Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch Refuses To Be Held Accountable For Giving Con Artist Dr. Ted Morris Jr. A Charter School

As my friend on Twitter, Fake Merryl Tisch, likes to say in between swigs of Grey Goose, "Accountability is for the little people":

A day after 22-year-old charter school founder Ted Morris Jr. resigned precipitously after lies were discovered on his résumé, state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch deflected blame for the charter's approval and said the school, without its founder, should still open next fall.

Morris was the lead applicant for Greater Works Charter School, which got approval from the Board of Regents to open in 2015 as a high school with a particular reliance on technology.

He claimed to have accumulated a wall full of degrees, mostly from online schools, and served in leadership roles for various local organizations. One of those schools, Western Governors University, said he did not in fact get the bachelor's degree he claimed to have.

Another lie became apparent Wednesday: Morris also claimed to have master's and doctoral degrees from Concordia University Chicago, but a representative from that school said it had no record of him ever attending.

Those revelations led to an obvious question: why didn't the state Education Department and the Board of Regents catch the deception?

Tisch said the board only sees applications after they've been recommended by the state Education Department, suggesting it wasn't the members' normal responsibility to vet them for errors.

"When it comes to the board, it comes with an endorsement from (NYSED) and the local regents," she said. "What we hear is whether ... they've put together a sound application. There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, and I think people in (NYSED) need to address that with you."

Bill Clarke, the director of the NYSED charter school office, was not available for comment. A NYSED spokesman said no one else would be available either because of the snow descending on Albany.

Two of the state Regents are based in Rochester, Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood. In a statement released Tuesday before Morris' resignation, Brown said: "We rely on a considerable amount of data and information provided by applicants, along with conducting many in-person interviews before reaching a decision. If it were to turn out that we were deliberately provided misleading information by an applicant, that would of course call for further review of the issuance of the charter."

You're not surprised, right?

Tisch "deflects" blame onto the local Regents and NYSED, NYSED can't be reached for comment because of a couple of inches of snow and the local Regents who gave the okay say "It's not our fault because Dr. Ted lied to us."

In short, no one's at fault except Dr. Ted.

Let's imagine what these clowns would say if a public school hired a con man like Dr Ted to run the show.

A Bloomberg DOE Scandal Still Haunts The City

Do you remember the Willard Lanham/Project Cougar NYCDOE scandal from back in 2011?

If you don't, you can look up some posts I wrote about it here, here and here.

The basic overview was a DOE tech consultant stole a bunch of money from the DOE with the help of IBM and Verizon, who helped him cover the trail.

The consultant, Willard "Ross" Lanham, stole $1.7 million from the DOE from 2002-2008 on top of the six figure salary the Bloomberg DOE was already paying him as a consultant.

The scandal got the tabloid treatment when it was discovered that Lanham had an estranged wife (who you can see below) still living in his house (which you can see above) he had built in his own little real estate development and running a "Cougar" dating service for herself out of it.

She billed herself as "yummy mommy" on her blog and lived the high life meeting 20-somethings in the Long Island club scene:

Lanham had even named the street where his house was after his wife, Laura.                     

It was a sweet story of crime, betrayal and fiscal ineptitude from Bloomberg and his minions.

News of the story came around the same time we were beginning to understand just how much got stolen in the CityTime scandal.

The $1.7 million Lanham stole with the help of IBM and Verizon was a pittance compared to the $600 million the CityTime crooks stole, but it still pointed to an underlying rot in the way Bloomberg and his government outsourced work, hired consultants and did little-to-no oversight on the projects.

Now we learn via a Scott Stringer report that the city is STILL paying the piper for the Lanham scandal, two years after Lanham went to jail and almost a year after "fiscal genius" Bloomberg flew off to Bermuda:

New York City has been missing out on tens of millions of dollars a year in technology funding for schools from the federal government because of a continuing investigation into the Education Department, the city comptroller said this week.


The money comes from a program called E-Rate. It charges an average fee of about 25 cents per month to landline and cellphone bills and then uses that money for services like broadband technology in schools and libraries, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the program.

Since 1998, the city has pulled in more than $3 billion in E-Rate financing, the comptroller said, and while New Yorkers have continued to pay into that system, they have been barred from the receiving end since 2011 because of a federal investigation.

The F.C.C. declined to confirm or deny any investigation, but a city official said the inquiry was prompted by a scandal involving Willard Lanham, a former technology consultant for the city. He was accused of stealing money from the Education Department and using it to satisfy his and his wife’s expensive tastes, including for cars like a Corvette and a Porsche and to finance the construction of luxury homes on Long Island.

Mr. Lanham was sentenced to 37 months in prison in 2012 for stealing $1.7 million that was supposed to pay for Internet access at the city’s public schools.

In the letter, Mr. Stringer requested an update on the proceedings and asked when the city would be reinstated to the program. The comptroller said that while the Education Department had retained experts in E-Rate compliance as consultants, and paid them more than $670,000, “apparently those contracts ended without resolution to the city’s E-Rate problem.”

A spokesman for the department said that applications had already been submitted for the current E-Rate funding year, and that the program’s administrators were reviewing that application as well as those from the previous three years.

Last week, the F.C.C. chairman, Tom Wheeler, proposed raising the annual spending cap on the E-Rate program, which has not changed substantially since it began in 1997, to $3.9 billion, in an effort to increase Internet connectivity in schools. The F.C.C. said the increase would cost consumers a few cents more per line each month.

Mr. Stringer said this potential increase in spending could mean the city would miss out on more than $350 million by the 2018 fiscal year. He said he did not know if the city would eventually receive the E-Rate money at the end of the investigation.

