Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Arne Duncan Runs A Faith-Based Program

Teacherken at the Daily Kos:

Does that title surprise you? It shouldn't. When a department and its leadership are advocating for courses of actions either lacking research supporting effectiveness or -- even worse -- where the research clearly demonstrates that the course of action does not work or provides inaccurate and unreliable information, to insist on pursuing such a course can only be because one has a blind faith, is operating on the basis of theological or ideological purity.

That is not scientific. It certainly should not be how the United States Department of Education operates.

Sadly, that is the clear pattern of this administration under the leadership of Arne Duncan.

Read the rest.

It's good.

I would argue that EVERYTHING the Obama administration promotes is faith-based.

The economic policy - based on the belief that feeding money to the banks would heal the housing market and make everything all right - was clearly faith-based.

The mortgage relief program has been faith-based and the evidence is now in that it is making the foreclosure crisis worse rather than better.

The stimulus was also a faith-based policy. Not nearly enough money and not put into the right things. Thus unemployment stands near 10%.

Renominating Ben Bernanke, one of the architects of the current economic mess, to the Federal Reserve has also been faith-based. So far, Bernanke has done nothing to heal the job market but sure has provided free cash for the banksters through Federal Reserve Open Market Operations.

And the war policy in Afghanistan is faith-based too. Think we'll be out of there by 2020?

But as Teacherken notes in his diary at the Daily Kos, the Obama/Duncan education policy is totally faith-based and will be about as successful as Bush's abstinence only education programs.

In fact, as I have already noted here, the evidence from Duncan's time in Chicago is already in. His turnaround program for schools sucks.

But they'll just keep doing what they've been doing and pray for it to all work out.

Dear God, help us all.

My Halloween Costume

This year for Halloween, I dressed up as a pair of evil Siamese twins out to rule the world.

It was truly frightening.

Much better than that year I went as Kissinger.

David Broder Is A Monster

The Dean of Washington Elite Village Wisdom suggests Obama attack Iran to spur economic growth.

He says he's not suggesting this, but reading his column in the Kaplan Test Prep Post today, that is EXACTLY what he is suggesting.

Uh, Herr Broderness, we're already embroiled in two wars that we have put the federal credit card, adding trillions to the federal debt.

How does attacking a third country (one that is significantly bigger and more powerful than Iraq, btw) get the economy rolling again when that war will have to be put on the federal credit card too?

And leaving aside the irrationality of the economic argument, how about the morality of it?

What is wrong with a person who suggests starting a war is a good way to spur economic growth?

What terrible, awful things lurk in his heart and why is he given a prominent place to give voice to his demons?

Seriously, it's time to send Herr Broderness to the park bench where he can sit with the ghosts of Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis and talk about the good old days when you could launch a police action to spur economic growth without anybody other than a few dirty stinking hippies blinking twice.

Was Andrew Cuomo The Brainchild Behind The Homophobic Campaign Signs Back During The Koch/Cuomo Race?

Remember the famous "Vote For Cuomo, Not The Homo" campaign signs back from the Ed Koch/Mario Cuomo NYC mayoral race in 1977?

The Cuomo campaign denied having anything to do with those signs, but Andrew Cuomo gets awfully defensive when he is asked if he was the "driving force" behind them. Here's a story about that from back when Little Andy was running for attorney general:

Who knew events for Democratics hopefuls for attorney general could get so vicious? At a meeting of the Stonewall Democrats club (yes, they are gay), not only did other candidates storm the stage to speak when only Andrew Cuomo, the fundraising frontrunner, was scheduled to speak, an interesting part of NYC political history emerged. From the NY Times:

Mr. Cuomo also tightened up a bit when an audience member suggested that Mr. Cuomo was a "driving force" behind an infamous 1977 campaign poster that read, "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo," seen during the mayoral race between his father, Mario M. Cuomo, and Edward I. Koch. (Mr. Koch has said in the past that he is a heterosexual.)

Cuomo, for his part, denied having anything to do with the posters and called it an "ugly, cheap" rumor, and, according to the Daily News, calls Koch "crazy" over this debate. The Politicker notes Koch said they were hung "up and down" Queens Boulevard.

Why does any of this matter some 33 years later?

Well, Kristen Davis, the madam running as a third party candidate for governor, is blanketing the city with "Vote Homo, Not Cuomo" campaign ads, referencing the Koch/Cuomo controversy.

And that got me thinking - how come Little Andy gets so defensive when asked about those signs?

Everybody knows Little Andy was his father's "political enforcer" - the guy who played hardball with rivals, the press, and others - so that Sanctimonious Mario could seem to stay above it all.

The 20-year old worked for his father on the 1977 campaign.

Putting up "Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo" signs sounds like just the kind of thing some aggressive 20 year old politico would think is a good idea.

Now a lot has happened since then and Little Andy claims to back gay rights these days, so perhaps none of this means anything.

But I still say Little Andy's inability to come clean with the truth, along with his defensiveness on the subject and his core belief that the ends always justify the means, speak to a character deficiency that does NOT bode well for the four years he'll be running this state.

NY Daily News: Bloomberg Broke Campaign Finance Laws

Adam Lisberg has the story:

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. last week laid out in his clearest language yet how Mayor Bloomberg may have broken campaign finance law in funding his reelection bid last year.

Somehow, though, Vance doesn't see it as a case worth pursuing.

He filed legal papers Friday bolstering his indictment of John Haggerty, the election aide accused of pocketing $1.1 million Bloomberg spent for Election Day poll-watching.

Bloomberg funneled that money through a special "housekeeping account" of the state Independence Party, one that can accept unlimited donations and doesn't report them until two months after Election Day.

State law says housekeeping money can only be used for day-to-day party activities, not to benefit any specific candidate. Haggerty, though, claims he spoke directly with Bloomberg about how it would help the mayor's campaign.

Here's where it gets sticky for Bloomberg.

Haggerty's lawyers say that if Bloomberg's $1.1 million was truly a donation to the Independence Party, then prosecutors can't claim it was stolen just because they don't like how the party spent it.

In last week's filing, though, Vance scoffs at the idea Bloomberg's money was a donation to the party.

"This argument seeks to mischaracterize the nature of the transferred funds," prosecutors wrote. "Haggerty deceived Bloomberg and his staff into sending the money to pay for a fictitious ballot security operation."

If Bloomberg's $1.1 million wasn't really a party donation, it should presumably have been reported as part of his campaign spending.

"That's the conundrum here," said Dennis Vacco, one of Haggerty's lawyers. "It's either a contribution or it's an expenditure."

Bloomberg even filed a state Board of Elections form called a CF-16 promising that "all financial activity related to my campaign, including my own," would go through his official Bloomberg for Mayor 2009 campaign.

That's not what happened, though.

Vance and his office will not comment on why - or whether - they haven't tried to pursue a case against Bloomberg.

Lisberg goes on to say the first term Vance doesn't want to risk a battle with Bloomberg and so he;s letting the case go.

So Bloomberg gets to subvert democracy by throwing as much illegal cash into campaigns as he wants without any risk of penalty.

No wonder the country is as screwed up as it is.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Arne Duncan Is Full Of Shit

Arne's "model" turnaround school from his days as Chicago Schools CEO doesn't do as well as other schools in Chicago:

Does Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's "turnaround" school-reform model work? News from one of Duncan's first turnaround schools, William T. Sherman Elementary in Chicago, is mixed. Yes, test scores are up, and that's a good thing for the 591-student elementary in the city's violence-plagued Englewood neighborhood. The bad news? It took five years to see results, and the scores still aren't as high as the average Chicago public school.

Duncan ordered a turnaround plan for Sherman back in 2006 when he was still Chicago's superintendent of schools. Sherman was the first campus placed under the jurisdiction of what was at the time a new non-profit turnaround organization, the Academy for Urban School Leadership. As an AUSL turnaround school, Sherman gave students renovated facilities, a new curriculum, and an entirely new staff—new principals, new teachers, even new custodians.

A year after the turnaround, the Chicago parent organization Parents United for Responsible Education researched Sherman's data and found, "during its first turnaround year, Sherman had a 20 percent drop in enrollment, a 10 percent drop in the number of low-income children, a 17 percent increase in the mobility rate, a lower parent involvement rate and lower science test scores."

Even though more critics said AUSL's efforts were unproven, Duncan handed over a dozen more schools to the organization.

