Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

If Only Bankers Were Treated Like Teachers...

From NBC News, an administrator is arrested for cheating on Regents exams:

A department head at a New York high school has been accused of changing two students' answers on state tests to give them a passing grade.

The Westchester County district attorney says 54-year-old Allison Risoli of Peekskill was arraigned Monday on false-document charges.

A call to Risoli's attorney was not immediately returned.

The district attorney said Risoli altered answer sheets for January exams in history and geography several days after the tests were taken at Peekskill High.

Meanwhile in the HSBC money laundering case:

BILL MOYERS: You’re working on a story right now that’ll come out in a couple of weeks on the HSBC settlement. That’s the, tell me about that, why it interests you.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, the HSBC settlement was a really shocking kind of new low in the history of the too big to fail issue. HSBC was a serial offender on the money laundering score. They had been twice given formal cease and desist orders by the government. One dating back as far as 2003, another one in 2010 for inadequately policing the accounts in their system. They laundered over $800 million for cartels in Colombia.
BILL MOYERS: Drug cartels?
MATT TAIBBI: Drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. They laundered money for terrorist connected banks in the Middle East. Russian gangsters. Literally, you know, I talked to one prosecutor who’s, like, “They broke basically every law in the book and they did business with every kind of criminal you can possibly imagine. And they got a complete and total walk.” I mean, they had to pay a fine.
BILL MOYERS: $1.9 billion, a lot of money.
MATT TAIBBI: It’s a lot of money. But it’s five weeks of revenue for the bank, to put that in perspective. And no individual had to suffer any consequences at all. There were no criminal charges no individual fines, which was incredible. Incredible.

Incredible indeed.

If only these bankers who laundered the drug money had changed some answers on a Regents exam - then they'd face some accountability.

Cyprus Parliament Narrowly Votes To Accept Bailout

Amid all the stuff going on closer to home, this mess in Cyprus still bears watching:

Cyprus moved a step closer on Tuesday to receiving much-needed aid when its parliament narrowly endorsed a bailout deal drafted amid unprecedented acrimony and calls for the island to exit the eurozone.

In a nail-biting ballot, following hours of heated debate, Nicosia's 56-member House approved the €10bn rescue package with a majority of two votes. Among officials who had warned of a "chaotic default" the result was met with visible relief.


Highlighting the furore that the agreement has unleashed, however, the deal was wholeheartedly rejected by the island's anti-austerity opposition parties, Akel and Edek. Several lawmakers predicted that its impact on a country that until recently was better known for its robust offshore financial services, would be "far worse" than the devastating invasion it suffered at the hands of an invading Turkish army in 1974.

With the EU-IMF sponsored rescue programme forcing the government to dismantle the banking sector – and forcing depositors, for the first time, to foot the cost of recapitalising banks exposed to debt-stricken Greece – many MPs have virulently denounced the package as containing the seeds of the country's economic destruction.

Indicative of the concerns that the measure might not be passed, the beleaguered president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, issued a last-minute appeal calling on politicians to think of the island's "greater good".

With bankruptcy looming, the governing coalition warned of "chaotic scenes", with public sector salaries and pensions going unpaid if the programme was voted down.

"Our country is passing through a critical time that calls for a sense of national responsibility and conduct in a manner which is consistent with the greater good," said Anastasiades, a British-trained barrister who assumed power barely two months ago.

In a replay of the scenes that have haunted Greece, protesters demonstrated outside parliament as the vote took place. Many hurled abuse at politicians now widely blamed for the island's economic decline. The Cypriot economy, once one of the most vibrant in the EU, is set to contract by 13% over the next year.

The prospect of the island being pushed into prolonged recession has given way to mounting speculation that perhaps it would be better if it left the eurozone altogether. In the runup to the vote, Akel ratcheted up the pressure by calling for a referendum on the issue.

"We know leaving the euro is an equally painful option, but reinstating a national currency could offer prospects for growth in the future," the party's general secretary, Andros Kyprianou, said.
Increasingly, the island's business elite has embraced the idea that the country would fare better if it dumped the single currency and returned to the Cyprus pound.

Calls for the island to leave the bloc have mounted as the knowledge has also sunk in that the price of international rescue funds will now be €13bn in budget cuts.

Maybe Randi Weingarten can issue a meaningless and useless call for the end to austerity measures?

Note To Randi Weingarten On Her Moratorium Call

You can call for a moratorium on teacher evaluations and school closures tied to Common Core tests all you want.

David Coleman and Merryl Tisch can sit in the audience and hear your entirely reasoned argument.

They're not going to put a moratorium on anything here in NY State.

Both the governor and the NYSED Commissioner want every school district in the state to use the APPR evaluation system to fire teachers next year.

They told us that last week when they warned Buffalo about a memorandum of understanding between the district and the union that no teachers would be fired using APPR the first year because it is untested and unpiloted.

Buffalo has since rescinded that agreement under threat of losing RttT and Title 1 money.

And Merryl Tisch and John King both said after your speech that there will be no moratorium in NY State from APPR.

They say they've taken all potential problems into account, so teachers in NY State will be fired using the new teacher evaluation system based upon Common Core tests.

Thanks for the free coffee and donuts at the speech though, Randi.

They were swell.

And I know you just loved getting all the attention you got today for this speech, you attention hound you.

But nothing will happen as a result of this speech.

The powers that be in NY State have told us so already.

The firings based on Common Core commence next year.

Instead Of Extending The School Day, Why Not Lower Class Size?

I bet you could get much better results if you took the 20 middle schools the city is going extend the school day at and instead lowered class size to the low 20's or high teens.

In fact, I know you could get better results.

But for some reason, education reformers refuse to sell class size reforms and instead go with the extended school day and extended school year reforms.

Even though lowering class size is a proven reform and extending the school day is not.

My brain tells me that education reformers don't really care about improving performance so much, or helping kids, because if they did, they would choose the reform proven to work over the one that sometimes does and sometimes doesn't.

My brain also tells me that there is another agenda behind the extended school day and extended school year movement:

They want to socialize the kids to expect longer work days with no vacation, garbage pay and, as the Daily News put the extra work the middle school kids will be doing as part of the extended school day program, "toil" when they become working adults in our neo-feudal economy.

Raginghorse Cycles The Boston Post Road

Raginghorse decided to cycle the old Boston Post Road from Stamford all the way to the Bronx and take some beautiful photos of the trip along the way.

I used to live up that way a few years back, and the photos brought back some memories of running Boston Post Road from Pelham to Larchmont.

If you have a little time, take a trip with Raginghorse.

It's a nice little trip.

Weiner Became A Corporate Consultant

I've been saying that Anthony Weiner needs to stop looking for a new government gig, but it turns out he has the kind of job nearly every ex-pol gets when they leave office:

Anthony D. Weiner has demystified the details of the 906-page Affordable Care Act for an electronic medical records company. 

He has counseled a biofuel firm about expansion into the emerging markets of Latin America and Africa. 

And he has plunged into the world of start-ups with his own green energy business. 

