Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Update: NYSUT Vote on King: Iannuzzi - 1, Mulgrew - 0 / King/Tisch Declare War on ELA Students

Update: King and Tisch have moved the high-stakes test war on children up a notch. This makes the struggle against King/Cuomo and against Mulgrew all the more urgent. Scroll down for the analysis.

Yeah, OK, so the vote reports nowhere say this is Iannuzzi v. Mulgrew. However, inescapably, the vote represents a repudiation of what New York City teachers union United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew represents. This is a hopeful hint of shifting winds to come, in the coming battle between Mulgrew and Iannuzzi.

To remind readers, perhaps lost amidst other stories, there were reports of a major event this weekend, the NYSUT board of directors vote on president Iannuzzi's vote of no confidence against New York State Education Department Commissioner John King, as reported in EdNotes and in Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet column at the Washington Post.

King Jeani XIV, "I am the State Education Department"
The vote set out a vote of no confidence against John King. We can recall no instance of Mulgrew point-blank criticizing King. Rather, the nearest we see is a tepid whine that teachers' Common Core problems will be solved by a beefed up curriculum.

Teachers in New York City and New York State must recognize that there are profound flaws in Michael Mulgrew that are vociferous defenses for the indefensible policies of John King. Perdido Street did some extremely important compilations of old posts that quintessentially capture the nightmarish betrayals that Mulgrew committed against the teachers of New York City. NYS teachers and their representatives would do well to study those missteps with the most exacting attention. See "Oldie But Goodie: Mulgrew "Frightened" By Opposition To Common Core," "Another Oldie But Goodie: Michael Mulgrew On Why John King Was A Great Figure To Impose A NYC Teacher Evaluation System," "And Yet Three More Oldies But Goodies: Michael Mulgrew Defends John King's APPR Teacher Evaluation System."

Update: for an excellent analysis of the behind the facades significance of this battle, see the analysis at the ICEUFT blog, MAKING SOME SENSE OF THE NYSUT LEADERSHIP SPLIT.

Why should NYS teachers and representatives care about what Michael Mulgrew or his proxy Andy Pallotta say or think? Pay close attention to what Mulgrew said for months last year: apologies for some of the worst policies that are destroying teachers' working conditions and their spirits. Reading Mulgrew's words, aren't you unsettled by what Mulgrew did in New York City? Would you for a minute risk his disastrous policies' being shoved over to the rest of New York State?

Heed the words of teachers that quit the profession or write poetry over the destruction of the teaching profession that they once loved. From this blog, last June: "Surveys: teacher morale at record lows; when the profession "no longer exists"; 2013-2014 for NYC teachers under new evaluations"
Given the pressures, is it any wonder that we are seeing plaintive "I Quit" postings on the Internet and on videos going viral? --video resignations like that of history teacher Jerry Conti of Westhill High School (see at right, and see his letter republished at Huffington Post about how testing and number crunching means that the teaching profession "no longer exists"), and the western New York state teacher that penned the "I am a teacher and I am tired" poem, published at the NYSUT blog site. Even principals are quitting over the over-emphasis on tests.
And which teachers union leader clearly has been the figure that has been committed great damage to the teaching profession in New York State? Hmm. Make no mistake, Saturday's NYSUT board vote was not just a repudiation of Comm. King but also a repudiation of Mulgrew who has not stood up to John King in his worsening of teacher working conditions.
Never forget: Mulgrew supports Cuomo. This is a major political point of political dispute between Mulgrew and Iannuzzi. Read on the political urgency to stop Cuomo: The Prime Directive: Stop Cuomo in this post.

 * * *
The prospect of a Michael Mulgrew takeover of NYSUT is ominous for another reason: the fundamentally undemocratic essence of his caucus, the Unity Caucus, which has dominated the UFT for the last 50 years. How can there be democracy in a union body dominated by the Unity caucus, considering the second clause of the Unity caucus' infamous loyalty oath? (Thanks to NYC Educator blog for publishing the oath.):
The Unity caucus loyal oath:

  • To express criticism of caucus policies within the Caucus;
  • To support the decisions of Caucus / Union leadership in public or Union forums;
  • To support in Union elections only those individuals who are endorsed by the Caucus, and to actively campaign for his / her election;
  • To run for Union office only with the support of the caucus;
  • To serve, if elected to Union office, in a manner consistent with Union / Caucus policies
    and to give full and faithful service in that office; 

  • Imagine this caucus controlling the state union. It is bad enough already that they control the city union.
     * * *
    You know the scene in "The Pianist" when the Germans are in Warsaw, with tanks relentlessly pounding apartment blocks? One blast right after another.

    I could not help but think that this is what King and Tisch did with the ELA exam this week. I don't have time to summarize. The story is excellently discussed at NYC Educator here and at Perdido Street here and here.

    The ELA Regents test was brutal --a brutal blast. The percentage of students passing will be a record low. What on earth is going on in the minds of King/Tisch? Have they no conscience? Thousands of students will not get their diploma because of this. You can envision that many will get demoralized and not bother to try try again in future ELA Regents.

    Think of the state tests last spring and their results. A merciless tank blast at students. Think of the students engaging in self-injury.

    Make no mistake: the Regents are declaring war on New York State's schoolchildren.
    It might take a few years to replace the Regents and the Common Core. But New York teachers have a moral duty to go against this madness at every opportunity.

    Mulgrew has said NOTHING directly critical of King/Tisch. By contrast, we are seeing growing discontent from Iannuzzi and his allies. The coming stand off between the two is a battle with high moral stakes. Teachers are duty-bound to support the Iannuzzi side to reverse this sick trend in education. Parents, citizens, support those teachers and teacher locals that are backing Iannuzzi and opposing Mulgrew. This time it's personal. Your children are at stake.

    Additionally, the episode of this week's ELA Regents is a shining example of what is going on in high stakes testing. New York City teachers, parents, concerned citizens, there is an important forum this Saturday on the upper west side on the issue of high stakes testing, More Than a Score: Talking Back to Testing, co-sponsored by the MORE UFT caucus and Change the Stakes. (February 1, 2014 at 11:00 am – 3:00 pm Edward A. Reynolds Westside High School. 140 W 102 St., New York , New York 10025) Attend the conference, get informed, get active.

