It's teacher hunting season!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

De Blasio & Liu victorious -resoundingly!

W E H A V E W O N ! ! !

The opponents of the autocracy of King Michael Bloomberg have won the Democratic primary run-off:
Bill de Blasio, for public advocate, and John Liu, for comptroller.
The next four years, should Bloomberg win re-election will be marked by checks against and increased conflict against the mayor, over issues such as school governance and over-development.

De Blasio read a victory speech that struck an economic populist chord.

Liu's victory party was an expression of a Democratic lovefest. A span of names was present: primary opponent David Weprin and mayoral nominee William Thompson.

Let there be no mistake, the imprimatur of the Working Families Party was the sponsoring force behind these two victories.

I had endorsed de Blasio over Mark Green. But, truth be told, Green is a positive figure. He did perform great service in his first time as public advocate. The difference between de Blasio and Green can be cast as a difference between an "A" and a B. In the end, de Blasio pledged a more ambitious office, one that committed to more changes and greater challenge vs. mayor Bloomberg. Green's low showing probably will mark the end of his electoral-political career.
Click here for the latest results from 7 online, with 99 percent reporting.
The results, 99 percent reporting:
Public Advocate, Democratic nomination:
Bill de Blasio, 62%
Mark Green, 37%
Comptroller, Democratic nomination:
John Liu, 55%
David Yassky, 44%

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shame of the City III: city schools are not preparing NYC students for college

As it has been put before, the key question is:
"Is Our Children Learning?" [har, har] and the answer is No. Read on.

WNYC's Beth Fertig has an important story today on the station's website:

NYC students are ill-prepared for real college life.

NEW YORK, NY September 24, 2009 —A new study finds too many New York City high school students aren't prepared for college, and urges the state and city to take action. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: The study by the Annenberg Institute for School reform looked at students at the City University. More students are entering CUNY and fewer need remedial classes. But most students in community colleges still need remedial math or English; and the six-year graduation rate for an associate degree is less than 29 percent. Researchers say the problem lies in the lack of college readiness. They say state standards aren't well aligned to what students need to succeed. And too many students don't take four full years of math and science. The report urges public schools and colleges to collaborate in guiding students, so they'll know what they need in college. It also says students often don't aim higher on their Regents exams because they don't understand that they need a score of at least 75 to avoid remedial classes later. For WNYC I'm Beth Fertig.

A major crux of the problem is that high enough math standards are not being pursued with the students. Students' actual grade level in math and English lag at least two grade levels, throughout their careers, particularly as the tween years transition to adolescent years, i.e., in fifth grade. This lag is really not acceptable if the city expects students to have "on-par" literacy and "numeracy" by the college freshman year.
Let's look at how the basic skills are not honed in English and math. The city denigrates the focus on the fundamental ability to construct clear, grammatically sentences or spelling skills. The city subscribes --far more aggressively under Klein-- progressive education ideologies. It has allowed those ideologies to elide the development of the basic skills of written expression. In the crucial years of fifth through nine, when this skills should be refined in students, the city dogmatically avoids addressing these skills.
Regarding math, Klein's administration gullibly bought, hook, line and sinker, the constructivist dictates that students learn math best by developing theories and trying some experimentation. The city wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on worthless textbooks on the discredited "Everyday Math" and "Impact Math" series specializing in this avant garde nonsense. California experimented with this New New Math nuttiness almost two decades ago, and it rejected it with passion. Yet, the city has ruined the basic math skills of nearly a generation of students by using these approaches since 2002. (For more analysis of these discredited trends, visit the website of the venerable Thomas B. Fordham Institute.)
For those unfamiliar with graduation routines from New York State schools, final summation tests in the various academic subjects are administered in high school, mainly in ninth through eleventh grades. The bar is ridiculously lowered for the most commonly taken Math A Regents exam. Just try this January 2009 version of the test on your own, without any preparation. Most of it appears on the level of sixth or seventh grade math.

The education analysts that responded to the aforementioned reporter said that more years of math are needed in high school. Yes, maybe, but prior to that goal, they need to master pre-algebra fundamentals.

To boot, the state has lowered the passing score for one Regents exam, to make the question of judging passing scores, as the New York Times reports, even more suspicious, particularly when we are in the era of Bloomberg/Klein reform.

