It's teacher hunting season!

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.

* * *
A COMPLAINT AGAINST THE TIMES
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."


SCANDAL PUTS THOUSANDS OF CRIMINAL CASES IN JEOPARDY

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: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2011/10/28/2011-10-28_nypd_officers_gather_at_bronx_courthouse_in_support_of_indicted_cops_in_ticketfi.html#ixzz1c70xUVTZ

FAKE, CORRUPTED NUMBERS AT CITY-FINANCED JOB PLACEMENT AGENCY; ECHOING NYPD ARREST QUOTAS, AND TOP-DOWN CULTURE OF ACCOMMODATING TEST-CHEATING IN NYC SCHOOLS
*SEEDCO AND WORKFORCE 1 IMPLICATED
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."

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

8 NYPD Officers Caught in Import Guns into Brooklyn Operation

Eight New York Police Department officers have been charged in a sting operation with involvement in a conspiracy to bring guns into the city.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in a joint news conference with N.Y.C. FBI office head Diego Rodriguez and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the results of the FBI's investigation.

New York Times' story on the gun transit into Brooklyn operation was accompanied by notes on how this news comes in the midst of several police corruption developments:
And the arrests come at a difficult time for a department, the largest municipal police force in the nation, already besieged by corruption accusations. In recent weeks, testimony at the trial of a narcotics detective has featured accusations that he and his colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens planted drugs or lied under oath to meet arrest quotas and earn overtime, leading to the arrests of eight officers, the dismissal of hundreds of drug cases because of their destroyed credibility and the payout of more than $1 million in taxpayer money to settle false arrest lawsuits.

Two other officers, in unrelated federal cases, have been charged in recent weeks with criminal civil-rights violations accusing them of trumping up charges against innocent victims. In one case, on Staten Island, a white officer is accused of falsely arresting a black man and then bragging about it using a racial slur. And in the coming days, 16 officers are expected to face charges in a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx.

Feds: NYS must investigate DOE's job of serving homeless children

NY1 reported Friday, October 21, 2011 that federal authorities want New York State authorities to investigate how good a job the New York City Department of Education is doing in educating New York City's over 50,000 homeless students.
Look at the numbers: there are notable gaps between the performance of the homeless students and that of the rest of the city's students.
Could it be that the attendant stresses of poverty, not only teacher performance, are major factors behind the performance of New York City's schoolchildren? The major and the policy deformers talk a lot of hot air about allowing all children the opportunity to excel. This is indeed a laudable goal, however, should not actions count more than words?

This is the city that is seeing dizzying rent and property increases, outpacing inflation in the rest of the economy, and certainly outpacing incomes. Could not the sickening housing costs and poor blue collar job opportunities be something that the mayor be held to account for, not just education (the Education Mayor)?

The key opening excerpt from NY1's website:
The federal government is ordering the state to monitor how the city is educating its more than 50,000 homeless public school students, and on Tuesday the City Council learned from the Department of Education just how bad things are for these vulnerable children. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Of all the groups in the city’s public schools, homeless students are likely the most disadvantaged, with the worst chance of getting a good education. Last year, 53,500 city public school students were homeless.

On Tuesday, the Department of Education revealed just how badly those students are doing. The graduation rate is 41 percent, compared to a citywide rate of 61 percent.

In elementary and middle school, an average of only 38 percent of homeless students passed the math exam, compared to the citywide average of 57 percent.

Only 27 percent of homeless students passed the English exam, versus 44 percent citywide.

Several city agencies serve homeless children, but there has been little coordination. That became clear last January, when a student had to miss a Regents exam required for graduation so she could be with her family for a hearing to get into a shelter.


Click for full NY1 story.
A side note, it is often the case that homeless students are concentrated in certain schools. Of course, these students face challenges that we can only imagine a fraction of, and when their grades suffer, these schools are threatened with shut-down, and the excessed teachers enter the absent teacher reserve (ATR).

NEWS: On "Occupy the PEP"

Education activists, including allied parents and students, took over the Panel for Educational Policy. In the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement downtown, the protesters began the public's speech by saying "mic check."
The PEP meeting at the Seward Educational Complex (with five, count 'em, five schools), convened to discuss "Core Curriculum" standards, began at 6:00 and closed up at 6:10 PM and relocated to elsewhere in the building.

DOE PEP'S PROVOCATION
Any honest and complete presentation of tonight's events must recognize that the PEP set up a provocation tonight. In a break from previous policy, the PEP insisted in procedural rules announced days before the meeting that people with questions submit them in writing.
The PEP thus set the stage for high tension. What was the reason for denying open microphone opportunities? After all, at many PEP meetings in the last twelve months plenty of people had opportunities to speak. One might say that the time limits afforded many people the chance to speak.
Reminder, I am still speaking about PREVIOUS meetings. Varying opinions were expressed, con, mainly, and a handful endorsing the PEP's policy objective of the night.
Yes, the nights could be rowdy and noisy, but both sides could always be expressed and the PEP could always do its voting. Now if one objects that opponents (upset at a total lack of popular political --democracy, remember?-- participation) were louder than the PEP facilitators of the business of the night, one should recognize some basic things: save for Patrick Sullivan, the PEP members, almost to a person, did not care what the public thought anyway. If they (the PEP, not the public --b'sides, what business does the public have in interfering in public policy?) were peeved at the noise, they could always chat among themselves to pass the business of the evening.

Click on this link to see Gotham Schools report, to this minute, THE ONLY Internet news outlet, up to 9:45 PM, to have reported anything on the PEP occupation story.

So, why did the PEP decide to deny the public any chance to pose impromptu questions or statements? Maybe, we need to direct our speculations to the man that runs the PEP, the mayor, who picks the eight of of the panel's thirteen members. Maybe it's that he just does not want teachers gathering publicly. Note how his NYPD gendarmes this weekend told teachers that they must stop their "grade-in" at Occupy Wall Street: “No grading papers in public," according to Fred Klonsky's story, "NYPD tells teachers, 'No grading papers in public'."

Hey, why are these important stories only covered by the blogs, and not by the commercial news?

UPDATE:
News coverage:
Well-edited youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbmjMickJMA

NYTimes coverage in SchoolBook: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/10/25/walcott-event-disrupted-by-protesters/

NY1 coverage: http://www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/education/149635/education-panel-meeting-disrupted-by--occupy--protesters

Epoch Times: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/united-states/teachers-and-parents-occupy-education-meeting-63296.html

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/occupy-wall-street-department-of-education_n_1031812.html

GothamSchools: 1) http://gothamschools.org/2011/10/25/discussion-of-common-core-to-compete-with-human-mic-tonight/

2) http://gothamschools.org/2011/10/25/protest-derails-doe-meeting-on-curriculum-after-just-minutes/

3) http://gothamschools.org/2011/10/25/underneath-the-shouting-a-hum-about-curriculum-standards/

Occupy wall street livestream videos (though they are hard to sort through): http://www.livestream.com/occupynyc

Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/10/26/2011-10-26_school_boss_disrupted.html

Fox News: http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/protesters-shout-down-schools-chancellor-walcott-20111025

A NYPost editorial: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/the_thugs_win_again_sIavzdrhUBM3HxPHHY7IxH?CMP=OTC-rss&FEEDNAME=

Blogs---
http://ednotesonline.com/

http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2011/10/last-night-at-pep-we-occupied-doe.html

http://raginghorse.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/occupy-the-department-of-education-walcott-takes-it-on-the-hop/

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Corporate Fronts Driving Education "Reform" Exposed: Now, the DeVos Family


Behind every education "reform" (actually, deform) group is a millionaire investor or donor. We've heard about the Broad and the Gates foundations manipulating public education policy. Here is more unsettling news of a 1%er family and right wing shadow groups manipulating policy in the same vein.

