It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ohio charter school is essentially renamed Christian school

Blogger Madfloridian reported that Columbus, Ohio area religious area charter school, Patriot Preparatory Academy, appears to be a private, religious school, Liberty Christian Academy, refashioned to accommodate laws preventing public funding of private institutions. The PPA has largely the same teachers and students. It has the same founder as Liberty Christian Academy

From Madfloridian at
"Charter's ties to Christian school draw state scrutiny"
Out went the private Liberty Christian Academy. In came the public Patriot Preparatory Academy, a charter school in the same location with many of the same students and teachers. The state says the new school has changed enough to receive tax money.

Sounds like edupreneurs looking for secure public dollars to me.

Article in "Columbus Dispatch," MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2010

Charter's ties to Christian school draw state scrutiny:
Out went the private Liberty Christian Academy. In came the public Patriot Preparatory Academy, a charter school in the same location with many of the same students and teachers. The state says the new school has changed enough to receive tax money. A new charter school has the same founder, is staffed by many of the same teachers and attended by many of the same students as a private Christian school that previously used its East Side building.

As Madfloridian cited from Smart Money, "10 Things Charter Schools Won't Tell You", December 6, 2010:
The separation between church and state has been narrowing in the charter schools:
5. Separation of church and state? We found a loophole.
Charter schools are public schools, supported by public tax dollars. But among the thousands of charters nationwide are schools run by Christian organizations as well as Hebrew and Arabic language academies that blur the line between church and state. “What would not be tolerated in a regular public school seems to be tolerated when it’s a charter school,” says Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University and the author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” Even if these schools aren’t explicitly teaching religion, “it’s potentially segregation by religious preference,” Bulkley says.

This is from "10 Things Charter Schools Won't Tell You."

Again, from Dallas Morning News, November 22, 2010, via Madfloridian:

"Charter schools with ties to religious groups raise fears about state funds' use"

The second problem is also from Texas. Some charter schools there are venturing into the religion business. The Dallas Morning News reports that 20 percent of the state’s charters have religious ties.

.."Finally, it looks like we’re going to need to keep a close eye on Georgia, where the new chief of staff of the state Education Department is a former staffer of TV Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice.

More about another charter school in Dallas.

Students at Duncanville's Advantage Academy follow biblical principles, talk openly about faith and receive guidance from a gregarious former pastor who still preaches when he speaks.

Advantage's state-funded campuses showcase the latest breed of charter schools, born from faith-based principles and taxpayer funds. More than 20 percent of Texas' charter schools have some kind of religious ties. That's the case for six of the seven approved this year, including ones in Frisco and Arlington.

..."Advantage markets its teaching of creationism and intelligent design. It offers a Bible class as an elective and encourages personal growth through hard work and "faith in God and country." On a recent morning, a dozen uniformed seventh-graders hunched over worksheets, turning fractions into decimals.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PISA scores rank US low in math - brace yourselves for attacks from the Duncan-Black monster

The policy pursued under the DunKleinRhee monster (Arne Duncan / Joel Klein /Michelle Rhee) has been to attack American educators; this is continuing now that the Klein head has been lopped off and replaced by Cathie Black.

With the news today of the U.S. scoring low yet again on international tests, this time in the releasing of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 test scores. Click here for the PISA report. (Class matters -social class, that is; scroll to the bottom of this blog post for the report's statement that gets at the "essential question.")

Click to this ABC news story, "China Debuts at Top of International Education Rankings" and this Canadian television news report, "Canadian education among best in the world: OECD."

Look out for more attacks on teachers, teachers' unions and teachers' pensions, as ways out of the laggard US educational performance.

Forget that many school systems are run by people without masters' degrees in the academic subjects that they supervise (from curriculum standards at the state level down to the school administrators). Forget that in the US school systems and schools aggressively impose the fuzzy math of constructivist math that thinks that every third grader can be a math theorist.

You can be sure that in Finland and in Canada, some of the top countries in student math scores in the PISA tests, that policy makers do not accredit their success to:
denigration of teachers as a profession,
denigrate the practice of educating (in contrast to constructivist progressive anarchy),
blame teachers for poor education performance while failing to acknowledge a fraying social safety net, accompanied by ballooning poverty rates and a widening of gaps between the poor and the upper middle and upper classes,
pursuit of the closing of large comprehensive high schools,
paying of legions of highly paid consultants with no background in the academic subjects that the coach and consult on,
pursuit of laying off thousands of experienced teachers and practice age discrimination by demonstrating a preference for fresh-off-the-street teachers over experienced teachers,
whipping the public into a furor over teachers' pensions,
pursuing the fetish of the quantification of everything,
pursuing the shutting down of public schools and replacing them with for-profit (or non-profit, for that matter) charter schools,
you can be sure that these policies are not pursued in the realization of positive education outcomes.

ADDENDUM: class and resources matter:
The report says,
Within countries, schools with better resources tend to do better only to the extent that they also tend to have more socio-economically advantaged students. Some countries show a strong relationship between schools’ resources and their socio-economic and demographic background, which indicates that resources are inequitably distributed according to schools’ socio-economic and demographic profiles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brooklyn parent challenges Black appointment in court with Article 78 proceedings

The public, thank goodness, refuses to stay quiet on the farcical Cathie Black appointment. The protests are continuing each work-day evening rush-hour at the Tweed Courthouse building-assigned to the Department of Education.

Now, a lawyer parent's lawsuit may, we hope, escalate the tension on the Black appointment. Let it be said again, there is a double-standard in mayor Michael Bloomberg's appointment of Hearst media executive Black to be New York city schools chancellor. She only has a bacehlor's degree. Meanwhile, hundreds of teachers of color were pushed out of their positions in the city Department of Education because they lacked master's degrees. The glaring double-standard is an utter outrage.

The New York Times has shifted from keeping the lid on organized protest against Bloomberg's education follies. (The shift started with the publication of New York State test scores plunge in the city schools this summer.)
Now, it has published the news on Park Slope, Brooklyn, parent Eric J. Snyder's lawsuit against the appointment: "Parent Sues to Block Schools Chief", by Sharon Otterman, December 3, 2010.
Snyder decided to pursue his suit "because he was concerned that a school system run by Ms. Black would continue to emphasize standardized testing to the exclusion of a broader, more creative curriculum" for his children.
The suit is known as an Article 78 proceeding, an action intended to seek a speedy review of governmental actions. On Friday, Justice Joseph C. Teresi of State Supreme Court in Albany ordered state education officials to appear on Dec. 23 to argue why Ms. Black’s waiver should not be annulled.

Click here for the NY1 video on the father's lawsuit against the Black appointment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Naked revolving door in News Corp.'s buying firm Klein promoted

The scent of the revolving door between corporate media companies and New York City education just got nastier:
Ed Notes alerts us that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has bought a 90 percent share in a company, Wireless Generation, that Joel Klein enthusiastically promoted while serving as the chancellor of the New York City Department of Education:
"News Corp., After Hiring Klein, Buys Technology Partner in a City Schools Project," as reported by Fernanda Santos in the New York Times, November 23, 2010.

So far, Fortune Magazine does not have good words for this project.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Panel majority: No to Black waiver of requirements

Last night a majority of the panel charged with weighing mayor Michael Bloomberg's request for a waiver of city school director rules voted against a waiver for Cathie Black. Majority Of Advisory Panel Recommends Denying Waiver For Schools Chancellor Pick," NY1 reported Tuesday night.
Those who voted "not at this time" indicated they would likely reconsider recommending the waiver if the application were to be resubmitted with new conditions -- for instance, if Black were to be joined a co-chancellor with educational experience.

The ultimate decision lies with State Education Commissioner David Steiner, who confirms to NY1 that he had told the panel before it deliberated that his first choice was to make the city reapply for Black's waiver with a different structure, like the inclusion of a chief academic officer.

Some experts are already saying two school chiefs would be problematic.