    The children are at stake.

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Update: Everything's Closed, It's Like a Ruin - Working in the Ghost Schools During the Would-Be Snow Day

    *Poll: what percentage of your students showed up today? *Update: Valerie Strauss notes: no cancellation can lead to extreme problems for parents: children sleeping in schools.

    "Everything's Closed, It's Like a Ruin." --The Beatles, "Good Morning."

    Didn't you notice an eerie quiet yesterday? Fewer people in the streets, on the roads. And far fewer than usual students.

    Take the poll at the right: How many of your students actually came to school yesterday?

    So New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and schools chancellor Carmen Farina insisted that the schools be open yesterday. This was ill-minded on a few counts. One of these is for safety reasons, and given the tragedy of Avonte Oquendo, the policy-makers must act soberly.

    First, the day was a waste. Reports to the blogs, e.g., here and here in the comments sections is that student attendance rates in many schools were in the 15 to 50 percent range. Basically, the day was a waste, with classes doubling up due to short-staffing and the paucity of substitutes. Essentially, this disrupted the planning schedule, since planned lessons could be used with but a bare fraction of the class. The noble few that attended will have to be bored while the rest of the class catches up the next day.

    Update: Fascinating Continental U.S. map contrasts snow depths and school cancellation patterns:
    Snow depths apparently required for school cancellation; correction: NYC should be dark blue

    Update: Queens Courier reported, "EXCLUSIVE: No snow day forces Bayside HS kids to spend day in auditorium."
    "Bayside High School students spent their no-snow day in the auditorium and gym because of a shortage of teachers." Melissa Chan and Maggie Hayes reported:
    After students reported to school Wednesday at 8 a.m., school officials found they didn’t have enough teachers to monitor all of the students, according to parents and students.

    They were then told to call their parents to pick them right back up again.

    “There had to be 35, 40 parents on line waiting to get their kids,” said Michele M. who grabbed her 15-year-old daughter around 11 a.m. “What was the point of opening up?”

    Michele’s daughter and multiple students said at least 40 teachers were absent.

    “More than half of my teachers didn’t even come, and more than half that did didn’t even get to teach,” said Jane, a freshman. “I just sat in the auditorium and watched Iron Man 2. I slept through most of it.”

    Another freshman said he walked into school around noon and a dean told him to go home.

    Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina made the call to keep schools open around 11:20 p.m. the night of the storm, Tuesday, Jan. 21.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio, who participated in the decision, said the National Weather Service “made clear that just as the snow had intensified earlier, it was slowing very noticeably around 10 p.m.”
    The same Courier writers penned, "Decision to keep NYC public schools open upsets parents." They cited the newspaper's Facebook page, which asked "What do you think about the decision to keep NYC schools open today?" and got many responses:
    *I think it is awful. The city is a mess kids should be safe at home today. People have not shoveled yet. The side streets have not been plowed here in Queens.
    *Ridiculous, they declare state of emergency.. don't go out unless you have too, use mass transit. . SCHOOLS OPEN! I don't understand this? They closed school two weeks ago and we had half the snow amount.
    *The worst decision they ever made it is way too cold and everyone says stay home if u dont have to be out and they open the schools makes no sense
    *The mayor can say what he wants. .am keeping my kid at home!!
    *The Mayor asks people to stay off the street and then we find out school is open. It doesn't make sense to me however there must be a reason. When my kids were little it upset me to have to drive in the snow to get them to school only to find out that many children weren't there so they just did busy work. Really crazy sometimes.
    *i work in a high school doing attendance. About half of the students were absent! No answers for you???
    *It was inconsiderate and dangerous. A waste of time to sit in a class with four students.
    *Glad i moved out of the city
    *We had less snow last time and they closed and this time 10.5 inchs and bitter cold and state of emergency and they open
    The problem was probably worse in the high schools than in the elementary schools and middle schools. The last two are still largely neighborhood based in their student populations. So with parents and students "in the community" it is not so arduous a project to make it to school. High schools are an entirely different situation. With Bloomberg's fraud of school choice, his top-secret school assignment algorithm sends students miles across boroughs or across borough boundaries. On a normal day it takes many of these students an hour and a half or two hours to travel the MTA to school. On a would-be snow-day it must be worse. Farina needs to talk to people that have access to student addresses to understand the kinds of commutes students have. Students' commutes have gotten far worse since Farina last worked in the schools.

    Second, and more seriously. At numerous schools a third to half the teachers did not show up. De Blasio and Farina need to consider that with the special needs students certain levels of classroom staffing.  As yesterday plainly demonstrated, in a weather emergency far fewer than 100 percent of the staff make it to school. Earlier this month I noted that tight-fisted budgeting (as well as school co-locations) can contribute to risk factors in students' slipping out of adult supervision, as I suggested could have possible risk factor in the Oquendo case.

    De Blasio and Farina need not let themselves get owned by the hysteria-mongering tabloid media, particularly, "The New York Post." Forget the Upper East Side's exaggerations. Those residents have enough benefits, with better roads than the outer borough streets with refrigerator sized potholes. De Blasio and Farina need to do what they can to safeguard a healthy and safe day and commute. Don't they know anyone in the suburbs, who had five hour commutes on routes that normally took about an hour, due to unplowed streets? Is a teacher supposed to have a five hour commute going home, then have a multi-hour one in the next morning? You wonder if any admins would have the audacity to commit the Danielson hit job on the teacher that day.

    Besides, de Blasio and Farina have yet to adequately explain why they kept the schools open while nearly every city system from Philadelphia to Boston shut down.

    Update: Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post notes: no cancellation can lead to extreme problems for parents.
    Why snow days matter: Kids slept in schools because of late cancellation call

    In Alabama and Georgia with the infamous recent storm Leon, official neglected to cancel school. Thousands of children were left stranded at schools, spending the night there.

    Next time you think a school district is being overly cautious about cancelling school because of bad weather, remember this: Thousands of students in Georgia and Alabama were forced to spend the night Tuesday in their schools — and some on buses — while their parents got stuck in traffic jams for more than 12 hours because a rare snowstorm dumped a few inches of snow.