Over the past two years, it appeared as if Mr. Weiner, once the irrepressible fireball of New York City politics, had spent his days as a stay-at-home dad, licking his wounds and mourning his ambitions after the salacious images and messages that he sent to women prompted his resignation from Congress. 

But it turns out that from the moment he left public view, the man who had relied on a government paycheck his entire adult life was consumed by a corporate career whose profits and progress came to him, by his own account, with remarkable ease. 
It did not take Mr. Weiner long to embark on a new career after he left Congress on June 16, 2011. On July 7, he quietly incorporated a new firm, Woolf Weiner Associates, named for his great-grandfather, an Austrian immigrant to the Lower East Side. 

Since then, Mr. Weiner said, he has advised more than a dozen companies. He disclosed the names of a few of them after they agreed to waive confidentiality agreements. 

He signed up a New York firm called CureMD, an electronic medical records provider. And he became a consultant to Covington & Burling, an international law firm. 

In interviews, executives at those companies described Mr. Weiner as a quick and nimble student of their businesses with an innate sense of how to navigate the rhythms and personalities of government.
At Parabel, Mr. Weiner was credited with distilling the company’s complex business model into easy-to-understand sales pitches for potential investors and foreign officials, at times to the amazement of the businessmen in the room. Mr. Gubnitsky recalled how Mr. Weiner employed the concept of “economic ecosystems” to highlight the positive impact of the firm’s technology on farmers and consumers. 

Mr. Weiner has advised Covington & Burling as it seeks to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to relax its long-standing objections to major foreign investment in the broadcast industry. He has tutored the firm on the key players and their political sensitivities, using knowledge gleaned from his tenure on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Mr. Weiner said he had reached out to federal officials at the Energy and Agriculture Departments, as well as members of Congress, on behalf of his clients. But he insisted that the work did not meet the legal definition of lobbying, which he said his contracts made clear he would not do. 

He can call these gigs whatever he wants to call them - the truth is, companies pay him for the contacts and access he has to people in government.

In other words, he is a lobbyist.

Again, most of these politicians do exactly the same thing when they leave office.

It's how Weiner could go from a Forest Hills apartment to a Park Avenue address.

I say, if he's so good at this particular kind of activity, he ought to stay in it.

UFT Signs Off On Extended School Day Until 6 PM


Thousands of middle school kids will be toiling in classrooms as late as 6 p.m. as of this fall as part of the city’s effort to extend the school day.

Twenty middle schools will add an extra 2.5 hours of daily instruction for 2,000 sixth-graders under a program announced by city officials Monday.

“Often students who lose their way in school start to fall off track in the middle grades. It’s where the achievement gap really seems to grow,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who announced the program Monday along with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Extending the school day has long been a goal of education reformers, and dozens of city schools have longer days through flexible budgeting or partnerships with nonprofits.

But the latest plan is the city’s first organized push to try the strategy for struggling middle schools.
New York is also one of the first major cities to pilot a longer-day program focused on improving reading skills, following efforts focused on math in Houston and Denver.
The longer school day will include sixth-graders for three years at 20 schools where students struggle with reading.

The schools, which have not yet been selected, will adapt different schedules based on their needs, using a mix of outside tutors and classroom teachers who volunteer for the extra hours. The teachers union has signed off on the program.

The $6.2-million-a-year program will be funded with $3.5 million from the private Robin Hood Foundation, with the city picking up the rest of the bill.

Officials predicted parents and even students would welcome the longer day, but some kids were skeptical.“When school is out, most kids just want to leave,” said Lauren Santos, 14, an eighth-grader at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School.

Okay, few things to look at here.

First, notice the words used to describe the extended day program:

"Kids will be toiling in classrooms as late as 6 PM..."

"An extra 2.5 hours of instruction..."

"Extending the school day has long been a goal of education reformers..."
Just from the language, you can see what kind of program this is - test prep.
The Daily News reports that "officials predicted students would welcome the longer school day," but with many students in public schools already spending 7 hours of continuous test prep, it's difficult to see how they're going to "welcome" the additional 2.5 hours of "toil."

Next, notice how the UFT has "signed off" on the program.  

The UFT could point out that many children are already suffering through 7 hours of daily test prep and the additional 2.5 hours, if added, ought to contain something other than skills and drills and test prep.

But you'll never see the UFT leadership stand up for something that is right when they can instead give in to political expediency and sign off on an education reform that the corporate education reformers are licking their lips at getting  - a 9.5 hour school day.

Perhaps this program will see some test score gains and therefore will be hailed as some success that should be emulated all over the city.

Or perhaps it won't.

Either way, it's just another sign of the dehumanization of the system that education reform and education reformers continue to bring us.

9.5 hours of test prep a day.

What kind of adults will those middle schools churn out?

Oh, and one final point:
That Quinn is the politician championing this program tells you much about the kind of mayor she would be.

With the UFT working with her to extend the school day to 9.5 hours of nothing but test prep, you also have a glimpse of how the UFT would work with Quinn.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Quinn, Walcott Announce 2 Hour Longer School Days In 20 Middle Schools

Getting them ready for the 10-12 hour work day they'll have to put in, slaving at Walmart:

School days will get more than two hours longer for 2,000 New York City sixth-graders next fall. The nation's largest city is joining a roster of school systems experimenting with having students spend more time in class.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced the plan Monday.

It will involve about 2,000 students in 20 schools, not yet chosen.

Pupils will get 2½ extra hours a day of reading tutoring and other educational activities, run by a nonprofit group.

The City Council and private foundations are paying for the extra instruction. It's part of a $4.6 million effort to improve middle school reading.

Notice what they're going to spend the time on - reading, tutoring, and other educational activities.

In other words, test prep-related activities.

Drills and skills.

How about saving the regular school day for the drills and skills and putting in some fun activities after school?

How about some games or physical activities?

How about art or music?

How about some social-emotional learning?

How about anything other than test prep?

If you want the kids to read, forcing them to read complex text and do other Common Core and test prep-related activities for 10 hours a day isn't going to do it.

But I didn't fall off a turnip truck.

Quinn and Walcott don't care if the kids like reading.

They want the kids to learn how to obey rules and deal with drudgery, so they can be ready to be good Americans when they grow up.

Shut up and do your test!

Shut up and do your work!

Work longer and harder for less and less every year!

That's the agenda here.

Salon Picks Up The Story Of Michelle Rhee's "Reformer Of The Year" Award To A Virulently Homophobic Tennessee Lawmaker

From Salon:

Michelle Rhee’s controversial education reform nonprofit StudentsFirst recently selected a virulently anti-gay lawmaker as the organization’s “reformer of the year.”

StudentsFirst’s honoree, Tennessee state Rep. John Ragan, is the co-sponsor of the state’s shameful (and, thankfully, failed) “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, a measure that would have banned teachers from discussing sexuality that is not “related to natural human reproduction” in the classroom. The bill was a barely-concealed attempt to prevent teachers from talking about the existence of gays and lesbians with their students, and would have enshrined anti-gay discrimination in Tennessee law and educational policy. Additional language in Ragan’s measure would have compelled educators and school therapists to “out” students they suspected of being gay to parents or guardians.

