Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Four More Murdoch Journalists Arrested In Corruption/Hacking Probe

I was out all day, so I didn't this news until tonight:

LONDON) — British police searched the offices of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers Saturday after arresting a police officer and four current and former staff of his tabloid The Sun as part of an investigation into police bribery by journalists.

The arrests spread the scandal over tabloid wrongdoing — which has already caused the closure of one tabloid, the News of the World — to a second Murdoch newspaper.

London's Metropolitan Police said two men aged 48 and one aged 56 were arrested on suspicion of corruption early in the morning at homes in and around London. A 42-year-old man was detained later at a London police station. Murdoch's News Corp. confirmed that all four were current or former Sun employees. A fifth man, a 29-year-old police officer, was arrested at the London station where he works.

The investigation into whether reporters illegally paid police for information is running parallel to a police inquiry into phone hacking by Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World. Officers were searching the men's homes and the east London headquarters of the media mogul's British newspapers for evidence.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal identifies the News Corporation journalists arrested today:

While neither police nor the company named the employees, a person familiar with the matter indicated that some of the arrested have served in top roles in the Sun's newsroom. They include Graham Dudman, who had been the paper's managing editor before being promoted last year to a job as editorial development director at News International, the company's U.K. newspaper unit.

In addition to Mr. Dudman, the arrested Sun employees are Mike Sullivan, Chris Pharo and Fergus Shanahan, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Sullivan is the tabloid's crime editor. Mr. Pharo last year was promoted to associate editor of news. In 2007, Mr. Shanahan was named executive editor of the paper, a senior editorial role. Mr. Shanahan previously had been deputy editor. The men couldn't immediately be reached to comment.

Rupert Murdoch himself was curiously silent about the arrests on his Twitter feed.

Guess he's only concerned when teachers are doing the misdeeds.

But just in case you're interested, The Guardian has a list of all 30 people arrested in the Murdoch hacking/bribery scandal here.

The scandal has now been traced to two of Murdoch's newspapers, the now closed News of the World and The Sun.

The police raided offices that also house staff for the The Sunday Times, so it is possible News Corporation employees at that Murdoch paper will also been arrested in the case.

So far, one Murdoch journalist who was working in America, James Desborough, has been arrested, leaving open the possibility that hacking/bribery was perpetrated by News Corporation/Murdoch employees here in the United States as well.

Gee, wouldn't it be nice if the NY Post ran a series on all the News Corporation employees arrested so far in the case?

They do that when it's teachers...

Friday, January 27, 2012

News Corporation, FOX 5 Have Habit Of Hiring Sleazebags And Criminals

The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post never misses an opportunity to use the misdeeds and/or crimes of a handful of teachers to smear all 75,000 New York City teachers.

Currently they are running a series called CUOMO'S CHALLENGE in which they write about a few teachers who have either engaged in inappropriate behavior or have committed crimes and use those stories to insinuate that there are thousands of others in New York City schools just like this but the city cannot fire them because the teachers union acts as protector.

It's jive, of course - the overwhelming majority of New York City school teachers do not engage in criminality, do not act inappropriately with students, do not steal. and should not be under suspicion by the New York Post or anybody else.

But reality never stopped any Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlet from using the stories of one or two people to push through a political agenda - which is EXACTLY what they are doing with this CUOMO'S CHALLENGE series.

But as I have pointed out already in previous posts, if any organization or institution seems to have an inordinate share of criminals and sleazebags, it is actually the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation.

Twenty News Corporation employees have already been arrested in the phone hacking scandal in Britain on crimes ranging from phone hacking, computer hacking, conspiracy to cover up a crime, destroying evidence of a crime, bribing police and lying to police.

This list of the arrested includes the former chief editor of the now-closed News of the World tabloid and aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, Andy Coulson, and the former chief executive of News International, the British wing of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire, Rebekah Brooks.

Former publisher of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, Les Hinton, and Murdoch's son, James, are also being scrutinized by investigators in the case and may be arrested in the near future.

In addition, News Corporation has recently settled with some of the victims of its wide-ranging phone hacking, in the process acknowledging “that senior employees and directors” of the company “knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence.”

So here is the News Corporation-owned New York Post tarring ALL New York City teachers with the crimes or misdeeds of a few when a huge percentage of its executives and directors have engaged in criminal activities.

That takes chutzpah, doesn't it?

But it gets better.

Let's not forget that Murdoch also owns FOX 5 here in New York, a station that currently is dealing with the allegations that one of its on-air personalities and anchors, Greg Kelly, raped a woman.

According to NY1, the woman claims Kelly got her drunk, attacked her sexually, and impregnated her. The woman says she later had an abortion.

Kelly, son of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, denies attacking her but does not deny having sex with her. He says it was "consensual."

Police sources have told the newspapers that the woman is a credible source.

Kelly has taken a voluntary leave from FOX 5 to deal with this scandal.

He is not the first FOX 5 personality to be embroiled in scandal.

Don't forget that former FOX 5 reporter Charles Leaf was arrested on child molestation charges in 2010 after he sexually attacked a four-year old girl in New Jersey.

Leaf's sister, Susan Gaudet, told the New York Daily News that Leaf had previously molested family members (including a three year old) back in the 1980's over the course of six years and told the newspaper:

"I'd like to see them put him away for the rest of his life," fumed Gaudet, one of Leaf's three sisters, from Jacksonville, N.C. "I am so full of rage. If I had the opportunity to spit in his face and hurt him, I would do it."

Gaudet told the News that Leaf admitted to his family that he had molested his female relatives but was never prosecuted for those crimes.

So here FOX 5 hired a man who had admitted molesting family members in the past, who once again was molesting the children of neighbors, to work as a reporter.

Can you imagine if such a person had been working as a teacher? What would the New York Post have published about that? How would they have tarred ALL teachers for the crimes of one, how would they have used that story to push for stronger evaluations of teachers?

Because if one of these guys, these dirty rotten criminals, got hired, then more must have!

And yet, when it is their own News Corporation employees, when it is FOX 5 employees who are accused of behavior and crimes that are BEYOND THE PALE, we hear nothing from the Post reporting how this shows a pattern of criminality in News Corporation, how if 22 News Corporation employees have been arrested over the last two years on various crimes, then maybe ALL News Corporation employees need to be scrutinized.

Any other rapists or child molesters at FOX 5, Rupert?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hedge Fund Manager/Education Reformer Fined $7.2 Million Pounds For "Insider Dealing"

The crimes involving teacher bashers just don't stop today.

First I posted earlier how twenty employees of the teacher-bashing News Corporation have been arrested over the last half year in various charges ranging from phone hacking, computer hacking, conspiracy to cover up a crime, destroying evidence of a crime, bribing police and lying to police.

Now comes word that famed hedge fundie/education reformer/DFER advisor David Einhorn has gotten in trouble with the law as well:

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn, whose short selling famously helped to bring down Lehman Brothers bank, has been fined £7.2m for insider dealing by the UK regulator.

Einhorn, the owner of Greenlight Capital, engaged in "market abuse" in relation to a fundraising by pub group Punch Taverns in June 2009, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has ruled.

According to the City watchdog, Einhorn was told by a corporate broker acting on behalf of Punch Taverns that the company was preparing a significant equity fundraising. Moments after the telephone conversation ended, Einhorn gave instructions to sell all of Greenlight's holding in Punch.

At the time these instructions were given, Greenlight held 13.3% of Punch shares. Over the next four days Greenlight sold 11,656,000 Punch shares, reducing its holding in Punch from 13.3% to 8.89%.

On 15 June 2009, Punch announced a fundraising of £375m, after which the price of its shares fell by 29.9%. Greenlight's trading had thereby avoided losses of approximately £5.8m for the funds under its management.

The fine is a major blow for Einhorn's reputation. His career has been built on a talent for spotting wrongdoing in other firms. In a statement the hedge fund boss called the decision "unjust and inconsistent" and said the company had paid the fine rather than continue the "arduous fight"


Tracey McDermott, the FSA's acting director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "Einhorn is an experienced professional with a high profile in the industry. We expect someone in his position to be able to identify inside information when he receives it and to act appropriately.

