Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Note To George Pataki: No One Cares If You Run For President

This is too funny:

Former NY Governor George Pataki is privately gearing up for a 2016 presidential run, according to sources, and was spotted meeting GOP kingmaker David Koch last week.

New York Republican Pataki has been publicly noncommittal about if he was leaving the door open for a run, telling Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg in August, “It’s still summer,” while bashing the current administration, claiming President Obama is “trashing the Constitution in ways that were only dreamed of.”

But sources tell us now that summer is over, Pataki is getting serious, and was spotted meeting with Koch at the Four Seasons restaurant last Wednesday.

Reps for Pataki and Koch declined to comment.

Pataki was making noises like he was going to run in 2008 but Giuliani was running and there wasn't room for another "moderate" Republican from New York in the race.

Giuliani wrapped himself in 9/11 that year and repeated the phrase "September the 11th" over and over on the campaign trail.

He spent about $20 million on his campaign.

Despite the 9/11 ploy and the money he spent on the campaign, he had to drop out after he won just one delegate.

Now Pataki, who also wanted to wrap himself in 9/11 in 2008 (though I'm not sure why, nobody I know associates him with 9/11 at all), is making noises like he wants to run in 2016 and he's having those noises leaked to the NY Post.

Pataki had no shot to win the GOP nomination in 2008, even if Giuliani hadn't been running, and he has less than zero chance of winning it in 2016.

I know the business interests and party elders in the GOP are worried that they're going to have a Ted Cruz/Rand Paul contest in the primaries and they're desperate to get some establishment conservative like Jeb Bush into the race to take on the Cruz/Paul contingents.

But I doubt even those guys think George Pataki is a candidate with a shot to do anything in the primaries.

I'm sure the political consultants are talking Pataki up, telling him he can win.

But they're looking for his money.

Anybody else - including his family and friends - ought to tell him to step back onto Planet Earth, realize no one cares about him or his presidential dreams, and go back to cashing in by sitting on some corporate boards.

Could There Be Anything Crazier Than Expecting Rich People Like Bill Gates To Save Us?

Bill Gates does a lot of destruction in education by throwing around a ton of money to push through changes he thinks will make a difference in schools - teacher evaluatinos tied to test scores and Common Core are two examples.

But the destruction Gates wreaks is not limited to education - he's doing it to the environment too:

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has been supporting a wide array of research on geoengineering since 2007, ScienceInsider has learned. The world’s richest man has provided at least $4.5 million of his own money over 3 years for the study of methods that could alter the stratosphere to reflect solar energy, techniques to filter carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, and brighten ocean clouds. But Gates’s money has not funded any field experiments involving the techniques, according to Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Palo Alto, California. 
...

Gates has shown interest in geoengineering research before. He is an investor in Intellectual Ventures, a Seattle, Washington–area firm that pursues inventions and has applied for patents on techniques to geoengineer the stratosphere. Along with officials from that organization, Gates applied for a patent in 2008 to sap hurricanes of their strength by mixing surface and deep ocean water.

What's his ultimate goal? Gates "views geoengineering as a way to buy time but it's not a solution to the problem" of climate change, says spokesperson John Pinette. “Bill views this as an important avenue for research—among many others, including new forms of clean energy.” (Pinette works for BCG3, a think-tank type firm Gates started last year which has no apparent role thus far in supporting geoengineering.) “Scientific and technological advances are making it possible to solve big, complicated problems like never before,” writes Gates on the Web site of the Gates Foundation, which is also not involved in the geoengineering work.

Gee, I can't imagine how "geo-engineering the stratosphere" could go badly.

And neither can Bill Gates.

He also couldn't figure out why his small schools initiative went wrong, doesn't understand why standardizing the nation's education system is dehumanizing and still thinks Microsoft Surface tablets are swell.

Scary stuff that a guy like Gates gets to throw around this "philanthropic" money, a lot of it in secret, to do things he wants to do because he thinks they're cool.

And it's doing untold damage to the planet and the people on it.

As Robert Jensen put it in his review of Naomi Klein's new book on climate change:

Klein also places little hope in the “enlightened billionaires” who have expressed interest in environmental protection, such as Warren Buffett, Tom Steyer, Bill Gates, or—heaven help us—T. Boone Pickens. Klein goes into detail about how Virgin Airlines’ Richard Branson has consistently gone back on promises to go green, while touting decidedly non-green ideas such as Virgin Galactic’s space tourism.

Could there be anything crazier than expecting rich people to save us? How about combining an adolescent yearning for superhero stories with a fundamentalist faith in technology, which gives us geo-engineering, the project of “dimming the sun.”

While not endorsed by most climate scientists, “Solar Radiation Management” is promoted by “the Geoclique,” which Klein describes as a group “crammed with overconfident men prone to complimenting each other on their fearsome brainpower.” (267) These fantastical projects, which would pump sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space and slow warming, offer the kind of techno-fix that our culture finds so tempting, no matter what the risks. Klein points out the obvious lesson: “[I]f the danger of climate change is sufficiently grave and imminent for governments to be considering science-fiction solutions, isn’t it also grave and imminent enough for them to consider just plain science-based solutions.” (283)

Whether it's in education or the environment, billionaires like Gates are acting like little boys enacting their crazy schemes on the rest of us, sometimes publicly, sometimes behind the scenes, often to the detriment of us all.

And in an America that worships wealth and power, there's little to stop them.

Oprah Loves "Warriors"

Associated Press today:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Oprah Winfrey is donating $100,000 to a youth center on the south side of Syracuse.

