The nation is not far behind. Though no well-implemented study has ever found technology to be effective, many poorly designed studies have—and that questionable body of research is influencing decision-makers. Researchers with a financial stake in the success of computer software are free to design studies that are biased in favor of their products. (I’m sure this bias is, often as not, unintentional.) What is presented as peer-reviewed research is fundamentally marketing literature: studies done by people selling the software they are evaluating.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Colin Myler Turns Daily News Into British Tabloid
Now take a look at the Daily Mirror website.
Notice the similarities?
Lots of non-news, gossip, sensationalized crap and horror stories with accompanying video.
The Daily News has never been a great paper, although there are some great writers who have (or who continue) to work for it.
But now it's starting to look like a supermarket tabloid.
When publisher Mort Zuckerman hired former News of the World editor/hacking criminal Colin Myler to beef up the paper, I wonder if this was what he had in mind.
No wonder the Daily News journalists on the education beat keep doing sensationalized stories about "perv teachers".
They fit right in with stories like these:
Doctor pulls 5 inch live worm from man's eye in India
Mexican beheadings: Gulf drug cartel members decapitate rival Zetas during HORRIFIC 3 minute video
U.S. student critical after being viciously attacked by chimps, dragged nearly a half mile by his feet at Jane Goodall Institute in South Africa
SEE HILARIOUS VIDEO of robber getting his head stuck under a garage door for 9 HOURS
NYPD grad shows Finest way to propose after Police Academy ceremony
Rookie Anthony Grosso dropped to one knee and surprised girlfriend with ring and flowers
Most of these stories have accompanying video or staged photos (like the last one about the cop and the proposal.)
Why treat the news seriously when you can sensationalize it instead?
Perhaps this move will increase traffic to the News website.
But at what cost?
Friday, June 29, 2012
How Will The UFT Pull Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory?
Still, I feel unsettled.
We have seen the UFT "win" rulings over school closures before, then fail to follow up their "victories" by ensuring that the schools the NYCDOE had targeted for closure are given the support they need.
Ultimately this is only a UFT "victory" if the union leadership decides to a) force the DOE to provide the appropriate support and resources needed for staff and students at these schools and b) fights the NYCDOE every step of the way if and when they try and sabotage these schools and the teachers working in them.
One final thing: this is still a "loss" if the UFT agrees to a system-wide teacher evaluation system that enshrines dozens of "local assessments" all throughout the year as part of the "local" portion of the Cuomo evaluation system.
Remember, the reason Bloomberg targeted these schools in the first place was because the UFT wouldn't give him everything he wanted on the evaluation system late last calendar year.
If the UFT decides to cave on that fight and allows the NYCDOE to put some onerous and odious evaluation system that requires dozens of "local assessments" into place on top of the new state tests that are coming as part of the Common Core jive, then this will be a short-lived UFT "victory," since many of the teachers at these schools will end up fired with "I" ratings in a couple of years.
As will many of the rest of us.
That's what this fight has always been about and I wish I could say that I have confidence that the UFT leadership isn't about to win this battle over the turnaround firings and still lose the entire war over the evaluations.
But eleven years as a UFT member has taught me to never underestimate the UFT's ability to sell members down the river and pull defeat from the jaws of victory - time after time after time.
The SIG Schools Live
UPDATE: Bloomberg and the DOE can still change the names of the schools - they just can't bring in a whole new slew of teachers:
The city’s efforts to close and reopen 24 schools this summer, with new names and revamped staffs, was set back on Friday as an arbitrator ruled that its efforts to remove teachers and administrators violated their union contracts.
The ruling by the arbitrator, Scott E. Buchheit, means the city cannot remove staff members from the 24 schools — at least in the way that it had set out to do.
According to the ruling, members of the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators must be given the opportunity to stay at their current school, even if it changes names. And those unionized teachers and administrators who have already been hired to replace staff members at those schools must be given the chance to return to their original schools.