After Duncan accepted President Obama's offer of the Secretary of Education job, he touted Sherman and the turnaround method as central to education reform. Indeed, turning around schools is one of the key pieces of Duncan and Obama''s national Race to the Top initiative. Duncan regularly refers to the school as a success, even though Sherman's 68-percent average in math last year is lower than non-turnaround regular public schools, and is below the Illinois state average.

Taking the turnaround method of reform national has another problem beyond effectiveness. It could lead to lawsuits. A group of mostly black, female teachers fired from dozens of Chicago turnaround schools just won a discrimination suit against Duncan. In the suit, the teachers said they were being replaced with, "less experienced, younger, whiter teachers at lower salaries." According to the judge's ruling, Chicago has 30 days to rehire the teachers axed through the turnaround process.

So let me get this straight - the turnaround model that Duncan and Obama are promoting from Chicago doesn't work.

The school Duncan promotes as a "model" for his turnaround program doesn't do as well as the other schools in Chicago even though they brought in new students, fired the entire staff right down to the fucking lunch lady, and have had five years to improve.

And yet somehow nobody in the media has called Duncan on this.

Not one of the stenographers at TIME or Newsweek or even Education Week has said "Hey, you know what, Arne? We noticed your model turnaround school in Chicago kinda sucks. It doesn't do as well as other Chicago schools. And they've had five years to improve. So how come you're using the same turnaround model that failed at that school as the turnaround model for the entire country?"

Nope - not one media stenographer has asked Duncan that question. They're too busy fellating him on Morning Joe to bother checking out to see if what he says about his education record is true IS ACTUALLY TRUE.

Now it could be that the reason they don't bother to ask this question is because they know his turnaround model is bullshit but they don't care too much because the agenda is NOT to improve schools but to actually do EXACTLY what Arne did in Chicago - fire staff, get rid of the black people in the school system, shed expensive salaries and hire cheap, stupid, young, white, female missionaries who work 60 hours a week for three years until they get smarter and realize THEY'RE BEING EXPLOITED.

Yeah, that could be it.

Check that - that IS why they don't ask that question.

So Monday I'm going to call both the DOE and the White House and ask the question for myself.

You should do so too.

Maybe write your local papers and ask the same question.

It seems like an important question to ask.

Jerome Anderson, Progressive Blogfather, Declares Independence From Dems

This is EXACTLY what I have been feeling:

I've ended my hyper-partisan allegiance to the Democratic Party. In moving beyond the past decade's partisan affair with Democrats, I am ready for a real revolution to happen in this country.

It has got to happen over the next two years, and its going to take progressives, libertarians, tea partiers, coffee partiers, conservatives... everyone that is not part of the problem (the financial/political/military elite). Get radical, first by moving beyond attachment to a single party or a political identity. Radicalize them both, go independent; whatever, and if that's not you too, then get out of the way.

I have said this before, I will say it again.

I am DONE with the Democratic Party.

I WILL vote MY interest on economic and social issues.

Right now, with public schools under assault from Dems and Repubs and with teachers being bashed in every newspaper and on every TV station in the country, THE issue for me education.

I WILL ONLY support politicians who share my views on education policy.

This means no teacher bashing and no promotion of standardized tests for every grade in every subject in order to use those scores to "hold teachers accountable."

This means no privileging of charter schools over public schools. I can support politicians who approve of charters, but only if they also push for accountability measures for those charters

This means no support for politicians who promote Race to the Top competition programs designed to reward the HAVE'S, punish the HAVE NOT'S and further push public education toward privatization.

Let's get this movement started, folks!

It starts this Tuesday when bad Dems like Michael Bennet - bought and sold corporate whores supported by hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson - go down to defeat.

It continues in the two years we have before 2012 when we can let the Obama administration and both the Republican and Democratic Party establishment know that government by the bankers and hedge fund managers, for the bankers and hedge fund managers and of the bankers and hedge fund managers is NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE.

We are at a watershed moment.

You can feel it.

The two parties and the Washington Village Elite don't get it.

That's because they are corporate owned and corporate concerned.

But we KNOW what's going on.

We can see where the country is heading - a kind of Logan's Run circa 2012 where only the top 1% make any money and have any kind of life while the rest of us are left to fight for the leftovers - the leftover jobs, the leftover opportunities, the leftover wealth.

A 2012 where EVERY public entity will have been privatized and run for the benefit of our corporate masters, where workers will be laid off or fired at the drop of the hat, where homeowners will have their homes taken from them by the banks even when they DON'T have mortgages or HAVEN'T fallen behind on their bills, where pensions will be stolen, Social Security privatized and shitty health care mandated for ALL Americans regardless of whether they can afford to buy it or afford to use it.

That's where we're heading, regardless of whether the GOP wins on Tuesday or not.

So let's get off this train, get a train of our own and run these fuckers down with it - the politicians, the bankers, the hedge fund criminals/ed deformers like Whitney Tilson, and their apologists in the Washington Village Elite like Jonathan Alter and Tom Friedman.

Time To Primary Obama

From Political Wire:

Half of Democrats Think Obama Should Face Primary

An AP-Knowledge Networks poll finds that 47% of Democrats think Presidential Obama should be challenged for the 2012 Democratic presidential nomination while 51% say he should not be opposed.

"A real Democratic challenge to Obama seems unlikely at this stage and his re-election bid is a long way off. But the findings underscore how disenchanted his party has grown heading into the congressional elections Tuesday."

Tuesday should be a bloodbath for Democrats.

They deserve it.

They have done little in this Congress to help middle and working class people.

They bailed out more banks - no strings attached.

They allowed the Obama administration to run a mortgage relief program that has caused more foreclosures than it has alleviated.

They have passed a corporate-friendly health care reform bill that mandates 31 million new customers buy garbage private insurance while charging workers with employer-provided health insurance a 40% tax on their plans.

They have allowed this administration to turn education funding into an exercise in some Ayn Randian "Compete or Die" competition model so that only the most "reformy" of states get money.

They passed an inadequate stimulus that was used for garbage like Race to the Top instead of spending the money on a jobs and infrastructure program that actually put Americans to work and actually rebuilt the country's crumbling Third World infrastructure.

Unemployment stands at 9.5% right now - higher than before Obama took office and higher than Obama and the Dems said it would be if the stimulus was passed.

Working and middle class people all across this country are worried about their jobs, their homes, and their debts while the wealthy and the affluent party like it's 1925.

Of course a Republican Congress won't rectify any of this. They will make things worse, especially for working and middle class people and union members.

Cutting the deficit, as they are vowing to do, when GDP is barely rising and unemployment is holding steady near double digits is CRAZY.

But Obama and the Dems brought this on themselves.

Congressional Dems will pay for this on Tuesday.

Unfortunately Obama will not.

He deserves the most blame for this mess and given the findings of the AP-Ipsos poll, it seems a sizeable part of the Democratic Party feel the same way.

Somebody from the left SHOULD challenge him in 2012.

Let's get this movement started.


Send the corporate whore back to Chicago where he can be chief of staff for Rahmbo.

Or maybe there's an opening at the Gates Foundation he can interview for.

Either way, time to send him packing in 2012.

Buck Leads Bennet In Latest Poll

President Obama's favorite Senate ed deformer is down in the latest poll:

A new McClatchy-Marist Poll in Colorado shows Ken Buck (R) leading Sen. Michael Bennet (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 45%.

Key findings: Bennet is ahead by nearly 2 to 1 in Denver, but trails in the rest of the state. Of those who think the worst economic news is yet to come, 69% back Buck. Of those who think the worst is behind them, 68% back Bennet.

It's just one poll and it's close to the MOE, but it's not looking good for Bennet.

The anger and momentum is on the GOP side.

Angry voters tend to vote more than complacent ones.

And the Denver Post says early voting has favored Repubs:

On the last day of early voting, Republicans in Colorado solidified their preliminary turnout advantage over Democrats.

In numbers released by the secretary of state's office Friday afternoon, Republicans had cast nearly 53,000 more ballots than Democrats. Republicans' turnout rate also continued pulling slightly ahead of Democrats'. In Friday's figures, about 35 percent of registered Republicans had cast a ballot, compared with about 30 percent of registered Democrats.

At the beginning of the week, Republicans held about a 2 percentage-point turnout advantage. Democrats, meanwhile, have said their get-out- the-vote efforts are on track and that they expect a large number of their supporters to cast ballots on Election Day.

You can bet there aren't too many Repubs or Repub-leaning voters who voted for Dems this year (unlike in 2006 and 2008 when some clearly did.)

I am not ready to make a call on the Bennet/Buck race.