"The co-Chancellor proposition has no support in law. It's a contortion," said College of Staten Island Department of Education Chair David Bloomfield.

It is not clear when Steiner will make his final decision.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black careening train wreck cont'd: Mirrer and waiver panel under attack

Michael Bloomberg has been largely unthwartable, aside from a few things, like congestion pricing. But overall, the media and the city council have rubber stamped his prerogatives.
Activists have challenged the impartiality of half of David Steiner's picks for the waiver panel. How is it that Steiner could choose a panel that one would think that would be beholden to mayor Bloomberg? Alas, it has happened. Yet the New York Times has noticed. Yes, the same Times that stood blind at Bloomberg's autocracy in manipulating the electoral system and the school system.
The latest is that Louise Mirrer has come under particular scrutiny for sitting on the panel.
The Times reported yesterday that "Legislator [Eric Adams] Says Panel Member Should Be Removed."
And also yesterday in the New York Times:
"Education Panelist Did Not Disclose Possible Conflicts." The key details:
She has lobbied Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office for financing. She is chairwoman of an academy for which Mr. Bloomberg has helped raise millions of dollars. She runs a museum to which Mr. Bloomberg has personally donated $475,000. And she was the recipient of an award from Mr. Bloomberg two years ago at Gracie Mansion.

Louise Mirrer’s connections to New York City’s billionaire mayor are varied, longstanding and deep — they are personal, as well as professional.

But it does not appear that Ms. Mirrer disclosed those ties when she was selected to serve on a panel that is to evaluate Mr. Bloomberg’s choice for the next schools chancellor, Cathleen P. Black.

In an interview Sunday, Ms. Mirrer indicated that she did not discuss her links to the mayor when she was appointed to the eight-member panel that will recommend whether to grant Ms. Black a waiver from a state law requiring strict educational requirements (which Ms. Black lacks).

“If I had something I thought I should disclose, I would have disclosed it,” Ms. Mirrer said, adding that her ties to the mayor were irrelevant to her work on the panel.

Black backed sex app while at Hearst (Cosmo)

Here's how mayor Michael Bloomberg has spoken of the virtue of Cathie Black, according to the New York Times a week and a half ago:
“There is virtually nobody who knows more about the needs of the 21st century workforce for which we need to prepare our kids,” the mayor said.
Here's how the New York Times wrote of Black's work on other needs of people:

It seems that Ms. Black also knows a thing or two about an altogether different kind of need.

In an Aug. 10, 2010, segment of the Diane Rehm radio show entitled “The Future of Magazines,” Ms. Black plugged Cosmopolitan Magazine’s latest iPhone App: the Sex Tip of the Day.

“Are you going to charge for that sex tip of the day?” the host, Frank Sesno, asked.

“Yeah, $2.99,” Ms. Black replied, as the host and other guests erupted into giggles. “$2.99,” she repeated. “Cheaper than a hooker,” she continued, before adding, “I didn’t say that, did I?”

The application offers a cornucopia of advice on an array of inventively, sometimes bogglingly, named sexual moves – among them, the Jet Jiggy, the Randy Raft, the Wanton Wheelbarrow and the Linguini. Each position is rated on a “Carnal Challenge” scale of one to five flames (the “Octopus,” for one, ranks five flames, and comes with words of encouragement: “Do it right and you two will look like a multilimbed lust creature”). A variety of aids are often employed, among them bathtubs, hot tubs, pools, inflatable rafts, inner tubes, balls, staircases and small boats.

Read on at original NYT page.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Copyright infringement by media mogul mayor: Shame of the City Dept of Ed - no textbooks in the home

New York City students are behind the state norm, behind national ideals, in terms of performance or ability, with concern to literacy, graduation rates and so on.

One would think that there would be an interest to have textbooks in the students' homes. However, we are in an era in which the city and national media ignore egregious policies under mayor Michael Bloomberg and the out-going chancellor Joel Klein.

How would the public react to the issue of no texts in many students; homes, if this issue made it to the top of news stories, if it got the attention that it deserves?

It has become apparent that since the beginning of mayoral control of New York City schools there has been a general policy to rarely issue textbooks to students for home use. Just speak to teachers about how the situation in 2010, compared to 2002, to confirm this allegation.

Under mayoral control many critical issues are not addressed publicly in the media, let alone discussed in the messy world of public democratic debate. Perhaps owing to the failure of some students to return books at the end of a school year, nearly all high schools, according to my wide-ranging contacts, textbooks are not being issued to schools. This situation extends to the elementary and middle schools.

Yes, there are problems with textbooks. They can be biased. They can be simplistic or they can ignore aspects of issues that instructors think are critical. But teachers cannot compose everything. And textbooks can provide a level of topic authority, which can be of great use to students at home.

And so under the BloomKlein regime, progressive education's zeal for social unorthodoxy (criticism of textbooks -the no-textbooks principal Andrew Buck is the epitome of such thinking), combined with bottomline businesspeople's zeal for being cheap, have merged to create a force against textbooks.

So we ask "Is there books in our children's homes?" I googled the pertinent keywords and I only found an April 2002 study, by then New York State Assemblyman Scott Stringer's office, "READING IS FUNDAMENTAL:
that looked into the problem of inadequate purchases of textbooks. It is sad that New York State came behind other states in textbook purchases, and New York City fell far behind other cities in the state. But tragically, this study shows the situation in 2002, before BloomKlein created this general policy against textbook issuance. A study today would show a far worse situation.

What do administrators council as an alternative? What do teachers do to compensate for the situation? PHOTOCOPY. Numerous schools have on-site staff assigned exclusively to photocopying for teachers.
But this is blatant violation of federal copyright laws.
From Stringer's report:

Textbook shortages force teachers to make tough choices. Sometimes, when faced with the prospect of not assigning homework or not distributing an in-class reading assignment because there are not enough books for each student, a teacher will photocopy the material and hand it out. To reproduce copyrighted material for the purpose of distribution in an attempt to evade purchase of that material is a violation of the United States copyright law. The legislative history of the Copyright Act of 1976 endorsed the following guidelines:25

Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:
1. Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compellations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts there from are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
2. There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.
3. Copying shall not:
1. substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals;
2. be directed by higher authority;
3. be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
4. No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.

Sections 107 and 108 of title 17 of the United States Code, outline fair use exemptions to copyright protections. There are situations where a teacher may photocopy entire articles, passages, or segments of textbooks provided the copying meets the tests of brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect.26

The test of brevity requires the copied material to be either:
1. a poem of under 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or essay from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words;
2. a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.

The test of spontaneity demands that:
1. the copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and
2. the inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

The cumulative effect test requires that:
1. The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.
2. Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.
3. There shall be no more than 9 instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.

What an outrageous act of hypocrisy!!! The textbook publishers are being cheated, with official sanction (in apparent contravention against obligation from "higher authority"). Yet, we have a mayor, Michael Bloomberg, whose entire fortune rests on being a media titan over Bloomberg News and Bloomberg media. We have an outgoing chancellor, Joel Klein, that has gone through a revolving door, from Bertelsmann Media (BMG) (before the NYC Dept. of Education), to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, publisher of The New York Post, which has its raison d'etre practically existing in attacking public education in the city. We have an incoming chancellor, Cathie Black (which the media and the former mayors all tout as most deserving of a waiver from State Education Commissioner David Steiner), a figure that has been an executive at the Hearst Corporation, one of the country's most powerful magazine publisher.
But then, we're in a time in which the media and public generally see the emperor's new clothes, but some of us really see a naked fraud who relies on cheating and deception to put forward a myth of educational advancement. Will CFE, New Action or GEM come to the fore and call the mayor and the DOE on this shame of the city? Is the mayor above federal copyright law?
Where are the kids' textbooks?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Killer Coke Campaign Opposes Cathie Black Appointment - New York Bronx County Independent |

Killer Coke Campaign Opposes Cathie Black Appointment - New York Bronx County Independent |

Apparently, when Cathie Black sits on a shareholder board she opposes resolutions that call for Coca-Cola to recognize Coca-Cola's employment of prison labor. --or at least, the Killer Coke protest organization is ultimately implying that Coca Cola bigs such as Cathie Black know of abuse and are trying to do their best to ignore it or keep the issue quiet, to avoid reaching the larger public.