The decision was part of an expedited attempt to resolve contractual issues related to the decision to quickly shut down the schools — which have been deemed too troubled to easily fix — and change their cultures before returning students to the newly constituted institution.
John King said he would back the city's plans for "turnaround" - but only if the city won the arbitration.
It will be interesting to see what both the DOE and the NYSED do now.
You know Commissioner King was dying to set the precedent that all the teachers in a school could be fired simply by changing the school name and declaring it a "new school."
Same goes for Bloomberg and the DOE.
Now it seems the "end run" gambit of school reform has been declared illegal.
Murdoch Warns New York Post: Make Money Or Die
Yesterday he went on his own FOX Business to sling some horsehockey over the move.
Today he went to CNBC and the Financial Times to do the same thing.
While he is spinning this split as a good thing for the newspapers that he owns that make money, he noted today that his newspapers that consistently lose money will not be "tolerated" any longer:
Murdoch warned that newspapers are going to have to pay their way in future. With the exception of startups and bad years, "you're not going to see any print losses tolerated anywhere", he said.
This could be bad news for the Times and the New York Post, which have been loss-making, although analysts point to the fact that Murdoch has tolerated a deficit at the London title since he took it over in 1981.
The New York Post under Rupert Murdoch has never turned a profit.
The editors and writers at the New York Post have now been warned - add value to Rupert's newspaper division or head to the unemployment line.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
NYPD Manipulates Crime Stats
An anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 retired officers found that the manipulation of crime reports — downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better — has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department.
The results showed that pressure on officers to artificially reduce crime rates, while simultaneously increasing summonses and the number of people stopped and often frisked on the street, has intensified in the last decade, the two criminologists who conducted the research said in interviews this week.
“I think our survey clearly debunks the Police Department’s rotten-apple theory,” said Eli B. Silverman, one of the criminologists, referring to arguments that very few officers manipulated crime statistics. “This really demonstrates a rotten barrel.”
Dr. Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and John A. Eterno, a retired New York police captain, provided The New York Times with a nine-page summary of the survey’s preliminary results.
Dr. Eterno and Dr. Silverman have previously argued that the Police Department’s longstanding focus on reducing major felony crimes has given rise to “a numbers game.”
Their survey is likely to rekindle the debate, which flared up earlier this year after The Village Voice detailed the case of Adrian Schoolcraft, an officer in the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn who secretly gathered evidence, including audio recordings, of crime-report manipulation. Shortly after Mr. Schoolcraft presented the evidence to police investigators, his superiors had him involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, saying he was in the midst of a psychiatric emergency.
The survey, conducted earlier this year, was financed by Molloy College. Dr. Eterno and Dr. Silverman e-mailed a questionnaire to 4,069 former officers who had retired since 1941. Roughly 48 percent — 1,962 retired officers of all ranks — responded.
The respondents ranged from chiefs and inspectors to sergeants and detectives. About 44 percent, or 871, had retired since 2002. More than half of those recent retirees said they had “personal knowledge” of crime-report manipulation, according to the summary, and within that group, more than 80 percent said they knew of three or more instances in which officers or their superiors rewrote a crime report to downgrade the offense or intentionally failed to take a complaint alleging a crime.
One officer, who retired in 2005, wrote that he heard a deputy commissioner say in a “pre-CompStat meeting” that a commanding officer “should just consolidate burglaries that occurred in an apartment building and count as one.”
“Also not to count leap-year stats.”
Another respondent, who retired in 2008, wrote, “Assault becomes harassment, robbery becomes grand larceny, grand larceny becomes petit larceny, burglary becomes criminal trespass.”
Dr. Eterno, now director of the graduate criminal justice program at Molloy College, said he was startled by the responses.
“What we’ve been able to document here is how many times they’ve seen these manipulations,” he said. “It’s three or more times. That translates, conservatively, into at least 100,000 manipulations, if you extrapolate out the responses to the 35,000 officers on the force.”
As I shared with you before, I have personal experience with NYPD cops trying to discourage my wife and I from reporting a crime.
