It's teacher hunting season!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Save New York City Libraries From Bloomberg Developer Destruction

Save New York City Libraries From Bloomberg Developer Destruction

By Carolyn McIntyre (Contact)

To be delivered to: Stephen Levin, City Council Member, Mayor Michael R Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, NYC Comptroller John C. Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Trustees of New York Public Library, Trustees of Brooklyn Public Library, and Trustees of Queens Public Library
Petition Statement
We demand that Mayor Bloomberg stop defunding New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth. Shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for the wealthy at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity is not only unjust, it is a shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.
Petition Background

Mayor Bloomberg refuses to adequately fund our public libraries unless they sell off assets including crown jewels of the system, a plan that is wrong-headed and counterproductive.

We are in a period of steadily increasing use of libraries by all sectors of New York’s population, attendance is up 40% and circulations are up 59%, while the amount required to properly fund libraries is a pittance compared to other city expenditures.

Public libraries enrich their communities and are an important part of the tax base and a stable economy, providing jobs, community space and serving as a buffer against economic downturn. They provide a safe haven for seniors during the day, teens after school, for parents with young children, for job seekers needing computers, for the growing number of freelance professionals, and for those needing literacy and technical skills.

Bloomberg’s plan would eliminate irreplaceable and historic crown jewels, such as the research stacks underneath the main 42nd Street library, and demolish Brooklyn Heights Art Deco style building, housing 62,000 square feet of library space replacing it with only 15,000 square feet of space in a developer’s high rise. The removal of the Brooklyn Business Library from Brooklyn’s central business district in downtown Brooklyn, the hub of commerce, transportation, and next to universities is a travesty. These are just two examples of a scheme to shrink New York’s public library system, eliminating resources that communities depend on.

We need to immediately halt real estate deals that involve selling any more branches to private developers until the libraries have been properly funded and until the needs of the public’s library system are the first priority.

Libraries should not be hostages for development. The city should cease the practices of bribing the public into approving bigger and denser development and pressuring communities into accepting libraries housed in smaller spaces with fewer services.

Developer-driven partnerships that put developers in the driver’s seat and render competitive bids meaningless are bad public policy that must be avoided. The practice of using developers who specialize in insider deals, who treat the communities poorly and have a record of failing to deliver promised benefit violates the public trust.

There should be no elimination or sale of irreplaceable assets such as the crown jewel research stacks under the 42nd Street main library or elimination of the Business and Career Center Library on the border of Brooklyn Heights and downtown Brooklyn.

There should be no premature library closings such as Donnell library, closed in 2008 and still awaiting a replacement. Any library closing should have a binding contract for its prompt replacement with solid assurances, including full up-front payments and financing in place.

There should be no mass sell-offs of libraries. Sales of library properties, if any, should be sequenced so that multiple libraries are not closed at the same time and only when it is in the best interest of the public's library system.

“The knowledge of different literature frees one from the tyranny of a few”
-Jose Marti Plaque on 41St Library Walk

New York’s libraries, the lifeblood of a democracy, have contributed to making our city economically vital and a cultural powerhouse. We must not sacrifice it to shortsighted planning and the interests of powerful developers. We demand protection for public libraries, the city’s trusted place to learn, grow, be inspired, and connect with great minds.

Relevant articles:
• New York Times: Critic’s Notebook- In Renderings for a Library Landmark, Stacks of Questions, by Michael Kimmelman, January 29, 2013.
• Wall Street Journal: Undertaking Its Destruction, by Ada Louise Huxtable, December 3, 2012.
• Noticing New York: New City-Wide Policy Makes Generation Of Real Estate Deals The Library System’s Primary Purpose, by Michael D. D. White, January 31, 2013.
• Center For An Urban Future: Report - Branches of Opportunity, by David Giles, January 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

NLRB: School Bus Strike Legal; Drivers Fight NYC Disinformation


Press reports reported in recent days that the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the school bus drivers' strike is indeed legal.

Here are key excerpts from the New York Times' story, February 1, "Labor Board Refuses to Halt Strike by School Bus Drivers:"
The workers were angered when the city announced that it could no longer require private companies bidding for transportation contracts to hire drivers on the basis of seniority and maintain previous pay rates. That, and the expiration of the union’s contract with a coalition of bus companies in December, prompted the walkout.

The private bus companies argued in their complaint to the labor board that they were essentially caught in a dispute between the union and the city.

Federal law generally prohibits workers from striking against a secondary employer to punish a primary employer, but the board said that the rule did not apply in this case because both the city and the bus companies were primary employers.

The chief lawyer for the New York City School Bus Contractors Coalition, Jeffrey D. Pollack, said he intended to appeal the decision.