    Students trapped in schools watched movies, played games, ate and slept — some of them on gym mats — Tuesday night, cared for by teachers, staff and administrators. Some students who were on school buses Tuesday afternoon trying to get home were actually returned to their schools when the roads became blocks of ice when temperatures plummeted.

    Georgia State Patrol troopers were working Wednesday to get trapped students and motorists home while the National Guard tried to untangle traffic jams that left many parents stuck on impassable roads.

    Parents were furious that school districts had not closed Tuesday knowing that a storm was coming, and then decided to close early without giving parents much warning. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
    “They seriously miscalculated,” said Marcus Reed, who drove 90 minutes over five miles of side roads to fetch his eighth-grade son Payton and sixth-grade daughter Marlyn from Sandtown Middle School in Fulton County. “I know every school day is precious, but they shouldn’t have had school today.”

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    DeBlasio Seeks Pre-K Help, Cuomo Pushes Millionaire Tax Cuts / Why Mulgrew-Iannuzzi NYSUT Battle Matters

    *Cuomo pushes tax cut for wealthiest in New York State
    *Why is Mulgrew pushing for Cuomo's reelection? *2013: the year of Mulgrew's repeated support for Common Core
    That New York Governor Mario Cuomo is dissing new New York City Bill de Blasio already is not news. Straight away he has opposed tax increases for funding universal pre-Kindergarten. Yet, he is ignoring all of the research that has demonstrated the importance of it.
    By the way, remember that the MORE caucus came out for universal full day high quality pre-Kindergarten from its beginnings in 2012. So, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is really Johnny-come-latelies to plug for it on the front page of its latest New York Teacher issue.

    In his rebuffing deBlasio is Cuomo breaking from tradition?
    As reported in the current issue of "The Chief",
    When asked about the Governor's efforts to outmaneuvre him, Mr. de Blasio was polite but firm. "There is a very clear history. The last three mayors went to Albany" and got the tax changes they asked for, he said. "We expect to see continuity."
    And yet, we can see cynical maneuvering in Cuomo's attempts to appeal to certain constituencies. He mentioned pre-K in his address to the state. But he did not mention de Blasio's specific proposal and its tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers.

    Cuomo pushes tax cut for wealthiest in New York State
    New York State is a state with huge disparity in wealth. The wealthy have been coasting along quite easily. Rather than support de Blasio's call for a tax increase on the wealthiest in New York City, Cuomo has done the opposite. "The Chief" reports in the January 17 edition:
    *Reduce corporate income taxes to 6.5 percent, the lowest rate since 1968 . . . .
    *Increase the threshold for the state inheritance tax from $1 million to $5.25 million, indexed for inflation, and reduce the rate from a maximum of 16 percent to 10 percent.
    As Cuomo speaks, Mulgrew beams; Iannuzzi looks stoical

    Amidst Mulgrew's support for toxic Cuomo: Critical news on Mulgrew's challenge to Iannuzzi
    Yet, UFT president Michael Mulgrew is re-endorsing Gov. Cuomo and is mobilizing the UFT toward that end. Why?! we must ask. Cuomo is complicit on APPR and Common Core State Standards, central causes of woes of teachers across New York State. Cuomo handed full control of New York City's teacher evaluation program to NYSED commissioner John King, all with Mulgrew's enthusiastic endorsement. (This is part of a larger story about how Mulgrew's UFT forces are maneuvering with Andy "Who?" Pallotta as Mulgrew's figure-head for VP against NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi's slate. Read "Burgeoning NYSUT Civil War" at the PJSTA website and "Looming Battle: Mulgrew vs Iannuzzi For NYSUT Leadership - Split Over Cuomo Endorsement?" at Ed Notes. Pallotta, a Bronx staffer to run against Iannuzzi, now that's transparently Mulgrew's puppet.)
    Gov. Cuomo is disingenuously standing on the sidelines amidst the statewide parents' and educators' plaintive plea to remove commissioner King. Cuomo is resisting mayor de Blasio's pre-K program. Cuomo's interest in education "reform" is transparent: he is utterly on the take from education profiteers, e.g., Democrats for Education Reform ($14,000) and Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy charter school chain (four donations from Success PAC to Cuomo in 2011-2012 for his reelection bid, and $400,000 from a cadre of wealthy supporters of the Success chain). Mulgrew's proxy, Pallotta of the Bronx, and Unity-UFT's VP in NYSUT hearts Cuomo so, that he spent $10,000 in NYSUT Committee on Political Education ("COPE") funds, without Iannuzzi's knowledge, on a table at Cuomo's birthday party celebration. See the excellent reporting here at EdNotes and here at Perdido Street School.
    So, why is Mulgrew supporting Gov. Cuomo? His predictable "Cuomo is better than any Republican alternative." To this point, we must point out: Common Core didn't start under Pataki, APPR didn't start under Pataki, standing by an aloof, elitist, autocratic education commissioner didn't happen under Pataki. These backward developments in New York State began under Cuomo, with his endorsement.

    Centerpiece graphic from NYSUT's website, in advance of its June 8, 2013 rally.
    See my earlier post, "The Two New York Teacher Unions and the Significance of Mulgrew/UFT's Ignoring of NYSUT's 6/8 Rally," on how NYSUT's newspaper was touching on a lot of the electric issues for teachers. Meanwhile, all that the UFT would do last spring would be to offer workshops on how to better "align" with the Common Core.
    In that post, I highlighted the telling differences between the UFT and NYSUT, as evinced from their respective newspapers.
    NYSUT United UFT and New York Teacher
    Common Core implicit, critical mention apologies to the CCSS, the message: just let us get it right next time
    High-stakes tests tests causing near anguish weaker commentary
    Group's stance as early as 2011, NYSUT challenged the new evaluation system in court endorse VAM/ test-based evaluations, then gripe over the results
    RallyJune 8, dealing with wider range of issues, reaching to the wider community; major push; literature already released, latest issue of paper has stories emphasizing issues attending to in rally promo leafletssilence on June 8 rally, diversionary June 12 rally*, narrower, dealing with a contract-oriented focus; weaker promotion so far --watch for bland, top-heavy announcements
    *It was valid to have a contract rally, but the timing was conveniently distracting from the June 8 NYSUT Albany rally.
    "Which side are you on?" Education progress or deform is that essence of education politics today. Iannuzzi, while not perfect, is on the better side on many issues than Mulgrew or Karen Magee (Pres. figurehead on Unity-UFT's slate) and Mulgrew's puppet Pallotta. Iannuzzi spearheaded the massive Albany rally of thousands last June 8, at which (non-NYC) district chapter rank and filers were out in force with home-made signs telling of teachers chafing under paperwork. Iannuzzi more recently, is proposing a NYSUT vote of no confidence against commissioner King. The NYC contingent, the UFT, was next to impossible to find at that rally, and Mulgrew and "Randi" gave the lamest of speeches, weak on specifics and never frontally challenging the core destructive tenets of education "reform." With Mulgrew's non-commitment to mobilizing the UFT for the rally and not alerting the media, is it any wonder that all the media reports from the event were from Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, not the NYC area?

