It's teacher hunting season!

Friday, December 30, 2011

End of 2011 health & NYC schools reflections: exercise & PCBs

Important notes for the end of the year:

1) The New York City Department of Education is still shamefully neglecting proper physical education / exercise with its students.
Note what the state law requires and contrast this with the reality. A small minority of students are getting the exercise that they need.
Back in October Comptroller John Liu (the excellent one that --convenient for Mayor Michael Bloomberg-- was thoroughly assailed in the press, particularly "The New York Post").
Here is how the New York Times "Schoolbook" story ("Does your school meet the state's requirements for physical education?") opened:
An audit by Comptroller John C. Liu found that many New York City schools do not provide physical education classes, or do not provide them as often as they should, despite alarming obesity rates among school-aged children and a state requirement that all students get some level of structured exercise every week.

The state requires that physical education classes be held every day for kindergarten to 3rd grade, for at least 120 minutes a week; three times a week for grades 4 to 6, also for a minimum of 120 minutes; and at least 90 minutes a week for grades 7 and 8.

The Times piece includes numerous comments. Noteworthy is the one that says that charter schools are big culprits in denying proper exercise. We should also note that a similar problem arises when schools share or co-locate with other ones. The competition between schools for gym access means that students lose out from proper gym time.

[Truthfully, New York City schools have done a poor job of attending to children's health for quite some time. See this June 2003 report by then Assembly member Scott Stringer (now Manhattan Borough President), "FAILING GRADE: HEALTH EDUCATION IN NYC SCHOOLS: An Analysis of K-8 Health Education in New York City's Public School System."]

* * *
2) Circulating these days is a Christine Quinn (City Council speaker) letter announcing legislation to address the PCB [Polychlorinated biphenyl] problem in public schools.
While it is admirable to fight this scourge that harms the health of students, teachers and other staff, it is gallingly disingenuous that Speaker Quinn is addressing this issue now. For this matter has been in the news at least two years now, with neighborhood media (newspapers) taking the lead on this issue, and the United Federation of Teachers' (UFT) taking a too-quiet campaign on this issue.

--Disingenuous because Quinn has stood 100% loyal to Bloomberg for 10 years, amidst moments such as his minimizing the danger of PCBs in schools: as in this Feb. 25, '11 NY1 story, "Mayor: School PCBs Pose No Imminent Health Threat", as referenced by Perdido Street on Feburary 26.
Bloomberg added the city's former health commissioner, Tom Frieden, says a lunchroom staple [a tuna fish sandwich] is more toxic than the schools' lights.

Note this sad December 29, 2011 NY Daily News story from a toxic Bronx school:
"Teacher from toxic Bronx school to sue after losing her baby to birth defect
Nancy Tomassi's school, PS 51, was laden with carcinogen trichloroethylene"

* * *
--By the way, our "progressive" mayor-to-be (Quinn) has stalled up New York City's Living Wage bill: "Labor Gives Quinn Cover as De Blasio Tries to Make an Issue of Her Living-Wage Delay," as reported by Dana Rubinstein in Capital New York, December 19, 2011.
The 12/19 Capital New York story reports that the New York City Council has passed two bills on PCB testing in city schools.
(See also Rubinstein's November 23, 2011 CNY story, "Perched Between Her Members and Her Patrons, Quinn Edits the 'Living-Wage' Bill in Public".)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

1/12/12 New Bronx Chap: Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP)

New Bronx Chapter forming in mid-January:
Saturday, January 14, 2012, 12 Noon to 4 PM:
Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE)
at the Clay Avenue Tenants' Community Center

1195 Clay Avenue (corner of 168th Street), Bronx, NY
D train to 167th Street or 4 train to 169th Street, or BX 35 bus to 168th Street and Webster Avenue.
Open to all: Parents, Educators, Students, Community leaders and Activists.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To UFT: Denounce Police Presence at Public Ed. Meetings

Thank you, Ed Notes, for this crucial piece re the growing police presence at Panel for Education Policy meetings.

He wrote on the mayor's actions of creating an intimidating police force at meetings, a deeply undemocratic step. This harkens to some of the uglier moments of American history, Mitchell Palmer's raids, the Joseph McCarthy era.
Shame on the corporate media for not writing editorials denouncing this (by now, they must be reading the blogs and should know full well what is happening with the NYPD at the PEP meetings), and ditto for the United Federation of Teachers. (actually, I place this trend as appearing earlier than the Washington Irving PEP: at the Seward Park PEP very early in the 2011-2012 year with the same kind of police force in the building and additionally ominously, posted at the street corners adjacent to the entrances to Seward Park HS.)

I wrote a piece yesterday about the police presence at the PEP - and put together a short video focusing on that aspect.
NYC Police Turn Ugly Since Occupy Movement Began

And then this came across today -

Washington Irving HS Protest - Monitored by Large (15) Police Presence

A peaceful gathering of teachers was watched by riot police and regular police and 2 white shirts from across the street. - Teacher report

Now, there weren’t many police in riot helmets. Maybe 3 or 4, plus another 15 police (including two White Shirts) milling around. When I arrived there were two NYPD squad cars, two vans, and three mopeds. You might say to yourself, as someone responded to me on Twitter, Hey man, 3 or 4 riot-helmeted cops with their hands in their pockets, looking bored, isn’t such a big deal. Well, you’re wrong. It’s absolutely a big deal. Not because the police were going to beat up anybody, or arrest anybody, but simply because 50 teachers protesting the closing of their school do not deserve to be treated like potential rioters — even by 3 police officers. -----Political media

The above is from two separate reports. Note my [EdNotes] last post (NYC Police Turn Ugly Since Occupy Movement Began) on the growing police state (with video) from Bloomberg's private army - the NYCPD. I pointed to the growing threat education-based protests are facing. After all, Bloomberg's legacy is steeped in the schools and the growing opposition movement will be met with increasing monitoring.

We have been doing Fight Back Friday events for a few years in front of schools. But to send 15 cops with 2 white shirt supervisors?

Here's an idea: Let's do these in front of 50 schools on the same day and see how they handle it. Or maybe 1500 schools one day.

I noted in the video below a few UFT officials. They should be concerned at the presence of 15 police at a rally of 50 people.


Here is a report with video from a teacher who is at another school in the building:

The Department of Education (=Bloomberg) announced the closure of Washington Irving High School. The school, the teachers, the parents, the students and the community who knows and cares about this school fight back!

A peaceful gathering of teachers was watched by 3 riot police and about 10 regular police and 2 white shirts from across the street. What's the message? Figure!

The video sums it up beautifully. There is some inspirational testimony by one parent in this video. Great testimony by teachers as well. Feel free to watch and share!

And another from reporter John Knefel.
Teachers Protest, NYPD Officers Don Riot Helmets
John Knefel
This morning I attended an event at Washington Irving High School, in Manhattan’s Gramercy neighborhood, to protest the proposed closing of the school. Gregg Lundahl, the United Federation of Teachers chapter leader at Irving, lead teachers and students in chants that highlighted the increased income inequality that results from closing public high schools. The 50 or so participants marched up the block on sleepy Irving Street, then down the block, staying on the sidewalk the entire time. And across the street, the NYPD put on their riot helmets.
Now, there weren’t many police in riot helmets. Maybe 3 or 4, plus another 15 police (including two White Shirts) milling around. When I arrived there were two NYPD squad cars, two vans, and three mopeds. You might say to yourself, as someone responded to me on Twitter, Hey man, 3 or 4 riot-helmeted cops with their hands in their pockets, looking bored, isn’t such a big deal. Well, you’re wrong. It’s absolutely a big deal. Not because the police were going to beat up anybody, or arrest anybody, but simply because 50 teachers protesting the closing of their school do not deserve to be treated like potential rioters — even by 3 police officers.
Police departments across the country are becoming increasingly militarized. Security contractors devise new methods of coercion against protesters constantly. As a result, confrontations between peaceful activists and cops often resemble paramilitary-style raids rather than restrained police action — most obviously in the way police have dislodged Occupy encampments nationwide. The aggressive theater that the PDs engage in is meant in no uncertain terms to intimidate anyone with the gall to raise their voice in dissent. Speak up and you will be kettled, pepper sprayed, jailed, beaten with truncheons, or simply advanced on by a phalanx of heavily armored stormtroopers. This morning’s action only serves to illustrate how deeply embedded the militarized reaction to all forms of protest is in the NYPD.
Why were there police there at all? Honestly, does anyone believe that one or two officers is an insufficient force to observe 50 teachers assembled, as is their right, outside their high school? It’s completely beside the point that the officers were bored, and that there were no confrontations. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe the lazy, uneventful, automatic militarized response is what I find so distasteful. The teachers I spoke with after the event were mildly concerned, but not seriously, about the police presence. They seemed to be bewildered by it more than anything else. But an activist and journalist who writes under the name Dicey Troop and I were more incredulous. Bloomberg’s army has become omnipresent for anyone participating in OWS, but their presence at Washington Irving was almost comically disproportionate.
Organizers of the event are calling for a massive public showing on January 31st at 6:30 at Brooklyn Tech to defend Washington Irving against the city’s proposed shut-down. According to information circulated this morning, 6% of the students at Manhattan’s high-need schools (of which Irving is a part) are special needs. At Bloomberg’s new Manhattan schools, the percentage is much lower, between .5-1%, according to the flier.
Bloomberg’s New York City is a city of increasingly privatized education, and an increasingly militarized response to all forms of protest. We would do well to remember his legacy accurately.