Behind Education Action Group is Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the DeVos family of multi-level marketer Amway fame. (Wikipedia describes the Mackinac Center as: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free market think tank headquartered in Midland, Michigan. It is the USA’s largest state-based free market think tank.)
(And see Right Wing Watch about the Mackinac Center: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mackinac-center-public-policy

From the madfloridian blog (in democraticunderground.com):

[As with the earlier Tempers Flaring in Memphis article, the following is from the madfloridian post, the indents are from the inset boxes throughout the article.]

Another "false front" education reform group? Keep eye out for their op eds in local papers.
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Sun Oct 09th 2011, 12:55 PM
The Michigan Education Association writes about the Education Action Group and warns to watch out for their activities.

Behind the false front

Note the ties to the Mackinac Center and the DeVos family.
EAG isn’t really a group. It’s two very partisan men with ties to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Dick DeVos of Amway Corp. fame. Olson’s brother is director of education policy at the Mackinac Center, another anti-union, pro-privatization group. The man who incorporated EAG, Eric Doster, is a Michigan Republican Party lawyer who has served on the board of the Great Lakes Education Project, a political action committee linked to DeVos. DeVos, of course, helped finance the failed 2000 vouchers initiative.

EAG bashes the collective bargaining process and school employees’ rights to inform the community and to work to elect leaders who value students and the employees who teach and help them at school.

Olson claims to be nonpartisan, but he is a partisan Republican Party activist and an officer in the state party.

Olson refuses to disclose his group’s funding sources, making it difficult to discern whose agenda EAG is pushing.



This Michigan-based "reformer" group just had an opinion piece published in the Tampa Tribune. It is anti teachers unions.

Teachers' union seeks to nullify the public's will

The column refers to an effort by the teachers' union in Florida to fight the new anti-tenure law. They totally misrepresent what the situation is about, and then they go on to express support for Rick Scott's extreme education changes.
By filing this suit, union leaders are telling people that teachers should not be held accountable for the performance of their students. They want us to believe all teachers are equally intelligent and motivated. They're saying that all teachers should continue to have a guaranteed job for life under tenure and remain on a common pay scale, regardless of the outcome of their work.

More than anything, FEA leaders are blatantly displaying their disrespect for the democratic process. They have no interest in the outcome of the elections that put Scott and his legislative allies in office. They are willing to use the courts to overturn the will of the people.

So much for majority rule. Union leaders, with all their wealth and influence, can simply shop for a politically-friendly judge who will rule in their favor. The eventual ruling may have little to do with the constitutionality of the new law and more to do with judges who accept donations from the teachers' union and feel obliged to pay them back.



And they speak of Rick Scott:
Reform-minded leaders like Scott have stood up to the unions and demanded accountability in the classroom. If teachers are not going to be held responsible for student performance, who will be? Can you think of another profession where employees are not held accountable for the final product?
[Ed.: are doctors held entirely responsible for patients' health? Or are diet and exercise credited?? Are police held entirely responsible for crime rates? Or can poverty be pointed to??]


They simply are not telling the truth. I wonder how many op eds in how many newspapers?

One member of this group has been regularly hounding an education blogger these last few months. They demanded and got all his education emails. The blogger, Fred Klonsky, posted about it often at his blog.

The return of Velderman. Ask GOP tough questions and you get put on a watch list.
It was late last school year that the goof ball ideological terrorists at the Michigan-based Education Action Group demanded that my school district hand over to them all my work emails.

Which they did.

EAG gofer Ben Velderman signed the FOIA request. The reason for the FOIA was that this blog asks tough questions about education and public policy and is outspokenly pro-teacher and pro-union.

Nothing has changed about that. Certainly not a FOIA request from some punk from EAG.

Now Think Progress reports that this is becoming standard GOP practice. Ask a Republican elected official a challenging question and you get placed on a watch list.



There are many of these groups which are fronts for corporations. One of them that is doing great harm to public schools is called the Parents Revolution. It is no parents revolution, it is funded by billionaires, connected to Green Dot charter schools.

The MEA website says this EAG group has tactics that "include sending anti-union mail to residents, attending local school board meetings and using the news media to further its negative agenda."

They also recommend:
If EAG surfaces in your district, please inform your local MEA UniServ director. You also may want to share what you know about EAG with your school board members and administrators, so they can consider EAG’s motives.



Maybe I should let them know it is surfacing in Tampa, Florida.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bennington VT teachers strike, first in SW Vt. in Decades

The teachers' strike in Bennington, Vermont is continuing.
Talks have suspended for the weekend:

From Neal R. Goswami, "Strike talks break for weekend," yesterday in the Bennington Banner:
BENNINGTON -- Teachers will continue their strike for a fourth school day on Monday, after union and board negotiators mutually agreed to break for the weekend Friday afternoon without a settlement.

Both sides said progress was made Friday and a framework appears to be in place to move closer to a settlement on Monday. There is "nothing imminent" to be signed, though, according to Darren Allen, spokesman for the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association.

The school boards -- Bennington, North Bennington, Shaftsbury, Pownal and Mount Anthony in the SVSU, and the Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School District -- presented a contract offer to the union around 10 p.m. Thursday. The union reviewed it overnight and met face-to-face with board negotiators Friday for the first time since the strike began on Wednesday.

Allen said negotiators for the Southwest Vermont Education Association, which represents about 270 teachers, were comfortable with Friday’s progress and agreed to break for the weekend.

"Sometimes when you’re at the table for that long it really is productive to take a break," Allen said.
. . . .
Teachers are now in their second year without a negotiated contract and working under conditions set by the boards in June -- one day after the previous school year ended. The union is seeking a successor agreement to replace the imposed conditions.

The union voted overwhelmingly on Oct. 12 -- 209 to 12 -- to authorize a strike if a deal with the boards was not reached by earlier this week.

Steven Stitzel, an attorney representing the boards, said he plans to meet with a union representative Monday to develop a "very clear list" of issues that must still be addressed.

Meanwhile, all of the boards will meet together Monday afternoon to discuss progress. Much of the meeting is likely to take place in executive session, according to officials.

Teachers are continuing to walk picket lines at their respective schools. On Friday, teachers also picketed in front of the SVSU central office where negotiations were taking place.

Union members are "really staying organized and together," according to one teacher. But there is growing "frustration" that union officials have not shared more specific details of proposals.

"They don’t understand the details of the proposals," the teacher said. "They’re staying organized but they wish they really knew what was going on with the proposals."

Despite increasing optimism that a deal will be reached next week, both sides acknowledged Friday that a significant amount of work remains.

The two sides have disagreed on three main issues -- the amount of health care premiums the districts will pay, how much of the school day is under the control of administrators, and salaries.

Those issues remain a central part of negotiations, according to both sides.
. . . .

Read the full article at the Bennington Banner.

Flashback: Trade School Girls' "Report Cards" Pre-FDR


Contemporary New York writer uncovered file records of girls at trade high schools in New York, in the first three decades of the 20th C.

Friday, October 21, 2011

ATR Plight & Tribunal of Bloomberg's DOE Hits Huffington Post & GothamSchools Big Leagues: Educating for Democracy: The People's Trial ...

Joel Shatzky in Huffington Post, "Educating for Democracy: The People's Trial of Mayor Bloomberg" in Huffington Post, October 16, 2011 addressed the absent teacher reserve (ATR) fiasco and the demise in general of public education under the leadership of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (the Coalition for Public Education (CPE)).
Shortly after Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed control of the New York City school system, he presented his programs as a national leader in "educational reform." But there has been evidence in the New York public schools in the recent past of cheating on standardized tests by teachers and supervisors.