    2013: the year of Mulgrew's repeated support for Common Core
    Mulgrew is really out of touch on this one.
    Apr. 28, in opinion piece in the Daily News supportive of the Common Core, Mulgrew wrote that teachers just needed a more "coherent, detailed curriculum."
    Aug. 8, Mulgrew mistated the truth in a "Daily News" editorial, asserting that many teachers wrote the Common Core: "teachers — many of whom helped create the new Common Core . . . " The truth: None of the five authors of the English or Math sections are teachers. Only three teachers served on the validation committee for the Common Core. How is zero "many?"
    Oct. 29, Capital New York: Mulgrew repeated his support for "the idea behind the Common Core" and said that withdrawing from the Common Core "would be a real disservice to our children."
    Nov. 14, UFT site: "Mulgrew reinterated [sic!] the union's support of the Common Core."
    Remember, any UFT assertions of teacher support need to be tempered with knowledge that the national parent federation, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has received over $5 million from Bill Gates, the sponsor and initiator of the national Common Core standards. Read one New York State principal, Tim Farley's astute analysis of the impact of Gates money on the AFT and teacher practices in implementing the Common Core. See also Mercedes Schneider's "Weingarten Wants Me to Want the Common Core State Standards." Scroll below for the key clincher quotes from principal Farley, regarding Gates' donations and "professional development" for the Common Core.

    The bonus pay ruse for merit pay
    You would think that there could be bonus combat pay for teachers working in the toughest schools. Alas, that's not what will happen. Actually, the reverse will happen. Cuomo's "bonus pay" plan is patently a merit pay plan sugar-coated for the masses. The problem this time is that with Mulgrew so compliant he'll willingly go along with whatever Andy proposes. What is refreshing is that even the media see through Cuomo to an extent and are calling his plan a merit pay plan. See the Chaz blog article on the issue to see an analysis that directly labels the plan as a merit plan. The major problem is that it is easily manipulated, with the principal assigning the toughest classes to their least favorite teachers and the easiest ones to their pets. Churn that through the value-added modeling ("VAM") sausage machine --that AFT president Randi Weingarten has finally gotten it right on-- and it will be easy to see that the class of 3s will do better than the class of 2s will do worse.

    The teachers' referendum on John King
    Again, teacher union members must ask Mulgrew and those outside NYC must ask their district leaders, will you join the Syracuse Teachers Association president Kevin Ahern in his supporting Iannuzzi's call for a vote of no confidence against NYSED commissioner John King?
    NYSED Commissioner John King; Iannuzzi wants a recall; Cuomo and Mulgrew have yet to critique his style
    View these videos, in Mineola, in Poughkeepsie -the short version, the long version, in Buffalo, in Whitesboro, just a sample, of choruses across New York State. Parents, teachers and students have no confidence in John King or the Common Core. Michael Mulgrew, you want to give the pretense of abiding by social justice, then do the right thing and oppose King. Teacher union members, pay close attention when Mulgrew fails to support Iannuzzi's move versus King.

    "NYSUT responds to governor's State of the State address:"
    ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 8, 2014 - New York State United Teachers today said Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2014 State of the State address presented a mixed bag for public schools, colleges and health care - offering a continuation of promising programmatic ideas but raising serious questions about resources.
    NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the governor's proposal for prekindergarten is "encouraging," but expressed deep concern about the governor's package of proposed tax cuts and the significant omission in the governor's address of the need for a course correction in the implementation of the Common Core. Regarding the governor's proposal on merit pay, Iannuzzi said research shows such programs do not impact student achievement. 
    "It is troubling that the most important issue facing students, parents and teachers today - the botched implementation of the Common Core and the need for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences for students and teachers - was absent in the speech," said Iannuzzi. "With all that is on our plate now in public education, to be distracted by a failed concept like merit pay would be a serious mistake."
    The NYSUT president also questioned how the state would sustain investments in pre-K, professional development, technology, and in public colleges and universities when the economy is still in recovery and the governor wants to cut $2 billion in needed tax revenue.
    "It is difficult to reconcile how the education programs will be paid for, not to mention sustained, when a horrific tax proposal is on the table," Iannuzzi said.
    NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the governor's education proposals present a "starting point," but the union will await details of the governor's forthcoming executive budget proposal later this month and fight to ensure that adequate funding is allocated for the state's public schools and higher education system.
    "NYSUT has long been a strong proponent of universal pre-K and the union is pleased the governor considers it a priority. Now, the state must provide the resources necessary to make it a reality so all of our children are given a strong foundation for academic success," Pallotta said. "We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature to carve out a legislative agenda and budget that meets the needs of students, parents and teachers."
    *Tim Farley's closing comments to his "AFT Is Wrong about the Common Core":
    TRUTH: AFT polled 800 teachers. (I strongly recommend you read this: ( to see all of the results that AFT left out. NEA’s poll surveyed 1200 teachers. Again, please read the full survey results to see what data was left out (

    Part of the information from these two polls that AFT neglected to print was that teachers overwhelmingly support a moratorium on the student test results being tied to their effectiveness rating. The other piece that was left out was that most teachers felt that they did not receive enough “training” for the implementation of CC. The large sums of money from Gates to NEA, AFT, and NYSUT were earmarked for Teacher Professional Development. I have two questions. One, why are Teachers’ Unions receiving money to provide professional development? Isn’t that the job of the school districts? Also, since they have received so much money for this purpose, why don’t teachers feel that they haven’t had enough training?

