Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, May 31, 2010

Obama's Oily Summer

Day 41, America still held hostage by spewing oil, spreading environmental damage, a corrupt oil corporation and arrogant, incompetent government officials who have no clue how to solve the crisis.

And Obama - known as President Accountability in these parts for cheerleading the firing of Rhode Island school teachers for "incompetence" - is the HEAD INCOMPETENT in this tragedy of Biblical proportions.

And I am not overstating that part about Biblical proportions. Here is how the Associated Press wrote up the story yesterday:

BOOTHVILLE, La. - There is still a hole in the Earth, crude oil is still spewing from it and there is still, excruciatingly, no end in sight. After trying and trying again, one of the world's largest corporations, backed and pushed by the world's most powerful government, can't stop the runaway gusher.

As desperation grows and ecological misery spreads, the operative word on the ground now is, incredibly, August — the earliest moment that a real resolution could be at hand. And even then, there's no guarantee of success. For the United States and the people of its beleaguered Gulf Coast, a dispiriting summer of oil and anger lies dead ahead.

Oh ... and the Atlantic hurricane season begins Tuesday.


Trouble is, the longer it lasts, the more beasts emerge ready to wrestle. Crude-coated birds are becoming a frequent sight along coastal areas. At the sea's bottom, no one knows what the oil will do to species like the newly discovered bottom-dwelling pancake batfish — and others that remain unknown but just as threatened.

Perhaps most alarming of all, 40 days and 40 nights after the Deepwater Horizon blew up and began the underwater deluge, hurricane season is at hand. It brings the horrifying possibility of wind-whipped, oil-soaked waves and water spinning ashore and coating areas much further inland. Imagine Katrina plus oil spill.

Has a certain Armageddon vibe to it, doesn't it?

Summer is a notoriously slow time for news, so you know the cable news networks and the papers are going to be covering all facets of this story - from the oil-soaked wildlife to the economic devastation wreaked upon the fishing and vacation industries by the disaster to the mix of corruption and sheer "Don't Give A Shittedness" that BP has displayed in first allowing this to happen and then not doing all that much to stop it.

And of course the entity that will get the worst of the press coverage will be the Accountability President who toured some of the devastation the other day on a beach while wearing a suit and a tie.

As somebody said about that photo op, it's never good when a president is being photographed in a suit and a tie on a beach.

Just ask Nixon.

The problem is that the Accountability President has done almost nothing else but photo ops to mitigate the effects of the disaster. As the NY Times reported today

The administration has left to BP most decisions about how to move forward with efforts to contain the leak.

Is this the best leadership that Obama can display in time of national crisis (and make no mistake, hundreds of thousands of spewing gallons of oil washing ashore and polluting the Gulf of Mexico from top to bottom is a national crisis)?

Colin Powell doesn't seem to think so:

Despite the White House efforts, the criticism also intensified. Colin L. Powell, who served as secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC’s “This Week” that the administration must move in quickly with “decisive force and demonstrate that it’s doing everything that it can do.”

Neither does Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, appearing on “Meet the Press,” again criticized the administration’s efforts, saying: “We need our federal government exactly for this kind of crisis. I think there could have been a greater sense of urgency.”

Leaving aside the irony of Small-Government Is Better Jindal calling for a larger display of federal power and action in this time of crisis, I would like to note that Obama - who seems to think the feds should make every call in education policy right down the lesson plans teachers teach - suddenly is taking a "hands-off, let BP take the lead" on this.

Even when it is obvious BP has no idea what to do and maybe doesn't even give a shit since their liability is capped at $75 million.

Hell, that's chump change they can recoup the next time there is a run-up in oil prices.

Which there just might be after this disaster.

I think this mess will permanently tar President Accountability as the "Do-Nothing President" and "President Incompetent."

Part of the problem for Obama is that he had reversed course on oil drilling just two weeks before this mess, saying we need to drill for off-shore oil in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast and there would be no environmental impact because

"It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."

-- President Obama, quoted by Think Progress on April 2, 2010.

Just 18 days later, Deepwater Horizon exploded and began the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history

Actually it turns out, President Accountability, that oil rigs are NOT technologically very advanced nor safe from oil spills.

Given the documents that the NY Times has obtained from BP from BEFORE the explosion, it is clear BP knew Deepwater Horizon could blow up and/or fall into the sea and cause a disaster.

The question is, why didn't YOU know that and why were you saying something so stupid and inaccurate about oil drilling in the gulf and the safety of oil rigs just 18 days before this tragedy started?

This has been one heckuva job for a man who says he wants to hold people accountable for their actions.

So far, other than one scapegoat in the government that Obama fired
, nobody else has been held accountable for it.

Maybe he'll fire some teachers for it?

And of course Obama thinks he has no complicity in the mess.

Hell, he is still blaming the Bush (and Clinton) administrations for this mess.

But just as George Bush could not recover from the damage done to the administration from Katrina, Obama will NOT recover from this mess if it continues into August or later as is thought will happen.

Hell, he is even starting to sound like Bush with stupid quotes like this:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is encouraging Americans to visit the Gulf Coast despite the huge offshore oil spill.

At a White House news conference Thursday, Obama said while three beaches in Louisiana have been fouled by oil, the rest of the region's beaches are clean and safe. He says Gulf state governors have asked him "to remind everybody" the beaches are open.
Actually, I take that back. Obama is not sounding like Bush after 9/11 when he told people to go shopping to make things better.

He is sounding like the mayor of Amity in the movie Jaws talking jive as the shark continues to chow down on swimmers:

Mayor Vaughn: [to reporter] I'm pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means "friendship".

Where's Quint when you need him?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Motivates Us?

In education these days, all the MBA's running policy think it is money (in the form of merit pay) and fear (in the form of school closure, teacher firings, etc.)

Turns out they are wrong.

And science proves it.

Science funded by the Federal Reserve, btw:

Wow - who knew?

Treating employees like intelligent human beings works better than treating them like horses to be rewarded with carrots or punished with sticks.

H/T Barry at The Big Picture

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Top Kill

It failed, of course:

ROBERT, La. — BP has failed in its latest attempt to plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico with mud and cement, the company said Saturday.

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said the company determined the "top kill" method had failed after studying it for three days. The method involved pumping heavy drilling mud into a crippled well 5,000 feet underwater.

"We have not been able to stop the flow," Suttles said. "We have made the decision to move onto the next option."

It was the latest setback for the company trying to stop the crude from further fouling waters, wildlife and marshland. Other attempts included a gigantic box placed over the leak and a tube inserted to siphon the oil away. The box failed after ice-like crystals clogged it, while the tube was removed to make way for the top kill after it sucked up more than 900,000 gallons of oil.

The spill is the worst in U.S. history and has dumped between 18 million and 40 million gallons into the Gulf, according to government estimates.

President Accountability said he takes "full responsibility" for the mess down in the gulf.

All right.

What's your plan, Stan?

Because it's clear BP doesn't know what the fuck to do.

Of course we all know you don't know what to do either, President Accountability.

But you like to talk a good game.

It's nice to see people aren't buying your jive.

This is YOUR KATRINA, Obama.

So get back from your fucking vacation in Chicago

Or resign and let somebody else do the job you clearly can't.

They Got Everything They Wanted

Teacher evaluations are now tied to test scores.

Teacher tenure is now a moot point since teachers can be declared "ineffective" after two years of test scores that do not "add value" to their students' education levels and fired during an expedited 60 day process.

The charter cap has been lifted to 260.

Bloomberg and Klein get to create 151 new charters over the next four years.

They can still put charters wherever they want.

Klein's office says he still gets complete oversight over the opening and closing of charters in NYC, though the law appears to be a little ambiguous on that point (but remember, Bloomberg and Klein always read ambiguity as WE GET TO DO WHAT WE WANT AND IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO F#$K YOURSELF.)

The regulation of the charter industry will be hampered by the regulator having its budget cut by 70%.