Moreover, the much publicized "success" of the mayor's program has been in part based on inflated test scores and the "dumbing down" of the tests themselves. Yet under the mayor's "leadership" Bloomberg continues to close down "failing" schools and replace them with charter schools causing wide-spread disruption to students, parents and veteran teachers. As a result of these closings, some of the most valuable and experienced teachers lose their positions and end up in "ATR" (Absent Teacher Reserve) where they are misused as substitute teachers with no permanent position since the principals are reluctant to hire high-salary veterans and prefer to employ cheaper, inexperienced teachers to meet their "bottom line." This is the business model of education that the Bloomberg Administration has imposed.

At a "trial" held at DC 37 of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sponsored by the Coalition for Public Education forpubliced.org and hosted by Sam Anderson, a noted educational leader dedicated to wresting the school system out of mayoral control, testimony was given by dozens of parents, teachers and concerned educators describing the negative effect the mayor's "educational reform" has produced in what seems to be a part of a nationwide attempt to privatize the public schools, deskill teachers, strip them of their union rights, and firmly establish a two-tier educational system: one for the privileged and one for everyone else.

The all-day trial was adjudicated by such well-known legal authorities as Thomas Mariadson, of the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund, Esmeralda Simmons, of the Center for Law and Social Justice, Damon Hewitt of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and attended by City Councilman Charles Barron. Angel Gonzalez, a member of GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) described in detail the destructive effect of school closings in which a disproportionate number of Black and Latino students are pushed out of their neighborhood schools to accommodate charter schools. This process not only results in damage to the students but a disproportionate number of Black and Latino teachers end up as ATR's further diminishing the ethnic diversity of the system. Among other results of the co-location of charter schools in district schools is that they-the charters- cut back on needed programs in bi-lingual and special needs education.

Another aspect of the damage the Bloomberg administration has done to the NYC public schools was revealed by a teacher-parent whose daughter goes to Bronx Regional High School, the school attended by Nicole Suriel, the girl who was tragically drowned on a class beach visit last summer. The parent testified that he had repeatedly warned the school administration and Department of Education of neglect and indifference to student well-being at the school and blames the Administration for fostering this negligent attitude that resulted in the girl's death.

The teacher also reported the conditions at the GED Plus school where he teaches which is located at Bronx Regional High School. The school is intended to offer a chance for high school dropouts ages 17-21, to get their General Education diplomas. However, according to the teacher's testimony, the school has no library, no arts programs, no gym, no special literacy program, no ELL for students whose first language is not English, and 35 in a class.

There were many other charges of mismanagement of the public schools by the Bloomberg administration. These included the dismissal of a twelve-year special ed veteran when the DOE discovered she hadn't taken a foreign language course in college; the excessive number of summonses and arrests of students of color where not only security personnel but also regular police with firearms patrol the former Brandeis High School. It had once been one of the best high schools in the City but was closed down so that a charter school can be "co-located" at the facility on the Upper West Side where the workers and teachers will be non-unionized. The testimony throughout the time I attended presented a consistent pattern of inadequate attention to and neglect of schools that desperately need more support.

And while these schools are "failing," Councilman Barron reported that during the period of the Bloomberg administration's control of the schools the DOE budget has increased from $11 billion to $24 billion while only 23% of the students graduating from the public schools are prepared for college. With a great many of the services for the city schools now "contracted out," Barron wonders where so much of this money is going with so little effect on improving public education.

At the same time, as pointed out by Leonie Haimson, a nationally known parent-advocate and Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a clearinghouse for information on class size, the actual number of students in classrooms K-12 has increased under the Bloomberg administration, despite the fact that $650 million each year for the past three were specifically appropriated by the State legislature under the Contracts for Excellence law to reduce class size. Moreover, Haimson pointed out that several programs that have no research to support them are being vigorously expanded under the Mayor's watch: paying students for improving test scores and increasing the use of on-line (computer-based) instruction.

An alternative to such destructive practices was offered at the hearing in an ICOPE (Independent Commission on Public Education) video created by a group of high school students who actually asked other students what they felt would improve their schools. The video, based on a study called YRNES (Youth Researchers for a New Education System) www.ICOPE.org found that in addition to wanting to be treated with greater respect by teachers and other staff, about 80% of those students questioned expressed an interest in participating in leadership roles in their school. Perhaps if other school administrators, besides the Mayor, heeded the students' request, there might be some marked improvement in their performance in learning.

If the "Trial of Mayor Bloomberg" showed anything, it was that his programs were more expensive, more destructive, and more demoralizing with no significant improvement in learning outcome than prior to his administration. The sentence for what he's done is that he should be dismissed from his position as head school administrator so that more positive outcomes can be produced for our City's young learners: student, parent and teacher-based, not business-based education.

* * * *

Hollywood respected older teachers; DOE would put Miss Bishop into ATR status; UFT would dismiss her plea for an elected representative

Among points raised in a Gotham Schools article by Rachel Cromidas,
"At union meeting, jobless teachers decry ATR deal 'shell game'" there was attention to a raucous ATR meeting, SEE THE FULLER ARTICLE BEYOND THE FOLLOWING EXCERPTS [SUBTITLES mine, Ed.]:

AMY ARUNDELL AND LEROY BARR DISMISSING UFT MEMBERS' CONCERNS
Amy Arundell, a UFT special representative, told the roughly 100 teachers at the meeting that the point of moving teachers weekly is to position them for jobs that could open up at the schools where they are temporarily assigned. The previous arrangement, in which members of the ATR pool often stayed at one school for an entire year, allowed principals to use them as free labor, she said, without necessarily incentivizing them to offer the ATR teachers permanent jobs.


CRAZY WEEK TO WEEK ROUTINE
Above frequent interruptions from the standing-room-only crowd, Arundell told teachers they must report to their new assignments next week, even if the principals at the schools they were assigned to for September tell them to stay put. She and several teachers in the room said some principals are asking ATRs to ignore their DOE placements and stay on, in violation of the agreement.

She encouraged the teachers to “be proactive” with the principals and press them to find money in their limited budgets to create permanent positions.
“Otherwise, you can’t stay,” she said. “Unless a principal tells you, ‘I hire you,’ Central DOE won’t know that a principal wants to keep you. You know that saying, ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?’ That’s true here.”

That logic sounded hollow for a Manhattan-based teacher who said after the meeting that the normally “pro-teacher” union had agreed to a deal that does not put ATRs’ best interests first.

“This weekly assignment nonsense is meant to aggravate people so they get disgusted and leave,” she said.


UNION VS. DEMOCRACY OR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES
During the meeting, attendees called on the UFT to create a chapter just for ATRs and to file a discrimination lawsuit against the city on their behalf. But the union officials present, which included LeRoy Barr, the UFT staff director, rejected those requests, arguing that discrimination is difficult to prove and that chapter leaders at the schools where ATRs are temporarily assigned are equipped to advocate for them.

Arundell urged teachers to contact their temporary chapter leaders with complaints about hostile principals or requests to teach subjects out of their license.

But several teachers complained during the meeting that they had reached out to the UFT and the DOE with complaints, and received no response.

“It may be news for some of you, but there is not union representation in every school,” one teacher called out from the audience. “I was at one school that had no chapter leader.”

Several teachers complained about being assigned by their new principals to lunch duty or clerical work, which Arundell said was not part of their contract. Others spoke of being asked to take on subjects they are not licensed to teach.

One Manhattan-based librarian, who came to the Brooklyn meeting because the Manhattan meeting is not until next week, said her current principal is using her as an assistant to two kindergarten teachers at an elementary school because the school’s library is closed.

“I take the kids to the bathroom every period. That’s about all I do. My principal said to me, ‘I don’t want you here. You’re not going to work anyway.’” She paused for emphasis and whispered, “I think it’s because of my gray hair.”


UNION AGAINST CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT, DOUBTING DISCRIMINATION
Teachers throughout the room clapped when one attendee called on the union to file a class-action lawsuit against the city. Union officials shot down the idea, saying that courts require a high burden of proof for discrimination suits that the union would be unlikely to meet.