"His failure to do so is a serious breach of the expected standards of market conduct. It is highly damaging to market confidence when privileged shareholders commit market abuse, and the high penalty reflects the seriousness of his breach

I breathlessly await the New York Post to do a story about David Einhorn's breach of ethics, his moral failings and the need to remove him from the Board of Advisors of the Democrats for Education Reform since nobody who shows this kind of moral failing ought to be involved in education.

Of course since every other member of both the Board and the Board of Advisors for the DFER's is a Wall Street criminal and since the New York Post actually admires the kind of criminal activity these people engage in, I better not wait too long for that Post story.

NY Post Bashes "Criminal Teachers," Ignores Crimes Perpetrated By Its Own Executives And Directors

More teacher-bashing by the NY Post today in a running section they call CUOMO'S CHALLENGE - they allegedly reviewed almost 100 disciplinary hearings involving teachers in 2011 and found that "only" a "paltry" 31% of the 70 charged with misconduct were removed from their jobs.

Never mind if those charged with misconduct who weren't removed from their jobs were "falsely" charged or if the charges did not warrant removal from their jobs - the Post editors see all teachers as criminals and all in need of removal by the city.

Meanwhile back in News Corporation Land, a broadening criminal scandal has seen 20 News Corporation employees arrested - including the former chief editor of the now-closed News of the World tabloid and aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, Andy Coulson, and the former chief executive of News International, the British wing of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire, Rebekah Brooks - for crimes ranging from phone hacking, computer hacking, conspiracy to cover up a crime, destroying evidence of a crime, bribing police and lying to police.

The former publisher of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and long-time right-hand man to Rupert Murdoch, Les Hinton, and Murdoch's own son, James, are also in the sights of criminal investigators.

News Corporation settled with a few of the people its employees hacked and in the process acknowledged “that senior employees and directors” of the company “knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence.”

The investigation is ongoing, more arrests are expected, more hacking victims are suing News Corporation over the criminal activity, more settlements are expected by the legal teams leading those suits.

You rarely if ever hear about this Watergate-sized scandal embroiling News Corporation if you only read the News Corporation-owned New York Post.

They never mention how 20 of their companies employees were arrested in the hacking scandal, how more are expected to be arrested, how Rupert Murdoch's son, James, and his right-hand man, Les Hinton, may be on that list, how the more investigators dig into the scandal, the more News Corporation sleaze they dig up.

Nope - all you ever hear about is "bad teachers" and the city's and state's need to fire them.

This from a news organization that is so criminal and corrupt, you need a very large scorecard to track all the arrests of and all the crimes perpetrated by the people who work for it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama Lies About His Education Policy

The lies about education came fast and furious from Obama last night during the State of the Union speech:

For less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning – the first time that’s happened in a generation.

But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference.

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.


Stop bashing teachers?

Stop making teachers teach to the test?

Who do you think has put in place an education policy "for less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year" that institutionalizes bashing teachers and forcing them to teach to the test?

Who do you think leads the charge toward destroying the teaching profession AND public schools by forcing states to tie teacher evaluations and pay scales to test scores?

Who do you think is forcing states and districts to add tests to every subject in every grade, K-12, and putting such high stakes on them that teachers will do nothing BUT teach to the test?

Who do you think is forcing states to take money out of the classroom and put it into test development, data tracking systems, PD classes, outside education consultants and other jive that robs children and teachers of the necessary classroom materials needed for a quality education?

Who put in place the policy that brought about the firing of all those teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island and is now bringing about the policy that allows Bloomberg to shutter 33 "persistently low-achieving" schools in NYC and fire 1,750 teachers?

Who is STILL blaming teachers in his SOTU speech by ending all of his education drivel with this: "let’s replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn."

The truth is, the evaluation mechanisms you have helped to put in place are not going to tell you whether the teachers you fire are ones who "aren't helping kids learn."

They will help districts and states shed expensive teachers, however.

Which is the point.

Obama invited an educator from Pennsylvania to sit with Michelle Obama in her box for the speech.

The teacher was part of a group who continued to work even after the district could no longer afford to pay them.

The message from Obama on that is clear - teachers are missionaries who MUST give everything of themselves, even their livelihoods, if they want respect from the establishment.

The Obama policies are certainly helping states to do just that to teachers.

Had I been that educator, I would have spent the entire time explaining to dear Michelle just how full of crap her husband is, how he lies every time he opens his mouth on education, how his education policies are so destructive they are starting to make the Bush education policies look like Waldorf schooling.

I would have made her regret inviting me to that box to play teacher public relations figure for an administration that is the most anti-teacher, anti-education in history.

And it would have taken all of my effort to not stand up during Obama's speech and shout "You lie!" when the president spoke all these lies about teachers and education.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bloomberg Wants To Close "A" and "B" Rated Schools

From the NY Post:

Seven of the 33 schools where the city is seeking to fire half the staff were rated an “A” or “B” on their latest city-issued report cards, a review by The Post found.

That means roughly 260 teachers are slated to be cleared out from schools that were celebrated just last fall for making significant gains.

The mayor plans to close and reopen the schools this summer.

Although the city’s grading system rewards progress more than performance — meaning highly rated schools aren’t necessarily above average — no “A” or “B” school has ever been shuttered.

“When you decided that you would close a school that got an ‘A’ on your own bloody school progress reports . . . you lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the people of New York,” a fiery Leo Casey, vice president of the United Federation of Teachers, testified at last week’s Panel for Educational Policy meeting in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.


Last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the 33 schools would be shifted to a federal program that’s never been tried in the city — one that doesn’t require a teacher-evaluation agreement but mandates the staff replacements.

The move was viewed as falling somewhere between political payback against a defiant union and a necessary purge of subpar educators.

A Department of Education spokesman would not explain the agency’s rationale for flagging schools it had rated highly, but noted that they had been labeled “persistently low-achieving” by the state in 2009 or 2010.

He said a more detailed explanation would soon be available in applications to the state Education Department, which administers the federal program.

Yet documents the DOE submitted in June 2010 show officials did not necessarily see poor teaching as the culprit in some of those schools.

“Global Studies is fortunate to have a staff that is committed, strong, dedicated, and hardworking,” the DOE gushed over the Brooklyn School for Global Studies in Cobble Hill, which catapulted from an “F” grade in 2010 to a “B” in 2011.

When even the teacher-bashing New York Post publishes a report saying Bloomberg is closing schools not because they are full of "sub-par teachers" but simply to close them, that in fact the DOE's own progress report for one school bragged that the students are fortunate to have teachers so "committed, strong, dedicated, and hardworking," you know there is a problem in the school closure process.

In fact, one might say that the NYCDOE is suffering a "crisis in accountability" in how they are going about all these school shutterings.

Nonetheless, the Panel for Educational Policy is loaded with Bloomberg shills and you can bet that if Bloomberg wants 58 schools closed, 58 schools will be closed.

And the mostly compliant corporate media will cheer lead these closings, publishing the mayor's propaganda about "bad teachers" wrecking the system.

The governor, who never lets the facts get in the way of a good TV moment, will thunder how teachers think they are above accountability, but he's going to show them they are WRONG.

And the NYSED and the USDOE, filled to the gills with Gates Foundation appointees whose primary purpose in life is to get teachers fired, bust teachers unions, change teacher compensation to base + bonus, and send teachers pensions the way of the horse and buggy will rubber stamp whatever Bloomberg wants.

The fix is in, folks, and the teachers unions, supposedly so powerful, are meekly letting all of this happen, sending out leaders who are unwilling, unable or too inarticulate to fight the p.r. battle that is needed at the very time the union is facing a threat to its very survival.

This is the END GAME.

If Bloomberg gets away with closing "A" and "B" rated schools that his DOE raved over in last year's progress reports, then ANY school can be closed.

If they want your building, if they decide they don't like the principal, if one of the teachers speaks out on NY 1 and calls them on their horseshit, if Eva likes your assistant principal's corner office - watch out, your school might be next on the list to be closed.

This insanity needs to stop, but the politicians - from the president on down to the governor - are all on board with this.

The media, rather than tell truth to power and actually report the reality of this simply act as stenographers for the Bloomberg and Obama administrations.

And the meme is out there - all these problems in education, indeed in the country at large, stem from "bad teachers" and "powerful teachers unions."

Something needs to give.

I wish that my union, the United Federation of Teachers, would actually fight an articulate, coordinated battle against the insanity of test-based accountability, school closures, and the charterizing of the school system.