I've said this before, I'll say it again today:

Why does Bloomberg still have the reputation for being a fiscal genius and responsible manager of the city?

When you add up the consultant scandals and tech boondoggery during the Bloomberg Years, you see that billions were either stolen or wasted.

And as you can see from the Stringer report, the city STILL continues to pay for Bloomberg's criminal malfeasance.

Let's imagine this was de Blasio screwing all this stuff up for years and years.

Can you imagine the treatment it would receive in the papers?

And yet, we see time and time again these stories of consultant criminality and tech boondoggery during the Bloomberg Years get reported with nary a negative word about our former billionaire mayor.

Reminds me a little of this, without the guillotine part at the end:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Cuomo/Tisch/King Plan To "Strengthen" The APPR Teacher Evaluation System By Putting Even More Emphasis On Test Scores

Some details emerge on how Governor Cuomo, Regents Chancellor Tisch and NYSED Commissioner King will look to "strengthen" their APPR teacher evaluation system:

ALBANY—New York’s education leaders say they would support amending the state-mandated teacher evaluation system in order to address anomalies and inconsistencies that have emerged during the first two years of its implementation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he intends to strengthen the rating system, which he has touted as a signature accomplishment of his first term. Accordingly, education leaders say they expect the governor and lawmakers to make changes during the upcoming legislative session.


In September, Cuomo told the Buffalo News the system needs “refinement.”

“I’m excited that we started,” he told the newspaper. “And I think once we start to study it and learn it and refine it—because there’s no doubt it needs refinement, not everybody can get an ‘A,’ it can’t be—I think it’s going to be a very valuable tool.”

He suggested that changes might need to be made on the local level in some districts where most teachers were rated “highly effective.”

“The way [districts] negotiated it may be too loose because everyone’s doing well, and I think that’s a valid question,” he told the Buffalo newspaper.

Later, right before his re-election, Cuomo told the Daily News editorial board that he wants to “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.” The paper reported he said he wanted to tie incentives and sanctions to the ratings.

In the book he released in late October outlining his second-term priorities, Cuomo wrote: “New York now has the opportunity to … [continue] to strengthen teacher and principal evaluations.”

Like Cuomo, King is concerned too many teachers and principals were rated “highly effective,” particularly on the component of the evaluations based on observations. He said he’d like to see “a higher level of differentiation” in that area.

King also said he’d like to see educators’ overall ratings be more consistent with student performance on standardized tests. The evaluation system does not rate teachers based on students’ absolute performance—only about a third of students in grades three through eight passed Common Core-aligned state exams in each of the last two years—but rather on how much students improve from year to year.
“You’d worry if a district has very poor student growth, or their students are losing ground, but their evaluation ratings are very high,” King said.

So even as Cuomo says he's concerned about "over-testing," he and his corporate reform cronies at SED and the Regents look like they will put even more emphasis on test scores in whatever revision of APPR they try and ram through.

Because those vaunted New York State tests are so "objective" that if teacher evaluations don't track how students do on the state tests, then something must be wrong with the evaluation system.

So much for Cuomo's being concerned with "over-testing."

If he gets to revise APPR so that the test components weigh more (and gets to add "sanctions" for teachers who don't "measure up"), you can bet the already test prep-heavy New York State school system is going to go into overdrive on doing nothing but test prep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dr. Ted Has Left The Building

It took a little more than a day for Dr. Ted Morris Jr., charter school prodigy, to go to former charter school prodigy/current fraud:
Now comes the work of holding the Board of Regents accountable for giving approval to this fraud's charter school and using this fiasco as Exhibit A when Cuomo, King and Tisch look to raise or eliminate the charter cap in New York State.

If Dr Ted Morris Jr, huckster extraordinaire, could get a charter in New York State now before the cap is lifted or eliminated, just wait and see what happens after the cap is increased or ended completely.

The Dr. Ted Morris Greater Works Charter School Edifice Comes Crashing Down

If you've been following the story of 22 year old Dr. Ted Morris, the proud owner of a Regents-approved charter school in Rochester, you know that Diane Ravitch, Peter Greene and Merecedes Schneider all raised questions about Dr. Morris' background and qualifications in the last 24 hours.

The Democrat and Chronicle published a puff piece about Morris yesterday, but the same writer came back with a piece tonight that confirms Dr. Ted isn't all he was cracked up to be in the D&C piece yesterday.

It is now confirmed that Morris didn't graduate from School Without Walls in Rochester as he first told the Democrat and Chronicle he did:

He said Sunday that he graduated from School Without Walls in Rochester, but clarified Monday that he withdrew from that school in 2008 and graduated later that year from Penn Foster High School, a private online high school based in Pennsylvania.

Former School Without Walls principal Dan Drmacich and the Rochester School District both verified that Morris left the district in 2008.

"From what I remember, he was very articulate, a great conversationalist, but ... he didn't go to many of his classes," Drmacich said. "We constantly worked with him through his teacher adviser and the school counselor, to no avail — to the point he realized and we realized he was just coming to school and hanging out versus attending classes on a regular basis."

Morris denied not attending class regularly but said he did not feel challenged at School Without Walls, part of the reason he left for an online school.

It had been reported that Dr. Morris had a BA from an online college, but it turns out that he may not actually have a BA at all.  In addition, his MA and Ph.D claims are also in dispute (which makes sense since it doesn't seem like he actually has a BA):

Morris said in interviews and in paperwork submitted to the state that he got a bachelor's degree from Western Governors University, an online college based in Salt Lake City. But a school spokesman said he attended classes there but did not graduate and is not currently enrolled.