Further, the city schools have adopted the progressive education dictum that school must be fun and cooperative, well into high school. Thus, they coddle impulses of informality and they withhold the development of skills, mental and behavioral attitudes upon which high performance in the college level depnds. Walking around the classroom is sought as part of the lesson. Group-work is mandated.
Are these the modes of rigor in college? Are these habits that are constructive for working alone, and concentrating for long periods, on a test at the college level? No, no, no. Yet, Bloomberg/Klein have adopted and enforced this silliness that is doubtless not used in Singapore or Denmark.

Shame of the City II: City cheats with claims of small school performance; Times mum

Liar! Liar!
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Department of Education claim that small schools are more effective.
Yet, a Columbia University study has exposed a deception on the mayor's part. The study reports that while small schools have shown better performance, the comparison is deceptive. Why? The city keeps certain weaker students from the small schools; and so, not too surprisingly, the overall performance of the remaining cluster of students is "better." This parallels the similar scam going on rampantly in the charter schools. The fact is getting out that the weaker students, the special education students are withheld from the charter schools, and again, the students in the charter schools "perform better."
From Meredith Kolodner, "Mayor Bloomberg's boast on graduation rates is misleading, according to study", "New York Daily News", September 23, 2009
One principal proudly boasts in the ad that the graduation rate has increased to 80% from 30%.

A closer look shows that in 2005, only 11% of ninth-graders entering [Evander Childs High School in the Bronx] were reading at grade level, the study claims.

At the same time, 30% of students entering the small replacement schools were proficient in reading, significantly higher than the boroughwide average.

"We cannot make sense of large differences in the graduation rates at Evander and the small schools which replaced it without taking these differences in who entered the schools into account," said study co-author Aaron Pallas, a Teachers College professor.

The same is true, on average, of all of the students who attend the new small schools that have replaced the roughly 20 large high schools that have been closed since 2002.

Students entering the new schools were between 10 and 15 percentage points more likely to be reading and doing math at grade level, as measured by state tests.

They also were less likely to be special education students, more likely to be female and more likely to qualify for free lunch.

The study also suggests that the lower-performing students who would have gone to the large schools that were closed end up in other nearby large high schools.

Now, google this at home:
"small schools"

Then on "news."

You only get two stories on small schools' performance in New York City. And neither of the sources is the New York Times.

Other disturbing news: the breakup of schools into small schools has meant fewer English Language Learner (the new phrase for English as a Second Language) classes. Thus, students new to English lose out in the transformation of schools. See this article by Mary Ann Zehr in "Education Week."

Shame of the City I: record overcrowding: the flipside of refusal to hire teachers

Record numbers of classes are experienced overcrowding.
From the Queens Gazette, "Queens High Schools Reported 3,399 Oversize Classes, With Forest Hills Topping The List," September 23, 2009
As the 2009-2010 school year began, almost 7,500 classes in the city’s elementary, intermediate and high schools exceeded the contracted class size limit, leaving an estimated 225,000 students in an oversize class for all or part of each day, according to a survey by the United Federation of Teachers of its members.

The annual survey found that as September 18, 2009 there were at least 1,969 oversize classes in elementary, middle and intermediate schools. With at least 5,450 such classes in high schools the current total of oversize classes is 7,419.

Queens high schools had 3,399 oversize classes . . .

Come on! Let's do the math, and use some common sense. Classes are crowded because the city has not hired enough teachers. (More teachers = more classes = less crowded classrooms, for a better experience for students.) Yet, the city has maintained an ideology that older teachers (and well-paid) are bad. And suddenly the Department of Education is supposedly trying to reverse its gears and hire experienced teachers. Yet, as earlier posts this week reported, the number of ATRs seeking classrooms far exceed the number of the posts that principals were willing to publicly interview for.


Beth Fertig at WNYC closed her article ("Teacher Union: Overcrowding Worse Than Estimated", September 21, 2009) with the typical NYC Department of Education response to overcrowding:
The department of education says it still expects class sizes to drop as enrollment stabilizes. It says only 20 percent of class size grievances last year reached an arbitrator.