Here is the key excerpt:
Black has been directly involved in Coke’s operations in China. Here, the company has, once again, employed a child-marketing campaign to carve out market share while facing accusations of labor violations including the use of prison labor. Black voted against multiple resolutions presented at Coca-Cola shareholder meetings that would have recognized these abuses.

Black has attended many other shareholder meetings where resolutions were introduced to address the environmental degradation, labor abuses and the negative social impact of the company. Several of these resolutions asked for the company to pass an international code of conduct for the treatment of workers at all Coca-Cola bottling plants. In each case, Cathie Black remained silent.

There is enough corporate indifference here to demonstrate that Cathie Black is deaf to issues of human rights violations in in Coca Cola development in other countries.
It looks like it is all about the numbers, as far as Black is concerned. Big sales and profits for Coke; flattering statistics for New York City schools (at all costs, regardless if it means ignoring cheating on or scrubbing of state tests) ... Black should just fit right into Klein's shoes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Education book of the year

This is the education book of the year, after Diane Ravitch's book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

Sally A. Friedman's “The Education and Deconstruction of Mr. Bloomberg, How the Mayor’s Education and Real Estate Development Policies Affected New Yorkers 2002-2009 Inclusive”, at

Check out the usual online stores for her book. It is pertinent reading, in the aftermath of the Joel Klein resignation, for getting a more realistic perspective on the tenure of Klein as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Black, the NYC Dept of Education CEO-designate faces multiple conflict of interest challenges

Employees of a potential Cathie Black-headed New York City Department of Education are wondering whether she will be a Miranda Priestley, continuing Joel Klein's authoritarian rule.

Good government-minded New Yorkers have another area of concern: financial self-interest. I am making the Miranda Priestley/ The Devil Wears Prada reference because she has headed the Hearst Corporation for over a dozen years. Black faces conflicts of interest, as a recent head of Hearst and potential DoE chancellor. For her company's magazines included teen and young women-market magazines, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire --Magazines which encourage young women to be Kendall Jenners, valued for their looks rather than their intellectualism.

A chancellor is supposed to influence some good values for her teen charges. But do we not see some conflicting concerns here: witness Cosmo's photos and article topics, and contrast those with the reality of New York City high school student sexual behavior, i.e., see Study finds risky behavior among teens, reporting on an article in the journal Pediatrics. (Actually, I have linked this Associated Press story to a Boston Globe site, instead of USA Today, another previous employer of Black.)
Take a peek at Black's home.

As the Department of Education purchases thousands of computers, there is also Black's computer conflict of interest. She sits on the board of directors of IBM.

Then, there is her Coca Cola interest. She sits on that corporation's board of directors as well. The schools have drink and snack vending machines. Is Coke's Dasani bottled water in those vending machines?

And lastly, we should be vigilant about the charter school conflict of interest, of which bloggers have made greater note. Her charter school connection is her only professional or philanthropic connection with education. She recently ("a few months ago") was appointed to the National Leadership Board of Harlem Village Academy's charter school network. (As Steve Koss notes at the "NYC Public School Parents" blog, she has not yet attended any meetings of this board. You can see where her heart --wallet-- lies.) Co-chair of the Academy board is none other than Rupert Murdoch, boss-titan of the News Corporation, outgoing chancellor Joel Klein's new employer. Albeit, this information has not yet made it to Black's wikipedia biography article.
* * *
I commented with some cynicism at another's blogpost to the idea of opposing Bloomberg. But Bloomberg's chumming with catered society party benefits style of government does not mesh as easily as controlling the New York State Assembly, which appoints the Board of Regents, which appoints the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education, David Steiner.
So far, Senators Bill Perkins and Carl Kruger and incoming Senator Tony Avella, along with State Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo have publicly opposed granting Black a waiver from state requirements that school superintendents have education backgrounds. GothamSchools reports that Crespo is considering offering legislation preventing such waivers in the future. (At least some of these elected officials have issued public letters to Commissioner Steiner. See Senator-elect Avella's letter to the commisioner.)

Halliburton Dick Cheney and Mike Bloomberg got away with interlocking government. Will Commissioner Steiner or the New York State representatives put a stop to this by blocking such waivers?

Assemblyman Crespo's letter to Commissioner Steiner on chancellor/ superintendent waivers from NYSED prerequisites for having an education background:

Dear Commissioner Steiner,

Yesterday’s announcement of the resignation of NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein and the decision by Mayor Bloomberg to appoint Ms. Cathleen P. Black as his successor has raised some troubling issues for which I write to request your clarification.

It is my understanding that Mayor Bloomberg has requested a “waiver” from the State Education Department for approval of Ms. Black’s appointment. What then is the current policy or requirements for state approval of a candidate for the position of Chancellor?

Furthermore, if a candidate lacks a particular academic or experience requirement, what criteria and process is used to approve a “waiver’ of said requirement?

While I agree that Ms. Black’s management experience in the private sector is truly commendable, I am gravely concerned that with so many changes underway and more proposed for our City’s education system, we must be careful to set aside long standing state policy in ways that would not be afforded to other high level positions. In this regard, I am currently exploring legislative remedies that would address these circumstances in the future.

Your assistance in clarifying these questions will help me understand and explain to my constituents, why someone with no education background is selected to run one of the nation’s largest school systems during such a critical time.


Marcos A. Crespo
Member of Assembly

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will Chancellor Black reverse Klein's scourge on NYC education?

Joel Klein is getting replaced at the helm of the Dept of Ed.?
We could hope that the new chancellor will make great departures from the tenure of Mr. Klein, a tenure which wrecked terrible havoc upon NYC education.
Will she end the current emergency of multiple oversized classes, over the legal limit of registered students?
Will she end the destruction of the comprehensive high schools with diverse course offerings and clubs?
Will she end the closing of the large, traditional schools, and the overcrowding of weaker students from outside a district into selected schools, driving down their performance, all in the effort to close them down and reopen charter schools?
(For similar games that the Dept. of Education plays with pitting schools against each other, see this post at the Grassroots Education Movement, "Jane Addams Teacher Chronicles How NYCDOE Destroyed School With Poison Pill.")
Will she continue to trumpet her school system's accomplishments as utter genius, even while students score lower in the NAEP tests and among graduates from one-third of the New York City's high schools' graduates 70 percent of students entering CUNY programs needed courses in remedial English and Math?
Will she end the bias in resources and staffing levels of charter schools over public schools?
Will she end the overall scapegoating of teachers?
Will she end the scapegoating of teachers in episodes of misbehaving students?
Will she end the unprecedented (at least since the mid 1960s) aggressive posture of administrators toward teachers?
Will she end the seemingly deliberate replacement of teachers of color with students from elite schools?
Will she end the seemingly deliberate replacement of middle-aged teachers with “energetic, open minded,” read younger, less experienced (and easier to intimidate) teachers?
Will she end the mania of testing over teaching? ( --or Testing ueber alles?)
Will she end the mania of endless streams of consultants whose suggestions of “best practices” are outrageously naïve about conditions in NYC public schools?
Will she end the Orwellian/Kafkaesque labyrinth of the administrator allegations/student allegations/3020a hearings under Klein?
Will she end the closing out of parents from any policy voice on education matters?