I wouldn't count Bennet and all that corporate ed deform money backing him out.

But the early voting numbers and the Mclatchy poll indicate trouble for him.

I hope so.

I am not a Tea Party guy.

If elected, Buck may be the worst thing to ever happen to the Senate.

But he will NOT be a vote for another Race to the Top program.

He will NOT be a voted for the Common Core.

He will NOT be a vote for more top-down federal DOE policy courtesy on Arne Duncan and his merry men and women.

It is true, he WILL be an anti-union, anti-Social Security vote (and with Obama all set to announce the "findings" of his Catfood Commission on Social Security post-election, you can be sure that damaging votes on Social Security will be coming.)

But do you know what?

Bennet votes that way too.

He is a corporate vote through and through.

So at the end of the day, if both candidates are anti-union, anti-middle and working class, but one votes FOR Obama's ed policy and one DOESN'T, I prefer the guy who doesn't.

God forgive me for writing that.

But that is where this pro-corporate, anti-teacher Obama-led Democratic Party has brought me.

I actually want the Dem to lose.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

30% Say Bloomberg Has Improved Schools, 56% Say He Hasn't

On the same day that Bloomberg and Klein announce they are closing 47 schools, Mayor Moneybags gets decidedly negative reviews on his running of the school system from a new Murdoch Street Journal poll.

38% say the state of the school system is about the same since Bloomberg took office.

18% say the state of the school system is worse since he took office.

30% say the school system is better since he and Klein took over total control.

This is NOT a "mixed" review on Bloomberg's school agenda, as the BloomKlein/charter shills at Gotham Schools termed it.

A total of 56% of New Yorkers say the system is either the same or worse since Bloomberg and Klein took power.

Given that they have closed hundreds of schools, reorganized the DOE four times, and been running the thing for almost nine years now, 30% approval for their education record is NOT mixed.

It's decidedly negative.

But as long as you have Bloomberg's shills and stenographers in the media willing to call 30% approval "mixed," we will continue to live in this Orwellian 2010 where the people running a school system take no blame and no responsibility for any of the mess they have created and propagated while the teachers who have little power and even fewer resources to change the mess for the better take all the blame from the politicians, the media, the billionaire boys' club of edu-philanthropists and even Oprah.

But it looks like, with only 30% of New Yorkers thinking that Bloomberg has improved the school system, the citizenry of this city are seeing through some of the jive.

Rockway Beach

The news these days makes me want to break stuff.

Better to listen to the Ramones.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All The Young Dudes

Enough politics.

Hunter, Ronson, Bowie, and Queen...

Cuomo Predicts Bloody Future For New York

This guy is fast becoming the top villain in politics today:

COLONIE --Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo promised voters will know if his administration is a success or failure by next June.

Cuomo, who is running for governor, told the Times Union editorial board Tuesday that he will approach the budget process as a "three-dimensional chess game." He said he will launch a "counterattack" against special interest groups that oppose him and will treat legislators as "weather vanes" that will blow with a political wind that Cuomo pledged he would shift, as needed.


Cuomo said his budget would be more a "management document," because, as the state faces $8.2 billion more in deficits, "this is no longer a cutting or trimming exercise." Instead, a wholesale re-organization is needed, and Cuomo wants to move away from formula-based funding allotments toward performance-based metrics. He will push localities, including school districts and municipalities, to change their practices and compete against each other, a la the Race to the Top competition the federal Department of Education conducted to distribute additional school funding to states.

Cuomo promised to cut aid to school districts because, "the people of the state of New York have less money." Cuts could be mitigated, Cuomo said, if school districts come up with ways to develop "recurring" savings by consolidating bus service or even merging districts.

"The process is going to be torture," Cuomo said. He anticipated unions and other lobbying groups will attack him, but "they're running the same play."

Namely, the groups run advertisements attacking the cuts, and turn to allies in the Legislature. Already, when briefed on Cuomo's remarks, NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi said the proposal -- coupled with a pledge not to increase taxes and cap local property taxes levied by districts -- would be a "recipe for disaster" for districts. He favors taxing bonuses paid to Wall Street bankers or raising taxes on the rich. A court decision mandates that the state provide a "sound, basic education."

It's "basically holding school districts hostage and telling them that if they pay a ransom, he'll give them back some of the loot he's taken away from them," Iannuzzi said.

Cuomo acknowledged there will be blood.

Cuomo is going to slash school budgets, then have school districts compete against each other for money?

I fear the future in New York is going to be a very grave place.

I guess Little Andy has decided his hedge fund cronies don't have enough money, so he's going to take it out of the schools and give it to them.

You can bet charters won't see the same slash and burn on their budgets from Cuomo though.

After four years of Little Andy's Reign of terror, there will be little left of the public school system in the state.

And that is just the way Little Andy and the Wall Street people who own him want it.

Cuomo Vows To Cut School Aid

How's this for a broadside:

After years of increased spending and borrowing, Cuomo said, the state cannot afford either anymore. He also ruled out tax hikes.

He said he stands prepared to cut Medicaid by "redesigning" the program with the help of the stakeholders.

He also wants to fix the way schools in New York are funded by creating competition and rewarding districts that streamline.

He said he plans to cut school aid while creating a a "bonus pool" that districts would compete for by demonstrating budget savings. Schools that show improved test scores may also be eligible for more money, he said.

No new taxes for hedge fund managers, no school aid for schools unless they show improved test scores.

I didn't think things could get much worse than under Bloomberg and Obama.

But they are about to get much worse with Little Andy at the helm.

BTW, the Times notes Little Andy is sitting on an investigation of Bloomberg:

An investigation into whether the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and some public officials violated lobbying laws in their redevelopment efforts is still unresolved after two years. (Mr. Bloomberg last month endorsed Mr. Cuomo’s campaign for governor.)

Cuomo loves to call legislators crooks.

But he has his own crooked cronies - starting with the Wall Streeters he says do not have enough power in this state and finishing with the head crook in the city - Mr. Bloomberg.

Cuomo is on the take from both.

I don't know what things are going to look like after four years of Cuomo, but I suspect there will be little left for middle and working class people.

As for teachers, our pensions will be gone, our work protections will be gone, our salaries will be tied to test scores, and you can bet thousands will have been laid off.

And still Cuomo will say his hedge fund cronies need more.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ebay Sucks! So Does Paypal!

Just spent over an hour on the phone trying to resolve an issue with Paypal that is completely their fault. Then spent another 30 minutes trying to find a freaking number for Ebay that could be used to contact customer support. In both cases, I spoke to people somewhere overseas who didn't know the first thing about resolving the problem I was having. In the case of Ebay, the rep was curt and rude.

I am done with companies that are so concerned with profits and squeezing costs that they make contacting customer service more difficult than completing the 12 trials of Hercules and then hire such inept, cheap labor so that even when you finally do get through to customer service, you cannot get the problems resolved anyway.

And I am done with Ebay and done with Paypal.

Obama As Hoover

Marketwatch sticks the "Hoover" stamp onto Obama:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – As this venomous campaign cycle comes crashing to a welcome close, it seems that Republicans will gain control of the House for certain, narrowly hit or miss on the Senate and will be well-positioned in any case to further stymie President Barack Obama and regain the White House in 2012.

Beyond the election next week, however, it’s becoming apparent that Obama’s biggest opponent is not the GOP, but the economy. Putting it another way, Obama, through his fatally flawed choices of advisers and his blinkered attachment to obsolete economic thinking, is his own worst enemy.

Persistently high unemployment, an economy mired in a liquidity trap, and a possible resurgence of the housing and banking crisis in the wake of new disclosures about flawed and fraudulent foreclosures – all these could make Obama a one-term president


The administration’s response – or non-response – to the brewing foreclosure crisis after a White House meeting last week is symptomatic of its profound failure to grasp the basic economic issues and could become the nail in Obama’s coffin.

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan’s declaration after the meeting that the administration had found no evidence of “systemic” problems in foreclosure paperwork had the fingerprints of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner all over it. It is totally in keeping with Geithner’s consistent policy of parroting the line of the big banks and protecting their interests at all costs. See our report on Donovan’s comments.

The foreclosure crisis is just the latest manifestation of the mortgage boom and bust that spiraled into outright fraud before the bursting of the housing bubble brought the financial system to the brink of disaster. While the Bush and then the Obama administrations, along with the Federal Reserve, shored up the system to prevent its collapse, the government, under Geithner’s direction, refused to deal with the toxic assets at the root of the crisis.