Despite the Republican lawmaker’s public (and easily searchable) anti-gay legislative track record targeting queer students, StudentsFirst hailed Ragan as a “reformer” who “consistently voted to do right by kids when it comes to education.”

When confronted with Ragan’s voting record, StudentsFirst Vice President of National Policy Eric Lerum tweeted  that the organization “wouldn’t have endorsed had we known,” but, despite a request for comment from Salon, has issued no formal statement to address the matter or given any indication that they intend to retract their endorsement.

This isn’t the first time StudentsFirst has honored a bigoted legislator. In 2012, the organization selected state Sen. Chip Rogers, an anti-immigrant Republican from Georgia, as their “reformer of the year.” Rogers is infamous for, among other anti-immigrant measures, sponsoring a bill that would have cut off all state services to undocumented immigrants, including preventing DREAMers from attending public schools.

As the Daily Kos notes and as Salon has previously reported, StudentsFirst has stirred controversy in the past with their anti-tenure, anti-union and pro-charter “reform” recommendations, and a heavily Republican, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT and anti-choice political candidate endorsement list.

Oh, we wouldn't have chosen the virulent homophobe who wants teachers and school therapists to out students if they make disclosures about their sexuality if we'd known that's what he's like, but since we already chose him and since neither Michelle Rhee nor anyone associated with her ever makes mistakes, we're going to continue to honor him as the "reformer of the year."

So what if he's a bigot.

The mainstream media and political world has ho-hummed this story so far.

Can you imagine if the AFT or the NEA gave an award to somebody like Ragan?

What would the reaction be in the corporate media and the political world?

Michelle Rhee does live a charmed life, doesn't she?

Seems like nothing she or her PAC can do brings down accountability onto them.

MORE Budget Analysis On Teacher "Gotcha" Squad

An important post from the MORE caucus on how much more money is spent these days by the state and the city to fire teachers than in the recent past:

There are 120,000 tenured teachers across the rest of New York State, where 208 cases were settled during this time. In New York City, it is generally understood that approximately half of that amount, 60,000, enjoy the same protections. Yet it seems the amount of city teachers who have faced termination charges double. In fact, using these numbers, it becomes clear that city teachers during  were at least 4.6 times more likely to face 3020-a charges than were teachers from across the rest of the state.

We can now see that between the years of 2009 and 2012 New York City spent the lion’s share of $32.8 million in state funds, running the state into a $19.7 million deficit in the process, to dutifully try to fire more than four times the amount of teachers as anywhere else in the state. Only two possible conclusions can be drawn from this realization: Either an astoundingly high amount of teachers here in the city are bad, or our employer, the city’s Department of Education, has zealously pursued a course to fire as many teachers as it can.

We  believe the latter: That, instead of spending badly needed money on children and on schools during the depths of the recession,  the department engaged in a zealous attempt to fire as many teachers as possible and used the state’s money -more than $19 million of which it did not have- to prosecute those attempts. We also believe this policy continues to today.

Former president Weingarten’s  prediction was correct; the DOE has created a climate of fear and intimidation in our schools.  This climate of fear has had an adverse effect on the working conditions of our colleagues and must end.  We must establish an open environment of collaboration if we expect our teachers to excel. In addition, the department must  direct as much money as possible to the actual classroom -to actual students-  instead of using it in an attempt to fire teachers (at a rate at almost five times as frequent as other districts throughout the state) if they expect their schools -our schools- to be successful.

Of course it was Randi Weingarten and the Unity caucus who helped this process along greatly with all the contractual changes they agreed to in the infamous '05 contract.

Obama Administration's Failed Education Policies

An excellent rundown from Valerie Strauss at the Answer Sheet:

However fine the intentions were of the Obama administration officials, critics say that the reforms were not well thought out, not based in solid research and were rushed into implementation. They also say that the totality of the reforms have ignored the most basic problem in public education: equity in educational opportunity. Students from wealthy families continue to do far better than middle-class and lower-class families — and that gap keeps growing.

* The emphasis on standardized testing to evaluate teachers and principals has led to a growing grass-roots revolt against the testing obsession. An opt-out of testing movement has taken root in numerous states, and teachers, principals and researchers have written letters to Obama and Duncan saying that “value-added measures” that link student test scores to teacher/principal evaluations are neither reliable nor valid and shouldn’t be used. Yet in some states, as much as half of a staff member’s evaluation is based on this.

The insistence on evaluating teachers by test scores has led to situations in which teachers are evaluated by the scores of students they haven’t taught or subjects they haven’t taught (really), and there’s a move toward of the development standardized tests in every subject. A lawsuit  was recently filed against the state of Florida by teachers who were being evaluated by scores of kids they never had. And in Florida, the testing obsession is so deep that the state is forcing a boy with a brain stem, but not a complete brain to take a standardized exam — really.

And there have been repeated scandals in various states with educators cheating on the tests, which culminated in the recent indictments of former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other educators under a law used to prosecute mobsters.

We’ve heard nothing important from Obama or Duncan on these problems.

* The Common Core State Standards initiative is in trouble. Some 45 states and the District signed on to the initiative with the aim of having the standards in place by 2013-2014, with, of course, new standardized tests aligned to the benchmarks. There was bipartisan support for the initiative, which was aimed at raising state standards and allowing for a common way to assess student performance across the states. When the standards were issued, though, critics raised issues with specific standards; early childhood development experts, for example, said the standards ignored research on how children develop. Even Common Core supporters became concerned when implementation was rushed, saying that  teachers were not given enough time to learn the standards, or to collaborate to draw up effective lesson plans.

Furthermore, the early standardized assessments aligned with the core standards have had problems. Now, a number of states are pulling back on them as a result. And experts say that the core-aligned assessments being developed by two multistate consortia with some $350 million in federal funds will not be the “game-changing” next-generation exams that Duncan said would better evaluate students abilities because of a lack of money and time. In the wake of growing opposition, Duncan recently asked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to do more to support the common core standards.
* There are problems with Race to the Top. Many of the states that collectively won more than $4 billion in Race to the Top money are facing big challenges in implementing them according to a February 2013 report by the Education Department.  The biggest problems: implementing new educator evaluation standards and creating sophisticated student data systems that are supposed to be able to inform teaching. The whole notion of competitive grants in education has driven critics to say that the administration has ignored equity issues.

* The number of charter schools grew during the Obama administration, with the benefit of federal funding, but the notion that charters are a silver bullet to education’s problems has been debunked, given that research has shown that most of these schools are no better than the traditional public schools. Furthermore, the growth of for-profit charter management companies has highlighted the move toward privatization of public education, which many believe is damaging the country’s most important civic institution.

* Duncan’s NCLB waivers were highly controversial, leading Republicans and some Democrats to worry about federal overreach. The waivers also became part of the equity debate.

