It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Slick Broad Foundation Roped in Andy Stern -Scoop From Ravitch

The Broad Foundation. One of those philanthropy foundations that are determining education policy, instead of people determining public education policy.

Eli Broad and his billionaires buddies Bill Gates and the Waltons can be very good with coloring education deform policies with "liberal" or "civil rights" language.

So it is no surprise that Broad's foundation chose blue dog Democratic congressman Harold Ford (TN) or Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), to shore up the liberal credentials.



But WHY did Andy Stern have to join the Broad Foundation, an organization so antithetical to education workers' interests? He could have turned it down. By signing up he gives the impression that organized labor is fine with collaborating with a foundation that drives the education deform or stand-on-children abuse of school policy, teachers and children.

We're not surprised by Joel Klein, Jean Claude Brizard, Michelle Rhee, Margaret Spellings, Wendy Kopp and Mortimer Zuckerman.

But why couldn't Stern practice some labor solidarity and keep more than a 10 foot pole's distance from the noxious company of the Broad Foundation?

Read more about the unhappy details at "Does the Public Have a Right to Know about Broad Academy?" by Diane Ravitz:
We have visited the travails of the Huntsville, Alabama, schools before.

This is where a Broad-trained superintendent decided that recalcitrant kids should be sent off to live in a teepee until they learned to behave.

Then we learned that he bought 22,000 laptops for the district.

And this district laid off 150 experienced teachers to save money, but has given a contract to Teach for America to bring in rookie teachers.

Now we hear from a parent about life for his child in the Huntsville schools, where change is a fact of life. .

A Broad-trained superintendent in North Carolina left Michelle Rhee’s team and was hired by a Tea Party majority of the local school board in Wake County, North Carolina that wanted to eliminate the district’s successful desegregation policy, even if it meant resegregation of the schools. That board was ousted last fall. The superintendent has stayed on, and the choice plan now in effect seems likely to undo years of work to avoid resegregation. The schools of Wake County were lauded (before the Tea Party takeover) as a model of desegregation by Gerald Grant in his excellent book, Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh.

Chris Cerf in New Jersey was trained by Broad. So was Deborah Gist in Rhode Island, John White in Louisiana, J.C. Brizard in Chicago, and John Covington in Michigan. when Philadelphia picked a new superintendent recently, the two finalists were both Broadies. And there are many more. Read about them here.

Now that the Broad Foundation “trains” so many new superintendents, doesn’t the public have a right to know what the Broad Academy is teaching its students?

The Broad Superintendents Academy is not certified, has no state approvals, is not subject to any outside monitoring, yet it “trains” people who then take leadership roles in urban districts and in state education departments. Many were never educators.

What were they taught? What principles and values were inculcated? On what research are their lessons based? How valid is the research to which they are exposed?

Inquiring minds want to know.

If the public has a right to information about teacher performance, doesn’t the public have a right to know who is training public school superintendents and what they are taught and how valid is the information and research they are given and whether they were exposed to different points of view?

By the way, the Broad Foundation just added new members to its board of directors. Here is the new lineup:

Officers:

The Honorable Joel I. Klein, Chair
CEO, Educational Division and Executive Vice President, Office of the Chairman, News Corporation Former Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

Barry Munitz, Vice Chair
Trustee Professor, California State University, Los Angeles

Dan Katzir, Secretary/Treasurer
Senior Advisor, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

Members:

Richard Barth
Chief Executive Officer, KIPP Foundation

Becca Bracy Knight
Executive Director, The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems

Jean-Claude Brizard
Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Public Schools

Harold Ford Jr.
Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Former U.S. Congressman, Tennessee

Louis Gerstner, Jr.
Retired Chairman and CEO, IBM Corporation

Wendy Kopp
Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Teach For America

Paul Pastorek
Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Counsel and Corporate Secretary, EADS North America Former Superintendent of Education, State of Louisiana

Michelle Rhee
Founder and CEO, StudentsFirst Former Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

Margaret Spellings
President and Chief Executive Officer, Margaret Spellings and Company Former U.S. Secretary of Education

Andrew L. Stern
Former President, Service Employees International Union Ronald O. Perelman Senior Fellow, Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law and Public Policy, Columbia University

Lawrence H. Summers
Charles W. Eliot University Professor, Harvard University President Emeritus, Harvard University

Kenneth Zeff
Chief Operating Officer, Green Dot Public Schools

Mortimer Zuckerman
Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, U.S. News & World Report Publisher, New York Daily News
Click over to the Ravitch story for the 23 comments.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BREAKING: Judge Lobis Rules Vs. Turnaround Closures and Staff Dismissals

New York State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis ruled tonight that the New York City Department of Education's plan to close and reopen 24 schools violated its contracts with the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

The teachers and administrators keep their jobs. However, the question of whether or not the schools will be renamed remains unresolved.

[Judge Lobis' decision essentially sustains her similar action two weeks ago, when she refused New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bid to have a restraining order slapped against arbitrator Scott Buchheit's decision in the unions' favor.] Here is the breaking story, from Dominic Rafter of the Associated Press, as published in the last hour by the Queens Chronicle:


The Bloomberg administration's high school "turnaround" plan suffered a stinging and perhaps fatal defeat on Tuesday evening as a New York State Supreme Court judge upheld an arbitrator's decision to reverse the plan to close 24 city high schools, including seven in Queens, fire much of the staff and reopen them in the fall under new names.

The judge ruled that the Department of Education broke its contracts with the UFT and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators in closing the schools and reopening them under new names. In her ruling, Judge Joan Lobis, who originally sent the two sides to the arbitrator, Scott Buccheit, in May, upheld his ruling which stated the renamed high schools opening in September were not "new schools" which would have allowed the city to void its contracts with the unions.

The decision means the layoffs made by the DOE at the end of the school year are voided, though whether or not the schools will be renamed is still in question. The city may also lose out on $60 million in federal money since the DOE and the unions failed to agree on a teacher evaluation system, which prompted Mayor Bloomberg's decision to proceed with the "turnaround" plan. The DOE did not immediately respond for comment, but UFT President Michael Mulgrew praised the decision and asked the DOE to focus now on the upcoming school year.

"We appreciate the judge’s decision to uphold the arbitrator’s ruling. It is now time to prepare the teachers, principals and school communities for the opening of school and we hope that the Mayor will spend as much effort on helping struggling schools succeed as he does on his own political needs," he said in a statement Tuesday evening.

The seven high schools that would have been closed under the plan were August Martin, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown, Richmond Hill and William Cullen Bryant.


Here is GothamSchools' article on Judge Lobis' decision.

CTU UP; Emanuel Feeling Heat; Brizard MIA

How a mobilization and a few weeks make a world of difference.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been in an aggressive mode for the past few weeks, ramming through a school day extension, unpopular with both parents and teachers. His aggressive stance has set up a strike possibility. Mike Klonsky blog reports "CTU and community protests force more Rahm concessions."

Schools CEO [sic] Jean-Claude Brizard "can't go anywhere these days without being greeted by community protests, even backing out of a scheduled meeting . . . for 'security reasons,'" writes Klonsky.
With national elections drawing near and a threatened teachers strike only 30 days away, Rahm is feeling pressure from inside his own camp to reach an agreement with the CTU. The Civic Federation is attacking his proposed school budget from one side while pro-union protests hit it from the other. CEO Brizard can't go anywhere these days without being greeted by community protests, even backing out of a scheduled meeting at UIC last week which was cancelled for "security reasons."

The school board was scheduled to pass it's $5.2 billion 2012-13 operating budget which would have locked in a meager, strike-inciting 2% raise for teachers right in the middle of heated contract negotiation and on the heels of the fact-finders report recommending a much higher pay raise. But, this morning, faced with the threat of massive protests at Wednesday's board meeting, the board announced that the budget vote would be postponed until after an agreement was reached with the union."

We are going to wait until August to allow for contract negotiations to continue because our budget outcomes will have to reflect those decisions,” schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said.

Jackson Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union called the delay a good-faith effort by the district in ongoing negotiations. “It’s common sense as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “This is an opportunity to stand away from the precipice and talk about what are the ways in which we can get our schools back on track by investing in them."

The decision to delay the budget vote drew an angry response from the city's charter school crowd which stood to gain millions of dollars at the expense of city schools if the budget was passed on Wednesday.

At a rally Monday, leaders from some of the city's most prominent charter networks, including the United Neighborhood Organization, Noble and Chicago International Charter Schools, attacked union teachers for demanding a double-digit raise and called on the board to deliver on the $76 million allocated to them in the proposed budget. UNO's executive director, Juan Rangel, taking a page from The Sopranos, threatened,

"I know how this game gets played, and we're not going to allow the CTU to negotiate charters out."