As I have stated earlier the media has a responsibility to exercise some critical thinking. They need to probe the city: just what is involved in "stabilizing" the classes??

At worst, this is a worst, students will give up and drop out (not show up). The better scenario is the that the city will actually hire more teachers and create more classes.

How did anti-Bloomberg vlogger Suzannah B. Troy get censored?

A search two days ago for Suzannah B. Troy's video blogs on YouTube turned up statements about her account being suspended. Likewise, her aliases were also suspended.
One wonders whether there was some political manipulation from mayor Michael Bloomberg was responsible for bringing down her site access. "Queens Crap" blog suggests such a possible connection, "YouTube censors Blogger: WEEKS BEFORE NYC MAYORAL ELECTION, YOUTUBE.COM SUPPRESSES FREE SPEECH." Anyway, Troy's access was restored by today.
While I don't support all (or most) of her views --she went on a rant against campaigns' illegal stapling of signs around city lampposts, and I think that those are an acceptable form of advertising -- she should not have her constitutional rights of free speech trampled upon.
She is a little bit of a crank for my ears, but she has done some solid volunteer reporting on the autocratic posture of New York City's mayor, and Council President Christine Quinn's complete caving in to Bloomberg.
Here's Queens Crap's pitch; maybe it had an effect on the restoration of Troy's vlog.
First Suzannah B. Troy, next us.

Ms. Troy has spent months creating, editing, and posting hundreds of original citizen journalist videos focusing on the controversial election this year of local candidates running for third terms in office. In particular, Ms. Troy's videos have been highly critical of the New York City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The nature of the videos on her account have ranged from breaking news-quality videos of voter demonstrations, to video blogs of her commentary on the elections, to artistic interpretation of news events. There is no reason for her account to be suspended by YouTube other than for the political and artistic nature of their content.

Please write to Youtube at: and ask them for their official policy of suspending accounts of artists and citizen journalists.

We are only weeks away from an important election, which shall decide if City Council Members and Mayor Bloomberg will thwart the will of voters' two referrenda on term limits. And missing from the free exchange of ideas during the critical debates that will be taking place in the time leading up to the election will be Ms. Troy's body of work.

Without you stepping in to blog, publish, or report about this questionable suspension of Ms. Troy's YouTube account (as well as the potential of loss of hundreds of videos), other citizen journalists may face the same sad fate : cyber suppression.

Please consider the importance of voter participation in free and open democratic elections.

Whatever the reason for the restoration of Troy's vlog, let's hope that nothing like this happens again, especially between now and the November 3, ELECTION DAY.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ATR Handbook

An ATR working in a school?

You need to heed the following, to save your career in the medium term:

(from the blog, "Under Assault")


[Note: This manual was written mostly for per diem subs.
Even if you've been given full or partial programs, a lot of this still applies.]


1. You are an inconvenience to your administrators and are essentially being tolerated. Do not try to be a goody-goody or get them to like your work, because bottom line, they don't actually want you on their budget.
[NEW COMMENT: Of course, if you're being paid out of central, they probably DO want you, but not enough to take you in properly.]

2. Do what is educationally sound at all times. That's the only way you'll be able to sleep at night.

3. You are a place holder, not a place filler. You are in someone else's room doing what you can with someone else's lesson for someone else's students, a situation which lasts for the duration of that person's absence.

4. Know that you the only person in the building being asked to "wing it," and no ed school ever taught you how. In the wonderworld of BloomKlein, your job specification has just shifted, and whether you like it or not, you're now a Jack-of-All-Trades, particularly in the HSS with all those specialized classes. Either enjoy, or . . .

5. Detach. Students might be cold-hearted, either unwittingly ("Hey, Miss, did you get downgraded or somethin'?") or purposefully ("F— you. You not a real teacher.") They can also be delightful, like the girl at the bus stop who shouted enthusiastically to her friend: "Hey, there's my substitute!" You are neither a sub-order of teacher or fabulous. You are doing your job to the best of your ability under volatile circumstances.


1. Class registers. Oh, how the intruder types love subs, and what a run-around they can give you.

2. Pens, pencils: but get collateral if you lend them, because they'll walk out with them and when they remember to return them, you've moved to another room.