Instead, Mulgrew says he agrees with Cuomo on policy and makes believe like Bloomberg is the only problem, and once they get rid of him all will be well again.

Instead the NYSUT and the UFT agree to allow Cuomo to break the law and base 40% of teacher evaluations on test scores.

Instead the unions let corporate shills like Nicholas Kristo blather on about "bad teachers" and the need for a strong evaluation system when the actual system the NYSED and the NYCDOE are putting into place is riddled with error and instability.

I have 102 juniors taking the ELA Regents today.

Our tutoring sessions have been down 50% over the past few years.

Students are fed up with hearing how the exams are life or death and don't seem to have the same urgency over the scores that we who work in the school do.

I have little doubt that as the state and the city add more tests to the school year in order to evaluate teachers, that student ennui over testing is only going to get worse.

And of course the politicians, the media, and the business people will continue to blame teachers for this instead of seeing the real culprit here - the insanity of the test-based accountability system and the law of diminishing returns.

Monday, January 23, 2012

NYSED Commissioner John King - Hypocrite Extraordinaire

First, statements made by NYSED Commissioner King today about school district insolvency:

State education commissioner John King said a number of districts risk insolvency in the next few years. He said increasing costs, particularly employee costs such as health care, could make some district budgets unsustainable in just a year or two.While school districts cannot legally declare bankruptcy, they can essentially hand the keys off to the state if they can not meet all their required financial obligations.

King said he was particularly concerned about “programmatic insolvency,” where districts are not able to provide a quality education because they have cut back on academics so much. He said some districts have already lost advanced placement classes and early education programs and that their students are at risk.

Now let's take a closer look at the part where King claims he's concerned because some districts "have cut back on academics so much."

I bet spending millions on new tests that the state plans to add into every subject in every grade, forcing districts to come up with alternate assessments for subjects that will not have state tests (such as gym, music, art, etc.) and forcing them to spend millions more on outside professional development consultants and programs to help "bad teachers" will really go a long way toward helping districts with budget problems to stop cutting back on academics like a.p. classes and early education programs.

Hey, John, wanna help struggling districts to maintain a.p. classes and early education programs?

Stop forcing them to spend money on bullshit mandates like adding new tests into every subject in every grade, forcing them to come up with alternate assessments for subjects that do not have state tests and forcing them to spend millions more on outside professional development consultants and programs to help "bad teachers".

King knows this already - he's just shucking and jiving at the hearing to make believe like the NYSED and the Regents have nothing to do with the strain districts are under.

To be clear, the NYSED and the Regents do not bear total responsibility for the budgetary strains districts are facing.

But the mandates the NYSED and the Regents are shoving onto every district in the state sure do not alleviate any of it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Neo-Feudal Economy

When the president or the captains of finance and industry blame education for why companies do not manufacture or make anything in the United States anymore, do NOT believe them.

This is why they don't manufacture or make anything in the United States anymore:

Apple has become one of the best-known, most admired and most imitated companies on earth, in part through an unrelenting mastery of global operations. Last year, it earned over $400,000 in profit per employee, more than Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or Google.

However, what has vexed Mr. Obama as well as economists and policy makers is that Apple — and many of its high-technology peers — are not nearly as avid in creating American jobs as other famous companies were in their heydays.

Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Similar stories could be told about almost any electronics company — and outsourcing has also become common in hundreds of industries, including accounting, legal services, banking, auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

But while Apple is far from alone, it offers a window into why the success of some prominent companies has not translated into large numbers of domestic jobs. What’s more, the company’s decisions pose broader questions about what corporate America owes Americans as the global and national economies are increasingly intertwined.

“Companies once felt an obligation to support American workers, even when it wasn’t the best financial choice,” said Betsey Stevenson, the chief economist at the Labor Department until last September. “That’s disappeared. Profits and efficiency have trumped generosity.”

Businesspeople blame education for the problem - they say that Americans are not trained in the mid-level skills that are needed at factories, so that's why they go overseas to make their products.

But take a look at just how the workers are treated overseas and ask yourself if THAT isn't the reason:

In 2007, a little over a month before the iPhone was scheduled to appear in stores, Mr. Jobs beckoned a handful of lieutenants into an office. For weeks, he had been carrying a prototype of the device in his pocket.

Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone, angling it so everyone could see the dozens of tiny scratches marring its plastic screen, according to someone who attended the meeting. He then pulled his keys from his jeans.

People will carry this phone in their pocket, he said. People also carry their keys in their pocket. “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said tensely. The only solution was using unscratchable glass instead. “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.”

After one executive left that meeting, he booked a flight to Shenzhen, China. If Mr. Jobs wanted perfect, there was nowhere else to go.


An eight-hour drive from that glass factory is a complex, known informally as Foxconn City, where the iPhone is assembled. To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts.

That’s because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States.

The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn’s work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. “The scale is unimaginable,” he said.

Foxconn employs nearly 300 guards to direct foot traffic so workers are not crushed in doorway bottlenecks. The facility’s central kitchen cooks an average of three tons of pork and 13 tons of rice a day. While factories are spotless, the air inside nearby teahouses is hazy with the smoke and stench of cigarettes.

Foxconn Technology has dozens of facilities in Asia and Eastern Europe, and in Mexico and Brazil, and it assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics for customers like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Sony.

“They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

In mid-2007, after a month of experimentation, Apple’s engineers finally perfected a method for cutting strengthened glass so it could be used in the iPhone’s screen. The first truckloads of cut glass arrived at Foxconn City in the dead of night, according to the former Apple executive. That’s when managers woke thousands of workers, who crawled into their uniforms — white and black shirts for men, red for women — and quickly lined up to assemble, by hand, the phones. Within three months, Apple had sold one million iPhones. Since then, Foxconn has assembled over 200 million more.

Foxconn, in statements, declined to speak about specific clients.

“Any worker recruited by our firm is covered by a clear contract outlining terms and conditions and by Chinese government law that protects their rights,” the company wrote. Foxconn “takes our responsibility to our employees very seriously and we work hard to give our more than one million employees a safe and positive environment.”

The company disputed some details of the former Apple executive’s account, and wrote that a midnight shift, such as the one described, was impossible “because we have strict regulations regarding the working hours of our employees based on their designated shifts, and every employee has computerized timecards that would bar them from working at any facility at a time outside of their approved shift.” The company said that all shifts began at either 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., and that employees receive at least 12 hours’ notice of any schedule changes.

Foxconn employees, in interviews, have challenged those assertions.

Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.

In China, it took 15 days.

Companies like Apple “say the challenge in setting up U.S. plants is finding a technical work force,” said Martin Schmidt, associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular, companies say they need engineers with more than high school, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Americans at that skill level are hard to find, executives contend. “They’re good jobs, but the country doesn’t have enough to feed the demand,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Ah, yes - the vaunted "More than a High School, But Not Quite a College Degree" engineer.

Can't remember the last time I heard Arne Duncan or Barack Obama talking about churning out tens of thousands of those.

Well, the U.S. could find lots of them anyway, train them pretty fast too - but companies like Apple prefer to hire these kinds of workers in China:

Middle-Class Jobs Fade

The first time Eric Saragoza stepped into Apple’s manufacturing plant in Elk Grove, Calif., he felt as if he were entering an engineering wonderland.

It was 1995, and the facility near Sacramento employed more than 1,500 workers. It was a kaleidoscope of robotic arms, conveyor belts ferrying circuit boards and, eventually, candy-colored iMacs in various stages of assembly. Mr. Saragoza, an engineer, quickly moved up the plant’s ranks and joined an elite diagnostic team. His salary climbed to $50,000. He and his wife had three children. They bought a home with a pool.

“It felt like, finally, school was paying off,” he said. “I knew the world needed people who can build things.”

At the same time, however, the electronics industry was changing, and Apple — with products that were declining in popularity — was struggling to remake itself. One focus was improving manufacturing. A few years after Mr. Saragoza started his job, his bosses explained how the California plant stacked up against overseas factories: the cost, excluding the materials, of building a $1,500 computer in Elk Grove was $22 a machine. In Singapore, it was $6. In Taiwan, $4.85. Wages weren’t the major reason for the disparities. Rather it was costs like inventory and how long it took workers to finish a task.