* Though the Obama administration does not support vouchers — the use of public money for private school tuition — its emphasis on school choice for parents has given cover for an expansion in some states of voucher programs that have become highly controversial. In Louisiana, for example, public money is going to Christian schools which teach that the universe is no more than 10,000 years old and that dinosaurs co-existed with man. There is no accountability for the public money being spent at private schools.

Enter the second term. The Obama-Duncan agenda in K-12 is aimed at universal preschool for children from low- and medium-income families, but federal budget cuts make that unlikely to be fully implemented.

What is most prominent is the mess from the first term.

 Of course there will be no accountability for either Duncan or his boss on this mess because as we so often note here at Perdido Street School, accountability is only for the little people - like teachers and administrators in schools.

Policy makers and the politicians who appoint them skirt accountability for their messes time and time again.

Obama Set To Screw College Students, Parents On Loan Rules

Oh yes he is:

The Obama administration has found itself at odds with a key voting block—college students and their advocates—as well as many of its Democratic allies in Congress, because of an important, if technical, budget proposal that could have significant implications for college access.

In a move intended to stave off a doubling of interest rates on federally backed Stafford Loans over the summer, the administration is seeking to shift those interest rates from the current predictable, fixed-rate system to a market-based rate at the time of the loan. Right now, interest rates on subsidized Stafford Loans are set at 3.4 percent, but they're slated to jump to 6.8 percent in July, unless Congress and the administration act.

The shift to a 6.8 percent fixed rate could cost a student with $20,000 in debt—roughly the national average—an additional $12,000 over the life of their loan, according to an analysis by the Institute for College Access and Success, a nonprofit organization in Oakland, Calif.

The administration and some Democrats in Congress have very different ideas about how to head off that potential rate increase. Advocates for students agree that under current interest rates, which are at historic lows—for instance, the rate was 1.73 on April 17—President Barack Obama's fiscal 2014 budget proposal offers a better deal for borrowers than they're getting right now.

But the proposal doesn't place any cap on the interest rate, leaving students open to much more expensive loans if interest rates soar in the future, critics argue.

Just hours after the Obama administration released its budget blueprint April 10, a coalition of student-advocacy groups including the National Campus Leadership Council, U.S. PIRG, Our Time, Rock the Vote, and the Young Invincibles put out a joint statement disparaging the loan plan.

 "Students have never taken out federal student loans without a cap on how high interest can go," they wrote. "The president stood with us by investing in higher education during his first term, and we're concerned that his budget does not deliver the same investment this time around."

 Nope - sounds like he's throwing college students and their parents overboard.

6.8% interest rates on student loans is high.

But leaving the Stafford Loan program without a cap means those rates can go much higher than that.

Sure, with the Federal Reserve printing press in overdrive these days, the loan rates are low right now.

But they won't remain low forever.

Not with all those extra Uncle Ben's Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke threw into the system that eventually he (or his successor) will have to pull out of it.

I dunno, maybe we'll never see 17% interest rates the way we did back in the 70's.

But if we did, and there was no cap on Stafford Loans, that's where those interest rates would go.

Hey, Obama, how about extending the 3.4% rate on Stafford Loans by going on the TV and telling everybody Republicans want to double the loan rate to 6.8% so they can pay off their banker and Wall Street friends?

Fred Dicker: Shelly Silver Will Follow Tisch And Endorse Thompson

From the NY Post:

While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has yet to endorse a candidate for mayor, insiders predict he will follow Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and back former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, who lost narrowly to Mayor Bloomberg four years ago.

Silver and Tisch are longtime friends and political allies and many on the inside say Tisch wouldn’t have endorsed Thompson last week without Silver’s approval.

“Shelly backing Billy, the only black in the race, would win him a lot of points with the African-Americans in the Assembly, who help keep him as speaker,’’ said a longtime Thompson backer.

I'm less interested in Silver's potential backing of Thompson than I am of Shelly's friendship and political alliance with Merryl Tisch.

There's little doubt that Tisch and NYSED Commissioner King have the political backing and support of Governor Cuomo as they seek to fire tens of thousands of teachers via APPR and Common Core over the next few years.

But Tisch, who like all Regents board members, is appointed by the legislature, must also have the backing of Assembly Speaker Silver as well.

No wonder she seems little worried that her ill-conceived, badly planned "reforms" will backfire on her.

She has two powerful figures backing her up.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wealth Gap - Not The Fault Of Teachers

An Urban Institute study found the following:

The Urban Institute study found that the racial wealth gap yawned during the recession, even as the income gap between white Americans and nonwhite Americans remained stable. As of 2010, white families, on average, earned about $2 for every $1 that black and Hispanic families earned, a ratio that has remained roughly constant for the last 30 years. But when it comes to wealth — as measured by assets, like cash savings, homes and retirement accounts, minus debts, like mortgages and credit card balances — white families have far outpaced black and Hispanic ones. Before the recession, non-Hispanic white families, on average, were about four times as wealthy as nonwhite families, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of Federal Reserve data. By 2010, whites were about six times as wealthy. 

The dollar value of that gap has grown, as well. By the most recent data, the average white family had about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families.
“The racial wealth gap is deeply rooted in our society,” said Caroline Ratcliffe, one of the authors of the Urban Institute study. “It’s here, it’s not going away, and we need to care about it.” 

Many experts consider the wealth gap to be more pernicious than the income gap, as it perpetuates from generation to generation and has a powerful effect on economic security and mobility. Young black people are much less likely than young white people to receive a large sum from their parents or other relatives to pay for college, start a business or make a down payment on a home, for instance. That, in turn, makes their wealth-building prospects shakier as they move into adulthood. 

Two major factors helped to widen this wealth gap in recent years. The first is that the housing downturn hit black and Hispanic households harder than it hit white households, in aggregate. Many young Hispanic families, for instance, bought homes as the housing bubble was inflating and reaching its peak, leaving them saddled with heavy debt burdens as house prices plunged in places like suburban Phoenix and inland California. 

Black families also were hit disproportionately by the housing collapse, because heading into the recession housing constituted a higher proportion of their wealth than for white families, leaving them more exposed when the market crashed. Higher unemployment rates and lower incomes among blacks left them less able to keep paying their mortgages and more likely to lose their homes, experts said. 

Discriminatory lending practices were also a factor. “We know that communities of color, their rate of subprime or predatory loans was twice what it is in the overall population,” said Tom Shapiro, the director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. 

Black families also suffered bigger hits to their retirement savings, the Urban Institute found. On aggregate, the value of black families’ retirement accounts shrank 35 percent between 2007 and 2010, while white families’ accounts actually gained 9 percent over the same period. With lower earnings and higher unemployment rates leaving them with a thinner safety net to begin with, black families were more likely to take funds out of the market when it was depressed, leaving them out in the cold as the market recovered. 

“That reservoir of what you can dig into for emergencies and contingencies is a lot shallower in communities of color,” Professor Shapiro said. “That pushes black families to sling off assets, like I.R.A.’s or stocks, that you might have had another goal in mind for.” 