I'm not holding my breath. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's absurdist selection of Cynthia Black, a media CEO (at Hearst magazines) suggests that we're in for more of the same. Truth cannot get ludicrous than fiction. Klein took an offer to become an Executive Vice President at the News Corporation. The News Corporation, in case you have not noticed, owns the loudest, most aggressively anti-teacher (and civil servants in general) newspaper in New York City, "The New York Post." (We can always be out happy that Bloomberg didn't choose the Washington Terror in the form of Michelle Rhee.)
As some posters to news articles are writing, but the "Times" seems to be forgetting,
this appointment will need a waiver authorization from State Education Commissioner David Steiner. People are going to have to wake up and stop believing the fudged data and the blind eye over Regents test scrubbing that Bloomberg relied upon in order to tout his false claim of advances in the last eight years; people that care about quality education for the city's students should insist upon some with an educator's background.
Will the "Times," WNYC and other media outlets fall in line with Bloomberg's emperor's new clothes nonsense and wax about the "savvy" with this "imaginative" choice of a chancellor?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teacher Rhee taped children's mouths; bleeding resulted / Statistics that puncture the myth Rhee created about her own teaching record in Baltimore

Seems Michelle Rhee, the high priestess of proper teaching in her stint as Washington, D.C. schools chancellor had failures of her own during her first year of teaching in Baltimore, Maryland.

Her second grade students were verbally unruly on their way to lunch one day. How did Ms. Rhee handle the situation? She taped the children's mouths shut. How horrible! This is something that teachers might joke about, but in reality they would never do this. The way this story developed is disturbing news and a warning to those that might do this.
At the end of Rhee's lesson on behavior she took the tape from the kids' mouths. Their lips were bleeding, in Rhee's own words, in an interview excerpted in "The Washington Post" this summer.
Need more proof? Here's an audio clip of Rhee glibly recalling the story as a funny party anecdote.

In New York City this would be cited as 420-A corporal punishment. No rubber room for Ms. Rhee. She squeaked past this one and became head of the school system in the big city to Baltimore's southwest.

                          *  *  *
Any career repercussions for Rhee? Hardly. The corporate media still love her and this episode never arises in their bios of her. Neither is there careful attention to the mythic self-representation she has created about her own teaching record in Baltimore (with the exception of the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun or PBS). Less recognized is how her actual performance in Baltimore fails to hold up on closer examination.

Read at the GFBrandenburg blog by a retired Washington, D.C. math teacher: "The Rhee Miracle Examined Again – By Cohort." He took her test score data for her three years of teaching, 1992-1995, in Baltimore under her Teach for America contract, and showed that she has exaggerated her performance in two years of teaching.

As he noted, had the IMPACT program she instituted in Washington, D.C. had been used in her own school, she would have been fired in the first year.
Here I will attempt to follow four different cohorts of students through Harlem Park Elementary, one of the Baltimore City public schools that was taken over by Tesseract/Edison company for several years in the early-to-mid-1990s and failed. Using publicly available data, I graphed the average percentile ranks of groups of students as they went through Harlem Park in first grade, then second grade, then third grade, and so on. If there’s a blank in my graphs, it’s because the data isn’t there.

I highlighted the classes where Michelle Rhee was teaching. In her last year, the scores did rise some, but nowhere near what she claimed. In her first year, they dropped almost as low as they can go. If Tesseract/Edison had been using the IMPACT evaluation system she foisted on DCPS teachers, she would have probably been fired after the first year!
As the Baltimore Sun reported, her claim, "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher," was actually dubious. And Rhee, after being challenged on this, said that she would use the phrase "significant gains" instead of the 90th percentile term. Brandenburg noted, the study (researchers with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Towson University, is stored in an online federal archive) presents "clear evidence of actual, knowing falsehood" by Rhee.

See also the June 30, 2007 Washington Post article, "Council to Challenge Rhee's Résumé." When someone did uncover her files, they indicated that her students' scores increase during the 2nd and 3rd years, but the gains were less than half what Rhee had claimed. (See February 8, 2011 Washington Post article, "Michelle Rhee's early test scores challenged.")

So much for honesty and empathy on Rhee's part.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harlem charter school spent $1.3 million to advertise itself to the community

Great expose by Juan Gonzalez!

See the New York Daily News link for the full article.
Local charter schools like Harlem Success are big business as millions are poured into marketing

The image of hundreds of black and Latino parents packed in an auditorium desperately hoping their child would "win" the lottery and get into a local charter school has assumed mythic status in media reports on education reform.

Two new two documentaries, "The Lottery" and "Waiting for Superman," made such events the emotional climax of their narratives. The former centered on Harlem Success, the charter network Schools Chancellor Joel Klein hails when he points to the demand for more charter schools.

But a Daily News review of Harlem Success financial reports suggests the network's huge backlog of applicants is the result of a carefully crafted Madison Ave.-style promotional campaign. In the two-year period between July 2007 and June 2009, Harlem Success spent $1.3 million to market itself to the Harlem community, the group's most recent financial filings show.

Click here to see the full article at the New York Daily News.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vote today to support music for NYC youth

Yes, this program appears to be targeted to Harlem youth (what about Brownsville or the Bronx's Morrisania, for example?),
and yes, this program has got a corporate tie-in,
and yes, music programs ought to be reinstated across the board, in every neighborhood, from elementary to high schools, and the busted up schools should be merged in a return of the large comprehensive high school, which can accommodate school bands or orchestras.
However, this is a decent program that we should all support. So, vote today to support this cause:
Keep the Beat! Empower kids through music.
See Arturo O'Farrill and others pitch for this program at the 92nd Street Y in their 1:50 video.

The overview from the Support this Cause page for this project:
The NYC Department of Education reports that only 974 full-time music teachers serve over 1.1 million students. 92Y brings in-class instruction by Teaching Artists and concerts by world renowned performers to 3,200 at-risk students at in 25 NYC public schools. 85% of 92Y students are African-American or Hispanic; 75% qualify for free lunch. The program's mission is to introduce young children to the music of many cultures in concert and in the classroom, in order to nurture each child’s own ability to be an active listener and express themselves through music. The program includes:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meet the Press today highlighting the voices of education deform

NBC's Sunday morning news show, "Meet the Press," is running along the trajectory of "Waiting for Superman." It is having as lead guests Education Secretary Arne Duncan, possibly out-going Washington, DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

The first two are the lead proponents of only holding teachers accountable for educational performance. They singularly focus on testing. They do not consider the importance or impact of administrators, parents or students. How can teachers be held to have the exclusive determining factor as to whether students? When students are oppositional, distracted or disruptive, what do the local education leaders (principals, assistant principals) do? Nothing. They cite the teacher as causing the disruption, because the lesson did not "engage" [entertain] the students.

We'll here none of this perspective today; Weingarten doesn't raise this.

UPDATE: Suprise! Robert Bobb, cial Manager, Detroit Public Schools, another guest on the show, actually recognized that principals have some responsibility (not just teachers).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

By now: Chicago primary schools occupied for a week

The specific details of the circumstance vary:
There is a class between a private school and a public school, and the city takes the private school side. This happened during the conflict over access to ball fields and elite schools in New York City. And this has happened several times in the same city between charter schools and regular public schools.

In Chicago, the community supporters have take more assertive direct action: they occupied their school to defend it.
The city's charge that the school building was dilapidated rings reminiscent of local governments and "slum removal" with the 1950s, 1960s demolition of neighborhoods for housing projects.

The one of the latest dispatches from "The Chicago Sun-Times:"
The six-day standoff between Chicago Public Schools officials and protesters demanding a library for a Pilsen elementary school showed no signs of ending Monday, with both sides indicating they were ready for a drawn-out fight.

Parents, children and activists have occupied a field house at Whittier Elementary School around the clock since Wednesday. CPS says the building is unsafe and must be demolished because there is no money for renovations, but protesters insist it could be converted into a library for less than the cost of demolition.

The two sides have not spoken since Friday, when more than 100 parents, students and teachers prevented CPS officials and police from carrying out their threats to remove the protesters and arrest them.

"We're going to stay here as long as it takes," said parent Araceli Gonzalez, whose daughter, Daniela, 10, is a Whittier student. "We've got inflatable mattresses, bathrooms, food and support from the community -- everything we need. Our children deserve a library."