From 2008 on, Morris' education included little time in a traditional classroom. He also took classes at the online Grand Canyon University and eventually got a master's and doctoral degrees from Concordia University Chicago through a program that required him to be on campus for one weekend a month, he said Tuesday.

Representatives from Penn Foster, Grand Canyon and Concordia could not be reached to verify those claims.

The D & C reported that Dr. Morris didn't give a resume with the 2014 application for his Greater Works Charter School, but the resume Morris handed in with a 2013 application for the charter had several "misrepresentations" (i.e., "lies") on it (UPDATE - Mercedes Scheider writes that he did give in a resume with the 2014 application and that it contains many of the same items from the 2013 version.)

Morris wrote he was the assistant chief executive officer for the Hickok Center for Brain Injury, with duties including "developed and implemented all program policies and procedures" and "served as acting CEO in the absence of the CEO."

Elaine Comarella, the center's CEO, said his title was actually administrative assistant, and that the responsibilities he listed in the resume were "a little overshot."

"He worked on all those things, but he didn't actually do all that stuff himself," she said.


 Another of the jobs listed on his resume was director of Church Women United's Task Force on Courts. That was accurate, but in the resume he submitted to get that position, obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle, he claimed he had bachelor's and master's degrees from Almeda University, an unaccredited online school in Idaho.

That apparently isn't true. He said Tuesday he'd never heard of that school and didn't know why it was on his resume.


A third job listing was senior administrator for Victory Living Christian Faith Centers from 2003 — when he was a few months shy of his 11th birthday — to 2010. The resume said he "hired, trained and supervised a staff of seven administrators ... (for) a national Christian organization)."

Morris reiterated Tuesday that he did in fact start serving as an administrator at age 10, "as little as I was," and "did all the official paperwork" in those seven years. His hiring and supervisory responsibilities started when he was around 15 or 16 years old and were done together with other leaders, he said.

Victory Living didn't return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

And so Dr. Ted Morris' Greater Works Charter School dream comes crashing down in a clatter of lies, half-truths, misrepresentations and delusions.

That the New York Board of Regents approved this dude for a charter school gives you a glimpse of what the future is going to bring after they raise the charter cap or eliminate it completely.

Regents Chancellor Tisch said the following to the Daily News post-election:

“As we look to this legislative season, people are going to say we need to raise the charter cap. I personally am a great believer in charter schools ... I believe in opening them aggressively” Chancellor Merryl Tisch said on the John Catsimatidis radio show. “I’d like to push more charter schools.”

If Dr. Ted Morris, the 22 year old with the unconfirmed online high school diploma (who lied about graduating from School Without Walls), the disputed online BA, a disputed MA and Ph.D and a phonied up resume could get a charter school in New York State before they eliminate the charter cap, just imagine what's going to happen after the cap is eliminated.

This is an embarrassment for the Board of Regents and I don't think it's going too far to say that the individuals who approved Dr. Ted and his Greater Works Charter School need to be forced out immediately.

In addition, the Regents Chancellor herself needs to be called to account for this mess.

I am under no illusion either of those things will happen.

But if there were any justice in this world, they certainly would.

Democrat And Chronicle Takes Down Story About Dr. Ted Morris And His Greater Works Charter School (SECOND UPDATE - 10:40 AM)

The Democrat and Chronicle article about Dr. Ted Morris and his Greater Works Charter School is now offline.

Yesterday Diane Ravitch posted the D and C story about the miraculous Dr. Ted Morris, the 22-year old with the online BA and (perhaps) online MA and Ph.D as well who was granted approval for a charter school in Rochester by the New York Board of Regents.

Ravitch received an email from the principal of the school Morris claimed to have graduated from, School Without Walls, saying that Morris had only attended the school one year and not graduated from SWW.

Peter Greene and Mercedes Schneider further looked into Morris and found strange details about Morris that make him look less like a child prodigy and more like a con man.

And now, without ceremony, the Democrat and Chronicle has taken the Morris story down.

It will be interesting to see if they make an announcement for why the story is now offline.

The article read like a PR puff piece for Morris.

Perhaps they're embarrassed now that a couple of bloggers like Greene and Schenider, along with education historian Diane Ravitch, were able to expose him in less than 24 hours for being something he isn't.

It will be interesting to see how Regents Chancellor Tisch defends the Regents approving Morris for a charter school.

Tisch has said she wants an "aggressive" expansion of the charter sector in New York in the next few years.

Apparently that means giving just about anybody - including a con man like Morris - a charter school.

UPDATE - 8:18 AM. The D and C story on Morris is back online, though it says it was updated at 8:02 a.m. EST November 25, 2014.

No immediate changes to the story call out to me.

Looks like the Democrat and Chronicle does indeed stand by its puff piece on Morris.

We'll see if it - and Dr Ted - stand up to further scrutiny.

SECOND UPDATE - 10:40 AM: Leonie Haimson left the following comment:

The story now says he graduated from on online HS instead of School w/o Walls: "It was only six years ago that he graduated from an online high school at age 16. He had previously attended School Without Walls." so this 22 yr old has online degrees from HS, College and grad school, w/out any teaching experience or even evidence he can interact with human beings in a classroom.

Indeed, I went back to the story and it looks like the update to it seems to be changing the details around School Without Walls, to note that Morris attended the school but didn't graduate from it and graduated instead from an online high school.

Still seems like just about anybody can get a charter school these days.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why Not Make The 22 Year Old Charter School Guy Who Lied About His Diploma A Member Of The Board Of Regents?