3. Wordfinds, math puzzles, crossword puzzles, scrap paper. There'll be days when the teacher has left you nothing, and when kids are bored enough, some will take whatever you're handing out.

4. Chalk, eraser, dry erase pens. Don't rely on the teacher's supply.

5. List of school phone numbers, like for security, guidance counselors, the program office.


1. Have kids sign in on a separate sheet. Bubbling comes later, at your convenience and when you've had a chance to reflect over the legitimacy of the signatures.

2. Assign work immediately. Better still: write the assignment on the board before they get there and don't even open your mouth. Teens respond better when they're not being told by you to do anything.

3. Announce that you'll help anyone who needs it.

4. Then help a few of them, or at least look at what they're doing over their shoulder. Send a message that you're not just a disinterested bystander. It will convince some of undecided characters to crack a book.

5. Standard behavior for immature classes is to test the sub, and they can be merciless. So, it's now time to annotate that sign-in sheet. Look really serious when you do this, as if the mark you're giving them really means something. Tell one person he gets a check because he's working, another a half-check for not working so hard, or NW for No Work at all. Give your own marks for anything you can think of: being disruptive, intruding (contact Security to remove these kids), breaking school rules (don't contact Security for these because you'll annoy them, but you can write the student up later and let other people handle it).

6. A malicious child can really hurt you, but remember this. There are Chancellor's Regs on abuse to protect the student, but you won't find any regulations for the kind of abuse substitutes are frequently subjected to. In BloomKlein, teachers are abusers, students are . . . well, just kids.

7. Put the room in good order when you leave and the work in a neat pile. It's like wampum: you're trading a bit of effort for a bit of good feeling, and you'll be needing as much of that as you can get.

Part IV: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, for example:

1. When no assignment has been left for you
2. The kids who enter late
3. When kids sign the attendance sheet, then cut out
4. Dangerous items left around the room (broken glass, formaldehyde, etc.)
5. Ripped books
6. Security not arriving if you've called them
7. An AP or principal walking into the room, for whatever reason
8. A kid's tirade of vulgar, aggressive words. It might get worse before it stops, but it will stop, especially when the rest of the class sees the humor (i.e., the stupidity) of it.


He's got the whole media in his hands, exc. 1 report on NY1

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the whole media in his hands.
The New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post, the Village Voice all do not question the city administration. They mimick the city line about:
*rising test scores
(can be explained by watered down tests -go online and compare this year's Regents tests with those from the start of the 2000)
*graduation rates
(note the pushing weaker students, particularly those over 18 years of age, out of regular schools --hello, reporters, do some investigative reporting and talk to real, live guidance counselors)

Alas, NY1, that NYC news junkies' television station, has half a dozen video clips on the side of its site, all virtual press releases by the New York City Department of Education.
All of the above named media have abrogated their objectivity obligation. Basic training of journalists includes the ideal that reporters will not only parrot press releases (ready-to-print publicity department statements by businesses, community organizations or governments), and that they will talk to people from all sides of an issue.
We did get one exception to this shameless trend of the New York City media, New York 1 did run a story on ATR teachers and the Brooklyn ATR job fair yesterday, and they actually interviewed United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew and two frustrated veteran teachers. This balanced against press statements of Chancellor Joel Klein. Now, if they could interview James Eterno, ICE, TJC, TAG or other union dissidents, regarding the centrality of the ATR issue in the question of the future viability of the teaching profession as a professional career, or something that teachers dabble in, for five years, in the early part of their professional lives.
Watch in this link, the NY1 piece on ATR teachers.

Musings at the ATR fair / DunKleiRheeism warning

Was at ATR job fair on Monday, at Prospect Hall, Brooklyn.

