It's teacher hunting season!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow emergency, but schools will be open: staff are emergency personnel

NY1 reported that this is only the sixth time that schools have closed since 1970.
But be sure to protest the permanent school closings at City Hall today at 4:30 PM.
Bloomberg's hands were tied with this one. He ordered all cars off the street. It would be hard to insist that school staff try to drive in, while every other driver was told to stay off the roads. Furthermore, these lines at the least have been partially or entirely suspended: D, J and 6 lines are on this list. All buses are suspended.
Notice!: 5:00 PM today, 311 says that the mayor has declared a weather emergency. He has advised against all travel. And owners cars parked on certain thoroughfares will face penalties.
The mayor is urging people to stay off roads tonight and in the morning. As NY 1 announced, "the mayojavascript:void(0)r hopes to have schools open" tomorrow.

The Bronx and the northern suburbs will get hit the heaviest. But have no fear, Queens and Nassau will be grazed, by comparison.

Click here for an authoritative satellite map.


A very thoughtful commenter to one of my last blog posts offered the suggestion that the New York City schools and the teachers are a day care service. Is this out of concern for the parents? Not entirely. For, if we were to expect the city to care for its parents, it would push for social services to alleviate the crushing poverty that a huge percentage of families experience; it would push for more services in the schools: more special education placement of students that are special ed, instead of pushing them into regular ed classes --and the same for English Language Learner. And the city would overturn its apparent no-textbooks-at-homes policy apparently in place in schools across the city. The city would shelve its counterproductive constructivist math that leaves our students unprepared for CUNY classes. The city would have junked all consultants and would have made a top priority of capping classes at 34 students.
No, the city does not care about the education of the city's youth. The calling of a snow day would inconvenience many working parents who might feel compelled to stay at home. The city's worry? -it would be like a strike among the working parents, fewer nannies, fewer doormen, fewer corporate support staff, fewer other help whose services the city's wealthy would dearly miss.
Like hospital staff and police and fire fighters, public school staff are not merely teachers and associated staff, but are essential emergency workers.

Alas, the mayor, who cherishes cost-efficiency, will be blind to another wasted school day tomorrow.
Get up early, drivers, and shovel early. Transit users, start off QUITE early.

PS, don't forget to log in tomorrow night with the percentage of your students that attended school on Thursday, the 27th, on the poll at the right.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vocational Schools Work Better, Report Says


"The New York Sun," that Gilded Age newspaper, reincarnated briefly in the 2000s, ran this story: Vocational Schools Work Better, Report Says

Ridiculously, policy makers in the New York City Department of Education have pursued an idea that all students are ready and interested in going to college. Yet this is an inappropriate policy, if one is familiar with many of the city's students. Nonetheless, the city has been closing, or attempting to close vocational education schools, witness the city's attempts to close Maxwell Vocational High School in East New York.
The scandal of empty credits, given in credit recovery programs, came most glaringly to light in the Bronx high school publicized this week in "the New York Times:"
"City Opens Inquiry on Grading Practices at a Top Rated Public School."

Phony credits for phony work: this is the Bloomberg/Klein legacy.

Thankfully, some Brooklyn mothers are protesting the empty credits plague in the city:

"The Empty Credit Problem"
Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective has spent the past year researching empty credits and advocating for policies that will back the accumulation of credits with adequate knowledge. We have found that while doling out empty credits may expedite a students’ high school graduation, it is likely to exacerbate his or her lack of college readiness. This issue is not isolated to the Theater Arts Production Company School, but pervades many schools in New York City, especially alternative schools that cater to over-aged, under-credited students. As many pregnant and parenting students attend these schools, this problem especially impacts the students with whom we work.

Read their post for more of their article.

Dumbed down uniform manufacturer defends misspelt jersey

Alas, it's part of the dumbing down of our society.

A Washington, D.C. basketball team, the Rough Riders, of Theodore Roosevelt High School, named for the Progressive Era president Theodore Roosevelt, contracted to buy some jerseys for a boys' team.

Unfortunately, as Yahoo Sports reports, the uniform manufacturer misspelt the jersey as the "Ryders." Shamefully, the manufacturer defended the misspelling as "the cool way" to spell jersey.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

NY Times discloses latest plans for school closures, co-locations

Here is the New York Times website link for the January 13 or 14 article on the latest round of New York City school closing proposals by the city Department of Education.

"In Document, Peek at City Plans to Replace Schools"

Here is the link for the pdf file with all of the details.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marie Antoinette moment in Black's Sophie's Choice comment about crowing

Just when you thought it could not get worse with mayor Michael Bloomberg or his minions saying outrageous things. . . .
New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black recently said of the overcrowding problem in New York City schools that the solution is birth control.
She was joking, but the idea that she thinks she can float such an insensitive and glib response shows how detached she is from her child charges and it shows how flippant she is, on both counts bringing to mind Marie Antoinette and the "let them eat cake line."