The ruling mirrored past ones by the board and was widely expected, but will still disappoint some parents who were hoping for an end to the strike, which has been particularly difficult for students with disabilities.
Corinne Lestch, in the Daily News, authored the January 31 story, "Striking school bus union: Blame city, not drivers for high cost of busing: Union says higher numbers of special needs kids, traveling farther from home is why costs have increased, not driver salaries."
The transit workers' union presented its side of the story on busing and costs in New York City:
Specifically, the union pins rising prices on a rapidly growing special education population and an increasing need to transport city kids to special schools outside the city. "Mayor Bloomberg continues to mislead the public on the real costs of student busing, blaming it on the backs of hard-working, meagerly paid workers of Local 1181," said international union president Larry Hanley. "Again, we urge Mayor Bloomberg to come to the table and talk about the real costs of the school busing industry." In a report released Thursday, the union said there are: — 52,000 special education children to transport - up 20,000 students from 1979, the last time bus drivers went on strike. It costs $12,000 to transport each of these students per year. — More than 7,000 bus routes, up from 2,000 bus routes about 30 years ago. The union also points out that more than half of 100,000 general education students who qualify for yellow bus service attend private, parochial and charter schools. About 20% of charter school students ride the buses, compared with 9% of regular public school kids.
Meanwhile, one bus company said that it would remove workers' health benefits, starting Friday, February 1. "Neil Strahl, the president of the Staten Island-based school bus company Pioneer Transportation Corp" said that it will remove striking workers' health benefits beginning Friday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

UPDATE: Replacement NYC school bus drivers, in competing union; DOE ready to wait out strike to June


From WNBC-TV, by Tracie Strahan, January 29, 2013:
Replacement School Bus Drivers and Matrons Cross Picket Line: Chants against the replacement workers were scathing

Replacement workers on duty for the first time since the New York City school bus driver strike began nearly two weeks ago, got an earful from protesting drivers and matrons Tuesday.

"That's my right to yell," said Local 1181 member Maria Law, outside the Staten Island Bus Company's depot, where all day long the chants against the replacement workers were scathing.

Of the 113 routes affected by the strike, 59 were back up and running Tuesday as replacement workers hit the streets just a day after a mediator oversaw talks between both sides. On Monday, striking workers renewed their call for job protection while city officials continued to seek contracts with private bus companies in a quest to control costs they claim are spiraling out of control.

Parents like Jackie Addeo, whose daughter has special needs, questioned the training and experience level of the replacement workers now in charge of getting children to and from school.

"How do I know what your capabilities are and what your temperament is gonna be because you have to have a lot of patience with these kids," Addeo said.

Strikers on the picket line also wondered if the replacement workers were properly trained to do the job.

"These people took a four hour class yesterday, where our matrons go 10 hours for the state, 10 hours for the city, CPR, red cross physical performance, safety classes throughout the year," said Ernest Maione, a Local 1181 shop steward. "This guy did four hours and put them on the bus and said 'it's OK you can go pick up those kids and take them to school.'"

Patrick Cerniglia, general manager of Staten Island Bus Company refuted the claim that the replacement workers had been inadequately trained for the job.

"They're experienced, they are safe, they are trained. It doesn't get any safer than what we did out here today," Cerniglia said.

For one replacement worker who declined to give his name, the stress of crossing the picket line was too much to bear, causing the man to opt for retirement instead.

"A disgrace for the city, for the parents, the workers," said union member William Cox. "I'm afraid for these children."
LABOR NOTES: The strike will hurt special needs students

The rushed, half-day training of matrons bears out the contention of a matron cited a Labor Notes article a week and a half ago. Samantha Winslow, Labor Notes, January 16, 2013, "New York School Bus Strikers Say Low Wages, Turnover Will Hurt Special-Needs Kids"
“This is a very professional and serious job that we get trained for,” said Anita Timmes, a matron who’s accompanied children on and off the buses for 23 years.

Timmes, who had been on the picket line since dawn, pointed out that many children use wheelchairs or are attached to medical devices such as respirators; they require more than just supervision. “I don’t think any driver can come off the street and do what we do,” she said.

Out of New York’s 1.1 million public school population, 150,000 students use the bus services; 54,000 have special needs.

As part of her job, Timmes goes through yearly trainings in first-aid and emergency preparation, in addition to being fingerprinted and licensed by the Board of Education. Long-term workers learn students’ needs, assisting them day in and day out. “We get attached to them as they get attached to us,” Timmes said.

Drivers too receive rigorous testing and training, including road tests and physicals, said driver John Jankowski, who has four wheelchair students on his route. He has worked as a driver for 22 years, and today is spending morning and night on the picket line.
Read the entire Labor Notes here.

Emma Sokoloff-Rubin in Gotham Schools writes Wednesday, Jan. 30 afternoon, "City turns down school bus drivers union’s offer to pause strike"
A union proposal to suspend the city’s two-week-old school bus strike temporarily got a swift rejection this week from city officials, who said the plan would block cost-cutting measures for over a year.

