It's teacher hunting season!

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?