What is worse is how in a Freudian slip (in the context of some schools getting lavish resources and other schools in the same building being deprived the most basic resources) she referred to "Sophie's Choice," in the context that there are losers and there are survivors in harrowing times. ("Sophie's Choice" is the Holocaust film about a non-Jewish survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, starring Meryl Streep in an Oscar winning performance.)
Many links are being passed around on this story, see this story at WCBS-TV's (Channel 2) website::
Schools Chancellor In Hot Water Over ‘Sophie’s Choice’ Comments
Joke On Subject Of Overcrowding Turns Into Controversy

January 14, 2011 11:15 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black opened up a can of worms on Thursday after joking about her solution for overcrowding in schools.

“Couldn’t we just have some birth control for a while?” Black mused. “It could really help us out a lot.”

There were chuckles from those attending the meeting, but some said her attempt at a joke was not funny.

WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond finds parents who are not happy with Cathie Black’s controversial comments.

1010 WINS Reporter Terry Sheridan gets reaction from parents to the “birth control” joke.

Now the chancellor is under fire, facing criticism from parents, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

At a meeting Thursday night in Tribeca, Black compared the tough decisions on schools to a classic book set after the holocaust that was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep.

“So it is, and I don’t mean this in a flip way, it is many Sophie’s choices,’” Black said.

“As we know, in ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ one child dies, so I … you know … I was offended by it. I’m sure the people were,” parent Tricia Joyce said.

Tricia Joyce was at that meeting, called by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to discuss overcrowding in the schools. There were about 40 people in the room. Joyce has children who attend P.S. 234 in Tribeca. Those at the meeting also heard the new schools chancellor make the joke — after a parent who is also an NYU professor detailed the growing number of schoolchildren over the next few years.

“There are jokes that make sense, and jokes that insult and this joke is an insult to us,” parent Nubayaro Fulani told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

“I was surprised and a little disappointed,” added parent Eric Greenleaf, who was sitting across from Black. “I don’t really think she meant that the solution is birth control.”

But Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron said the comment was aimed at minorities.

“It’s ignorant, outrageous, and it’s racist. It has racist connotations to it – 80 percent of the children in the school are back and Latino,” Barron said.

The Department of Education released the following statement: “Chancellor Black takes the issue of overcrowding very seriously. She regrets if she left a different impression by making an off-handed joke in the course of that conversation.”

“It’s actually … out of context. You know if she was nervous it’s not an unusual thing to have said, given the news she had just been delivering. Was it in good taste? In my opinion, no,” Joyce said.

The people that Guzman talked to want to give Chancellor Black a chance. They said they’re hoping this was just a misstep, and not typical of what they could expect in the years to come.

The statement released by Department of Education came only after persistent requests from the media. At first, all the DOE said was: “no comment.”

Click here for critical Post editorial, "Put a lid on it, Cathie."
It's inexcusable for her to make jokes where birth rates -- always a sensitive issue among minority parents -- are the underlying punch line.
And if Black wants to compare overcrowded city schools to packed-in Nazi cattle cars, she may very well be in the wrong line of work.

The New York Daily News yesterday reported that the Antigone-inspired play that school administrators originally banned for its criticism of former schools chancellor Joel Klein was indeed performed.
Rachel Monahan and David Goldner, "Queens kids at Jamaica High School cheer on ex-Chancellor Joel Klein's 'Greek tragedy'" (By the way, Jamaica High School is a school that the Department of Education had tried to close down. A United Federation of Teachers lawsuit has slowed down pursuit of that objective.)
an excerpt from the article:
Pep-rally-style applause greeted student actors from two Queens high schools for their on-again, off-again adaptation of the Greek tragedy "Antigone," which slams Klein over inequalities between the schools.

"After all the hard work we put in, people finally get to see us," said 10th-grader Nneoma Okorie, 15, who played the title role. "People get to hear our side of the story."

Administrators at Jamaica High School and Queens Collegiate initially banned the play, but later allowed the show to go on.

The teacher in charge of the production called the performance a victory for free speech.

The students "demanded they be listened to," said instructor Brian Pickett.

The one-act play took aim at school officials for creating a divisive atmosphere at the two schools, which share the same building. Queens Collegiate is a new and growing school, while Jamaica has been branded a failure and is slated for closure.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

DN: Queens Principal Terrorizes Staff and Students

There's a terror of a principal, a little Napoleon, at a high school at one of the "academies," Mathematics, Science Research and Technology Magnet High School, at a busted-up high school in the former Andrew Jackson High School at Cambria Heights, Queens, New York.
Click on this Clare Trapasso story in the New York Daily News.
Principal Jose Cruz sounds like a trainee from the Department of Education's Leadership Academy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is mayor Bloomberg's point with insisting that schools stay open in a blizzard?