“But it’s happening everywhere,” another teacher called out. “Stop the shell game that’s taking place.”

Several teachers in attendance said they would like the union to create an ATR teacher chapter to represent them — something the union officials said was not likely to happen.

As the 2.5-hour-long meeting wrapped up, Vincente DeSiano, an elementary school teacher in the ATR pool, collected names and contact information from the roughly 40 people still present, after union officials said they would not provide information about who had attended.

“We have power that we don’t realize,” DeSiano said. “I want us all to be able to share information with each other and see how we can help the situation.”

See the original large article at Gotham Schools.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NY Times: Charter School Driving Droves of Teachers Away

Anna Phillips, "High Teacher Turnover at a Success Network School," October 19, 2011.


More than a third of the staff members at a Harlem charter school run by the Success Charter Network have left the school within the last several months, challenging an organization that prides itself on the training and support it offers its teachers.

The unusually high turnover at Harlem Success Academy 3 and the network-wide issue of teachers quitting mid-year led the founder and chief executive of the Success Charter Network, Eva S. Moskowitz, to express concern in an October newsletter.

“This is not a ‘gig’ ” she wrote, informing staff members that by breaking their commitment to the schools and families midyear, they were acting unethically.

At Harlem Success Academy 3, 22 of the school’s 59 administrators, teachers and classroom aides left between the end of the last school year and the beginning of this one, according to the school’s records. Some took jobs at other schools, some moved to new cities and some said they quit out of frustration with the school’s tightly regulated environment.
. . . .
Few of the teachers who left Harlem Success Academy 3 would speak about why they quit, and those who did refused to be named, citing fear of retribution or concern that they could lose their new teaching positions.
. . . .
One former Harlem Success Academy 3 teacher who quit at the end of last school year said she had left because she felt “micromanaged.”

“You couldn’t teach in the way you wanted to teach,” she said. “If your kids weren’t sitting perfectly, looking straight at the teacher, not saying a single word, then you weren’t doing your job.”
. . . .
Read more of the article as originally posted at the New York Times website.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Undercover Operation Angers Brooklyn College Students


The NYPD thinks this college sophomore is a threat?
From "The Brooklyn Ink" blog.

By Omar Akthar, "Undercover Operation Angers Brooklyn College Students," Tue, Oct 11, 2011

Students at Brooklyn College reacted, at turns, with both outrage and acceptance over a report that the New York Police Department used undercover officers to infiltrate Muslim student groups on campus.
According to a CBS news report this morning, The Associated Press obtained documents that show that the NYPD has been sending undercover officers to schools and colleges like Brooklyn College to infiltrate Muslim student groups and monitor their activities.
“It’s definitely scary, it makes me think twice about what I say when I’m speaking to someone on the phone when I’m on campus,” said sophomore Faria Imtiaz, a member of the Muslim Students Association. “It shows that if it could happen to us, it could happen to anyone.”

This wasn’t her first brush with police surveillance. “The NYPD released a list of institutions that were under surveillance for potential Islamic fundamentalism, one of them turned out to be my high school,” she said. Still, she added, maybe actions like this are necessary in the times we live in.
Konstantinos Marinakis, a senior, supported the department’s actions.
Konstantinos Marinakis, Brooklyn College Student by Omar Bilal Akhtar
He said that while there should be surveillance, it shouldn’t be specific for only certain groups. “I don’t agree it should be specific groups, “ he said. “The NYPD should go undercover in schools to infiltrate all groups ”

But sophomore Elizabeth Allan called the operation racist, a violation of privacy, and an example of racial profiling.

The operation may, in fact, violate U.S. privacy laws—and may also jeopardize federal funding for the universities if the department were to hand over student records without their consent to the police, law professor Ramzi Kassen told the AP.
The City University of New York has had an understanding with the NYPD since 1992 that states that in non-emergency situations, police officers may enter CUNY premises only upon the request or approval of a CUNY official.
Jeremy Thompson, the Senior Director of Communications and Marketing at Brooklyn College said, “If these allegations prove correct, it is certainly something that has happened without our knowledge.”

According to documents obtained by the AP, the NYPD may have gained access to student records through working with campus security, under the pretense of working on gang or narcotics cases. This would be a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal statute, according to Richard Rainsberger, a consultant on college privacy laws told the AP. If the college is found to be violating this statute, it could lose all its federal funding.
Thompson said that it was not unusual for the college to cooperate with the NYPD. “I don’t know if there is any veracity to that claim or not, but I can tell you we have a very good relationship with the NYPD. Our public safety officers are in regular communication with the 70th precinct here,” he said. “But we are certainly bound by the FERPA, and so anything that would have been done as far as the release of student records or documents would have been under those guidelines.”
***
Contact The Brooklyn Ink
Are you at Brooklyn College? What do you think about this? Email us at thebrooklynink(at)gmail.com.
Tweet your thoughts@thebrooklynink


Click to original Brooklyn Ink article for audio clips and comments.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Update:NYS Regents Ponders Sending Tests Away From Teachers' Own Schools/ NYT: Files: 14 Suspected Cheating

New York State Regents Considering Sending Regents Tests Away for Schools for Scoring
Cheating in New York City Schools: 14 Cases
UPDATE: 10/17 NY1 contribution on this topic --link at bottom of this post.

Regents to Vote on Change to Cut Risk of Teachers’ Test-Tampering
By SHARON OTTERMAN
Published: October 15, 2011

The New York State Board of Regents will decide Monday whether to bar teachers from grading their own students’ standardized tests, a longstanding practice that state officials say creates a temptation for educators to cheat in an era of high-stakes exams.
The ban, which would start in the 2012-13 school year, would require districts to score tests in other schools, on computers or in regional centers. The change would most likely cause Regents exams, now held just before graduation, to be held earlier in the spring and could lead to additional costs for districts.

The state is in the process of introducing a new evaluation system that judges teachers in part on how well their students do on standardized tests. These rising stakes are behind the state’s push for better test security, as is an acknowledgment by state officials that they have not done enough to detect or prevent cheating.

. . . Remainder of NYT article.


The best route would be to send the tests outside of New York City. If they were examined in the city there would still remain the taint of intimidation from superiors in the New York City Department of Education.

(Condon only substantiated a handful of the accused test-cheating cases in New York City schools: NY Times. Sharon Otterman, from the September 24, 2011 Times, "State Says It Analyzed Test Erasures for Cheating; 62 Schools Proved Suspect." --The page tab gets more to the point: "In Reversal, New York State Says It Used Erasure Analyses to Detect Cheating."

Published: October 15, 2011
Cheating in New York City Schools: 14 Cases
A collection of reports by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City school system describing substantiated cases of test tampering and grade changing by educators. Most of the documents were obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information request and were redacted to protect the identities of witnesses and minors.

Click to above link for the 14 cited cases.

NY1, 10/17/11: "State DOE To Consider Measures To Prevent Regents Cheating."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

NYPD fabricated drug charges vs. innocent people to meet arrest quotas, former detective testifies

AND,New York Times, Jim Dwyer, "The Drugs? They Came From the Police"

Jim Marzulli, New York Daily News, October 13, 2011, "We fabricated drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas, former detective testifies"

A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas. [Photo]

The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as "flaking," on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.

"Tavarez was ... was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case," he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.

"I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy," Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

He made clear he wasn't about to pass off the two legit arrests he had made in the bar to Tavarez.

"As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division," he said.

NYPD officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Anderson worked in the Queens and Brooklyn South narcotics squads and was called to the stand at Arbeeny's bench trial to show the illegal conduct wasn't limited to a single squad.

"Did you observe with some frequency this ... practice which is taking someone who was seemingly not guilty of a crime and laying the drugs on them?" Justice Gustin Reichbach asked Anderson.

"Yes, multiple times," he replied.

The judge pressed Anderson on whether he ever gave a thought to the damage he was inflicting on the innocent.

