Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Critics Of SED/Regents Reform Agenda: Commissioner King Has Not Gone For Enough To Address Concerns

Once again, from Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY:

ALBANY—Statewide school groups are skeptical of a plan the state announced last week aimed at eliminating some testing, questioning the effectiveness and scope of the proposed changes.

State Education Commissioner John King wrote in a letter to schools last week that he and the Board of Regents have discussed taking several steps to minimize and improve upon testing, a plan that he called “a comprehensive initiative to keep the focus on teaching.”

“The commissioner's letter is a very small step,” said Carl Korn, spokesman for New York State United Teachers. “It doesn't erase the need for serious course corrections.

“We await more detail,” he added.

Getting rid of one eighth grade test does not address the overtesting problem.

The overtesting problem is built into the teacher evaluation system as mandated by the Race to the Top/NCLB waiver, as passed into law by the NY State legislature, as agreed to by Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch, NYSUT President Iannuzzi, UFT President Mulgrew and Governor Cuomo back in February 2012 when the NYSUT agreed to drop their lawsuit against the Regents.

Iannuzzi is part of the problem here, as is Mulgrew.

So long as they continue to support the Common Core and the evaluation system, the Endless Testing is going nowhere.

State Senator Latimer: Make The Politcians Take The Common Core Tests

From Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY:

ALBANY—Could New York lawmakers pass a high school exam in language arts or mathematics?

One state senator wants to know.

Sen. George Latimer, a Westchester Democrat, told City & State he's not sure if he would pass a high-school level state exam based on the new, more difficult Common Core curriculum standards, and he bets not all of his colleagues would pass it, either.

“Does that mean we are deficient as adults?” Latimer said in a video posted Thursday by the newspaper.

Supporters tout that if students can master the rigorous Common Core learning standards, they'll be ready to successfully complete college coursework or thrive in the modern workforce. Latimer's not sure if the state Legislature would show proficiency in the skills that, according to the standards, are necessary for success.

Just another example of the snowballing opposition to the Common Core - state senators saying every politician in the state government should have take these tests.

There's A Consensus - That John King And Common Core Must Go

NYSED Commissioner John King said there is a consensus across that Common Core reform is the right thing to do.

Syracuse -- In a visit to Syracuse today, New York Education Commissioner John King said he sees more consensus Mthan division around the state's implementation of the Common Core standards, teacher evaluations and other issues.

"I don't see it as a particularly divisive moment," he told The Post-Standard at the opening of WCNY's new headquarters on West Fayette Street. "I actually think what is most striking is the degree of consensus we see as a country around where we need to take education."

Sean Crowley at B-Lo-Ed Scene notes King's new strategy to take on Common Core critics:

Instead of acknowledging the asskicking he's deservedly endured at every stop of this asinine tour, King tries to wave his rhetorical wand over the whole mess saying Oh, look what I found behind your ear -- a nationwide consensus. Now in four years of high school with the Brown Franciscan Friars I learned rhetoric and logic and more rhetoric.  If you haven't been schooled as I have you might miss the stubtle rhetorical nuance King is employing here. When he tries to distract us from the Sisyphean greasefire he's  battling here in N.Y.  with some dopey generalization that the rest of the country is agog over the Common Core he is using the ancient Hibernian rhetorical ploy more commonly known as "bullshitting."

King can try and marginalize critics and opponents to the SED reformers here in NY by making like everybody else in the country is on board so all is well.

In fact, he may even believe that garbage himself since he tends to surround himself with yes men and other deformers who share the same corporate ed deform vision he does for the public education system.

But as I wrote earlier, these attempts to marginalize the opposition will come to nothing as the movement continues to grow and is made up of not just teachers and principals opposed to the reform agenda but parents and children too.

The arrogance of the people who put the SED reform agenda together does not allow them to see the fundamental mistake they made with the imposition.

They thought they could get buy in by making the test scores plunge to 30% proficiency around the state and scaring parents into getting on board with the Common Core/teacher evaluation/charter school express.

Instead, the test debacle has begun to galvanize parents against their agenda.

And so, now they are left to try and marginalize the opposition and play off like all is well with the Common Core imposition.

In the end, it will not work because the people opposed to this agenda far outnumber the people supporting it.

Yes, some of those people supporting it are billionaires with lots of money to give political candidates to support their positions.

But that only goes so far when large numbers of voters start telling their representatives about their opposition to the SED reform agenda.

Common Core Opposition Will Not Be Marginalized

Neal McCluskey of the Cato institute explains why the attempts to marginalize Common Core opponents as crazy people will not work:

The Common Core is opposed by scholars at several leading think tanks on both the right and left-hand side of the political landscape, including the Heritage Foundation, The Hoover Institution, the Brookings Institution and my own Cato Institute. My research has shown that there is essentially no meaningful evidence that national standards lead to superior educational outcomes.

Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek, a well-known education economist and supporter of standards-based education reform, has reached a similar conclusion about likely Core impotence. He recently wrote : "We currently have very different standards across states, and experience from the states provides little support for the argument that simply declaring more clearly what we want children to learn will have much impact."

Hanushek's conclusion dovetails nicely with Common Core opposition from Tom Loveless, a scholar at the left-leaning Brookings Institution. In 2012, Loveless demonstrated that moving to national standards would almost certainly have little, if any, positive effect because the performance of states has had very little connection to the rigor or quality of their standards, and there is much greater achievement variation within states than among them.

In fact, Loveless has been one of the clearest voices saying the Core is not a panacea for America's education woes, writing: "Don't let the ferocity of the oncoming debate fool you. The empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on American students' achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways to improve its schools."

Moving to arguably the far left, prolific education historian Diane Ravitch has also taken on the Core, noting that it is untested, was assembled behind closed doors, and was essentially foisted on schools by the federal Race to the Top funding contest. That it also seems intended to produce huge increases in test failures — as occurred when New York employed Core-aligned tests without Core-aligned curricula — seemed to push Ravitch over the edge.

"This is what we know: the Common Core tests cause a huge decline in test scores. Passing rates fell 30 percent in Kentucky and about the same in New York," Ravitch wrote on her blog recently. "Where are we heading? It won't do to keep saying, as [U.S. Education] Secretary Duncan likes to, that only extremists oppose the standards. Reasonable people question them as well."

There is an extremely well-informed opposition to the Core, and dismissing opponents as loony or selfish does New York's children no service. 

In the beginning, Common Core proponents could marginalize opponents by saying the opposition was just a small minority.

But as the opposition grows, comes from both sides of the political spectrum, and most importantly, is made up of both parents and children, Core proponents can no longer marginalize critics and opponents.

There are still some in the press, in politics or the education establishment who frame the battle as crazies vs. the adults, but they're behind the times and they will find how empty and useless a strategy marginalization is in the coming months.

They can't successfully marginalize a movement that is growing to be the majority.

NYSED: Teacher Evaluations Not Confusing

Nope - they're complex!

SCHOOLBOOK: Why are we hearing complaints about children in kindergarten through second grade being given extra assessments that are taking time away from class?

SCHWARTZ: That would depend upon the strategy that was locally collectively bargained. There may be some districts in which they decided that they were going to give a pretest. But that was something that they decided, and we have offered other alternatives for districts that want to take a different direction.

SCHOOLBOOK: What would those alternatives be? You're saying children don't have to take an extra assessment?

SCHWARTZ: No, what I was saying is that in some cases you can use information that is already in hand as the pre-test. In some cases you can use a group measure for the students. In that case, the teachers essentially are using one assessment that may be covering a variety of other teachers in other subjects. So in that case, there are no additional assessments that would need to be used because there's an agreement by that collective bargaining unit that all of the teachers will collectively be assessed based upon a particular assessment.