In the NYC DOE we are seeing a blatant swindle, government used for private agenda, private gain.
[See also, this post at CounterPunch of a political arrest of a photographer by Bloomberg's de facto private political police:
"37 Hours in Lock Up: Snatched For Photographing Michael Bloomberg’s Cops"
Photo is of arrest of arrest of Stanley Rogouski.]

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Parent Involvement, Obesity Diets: Insensitivity Behind Blaming Impoverished Parents

A recent blogpost made re-think the criticisms I have had of "uninvolved parents".

Modeducation, blogger Michael Dunn, a San Francisco Bay, California area educator, has written on how the notion of parent involvement make a few class-based assumptions.

I insert below Modeducation's post which misleadingly takes its post title from New York Times' Thomas Friedman's ideas: "Stop Blaming Teachers When It’s the Parents’ Fault!", but in the post Modeducation is actually making a good argument against parent-blaming. After this, I draw the parallels with the issues surrounding food choices and the obesity epidemic. Parents are blamed while there is silence about toxic food pushers win battles to push their junk in school lunchrooms. Undergirding both issues is the toxic factor of poverty. Sadly, poverty permeates many of the issues impacting on education, yet discussion of the poverty factor --or any way to ameliorate poverty or class disparity-- remains off the table.
[In November 23, 2011's] New York Times, Thomas Friedman had an op-ed ["How About Better Parents" {sic}] that seems to bash the Ed Deformers and tell them to get off of teachers’ backs. However, rather than placing the blame for the achievement gap and other problems with public education where it belongs—on the defunding of schools and growing poverty among children—he places the blame on parents, as if they merely need to behave better and become more effective parents.

“Here’s what some new studies are also showing,” he tells us. “We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.”

There are several problems with this proposal. First, it conflates correlation with causation. Parents who are more involved in their children’s education tend to be more affluent. There is plenty of data correlating affluence with higher academic achievement. So is it affluence or parental involvement or both?

Secondly, can parents simply be taught, encouraged or forced to be more involved in their children’s education or is this a product of their class backgrounds? And what does parental involvement even mean?

Plenty of studies indeed show that parents who read often to young children and who use larger and more complex vocabularies with their kids end up with kids who have significantly larger vocabularies and pre-literacy skills by the time they are ready for kindergarten, creating an achievement gap before children have even started school. Affluent parents are also more likely to have the time and education to do this with their children. A parent who works two or three jobs or who is barely literate is not going to read to their children or use complex language with them.

Affluent parents are also more likely to be able to make it to after school and evening meetings, open houses and community events. They are more likely to understand how the system works and have the self-confidence (or self-entitlement) necessary to navigate the system, advocate for their children and challenge perceived injustices or inadequacies in their children’s schools and classrooms.

Schools are essentially middle class institutions that have mores, norms and expectations similar to those in middle class families. Middle class children, therefore, come to school with the “cultural capital” necessary to succeed, whereas lower income kids often must learn this culture from scratch.

In short, Friedman is correct that parental involvement is important and parents who do, or who learn to, participate in their children’s education are more likely to see their kids succeed academically. However, his op-ed piece implies that there is something wrong with parents who are not involved with their kids’ education, when in reality it is often not their faults. Furthermore, whether you are blaming teachers or parents, you are still missing the point: the most significant influence on academic achievement is a child’s socioeconomic background. So long as we continue to ignore poverty, as long as we accept a society in which a few have all the wealth and a large minority is desperately poor, neither better teaching, no better parenting, is going to close the achievement gap or ensure that all children succeed academically.

* * *
Now, let us look at parallels with the issue of class, diet and the twins of obesity and diabetes.
A school professional, cash-strapped and a single parent reacted to the news of the government authorities that took custody of a 200-pound Cleveland Heights, Ohio son from his parents, on the charge of medical neglect. She put the issue as this: she supports her son on her own, she pays rent, car insurance, gas fuel for her car, apartment utilities. Only so much is left for food, and with that limited budget, there are few options. So, she is left with just so much to spend. She said she doesn't want a guilt trip for just a couple of times satisfying his son's taste-buds.
Plus, the columnists and bureaucrats who scold the parents surely are not familiar with the staple stores in blue collar neighborhoods: convenience stores, whether the corner store in cities or the gas stations-cum-food-marts. These places specialize in canned or ready-to-eat foods. Blue collar parents cannot find arugula or organic strawberries or other pesticide-free treats. Trader Joe's stores, the middle class alternative to Whole Foods or Fairway Supermarket, do not appear in blue collar minority neighborhoods.

Plus, who are pundits or bureaucrats to scold parents when school lunches cater to sweet tastes with carbohydrate and additive-heavy pizza or burgers. And has anyone noticed that the oranges offered in school cafeterias are the cheapest looking products, more frequently the low barrel "juicing oranges" rather than the navel oranges?
Plus, why are we ignoring the power of the junk food players that push french fries and the like are prevailing over the Barack Obama administration? See Dina ElBoghdady's November 15, 2011 article "Obama administration loses effort to make school lunches healthier" in the Washington Post. (The Department of Agriculture's improved guidelines got nixed by industry-influenced Congresspeople.)
Plus, who are those people to lecture parents when mayoral control mayors such as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg supplant physical education classes with programs overloaded with block-programming doubling up of English and math, along with the competition for gymnasium access when Bloomberg or [Corey] Booker-type mayors make public schools compete with multiple charter schools into their buildings with "co-locations?"
[Another Washington Post article quoted experts that suggest that confiscating or sequestering a child away from parents can contribute to unhealthy stress on the child and its mental development:
“Children at that age are very susceptible to high levels of stress, that’s a biological fact... the neural networks that are developing most rapidly at that time tend to be most susceptible to the biology of stress,” Dr. Robert Anda told me.
Anda is a co-investigator of an ongoing study funded by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. It tracks how childhood trauma can impact the brain and have far-reaching effects. Anda is not suggesting that Zofia [Leszczynski] suffered trauma, but he makes clear that removing any child from a parent at that age has to be considered carefully.

Shoplifting... does anyone see the poverty factor here?]
It is a cruel irony that the government took the son from the parents with the charge of medical neglect. Poverty fuels the condition of poor food options; but parents and children are victims; and by the way, know-it-alls blame the parents.

Friday, December 9, 2011

N.J. "is Roiling Over Charter Schools": Wave of Student, Parent Teacher Fight-Backs

No, it is not just New York City parents, students and teachers protesting at Panel for Educational Policy that oppose charter schools.

A wave of push-back against the imposition of charter schools is taking place across New Jersey. This time the fight-back is in middle class or upper-middle class suburbs.

Rutgers Prof speaks and organizes against charters
Julia Sass Rubin, a founding member of Save Our Schools NJ, says public schools are being undermined.

“This is happening across the country,” said Rubin, during a visit to the Lawrence branch of the Mercer County Library on Wednesday. “It’s a national phenomenon.”

Rubin is an associate professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her talk was hosted by the Lawrence chapter of the League of Women Voters.