Winfrey made a surprise stop Monday at the Mary Nelson Youth Center and said she was writing out the check on the spot. She called Mary Nelson a "community warrior" for doing the work she does on the city's crime-ridden south side, part of which borders Syracuse University.

Bill Turque in the Washington Post in 2010:

Oprah Winfrey gave Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee a heroine's welcome Monday when she appeared as part of a promotional push for "Waiting for Superman," the documentary that includes an account of her early struggles in the District.

Winfrey introduced Rhee to an adoring studio audience as the woman who "singlehandedly turned the D.C. public school system upside down," firing "over 1,000 teachers and principals" -- a number I'd never heard before.

"This is a warrior woman! This is a warrior woman!" Oprah declared.

And:

According to a transcript, Winfrey says Rhee’s drastic measures of firing teachers and principals has caused a firestorm in Washington. She says Rhee is “the warrior woman for our time.”

I'm not so sure being designated a "community warrior" by Oprah is a good thing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bill Gates Says He Wants Common Standards AND A Common Curriculum

It's all about being "common" - for the commoners, at any rate:

Bill Gates called the Common Core academic standards a “very basic idea” to set national standards for what students should know at various grades.

But at a POLITICO event Monday, he also stepped right up to the edge of advocating a common curriculum as well — something that Common Core supporters have made it clear they do not intend to impose.

“Should Georgia have a different railroad width than anybody else? Should they teach multiplication in a different way? Oh, that’s brilliant. Who came up with that idea?” Gates said.

...

He said he thought of Common Core as “a technocratic issue,” akin to making sure all states use the same type of electrical outlet. “The idea that what you should know at various grades … should be well structured and you should really insist on kids knowing something so you can build on that. I did not expect that to become a big political issue.”

Gates described the state of education before Common Core was introduced as “a cacophony” because every state had different standards. Many of those standards, he said, didn’t align well with exams.


“Common Core is, to me, a very basic idea that kids should be taught what they’re going to be tested on and that we should have great curriculum material,” he said.

Standardization imposed from atop by the political functionaries of oligarchs like Gates.

And now he's out in the open about the standardized curricula he wants for all the kids in the country - except for those fortunate enough (or wealthy enough) to not be in the public school system.

I'm betting CCSS proponents are already going to be looking to undo the damage Gates did with his statements at the Politico event.

CCSS folks keep telling us Common Core is not a common curriculum - but now Bill Gates, the billionaire who's put more money up in support of Common Core than anybody other Uncle Sam, says differently.

No Wonder The Corporatists Want To Get Rid Of Teacher Tenure/Due Process Protections

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

A political candidate’s firing in Florida offers a reminder of a little-understood fact of American life: Companies have sweeping discretion to effectively regulate what their workers do outside of work, including running for elected office.

That startling reality resurfaced after Marriott Vacations Worldwide came under fire for terminating Viviana Janer, a senior manager who is also the Democratic nominee for a seat on the Osceola County Commission. “I think it’s a stinking maneuver to rob her of her job and rob the voters of their votes,” Democratic Representative Alan Grayson charged this week. Janer says her candidacy is consistent with the company’s support for civic participation; her employer, a time-share company spun off from Marriott International in 2011, says her candidacy threatened a conflict of interest.

In a Sept. 19 termination letter, Marriott Vacations wrote that Janer had been given the choice to either resign from her campaign or resign from her job. “She was given those two options,” confirms Edward Kinney, a vice president for the company, “and she chose not to do either one.”

The company’s move may be controversial, but there’s nothing obviously illegal about it. In fact, as I’ve noted before, U.S. workers can be fired for all kinds of activities outside of work: volunteering for the AIDS Foundation, using medical marijuana, even just driving around with a John Kerry bumper sticker. There are some clear exceptions. Firing someone for practicing a religion or organizing a union during his or her time off is illegal. But aside from Montana, neither state nor federal laws require that private sector companies have a good reason for firing people.

Few states require that terminations have anything to do with work performance. According to a 2010 review (PDF) by the National Conference of State Legislatures, only four states have statutes broadly protecting workers from being fired for (noncriminal) things they do outside for work. Seventeen states offer specific protections for after-hours tobacco users, and another eight protect using lawful products.

The First Amendment protects free speech and the right to petition the government, but it only restricts the government from trampling those rights—it doesn’t ban your boss from punishing you for exercising them.

As you can see, most Americans can be fired from their jobs for any reason at any time.

When the corporatists and ed deformers talk about the need to reform teacher tenure and due process protections, what they really mean is that they want to make teaching as "at-will" a job as most others - then districts can fire teachers whenever they want for any reason they want.

You know, like you're running for office.

Or driving around with a John Kerry bumper sticker.

Or volunteered for the AIDS Foundation.

Or because you make too much money.

Or Campbell Brown doesn't like you.

Or whatever.

Bill Gates Has Some Leadership Lessons For You


Lesson #1:

Only listen to yourself. No one else knows anything but you.

Lesson # 2:

Have more money than God so you don't have to listen to anybody else.

Lesson #3:

Be as ruthless in business as possible, stealing as many ideas as you can from others and crushing as many opponents as you can - buy ideas and opponents only when you have to - so that you can make more money than God and never have to listen to anybody but yourself.

Lesson # 4:

Take some of the money you made from being a ruthless cutthroat and go into "philanthropy," spreading the message far and wide what a good guy you are even though you really are nothing more than a selfish, self-centered self-absorbed jerk.