"It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators," he said.

"It's almost like you have no emotion with it, that they attach the bodies to it, they're going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway; nothing is going to happen to them anyway."

The city paid $300,000 to settle a false arrest suit by Jose Colon and his brother Maximo, who were falsely arrested by Anderson and Tavarez. A surveillance tape inside the bar showed they had been framed.

A federal judge presiding over the suit said the NYPD's plagued by "widespread falsification" by arresting officers.


Click for original NY Daily News article with photo and comments.

AND,New York Times, Jim Dwyer, "The Drugs? They Came From the Police"

Is it time for another commission to investigate police corruption? All the venom against teachers, never shall patterns in the New York Police Department be questioned.

L.A. students Re-taking "turnaround" school from charter hands to public hands

From Madfloridian's Journal at democraticunderground.com, with MadFlo tipping a hat to Michael Klonsky; indents are MadFlo's blockquotes, containing of other articles.

{Take note of how Los Angeles students took the initiative in the effort to retake the public school. All of following text is written by madfloridian.}

Taking back a failing "turnaround" school from a charter group without hurting their fundraising?

Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion Tue Oct 11th 2011, 01:02 PM That's really sneaky. It's hard to do that quietly. But that is what is going on in Los Angeles.

The charter group, L.A.'s Promise [note who's on board of directors], is having a fundraising time. So the school officials (including the state superintendent) are being careful not to harm their raising of money, although a school they took over, a "turnaround", is not working.

Hat tip to blogger Mike Klonsky.

Turning around the 'turn-arounds': L.A.'s Promise turns out to be a big lie

Out in L.A., they're "turning-around" Manual Arts High School again. School district officials announced that they will retake control over Manual from L.A.'s Promise, a corporate-style reform group they had appointed to turn the school around. The huge campus (3,500 Latino and African-American students) has been beset by overcrowding and endured a disorderly start to the school year that saw initial shortages of desks and textbooks and left some students without class schedules. In March, hundreds of Manual students walked-out to protest teacher lay-offs and transfers forced by the management group.

Ten teachers have no classrooms of their own; instead they share rooms and switch locations from period to period. A new school is expected to open nearby next year to relieve overcrowding. "The primary problem is that the classes have ballooned," said history and government teacher Daniel Beebe, one of the instructors without a classroom.

Writes Howard Blume in L.A. Times:

"Top district officials faced a dilemma in dealing with L.A.'s Promise. They wanted to address the situation at Manual Arts without alienating the backers of the nonprofit group. Officials did not want to derail a recently launched, major fundraising initiative led jointly by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy and education philanthropist Megan Chernin, longtime head of the L.A.'s Promise Board of Directors."


Protecting a charter group that apparently did not do a good job. Hmmm. I doubt they would offer the same courtesy in any way to traditional public schools. Here is more from the Los Angeles Times:

L.A. Unified to retake considerable control of Manual Arts High

Los Angeles school district officials will retake substantial control over Manual Arts High, which has been part of a high-profile reform effort led by an independent nonprofit, officials announced Thursday. The campus has been beset by overcrowding and endured a disorderly start to the school year that saw initial shortages of desks and textbooks and left some students without class schedules.
But wait...looks like they will "throw more money" at the situation. The district will simply monitor the group more closely.

L.A.'s Promise endorsed a compromise under which the district "will take the lead in the daily organizational, managerial, and educational operations," according to a district statement. The district will also provide additional resources to the group's efforts at the school.


Wonder what would happen if they threw more money at public education?

The nonprofit's once-solid relations with the teachers union reached a new low in recent months, when the group forced many teachers at Manual Arts and Muir Middle School — which L.A.'s Promise just took over — to seek jobs on other campuses. Administrators also put more pressure last year on Manual Arts teachers with stepped-up classroom observations and critiques.

..."Senior Andrea Leyva complained of 50 students in an art class with no supplies and of using a 10th-grade textbook in a 12th-grade Advanced Placement English class.


That's pretty bad...an advanced placement class using a 10th grade textbook. The Schools Matter blog [post of October 9] covers the issue of who is running L.A.'s Promise: "So-called LA's Promise isn't all that promising."

ho's Running LA's Promise?

Typical of unelected boards charged with running neoliberal quasi-private schools like charters in Los Angeles, LA's Promise's twelve member board doesn't have a single educator. Instead their board is dominated by entertainment industry types (here in Los Angeles simply known as "industry") with some investment capitalists, bankers, CEOs, and a couple of corporate lawyers thrown in for good measure. Their Board of Advisors has the same dearth of educators or even people remotely connected to education. Most frightening among their decision makers is former Gates Foundation charlatan, the technobabbling Tom Vander Ark. Everything we need to about how Vander Ark operates is summed up in this New York Times quote:

But after spending more than $1.5 million of investors’ money on consultants and lawyers, Mr. Vander Ark, 52, has walked away from the project, and the schools will not open as planned this fall, leaving others involved stunned and frustrated.

Talk about take the money and run.


From September, in the Los Angeles Times, the words of a teacher who left there and did not go back.

At Manual Arts High, a caring teacher is at the end of his rope: Jeremy Davidson, an art teacher at Manual Arts High, walks off the job because of unruly students. Many share his sense of frustration.

Art teacher Jeremy Davidson skipped the annual back-to-school-night at Manual Arts High this week. He'd walked off the job the day before — after 10 years at the mid-city campus — done in by a group of unruly ninth-graders who'd hijacked his sixth-period drawing class.

Davidson shared his story with me a few hours after he left campus. Two days earlier, he had emailed The Times, complaining about "the awful conditions" at Manual Arts.

"The overcrowded, dirty classrooms, and lack of support from administrators, is demoralizing and crushing the teachers — and not fair to students," he wrote.

Still, I had to wonder, what kind of teacher abandons those students when the semester has barely begun? A teacher at the end of his rope, Davidson told me; one who has had his fill of broken promises and dashed hopes.

"You keep raising your expectations, but nothing changes," he said. "After all these years, I look around and see that things are just getting worse."

10 years on the job. That's an accomplishment.
So it looks like the L.A.'s Promise charter group will keep getting public resources, but they will simply be monitored more. That is public money going to a private company with mostly entertainment folks on their board.
I guess the message is that it's okay not to do a good job unless you are a traditional public school. Discuss (3 comments) | Recommend (+10 votes)

Crp. Philanth in Ed. Policy Excl's Par's / other notes / Gates gave $ for

{Both from Oct. 12 Haimson distru. See original email.}

Newark Parents Pushed Out of Decision Making on Zuckerberg Donation
October 10, 2011
Cindy Gibson