SCHOOLBOOK: It sounds very confusing.

SCHWARTZ: It is not confusing, it is complex. And it is new. And so when things are new they are unfamiliar and as we all continue to learn about this system, it will become something that will become much clearer to everyone. The confusion will hopefully disappear.

When tests connected to teacher evaluations cannot be explained in a very few simple steps, there is a problem.

The geniuses at SED have very simple problem, which is, the system they created is so "complex" that people find it "confusing" and if the geniuses at SED cannot make the "complex" issue a little less "confusing," that complex system is going to go the way of the Edsel.

Also, as a commenter notes on the NYC story:

Schoolbook, this may be true for the state. But what about for NYC? The local measures for teacher evaluations require tests. Period. Please add it to your story. 

So the solution to make the "complex" problems around testing and evaluations that people are finding "confusing" cannot be solved by the genius solution stated by the genius SED employee because the genius SED Commissioner imposed a system that requires tests - and lots of 'em.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NYSED Commissioner John King Finally Announces Common Core Meetings For NYC

From Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY:

ALBANY—The state Education Department plans to announce three New York City public hearings on the state's adoption of the more difficult Common Core curriculum standards, two weeks after scheduling 16 forums in upstate New York and on Long Island.

There will likely be at least five meetings in New York City, and the state expects to hold them by the end of the year, a spokesman said.

Critics questioned why the state didn't schedule meetings in New York City at the outset.


Leonie Haimson, executive director of the advocacy group Class Size Matters, said it's “extremely peculiar and hard to understand” why the state didn't schedule forums in New York City “until after people had complained.”

“It's really confounding to parents, and it seems to indicate that [State Education Commissioner John King] holds New York City parents in even lower regard than he holds parents in the rest of the state, which is not saying very much,” she said.

Where will they hold the meetings?

Will they do like the DOE does when they want to hold down public turnout for contentious issues like charter co-locations and pick a spot that's completely inaccessible to anybody without transportation?

Or will they hold the forums in accessible places that allow for many people to come and have their say?

I'm betting, since this is a p.r. campaign at this point, that they have the forums in pretty accessible places.

They want to make it look like they're listening to the public and making "adjustments" to the policies even though they're really doing neither.

Education Reform In Trouble

Anthony Cody at Gates Foundation Week:

From coast to coast, the billionaire-backed education reform project is back-pedaling, and there are signs of desperation showing up all over. At Education Nation there was little attention paid to the fractured fairytale that corporate reform has become, but the cracks are appearing everywhere now.

At a recent conference of mayors, few would even utter the words "education reform."  In Los Angeles today, there has been a hastily organized rally in support of Superintendent John Deasy, who has coyly suggested he "might" resign. This rally was organized by the Gates-funded Educators for Excellence, Teach Plus, and Los Angeles' chapter of the United Way, which distinguished itself a few months ago by hosting a school reform summit on the eve of a school board election.

This minor furor temporarily takes attention away from the much more significant questions being raised about the billion dollars in construction funds that Los Angeles Unified has invested in iPads and related curricular materials, at Deasy's urging. Deasy has remained adamant in the face of the controversy, insisting that the iPads are a "civil rights issue."  Where have we heard that before?

In the state of New York, the on again off again Department of Education hearings were back on again, and Commissioner John King has apparently been instructed to actually allow the public to speak without interrupting and arguing with them, as he had done at his last outing in Poughkeepsie. He has still not found the nerve to schedule any hearings in New York city, however.

There seems to be a dawning awareness on the part of the backers of corporate reform that their project is in real trouble, and that this battle is unfolding on the ground, even if they command the corporate boardrooms.

The public is now awake to the damage the reformers are causing to students, teachers and schools.

The reformers plotted Common Core and the PARCC assessments and the teacher evaluation changes and the data collection programs in their backrooms.

They got no pushback from anybody because they surround themselves with their own reform-friendly acolytes only, so it seems to have never occurred to them that there might be a mass uprising of parents when the reform movement started implementing their radical agenda.

This battle is far from over because the reformers are wealthier than anybody ought to be and they are willing to use that money to buy politicians, buy law changes, buy the media and authoritatively impose their agenda on cities, states and the nation.

But the rising opposition to Common Core, the increasing anger of teachers over the standards and evaluation changes, the hostility toward the testing from students, parents and teachers, the skepticism over the data collection - these are all good signs that education reform isn't going to get a "reboot" the way the billionaire reformers want.

Rather it's going to get "the boot" as students, parents and teachers all across this country send this agenda where it belongs - in the garbage.

Lots of work to do and there are no assurances that the public can beat the plutocrats and their functionaries on this.

But if I had said to you last year that the Common Core reforms would be under major attack here in NY State, that John King would be a punch line, that Andrew Cuomo would look to distance himself from his own reforms and that a new mayor would be coming into office who so far has not backed down from his pledge to make charters pay rent and put a moratorium on charter openings, would you have believed me?

Mulgrew: I Support Common Core

From Schoolbook:

At Tuesday's hearing before the state Senate's Standing Committee on Education, city teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said he supports the goals of the Common Core, which emphasize more critical thinking and writing.

"But the roll-out has been horrible," he said, referring to what he called a lack of curriculum materials and teacher preparation. Mulgrew said the state should have created a curriculum before the new tests were introduced this year. He also said the state should wait at least another year before evaluating teachers with these new exams.

Under the new teacher evaluation system, which has befuddled teachers, student performance on state exams counts for 20 percent of a teacher's rating. But because the exams don't start until third grade, and Mulgrew said some elementary schools have had to create brand-new "bubble test" assessments for their youngest students.

"A lot of children in kindergarten can't hold a number two pencil so I don't know how they're going to do on that test," he said.

The presumption seems to be that the Common Core implementation will get better after a couple of years and then it will be okay to tie teacher evaluations to the scores.

But the truth is, the standards are flawed, especially for the younger grades, the evaluation system is flawed (especially the testing component), the data tracking is Orwellian and the testing will not decrease so long as the evaluation system basing teacher ratings on tests stays in place.

So Mulgrew can say all he wants about the problems with implementation, blah blah blah.

Nothing will get better about the Common Core in a couple of years.

The standards need to be scrapped, we need to start the whole process over and everybody who was involved in developing, imposing and implementing the current reforms needs to be kept as far away from the re-do process as possible.

We'll see if hundreds of thousands of irate parents can force this kind of change across the state.

As for Mulgrew's undying devotion to the  Common Core, a line from the hospital scene with Captain McCluskey in The Godfather comes to mind:

"How much is the Turk paying you to set up my father, Captain?"

Here's A DOE Policy Change I'm On Board With

From the NY Post:

Styrofoam companies are about to lose their lunch over a city plan to replace the foam trays in school cafeterias with an eco-friendly compostable version.

The Department of Education said it tested the new trays in a small pilot program last spring, and is currently trying them again at four schools.

The department plans to increase the program to 32 schools next month, and is asking for bids to provide five-compartment compostable plates to be used at approximately 1,215 school kitchens citywide.

About 830,000 foam lunch trays are used daily in the city’s public schools.

“This is the first step in a revolutionary approach to school food nationwide,” a department spokeswoman told The Post.The plan has gotten some resistance from businesses which say the ban would make take-out and food delivery more expensive — and messier.

As usual with the Bloomberg administration, everything's "revolutionary" and "earth-shattering".

The truth is, they should have gotten rid of the styrofoam lunch trays a long time ago.