Rubin's talk, "Keeping Public Schools Public," covered the state of education in the Garden State and how Save Our Schools NJ is working to strengthen public school systems.

Save our Schools NJ is grassroots campaign that advocates for equal access to high-quality public education and for reform of state charter school law, including a local vote to allow charter schools to open in a community.

“Local communities should have a say if they want a charter school,” Rubin said.

Schools districts throughout the state – including Princeton, South Brunswick, East Brunswick, New Brunswick and Highland Park – have taken steps to oppose charter schools they oppose.

“Busloads of suburbanites are supposed to have an Occupy DOE [Department of Education] on Dec. 16,” Rubin said. “The state is roiling over charter schools.”

The organization also has an issue with the the lottery system for charter school enrollment. Rubin said most disadvantaged families don’t have the resources to get the necessary information about charter enrollment, so charter schools end with mostly affluent children.

No community clamour for charters; no community say in imposition of charters; activist group pushes "opt-out" bill.
also from, December 9, 2011:
Save Our Schools NJ has proposed the Opt-Out Lottery Bill, which would require charter schools to automatically include everyone in their communities that qualify and give families the option to opt-out if they do not want to be considered for enrollment. The bill is designed to level the field for parents who don’t have easy access to information or are restricted by language barriers.

Rubin expects action on the opt-out legislation and other proposed bills will come soon. “This has become a headache for the administration,” she said. “There will be something done with the bills.”

Save Our Schools NJ wants to maintain the current school funding formula and opposes to school vouchers. She compared the current voucher bill, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, to money laundering.

“If you give me a dollar and I give that dollar back, have you actually given me a dollar?” Rubin asked. Although vouchers prevent money being taken away from public school funds it negatively creates new subsidy streams for private schools, Rubin said.

Rubin also wants to stop additional segregation in schools. According to Rubin, there are 500 heavily segregated school systems in the state and the ones that are mixed are being targeted by charter schools.

“We want to see suburban children going to urban schools and vice versa,” Rubin said. “It’s good to mix it up.”

Several members of the audience agreed there is a need for more school integration.

Retired teacher Lloyd Fredericks, who taught at a high school in Newark, said the state has forgotten the benefits of being a melting pot. He added that without public schools there is no nation.

Teaneck protest parallels NYC struggle against closing schools for charter schools
From the Record, December 7, 2011:
"Crowd rallies against proposed virtual charter school in Teaneck"
School officials and police estimated about 200 people turned out at 3:30 p.m. for an event scheduled to last several hours. Students waved signs declaring “Don’t bleed our good public schools” and “Local $$ for Teaneck Scholars.”

Speakers took the microphone to call for a local vote on charter approvals throughout the state and to criticize the proposal for a full-time cyber charter — all while student drummers pounded to bolster the applause.

“This virtual charter will do much more harm than good,” declared Lev Herskovitz, 18. “In our society today we rely on technology far too often and this is not a case where it should be dominantly present. Classrooms are where the real learning takes place.”

Organizers of the Garden State Virtual Charter say it will draw only a few students, and therefore a small amount of funding, from Teaneck; most of its initial group of 1,000 in grades K-12 will come from across New Jersey, they say.

District officials balked, however, when they received a letter from the state Department of Education suggesting they set aside $15.4 million for the charter. State officials have said that figure was meant only as a budgeting tool, but Teaneck filed a legal petition Tuesday asking the state to rescind the letter and delay approving any virtual charters until New Jersey legislates a fair, manageable way to fund them. The Office of Administrative Law has not yet scheduled a hearing.

Home districts pay 90 percent of their per-pupil costs for students who attend charters from their towns.

Jason Flynn, a founder of the proposed charter, said in a release Tuesday that his group would push ahead. The charter “will bring state of the art digital technology to deliver a high quality, highly personalized education to our students who … are not succeeding in a traditional classroom setting,” he said in release. He could not be reached Wednesday.

The Teaneck Board of Education has stated it does not oppose charters, virtual charters or virtual learning; it’s against a process that requires officials to set school budgets before they can estimate how many students will head to charters.

Speak Up Highland Park handed out flyers in Teaneck inviting people to “Occupy” the Education Department in Trenton on Dec. 16 at 11 a.m. to call for a local voice in charter approvals.

In Highland Park, the District refused a charter three times, the charter is shoved at the district a fourth time
From the Daily Record, November 28, 2011:
"Highland Park charter school meeting forum for parents, legislators to discuss issues"

The Teaneck charter is a "virtual learning" proposal. Lee Fang at The Nation has written a piece on "How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools."

From the Nation piece: commercial learning is a revolving door destination for former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein and former District of Columbia mayor Adrian Fenty.

Moe’s [investment banker Michael Moe] conference marked a watershed moment in school privatization. His first “Education Innovation Summit,” held last year, attracted about 370 people and fifty-five presenting companies. This year, his conference hosted more than 560 people and 100 companies, and featured luminaries like former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, now an education executive at News Corporation, a recent high-powered entrant into the for-profit education field. Klein is just one of many former school officials to cash out. Fenty now consults for Rosetta Stone, a language company seeking to expand into the growing K-12 market.

As Moe ticked through the various reasons education is the next big “undercapitalized” sector of the economy, like healthcare in the 1990s, he also read through a list of notable venture investment firms that recently completed deals relating to the education-technology sector, including Sequoia and Benchmark Capital. Kleiner Perkins, a major venture capital firm and one of the first to back and Google, is now investing in education technology, Moe noted.

See what can happen with representative democracy, instead of total mayoral control: Newark advisory board rejects a charter school proposal:
NJN News, April 7, 2011:
It’s been a tumultuous time in Newark since the controversial school overhaul plan was leaked to the press in February. It calls for consolidating some schools and co-locating others – both of which would free up space for charter schools, and creating new traditional public schools. In a surprising move, Newark’s School Advisory Board rejected the latter proposal.

In New Jersey we thus see a parallel to the New York City push-back. Yet, the people have more power, in contrast to the voice-less parents in New York City under mayoral control.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Long Island Principals Show Autonomy, Protest Teacher Evaluations

Long Island principals are fewer in number than those in New York City.

Yet, Long Island principals signing a petition protesting New York State expectations for basing teacher evaluations on student test scores vastly outnumber the New York City principals making the same protests.

The numbers of principals signing the petition:
Long Island 502

Westchester 59

New York City 35

Total principals New York State 756

What can we interpret from this?
In Long Island, principals have greater autonomy, under locally based, with elected representatives running school policy. In New York City, even the principals are running scared, in a system of mayoral control.
And which system sees students better prepared for college?
Which system has students graduating with authentic diplomas?
Not New York City, in which mayoral control has driven a school system into the ground over the last decade.

Source, "More Principals Join Teacher Evaluation Protest" in New York Times "Schoolbook" section.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meet an Ohio ATR-parallel -Eking Out Existence, Missing Caring for Dying Mother

View this video on PBS' "Need to Know."

The 50s-something teacher you see in the video still is a decades-long veteran teacher, laid off by --probably-- the Cleveland city schools.

"Need to Know" follows her. Right after she's laid off she's a sub and tutoring.

Alas, she's back at her old school. The catch: she's working for half the pay.
--SOUND FAMILIAR???? Just like New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's dream of halving the teaching force, creating ATRs, dismissing veterans.
And she's getting NO benefits.

Apparently, she's in a parallel to F-status. She has to work 60 days straight to get her health insurance back. The "Twilight Zone" nightmare is that, to make it through the 60 days, she has to pass on taking days off to be with her dying mother.

In this Dickensian tragedy, her mother passes away. She gets her health insurance.

This is the hell wrought by Arne Duncan, working in obeisance to Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Dick & Betsy DeVos.

Click here to see "Help Wanted: Revisiting the uncounted millions", by William Brangham on PBS' "Need to Know", broadcast on December 2, 2011, this must see American tragedy/ scandal.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giant story ignored: Bloomberg @ MIT: I'd 1/2 the Teachers and Increase Class Size

Another monstrous outrage by our autocratic mayor (Cambridge. MA, 11/29).

Another outrageous stratagem calling for a mass mobilization; WHY DIDN'T UFT'S MULGREW LEAD CHANT ON THIS DURING YESTERDAY'S MARCH?