?
October 7, 2011; Source: Star-Ledger | Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made quite a splash last year when he donated $100 million to help fix Newark’s troubled schools not only because of the size of the gift but its promise of involving Newark residents in deciding how the money would be spent—funds that the city would match.
According to Joan Whitlow of the Star-Ledger’s NJ.com, that promise of “citizen-centered” involvement has fallen by the wayside with the announcement that the Foundatio n for Newark’s Future will be dispensing Zuckerberg funds. Whitlow reports that the foundation’s board has three voting and one nonvoting members, only one of whom is from Newark, and that’s Mayor Cory Booker. The only way to get on the board, according to Gregory Taylor, the foundation’s president and CEO, is to donate at least $10 million because the foundation has to “raise enough to match the original $100 million.”
While Whitlow concedes that people who put up private money have the right to do with it what they want, she argues that “promises were made in Newark” and those, too, are important to honor when decisions about struggling public schools are on the table. She notes, “The mayor was pretty articulate and insistent…[that] Newarkers were going to decide…how the money would be spent.” An organization—PENewark—was established to organize residents’ involvement and, according to a HuffPo blog post by Booker, did hold "11 large-scale community forums, 25 mini-forums," and also, "knocked on 66,000 doors, received more than 20,000 surveys and contacted 45,000 community members in total.”
Whitlow argues, however, that the “the PENewark survey…was so weak, it had to be redone by Rutgers and New York University.” She also attended some of the meetings, during which the energy of citizens—which “should’ve been harnessed”—was “not used and then extinguished.” As she writes, “The outpouring of people put lie to the idea that Newark parents, teachers and students don't care. They wanted to roll up their sleeves and work for the lhttp://www.blogger.com/posts.g?blogID=3958525356631767583ong haul. I heard organizers asking for just that kind of commitment. No one said, ‘Tell us some stuff, then go away and let the $10 million men take it from there.’"
The foundation’s response? During a Star-Ledger editorial board meeting this week, Taylor said “letting the people have their say is not how professional philanthropy works.” He said there would be an advisory board formed, that the foundation hopes to have a chairman for it by the end of next month and that the group will include Newark people. The advisers will help shape the broad outline of what the FNF supports. It will not, however, have a say in who the foundation supports or will be able to present suggestions to the board, Taylor said.
Whitlow and others think that’s “not enough.” She argues that “if the goal is to improve education in Newark, the board should be expanded to include voting members from and of Newark, with a direct say in how the mon ey is spent. That fund needs people who have a sense of what has worked and already failed, people who have a stake in the outcome. The board needs balance against any preconceived notions about education that might motivate someone to give $10 million, or more.”
This is a compelling example of how philanthropic institutions are having to grapple with the cultural shifts that technology is driving—including transparency, collaboration and partnering with “real people” in “real communities” to solve complex problems. Whether and to what extent this particular foundation decides to entertain new ways to do its job remains to be seen, but one thing is clear to Whitlow and others in Newark: It may be their money, but “it’s Newark’s kids,” so where does the public fit when it comes to making funding decisions that affect those kids?—CMG

Vanguard
Obtain Prospectus


Dear Leonie,

Is Billionaire philanthropy good or bad for democracy?

For a time I want to use this weekly letter to you to surface what I consider to be some of the more intriguing questions embedded in the so-called "new normal" of our work. Many of them have to do with what I consider to be risky paths being taken in a very chaotic environment. That risk, of course, can end in good or in bad or both... but if we do not talk thoroughly about the potential outcomes and the ethics of some of the directions being taken and urged upon us by others, we are being dumbly herded-and who wants that?

So make sure you are a part of our "salon," under which roof you can speak your most irreverent thoughts and hear those of others. Only in this way can we get beyond the catatonia-inducing pabalum that passes for rigor to a more cri tical dialogue that might actually inform us all.

Today I'd like to call your attention to a newswire that we did yesterday about billionaire philanthropy in public systems. Over the past two years we have been tracking not only billionaire philanthropy as it has manifested itself across the nation but also the concerns of onlookers about the effects of that philanthropy on democracy. A lot of the concern has been focused on the Gates Foundation, ri ghtly or wrongly but yesterday's newswire by CMG referred to Facebook founder Zuckerberg's massive donation to the Newark School system and the subsequent exclusion of parents from decision making.

Are these instances of billionaire philanthropy really tantamount to the very rich buying an inappropriate voice in the direction of public systems--which are intended to be accountable to the citizens they serve? Are the concerns about the impacts of bil lionaire philanthropy like Zuckerberg's comparable to concerns about the influence of investments made by institutional philanthropy in public systems?

This is a nation starved for cash, but it is hardly an equal opportunity starvation across the nation's landscape. Some areas like Newark for instance or Detroit are actually suffering greater levels of poverty and have higher needs for system improvements. What does it mean when residents of the area are edged out of core decision making and accountability mechanisms through agreements - tacit or explicit -with people with deep pockets? Are we placing critical components of communities in the category of pet projects of the very rich? Just asking.

As Always,

Ruth's signature

Madfloridian's December 3, 2011 upload:
http://journals.democraticunderground.com/madfloridian/8240

ca Dec 6 upload of Gates gave $ for deform

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bloomberg's Plan for Fingerprinting Food Stamps Applicants Is Denounced

Fingerprinting Those Seeking Food Stamps Is Denounced

By KATE TAYLOR
Published: October 11, 2011

Taking aim at a practice she called unnecessary, costly and punitive, the speaker of the City Council, Christine C. Quinn, is asking the Bloomberg administration to justify requiring applicants for food stamps to be electronically fingerprinted.

New York City, where 1.8 million people receive food stamps, is one of only two jurisdictions in the country that require applicants to be fingerprinted, according to Ms. Quinn’s office. The other is Arizona.

California and Texas recently lifted a similar requirement; New York stopped using fingerprinting for food-stamp recipients statewide in 2007, but kept it in New York City at the Bloomberg administration’s request.

Robert Doar, the commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration, said the policy deterred fraud and prevented case duplication, catching 1,200 duplicated cases a year and saving about $4 million annually in federal benefits.

But Ms. Quinn and opponents of the practice say that there is no evidence that it prevents fraud and that cases of duplication could be found through other means. Instead, they say, it simply deters some New Yorkers from applying for food stamps.

In an interview, Ms. Quinn said that, at a time of rising poverty and budget cuts, the city should not be spending money on unnecessary enforcement measures.

“We’re spending public dollars where there is no crime being committed,” she said.

Joel Berg, the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said that electronic fingerprinting created a stigma around applying for federal aid, treating “poor people as if they’re basically criminals for trying to access a program to which they’re legally entitled.” Since many of the city’s applicants for food aid are minorities, Mr. Berg said, requiring fingerprinting here, and not in the rest of the state, also raised civil rights issues. It is “electronic stop-and-frisk,” he said.

The rest of the Bloomberg on food stamps article.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Automating Instruction Isn't What Works: Grading the Digital School Inflating the Software Report Card

Another interesting irony: closed or hidden bidding on committing millions of public dollars to digitizing public education; yet the record does not suggest that this is money well-spent.

Grading the Digital School: Inflating the Software Report Card
By TRIP GABRIEL and MATT RICHTEL; Published: October 8, 2011

The Web site of Carnegie Learning, a company started by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University that sells classroom software, trumpets this promise: “Revolutionary Math Curricula. Revolutionary Results.”
T. Lynne Pixley for The New York Times

In Augusta, Ga., the school district has expanded the use of Cognitive Tutor math software to all of its high school students.
Grading the Digital School Unfulfilled Promises
Articles in this series will look at the intersection of education, technology and business as schools embrace digital learning.

Grading the Digital School: In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores (September 4, 2011)

The pitch has sounded seductive to thousands of schools across the country for more than a decade. But a review by the United States Department of Education last year would suggest a much less alluring come-on: Undistinguished math curricula. Unproven results.

. . . .

Many companies ignore well-regarded independent studies that test their products’ effectiveness. Carnegie’s Web site, for example, makes no mention of the 2010 review, by the Education Department’s What Works Clearinghouse, which analyzed 24 studies of Cognitive Tutor’s effectiveness but found that only four of those met high research standards. Some firms misrepresent research by cherry-picking results and promote surveys or limited case studies that lack the scientific rigor required by the clearinghouse and other authorities.

. . . .

Carnegie, one of the most respected of the educational software firms, is hardly alone in overpromising or misleading.

[Funny, a company is among the most respected, yet it can overpromise or mislead --Ed.]

. . . .
And Intel, in a Web document urging schools to buy computers for every student, acknowledges that “there are no longitudinal, randomized trials linking eLearning to positive learning outcomes.”


Follow the rest of the article at the Times' main site.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Corporate Fronts Behind Education "Reform" Exposed

Behind every education "reform" (actually, deform) group is a millionaire investor or donor. We've heard about the Broad and the Gates foundations manipulating public education policy. Here is more unsettling news of meddling 1%er families in the same vein.