Bloomberg likes to pat himself on the back as the "Earth-Friendly" environmental mayor.

Nothing earth-friendly or environmental about running a school system that uses 830,000 styrofoam lunch trays a day.

Not One Speaker Supported The Common Core Rollout

Another great article about the John King Common Core forum held in Port Chester on Monday, this one from the Pearl River Patch:

Dozens of angry Westchester and Rockland County parents and educators Monday vented their frustrations over the rollout of New York’s Common Core Curriculum, and urged state Education Commissioner John King, Jr. to delay the program until it is improved.

In one of several public hearings on the initiative’s implementation, more than 60 speakers Monday railed against various aspects of the curriculum, the new testing and accountability standards and the collection of private student data by third party providers.

Not one speaker supported the effort’s rollout, though some at the packed Monday evening meeting in the auditorium at Port Chester Middle School said that they at least accepted the theory of a common core curriculum. Just not having it “forced down our throats,” as one educator said.

The initiative has been years in the making and more than a year in the initial implementation, but to hear area parents and educators speak about it, the effort has been fraught with problems.

“I applaud setting high goals, but the way you’re going about this is completely wrong,” said Dobbs Ferry parent Kevin Clifford, who is also a teacher in the Yonkers school system. “You’re not giving districts adequate resources to implement the mandates.”

And like many of the other speakers, Clifford had choice words over the collection of personal student data, which many parents said they were unaware was being gathered.

“Giving private data to a third-party company is unconscionable,” he said to loud applause.

Parent after parent said that the new testing requirements were turning off their children to school and adding undue pressure and frustration to their everyday lives. Children, particularly special needs children or children from impoverished backgrounds, learn at different paces and levels, which the new standardized tests do not take into account, they said.

“There are too many exams, especially in the early grades,” said Port Chester parent, teacher and Board of Education member Bob Johnson. “As a teacher and a parent, I understand the importance of high standards and regular examinations. Standards yes; but not ‘standardization’ by way of expensive testing.”

State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, whose district covers portions of Scarsdale and Bronxville, said she and other Assembly members want to see further review of how the curriculum is being implemented.

“It’s time to slow down, the tests are excessive,” said Paulin. “And the new tests are inadequate.”
King said he and state’s Board of Regents were listening to the concerns, but he remained committed to the new curriculum overall. He also said that protecting student data was of “paramount importance” and that information was not being sold or used improperly.

He did not address questions about delaying the ongoing rollout of the initiative.

“We are listening and will continue to make adjustments,” said King. “But we remain dedicated and committed to a common core curriculum.”

Of the 12 such forums currently scheduled, none are planned for Rockland County, sosome of those concerned made the trip from Rockland to Port Chester Monday.

Many of the complaints raised at Monday's forum mirror those brought up in districts across the state. 
The Pearl River, Nanuet and Nyack School Districts are among those who have held presentations to help parents better understand the Common Core Learning Standards and the related state assessments. The Clarkstown Central School District has one planned for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night in the main conference room at the Chestnut Grove District Office on Old Middletown Road in New City.

Pear River School District Superintendent Dr. John Morgano sent King a letter relaying concerns of parents in his district late last week. 

King and Tisch have no intention of changing their agenda.

The parents attending these meetings are not going to be happy if nothing gets changed.

What will Andrew Cuomo do when he is forced to defend the indefensible Cuomo/Tisch/King ed deform agenda in a re-election year?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Which One's Lying?

Amazon Does Stack Ranking Evaluations Too

The NY Times explains why Amazon is a nasty, nasty place to work:

But if Amazon aspired to reduce friction for customers, Mr. Stone suggests that it remained a high-friction place to work. He describes the in-house culture as “notoriously confrontational,” and writes that because managers in departments of 50 or more people are required to “top-grade” their subordinates along a curve (and dismiss the least effective performers), “many Amazon employees live in perpetual fear” of termination.

Nothing like having a job in a place where everyone is in "perpetual fear of termination.

This is exactly the kind of atmosphere that Gates, Bezos and these other corporate criminals/education reformers are bringing to schools.

Perpetual fear of termination - the 21st century disease brought to you by the corporate criminals.

Ironic thing is, it doesn't work for their own companies.

I used to buy lots of stuff from Amazon, as did my wife.

We both noticed more and more that items were coming damaged - torn books, broken cd cases, etc.

Doing a little research, I discovered that Amazon employees are timed on how many orders they fill per hour.

They must reach their quota on a consistent basis or they risk termination.

It doesn't take a genius to see that because of this evaluation system, the employees are forced to run around, throw items into a box, get the box ready for shipping, then head back to the next order so that they can meet their hourly quota in a mad frenzy of never-ending activity.

Is that when the items are getting damaged?  Or ar they damaged beforehand?

Hard to say without access to the Amazon warehouses, but clearly this is a company that doesn't give a whit how it treats its employees and increasingly it is a company that doesn't give a whit how it treats it's customers.

After calling and complaining about damaged items and being told we have to send them back in order to get new items, my wife and I decided to stop ordering from Amazon.

I try and use Ebay sellers for my music purchases, she uses B&N for book purchases.

Bezos won't care about losing two customers but I bet we're not the only two who have had this experience and as Amazon puts more and more companies out of business and becomes the sole seller of items like music cds and dvds, they will give a whit less and less in how they treat their customers.

It all goes back to how they treat their employees - any company that prides itself on having employees in "perpetual fear of termination" is an evil company owned by an evil man and frankly, not enough bad stuff can happen to that company.

It's hard to find other retailers these days for purchases like books and music cds, but I am trying to do my best to order as little as possibel from Amazon, to purchase from smaller sellers and local merchants even if that means paying more.

Yonkers Daily Voice: King Forum Attendees Overwhelmingly Negative Toward King, Common Core And Testing

The LoHud article on the John King Common Core forum managed to find one guy who was pro-Common Core and put him prominently in their piece on the King Common Core meeting yesterday, both in the writing and a video accompanying the article.

Of course that makes the forum look like it was more evenly distributed in terms of attendees against the Common Core and those who are for the Common Core.

But the Yonkers Daily Voice reported that nobody spoke out in favor of the Common Core, the testing, or Commissioner King.

Here is that article in full:

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- Hundreds of Westchester County parents and educators expressed concern and outrage to New York Education Commissioner John King over the implementation of the Common Core at a public forum held before a packed house at Port Chester Middle School on Monday night.

Many felt that the Common Core standards have been implemented too quickly and that not enough due diligence has been performed on their effectiveness. Others said that there was an over-reliance on testing, and that the standards reduce teacher and administrative control over what children are taught in the classroom.

Administrators and school board members complained that the Common Core and teacher assessments are placing a heavy burden on district budgets.

"At Yonkers, we've had cuts for guidance counselors, our psychologist, our social workers, our peer support, art, music, library, everything has been decimated," said Kevin Clifford, a Dobbs Ferry parent and teacher in Yonkers Public Schools. "Yet you want our students to meet the same standards as everyone else. I tell you, that is not fair. That is not right. That is not just."

Lou Wool, the superintendent of Harrison Schools, said that superintendents tried to warn King and the Board of Regents about the issues raised by the Common Core. He said that the curriculum has hurt the people in poverty it was partly designed to help.

"I spent 18 years in a district that is predominantly a district ravaged by poverty and I can tell you this reform agenda has not only not helped, it has damaged them," he said. "And all of this could have been accomplished quite differently.