I had these musings:
On the ATR job fairs, there was no identified UFT representative on site, contrary to rumor. We had many questions that we want answered.
Teachers should have gotten releases from their assignments earlier. I got to the site at 15 min of the announced deadline to appear. In five minutes, I turned my back and the line went to the end of the block.
Of course, age was a present factor: hardly anyone was under 35. And the DoE sent very few of its 27 years-old/fresh out of the leadership academy principals or APs. Many people looked very sullen, with an almost vacant expression. These people didn't respond to attempts at conversation.
As to principals and an adequate number of candidates, there were many job-seekers in line for single positions. Given that the number of positions offered at schools was generally one or two and there were about 45 to 50 administrators on site, occasionally two for one school, the couple hundred ATRs obviously were in excess of the number of positions.
The lines were more dense in front of recruiters from middle schools and high schools.
From the folks that I talked with I heard these tidbits: teachers knew of more ATRs, but those teachers were too skeptical of the sincerity of the job fair or the realistic practicality of expecting a position from the fair.

To the apathetic UFT members (and staffers, leaders) that take the "it's not happening to me" approach (apathy) to the ATR crisis:
We should remember Pastor Martin Nimoeller's (albeit, a conflicted character) prophetic poem about going after easy targets. Any teacher over five years in the system "could be next."
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

David vs. Goliath??: Thompson transforms!!!

I am confessing:
I was a Tony Avella voter. I thought that William Thompson was way too lethargic in his campaign tone for challenging the mayor.

Thompson was almost electrifying tonight, in his primary victory speech. He dug into Mayor Michael Bloomberg's performance, touching on many issues, the taxes, the parking fines, the water rates.

I can confidently endorse Thompson. If he keeps up this tone and rhetoric, he has the groundwork to pierce Bloomberg's armor.
His millions (Bloomberg's, not Thompson's) in the race are not a certainty to victory.
Remember that Michael Huffington, a conservative Republican, outspending the Democrat, Diane Feinstein, an incumbent U.S. Senator, nonetheless failed against the financially weaker Feinstein. This was a record-setting non-presidential campaign (with $28 million from Huffington's own pocket), with regard to Huffington's staggering campaign budget.

The results, with 91% reporting:
Thompson, 70%
Avella, 21%

City Council predictions

These are the city council predictions, with 9:59 returns, in races with at least 32% reporting, from WABC-TV:


District 1: Chin, apparently upsetting incumbent Gershon.
4: Chandra (in the Republican primary)
10: Rodriquez
14: Cabrera, possibly upsetting incumbent Baez -BUT with room for reversal by
19: Kim
20: Chou (-close, with room for reversal by Jung)
23: Weprin
25: Dromm, upsetting incumbent Sears
29: Koslowitz (-close, with room for reversal by Shulman)
33: Levin
39: Lander
45: Williams, upsetting incumbent Stewart
49: Rose, upsetting incumbent Mitchell

Prediction for public advocate race

9:47 and we are predicting
Bill DeBlasio
, closely followed by Mark Green, for the public advocate spot.

PUBLIC ADVOCATE, 9:47, 32 percent reporting
DeBlasio 32%
Green 31%
Gioa 17%
Siegel 13%
Syed 3%

Basically, almost unchanged, at 10:27, w/ 93 % reporting.

Live Blogging -now, the comptroller results

Again, we have WABC-TV'S website to thank for the up-to -the-minute results.

COMPTROLLER RESULTS 9:47 with 32 percent reporting.
I am predicting a John Liu victory, with a David Yassky in the second place.
Liu 38%
Yassky 29%
Katz 20%
Weprin 11%

Again, Liu and Yassky will face off for a final time, on September 29.

Basically, almost unchanged, at 10:27, w/ 93 percent reporting.

Live blogging; my (bold?) speculation re tonight's primary results

We can thank the ambition and organization of the WABC-TV (channel 7) website.
Their site has a special, in-time primary election returns site.

We have a major upset in the public advocate race: look who's leading.

PUBLIC ADVOCATE RESULTS, o.k., with 12% reporting, at 9:30
DeBlasio 32%
Green 31%
Gioa 17%
Siegel 13%
Syed 4%

The narrative of this: NY1 pundits (especially Carl McCall) said that Green must get 40% or he will be seen as vulnerable. Now, this: second place, behind Councilor DeBlasio.

Get ready for a heated next two weeks. There will be two big run-off races on September 29. Let's just hope that it does not get bitter and nasty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

NYC voters: PRIMARY DAY:TOMORROW, 9/15, you have a choice!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009, is primary day in New York City

You do have important choices, voices that are alternatives to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Napoleonic power-trip in NYC schools.