But later today, the board announced even more concessions:

Instead of requiring teachers to work a 20 percent longer day, the Chicago Public Schools have agreed to hire more teachers to handle “enrichment programs” that include art and music. Teachers will continue to work the same hours they do now. Additional time in the classroom — adding up to a 7-hour day in elementary schools and 7.5 hours-a-day, four-days-a-week in high school — will be handled by the new hires.

Whether or not these announced concessions by Rahm's team are just a ploy or will be enough to avert a strike, community pressure for such concessions are certainly having an impact. Of course the devil is in the details and there's nothing in the board's announcements about teacher pay raises.

But it's clear that Rahm's strategy of posturing and refusing to bargain seriously has been upended. This in itself represents a victory for the CTU whose hand has been strengthened by growing community support and a solid 90% strike support vote of it's membership.

No E-Mail Accountability for Cuomo, Man of Transparency

No E-Mail Accountability for Cuomo, Man of Transparency

His government is very busy hiding some things. (For the latter, scroll down to Perdido Street blog, for the link.)
July 31, 2012 UPDATES from the New York Times, via Perdido Street blog. Scroll down.

The man that is touting himself as a promoter of transparency (a while back, called open government) is actually being quite secretive with his handling of his e-mails. In an effort to seep them away from being on the record.

In the New York Times:

"Despite Cuomo’s Vow of Sunlight, a Bid to Keep Aides’ E-Mail in the Dark"

By THOMAS KAPLAN, Published: July 16, 2012
ALBANY — Aides communicate with untraceable messages sent from BlackBerry to BlackBerry. Nothing delicate is shared using e-mail. And in-boxes are regularly wiped clean.

When he ran for office, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vowed to operate the most transparent administration in New York State history. And his aides argue that he has: they say that their communication methods differ little from those of other elected officials, and that Mr. Cuomo will preserve more documents than any of his recent predecessors.

But while Mr. Cuomo has taken steps to improve citizen access to the State Capitol, literally as well as digitally, he and his aides have also set up an executive chamber that prides itself on leaving few footprints.

“It communicates a culture of — I don’t know if paranoia is the right word; maybe it’s control,” said Bill Samuels, a Democratic activist and the founder of the New Roosevelt Initiative, a government-reform group. “But it’s not healthy long-term.”

The Cuomo administration’s sensitivity to sunlight is well known. Aides in the governor’s office have been warned about discussing work matters at Albany haunts. On one occasion, Mr. Cuomo’s spokesman worried publicly that someone was rummaging through the office’s trash. And the administration has been aggressive in redacting documents before sharing them with the public; in June, when it turned over months of Mr. Cuomo’s schedules to The New York Times, even the daily weather forecast was blacked out. (The office has since pledged to release the forecasts.)


Click here for the full original article.

Huffington Post's reportage on the issue.

* * *

We go back to the issue of accountability, an issue for teachers, but not for the police, not for the governor's praetorian guard or Governor Cuomo himself.

He is not only circumventing e-mail. He is removing some archives from public view. Go to Perdido Street School blog. I will not make the pretense of improving on what she or he wrote. Therefore, I will include just the beginning.

July 24, 2012, "What's Cuomo Hiding? (Continued): Another day, another story about Cuomo hiding something from the past:" [typo corrected]

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, already drawing attention for its focus on secrecy, has now begun editing his record as New York attorney general, sending aides to the state archives to remove key documents from public view.

The aides have declared off limits all of Mr. Cuomo’s files related to a 2007 inquiry into the use of the State Police for political purposes, which was one of the most prominent public corruption investigations he oversaw as attorney general. And, in a change of practice, the administration is also pre-emptively reviewing all documents sent by the governor to the archives and removing anything it deems sensitive from public view.

The review of the archived material comes at a time when Mr. Cuomo is being much discussed as a 2016 presidential candidate. Many public figures with national ambitions have been concerned about being tripped up by old documents; when Mitt Romney left the governorship in Massachusetts, his administration wiped all e-mail from the government server and allowed his top aides to buy their work hard drives, so no electronic record remained.

Mr. Cuomo’s office defended its conduct, saying that the archives mistakenly made public documents that should have been private, and that it has simply been correcting those errors. It said that the documents related to the police inquiry — known as Troopergate — were exempt from public disclosure because they were “work product,” or protected by attorney-client privilege, and that researchers could find some of the documents through the files of other agencies, like the Albany district attorney.

And then we get what sounds an awful lot like Cuomo's people specifically trying to cover something up:
Go to Perdido Street School blog for the full article.

UPDATE:
The latest, July 31, 2012, from the New York Times: "Cuomo Bullied Witnesses, Is Now Covering Up How He Handled Trooper Case" or "Cuomo Said to Dissuade Lawyer Use by Witnesses."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

8 Sneaky Signs Your Child is Being Bullied

NOTE, work with your child. Chances are, school administrators are burying their heads in the sand. If you are in a "borderline" school, teachers could be terrified of administrators and are not pro-active on dealing with bullies.

From Women's Day, by Dawn Papandrea; reprinted in Yahoo News "8 Sneaky Signs Your Child’s Being Bullied"
Your child would tell you if he's being bullied, right? Maybe not. "It's painful to say, 'I'm being targeted,'" says Cynthia Lowen, producer and writer of the documentary film, Bully, and co-author of the forthcoming book The Essential Guide to Bullying. While there's more bullying awareness than ever (who hasn't heard about the bullied bus matron?), children still fear their parents' response to the harassment can make the situation worse, says Lowen. Another reason kids may keep this info to themselves: "They may worry that admitting they're victims will disappoint their parents," says Jerry Weichman, PhD, a licensed psychologist specializing in teens and tweens at California's Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, CA, and author of How to Deal. That's why it's important to know how to spot the signs of bullying, which aren't as obvious as you'd think. Here are some surprising red flags to look for. Photo credit: Thinkstock

1. Sharing bullying euphemisms When you ask your child about his day, and he says there's "drama" at school or kids were "messing around," it could be code for "I'm being bullied," explains Cindy Miller, a New Jersey-based licensed school social worker, psychotherapist and Lowen's co-author on The Essential Guide to Bullying. If you hear that language often, ask for specifics, she suggests. For instance: "When you say 'messing around,' did anyone get physical with you? Did someone spread a rumor about you or call you a name? How did you feel when the 'drama' occurred?"

If your child still doesn't open up, tell him the difference between reporting and tattling. "Reporting is stating that someone's hurting you and you're trying to get help. Tattling is trying to get someone in trouble," says Miller. This way, he knows there's nothing wrong about giving facts.

2. Coming home hungry Before you assume your little luncher is simply sick of PB&J, consider what else might be going on in the cafeteria. Perhaps another student is taking his food. Or maybe your child is giving away items voluntarily to become better-liked-or avoiding eating because he fears being ridiculed about his weight or what he's eating, says Miller. Again, asking direct questions in a non-threatening way here is key, says Lowen. Try: "Who did you sit with at lunch today? Did you like your food? What did you and your friends talk about?"

3. Coming home from school late You may think he's hanging out with friends, but he may be taking a longer route home or skipping the bus to avoid bullies, says Miller. A change in after-school routine is how Tara Kennedy Kline of Shoemakersville, PA, realized something wasn't right.
"He started calling me from the bus and asking me if his older buddies could come to our house after school," she says. Normally, her son was only allowed to have friends over after homework was done, and not at all if his parents weren't home. "Blatantly disregarding our rule was a red flag for us," she says. Soon after, she learned about a bullying incident that happened on the bus. So trust your instincts and dig deeper if your child does something out of character.

4. Frequently losing or damaging his things Sure, kids can be careless and clumsy, but missing or torn/broken belongings can be signs of bullying. "Bookbags getting ripped. Someone takes something. Shoes thrown out of the window of the bus. These are all things bullied kids have told me happened to them," says Lowen. What's worse is that children are afraid to tell their parents about things like broken glasses in tough economic times, she says. Lowen also points out that some children give possessions away to win favor with the popular kids. "Parents should keep an account of what's missing and follow up on their child's excuse with other parents, teachers or school administrators," suggests Dr. Weichman. If there's a discrepancy between your child's excuse and the explanation an adult gives, your child may be covering for someone's bad behavior.

5. Becoming upset after getting a text or going online In the age of cyber-bullying, the end of a school day doesn't always offer taunted kids a reprieve. "If a parent suspects that cyber-bullying may be going on, she should first confront her child with her concerns, but also verify with monitoring software," advises Dr. Weichman. Beyond using parental spyware, it's important to keep computers in common areas at home, such as in the kitchen or family room, says Lowen. "If your child is in his bedroom for two hours and a situation is getting larger than life, he can feel like the entire world is turning on him," she warns. And it's hard to prevent your child from responding negatively if you can't see the situation unfolding.