"There's not a single superintendent in this room that's not opposed to teacher accountability. There's not a superintendent that's opposed to reasonable use of test data. What we were opposed to was the medical malpractice that's been perpetrated on the teachers and the children of this state." 

Some said that King should resign, while others called for a repeal or a vote on the Common Core. There were some who accused King and members of the Board of Regents of having personal financial incentive for implementing the curriculum.

Those who crowded into the auditorium enthusiastically applauded those who spoke against the Common Core. Nobody spoke in favor of the initiative.

The only student who spoke was John Del Vecchio, a 10-year-old from Yorktown who was joined by his mother, Linda. He talked about how much work the Common Core standards have created for him.

"There is so much pressure to pass all these tests, me and my classmates have to stay in during recess to cover material for the test," he said. "I've always done well in school, but this work has become so confusing I often want to give up."

King said that he has seen the Common Core in action and that he has seen its success in school's he's visited. He said that work will continue to be done on the curriculum and implementation to make it more successful.

"We will make adjustments, but I don't want to leave any confusion about our commitment to our work on the Common Core moving forward, ensuring that we work with government and legislators to make sure the resources are there for all districts to reach those higher expectations, and to work on teacher and principal evaluations." 

In the end, King heard nothing and will change nothing.

He says as much at the end of the forum - "We will make adjustments, but I don't want to leave any confusion about our commitment to our work on the Common Core moving forward."

But with the overwhelming majority of people showing up to these forums coming in anti-SED reform agenda, this implementation may eventually end up being taken from him.

As Fred LeBrun noted on Sunday in the Times-Union, Andrew Cuomo is finely tuned to the way the winds blow in public opinion.

I am willing to bet that Cuomo, adamant about the effectiveness of Common Core and testing and teacher evaluations tied to test scores during the past three years, will grow less adamant about that stuff as these forums go on and it becomes clear a majority of parents across the state do not support them.

The LoHud people can try and frame this as a 50%-50% thing, but it's clear when you watch the live streams, when you hear from the people who attended these forums, that it is more like 99% opposed-1% for.

Andrew Cuomo is a stubborn man and he surely wants the ed deformer/hedge fundie money that he's getting paid to implement this agenda.

But he also wants to win re-election with a sizeable margin so that he can run for president in 2016 and he does not want an education reform rebellion going on in his state while he is running for re-election or getting ready to run for president in 2016.

In the end, if SED and the Regents pay lip service to change ("We're getting rid of some tests!") but just make little changes around the edges of the agenda, getting rid of one test here or there but keeping the teacher evaluation system tied to test scores that mandates state and local assessments in every grade in every subject in place, the King Regime, and perhaps even the Tisch Regime, will not be tenable.

The anger and hostility to the agenda and the people imposing it is clear from these forums and Cuomo is not going to risk his 2016 dreams of living in a big white house to support that.

Let's keep the pressure on them  - it's making a big, big difference.

Putting pressure on King, putting pressure on SED, putting pressure on the Regents, putting pressure on legislators - this puts pressure on Andrew Cuomo to end this mess or own this mess.

The UFT Evaluation Team Sends An Email To UFT Members

Dunno if you got this in your email box from Mikey Mulgrew and the "UFT Evaluation Team," but it arrived in my in-box this morning:

Teachers across the city are facing significant challenges caused by the Department of Education's poor implementation of the new evaluation and development system. To resolve these problems, the UFT introduced an online inquiry form for members to inform us of their concerns. The information you gave on these forms has been used in resolving many issues at the school level and as the basis for filing 17 union-initiated grievances over the DOE's implementation.

Now, the UFT is moving to the next phase.

A new online form went live on Monday, Oct. 28, to provide a formal way to address issues you may be facing with implementation of the evaluation system. We're calling it the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) complaint form. You need to be logged into the UFT website to access the form.

Go to the form » 

Here is how it works: When you become aware of an issue that you believe violates your rights under the new evaluation system, you have up to five school days to fill out this complaint form online and give copies to your principal and your chapter leader. A copy of your completed form will be automatically forwarded by the computer system to your district representative. That will trigger a formal resolution and review process in which UFT staff will work with you, your school and DOE central to address the issue.

Remember that you have only up to five school days after you become aware of any issue to fill out the complaint form online and give a copy to your principal.

You can find the link to the complaint form in the teacher evaluation section of the UFT website.
This formal enforcement process is in place because the UFT insisted on it during arbitration. And, we were successful in having the commissioner include this in his order. The complaints filed through this process will serve as a guide to the changes we want while we negotiate our contract.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact your borough office with any questions.

In solidarity,

The UFT Evaluation Team

Wow - what a joke.

 You have five days to file a complaint if you become aware of an issue that violates your rights under the new evaluation system.

To be frank, you have very few rights under the new evaluation system to begin with, but if you find that one of those few rights is being violated, don't delay in getting that complaint over to the crack squad over at the UFT Evaluation Team.

There, don't you feel better about the new evaluation system already?

I'm sure the crack squad at the UFT Evaluation Team will make all the problems going away.

Except for the problems with VAM, and the insanity of using 22 competencies from the Danielson rubric for classroom observations and evaluations, the tons of extra documentation you have to do in order to prove you're not incompetent under the new system, the extra work associated with the performance assessments, the fact that you might be graded in your evaluation on test scores of students you don't teach in a subject you're not licensed in.

You see, those problems are built into the system and you have no right to do anything about those.

The crack squad at the UFT agreed to all of that garbage as part of the APPR agreement and the Race to the Top sign off.

So the UFT Evaluation Team complaint form is just another bunch of UFT jive mant to fool you into thinking the leadership is doing something to protect you when they are one of the main reasons you, your job and your professional reputation are in jeopardy.

They helped develop this system, they signed off on it and they have defended it from critics like Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris.

This is their baby as much as it is Cuomo's, Tisch's and King's.

MORE, on the other hand, has this saying: There is no right way to evaluate teachers by test scores.

See the difference?

Common Core Reform In A Nutshell

From yesterday's NYSED Commissioner King Common Core propaganda tour:

Ten-year-old John Del Vecchio got a standing ovation when he took to the microphone to describe how the rapid rollout of the new tests has caused a lot of stress for students like him in Yorktown public

“There is so much pressure to pass all these tests, me and my classmates stay in from recess to study,” he said.

There it is - so much pressure on the ten year old's that they have canceled recess so that the children can spend the time doing test prep.

That's John King's Common Core reforms in a nutshell.

That's Barack Obama's Race to the Top in a nutshell.

That's Andrew Cuomo's education reform agenda in a nutshell.

And interestingly enough, none of their children have to live through this because they all attend private school where they still have recess.

Andrew Cuomo Owns This Common Core Mess In NY State

Fred LeBrun knocked it out of the park with this piece from Sunday, calling Commissioner John King the least trusted man in Albany.

It's a must read, so head over there if you haven't seen it.

I found the parts about Cuomo most interesting.

LeBrun wrote:

There are signs that the governor, who has a finely tuned ear for shifts in the murmurs of the masses, is getting nervous over the growing din of negative public reaction. He's beginning to distance himself from the monster he helped to create.

Remember, this is the governor who derailed what would have been a far more incremental and orderly acceptance of the national Common Core curriculum favored by a broad range of the educational community, preferring a radical, hurry up, throw-them-into-the-deep-end-of-the-pool strategy that was supposed to establish his national credentials as someone who could make things happen on demand. Well, he did. Now, New York and Kentucky are prime examples for how to most profoundly screw up implementing the new national standards.

There are calls for King's resignation, since he arguably isn't up to the task. Then again, he isn't really calling the shots or setting the policy.