Yeah, that should make the regulatory process go smooth - if by smooth, you mean by avoiding any meaning regulation whatsoever.

Bloomberg, Klein, Obama, Duncan, Gates, Broad, et al. got EVERYTHING they wanted from the unions in the state and the pro-traditional public schools on these points.

As far as I can see, except for the ban on for-profits running new charters, I cannot see any compromise made by the pro-charter side.

And within four years, we'll be right back at this juncture and the pro-charter people will be calling for a lifting of the cap to 1,000 and a return to a policy that allows "market forces" to govern who runs new charter schools.

And of course Bloomberg and Klein will have continued to starve traditional public schools of resources while making sure Mistress Eva and For-Profit Geoffrey and other charter operators get everything they need.

With pro-charter/pro-education deform politicians in charge at City Hall, Washington D.C. and soon Albany (yes, the current clown is pro-charter, but no one listens to him about anything), you can be sure the complete and utter destruction of the traditional public school system will have been accomplished within ten years.

It will be a heckuva job.

It won't actually improve the education levels of students, of course.

But education "reform" has never really been about that.

It's always been about breaking the last bastion of unionized workers, imposing a corporate-friendly structure on schools that socializes school children to expect to work 60 hour/6 day weeks and grow up to be compliant corporate employees, and opening up the public school coffers for profit-taking.

Mission accomplished.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Memorial Day Weekend...

...I wonder how many hours of school the students at Mistress Eva's education sweatshops are putting in this weekend?

I wonder how many hours the teachers at the Harlem Success Sweatshop Network are putting in this weekend too?

Remember, school is never out when you attend or work at a charter.

There is NO TIME to stop learning or working.

So you lazy unionized teachers who will be spending time with your families and friends this weekend celebrating the unofficial start of summer and remembering all the men and women who gave their lives in the armed services in the course of our history so that you could do just that - GET TO WORK, YOU LAZY BASTARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cuomo: Unions Are The Enemy

Andrew Cuomo chose his running mate - Rochester mayor Robert Duffy - because he is a "tough" guy who has taken on the unions.

According to the Daily Murdoch, Cuomo said

"He was not a push-over; he was not a roll-over," Cuomo told reporters with Duffy at his side.

"Yes, he tangled with public employee unions. Guess what? We're going to be tangling with public employee unions going forward."

Remember when Democrats used to be pro-worker/pro-union?

Not anymore they aren't.

From Bill Clinton to Barack "Lloyd Blankfein Deserves His Bonuses" Obama to David Paterson to Andy Cuomo, they all see unionized workers as the enemy.

And of course Wall Street and the hedge fund managers love that.

That's why they gave Barack Obama more money than john McCain.

It's why they met and gave bundles of money and promises to Andy Cuomo a few weeks ago.

The serfdomization of the middle and working classes continues as both parties say people need to work longer and harder for less money, less job security and no health care benefits so that the Wall Streeters and hedge fund managers can rake in 70% of the country's wealth.

It's time for a real third party.

Not one beholden to the Wall Street crooks, the hedge funders and banksters who raped this country for trillions and then came to the government and got bailouts when they almost brought the system to collapse.

One that works for the middle and working classes of this country, one that works for the union members, one that sees worker protections are important, one that sees that there must be containment of the big powerful moneyed interests that have all the access and all the say in Washington, Albany and City Hall these days.

I am no longer a Democrat.

Obama brought me to that place.

Cuomo pushed me over the edge.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cuomo Is A Crook Too

Before he met with the hedge funders to talk about charter schools, Andrew Cuomo was mum about his feelings about charters (so much so that former governor Eliot Spitzer felt the need to chastise Cuomo publicly to take a stand.)

Then he met with a bunch of hedge funders and other education deformers and they promised him campaign checks and other financial support if he would agree to lift the charter school cap and oppose any accountability standards for charters.

Lo and behold, now that Cuomo has announced for governor, his platform supports increasing the charter cap to 460 and opposes outside accountability measures on issues like where to locate the new charters.

Wow - that's democracy in action.

Meet with hedge funders.

Take checks.

Give hedge funders what they want on education deform.

Parrot Gates Foundation pamphlets in campaign literature.

Andrew Cuomo was bought by the hedge fund/education deform industry.

It would be nice to know what they promised him in return for his positions on education "reform".

You can be sure after Cuomo finishes what Obama and Bloomberg started, there will be nothing left of the public school system as we know.

There will only be charter schools and hedge funds.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Teacher Evaluation Passes Assembly

A sad day for education - the assembly passed the piece of shit deal the unions made with the ed deformers running policy at the NYSED.

40% of teacher evaluations are now tied to test scores.

Starts in 2012-2013 for all teachers.

Welcome to all test prep all the time.

The new normal for public education.

I guess this is what President Accountability meant by change.

And of course the unions caved to make sure this "change" got done.

Heckuva job to all of you.

Public education will look like the Gulf of Mexico when they got done with it.

President Accountability Doesn't Much Like Being Held Accountable Himself

President Obama is bristling at criticism from members of his own party and the press that he is not handling the mess in the gulf well.

The White House has complained to members of the press that they are asking too many questions about the oil leak and the damage to the gulf and not enough about other things.

How ironic - the guy who promotes accountability and firing for teachers doesn't like being held accountable for his own mistakes.

What a hypocrite.

City Gets $5 Million To Hire New Teachers...

...even as they get ready to lay off 6,400 teachers:

The DOE asked the PEP to approve an allocation of $5,000,000 to recruit new teachers while at the same time they are threatening to lay off thousands of us. The excuse given was that DOE has to have teachers for our most needy special education students ready on day one as this is a shortage area. This is a laugh as I pointed out to the Panel when I spoke as Jamaica has special education classes that in May still don't have a regular teacher.

The UFT was in the house and they made a great case on the issue of this ridiculous expenditure. The best speaker was clearly UFT Secretary Michael Mendel who spoke for two minutes of the folly of the DOE's spending 5 million dollars to recruit teachers during these tough fiscal times when they are talking about layoffs.

Of course this $5 million expenditure is going to the New Teacher Project, a "non-profit" founded by Joel Klein crony Michelle Rhee, so really this expenditure is less about hiring new teachers and more about paying off cronies.

The DOE has also hired eight new deputy chancellors
, continues to spend millions on new testing programs, and hand out no-bid contracts for busing services and the like (even with gangsters who bring guns to the negotiations.)

The City Council gave 4% raises to its staff, Bloomberg gave raises to his staff, and he gave bonuses to his campaign people (albeit, this money came from his own pocket.)

With all this money going from hand to hand, there IS money to AVERT layoffs even if the state and the feds do not give more money to the city.

The just have to reallocate it from other things - like the testing programs, the no-bid contracts, the new deputy chancellor hires, and the payoffs to cronies.

Lately in some circles there has been talk of furloughs to avert layoffs. There has also been talk of taking a wage freeze and salary step freeze to avert layoffs.

I believe these ideas are huge mistakes.

Bloomberg and Klein are not playing honest with the money any more than the MTA plays honest with their budget when they are getting around to asking for fare hikes.

To agree to furloughs, wage freezes or salary step freezes would allow Bloomberg and Klein to continue to spend money on their priorities - like adding more tests and more PD that brings them closer to their goal of a totally privatized system with merit pay and work protections gutted.

Furloughs, wage/step freezes also would allow them to continue to pay themselves and their cronies more money while funding the recession on the backs of teachers, schools and most importantly, children.

Until Bloomberg and Klein get honest with WHAT they're spending money on, teachers should not sacrifice their own financial well being so that Bloomberg, Klein and all of their no-bid contract cronies can save theirs.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Obama Tried To Bribe Sestak To Drop Out Of Race

More change we can believe in?

Actually no - it's the allegation that someone in the Obama administration broke the law trying to save Obama's best buddy Arlen Specter from a primary challenge in PA:

Rep. Joe Sestak, winner of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, is refusing to provide more information on what job he was offered by a White House official to drop of that race, although he confirmed again that the incident occurred.