The bus drivers union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, called a press conference today to announce that the city had turned down its proposal for a two-to-three month “cooling off” period during which drivers would return to work and the city would not solicit bids for new transportation contracts.

The union called the strike because the city is not including seniority protections for current drivers in the new contracts’ terms.

In a mediation session organized but not attended by the city, union president Michael Cordiello met on Monday with Justice Milton Mollen, who brokered an agreement to end the last bus strike, in 1979, and representatives from several major bus companies.

Cordiello said today that during mediation, he agreed to send drivers and matrons back to work for two to three months if the city would suspend the special education transportation bidding process and negotiate with the union.

But freezing bidding for two months would make it impossible to have new contracts signed by September, delaying new contracts for another school year, according to City Hall spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua. “Postponing the bids would guarantee that the same billion-dollar contracts we have now stay in place next year,” she said.

City officials appear prepare to wait out the strike, which could last through the end of the school year. The Department of Education has revised its strategies for helping families use alternate transportation, and some school bus companies have trained replacement drivers and matrons. The department has certified 49 new drivers and 200 escorts since the strike started, officials said this week.
[Ed.: Translation: 1) In waiting this out until the DOE is serious about fighting the bus drivers; 2) With a small number of replacement drivers and matrons, the DOE is slowly breaking the strike.]
“We have shifted from broad initial preparations to more tailored options for students disproportionately affected by the absence of bus service,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott wrote in a message to principals sent late Tuesday. The city has assigned Walcott police protection at work and at home because of the strike.

On Tuesday, attendance in District 75 schools, which serve severely disabled students who rely heavily on yellow bus service, was at its highest level since the strike began. About 73 percent of students in those schools were present, compared to less than 65 percent all of last week.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

UPDATE: Bloomberg Says 2,500 Teacher Lay-Offs Loom / Ed. Comm. King's February 15 Evaluation Deadline

UPDATE: AMNY: BLOOMBERG SAYS 2,500 NYC TEACHER LAY-OFFS LOOM IF NO EVALUATION DEAL -SCROLL TO END Bloomberg, scolded, keeps blame for the lack of a teacher deal on the union | Capital New York

"Let us rate every month." --New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg
Has a kind of Marie Antoinette ring to it.


From the get-go this morning, during what was his final testimony on the state budget as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg went on the attack against the teachers union and the state education department.
Near the start of his testimony before a joint session of the Assembly Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees in Albany, Bloomberg derided the "state Education Department's outrageous pandering to the [United Federation of Teachers]," described U.F.T. tactics in its negotiations with the city as "shameless ploys" and said the teacher evaluation system as proposed by the U.F.T., would have created "an unworkable sham and a fraud on the public."
And he was just getting started.
The issue at hand was the city's failure to reach an agreement with the teachers union on a teacher evaluation system by the state-mandated January 17 deadline.
The city was one of just a handful of state districts that failed to reach an agreement with its teachers union by the deadline, endangering up to $450 million in state and federal aid.
Today, the mayor said the ensuing loss of funding could lead to the loss by attrition of 700 teachers this school year and another 1,800 next, in addition to fewer after-school programs, fewer substitute teachers and fewer teacher aides.
The state has since set a new deadline, February 15. If the city and union don't reach a deal by then, state education commissioner John King has threatened to suspend the city's ability to spend another $830 million in federal aid.
Following his testimony, Bloomberg endured multiple rounds of questioning from the assembled politicians, including a particularly heated interrogation from Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, an ally of the UFT.
"Don't you feel some responsibilty for this disaster?" she asked him. "And it is a disaster."
"Now we're sitting here, and I have to look at my son, who is a freshman in a New York City high school and say to him he's gonna be punished because the adults couldn't work it out?" she continued, now yelling at the billionaire mayor as if he were an errant schoolboy.
The mayor offered a long response in which he pointedly declined to take any responsibility.
"What is your strategy for accepting some responsibility as the head of the local school district under mayoral control for this debacle?" Nolan asked again.
The mayor responded that the evaluation deals reached in the rest of the state are "just jokes, Cathy," because they expire after just a year, and getting rid of a failing teacher takes two years in New York State.
"People are saying they did something and they didn't do it," he said.
"But incremental progress is how government works," she countered, before returning to the trope of her son.
"What do I tell my son? It's my son who's in a New York City public school that I chose to send him. What do I say?"
"Cathy, you can change the law," said Bloomberg. "Let us rate every month."
"Everybody else made an agreement but the city," she said.
"Yes, because everybody else is just interested in getting the money and committing what I call fraud," he responded.

As reported in AMNY print editions, speaking before the New York State Legislature in Albany, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said that 2,500 teacher lay-offs loom by 2014 if there is no New York City teacher evaluation deal.