At the same news conference referenced earlier, the governor was asked if King should resign. He gave two answers that are at odds with each other and surely hint at a disengagement. At first he said, ''No, I don't think he should resign." Then he said, ''I don't think it's my place to say he should resign or he should stay. I don't appoint him, as you know. Not my place."

This from the governor who has done nothing but meddle and manipulate public school policy, and those who run it, since he took office. Again, remember, he loudly proclaimed himself to be the champion of the children of the state because they needed one.

For King, there is still opportunity for redemption if he actually listens and absorbs the criticisms and comments he will encounter by the bushel in his listening tour. News that he is looking to scale back some tests is a start. But, without abandoning the goal of higher standards in our schools — which is laudable — a complete redo of how Common Core should be implemented is called for, including a slowed-down timetable. If that doesn't happen, there's trouble ahead. And the governor knows it.

When he was asked if he thought the State Education Department was really listening to the concerns of teachers and parents, he said tellingly, "I don't know. I don't know," with the clear implication that they had better.

Cuomo owns this mess and he knows it - that's why he's trying to distance himself from it as much as he can.

But he's the one who declared himself the "lobbyist" for students, he's the one who pushed through APPR, he's the one who chaired the education commission that is set to recommend even more education reforms for the state even though the first slate of them - the Common Core/teacher evaluation reforms - are a mess.

The revolution against Cuomo's education reforms is bubbling up around him and starting to come to a boil.

Cuomo is not unaware of that, and as I have said before, he'll turn his back both on King and this education reform agenda if the opposition from parents gets loud enough.

Cuomo loves to smear teachers as "special interests," but unlike King, he's not going to go so far as to call parents "special interests."

That would lose him a lot of votes and he knows it.

But he also knows that if King and Tisch can't put down the Common Core/APPR rebellion around the state, he may lose a lot of votes anyway because of this ed deform agenda of his.

Not enough to lose his 2014 re-election, but certainly enough to put his 2016 presidential ambitions in jeopardy.

He's in trouble over this agenda, and arrogant and deluded as he is, I think he knows it.

Couple the ed reform mess with the Moreland Commission mess and the anger over his refusal to take a stand on fracking one way or the other, and a portrait of a troubled Cuomo governorship is taking shape before our eyes.

A few years ago, 89% approval ratings and what looked like clear sailing to 2016.

Now troubled waters and no Billy Joel sailboat to help him to shore...

Monday, October 28, 2013

NYSED Commissioner King Pretends To Listen, Still Hears Nothing

I think that's exactly right. 

Commissioner King and SED, Regents Chancellor Tisch and the Board of Regents - they're putting on a "We're Listening!" show.

But they're really not listening.

As Fred LeBrun wrote in the Times Union yesterday, unless the powers that be in Albany gut the Common Core reform agenda they pushed through and start over, nothing is going to be solved here.

The accountability system for students, teachers and schools is built on overtesting.

They can't knock off a test and another one there and do much to the level of overtesting.

And they're not fooling parents and teachers when they do just that:

Critics of high-stakes testing, however, said on Friday that the plan amounted to tweaks around the edges that would do little to change the culture of schools. 

“It’s duplicitous,” said Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest, a group based in Massachusetts that opposes the use of high-stakes tests. “The political intention is to try to get students and parents to accept the bad system.” 

In New York City, where concerns over testing have seeped into the mayoral race, there was criticism of the state’s plan. 

“All this emphasis is being put on testing, instead of developing an enriched curriculum that produces real learning for children,” said Jane Hirschmann, co-chairwoman of Time Out From Testing, a statewide coalition. “This is not going to satisfy any of us.”

Nope - not fooled.

Obamacore Implementation Just Like Obamacare Implementation

Parents and educators can't figure out what the new Common Core Federal Standards call for:

The 2013-14 school year began with the full implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Maryland, the District of Columbia and 44 additional states.

The new national standards in English/language arts and mathematics symbolize a shift in what it takes for students to be "college and career ready."

"It's very challenging," said Richard Weisenhoff, executive director of academics for Baltimore County Public Schools. "It's requiring a lot more out of our students. They're going to be more fluent in mathematics, and they're going to be better writers and readers based upon what the Common Core is requiring us to do.

"The National Governors Association was the driving force behind it. They decided that, in language arts and mathematics, there was a need for a national standard to be developed," he said.

"My take is, we're getting involved with this so that all the materials that are being developed across the country from educators would be available in our schools as well," he said. "If everyone's teaching the same thing, why reinvent the wheel."

In English/Language Arts, students must "demonstrate independence," "build strong content knowledge," "value evidence," "comprehend as well as critique" and "use technology and digital media strategically and capably," according to the Common Core State Standards website.

In mathematics, students must "make sense of problems and persevere in solving them," "reason abstractly and quantitatively," "attend to precision," "look for and make use of structure" and "look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning," according to the website.

The confusing language describing the standards has been met with much criticism by parents and educators alike.

"That's one of the real problems we've got," Weisenhoff said. "It's hard for a real person to understand.

"I wish it wasn't that way but education shoots ourselves in the foot with all the jargon we have," he said.

Just like Obamacare, Obamacore has been hyped and oversold to the public and it's becoming clearer and clearer that the standards are as half-baked, under-developed and problematic as the ACA program and website.

Given the incompetence with which Obama and his merry men and women rule, it's like President Bush and his merry men and women never left.

Although as Michael Fiorillo often says about the DOE and SED, it's hard to know where the incompetence ends and the malfeasance begins.

Same can be said of Barack Obama and his administration.

Cuomo Targeted By Frackers

Not only does Sheriff Andy have an angry legislature looking to stick a shiv in him, he's got the business interests that happily backed him the first time around asking him what he's done for them lately:

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox plans an all-out-attack on Gov. Cuomo for “caving in to environmental Luddites’’ by refusing to approve “fracking’’ for natural gas in upstate’s Southern Tier, The Post has learned.

Cox, in what is expected to be the toughest GOP attack yet on Cuomo, will claim that the governor’s nearly three-year-long refusal to authorize natural-gas drilling is a “metaphor for indecision and Cuomo’s general refusal to face up to the real challenges facing the state,’’ said a source close to Cox.

Cox will charge that Cuomo’s “dithering’’ on fracking is directly responsible for preventing the return of prosperity to hundreds of thousands of people living in the economically hard-pressed and, significantly, Republican-oriented Binghamton region — even as thousands of drilling-related jobs have been created right across the border in Pennsylvania.

Cox’s attack will be delivered a day after the Nov. 5 elections, at a meeting of the state’s Independent Oil and Gas Association, which says Cuomo’s indecision has badly damaged many of its member companies.

Something else to watch as Cuomo gears up for re-election - the business interests that gave him all that money first time around are pissed he has "dithered" on the fracking issue.

He doesn't help himself with anti-frackers either, who target him for protests the way the anti-horse carriage people targeted Christine Quinn.

Cuomo has sat on the issue for three years, saying it is being studied by his administration and he won't make a decision until they are done studying the issue.

But many political observers think Cuomo simply doesn't want to make a decision on an issue that is sure to piss off a large group of people no matter what he decides.

And so, Hamlet on the Hudson Jr. continues to dither on the fracking.

There are more and more sinkholes around Sheriff Andy these days that show a weakened governor - that Cuomo doesn't have the guts to say one way or the other what he wants to do on this issue is just another sign of that.

Cuomo Accused Of Abuse Of Power

From the Daily News:

ALBANY — The state Legislature is expected to argue in court that Gov. Cuomo abused his power by using his corruption-fighting commission to try and force a deal on ethics reform, the Daily News has learned.

