispanic students taking the SAT reflects a dramatic change in the kinds of students who are taking the SAT? Can we explain the falling average Black and Hispanic SAT scores as reflecting a new group of low-performing NYC high school students striving to get into college?

I compared the number of Black, Hispanic, white and Asian students who took the SAT in 2008 to the number of 2008 high school graduates, as calculated in the New York State graduation rate for the 2004 NYC 9th-grade cohort. The 10,196 Black SAT-takers in 2008 represented 77% of the number of Black high school graduates in the 2004 9th-grade cohort. The similar number of Hispanic test-takers in 2008 represented 79% of Hispanic high school graduates in that cohort. (The percentages for white and Asian students were 78% and 93%, respectively.)

What this implies is that, as of 2008, it was already the case that the vast majority of Black and Hispanic students New York City on track to graduate from high school were taking the SAT. And these percentages likely increased in 2009. Nationally, about two-thirds of SAT-takers are high school seniors, and the New York City data, as I understand them, are for all SAT-takers, not just seniors. Nevertheless, the implication is that most college-eligible minority students in New York City are already taking the SAT. For this reason, it’s hard to make the argument that a new influx of low-performing Black and Hispanic youth accounts for the declines in SAT scores among Black and Hispanic youth in NYC and for NYC overall.

Two other key points: For each of the four major racial/ethnic groups, New York City students perform more poorly on the SAT than do students across the nation. The first figure below shows that, on all three components of the SAT—critical reading, mathematics and writing—Asian, Black, Hispanic and white youth in New York City score lower than their counterparts elsewhere. (The scale of the bars is standard deviation units, but the bars are also labeled with the number of points separating NYC from the nation overall.) The gaps are smallest for white and Black students, and somewhat larger for Hispanic and Asian students. Hispanic youth in New York City score about .4 standard deviations below Hispanics across the country, or about 45 points lower on each of the three sections of the SAT. Asian students in NYC score about 50 points lower on the critical reading and writing sections than Asian students across the country, and about 25 points lower in math.


The New York Daily News' story on the racial gap in SAT scores in New York Schools under Mayor Bloomberg.

"More minorities take the SAT college entrance exam, but achievement gap doesn't close, scores down"

By Rachel Monahan, August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Confirmed public officials to appear at Coalition for Public Education founding convention, Sat., 8/29

9 public officials or candidates have been confirmed for the founding convention of
the Coalition for Public Eduation, August 29, 2009, 12 PM to 5 PM,
at DC 37 Headquarters. DC 37 is located at 125 Barclay Street in lower Manhattan, between the West Side Highway and Church Street. (A,C,E Chambers Street/WTC; R City Hall; 2,3 Park Place). See one of my August 26 posts earlier on my blog, for the flyer for the event, it also discusses the mission of the conference.

The confirmed political figures are:

State Senator Eric Adams
State Senator Bill Perkins
City Councilor Charles Barron
City Councilor Robert Jackson
NYS Assemblywoman Inez Barron
NYS Assemblyman Nelson Castro
NYS Assemblyman Alan Maisel
NYC Mayoral Candidate and City Councilor Tony Avella
NYC Candidate for Public Advocate Norman Siegel
and also:
TV producer Camille Yarbrough
WBAI Radio Personality Basir Mchawi

2009 election dates; polling site locator

Here is your New York City polling site locator.

or Call the Voter Phone Bank at 1.866.VOTE.NYC

VOTE!!: There are important competitive elections on the primary date: Sept. 15, for mayor, comptroller, public advocate.