Both William Thompson and Tony Avella are opposing Bloomberg on his education record. I am endorsing Tony Avella for his stronger, more vocal opposition to Bloomberg and Joel Klein's super-control, cynical policies at the Department of Education.
Here's a video of his opposition to charter schools.

And here's video at GOothamSchools, pledging to replace Klein as Schools Chancellor.

Bill de Blasio is offering a very well developed plan to involve parents and to dilute Bloomberg's efforts to absolutely shut out parents. He is calling to reform mayoral control.
Click here to his campaign's website page: "20 Reasons in 20 Days".
Click here for his overview statement at "Huffington Post."

John Liu and David Weprin are pledging to extend sunshine (openness, "transparency") to the Department of Education budget.
Weprin has pledged to audit the Department of Education. I am endorsing Weprin.
Clcik to this link for WNYC's July 9 interview with Comptroller candidate David Weprin (current city councillor). (Audio feed and transcript.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

De Blasio, sensible choice for parents and teachers disappointed in Bloomberg and Klein's disreputable record in education

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Education Chancellor Joel Klein have done a disservice to New York City Education.

The mayoral control plan has not been good for education.
There is too much hype on the question of mayoral control. In other cities, mayoral control has not produced an improvement in performance. Boston, Massachusetts has had a decade and a half of mayoral control. Yet, this has not corrected the negative patterns of performance in the city schools.

The question of mayoral control in New York City has had too much hype. The high schools graduation rates have not improved under Klein. Under his administration, guidance staff have encouraged the worst performing students to go elsewhere for concluding their education. Honest administrators will concede that, once the drop-outs and the transferees to GED programs, commercial / technical "colleges" and other "private schools" are excluded from the pool of students, the graduation rates look more like 80% for traditionally failing high schools in the city. Yet, these administrators concede, the schools have fifty percent failing rates, as before the Klein administration and the trend of breaking up traditional high schools.

Alas, you have to google for Columbia graduate student studies or for Comptroller William Thompson's posting, to learn of the mishegas of the deception of graduation rates under Klein.

Klein has refashioned the school system to something more than a free market system, whereby schools must all compete against each other; the active threat is that if they do not perform under the kooky formula of the subjective report cards, the new Department of Education will close down the school. The children must apply to schools, not just to high schools, as they did, pre-Klein, but to elementary schools.

This free market free-for-all has worsened an already ill-founded system of shuttling children all over the city. In the past you might see high school-aged children going to selective high schools or private high schools. Now we see elementary school-aged children commuting on trains and buses to schools. This is not a green policy. We have elementary schools in every neighborhood. Children should walk to their neighborhood school. They should not be adding to an already strained public transit system. Furthermore, it is not the best judgment to send young children alone onto subways to neighborhoods alien to them.
And now, the competition game has been imposed onto tender-aged pre-kindergarteners. The city is now making admission to kindergarten a competitive system. Those students not "smart enough" or not applying for admission early enough, are closed out of a guaranteed kindergarten spot. Bloomberg and Klein's accountability test mania has been imposed onto kindergarteners and first graders. This is ridiculous! Children at that age are just beginning to learn how to hold a pencil; this age is too young to impose on them the routines of bubbling scantron circles. The 2009 to 2010 New York City school-year began with an unresolved crisis: huge numbers of kindergarteners are without school assignments.

Teachers have had to transition from instruction time to test prep time. Many students are astute to the questionable value of the displacing teaching for test-prep. When students protest, teachers quell them by telling that this is not their choice, but "this is something we have to do."

Community schools are being closed down or are being forced to share space and other resources for private ventures under the ruse of charter schools. This pattern is negatively impacting minority and low-income neighborhoods disproportionately. Witness how wide-spread this is in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and how this trend has not touched Staten Island or northeastern Queens.

The breaking apart of schools in lower socio-economic neighborhoods has particularly hit older teachers and teachers of color. The ranks of the Absent Teacher Reserve ("ATR") teachers are full of such teachers. There is a large potential class action lawsuit if the city dismisses these teachers and if the union, the United Federation of Teachers (the UFT), does not unilaterally defend these teachers.