Lesson # 5:

Repeat.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cuomo And Christie - A Bromance

Don't read this WSJ article on an empty stomach - it details how close Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo are, the closest any two governors of New Jersey and New York have ever been:

The two powerful governors have dined together in Manhattan and chat by cellphone. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has asked staff to leave the room when he talks to his New York counterpart, Andrew Cuomo.

And while Mr. Cuomo likes to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of other politicians in private, he has little negative to say about Mr. Christie even behind closed doors, a person close to the Democrat said. Mr. Christie respects Mr. Cuomo's political savvy and has no desire to spar with him, a longtime friend said.
Messrs. Cuomo and Christie have forged an extraordinarily close and politically useful partnership, both in public and private, for two ambitious governors from different parties and with divergent styles, according to friends of both men and political analysts. 

"New York and New Jersey governors need to work together because they jointly administer several key agencies, but in the past the relationship between governors has been either icy or nonexistent," said Darren Dopp, a confidant of Mr. Cuomo who is also former aide to both former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and former Gov. Mario Cuomo. "I don't know of a better working relationship than now exists with Cuomo and Christie, at least not in modern times."

I would argue that they've been partners in crime, colluding over Port Authority toll hikes and PATH fare hikes, colluding over the Bridgegate mess, now collaborating on security issues for NY and NJ that helps both of them as they run in their respective races (Cuomo for re-election, Christie for president.)

It's a bromance between Christie and Cuomo, surely, but it's also a partnership in criminality.

How Are Schools Supposed To Work When Everything Else Around Them Is Broken?

Had a discussion with NY Daily News reporter Ben Chapman over the "disruption" that education reformers bring to the education system (and the money they make off of that "disruption") that went like this the other day:

To which Chapman replied


This is the education reformer "change" frame - sure, change is hard and sometimes it hurts, but given how bad things are now, significant change is needed no matter the cost.

But I don't buy that:





Chapman never replied to my Twitter pushback (and since it was the weekend, I'll assume he had something more fun to do than talk on Twitter with me), but this idea that schools are dysfunctional in isolation of the rest of society is something I want to hit on beyond my conversation with Ben.

Because it's bullshit.

Schools may look like sufficiently dysfunctional places to education reformers but they are no more so than other institutions in American life.

Let's start with the granddaddy of dysfunctional American institutions, the federal government.

In January, as President Obama was set to give his State of the Union address, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found this:

As President Barack Obama enters his sixth year in the White House, 68 percent of Americans say the country is either stagnant or worse off since he took office, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Just 31 percent say the country is better off, and a deep pessimism continues to fuel the public's mood. Most respondents used words like “divided,” “troubled,” and “deteriorating” to describe the current state of the nation.

On the eve of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, more than six-in-10 Americans believe that the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 70 percent are dissatisfied with the economy.

Displayed here are the words and phrases poll respondents most commonly associated with where the country is headed in 2014, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
It’s not just Obama under fire. A whopping 81 percent disapprove of Congress and twice as many Americans now hold negative views about the Republican Party as positive ones.

Democratic pollster Fred Yang, whose firm conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, compares these findings to the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” in which the protagonist finds himself living the same day over and over.

“It seems like we’ve been re-living the same basic dynamics -- a public that is anxious, dissatisfied and dismayed -- in a continuous loop,” he said.

That "continuous loop" of anxiety, dissatisfaction and dismay over the direction of the country and the economy was measured again in the latest WSJ/NBC News poll earlier this month:

The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll says that a clear-cut majority is disgusted with the present political scene and retains little hope that future generations will fare as well as we have. As candidates get down and dirty in the lead-up to midterm elections, 60 percent say the country is in a general state of decline. A mere 19 percent of those polled have a favorable opinion of Republicans in Congress; their Democratic colleagues (or “colleagues”) poll at 31 percent. But the most remarkable number is 79: that’s the percentage of the politicized public that presently voices its discontent with the entire American political system as constituted; and fully half of the respondents said “very dissatisfied.”

79% of Americans polled express "discontent with the entire American political system as constituted," half say they are "very dissatisfied."

This is not a happy electorate, is it?

And one of the things they aren't happy with is the economy and how it seems to be rigged for the top 5%.

Which it certainly seems to be, as Neil Irwin showed in this recent report in the NY Times:

Every year, the Census Bureau delivers a sweeping set of numbers that give the richest annual picture of how much Americans are making, how many are living in poverty, and how many have access to health insurance. The numbers are backward-looking, covering conditions from a year ago. But the new numbers, released Tuesday, in many ways tell us more about how well the economy is serving — or failing — the mass of Americans than data that create hyperventilation in the financial markets.

The census numbers on what American families made last year are as mediocre as they are predictable. We now know that if your household brought in $51,939 in income last year, you were right at the 50th percentile, with half of households doing better and half doing worse. In inflation-adjusted terms, that is up a mere 0.3 percent from 2012. If you’re counting, that’s an extra $180 in annual real income for a middle-income American family. Don’t spend your extra $3.46 a week all in one place.

Going back a little further, the numbers are even gloomier. The 2013 median income remained a whopping 8 percent — about $4,500 per year — below where it was in 2007. The 2008 recession depressed wages for middle-income Americans, and they haven’t recovered in any meaningful way. And 2007 household incomes were actually below the 1999 peak.

...

This simple fact may be the most important thing to understand about today’s economy: Around 1999, growth in the United States economy stopped translating to growth in middle-class incomes. In the last 15 years, median income has been more or less flat while there was far sharper growth in, for example, per capita gross domestic product.