4 min VIDEO: Tony Avella on charter schools, Joel Klein, and teaching to the test

Tony Avella on charter schools, Joel Klein, and teaching to the test

Posted using ShareThis

Tony Avella and William Thompson assail Michael Bloomberg's record -Avella winning, I believe

City Councilor Tony Avella (19th CD, Whitestone/Bayside) and Comptroller William Thompson debated Wednesday night, in a debate of contenders for the Democratic nomination for mayor this November,
with the former winning, I believe.
Avella directly assailed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for kowtowing to run-away development. He also faulted fellow city councilors for voting themselves pay raises and for overturning the mayoral term-limits law.
Similarly, Avella is distinguished from Bloomberg and Thompson by being less connected with the real estate and finance interests in the city.
“I made a decision early on in this campaign that if we were going to win, it was going to be for the right reasons. I’m not selling my soul to raise huge amounts of money. I’m not dialing for dollars, which every campaign consultant tells you you have to do. I’m not taking money from the big real estate industry firms, like my opponent is. And I gotta tell you, what I just heard, I can’t believe what I just heard, that he's got a real, that he's raising, my opponent is raising money on a real grassroots effort. If that were true, why did he only just now qualify for matching funds? The truth is, my opponent is getting huge amounts of money from Wall Street, from the money managers of the pensions he supervises, from the real estate developers. His is not a real grassroots campaign. Yes, I haven't raised the amount of money that he has. ... The fact that he said he's got a grassroots campaign, I'm absolutely shocked that he actually said that."

Here is a favorably assessment of Avella's views, at Daily Kos:
In the article about Avella, the Mayoral candidate called the current Mayor: "one of the biggest threats to democracy that this city, and perhaps this country, has ever faced". By that he meant the amount of money the Mayor is capable of spending, not just on his own campaign, but on the campaigns of New York State Senators or Assemblypersons who support his views in return for his support. The Sponsor of the Bill that the State Senate passed yesterday, re-affirming Mayoral control of schools, had his campaign financed largely by contributions from Bloomberg. Avella made this statement at a fund raiser for him in the East Village. I know this, because I attended it. As I left, I said hello to the candidate. I mentioned the overdevelopment that, in spite of the financial slow down, is still rampant in the city, and particularly that is happening in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side. To my surprise, rather than just agreeing with me, Avella went into thr subject further, telling me that Bloomberg wants to eliminate the small amount of power to put some reasonable limits on these developments that the Community Boards still maintain. He also told me that one of the reasons Bloomberg wants to cut the funds to the Public Advocate's Office is to have greater control over land use. He might have elaborated further, but others were waiting to say hello, however in the short time I spoke with him, I was impressed by his ability to discuss this issue in detail. I left the benefit and walked out into the night air, hoping that Avella could get his message out in the next six weeks, the six weeks that will lead up to the Democratic Primary in which he faces William Thompson (September 15).

A poster, JW, at Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), identified Avella and the "leading man" for mayor:
Avella as "leading" man
After Tony Avella's statements at the Working Families Party forum a couple of weeks ago, progressive educators seem to be backing his run for mayor.


You can't get much clearer than that.

Avella will first have to topple Bill Thompson in the Democratic primary, and that will take some doing. In the meantime, Thompson's been putting on some new coats. He certainly wasn't asking to fire Joel Klein before Avella said it at the WFP forum.

The Avella campaign is letting people know that their man was on NY1 bashing the rubber rooms, no-bid contracts, and the atmosphere of intimidation at the DoE. Video will be available online tomorrow.
{{Correction: Here is video on Avella on education in New York.}}

They've also put a new page on Facebook: Educators for Avella.

Tony Avella is forging the correct agenda on education.

Bill Thompson is real "Old School" when it comes to teaching kids, and he's now just playing catch up.

Click Here for Comptroller Thompson's open letter opposing the policy.

Click Here for Councilor Avella's open letter opposing the policy.

Admittedly, Thompson is comfortably ahead, with the Working Families Party endorsement already. He has also received the endorsement of Queens Congressman Antony Weiner, who dropped out of the race in May. (Avella received the endorsement of the League of Humane Voters.
Here is a video at NYC Public School Parents' blog, of Avella opposing charter schools. Avella properly asks, "Why not fix the failing schools?"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Education movement organization (CPE) founding convention: Saturday, 8/29

Stop the Bloomberg/Klein Dictatorship in our Public Schools and City

The Bloomberg administration exercises Napoleon-like dictatorship over the public schools, bristling at any parental voice in school policy.

The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por la Educacion Publica is holding its founding convention to organize parents, youth and school staff to build a true People's Board of Education and prepare for the coming school year.