Consultants have been hired to impose experimental, unfounded education techniques upon teachers; and consultants have been hired to run the myriad of number-crunching computer programs of the myriad tests imposed on teachers and students. Many of these consultants are pulling salaries in excess of $100,000. These consultants as a rule, are hired in a no-bid, secretive fashion. Such bids are supposed to be done in a competive, open-bid fashion.

Thus, concerned parents and educators are looking for a quality public advocate to hold the Napoleonic dictatorship of Bloomberg and Klein.

William de Blasio, while not perfect, is the best choice for public advocate, particularly on the issue of questioning the actions of Bloomberg and Klein.

Now, onto a voice of criticism against some of this madness
On May 6, 2009, as a city councillor, Bill de Blasio demanded that Klein meet with parents of kindergarteners that were wait-listed out of their zoned (NYC jargon for neighborhood) schools. Wait-listing is something that is supposed to happen with private programs, not with public schools.
He asked that parents call, write and email joint letters with the quest for a meeting with schools chancellol Klein on this crisis.
The press release for his demand, "Bill de Blasio Launches Campaign to Demand Answers for Public School Parents with Wait Listed Kindergartner," posted on his website
, read:
“Public school parents are being held in a state of limbo by the Department of Education. As a parent with two children in New York City public schools I can personally speak to the frustration parents feel when we are completely shut out of our children’s education."
. . . .
Hundreds of parents in New York City were recently informed that there were “not enough seats available in the zoned schools at this time to accommodate all the zoned applicants" and, as a result, their children have been wait listed at those schools. While the DOE has assured parents that it will "work with families and schools to place every child seeking a Kindergarten seat in the New York City public schools," the fact remains that parents across the City have been left with no information regarding where their children might end up in the fall.

He has issued a multi-point plan to have more transparency into the New York City Department of Education. As part of his proposal, "Strengthening Our Public Schools, August 2009," he has proposed establishing a parents' bill of rights, cornerstones of which would be respectful two-way communication between the Department of Education and the parents of the city's schoolchildren, and full transparency into budget and academic data.
See Gotham Schools' August 25, 2009 report on de Blasio's proposal for a link to the full proposal.
From GothamSchools::
If elected, de Blasio will hold monthly education hearings in each borough, make even more school data available online, and convene a “Commission on the Future of Education.”

He will post data on the numbers of students that relied on "credit recovery" programs to "earn" their high school diplomas; this punctures Klein's smoke and mirrors about supposed increases in graduation rates. (Bloomberg and Klein have cheated their task, they have cheated the public. When you rely on "pushing out" over-age, repeater, or low-performing students, with too-few-credits; when you create so much test pressure on schools and administrators, cheating and fudging on Regents and other New York State tests ensues; when you do these things you show a lack of self-confidence in an honest performance. Like the reality shows, you show that appearances and show takes precedence over the hard, unglamorous tasks of real, honest work. You are showing a bad example for your city employee underlings and the children of New York City.)

De Blasio has diverged from Bloomberg's head-in-the-sand approach to the swine flu crisis, which was marked by opposing school closings amidst a snowballing spread in New York City, before it spread to elsewhere in the U.S. Highlights of his four point Swine Flu Community Outreach Plan, issued early in the crisis, on May 29, 2009 included:
All school closures related to swine flu must be announced before children leave at 3:00PM. If late closure is unavoidable, the Department of Education (DOE) must immediately set up a multilingual phone tree and hotline in order to communicate with all parents by phone within 24 hours.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) should host town hall information sessions in all five boroughs and at community board meetings of neighborhoods where schools have been shut down

It is curious that openness and democracy are presumed valorized principles in our government. Yet, the professional media, too many academics and too many liberal activists have turned a blind eye to the whole-scale trampling upon the public's wish for open, honest discussion about the dramatic and often questionable practices of the Department of Education under Chancellor Joel Klein. Councillor de Blasio is to be lauded for his diverging from the blind adulation of Klein and the new direction of public education in the city. He is to be rewarded with a victory in Tuesday's primary election for Public Advocate of New York City.