A potential breakthrough came Monday when Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said CPS CEO Ron Huberman had promised not to demolish the school before meeting with protesters. But protesters say they won't end their occupation first, a condition CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond says must be met for the meeting to go ahead.

"Despite our warnings, they are assuming the safety and security risk for the children and adults staying there," Bond said. "There's no rush to demolish."

But protesters say union workers have volunteered to work for free to help transform the building into a library, and that their engineers believe CPS' safety concerns are overstated.

"We've got Huberman paying attention, now," activist Gema Gaete said. "They have to listen to us."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Great show evoking 60s, 70s rock scene in New York City

The Steven Gallery is showing an exhibition of photos over the venerable 1960s, 1970s rock club, Max's Kansas City. The show is running from September 15 to October 9, 2010.

Go to 521 W 23rd Street, a few paces west of 10th Avenue (near the newly opened High Line, a former freight rail line, reopened as public park space).

The hours there are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 AM to 6 PM.
Call Steven Kasher Gallery for more info: 212 966 3978.

See this introduction to the gallery at this Leonard Lopate page at

On the same longitude, up three blocks is Loretta Howard Gallery, which is also running a show on Max's Kansas City's performers.

Here's the long introduction that "The New York Times" published on the two shows.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Does Gray win in DC signify a "C" or "D" for Fenty/Rhee?

District of Columbia City Council head Vincent Gray soundly defeated Washington, DC mayor Adrian Fenty in September 14, 2010's primary.

To our headline's question, "Atlantic Monthly's" Natalie Hopkinson (a former Washington, DC "PTA mom") would answer, "YES!"

Hopkinson noted that Rhee politicized her fate earlier this year:
Rhee brazenly politicized her job as Schools Chancellor in a way that may be unprecedented for education bureaucrats. Back in the spring, the charitable arm of Wal-Mart and other corporate foundations threatened to yank millions they had donated to break the teacher's union if Rhee was not retained. Then Rhee not so subtly hinted to a reporter that she would not work for Gray. Finally, the weekend before the election, Rhee hit the campaign trail along with Fenty to round up votes in the wealthiest ward in Washington.

Voters' reactions? Hopkinson would say that Rhee was definitely a negative factor in their voting choice in the primary election:
A majority of black voters cited Rhee as a reason to fire her boss, while a majority of white voters cited Rhee as a reason to vote for Fenty. But the stink swirling around education reform in D.C. goes beyond race. The hundreds of millions of corporate dollars used to break the D.C. teachers' union have dangerous strings attached.

**The News Details**
Early news reports indicated Fenty's loss as stemming from voter anger with combative schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and a perception that Fenty cared more about the white, upscale Northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhoods than about the less advantaged parts of the city. The last paragraph of "The Wall Street Journal" analyzed preliminary reports of voting patters and has interpreted Gray as getting stronger support in the lower income, mostly African-American areas and Fenty as getting stronger support in Georgetown and Northwestern city neighborhoods.

It remains to be seen what this will all mean for chancellor Rhee. The media have reported that Gray will not announce the fate of Rhee's job until after the general election.

There has been the assertion by one commenter that Gray supports charter schools. But most of the news headlines don't seem to give that indication.

Hopkinson's description of Rhee's effect on students in Washington sounds a lot like the haphazard experimentation and constantly shifting policy in New York City under Joel Klein:
D.C.'s high-profile status as nation's capital means that for decades, our kids have been the subjects of virtually every passing education fad and experiment--like lab rats. But usually the meddling comes from Congress. D.C. is the only city where Congress pays private school tuition. About 40 percent of public school kids go to charter schools, also thanks to Congress. All of this "experimentation" and "competition" has destabilized the system so badly that the most competent D.C. school administrators rarely know how many kids are enrolled in public or charter schools on a given day.

Hopkinson said it best toward the end of her article, "How 'public' is it when Wal-Mart can blackmail D.C. voters?"

Why Michelle Rhee's Education 'Brand' Failed in D.C. - Natalie Hopkinson - Politics - The Atlantic

Why Michelle Rhee's Education 'Brand' Failed in D.C. - Natalie Hopkinson - Politics - The Atlantic

Hard hitting piece on DC voters' feelings for Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Rhee in "The Atlantic Monthly."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update on New York Republican Party primary results

UPDATES on the New York Republican side of the primaries, September 14, 2010:

In the competition for the GOP nomination to oppose incumbent Democrat Charles Schumer in this November's election, Jay Townsend beat Gary Berntsen, not only for the Republican but also for the Conservative Party nomination.
Opposing Kirsten Gillibrand in this November's special election is Joseph DioGuardi, having won both the Republican and Conservative primary contests. Both the Townsend and DioGuardi candidacies put the lie to the claim that the Conservative Party needs to have voters chose the Conservative Party in the gubernatorial contest, in order to retain its ballot access status. Voters will be able to support the Conservative Party but voting for Townsend of DiotGuardi.

Paladino created the Taxpayers Party of New York, which endorsed him of course, and for Schumer's contest: the party nominated Gary Berntsen, and Gillibrand's seat: David Malpass.
Thus, there is a divided right field for the Senate seats, and a divided right field for the Governor's seat (Rick Lazio retains Conservative line). The Taxpayers Party is the apparent party manifestation of the Tea Party. Malpass is the favorite of the local far-right Tea-Party-associated media personalities (e.g., Sean Hannity).

Randy Altschuler (electronics recycling millionaire) won First congressional district (eastern Suffolk County on Long Island) to challenge incumbent Tim Bishop.
This is a great article on Altschuler personally and on his defeating Tea-Party-endorsed Cox on both the RP and Conservative lines.
Altschuler had a 45% victory, resounding defeat of George Demos, 31 and Christopher Cox, 24.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tea Partier Paladino defeats GOP stalwart Lazio

In the biggest contest it appears that Carl Paladino (Tea Party-affiliated) gubernatorial candidate appears heading to defeat establishment Republican Party candidate Rick Lazio. As of 10:41 PM, Paladino was leading over Lazio, 68% to 31%. (Source: WABC-TV)

We are still waiting to see which candidate comes out ahead in the Suffolk County Republican primary for the congressional district race. Different candidates are attempting to receive the Tea Party nomination. Candidates for the Republican nomination are Randy Altschuler, Chris Cox and George Cox.

**Senatorial nomination going to mainstream Townsend**
There have been two Republicans vying for the nomination of challenge U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat), Townsend and Berntsen. In contrast to the Paladino-Lazio race, Townsend has remained ahead of Tea Party-affiliated Berntsen.

Racist, psycho PINI goes off on Haitian family --will he go into rubber room-like status?

The New York Post and company will malign an entire profession, projecting onto all teachers the misdeeds of a few, abandoning due process, casting as guilty when an allegation is issued.

Interesting that this treatment is reserved for teachers alone. Apparently there is an unquestioning judgment in this hierarchy, forever granting legitimacy and propriety to the reputations of supervisors.

So, it is interesting to hear of two Queens supervisors at a Queens Village elementary school, a principal and an assistant principal, as they engaged in racial harassment of two disgruntled Haitian parents with questions about their children's report cards.

Click here for the story, as it was reported in NY1.
Here is how the Gothamist reported the story.

We wonder if the administrators accused of racist verbal abuse will be taken out of daily service at PS 135. My bet is probably not.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ObamaReform behind Queens HS fates

The August 19, 2010 Queens Tribune reported that "7 Boro High Schools Face Uncertain Futures." The schools are:
August Martin, Beach Channel (well, the NYC Department of Education doesn't give up), Grover Cleveland, Jamaica, John Adams, Newtown and Richmond Hill.
Federal grant monies (read: Bush era No Child Left Behind repackaged as Barack Obama-Arne Duncan era No Teacher Left Unvilified or No School Left Unsold, courtesy of Zcommunications) give the city four choices, the article reports.
The NYC DOE is considering only two possibilities for the schools: "Turnaround" and "Transformation."
Already the city has slated three other Queens schools for Turnaround treatment:
Flushing, Long Island City and Queens Vocational and Technical.
The article includes critical comments against the proposed changes by Beach Channel Chapter Leader David Pecoraro.
Anything to add to this discussion or the Tribune's coverage of this issue? Jessica Ablamsky, the author, posted her work contact:

Click to the updates, at the bottom of my August 13, 2010 post, for resources on overviews of Duncan's changes in Chicago.