There are various potential reasons. Evolving technology favors those with the most advanced skills and allows companies to replace formerly middle-class workers with machines. Declining union power gives workers less power at the bargaining table over wages. Cultural norms have shifted such that top executives and financiers are paid much more compared with regular workers than they used to be.

But there really is no mystery as to why public opinion has been persistently down on the quality of the economy for years. You can’t eat G.D.P. You can’t live in a rising stock market. You can’t give your kids a better life because your company’s C.E.O. was able to give himself a big raise.
The rubber-meets-road measure of whether the economy is working for the mass of Americans is median real income and related measures of how much money is making its way into their pockets and what they can buy with that money.

And the newest census numbers show that the nation experienced virtually no progress on that frontier in 2013, and remains far behind where we were seven years ago. Americans feel disappointed by the economy; the new data show that they have good reason.

Now why aren't gains from GDP "trickling down" to the middle and working classes instead of squarely going to the top 5%?

Might it be because the economy is rigged in the favor of the top 5% and the regulatory bodies that are supposed to correct this kind of criminality are themselves rigged to favor the rich and powerful?

I think it might:

Secret audio recordings made in 2012 by a former Fed employee of conversations between high-level staffers inside the New York Federal Reserve, the branch that oversees Wall Street, show how the agency was afraid of offending powerful banks, most notably Goldman Sachs. The recordings, detailed in an explosive story on Friday by ProPublica and NPR, are a bombshell that sweeps back some of the veil of secrecy surrounding the Fed’s handling of the financial crisis to expose a culture of deference toward Wall Street, institutional paralysis and a culture averse to speaking up and challenging conventions.

...


Recordings reveal how Segarra tried to persuade higher-ups at the New York Fed that Goldman Sachs needed a firm policy regarding conflicts of interest, one of several negative conclusions she had come to about the bank. She was shot down. “Why do you have to say there’s no policy?” complains Segarra’s unidentified boss in one recording.

Another recording shows how the New York Fed caved to Goldman Sachs’s insistence that it complete a deal with Spanish bank Banco Santander, even though Fed staffer Michael Silva thought the deal was “window dressing” designed to make the Spanish bank appear healthier than it really was.

The recording also suggests how in the fall of 2008, Fed staffers were akin to a deer in the headlights. As Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and a large money market fund, where shares are never supposed to trade for less than one dollar, “broke the buck,” confusion and paralysis reigned. In one recording, Silva, a former chief of staff to then New York Fed President Timothy Geithner, vomited. Silva, according to the recordings, later felt disappointed when Goldman Sachs did not step in to help save Lehman, a hesitance that deterred other banks. 

“It was extraordinarily disappointing to me that they weren’t thinking as Americans,” Silva says in the recording.

Segarra sued the New York Fed last fall in Manhattan federal court over her firing. In the complaint, she says that Silva said during an unspecified meeting that the Fed “possessed information about Goldman that could cause Goldman to ‘explode.’” A federal judge dismissed her claims last April. Prior to the lawsuit’s filing, Goldman Sachs attempted to negotiate a settlement with Segarra for around $7 million, court papers show.

The Fed, which injected hundreds of billions of bailout dollars into Wall Street banks to avert a global financial collapse, and the Justice Department, which has been criticized for not putting any senior executives from banks or lenders in jail, are both increasingly seen as having been too soft on Wall Street.

We have a government that no longer functions (and when it does function, it's only to reward members of the government themselves as well as their corporate backers), an economy that no longer works for the vast majority of Americans (and hasn't for a long time now, though the nadir has been in the post-2008 recession period), a banking system that is rife with criminality and corruption and a regulatory system that is rigged to ignore it (or worse, help hide the criminality and corruption.)

Schools, dysfunctional though some may be, are not dysfunctional in isolation of the rest of America's major institutions.

To think that "significant changes" - Joel Klein's vaunted "disruption" - will fix whatever dysfunction exists in the American education system while the rest of American institutions, many of which have direct power through law and mandate over how school systems run or indirect power through lobbying of those who make the law and push the mandates, is wrong-headed.

What continued "disruption" will continually bring is more chaos, more dysfunction.

We see that already with all the changes wrought since No Child Left Behind, continued through Race to the Top - constant turmoil over the Endless Testing regime, teacher evaluation changes that tie ratings to test scores and cause ever more testing, school "turnarounds" that hand public schools over to private entities to run them as charters, the fights over school closings and co-locations, the fight over Common Core and standardized standards and curricula imposed from afar.

There have been significant disruptions to the American public education system since the Bush No Child Left Behind Era and like the rest of American institutions, public schools have suffered in the esteem of the American public as measured by the latest PDK/Gall-Up Poll on education, with 80% expressing disapproval of the nation's public schools at large even as a majority said they thought highly of the schools in their neighborhoods.

Americans may see schools at large as dysfunctional (though interestingly, not their own neighborhood schools), but no more so than they see the rest of America's institutions.

And the reality is, bringing "significant changes" and "disruption" to the school system developed by the same people who run the dysfunctional government or own banks and/or corporations that wreak dysfunction in society isn't going to fix whatever dysfunction exists in the school system.

Instead it will bring about more dysfunction.

The cynic in me thinks that's exactly what education reform is meant to bring - ever-changing mandates that breed more dysfunction, more chaos, and eventually drive the public school system to dissolution, allowing it to be privatized and owned by the very institutions that cause so much dysfunction and chaos themselves - the banks and the corporations.