Now these toxic assets have resurfaced with a vengeance. The same fraudulent paperwork at the heart of the foreclosure crisis also marks many of the original mortgages packaged into securities that investment banks sold to investors. Now some investors, including bond fund giant Pimco and the New York Federal Reserve itself, are demanding that Bank of America buy back the securities with these deficient mortgages. More investors will be emboldened to make similar claims against other banks. Read our story on the growing pressure on Bank of America.

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is due to make its report later this year and it will include damaging testimony from third-party due diligence experts and others responsible for vetting these mortgages that the banks knowingly sold investors deficient mortgages without disclosing that fact. The panel’s chairman, Phil Angelides, told C-Span over the weekend that the mortgage securities were often “tragically deficient.”

In the meantime, the state attorneys general are investigating the foreclosure issues and will doubtless then be confronted with some of the evident fraud in the original mortgages. The housing finance crisis will be exposed for what it is.

“This is cancer,” Whalen, a former investment banker who co-founded consulting firm Institutional Risk Analytics, told Bloomberg TV. “It’s a slow, wasting process.” Read our story on Whalen’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

This toxic mortgage legacy could prolong the housing crisis, maintain or even increase unemployment, create a new banking crisis, and eventually tip the economy into that dreaded double dip recession. This is Obama’s Hoover scenario.

As this new-old crisis unfolds, it could confirm Geithner as the worst Treasury secretary in postwar history. It was Geithner who deflected the focus from toxic assets with his spurious “stress tests” for the banks that allowed them to pretend they weren’t insolvent and to return to business as usual. The weight of these toxic assets, unacknowledged or not, continued to block the resumption of credit that has torpedoed the economic recovery.

Geithner also designed the spectacularly unsuccessful Home Affordable Modification Program, ostensibly to help homeowners modify their mortgages but actually once again to provide the banks with political cover. The special inspector general for the program stigmatized it this week as doing more harm than good. Read our story.

Obama was unlucky in coming into office at this stage in the crisis, and he was unwise to rely on someone of Geithner’s dubious allegiances to handle – or mishandle – the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

That crisis is not over. But from the looks of things, Obama’s presidency could well end after just one term. Not because of Republican obstructionism – and policies currently espoused by the GOP would be even worse – but due to his own fatally misguided economic policies.

Obama's presidency SHOULD be over.

He picked advisers who helped create this mess, have done nothing to mitigate it and indeed, have made things worse with their AIG bailouts and HAMP programs.

Nobody on Wall Street who caused this mess was held accountable.

Nobody in Washington who caused this mess was held unaccountable.

Teachers in Rhode Island, however, fired as part of Obama's Race to the Top program, were held accountable.

You can't make this stuff up.

Unemployment is heading back to double digits even as the administration looks to blame the jobless for their own unemployment and public school teachers for the crisis.

Banks are forclosing on people who don't even own mortgages, Wall Street is claiming banks and loan servicers don't need any paperwork or proof i order to foreclose on people.

And Obama is bragging about holding teachers accountable?

He cannot go away soon enough for me and I think the Marketwatch piece is correct that he will go down in history as a post-modern Hoover.

The one issue I take with the above column is the intelligence of Barack Obama.

I disagree that he is intelligent.

He is cunning, that is true - especially when it comes to succeeding at advancing his own career.

But smart, not so much.

A smart man wouldn't have chosen Geithner, Summers or Bernanke as his chief economic advisers.

He wouldn't have doubled down on health care even as unemployment was rising.

He wouldn't have sided with Wall Street and the hedge fund industry on financial reform even as they thumb their noses at him and call him "socialist" for daring to plug one or two regulatory holes.

He would have put people back to work with a jobs program that rebuilt American infrastructure and made this country workable, travel-able and great again.

Instead we got Race to the Top.

Instead we got fired teachers in Rhode Island and a White House that claims there us no foreclosure crisis.

Obama deserves to be fired and he deserves to be ignominiously associated with Herbert Hoover as one of the worst presidents this country has ever had.

Maybe even the top five.

Bush is on that list, but Obama better watch out.

He may Race to the Top of that ignominious list.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cuomo's War On Unions

Expect a very bad four years if you are a member of a labor union in New York State:

Andrew M. Cuomo will mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions. He will seek to transform the state’s weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor.

And even as he girds for war, Mr. Cuomo, the state attorney general and an expert practitioner of political hardball, also plans to lavish attention on individual legislators, who he says are sick of being demonized and eager for accomplishment after years of gridlock and enmity.

In a rare extended interview, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, insisted voters can believe he will succeed where other governors failed, saying he has the savvy and the experience to maximize the leverage of the state’s highest elective office. “I know these guys. I know them very well,” he said of the state’s political class. “I’ve played with them, I’ve played against them. I know this game. I know it extraordinarily well. I know what they’re capable of, I know their strengths and I know their weaknesses.”

Cuomo thinks that business and Wall Street have surrendered to labor?

What drug is he on?

Just in education, over the last ten years I have watched the teachers union cave on merit pay, teacher evaluations tied to test scores, the charter school cap, longer school days and longer school years.

I have seen my union grant a Tier Five pension for new hirees in order to get back two days of work. In fact, after Klein added another day at the end of the year, it turned into just one day.

Meanwhile I have seen the hedge fund managers and the Wall Street CEO's take bailout money and use it to hand themselves Christmas bonuses.

I have seen these same Wall Street criminals hijack public education with their backroom poker games and push public schools out of their own buildings so that the charter schools they back can have the space.

I have seen the bankers game the housing market and now the foreclosure market and stick the taxpayers with the bill, even as they engage in fraudulent activity and crime.

And Cuomo thinks labor is the problem?

Holy mother of mercy, the next four years are going to be very, very bad.

And if you're a teacher, well, listen to this news:

While his father once spoke of campaigning in poetry and governing in prose, Mr. Cuomo is campaigning in PowerPoint: he began the interview with a slide show describing his model for creating what he called a “new paradigm” to tackle the state’s ever-swelling budget.

New York, Mr. Cuomo argued, should move away from what he called the “block grant” model of spending, especially in areas like school aid, municipal aid and Medicaid. In each area, he said, he would cut projected spending but create pools of bonus money that can be won — by cities and villages, by school superintendents, by unions — in public competitions much like the federal Race to the Top education grant program.

Great - no more state aid grants.

Instead, everything will be a Race to the Top competition.

You can bet that if you want state aid for education, Cuomo is going to force you to add hours to both the school day and the year, substitute merit pay programs for salary steps and perhaps even change the teacher evaluation system to "All Test Scores/All The Time."

And this guy is the Democrat?

Bennet/Buck Race Tied

I was hoping President Obama's favorite ed deformer, Michael Bennet, would have his corporate ass handed to him in the general election, but his Tea Party opponent Ken Buck has done his best to lose the race and it looks like it is working:

Colorado's U.S. Senate race has clenched into a dead heat nine days before polls close, as incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet climbed to meet GOP hopeful Ken Buck's early lead, each man garnering 47 percent support among likely and actual voters, according to a Denver Post/9 News poll.

The tightening race — three weeks ago, Buck was 5 percentage points ahead — is reflective of a handful of factors, some unique to Colorado, some not.

Democrats nationally have burnished their ground game and get-out-the-vote efforts in recent weeks, galvanizing old 2008 enthusiasm that didn't exist over the summer.

In the Colorado governor's race, Dan Maes and Tom Tancredo are battling for the same group of right-leaning voters in a spectacle that observers say has dampened natural Republican enthusiasm this year.

This could hurt Buck when, in any other circumstance, a strong Republican gubernatorial nominee would only help him.

But the Weld County district attorney has also had a series of public gaffes in recent weeks that have likely tempered some of his early energy coming out of the August primary victory as the Tea Party underdog, observers say.

"Buck keeps stepping on his own message," said University of Colorado at Boulder political scientist Ken Bickers. "I think his message indiscipline has curtailed some of that enthusiasm."


University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said U.S. Senate races across the country — there are currently eight "toss-up" states — have tightened, in part, because of the Tea Party candidates.

"The Tea Party candidates are weaker than the mainstream Republican alternative they defeated in the primary," Sabato said, noting he would have expected Buck's primary opponent, Jane Norton, to be doing better in the general election. "They pride themselves on the fact they speak their minds, but there are real-world costs in doing that. Every word matters in politics."

Momentum for Bennet, expect him to pull this out.

And that's a shame, because that will be one more vote for Obama's Ed Deform/Bash Teachers education policy when NCLB gets voted on for re-authorization.