The White House was backing incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the primary. Sestak acknowledged in an interview in February that he was offered a position by an unnamed White House official - a potential violation of federal law - but has not offered any specifics on conversation. Republicans are trying to use the issue against Sestak in the November Senate race.

"It's interesting. I was asked a question about something that happened months earlier, and I felt that I should answer it honestly, and that's all I had to say about it." Sestak said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Anybody else has to decide on what they will say upon their role. That's their responsibility."

Yet Sestak confirmed to NBC's David Gregory that the incident did take place.

"I was offered a job, and I answered that," Sestak said. "Anything that goes beyond that is for others to talk about."

OK, I'll ask some questions, Admiral Sestak:

Who in the administration offered you a job in the White House?

David Axelrod?

Rahm Emanuel?

Obama himself?

If not Obama himself, was he aware of the offer?

And what job were you offered?

Whoever made the offer of the job broke the law.

If Obama was aware of the bribe and did nothing to stop it, then he broke the law too.

More change we can believe in from the corporate criminals in the White House willing to do or say anything to pay off their buddies and punish their enemies.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

If This Had Happened During The Bush Years...

...the left would be screaming holy hell about oil drilling and the incompetence of the administration and the criminal charges that need to be leveled against both the oil industry people responsible for this and the administration people who did nothing to mitigate and/or fix the problem.

And they would be RIGHT.

But because it happened during the suddenly pro-oil drilling Obama administration...nothing critical from the left.

Not a thing.

It's as if nothing happened.

Is that the change we can all believe in?

Or is it just hypocrisy?


He has done NOTHING but talk shit about BP without actually FORCING them to do anything to mitigate the disaster.

Maybe the administration is realizing their mistake now.

The Times says three cabinet officials have flown down to the Gulf specially today just to do some photo ops.

Heckuva job, Barack!!!


That should make things better.

Meanwhile, what has happened in the gulf under the Obama administration is MUCH WORSE and will have a MUCH LONGER LASTING effect than what happened under Bush during Katrina.

Get to work, Obama.


Maybe you should make believe BP is run by teachers


UPDATE: The Times says tonight that even the moratorium that Obama announced on oil drilling after last month's explosion of the oil rig in the gulf is bullshit:

WASHINGTON — In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new drilling permits and five waivers have been granted, according to records.

The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Asked about the permits and waivers, officials at the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service, which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating that the agency had no intention of stopping all new oil and gas production in the gulf.


Shown the data indicating that waivers and permits were still being granted, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, said that he was “deeply troubled.”

“We were given the clear impression that these waivers and permits were not being granted,” said Mr. Cardin, who is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Mr. Salazar testified last week. “I think the presumption should be that there should be stronger environmental reviews, not weaker.”

More Change We Can Believe In from President Accountability.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Obama Plans To Sell Off Public Housing To Developers And Banks

Jesus, it just gets worse:

The Obama Administration’s move to the right is about to give conservatives a victory they could not have anticipated, even under Bush. HUD, under Obama, submitted legislation called PETRA to Congress that would result in the privatization of all public housing in America.

The new owners would charge ten percent above market rates to impoverished tenants, money that would be mostly paid by the US government (you and me, the taxpayers). To maintain the property, the new owners would take out a mortgage for building repair and maintenance (like a home equity loan), with no cap on interest rates.

With rents set above market rates, the mortgage risk would be attractive to banks. Either they make a huge profit on the mortgages paid for by the government. Or if the government lowers what it will pay for rents, the property goes into foreclosure. The banks get it and can sell it off to developers.

Sooner or later, the housing budget will be cut back and such foreclosures will happen. The structure of the proposal and the realities of Washington make it a virtual certainty.

The banks and developers make a fortune, with the taxpayers paying for it. The public loses its public housing property. The impoverished tenants lose their apartments, or have their rents go way up if they are forced into the private market. Homelessness increases. Government gets smaller. The banks and developers win. It is a Bank Bonanza! The poor and the public lose.

Wow - just like he's sold off public education to the for-profit school corporations, public housing now goes to banks and real estate developers.

As Juan Gonzalez covered in yesterday's New York Daily News, turning over subsidized housing to banks and developers (which he calls "predatory investors") leads to really, really bad outcomes for the tenants:

Like many New Yorkers, retired railroad engineer Hilary Saunders lived for decades in a rent-stabilized Mitchell-Lama apartment - a place a working-class guy like him could afford.

It was in Schomburg Plaza, two East Harlem high-rises that overlook Central Park.

But these days, Saunders and 4,000 other tenants at Schomburg and several other former Manhattan Mitchell-Lama developments are battling to keep their homes affordable. They are victims, they claim, of a "predatory investor," one of many that swept through the city during the housing bubble.

Such investors gobbled up hundreds of rent-stabilized buildings with big money from Wall Street, then tried to force out old tenants and drive up rents. Then the housing market crashed many owners can't meet their heavy debt load.

Tenants say their landlord, New Jersey-based Urban American Management, is so deep in debt it's trying to suck them dry.

The firm, backed by a Morgan Stanley-created investment fund, paid $918 million for the properties in 2007 at the height of the housing bubble. That was three times what the buildings had sold for only two years earlier.

"We're tired of being treated like second-class citizens in our own building," Saunders said Thursday. He and other tenants met with city Controller John Liu and other elected officials Thursday to plead for help.

"The new tenants get new kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, wood floors," Saunders said. "We get nothing new, and maintenance keeps getting worse."

Then there are the huge electric bills. Most of the developments use electricity for heating and power. Under prior owners, heating and electric were included in the total rent bill.

More than a year ago, Urban American installed separate meters for every apartment and started charging for electricity.

"Tenants were suddenly hit with electric bills of from $400 to as much as $1,000 a month," said Dina Levy, head of organizing at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board.

Exactly what is happening at Schomburg will happen everywhere if Obama gets his way.

Every week brings a new outrage from this corporatist.

Bush/Cheney never dreamed of privatizing public housing and public education.

But Obama does.

And just wait until he gets his hands on Social Security.

That's next on his list of Change We Can Believe In.

He's packed his "debt commission" with a bunch of Social Security privatizers and he keeps saying "every option is on the table."

You can bet he will do some serious damage to that program.

Apparently there is no problem that Obama does not think can be solved by privatizing it.

How's that working in the gulf?

Follow Bloomberg's Money

A campaign cash scandal from the last mayoral coronation, er, election, continues to dog Mayor Moneybags.

It's become such a problem that even the shills at the NY Post think that prosecutors need to get to the bottom of the scandal:

Sunlight may be about to fall on one of the more curious episodes of last year's mayoral campaign.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance has convened a grand jury to investigate a Bloomberg campaign consultant's disposition of $750,000 -- money he received after the mayor donated $1.2 million to the state Independence Party.

As The Post reported in January, Bloomberg wrote two checks totaling $600,000 to the Independence Party right before Election Day.

The party promptly paid $750,000 to a shadowy outfit called Special Election Operations, run by campaign consultant John Haggerty.

Ostensibly, the money was for workers to guard against poll-booth shenanigans.

But it's not clear if the firm's staff did so. In any event, the company didn't register with New York's secretary of state until nearly a month after the election.

Perhaps more to the point, Haggerty now can account for barely $150,000 of the cash. So, where did the rest go?

Was, as some suspect, Haggerty running a "street money" operation -- handing out cash to get voters to the polls? Or did he just pocket the remainder?

Haggerty associates now claim that he had a deal with the campaign to keep any leftover cash -- a charge former campaign spokesman and current Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson denies.

Is this just a simple case of a political operative ripping off the campaign and/or the Independence Party?

Or was he working at the behest of both organizations?

Billionaire Bloomberg was hardly shy about spending whatever it took last year -- on campaign personnel, advertising, mailings, etc.

Thus, the last-minute cash influx to the Independence Party and transfer to Haggerty rightly raises some eyebrows.