Earlier today Diane Ravitch posted that the Board of Regents in New York gave a charter school slot to a 22 year old with an online BA and (perhaps) an online MA and Ph.D as well.

The fellow, who has never taught school, will be opening his charter in Rochester and "preparing the next generation to do better, and be better, than we've done..." even though he hasn't actually lived much himself yet.

Funny that.

But it gets better.

Ravitch updated that she received an email from the former principal of School Without Walls, the high school the 22 year old charter school fellow claimed to have graduated from, informing her that said fellow actually did not graduate from SWW:

I was the principal of Rochester, New York’s School Without Walls from 1987 to 2010. Ted Morris, the young man awarded permission to open a charter school in Rochester, NY, and claiming to be a graduate of School Without Walls in 2008, attended SWW for less than a year and then voluntarily left to be home schooled. He never graduated nor received a diploma from School Without Walls.
Dan Drmacich

Now before you get all upset and say, "How can the Board of Regents in New York give a fellow who has lied about his high school diploma and received at least one online degree a charter school, especially when he is only 22 years old and has never taught a day in his life?", let's remember who actually sits on the Board of Regents.

Here, for example, is the last appointee to the Board of Regents:

With 20-20 hindsight, lawmakers are asking themselves what happened during their vote to elect members to the state Board of Regents, which sets education policy.

During a rare joint session of the Legislature, Assembly members and senators on Tuesday re-elected three incumbent Regents. For the fourth seat, which had just been vacated, they chose a seeming long-shot: Sullivan County lawyer, activist, former community college instructor and website entrepreneur Josephine Victoria Finn.

Appearing before lawmakers just 24 hours earlier, Finn said she hadn't really been following the raging controversy surrounding the implementation of the new Common Core learning standards that has built unusual interest in the Regents vote.

In the hours after the vote, reports circulated that Finn operated several web ventures devoted to spirituality and weight loss, including a program in which clients could be coached by her at a cost of up to $3,600 per year.

The sites, which were marred by numerous spelling errors, were soon taken down and are now listed as being "under constructions."

Finn, whose nomination was formally introduced late last week, had prevailed over another candidate, veteran Albany school principal Maxine Fantroy Ford. And her election came as her predecessor unexpectedly resigned at the last minute.

You can see Ms. Finn's spiritual weight loss sites here and here.

I dunno, we're getting all up in arms over the 22 year old kid with the online BA and what appears to be at least one lie on his resume getting a charter school from the Regents.

But given the quality of some of the people on the Board of Regents, this kid might be selling himself short by just looking to run a charter school.

Why not aim higher and get on the Board of Regents?

He'd fit right in with the last personage elevated to the Board of Regents - they both seem to know something about trying to make a quick buck.

It Seems Merryl Tisch Will Give Just About Anybody A Charter School In New York State

Via Diane Ravitch comes this news:

Unlike most school leaders, Ted Morris' days in a high school classroom are still very fresh in his memory. 
It was only six years ago that he graduated from School Without Walls at age 16. Now, at 22, he's armed with a freshly minted doctorate degree in education and permission from the state Board of Regents to open a charter high school in Rochester in 2015.
It will be called Greater Works Charter School, accepting about 100 ninth-graders in its first year and eventually expanding to about 400 students in grades 9-12.
After graduating from School Without Walls in 2008, Morris got a bachelor's degree at age 18 from Western Governors University, an online college based in Salt Lake City. He then received master's and doctoral degrees from Concordia University near Chicago.

Morris has an educational consulting firm and said he has worked with the Rochester Prep schools, among others. He also helped start three non-profit organizations, he said: Sparq Rochester, a youth arts outfit; Greater Works Education Network, a fledgling statewide charter advocacy group; and Victory Living Christian Faith Center.

Wow - so a guy who got his BA, MA and Ph.D from online schools is going to run his own charter school at the age of 22.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told us she wants to see an "aggressive" expansion of the charter sector across the state in the near term.

Giving a 22 year old with a BA, an MA and a Ph.D from online schools who has no teaching experience but a little consulting experience sure does count as "aggressive expansion" to me.

I'm sure this couldn't go wrong at all, right?

And of course most of the learning at this charter will take place online.

Sure it will

Charter Schools Started As Quid Pro Quo Deal In New York In 1998

Charter schools literally started with a payoff here in New York State:

ALBANY — A specter is haunting talks about the first legislative pay raise since 1999 — the specter of Preet Bharara.
Manhattan’s powerful federal prosecutor has multiple probes stemming from the unfinished work of Gov. Cuomo’s now-defunct Moreland anti-corruption commission — and sources said his investigations could hurt the chances of an agreement between the governor and legislative leaders.
“As soon as a deal is reached, Preet could let loose 10 new legislative indictments making everybody look bad,” said one skeptical state government insider.

Many in Albany are openly talking about concessions the Legislature might give Cuomo to entice him to support raising the current $79,500 base legislative salary, but other insiders warn that legislators should be careful given Bharara’s increased focus on Albany.

The last time a legislative pay raise was authorized, in 1998, the Legislature gave then-Gov. George Pataki several items he wanted, including the law that created charter schools in New York.

But times have changed. Bharara rocked Albany earlier this year when his office began investigating the deal that called for Cuomo to pull the plug on the Moreland Commission in exchange for some ethics reforms.

But if Bharara is investigating that deal, insiders worry that he could open probes into the usual political horse-trading involving the legislative pay raise. Any lawmaker still in office come January would benefit directly from the deal.