AMNY's web edition tonight (Jan. 29) reports that Bloomberg, when speaking of the city's budget, cited the $250 million lost state funds as thre reason for an anticipated 2,500 teacher layoffs. CAPITAL NEW YORK REPORTS $724 AS TOTAL LOST STATE AID
At risk is $724 million in state funding over the next two years, and possibly, another $1 billion on top of that.

Should there be no teacher evaluation deal by the second deadline, the mayor predicts the city will have to get rid of some 700 teachers this school year by attrition, and another 1,800 next year, not to mention lots of extracurricular activities, afterschool programs, and school supplies.

Whatever pain the city might suffer "is more than worth it" in pursuit of a good evaluation deal, said the mayor.

There was also some more generalized carping about the state's shrinking contributions to city education.

In 2002, when the mayor took office, the city and state split non-federally funded education costs. Now the state only funds 39 percent.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Activists, Use this ProPublica site: A New Way to ‘Check In’ on Education Inequality

The ProPublica Nerd Blog A New Way to ‘Check In’ on Education Inequality

by Al Shaw ProPublica, Jan. 24, 2013, 2:19 p.m.

Starting today if you connect [1] your Foursquare account to "The Opportunity Gap," we'll send you stats about schools whenever you check into one. If you've checked into a school we've associated with a Foursquare "venue," we'll show you some details and give you a link to that school's profile.

You can also tap the ProPublica section of your checkin (see screenshot to right) to bring up that school's profile and compare it to nearby schools right from your smartphone.

The ProPublica News apps desk is:

* Scott Klein * Krista Kjellman Schmidt * Jeff Larson * Al Shaw * Lena Groeger

Safeguard the public interest.

Support ProPublica’s award-winning investigative journalism.


A year ago when we launched the first version of our "Opportunity Gap [2]" news application ["A New Way to ‘Check In’ on Education Inequality"], we tightly integrated Facebook [3] in order to make it easy for readers to compare schools and share their school comparisons. Today's relaunch adds Foursquare, along with adding a slew of new data [4] to the app as well as algorithmically generate narratives by Narrative Science. [5]

To accomplish the Foursquare integration, we're taking advantage of their new Real-Time API [6] which lets us send push notifications in response to checkins. In order to associate schools with Foursquare venues, we used Foursquare's search API with its "match" intent -- a specially-designed endpoint [7] for "venue harmonization" between apps. We ran our database of over 50,000 schools through Foursquare's API to store the venue IDs. If you check into a school that we haven't matched to a venue in our database, we'll use your location and the school name to show you a number of guesses as to what school you're at (we don't store your checkins or location data in our database at all). Once you pick one, we'll use your checkin data to link the school venue, so the next user that checks into that school will immediately see school stats.

Many news applications are location-based, and we're excited to start experimenting with bringing our apps to users where they are.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

ATU Head: Bloomberg Refusal to Participate in Negotiations Means Strike Will Continue

Talks in NYC ATU 1181 Bus Strike Are Set; City Isn’t Taking Part
By AL BAKER Published: January 25, 2013

Negotiations in the 10-day-old New York City school bus strike will resume next week at Gracie Mansion, the Bloomberg administration announced Friday. But the union at the center of the walkout, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, warned that it was unlikely to end the strike unless the Bloomberg administration reversed course and agreed to take part in the talks.

While the city made the official mayoral residence available, only the union and the private bus companies that employ the drivers are sitting down to negotiate on Monday. “As I have said from the beginning, the best way for this strike to end is with Local 1181, Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s bus companies in one room, talking candidly and in good faith,” Michael Cordiello, the union president, said in a statement. “Until that happens, the strike goes on.” The disagreement over who should be at the table illustrates how complicated the issue is. Technically, the strike is against the private bus companies, who operate bus routes under contract with the city. But it was prompted by the Bloomberg administration’s soliciting bids for new contracts for 1,100 special-education routes, which do not include job protections for current members of the drivers’ union.

A coalition of about 20 bus companies have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, saying Local 1181 is carrying out an unlawful “secondary strike.” The board has not yet ruled, but if it decides to end the strike, it must seek an injunction in federal court. “The school bus companies have agreed to participate in Monday’s meeting at Gracie Mansion, in the hopes of ending this unfortunate strike,” said Carolyn Daly, a spokeswoman for the bus company coalition, in a statement. She said the companies intended to do “whatever we need to do” to fulfill their contracts with the Education Department to transport children.

At the same time the city is continuing to place itself at a distance from the issues of negotiations. On Monday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is scheduled to visit Albany to testify before lawmakers on the state budget’s impact on the city. His administration maintains that the issue is between the bus companies and the union. “The mayor reached out to both the bus companies and the union to arrange a meeting in hopes that they can come to an agreement to end the strike and resume bus service for thousands of students,” Lauren Passalacqua, a mayoral spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The strike began on Jan. 16, affecting more than 100,000 students, tens of thousands of them special-needs children, and their parents, who often travel long distances to schools, and with difficulty. As of Friday, about 2,689 of the 7,700 total routes were running, said Erin Hughes, a spokeswoman for the Education Department. There are now a “couple of hundred” replacement drivers out on the roads, Ms. Daly said. Routes handled by drivers who are not part of Local 1181 are generally running.