It's nice to think that schools can fix themselves when the rest of America's institutions are broken, but it's a fairy tale, no less mythic than the jive we still tell ourselves about having a government "Of the people, By the People, For the people" or an economy in which anybody can succeed through hard work and sweat alone.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cuomo Goes To Afghanistan

I know, I know, you think I'm pulling your leg - but I'm not:

After barely leaving New York State in his first term, he's now made two oversea trips in the past month or so - one to Israel, one to Afghanistan.

He's also held two press conferences with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to discuss the "unprecedented" cooperation and collaboration  he and Christie are engaging in over anti-terrorism security in their respective states.

Dunno exactly when he decided to pivot from "The public workers unions are the biggest enemy facing the State of New York!" to "Must fight terrorism!", but it's pretty clear he's made that transition.

Given his falling job performance numbers (just 42% approve of his performance in the latest Siena poll, 56% disapprove), I'm not sure that pivoting to national security and foreign policy is the way to go for him, but clearly Cuomo thinks it is.

I wonder if he knows something about Hillary Clinton's decision on a 2016 run that the rest of us don't know.

Because given the frenzy with which he's tried to burnish his national security and foreign policy credentials in the last month or so, it's starting to look like he thinks he's running for president.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cuomo: No Shift In Treatment Of Teachers In Second Term

From State of Politics:

Asked about whether he’s shifting his tactics post-primary, Cuomo said he wouldn’t change his approach to public workers and teachers labor organizations.

“I knew what I was doing when I did not cater to the teachers union. I didn’t have to take the endorsement of the teachers union the first time, by the way.”

This is the man that Randi Weingarten engineered a putsch for at NYSUT, overthrowing Dick Iannuzzi and the old NYSUT regime when they started to turn on Cuomo and replacing them with the compliant, pro-Cuomo Karen Magee and Revive NYSUT.

This is the man that Michael Mulgrew threatened the Working Families Party for, warning that he would pull UFT funding from the party if they gave their ballot nod to Zephyr Teachout instead of Cuomo.

This is the man that Randi Weingarten helped when she taped a robocall for his right-wing running mate in the waning days of the primary.

What are AFT, UFT and NYSUT leaders getting paid to stick the shiv in their members and work for the corporatist Cuomo?

I hope it's good, whatever it is, because they're selling their members out to a cretin out to destroy teachers, schools, and public education.

Cuomo: Not Every Teacher Can Get An A Rating - But Every Student Had Better Get One

A commenter points out a core contradiction in Governor Cuomo's assertion that his APPR teacher evaluation system needs to be redone to rate more teachers "ineffective":

Cuomo's OWN WORDS:

"...not everybody can get an ‘A,’ it can’t be – I think it’s going to be a very valuable tool..."

Now, of course, he is speaking about teachers--but can't this argument be used to undermine the entire premise behind evaluating teachers?! If not everybody can get an A, then why are teachers expected to have all of their students get As? Why are we being evaluated on this very illogical expectation? Can someone point this out to Cuomo and other reformers?

This is is the same contradiction we have in No Child Left Behind wherein 100% of every student in every demographic in every school must be proficient in ELA and math scores or schools are declared "failing".

Illogical expectation?

Of course.

But that's what's at the core of education reform and the "Blame Teachers/Blame Schools" movement.

Expect to hear a lot more about this stuff in Cuomo's second term - a second term that he will win in part because the UFT and NYSUT helped him win the Working Families Party ballot line (keeping a daunting third party candidate challenge from the left off the November ballot) and because AFT President Randi Weingarten lent her support to him via robocalls for his right-wing running mate, Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo Will Lead A Witch Hunt Of "Failing" Teachers In His Second Term

Here's a preview of the second term shenanigans we can expect from Governor Andrew Cuomo with his vaunted APPR teacher evaluation system:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday the state’s new teacher evaluation system will need to be refined, but he said he would like to see more data before pushing for any changes to the state law.

Cuomo said he sees value in the teacher rankings, but said critics who question how 94 percent of the state’s teachers can be “highly effective” or “effective” have a valid point.

“I’m excited that we started,” Cuomo said of the teacher evaluation system put into effect during the 2012-13 school year. “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.”

His solution?

Study the "data" and push for statewide changes, taking away local control:
 
“The way we’ve done it the first few years is they’re negotiated locally. There is no statewide negotiation,” Cuomo said during a meeting with editors and reporters at The Buffalo News. “Each district negotiates it’s own criteria within certain mandates. So the suggestion was the way they negotiated it may be too loose because everyone’s doing well, and I think that’s a valid question.”

Cuomo stopped short of saying he would recommend specific changes to the evaluations.

“I think we have to understand what’s happening,” Cuomo said. “We don’t really have solid data back because we just started.”

A commenter on the Buffalo News story writes the following:

60% of the teacher evaluation system is based on "Other measures of Effectiveness score" in which a teacher has a formal observation, an informal observation, and provides various artifacts (which are rated by the principal) that prove that a teacher is doing what he or she is supposed to be doing in class. So if a teacher is doing their job, yet the students are "failing" the state assessments, then whose fault is it. There's no possible way the students or parents should share any responsibility in this, right? In my opinion it is very possible for teachers to be effective yet have students who are failing. Especially in impoverished districts. This sounds like just another witch hunt. More of the same. I guess they don't think they'll be able to get enough teachers fired.

APPR is supposed to be based on "multiple measures" of so-called performance, something we have heard trumpeted from the leaders of NYSUT and the UFT, that teachers are not being evaluated solely by test scores.

But Cuomo's framing this system just as the deformers are framing the system - test scores are the only valid measure and if many students are failing the new Common Core tests (despite the tests being rigged by NYSED and the Board of Regents to have just that outcome), then the teachers of those students must be failing as well.