6. Wearing long sleeves all the time or covering up when it doesn't seem warranted Don't shrug off your child's desire to keep covered as shyness or a fashion statement. There might be visible signs of physical bullying he's trying to conceal.
And here's why: "One reaction that parents often have is, 'you have to stand up for yourself' or 'hit him back,'" says Lowen. But a child may not be capable of or willing to follow that advice, so he hides bruises and cuts rather than face his parents' judgment. If you suspect your child is hiding injuries, don't react in a shocked or confrontational manner. Phrases such as "Tell me who did this to you right now!" should be avoided, says Dr. Weichman. Instead, put on your poker face and ask what's going on that might have contributed to the injuries.

7. Disappearing friends Most parents know who their children pal around with: who calls every night, who they join forces with for school projects, who's sleeping over. If the usual suspects are MIA, it might be more than the clique simply growing apart. "If your child's circle suddenly isn't around, ask, 'Where are your friends? What are they doing?'" suggests Lowen. When the Mishra family moved back to their old neighborhood in North Carolina, their teen daughter was excited to reconnect with her grammar-school friends.
Unfortunately, things didn't work out that way. "One former friend decided she didn't like my daughter anymore and told the host of an upcoming party that my
 child shouldn't be invited," says Mishra. "That was when I realized that this was not harmless 
jealousy but outright bullying." Mishra's daughter is now considering moving in with 
her grandparents in Michigan for her senior year.

8. Claiming that after-school activities were cancelled or practice ended early Cancellations happen, but if they're happening a lot, your child may be hiding that he's dropped out of an activity because of bullying. Changes in routine and a loss of interest in favorite hobbies are usually good indicators that something's amiss. "Kids send out distress signals when they're in trouble," says Miller. It's up to you to stay attuned, and get your child to open up. And when he clues you in, keep two things in mind. "You have to believe him, and it's probably worse than he's letting on," says Lowen.
Whether or not you spot these signs in your child, start an open dialogue about bullying so he knows you can be counted on, says Dr. Weichman. "Kids need to be reassured that sharing what's going on with their parents is both safe and non-judgmental."

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

House Committee Defunds Race to the Top; House Committee Says 5 Week Experienced Teacher Can Be Highly Qualified

In a lightly followed item, a U.S. House Subcommittee voted to defund President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan's signature Race to the Top program. This has been the program, launched in 2009, Obama's first year in office, that one early conservative critic dubbed, "NCLB 2: The Carrot That Feels Like a Stick." It has pressed states to institute teacher evaluation systems and to expand the number of charter schools. Compliant states would get extra federal funds. Individually, deficient teachers would get fired, "successful" teachers would receive bonuses (Michael Winerip, New York Times, January 22, 2012, "In Race to the Top, the Dirty Work Is Left to Those on the Bottom.")
Alyson Klein, Tuesday, in "House K-12 Spending Bill Would Scrap Race to the Top" in Education Week reported,
The Obama administration's signature K-12 initiative—the Race to the Top competition—would get axed under a proposal put forward by Republicans on the House panel that oversees K-12 spending.
Two other major Obama priorities—the School Improvement Grant program, which provides $533 million to help turn around low-performing schools, and the nearly $150 million Investing in Innovation grant program—would also be eliminated, according to a press release put out by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
The spending bill was introduced today by Republicans on the House subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related agencies. It would cover fiscal year 2013, the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1. The panel is expected to vote on the legislation tomorrow.
But it looks like not all of the administration's favorite programs would be big losers. The bill appears to renew two new competitive-grant programs. One is Promise Neighborhoods, which helps communities pair wraparound services with education programs. Promise Neighborhoods would get nearly $60 million, the same level as last year. That's not as much the $100 million President Barack Obama wanted for the program.
The measure also would renew the nearly $300 million Teacher Incentive Fund, which provides grants to districts to create pay-for-performance programs. And it would keep in place a nearly $160 million comprehensive literacy program.
So which program would win out big-time? Special education state grants, which would get $12.1 billion, a $500 million increase over current levels. By contrast, Title I would get $15.1 billion, the same level as last year. The Obama administration had proposed flat funding for those programs this year.

Alas, this could be a repeat of last year, when the Republican House saved teachers from Race to the Top. The Democrat-controlled Senate prevailed in the negotiations between the two houses and RTTT was restored.
Klein closed with her thoughts on how this year's general election results might impact on RTTT.
This isn't the first time House Republicans have attempted to jettison many of the programs on the Obama administration education-redesign hit parade. Last year, the committee also proposed scrapping Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, SIG, and other programs. But, the Democratically-controlled Senate—and the administration—ultimately won out in budget negotiations.
So when we will know the outcome this year? Probably not until after the presidential election. It's unlikely that Congress will actually finish its work on the bills before that deadline—it's become tradition for them to pass stop-gap measures extending funding until they can work out a deal.
That means that if Obama isn't re-elected—or if Republicans take over the Senate—it's going to be much much tougher for programs like Race to the Top and i3 to survive the chopping block.
Want more? Check out the full draft bill right here.

* * *
Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post reports that a House committee (same one?) has voted to extend for two years defining teachers with five weeks training as highly qualified. [Yep, better have those Teach for America trainees in classrooms than experienced ones. Bravo to Michael Bloomberg for driving experienced teachers out of the profession.]
Does 5 weeks of training make a teacher ‘highly qualified?’ — Updated
By Valerie Strauss (Updated with House subcommittee vote)
Should someone with five weeks of teacher training be considered a highly qualified teacher?
A U.S. House appropriations subcommittee approved legislation on Wednesday that extended for two more years the federal definition of a highly qualified teacher as including students still learning to be teachers and other people with very little training.


A Teach for America recruit gets classroom management training. (Ricky Carioti, photo/THE WASHINGTON POST)
The nonprofit organization Teach for America places college graduates into high needs schools after giving them five weeks of training in a summer institute. The TFA corps members, who are required to give only a two-year commitment to teaching, can continue a master’s degree in education with selected schools while teaching.
Of course it doesn’t make any real sense that a new college graduate with five weeks of ed training or any student teacher should be considered highly qualified — because they aren’t. But federal officials inexplicably partial to Teach for America have bestowed millions of dollars on the organization, and TFA has, not surprisingly, lobbied Congress for this legislation.
The reality is that teachers still in training are disproportionately concentrated in schools serving low-income students and students of color — the children who need the best teachers. This inequitable distribution disproportionately affects students with disabilities.
Strauss closed with an overview of what No Child Left Behind requires and how federal courts are colliding with legislative decisions in the area:
The No Child Left Behind law requires all classrooms to have highly qualified teachers, though the definition of just what those are has been debated for years.
In 2010, Congress approved legislation that defined “highly qualified teachers” as including students still in teacher training programs. There is an effort now among supporters to keep that definition on the books — even though the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals twice ruled that it violated No Child Left Behind because it did not fully meet a credential standard set in that law.
Last month the Senate Appropriations Committee was on its way to extending the federal definition but, after some protest, decided not to. Still there is support in the Senate to do so.
The House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate most of the funding for President Obama’s Race to the Top and other education programs — and would allow teachers in training to be considered highly qualified teachers through the 2014-15 school year.
The Obama administration has given waivers to more than half of the states, which allows them to ignore major parts of NCLB. That includes the highly qualified teacher provision, if they include student achievement in teacher evaluations.
However, there are other federal education funds, such as Title 1, tied to a highly qualified teacher provision.
Bottom line: The issue isn’t over.

Friday, July 20, 2012

NY Times-Guild Contract Talks Break Down Over Dual Contracts

Breaking News this morning (July 20, 2012) from Chris O'Shea at MediaBistro, at MB's FishbowlNY section, reported on New York Times and Newspaper Guild stories over "blown up" contract negotiations. Key parts in the rift: dual contracts for print and digital reporters. And very meager (one percent) increases for reporters' pay represent that hardball stances the Times is taking.
Approximately 1,000 NYT employees are covered by the print contract and 100 by the digital contact. --Dominic Patten at Deadline.com
Is the Times forcing a breakdown the way that Con Edison forced the lock out for the last few weeks?

Overview and personal video testimonies from Times writers and editors on Youtube, on a video entitled, "NY Times blows up contract talks with Guild." It closes with "If you value the Times, please support the journalists who are looking for a fair contract."