She had her wallet picked on 34th and 6th. When we walked into a crowd outside Victoria's Secret, she had her wallet. When we walked out of that crowd and got to the PATH station one block away, her wallet was gone.
The responding cops refused to file a crime report. They said since we had not actually seen anybody steal the wallet out of her purse and she had not felt anybody put their hands into her purse, it would be classified as "lost."
Later that night, someone tried to use a credit card from that "lost" wallet to buy a Happy Meal at a McDonald's in Washington Heights .
Trying to use someone else's credit card is a felony, so now the cops had to file a crime report. But each precinct fought for the report to be filed somewhere else. Should the midtown Manhattan precinct file it, where the wallet was lifted? Or should the Washington Heights precinct file the report, where the credit card was used?
The cops from both precincts made the issue as difficult and as big a pain in the ass as possible - like they were pissed they had to file a report.
I've heard from other people, including some who work for the NYPD, that fraudulent reporting is a daily occurrence in Bloomberg's New York, but two summer's ago, I got an upfront seat to it.
With this new study, we have more proof that Bloomberg's policing "miracle" is as fraudulent as his education miracle.
Difficult To See The NY Post Surviving This
The board of News Corp. approved in principle splitting the $60 billion media conglomerate into separate publishing and entertainment businesses, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday.
News Corp.'s board, overseen by 81-year-old chairman Rupert Murdoch, met on Wednesday and an announcement was expected later on Thursday on the decision to create two publicly traded companies, the source said, confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Details on the management structure are still to be resolved and formal approval by the board is still needed. The process is expected to take about a year, said the source, who did not want to be named as the decision had still to be made public.
Pressure on News Corp to get rid of the newspaper business was ramped up after a phone hacking scandal tainted its British titles and forced the company to drop its proposed acquisition of pay-TV group BSkyB.
“As recently as a month ago he (Murdoch) was still saying no way would he do this,” said one News Corp insider with knowledge of the internal conversations.
The Wall Street Journal, owned by News Corp, earlier said one company will hold the entertainment businesses like 20th Century Fox, Fox broadcast network and Fox News Channel, while the other will hold the publishing assets, which include The Times, The Australian, and HarperCollins book publishing.
The film and television businesses generated revenues of $23.5 billion in the year to June 2011, dwarfing the publishing unit's $8.8 billion. Publishing, including integrated marketing services, accounts for around 7 percent of News Corp's enterprise value, according to analysts at Barclays Capital. It estimates that publishing represents 24 percent of revenues and around 11 percent of operating income.
Analysts estimate an independent publishing division would generate about $1.3 billion in EBITDA at a multiple valuation of 6 times, or $3.25 per share. They expect a standalone entertainment unit to be valued at $52 billion, or $23 per share, based on an 8 times cash flow multiple.
With a split between the struggling publishing business and its much larger, faster-growing entertainment business, the majority of the big names are anticipated to jockey for key roles on the entertainment side.
Chase Carey, News Corp's current No. 2, is widely seen as the likely CEO designate for the entertainment business. Liz Murdoch and James Murdoch are expected to report to him. That could raise questions about the current heads of the Fox TV business, Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly.
Less clear is who would run the publishing business. One obvious candidate is Joel Klein, the former New York City chancellor for education, who joined News Corp last year to run its new education business, which so far consists only of Wireless Generation, a digital company for schools. Murdoch's eldest son, Lachlan, a former New York Post publisher and currently a director, is another prospect.
The Post loses millions every year.
Whoever takes over the publishing division of the "new" News Corp will have to make cost-cutting decisions almost immediately, as the publishing division will no longer have TV and movie revenue to shield its loses.
Perhaps they can sell the Post off to some other oligarch looking to use it as a vanity project.
More likely, they will do some cost-cutting that will ultimately fail to make the paper profitable and eventually close the paper down.
They might even have to slowly liquidate the entire newspaper division, selling off the more prestigious and/or profitable assets and closing the rest.