“We were told we would have to do 12-hour days, and come in on Saturdays,” Mr. Saragoza said. “I had a family. I wanted to see my kids play soccer.”

Modernization has always caused some kinds of jobs to change or disappear. As the American economy transitioned from agriculture to manufacturing and then to other industries, farmers became steelworkers, and then salesmen and middle managers. These shifts have carried many economic benefits, and in general, with each progression, even unskilled workers received better wages and greater chances at upward mobility.

But in the last two decades, something more fundamental has changed, economists say. Midwage jobs started disappearing. Particularly among Americans without college degrees, today’s new jobs are disproportionately in service occupations — at restaurants or call centers, or as hospital attendants or temporary workers — that offer fewer opportunities for reaching the middle class.

Even Mr. Saragoza, with his college degree, was vulnerable to these trends. First, some of Elk Grove’s routine tasks were sent overseas. Mr. Saragoza didn’t mind. Then the robotics that made Apple a futuristic playground allowed executives to replace workers with machines. Some diagnostic engineering went to Singapore. Middle managers who oversaw the plant’s inventory were laid off because, suddenly, a few people with Internet connections were all that were needed.

Mr. Saragoza was too expensive for an unskilled position. He was also insufficiently credentialed for upper management. He was called into a small office in 2002 after a night shift, laid off and then escorted from the plant. He taught high school for a while, and then tried a return to technology. But Apple, which had helped anoint the region as “Silicon Valley North,” had by then converted much of the Elk Grove plant into an AppleCare call center, where new employees often earn $12 an hour.

There were employment prospects in Silicon Valley, but none of them panned out. “What they really want are 30-year-olds without children,” said Mr. Saragoza, who today is 48, and whose family now includes five of his own.

After a few months of looking for work, he started feeling desperate. Even teaching jobs had dried up. So he took a position with an electronics temp agency that had been hired by Apple to check returned iPhones and iPads before they were sent back to customers. Every day, Mr. Saragoza would drive to the building where he had once worked as an engineer, and for $10 an hour with no benefits, wipe thousands of glass screens and test audio ports by plugging in headphones.


“We shouldn’t be criticized for using Chinese workers,” a current Apple executive said. “The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need.”

What’s more, Apple sources say the company has created plenty of good American jobs inside its retail stores and among entrepreneurs selling iPhone and iPad applications.

After two months of testing iPads, Mr. Saragoza quit. The pay was so low that he was better off, he figured, spending those hours applying for other jobs. On a recent October evening, while Mr. Saragoza sat at his MacBook and submitted another round of résumés online, halfway around the world a woman arrived at her office. The worker, Lina Lin, is a project manager in Shenzhen, China, at PCH International, which contracts with Apple and other electronics companies to coordinate production of accessories, like the cases that protect the iPad’s glass screens. She is not an Apple employee. But Mrs. Lin is integral to Apple’s ability to deliver its products.

Mrs. Lin earns a bit less than what Mr. Saragoza was paid by Apple. She speaks fluent English, learned from watching television and in a Chinese university. She and her husband put a quarter of their salaries in the bank every month. They live in a 1,080-square-foot apartment, which they share with their in-laws and son.

“There are lots of jobs,” Mrs. Lin said. “Especially in Shenzhen.”

And why do Apple executives and the other captains of finance and industry prefer to hire overseas?

Very simply - money:

As Apple’s overseas operations and sales have expanded, its top employees have thrived. Last fiscal year, Apple’s revenue topped $108 billion, a sum larger than the combined state budgets of Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Since 2005, when the company’s stock split, share prices have risen from about $45 to more than $427.

Some of that wealth has gone to shareholders. Apple is among the most widely held stocks, and the rising share price has benefited millions of individual investors, 401(k)’s and pension plans. The bounty has also enriched Apple workers. Last fiscal year, in addition to their salaries, Apple’s employees and directors received stock worth $2 billion and exercised or vested stock and options worth an added $1.4 billion.

The biggest rewards, however, have often gone to Apple’s top employees. Mr. Cook, Apple’s chief, last year received stock grants — which vest over a 10-year period — that, at today’s share price, would be worth $427 million, and his salary was raised to $1.4 million. In 2010, Mr. Cook’s compensation package was valued at $59 million, according to Apple’s security filings.

If Apple or some other company wanted to begin to manufacture back in the United States, wanted to begin training Americans to do the technological jobs they need them to do - they could.

But they don't want to pay them a living wage for this - or at least, not what is a living wage in the United States.

So instead they lay off Americans and go abroad to hire cheaper.

This is the shame of America, the consequences of globalism and free trade agreements and the increased power of the corporations - we live in a corporate state.

What is good for the corporation is now seen as what is good for America.

Even if tens of millions - indeed, hundreds of millions of Americans - are being hurt by this.

And the politicians in BOTH parties - bought by corporate money, owned by the captains of finance and industry - are aiding and abetting the feudalization of America.

The only way this stops is if millions of Americans finally stand up and say no to it.

The Occupy movements looked like the beginning of that.

Thus the response from the Obama administration, the corporate-owned media, and politicians in BOTH parties to quash that movement as quick as possible.

It is quite clear to me that the current trajectory of "innovation" in the economy is not sustainable - not economically, not environmentally, not socially, not politically.

But we'll see how long we have to go before these assholes running things - whether it's the assholes in Washington, the assholes on Wall Street,or the assholes in Washington State and Silicon Valley - get the message that squeezing Americans this way is not going to end well.

So far, they're not getting the message.

Indeed, the arrogance of a prick like Steve Jobs - who I dearly hope has been reincarnated as an Apple employee at FOXXCONN - shows why most of these assholes are not going to get the message until their absolutely hit over the head with it.

They believe their own propaganda, their own mythology about their greatness as 'innovators" to see that they are simply acting like feudal lords, plantation owners and slave masters.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hey Cuomo - Here's Your "Crisis In Accountability"

And guess what?

It isn't in public education:

Wall Street stocks and profits took a beating in 2011. But there is one corner of the Street that took a lighter hit: the compensation paid to chief executives.

Three big banks disclosed on Friday what their top executives will receive in deferred stock for their work in 2011. Such stock is expected to make up most of their bonus as banks are increasingly paying employees more in deferred stock. Those awards to top bank executives are coming as lower-level employees are finding out that their own bonuses will be much smaller than a year ago.

Brian Foley, a compensation expert in White Plains, said that for top executives, he would have expected “the belt to come in a few more notches” this year given the banks’ lackluster stock performance. He added that executive suite pay packages this year might further lower morale inside the banks.

“A lot of people in the middle took big hits this year,” he said. “It could create some big ‘us versus them issues’ as to why the rank and file are taking a bigger hit than the senior executives.”

It seems the people running the big banks - you know, the zombie banks that were so loaded down with debt that they had to be bailed out with billions in federal money and billions more in 0% interest free "loans" from Uncle Ben Bernanke and his Merry Fedsters - are still partying like it's 1999.

Bad year at the bank?

So what - I'm getting my big bonus and pay, says Jamie Dimon:

Shares of Citigroup’s rival, JPMorgan Chase, also had a rough year, falling almost 22 percent. Still, JPMorgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, was awarded $17 million in equity-linked stock for his work in 2011, according to a regulatory filing. Last year Mr. Dimon received $17 million in equity awards around this time of year and his total pay for the year came to $23 million. His total pay is expected to be roughly the same this year, according to a person close to company but not authorized to speak on the record.

Where's the accountability there?

Ah, there is none.

This is very simply about people in power squeezing all the profit and productivity they can out of those under them and paying themselves lavishly no matter how their companies do.

The next time Cuomo says teachers are unaccountable, somebody in the press who doesn't have his or her lips around Cuomo's ass ought to ask our good governor what about accountability for the banksters?

Friday, January 20, 2012

UFT, NYSUT Sell-Out On Evaluations Gets Closer

This showed up a bit ago at the Daily News political blog:

Warring factions over the creation of a teacher evaluation system just reported “significant progress” toward a deal.

State Education Commissioner John King and Richard Iannuzzi, president of the state teachers union, reported the movement in a joint statement released just now.

The two said that “negotiations going on since October are now making significant progress and continue in earnest towards settlement.”