“That’s the crux of the separation-of-powers issue,” said a legislative insider. “You can’t blackmail the Legislature into submission. It’s not legal and it’s not effective governing and that’s exactly what’s unfolded here.”

A second source with knowledge of the developing legal strategy likened the tactics to “McCarthyism,” while a third source asked: “How do you legislate under threats? We have legitimate political differences.”

The Legislature is still considering how to try and quash the recent subpoenas that seek detailed information on lawmakers’ outside income.

The deadline for a response was originally Tuesday but has been extended another two weeks.
The Legislature is expected to argue the subpoenas seek protected professional information and violate the constitutional separation-of-powers edict.

The Legislature also plans to highlight Cuomo’s comment to reporters last week that he empaneled the commission to “investigate the Legislature” — something it cannot do by law, the sources said.

Couple of things to say here:

While Sheriff Andy wants to look all good Government-y with his Moreland Commission, he is really using it as a political bludgeon against the legislature while hiding his own donors and donations from the public.

Nothing good Government-y about that.

Second, Cuomo has so aggravated the legislature over this that it may affect how they handle other issues - like public education.

Cuomo has wrapped himself in his vaunted APPR teacher evaluation system and said the system, despite it's flaws is "exactly right."

Some members of the legislature have begun to complain about the SED education reform agenda, the Common Core, the teacher evaluation system and other issues related to public education.

There is daylight between what Cuomo wants on the issue and what some in the legislature want on the issue.

That creates opportunities down the road to undo some of the worst of the Cuomo/King/Tisch education reform agenda - especially if it's considered "Cuomo's".

He's not exactly a popular figure these days in Albany.

De Blasio Still Up Big

Joe Lhota never closed the gap:

Bill de Blasio is poised to win the race for mayor of New York City by a historically large margin, powered by optimism that he will bring about change and by overwhelming voter disapproval of the Republican Party. 

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who is currently the public advocate, leads his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, by 45 points among likely voters, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. That lead, which has remained remarkably consistent in multiple polls over the last six weeks, suggests that Mr. de Blasio could win the most sweeping victory in a mayor’s race since 1985, when Edward I. Koch was re-elected to a third term with a crushing 68-point margin of victory over his opponents. 

Mr. de Blasio’s overwhelming lead in poll after poll has sent students of local politics scrambling for the history books. Although Mr. de Blasio is unlikely to surpass Mr. Koch’s re-election margin, he is flirting with a record win for a non-incumbent; that record is currently held by Abraham D. Beame, who won election in 1973 with a 40-point victory margin, the largest in an open race since five-borough elections began in 1897.

 A little more than three months ago, we were still looking at a Weiner/Quinn runoff.

My, how things changed.

Extra Evaluation Paperwork And Documentation Do Not Make For Better Teachers!

Sheriff Andy said last week that his vaunted new teacher evaluation system is "exactly right".

Teachers around the state beg to differ:

And although 91.5 percent of teachers statewide were ranked effective or highly effective on the 2012-13 annual teacher review plan, Victor third grade teacher Ted Isham said the measuring system leaves a lot to be desired. He said he’s not alone.
“In my district, a lot of teachers are really upset about their scores because of the way they’re calculated,” said Isham. “It’s frustrating, because 20 percent of my score depends on how an 8-year-old does on one 7.5-hour New York State Grade 3 math test. And I lose a lot of instructional time proctoring these tests.”
He hopes parents will understand that a teacher’s or principal’s score is just part of the picture.
“That score doesn’t give you all you need to know about a teacher,” Isham said. “Your particular child might have particular needs that might best be met by a teacher who didn’t get the highest score.  
And after adhering to what Isham calls “an unwieldy set of rules” and a mountain of paperwork, the outcome for Isham isn’t making him a better teacher, he said. 
“I don’t feel like I’ve adjusted my teaching. I just have to provide a lot more evidence,” he said.

Cuomo and company put this in place to drive people out of teaching, to make the profession so laden with paperwork and drudgery that nobody will want to do it for more than a couple of years.

They don't care about children in the school system - not one bit.

Why should they care?

Their kids go to private schools - they don't have to worry about their kids getting the "reforms" the kids in public school are getting.

This is simply about cutting labor costs and pension costs while increasing the payouts to the edu-entrpreneurs and testing companies that provide the campaign donations for the politicians and the future jobs for the NYSED functionaries.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perfect Day

Last Night I Said Goodbye To My Friend

Lou Reed, John Cale And Moe Tucker at the induction of the Velvet Underground into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, performing a song they wrote for the deceased fourth member of the band, Sterling Morrison:

John Cale On Lou Reed

Halloween Parade

Romeo Had Juliette

Again, from the New York album:

Lou Reed And David Bowie

Lou Reed And New York

From one of my all-time favorite albums - Lou Reed's New York - is this song, Dirty Boulevard:

What Goes On

The Velvet Underground album that I first got into was the third album, the one with Doug Yule on it.

John Cale, who I later came to respect greatly for both his work on the first two Velvet Underground albums and his solo albums, was already gone.

I came to the album off an REM b-side, a cover of "There She Goes Again" (which was actually a VU song off the Velvet Underground And Nico album.)

I was a huge fan of the Murmur-era REM, so I ran out to buy Velvet Underground and Nico album, but Sam Goody at the mall only had the third album.

I bought it and it blew my head, changed my taste in music forever.

I went into the city and bought the Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light/White Heat the next week, the live album 1969 a week later.

Seminal albums that are still a part of my core, no matter how far I get from 1982, no matter how much I grow.

Here's What Goes On, a live version of the song from that third Velvet Underground album:

Lou Reed Dead At 71

Just became aware of this:

Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May.

He didn't look well after the transplant.


Saw him back in 2005 or 2006 at a club in Chelsea.

He was prickly.

Somebody called out the name of a song as he and his band were tuning between songs and he said, "Oh, yeah, the day I take requests from the audience..."

My Lou Reed story.

Still, a great, great artist.

The Debacle Of The Common Core Reforms

A commenter on a LoHud article about how the Regents/Common Core exams are causing agita for students, parents and teachers wrote the following indictment of the reform agenda as a whole:

This Common Core reform has been an absolute joke from the start. They cannot get anything right.
They roll out new exams before supplying curriculum guidance ... and then blare that the results are a testimony to their flawed premise for this nation-wide debacle. Nice try, no cigar.

Anyone can engineer failure. And it seems no one's better than the classroom allergic theorists that have bundled this so-called reform together ... and then touted it as the lost Holy Grail of education. This is an educational fiasco devised by idle musers, crafted by disconnected theorists, financed by drooling corporate interests, and swallowed by cash-strapped state legislatures who made a pact with the Devil.

There is almost nothing of merit in this movement. The curriculum authors have been revealed as disconnected practitioners who have slender understanding of what actually takes place in learning at various stages of development. To call most curriculum designs as age-inappropriate is mild. The data collection is intrusive with real potential harm for young learners as they grow through their school experiences. Worst is the "teach to the test" practices that have accompanied the Common Core testing mania ... at the expense of genuine classroom learning that is best adjusted by local teachers who know and value their students best.

I want desperately to unearth something of real merit in this movement, but it's a sort of torturing exercise. Yes, reform should be an on-going effort. But the very best reforms are those made by individual districts for the community population they know best. A coast-to-coast prescription is nonsense. How can anyone prescribe identical remedies for educating a child in NYC and one in Greenwich, Connecticut and another in Lawrence, Kansas? Homogeneity is hardly an American reality. I thought we prided ourselves on our rich history of individual achievement that accompanied our commitment to community. Goose-stepping is not what built this nation's greatness.