    Lastly, my question to AFT is, “Whom do you represent, Bill Gates or your teachers?” You cannot have it both ways.


    Tim Farley

    Kinderhook, NY
    The AFT link reveals:
    *74 percent are worried that the new assessments will begin—and students, teachers and schools will be held accountable for the results—before everyone involved understands the new standards and before instruction has been fully implemented with the standards.
    *83 percent support a moratorium on consequences for students, teachers and schools until the standards and related assessments have been fully in use for one year.
    *27 percent said their school district has provided them with all or most of the resources and tools they need to successfully teach the standards.
    *78 percent of teachers in low-performing schools said they have been given just some, few or no resources. *53 percent said they have received either no training or inadequate training to help prepare them to teach to the standards.
    Wow. Talk about Weingarten's selective reporting of statistics.

    The NEA link reveals:
    *65 percent have participated in a Common Core training session, but just 26 percent said the trainings were helpful.
    . . .
    *Educators also pinpointed other factors that would help students learn the new standards. Forty-three percent cited smaller class size, 39 percent suggested greater parental involvement, and 22 percent said students need up-to-date books and materials.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Unionized Teacher Heroes During Roswell, New Mexico School Shooting

    *Union thugs as guardian angels  *Teacher put his life on the line, preventing further tragedy

    *New Mexico School Shooting: Teacher Hailed for Persuading Suspect to Drop Gun

    In Roswell, New Mexico, American Federation of Teachers territory, an eighth grade social studies teacher approached the 12 year old student, the shooter in last week's tragic shooting, and talked the boy into putting down his weapon.

    From ABC News:

    New Mexico School Shooting: Teacher Hailed for Persuading Suspect to Drop Gun

    Officials credit John Masterson, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, with saving lives as he immediately stepped in and talked the boy into dropping his weapon. Masterson then held him until authorities arrived.

    "He stood there and allowed the gun to be pointed right at him," Gov. Susana Martinez told a packed room of 1,500 or so people at a prayer vigil late Tuesday, "so there would be no more young kids hurt."

    Officials also credit previous "active shooter" drills by Roswell Independent School District for preparing teachers and students, who say they were ready for what happened Tuesday morning. Students say they even thought the shooting was a surprise drill at first.

    Governor Martinez called him an amazing man. 

    "He is an amazing man," said Gov. Susana Martinez, who met with Masterson. "He stood there and allowed the gun to be pointed right at him so there would be no more young kids hurt."

    According to an account given by Martinez, the teacher was facing away from the shooter, and the shooter away from him, when the first shot was fired. The teacher thought it was a firecracker, she said.

    The teacher wheeled around and saw the young man fire more shots before he pointed the gun at Masterson, she said. The teacher talked to him and urged him to put the gun down.

    The shooter put the gun down and raised his hands, and Masterson put him up against a wall, the governor said. Just then, an off-duty state police officer arrived — he was dropping his own son off at the school — and they contained the student.

    The teacher and the off-duty officer, Lt. Gary Smith, drew praise from authorities for their bravery.

    Then, there's the teacher that stayed by a surviving student, as ABC News reported, soothing the 13-year old girl, while she was on the phone with 911.

    Teachers, putting themselves on the front-line, for the students, in New Mexico, having their own teacher evaluation struggle, New Mexico, a state which has its own opt-out movement against high-stakes tests, a state which is floating legislation to protect opt-outers.

    From Teachers College Record: Tough Issue on Flaws in VAM and Other Accountability Measures

    Diane Ravitch's blog gave the link to this important issue from the Teachers College Record:

    Featured Articles
    by Alyson Lavigne, Thomas Good & Ronald Marx

    by Thomas Good
    In this article, the author describes the history of classroom research and notes that, despite potential for present day application, many of those who currently develop observational systems for evaluating teachers appear to be unaware of this literature. The author describes what we know about effective teaching, the limits of using this information, and the need for identifying new important outcomes of schooling that can be used in teacher evaluation.

    by Spyros Konstantopoulos
    This paper reviews the literature on teacher effects and focuses on value-added measures and their use in evaluating teachers. Suggestions about the use of value-added measures and about the future of teacher effects research are provided.

    by Clarin Collins & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley
    In this study, the researchers surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide an inclusive national growth and value-added model overview.

    by Corinne Herlihy, Ezra Karger, Cynthia Pollard, Heather Hill, Matthew Kraft, Megan Williams & Sarah Howard
    This paper explores how state education officials and their district and local partners plan to implement and evaluate their teacher evaluation systems, focusing in particular on states’ efforts to investigate the reliability and validity of scores emerging from the observational component of these systems.

    by David Berliner
    Teacher assessment using value-added models of teacher efficacy suffer from a fatal flaw, namely, that a myriad of exogenous (unaccounted for) variables affect student test score growth and result in unstable estimates of teacher competency from class to class and year to year.

    by Alyson Lavigne
    This article discusses the intended and unintended consequences of high-stakes teacher evaluation. The potential for high-stakes teacher evaluation to meet the intended outcome of a better teacher workforce and improved student achievement is assessed, and the costs of doing so.

    by Rick Ginsberg & Neal Kingston
    This study examines accountability in teacher education in an era of testing. It compares how multiple professions evaluate program outcomes and identifies concerns with overemphasis on value-added models as the basis for assessing the impact of teacher preparation program graduates. Suggestions are offered for possible alternative paths.

    by Ronald Marx
    This article discusses the papers in the special issue of Teachers College Record addressing broad themes of reliability and validity that raise cautions regarding the usefulness of recent approaches to high-stakes evaluation of educators. Implications are drawn for the long-term health of the teacher labor market.

    by Diane Ravitch
    Foreword to the special issue on High-Stakes Teacher Evaluation.