You can bet the Regents, the NYSED, Cuomo and Bloomberg aren't compromising on anything, so just imagine that this is going to be as bad you think it is - 20% of the evaluation from the city test VAM, 20% from the state test VAM (or 40% from state test VAM for districts that cannot afford their own locally created tests) and 60% from observations, but if you're declared "ineffective" on any part of the VAM, you're given an "ineffective" rating overall.

And of course Walcott will have the final say on appeal.

That's what the reformers want and you can almost bet that's what the reformers are going to get.

Well, at least teachers in Obama's home state of Hawaii told him to go screw.

Bloomberg Puts "Children First" By Axing After School Programs For 27,000

Because the mayor is all about helping the children:

MANHATTAN — The city's plan to chop after-school programs in half will leave tens of thousands of children with nowhere to go after school, endangering working families and putting children at risk, youth advocates and members of the City Council said Thursday.

The free five-day-a-week after-school programs currently serve about 55,000 elementary and middle-school children, providing much-needed childcare so parents can work, advocates and city officials said. The programs also offer homework help, academic enrichment, recreational and cultural activities, and, often, the child's only hot meal of the evening.

Council members and nonprofit directors at a City Council hearing Thursday slammed the city for cutting nearly 200 after-school programs that serve about 27,000 elementary and middle school students across the five boroughs as of next fall.

"That is not a budget cut — this is an atrocity," said City Councilman Lewis Fidler, who led Thursday's Youth Services Committee hearing.

This week Bloomberg said teachers only care about themselves and their job security while it is he who really cares about kids.

And slashing after school programs for 27,000 kids really shows how much he cares about children, doesn't it?

To rephrase something the mayor said about teachers this week, it shows that he doesn't give a shit about kids at all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

News Corporation Acknowledges Executives Deliberately Deceived Investigators in Hacking Case, Destroyed Evidence

Gee - this kind of thing would be a front page story at the New York Post if it were a teacher admitting it:

LONDON — The actor Jude Law, the soccer star Ashley Cole, and Lord Prescott, a former British deputy prime minister, were named Thursday on a list of 36 victims of phone hacking who have reached settlements totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

A statement by lawyers representing hacking victims said that Mr. Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, which published the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, had agreed to pay substantial damages on the basis “that senior employees and directors” of the company “knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence.”

While not explicitly admitting or denying those claims, the company agreed to set compensation on the basis that it was true. In doing so, it acknowledged, lawyers said, that it had deliberately covered up both the existence and the pervasiveness of The News of the World’s phone-hacking operation, lied about it to the police and Parliament, and destroyed evidence in the case.

Hmm - lying to police, lying to Parliament, destroying evidence, and covering up criminal activity - it sure sounds like Rupert Murdoch has a lot of bad, bad people working at News Corporation.

In fact, some of those bad people are right in his own family.

Like his son, James, who just might be next on the list to get arrested in the phone hacking case.

And yet, tomorrow we will not see a word of this News Corporation story about widespread criminal activity, conspiracy and cover-up in the pages of the News Corporation-owned New York Post.

We will, however, inevitably see a couple of articles about why teachers need to be fired.

Because you know how how a teacher forging a jury duty note is absolutely the worst crime ever, but News Corporation executives and directors lying to police, lying to Parliament, destroying evidence, and covering up criminal activity is just another day at the News Corporation office.

And just in case you think this Jude Law hacking case is the only one Murdoch is going to settle, here's what the lawyer in the case said:

Mark Lewis, a lawyer for many of the phone-hacking victims, said in an e-mail that the claimants’ fight against the Murdoch media properties was not over.

“It is important that we don’t get carried away into thinking that the war is over,” Mr. Lewis said, according to The Associated Press. “ There are many more cases in the pipeline.”

He added: “This is too early to celebrate, we’re not even at the end of the beginning.”

Wow - they're not even at the end of the beginning of this.

You can imagine what more will come in these cases.

Indeed, The Guardian reports today that a judge in another civil trial has ordered News Corporation to make available computers and laptops upon which News Corporation employees destroyed evidence of hacking:

News Group Newspapers has been ordered to allow a search of computers alleged to contain evidence that News of the World executives deliberately destroyed damning phone-hacking evidence.

During legal discussions on Thursday before a civil trial scheduled for 13 February, the company failed to convince Mr Justice Vos that the search of three laptops assigned to senior employees and six desktop computers was "disproportionate".


He said there were compelling questions about whether the paper had engaged in a campaign of deliberate destruction of evidence, had lied, deliberately concealed evidence, made payments to police, or had "actively tried to get off scot-free", including by destroying a "very substantial number of emails" and computers of journalists.

There we go again with more allegations of News Corporation employees destroying evidence, lying to authorities, conspiring to cover up criminal activity and offering bribes to police.

Offering bribes to police?

Wow - that's even worse than forging a jury duty note!

No wonder 20 former and current News Corporation employees - including the former editor of News of the World and aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, Andy Coulson, and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks - have been arrested in the case.

I keep writing the New York Post to ask the editors how they can pontificate about "bad teachers" who should be fired all the time from the op-ed pages of the Post when it is increasingly clear that the company they work for, News Corporation, is only slightly less criminal than an organized crime family like the Gambinos (but only slightly.)

They never write back to say.

They do, however, pontificate about a teacher who forged jury notes to get extra days off and how she should be fired.

I wonder when this hacking investigation is all through, how many of the News Corporation employees who worked on the FIRE TEACHERS stories in the Post will eventually end up in jail for criminal activity, cover-up, conspiracy, bribery, perjury, forgery and/or tampering with evidence in what has become a widespread case of corruption and rot at the core of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

UFT, NYSUT Set To Cave In Evaluation Impasse?

Sure sounds like the sell-out is coming:

In the long-simmering debate over how to judge the quality of New York State school employees, there is one thing all sides agree on: a system should be in place.


The sides are not as far apart as their public posture would indicate. Three weeks before Mr. Cuomo set the deadline, the union had already acceded to one of the state’s key demands. It agreed that most of the 60 points teachers could earn on subjective measurements should be based on classroom observations — something the state’s education commissioner, John B. King Jr., had been pushing for. Of the total score of 100, results from student testing would account for the other 40 points.


At issue is the process by which teachers would be able to appeal a poor rating. The city proposed forming a three-person committee consisting of one representative from the city, one from the union and one who would be jointly selected by both to issue an advisory decision to the schools chancellor, who would then make the final call.

Mr. Mulgrew objected. He said the administration had forced teachers to go to court to have bad ratings reversed.


The appeals process will be a crucial issue for the union once the teacher evaluation standards go into effect. The new law scraps a “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” scale that has been used to judge teachers for decades and introduces a four-tiered rating: “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” and “highly effective.” Teachers who are rated “ineffective” for two consecutive years could lose their jobs within 60 days. Under the current system, less than 3 percent of the city’s teachers are rated “unsatisfactory,” and it can take more than a year to fire a teacher.


The disagreements that remain are, by and large, the subjects of the lawsuit by the state teachers’ union. For example, 40 points on the annual reviews for teachers statewide would come from students’ test scores. The union wants only half of those points to be based on standardized tests, but the Board of Regents, which sets state education policy, allowed districts to base all of the 40 points on standardized tests.

The law specifies that 20 points of the evaluation must be based on the state tests and the remaining 20 points on other exams, to be developed by local districts. The discrepancy between the Regents’ regulations and the legislation is the reason the union sued, Mr. Iannuzzi said.

“We never challenged the law. We only challenged their interpretation of the law,” he said.

What is not said in the Times article is whether the unions are going to agree to allow teachers to be declared "ineffective" overall if the value-added measurement they use on student test scores comes up with an "ineffective" score.

You'll remember that Cuomo allegedly wrote a letter to Regents Chancellor Tisch stating he wanted just that in the new evaluation system, meaning if a teacher is declared "ineffective" on either the city test VAM (20% of the evaluation) or the state test VAM (20% of the evaluation), that teacher would be declared "ineffective" overall and subject to firing in 60 days if it happens two years running.

Norm Scott has posted that Cuomo hadn't actually written that letter, that Tisch and NYSED Commissioner John King had actually written it and Cuomo simply signed his name to it.

Whether that deception is true or not, it is quite clear to me that the fix is in on these evaluations, that the unions are just looking for a graceful way to cave in to Cuomo, the Regents, the NYSED and Bloomberg while making it look to their membership like they were truly fighting for their members.