At yesterday's labor solidarity march alone among unions, the United Federation of Teachers gave out thumb-sized noise makers, whistles without the whistle ball.
A mistake or a cynical attempt to prevent chants from forming.
Kudos to those that did attempt to chant "Save Our Schools" among the din.

The United Federation of Teachers, the New York City teachers union needs to have a coordinated media campaign and mass march against the latest outrages uttered by City-state Prince-Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
Cathie Black, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Michael Mulgrew, NYC schools, United Federation of Teachers
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a jaw-dropping prescription for fixing city schools.
“Professor” Michael Bloomberg said Thursday he would accomplish more with less by slashing the tea ching staff in half — and that’s just the beginning, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
He looked like he was from another planet when he dressed as a hippie for a political show, but the mayor’s blueprint for fixing city schools have some asking “what was he smoking?”
“If I had the ability to just design the system and say ex cathedra this is what we’re going to do you would cut the number of teachers in half and weed out all the bad ones,” Bloomberg said.
That’s right. The mayor told people at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference it would be far better to run city schools with way fewer people. And, by the way, on the billionaire’s perfect planet that would mean cramming more kids into each classroom.
“And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students,” Bloomberg said.
Andrea Spencer is dean of the School of Education at Pace University.
“When I heard the statement I was really shocked,” Spencer said. “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that half of the teachers in any system are ineffective. What there is evidence to support is the fact that larger classes really place detriments in the way of learning.”
But “Professor” Bloomberg is sticking to his views.
“The best thing you can do is put the best teacher you can possibly find and afford in front of the classroom and if you have to have fewer because there’s only a certain number of dollars to go around, I’m in favor of that,” Bloomberg said.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew s aid he put the mayor’s latest views on teaching in the same category of his decision to appoint a former magazine editor with no teaching experience to be schools chancellor.
“So the mayor thinks this is a good idea, in high schools to have class size in high schools of 70 kids. Clearly the mayor has never taught,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
“And probably the mayor’s having another Cathie Black moment.”
The mayor also said he’s given teachers a 105 percent raise since he took office. Mulgrew said maybe the mayor should have stopped in at a math class while he was at MIT.
In lamenting the quality of teachers, the mayor claimed they come from the bottom 20 percent of their class and not the best schools.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deafening silence in NYDN op-ed on CUNY and NYC schools failure

The NY Daily News ran an op-ed piece this weekend on abysmal 28 percent graduation rates in CUNY's community colleges among New York City Department of Education high school graduates.
Yet, there is a deafening silence in Saturday, November 26, 2011's empty editorial.
First, the blame must be laid at our all-potent mayor. He staked his reputation on being an "education mayor." Poor performance in basic English and math skills in entrance exams and poor graduation rates indicate utter failure in the standards in the education system captained by mayoral control Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Where is the front page editorial in the News, Post, Times, as there should be, asking for his resignation for his abject failure on the education issue?
*School closures *Attack on and marginalization of experienced teachers
*Top-down imposed crackpot schemes such as "Everyday Math" or "Impact Math"
*No bid contracts on school texts, curricular packages, software, evaluators, consultants
*Derision of the notion of teaching. Dare not say teaching, say learning
*Top-down imposed scandals such as grouped seating or conference tables as seat set-ups, leaving no room for test security
*Thorough disregard for parent voice or transparency from the disbanding of the Board of Education down to the emasculating and irrelevance of parent voice in Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) at the school level
*Doubling of Math and English and the side-lining of science, social studies, arts, and thus the sidelining of students' having any notion of pleasure in school
*Collective classwork ("cooperative learning," groupwork)
*Growing tolerance for hall-roaming, skipping classes and truancy in general
*Endless test-prep ...what have I left out?

The media should say nothing in this matter, save for a total admission of guilt for their silence during this ten year fiasco.

Second, the essence of this problem comes down to the abrogation of the schools to chart proper scholastic habits among the school-children. Time was, students were expected to respect teachers, have good behavior towards each other, and a decent effort at attendance and classwork.
Accountability ... seems the only people subject to this are teachers, not the media, not the mayor. Not the students or the parents. Click over to Chaz and his column about Credit Recovery, "A Case Study On Why The "Credit Recovery System" And Online Learning Does Not Work In The Real World Of Employment." In life if you are a no-show, you are dropped, not only in work, but also in social relationships. Not so in the parallel universe of attending school in the NYC Department of Education under city-state Prince Michael.
In the regime of JPE, "Just Pass Everybody" what did Bloomberg and his aides and abettors expect?

Here is the shameful (for no context and no criticism of the mayor, who stewarded the development of no standards NYC diplomas) Saturday, November 26, 2011 New York Daily News editorial:
Unable to hack the coursework, students are dropping out from the city's community colleges in droves — clouding their economic futures and that of the city.
The numbers, revealed in a new report from the Center for an Urban Future, are a scathing indictment of the ability of New Yorks public schools to give young men and women the skills they need to succeed.
Nearly four of five high school graduates arrive at CUNYs six community colleges needing remedial coursework in reading, writing, math — or, increasingly, all three. And within six years, the study says, an eye popping 51% have dropped out from what are supposed to be two-year degree-granting institutions.
A mere 28% actually manage to get a degree six years after enrolling at Kingsborough, Queensborough, LaGuardia, Hostos, Bronx or Borough of Manhattan community colleges.
There’s a painful personal price to all this ill preparation. Earnings for a graduate with an associate’s degree in the city average $29,000; with a high school diploma, they’re a mere $17,000.
And work for applicants with less education is getting harder and harder to find. According to the report, the number of jobs requiring more than just high school doubled nationwide between 1973 and 2008, from 28% to 59%. City employers in fields such as transportation, health care and construction told the researchers they are increasingly looking for college credentials.
Fixing the problem would have a huge economic upside for the city. The report estimates that boosting the community college graduation rate 10 percentage points would mean a $28 million jump in economic activity in neighborhoods.
Left with no choice, CUNY has created intensive remediation programs. They help — 27% of those who participated in one such program earned a degree within two years, compared with just 7% of similar students who did not.
But for most, it’s too little, too late. CUNY says the number of “triple-lows” coming through the door — students who cannot handle college-level reading, writing or mathematics — has jumped steeply in the last two years. Meaning that across the board, the public schools are falling down on the job.
Total fail.

Just see the latest on the on-going train-wreck of the NYC school system, recently publicized most at Queens Metro High School (south Rego Park/south Forest Hills) at Ed Notes:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Update: 1, 2, 3, Many NYC Tahrir Squares as Parent, Student School Revolts in an Arab Spring in the Autumn

Rebellion is breaking out all over as parents and students are yelling, "No", to New York City Department of Education school chaos. The Occupy Wall Street or Tahrir Square energy is beginning to seep into the parent and student communities in the city's high schools, in quite different boroughs (Bronx, Queens) of New York City. A common thread is scandalous class scheduling that neglects to give students essential classes such as English.
(Scroll to the bottom of this post for ignored ATR factor in DOE refusal to hire teachers scandal.)

It is disappointing that these stories for the most are in alternate media (blogs) or minor commercial media (outer borough newspapers). Few of these situations are covered by major media such as the New York Times.

As indicated in one of my blog posts earlier this week, 75 students at Frederick Douglass VI High School in Far Rockaway did not have an English teacher until they refused to attend class until the administration agreed to hire a regular teacher.

Yesterday, November 22, 2011, Ben Chapman authored "Students at Grace Dodge Career & Technical Education High School in the Bronx haven't had an English teacher for months: Kids at F-rated school cut class and 'smoke weed' instead" in the Daily News that Grace Dodge Career and Technical High School in the Bronx lacked English teachers, for a total of ten missing class sections. A total of 300 students lack an English teacher.

An F-rated Bronx high school has failed to provide nearly 300 students with English teachers since the third week of the school year, the Daily News has learned.

For nearly three months, the students at Grace Dodge Career & Technical Education High School have languished in their daily English lessons without regular instructors.

Instead of learning composition and grammar, the kids sleep, socialize or cut class, senior Michelle Sanchez, 17, said.

“We just sit there and stare at each other,” said the frustrated teen. “Kids cut school and smoke weed around the corner. Or they walk around the halls and get into fights.”

The 1,182-student school in the Belmont section of the Bronx has been targeted by the city because of its abysmal performance.