Rather than just make Haggerty the fall guy, Vance's grand jury needs to follow this money trail wherever it leads.

Bloomberg has played fast and loose with the cash and ethics throughout his reign.

Many in the press have looked the other way, perhaps because his 69% approval ratings deterred any real critical look at his stewardship, perhaps because they do not want to piss off a powerful media mogul at a time when fewer and fewer media outlets with journalism jobs exist.

For whatever the reason, Bloomberg has gotten a free pass from the press on scandals.

But third terms are funky. things have a way of popping up that even powerful media moguls with cash to burn and evil people like Howard Wolfson on staff cannot quell.

Just ask Ed Koch.

So we'll see where this thing goes.

Bloomberg plans on running for president in 2012. He's got the cash (reportedly plans to drop $150 billion or more on the race), he has been putting the campaign staff in place, and he's been practicing his "It's time for a politician who is above party to run things" jive on Meet The Press and elsewhere.

The last thing he wants is some two bit Gordon Liddy like Haggerty bringing down his dreams of buying prime D.C. real estate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I hope as his poll numbers plummet after the budget cuts and layoffs go through (and they will - the last time his approval was below 50% was during the '02 recession when he made many cuts in services and agencies), the politicians in city government and the press charged with covering this will ACTUALLY have the guts to investigate Mayor Moneybags and his fast and loose plays with the billions.

Because when he was up in the polls, they did not have that fortitude.

We'll see.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Obama Keeps Detainees In Perpetuity Without Charges - Just Like Bush

More change we can believe in from President Accountability:

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that three men who had been detained by the United States military for years without trial in Afghanistan had no recourse to American courts. The decision was a broad victory for the Obama administration in its efforts to hold terrorism suspects overseas for indefinite periods without judicial oversight.

The detainees, two Yemenis and a Tunisian who say they were captured outside Afghanistan, contend that they are not terrorists and are being mistakenly imprisoned at the American military prison at Bagram Air Base.

But a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously that the three had no right to habeas corpus hearings, in which judges would review evidence against them and could order their release. The court reasoned that Bagram was on the sovereign territory of another government and emphasized the “pragmatic obstacles” of giving hearings to detainees “in an active theater of war.”

The ruling dealt a severe blow to wider efforts by lawyers to extend a landmark 2008 Supreme Court ruling granting habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. A lower court judge had previously ruled that the three Bagram detainees were entitled to the same rights, although the courts had found that others captured in Afghanistan and held there were not.

A lawyer for the detainees, Tina Foster, said that if the precedent stood, Mr. Obama and future presidents would have a free hand to “kidnap people from other parts of the world and lock them away for the rest of their lives” without having to prove in court that their suspicions about such prisoners were accurate.

“The thing that is most disappointing for those of us who have been in the fight for this long is all of the people who used to be opposed to the idea of unlimited executive power during the Bush administration but now seem to have embraced it during this administration,” she said. “We have to remember that Obama is not the last president of the United States.”

Obama is a fascist and a war criminal - just like Bush.

It's a shame so many of the Daily Kossacks and Talking Points Memo people who would have been screaming about this shit during the Bush administration either lack the guts or the integrity to open their mouths now.

Same goes for Obama's lobbing of missiles at Pakistani weddings and the like.

When Bush and Cheney did it, it was bad; when Obama does it, it's good.

Fucking hypocrites - all of 'em.

And the head hypocrite currently inhabits the White House.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Whattya Know - Obama's Firing Somebody Who Isn't A Teacher!

Must be cold in hell or something:

ABC News has learned that President Obama will replace Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. His resignation will come as soon as tomorrow.

"On the heels of a number of intelligence failures involving the Fort Hood shooter, failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmuttalab, and questions about failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, it was no longer clear that Blair -- tasked with coordinating the 16 intelligence agencies and ensuring that they cooperate and share information - still had the full and complete confidence of the president, sources say."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this would be the first time Obama has fired ANYBODY for performance-related issues other than those teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island (although they did get their job back after they agreed to longer school days, a longer school year, additional professional development and accountability performance test tracking.)

Of course there have been not one but TWO terrorist attacks while Obama in the year and four months that President Accountability has been running things, and they stopped NEITHER of them.

In the case of the penis bomber, the bomb fizzled and set his crotch on fire and passengers subdued him.

In the case of the Times Square bomber, the bomb fizzled and a T-Shirt vendor alerted police to the smoking car. Then the bomber ALMOST got away on a plane to Pakistan before he was finally apprehended by authorities.

Heckuva job in both cases - not by Obama or authorities, of course, but by the airplane passengers and the T-Shirt vendor.

But if either of those bombers had been competent and the bombs actually gone off the way they were supposed to, there would be hundreds of dead people in Detroit and New York.

And the Obama administration would be at fault.

He knows that.

So the Director of National Intelligence is gone on Obama's orders.

But it took TWO terrorist attacks to get him canned. And nobody else has been held accountable - not even the clueless Homeland Security Director who said the system worked after the penis bomber nearly brought the plane down on Christmas Day.

So you really do have to fuck up before Obama fires you.

Unless you're a teacher, of course.

Then you are automatically suspect and subject to firing because every social problem kids suffer from is YOUR fault.

Not coming to school?

Your fault.

Parents are divorced and mom's boyfriend drinks and plays poker until 4 AM every morning?

Your fault.

Parents are unemployed and the family is now homeless and moving from shelter to shelter?

Your fault.

Students just don't give a shit and enjoy a marijuana and Newport cigarette breakfast before coming to school to giggle and eat french fries in the cafeteria for four periods?

Your fault.

Remember, it's ALWAYS the teacher's fault.

Hell, the Obama administration actually laid partial blame for the financial collapse (the one in '08, not the one we're undergoing this week) on teachers.

Said if the education system was better, it wouldn't have happened.

So you know he must think the same thing about the bombers.

In fact, Obama apparently wanted to fire teachers along with the Director of National Intelligence and replace them with T-Shirt vendors.

But with all the layoffs, it was hard to find any teachers who actually still have jobs.

Heckkuva job, Barackie!!!!

Heckuva Job, Obama!!!

So how is President Accountability dealing with that oil spill in the gulf?

Turns out not well at all:

Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope.

The scientists assert that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have been slow to investigate the magnitude of the spill and the damage it is causing in the deep ocean. They are especially concerned about getting a better handle on problems that may be occurring from large plumes of oil droplets that appear to be spreading beneath the ocean surface.

The scientists point out that in the month since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, the government has failed to make public a single test result on water from the deep ocean. And the scientists say the administration has been too reluctant to demand an accurate analysis of how many gallons of oil are flowing into the sea from the gushing oil well.

“It seems baffling that we don’t know how much oil is being spilled,” Sylvia Earle, a famed oceanographer, said Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “It seems baffling that we don’t know where the oil is in the water column.”

The administration acknowledges that its scientific resources are stretched by the disaster, but contends that it is moving to get better information, including a more complete picture of the underwater plumes.

“We’re in the early stages of doing that, and we do not have a comprehensive understanding as of yet of where that oil is,” Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, told Congress on Wednesday. “But we are devoting all possible resources to understanding where the oil is and what its impact might be.”

And how well is President Accountability holding BP accountable for the spill?

Again, not well at all:

Oceanographers have also criticized the Obama administration over its reluctance to force BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, to permit an accurate calculation of the flow rate from the undersea well. The company has refused to permit scientists to send equipment to the ocean floor that would establish the rate with high accuracy.

Ian MacDonald of Florida State University, an oceanographer who was among the first to question the official estimate of 210,000 gallons a day, said he had come to the conclusion that the oil company was bent on obstructing any accurate calculation. “They want to hide the body,” he said.

And the Obama administration is helping BP to do it.

This comes just weeks after Obama reversed his opposition to off shore oil drilling, saying that modern oil rigs almost never spill so off shore drilling is really, really safe.

Except it's not.