Buck is a moron and a crazy person, but on education he will almost certainly NOT be a vote for the Obama education policy.

And education policy is the ONLY thing I care about these days when looking at a candidate.

So many of the corporate-owned Dems running, and ALL of the Dems supported by Barack Obama, are CERTAIN votes for the Obama/RttT/Bash Teachers policies.

Those Dems I am not supporting.

Not for ANY reason.

And Michael Bennet is emblematic of those corporate-owned Dems.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NY Post Hypocrisy: Front Page Edition

The Murdoch Post is running a critical story about a NYC high school that has cut its sports programs in order to focus on test prep, test scores, and graduation rates.

What, pray tell, do the corporate ed deform shills at the Murdoch Post expect when they have helped create and promote an education culture that has tied people's careers, pay and even reputations to test prep, test scores and graduation rates?

Given the number of schools that have been shut down or are undergoing "transformation" under the Obama administration's or Bloomberg administration's education policies, given the reality that teachers will soon see their names and "ratings" based upon test scores in the very same pages of the Murdoch Post as this story, OF COURSE schools are going to limit ALL activities that do not contribute to test prep, test scores and graduation rates.

That's the point of instituting a punitive policy that scapegoats educators and schools.

For the ed deform shills at the Murdoch Post to act - shocked!!! shocked!!! - that this has happened is disingenuous at best, rampantly dishonest and hypocritical at worst.

And when it comes to the Murdoch Post and the people who work there, you can never lose when you simply assume the worst.

Quote of the Day

From The Big Picture:

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks], will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." -Thomas Jefferson

I might add that similar negative consequences will happen when the American people allow the private banks to control schools and education policy as well.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bill Gates In Parade

Some jive ass ed deform propaganda:

"In almost every area of human endeavor, the practice improves over time," says Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. "That hasn't been the case for teaching."

What the hell is he talking about, in almost every area of human endeavor, the practice improves over time?

Has he ever tried top use a Microsoft software program or operating system?

Seriously - they keep churning out the same flawed, full of bugs crap year after year.

They get away with it because Gates is a ruthless businessman who crushes nearly ALL of his competition, but for him to denigrate teachers and teaching as a profession take a lot of balls.

Frankly, somebody in the media should stop bowing down to this modern day Pullman and call him on his shit.

Hey, Bill, why don't you get out of the education reform business and try making a decent operating system in your own computer business?


Because Gates knows even less about education than he knows about making a decent operating system.

And he definitely doesn't know much about that.

How Will New York "Assess" Teachers Outside Math And ELA Grades 4-8 For The Valued-Added Model?

By adding an end of the year assessment for students in every grade at every level, as the Regents are now calling for by the 2014-2015 year for grades 3-11.

See here.

Notice that ALL of this was brought to us by President Obama and Arne Duncan.

Change we can believe in.

Would you have voted for Hopey/Changey had you known he was going to promote a policy that would implement standardized tests in every grade at every level, then use those scores to "assess" whether teachers had "added value" to their students' scores from one year to the next and fire the teachers who wind up at the bottom of the "value-added list" after publishing all the names in the newspapers?

I KNOW I wouldn't have.

I have never regretted a vote for a politician the way I have regretted my vote for Obama.

The change this man has brought will harm public education for a long, long time.

Do they really think adding all these high-stakes "assessments will not bring very simple consequences: more teaching to the test, more reductive curriculum, more regimented, top-down, one-size-fits-all teaching and more cheating?

I will say again, I think they DO realize this.

The ed reform being performed by the Obama administration and other ed deform politicians at the state and local levels has NOTHING to do with improving education.

It has EVERYTHING to do with blowing up the system as it exists, replacing it with some smaller privatized alternatives (e.g., small for-profit charter systems), adding lots of "online instruction" in the next few years to save millions in school and labor costs, and firing hundreds of thousands of veteran teachers and de-professionalizing teaching so that any 22 year old with a BA can be shoved in front of a classroom to read the "teaching script."

Two Days After The Riot, More Arrests At Jersey City High School

Breaking news: Governor Christie and Barack Obama agree on something!

Teachers need to be fired for this:

Jersey City police quelled violence and made eight arrests at Dickinson and Ferris high schools yesterday, just two days after a citywide police response was needed to suppress rioting among 350 to 500 Ferris students, officials said.

"It's like you are sending your kids to a war zone," the parent of a Dickinson sophomore said yesterday after seven students were arrested during a riot at the Palisade Avenue school around 12:30 p.m.

Police officers at Dickinson were in a first-floor classroom when they saw a large group of students "running and screaming throughout the hallway," police reports said.

An officer walked into the hallway and "observed hundreds of students fighting, screaming and encouraging the other students to join the melee," reports said.

Numerous police units were dispatched to a large fight inside the school, reports said, adding that a Dickinson security guard breaking up a fight was injured when he fell into a desk.

Six boys, ages 15 to 17, were charged with rioting and disorderly conduct and two were additionally charged with aggravated assault on the security guard, reports said. Dashawn White, 18, of Wilkinson Avenue, was charged with rioting and disorderly conduct, reports said.

A Dickinson sophomore said yesterday there was also a fight in the morning when a boy was "jumped" on Newark Avenue.

The boy said fights appeared to be between African-American students and Hispanic students. Students and a police source said Tuesday's large disturbance at Ferris also involved African-American students and Hispanic students.

Police were back at Ferris at noon yesterday on a report of a food fight and had to force their way past fleeing students to get into the cafeteria, where they found a group of students barricaded behind overturned tables, reports said.

There was "a multitude of various food items splattered all over the entire cafeteria," reports said, adding that more police responded to clear the cafeteria.

You know what will happen here, right?

The state will close these two schools down for being so violent, they'll fire half the teachers, turn the places into charter schools and send all the violent thugs to other schools around the city.

Then they'll close those down too and reopen them as for profit charters.

They'll just keep shifting the problems around, firing teachers, closing schools and blaming the union for the violence.

And the problems will all be solved!

Except, of course, they won't.

Friday, October 22, 2010

800 NJ Teachers Go Months Without Insurance

The new normal - screw the teachers:

As many as 800 teachers and school employees in Newark and Paterson were without health insurance for four months because of a paperwork problem at the state level.

The problem primarily affected staff rehired this summer following last spring’s cuts in education budgets, though it also touched new hires and teachers trying to add dependents to their policies

Six-hundred Paterson Public Schools employees got back on the state’s health insurance rolls this week. Up to 200 Newark teachers and staff have not been as lucky and are still without coverage.

A spokesman for the Treasury Department said the state health benefits commission is aware of the problem, but he is not sure how many public school employees are affected. The insurance problem could affect teachers throughout the state who were laid off and then rehired by their districts before the start of the school year.

"The state health benefits commission is making every effort to process them quicker and put them on the front burner, now that they know this is happening," said Treasury spokesman Andy Pratt. "Now they realize this is something they can expedite and will expedite."

Speaking specifically about Newark, Pratt said the problem cropped up in part because the district failed to send health insurance applications to the state grouped together. Because applications trickled in one by one, the commission did not realize the volume of teachers being re-enrolled in the state’s health insurance plan.

Or maybe the state just didn't give a shit about the insurance problem because Governor Christie doesn't much give a shit about the insurance problem?

I wonder if the sociopath who owns Facebook will send a few stock options the way of the teachers so they can, you know, take their kids to the doctor if they get sick?

Let me answer that question myself.

Probably not - not unless they agree to give up tenure and allow Cory Booker to run everything.

Wall Street Pay Rises 20%

The crooks on Wall Street are raking in the dough even as they are pushing for the dismantling of Social Security, the firing of teachers, cops and other government employees, and the destruction of government worker pension plans:

WALL Street incomes are surging back.

The government reported this week that the real wage and salary income of finance industry employees based in Manhattan rose nearly 20 percent in the first quarter of this year. That surge helped make Manhattan the fastest-growing county in the United States in terms of terms of year-over-year gains in income.

Most Wall Street firms pay bonuses in the first quarter of each year, and the figures indicate that bonuses were much higher this year than in the same quarter of 2009. Then, of course, the financial crisis was at its most severe, with stock prices at 12-year lows and major banks being bailed out. It was not a good time to be paying bonuses.

The figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are based on unemployment compensation insurance premiums paid, and thus reflect virtually all employees rather than relying on surveys of workers or employers. Unfortunately, to get such detail requires substantial delays, which is why first-quarter figures are only now coming out.