What local schools need most is local control ... and defined, reliable community and state support. Local boards of education know their communities as no one else ... and they know their faculties as no one else. They should be the ones prescribing suitable curriculum and instruction reforms that touch their student population with purpose. 

Common Core is a federal fraud that suggests that learning can be bottled and canned and sold a a sort of product that has nation-wide need and appeal. Let's not even consider the fright of an educational movement under the control of a central government. Scary stuff.

Stop this dreadful educational farce before it inflicts educational madness on generations to come. Return control to local boards ... and let communities do what they have done successfully since this nation began ... educate their children.

Goose-stepping is not what built this nation's greatness...

And yet, Arne Duncan would have us all goose-stepping to the tune of the Gates/Broad/Walmart/Bloomberg reforms...

Obama Is A Disaster

This is the first and probably only time you will see me agree with Peggy Noonan:

Peggy Noonan: "The ObamaCare rollout is a disaster for the White House, not a problem or a challenge or an embarrassment, not a gaffe or a bad few weeks. It is a political disaster, and the only question is whether it is partially recoverable, meaning the system can be made to work in a generally satisfactory way in the next few weeks. But--it has to be repeated--they had 3½ years after passage of the Affordable Care Act to make the program into something the American people could register for and feel they were benefiting from. Three and a half years! They had a long-declared start date: It would all go live Oct. 1, 2013, and everyone in the government, every contractor and consultant, knew it."

Incompetent beyond belief.

This is the same president who came to P-Tech this week to brag about his education reform agenda and how it was making education better for students all across the nation.

But of course his education reform agenda is a disaster of monumental proportions, just like Obamacare.

The consequences are being seen in the numbers of parents across the nation joining the anti-Common Core and anti-testing movements, the numbers of children saying they hate school and never want to go back, and the numbers of teachers quitting the profession or looking to quit it because of the scripted lessons, the teacher evaluations tied to test scores and the harmful Common Core standards, the idiotic curriculum that has been developed around it, and the damaging tests created to "assess" whether it has been learned by children.

This man has been a disaster as a president, as bad as George W. Bush.

And don't even get me started on the spying, the drone bomb killings, the war on whistleblowers, etc.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cuomo Loves His Teacher Evaluation System Even If He Can't Vouch For It's Accuracy

Just in case you think getting rid of NYSED Commissioner John King would solve the problems with teacher evaluation systems in districts around the state, here's Sheriff Andy Cuomo touting APPR:

Cuomo said New Yorkers typically seek change in state government, but they are also resistant to it because it's nerve-wracking. There are typically kinks when a state agency undergoes any kind of policy overhaul, he said.

“Change, by the way, normally isn't totally smooth,” Cuomo said. “When you come in with a big change, there [are] normally fits and starts, and it's a little jerky. So that's to be expected.”

He said the Common Core is “state of the art” and the evaluations are “exactly right.”

“I'm sure there's going to be bumps along the way, but I will leave it to [the education department] to make decisions about how to best handle it,” he said.

Cuomo wouldn't comment directly on the preliminary results of the first year of teacher evaluations, which King announced Tuesday at a Board of Regents meeting.

About 92 percent of teachers outside New York City received high scores under the system, as did about 87 percent of principals. But there are still about 7,000 teachers and 300 principals who received lower ratings and will have to complete individualized professional development programs.

“I would have no basis to comment on that,” Cuomo said, referring to the numbers. “The evaluations, I believe in. We've been pushing very, very hard, and they were stalled for years, and we pushed to get them done, because I believe in performance, and I believe in data.

“Whether the numbers are high or low, I just wouldn't know,” he finished.

The problem is Cuomo and the ed deform billionaires and millionaires who put him into power to push through his corporate education reform agenda.

Just want to be clear about that.

Love that he doesn't know or care about the accuracy of the system.

So what if teachers were dinged "ineffective" based on faulty "data".

The system is "exactly right!"

When Did The Word "Test" Disappear?

These ed deform criminals love euphemisms, don't they?

For those of you who don't understand reformy geekspeak, King means "tests."

For some reason, the ed deformers decided they can't say "test" anymore, so everything's an "assessment".

Soft language, with the soft "s" sounds, to fool people into thinking "assessments" aren't "tests".

More ed deform b.s. to hide what they're doing.

Take the pledge:


UFT To Open Casino In NYC

Via Jeff Kaufman at ICE UFT, we learn that the UFT gave $250,000 to help Sheriff Andy Cuomo get his casino referendum passed.

Some people may be wondering why the UFT would give money to support gambling, but if you think closely about it, it makes total sense that the organized crime interests who run the teachers union would give a quarter of a million of your hard-earned dues money to the organized crime interests that run the casinos.

It's like Gambino's doing a side deal with the Bonanno's that benefits both crime families.

And Perdido Street School can now reveal what the UFT is getting in return for supporting the casino referendum.

A source at 52 Broadway tells us that the UFT will be granted a license to run one Sheriff Andy Cuomo-approved casino in NYC in return for the UFT support of the gambling referendum.

The casino will be co-located with the UFT charter school, which will be relocated to the former Aqueduct Race Track, now Aqueduct Racino, in Queens, New York.

Our source at 52 Broadway tells us that the UFT leadership knows most teachers in the NYC school system are already gambling with their careers, livelihoods, and reputations by working under the Mike Mulgrew-approved ADVANCE teacher evaluation system, so they figured why not just make some money off all of this.

Teachers at the UFT charter school, where the Advance teacher evaluation system will not be in place, will not be gambling with their careers, livelihoods, and reputations under the Danielson rubric, the state VAM or the city performance assessment "growth model," but the rest of us who are being evaluated under these three components will be subject to the whimsy of Lady Luck.

Here's how the gambling works:

Does the DOE get the class list right or will you be rated using data from the school down the street?

Roll the dice at the UFT Casino and find out!

Did your MOSL committee make a bad choice by deciding to use the state test growth for the lowest third of students?

Pull the one-armed bandit and find out!

Is the VAM rigged by the SED in NYC to come up 22 at the blackjack table?

Take one more card and find out!

There will be a free food buffet of leftovers from the UFT Executive Board meeting and of course the music of Mike Mulgrew's Unity/New Action chorus line of yes men will play over the loud speakers night and day at the UFT casino.

Some come on down to the UFT Poker Palace casino, ring-a-ding-ding, and take a gamble on your career, livelihood, and reputation.

You might roll snake eyes, but let's be honest, if you're a member of the UFT rank and file living under the Advance evaluation system and Common Core, you've got nothing to lose by betting some more.

Obama Goes To P-Tech To Find Somebody To Fix Obamacare "Glitches"

Okay, some irony here.

Self-described genius Mike Bloomberg spent $2 billion on a 911 system redo that is so faulty it freezes up sometimes as often as four times a day and just may have contributed to the death of a four year.

Another self-described genius, Barack Obama, has a signature medical program that forces anyone without medical insurance to buy it, except for one big problem - the website doesn't work at all.

These two geniuses came to the vaunted "P-Tech" school in Brooklyn yesterday to brag about all the high techery going on at the school and all I kept thinking in my non-genius brain was, if this school is turning out high tech genius, maybe you geniuses can hire a few of the P-Tech geniuses to fix your faulty 911 system and Obamacare mess.

Friday, October 25, 2013

John King Says NYSED Won't Help Teachers Who Were Rated With Faulty Data

Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY reports that NYSED Commissioner King says SED will do nothing to help teachers who were rated using erroneous data:

ALBANY—The state Education Department is telling teachers whose evaluations were based on faulty data they will have to deal with their local school districts to make corrections. 