And just as the Bush administration couldn't figure out how to fix the problems after Katrina (or didn't seem to give a shit how to do it), the Obama administration doesn't know what to do about the oil spill.

President Accountability says teachers need to be held accountable for "failing" schools and low test scores and need to be fired.

How come nobody in the government gets fired when a major disaster like this takes place and both the government and the companies that created the spill do everything they can to hide the magnitude of the disaster and nearly nothing at all to mitigate the consequences?

Surely that is NOT change we can believe in.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Obama's Man Goes Down

Arlen Specter - Obama's man up until to the last couple of days when Obama saw the polls turn toward challenger Joe Sestak and ditched him - lost tonight in the Democratic Primary in PA.

In Kentucky, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul - son of Congressman Ron Paul - beat the Republican establishment candidate Trey Grayson.

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) - champion of Big Business, Big Pharma, and the HMO's - may go down tonight in Arkansas as well.

Signs are not good for the Democratic Party this November.

They may lose the House and could come close to losing the Senate.

NYC Educator said a few days ago in a comment thread that the Democratic Party has lost him as a voter and he will only vote for candidates who support teachers and public education.

I have seen similar sentiments from Norm at Ed Notes and others in the education blogosphere (at least from those of us who are not best pals with Joel Klein and funded by the Gates Foundation and/or the hedge funders.)

I feel the same way.

I want to see Democrats get HAMMERED this November, not because I think a Republican-led Congress will bring better policies for education or the environment or the economy, but simply because those Dems who have supported Obama on all his corporatist policies - from the Wall Street bailouts to the oil drilling to the education deform to the health care giveaway for the HMO's - need to be sent home so they can be replaced by Democrats who support working class people over the corporations, union members over management, patients over the HMO's, and mom and pop investors over the Wall Street crooks and the banksters.

For now, it's good to see Arlen Specter - Obama's man right up until the polls turned last week - get sent down to defeat.

It is a defeat not just for Specter, but also for Obama.

Maybe, just maybe, President Accountability himself will heed the message he is going to get now and in November from rank and file Dems like NYC Educator and myself who stay home.

But it is doubtful.

We're going to have to send the same message to President Accountability in 2012 as well.

UPDATE: Lawerence O'Donnell on MSNBC just now (paraphrasing): "The White House political operation is reeling from this result far in 2010, a White House endorsement has gotten nothing...they endorsed a candidate in Mass, that candidate lost...they endorsed Specter here in PA and worked for him right up until they saw he was going to lost...and he lost."

They ought to be reeling. If Dems lose the Murtha seat in Western PA and Lincoln doesn't win in Arkansas, it will be a trifecta of Obama losses.

Of course he'll probably blame somebody else for this mess.

Like teachers or something.

But the blame belongs to him.

Hedge Funders Go Running...

...away from regulation:

As regulators in developed markets step up oversight of hedge funds, these free pools of capital are increasingly set to make their home in Singapore and Hong Kong.


"Asia, and Singapore in particular, could definitely benefit from the stupid regulatory environment in Europe," said Lionel Martellini, director of France's EDHEC Risk and Asset Management Research Center.

Scrutiny of hedge funds has heightened in Europe as politicians in Germany and France blamed the industry for causing the financial crisis -- though the crisis was caused more by regulated banks in the United States, Martellini said.

Of course to a hedge funder, any regulation is "stupid," so no matter how governments try and regulate hedge fund activity, the hedge funders will always bitch and moan and cry socialism and then move offshore to countries with little to no regulatory apparatus.

Kinda like the charter school industry - they say all regulation of the industry is bad and if states attempt to do any, the charter operators say they'll just pick up and move to states with little to no regulation.

I guess the charter school acorn didn't fall far from the hedge fund tree.


The Obama administration embraced Arlen Specter's switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party as "Change We Can All Believe In" back in 2009.

Specter saw he was going to get wiped out in the GOP primary and made the expedient decision to become a Democrat.

The White House guaranteed they would back him over any challenger in a primary if he became a Dem and gave them another vote in the Senate.

Specter - who just a few years ago was embracing President Bush in his campaign commercials and asking people to re-elect him so he could make sure Bush's agenda was passed - suddenly now was embracing Obama and asking voters to re-elect him so that he could make sure Obama's agenda was passed.

Some turnaround, huh?

But the base of the party doesn't like Specter. They seem as a scumbag politician who will do and say anything to keep his Senate seat.

People began clambering for a "real Democrat" to run in the Dem primary against Specter.

Rep. Joe Sestak decided to run against Specter despite threats from Obama and Rahm Emanuel that he would be ostracized from the party for doing so.

The White House did all it could to get Sestak out and back Specter in the beginning, but once it became clear that Specter was in trouble and Sestak had a good shot to beat him, suddenly Obama wasn't so friendly toward Arlen.

Over the weekend, the Specter campaign, desperate for momentum, asked Obama to come to PA and campaign with him.

Obama said no.

Behind the scenes, the White House said they do not want the president to be associated with a "loser."

They also decided to keep VP Joe Biden away from PA and Specter.

How's that for change we can believe in?

Obama is a coward, willing to dedicate life and limb to you when all is well, ready to throw you under the bus as soon as things turn.

I guess we already learned that with Reverend Wright.

Nonetheless, it is good to see it in the open once again.

Obama likes to play like he is above politics, like he is a better human being than all the mere mortals who live in Washington.

But he is just as ordinary, just as scummy, as all the other politicians in Washington and around the country.

Maybe he's even worse, because unlike the Specters of the world who make no bones about their expediency and scumminess, Obama likes to depict himself as morally superior from the others.

But at the end of the day, he is a coward and a phony.

Go Sestak.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How Did The Charter School/Hedge Funders Get Here?

If you're a male of a certain age, you know Ronnie James Dio - singer with Elf, Rainbow, post-Ozzy Black Sabbath and his own band, Dio.

He died yesterday at the age of 67.

The news wasn't a complete surprise, unfortunately. He had been very sick with stomach cancer (he looked very frail in recent photos) and the summer tour of Heaven and Hell - the post-Ozzy Sabbath renamed to keep Sharon Osbourne from suing them - was canceled back on May 4th because Dio was too sick to perform.

Still, the news made me feel a little sad when I heard. I pulled out the old Sabbath cds - Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules - and the Rainbow cd Rainbow Rising last night and played them really loud to bring back the feeling I had first listening to them as a 13 year old. I started looking at the websites, seeing other people reminisce about the 70's and 80's music scene, about Ronnie's passing, about the man's career (he actually started in a doo wop band in the late 50's!!!)

As I was taking an hour or so to roll down memory lane, what do I come across on one of the music websites about Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne but an ad for ""

Not kidding - on a site about Ozzy rereleasing his first two solo albums with the original rhythm section restored (another Sharon Osbourse/lawyer special), there is this ad that says "Petition the UFT - get rid of bad teachers."

On a site about music - specifically 80's heavy metal music.

Tell me, why are the hedge funders/charter school scumbags putting an anti-teacher ad there?


Every newspaper, major blog on right and left and the MSN homepage wasn't enough?

I love how the hedge funders/charter school scumbags like to play like they're the underdogs against the big bad all-powerful teachers unions.

Meanwhile they have quite literally blanketed the web with these ads - from the Times to Huffingtonpost to a music site about heavy metal.

They're like Bloomberg back in the last election -so much money to burn, they can literally send out a mailing a day to everybody in the world.

The question I have is, what kind of democracy do we have when a small contingent of the richest people on earth can run a very expensive ad campaign to demonize unionized teachers everywhere on the web for as long and as frequent as they want?

I guess it's the same kind of democracy that calls capping oil company profits socialism but caps the liability they have for the worst oil spill in the history of mankind of $75 million.

It's the best democracy money can buy - for the rich and the powerful and the connected.

For everybody else, it's the shaft.

As Ronnie James Dio wrote all those years ago "If you listen to fools, the mob rules..."

Surely that is true these days.

Rest In Peace, Ronnie.