As can be seen in the accompanying graphic, the average financial industry employee earned just over $100,000 in the first three months of the year, a figure that was up sharply from the same period of 2009 but still below the payouts in the previous three years.

The fact that those averages include bank tellers and trading desk clerks, as well as senior investment bankers, shows just how large many of the bonuses were.

After Cuomo the Crook gets elected, his criminal friends on Wall Street will be making even more money, because he intends to take on the public workers unions and slash pensions, benefits, and salaries.

Because the state cannot afford to pay these anymore.

But the crooks on Wall Street, most of whom work for corporations that pay few taxes and receive subsidies from the state and the city for locating where they do - those guys deserve more.

Until we take to the street and TAKE back the money from these people, this is going to get worse and worse.

Since Americans have long been complicit in their own oppression, I doubt that will ever happen.

But I am happy to be wrong.

Juan Gonzalez: Klein Knows The Teacher Ratings Are Jive

From the Daily News:

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein wants the world to believe his attempt to make public more than 12,000 Teacher Data Reports was merely a response to an information request from the press.

Don't buy it.

Klein couldn't wait to release the names, along with his arcane rating system that claims to show how much "value" each teacher added to the reading and math scores of their pupils.

He didn't seem to care about unfairly tarnishing the reputations of city teachers like Doreen Crinnigan, a 25-year veteran of the school system who teaches at Public School 48 in Bensonhurst.

"We don't blame anyone for wanting to look at how they (teachers) are performing, and value-added data is a window into that," Klein spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said.

This was before the teachers' union sued in Manhattan Supreme Court and Klein agreed to halt the release of the data, pending a Nov. 24 hearing.

Such a hearing will undoubtedly reveal that the very consultants who designed Klein's rating system warned it should not be used to judge teacher performance.

Their support of the "value added model," those consultants said in an Aug. 29, 2008, report, was "limited to the technical quality of the work" and to its potential to assist "in teaching and learning."

They specifically refused to endorse "any particular use \[of the method\] for accountability, promotion or tenure" of teachers.

"Test scores," they warned, "capture only one dimension of teacher effectiveness, and . . . are not intended as a summary measure of teacher performance."

The consultants' report was supplied to the Daily News by Leonie Haimson, director of Class Size Matters, who obtained it under a Freedom of Information Request that Klein's people took 15 months to answer.

The leader of the original design team, Columbia University Prof. Jonah Rockoff, told News reporter Rachel Monahan the union was right to challenge the data release.

"We do need someone with expertise in the right to privacy of public employees to make a careful decision about whether this should be released," Rockoff said.

Records of classroom observations of teachers by principals also go into a performance review, Rockoff noted, but they are not made public.

A half dozen teachers told The News yesterday they discovered errors in the raw student data used to calculate their scores, but were not allowed to see which students they were being judged on.

For example, Crinnigan got low ratings for the reading and math scores of her fifth-grade class.

"I didn't teach math that year," she said. "We had a departmental structure in the school, so I taught reading to all three fifth-grade classes. Another teacher taught all the students math, and a third taught them all writing."

One of the other classes Crinnigan taught had a 97% rating, but that score was assigned to another teacher.

Some general teachers say they taught joint classes with a special education teacher, known as a collaborative team teaching class, but only the general education teacher received a rating.

The value-added system, in short, is one dimensional, the raw data is unverified, and even the people who designed it warned against using it as a sole barometer of teacher performance.

Klein and Bloomberg, rotten to the core, do not have a problem releasing misleading data that slanders thousands of people in order to manipulate the public into supporting the firing of teachers.

And the sole reason they want to fire teachers is so that they can save labor costs.

Get rid of vets, bring in newbies.

That's it - that's what this is about.

And the op-ed pages of the NY papers and reporters at the corporate-owned media are all aiding and abetting this.

Make no mistake, if these scores are released and published in the papers, teachers should hold not only Klein and Bloomberg accountable for them, they should hold the writers of each and every article that uses the scores to slander teachers accountable, as well as the editors who signed off on those articles.

Same goes for the reporters at NY1 and other stations.

I just watched Absence of Malice last weekend.

I have to say, on Klein's and Bloomberg's part, there is an awful lot of malice for teachers.

And the same can be said for some of these writers in the papers, some of these editors there as well.

Especially at the Post and the Journal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Obama Admin Supports Naming Names In NY Papers

Not a surprise how the Hopey/Changey people came down on the publishing of teacher ratings in the NYC papers:

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is throwing his support behind Chancellor Joel Klein’s decision to release individual teacher’s effectiveness ratings to the press.

Just before the city and union agreed to postpone any release of teachers’ ratings that included their names, Duncan sent a statement to reporters in which he seemed to take the city’s side.

“I give New York credit for sharing this information with teachers so they can improve and get better,” he said.

Duncan gives New York credit for sharing this information with teachers through the newspapers?

How about a simple conference?

Or making it available online?

Gotham Schools reports
many teachers couldn't access their scores and even when they sent to the DOE for help, they never received access to the reports.

Duncan, like his boss, is a weasel with an anti-teacher agenda.

They KNOW these reports have huge margins of error.

In some cases as large as 30%

But they DON'T care.

Because this isn't about improving education.

It's about busting the unions, firing senior teachers, and reducing labor costs.

Do you think Obama or Bloomberg would use a political polling outfit that conducted polls with 30% MOE's?

Do you think Obama or Bloomberg would invest money in a company that had a 30% MOE in reporting their earnings?

You bet your sweet ass they wouldn't.

But 30% MOE's on the teacher reports and the publishing of those reports in the papers is just fine with them.

Not enough bad stuff can happen to these people - Bloomberg, Klein, Obama, Duncan, et al.

With a Republican Congress coming in, some of that bad stuff just might happen to Obama.

I certainly wouldn't rule out impeachment for Hopey/Changey.

Repubs are itching to destroy him and they aren't above creating some bullshit scandal to do it.

Frankly, I won't be all that upset if they do.

Given the way Obama doesn't seem to care how teachers are being scapegoated for all the ills in public education, indeed seems to relish sticking it to us, I have little sympathy for him or what Repubs do to him.

But Bloomberg and Klein will probably get away with all this jive - the lying, the phony test scores, the endless reorganizations that have been conducted just to create chaos and instability and hide their true purpose, which is the blowing up of the old system and the creation of a new public school system that is largely privatized and de-unionized.

But at the end of the day, I will say again that until the UFT, the AFT and the NEA leadership accept that they have enabled this crap by not fighting it tooth and nail from the beginning, we will continue to lose these battles, and ultimately the war.

Mulgrew Says The UFT Will Help Teachers Defamed By TDR Reports To Personally Sue The DOE

This is the letter I received this morning from Michael Mulgrew:

Dear Colleagues,

As you well know, the war on teachers has been ugly this school year. The ‘blame the teacher’ crowd has frustrated and angered all of us with their divisive and hateful rhetoric. But despite the relentless attacks, you have continued to do what you do best, which is work hard every day to make a difference in children’s lives. When we enter a classroom, we do whatever we possibly can to help those in our care achieve great things.

We still face many challenges ahead; challenges that will test our resolve and require us all to stand and fight together, as we always have.

One of those challenges is upon us now for the 12,000 4th through 8th grade English and math teachers who have been part of the Teacher Data Initiative and received Teacher Data Reports (TDRs).

The Teacher Data Initiative is a pilot program to design a tool (TDRs) to assist teachers in their classroom work — a report meant only for them. But now, as a result of several Freedom of Information Law requests, the DOE is planning to release these reports to the media with all the names attached. As you may know, this was recently done in Los Angeles, and once the reports were published, it was inevitable that news outlets here in New York City would file for the same information.

The possibility of this data being publicly released is deeply troubling, and we will be in court on Thursday to try and block it. It comes down to this — releasing and publishing these flawed reports does absolutely nothing to improve our schools or practices, and serves only to add to the growing confusion among parents and to further vilify teachers.

The Teacher Data Reports are significantly flawed in their current form due to the problems with state tests and inaccuracies within the data that the reports are based on. Not only have the state test scores been found wildly unreliable, but teachers are also finding corrupted and missing data in their reports.

What’s more, education experts agree that existing value-added systems such as TDRs are not yet reliable or valid, and they also agree that test scores by themselves can only represent a small segment of the complex work that you do. Education isn’t just about preparing students for tests. Education is about preparing students for life. A child is more than a test score, and we are there to help children learn and grow to be productive citizens. We will never give up that fight.