Behind Education Action Group is Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the DeVos family of multi-level marketer Amway fame. (Wikipedia describes the Mackinac Center as: The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free market think tank headquartered in Midland, Michigan. It is the USA’s largest state-based free market think tank.)
(And see Right Wing Watch about the Mackinac Center: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mackinac-center-public-policy

From the madfloridian blog (in democraticunderground.com):

As with the earlier Tempers Flaring in Memphis article, the following is from the madfloridian post, the indents are from the inset boxes throughout the article.

Another "false front" education reform group? Keep eye out for their op eds in local papers.
Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Sun Oct 09th 2011, 12:55 PM
The Michigan Education Association writes about the Education Action Group and warns to watch out for their activities.

Behind the false front

Note the ties to the Mackinac Center and the DeVos family.

EAG isn’t really a group. It’s two very partisan men with ties to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Dick DeVos of Amway Corp. fame. Olson’s brother is director of education policy at the Mackinac Center, another anti-union, pro-privatization group. The man who incorporated EAG, Eric Doster, is a Michigan Republican Party lawyer who has served on the board of the Great Lakes Education Project, a political action committee linked to DeVos. DeVos, of course, helped finance the failed 2000 vouchers initiative.

EAG bashes the collective bargaining process and school employees’ rights to inform the community and to work to elect leaders who value students and the employees who teach and help them at school.

Olson claims to be nonpartisan, but he is a partisan Republican Party activist and an officer in the state party.

Olson refuses to disclose his group’s funding sources, making it difficult to discern whose agenda EAG is pushing.



This Michigan-based "reformer" group just had an opinion piece published in the Tampa Tribune. It is anti teachers unions.

Teachers' union seeks to nullify the public's will

The column refers to an effort by the teachers' union in Florida to fight the new anti-tenure law. They totally mispresent what the situation is about, and then they go on to express support for Rick Scott's extreme education changes.

By filing this suit, union leaders are telling people that teachers should not be held accountable for the performance of their students. They want us to believe all teachers are equally intelligent and motivated. They're saying that all teachers should continue to have a guaranteed job for life under tenure and remain on a common pay scale, regardless of the outcome of their work.

More than anything, FEA leaders are blatantly displaying their disrespect for the democratic process. They have no interest in the outcome of the elections that put Scott and his legislative allies in office. They are willing to use the courts to overturn the will of the people.

So much for majority rule. Union leaders, with all their wealth and influence, can simply shop for a politically-friendly judge who will rule in their favor. The eventual ruling may have little to do with the constitutionality of the new law and more to do with judges who accept donations from the teachers' union and feel obliged to pay them back.



And they speak of Rick Scott:

Reform-minded leaders like Scott have stood up to the unions and demanded accountability in the classroom. If teachers are not going to be held responsible for student performance, who will be? Can you think of another profession where employees are not held accountable for the final product?



They simply are not telling the truth. I wonder how many op eds in how many newspapers?

One member of this group has been regularly hounding an education blogger these last few months. They demanded and got all his education emails. The blogger, Fred Klonsky, posted about it often at his blog.

The return of Velderman. Ask GOP tough questions and you get put on a watch list.

It was late last school year that the goof ball ideological terrorists at the Michigan-based Education Action Group demanded that my school district hand over to them all my work emails.

Which they did.

EAG gofer Ben Velderman signed the FOIA request. The reason for the FOIA was that this blog asks tough questions about education and public policy and is outspokenly pro-teacher and pro-union.

Nothing has changed about that. Certainly not a FOIA request from some punk from EAG.

Now Think Progress reports that this is becoming standard GOP practice. Ask a Republican elected official a challenging question and you get placed on a watch list.



There are many of these groups which are fronts for corporations. One of them that is doing great harm to public schools is called the Parents Revolution. It is no parents revolution, it is funded by billionaires, connected to Green Dot charter schools.

The MEA website says this EAG group has tactics that "include sending anti-union mail to residents, attending local school board meetings and using the news media to further its negative agenda."

They also recommend:

If EAG surfaces in your district, please inform your local MEA UniServ director. You also may want to share what you know about EAG with your school board members and administrators, so they can consider EAG’s motives.



Maybe I should let them know it is surfacing in Tampa, Florida.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Most Americans approve of local schools : Poll shows

Given the war against public schools from Barack Obama and Arne Duncan to Chris Christie, this is ironic news. So, what gives with the mania to attack teachers?

Most Americans approve of local schools : Poll shows
By James Campbell, on August 17, 2011, at 8:11 am
USA TODAY

By Greg Toppo

A new survey finds that more Americans today like their kids’ public schools than at any time in the past 36 years — even though they believe U.S. education in general has taken a bit of a dive.

Nearly eight in 10 Americans — 79% — give an “A or B” grade to the school their oldest child attends, according to findings released today by Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International, an educators association. That’s up from 68% in 2001, and the highest percentage of favorable ratings since PDK began asking the question in 1985. That year, 71% of parents gave their kids’ school top grades.But since 2001, Americans have soured on schools in general: When 1,002 adults were asked June 4-13 to give a letter grade to ”public schools in the nation as a whole,” only 17% gave them an A or B, down from 23% in 2001, and 27% in 1985.The survey is part of broader findings released annually by PDK, which has been polling the public on education trends since the mid-1970s.
Bill Bushaw, the group’s executive director, says the split is the most curious finding. He said parents’ increased liking of their child’s school may be a sign that people are more in tune with local schools’ efforts at educational reform.”I think they see the things that schools are attempting to do to transform,” Bushaw said. Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C., education think tank, says there’s evidence that many U.S. public schools are improving. But he says parents’ willingness to like their child’s school may stem from a kind of guilt — especially if parents can afford to pay for a private school or have moved to a neighborhood with higher-performing schools.”Who’s going to give their kid’s school a low grade unless they’re poor and they’re trapped?” he says. “There’d just be too much cognitive dissonance to admit that your child’s school” isn’t up to par. The overall drop in opinion of U.S. schools coincides with reports that the quality of schools in the USA is slipping compared to other nations.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tempers Flare at Jobs Fair as Experienced Teachers Told No Jobs

Memphis surplus teachers crisis instigated by policies of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Dancan
Published verbatim from democraticunderground. Indents are article excerpts that the original post cited. Article excerpts have been broadened to include full articles or letters cited. {Bracketed parts} are from this blogger.

"Gee, Arne. How do you feel about the tempers flaring at the Memphis schools job fair?" {From 10/7 post at democraticunderground, which drew from the "Memphis Commercial Appeal."}

This is your education reform in action, Arne Duncan. Does it make you proud to see all those long-time teachers in their 50s unable to get jobs after devoting themselves to their careers?

I hope they do file those age-discrimination lawsuits..I will be among the first to offer financial support.

They are being laid off and replaced by trainees from TFA. Yes, this is your reform in action. Proud of it, are you?

Tempers boil over at Memphis City Schools job fair, "Commercial-Appeal" news story link.

Police were called to calm a disturbance at a Memphis City Schools job fair Friday when about 70 experienced teachers were told there were no openings.

"When I heard that, I turned around and told all the teachers in the auditorium that we need to file a class-action suit," said Dennis Paden, 54, an 18-year classroom veteran with a master's degree.

"Most of the teachers, if not all, were over 50. Several were in wheelchairs. It's a classic case of age discrimination," said Paden, who was told to leave the fair at American Way Middle because he was causing a disturbance and being belligerent.

....Teachers said the flare-up reflects anger over changes that allow the district to hire new teachers over senior staff to help meet "curriculum needs."


One of the comments after the article hits the nail on the head.

"As a result of the teacher shuffling, all sections of physics at Ridgeway High were dissolved this week ... Students were told Friday, a week before the quarter ends, that physics classes would no longer meet."

Ridgeway, isn't that supposed to be one of the better schools in the MCS?

How could an accredited high school not offer Physics? Isn't that sort of like educational malpractice?