Maybe Firing Teachers Will Solve The Problem

Fun all across the globe this morning:

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks fell the most in more than three months, the euro dropped to its lowest against the dollar since 2006 and the cost of insuring bonds from default jumped on concern European austerity measures will derail the economic recovery.


“Europe is certainly the scary story at the moment,” said Jason Teh, who helps manage $2.6 billion at Investors Mutual in Sydney. “Corporate debt risk was the 2008 story, now its sovereign debt risk. The countries that can print money may have to do it again to keep their economies afloat.”

One week after agreeing to a $1 trillion financial lifeline for the euro region, European finance ministers meeting in Brussels today are under pressure to show they can reduce deficits fast enough to satisfy investors and then police budgets once targets are met. Investors are growing increasingly skittish after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said Greece is considering legal action against U.S. banks that may have contributed to the country’s debt crisis.

It won't take much to send the financial system into a 2008-like crisis all over again, only this time it's going to be really hard for President Accountability, Helicopter Ben Bernanke and Treasury Timmeh Geithner to just print their way out of this.

Not that they won't try anyway.

But I'm sure before this is all done, President Accountability will find a way to blame the mess on the public education system and call for some teachers to be fired.

And the charter school/"Keep Teachers Great" people will be up with ads in no time backing him up on it.

I do wonder where all the hedge fund crooks and charter school scumbags are getting the money to burn on the ads given the state of the world financial system these days.

Maybe Obama and Bernanke are funneling it directly to them fresh from the printing presses?

When they're not funneling it directly to JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, BoA, et al,, that is.

Oh, wait - the charter school/"Keep Teachers Great" people are those people too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dems and Repubs Criticize Race to the Top

Unbelievable - in the very same week Mulgrew and the UFT tell us we have to change teacher evaluation rules and tie them to test scores because "this is the wave of the future," the push back against Race to the Top is reaching a crescendo - against the Obama plan!!!

Race to the Top is hitting the wall.

President Barack Obama’s $4.35 billion grant competition — designed to encourage states to dramatically improve school performance — is running into resistance across the country, as state officials and teachers unions are clashing with the administration over the contest rules.

And now Congress is getting into the act — with lawmakers of both parties challenging the president’s tough-love approach to school improvement.

“There are some very tough feelings over this,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). “Some people are afraid to say it, but I’m not.”

Minnesota Rep. John Kline, the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, has said he will urge Congress to oppose Obama’s request for $1.35 billion to extend the program in his fiscal 2011 budget.

“We have a program here that’s not yet proven,” he said. “We haven’t figured out if $4.35 billion is being spent wisely. Why would we add $1.35 billion?”

Read the rest of the piece.

It will break your heart.

The UFT and the NYSUT could have argued that adding more tests to public education - as the new teacher evaluation rules will do - is harmful to children and schools and they would have gotten some pretty good backing from across the country as people push back against Obama, Duncan and the administration's merry band of Gates Foundation shills.

But instead the UFT and the NYSUT caved and gave up the ghost on test scores - now you can be sure that additional tests will be added to EVERY subject in EVERY grade, teachers will ONLY teach to the test as they try and save their jobs from whatever bullshit "value-added" formula Klein, Steiner and Tisch pull out of their corrupt asses, and the only people who will be happy about this are Obama, Duncan, the eduwankers in and out of the administration and the test prep companies who stand to make billions off the changes.

And this did NOT have to be.

The tide is turning AGAINST Obama and Race to the Top.

People HATE this competition and the politicians are starting to notice and call the thing what it is - an unproven boondoggle.

But too late for we here in New York.

The UFT and the NYSUT have already caved to Obama and his eduwankers.

Very, very infuriating.

But given the UFT's record of collaboration, poor strategizing and caving on all the things that really matter, not a surprise.

Two Emails This Week

That's how many I got from UFT head Michael Mulgrew - one touting the changes in teacher evaluation, the other offering the rationale for why he agreed to the changes and a FAQ link for all the questions a teacher might have over how the changes will be enacted and what they will entail.

And of course it is all jive.

He claims that these changes will limit test prep in New York City schools - but they will force new tests in every grade in every subject.

Exactly how is that limiting test prep?

Interestingly enough, Obama said the same thing about what he wanted to do with his education policies when he was running for president - that he wanted to limit the test prep that had to be done under NCLB.

And of course he has since promoted policies that add more and more tests to every subject and raise the stakes for the tests by placing people's jobs and salaries in jeopardy if the scores do not "add value" to students' scores every semester.

Yesterday in my remedial Regents class, we worked on a poem about guilt. I had students write a journal about things that made them feel guilty, then they shared their journal writings. Finally I offered my own experience with the subject, we read the poem and talked about the theme and why it was important to find healthy ways to overcome feelings of guilt for things we may or may not have done in the past.

Only at the very end did I mention "literary elements" and tie the poem and the discussion to the Regents exam work we have been doing ALL semester.

For the next 20 days of class, I will have to return to ALL test prep ALL the time because I need to make sure that these children - many who are in the support services program or resource room program - are prepped well enough to remember all the idiotic things they have to remember for the four part, two ELA Regents test.

Tell me, Mr. Mulgrew, how your "agreement" with Steiner and Tisch at NYSED enables me to limit test prep and engage my classes with more lessons like the one I did on guilt and fewer lessons on multiple choice strategies and Task 2 essay writing outlines?

Same question to you, Obama - how does your forcing all this test prep and teacher salaries and evaluations based on test scores improve the quality of education?

The NY Daily News says today that New Yorkers feel betrayed by Obama who came to town yesterday to raise funds from Wall Street while cutting the homeland security budget funds for New York at the same time.

While that is just one more piece of hypocrisy from this very hypocritical person (Change We Can Believe In?), I want to say that if you're a teacher and have watched the policies enacted by this administration or listened to the things they say about teachers as whole high schools are fired and the president and the secretary of education "applaud" the move, you already know about betrayal.

Same goes if you're a UFT member. I did not vote for Mulgrew - I voted straight ICE. So I am not one of the 91%ers who elected Mulgrew. But they ought to be feeling betrayed today as well

Betrayals all around, blame for education problems solely on the backs of "bad" teachers (and the DOE thinks 2/3rds of us are bad - presumably the most expensive two-thirds.)

You can be sure that firings will increase with this new system and that they will neither be justified nor rational.

Older teachers who make too much money will be set up to fail and canned.

Systemically, New York City schools will be full of 5 year and under teachers within 10 years of these changes.

That should make for some great education.

Change we can believe in?

Nope - change for change's sake - because Obama and the other education deformers mistake activity for action and change for progress.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Test Prep Inc.

A quotation from the bald-headed pimp running the UFT who sold 80,000 teachers down the river yesterday:

"We are adamant that we do not want New York City going any further into Test Prep Inc.," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

Except that he ensures that NYC school children and teachers will be engaging in all test prep all the time because under the new agreement the unions reached with the state education department:

For the first two years under the system, teachers whose students take state exams - fourth- through eighth-grade teachers - will have 20% of their evaluations based on the results.

An additional 20% of their rating would come from new assessments that would have to be created at the local level, as will 40% of the evaluation for kindergarten through third grade and high school teachers.

Both the city and the state will give tests in every subject. So if your kid is already taking one high stakes standardized test in each subject, you can now double that and make it two high stakes standardized tests a subject.

And that's assuming they don't do value-added per year, in which case it would have to be four tests a year - one from the city and one from the state in the beginning of the year, one from the city and one from the state at the end of the year - to see how teachers have "added value" to their students.

Except that wouldn't work for high schools. That might have to do that every semester instead.

That would make for eight tests a year. In every subject.

This is a complete mess and the only winners are the education deformers looking to declare all public schools "failing" and privatize the system (like Obama, Bloomberg, Klein, Duncan, Rhee, et al.) and the test prep companies that will make billions from all the new test prep before it is all said and done.

And the price tag for all these new assessments and tests?