Some teachers, including many in Syracuse, are appealing their evaluations because the portion that is based on test scores either included students who weren't in their classes or left students they taught off the list.

But Education Commissioner John King said those grievances will have to be dealt with locally by school districts because it would be too difficult and time-consuming for the state to run the data formula again. Teachers were told to review student lists and verify their accuracy through an online portal in June, before districts submitted the rosters to the state.

Because the formula compares teachers to other teachers with similar students, the state could not recalculate individual teachers' scores without having to re-start the whole process.

“There is a moment in time when you sort of close the file, and that is the information that is used,” King told reporters after announcing preliminary results of the evaluations last week.

Uh - no.

If the data is faulty and teachers were unfairly rated "ineffective" or "developing" as a result, it is the state's obligation to fix the problem - even if that faulty data comes from the district.

If the APPR evaluation system is so half-assed that the state can't deal with mistakes and they have to recalculate every teacher's rating, well, that's just too damned bad.

Fix the problems with the individual teacher ratings, fix the problems with the system as a whole.

Or, there will be lawsuits and we'll see what a court of law says about work evaluations based upon faulty data that SED says it won't or can't fix.

Speakers At Commissioner King's Common Core Forum Overwhelmingly Negative Over Common Core, NYSED Agenda

The NYSED is trying to spin yesterday's Commissioner King public forum on Common Core and the SED reform agenda as a victory because King didn't do or say anything stupid and there were no major "ferret moments."

Nonetheless Capital Confidential reports that there were 67 speakers at last night's forum and the overwhelming majority of those were not King- or SED-supporters:

The good news for King is that the new format goes far to ensure that the retooled schedule of sessions around the state will remain civil despite the almost uniformly negative reaction to the Common Core by the 67 people — the vast majority of them both teachers and parents — who got up to speak over the course of the three-hour event.

At Myers, the combined presence of state lawmakers, including several with concerns about the Common Core, flanking King on stage and the moderating duties handled with gentle discipline by the League of Women Voters kept things far calmer.

If the only goal here is to have some forums that don't break into chaos, then mission accomplished, Commissioner King.

But I don't think that is the SED/Regents goal.

I think the goal here for them is to try and win over people to their reform agenda or at least fool the public into thinking the merry reformers at SED and the Board of Regents are listening to parent and teacher concerns.

From the news reports, the tweets, and other posts I have seen about last night's forum, King did not accomplish either of those two goals.

As I noted earlier, he and SED have no intention on changing any of their agenda.

Parents and teachers are not going to be fooled by the dog and pony shows they put on a dozen times around the state if the SED/Regents agenda remains the same.

Ultimately King, SED, Tisch and the Regents have to not just listen to public concerns, they have to address them.

Since they have no intention on doing that, no matter how "civil" these forums come off, the underlying problem for SED and the Regents remains the same - a growing number of parents and teachers have turned against the SED/Regents reforms and want that agenda changed.

Commissioner King "Listens" To The Public, But Was Persuaded By Nothing They Said

Again, I was at parent teacher conferences yesterday, so I was unable to watch the live stream of Commissioner King's Albany town hall meeting with parents over Common Core.

But here's the takeaway I got from Jessica Bakeman's reporting on the meeting at Capital NY.

500 parents, teachers and administrators showed up to talk to the King.

The crowd was "rambunctious" but "ultimately respectful".

The turnout was smaller than anticipated (gee, that wouldn't have anything to do with the 4 PM start time, would it?)

And the majority of speakers were critical of Common Core, the state testing, SED, and Commissioner King.

How did King receive the message he was hearing?

He "listened" without really "hearing" anything:

King seemed to be listening attentively and taking notes during the meeting, and showed little reaction when some emotional parents signaled him out personally or told him to “get out of the way.”

The commissioner said helping students reach the higher bar set by the Common Core is “our shared challenge.”

“We don't agree on everything, but that doesn't mean we didn't listen,” King said, closing the meeting. “Listening is about hearing people's concerns [and] making adjustments, but it doesn't mean that we are in any way backing away from the commitment to moving the Common Core forward.”

 Making adjustments, but not backing away from their agenda of moving Common Core forward...

In other words, the forum was a dog and pony show put on by the King.

The Regents and other powers that be behind him let him know in no uncertain terms there could be no repeat of Poughkeepsie so he paid lip service to listening to public concerns over his agenda...he even said as much:

“The Poughkeepsie event is behind all of us,” King said during a media briefing held before Thursday's forum. “Everyone in the education sector in the state understands that it's important that we have good constructive dialogue about the interest of our students, and that's what I expect tonight.”

But there is no "constructive dialogue" between parties when one party has no intention of changing its policies or agenda.

And King told us as much yesterday in Albany - I'll repeat that quote:

"We don't agree on everything, but that doesn't mean we didn't listen,” King said, closing the meeting. “Listening is about hearing people's concerns [and] making adjustments, but it doesn't mean that we are in any way backing away from the commitment to moving the Common Core forward.”

About the only adjustment they plan to make is the listening tour where King only speaks for a few minutes and then is forced to listen to members of the public for a couple of hours.

The rest of the SED education reform agenda - the testing, the Common Core curricula, the awful SED Common Core lesson modules, the data collection, the teacher evaluation system, the Endless Testing throughout the year - that's all staying.

Parents Let Commissioner King, Know, Common Core Is Dying, It's Time To Take Our Schools Back!

I was doing the usual twelve hour work day for parent teacher conferences, so I missed the first John King parent forum on Common Core, but there's a trail of tweets that indicates Commissioner King said something stupid and lots of parents gave King the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

I'll have some things to say a little later about what transpired yesterday at Commissioner King's Common Core forum.

Suffice to say, King was forced to listen to the damage he and his merry reformers at SED and the Regents are doing to children, teachers, and schools.

Alas, since they're intentionally doing that damage, these meetings will not bring about any change in policy.

I'm Getting Old

Friday morning after Thursday night parent conferences kicks my ass more and more every year.

But of course I'd better not tell anybody.

Someone told me "Bouncing back quickly after parent conference night" is competency 5c on the Danielson rubric.

Wouldn't want to get dinged "ineffective" on that, would I?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NEA President Says Get Rid Of Step And Lane Increases For Teachers

Time to get rid of Dennis Van Roekel:

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, or NEA, came out strongly against single-salary teacher-compensation systems at an Education Writers Association, or EWA, event held earlier this month in Chicago. “Let’s get rid of step and lane,” he declared. “I don’t like it.” Van Roekel’s comments about trading in one-size-fits-all salary schedules, long used by school districts in setting the pay of teachers, in favor of salaries based, at least in part, on teaching effectiveness reinforces the NEA’s reputation as a forward-thinking teachers union.

Step-and-lane pay scales, which tie teachers’ salary increases to years of experience and to the number of higher-education credits earned and degrees attained, have long been a hot topic of debate in education-reform circles. The step-and-lane pay scale was created to address inequities for teachers who were traditionally provided little in the way of salary, security, or fairness, by standardizing teacher pay.

As the teaching profession has evolved, however, the stagnant nature of step-and-lane pay scales must be reconsidered, as Van Roekel voiced.

Yeah, let's base teacher salaries on junk science like the APPR teacher evaluation system in NY State.

That's a swell idea.

They get rid of step and lane i ncreases and no teacher will ever get a raise anymore.

That the NEA president is calling for this shows you how out of touch the union leadership is.