As for Dennis Paden, I'd have him teaching my children any day. We can use passionate, interesting history teachers out in the new suburban schools. We could also use someone like him at my children's private school (that is within about a 10-minute drive of his home).


Who's Dennis Paden? Here's his letter today about being treated disrespectfully and being without a job in spite of glowing references. He says the superintendent calls them "lemons:"

Letter: "MCS mistakes prove costly," from the Commercial Appeal today:

I am one of the many Memphis City Schools teachers whose official status is "surplus teacher." Supt. Kriner Cash derisively refers to us as "lemons." For him, it may be a joke. For cash-strapped taxpayers it is no laughing matter. By my conservative estimate, his misuse of resources will cost you in excess of $6 million.

Last year I taught advanced placement U.S. history, African-American history, economics, U.S. government and two regular sections of United States history. My other duties included coaching the debate team and serving as head coach for our varsity baseball program. It was a grueling schedule that I accepted as a professional challenge. I did not complain. I was proud to be a team player. At the end of the year when my principal told me that my A.P. class would be discontinued and that as a result of other staffing cuts he needed my slot to hire a football coach, I was stunned. I was placed on the surplus list and have yet to be hired at another school despite glowing recommendations, a master's degree in my subject area and a résumé packed with career experience in virtually every area related to the social sciences. My evaluations contain no deficiencies.

Being a vocal critic of reforms that too often label children, teachers and schools as failures as a result of high-stakes testing, I can understand how I may have rubbed some the wrong way. However, when I meet with other teachers in surplus status, I find they too are highly qualified and were solid contributors in their last assignment. So, what gives?

It is curious to me why so many veteran teachers have been relegated to the sidelines in exchange for less experienced and, in most cases, less qualified Teach For America personnel. According to Deputy Supt. Irving Hamer and John Barker of MCS, it is data that drives all MCS educational decisions. Where is the data that says inexperienced Teach for America personnel are worth the millions of dollars spent to lock proven veterans out of the classroom?

Dennis Paden


In my opinion as a retired teacher, and in the opinion of those teachers I speak to who are still in the classroom....it is past time for the person in charge of all this mess to be fired.

From day one Arne Duncan started by attacking teachers' unions. He only went to charter schools, he hung around with the reformers and praised documentaries like Waiting for Superman in which teachers were treated insultingly.

I am sick inside over the way teachers are being treated. Memphis is one of the worst. My thoughts go out to them.

{Of course it's totally unscientific, but here's the letter grade that readers gave the record of placing MCS "surplus teachers".}

Commenter wrote:
Similar stories in many districts. This is just sick.

I'm working with a handful of TFA replacements this year. It's disgusting that anyone with a brain thinks they can waltz in and do a comparable job - or even do better - than the experienced teachers they are replacing.

It's like an alternate universe where up is down, in is out and everyone smiles and pretends the kids are okay.

Another commenter wrote:
I'm mentoring my third TFAer. This sucks.

The first two quit; one in the middle of a semester, the other before finals near the end of the year. Most of these people do not belong in front of classrooms. I have only met one TFAer I would consider qualified to teach, and honestly that is because she went back to school and actually took some classes on her own about education, educational theory & practice. Many TFAers believe the hype about themselves as "saviors" and do not feel like they need the sufficient educational background in order to practice the teaching discipline. It's sad for our students who deserve top tier, qualified instructional professionals.

Piece by piece our public education system is being dismantled by a Democratic administration. That should make us all very angry.

Another commenter wrote:
football coach wasn't it

a master's certified teacher to teach history or a football coach to teach history, in the usa it is an easy choice, football is more important than history in the usa... in france the schools do not waste any resources on sports, all sports teams are run by the towns/regions and have fuck all to do with the schools, in school you have physical education class and that is it for sports.

Another commenter:
Article from Aug. .They fired the teacher of the year.

They applied for money from Bill Gates, and it had strings attached.

http://soetalk.com/2011/08/17/in-memphis-clashes-between-new-and-experienced-teachers/
{Ed.: SOE Talk is an outlet for students, prospective students and alumni of the Johns Hopkins School of Education.}

By Jane Roberts, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn. (MCT)

When Memphis City Schools accepted millions of dollars from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve teacher effectiveness, it agreed to tap new pipelines for attracting teachers.

But after at least 190 teachers with no experience were hired over 100 teachers with lots of it, school board members wanted to know Monday if jobs were earmarked for some of the new teachers—and what they are supposed to tell angry constituents.

“Out of North Memphis, I’m getting this phone call: ‘How can you let the teacher of the year last year go when you’re hiring people who don’t have experience?’” board member Sara Lewis said after the meeting. “That needs to be explained to people. People don’t understand. Our issues are (getting) accurate and adequate information.” While Supt. Kriner Cash did not say whether some positions were intentionally left open for Teach for America and other talent partners, he said the process for filling positions was “open and transparent,” and he reminded board members that he has said if any highly qualified teacher is not permanently placed, he will see to it himself that he or she will be.

When the district applied for $90 million from the Gates Foundation in 2009, its proposal said that 30-35 percent of new hires would come from talent pipelines that produce high-quality teacher applicants. In 2009, the district expected it would hire 190 teachers from those sources this year alone. Next year, the number jumps to 235.

With only 5 percent of MCS graduates ready to succeed in college, Cash said the district has to do something different.

“We are trying to change and improve that rate,” he said. “We also have some of the highest numbers of students who are not proficient. … We have to do everything we can to give principals a choice—that is what research shows—give them the latitude to hire staff they need to move the needle.”

The issue boiled over after weekend media reports that the board would be voting on a $1.4 million contract Monday to hire more teachers from an outside group, Memphis Teacher Residency.

This year, MCS signed a contract to place 100 TFA corpsmen, paying their salary plus $4,000 per person to cover training and recruiting costs.

Since 2009, MTR has placed 45 teachers in public and private schools in the area. The residents complete a one-year master’s degree in urban education through Union University and work four days a week in the city schools in supervised mentorship. They also receive a living stipend.

“MTR does not have a contract that requires MCS to hire our residents,” said director David Montague. “What I would like to think is that our teachers are attractive enough that principals hire them because they want them in the building. I would love for them all to get hired in Memphis City Schools, but they are not going to get hired because they have to be hired.”

Memphis Education Association president Keith Williams told board members that displaced teachers had been upstaged by “outsourced labor,” reminding them that new teachers have no record of their success in the classroom. Williams went further, saying they also have no relationships in the city.

Cash said MEA has been part of the discussions, saying, “We are working together on this issue.”

But he was clear that he has little power over anecdotal evidence, and board member Rev. Kenneth Whalum agreed, saying he could do nothing for teachers who say they are being mistreated but insist on anonymity.


Well, guess what? TFA is one of those "pipelines" of talent.

My anger grows.

{AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY EMPLOYEES WANT UNIONS????????????}

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Orange Co., CA H.S. Issues ID Cards Based on Test Scores

"John F. Kennedy High School Issues Illegal Student IDs Based On Standardized Test Scores (POLL)" --Huffington Post, October 6, 2011
The article begins:
An Orange County, CA high school has come under fire from state education officials after they issued student ID cards that are color-coded based on their standardized tests scores, the Orange County Register reported.

At John F. Kennedy high school, the cards come in three colors: Black, the highest level, gold, the second best, and white ... the worst.

The cards do more than just announce students' testing levels, however. The gold and black cards also give students access to a variety of discounts and campus privileges, while the white cards give none.

Los Angeles' KABC reported that some parents claim the status cards humiliate their children, after state officials have deemed them a violation of the students' privacy rights, the Anaheim Union High School District is reviewing the program.


Read the full article: "John F. Kennedy High School Issues Illegal Student IDs Based On Standardized Test Scores (POLL)" --Huffington Post, October 6, 2011