Something similar may be happening as the housing recovery takes hold. “Some people talk about it in terms of a land grab,” said Professor Hamilton of the New School, as mainly white investors are buying foreclosed homes from disproportionately minority owners. “As the housing market starts to appreciate, some of those minority buyers might not be back.” 

All in all, Hispanic families lost 44 percent of their wealth between 2007 and 2010, the Urban Institute estimates, and black families lost 31 percent. White families, by comparison, lost 11 percent of their wealth. The economic turbulence worsened a gap that has persisted for as long as social scientists have measured it, and has its roots in institutional racism, they said, which, for instance, prevented black Americans from benefiting fully from the G.I. Bill back in the 1940s and 1950s. 

Usually in these kinds of stories, you see a statement from some education reformer claiming bad teachers and failing school are at fault for the wealth gap and if we just address address the problems with public schools, much of the wealth gap will magically disappear.

But as this Urban Institute study shows, the problem is so complex, it builds upon generations of institutionalized racism, predatory lending, and economic turbulence that keeps people from ever getting ahead.

Here were the solutions proposed:

Even if blacks and Hispanics make progress in the years ahead as the economy improves, the persistence of the wealth gap has pushed many public policy scholars to recommend the adoption of more ambitious programs to help reduce worsening inequality. 

The Urban Institute suggests reforming government policies that encourage savings but disproportionately benefit the already wealthy and families with high incomes, like the home mortgage interest deduction. Automatic savings vehicles also might help lower-income and lower-wealth families start saving, it said. 

Professor Hamilton has proposed “baby bonds,” granting savings accounts to infants, seeded with funds that allocate greater sums to families with less wealth. (Such accounts would be race-blind, Professor Hamilton emphasized.) Accountholders could tap that money as young adults, to pay for college or start a business. “That’s really going to break the link of intergenerational poverty, and the intergenerational wealth gap,” Professor Hamilton argued. 

But in the absence of such far-reaching measures, scholars and advocates remain generally pessimistic that the wealth gap will narrow even as members of minority groups increase their share of the American work force. 

“The growth in the wealth divide is going to be very hard to close,” said Dedrick Muhammad, the senior director of the economic department at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the civil rights organization. “I don’t have a positive feeling about racial wealth inequality resolving itself with the recovery.”

Don't worry - charterizing the entire public school system and handing the reins over to for-profit and "non-profit" charter management organizations will solve everything!

Why Wasn't Mulgrew Rubber-Roomed For The Grady Woodshed Allegations?

On an earlier post about the NY Post report that UFT President Michael Mulgrew's sister just received a $75,828 a year management position at the DOE after being on child care leave for 11 years (during which time she worked for a tutoring services company that received almost $11 million dollars worth of business from the NYCDOE in 2011), a commenter wrote this:

Well, this is a lot like the Mulgrew at Grady woodshed story.

If he were a mere mortal, he'd be in a rubber room. If we're going to let Mulgrew slide, we should extend the same to the two Horndog High ladies and say that they were consenting adults.

The problem is that there is a double-standard that the higher-ups benefit from connections. How Mulgrew-Daretany got this far suggests that some connections were pulled. Other mothers would be terminated a lot earlier, as rules are extremely stringent on maternity leave in NYC.

The commenter makes two great points here.

I'll deal with the maternity/child care leave point in another post, it's the Grady woodshed story I want to deal with here.

First, let me remind you what the Grady woodshed story was.

A lawsuit filed by a disgruntled teacher claims the powerful head of New York City's teachers union was caught having sex with a teacher in a high school wood shop.

Andrew Ostrowsky says the United Federation of Teachers covered up the scandal to protect Mike Mulgrew, who became president in 2009, and that the union traded key concessions with New York schools officials in order to keep the alleged misconduct quiet.

The lawsuit further claims that the teacher allegedly having sex with Mr Mulgrew, Emma Camacho-Mendez, was rewarded with a cushy union job paying her $22,000 a year, in addition to her $85,000 teaching salary.

 The New York Post reports that former teachers at William E Grady High School in Brooklyn had also heard the rumors about Mr Mulgrew's tryst on a drafting table with Ms Camacho-Mendez in 2005.

 According to the lawsuit, a janitor discovered the pair having sex. New York school officials used that knowledge to 'extort' concessions from the union in exchange for the the city's silence on the matter.

Both Mr Mulgrew and Ms Camacho-Mendez, who is now married, denied the allegations and said they had never heard of the accusations before.

 Additionally, Mulgrew allegedly used his clout to get Ms Camacho-Mendez, a guidance counselor, a job as union liaison for special education.

In 2010, Mulgrew gave Ms Camacho-Mendez an award at a union banquet attended by 1,200 teachers at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

 Union insiders told the Post they aren't sure how Ms Camacho-Mendez received so much attention from union.

 'No one ever heard of this woman until Mr Mulgrew brought her on board,' a union representative told the Post.

She has no union credentials.' 

Now this is the sort of tabloid story that, if Mulgrew were an ordinary teacher at, say James Madison High School, and this showed up in the papers, he would have been immediately pulled from the classroom, placed in a rubber room and maybe even fired.

You know, like these two teachers:

The two "Horndog High" teachers who were sacked after an alleged lesbian sex romp in a Brooklyn classroom are slapping the city with a $2 million lawsuit for trashing their good names.

The Department of Education last month fired Alini Brito and Cindy Mauro, following a state arbitrator's report that said they engaged in a topless tryst at James Madison High School after ducking out of a student song-and-dance show.

A two-page summons with notice, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, says the two romance language teachers are victims of "wrongful termination, libel and slander."

"They've had to deal with these false allegations of engaging in lesbian sex," said Michael Valentine, a lawyer for the classroom cuties. "It's been painful.

"Aside from losing their jobs, their reputations have been ruined."

Brito and Mauro, who have previously filed suit in an attempt to overturn their firings, got yanked from their teaching jobs in November 2009 after a janitor reported barging in on their steamy session in Room 337.

But the formerly tenured teachers contend the janitor simply let his imagination get very overheated.
"He just assumed it was two women having sex," said Valentine of Altman Schochet. "Then he went and told everybody he could tell."

Brito, who has diabetes, defended herself against the sizzling allegations by saying Mauro was giving her candy and sugar to help treat her medical condition.

But a state arbitrator's report countered that the sexy Spanish teacher was topless while a naked Mauro kneeled between her legs.

The women deny that that there was any sex - though their supposed X-rated hijinks at the Midwood school turned them into a punchline and Daily News covergirls.

"There wasn't one person who testified seeing either one of them involved in a sexual act," Valentine said.

The city destroyed school surveillance tape that one of the teachers claimed would have exonerated them both.

Meanwhile Mulgrew, who may or may not have had sex with Camacho-Mendez at the Grady woodshed, nevertheless did put this woman in a union position she had no experience or skills to be in, yet was never called to account for either the sex allegation or the patronage job.

Just another example of how there are two codes of justice - one for the elites and one for the rest of us.