Cuomo, the NYSED and the Regents are going to get their way on this and teachers are going to be subject to an overall "ineffective" rating if they come up "ineffective" on either the city VAM or the state VAM.

Given that the city and the state are going to add new standardized tests to every subject in every grade in order to carry out this new evaluation system, it's not too difficult to see that students are just going to stop caring about high stakes tests after a while (seriously, after 10-20 high stakes tests a year, why wouldn't they stop caring?)

That's why the appeals process for the "ineffective" rating is so important.

If the chancellor has the last call on the process, as the mayor wants, then no teacher will ever get a fair hearing and anybody who gets declared "ineffective" on any measure of the eval - the 20% city VAM, the 20% state VAM or the classroom observation, can just about kiss their job goodbye.

An appeals process that allows the chancellor to have the final say is like a PEP meeting on co-locations - the outcome is pre-decided.

I know this. If I am declared "ineffective" on either the city VAM or the state VAM, I am not going to rely on the appeals process as my sole measure of defense.

I am also going to sue the city and/or the state on the grounds that the value-added methodology they use is highly flawed, has wide margins of error and wide swings in stability.

That is already proven by the VAM the city uses for 4th-8th ELA and math teachers now.

I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know if I will truly have a case on that or not, but I am going to tell you one thing - I sure as hell will see.

This new "tough" evaluation system is meant to bludgeon teachers, bust the union and allow districts to rid themselves of expensive veteran teachers.

Both the UFT and the NYSUT have collaborated with the NYSED, the Regents, the governor, the mayor and the education reform movement to bring this system to fruition.

They have already ceded ground on the validity of the VAM's. They have yet to get the message out that value-added measurement are about as reliable as any other call made by economists using one of their complex computer models (i.e., they're highly flawed and I wouldn't bet the mortgage on them.)

They have yet to tell the public how students are going to have to take tests in every subject in every grade - both state and city tests - in order for this system to be carried out. Students are going to be subject to taking 10-20 high stakes standardized tests every year that will matter a whole hell of a lot to teachers (if not exactly all that much to students).

Indeed, if Cuomo gets his way and a teacher is declared "ineffective" on either portion of the VAM, city or state, two years running, they can be fired - after being humiliated in public by having their rating published in the papers, of course.

You can bet the FEAR that will be added to the system over this is going to turn schools into nothing but test prep factories.

I don't think the public yet knows this.

It sounds good on the surface, using student performance to evaluate teachers, but doing it the way the city and state plan on doing it is going to destroy a lot of careers and reputations.

And that, of course, is the point - this is about management getting a leg up on labor, pure and simple.

The consequences of this are going to be very stark.

This new system is going to destroy the education of every student in this state when schools go All Test Prep, All The Time.

Now it is starting to sound like the unions are set to cave on the appeals process for the new system and give the "deformers" what they want on that too.

They have already caved on the VAM and the 10-20 new standardized tests a year.

The Shock and Awe destruction of the system is almost complete.

If this system is allowed to play out the way it is designed by the "reformers," in five years time tens of thousands of teachers in this state will have been fired for being "ineffective."

Only a tiny portion of those fired will actually be "bad teachers."

The rest will be expensive vets who will be the victims of district downsizing and budget squeezing.

By agreeing to this, the UFT and the NYSUT have collaborated on the destruction of the teaching profession and the ruin of tens of thousands of individual teachers.

My advice to teachers out there is to save every piece of paper relating to your VAM and your classroom practice.

Make sure you have attendance records, your syllabi, copies of student work.

Take videos of your teaching and interactions with students.

You're going to need that material to protect yourself and your reputation when the inevitable "ineffective" rating comes down.

This may not work or hold up in a court of law, but let's be honest here - better to protect yourself as best you can if you intend to stay in education rather than rely on the NYSUT or the UFT to do the protection for you.

So far, they've done a very poor job indeed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jerry Brown Calls For Less Standardized Testing While Cuomo Calls For More

In this Era of Accountability, when every politician in sight seems to have bought into testing as the sole measure of school and teacher accountability, it sure is refreshing to see the governor of a large state not only call for less tests, not more, but actually say something nice about teachers.

Seriously - that happened just today in California when Jerry Brown gave his State of the State speech:

“I want to say something about our schools. They consume more tax dollars than any other government activity and rightly so as they have a profound effect on our future. Since everyone goes to school, everyone thinks they know something about education and in a sense they do. But that doesn’t stop experts and academics and foundation consultants from offering their ideas — usually labeled reform and regularly changing at ten year intervals — on how to get kids learning more and better. It is salutary and even edifying that so much interest is shown in the next generation. Nevertheless, in a state with six million students, 300,000 teachers, deep economic divisions and a hundred different languages, some humility is called for.

“In that spirit, I offer these thoughts. First, responsibility must be clearly delineated between the various levels of power that have a stake in our educational system. What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision-making at the federal or state level. For better or worse, we depend on elected school boards and the principals and the teachers they hire. To me that means, we should set broad goals and have a good accountability system, leaving the real work to those closest to the students. Yes, we should demand continuous improvement in meeting our state standards but we should not impose excessive or detailed mandates.

“My budget proposes to replace categorical programs with a new weighted student formula that provides a basic level of funding with additional money for disadvantaged students and those struggling to learn English. This will give more authority to local school districts to fashion the kind of programs they see their students need. It will also create transparency, reduce bureaucracy and simplify complex funding streams.


“No system, however, works without accountability. In California we have detailed state standards and lots of tests. Unfortunately, the resulting data is not provided until after the school year is over. Even today, the ranking of schools based on tests taken in April and May of 2011 is not available. I believe it is time to reduce the number of tests and get the results to teachers, principals and superintendents in weeks, not months. With timely data, principals and superintendents can better mentor and guide teachers as well as make sound evaluations of their performance. I also believe we need a qualitative system of assessments, such as a site visitation program where each classroom is visited, observed and evaluated. I will work with the State Board of Education to develop this proposal.

“The house of education is divided by powerful forces and strong emotions. My role as governor is not to choose sides but to listen, to engage and to lead. I will do that. I embrace both reform and tradition — not complacency. My hunch is that principals and teachers know the most, but I’ll take good ideas from wherever they come.”

Imagine - a governor calling on people to have "humility" when approaching education reform and policy, proposing to give back power to the districts and the schools, to listen to principals AND teachers instead of berating them, to talk with respect about teachers rather than treat them like garbage.

How refreshing.

Quite the contrast to anti-teacher thug Andrew Cuomo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

If The Economists Can't Get The Economy Right, Why Should We Trust Them On Education?

The FOMC transcripts from 2006 are out and they show how clueless and idiotic the people running economic policy in this country are:

WASHINGTON — As the housing bubble entered its waning hours in 2006, top Federal Reserve officials marveled at the desperate antics of home builders seeking to lure buyers.

The officials laughed about the cars that builders were offering as signing bonuses, and about efforts to make empty homes look occupied. They joked about one builder who said that inventory was “rising through the roof.”

But the officials, meeting every six weeks to discuss the health of the nation’s economy, gave little credence to the possibility that the faltering housing market would weigh on the broader economy, according to transcripts that the Fed released Thursday. Instead they continued to tell one another throughout 2006 that the greatest danger was inflation — the possibility that the economy would grow too fast.

“We think the fundamentals of the expansion going forward still look good,” Timothy F. Geithner, then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, told his colleagues when they gathered in Washington in December 2006.

Some officials, including Susan Bies, a Fed governor, suggested that a housing downturn actually could bolster the economy by redirecting money to other kinds of investments.

And there was general acclaim for Alan Greenspan, who stepped down as chairman at the beginning of the year, for presiding over one of the longest economic expansions in the nation’s history. Mr. Geithner suggested that Mr. Greenspan’s greatness still was not fully appreciated, an opinion now held by a much smaller number of people.

Meanwhile, by the end of 2006, the economy already was shrinking by at least one important measure, total income. And by the end of the next year, the Fed had started its desperate struggle to prevent the collapse of the financial system and to avert the onset of what could have been the nation’s first full-fledged depression in about 70 years.