Unless Klein can make his education division so profitable that he can shield the newspapers, of course.
But it's difficult to see how that happens.
And one more thing - just because they're splitting up the company doesn't mean they won't still be liable for the hacking.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Rupert Murdoch Faces Losing His Newspapers - And His Power
Rupert Murdoch has finally bowed to the demands of frustrated shareholders and conceded that News Corporation, the worldwide media empire he constructed, may have to be split in two after the phone-hacking scandal tarnished the reputation of his newspaper division.
The move would be the biggest corporate upheaval in the history of the group, over which Murdoch and his family have retained a tight grip since he established it in 1979.
Murdoch has for years fought off calls to hive off News Corp's publishing assets – including its scandal-hit UK newspapers – from its film and TV businesses.
But the crisis that caused the closure of the News of the World and resulted in the Murdoch clan being called before the British parliament was the last straw for shareholders, who ratcheted up the pressure on the News Corp board in a bid to achieve a higher stockmarket valuation for the non-newspaper assets.
The company was forced to confirm the news after a leak to the Wall Street Journal, which it owns. It said in a brief statement issued in New York: "News Corporation confirmed today that it is considering a restructuring to separate its business into two distinct publicly traded companies."
No further details were forthcoming, but analysts expect that News Corp's Fox TV network and Twentieth Century Fox film studio would form the heart of the more profitable new company. Those businesses accounted for $23.5bn (£15.1bn) in revenue in the year ended in June 2011.
The publishing arm would include News International's UK papers – the Times, Sunday Times and the Sun – the WSJ, the New York Post, The Australian and the book publisher, HarperCollins. Those assets generated $8.8bn (£5.6bn) in the same period.
Michael Wolff provides analysis of the news:
This may be the most humble day of Rupert Murdoch's life. His company seems to be spurning his newspapers, and also his leadership – or at least, his Sun God standing. Early Tuesday morning, News Corporation said, through its newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, that it was considering a spin-off of its print properties. Since using the Journal made this something of an in-house announcement, for "considering" one might better read "actively planning".
Perhaps not coincidentally, Chase Carey, News Corp's chief operating officer, was spied yesterday having lunch with Stan Shuman of Allen & Company, one of the company's long time investment bankers. Lunch was at Michael's, the media business canteen in New York, where they were sure to be seen – possibly something, in other words, of a victory walk for Carey, who is the primary operator of the entertainment assets which would become the whole of News Corp.
Even before the phone-hacking scandal in Britain killed the News of the World, the company's newspapers were an issue of internal complaint. From a rational business view, the papers consumed far more resources than any returns they can ever hope to offer. Still, because News Corp was singularly Rupert's company (pay no attention to its public shareholders), and Rupert was atavistically committed to his newspapers, there could be no real debate about their future.
The $5.6bn acquisition of the Wall Street Journal in 2007, at a steep premium to its market value, happened despite the recognition by News Corp's executives that the deal would have a profound negative impact on News Corp's shares – and despite the fact that the Journal would shortly be worth only a fraction of what the company paid for it. If Rupert wanted a paper, he got a paper.
But then there was the phone-hacking scandal. And perhaps even worse for the newspapers: investors everywhere suddenly seemed to wake up and agree that the newsprint titles were not just shrinking, but dissolving assets. By getting rid of the papers in the US, UK and Australia (together with Harper Collins, News Corp's book publishing company), the shares of News Corp itself could even be expected to rise. The phone-hacking saga, and the diverted attention, if not the much-reduced status, of the Murdoch family, was the opportunity.
But what of the papers, then? And of Murdoch himself?
The print division made a small profit last year. With the closing of the News of the World, one of its big earners, and with the continued fall in newspaper circulation and advertising, those earnings may be expected to disappear almost immediately. That will leave the three big money losers particularly exposed: the New York Post, the London Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The losses among them might be as great as $250m.