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    Besides the Baudy Silliness, Why NYSED's 'S**y B***h' Link Raises Serious Issues for King, Cuomo and Mulgrew --the inBloom Factor

    *NYSED couldn't protect its own site *Can you trust its choice for housing your child's data?
    *S**y B***h hack = a scandal of poor site security, John King's BridgeGate-sized Epic Fail
    *Update: Syracuse teachers president endorses Iannuzzi's no confidence call vs. King

    As broken by a parent's blog, Schools of Thought and its "Commissioner King Endorses “Sexy Bitch” Quizzes as Fun Test Prep For NY Students!," the New York State Education Department's site linked for much of a day this week to a salacious site called S**y B***h. Clearly, this demonstrated the NYSED's site hackability.

    This incident, plus the Target massive security breach now up to 100 million customers' card data, plus the recently reported Nieman Marcus breach, plus the Sachem district, Suffolk, Long Island, breach of 15,000 students' records, dramatically demonstrates ONCE AND FOR ALL that sites can be hacked. More to the point, the NYSED's site's hackability is of looming significance because one would expect any site associated with NYSED should have iron-clad security, but this has been broken obviously. This bodes badly for the inBloom student data system. Yes, it will be run privately. But if NYSED cannot protect its own site, how can it vouch for inBloom's security. [As of blog press time, the NYSED is still down.] If Target and Nieman Marcus, who rests on credit or debit card use, cannot guarantee system security, how can parents have faith in inBloom?

    NYSED's sites plug Common Core --this is a central objective for the sites at this point. This scandal of lax site security cannot help but steer more attention to Common Core and its flaws.  King, Cuomo and Mulgrew must be breathing sighs of relief as the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie BridgeGate scandal roils on and on and on, devouring media attention, and preventing more attention to present New York State scandals, as opposed to past New Jersey scandalous acts.
    Toward the end of the parent blog breaking the story the parent adds:
    King’s Sexy Bitch Quizzes are to NY what Christie’s Traffic Problems are to NJ!
    "Damned straight" we can say to that!
    No voters chose John King; Regents did. Maybe that's why he acts like a king.

    I bring in NYSED Commissioner John King in first, as Common Core and inBloom are his pet projects. And as he in desperate moments falls into "besides federal law" requires CC and student data tracking, repeating Gatesean myths.

    No Common Core, no need for souped up NYSED sites. No CCSS-linked tests and data collection, no need for inBloom. Make no mistake, this is the central project for John King and Merry Tisch.

    Just as this week has been the epic fail for Chris Christie with his widely panned press conference performance, this site hack has been bad news for ed deform cheerleaders and NYS.

    Now to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: he cannot smell the coffee: parents hate Common Core; they loathe John King for his haughtiness. King must go. Yet Cuomo doesn't get the urgency. Parents noticing the NYSED site hack will no doubt spread the word as another collossal blunder by Cuomo, and implicit demonstration of his failure to tackle the human representation of the Common Core cancer, John King.

    Remember it's not just his obnoxious aloofness to parental concerns at the Common Core town meetings. King:
    *Repeatedly threatened to remove control of the Buffalo School District from elected representatives, his most recent threat here; and ally Cuomo's bullying rhetoric here, alleging that the District and the union's APPR restrictions were an "ethical and legal fraud"
    *Blanket-characterized Common Core opponents as Tea Partiers

    Next, Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. In a week in which NYSUT president Dick Iannuzzi boldly called vote no confidence move against John King, from Mulgrew, silence, crickets-only silence. Iannuzzi's proposal goes before the state union's 80 member board of directors on January 24 to 25, and then to a larger membership vote if the proposal passes the first stage.
    Breaking: Syracuse Teachers Association President Kevin Ahern backs Iannuzzi's no confidence measure against King. Will UFT's Mulgrew join him?

    Make no mistake, teachers will notice.  Some hard questions for Cuomo and Mulgrew
    And questions: let's give up for a moment asking why JK is into CCSS.
    Why is Cuomo so committed to John King? Passing the buck to the Regents or the legislature doesn't cut it. Cuomo is supposed to be the political leader of New York State. Sounds a little like Chris Christie: blame lots of allies; but assume no accountability yourself.
    Why is Mulgrew so committed to Common Core? (And mere gripes for a better curriculum don't suffice.)
    Why won't he absolutely draw a line in the sand against the inBloom program?
    Why on earth is Mulgrew probably the most enthusiastic labor backer of Cuomo?
    Why cannot Mulgrew get it that teachers in New York City --not to mention NYS for that matter-- are not happy with John King or Common Core?
    So Mulgrew is trying to steal the MORE caucus' motto, Our working conditions are our students learning conditions? He should heed notice that Common Core is part of kids' learning package and he is part and parcel part of the hell for a learning experience that King and Tisch have imposed on young minds in NYS.
    But note that when the Common Core Gospel of Faith traveling show came to Manhattan, it was only MORE caucus supporters (not Mulgrew-allied Unity caucus reps) among UFT members that spoke out against the Common Core. And remember that the tour was supposed to come to Queens and Staten Island. Could the delay against scheduling be that those boroughs are a little bit more "suburban"?

    (Remember: the Common Core - student data linkage is essential, according to main architect, David Coleman. Read the article, "David Coleman Lauds the Use of Student Data.")

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    Chris Christie Bridgegate/Michael Bloomberg JPE Scandals, Serious Questions That Must Be Asked

    *Christie: I did not have social relations with that man, David Wildstein. 
    *Bloomberg: Everyone passes or else.
    *8 Videos of Christie bullying, berating people 
    *Kelly was texting about GWB lanes closure the day she accompanied Christie to Seaside fire *Breaking: Christie boasted to a youth that one of the best things was diverting traffic

    So the last 30 days have been the days that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie threw top aides and agency supervisors, David Wildstein, director of interstate capital projects, Bill Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority, Bridget Anne Kelly, deputy chief of staff, and Bill Stepien, his campaign manager, off the bridge. The first two "submitted their resignations" in December; Christie today forced Stepien to withdraw his name from applying to lead the New Jersey state Republican Party; Christie fired Kelly today, in Christie's moves to respond to the unfolding scandal over the early September 9 to September 13 closure of Fort Lee traffic lanes connecting with the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River to Manhattan, in an alleged strategy to retaliate against Democratic Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich, who would not endorse Christie's re-election bid. Heightened concern has grown over the bridge issue after it was learned that the closures delayed aid for a heart attack-stricken 91 year old woman. And just in the last month Christie derided concern over the closure as "not a big deal." " I know you guys are obsessed with this. I'm not."