The media have been blind to Bloomberg's Napoleonic approach to school governance. Bill de Blasio has not been a new-comer to recognizing that Bloomberg's style runs against our idealized national traditions.
As GothamSchools noted on February 3 of this year,
He said that he saw a “chilling effect” on public discussion after Bloomberg passed a social promotion ban in 2004 by firing two school board members who intended to vote against him. Did the panelists think that an empowered school board would prevent bad decisions have happening? he asked.

“I just have a feeling that if I locked Bloomberg in a room and asked him, ‘What’s the best system of rule?’ he’d say autocracy,” De Blasio told me afterward. “I thought we moved past that a long time ago.”

Bill de Blasio has integrity. Now wonder his endorsements for public advocate come from organizations ranging from "The New York Times" to Ed Koch, Fernando Ferrer, Mario Cuomo, Steve Buscemi, the Working Families Party, SEIU, the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the United Federation of Teachers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

9/2/09 GEM forum on Charter Schools, unmasking what Klein and co. are up to

Come TONIGHT to the public forum (6 to 8 PM) on charter schools,
at Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, 163 W 125th Street, 2nd Floor
On the MTA: that's 125th Street on the 2 or 3 IRT trains, or, if you're a walker: 125th A,B,C,D,4,5,6.

Sponsored by Senator Bill Perkins' office, Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), Coalition for Public Education (CPE), the Center for Immigrant Families (CIF), Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence (BNYEE), and parents and teachers from NYC schools, including P.S. 123, 30, 197, 241 and 368.
Speakers will discuss the truth and the self-serving economic bias behind the charter schools and the sapping of resources from neighborhood schools.
Speakers will analyze the trends of this policy that closes down or guts the resources of established neighborhood schools in African-American and Latino neighborhoods in the Bronx, Manhattan, central and eastern Brooklyn and southern Queens. Click on the graphic to download the flyer.

Here is the flyer in Spanish:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NYC among top three cities at risk from rising sea levels --new book

Brian Lehrer (on his show at WNYC radio) today interviewed co-authors of a new book that ranks cities by their vulnerability to rising sea levels. New York is among the top three cities at risk from rising sea levels.

Surf's Up (and Up)

Rob Young director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines and professor of geosciences at Western Carolina University and Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, author of The Corps and the Shore, and editor of the twenty-volume series Living with the Shore and co-authors of The Rising Sea explore the risks of climate change-driven sea level rise to coastal cities.

The other two cities are Miami and Venice.

Also of interest is this EPA report to Congress on rising sea levels.

And this EPA report on the cost of building protective sea-walls.
The audio link for the Brian Lehrer show segment should be on the site by Wednesday, September 2, 2009.

Haimson, Ravitch et al 180 pp e-book on reality of Bloomberg / Klein's NYC schools

The stars of academic critique of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein have authored a book, available in $12 form from
"NYC Schools Under Bloomberg and Klein:
What Parents,Teachers, and Policymakers Need to Know"

This excellent 180 page book is a valuable resource for parents, teachers and other activists pulls the wool away from the eyes about the reality of the Bloomberg / Klein changes imposed, unilaterally, without transparency (openness to the public -or other elected officials for that matter) upon the New York City Department of Education.

The report has hard facts and solid analysis that dispels the notion that the changes have been productive for New York City schools. This fills the gap that has resulted from the New York Times' ignoring problems, or repeating Klein/ Department of Education spin and distortion.

Educators, parents, and scholars challenge the Bloomberg administration’s claims of progress in the New York City public schools. Seventeen writers argue that under Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein NYC schools have stagnated or lost ground in achievement, class size, curriculum and instruction, overcrowding, transparency, and equity. Authors DIANE RAVITCH and DEBORAH MEIER are respected scholars; JENNIFER JENNINGS, AARON PALLAS, DAVID BLOOMFIELD, and EMILY HOROWITZ are academics who have researched NYC schools extensively; STEVE KOSS is a former public school mathematics teacher and parent; STEVEN SANDERS and JAMES BRENNAN are former and current NY State Assembly members; HAZEL DUKES, UDI OFER, DEYCY AVITIA, and LEONIE HAIMSON are education advocates; SOL STERN, ANDREW WOLF, and MAISIE MCADOO are journalists covering education; PATRICK J. SULLIVAN is a public school parent serving on the Panel for Educational Policy, the city’s central school board.