Journalists' public support site: SaveOurTimes.com

O'Shea's story in MediaBistro:
The Newspaper Guild and The New York Times’ negotiations are boiling over. After the Guild said that talks had been “blown up” over the Times’ request for separate contracts for print and digital staffers, the Times responded by saying it would prefer a unified deal, if the union agrees to their terms. Poynter had the Times memo:
Let’s be clear. We want a unified contract – it is the only way forward that makes sense for our journalism and our business. But the fact is we cannot get there unless the Guild agrees.
And while Guild negotiators have intimated that they too want a unified contract, when we asked them yesterday to explicitly commit to negotiate a single contract that erases the increasingly irrelevant distinctions between our print and digital journalism, they refused.
The Guild has now responded to that, calling the Times’ claims “disingenuous” and “a diversionary tactic.” Below is the full statement from the Guild.

Dear Guild Members,
Times management issued a statement late yesterday disingenuously claiming the Guild had refused to commit to bargaining a unified contract for newspaper and digital employees.
As we’ve said all along, we’re all in favor of a unified contract and we always have been. In fact, we’ve gone through 17 months of contract negotiations on the assumption that we’re going achieve that goal. Most, if not all, of the tentative agreements we’ve reached with management assume a unified contract.
But, as a responsible representative of its members, the Guild cannot casually waive the legal rights that it has. One of those rights is to maintain the dual-contract status quo in the event the talks go very badly. Why inflict a bad contract on two sets of members? What we told Times management during the July 17 talks is that we’re not waiving that right, but that we intend to continue bargaining toward a unified contract. Like anything else, Guild negotiators alone cannot combine the two contracts. Legally, that can be done only by a vote of the members of the newspaper unit and of the digital unit during the ratification process for a new combined contract. We are a democratic union and are committed to that process.
Management and its lawyers have long known our position. They know what our members’ rights are and they know that we’re not about to waive them. They know it because we sent them a letter in March telling them so (see attachment). Yet despite knowing our position – and the fact that we’ve come a long way in these talks on the assumption that we’re going to wind up with a unified contract – they insisted on needlessly pressing the point.
By putting their dual-contract alternative on the table on Tuesday, management negotiators went out of their way to throw a wrench in the talks. It’s a hostile move. It’s a transparent legal maneuver to set us up for a declaration of impasse. And it could undo most, if not all, of the tentative agreements already achieved.
It’s also a diversionary tactic. Times negotiators want to keep you from focusing on the fact that they still have an odious set of proposals on the table:
* No wage increase for 2011; a meager 1 percent raise with no retro for 2012; and an equally meager 1 percent “bonus” for 2013
* A tiny increase in health care fund contributions (for which The Times pays less than half than most other companies its size), which means that you will almost definitely have to pay even more for medical benefits that probably will have to be reduced
* A reduction in overtime pay for most employees
* Slashing severance pay and buyouts in half
The latest company proposal(s) contain NO movement on any of those issues, and that will certainly set you back where it counts most: in your pocketbooks and wallets.
Before this happened, we sincerely believed that we were on the road to getting a unified contract that would be good for digital and newspaper members alike, while giving management the relief it sought. Now, we don’t know what to think.
Despite this act of hostility, with your help and support we’ll keep doing the best we can to get the best agreement possible.
In Unity,
The Guild Bargaining Committee
Bill O’Meara, New York Guild President
Peter Szekely, Secretary-Treasurer
Anthony Napoli, Local Representative
Grant Glickson, Unit Chairperson
Mindy Matthews, Grievance Chairperson
Steve Berman
Deborah Bratton
Dan Gold
Karen Grzelewski
Monica Johnson
Brian Leary
Thomas Lin
Steve Myers
Donald G. McNeil
Erik Piepenburg
Michael Powell


Thanks to democraticunderground.com for coverage yesterday: "NY Times blows up contract talks with Guild." Earlier coverage, Newspaper Guild, New York Times Staffers Hit Out At Paper Over Contract Talks" by Katherine Fung, July 19, 2012 in The Huffington Post.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Queens HS Principal, 33, Busted for Meth Possession; Sad Tales of His Vet Teachers Reapplying for Their Jobs

Carl Hudson, 33, principal of Flushing High School, Queens, NY, was arrested Tuesday around 8:35 PM, on Northern Boulevard, for possession of a baggie of methamphetamine in his car's center console.
(Photo from Queens Courier)

A mathematics teacher by training, he was a graduate of Cornell, New York University, and in 2009, Teachers College-Columbia University's Summer Principal Academy.
He presided over Flushing H.S. since 2011. It is currently a turnaround school.

New York Daily News article by Rachel Monahan.

The DOE did not respond to Queens Courier requests for comment. (See story by Melissa Chan.)

A demoralizing picture was portrayed in GothamSchools in late June. A contributor from the school told how veteran teachers with upwards of 30 years experience interviewed with committees of United Federation of Teachers (UFT) people and administrators to keep their jobs. "The Emotional Fallout Of Turnaround"

InsideSchools noted: "The Daily News reports that in an apparent effort to raise their progress report scores by passing more students, Flushing HS gave students 50 percent for showing up and make-up work to enable them to pass," referring to a Monahan article, reported a year ago, "Flushing High School students can score no lower than 50 if they show up, memo reveals."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bloomberg Makes Awkward "African-American Joke" In Test Scores Press Conferece

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again demonstrated his disregard for the feelings of the public. (Why should he care? This is an imperial democracy. He manipulated private funds to get support for his third term.)
Here's how Colin Campbell at the New York Observer's Polticker Blog reported the story, after Bloomberg's awkward joke.
"Mayor Bloomberg Makes An African American Joke"
Shael Polakow-Suransky (pictured above), the Education Department’s chief academic officer, is a white man who was born in South Africa. And, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out at a press conference this afternoon touting city schools’ test scores, you can make a joke about him being African American.
After a reporter asked if Mr. Bloomberg could specifically explain how state tests are becoming increasingly difficult from year-to-year, he responded, “I certainly can’t, but maybe our African American here can, because — tell us,” while gesturing to Mr. Polakow-Suransky.
“Somebody broke that out,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott mused at the situation.
“I like that,” Mr. Bloomberg added. He proceeded to quickly explain that Mr. Polakow-Suransky “pointed out that he is a real African American” in a discussion two years ago.
“Where were you born?” the mayor then asked him.
“I was born in South Africa,” he quietly answered.
The reporters in attendance sat there awkwardly until Mr. Bloomberg’s press secretary, Stu Loeser, chimed in.
“That was the joke,” Mr. Loeser bluntly said, causing laughter all around.
Mr. Polakow-Suransky went on to answer the reporter’s original question.
Follow Colin Campbell on Twitter or via RSS. ccampbell@observer.com

Monday, July 16, 2012

NYC Must Pay for Private School for Bullied Child; Will DOE Finally Act vs. Bullying?

In public schools the New York City Department of Education (DOE) posts hypocritical, toothless posters against bullying.
These posters are hollow statements. What really matters is that principals and assistant principals stonewall against disciplining students. Reasons: (1) Principals do not want "bad statistics," the reputation of leading an "unsafe school;" (2) Principals are afraid of getting on the wrong side of the parents of the miscreants. Further aiding the last point is case law, such as the Supreme Court decision in Goss v. Lopez (419 U.S. 565) (1975), as I wrote in a February 7, 2011 blog post.