Talks in NYC ATU 1181 Bus Strike Are Set; City Isn’t Taking Part

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Sociological Eye on Education | It’s the curriculum, stupid

A Sociological Eye on Education | It’s the curriculum, stupid

Schools Matter: Teachers and CCSS: To Implement or To Resist?

Schools Matter: Teachers and CCSS: To Implement or To Resist?:
At the Teaching Now blog (Education Week), a recent debate among Larry Ferlazzo, Stephen Krashen, David Cohen, and Paul Thomas has prompted the post:

"Should Teachers Resist the Common Core?"

In a series of blog posts as well as comments on those posts, Ferlazzo and Cohen have offered skepticism about CCSS, but maintain implementation of CCSS and the high-stakes tests to follow are inevitable, and thus the realistic and practical response from teachers must be how to implement CCSS well.

Krashen and Thomas will not concede implementation of CCSS is inevitable, and have called for resistance.

Since this is a powerful debate at the core of the education reform movement and since this debate is among credible practitioners and scholars, I am listing the relevant blog posts in one spot for Schools Matter readers; please be sure to read the comments in these posts as well.

Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo)

How Can We Best Prepare Students for Common Core in Language Arts?

Response: Best Ways to Prepare Our Students for CCSS in Language Arts

Response: 'How on Earth Will I Implement' Common Core for Language Arts?

Stephen Krashen (@skrashen)

Because of the common core, do it wrong

Accepting the common core as inevitable has the effect of making it inevitable.

Embracing the common core = “Drinking poison to quench thirst”

P. L. Thomas (@plthomasEdD)

Fatalism and Teacher Professionalism

Teacher Agency in a Time of High-Stakes Accountability

“A Realistic, Pragmatic Approach” to Rejecting CCSS

David B. Cohen (@CohenD)

Common Core: Implications of Collaboration
What do Schools Matter readers think?
Click to original for links: Schools Matter: Teachers and CCSS: To Implement or To Resist?

Monday, January 21, 2013

NLRB Action Could Send School Bus Drivers Back to Work Tuesday

The three private school bus companies affected by the strike could get a National Labor Relations Board decision on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

New York City news outlets are reporting that the companies have convinced the NLRB to meet on the strike. The companies claim that the drivers and matrons strike is illegal. It is expected that the Board will make a decision on Tuesday.

The NLRB meeting could happen early Tuesday, as media outlets are claiming that striking bus drivers and matrons could be ordered to return to work, as early as Tuesday.

As earlier reported, job guarantees are at the core of the dispute:
In an effort to cut costs, the city wants to put contracts out to bid for 1,100 routes for the first time in 33 years. The union is objecting to the lack of job guarantees in the contract bid specifications and safety issues that could arise if current drivers are replaced with less experienced ones.

As Juan Gonzalez reported in the New York Daily News, the bus routes themselves are expensive, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has not been forthcoming about the full story as to why the routes are expensive, according to bu union president Mike Cordiello.
Even more amazing is the mayor’s silence at the causes of skyrocketing bus costs that have nothing to do with the workers.

The biggest is special education. While only about a third of the 150,000 students bused daily are in special education, their transportation represents three-quarters of the total cost of the program — more than $770 million. That's an average of $12,000 annually per child, according the city's Independent Budget Office.

Many of those children ride long distances to private schools outside the city.

Bus union president Mike Cordiello says many routes are so ineptly configured by Tweed bureaucrats that his members run 186 routes daily to Westchester County, most of them with 6 children or less per bus. There are 25 buses per day to New Jersey, 16 to Rockland County, several to Connecticut.
Read more at the full January 17 Daily News story.

The city’s last school bus strike, in 1979, lasted 14 weeks.
Infoshop news yesterday reprinted a Year 0 report that the bus drivers won the disputed EPP protections were won in that strike.

Writing in Socialist Alternative a parent executive board member of a PTA wrote:
Striking drivers and matrons are outraged at the way their strike has been portrayed by Billionaire Bloomberg and the corporate media. Tony Livia, a shop steward in ATU local 1181 and a driver for 15 years says that the mayor lies continually in the media and portrays the union members as people with a job for life. Actually 200 to 300 ATU members get laid off each year for an average of 4 months, Livia says, because the city typically cuts bus routes in its yearly downsizing. The school bus drivers are usually rehired when parents call up and complain about the loss of service for their children. Now, Bloomberg's plan is to eliminate the seniority and let the workers be hired back on a company by company basis, not on a union seniority basis. In this way the company who bids the lowest and pays the lowest will be able to call back the workers with less seniority, less experience, and lower wages first. If the city gets its way, nearly 3,000 jobs from three companies alone will be lost in August when the contract expires. This race to the bottom will devastate the union and force workers with years of experience to compete with the lower wages of new hires.