Galling WNYC, Village Voice inconsistency re NYPD, DOE malfeasance coverage

Yesterday (Wednesday, August 25, 2010) I heard WNYC's Brian Lehrer speak about New York State's victory in the "Race to the Top." The voice of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein graced the show. While there was at least one caller that bemoaned the rising stress on teachers from test-driven teaching to the test, the general reception of Klein was congratulatory in New York State's competition with neighboring New Jersey.
A blogger has cited the Broad Foundation's friendly relationship with WNYC after my open question: why is WNYC treating New York City's Department of Education with such kid gloves?
One would hope that the exposure of New York City's plummeting scores (when the notoriously easy New York State tests were made more difficult this year) would prompt WNYC to lessen the fawning treatment of Chancellor Klein. No. Klein was allowed to wax on an on, in an uninterrupted soliloquy. Valuable time that could have gone to parents or teachers was lost in deference to his ego.
In contrast to the kid gloves treatment that Lehrer gave Klein last Thursday, August 19, note these essential questions that a poster to Lehrer's site offered:
1. Isn't Klein a total failure? Eight years of an experiment on our kids and no progress?

2. Wasn't claiming progress on flawed tests a lie?
Wasn't he promoting and firing teachers on the basis of these flawed tests? And telling parents which schools are good on the basis of these tests? And so if he knew these tests were flawed why did he give all this bad advice and claim progress that didn't happen?

3. Shouldn't he just resign?

When Lehrer usually organizes a segment on an issue with opposing perspectives he invites guests from different sides of an issue. Not so with the NYC DOE. No Leonie Haimson, no Juan Gonzalez or no Norm Scott for balance. On Lehrer's show there is no speaking truth to the power of Mr. Klein.

So, it was grandly disappointing when Lehrer segued over to a piece dealing with insensitive treatment of police officers. The piece centered around "NYPD Tapes 5: The Corroboration," the latest of a series of journalistic pieces by The Village Voice that has looked into corrupt practices in the New York Police Department, New York City's police force. It was obvious --but Lehrer did not pick up on it-- that there is a direct parallel: in both the NYC DOE and in the NYPD there is a management culture that only values the professionals, teachers and police officers, respectively, on the basis of their statistics.

In both cases the public suffers. Students get a dullened education that only lives for tests (see Gabe Pressman's report from his interview of Diane Ravitch and see this City University of New York study, "Teaching to the Test: How No Child Left Behind Impacts Language Policy, Curriculum, and Instruction for English Language Learners"). No appreciation of knowledge, just prep for the test, all to the end of making the great Oz (his holiness Mike Bloomberg). In the case of police performance, police offices do not report larcenous thefts as such, police officers willy-nilly harass black and Hispanic New Yorkers (see this Times story and this New York Civil Liberties Union report), all in the name of protecting the great Oz (mayor Bloomberg, just to remind you) and his ever improving statistics.

The Village Voice's disturbing report is a good deed. Perhaps the Pulitzer Prize committee will reward the newspaper or its reporters. But why the attention to stats mania in the police department, but no attention to similar abuses in the Education Department? The allegations that police department supervisors pressure police officers, with a singular mind to statistics, in self-interest for promotion or bonuses resonate with the allegations that teachers make about principals that harass teachers over test statistics. Yet, neither The Village Voice nor WNYC will address the parallel patterns of harassing of teachers and mis-serving the students.

Where is our free press? Where are the investigative reporters? The "alternative" or "non-commercial" media outlets fail at their duty. We bloggers don't carry the same weight as these outlets or the daily newspapers. Otherwise, Bloomberg would have lost to Bill Thompson last fall.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Toxic elements in NYC schools; nine months of inaction?

PCBs have been found in window caulk in three New York City schools.
See Mireya Navarro, "Preliminary Tests Find Elevated PCB Levels in 3 Public Schools" in the August 18, 2010

A blogger (PCB Free) has posted an August 4, 2010 report of concerns over PCB presence in schools.

This is an old, lingering issue. On January 19, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement with the NYC Department of Education, whereby the city would study PCBs in five city schools. But there was no mention of the dozens of schools already found to have PCBs.

The schools revealed in August represent the tip of an iceberg. In November 26, 2009, "The Queens Chronicle" reported that there is toxic PCB caulk on the windows of numerous primary and secondary schools in the city.
The article, by Lisa Fogarty, reported that the New York City Department of Education determined that there is such contamination on 85 public schools in the city. It also reported that parents have been active in opposing the presence of these compounds in the window caulk. It quoted Naomi Gonzalez, a Bronx parent that is working with other parents in litigating, with the assistance of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, against the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority.
These windows are the legacy of construction from earlier generations, as the article reported:
Before the 1970s, PCBs, which stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, were added to the caulking material used to cushion window and door frames to make them more elastic, according to the NYLPI. Although they were banned in 1979, products that may still contain the compound include electrical equipment, oil-based paints, floor finishes and caulking — which has recently been found in abundance on many school windows.

PCBs volatize into air and don’t stay in place, Massie said, affecting the quality of air students breathe, as well as the soil around a facility.

A fuller accounting is needed. Many questions need to be addressed. How many schools with pre-1980 windows (or other areas with possible PCB caulking) have yet to be tested? When will the New York City Department of Education act to replace the toxic windows? How is the NYLPI's suit against the School Construction Authority progressing?

For more sites on the issue of PCBs in schools, see PCBs: Mandatory Testing in Schools or

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New York State 2010 primary voter registration deadline is Fri, Aug.20

The 2010 deadline for New York State voter registration for primary election participation is Friday, August 20, 2010.

Here is the page for online or mail registration:

Click on the above link, and scroll to "How and Where to register to Vote."

The so-called online instructions:
Alternately, you can complete a PDF version of the New York State Voter Registration Form on-line by clicking on the link below, typing the necessary information and selecting the appropriate boxes. However, the file size of these forms are substantially larger than the above forms, so it may take quite a while for them to load on computers with slower Internet connections.
Complete English Form On-line (2,370KB) [which means 2.37 MB]
Complete Spanish Form On-Line (596KB)
Once the form is completed, you need to print the form and sign it. Then, mail the form to your county board of elections.

Of course, note the caveat in the last sentence: you must mail the form.

Of course, this is the more straight-forward explanation:
You can register in person at your county board of elections
or at any New York State Agency-Based voter registration center.
You can enter your name directly into our mailing list database to have a New York State Voter Registration Form mailed to you. (NOTE: The same form can be downloaded, using the link below.)
You can call our 1-800-FOR-VOTE begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-800-FOR-VOTE      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-800-FOR-VOTE      end_of_the_skype_highlighting hotline to request a voter application.
You can download a PDF version of the New York State Voter Registration Form.
Download English Form (69KB)
Download Spanish Form (115KB)
Print the form, complete and sign it, and mail it to your county board of elections.

(Got questions? Telephone the general office number: 212-487-5300. Here is the link for the borough office telephone numbers and addresses.)

Of course, there are problems with the gubernatorial candidates, but that's another matter.
* * *
The Albany "Times-Union" blog on the New York State attorney general's race. The latest post includes a database of contribution to candidates, in amounts of $250 or more. One can read of contributions from real estate companies, lawyers and labor.

Ron Gunzberger's site. Has comprehensive list of statewide candidates, Congressional candidates and New York State news links.

Friday, August 13, 2010

PBS addresses Chicago killing wave --Will it address claim of link to Duncan's school closings?