More than what that cigarette smoking pimp in the White House is dangling to the data-counting pimps here in NY as part of the Race to the Top lottery competition.

I wonder if the bald-headed pimp running the UFT into into submission and his counterpart at the state union know that?

Or care?

Perhaps parents can change this law eventually when it becomes clear that the Era of High Stakes Testing just got so much worse as a result of this "agreement."

Welcome to all high stakes testing all the time.

Now that jobs are on the line as a result of test scores, you can be sure any teacher who doesn't bail from the system will spend most of his or her time on test prep.

And the institutionalized cheating and grade inflation will sky-rocket more than they already have.

I'm sure that will turn around the achievement gap and the graduation rate.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sold Down The River With A Backroom Deal

From this comment thread at Chaz's blog:

I'm numb all day. I can't believe our "union" would cave like this. What did the UFT get in return?

This is the issue that the teachers in Florida marched against and swayed their governor to veto. And we in the great , sophisticated, progressive New York City get a midnight, back room deal shoved down our throats? It figures, this is how oligarchies work. The little people matter little.

What do you expect from a shop teacher from Grady? You think that bald headed pimp Mulgrew stood any chance of standing ground , or WANTING to stand ground against the Big Boys? He's feathering his nest, and those around him. I just don't understand what kind of a "union" will be left in the future for the UFT. What are they thinking? Isn't this suicidal for the UFT's future?

Bald-headed pimp indeed.

That's a great new nickname for Mulgrew.

Kinda like he called Klein numbnuts.

Only bald-headed pimp EXACTLY describes Mulgrew.

He sold us down the river.

And he did it with a smile.

Houston Education Miracle Redux

Hey, look - Texas is funking with the education data again:

More than 22,620 Texas secondary students who stopped showing up for class in 2008 were excluded from the state's dropout statistics because administrators said they were being home-schooled, according to Texas Education Agency figures.

But that's where the scrutiny of this growing population seems to end, leaving some experts convinced that schools are disguising thousands of middle and high school dropouts in this hands-off category.

While home-schooling's popularity has increased, the rate of growth concentrated in Texas' high school population is off the chart: It's nearly tripled in the last decade, including a 24 percent jump in a single year.

"That's just ridiculous," said Brian D. Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute. "It doesn't sound very believable."

No, it doesn't sound very believable.

No more so than Rod Paige's "Texas Miracle" back during the Bush days that claimed the achievement gap between white students and minority students had been narrowed by his business-style education reforms.

Those claims turned out to be bullshit too.

In point of fact, Paige and Texas just didn't count drop-outs in their stats.

That certainly helped with the graduation rate data and it helped to show the achievement gap had narrowed.

But it was fake, false, a load of horseshit.

Just like the "accountability movement" that Paige and Bush were promoting through No Child Left Behind.

Of course we have left all that behind with the current administration of President Accountability and his secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who claims his own "Chicago Turnaround" miracle for the reason why Chicago-style accountability reforms - including teacher pay tied to test scores, teacher evaluations tied to test scores, and the lowest performing schools turned over to for-profit charter operators like the non-profit started by the guy who runs diploma-mill Devry University - are being forced on states all over the country.

Oh, wait, we haven't left behind the accountability movement or No Child Left Behind-style reform at all.

Actually we're getting it in triplicate from the current regime in Washington.

And they're basing it on Duncan's Chicago Miracle data.

But of course the Chicago Miracle is bullshit too - just like the Houston Miracle was.

But it's going to be replicated all over the country by President Accountability and his little basketball buddy at the Education Department and by the time the evidence becomes clear just how horseshit all these reforms are, the total damage to public education will be complete.

And the guy from Devry University - or guys just like him in the for-profit education world - will be running entire urban school systems.

NY State To Tie Teacher Evaluations To Test Scores

A direct result of President Change We Can Believe In:

The State Education Department and New York’s teachers’ unions have reached a deal to overhaul teacher evaluations and tie them to student test scores, brokering a compromise on an issue the unions had bitterly opposed for years.

The agreement, reached in time for the state’s second bid at $700 million in federal education grants, would scrap the current system whereby teachers were rated simply satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Instead, annual evaluations would place teachers in one of four categories — highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective. While the deal would not have any immediate effect on teacher pay, it could make it easier for schools to fire teachers deemed subpar.

“We believe that if done correctly this will change the landscape dramatically,” said David M. Steiner, the state education commissioner. “This is not a gotcha system. This is about creating professional development that can really improve education.”

Teachers would be measured on a 100-point scale, with 20 percent points based on how much students improve on the standardized state exams. Another 20 percent would be based on local tests, which would have to be developed by each school system. After two years, 25 percent would be based on the state exams and 15 percent would come from the local tests.

The remainder of the evaluation will come from observations from principals and other teachers, and other measures. If teachers are rated ineffective for two consecutive years, they would face firing through an expedited hearing process that must conclude within 60 days. Currently hearings can drag on for several months.

The changes, which Mr. Steiner, his deputy John King and Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, described in an interview on Monday, are subject to approval by the State Legislature. Ms. Tisch said they needed lawmakers to approve a package of education legislation within the next 10 days, so that the state could meet the June 1 application deadline for the federal competition known as Race to the Top.

All so the state can get a couple of years of dough from President Change We Can Believe In.

40% of teacher evaluations tied to test scores.

Tests at every level in every class.

More testing.

More data.

Eventually, salaries based on your designation - "highly effective," "effective," "developing," or you're fired.

And according to the Times, the unions brokered this deal.

Sold out by the unions and the politicians.

You can be sure with the Education Department saying 2/3rds of teachers are "bad" and in need of development that this new system will be used as bludgeon to fire thousands of teachers.

You can be sure to that this will supersede tenure and principals will be able to use it to get expensive vets off their staffs and bring in cheaper newbies.

This will be a disaster for teachers and schools.

I'm teaching a remedial class of support service students and students who have failed the Regents at least once.

Many do not show up to class despite weekly calls home and visits to their guidance counselors by either myself or the support services teacher who works with me.

Even when they're in class, they're attention spans last for about 15 seconds before the distractions start.

Dunno how many are actually going to even show up for both days of the ELA exam, let alone how many will do well enough to pass.

But if my co-teacher and I are to be "graded" according to how these children fare on the state tests, well, we're screwed.

And again, this is ALL due to President Change We Can Believe In.

McCain/Palin would have never gotten this thing through.

Let the politicians know, this goes through, no votes for the Dems who support it.

Though with the unions "brokering" this deal, I don't see how it doesn't pass overwhelmingly.

But we'll see.

Monday, May 10, 2010

$Trillion Dollar Movie

Europe bailed out its weakest economies last night by pledging a $trillion dollar rescue package.

European markets are up 5%.

Dow futures are up 400.

It seems there is no economic problem that cannot be solved by simply printing more money.

Today the markets and the marketeers will party like it is 2009 all over again.

Gotta love 0% interest rates in perpetuity, yearly bailout measures for indebted institutions and countries and austerity measures only forced onto the working and middle classes.

Change we can believe in?

Nope - as Barry at Big Picture says, a trillion dollar movie we've already seen.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Mommy, When's Daddy Coming Home?"

If daddy is David Levin, founder of the KIPP program, not for a long, long time.

An exercise in fellatio masquerading as a human interest story/personality profile in today's NY Times explains how the KIPP founder works 75-90 hours/6 days a week "training teachers, raising money and shuttling among six schools."

Levin is married to a marketing consultant and has a 15 month old child.

Sundays are reserved for spending time with wife and son.

Monday through Saturday there is no time for family concerns - just time to work, work, work.

And of course this is the lifestyle model that we see promoted in journalism and by politicians as the best way to go about life and the way we ought to be teaching our children to go about it.

This is what Mistress Eva and For-Profit Geoffrey and Sex Scandal Rhee and the rest of the education deformers push in their schools as the way to raise living standards for lower income children.

It is also what Barack Obama and Arne Duncan are promoting in their Race to the Top casino scheme and the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind.