Bloomberg called a press conference even before the strike was announced, and his speech was a hypocritical pile of rhetoric about "putting our children first." In reality the Bloomberg administration has implemented a slash and burn budget which puts bankers first while cutting millions of dollars from after-school programs which affect many of the same children that Billionaire Mike pretends to care for. As a parent of a special needs student in the public school system, I have seen first-hand the level of skill that is required to safely drive a bus full of rambunctious and sometimes tearful children to school each day. Special needs children in particular, need to develop a bond with the bus driver and the matron, in order to establish trust and feel secure. When "Think of the Children" Bloomberg was asked if it was right to take these experienced drivers away from the children and break those familiar ties, especially in the wake of anxiety after the Newtown shootings, he famously said "They'll get over it.”

The national debate about child safety seems to go flat when corporate politicians want to make profits. The mayor is already making preparations to hire scabs and this raises the question. Will rigorous background checks and driver training take place in the rush to break the strike and get an even lower wage work force? Let's not be naive. In the words of one striking worker "Education is big business to those guys.” You have to remember that Bloomberg is the mayor who wanted the marathon to go ahead because it was "good for business" while people were dying in the streets of Staten Island and the Rockaways during Hurricane Sandy.

Click to "Teachers aren't the only ones giving low marks to Michael Bloomberg's war on public schools," January 20, 2013

"New York School Bus Strikers Say Low Wages, Turnover Will Hurt Special-Needs Kids", January 16, 2013

Year 0 gave picket line support locations:
NEW YORK YEAR ZERO 17 January 2013

Here’s an updated list of picket locations, to be staffed 24/7 (peak support times are 6am-4pm): **New Location** Join the members of ATU 1181 in picketing the Department of Education, located at 52 Chambers St. in Manhattan anytime between 8:30am and 5:30pm Tuesday, January 22nd to Friday, January 25th as they demand the Mayor put our children’s safety first.

MANHATTAN Department of Education 52 Chambers Street Manhattan, NY 8:30am and 5:30pm 1/22/13-1/25/13

Atlantic Express Co. – Ridgewood, 46-81 Metropolitan Avenue, Ridgewood, NY 11385: Subway – L (Jefferson St & Wyckoff Ave)
Atlantic Express Co. – Jamaica, 107-10 180th Street, Jamaica, NY 11433: Bus – Q42 (177th St & 106th Ave)

Boro Transit, 50 Snediker Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11207: Subway – L (Atlantic Ave)
Reliant Transportation – Greenpoint, 297 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222: Bus – B48 (Hausman St & Norman Ave)

Lonero Transit, 2350 Hermany Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462: Subway – 6 (Castle Hill Ave) (Office entrance on Hermany Ave., bus yard around corner on Zerega Ave.)

Pioneer Transportation – Staten Island, 2890 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, NY 10309: Bus – S84/S74 (Arthur Kill Rd)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Chicago Observer's Analysis of DOE-UFT Evaluation Talks Collapse

From Fred Klosky, an ally of real education reform in Chicago, cites the MORE caucus in "Watching from a distance. NY teacher evaluation blows up. Updated.", January 18, 2013:
Watching from a distance, I responded with a smile when I heard that the negotiations over teacher evaluations between the UFT and New York’s Mayor Bloomberg blew up yesterday.

Governor Cuomo had put a deadline for an agreement to evaluate teachers based on student test scores, a stupid idea to be sure.

We’ve covered that territory before.

Cuomo threatened that without an agreement the city schools would be denied $250 million.

Now some in the NY press [the NY Post] are screaming that the teachers (read the Union) cost the schools all that money.

Not that $250 million is chump change. But really it is.

It’s probably not much more than the total value of all of Bloomberg’s homes.

Here’s a question: Why should adequate funding of New York’s public schools be dependent on an evaluation agreement between Bloomberg and the teachers?

NY teachers have been without a contract since 2009, before Bloomberg’s re-election.

Many of my NY friends were justifiably concerned that UFT President Michael Mulgrew and the UFT leadership would cave to the bully-boy Mayor on this.

You can read UFT leader Leo Casey’s description of the bargaining here.

Maybe we can thank Bloomberg for being too big a jerk for even that to happen.

NY’s Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) which organized a street protest of the deal yesterday, said:
The passing of the January 17 deadline for a new evaluation agreement is not an ending but a beginning. Now the DOE will work overtime to spin doctor the failure to reach an agreement on new teacher evaluations, mandated by New York State’s version of Race to the Top, as the fault of Michael Mulgrew and union leadership. This despite the fact that every indication shows it was Bloomberg who failed to negotiate in good faith.