A very important film was released this spring, "Bully" (here is the film's official site), a documentary on bullying in American schools. It showed pervasive, systemic bullying, under the eye of administrators. The bullying in the movie happened in various parts across America, rural and urban. The common feature was that administrators failed to act promptly. The scandalous neglect depicted in the film, which is suspected to lead to suicides each year, should have spurred action. (Truth be told, hard statistics on links to the number of suicides are hard to come by, as noted here. Researchers have claimed that bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-bully victims.) It has not happened. Now we have the spectre of millions extra spent for private school because administrators failed to act.
And, so the daily reality is that as a parent, you are taking a gamble sending your child to school, because of the unaddressed school harassment and violence problem. Affluent upper middle class schools are not immune from bullying kids, as administrators there too can be so slow to act against predator students. Such is the case at posh P.S. 6, with a free lunch population of just 9.7 percent, at 45 East 81st Street, on the Upper East Side, between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue, just a block from Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum. Yes, Virginia, there is a public school at Million Mile, between Park and Fifth Avenues.
Susan Edelman in the New York Post reported yesterday (July 15, 2012), "Taxpayers must pay for private school -- because 12-year-old was bullied," a court found that school officials failed to act against school bullies. The bullying was so bad, that parents of the child in question felt compelled to take their child to a private school. The court decided that the city must pony up the $40,000 a year to pay for the child's education.
The Post reporter noted the opinion of an education expert that said that the court decision has potentially huge financial ramifications, as the case could set the precedent for hundreds of other parents that want to move their children from a public school to a private school for safety reasons.
In the article below, the principal tried to shift the blame to school aides, who she said did nothing during incidents cited in the case. But, as wrong as that inaction was, do not forget that this is in a bureaucratic culture in which if a staff member reports harassment or violence to a supervisor, action is not taken against perpetrators, but against teachers and staff for "poor classroom management."
Will the threat of the City having to pay millions for private school costs finally spur the city to scuttle its de facto policy against administrators' following through on squashing active, repeated bullying threats, attacks and other harassment?
Edelman's story in the Post, July 15, 2012:
Schools that fail to stop bullying may soon give taxpayers a financial beating. A New York judge has ruled that a 12-year-old girl who was tormented at highly rated PS 6 on the Upper East Side may have been deprived of her educational rights — and the city could be on the hook for her $40,000 annual tuition at a private school. The landmark ruling, if upheld, could be “fiscally disastrous” for the city, one expert said, noting it opens the door to millions in claims from special-ed and even nondisabled students who want to go to private school because they are bullied.
The precedent-setting case centers on a learning-disabled girl who suffered constant abuse from classmates. They laughed when she raised her hand and refused to touch pens or paper she had handled. They also handed her a crude drawing of her that they marked with words like “ugly” and “smely.” THOUSANDS OF LEARNING-DISABLED STUDENTS GET REIMBURSED FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL They pushed and tripped her “for fun.” One kid chased the girl with ketchup, telling her it was blood.
But PS 6 Principal Lauren Fontana, told of such incidents by classroom aides, allegedly did nothing — and refused to discuss the bullying with the girl’s parents. They finally put their distraught daughter in the Summit School in Queens, a state-approved private school. [Summit School is 14 miles away in Fresh Meadows, Queens.]
The parents have demanded that the city Department of Education pay them $40,000 for the girl’s year at Summit before the family moved to another school district in the state.
Notice this clincher about the precedent-setting ramifications of this case for other claims of unaddressed persistent bullying and administrator inaction:
The DOE reimburses about $235 million a year in private-school tuition to parents who prove public schools did not adequately serve their kids with disabilities — but never before because of bullying.
The ruling by Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein paves the way for payment in such cases.
“When a school fails to take reasonable steps to prevent such objectionable harassment of a student, it has denied her an educational benefit protected by statute,” he wrote.
Weinstein has sent the case back to a DOE hearing officer to find whether bullying occurred and what, if anything, was done about it before he decides on the payment. The precedent could cost the city millions. About 200,000 of the city’s 1.1 million public-school kids get special-ed services.
“Most special-ed students are bullied in school. They make up the biggest percentage of bullying victims in the US,” said Parry Aftab, a lawyer and national bullying expert.
Weinstein’s ruling could also open the floodgates beyond special ed, Aftab said. “Schools can be liable for not addressing bullying or cyberbullying for all students, and parents can sue for money damages,” she said.
In the Weinstein case, the girl, identified as “L.K.,” was originally diagnosed with autism. During the 2007-08 school year at PS 6 — where affluent Upper East Side parents raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for extras — she was put in a team-teaching classroom that mixed learning-disabled students with those who were not.
She was given a one-on-one teacher’s aide, along with speech, occupational and physical therapy.
But aides described the classroom as a "hostile environment" in which the girl endured "a great deal of teasing."
Fontana repeatedly rebuffed requests by the girl's parents to discuss the bullying -- and once called security when they refused to leave after bringing their daughter to the office to talk about it.
The city insists the girl received a “free and appropriate public education,” the legal standard and vows to fight the parents’ push for payment.
“The DOE takes claims of bullying extremely seriously and works hard to make each school a safe and positive learning environment,” assistant city attorney John Buhta said in a statement to The Post.
Again, will the threat of the City having to pay millions for private school costs finally spur the city to scuttle its de facto policy against administrators' following through on squashing active, repeated bullying threats, attacks and other harassment?

NYC Student Blinded in Bias Attack; Suspects Arraigned

NY1.com reported, July 14, 2012 that the city has arraigned two youths over an attack on one middle school student, an attack that left a student blind in one eye.
Is it usual that it takes a month and a half after such a crime?


DOE SWEEPS THESE THINGS UNDER THE RUG
Experience shows that the New York City Department of Education plays the hear and see no evil approach with student bullying and serious misbehavior.
It tolerates bullying and anti-gay bullying and other harassment. The pattern is disinterest and then inappropriate referral to the ladder of referral. The ladder of referral for those not in the know is the bureaucratic tool for task avoidance. In the real world, if there were nasty, persistent and aggressive harassment upon a person, there is usually speedy action. (Try harassment in an office. You'll see how long you're allowed to continue your behavior.)
But in the netherworld of the DOE, administrators routinely drag feet and steer clear of promptly acting against perpetrators. (Accountability anyone?) You inform your superiors of pattern harassment. They say, "did you call the parent?" (With some administrators, you actually inform of an actual assault and you get the same response.)
Let's see how fast society would break down if the same practices were followed. You're groped. You inform a police officer, he put his hand on my chest. His response: did you call the parent? I'd bet that we'd edge closer to a lawless state of nature in a few weeks.

The parents ought to scour the staff and see about who reported what harassment warning signs prior to this incident and what administrators' foot dragging responses were.
If the DOE principals and assistant principals did such things, in the name of "keeping the numbers down" (that is, keeping the number of reported incidents down), the parents ought to sue the city for millions.

The report Saturday from NY1:
Two middle school students were arraigned Friday on hate crime charges stemming from an attack at a Brooklyn school in June that left another student without sight in one eye.
A Department of Education report said the two students assaulted eighth grader Kardin Ulysse on June 5 in the cafeteria of Junior High School 78.

They were charged with third degree assault, criminal mischief and menacing as hate crimes.
The DOE report said the students also made anti-gay remarks toward Ulysse before the attack, which his father said cost him his sight in his right eye.
The city law department said both students were paroled to their parents.
A conference on the incident is scheduled for August.


From Democratic Underground: (Commenters there share the view that the keep the stats down at all costs prevails as the first order in mayor Michael Bloomberg's schools.)
Bloomberg's $$$ and PR machine has a way of making stories like this disappear.

Last edited Sat Jul 14, 2012, 03:55 AM USA/ET - Edit history (1)

And this one nearly slipped by unnoticed. Yesterday I caught a quickie radio mention of the he fact that the kid's parents are filing a suit against the city. Which sent me a-googling. First I ever heard of the attack... which took place June 4.
The school system here (famously under Mayoral control) plays games w. stats and ... needless to say... excludes glbts. from the curriculum. (Hmmm.... I wonder if there could be a connection there: between the school system's refusal to teach science and history as they relate to glbts and brutal attacks by young ignoramuses against other kids perceived to be gay. Hmmmm.... Hmm...... Hmmmm.... I wonder. Hmmmmm....

Here's the NY Daily News on line story about the suit:

The pint-sized punks who pummeled a teen in a school cafeteria leaving him blind in one eye are facing a slap on the wrist for their anti-gay motivated attack, officials said Friday.
Dressed like choirboys in their Sunday best, the little hooligans were arraigned in Brooklyn Family Court on assault as a hate crime with their lawyers entering not guilty pleas.

The maximium penalty they face for the maiming is just 18 months in a juvenile facility if they're convicted, officials said. They would face considerably more jail time under the hate crime statute if they were adults.
The 14-year-old victim, Kardin Ulysse, did not attend the brief proceeding. He underwent a corneal on transplant on his right eye this week, his fifth surgery since the vicious attack at Roy H. Mann Junior High School in Bergen Beach on June 5.

"These are not children," the boy's father Pierre Ulysse said referring to the perps. "They're animals. Unfortunately I can't do to them what I want to do."
"These kids get to go home and our son is suffering with one eye," Ulysse added.

[Original Daily New link

Response to Smarmie Doofus (Original post)Sat Jul 14, 2012, 05:43 AM joeybee12 (37,569 posts) 1. Yup, a slap on the wrist...
I'm not for draconian punishment for youth, but it sounds as if nothing will happen at all...and I doubt the family could sue the families of the brats for anything...mainly because thye wouldn't have the money.
Reply to this post

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Protection vs. Bullying at Work - Educators, Not Just Youths at Risk

For July 20, 2012 UPDATE, scroll down
Teachers are subject to unprecedented workplace, particularly in the current teacher-bashing climate, and in the New York City Department of Education with administrators trained in the privately funded (by organizations such as the Broad Foundation and the Partnership for New York City) Leadership Academy --which the DOE presses superintendents to hire principals from.