Michael Mulgrew received the elite, kid glove treatment while the two teachers from James Madison High School received the treatment the rest of us get:

Guilty as charged unless you can prove your innocence.

Cuomo, Mulgrew Patronage Stories Show How Nepotism, Corruption Runs Deep In The System

Two separate stories showed up in the newspapers today showing how big a problem nepotism remains in the political system.

The NY Times revealed that Governor Andrew Cuomo uses jobs at New York State’s economic development agency to pay off political friends, associates and donors for favors and/or contributions.

The NY Post revealed UFT President Michael Mulgrew's sister, Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany, has been hired by the NYCDOE for a $75,828 a year management position after an 11 year absence from the DOE.

Mulgrew-Daretany had been in English teacher but left the DOE on child care leave and worked as the chief operating officer for "Brienza’s Academic Advantage, a Brooklyn-based company that sells teacher-training seminars and student tutoring."

The company went from making $5,109 from the DOE in 2002 to $10.9 million in 2012 when they received an after school tutoring contract with the city.

In both the Cuomo patronage story and the Mulgrew-Daretany DOE gig story, you see that connections and political favors, not experience or expertise, were the primary drivers for employment.

For example, the Times found:

the agency hired 23-year-old Andrew Moelis, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, for another new position, strategic planning associate, at a salary of $75,000 a year.

Shortly before Mr. Moelis’s first day of work, his father, Ron Moelis, a prominent real estate developer, gave $25,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign, according to the records.

Could it be coincidence that a 23 year old just out of UPenn receives a $75,000 a year gig at the New York State economic development agency a few days before his daddy gives Sheriff Andy Cuomo $25,000 so he can get re-elected governor and keep cleaning up the corruption in Albany?

Probably not.

And could it be coincidence that the company Michael Mulgrew's sister helps to run receives $10.9 million from the NYCDOE in 2012 just as Mulgrew is selling his membership out on APPR, Danielson and a host of other reforms the city and the state want?

Probably not.

The quid pro quo is built into the system and these are hardly the only people engaging in this kind of stuff.

But given how Sheriff Andy was busy accusing the Buffalo teachers union and district of "borderline ethical and legal fraud" for making a memo of understanding that no teacher would be fired under the APPR evaluation system for the first year because it is untested and unproven, I find it interesting that he is engaging in real fraud by soliciting campaign funds and favors from donors and handing out jobs to their family members in return.

Similarly, given how Mike Mulgrew plays in public like he's fighting the good fight against the DOE, I find it interesting that his sister's company received a $10.9 million dollar contract from that same DOE at the same time Mulgrew is agreeing to all kinds of reforms that the people at the DOE want.

Just two more indications of how corrupt and nepotistic this political system in NYC and NY State is and how selective the enforcement of rule- and law-breaking is.

How Not To Handle A Crisis

Weiner can run for mayor all he wants - with this kind of handling of questions over his Twitter escapades, he won't place in the top two:

He’s had two years to think about his political comeback, but former Rep. Anthony Weiner has bungled his return to public life after his sexting scandal, experts in crisis management said Thursday.

They faulted Weiner’s performance in a whirlwind of TV interviews Wednesday when the former congressman could not say how many women received raunchy texts and photos from him or rule out the possibility that more photos could emerge.

Weiner’s less-than-artful dodge — which included nervous laughter in one interview — left an impression he might be hiding something, the crisis managers said, adding they were surprised he did not have a better game plan for answering obvious and inevitable questions about the scandal.

One of the No.1 rules of crisis management is, ‘Do you have all of the correct information, and is more coming out that is going to make it worse?’” said Montieth Illingworth, of Montieth & Company. 
In one of his interviews on Wednesday, with RNN, a regional cable news channel, Weiner said, “If reporters want to go try to find more, I can’t say that they’re not going to be able to find another picture or find another ... person.”
Illingworth said, "Clearly there is a remaining messiness to the story.”

Asked whether there aren't more revelations about his behavior to come, Weiner has essentially responded by telling his interviewers, and the rest of the media, to move on. (Funny strategy, for a guy who's supposed to have such great "media chops," and who arguably ought to know better by now what happens when you try to tell reporters what they're not allowed to talk about anymore.)

Weiner should not run if the scandal has not run its course.

And clearly the scandal has not run its course if he's telling the media there may be more photos of his penis out there if they go looking for them.

That's like telling a jonesing alcoholic there's booze out there somewhere if they just look for it.

You can bet the press will be looking for the additional photos and the women who recieved those photos.

Paybarah tells us that Weiner wants to run an issue-focuses campaign of substance.

He notes that while Weiner is giving interviews about the Twitter mess, the rest of the candidates are doing just that:

Meanwhile, the declared Democratic candidates for mayor have been participating in the sort of substantive conversation Weiner has been calling for, coming together last night at John Jay College for a NY1 debate on public safety. The highlight there, in policy terms, was probably a disagreement between Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio over a bill allowing New Yorkers who feel they were racially profiled by the police to sue in state court.

I emailed Weiner last night for his reaction to the debate. He didn't respond.

Maybe he was too busy getting his new Twitter account ready to respond.

At any rate, it's quite clear that Weiner 2.0 isn't any different than Weiner 1.0 and he's got lots of internal, personal work to do before he's ready to emerge back into public life.

NY Post: Sweetheart Deal Gives Michael Mulgrew's Sister A $75,000+ A Year DOE Management Job

Here's the story:

The sister of teachers-union president Michael Mulgrew is under investigation for failing to disclose she managed a company that raked in $39.6 million in public-school contracts while she was on an 11-year child-care leave from her city teaching job, The Post has learned.

Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany, 40, was an English teacher at Lafayette HS in Brooklyn for less than five years with a $56,707 salary. She left in 2001 on maternity and child-care leave, but was allowed to remain on the Department of Education employment rolls.

She finally resigned in 2012, but the DOE rehired her this year as a $75,828-a-year “program officer.”
During her leave, Mulgrew-Daretany worked as chief operating officer for Brienza’s Academic Advantage, a Brooklyn-based company that sells teacher-training seminars and student tutoring. She is listed as COO in a Brienza’s organizational chart filed with the DOE. She left “last year,” a company official said.

DOE payments to Brienza’s rose from $5,109 in 2002 to $10.9 million in 2012, when the city received No Child Left Behind funds for after-school tutoring, officials said.

City employees are barred from holding second jobs with companies that do business with the city unless they get approval from their agency head and a waiver from the Conflict of Interest Board.
“She was required to request a conflict-of-interest clearance, but she did not seek one,’’ said DOE spokeswoman Connie Pankratz. She said Mulgrew-Daretany’s work for the vendor “was not disclosed to us.”

Pankratz said the DOE discovered the “potential conflict of interest” only after The Post asked about Mulgrew-Daretany’s work history last week. It has referred the matter to Schools Investigator Richard Condon and the conflict board, she said.

Mulgrew-Daretany, who lives in Staten Island like her union-leader brother, hung up when reached by The Post on Friday.