It is almost impossible to imagine that a stand-alone public print company would not have to quickly cut costs and dispose of those assets that do not have a credible path to profitability. Indeed, for each of News Corp's newspapers, protected so long by the company's vast diversification, being spun off, instead of sold to enthusiastic bidders, might be their worse fate.
And curiously, the papers, while they lose the upside of being part of News Corp, maintain what is arguably the downside: Rupert Murdoch.
Rupert and the Murdoch family trust will still control the papers. Indeed, this odd move, to create a company of ever-weakening businesses, may have been, for Murdoch, a bad choice – but a better choice than selling and losing them.
Meanwhile, it's awfully good news for Chase Carey and the new entertainment-focused company. Rupert and the other Murdochs will have an ever-deepening quagmire to attend to with the newspapers, keeping the Murdochs at an even greater distance from the entertainment business. Indeed, that is the de facto division that exists now, but the separation becomes cleaner and more widely understood with an actual split.
Surely, Rupert Murdoch can be counted on to follow his heart. By early morning, rumours were circulating among Rupert-watchers that Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert's oldest son and once the heir-apparent, who had been forced out of News Corp by the ever-more-powerful entertainment executives and into exile in Australia, might be tapped by his father to head the new newspaper company.
In fact, Lachlan would not even have to relocate because the Australian operation will become the centerpiece of this new company – thus bringing the long story back to where it all began.
And now I see why Joel Klein left the internal News Corporation hacking committee and returned to his "post" at the News Corporation for-profit education division.
Klein's most likely going to be tapped to run the newspaper division, along with the education division and Harper Collins - the least profitable part of News Corporation.
Joel Klein - CEO of the company that runs (at least for now) the NY Post.
If he gets the job, we'll see if he can save Murdoch's newspapers by making his education division profitable enough to carry the rest.
Michael Wolff never mentions whether he thinks the education division can save the newspaper division, but from what I gather from the rest of his column, it seems the Murdoch newspaper division is going to have a difficult slog ahead - and the Post may not survive it.
Must Be The Fault Of Their Teachers
High school students were thrown out the September 11 Memorial site in New York after tossing garbage and baseballs into the reflecting pools.
The students, from JHS 292 in East New York, hurled several items including plastic soda bottles and baseballs into the memorial pools, MyFoxNY.com reported.
The NYPD launched an investigation after one junior high student was caught trying to bring ammunition through a metal detector.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said it was not clear why the student had bullets
What does the Danielson rubric say about this kind of thing?
Oh, yeah - I remember:
If teachers had been doing their jobs and adequately engaging students in meaningful, educational lessons, then they wouldn't have brought firearms or thrown garbage into the memorial pool.
Clearly these teacher need to be "I" rated and fired.
That'll solve these kinds of problems.
Charter School Hires "Disgraced" Principal
A disgraced city principal who was fired after one of his students drowned on a field trip has a new job as the leader of a troubled Bronx charter school.
Former Columbia Secondary School Principal Jose Maldonado-Rivera was put on probation after the tragic death of 12-year-old Nicole Suriel on an unguarded beach in June 2010.
He was fired five months later — and banned from work in city schools — when investigators caught him using his school employee mistress as a baby-sitter.
But none of this prevented Maldonado-Rivera from snagging a top job at the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School in the Bronx.
Though publicly funded, charters are not held to city hiring rules, and Maldonado-Rivera said he deserves the gig.
“Just take a look at my résumé. It speaks for itself,” he told the Daily News. “There is no question about my competence.”
City officials disagree. Maldonado-Rivera was at the helm of Columbia Secondary School when he allowed Suriel’s class to travel to a Long Island beach without permission from parents.
The sixth-grader did not know how to swim.
Maldonado-Rivera managed to keep his job after the tragedy but lost it when investigators caught him in “an inappropriate financial relationship” with his parent coordinator and live-in girlfriend, Monica Marin-Reyes.
He was fired for “repeated failures in judgment,” and the ousted educator left the city to run a school in Tanzania for a year. His girlfriend resigned.