Just 35% of seniors graduated on time last year, and only 1% graduated ready for college.

Teachers at the school were outraged students have gone without English instructors.

“It’s horrendous in here,” said one teacher who wouldn’t give her name.

Education Department spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the teacher shortage was due to two instructors retiring abruptly in October. That left 10 English class periods without full-time teachers, she said.

Read more from the original Daily News article click here.

Last week the Ed Notes blog published "Growing Scandal at Queens Metro Tech Exposes All the Ills of Bloomberg Ed Deform - Another Leadership Acad Principal Set to Take Fall."

The Queens newspapers have reported more negative news at Forest Hills' Queens Metro High School. The chaos echoes the scheduling disorder that the New York Times did report earlier this month:
November 23, 2011 from the Western Queens Gazette: "Queens Metropolitan H.S. Beset With Scheduling Problems"
For the second time in little over a month, a Queens high school has been revealed as awash in scheduling problems. Queens Metropolitan H.S., 91-30 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, opened in September 2010 with relatively few scheduling problems. This year, some classes lack teachers, no physical education instruction is being imparted and students have yet to receive grades for some of the course work they have completed and handed in, according to parents who attended a meeting of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association on November 15. The situation echoes that of Long Island City H.S., where students have found themselves reporting to different classes with different teachers or spending hours seated in the auditorium and cafeteria, depending on how their schedules change from week to week.

Principal Marci Levy-McGuire declared that she is working feverishly to straighten out the scheduling mess affecting the school’s 650 ninth and tenth grade students. Some parents were less than convinced. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, whose two sons attend the school, expressed dissatisfaction with the efforts to correct the scheduling errors at a sparsely attended Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting November 17. At that meeting, it was noted that the school lacks a science teacher, classes are taught by rotating substitutes and students who registered for elective courses sit in the auditorium instead, some for as long as three hours.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he had heard of the problem at Metropolitan H.S. only a few weeks ago. His daughter, DeJeanne Walcott, is a physical education teacher at the school, but “shop talk” does not come up within the confines of the Walcott family home, the elder Walcott said. He attributed the school’s scheduling problem to “rapid enrollment growth”.

According to “Ed Notes”, a blog “providing information on current ed issues, organizing activities around fighting for public education in NYC and beyond and exposing the motives behind the education deformers”; “The pressure since the story broke about [Crowley’s] children at the school and the Chancellor’s daughter proved too much for the DOE and the network and Tweed types swarmed the building. They allegedly completed student programs and there is a special plan to disseminate it with scripted statements read by each teacher to their students explaining why the programs had to be changed again…The program rollout will not take effect until after Thanksgiving. There will be three days where administration will answer parent questions after school. Next Tuesday (November 29) is [a] PTA meeting where much of this will be announced.”

The Queens Chronicle reported a similar story today (November 23): "Parents livid over schedule ‘disaster’: Say students at Metropolitan High School go hours without classes."
A key quote:
Walcott said he, as well as Senior Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky, only found out about the issues at Metropolitan a couple weeks ago, despite the fact that Walcott’s daughter is a physical education teacher at the school.
“We try not to mix our respective lives as far as education is concerned because she is her own person and teacher,” Walcott said at the meeting.

[Really? We are well into the third month of the 2011-2012 year and Chancellor Walcott has not found occasion to ask his daughter, "How was your day?"???]
The Panel for Education Policy, the mayoral appointee dominated panel that replaced the Board of Education is largely a rubber stamp for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's prerogatives. Patrick Sullivan (appointee of Manhattan President Scott Stringer) has been a frequent dissenting voice on the panel. Queens appointee Dmytro Fedkowskyj made statements that suggest that he might be moving in the Sullivan direction of independence:
“I made it quite clear during the PEP meeting that the lack of a proactive interest by the DOE has harmed the school community and that policy should change going forward when inexperienced leaders take on new responsibilities. What occurred at the Metropolitan High School and at Long Island City High School is clearly unacceptable.”

NY1's story Monday night (Nov. 21) on the Queens Metro HS disaster.

The Daily News' story, Friday, November 18 on Queens Metro's scheduling problems.

Sadly, the New York Times's article on the Queens Metro mess is a snippet, merely parroting the DOE line that "help is on its way." No parent or student quotes or interviews --just the DOE's #2, Shael Polakow-Suransky, and that quote was in the context of the now-old news Long Island City scheduling woes.

On Tuesday, November 22 parents, students and area elected representatives held a protest demonstration on the Tweed Courthouse steps of the NYC Department of Education.
This example from a Crown Heights, Brooklyn school is a characteristic sample of the woes that beset schools targeted for closure:
"'The Crown' (PS 161) was a top-performing school just two years ago, with nearly all of its students passing the state’s ELA exam. But the City then cut more than $700,000 and nine educators and other staff members, sending scores into a tailspin." (From Norm's Notes, "Schools Under Attack by DOE Fight Back: Parents, Elected Officials Representing 15 Schools Targeted for Closure to Continue Season of Protests With Rally at DOE HQ, Targeted middle and high schools serve almost entirely low-income Black and Latino families, lost tens-of-millions to budget cuts over past 3 years, Many schools represented were founded, moved or co-located by Bloomberg Administration; most house large numbers of high-needs students", 11/22/11)
Full list of schools participating in last Tuesday's rally: -PS 181, Jamaica, -PS 298, Brownsville, -General Chappie James Elementary and Middle Schools, Brownsville, -PS 19, Williamsburg, -Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, Williamsburg, -PS 137, Lower East Side, -PS 256, Bedford-Stuyvesant, -PS 22, Crown Heights, -PS 161, Crown Heights, -Frederick Douglass Academy II, Harlem, -IS 171, Cypress Hills, -Samuel Gompers High School, Bronx, -Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep, Cypress Hills, -JHS 296, Bushwick, -MS 587, Crown Heights

Parent letter, which appeared in Norm's Notes, "Teacher/Parent Outrage at Queens Metro HS as DOE Ignored Problem - HS Supt Juan Mendez on Hot Seat - Network Too," (Nov. 17, 2011):
Thank you for taking the time to speak with my husband John Sadowski earlier today regarding Queens Metropolitan High School. Our son is currently a tenth grader. As you know QMHS opened its doors for the first time in September of 2010 and unfortunately this school has been a disaster since Day 1. Many parents tried to be patient, with the understanding it was a new school and it would need time to work things out. Month by month things progressively got worse. By the end of the school year parents were frustrated. We could only hope that the administration would work over the summer understanding where they went wrong and begin to improve. We found out on day one in September 2011 that we were sadly mistaken.

On the first day of school Sept 2011 the student schedules were not yet ready. My child did not receive a schedule until day 3 or 4. Some parents have told me that there child had to wait longer. What soon followed after this was schedule change after schedule change. On October 31st my son received his ninth schedule change. On some of those schedules he had five or six blank spaces and nowhere to go during those times. On one of the schedule changes he was not given a lunch period. Some parents have told me that their children still have blank spaces and they are pulling their children from the school during those times. Teachers and parents have told me that hallways and stairways are crowded with students with no place to go. One schedule my son had was filled with obvious errors. He repeatly went to the main office to report these errors and he was finally directed to the Guidance Counselor. The Guidance Counselor told my son to “find someone with a similar schedule and then just follow that student’s schedule. I was horrified to learn that this was the schools response. I later found out from other parents that their children were told the same thing. On October 28th I was at the school and Vice Principal Lambert called me and my son over. She asked my son what schedule he following, because they could not find him the past week or so. I find this very alarming!!!! He is following the schedule the school provided and they can not find him???? What if he was hurt in the halls, would no one know? Ms. Lambert answered this with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes. On November 15th Principal Levy-Mcguire acknowledged that they schedules are still not correct and does not expect to have them resolved until sometime in December.

SUPERVISOR QUALIFICATIONS SUBTEXT TO ABOVE: The Board of Education before being supplanted in 2002 by the Department of Education did have some problems. But basic things like student scheduling were handled competently. Why then and not now? School administrators had teaching experience and came up through the ranks. They acquired their supervisor licenses by attending classes at NYC area colleges. City schools chancellors had proper supervisor licensure. Today, it is a Keystone Kops merry-go-round carnival of reinventing the wheel; supervisors often have no education experience or proper supervisor qualifications. They instead have been fast-tracked into power by the NYCDOE's "Leadership Academies." Now, there are some fair and compassionate supervisor products of the Academies, but a disproportionate number of supervisors come out with a cavalier attitude as we see with Levy-Mcguire.