The following article is mainly regarding bullying at the higher education level, but many of the issues will be familiar to teachers and other workers.

John Tarleton's article, "PSC Backs Healthy Workplace Bill: Protection vs. Bullying at Work" appeared in "Clarion," the publication of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) of the City University of New York (CUNY), June, 2012.
Public concern about school bullying has increased greatly in recent years. No longer seen as an inevitable part of growing up, school bullying is now understood as an important social problem that can affect both health and learning, and as a problem that school districts have a responsibility to solve.

Now a coalition of unions and worker advocacy groups in New York State is taking aim at another venue where bullying is widespread but little acknowledged – the workplace. The PSC and its coalition allies aim to win passage of the Healthy Workplace Bill (S4289/A4258), a measure that would provide remedies to workers whose employers allow them to be subjected to a pattern of abusive conduct on the job.

ADULT VICTIMS

“Bullying happens on many levels,” says Paul Washington, vice chair of the PSC’s Higher Education Officer (HEO) Chapter. “Just because we are adults doesn’t mean that we don’t get disrespected or demeaned.” When HEO chapter leaders visit CUNY campuses, Washington told Clarion, “We always have people pulling us aside and telling us they have been bullied but are afraid to speak out about it.”

While victims of bullying often remain silent, when they do speak out the revelations can be shocking. Court papers in personal lawsuit by two HEO-series employees a few years ago provide a clear illustration of what bullying can be like.

Emelise Aleandri and Gloria Salerno charged that the director of CUNY’s John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Joseph Scelsa, had relentlessly targeted them for more than a decade after he learned they were organizing a women’s support group for female employees who were chafing under Scelsa’s management. Considering this an act of disloyalty, Scelsa ordered the group to disband, they said – and then went after them.

Scelsa waged “a campaign of obsessive control and bureaucratic maneuvers designed to humiliate and slowly choke them out of their jobs,” the two women told Clarion. Salerno, for example, was stripped of her duties and instructed to sit quietly at an empty makeshift desk constructed from a plank of wood placed atop two filing cabinets – with no access to a computer and no assignments to complete.

Aleandri, who was a producer, writer and host for a CUNY-TV show, saw her job responsibilities whittled away while subordinates were promoted over her. Relegated for nine years to an office without a telephone, Aleandri said she was forced to route all her professional communications through her boss’s office so that he could monitor everything she said. On a day-to-day basis, she told Clarion, there were “a million little things” that created a hostile work environment.

When Aleandri and Salerno sued for gender discrimination, their case was dismissed. A state judge found that Scelsa did indeed abuse and humiliate the institute’s employees – but that he directed such treatment toward men as well as women. Under current law, harassment of employees that would be illegal if used to discriminate becomes legal if not directed against a particular group. And that, in a nutshell, is the case for legislation against bullying in the workplace: to establish in law that abusive treatment of workers is always wrong.

(Aleandri and Salerno did reach a financial settlement with CUNY, after the judge supported their claim ruling that they had been subject to retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint. Civil rights law bans such retaliation, regardless of whether the complaint is sustained.)

WIDESPREAD

A 2010 Zogby survey found that 53.5 million Americans (or about one-third of the US workforce) have experienced workplace bullying, while 23 million more have witnessed it. According to the poll, 62% of workplace bullies are men while 58% of targets are women. A follow-up survey by Zogby found public support running strongly in favor of legislation to protect workers from “abusive conduct” by a margin of 64% to 24%.

The HEO Chapter has taken an active role in pressing this issue, says Chapter Chair Iris DeLutro, because HEOs are vulnerable to bullying at CUNY. They have fewer job protections than full-time faculty and are increasingly pushed by management to do more work to compensate for budget cuts and the departure of colleagues who took early retirement. These pressures create fertile soil for bullying of employees. “More is expected for less, and too often people are treated badly,”said DeLutro, who has working to change state law on workplace bullying since 2004.

The Healthy Workplace Bill now under consideration in Albany is based on a simple idea: people should be able to do their jobs without being harassed and abused. The legislation would enable workers to sue if they can prove that their employer allowed them to become the target of this kind of sustained mistreatment. Actions could be brought for medical expenses, lost wages, compensation for emotional suffering and punitive damages.

DIVIDED LEGISLATURE

In 2010, the New York State Senate passed the Healthy Workplace Bill with broad bipartisan support, only to have the legislation buried in committee in the State Assembly. This year, the bill has 85 co-sponsors in the State Assembly, a sizable majority of that body’s 150 members. However, the bill does not currently have the support of a majority of the members of the Republican-led State Senate.

“We’ve got to put the pressure on and give State legislators the support they need to pass this,” DeLutro said. DeLutro and other PSC members traveled to Albany on May 22 to lobby for the Healthy Workplace Bill and other union legislative priorities. The grassroots lobbying effort was organized with the PSC’s state affiliate, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), which has long supported the Healthy Workplace Bill.

Employer associations claim that the Healthy Workplace Bill would be a “job-killer.” But those who study workplace psychology insist that ensuring emotionally healthy workplaces will be a boon to the economy.

$300 BILLION

“I think it’s important to have a healthy work environment so that we can perform at our optimum levels,” said Clara Wajngurt, a Queensborough Community College professor who is studying bullying and the academic workplace. “I’ve seen people leave jobs who were very good workers when the situation could have been handled differently.”

According to the New York State Psychological Association, which supports the legislation, job stress costs the US economy $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.

“Because society and the media have projected the idea that a boss is supposed to be yelling and screaming and demeaning to their employees, we think this is how it’s supposed to be,” Washington told Clarion. “We are going to have greater worker productivity once people are able to come out of the shadows and confront this.”

And in the end, he said, “It’s just the right thing to do.”


What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable actions aimed at intimidating, humiliating, degrading or undermining an employee or group of employees. Bullying may create a risk to employee health and safety.
Workplace bullying often involves abuse or misuse of power. Bullying behavior creates feelings of defenselessness and injustice in the target and undermines an individual's right to dignity at work.
Bullying is different from aggression, which may involve only a single act. Bullying involves repeated attacks, creating an ongoing pattern of abusive behavior.
Bosses who are tough or demanding or who set high standards are not necessarily bullies, so long as they are respectful and fair and their expectations are reasonable.

EXAMPLES OF WORKPLACE BULLYING
*use of abusive, insulting or offensive language
*excluding, isolating or marginalizing an employee
*constant and unwarranted criticism, without factual justification
*frightening or intimidating behavior
*tampering with someone else's work, work equipment, or personal belongings
*deliberately withholding information or resources necessary for effective work performance
*excessive monitoring or micromanaging
*being targeted for impossible assignments or deadlines

PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES THAT CAN RESULT
*anxiety
*sleep deprivation
*gastrointestinal disorders
*musculoskeletal disorders
*hypertension
*increased risk of cardiovascular illness
*reduced self-esteem

WHAT EMPLOYEES CAN DO
Regain control:
*Recognize that you are being bullied.
*Realize that you are not the source of the problem.
*Understand that bullying is about control and not about your performance.
Take action:
*Speak directly to the bully. Calmly state that his/her behavior is unacceptable and must stop. Ask that any discussions be constructive and professional.
*Avoid being alone with the bully.
*Create a paper or digital train of evidence. Document incidents and witnesses. Save harassing e-mails or memos.
*Seek support from trusted colleagues.
*Consult with a grievance counselor at [your union office] about what options may be available to you.
*Work for the enactment of legislation against workplace bullying.

(Adapted from a New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health resource paper.)

News report: “Workplace Bullying 'Epidemic' Worse Than Sexual Harassment”

UPDATE: Education Week, July 20, 2012: "Online Campaign Winds Down for Bullied Bus Monitor."

NYPD Stalks Two Police Reform Activists, Posts "Wanted"-Like Posters

From Alternet: Police Reform Activists Targeted by NYPD Won't Give In to Threats: Two activists found a surprise in their local police precinct--a poster with their mug shots, calling them "professional agitators" and providing police with their address.
By Kristen Gwynne, July 7, 2012
Two West Harlem residents, Christina Gonzalez, 25, and Matthew Swaye, 35, ran into a surprise when they showed up for a community meeting at their local NYPD precinct last week. There, on the wall of the 30th Precinct, were their mug shots—only they weren’t wanted for any crime.