I’m asking everyone who has a TDR to examine your report for inaccuracies. We have good reason to believe that there is a lot of erroneous data in these reports, including students that were never taught by the teacher, the absence of entire classes, the improper inclusion of CTT classes with general education classes, and even the wrong subject entirely. If you do not have a copy of your TDR, you can access it here: Your principal should also be able to give you a copy of your report. We have prepared an easy guide to help you spot inaccuracies within a TDR. You can download our guide here. If you have questions about your TDR or you believe your data is inaccurate, please call or email us. Our TDR hotline is 212-598-6860 and our TDR email is

The release of these Teacher Data Reports would be an unfortunate diversion from meaningful conversations about improving public education, and comes at a time when we are trying to develop a new and better evaluation system for educators. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we embrace accountability. That’s why the UFT worked this spring with the State Education Department to put in place a framework that focuses on multiple measures and minimizes the weight of test scores in a teacher’s evaluation. That approach was approved by the state legislature and now the DOE must negotiate with us on how to implement it.

I know that you are frustrated and angry by the growing anti-teacher sentiment. Be assured that standing together as a union and fighting for what is best for children is what we have always done and will continue to do. That includes not only fighting the release of these reports in court, but also setting up one-to-one support for members. If these reports are publicly released and teachers are defamed because of them, we will help them to personally sue the Department of Education.

These are the times when we need to be there for each other. Hold your heads up high. We are the ones that chose to make a difference in the lives of children every day, and we do it very, very well.

I will keep you updated as this issue develops.

Suing for defamation is good idea.

I might add Klein and Bloomberg and the media outlets that publish the reports to the lawsuits too.

But again I say, had the UFT not caved on this stuff beforehand, we wouldn't be here today.

Bloomberg and Klein ALWAYS intended to have these reports published in the media.

They think it backs up their case to get rid of tenure and "fire bad teachers."

The UFT has consistently played into their hands, allowed them to frame the issue (test scores can be used to show who is a good teacher and who is a bad teacher, teachers with low test scores should be fired, tenure protects "bad" teachers) and spent all their time reacting to assaults rather than proactively reframing the issues themselves (test scores are NOT the sole rationale for education, these tests are badly written and show little other than how much test prep students have done, value-added analysis has a huge margin of error that renders it worthless to use on individuals, publishing the names of "bad" teachers in the paper using a value-added system with a MOE of 25%+ is harmful to teachers, students and schools.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NY1 and Other Media Outlets To Get Value-Added Analysis of 12,000 NYCDOE Teachers

Get ready, folks, Bloomberg and Klein declared a "value-added war" today:

The United Federation of Teachers has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Department of Education from releasing internal report cards on more than 12,000 city teachers.

For three years, the DOE has confidentially assigned ratings to teachers, and today the city planned to release that information.

The release of this data would be explosive. These are the supposedly confidential reports that assign each teacher a performance grade and percentile ranking, supposedly based on how much students improve while in their classroom. Almost all elementary and middle school math and English teachers get these scores.

NY1 was one of a few new agencies that asked for the scores through a Freedom of Information Law request, and city lawyers decided to give it to the station.

To be clear, NY1 would get the names of individual teachers, their school, and their score.

But the teacher's union is now requesting an injunction at the New York State Supreme Court. The union says its lawsuit will argue these reports are,
“Unreliable, often incorrect, subjective analysis dressed up as scientific facts,” and “…a complex and largely subjective guessing game on the part of the DOE.”

A DOE spokesperson says the agency still plans to release the information, saying, “While we respect UFT’s right to sue, we believe that the public has a right to this information under the law. Therefore, unless we are enjoined by the court, it is our intention to release the data on Friday afternoon to those news outlets who filed FOIL requests.”

The stakes are certainly very high, as 12,000 teachers will learn today that by Friday, anyone may be able to go online and see their rating. And for hundreds of thousands of parents, for the first time ever, may be able to look up their child’s teacher and see how they are scored by the DOE.

For more than a thousand principals, it means they may have to answer to parents who want to know why their children are in a poorly-rated teacher’s class.

These scores are based primarily on students’ scores on state tests. The formula tries to account for other factors that may affect the students’ scores, like poverty, race, and gender.

Twenty percent of the teachers got high scores, 60 percent average scores and 20 percent received poor marks.

The LA Times used seven years of data and the MOE was 20% or higher.

Kleinberg have used 3 years of data.

These scores will be worthless for telling how good a teacher is.

But you can bet Bloomberg and Klein will be using the data to call for the firing of the lowest 20% of those teachers.

And a complicit "news" media - like the corporate-owned whores at NY1 or NBC - will go along for the ride.

It is no accident that these scores are being released AFTER Waiting for Superman, the Oprah "education" shows and NBC's Education Nation Summit.

Kleinberg will be using all that p.r. to back up their claims that the bottom 20% of the teachers on this list are "bad" and must improve in two years or be fired.

And under the new state law that passed thanks to President Hopey/Changey and his Race to the Top lottery game, they just might be able to do it.

Nice going, UFT - you didn't fight these guys when you had the chance.

You could have sent Bloomberg back to Bermuda or wherever he lives on weekends had you fought him in the 2009 mayoral election.

Instead we have three more years of these corporate bastards and given the way things are going, they will have half the UFT assigned to ATR status by the end of that.

And then, after the "fact-finders" in the current contract negotiation side with the mayor on the ATR's, you can bet Bloomberg will fire ALL of them.

Heckuva job, Randi!

Heckuva job, Leo!

Heckuva job, Mike!

We've got our own LA Times problem right here in NYC.

And YOU guys created it by not fighting this nonsense tooth and nail at every stage.

H/T: Queens Teacher.

POSTSCRIPT: Gotham Schools points out the release of these scores will break a deal the UFT forged with the DOE back in '08.

Gee, you mean Bloomberg and Klein are lying weasels and their words on honor are worthless?

You're kidding!

The UFT is to blame for this in the first place.

Had they fought this crap from the beginning, we wouldn't be here now.

Rhee Offered State Job In NJ

Look out New Jersey teachers - as bad as things are now under Chris Christie, they could get a whole lot worse:

Washington, D.C.’s former schools chancellor is seriously considering an offer from Gov. Chris Christie to become the state’s next education commissioner, but family concerns may prove an insurmountable stumbling block for her, two people familiar with the negotiations said.

When state officials initially approached Michelle Rhee, she quickly turned down the offer, thinking the governor wanted her to make a lateral move and run the Newark Public Schools, something Mayor Cory Booker wanted, Newark school officials said. Even Oprah Winfrey endorsed the possibility of Rhee becoming Newark’s next superintendent.

In fact, the Christie administration wanted Rhee to consider the vacant state education commissioner’s post, a more attractive offer to her because it signified a step up on the ladder of national education reform influence, according to sources who sought anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss confidential matters. But the state could not get Rhee "past the gate" because of frustration that a move to New Jersey would take her away from her family. Her husband Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star, is the mayor of Sacramento, Calif.

Of course she can't spend too much time away from KJ in Sacramento because she has to keep an eye on him, you know?

Those 16 year olds are always beckoning to him.

Sometimes she has to even make those ugly sex scandals and molestation charges go away for KJ.

Yet she was in D.C. which, to my mind, isn't all that close to Sacramento either.

In fact, D.C. seems to be a helluva lot closer to Jersey than California.

So who knows what she's doing here - holding out for more money? More power? More press?

Hard to say, but whatever happens, you can be sure she will be firing teachers, closing schools and opening up charters somewhere pretty soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Bet Obama Will Say Some Teachers Need To Be Fired For This

Just another day at a downtown Jersey City school:

Jersey City police today responded to a large disturbance at Ferris High School in which students were throwing desks, chairs, food, bottles, cans, garbage cans, and book bags at students, staff, security guards and cops, officials said.

One 16-year-old boy was charged with assaulting a police detective during the incident at the Downtown school that required a response from all "available units citywide" in order to "disperse over 350 to 500 unruly students," reports said.

Security guards and school police officers at the Montgomery Street school were called to the cafeteria shortly after noon where they found students throwing food, chairs, and overturning tables, reports said.

Additional police officers were called to the school to help clear the cafeteria, but fighting then broke out first in the main lobby and then "all over the school" and more radio cars were called to the scene, reports said.

Students who were outside the school "violently pushed their way inside" to join the fighting and began assaulting numerous people and throwing all manner of objects at each other and at the adults, reports said.

That's when a 17-year-old was seen pushing a security guard. The teen was tackled by police and handcuffed after a struggle, reports said, adding that the guard later declined to press charges. A 16-year-old student was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police detective, reports said.