PBS' new, in-depth Friday evening news show, "Need to Know" with Alison Stewart and Jon Meacham will focus on Chicago's wave of youth violence, "Block By Block: Violence in Chicago." (Friday, Aug. 13, 8:30, local time, in NYC and Indianapolis, 9:00 in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, 10:30 in Baltimore and Annapolis [for the Washington, DC market --pre-empted on Aug. 13].)

Will the news program address activists' contention that Arne Duncan's (Chicago schools CEO [sic], 2001-2009) wave of schools closings has contributed to the spike in youth violence in Chicago's poor neighborhoods? Shootings spiked after the 2004 schools closings program (euphemistically called "phase-outs") began.

Links on this theme:
MSNBC: "School closings root of Chicago teen violence?: Activists blame education reform plan for spike in youth attacks"

Catalyst Notebook: "Chicago schools plan to combat violence: kinder, gentler security guards, disciplinarians"

WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio: "Parents, Activists Say Renaissance 2010 Exacerbates Youth Violence"

And alas, just like this endless ego-trip of "school reform" in New York City, that has produced lackluster school performance (no improvement), research shows that Chicago's school transformation produced little improvement:
Education Week: "Chicago School Closings Found to Yield Few Gains"

See this great resource on the devastation that Duncan and his successors have wrought on Chicago public schools:
Paul Street, "Arne Duncan and Neoliberal Racism," at ZNet
At Amy Goodman's DemocracyNow, A Look at Arne Duncan’s VIP List of Requests at Chicago Schools and the Effects of his Expansion of Charter Schools in Chicago," the source of this quote:
The larger scandal is that Chicago has basically a two-tiered education system, with a handful of these selective enrollment magnet schools, or boutique schools, that have been set up under Renaissance 2010 in gentrifying and affluent neighborhoods, and then many disinvested neighborhood schools.

Looks familiar, eh? Just what mayor Michael Bloomberg and chancellor Joel Klein are doing in New York City.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Incredulous Bloomberg piousness on WTC mosque, in contradiction to his intolerance on Eid holidays

New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg can be counted on to take the hypocritical high road, backing one principle while disrespecting an individual or a community.
Remember when he crassly was impatient with the wheelchair-using journalist who dropped his voice recorder, and how he took the holier than all road of claiming that showing the slightest patience was impeding the business of marriage equality?

This month we have the mayor being tolerant and intolerant to the same community, the Muslim New Yorkers. He took the high principles road this week, commenting on the fracas over a religious house of worship (specifically, a Muslim mosque) near the 9/11 World Trade Center site where Saudis crashing commercial jet-liners into the Twin Towers.

On Monday July 12, the mayor rightly opposed proposals to investigate the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site.

Yet in the last month the mayor has repeated his refusal to grant a mere two religious holidays to one of the three largest religious communities in New York City.

The opening fraction of the June 30, 2010 NY1 story ("Group Makes Push For Muslim School Holidays") on the rally for school closings for two Eid day closings, Eid-ul Adha and Eid-ul Fitr begins:
NEW YORK CITY – A group of Muslim parents and their supporters gathered Wednesday on the steps of City Hall where they called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to recognize Islamic holidays on the school calendar.

The coalition of religious, immigrant and labor groups is asking the mayor to honor a City Council resolution calling for two Muslim holy days -- Eid-ul Adha and Eid-ul Fitr -- to be added to the school calendar.

Group Makes Push For Muslim School Holidays
The resolution passed last year, however Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein say there is not room for more time off during the academic year.

The group says the fact they were considering pushing back the first day of school to accommodate Rosh Hashanah indicates that there is flexibility in the system. They also say having no Islamic holidays discriminates against the city's 100,000 Muslim school children.

"Twelve percent of the New York City's 1.1 million school children are Muslim. And our children deserve to have their holiday like everyone else," said City Councilman Robert Jackson.

Too many holidays? Nonsense!! The Christmas holiday, Christmas, is the cause for at least five consecutive days off for that holiday. Plus, occasionally, there is another day or two off for Christian observance: Easter Monday or Good Friday. We already have at least three days off each year for Jewish holidays. So, to argue that two days off for two Muslim holidays is excessive, that is just incredible. France's Agence France Presse has a video story, "US schools ponder Muslim holidays" on this issue. To my mind, we just look plain intolerant by refusing to extend the same respect to Muslim students and staff that we extend to Christian students and staff.
The mayor's biased and inconsistent refusal is obviously grounds for a constitutional, civil right challenge. He can't pass the buck on this issue. The city council has OK'ed this proposal; all stonewalling responsibility lies with King Michael.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Obama threatens veto to get his school-deform ways

Obama vetoing over his bullying for school de-forming.

He's making this the rare case of using his veto?????
And people wonder why we use the term, "Obushma"?

From the L.A. Times, July 12, 2010:
Obama's school-aid showdown
The president is wrongly threatening to veto a school-aid package unless cuts to his Race to the Top program are eliminated.

All across the country, the most pressing need in schools right now is to keep as many teachers, janitors, counselors and librarians as possible. Less important: expanding charter schools and linking teachers' evaluations to their students' test scores.

So we're surprised by the tumult over a school-aid package approved by the House last week as part of a larger appropriations bill. It would provide $10 billion to keep as many school employees as possible in their jobs during the recession, but would do so, in part, by imposing some cuts on the Obama administration's key education initiative. Race to the Top, a $4.3-billion program that provides competitive grants to states that draw up reform programs in keeping with the administration's priorities, would lose $500 million. Two other incentive programs would lose a total of $300 million.

President Obama has threatened to veto the school-aid package unless the cuts to these programs are eliminated. But Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who inserted the aid package, included those cuts among many others to offset its cost, thus winning support from Republicans and conservative Democrats. Even with the reduction in its budget, Race to the Top would have billions of dollars to hand out. Would the president really undermine desperately needed school funding over a less-than-lethal reduction in the grant program's coffers?

Opponents of the cuts say that more money for schools won't help unless reforms are instituted. But the $10 billion doesn't represent "more" money; it simply makes up for — to a limited extent — devastating budget cuts that schools have suffered in recent years. And reforms will accomplish nothing unless schools can keep teachers in the classroom.

Of course, if Obey had seen Race to the Top as invaluable, he wouldn't have touched its funding. And here we agree with him as well. The concept behind the program is brilliant: Leverage a relatively small amount of money by using competitive grants as an incentive for states to embrace change. Dozens of states have drawn up new legislation and made new pledges in order to align with the administration's goals. But some of those goals are untested and others are too severe. We too believe that teachers' evaluations should have some connection to how their students score on tests, but are dismayed to see states win grants by promising to make those scores account for at least half of a teacher's performance. And though well-run charter schools have brought welcome new practices to public education, the jury is still out on whether charters improve educational outcomes as a whole. Just as important is the question of which charter schools work well; some perform significantly worse than public schools.

It's too bad that Obey's school-aid package doesn't include some reasonable accountability measures of its own, such as a requirement that states not lay off teachers strictly by seniority when doing so would hurt low-income and minority students, or that they begin drawing up plans for thoughtful teacher evaluations. But above all, let's keep teachers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just in case you didn't notice this piece impeding a 4th Bloomberg term

Sometimes the important stories have little fanfare:

A little over one year ago the New York State Assembly passed legislature passed a law requiring a public referendum on whether to extend term limits one more time.

See Elizabeth Benjamin in the New York Daily News, a year ago, June 17, 2009. (Did the Senate pass a parallel bill?)