There you have it - the law that created charter schools in New York State came in return for a legislative pay raise.

Charter schools in New York started with a quid pro quo.

You want public money for private schools?

Pay us and we'll give it to you.

Now of course the charter operators themselves do the quid pro quos, throwing huge amounts of cash at the politicians in both parties in order to get their agenda passed.

But it's interesting to note that from the start, charter schools were rotten through with corruption.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Governor Cuomo Says He Will Institute An APPR Evaluation System For Meteorologists

Governor Cuomo is very mad at the meteorologists at the National Weather Service.

He claims they got the lake effect snow forecast for Buffalo wrong last week:

ALDEN, N.Y.- During a press conference Saturday afternoon Governor Cuomo had some criticism for the National Weather Service and its forecast of the storm.

Cuomo said the Weather Service did not indicate that the heavy snow bands would remain stationary and blast South Buffalo and the Southtowns with the incredible rate of snowfall.

Cuomo said that's part of the reason why New York State is building its own linked weather forecasting system that will be superior to any other state system in the country.

"No one had an idea that it was gonna be that much snow that fast. Snow coming down at the rate of about five inches an hour. No one had an idea. The weather service was off. By the way, I said this in my state of the state last year we're putting in our own weather detection system," said Cuomo.

Cuomo says he will be breaking the "monopoly" that the National Weather Service has by creating his own New York Weather Service.

He says high quality charter weather stations will be funded all over the state in order to give the NWS some much-needed competition in the meteorology business.

"I believe in competition and I believe in charter weather stations," Cuomo told reporters at a briefing in South Buffalo. "There's nothing like some hungry forecasters working at Weather Success Stations to make those lazy slugs at the National Weather Service get off their fat asses and do their jobs right."

In addition, Cuomo says he will institute a new evaluation system for all meteorologists who make forecasts on New York weather to ensure that only the highest quality and most accurate forecasters keep their jobs.

Cuomo says the evaluation system will mimic his APPR teacher evaluation system, with meteorologists rated as "Highly Effective," "Effective" "Developing," and "Ineffective."

Meteorologists will be rated after every weather forecast.

Meteorologists who are rated "developing" or "ineffective" two weather systems in a row will be publicly shamed by the governor - Cuomo will send out a list of "Bad Meteorologists" in order to make the public aware of this much needed information.

Meteorologists who receive "Highly Effective" ratings two systems in a row will be eligible for meteorology merit pay courtesy of New York State.

Cuomo says if the meteorologists at the NWS don't shape up, he will add more "sanctions" to the APPR meteorology system, though he won't say what those "sanctions" are.

As for the pushback Cuomo has received from the NWS and other meteorologists who point out that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about when he says the NWS didn't forecast the lake effect snow last week, Cuomo says "I'll deal with those guys later.  I've been making a list of people I plan on getting even with in the next term - you can bet some of these guys are going to get a visit from Joe Percoco to set things right."

Governor Cuomo Blames National Weather Service For Slowness Of State Response To Buffalo Storm

It's never Il Duce's fault, is it?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Dozens of western New Yorkers are complaining about the conditions in their communities. Viewers are asking, “Why is help taking so long and why wasn’t my community more prepared?” Saturday night in Lackawanna, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it’s because the National Weather Service got it wrong.

4 Warn Weather meteorologists predicted the lake effect storm well in advance, but Cuomo said he is not satisfied with how it was forecasted, so the state is getting its own equipment to provide more data.

“Apparently they’ve been doing some of the main streets but none of the side streets, you’ve got cars in front of you stuck, cars in back stuck, nothing’s going on,” said Tony Darmstedter, of Lackawanna.

During a tour of Lackawanna on Satruday, Cuomo said there’s a reason the city is still snowed in.
Cuomo said, “I think Lackawanna by design was probably hit harder than any other community compounded by narrow streets, compounded by abandoned cars in those narrow streets.”

As far as why they weren’t prepared, the governor says the National Weather Service is to blame. He said, “It came down earlier than forecasted and it came at a higher volume than they forecasted.”
His solution? The state is getting its own weather system and each county will soon be able to monitor its own weather. The state is using $15 million of federal funding granted after Superstorm Sandy.

“I went through this with Storm Irene, Storm Lee, Hurricane Sandy, none of them were predicted where they were predicted and how they actually happened.  Accurate weather prediction is a big deal now, it’s taken on a new context now with this extreme weather,” said Cuomo.

A commenter on the WIVB story notes:

Umm... it was predicted well ahead of time that this snow was going to produce a lot of lake effect in a short period. I don't know where Cuomo has his head, but all news forecasts predicted snow in the feet, not inches.

I should probably stop comparing Andrew Cuomo to Benito Mussolini by calling him Il Duce.

To be fair to Mussolini, he did get the trains to run on time.

Cuomo can't get anything in the state to run right.

Is Bill Cosby Still On The StudentsFirst Board? (UPDATED - 10:40 AM)

StudentsFirst seems to have scrubbed their website a bit.

When I put in a Google search for Bill Cosby + Board of Directors + StudentsFirst, here's what comes up:

StudentsFirst Board of Directors |
One of America's most beloved comedians of all time, Bill Cosby has captivated generations of fans with his comedy routines, iconic albums and best-selling ...

And yet, when you click on that link, you don't find the page with the Board of Directors listed or the page with Cosby listed as sitting on the board.

Instead, you just get the StudentsFirst.Org page.

I looked around the StudentsFirst website, including under the "Who We Are" tab.

The Board of Directors page seems to have disappeared from the site.