The possible violation came to light the same week Mike Mulgrew won a second full term as president of the United Federation of Teachers, a post he has held since 2009. Union members re-elected him with 84 percent of the vote.

The DOE grants employees child-care leaves up to the August after a kid’s fourth birthday. Mulgrew-Daretany extended her leave because she gave birth again.

She did not collect a salary or benefits during the leave. “It’s an entitlement,” Pankratz said. “You’re guaranteed that your job will still be there when you return.”

Mulgrew-Daretany’s new DOE job, which she started in January, is funded by a grant to study how schools help students prepare for college and careers, officials said.

How she got a higher-paying management position after an 11-year absence was not explained. The DOE could not say Friday whether she listed Brienza’s on her résumé.

Betsy Combier, a paralegal and blogger, said she wasn’t surprised at Mulgrew-Daretany’s cushy deal. “At the DOE, it’s not what you know, but who you know,” she said.

Leaving aside Mulgrew-Daretany’s failure to disclose her work with Brienza's for a minute, I am very interested in just how Mulgrew-Daretany got a $75,828 a year management gig with the DOE after not having worked in the system for 11 years.

Did Mulgrew pull strings to get her the job?

Or did Mulgrew not have to pull strings because the implicit understanding between Mulgrew and the DOE ("You help us, we help you...") was already there?

In either case, something smells here.

I also find it hard to believe Mulgrew-Daretany didn't list her COO job at Brienza's on the application for the DOE management position.

Although again, either way, something smells.

Either the DOE hired her without knowing she had management experience because she didn't list her Brienza's COO experience on her application/resume or the DOE did know about the Brienza's job and didn't care about the potential conflict of interest.

In any case, the takeaway from this is that Mulgrew's sister got a sweet management gig from the DOE, no questions asked.

Nice work if you can get it.

You have to wonder, how did somebody with the last name "Mulgrew" get that nice work?

NY Daily News: Release The NY State Common Core Exam Questions

Even the Daily News editors, in another attack on children, teachers and schools today in their latest "Common Core Reveals How Stupid Children Are And How Clueless Teachers Are!" editorial, say the test questions should be released:

Opponents will do what they can to undermine the exams’ credibility, no doubt pointing out that Pearson, the test preparation company, has an unenviable record of glitches. Those include the nonsensical pineapple question on last year’s English exam and a scoring botch this year that shut thousands of kids out of gifted-and-talented programs.

Transparency will be key to maintaining trust.

When releasing the scores, the department should publish as many of the actual test questions as can be given out without compromising future exam integrity. It should also include data on how many kids got each question right or wrong.

The more parents know about what’s expected of their children, the better. As for fears that releasing the questions would encourage teaching to the test: They’re so demanding, there’s little chance of that. In fact, if instructors did teach to these tests, they’d wind up teaching an awful lot, particularly in how to master reading comprehension.

One line in the editorial is absolutely true:

"Transparency will be key to maintaining trust."

Pearson has a documented track record of problems that Alan Singer does a great job of laying out here.

Yes, there was the infamous Hare and the Pineapple episode from last year and the infamous Gifted and Talented test grading screw-ups from this year.

But there are also rumors that Pearson pulled whole chunks of this year's tests from their own Pearson Common Core practice books.

And then there is that little problem about the children not having enough time to finish the tests and somebody at Pearson deciding that the NY State Common Core tests would serve as advertising vehicles for Mugs Root Beer ("Mugs Root Beer is the leading line of root beer!" the children were told in a testing footnote) and other corporate products.

All of this is on top of the fact the tests contained material children had never seen because the Common Core curriculum has not been fully developed and given to teachers - a stubborn fact of reality which the Daily News and other corporate media outlets refuse to admit to in their pro-Common Core propaganda pieces.

There is much to disagree with in this DN editorial, but one thing I can agree on with the DN shysters posing as informed education editorialists - "Transparency will be key to maintaining trust" around these tests.

So release the tests to the public. 

Let's see the material, let's see the questions, let's see how much time was given for each section.

And stop threatening teachers with losing their licenses if they talk about the test material or worse, sending out Common Core KGB agents to infiltrate the Internets and the Twitterverse to find and root out alleged crimes against the Common Core regime.

Otherwise parents, teachers and the general public will just have to assume that Pearson, the Regents and the NYSED are hiding something.

Like the tests were not ready for prime time and they should not be used to make high stakes decisions for students, teachers or schools.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Race To The Top Twitter Trolls

A teacher was removed from his classroom for allegedly tweeting a question from the NY State math "assessment".

That teacher had actually tweeted a math problem from the practice book.

A twitter troll admonished him: "You might want to refrain from posting questions from the NY State assessment."

The teacher responded on Twitter that he had not posted a problem from the test, but rather a problem similar to one that was on the test that was in the practice book.

Nonetheless the teacher was removed from his classroom the next day while the state investigated the incident.

Eventually exonerated from the twitter troll's accusation, the teacher returned to his classroom where he learned that rumors had spread among his students and their families that he had been arrested.

You can read the whole thing here.

A chilling story that is meant to strike fear into the hearts and souls of teachers.

Comply or they will come after you and have both your job and your reputation.

The twitter troll - a Race to the Top Network Specialist, whatever that is - remains free to roam the Twitterverse and Internets rooting out potential non-compliance with the NYSED/Regents Endless Testing regime.

This is how crazy the corporate education reform testing regime has gotten - they've got trolls on the Internets and in the Twitterverse looking for alleged crimes against the education reform state.

NY Times: Cuomo's Patronage Gives State Jobs To Friends, Associates And Donors

The Times takes aim at how Governor Andy pays back his political "friends," associates and donors:

ALBANY — New York State’s economic development agency created a new position last June, and then found a candidate to fill it: a young man named Willard Younger, who had just graduated from Colgate University with a degree in classics and religion. He became a special projects associate, at a salary of $45,000 a year, according to state personnel records. His father, Stephen P. Younger, is a lawyer and power broker in legal circles who was a member of one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s transition teams. He has also donated $26,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaigns over the years, disclosure records show.
The next month, the agency hired 23-year-old Andrew Moelis for another new position, strategic planning associate, at a salary of $75,000 a year. 

Shortly before Mr. Moelis’s first day of work, his father, Ron Moelis, a prominent real estate developer, gave $25,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign, according to the records.
Since taking office in 2011, Mr. Cuomo has repeatedly pledged to bring a new approach to Albany, where politicians of both major parties have long rewarded supporters with jobs that are not open to the general public. 

But an investigation by The New York Times into hiring by the agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, shows how Mr. Cuomo’s administration has engaged in some of the same patronage practices that have often prevailed here. 

The investigation was based on personnel records obtained through a Freedom of Information request, as well as campaign finance and other state records. Numerous interviews were conducted with state officials, employees and outside experts. 

While some of the new employees at Empire State had experience in economic development, others did not. Some of the jobs were not open to competition, and were filled with little input from the agency itself. 

Empire State has also hired friends of Mr. Cuomo who may help form his political brain trust should he decide to run for president in 2016. 