Maldonado-Rivera is the third principal to run Health and Science since the school was founded in 2010, and in 2011 just 20% of sixth-graders passed state reading exams.
The school made headlines in February when instructor Evelyn Tirado was arrested on charges of punching a 12-year-old student.
Parents are worried that things could get worse on Maldonado-Rivera’s watch.
“I’m very concerned about my child’s safety with that man in charge,” said a parent of a seventh-grader. “I have no faith in his ability to lead our school.”
School CEO Anthony Perez insisted that Maldonado-Rivera was not hired on a permanent basis and would only serve until the end of the school year, but a former staffer, a current staffer and a parent all said they were told that Maldonado-Rivera was there to stay.
I'm sure this will all go swimmingly.
Monday, June 25, 2012
How Technology Harms Education
A 2007 congressionally mandated study by the National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance found that 16 of the best reading and mathematics learning software packages—selected by experts from 160 submissions—did not have a measurable effect on test scores. But despite this finding, the onslaught of technology in education has continued. The state of Maine was the first to buy laptops for all of its students from grades seven to 12, spending tens of millions of dollars to do so, starting with middle schoolers in 2002 and expanding to high schools in 2009.
For instance, a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of graphing calculators from Empirical Education Inc. reports a “strong effect of the technology on algebra achievement.” But the meta-analysis includes results from a paper in which “no significant differences were found between the graphing-approach and traditional classes either on a final examination of traditional algebra skills or on an assessment of mathematics aptitude.” In that same paper, calculators were marginally helpful on a tailor-designed test. The meta-analysis included the results of the specially made test, but not the negative results from the traditional exam.ake this gem from researchers at SRI International. They say that standardized tests don’t capture the “conceptual depth” students develop by using their software, so the “research team decided to build its own assessments”—and, of course, they did relatively well on the assessments they designed for themselves. Another example: A recent study by the Educational Development Center compared students who took an online algebra 1 class with students who took nonalgebra eighth-grade math. The online students did better than those who didn’t study algebra at all (not exactly surprising). But the online students weren’t compared with those who took a regular algebra class.
Despite the lack of empirical evidence, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics takes the beneficial effects of technology as dogma. There is a simple shell game that goes on: Although there is no evidence technology has been useful in teaching kids math in the past, anyone can come up with a new product and claim that this time it is effective.
And of course now teachers will be evaluated in part by how they integrate technology use into their lessons.
In NYC, who was most responsible for pushing the technology jive?
And what does Klein do for a living now?
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Apple - Just Like Walmart
Now the Times shows us how they exploit their workers here in America:
America’s love affair with the smartphone has helped create tens of thousands of jobs at places like Best Buy and Verizon Wireless and will this year pump billions into the economy.
Within this world, the Apple Store is the undisputed king, a retail phenomenon renowned for impeccable design, deft service and spectacular revenues. Last year, the company’s 327 global stores took in more money per square foot than any other United States retailer — wireless or otherwise — and almost double that of Tiffany, which was No. 2 on the list, according to the research firm RetailSails.
Worldwide, its stores sold $16 billion in merchandise.
But most of Apple’s employees enjoyed little of that wealth. While consumers tend to think of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., as the company’s heart and soul, a majority of its workers in the United States are not engineers or executives with hefty salaries and bonuses but rather hourly wage earners selling iPhones and MacBooks.
About 30,000 of the 43,000 Apple employees in this country work in Apple Stores, as members of the service economy, and many of them earn about $25,000 a year. They work inside the world’s fastest growing industry, for the most valuable company, run by one of the country’s most richly compensated chief executives, Tim Cook. Last year, he received stock grants, which vest over a 10-year period, that at today’s share price would be worth more than $570 million.
And though Apple is unparalleled as a retailer, when it comes to its lowliest workers, the company is a reflection of the technology industry as a whole.