Additional school hours, additional school days, fewer days off.

Excuse me for asking, but how is bringing back the 90 hour/6 day work week/no vacation time raising the standards of living of people?

Perhaps Levin and Obama and Duncan don't give a shit about their own families and kids and like spending 90 hours a week working.

But many humans actually have interests outside of work and reasons for living outside of making money.

Hell, some of us actually like spending time with people outside of the work sphere.

Some of us like spending time with our families.

Some of like spending time outside work to rest, relax, rejuvenate, ruminate, contemplate, reflect, meditate and grow emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

Clearly David Levin, founder of KIPP schools and proud worker of 90 hour work weeks, is not one of those people.

One wonders what emotional damage was done to young David to have him grow up to be such a fucked up person that he'd rather spend 90 hours a week with fundraisers and training teachers than raising his young son grow and watching him grow and learn about life.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catering To The Masters Of Expensive Technology

The following critique is leveled at the financial markets and the changes wrought by all the technology that now governs how things are done, but it could just as easily be leveled at the education deformers in New York City, Washington, Chicago, and Bill Gates' mansion who push the same thing onto public schools:

“Not so long ago, if our markets experienced severe stress, and certainly a “fat finger”, human wisdom would intervene. Reasons for the stress would be ascertained, trading in affected stocks would be slowed or halted, stabilizing bids would be initiated as needed, and severe volatility would be dealt with in a calm and reasoned manner.

Today, the human specialist model has been replaced by an automated market maker model. Our market structure has evolved. It has evolved, not by design,
or a well-thought and reasoned plan, but it has evolved to cater to masters of expensive technology, deployed unfettered by participants whose only concern is to squeeze out every last picosecond and fractional cent before they move on to other countries’ markets and asset classes. The for-profit exchange model at every chance sacrifices the protection of long term investor interests for the profitability of serving hyper-leveraged intraday speculators . . .

Today’s price swings in a great number of stocks highlight the inherent and systemic risk of our automated stock market, which has few checks and balances in place. Once the market sensed stress, the bids were cancelled and market sell orders chased prices down to the lowest possible point.”

Just as in the markets the human specialist has been replaced by an automated market maker, in education the teacher specialist who makes teaching decisions based upon the curricula that has been thought out and developed by education experts has been replaced by twenty-something central bureaucrats with business degrees and/or technology backgrounds, education "advisors" trained by the Gates and Broad Foundations to push more and more technology onto schools and place more and more blame onto humans, and politicians happy to take the yummy yummy political contributions and bribes in the form of grants from the corporatocracy looking to privatize public education and run the entire public education sphere according to data and stats.

That, apparently, is the change we can believe in that President Accountability was spewing from his mouth during the 2008 campaign.

It is also the gospel of education deform that Joel Klein, evangelist for the multi-national corporatists and technocrats, is bringing to countries like Australia, England, and Israel.

And Bloomberg, if he gets his way (and given the way the economy is probably going to tank at the end of 2010 into 2011, he just may), will spend $100 billion or more to buy the White House in 2012 and complete the corporatist job of destroying democracy and establishing a corporatocracy - government by the corporation, for the corporation, of the corporation.

Destroying public education and making it into a step-child of the corporatocracy - where children can be trained to be good, compliant employees happy to take any treatment so long as they have a job - is a big part of the plan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Contagion - Sovereign Debt Edition


MADRID (MarketWatch) -- Pressing the button on a red-hot subject for financial markets, Moody's Investor Service on Thursday warned that severe contagion threat to banking systems of southern Europe could "become a common theme."

Moody's, which put Portugal's credit rating on three-month review on Wednesday for a downgrade, said the banking systems of Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, as well as the U.K., are "increasingly moving into the focus of the markets."

"Although the challenges in these six countries are different, the potential for contagion from their sovereign as observed in Greece is also spreading to some other countries, and to the extent this affects these countries it could dilute some of the inherent differences of the banking systems and impose a common threat," said Ross Abercromby, senior analyst at Moody's who authored the report.

Citigroup says markets could fall 20% over the Greece mess alone - the Dow is down 7% since the highs of April - so things could get really bad, really quick.

If the contagion spreads, look out below.

I know Obama was doing a victory lap over last month's job's numbers today - four straight months of positive job growth and a trajectory upward.

But those numbers are all BEFORE the sovereign debt crisis hit the markets.

Let's see if hiring in the private sector continues with panic spreading throughout the financial world and credit markets seizing up again.

And remember, states and municipalities are set to lay off hundreds of thousands of government employees in the coming months.

With the government stimulus spending ending soon, with fear spreading over the sovereign debt crisis, with states and municipalities laying off hundreds of thousands of people - we could easily see huge negatives for GDP in the second half of the year.

And those will be Obama's negatives.

That will be Obama's recession.

And as people lose their homes, their jobs, their pensions (but not their health care because Obama is going to force people to buy some), I guess they can all say they got change they could believe in.

But we certainly didn't get anything different than the Bush years from Obama.

We got more bailouts for the banks, bullshit regulation and underfunded regulators for the financial markets, a renominated Ben Bernanke, the president defending Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein over the ludicrous bonuses handed out for selling people fraudulent products.

That's what we got.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wall Street Parties Like It's 2008

As Atrios always says on days like this, wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- The 13-month rally in credit markets is unraveling as Europe fails to contain its debt crisis.

Money markets showed banks may be more reluctant to lend to each other than at any time over the past six months and a derivatives index used to protect against European bank failures soared the most on record. U.S. company bond sales are poised for the slowest week this year, while in Europe they all but disappeared, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Emerging market and mortgage bonds also tumbled.

Investors are increasingly concerned that a 110-billion euro ($139 billion) rescue package for Greece won’t work, escalating into a sovereign crisis reminiscent of the subprime mortgage meltdown that pushed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy. U.S. stocks plunged the most since 1987, before paring the decline, while Treasuries surged.

“I don’t think we’re in panic mode, but there’s a little bit of a whiff of 2008 here,” said Scott MacDonald, head of credit and economics research at Aladdin Capital Holdings LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, which oversees $12.5 billion. “We had the subprime debacle in the U.S. Does Europe relive that in terms of the massive leveraging they’ve done to keep the social model running? Because then it’s a worry of not 110 billion euros for Greece, but it’s potentially a project that could go up over 1 trillion euros or more.”

The Dow fell almost 1000 points today until it ended down "just" 347 points.

The Dow is down close to 600 points the last three days, though they blamed today's plunge on a "glitch."


Or maybe the subprime crisis is back, only this time the subprimers are Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland.

And maybe this is only the beginning of the next phase of the Great Crisis of '08.

Remember, the market recovered a bit in 1930 before heading south again in late 1930 and really plunging from there.

Should be an exciting rest of the month at the casino down below Fulton Street...

Bloomberg/Klein Spend $5 Million To Recruit New Teachers While Laying Off 8,500 Current Ones

Explain the rationale of this:

The city may lay off 8,500 teachers, but education officials still want approval for a contract of up to $5 million a year to recruit even more teachers.

The agency's Panel for Educational Policy will vote later this month on the hefty contract, but already critics are questioning the need to spend money to recruit during a time of layoffs.

"We should put a freeze on any spending related to new hiring. We should not even be going through the expense of negotiating a contract now," said Patrick Sullivan, the panel's Manhattan representative.

Since 2000, the New Teacher Project has contracted with the city to recruit New York City Teaching Fellows. For this school year, the group received $2.8 million for recruiting 705 teachers.

You know what? I'll explain the rationale for this.

Bloomberg and Klein want to make sure their cronies at the New Teacher Project get paid off despite the severe economic conditions that Bloomberg's says will require 8,500 layoffs in schools.

Also, Bloomberg and Klein want veteran teachers who are too "expensive" off the payroll, but you can only move vets out by bringing cheaper "newbies" in.

Thus we have the city spending $5 million to recruit new teachers even as they try and lay off 8,500.


But not a surprise.