The transcripts of the 2006 meetings, released after a standard five-year delay, clearly show some of the nation’s pre-eminent economic minds did not fully understand the basic mechanics of the economy that they were charged with shepherding. The problem was not a lack of information; it was a lack of comprehension, born in part of their deep confidence in economic forecasting models that turned out to be broken.

“It’s embarrassing for the Fed,” said Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “You see an awareness that the housing market is starting to crumble, and you see a lack of awareness of the connection between the housing market and financial markets.”

“It’s also embarrassing for economics,” he continued. “My strong guess is that if we had a transcript of any other economist, there would be at least as much fodder.”

These morons have a deep, abiding and arrogant confidence in themselves and their economic models, only it turned out their models were WRONG and they didn't know what the hell they were doing.

And yet these people are still in power, still running things, still, as Cunning Realist noted, "failing upward."

What's worse, they're now bringing their economic models - you know, the ones they were certain were absolutely correct in gauging the economy in 2006 but turned out to be horribly, horribly flawed - to public education by forcing value-added measurements of teachers using student test scores.

We already know that these value-added models have huge margins of error and wide swings in stability, but nonetheless the VERY SERIOUS PEOPLE in this country - from Obama to Cuomo to Bloomberg to Gates and the rest of the corporate criminal class - are promoting these models as absolutely essential for improving public education.

Never mind the margin of error.

Never mind the wide swings in stability.

Never mind that we'll have to add new standardized tests to every grade in every subject to pull this off.

Never mind that tying teacher jobs to these scores means the only thing kids will be doing in schools is either prepping for the tests or taking the tests.

Never mind that the algorithm they're using to measure teachers is so complex NASA scientists have trouble explaining it.

Never mind that the one state already doing this kind of system has discovered it's an absolute mess.

You see, this is SCIENCE they're using in their value-added models and they're going to be able to tell who's a good teacher and who's a bad teacher using these models just the way they can predict future inflation or unemployment rates.

And let's face it, who doesn't trust these guys when they're predicting future inflation and unemployment rates?

Oh, right - they were wrong about that.

Completely wrong.

Oh, well - don't worry, they're going to get this right.

Trust them.

How is it our society continues to listen to economists who are WRONG about almost EVERYTHING, who have DESTROYED people's lives and life savings with the bad calls they have made on the economy in the past and are now are telling us to trust the education and care of children to them through the value-added models they plan to use on teachers?

This is EXACTLY what Cuomo , Obama and Bloomberg are doing by promoting a test score-based evaluation system using a value-added model as the major measure of the evaluation - trust the economists to tell us who is a "good" teacher and who is a "bad" teacher.

I'm sure this will all turn out well - just the way the stewards at the 2006 FOMC meeting made sure things turned out well for the economy at large back in 2007 and 2008.

Cuomo Will Cut Aid To Districts That Do Not Tie Teacher Evaluations To Test Scores

And he's calling Shelly Silver a teachers union shill in a broadside attack against the Assembly Speaker via Cuomo's favorite venue for political attacks - the Murdoch-owned NY Post:

In one of his most dramatic moves since taking office, Gov. Cuomo will use the budget he makes public tomorrow to impose union-hated teacher evaluation systems on 700 school districts throughout the state, The Post has learned.

The popular governor will do so by including language in the budget that ties receipt of 4 percent state aid increases promised to the districts in last year’s budget — some $800 million — to adoption of the teacher-evaluation system developed by the state Education Department, which has been blocked from city schools by a teachers-union lawsuit, a source close to the situation said.

All the systems, including the New York City schools, will have until Dec. 31 of this year to adopt the teacher-evaluation systems or lose the money, the source said.


Cuomo’s tactic will be based on a controversial set of Court of Appeals rulings that date from 1998 to 2004, finding that governors could change state laws and, in effect, adopt new ones by including language to do so within the budget.

“Shelly and the teachers union will likely go ballistic,’’ was how one source close to the Cuomo administration put it about the governor’s plan, referring to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), a teachers-union ally.

Notice three things here.

First, Cuomo is back in Rupert Murdoch's good graces now that's he returned to union-busting and teacher bashing.

Last week Murdoch nicknamed Governor 1% "Chicken Cuomo"
for failing to impose a test score-based teacher evaluation system on teachers like Bloomberg wants.

But now that Cuomo's doing Murdoch's bidding on education reform once again, Post reporter Fred Dicker is back to slobbering all over Cuomo in the newspaper, writing about how "popular" the governor is and helping the governor by attacking Cuomo's enemies in the paper.

Also notice the preliminary strikes Cuomo lobs against both Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Skelos as teachers unions shills through Dicker.

Cuomo is serving notice that he's going to smear anybody who stands in his way of his corporate education reform agenda as "harming the kids" or shilling for the unions - even though common sense says pushing through a massive new evaluation system that imposes new city and state standardized tests in every subject at every grade level might just be, you know, an idea that should be slow-walked.

But not in Governor 1%'s mind - state and city tests in every subject in every grade and teacher evals tied to those scores - that's just the ticket to improve public education in the state.

Last point - notice how Dicker changes the phrasing of Cuomo's "I'm going to be the chief lobbyist for students" from last week's State of the State speech to "Cuomo is the chief advocate for students."

A Siena poll released today showed people didn't like that term or idea - too close to the phrase "corporate lobbyist," I guess.

So leave it to Fred Dicker and the Murdoch Post to rebrand Cuomo "Chief Advocate."

Cuomo's a chief advocate all right - for the interests of the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, Pearson Education, and News Corporation.

When this new evaluation system goes into place, it will be interesting to see how parents in places like Scarsdale and Great Neck react to it.

Remember, this is a value-added system - teachers MUST add value to every student's test scores, even the high-scoring ones in Scarsdale and Great Neck.

The chaos that we have in New York City with school closures and firings and the like - that's going to come to Great Neck, Scarsdale and other wealthy suburbs too.

Not to mention all those new standardized tests they're going to add into all the subject in all the grades.

What will Cuomo's poll numbers look like after a year where parents see new city and state standardized tests added to every subject in every grade and teachers doing nothing but test prep for all these tests because if they don't "add value" to the scores, they're going to be rated "ineffective," humiliated in the local papers when they publish the individual teacher scores, and eventually fired?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crowd To Bloomberg At MLK Jr. Day Celebration: "You Suck!"

Bloomberg got beaten up over education policy at BAM today:

Mayor Bloomberg got booed and heckled as he made the rounds at African-American groups touting his new education initiatives.

At the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Hizzoner was jeered Monday as he introduced Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, highlighting his administration’s successes with education policy.

“The civil rights movement transformed America for the better, and now it is up [to us] to continue the work, especially in education, Every day for the past ten years, improving the city schools has been hands-down my number one priority, and it’s going to remain my priority,” he said, receiving boos from the crowd and even calls of “You suck!” from protesters critical of the mayor’s policy of closing schools.

Bloomberg then went uptown and got booed again:

Later in the day, Bloomberg was met with more of the same.

His face flushed red when he was heckled by a Harlem crowd after being introduced by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"There are still too many kids, killing kids with guns," Bloomberg told the packed audience at the National Action Network’s MLK Day Public Policy forum. "There are still too many of our schools who aren't giving our kids the tools they need to choose college and a career over crime and the streets."

One crowd member yelled, "Let black people in the Fire Department! It's 94% white!"

Bloomberg replied, "We’re working on the Fire Department — this is about something else."

Hizzoner calmly finished the rest of his address.

On his way out, another heckler yelled, “Stop stop and frisk!”

It is interesting to see the public outcry Bloomberg was met with when he took his reform policies and education record to the people.

Up until now, the story on the education initiatives Bloomberg called for in his State of the City address - including firing 1,700 teachers, closing an additional 33 schools, opening 50 new charter schools and replacing salary increases for teachers with merit pay - has been framed in the media as "Mayor vs. UFT".

We see today at the MLK Jr. Day events that the framing ought to be "Mayor vs. Public."

Cuomo Links Test Score-Based Teacher Evaluation System To MLK

You knew he would, wouldn't you?

Gov. Cuomo this morning linked his school reform effort to Martin Luther King Jr.

Addressing hundreds attending an MLK Day event near the state Capitol, Cuomo said he sees school reform as a continuation of “Dr. King’s struggle.”

"I believe as we gather here today, one of the greatest challenges for us, one of the greatest injustices to right is the failing of our public education system, period," he said.