Christina Gonzalez and Matthew Swaye are police reform activists who regularly film police interactions in their neighborhood, especially to record the NYPD’s controversial Stop and Frisk policy. Although filming police is completely legal, the poster (which was full of misspellings, I might add), advised officers to "be aware" that these "professional agitators" not only film police "performing routine stops," but also" post the videos on YouTube.
"Subjects purpose is to portray officers in a negative way and to [sic] deter officers from conducting their [sic] responsibilities." the warning from Sergeant Nicholson reads. "Do not feed into above subjects’ propaganda."
Gonzalez says it is the NYPD spreading propaganda and that the poster is an obvious tactic to criminalize, intimidate and target her. Since Gonzalez became involved with Occupy and the Stop-and-Frisk movement this fall, police have given her plenty of reasons to look over her shoulder, including calling her out by name and address, erecting a watchtower on her corner and aggressively arresting her sister in front of Gonzalez.
Of course, this is not the first time the NYPD or other police departments have targeted activists. The New York police have a history of infiltrating and intimidating activists, particularly during the Black Panther movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
For activists like Gonzalez, Stop-and-Frisk, a racial profiling tactic, is not only a violation of one’s constitutional rights, it is also part of the NYPD’s larger apparatus of racial oppression. Police stop more than 700,000 people per year, almost 90 percent of whom are young Black and Latino men. The best defense against the illegal searches, which occur during about 50% of stops, has proven to be video, and the ACLU recently launched an app to combat and document unconstitutional stops. But while the movement relies on cameras to expose Stop-and-Frisk, the NYPD targets filmers like Gonzalez with the same type of surveillance and repression police have used against activists in the past.

For the rest of Kristen Gwynne's article, click to the original page at AlterNet.

NYC Independent Budget Office: No Real Education Gains

Changes the Stakes reported, July 14, 2012:
Report Finds Student Performance on State Exams Remains Consistent
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, often boast that student performance is improving in New York City, as evidenced by the percentage of students passing state exams and graduating from high school. But a new analysis finds that most city students are holding steady, getting very similar test scores between third and sixth grades.
The study by the city’s Independent Budget Office looked at 46,400 students who were third graders in 2006 and tracked their performance on the state’s English Language Arts exams through sixth grade. Nearly 62 percent ended up at the same proficiency level three years later.
“The primary finding is one of consistency,” said Raymond Domanico, director of testing research for the budget office. “Generally, kids stayed at the same performance level relative to their grade over the three years of the study.”


Art McFarland of WABC-TV reported on July 13, 2012:
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott made it clear his first impression of this week's negative report on student achievement has not changed.
Walcott says high school students could have written a more credible report than the I.B.O. He says the report's methodology is faulty and inaccurate.
The usual narrative from the city is that student achievement has significantly and steadily improved under Mayor Bloomberg, but the report by the Independent Budget Office has a different story to tell.
According to the I.B.O. report on student achievement of selected students tracked over several years, 62 per cent were found to show no improvement between 3rd and 8th grade, while only 30 per cent improved, and 8 per cent lost ground.
I.B.O. says its methodology paints a better picture than the city's picture.
The city often points to narrowing the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and white students, but the I.B.O. report reads: "The findings for this cohort of students indicate little evidence of a narrowing achievement gap."
The I.B.O. Report is not expected to change policy, or the city's version of student progress.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

UNICEF: America's Race to the Top in Child Poverty

America's new race to the top -- second place in child poverty.

UNICEF reported in late May of this year, as Common Dreams reported, May 30, 2012, now going viral in the last day here and here. (We are actually second place in child poverty, behind Romania.)
UNICEF: US Among Highest Child Poverty Rates in Developed Countries
- Common Dreams staff

A new report released this week by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reveals alarming child poverty rates within affluent, or 'developed', nations. The US ranks second highest among all measured countries, with 23.1 per cent of children living in poverty, just under Romania's 25.6 per cent.
The report Report Card 10 shows roughly 13 million children in the European Union (plus Norway and Iceland) lack basic items necessary for their development. 30 million children – across 35 countries with developed economies – live in poverty.
“The data reinforces that far too many children continue to go without the basics in countries that have the means to provide,” said Gordon Alexander, Director of UNICEF's Office of Research.


Common Dreams continued:
UNICEF: Table of relative child poverty, 35 economically advanced countries

Figure shows the percentage of children (aged 0 to 17) who are living in relative poverty, defined as living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.

UNICEF: Tens of millions of children living in poverty in the world’s richest countries
As debates rage on austerity measures and social spending cuts, a new report reveals the extent of child poverty and child deprivation in the world’s advanced economies. Some 13 million children in the European Union (plus Norway and Iceland) lack basic items necessary for their development. Meanwhile, 30 million children – across 35 countries with developed economies – live in poverty.
Report Card 10, from UNICEF’s Office of Research, looks at child poverty and child deprivation across the industrialized world, comparing and ranking countries’ performance. This international comparison, says the Report, proves that child poverty in these countries is not inevitable, but policy susceptible - and that some countries are doing much better than others at protecting their most vulnerable children. [...]
In doing so UNICEF’s Office of Research tries to estimate what percentage of children are falling significantly behind what can be considered normal for their own societies. [...]
“The report makes clear that some governments are doing much better at tackling child deprivation than others,” said Mr Alexander. “The best performers show it is possible to address poverty within the current fiscal space. On the flip side, failure to protect children from today’s economic crisis is one of the most costly mistakes a society can make.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

NYC Charter School Teachers Fired for Pregnancy; Why We Need Tenure and Unions

Voices New York, a media project of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, reports that "Charter School Teachers Say They Were Fired for Getting Pregnant."
Voices New York translated a story from El Diario/La Prensa.

Time was, before tenure, schools and principals would routine impress upon female teachers to not become pregnant. Tenure was a safeguard that protected education workers from such harassment. Workers formed unions to protect their democratic rights on the job. In the world of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and other politicians the vision of the future is a union-free environment known as the charter school.
Shame on the Department of Education, and politicians of all parties, for pushing these charter schools on us! Pregnant and child-bearing teachers have rights too!
The story of two teachers, fired for their pregnancies on company time, is a classic case for tenure protection and for unionization. Take note of one teacher's comment about how she would have been better protected with a union.
Here's the latest United Federation of Teachers (UFT) contract which would have protected the teachers, had their school been a public school, not a charter school.
Advocates for charter schools have argued that the right to hire and fire teachers should be in the hands of principals, while unions argue that teachers need job protections. This argument may play out in the upcoming mayoral race, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an advocate for charter schools, stepping down.
Against this backdrop, El Diario La Prensa reported on two Spanish teachers in the Bronx who say they were dismissed from a charter school because they became pregnant — and that they were then subjected to the indignity of having lesson plans stolen and being coerced into writing a positive evaluation of the school. The article, which did not include a response to the charges from the school’s principal or the Department of Education, is translated from Spanish below.
Two teachers at a charter school denounced the way that they were fired. They called the school administration autocratic and discriminatory, and said that favoritism rules.
Loyda Suero, of Dominican heritage, and Leslie Cruz, of Puerto Rican descent, taught Spanish to 5-year-old children this past spring semester in the bilingual Jardín de Infancia classroom, at South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and the Arts, located at 577 East 139th Street in the Bronx.
However, although both teachers said they had a good relationship with the children, the parents, and the school administration, Suero said that in her case, everything changed when she announced she was pregnant.
“The principal, Evelyn Hey, told me that she wanted a teacher who was going to be with the children for the entire year,” said Suero, age 24, who will give birth in February and promised to only take one month of maternity leave.
Hey told Suero, “I would love for you to come back, but I had a daughter and she got sick with a heart condition, and it took me seven years to return,” indicating to her that teachers have to plan to give birth in the summertime.
[Because the teachers worked at a charter school] “They don’t have the same type of protection that union members have. They can be dismissed without a reason,” said Richard Riley, head of public relations for the United Federation of Teachers.
This newspaper got in touch with the school and made an appointment with Hey to interview her, but she cancelled it barely one hour before it started at the recommendation of the school’s legal counsel. “I don’t want to create problems for the school,” said Hey.
South Bronx Charter School (Photo via EDLP)
On June 27, when the teachers went to pick up their belongings, they were asked for a list of lesson plans and activities they did in the classroom to provide a guide for the new teachers.
Both teachers did so, but when they returned from lunch, they found that their files had been opened. The folders containing their lesson plans and activities that they had developed throughout the year were missing.
“I got scared. The folders with my lesson plans – that’s my work!” said Suero. “Nobody gave it to me. I need to present it at interviews to get another job, and it was taken away.”
“I approached the principal’s assistant, and she told us that it’s school property,” said Cruz, age 34.
Suero and Cruz went to the office, where they found another assistant photocopying the contents of their files. “We’ll give them back to you once we’ve made copies,” they were told. Both teachers waited, but Suero still hasn’t received her lesson plans that she made, including one “about the snail and the apple.”
“I got so upset because it was an abuse of power,” said Cruz. “I became enraged because we felt like they walked all over us. If they needed our work, why couldn’t they have asked for it? What nerve!”
Cruz and Suero condemned the school administration for putting pressure on some teachers and favoring others, including when it comes to scheduling doctor’s appointments. “They told me to go to the doctor during my vacation,” said Suero.
They also criticized the lack of instruction and leadership for new teachers.
“You didn’t have a mentor,” said Cruz. “They gave authority to other colleagues who had been there for four years, but it’s not their mission to help teachers. There wasn’t any support; we had to come up with out own lesson plans. The only thing they’re concerned with is reading, because it raises the grade of the school.”
Cruz and Suero said they weren’t the only teachers who got fired; one other teacher was also dismissed. Two teachers resigned, and another pregnant teacher was demoted to a substitute for the following school year.
“Teachers live in fear of what will happen at the end of the year,” said Cruz. “Will I stay or will I go? We don’t have a union, but with a union, a teacher has rights. It wouldn’t be like this if we had one.”
“It’s all a show. They exploit you and then they give you the ax,” declared Suero.
Both teachers also condemned the way in which the school handled the questionnaire that teachers fill out for the Department of Education.
“They set up computers in the principal’s office,” said Cruz. “She told us that she expected us to only say good things about our experience, and that if something was wrong, we should tell her before answering. She told us this while walking around among us. She would stand behind you…I consider her warning to be a threat.”
The DOE said that the questionnaire is for all schools. The goal is to gather information to improve the learning environment and the questionnaire is completely confidential.
The Code of Ethics that governs the questionnaire states, “Any practice that has the appearance of violating this code of behavior will be investigated. Depending on the outcome, the questionnaire can be invalidated and other disciplinary measures may be taken.”
Suero graduated from Lehman College and Cruz studied in Puerto Rico.