    His performance in his marathon one hour, 47 minute midday press conference today was contrite at best, but self-pitying at worst. His record of acting and speaking has been of a bully, read here and here in the New York Times, and this closure issue reeked of a bullying politician. (He mocked reporters when they expressed concern about the lane closures. Watch the video in this link. He verbally lashed out at a teacher that questioned his policies against New Jersey teachers.) Instead of focusing on the inconvenience to motorists in the Fort Lee area, he focused his comments on how his top aides disappointed and embarrassed him, leading a Washington Post columnist to dub his statements "Me-me-mea culpa." To his credit, Senator Lindsey Graham (AL), Republican stalwart, referenced Christie as a bully: "It seems to me that this whole bridge thing reinforces a narrative that's troublesome about the guy, he's kind of a bully," he told NBC News today. Besides, he said, "I think he's going to have a hard time in the South, I really do. The edge is part of it. You know, he's a little too slick by half. . . I think the problem he's going to have in the South is against the view of his actual positions because it's hard for me to understand what he's for and what he's against on the social side." Before this week, polls placed Christie neck and neck in competition with Hilary Clinton for the 2016 presidential race, with a reputation for "reaching across party lines" to "get things done." This day has been a big low for the governor. People will now ask, is intimidation how he accomplishes these things?

    Christie, and Wildstein, Livingston HS, NJ graduates
    Christie and top aide Kelly in better days
    Listening to Christie (full transcript here at The Washington Post, and read amusing tweets in the live blogging at MarketWatch), the self-absorbed pol demands loyalty, but unlike Reagan who stood by appointees when his administrators were under fire, Christie absolutely threw Wildstein off the bridge. Note Christie's Bill Clintonesque parsing of words, he said that he was not friends with Wildstein during high school. Yes, they were in classes a year apart, but this was in school in a small city of 30,000. It is not such a stretch that they traveled in the same social circles. Yet, reading the David Wildstein bios, e.g., today here or this earlier bio nearly two years ago, "Ex-blogger is Governor Christie's eyes, ears inside the Port Authority", one finds that Wildstein had no qualifications for holding a high level job such as director of interstate capital projects, at the Port Authority, a state agency, a transportation enterprise, involving structures that are national security concerns. No, Wildstein's professional background, not as an engineer or an agency head, no it was working in the family carpet manufacturing business, and blogger as Wally Edge, so popular a blogger that he hired a staff, which nonetheless never met him. It does suspiciously seem like Christie and Wildstein bonded on a personal level at least by Christie's time of state-wide political ambitions. 
    Postscript: Christie's denials about knowing Wildstein well are beginning to unravel.

    And now, "JPE" and the Bloomberg parallels
    Of course we could on for thousands of words about how Michael Bloomberg has systematically destroyed the New York City Schools. But the looming parallel is: teachers in recent years have received the message from principals in no uncertain terms, failing marks to students and you will face the most serious consequences.

    Just Pass Everybody
    Yes, Bloomberg's minions have mouthed mantra of College Readiness, the main thing is that you must attend class, be at your seat, and do your work. Regular readers of the NYC blogs, especially the Chaz blog, have read of the strange contrasts: in the real world you should show up for work; in New York City, you merely have to remain on the register. Under Bloomberg's Department of Education there has been the credit recovery program, whereby students that have been MIA most of the school year or semester only have to complete a few worksheet packets or go on an online program, and shazaam, they've got a NYC high school diploma.

    This, the credit recovery program, paired with the intimidation policy from administrators (against teachers giving deserved failing grades), is the ugly secret behind Bloomberg's record of actually dubious school graduation rates --not to mention the de facto drop-outs that enter the ninth grade and vanish by the twelfth grade. This has ruined the reputation of the worth of a New York City high school diploma.

    This is the policy at many schools across the city. Where does the source of this come from?

    Plausible deniability?
    Could it be that Christie's and Bloomberg's hands are literally clean, that they merely said, I want these results and I don't care how you get the results, just get the job done?

    Fortunately for the process, there is division of power in New Jersey, and the legislature is empowered to conduct an investigation. Shame on the political class in New York City: we cannot have similar investigations because Bill de Blasio, and nearly every other competitor support mayoral autocracy.

    Then, again, there is the inspiring political ombudswoman Letitia James. Public Advocate James, could you please demand a full investigative and subpoenaing powers? You have already taken the admirable step of suing to the Bloomberg administration to stop school co-locations. Citizens of New York City need to know what did Bloomberg say and when did he say it, regarding the Just Pass Everybody and credit recovery policies?

    Democratic Christie allies, Democratic traitors
    We should never forget that speaking of throwing people off the bridge, just how does Cory Booker and Barack Obama's chumminess with Christie look now? Never forget that neither of those high profile Democrats gave serious support to Christie's Democratic challenger state senator Barbara Buomo; how do their token support gestures make them look now?

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    What If Progressives Sit Out the Common Core Protests at NYC's Rockefeller Center Monday, 1/6?

    There is a statewide Common Core protest against New York Governor and his Common Core policy, at Rockefeller Center, it is at WNBC-TV, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Monday, January 6, 2014, 4 to 6 pm.
    See the press release with media protest centers, by city, at the end of this blog.

    Do we shy away from big box developer protests because there might be some wealthy NIMBYs in the crowd?
    In the 1960s would we avoid participating in civil rights legislation advocacy because Republicans were often more reliable than Democrats (who were laden with the reactionary segregationist southern Dixiecrats) because Republicans represented big business?

    We should participate in the protests because this is the opportunity to present, to the public and to the media, the progressive perspective on the Common Core States Standards.