While we applaud the UFT leadership for standing their ground, the MORE Caucus has no intention of giving up the fight to prevent our teachers and students from being given over to the standardized testing regime. We know there will be efforts in the future to convert our schools into low-level thinking factories and our teachers into low-skilled, low-paid bureaucratic functionaries.

Friday, January 18, 2013

UPDATED: One Thousand Evaluation Petition-Signing Teachers Can't Be Wrong --The Real Story Behind the Evaluation Talks Collapse

UPDATES AT END: GOTHAM SCHOOLS LINKS WITH MORE ANALYSIS OF EVALUATIONS TALKS COLLAPSE - MULGREW CONTINUES TO MISS POINT - SPITEFUL NYC GOV'T SENDS INSPECTORS AFTER THE UFT The New York City are news was abuzz since 2:00 pm with news that talks between New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew over teacher evaluations had broken down.

Some main points lost in the discussion:
UFT president Mulgrew has basically changed his posture on the question of the teacher evaluation system.

Developments seemed all pointed towards go for the high-stakes test based evaluation system (20 percent of a teacher's rating from state tests, 20 percent from local --read, city-- assessments). Then in a mid-December delegate assembly of the union, the MORE caucus advocated a democratic vote by the rank and file members of the union. The Daily News was rare among news outlets to catch the significance of the action, albeit, in a December 29, 2012 editorial, and without naming the active party involved:
Far more pertinent, at a union delegate assembly, a motion opposing Mulgrew’s authority to reach an evaluation deal with Chancellor Dennis Walcott — demanding instead that the matter be put to the membership — won a stunning 30% of the votes. A union president accustomed to 95% support then ran scared. Before that, by some accounts, Mulgrew and Walcott appeared to be progressing toward a deal even though Mulgrew veered far and wide, wanting to discuss even next year’s school closures.

But then, last week, he demanded that the city and the union must first settle how the new system will be implemented and rolled out, and how teachers will be trained in it . . . .

(Read more at the Daily News.)
Published yesterday morning, January 17, 2013, before the early afternoon announcement of the evaluation talks breakdown, "Potent Mix of Politics Shapes Current Education Debate" in the New York Times Schoolbook, Tim Clifford, a New York City teacher penned another distinctively accurate representation of the MORE strategic position in Mulgrew's changing posture. He pointed out that MORE's activities around the evaluation have Mulgrew nervous, as his Soviet-style 91 percent victory could be difficult to replicate unless he make some moves to co-opt the mass energy pushing back against the value-added test-based evaluation system. Truthfully, the hand-writing was clear at the start of the week, with MORE's announcement of a rally (for a membership vote) outside UFT headquarters, set for half an hour before the delegate assembly. Here is the latter part of Clifford's Times article, with the crucial election year elements included:
It’s likely that both the city and the UFT want an evaluation deal. For Bloomberg, this could be his last chance effect a major change in how teachers are hired and fired after several failed attempts to get rid of LIFO (Last In First Out) rules for excessing and layoffs. Yet he has insisted that the deal must include a means of holding teachers’ “feet to the fire” by making evaluations public, which is not required by state law. For its part, the UFT had a hand in crafting the new Annual Profession Performance Review (APPR) in the first place, helping limit efforts to make standardized test scores count for more than 25% of a teacher’s grade.

But there are other underlying political factors that may hinder an agreement. Foremost among these is the upcoming UFT election. Last time, Michael Mulgrew, then basically an unknown among teachers, won a staggering 91 percent of the vote as the protégé of outgoing president Randi Weingarten, facing no meaningful opposition. This time around, a new caucus has been gaining traction. This caucus, called MORE (Movement of Rank and File Educators), opposes any teacher evaluation agreement based on standardized test scores, which critics argue have a wide margin of error and other problems.

MORE’s candidate for president, Julie Cavanagh, is a well-spoken, well-regarded educator who is beginning to make a dent in Mulgrew’s hold on leadership. MORE’s recent resolution to have members vote on any evaluation deal, rather than union delegates mostly loyal to Mulgrew, garnered a significant amount of support. Said Cavanagh: “It is unacceptable that he (Mulgrew) does not recognize the truth: That the highest decision-making body of this union is its rank and file members. We should decide if ‘we as a union’ accept this: Because we are our union.”

Membership unrest in Chicago due to evaluations led to the ouster of the leadership there and conferred near hero status among unionists to Karen Lewis, who stood up to education reformers; the same could happen here if teachers are dissatisfied with the evaluation deal. And lest the potential mayoral candidates feel too sanguine, the story of Adrian Fenty, who was booted out as mayor of Washington, D.C. due largely to his support for test-obsessed Michelle Rhee, should act as a cautionary tale.

Complicating matters further is the teachers’ contract. The current deal expired in October, 2009, and the UFT did not receive the 4 + 4 percent over two years that other city workers got at the time. There is pressure on the union to settle a contract right away by tying evaluations to a new contract with higher wages, but there is also considerable sentiment that the UFT should wait out the Bloomberg era and try to get a favorable deal from the next mayor.