There just might be hope in avoiding FOUR Bloomberg terms as New York City's mayor.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dissidents prevail in Chicago teacher's union

"New Chicago teacher's union leader vows fight against layoffs,"
By John Bachtell, in "The People's World."
This victory of dissident teachers over union bureaucrats comes in the aftermath of Arne Duncan's destruction of the Chicago public school system during his tenure there, particularly the unfounded break-up of schools.
Note how, akin to Michael Bloomberg's renaming the Board of Education as the Department of Education, the head of the Chicago school system is given a corporate-inspired name, "Chief Executive Officer."
CHICAGO - Angered by devastating budget cuts, threatened layoffs and school privatization, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members voted in a new leadership June 10. New president Karen Lewis immediately vowed to fight any attempt by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to layoff 2,000 teachers and increase class sizes to 35 students to deal with a projected $600 million budget deficit.

Lewis's slate, Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), won nearly 60% of the vote in a runoff against incumbent President Marilyn Stewart and her slate. CORE swept all top officer and vice president slots. After the election both Stewart and Lewis called for a united union.

"I want to congratulate Karen Lewis and her entire CORE team, and want them to know they can count on me for any assistance I can offer as they take on what will be one of the toughest challenges in the 73-year history of the Chicago Teachers Union," Stewart said. "For when all is said and done, this election was never about Karen or me. It was about the 32,000 union members whose futures and well-being are now being threatened by an uncaring and insensitive Chicago Public Schools system."

The unity of the union was tested immediately when CPS Board of Education held an emergency meeting to deal with the mounting budget crisis. Teachers picketed before going inside where they testified against the Board giving authority to school's CEO Ron Huberman's plan to allow class sizes to rise to 35 and impose cuts in other areas. The Board also agreed to a scheduled 4% pay increase, but this was seen as a maneuver to prevent a strike by teachers. Big business interests represented by the Civic Federation are egging Huberman to rescind the wage increase and confront the teachers union.

However, Huberman did demand concessions by the union. He told the Board, "The reality of the situation is that if concessions are not made, we will have to lay off teachers and raise class sizes." Huberman and the Board are trying to back teachers into a corner and pit them against parents and students.

The CTU says it will let teachers decide on the 4% raise, but maintain there are other ways to solve the crisis and demanded CPS open up its books.

In her victory speech Lewis said, "Today marks the beginning of the end of scapegoating educators for all the social ills that our children, families and schools struggle against every day (and) the beginning of a fight for true transparency in our educational policy. This election shows the unity of 30,000 educators standing strong to put business in its place - out of our schools."

Lewis said corporate America sees K-12 public education as a $380 billion trust, which until the last 15 years it hadn't had a sizeable piece of. She blasted Mayor Richard M. Daley's school reform in which scores of schools have been closed and reopened as charter schools, as not an education plan, but a business plan.

Lewis's victory was also a repudiation of President Obama's proposed federal policy for education reform which is based on the Chicago model administered by current Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Alarmed by the potential for massive loss of jobs of teachers and other public workers, President Obama implored Congress on June 12 to pass emergency aid to the states and cities to prevent layoffs. Obama said already 84,000 public workers had lost their jobs and 300,000 teachers are threatened with layoffs. Legislation has been blocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats that would have provided $50 billion in funding.

Lewis and other speakers at the Board meeting called upon Daley to release hundreds of millions of dollars that has been accumulated by the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) accounts. These entities have siphoned off property tax money destined for public education into a fund distributed by Daley for economic development that often ends up in the pockets of his cronies. Each year $245 million in education funding is lost in this way.

The new CTU leadership is calling for reforming the way education is funded in Illinois. Presently, 60% of funds comes from property taxes and 30% from state funding, which they say should be reversed to provide equitable education for every child.

A personal bio of the new CTU president, Karen Lewis, from the CORE faction appears in today's "Chicago Sun-Times."

Just as we thought: NYT: " New York Charter Schools Lag in Enrolling Hispanics"

To anyone familiar with the charter schools and those semi-charter schools, run as "private-public partnerships," there are tremendously lop-sided demographics at the schools.
The schools are disproportionately African-American in areas with significant Latino populations that are not proportionately represented in the student bodies. In some cases, the populations of the schools are lop-sided in their gender demographics.
Just what is the thinking of the administrators that create these situations? Are they cynically thinking, "let's hold down the numbers of boys (they might be too rambunctious) and the number of Latinos (they might not know the language as well as those children to native-born speakers). After all, it's all about the statistics. We've got to keep those Regents scores up." How cynical. I'd love to throw this question at schools chancellor Joel Klein: "How do you justify the nearly-segregating trends, by race and gender dimensions, of New York City schools?"

This NY Times story
"New York Charter Schools Lag in Enrolling Hispanics," confirms my suspicions.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Health disparities in New York City, report

True, the report is a few years old, but it is just as relevant as before, as race, class disparities have not improved since the report's release.

Yvonne L. Graham, R.N., M.P.H. reported on health disparities in New York City.

Here are some links:
in 2006 *.pdf format brochure:

in Powerpoint format, available at WWRL radio's site:

There is now a center on the health disparities issue
at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Flatbush, Brooklyn:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Protest in defense of teachers, at Mayor Bloomberg's E 79th Street house!


Stop Harassment of Teachers - Justice for The Bronx Science Twenty
Picket at Mayor Bloomberg's house
- June 10th, 4:30pm -
79th St. and 5th Ave., SW Corner

All over the city, teachers experience harassment from supervisors and principals. The time to protest is long overdue! The UFT Chapter at the Bronx High School of Science is organizing a a picket of Mayor Bloomberg's home against administrative harassment at their school and the DOE's refusal to abide by the decision of an independent arbitrator that the harassment must be remedied and ended.
Two years ago, twenty math teachers at the school filed a complaint against the harassment and abuse at the hands of their supervisor. Their claim has been upheld by a neutral arbitrator in a recent fact-finding decision, but the schools chancellor Joel Klein has outrageously decided to ignore the fact-finder's report and take no action.

The Department of Education's disregard of the fact-finding decision will only lead to increasing tension at the school, further demoralization of teachers, and a worsening learning environment for students. So the UFT Chapter is taking their case to Mr. Klein's boss, Mr. Bloomberg.

Please join us to show solidarity in the face of harassment of newer teachers, veteran educators, and union activists. The DOE and the national media would like to have the public believe that teachers are only disciplined in order to improve educational outcomes, but this fact-finder's report exposes that good teachers have fallen victim to supervisors who abused their power.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

MSNBC's Maddow takes us into the Second Avenue subway construction

Ah, the Second Avenue Subway, the line that has taken a lifetime to be built. There had been two elevated lines in the vicinity, at the start of the twentieth century, the Third Avenue Elevated and the First Avenue Elevated.
As Rachel Maddow reminds us, in the MSNBC clip at the right, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and its predecessor authorities have had fitful starts at constructing it, in the 1920s, the 1950s, the 1970s.
Finally, the MTA has started constructing the Second Avenue, beginning in 2007.
Click on the video at the right, for the video, of Maddow, taking us in a trip underground, to witness the construction of the subway.
Alas, it is projected that New Yorkers must wait until 2016 for the first leg of the subway, between 96th Street and 63rd Street. The subway will be an IND line, a northward continuation of the Q Line, that presently terminates at 57th Street.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BBC News America looks at Finland's education system

Finland has low levels of homework assigned, but it also has high academic performance: BBC News America's report on education in Finland.

Some things to take into consideration: Finland has much greater social service supports for the poorer part of its population than the United States does. It also has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, by various measures, here, here, here. This introduces the chicken or the egg question, which feature came first, high literacy in general, or literate parents fostering a good learning environment at home?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sen. Malcolm Smith's 2nd life: self-serving crook

Cambria Heights State Senator Malcolm Smith, who has been poorly serving New York State, with his shepherding drastic education cuts,
has cheated individual property owners, as in this story in the New York Daily News:
"Federal probe shows Senate President Malcolm Smith ripped off elderly couple for $60,000"

"Merrick Academy students suffer as State Senate President Malcolm Smith profits from charter school

From the New York Post, April 4, 2010: Sen. Malcolm Smith grossed $500,000 from a land deal for two companies that he controlled. This apparently evades requirements for legislative financial disclosure.