    If progressive education unionists and other education progressives do not speak, the public will not hear the progressive points:

    Common Core represents the neoliberal corporatization of curriculum and high-stakes testing, as few other issues do; even CCSS architect David Coleman has cited the tests as inseparable from Common Core
    Common Core's fundamental education crisis premise offers us the opportunity to raise the undiscussed very real issue of poverty that greatly determines educational outcomes --see herehere or chapter 10 of Diane Ravitch's instant classic, Reign of Error
    Common Core represents the further disrespecting and deskilling of the education profession; see this latest beaut of pre-packaged scripted lessons
    Common Core represents the displacement of funds for school staff and legitimate resources --creating great strains on district budgets-- by unneeded coaches and curricular guides for a hyped curriculum
    Common Core deadens student interest and engagement; the developmentally inappropriate standards are already building a generation of students demoralized and demoralized from school; see here and these videos by a teacher union local president charging that the Core is child abuse and by this Long Island therapist and this PhD. child psychologist attesting to the deleterious execution of the Common Core
    Common Core's chief New York State mouthpiece, John King, has no understanding for parents' concerns with the Common Core as evident in his recent letter resolutely standing by the Common Core, this much is even conceded to by the New York State United Teachers' spokesperson
    Common Core does not have the support of rank and file teachers; it only has the support of Weingarten, Mulgrew who only think a bigger and better curriculum will resolve the problems of the Common Core.

    And we reached this place undemocratically, as the Gates Foundation paid for this, and engineered the CCSS creation with unprecedented evasion of the democratic-republican process. Bill Gates' manipulation of the media and the government reflect the process described in the above cartoon. But what if the left refuses to defend democracy and education? How will the public hear our critique?

    What if we never make these points, some people amenable to the last point might stray to the right instead of the left, because the left never spoke to their concerns of the corporate highjacking of democracy? Not everyone arrives, easily swingable to the left; they have to be drawn there.

    So, in the face of all the protest, why are John King and Board of Regents Chancellor obstinate on the Common Core? Could they be on the take? Plenty of the shills, liberal or conservative, are on the take from the Gates Foundation, as Mercedes Schneider has documented, here on education organizations and unions, here on lobby organizations, here on school districts, here on universities and here on a range of foundations. So, should we not protest Monday? Our silence Monday might suggest acquiescence to Gov. Cuomo, Comm. King and Chanc. Tisch.

    Re: Governor Cuomo Common Core Media Rally

    Date: Monday January 6th, 2014
    Time: 4:00PM - 6:00 PM
    Location: Statewide locations (listed below)

    Contact: Deborah Lang 631-331-8546 or Sara Wottowa at No Common Sense Education:

    Details attached:

    HROUGHOUT NEW YORK STATE - MONDAY JANUARY 6, 2014: Now that the holidays are behind us and our legislators are planning to return to Albany for the 2014 session next week, we’ve noticed media coverage of Common Core has quieted down significantly. Our mission is to ensure this quiet time is not misinterpreted as complacency. 

    Governor Cuomo is scheduled to deliver his State of the State Address on January 8th. We need to apply statewide pressure on him to specifically address the failures of education reform in New York. Doing so would get this issue front and center in the media again.

    Starting on Thursday, January 2, we begin the New York New Year Blitz on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature. We will call, fax, email, Tweet, and snail-mail Governor Cuomo and ask him why he has turned a deaf ear on our voices, why he refuses to acknowledge the failure of Common Core in New York State, and why he has not spoken one word about education reform in response to our testimonies and appearances at NYSED’s and Senator Flanagan’s hearings around the state. We will do the same to our legislators (Assembly and Senate) and remind them that we are still here, we are still not happy, and that they work for us! They need to ignore Senator Flanagan’s proposed legislation and do something that throws Common Core out of New York.

    Public protests and picketing at local/regional television news stations across the state would put us front and center with a unified message to the Governor that this issue isn’t dead, and that Senator Flanagan’s report of his statewide hearings was an abysmal misrepresentation of the shortcomings, experiences, and objections presented by parents, educators, administrators, and early childhood development experts. On Monday January 6th beginning at 4 p.m. outside each TV news station listed below, we will make our voices heard. We will call on the media to get our message out. We will bring signs, placards, and bullhorns. We will apply as much pressure and generate as much noise as humanly possible. We will post this activity to every social media outlet and make it go viral. After the Governor’s Address on the 8th, we will get on the phones, we will get on our computers and we will flood every New York State Senator’s office (both locally and in Albany) with the message to get this fixed and not stop until it is. We will keep the heat turned up high until someone steps forward with a REAL common-sense solution to this mess. It is only the majority of people statewide that will show Senator Flanagan how wrong he has been about the Common Core and his interpretation of the message we have been sending. 

    Governor Cuomo’s Contact Info
    Governor Andrew Cuomo 
    Office of the Governor
    NY State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224
    Phone: 518-474-8390
    Fax: 518-474-1513
    Email: @NYGovCuomo Use #StopCommonCore and #fixNYschools
    NY State Senate:
    NY State Assembly:

    TV Station Rally Locations for January 6th:

    WTEN (ABC Network)
    341 Northern Blvd
    Albany, New York 12204

    WIVT-TV (ABC Network)
    203 Ingraham Hill Road
    Binghamton, NY 13903

    Bronx & Brooklyn
    News 12 Bronx/Brooklyn
    930 Soundview Ave
    Bronx, NY 10473
    Phone:(718) 328-7504 

    WGRZ (NBC Network)
    259 Delaware Avenue
    Buffalo,NY 14202

    WETN-TV (NBC Network)
    101 East Water Street
    Elmira,NY 14901

    Long Island (Nassau & Suffolk Counties)
    News 12 Long Island
    1 Media Crossways 
    Woodbury, NY 11797 

    Lower Hudson Valley
    (Rockland & Orange Counties)
    News 12 Lower Hudson Valley
    235 West Nyack Road
    West Nyack , NY 10994 
    Phone: 845-624-8780
    Fax: 845-735-1601 

    NEW YORK,NY 10112

    WPTZ (NBC Network)
    5 Television Drive
    Plattsburgh, NY 12901

    WHEC-TV 10 (NBC Network)
    191 East Avenue
    Rochester,NY 14604

    WSYR-TV (ABC Network)
    5904 Bridge Street
    East Syracuse,NY 13057

    WKTV (NBC Network)
    5936 Smith Hill Rd
    Utica,NY 13502

    WWTI-TV (ABC Network)
    1222 Arsenal Street
    Watertown,NY 13601

    News 12 Westchester
    6 Executive Plaza
    Yonkers, NY 10701