Now I see plenty of stories about Cosby joining StudentsFirst back in September 2012.

I even see a video of him talking about StudentsFirst and education reform.

But I don't see any stories about him stepping down.

Strange that has lots of information about "Meeting Their Team" - including Michelle Rhee - and learning about their "Mission," but alas, no information about their board.

You'd think they want to publicize information about their board, especially since there are some real luminaries sitting on it, including Roland Martin, Joel Klein, Connie Chung and Bill Cosby.

It's as if something happened recently that made them decide to scrub their Board of Directors page, but rather than own up to it, they did it in the dark and hoped nobody noticed.

Now it's possible I've gotten this all wrong here and I'm just missing the information about the Board of Directors at StudentsFirst and all the wonderful members on it.

It's possible that I'm just missing the information about Cosby and his commitment to education reform and children on the Studentsfirst website.

Or it's possible that Cosby stepped down and I'm missing the notice for that on the World Wide Web.

Though I don't think this is the case - Valerie Strauss has a Washington Post piece dated August 13, 2014 about Michelle Rhee stepping down from StudentsFirst and joining Miracle Gro and Cosby is said to still be a member of the StudentsFirst board as of that date.

So it seems likely Cosby was still a member of the StudentsFirst Board of Directors when the sexual assault allegations against Cosby that have long been in the public domain went viral the past few weeks.

It seems that StudentsFirst wanted to distance themselves from the sexual assault (including statutory rape) allegations against Cosby as quickly and as quietly as they could.

If they did want to distance themselves from Cosby and the growing scandal around him, it's a shame they didn't go public and explain EXACTLY why they wanted to do that.

Berklee College of Music did just that with a scholarship Cosby sponsored at the school.

Alas, it seems the "students first" people at StudentsFirst haven't take that same route.

That's a shame - this could have been a teachable moment for us all, as the "Blame Teachers First" crowd turned on one of their own who looks to be a serial sexual assaulter.

You can bet if this was a teacher alleged to have committed these egregious acts, the StudentsFirst crowd wouldn't have gone quietly.

But they seem to have taken the coward's route out instead and scrubbed him away in the middle of the night.

If I've gotten any of this wrong, I will publicly apologize to StudentsFirst and Michelle Rhee herself  for vilifying them for secretly scrubbing their ties away to a man alleged to have committed at least 18 acts of sexual assault and more coming out every day.

Just let me know, StudentsFirst folks.

Is Bill Cosby still a member of your board or not?

UPDATED - 10:40 AM: Patrick Sullivan left the following comment on the post:

 Looks like they took their board page down. Google has a cached copy as of 10/31 that includes Cosby. This link should bring it up:

It seems Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst did not have the guts to go public with their cutting Cosby loose.

Too bad, but not unexpected.

After all, Rhee helped sexual misconduct allegations against her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, go away.

It seems Ms. Rhee and her fellow ed deformers are only looking for accountability against people who are accused of sexual misconduct when they're teachers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NYSED Commissioner King Issues College Readiness Data With Margins Of Error As Large As 27%

How does one account for the fact that if the data's coming from NYSED Commissioner John King's Department of Education, it's inevitably error-riddled?

Here's the latest King/NYSED data fiasco:

Local school superintendents are livid over what they say is massively inaccurate data about how many of their high school graduates go on to and graduate from college.

"We have a sense of how our students are doing and if they're succeeding in college," said South Orangetown schools Superintendent Ken Mitchell, immediate past president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents.

His district was reported as having 62 percent of 2012 high school graduates still in college in 2014 when he said the real number is 89 percent.

"The report is called 'Where are They Now?' We know where these kids are," he said. "This is a huge discrepancy. That's why we're so angry."

The data, presented to the state Board of Regents on Monday, was compiled from information provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that provides services to about 98 percent of the country's colleges and universities.

There were some inaccuracies, a state education official acknowledged.

Not all colleges and universities send data; some is incomplete; some students opt out of having their data included; and some schools did not provide information for students who don't receive financial aid, said Ken Wagner, deputy commissioner for curriculum, assessment and education technology.
He said the state felt that at most 3 percent of the numbers were inaccurate; the Clearinghouse's website says its number are 95 percent accurate. New York City, which contracted with the Clearinghouse privately, found a 3 percent error rate, Wagner said.

3% margin of error rate?

Here's a sampling of the MOE on SED's college readiness numbers in the Lower Hudson Valley:

Some discrepancies between the state's and local districts' data on students still in college

Pearl River HS: state: 82%, district-provided: 97%

Rye Neck HS: state: 80%, district-provided: 98%

Tappan Zee HS: state: 62%, district-provided: 89%

Valhalla HS: state: 79%,district-provided: 97%

 Carol Burris found a large MOE for her school as well:

In its zest to prove there is a crisis of college readiness, combined with a sweetheart infatuation with big data, NYSED produced reports (SIRS 601-604) to track New York high school graduates’ college enrollment. A few days before the public release of the reports, Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner sent a memo to districts. He explained that the department had combined school data with that of the National Student Clearinghouse to document which former high school students were enrolled in college and whether they persisted in their studies.

The memo informed superintendents that after the Regents discussed the data, it would be publicly released because it would be of interest to communities.

Our district data coordinator, who is my assistant principal, brought me the SIRS report. It claimed that only 80 percent of our students from the cohort of 2008 (Class of 2012) were enrolled in college.   As soon as I saw the number, I knew it was not correct. Ninety-eight percent of the 2012 Class told us they were going to college and gave us the name of the college they would attend. Might some have left after one semester, or changed their minds? It’s possible. But I found it difficult to believe that 18 percent had either not enrolled or quickly dropped out.