The EdNotes blog reports that
It's too bad Turner was at Queens Metro on a Sunday.(November 20) If he had been there on a school day he would have found that the free enterprise school system instigated by WalBlackBloomKlein offers up fairly brand new school where kids had no regular schedules, were left in a gym "class" – taught by Chancellor Walcott's daughter no less - where they didn't get gym, a physics class "taught" by an unqualified special ed teacher, and no chemistry at all after the teacher quit in October. The principal actually did have an idea for a school that on paper seemed to offer a lot of good ideas. The only problem was that she was a grad of the Leadership Academy, the Tweed training ground for future principals ¬without a clue – with many people coming from Turner's vaunted "free enterprise" system without knowledge on how to organize or run a school. Of course, after Walcott and his minions ignored the problem for months - especial knocks to Queens HS Superintendent Juan Mendez (who was so arrogant at the Beach Channel school closing hearing last year) and network leader Gillian Smith – they finally responded – once the story hit the press.

A critical point in any of these discussions of rotating substitutes from week to week is that the so-called "substitutes" that are coming and going are actually absent teacher reserve ("ATR") teachers. These are teachers that have lost their regular positions when the DOE has closed down schools and broken apart schools into smaller units. At best, one-half of the teachers in the former school are placed in the new smaller schools.

(Back to the gap of teacher positions.) Yet, while ATRs are placed as substitutes in the gaps of English or science teacher positions, the DOE has placed them in the positions, willy-nilly, paying no regard to whether the license of the ATR temporarily filling the vacancy actually matches the subject of the teacher vacancy.
The dirty secret is that there are over one thousand absent teacher reserve teachers in the "ATR pool." Potentially there are a few hundred or at least several score of experienced English teachers in the ATR pool that can fill the vacancies at Frederick Douglass VI or Grace Dodge. The same can be said for the science vacancies and potential science teacher assignees to Queens Metro.

So, why won't the city place these ATRs into the vacancies? The principals have limited budgets. They have a budgetary incentive to hire novice teachers. The experienced teachers go unhired. (It was not always this way. Bloomberg's DOE instituted this school-unit accounting in 2005 when it created the ATR fiasco. It is curious that the United Federation of Teachers ever went along with this.)

But let us return to the details of these teacher vacancy sagas. The Western Queens Gazette neglected to cite several vital nuggets from the Ed Notes post it cited. Ed Notes wrote, "Breaking: The principal “can’t find” a physics teacher so she is using a special ed teacher to teach physics with packets prepared by another physics teacher. Parents don’t know this." Ed Notes went on to mention that physical education students are actually missing on actual phys ed lessons. With the DOE neglecting to hire experienced science teachers from the ATR pool and the DOE allowing phys ed teachers to teach the complex subject of physics one cannot help but wonder, could the DOE (Tweed, the principals, the assistant principals) be refusing to hire science teachers out of spite? (In all of this scheduling neglect, is it any wonder that "Audit Finds City’s Schools Short on Physical Education," as the New York Times reported a city comptroller John Liu audit of physical education in today's NYC Department of Education?)

UPDATE with tidbit from NYC Educator:
She or he has great list of inconsistencies of interest to those who care about teacher hiring, teacher placement and budgetary decisions in general, like no money for the Teachers Choice program (teachers routinely spend $100s each year; Teachers Choice would cut teachers' costs with a $125 or 150 check made out to the teacher for costs). NYC E pointed out that it was eliminated while the city has money to add new teachers to the rolls.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Qns HS Students' Occupy-type Protest & Need for Parents & Students to Mobilize

On their front page today The Daily News ran a story on how students at Frederick Douglass VI High School co-located with Far Rockaway High School protested and got an administration pledge to get an English teacher.

Here's the synopsis with some decoding:
75 students did not have an English teacher. Instead, they had rotating substitutes that changed every week. Translation: the students had different absent teacher reserve (ATR) teachers every week.

"English class at Frederick Douglass Academy in Queens hasn't had a regular teacher in three months" told how parents called 311 and how the city gave them the brush off.

Well, of course the city or the Department of Education gave the parents the brush-off. The city is being spiteful. It is not interested in hiring an ATR. One can get a qualified, experienced English teacher in the form of an ATR. The ATR pool remains at 1,126; there must be some English teachers in that pool. But, no, they city is too spiteful to hire a qualified, experienced teacher.

Students at Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School don't have English teachers and protested in front of the school.
Seniors at a struggling Queens high school have gone the first three months of the school year with no English teacher, the Daily News has learned.
About 75 students at Frederick Douglass Academy VI in Far Rockaway have been warehoused in a bunk class with a different substitute each week and no coherent lesson plan, they say.
For weeks, students begged administrators at the C-rated school for a steady instructor, but their request was denied — until Friday, when they protested and refused to go to class until their demands were met.
“We deserve to have a proper English teacher, not just a bunch of subs,” said senior Dominique Boatwright, 17, of Far Rockaway.

Another egregious fact is that part of the problem was that the students were being "educated" by a computer program called iLearn. Quite unsettling is the news that this school is but one of 160 city schools that use automated education from the iZone initiative that uses such programs. This program is being used in Far Rockaway, a largely minority community. One wonders whether computer-driven education supplants accredited teachers in schools in whiter, middle class neighborhoods.
Education officials said that the school — where 27% of students graduated ready for college last year — is part of a citywide online learning initiative called the iZone.

Computer-based classes are a key component of the iZone program, which is used by more than 160 schools around the city.

But students said that they still need a teacher who’s familiar with the course work, even if they’re using computers to deliver instruction.

The fedup teens decided to take matters into their own hands and stage a protest outside the school on Friday morning to demand a teacher for their English classes.

Senior class president Shamia Heyliger of Far Rockaway organized the rally, which began at 7 a.m., before classes were scheduled to begin.

“We needed to get the message across that we need a teacher,” said Heyliger, who has a 93 average and wants to be a lawyer.

The spunky teen used Facebook to spread word about the rally, and about 40 kids turned out before class for the protest.

Read more:

Hats off to the students for refusing to go to class until they were given a proper teacher. This calamity of the spiteful city/ Department of Education shows the need for parents and student to organize and push the city to act in ways that respond to community's needs.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kelly's Absent Police Reserve? Shades of Things to Come for Teachers Under a Kelly Administration?

Factors that send teachers into the Absent Teacher Reserve are said to include age, salary and sometimes, principals' dispositions (nice way of saying preference or bias).

Apparently, the last factor has a strong parallel in the parallel universe of New York Police Department (NYPD) professional limbo: thousands of police are in a demoted, limbo status for an interminable period. What has got them there? --Partial clearance from accusations or charges of wrongful behavior, and from one phrase, "out of favor," we can surmise that it means, falling out of favor with supervisors or not quite fitting in or playing along with the institutional culture of a particular unit.

It is interesting, the media has wide-spread indignation and immediate presumptions of guilt regarding teachers in a similar status: assignment to Teacher Reassignment Centers (TRCs) or rubber rooms or Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR). Yet, here we have a quite parallel phenomenon in the police department and no copy-cat articles by other media organizations after the article, "Ray Kelly's Gulag", hit the sidewalk Village Voice bins this Wednesday. Where are the front page articles in the New York Post?

Speaking of hypocrisy and double-standards, this brings to mind the four year free pass that one Mychael Willon, and educrat with a public lewdness conviction (Kansas, 1989) (and see this post also for reference) got from the New York City Department of Education. The DOE never looked into his past but instead allowed him hired him from 2005 to 2009, for one period, to monitor all levels of education personnel in the very cushy job of LIS (Local Instructional Superintendent) in the Bronx's District 9 and later, the Director of the Principal Candidate Pool. He then went on to become a chief officer at a DOE vendor that contracts to provide supplemental tutoring to NYCDOE students. Aside from his infraction at the Wichita bookstore, he distorted his credential on his DOE application, misrepresenting his dubious doctorate from a diploma mill. Needless to say, infractions on this last matter alone would get a sub-superintendent DOE employee into very deep water. Interestingly, this story only got traction at a New York City oriented blog.