James P. Rubin, a former State Department spokesman, was hired at the agency in 2011 as counselor on competitiveness and international affairs, with a salary of $150,000 a year. Mr. Rubin’s appointment was seen by political consultants as a move by Mr. Cuomo to add a foreign policy hand to his stable. 

Empire State hired 49 people in the first 20 months of the Cuomo administration, according to personnel records obtained by The Times. Nearly a third were the governor’s political associates, donors and friends, or their relatives, the records and interviews show. 

At least seven of the new hires with connections were placed in newly created positions.

Cuomo is as big a crook as anybody else in Albany.

He is holier than thou, however, and that is going to come back to bite him.

This Times article, which exposes Governor Andy's patronage system quite handily, is just the tip of the iceberg that will aim at the Good Ship Cuomo should he choose to run for president in 2016.

Governor Andy needs just that kind of scrutiny.

He's on record saying his Albany is cleaner than any other in recent memory because he is so above board in his ethics.

Doesn't look like that statement will stand up to scrutiny.

Read the rest of the article and you'll see just how many jobs Sheriff Andy has handed out as political favors.

NY Post: Met Not Allowed To Solicit $25 Entry Fee

From the NY Post:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art should not be allowed to charge patrons admission – and has been misleading the public about why it’s allowed to accept fees in the first place, according to city records obtained by the Post.

The Fifth Avenue institution recently argued it was granted permission to solicit $25 entry fees “after the museum received approval from New York City’s Administrator of Parks ... more than four decades ago.”
But the Post obtained all records governing the admissions policy between the Met and the city going back over 100 years, to determine if that document actually exists.

It does not.

In the original six-page handwritten 1878 agreement, the city gives the museum use of the Fifth Avenue building.

In exchange, it requires the museum “be kept open and accessible to the public free of charge from 10 o’clock until half an hour before sunset” Wednesday through Saturday.

Subsequent documents show that there were discussions about instituting fees between the city and the museum during Mayor John Lindsay’s term in the 1970s, but nothing was ever approved.
The Met is currently facing two multimillion-dollar lawsuits by members protesting the museum’s practice of soliciting the $25 entry fee.

Museum lawyers admitted there was no “formal amendment” to the original lease, but said in court papers that the city has long been aware of their “pay-what-you-wish” admission policy.

While I am all for supporting the arts, this particular museum is a favorite charity of wealthy people and should not be shaking visitors down for 25 bucks, especially if they don't have the right to do so.

How New York's Parks Have Been Privatized

There are no free common spaces left in NYC. 

Our corporate overlords have even stolen the city parks:

In the 1970s and 1980s, Manhattan's Bryant Park had fallen into disrepair. Enter the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, commissioned to restore the park in exchange for managerial rights over it. Now re-named "the Bryant Park Corporation" (BPC) -- "restoration" having been dropped from its raison d'être -- it shares a management team with the nearby 34th Street Partnership BID (a business improvement district). In charge of both is Daniel Biederman, who previously had one more BID under his belt, the Grand Central Partnership. But in 1998, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- looking to get rid of an individual he perceived as threatening to his exclusive power -- decreed that Biederman should only be in charge of one BID at a time (Guiliani was perhaps correct in this, but for the wrong underlying reasons). To mollify the Mayor (who threatened to cancel the city's agreement with the BID unless Biederman complied with his directive), Biederman -- a favorite of the neo-conservative Manhattan Institute -- relinquished the Grand Central Partnership. His fate was unclear until Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first term when the new Mayor reversed course and gave Biederman the go-ahead to continue running the two BIDs at once.

The BID seeks out and schedules major corporate events for Bryant Park, and excludes smaller community-based and not-for-profit events. This occurs as a matter of course, as illustrated in the story of Greg Miller's "Dance Parade," without the BID needing to set a policy about such discrimination. These corporations are the only entities that can afford the large fees. While some community groups are allowed to hold programs in the Park, the selective nature of this privatized selection process is anathema to the whole idea of what makes the park "public." The park here is a corporation, run like a corporation, and it caters to other corporations. In recent years, the park added a skating rink sponsored by CitiBank -- CitiPond -- that covers the entire lawn in the winter. The bank's advertisements are prominently displayed rink-side along with logos of corporate advertisers such as Coca-Cola and the Wall Street Journal. Southwest Airlines runs a café in the park, "The Southwest Porch."

Whatever positives might have once been evident from the restoration of Bryant Park and its subsequent marketing and management, the result, now twenty years later, is a corporate playground; the City has handed a private corporation the reins to run one of New York City's premier public spaces, no strings attached.

Nor is this blatant privatization of public space limited to Bryant Park, which abuts the elegant New York Public Library. (No longer are the famed marble lions able to guard the public commons and ward off the bears and bulls as they once did.) About a decade after Bryant Park, Madison Square Park was similarly determined to be in need of restoration. A "Friends of Madison Square Park" was formed in 2002; it focused solely on raising funds, not on running the park. But, as is so often the case once opportunity pries that privatizing door open just an inch, within two years the "friends" morphed into the Madison Square Park "Conservancy," with restauranteur Danny Meyer at the helm. Meyer "took on" the task of managing the park as well. Not coincidentally, in 2004, Danny Meyer opened his lucrative Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, which collected revenues of $4.9 million in 2009. Just $220,256 of that went to the city and $348,389 to the Conservancy. Journalist Patrick Arden reported in "The High Cost of Free Parks" that while concessions in other parks pay around 20 percent of their take to the city, Meyer's concessions pay much less. And Meyer adds to his company's profits by catering private parties in the park for $15,000 an hour.

As mentioned, when Meyer opened his for-profit "burger stand," he was the director and co-founder of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, the nonprofit corporation approved by New York City to oversee that park in the public interest. Meyer made a private windfall from his "managing" of the Conservancy, at the expense of the public, and, as with Bryant Park, corporations are invited to feast on the public trough, holding high profile, flashy events there. Corporate logos abound. Is it any wonder? The boards of both parks' conservancies consist largely of CEOs from real estate firms and banks. 

 A big part of Bloomberg's legacy - shifting more and more of the commons into the control of the corporations:

 During a radio show on WNYC broadcast earlier this week, attorney Jim Walden, representing constituents who are trying to protect their own parks (against NYU, Brooklyn Bridge Development Corporation, and more) told Leonard Lopate on a segment,"Selling and Giving Away NYC Parks," "development corporations and conservancies don't have the same transparency, visibility, sunlight that a city agency would [in theory]. ... From a pure public policy perspective, as long as the private interests that are contributing to the park understand that it's no different than making a charitable contribution, once you give the money, you're done. [In that case] There wouldn't be a problem. [But that's never the case.] The problem is control. With the private money coming in to the park, there is some giveaway of control that ultimately allows a foot in the door, ultimately resulting [in] the park either changing, shrinking or going away completely."

From schools to the parks to the libraries - everything's run like a commercial enterprise.

The key is the "philanthropic gifts" that give the moneyed classes leverage to control the commons the way they want.