I asked my assistant principal to drill down to the names in the SIRS report. Not only were the names given, the report included which colleges and universities the students attended, their race, special education status, whether or not they received free or reduced priced lunch, and in many cases, their college major. This massive collection of data on graduates made my jaw drop.

And then I looked at the names. The 2012 salutatorian wasn’t on the list. I began a name by name comparison of the cohort against the report. The list did not include the names of many former students who were attending private and public colleges and universities, both in and out of state.

I began calling families to verify the report. There were 53 names that did not have a college listing.
 By 5 p.m. that day, I had spoken with 27 families. In 25 of the 27 cases, the students were thriving in their third year of college. They were at Brown, Bard, Cornell, Bentley, Notre Dame and Wesleyan. One student was in the Naval Academy (which smartly and ironically is one of the few schools that does not share data), and another at Tufts. One was at the University of Florida and another at the University of Charleston. What was even more bizarre was that some were in New York State public colleges governed by NYSED—SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stony Brook and Queensborough Community College. One student had already graduated from a technical school with a 3.84 GPA. Eighty percent had now become over 90 percent, and over the course of the next few days the percentage would continue to climb. This was no small error.

When calling, I asked parents whether they had “opted out” of having their son’s or daughter’s college enrollment data collected. They had not. One mom said: “Honestly, if I knew about it, I would have opted out. It is not John King’s[1] business where my son goes to college or what his major is.”

Burris notes that the college readiness numbers are not the first data errors to come from King or NYSED - there was also the APPR numbers for teacher evaluations.

There is something outrageous about a political functionary like King - an anti-public school/pro-charter functionary who is part of the movement to destroy public schools and promote charter schools - using data with such large margins of error to promote his anti-public school agenda.

But that's what's happening.

As I see this, he's either incompetent or deliberately using distorted and error-riddled data.

Which is it, Dr. King?

Are you incompetent or fraudulent?

It's one or the other.


13 Rape Allegations (Including One Statutory) Against Bill Cosby, But Whoopi Goldberg Still Defends Him

From the Daily News:

A shrill, backstage brawl at “The View” Wednesday left co-host Rosie Perez in tears while panelists Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell battled over how to cover the latest allegations against Bill Cosby and the racially charged upheaval in Ferguson, Mo., sources said.

O’Donnell believed the show — now overseen by ABC News — needed to delve deeper into both controversial subjects, while Goldberg wanted to steer clear of the topics altogether.

Ultimately, both news stories were discussed at length on the air by the panel.

“There’s terrible frustration and there are problems,” a source close to the show told the Daily News. “Whoopi didn’t want to talk about Cosby and Ferguson, Rosie (O’Donnell) did — how could you not? These are topics that are uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s ‘The View’ and it’s their job to talk about topics that might make some people tense.”

Whoopi was happy to bash "bad teachers" not once but twice over the summer, claiming teacher tenure protects them.

Yet she defends her pal Cosby - now with 13 public rape allegations against him including one with an underage girl of 15 - by trying to ensure "The View" steers clear of the topic.

This comes after she defended him earlier in the week and attacked one of his accusers, saying she had "lots of questions" for her.

Apparently Whoopi doesn't want to address any of those questions publicly on "The View" anymore.

Another teacher-basher exposed as a hypocrite and a phony.

Hey, Whoopi - if you have such concern for the kids, why not let "The View" cover the Cosby story, including the allegation that your friend Bill Cosby repeatedly had sex with an underage girl?

Good God - the show is supposed to cover the news.

The public implosion of the iconic Bill Cosby into sexual predator and statutory rapist certainly is news.

And like I said in an earlier post - you can bet if this was a teacher accused of these crimes, you'd be one of the first throwing stones.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Awaiting The Campbell Brown Denouncement Of Bill Cosby

Here's where education reformer Campbell Brown denounced the teachers unions for defending 97 teachers or school employees accused of sexual misconduct over a five year period in NYC.

97 teachers and staff accused (not convicted, btw - just accused) is slightly more than 0.001% of the teaching and school staff overall.

Still, Brown says this is a major problem and the system needs major reforms.

She has gone on TV and written about this repeatedly to educate the public about the need for reform.

Meanwhile fellow education reformer Bill Cosby has been accused of raping 16 women over the course of his career.

Every day now a new allegation against Cosby surfaces - there were two just yesterday (including a TMZ story in which an actress alleges Cosby assaulted her in the dressing room of the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.)

One commenter at Perdido Street School writes:

Where is Campbell Brown when you need her? Oh, she is only interested in alleged teacher predators.

Indeed, here's the silence we have from Brown on Cosby.

Another teacher-basher, Whoopi Goldberg, actually defended Cosby earlier this week, saying that she has many questions for one of Cosby's accusers.

I wonder what teacher bashers like Brown or Goldberg would be saying were there a teacher out there who had 16 allegations of sexual assault lodged against him, with a new one surfacing every day?

I bet silence (in Brown's case) and defense (in Goldberg's case) would not be the response.

Funny how that goes.

Brown's been silent on her another education reformer's alleged sexual misconduct.

Her husband, neo-con Dan Senor, sits on the board of Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst even though Rhee is alleged to have helped cover up her husband, Kevin Johnson's, sexual misconduct with employees of his charter school.

The hypocrisy of education reformers like Campbell Brown and teacher bashers like Whoopi Goldberg knows no bounds.

It seems any teacher accused of anything is guilty automatically and ought to be fired.