Beware the second term, folks - as the commenter at the Buffalo News story notes, this is a teacher witch hunt that we have coming and Cuomo's going to be the head hunter.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have written over and over again that APPR was always devised to fire as many teachers as possible.

It wasn't a mistake that they rolled APPR out at the same time they rolled out the new Common Core tests that they rigged for 70% failure rates.

The one thing the deformers didn't count on was a revolt in the suburbs over the Common Core tests and the Common Core Standards themselves.

After a year of furor over the CCSS, they had to de-link the Common Core test scores from APPR for teachers of 3rd-8th grade students.

But make no mistake, the link is coming back and it will turn into a bludgeon they will use on you.

Calls from deformers and editorial boards to "tighten" up APPR will eventually lead to "refinements" of the system, as Cuomo called them - in short, rigging APPR the way the Common Core tests were rigged to come out with a pre-determined outcome of "failure."

Another commenter at the Buffalo News story wrote:

It does beg the question, how many "ineffective" or "developing" individuals are there in other professions? How many "ineffective" or "developing" teachers would be enough? Like you said, witch hunt.

Indeed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cuomo Rides E Train To Catch Terrorists

Go get 'em, Sheriff Andy:


New Yorkers had just better hope that the terrorists looking to blow up the E train that Cuomo rode today are not running against him in a Democratic Primary.

Because if they are, they could be right in front of his face and he wouldn't notice them:


Anybody Buying This Threat?

The Neo-Con News:

The Iraqi prime minister sent a scare through New York City by declaring Thursday that the Islamic State was plotting to launch attacks on subways in the U.S. and in Paris.

Haider al-Abadi dropped the bombshell during a brief meeting with reporters at the United Nations.
“Today, while I’m here, I’m receiving accurate reports from Baghdad, where there was an arrest of a few elements, and there are networks planning from inside Iraq” to attack “in the metros of Paris and the U.S.,” Abadi said.

The plotters are ISIS fighters from France and the U.S. who are currently in Iraq, he said.

“Yes,” Abadi answered when asked if the ISIS attacks were imminent.

“No,” he replied when asked if the plot had been thwarted.

The Iraqi prime minister divulged no other details about the alleged scheme to cause mayhem in the U.S. and France, two countries that have been leading the charge against murderous ISIS militants.

Al-Abadi has his own reasons why he wants Americans in fear over the so-called ISIS threat.

Same goes for Cuomo and Christie, both of whom have jumped on "security" in the past month as a campaign issue.

This has all the earmarks of the "threats" the city faced in the run-up to Bush's re-election in 2004, a "vague" threat warning that politicians running for elections jump on as an election issue even as another wing of the government - the feds - say they have heard of no specific threat to the subways.

Of course New York City is a terrorist target and the subway system one of the more vulnerable areas to attack, so any threat should be taken seriously.

But the rhetoric around this, from the Iraqi prime minister to the New York and New Jersey governors, smells of election year politics to me.

Jeb Bush Gets Preview Of What Run For President In 2016 Will Be Like

Yesterday I posted that I was hoping that Jeb Bush would run for president in 2016 because I thought he would get hammered over Common Core and be put on the defensive over his education reform record in Florida and his business interests related to education reform.

Today the NY Times reports Bush got a preview of the opposition he's going to get in the GOP presidential primaries over Common Core:

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his party’s conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

...

On the Common Core, the educational standards first devised by a bipartisan group of governors, which have become deeply unpopular among conservative activists, Mr. Tillis also sounded far more conservative than Mr. Bush. The North Carolina House approved the standards in 2011, but, facing primary challengers from the right earlier this year, Mr. Tillis backed away from them.

“I’m not willing to settle just for a national standard if we think we can find things to set a new standard and a best practice,” Mr. Tillis said, pivoting to an attack on the federal Education Department as “a bureaucracy of 5,000 people in Washington” who make an average salary of a little more than $100,000.

While criticizing the Education Department is common among Republicans, Mr. Tillis was standing next to the younger brother of President George W. Bush, whose signature accomplishments include No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education law run by the department.

Mr. Bush sensed the need to play down any differences and returned to the microphone. “We can argue about what to call these things,” he said, but maintained that the focus ought to be on ensuring high standards.

Good luck pulling off the "We don't have to call it Common Core, let's call them higher standards" pivot in the GOP primaries, Jeb.

I guarantee you the reaction you're going to get is going to be a lot harsher than that Tillis gave you yesterday.

Run, Jeb, run!

Center For Unions Facts Is Right - Randi Weingarten Is Ruining Public Education

Lyndsey Layton reports the Center for Union Facts is attacking AFT President Randi Weingarten again:

The 11-page mailing, on expensive paper stock, was sent first class to 125,000 households across the country this week.

“I’m writing to you about Randi,” the letter began. “You probably don’t know who Randi is. Most people don’t. The terrible impact Randi has on America’s educational system is something that I hope you will give me a few minutes to explain.”

The writer, Richard Berman, is a D.C.-based corporate communications consultant who is waging a national campaign against Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Berman has run a highly personal attack on Weingarten for the past year, paying for two billboards in Times Square that featured an unflattering two-story image of her, a full-page ad in the New York Times, radio spots and, now, lengthy mailings. He also paid workers to hand out anti-Weingarten flyers during Labor Day weekend in East Hampton, N.Y., where she has a home.