Here is Candida Portugues' article in the original Spanish in "El Diario/La Prensa," July 6, 2012,
"Maestras alegan que fueron despedidas por embarazo: Una profesora dominicana y otra puertorriqueña denunciaron a la gerencia de la escuela como dictatorial y discriminatoria":
EL BRONX – Dos maestras despedidas de una escuela charter denunciaron la forma en que lo hicieron y califican a la gerencia de la escuela como dictatorial y discriminatoria, en la que rige el favoritismo.
Loyda Suero, dominicana, y Leslie Cruz, puertorriqueña, trabajaron este semestre como profesoras de español para la clase de Jardín de Infancia bilingüe, niños de 5 años, en la South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and the Arts, en el 577 Este de la calle 139 de El Bronx.
Sin embargo, aunque aseguraron tener buena relación con los niños, los padres y gerencia de la escuela, Suero señaló que todo cambió -en su caso- cuando dijo que estaba embarazada.
"La directora, Evelyn Hey, me dijo que quería una profesora que estuviera todo el año con los niños", indicó Suero, quien dará a luz en febrero y se comprometió a tomar sólo un mes de maternidad. "A mí me encantaría que tú volvieras, pero yo tuve una niña y nació enferma del corazón y tardé siete años en volver...", dijo Suero, de 24 años, refiriéndose a lo que le respondió Hey, indicándole que las profesoras tienen que planificar ser madres en verano.
"Ellas no tienen el tipo de protección que nosotros tenemos [los sindicalizados], pueden ser despedidas sin razón", dijo Richard Riley, encargado de prensa del Sindicato de Profesores (UFT).
Puestos en contacto con la escuela, Hey fijó una fecha para ser entrevistada, pero la canceló apenas una hora después por recomendación de su departamento legal. "No quiero meter a la escuela en problemas", nos dijo Hey.
El 27 de junio -cuando las maestras fueron a recoger sus pertenencias- les pidieron una lista con las lecciones y trabajos realizados para orientación de la próxima maestra.
Así lo hicieron, pero cuando regresaron del almuerzo encontraron que sus carteras estaban abiertas y faltaban sus carpetas de lecciones y trabajos que habían ido construyendo por sí mismas a lo largo del año.
"Me espanté, las carpetas con mis lecciones, que es mi trabajo ¡que nadie me dio! y que necesito mostrar para conseguir otro empleo, se las habían llevado", dijo Suero.
"Me acerqué a la asistente de la directora… y nos dijo que eso es propiedad de la escuela", indicó Cruz, de 34 años. Fueron a la oficina y encontraron a otra asistente haciendo fotocopias de sus carpetas: "Te las vamos a dar de vuelta cuando hagamos copias", les informó. Ambas esperaron a que las hicieran, pero Suero aún no recuperó los estudios y trabajos que hizo "sobre el caracol y la manzana", según denunció.
"Me molesté ¡tanto! porque era un abuso de poder…. Me dio coraje porque sentimos que nos pisotearon… 'Si usted necesita eso ¿por qué no nos lo pidieron, cómo tuvieron ese atrevimiento?'", afirma Cruz que les increpó.
Ambas denuncian una gerencia que presiona a unas maestras y privilegia a otras, incluso a la hora de hacer una cita médica. "Me dijeron que hiciera mis citas en las vacaciones", afirma Suero. Asimismo, denunciaron la falta de dirección y liderazgo con las maestras nuevas. "No tenías un mentor, delegaban en otros compañeros que llevaban cuatro años, pero ésa no es su misión. No había apoyo, teníamos que inventarnos nuestras lecciones. Lo único de lo que se preocupan es de la lectura, porque es lo que sube el grado de la escuela", dijo Cruz.
Ambas indicaron no ser las únicas despedidas. Hubo otra más, dos maestras que renunciaron y otra embarazada que la bajaron de puesto y la pusieron como sustituta para el próximo año. "Las maestras viven con temor sobre qué pasará al final de año ¿me quedo o me voy?. Como no tenemos unión (sindicato), pero con todo eso, una como maestra tiene sus derechos y no debería ser así", afirmó Cruz.
"Es puro show. Te explotan para quedar bien y luego te dan la patada... ", declaró Suero.
Asimismo, ambas denunciaron la forma en que la escuela manejó el cuestionario que los maestros responden para el Departamento de Educación (DOE). "Instalaron computadoras en la oficina de la directora y ésta nos dijo que esperaba que pusiéramos todo bien y que si había algo mal que se le dijera a ella antes de ponerlo, mientras se paseaba entre nosotras, se paraba detrás de ti … esa advertencia yo la considero una amenaza… ", afirmó Cruz.
Pero el DOE indicó que este cuestionario es para todas las escuelas. Su objetivo es recopilar información para mejorar el ambiente de aprendizaje y es totalmente confidencial.
"Cualquier práctica que tenga la apariencia de violar este código de conducta será investigada y, dependiendo de los resultados, el cuestionario puede ser invalidado y otras medidas disciplinarias pueden tomarse", indica el Código de Ética que rige el cuestionario.
Suero se graduó del Lehman College y Cruz estudió en Puerto Rico.

Unelected Baron Bill Gates Opines on His Views of "Great Teachers"

Mike Klonsky in his SmallTalk Blog has a contribution on how Harvard College drop-out who benefited from his connections and his daddy's largesse thinks about quality teachers, the Common Core, and politics which he says gets in the way of the Common Core.
[Just read what Leonie Haimson says about where Gates sends his children; and EdNotes about the college-look-alike Lakeside School, with an average class size of 16, where Gates went to school. Now, how is he an authority on public schools?]
Now, Mike Klonsky's original post:
"Gates ponders how teachers should be paid in his 'new universe'."
But as long as we spend the time and money to get each element right; as long as we don’t let politics block the common core; as long as we let teachers use new technology in the classroom, this could be the educational equivalent of the Big Bang – creating a new universe of learning and discovery for our teachers and students. -- Bill Gates, master of the "new universe."
Bill Gates hasn't made up his mind quite yet about merit pay. Even though the world's second richest man (behind Mexico's Carlos Slim) considers himself to be an education expert, he and his gaggle of consultants are having a difficult time figuring out exactly how teachers should be paid. All this, while Gates-funded school districts, teacher unions, anxious teacher families, and Arne Duncan's DOE await his decision with bated breath.
At a recent speech to the Education Commission of the States conference in Atlanta, Gates, employed the wisdom of Solomon, to solve his dilemma.
Now, let me just say that at this time, we don’t have a point of view on the right approach to teacher compensation. We’re leaving that for later. In my view, if you pay more for better performance before you have a proven system to measure and improve performance, that pay system won’t be fair – and it will trigger a lot of mistrust. So before we get into that, we want to make sure teachers get the feedback they need to keep getting better.
How thoughtful. How wise.
Link to original for the above article at Mike Klonsky Small Talk Blog.
 
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