-*Saturday August 29th, 12pm to 5pm*
-At District Council 37 (DC-37), 125 Barclay Street, walk west, toward the Westside Highway

-A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 Trains to Chambers Street; 4, 5, 6 Trains to Brooklyn Bridge; or R, W Trains to City Hall

Click on the graphic to download the flyer.

Posted by Leonie Haimson

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NYC Parents Blog makes case: Times is biased for Bloomberg

The New York Times is doing inadequate reporting on public education in New York City. It is the equivalent of printing press releases. It doesn't quote critics; it only quotes administration employees or consultants in the pay of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration. No interviews with Leonie Haimson, Robert Jackson, Norm Scott, James Eterno or Betsy Combier.

These tests are bogus. Here's how the principals, city fix them:
1) Scrub the tests; schools grade their own tests. They should be graded outside the city.
2) Push the weak students out of being allowed into the test.
3) The tests are watered down and below grade level.

Graduation rates are not credible. The administration uses guidance counselors to weed the weaker students out of the regular population. This masks the drop-out rates. Here's a simple, but realistic assessment of the graduation rates: have state agency track the number of students entering ninth grade, and track them to 12th grade. Read Jennifer Jennings' report on graduation rates under Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein; the city's public advocate office published the report on its site.

On June 12 Elizabeth Green analyzed the math scores, beyond the hype, at Gotham Schools, citing a June 7 Daily News report, "State math exam scores have risen - but it's because tests have gotten easier" (albeit a newspaper which is biased, but less biased for the mayor). Green reproduced graphics of math tests, showing that the tests have been getting progressively easier, and she noted:
"A Daily News report this week cast doubt on the validity of the state’s math scores. A major problem the News pointed to is that the math tests seem to repeat themselves, broken-record style, making it easy for teachers to coach their students on how to give correct answers — without necessarily understanding the underlying math. A second problem is that the tests may be getting easier over time, the story said."

The Times needs to expose the blatant way that quoted pundits have direct interests in charter schools: Geoffrey Canada and Eva Moskowitz being prime examples.


August 3, 2009
NY Times falls in line with the Bloomberg PR spin control

Today’s New York Times article on the Bloomberg/Klein record on test scores is incomplete, biased, and in some cases, clearly inaccurate.

1- The article falsely claims that fourth-grade reading scores rose on the national exams called the NAEPs, whereas there has been no significant gain since 2003, when the “Children First” reforms were introduced.

2- As reported in our book, “NYC Schools under Bloomberg and Klein: What Parents, Teachers and Policymakers Need to Know,” there has been no closing of the achievement gap between racial or ethnic groups in any grade or subject tested by the NAEPs, considered by experts the "gold standard" of assessments.

3- The article fails to mention that in fourth grade math, the one area that did show a significant increase in the NAEPs, the student exclusion rate was 25 percent, far higher than any other city tested.

4- The article fails to mention that in 8th grade reading, NYC made less progress on the NAEPs than any of the nine other cities tested.

5- The article fails to quote any independent experts or point to any evidence of test score inflation on the state exams, including lower cut scores, the repetition of similar questions, or the narrowing of topics covered, as revealed in articles in the Daily News and elsewhere.

Instead, the article quotes at great length their favorite expert, Howard Everson, head of a panel assembled by the State Education Department, who says that “New York’s tests were “about as good as we can build them,” as well as Merryl Tisch, the head of the Regents, and Joel Klein himself, all interested parties who predictably claim that the results indicate actual improvements in learning.

And though the system is full of teachers and even principals who will attest to the fact that the exams have become easier over time, the reporter chooses to quote not a single one.

Given the evident bias of this article, it appears clear that the Times has been captured by the Bloomberg/Klein PR machine, and can no longer be trusted to provide objective analysis of their education record.

Ask the Times for a correction; write a letter to the editor; or email the Public Editor.
Posted by Leonie Haimson at 8/03/2009 03:44:00 PM
Labels: Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, NAEPs, NY Times, PR spin, test score inflation, test score spin