In the mailing, Berman refers to Weingarten as “a vicious individual” who is “on a crusade to stymie school reform and protect the jobs of incompetent teachers — the bad apples that drain so much of our tax resources and sabotage the efforts of parents and caring teachers.”

This is a nasty attack on Weingarten, just as the billboards and other attacks Berman and the Center for Union Facts have launched against her were nasty.

But to be frank, I agree with one part of Berman's attack:

Weingarten and the teachers unions are ruining public education - but for the exact opposite reason Berman gives.

Want to know why there are so many tests in public schools these days?

Because Weingarten and the teachers unions have embraced test-based accountability and the Endless Testing regime.

Want to know why teachers are evaluated using error-riddled value-added measurements based upon test scores?

Because Weingarten and the teachers unions embraced VAM a few years ago and haven't mounted much of a challenge to these accountability systems even now that they're claiming "VAM is sham!"

Indeed, in 2008 Weingarten happily okayed the Teacher Data Reports in NYC that saw 4th-8th grade ELA and math teachers rated using a value-added system with margins of error as high as 87%.

Those reports were published in the New York news media, exposing teachers who had been rated with this error-riddled data system Weingarten collaborated on to public humiliation.

Want to know why Common Core math is confusing children nation-wide and Common Core informational texts have replaced literature in ELA classrooms and children are crying at night over the Common Core homework they're given that doesn't make any freaking sense?

Because Weingarten and the teachers unions have embraced Common Core, have taken money from Common Core proponents like Bill Gates to shill for the Core and have threatened to punch anybody who opposes Common Core in the face.

Want to know why pro-ed deform teacher-hating politicians like Andrew Cuomo are in power and doing all the damage they're doing to public education and the teaching profession?

Because Weingarten and the teachers unions are backing them, engineering putschs when certain union leaders turn against them, then ensuring that there will be no third party candidates to run against them and making robocalls for them when it turns out a primary is closer than it was supposed to be.

Sure, Weingarten and the unions aren't solely responsible for these crimes against children, teachers and public education, but they certainly helped along the way and you can make a pretty good argument that without union collaboration from Randi and the other teachers union leaders, they wouldn't have happened at all.

So I agree with Berman and the Center for Union Facts - Weingarten is ruining education and teaching.

I just don't agree with Berman's rationale for how she's ruining it.

It's not because Randi is out to "stymie school reform."

It's because she is so willing help out the reformers, to collaborate with and shill for the corporate entities, NGO's, billionaires and politicians focused on privatizing the school system, standardizing the nation's curriculum and turning the teaching profession into at-will work with no job protections.

I can't get all worked up over this attack on Weingarten from the anti-union guy - she's done too much damage, engaged in too much duplicity and shilled for too many deform causes and entities for me to put up the barricades and defend her. 

Astorino: Cuomo At Center Of Albany Corruption

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I've covered this story many times - Sheriff Andy Cuomo claims he rode into Albany to clean up the corruption but nobody - nobody - is dirtier than Cuomo in Albany.

The Astorino campaign hammered that point home yesterday:

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo received $2.7 million in donations since 2010 from companies that have received a combined $7.2 billion in state contracts, his Republican opponent charged Wednesday.
Rob Astorino's campaign released a 100-page document detailing companies that gave money to Cuomo while also having business before the state.

Astorino said the numbers show that Cuomo not only didn't crack down on Albany's pay-to-play culture like he promised, but took it to historic new levels.

"This perfectly illustrates Mr. Cuomo's modus operandi," Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said. "He promises to do what the voters most want; then when the camera lights go dark he turns around and does the exact opposite. Mr. Cuomo has played New York reformers for fools, whether they be from the political left, right or center.

Back on September 4th when the Daily News reported that Cuomo took $1.25 million from companies that won state development grants, I posted the following:

 Sheriff Andy Cuomo likes to make believe like he rode into Albany to clean up the corruption in the state capital.

Nothing like taking a bunch of money from donors, then handing them millions of dollars in state grants for cleaning up Albany, eh?

Kinda like taking money from REBNY, then handing out $35 million in tax breaks to the real estate industry.

Or taking a couple of million from overseas gambling consortia, then expanding legalized gambling around the state.

Or taking $800K from charter school operators, then forcing NYC to pay charter school rents in perpetuity.

Or taking hundreds of thousands from Hollywood producers, then handing out millions in tax breaks to the film industry that essentially pays them to make movies in NY.

Or shutting down his Committee To Save New York PAC so that he didn't have to reveal the donors.

Quite frankly, Sheriff Andy Cuomo needs his own sheriff to police his activity. 

Astorino is going to try and hammer this corruption point home, but unfortunately the corrupt Cuomo has so much money in his campaign war chest that there's little chance the message will cut through all the negative ads Cuomo's been running about Astorino.

About the only way the public's really going to learn about Cuomo's corruption is if the US attorney investigating Cuomo over the Moreland mess indicts him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Astorino: Why Are Cuomo And Christie Best Buddies?

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino makes a very good point:

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino doesn’t approve of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent appearances with Gov. Cuomo to discuss security.

“I’m not so sure why Gov. Christie would want to be hanging out with Gov. Cuomo,” Astorino told Time Warner Cable News after an appearance in Kingston. “The governor is under investigation by federal prosecutors for corruption.”

“So I am not so sure why he would want to do that and he’s not the Democratic Governors Association president,” Astorino said. “He’s the RGA president, but that’s his choice.”

What Astorino didn't mention here but I think is relevant - Christie himself is under criminal investigation for the Bridgegate mess, alleged extortion of the mayor of Hoboken by his lieutenant governor in a Shop Rite parking lot and conflicts of interest involving former members of his administration and the Port Authority.