What is Mayor Michael Bloomberg's point in keeping the schools open in a blizzard?

There is no great utility in this. Large percentages of students stay home. The large fraction of teachers at outer-borough schools live in Long Island. The news reports and the transportation authorities urged people to stay home and told of special trouble in Long Island. The insistence on the schools remaining open while practically every other municipality in the region shut down schools is placing a great imposition on the innumerable teachers, administrators and other staff that must drive from Long Island or narrower streets in the outer boroughs.

Again, a huge fraction of students stayed home on January 12. What sense does it make for teachers to introduce new material when half or more of a classes' students are gone for the day? And what happens, in terms of staff scheduling? The remaining staff or administrators need to scrounge for substitutes, and in the case of deficient numbers of teachers, the staff/administrators must reschedule or consolidate classes.

All in all, staff go through hell, riding near empty public transit or driving on snow-slogged non-arterial roads.

The smart teacher is the one that doesn't listen to the news and just goes into work. Today demonstrates that it is pointless to expect school closings. (Last winter's closing was announced at 6:00 AM, after many staff are on the road or trains to begin their commute.)

So what is the point, Mr. Mayor? No serious new educational targets can be accomplished, as half or more of the students are absent.

Blog reading teachers, please submit your reports of how many students actually were in attendance in your classes in online poll at the right.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Will council's school violence data bill affects student and teacher safety

The New York City council is apparently moving to crack the culture o the wall of secrecy surrounding safety incidents and city schools.
"City Council OKs bill to force release of information on school crime, safety" -Just weeks ago in the "New York Daily News."
But the critical question is:
Will the city council address the problem in which principals get demerits for having schools rated as having too many "safety incidents," which contribute to principals' harassing teachers perform mandated duties of reporting episodes of violence at their schools, or near the schools.

The City Council Tuesday put a small crack in the wall of secrecy that has long hidden data on crime and safety in city schools.

The Council unanimously passed a bill requiring police and school officials to regularly release information about suspensions and arrests on campus.

"This legislation will increase transparency in the way discipline is administered and the way schools are policed," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

If Mayor Bloomberg signs the bill as expected, parents would be able to search online for information about suspensions in individual schools.

Council members blamed federal privacy laws for blocking school-by-school arrest data. That will will only be available by police patrol district.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How Education Scandal is Handled in Atlanta -Contrasts for Teachable Moment

In Atlanta a major scandal brews in Atlanta: state, then federal investigators enter the scene. How this arises: concern appears over test score improvement patterns seem too good to be true. Sound familiar so far?
Read "Feds cast a wide net in Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal," Dec. 26, 2010 in "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" for the story.
Choose your particular issue on which to hang a scandal charge in New York City: there are the easy cases: the no-textbooks at home policy; the million dollar no-bid contracts --that persist in a fiscal crisis; there are the cases that a little harder to pursue, but that can be labeled scandalous: the minority neighborhood focused drive to shut down larger schools, eliminating the benefits of economies of scale (larger schools having more deans, more social workers, more guidance counselors, more psychologists, more speech therapists, more choices of foreign language, more Advanced Placement opportunities, more choices in after-school extra-curricular programs); the aggressive reducing the ranks of minority teachers, while increasing the ranks of white teachers; the aggressive reduction of the older teachers, while increasing the ranks of younger teachers (racism/ ageism charge anyone?); the city under former schools chancellor Joel Klein aggressively introduced disproven constructivist math programs Everyday Math and Impact Math, and in a corresponding period, real proficiency in math has remained poor (see the numbers of students entering CUNY needing remediation courses) --See this New York Sun article printed in the Queens Teacher blog. There are issues aplenty by which activists or progressive politicians can pursue the charge of scandal.
In Atlanta, the issue has been pursued aggressively by that city's only major daily, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In New York, the daily newspapers have been either organs of the city (see New York Post and city-industry revolving door with latter paper's hiring of Klein) or have been in the back pocket of the mayor (see New York Times or Daily News)
In Atlanta, state-level politicians have opposed city-level politicians or holders of appointed office (see Georgia governor Sonny Perdue's opposing Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall)
In New York, there is no opposition from any state-level politician to mayor Michael Bloomberg or his school chancellor. The lone cry is by New York City councilman Charles Barron; there is no coordination between Barron and other concerned city politicians.
Where is the flexing of muscle of audit power, investigation power or just plain bully-pulpit power that city Comptroller John Liu or Public Advocate Bill de Blasio could easily exert? (Early in 2010 Comptroller Liu told New Yorkers that he was auditing the city Department of Education: see "With an Eye on Education, Liu Takes a New Approach," Mar. 3, 2010 in "The New York Times." By the end of the year there was little public connecting of the dots of the scandals or near-scandals listed earlier in this blog post.)

Come on John and Bill! You want to make a big splash in education, in the lead-up to the contest to become the next mayor? Grab these scandals by the horns!