But fellow education reformers and celebrities like Cosby and KJ - they're entitled to a stonewall defense.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bill Cosby And Kevin Johnson - Brothers In Education Reform AND Sexual Predation

When Diane Ravitch blogged in 2012 that Bill Cosby was joining Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst board, I left the following comment on her post, comparing Cosby to Rhee's husband, Kevin Johnson:

reality-based educator
Actually Bill Cosby was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a 32 year old woman in 2004. She tried to bring a criminal case against him in 2005, but police declined to file charges. She brought civil charges against him. Her attorneys found 10 other women who also claimed to have been drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby in the past. Nine were listed anonymously in the court documents, one made the accusations publicly. The court documents are here:
The LA Times covered the story, including the settlement Cosby reached with the woman, here:
Cosby settled the 2005 case for an undisclosed amount, the alleged victim of the assault signed a non-disclosure agreement, so no other details of the case emerged. But People magazine covered the aftermath and interviewed three other women who claimed they had been drugged by Cosby and assaulted. People also reported that Cosby had paid off several women who had made these accusations in the past against Cosby.,,20059561,00.html
I have two things to say about this:
First, Cosby fits right in with Kevin Johnson, Rhee’s husband, who himself has at least two accusations of sexual misconduct lodged against him (one by a minor.)
Second, how dare anybody with so many accusations leveled against him in the past lecture people about bad behavior, as Cosby has been known to do?

I stand by that comment tonight- both the Cosby part and the KJ part.

Cosby still fits in at StudentsFirst, which was founded by a woman who made sexual misconduct allegations against her boyfriend (now husband) go away.

Cosby lost his Netflix special, NBC canceled a sitcom they were developing with him and TVLand has stopped running The Cosby Show reruns.

While Cosby is free from the criminal justice system since all of the reported acts happened long ago, his career and reputation are in tatters.

His fellow ed deformer Kevin Johnson, however, remains free and clear tonight, still in power as mayor of Sacramento, even though he's got at least two accusations against him for sexual misconduct.

Isn't it time somebody revisits the Michelle Rhee/Kevin Johnson sexual misconduct case and cover-up again?

Jeb Bush Echoes Andrew Cuomo, Calls The Public School System A "Monopoly" That Must Be Dismantled

Let's play a game.

Who said the following?

 “Education should be a national priority...Most of the time, it will require a political fight. Monopolies don’t go quietly into the night.”

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do...that’s going to matter long-term to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.

If you're scoring at home, Quotation #1 is something Jeb Bush said at his education foundation gathering today, Quotation #2 is the infamous Cuomo exchange with the Daily News editorial board before the 2014 election.

Notice how similar in tone and language the two quotations are?

Bush is a Republican in favor of busting unions and expanding testing and national standards so that every child learns the same things and is tested in the same way to ensure that they have learned those things and, should the test scores show they have not learned those things to the satisfaction of Jeb Bush, the teachers are fired.

And Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is in favor of those things too.

Cuomo Has No Political Juice To Destroy Public Schools Or Teachers

I wrote a post a while back explaining why I think Andrew Cuomo can be stopped when he attempts to carry out his threat to destroy public schools.

Yesterday, some fine reporting at Capital NY backs that up with hard data:

ALBANY—He was re-elected comfortably, but Governor Andrew Cuomo won his second term with the support of a smaller percentage of his state’s residents than any other governor in the country.

A Capital analysis shows that just over an eighth of adult New Yorkers came to the polls for Cuomo, a Democrat who defeated Republican Rob Astorino by a 13-point margin. That means Cuomo drew a smaller percentage of his constituents than New York City mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013, less than his three victorious ticket-mates and less than 35 other American governors and governors-elect.

And on a night when a Republican wave swept the G.O.P. into control of the U.S. Senate and helped the party gain three House seats in New York, returns show Cuomo performed worse than Democratic congressional candidates around the state.

Read the entire Capital NY piece by Bill Mahoney.

It shows just how weak Andrew Cuomo is as he embarks upon his second term and demonstrates that if the teachers unions decide to fight him on his anti-public school/anti-teacher agenda, he can be beaten.

Cuomo has no well of support to draw from this term - especially for a controversial agenda like "destroying" public schools.

Capital NY: King, Flanagan Say No Immediate Need To Raise Charter Cap

This is interesting, coming as it does after comments by Regents Chancellor Tisch that she wants an "aggressive" expansion of charter schools in the state:

ALBANY—Two of the state’s top education leaders say there isn’t an urgent need to raise or eliminate the state’s cap on charter schools since a third of the available charters under the limit have not yet been awarded.

Education commissioner John King and State Senator John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican who chairs the chamber’s education committee, told Capital in separate interviews that they expect policymakers to discuss the charter cap during the coming legislative session, but don’t think immediate action is necessary.

Meanwhile, even as charter groups prepare for an intense push this session for action on the cap, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio hardened his opposition to raising it, arguing during an interview Wednesday that devoting more resources to fixing problems in traditional public schools is more important than allowing an "ever-increasing number of charters."

I have little doubt King wants more charters and I'm a little surprised he didn't echo Tisch's "aggressive" stance from earlier in the week.

Same goes for Flanagan.

Perhaps they're looking to moderate the rhetoric a little bit, so as not to make it look like the whole process is rigged when the inevitable cap increase comes.

As for de Blasio, it's good to hear him oppose a cap increase again and to indicate that he is going to lay down some political capital in the fight.

Will the AFT, UFT and NYSUT back him up or will they be helping their pro-charter school pal Andy Cuomo instead by staying on the sidelines when the showdown over the cap comes?