“It started in 1954 Brown vs Board of Education, the nation stood up and said everyone, everywhere should have a quality education system. And we’re not there yet.”

“The great equalizer that was supposed to be the public education system can now be the great discriminator. Because if you have to go public school in a failing public school, you may never catch up, you may just be left behind by society and never catch up….”

“And government here is actually part of the problem because we have lost focus on what it is all about. We have created an education bureaucracy and now it is about the education bureaucracy perpetuating the education bureaucracy.”

Cuomo again said the system has become about the "business of education" more than the "achievement in education."

“We have to realize that our schools are not an employment program for the superintendents, and the principals and the teachers. They are an education program for the students. It is this simple. It is not about the adults it is about the children. The children come first.”

“I want to fund performance. And I want to shift the focus to the students…”

Cuomo is expected to tie a teacher evaluation system to a portion of school aid funding in his budget plan he is scheduled to unveil tomorrow.

Cuomo also used the event to bring rare unsolicited praise for President Obama, who he credited with the Race To The Top program.

He said the Obama administration is set to take away hundreds of millions of dollars from the state if a teacher evaluation system in not put in place.

"And the $700 million is going to come from the poorest school districts in this state. And I’m not going to let that happen."

"We’re gonna put an evaluation system in place that represents the students interest first .

We’re going to have the governor of the state of New York as the lobbyist for the students and the parents as the advocates and together we are going to change education once and for all.”

Yeah, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream - a dream that all teachers would be evaluated using a value-added measurement tied to student test scores with a margin of error as large as 36% and stability swings wider than the gash in the Titanic's hull.

I'd say it's unbelievable that Cuomo is tying MLK to value-added teacher measurements and adding twenty new tests a year to the school curriculum in order to pull off that new evaluation system, but the truth is - it's not.

This is EXACTLY what these corporate reform people do - drape themselves in the language of civil rights and sanctimony while decrying the adults who work in the education system as the ones hurting students.

As if it's teachers slashing school budgets, increasing class sizes, cutting classroom materials so money can be spent on no-bid contracts for testing companies, narrowing the curriculum by adding new high stakes standardized tests in every subject in every grade and tying teaching jobs to the scores so that the only things kids will do in school anymore is prep for tests and take tests.

TWU President Tells Cuomo To "Shove It"

The unions - from CSEA to PEF to the UFT and the NYSUT - have fallen all over themselves to stay on the good side of Governor 1% (or "Chicken Cuomo" as he's known to his patron, Rupert Murdoch.)

This weekend one union leader finally told the union-busting, union-hating Cuomo what he can do with himself:

As the MTA’s contract with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 was set to expire at midnight last night, hundreds of workers gathered in the bitter cold outside the negotiations at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown for a raucous rally where they were joined by several local politicians.

“I’ve been bargaining for the better part of the last 48 hours,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said. “I’m going to go back into that hotel and I’m going to tell the chairman of the MTA, I’m going to tell the governor to take their petty demands and shove it.”

As the state faces a looming deficit, Mr. Samuelsen said Governor Cuomo and the MTA are attempting to balance the budget “on the backs of Local 100 members” by taking five vacation days, creating part-time bus operators, limiting overtime and not granting a pay raise, among other sticking points.

Politicians who support working people, politicians who see that American society cannot be the 1% getting it all and the 99% getting the shiv, came out to support working people over the governor and the MTA:

Prior to Mr. Samuelsen’s appearance at the rally, which also included a tribute in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the crowd heard statements of support from City Council members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and Tish James.

“We are here to support the leadership of TWU and to support all of you, because this is the best way to continue Martin Luther King’s dream,” Councilman Rodriguez said.

Both Councilwoman Mark-Viverito and Councilwoman James invoked the Occupy Wall Street protests in their speech to the TWU crowd.

“You keep this city running and we want to make sure that we support each and every one of you,” Councilwoman Mark-Viverito said. “The 99% is kicking, the 99% is saying, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore, we’re not going to give back anymore.’”

“We have to give homage to Occupation Wall Street who talked about the growing disparity in the city of New York and throughout this nation,” Councilwoman James said. “Those discussions are out front and it’s because of all of you working families, working individuals in the city of New York who deserve a fair contract, who deserve a living wage to sustain your families. That is why we are out here this evening in the cold and I’m glad its cold out here because it reminds us of our struggle.”

As a member of the UFT, I have watched my union leadership fall all over themselves to stay on Cuomo's good side.

As a member of the AFT, I have watched my union leadership fall all over themselves to keep their "seat at the table" in the Obama administration's discussions of education policy.

While they have been doing all of this groveling, both Cuomo and Obama have been pushing anti-teacher and anti-union measures meant to bust our unions, scapegoat teachers for all the problems in the public education system, give local districts the power to fire any teacher at any time for any reason and promote testing, testing, testing over true education.

My union leadership - Mike Mulgrew at the UFT and Randi Weingarten at the AFT and Richard Ianuzzi at the NYSUT - ought to be telling Cuomo and Obama they can "shove it" when they come around with these measures and policies.

They ought to be telling the American people and the people of the State of New York that the test score-based evaluation system pushed by Obama is NOT getting rid of the odious provisions of No Child Left Behind, as Obama and his Secretary of Education Privatization, Arne Duncan, like to say.

Rather this Obama policy is doubling down on the very measures that Americans hate about the Bush law - the narrowing of the curriculum, the erasure of any measure of skill or proficiency in the system except for test scores, and the destruction that the emphasis on scores has done to children, teachers and schools.

The UFT and the NYSUT and the AFT and the NEA ought to be telling Obama to shove his Gates Foundation-funded education policies, shove his 2012 re-election, and shove that idea he has that working teachers who are being scapegoated by this administration are going to vote for Obama again.

They ought to be saying "Remember Central Falls!"

Instead they offer endorsements of the president a year and a half before the election, as the NEA did.

And when the teacher-hating Andrew Cuomo declares New York State is suffering a "crisis in accountability" because teachers refuse to agree to a test score-based evaluation system with wide swings in stability and a margin of error larger than Andrew Cuomo's ego, the UFT and the NYSUT ought to be attacking Cuomo back and arguing that if there is a "crisis in accountability" in this state, it resides at the Regents and the NYSED where state officials are promoting corporate-friendly education "reform" policies while taking money, jobs and trips from corporate education reform companies like Pearson Education and News Corporation.

They ought to be arguing that the "crisis in accountability" in this state resides at Tweed Courthouse and City Hall in New York where the mayor and his Gates Foundation-funded education reform cadre push reforms like merit pay, school closures and test score-based evaluation systems for teachers that will make the education system WORSE while their own policies over the last ten years have resulted in a stagnation in test scores, phonied up graduation rates and chaos and destruction in the system like we have never seen before.

They ought to be arguing that if there is a "crisis in accountability" in this state, it resides with Governor Cuomo himself, who allowed the crooks on Wall Street (many of whom promote this corporate education reform stuff in their spare time when they're not raping investors and ravaging pension funds) to steal billions when he was attorney general, declining to criminally prosecute any of the architects of the 2008 financial collapse.

They ought to be telling Cuomo to shove his "I'm a lobbyist for students" jive by pointing out his kids go to private schools where teachers are NOT evaluated by test scores, where FEAR is NOT the rule of the day, where schools are NOT constantly under threat of closure if they don't show improvements in their quarterly test score results, where endless test prep and endless testing do NOT replace real learning.

They ought to point out that the self-appointed lobbyist for children is hurting students by promoting nothing but testing upon testing in the education system around the state.

Instead, the UFT urges us to call 311 and complain to the operator about Bloomberg.

And so, on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when Obama will point to himself as the culmination of King's dream and when Cuomo will claim he is the guy on the right side of the civil rights/education issue, I say both Obama and Cuomo - Goldman Sachs-funded and corporately-co-opted politicians - can shove their corporate education reform policies, their union-busting, their teacher-bashing and their water-carrying for the 1%.

The dream I have today is that my union leadership at the UFT, the AFT, the NYSUT and the NEA wake up from their slumbers and join me in telling these corporate-owned politicians to shove it too.

King might have used difference language in this struggle against the union-busting, corporate-reform movement, but you can be sure he would stand with us today in this fight.