Aside from an interesting look into the background of assignment to the Police Department's dumping ground or long-term desk duty, this article brings up the profound degree to which NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly micromanages the assignment of officers' files and assignment to long-term desk duty. (The key phrase is more of a mouthful than just "desk duty." It is: "do not transfer without PC approval.") Commissioner Kelly's monitoring has no limits of enthusiasm, for example, he apparently goes to headquarters on weekends to look into the files.
This picayune enthusiasm does not bode well for teachers, should he become mayor.
One can be sure that he will have the opportunity to stroll into Tweed Department of Education headquarters on his slow weekends and pore into files. And one cannot put it past him that he might have the will to choose to make lives hell, particularly to go after the activist teachers, and more specifically the ones at rallies around Foley Square or NYPD HQ.

Here is the lead page of the article by Graham:
(Disclaimer: there are indeed some bad apples in NYPD limbo or APR status, e.g., such as some of those officers involved in the killing of Amadou Diallo. Some others in the limbo status we can surmise are there, not fro misdeeds, but from rubbing some supervisor the wrong way. The latter do not deserve to suffer professional limbo. Again, speaking of media hypocrisy, how is it that officers responsible from Diallo's death are still on the force and suffer no endless media campaign, when the standards are harsher for teachers???)

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly keeps a secret list of police officers who cannot be transferred without his specific approval. The list, which the Voice obtained from an NYPD employee, is part of a 23-page spreadsheet that contains the names of 2,300 officers, their ranks, their ID numbers, old units, new units, and coded descriptions of thousands of personnel decisions throughout the past several years. Strangely, the document isn't marked with any police insignia or command titles.

In all, according to the list, Kelly banned transfers without his specific approval for at least 96 police officers over the past several years and rejected pending transfers for at least 59 more, which overrules his subordinates. He also transferred 228 officers to VIPER, where cops sit and stare at video screens to monitor crime in public housing—a unit seen as a dumping ground for those in trouble or out of favor, where careers can languish for years. Hundreds more names on the list are of officers "transferred for cause," or sent to another command for some transgression, which could be anything from serious misconduct to irritating a commander.

Most of the officers who made the list don't know that the commissioner essentially froze their careers in place, in what some department insiders say is Kelly's version of the city's notorious former "rubber room" system for teachers awaiting adjudication of their cases, where they were asked to sit indefinitely in classrooms away from students. Others call the list Kelly's "gulag," a way of punishing officers without forcing them to retire or quit.

Once a name goes on the list, it doesn't come off, even after years have passed and an officer has been brought back into the fold—a circumstance that someone likened to being forced to wear a scarlet letter for the duration of his or her career. In its stark, clipped language, the secret spreadsheet offers a rare insight into how the department is run by Kelly, who will soon become the city's longest-serving police commissioner. It also might give an indication of how he would run the city if he runs for and is elected mayor.

Most importantly, the list confirms Kelly's reputation as a micromanager who reviews just about every transfer that takes place in the largest police department in the country.

Paul Browne, a police spokesman, did not respond to Voice requests for a discussion of the spreadsheet.

Ray Kelly has a big job, overseeing 40,000 employees and a multibillion-dollar budget larger than that of at least five states. But he is apparently also involved in many decisions that used to be delegated to subordinates.

To put it in context, prior to Kelly, police commissioners did not bother with low-level, routine transfers.

"In the old days, the police commissioner didn't get involved in that," says a former Kelly staffer. "The borough commanders would call each other and say, 'I need to move a guy,' or, 'I need a guy from Precinct X.' Kelly centralized all of that."

Insiders attribute Kelly's involvement in these decisions to the behavior of his predecessor, Bernard Kerik, who, over Kelly's objections, promoted a large number of his NYPD cronies during his last days in office.

The source says that he often saw Kelly come into his 14th-floor office at One Police Plaza on Sunday afternoons to pore over transfer requests and related documents.

That's a different image than the one Kelly himself has been promoting lately as his department is hit with a series of corruption cases. Kelly has put these problems down to a "few bad apples," as if there were things going sour in his department that he was unaware of.

Murray Weiss, a respected longtime police reporter now writing for DNAinfo, recently noted that the "bad apple approach may deflect a troublesome story, but it has insidious shortcomings. It sends the message that the NYPD is a closed society that will protect its own."

The spreadsheet illustrates, however, that Kelly is even more hands-on than he lets on with individual police officers he considers problematic in some way. In this story, we have looked at some of the many decisions Kelly has made that are indicated in the spreadsheet. In some cases, we do not have a complete set of facts or history to explain Kelly's decisions. For that reason, the Voice is withholding some names that appear on the list.

One of the officers designated "do not transfer without PC approval" is James Albertelli, who was indicted in 2005 on bribery and coercion charges when he was assigned to the 13th Precinct in Manhattan.

But in 2006, he was acquitted of all charges, and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association boss Patrick Lynch called it a "politically motivated case." "With nothing more than a bogus complaint and no evidence, the DA's office charged two honorable police officers in a successful attempt to generate pre-election publicity," Lynch said.

And then, in January 2008, Albertelli was transferred to the 111th Precinct with the notation "Don't move again without PC approval."

Was that failed indictment enough to plant the scarlet letter on Albertelli for the rest of his career? Did he get in trouble for something else?

Read the entire article at the Village Voice at this link.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Real NYC Teacher Attendance at 11/17 Defend OWS Rally?

One of the most important nights of the semester in the teacher's calendar is Parent-Teacher night.

What were the United Federation of Teachers (New York City), and UFT President Michael Mulgrew thinking when it scheduled a major rally for Occupy Wall Street at a time that overlaps with what will be parent-teacher night for many grades? Couldn't they have scheduled the rally for next week, when this major scheduling conflict would not be an issue?

Participation for a large segment of teachers (and for OWS-supporting parents) will be lower with a rally time of 5:00 PM, Thursday, November 17,
at Foley Square (one block north of Chambers Street and the Municipal Building.
If you are not a teacher or parent in one of the affected categories,
BE THERE! (Subway directions in NYC Education Activism box at right.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Will Autocratic NYC Mayoral Power Mean 100s of Homeless Deaths This Winter? & Calls for Indep. Police Oversight

We hear much about the ill effects of autocratic mayoral control upon public education. The details are too numerous to account here. Just see Ed Notes Online or the latest ATR farce details at NYCATR.

The latest outrage and testament to the crazed policy decisions of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's being drunk with power is the following plan by New York, to insist that single homeless persons prove that they are homeless (Yes, this is real, not GBN from another NYC blog):
From various New York news outlets, this from WNBC-TV:
"Analysis: The City Demands the Homeless Prove It"
(a photo caption)
A sign of a man panhandling for money is displayed on the streets of Manhattan October 26, 2009 in New York City. In a recently released report by the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless it was revealed that the numbers of homeless people using New York City shelters each night has reached an all time high. Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office eight years ago there has been a 45 percent increase in shelter use with over 39,000 homeless people, including 10,000 homeless families, checking in to city shelters every evening. The group also said that 2009 has turned out to be 'the worst on record for New York City homelessness since the Great Depression. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

and the text of the news story, including some hard hitting comments:
New York has a tradition of caring for its most vulnerable people. That’s why it’s shocking to hear that homeless single people will have to prove they are truly homeless to get into a shelter.

My colleague, Melissa Russo, reports that the city’s Department of Homeless Services plans to save $4 million a year by cracking down on those who are unable to show they have no other option but going to a homeless shelter. I have covered the homeless crisis in New York for 32 years -- and this latest development is outrageous.

It was back in 1979 that a young, idealistic lawyer named Robert Hayes brought a lawsuit in behalf of all homeless men in New York. He filed it in the name of a man named Robert Callahan. On a cold winter night, Hayes introduced me to Callahan, who was sleeping on a bench in a park in Kips Bay. Callahan said: “I want a home.”

The State Supreme Court ultimately ruled that everyone had a constitutional right to shelter. It was a landmark decision for New York and the nation.

Over the years various bureaucrats have nibbled away at the essence of that decision. Now, the city’s Homeless Commissioner Seth Diamond, says: “People who have alternatives are not homeless. If they have a brother or a sister who can house them, that’s where they should go.”