Cuomo can't help with the Hoboken extortion or the conflicts of interest problem with the Port Authority, but he surely has helped with the Bridgegate mess.

As Fred Dicker noted a few months ago:

One of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s jobs as this year’s head of the Republican Governors Association is to help elect more GOP governors, but don’t tell that to people working on Astorino’s campaign.

“Chris Christie has done diddly squat to help the Astorino folks,’’ said a highly knowledgeable Republican insider.

“Either Christie has formed an unholy alliance with Cuomo in the aftermath of the Bridgegate scandal or he’s preoccupied with running for president. Either way, New York Republicans are noticing it and they’re unhappy about it,’’ the insider continued.

Last fall The Post disclosed that Christie had encouraged Astorino to challenge Cuomo and pledged his support — but that was before the politically damaging Bridgegate — which involved closing down George Washington Bridge lanes in Fort Lee to retaliate against a Christie political foe.

A prominent New York Democratic operative, meanwhile, told The Post, “The word on the inside of Democratic circles is that Christie has been working to help Cuomo, perhaps by providing some strategic advice.’’

Cuomo and Christie are on the same team here - as I wrote back in July:

We know that Cuomo and Christie have collaborated at least two times in an "unholy alliance" of Port Authority governors.

The first was the sham show they played over bridge, tunnel and PATH increases in which they colluded to push for the increases behind the scenes while publicly claiming they were trying to hold the increases at bay.

The second was when Christie called Cuomo over the Bridgegate scandal, as was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

We know too that nothing happens at the Port Authority, even on the New Jersey side, that Andrew Cuomo isn't aware of.

And we know that Cuomo has some complicity in the Bridgegate case.

It gets more and more clear that they're working together for their mutual benefit - the anti-terrorism task force shenanigans is the latest example.

Sure it's important they work to keep their respective states safe - but that can all be done without the high profile (and multiple) press conferences.

Run, Jeb, Run

Jeb Bush is making noises for 2016:

A dozen years after he ran his last political campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is gearing up for a 2016 presidential bid – a campaign that would open up a new front in the Republican Party’s ongoing civil war.

Mike Allen reports in today’s Politico Playbook that according to Bush’s friends, he’s “leaning more yes than no” on launching a run. He’s campaigning for Republican candidates in Senate battlegrounds like North Carolina and Kansas, and Allen reports, “has headlined several fundraisers where the candidate COMES TO FLORIDA, where Jeb knows everyone.” The fundraisers, Allen writes, give us REASON TO THINK that Jeb will aim for a Bush restoration: “That means that the proceeds are all NEW MONEY for the guest, and the candidate gets to meet new supporters and build his or her own network.”

One of the finest ways to put corporate education reform on trial is to have Jeb Bush, a strong proponent of much of the reform agenda, run for president.

His education policies in Florida will get a much closer look if he runs, as will the money he's made from his business interests.

Both of those could use some more scrutiny.

And of course Bush is a huge proponent of Common Core, so if he runs, he's going to have defend the Core within his party, and given how poorly the Core is held by grassroots Republicans and Tea Party people, that should be worth a lot of laughs.

So run, Jeb, run - nothing better than to shine a little light on your money-making off education reform, your failed education reform agenda in Florida, and the disaster that is Common Core.

Cuomo, Christie Hold Joint Campaign Appearance

The two governors who can't get the PATH running are going to keep you safe from terrorism - oh, and burnish their "national security" credentials at the same time:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will appear alongside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday for the second time this month.

The governors will make the joint appearance in New York 10 days after coming together to announce a review of safety and security procedures to combat the threat of terrorism, according to Christie’s schedule.

They are slated to hold the briefing at 7 World Trade Center at 11:30 a.m.

Citing an “undeniable heightening” of terrorist activity, Christie, a Republican, and Cuomo, a Democrat seeking reelection, announced plans for a bi-state review of security procedures on Sept. 15.

The plan called for convening a meeting to review the review “initial recommendations” in 10 days, followed in 30 days by a report back to the governors “with any and all further findings and recommendations.”

“I spent seven years as U.S. attorney in the immediate aftermath of September 11. I’m acutely aware of what’s been done during those seven years and what’s continued to be done,” Christie said at the event earlier this month.

“We need to make sure that we are ahead of the curve on this,” he said.

The New Jersey officials leading the review — which includes more than 10 agencies between the two states — are State Police Supt. Rick Fuentes and New Jersey Homeland Security Director Christopher Rodriguez. In New York, it will be Supt. of State Police Joseph D’Amico and Homeland Security Commissioner Jerome Hauer.

If Christie's anti-terrorism plan has anything to do with bridge closures, it should go swimmingly.

Also, I love the "I spent seven years as U.S. attorney in the immediate aftermath of September 11..." jive - he has also been governor for the last five years and could have pushed for whatever review they're doing now in the past years too.

That he's doing it at the same time he's shedding pounds and visiting Iowa on a regular basis suggests this review is as much about politics as safety.

And of course Cuomo is running for re-election too and wants to make sure his GOP opponent gets no help from the National Governors Association in the election.

Christie has said he will not help GOP candidate Rob Astorino in the election, but holding two press conferences with Cuomo in the past month really puts an exclamation point on that.

It's like these two guys, Cuomo and Christie, are campaigning together - and why not, since they're good buddies, they've already coordinated Port Authority toll increases in the dark together and conspired to make sure nothing untoward comes out for Christie in the Bridgegate scandal?