A school security guard suffered a lower back injury when he was assaulted by multiple students, and a second guard said she suffered several injuries at the hands of a group of students who ran away, reports said.

Superintendent of Schools Charles T. Epps Jr. said the disturbance began when one student threw bread at another in the lunchroom. "With that, someone got annoyed, picked up a chair, and threw a chair," Epps said.

"It was just a handful of kids (involved in the dispute)," Epps insisted.


Police reports note earlier in the day there was a fight, which may have provoked the cafeteria incident and Board of Education President William DeRosa said tonight the district is investigating the possibility that the fight that precipitated the melee was "gang-related."

"It did sound very serious," DeRosa about today's fracas. "This is going to have to be halted...We need to instill in our students ... that there are better ways to resolve things."

Hey, I know what would make this better.

Fire some teachers.

Really make a statement, you know?

How dare those teachers allow this to happen to "the children"?

POSTSCRIPT: The superintendent is moron - since when is "350 to 500 unruly students" fighting "all over the school" just a "handful of kids"?

Chicago Owned By Abu Dhabi

Well, not all of it - not yet, at any rate.

But the parking meters, the parking garages and the highways are.

Read the whole Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone when you get a chance.

But here is the part that pertains to Chicago and shows what a two-bit crook Richard Daley is:

"I was in my office on a Monday," says Rey Colon, an alderman from Chicago's Thirty-fifth Ward, "when I got a call that there was going to be a special meeting of the Finance Committee. I didn't know what it was about."

It was December 1, 2008. That morning would be the first time that the Chicago City Council would be formally notified that Mayor Richard Daley had struck a deal with Morgan Stanley to lease all of Chicago's parking meters for seventy-five years. The final amount of the bid was $1,156,500,000, a lump sum to be paid to the city of Chicago for seventy-five years' worth of parking meter revenue.

Finance Committee chairman Ed Burke had the job of informing the other aldermen about the timetable of the deal. Early that morning he called for a special meeting of the Finance Committee that Wednesday, to discuss the deal. That afternoon the mayor's office submitted paperwork calling for a meeting of the whole City Council the day after the Finance Committee meeting, on December 4, "for the sole purpose" of approving the agreement.

"I mean, they told us about this on a Monday, and it's like we had to vote on a Wednesday or a Thursday," says Colon.

"We basically had three days to consider the deal," says fellow alderman Leslie Hairston.

On that Tuesday, December 2, Daley held a press conference and said the deal was happening "just at the right time" because the city was in a budget crunch and needed to pay for social services.


Mayor Daley, who had already signed similar lease deals for the Chicago Skyway and a series of city-owned parking garages, had been working on this deal for more than a year. He approached a series of investment banks and companies and invited them to submit bids on seventy-five years' worth of revenue on the city's 36,000 parking meters. Morgan Stanley was one of those companies.

Here's where it gets interesting. What Morgan Stanley has to do from there is two things. One, it has to raise a shitload of money. And two, it has to find a public face for those investors, a "management company" that will be presented to the public as the lessee in the deal.

Part one of that process involved the bank's Infrastructure group going on a road tour to ask people with lots of cash to pony up. It was these guys from Morgan's Infrastructure desk who took their presentation to the Middle East and pitched Chicago's parking meters to a room full of bankers and analysts in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, who ultimately agreed to purchase a large stake.

Here's how they pulled off the paperwork in this deal. It's really brilliant.

At the time the deal was voted on in December 2008, an "Abu Dhabi entity," according to the mayor's office, had just a 6 percent stake in the deal. Spokesman Peter Scales of the Chicago mayor's office has declined to date to identify which entity that was, but by sifting through the disclosure documents, we can find a few possibilities, including a group called Cavendish Limited that is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

Apart from that, most of the investors in the parking meter deal at the time it was voted on look like they were either American or from nations with relatively uncomplicated relationships with America. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas had a significant stake in one of the Morgan Stanley funds at the time of the sale, as did the Victorian Funds Management Corporation of Australia and Morgan Stanley itself. A Mitsubishi fund called Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group also had a stake. There were a variety of other German and Australian investors.

All of these companies together put up the $1.2 billion or so to win the bid, and once they secured the deal, they created Chicago Parking Meters LLC, a new entity, which in turn hired an existing parking management company called LAZ to run the meter system in place of cityrun parking police. The press stories about the deal invariably reported only that the city of Chicago had leased its parking meters to some combination of Morgan Stanley, Chicago Parking Meters LLC, and LAZ. A Chicago Sun-Times piece at the time read:
Under questioning from Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th), top mayoral aides acknowledged that the partnership that includes Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners and LAZ Parking recently formed a limited liability corporation in Delaware, but never bothered to register in Illinois.

But two months after the deal, in February 2009, the ownership structure completely changed. According to Scales in the mayor's press office:
In this case, after the Morgan Stanley investor group's $1.15 billion bid was accepted and approved by the City in December 2008, Morgan Stanley sought new investors to provide additional capital and reduce their investment exposure — again, not an unusual move.

So, while a group of several Morgan Stanley infrastructure funds owned 100% of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC in December 2008, by February 2009, they had located a minority investor — Deeside Investments, Inc. — to accept 49.9% ownership. Tannadice Investments, a subsidiary of the government-owned Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, owns a 49.9% interest in Deeside.

So basically Morgan Stanley found a bunch of investors, including themselves, to put up over a billion dollars in December 2008; a big chunk of those investors then bailed out to make way in February 2009 for this Deeside Investments, which was 49.9 percent owned by Abu Dhabi and 50.1 percent owned by a company called Redoma SARL, about which nothing was known except that it had an address in Luxembourg.


To start with something simple, it changed some basic traditions of local Chicago politics. Aldermen who used to have the power to close streets for fairs and festivals or change meter schedules now cannot — or if they do, they have to compensate Chicago Parking Meters LLC for its loss of revenue.

So, for example, when the new ownership told Alderman Scott Waguespack that it wanted to change the meter schedule from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday to 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, the alderman balked and said he'd rather keep the old schedule, at least for 270 of his meters. Chicago Parking Meters then informed him that if he wanted to do that, he would have to pay the company $608,000 over three years.

The bigger problem was that Chicago sold out way too cheap. Daley and Co. got roughly $1.2 billion for seventy-five years' worth of revenue from 36,000 parking meters. But by hook or crook various aldermen began to find out that Daley had vastly undervalued the meter revenue.

When Waguespack did the math on that $608,000 he was going to be charged, he discovered that the company valued the meters at about 39¢ an hour, which for 36,000 meters works out to $66 million a year, or about $5 billion over the life of the contract.

"When it comes to finding a figure for the citizens of Chicago, they say the meters are worth $1.16 billion," Waguespack said shortly after the deal. "But when it comes to finding a figure to cover Morgan Stanley, they say they're worth, what, $5 billion? Who are they looking out for, the residents or Morgan Stanley?"

The city inspector at the time, David Hoffman, subsequently did a study of the meter deal and concluded that Daley sold the meters for at least $974 million too little. "The city failed to make a calculation of what the value of the parking meter system was to the city," Hoffman said.

What's even worse is this — if they really needed the up-front cash, why sell the meters at all? Why not just issue a bond to borrow money against future revenue collection, so that the city can maintain possession of the rights to park on its own streets?

"There's no reason they had to do it this way," says Clint Krislov, who's suing the city and the state on the grounds that the deal is unconstitutional.

When they asked why the city didn't just do a bond issue, some of the aldermen say they never got an answer.

"You'd have to ask the mayor that," says Colon.

I have an answer to that question.

Because Daley is a crook - a cheap-rate crook.

This selling of infrastructure is the stupidest goddamned thing I have ever seen.

But it's all part and parcel of the "market-based reforms" we are getting in education, the military and elsewhere.

Privatize everything.

Make sure the oil sheiks in the Middle East and the hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson on Wall Street get their taste.

Screw ordinary working and middle class citizens.

The politicians doing this - like Mayor Daley - belong in jail.

Same for the school superintendents like Joel Klein who believe the same privatize the system ideology.

The problem is, both Klein and Daley are lying about their true agenda.

Which is to pay off the real owners of this country - the banks.

Soon the banksters and hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson will own it all - the bridges, the roads, the parking meters and garages, the turnpikes, the highways, the school buildings, the military installations.

There will be no government left.

There will be no "public" left.

There will only be the stuff owned by corporations - the infrastructure, the government, and even the people.