This sets the city up as the ultimate judge of whether or not someone is actually homeless. It’s an astonishing turn in a history in which New York stands out as a place where compassion, not the dollar sign, rules.

As winter approaches, is compassion out of style? In this city, the Callahan case should be enshrined as a standard for charity and decency. It’s hard to accept that this is no longer the case. When the first person freezes to death on the streets, will the bureaucracy change its mind? Are we going to try to force relatives to take in homeless people? What provision in the Constitution or the law entitles City Hall to do that?

Mary Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless told me: “This new policy is unconscionable. Just as winter approaches and Thanksgiving, we are putting the most vulnerable people at severe risk. People will die if this policy goes unchallenged.”

And the coalition intends to challenge it. Meanwhile, at last reports, there are a record 39,000 homeless people in New York, including single adults and families.

People have written to NBC New York about this development. Richele Lewis wrote: “The option of sleeping on someone’s floor is not considered adequate housing although it is better than having to sleep on the subway or in a park…”

And an e-mail from Eva Clark: “It’s hard to sleep on someone’s floor, especially if they really don’t wish you there and wish you get out and go somewhere and get lost and don’t come back.”

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, I’m inclined to believe that compassion is not out of style. In the scriptures are the words: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Mother Teresa said: “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.'"

* * *
(I have to move on, so here are quick parts --maybe I'll be able to clean up later.)
Alisa Chang (I spelt it properly, as compared to WNYC which botched her first name on the website) reported, "Police Misconduct Cases Draw Calls For Greater NYPD Oversight," on Friday, November 4, afternoon.
the lede:
With recent reports of misconduct within the New York City Police Department mounting, criminal justice experts are calling for greater oversight of the department.

A new study by the Citizens Crime Commission, an independent non-profit organization that focuses on criminal justice reform, shows that major cities other than New York are more aggressive in monitoring their police departments.

Richard Aborn, president of the Commission, said New York City should follow examples set by Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

"They have, what I think, are the gold standards of oversight," said Aborn during an interview on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show on Friday. "They are independent of the department, they are transparent , they have compulsory power, meaning they have subpoena power, and they are permanent. And the NYPD doesn't have any of that."

Recently, 16 police officers were indicted in the Bronx as a result a ticket-fixing investigation; seven New York City narcotics investigators were convicted of planting drugs on people; eight current and former police officers were indicted for smuggling guns; an officer in Staten Island was charged with making a false arrest; and three officers were convicted of robbing a perfume warehouse.

Click to the article's link above for the full WNYC story.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NYS Education Department Database on Test Cheating Cases --Surprise, Surprise!

Gawwwwlllly, Mr. Condon!

New York State has had hundreds of test cheating cases, yet only a handful are determined "substantiated."

On October 31, 2011, "The New York Times" uploaded a database that contained the status of allegations of test cheating or tampering, in connection with a story referring to "ballooning" allegations of test tampering under the tenure of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As the Times and the Daily News reported this summer, the Bloomberg administration was hardly interesting in finding or uncovering instances of reporting, as noted, when it discontinued the use of erasure analysis on city-administered tests.

Click here to access New York State's database on alleged dhearship.

Quite a large number of cases are still open. A roughly even proportion of the high school (Regents exams) cases from the 2006-2007 school-year remain open.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cellphones in Class; NYT Site Demands Facebook Link For Commenters

Here is a common-sense reaction to the cellphone in class issue:

If in a past generation a student had a transistor radio to her ear in a classroom
a teacher would ask that the student put it away.
Yes, it could provide stimulating music or up-to-the-minute news,
but it would hijack the student's attention.

If in a past generation a student had a copy of Mad Magazine or Rolling Stone in a classroom
a teacher would ask that the student put it away.
Yes, it could provide a thoughtful, satirical view, or it would have muckraking news,
but it would hijack the student's attention.

There is a time and a place for fun and leisure. Will the permissive parents or commenters remember that they accommodated distraction when the school report card results or Regents results come in?
Real teachers know that electronic gadgets can provide a terrible distraction. Yet, many people are suspending logic by arguing for their accommodation.

* * *
Why must you insist on people signing in with Facebook? Cannot the Times comprehend that the site could be hacked and school authorities could see commenting teachers' identities?
Plenty of sites, commercial and non-commercial, have comments pages with a relatively small percentage of inappropriate comments. Why can they not allow for securely anonymous comments / posts by teachers that do not want their career deep-sixed by slip-ups in Facebook?

Just a few years ago ''The Business Insider'' ran a story, "How to Hack Facebook."

Friday, October 28, 2011

NYPD Officers Rally for Accused Ticket-Fixing Cops at Courthouse, Sup's Faked Job Placement Nos.

The Njavascript:void(0).Y. Daily News reports that New York Police Department officers rallied today at the Bronx Courthouse.
(reports elsewhere report a crowd of at least 500)
The beginning of Kevin Deutch, Bob Kappstatter and Larry Mcshane's article posted online:
The cop at the center of the massive ticket-fixing scandal was held Friday on $500,000 cash bail after his arraignment in a Bronx courtroom packed with furious police officers.

Officer Jose Ramos of the 40th Precinct was the only one of the 16 accused cops not to make bail after their court appearances in the worst NYPD scandal in two decades.

Ramos' lawyer denounced the proceeding as a "media circus" and blasted the high bail after a hearing with even higher tension.

"This isn't a $500,000 case," said attorney John Sandleitner. "He's charged with nonsense for the most part."


Ramos, suspected of ties to a drug dealer, was caught on wiretaps discussing ticket-fixing after cops received a tip about the 17-year police veteran. He faces charges of attempted grand larceny, attempted robbery and attempted heroin possession.

Ramos was arrested Thursday night while leaving a parent-teacher conference at his stepchild's Inwood school. His wife was nabbed at their home on a charge of filing a false report in a car accident.

Officer Christopher Scott was revealed as the most egregious ticket-fixer, charged with more than 150 separate counts ranging from official misconduct to conspiracy, officials said.

Read more:

On September 27, 2011, Michael Powell, in "The New York Times" reported on this problem in "Managers Pushed for Fake Job-Placement Numbers, Ex-Workers Say." excerpts:
. . . . Our mayor takes much pride in his “I’m one tough businessman” ethos. Each year he instructs commissioners to set higher goals for placing the unemployed in jobs, and each year contractors deliver those numbers on the dotted line, even in hard economic times.

It is quite miraculous, particularly if the numbers are based in reality.
Unfortunately, a question mark hangs over such claims. . . . .
Seven former Seedco [city-financed agency] employees say managers encouraged employees to produce hundreds, even thousands, of fake job-placement numbers over several years.

“The falsification of this data was not a mistake, nor was it an accident,” said Ana Defillo, who came to Seedco as an AmeriCorps worker. “It was endemic.” . . . .
For years now, the mayor and his officials have set job-placement goals as if playing a game of bar darts: Close your eyes and toss one high on the wall and — voilà! — a reasonable goal. Certainly city statistics suggest success leaping upon success. Workforce1 placements rose to 24,701 in the last fiscal year from 17,218 in fiscal year 2007. In the same period, the city unemployment rate rose to 9 percent from 4 percent. “Their goal,” said Mr. Harper, who now works in Seattle, “is to lightly touch as many people as possible and take credit for whatever jobs they get.” . . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NY1: UFT: It Appears that NYPD is Spying on Teachers

In an exclusive report by NY1, "NY1 Exclusive: Teachers Union Says NYPD Keeping Close Watch Following Support Of Protests," the United Federation of Teachers, New York City's teachers' union asserts that the New York Police Department might be spying on teachers, particularly in light of the UFT's support of the Occupy Wall Street protests at Zuccotti Park.
Here are opening excerpts from Lindsey Christ's October 21, 2011 report:
The United Federation of Teachers has vocally supported the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and union representatives now say they believe the New York City Police Department may be spying on them as a result. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Police cars are not usually parked outside the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers, but union representatives say they've been there for the past few weeks.

Union leaders say they think they've been put under surveillance by the New York City Police Department ever since they began supporting “Occupy Wall Street.”

Click for full report: "NY1 Exclusive: Teachers Union Says NYPD Keeping Close Watch Following Support Of Protests."

Alternet: Since 2002: NYPD: $0.8M on metal fences.