If Bloomberg and Mulgrew fail to come to terms on a contract, pressure will brought to bear on the current crop of mayoral hopefuls as to what kind of contract, with what kinds of wage increases, they’d be willing to sign. Democratic candidates are sure to vigorously court the UFT’s endorsement but by doing so they may risk losing financial support from Bloomberg, who will likely try to keep his reforms intact.

Other issues face the schools as we enter a new year. A bus strike is upon us. The city is looking to close 26 more schools, and is certain to be met with a fight. Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped into the fray in his State of the State address, calling for a teacher “bar” exam, as well as a longer school day and year that could add 300 hours to the school year without a clear means of financing those initiatives, which easily would cost billions of dollars in an age when school budgets have been cut every year for the last four years.

While the outcomes may not be certain, one thing is: 2013 promises to be a contentious year in education in New York. Whoever wins their political battles this year will likely affect the city’s schools well into the foreseeable future.
This writer is pleased that Mulgrew is speaking truth to power, calling mayor Bloomberg's assertions lies, however, the wish remains that he would directly and comprehensively reject the illogic undergirding these tests. Click again to the original, now classic, Gary Rubinstein statistical analyses of New York student test performances.

Why critical thinking is important: (Critical thinking ... something missing in the Common Core and the other new trends ... hmm.)
This chart of Value-Added Measures, from an article by math instructor Gary Rubinstein, demonstrates how no real correlation can be drawn between the scores of students in one year with generally the same students in another year. (Actually, good fortune of down servers preventing access to the original Rubinstein post brings us to another mathematician's quite scattered plotting of test results. See below.)

* * *

Moreover, this writer points out that Mulgrew is still enthusiastically defending the indefensible: see "MULGREW TELLS DELEGATES SCUTTLED NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM WOULD BE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD" at the ICE-UFT blog.
This blog said the following last week: "The UFT is willing to concede on almost everything but Bloomberg's people may make it so humiliating that President Mulgrew would not even get a fig-leaf out of this. On the other hand, the Union could demand real safeguards (a right to grieve any unfair evaluations) so the DOE would reject any agreement." We were almost completely right except it looks like it was the mayor and not the DOE that inserted the poison pills. The fig-leaf was the two year sunset clause and the expedited arbitration if procedures weren't followed.
Trust me these were not great gains.

What happens next? I see the UFT going over the mayor's head to the state to try to get the system into law. What should people be doing? Call, email or talk to your union representatives, particularly Unity Chapter Leaders, and tell them you want no part of this and the real fight in Albany and Washington DC is to change the law so that no part of any teacher's rating is based on junk science.

* * *


Yes, there is no new evaluation system. But the UFT leadership remains tarnished for blocking a membership-wide vote on the system. For, contracts are voted on by the membership. The evaluation system has contract-like effects and significance.

Additionally unsettling is that the Unity leadership used its staff director lecture the delegates back in December about what the democratic representation scope is for the delegates. Certainly, a great error in principal. This excerpt from the ICE-UFT blog's report of that earlier Delegate Assembly:
Leroy Barr was called on to refute Kit's points. Leroy said that the membership elects Delegates and Chapter Leaders to represent members and the DA has a proud history of these duly elected representatives doing their job.

Back to the analysis of the talks breakdown, Mulgrew still won't own up to the reality that his tentative evaluation agreement --yes, it is debatable as to whether there was some deal ready in the middle of the night-- was morbidly flawed, given that it was resting on illogical premises of the VAM testing models. His complaints have been around secondary, yet still important, side-issues. (The same can be said for Leo Casey writing at EdWize. He still has not rejected the fundamentally flawed VAM basis for the evaluations.) It's understandable that they will not own up to the essential core flaw of the high-stakes test-based evaluation system, for they has to save face.

The MORE caucus on its website, "Post-Mortem: The Non-Deal Between the UFT and DOE," has cited three critical reasons behind the failure of the evaluation deal, with discussion of each reason:
--Reason #1: Race to the Top is Bad Policy
--Reason #2: A Growing Backlash against Education Reform
--Reason #3: High-Handed and Un-Democratic School Leadership

We cannot entirely rest and must be watchful. There are rumors that the UFT might try to squeak in a deal in the next few weeks.

It is being argued, and rightly so, that the UFT ought to release the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), so that the UFT members may see what teacher evaluation agreement almost was agreed to. And just as the Great Powers' problem of secret negotiations and World War I, there is a major problem for democracy when the issues in the MOU are being kept from the members, as though we are young children.

New York City sends inspectors after the United Federation of Teachers after the breakdown of evaluations talks, UFT president Mulgrew tweets.

Right-minded teachers ought to oppose this harassment, this intimidation of our union.