By the standards of retailing, Apple offers above average pay — well above the minimum wage of $7.25 and better than the Gap, though slightly less than Lululemon, the yoga and athletic apparel chain, where sales staff earn about $12 an hour. The company also offers very good benefits for a retailer, including health care, 401(k) contributions and the chance to buy company stock, as well as Apple products, at a discount.
But Apple is not selling polo shirts or yoga pants. Divide revenue by total number of employees and you find that last year, each Apple store employee — that includes non-sales staff like technicians and people stocking shelves — brought in $473,000.
“These are sales rates for a consulting company,” said Horace Dediu, an analyst who blogged about the calculation on the site Asymco. Electronics and appliance stores typically post $206,000 in revenue per employee, according to the latest figures from the National Retail Federation.
Last year, during his best three-month stretch, Jordan Golson sold about $750,000 worth of computers and gadgets at the Apple Store in Salem, N.H. It was a performance that might have called for a bottle of Champagne — if that were a luxury Mr. Golson could have afforded.
“I was earning $11.25 an hour,” he said. “Part of me was thinking, ‘This is great. I’m an Apple fan, the store is doing really well.’ But when you look at the amount of money the company is making and then you look at your paycheck, it’s kind of tough.”
Read the rest of the article.
I found it infuriating.
Apple is much better at p.r. than some of the more notorious companies, like Walmart or Microsoft.
But when you look at how they make their products overseas and how they sell them here, you can see that at Apple, exploitation is Job #1.
No wonder Steve Jobs hated teachers unions.
He, like the Walton Family and Bill Gates, wanted to bring the Apple model to public education.
And Jobs may be gone, but we're getting that Apple model slowly but surely in the public school system.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Tell It To The SIG Teachers
“No matter where they’re good or bad, the union is not there to help our students. Don’t ever think that,” he said on the air. “The union is there for its members. To protect them. When they’re sex offenders, they protect them. When they’re criminals, they protect them. They do anything to protect then. They don’t do anything for the students. They just use the students as a ploy.”
That's some quote from the Mayor of Money.
Tell the teachers let go from the SIG schools that the union protects teachers no matter what.
They would beg to differ.
Frankly, I've seen the union throw many an innocent teacher under the bus for political expediency.
So I don't believe they protect "perverts" and "criminals".
That said, the quote really does give insight into how Bloomberg feels about unionized teachers, doesn't it?
Albany Pols Know This Teacher Evaluation System Is Unworkable
The plan hides the names of individual teachers from media and public scrutiny, but allows parents to see the evaluations of their children's teachers with names attached.
Everybody else can see the teacher evaluations for each school without the names attached.
As has been his wont throughout his tenure as governor, Cuomo bullied his way through this, putting out a plan that he said pols could take or leave. He refused to negotiate any details after Monday.
So members of the Assembly and the State Senate passed Cuomo's plan - but not without dissent or a desire to revise it in the future:
In the Assembly, discussion lasted nearly three hours, touching on everything from complaints about the federal No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top programs to concerns over testing and fairness. It passed, 118-17, though many said they voted “yea” reluctantly.
For many, the choice came down to accepting a bill that generally maintains teacher privacy, or doing nothing — the latter option would have meant that instructors could be identified publicly along with their evaluations, as happened in the city earlier this year when scores were published in newspapers.
“This particular path we’re on is a mistake, and we need to rethink what we’re doing here; but clearly we don’t want a repeat of last February’s or March’s media disaster,” said Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn) in voting “yes.”
Several lawmakers said they voted for the bill with the desire to make changes in the future — but Cuomo quickly said he has “no intention of revisiting the bill in six months or a year.”
Even some Senate Republicans know this teacher evaluation plan of Cuomo's is a sham:
Assemblyman Steven F. McLaughlin, a Republican from the capital region whose wife is a kindergarten teacher, predicted that parents would post the teacher data they receive on the Internet for all to see.
“I already went to GoDaddy.com — you can get teacherscores.org or .net, that’s available, you can grab that,” Mr. McLaughlin said. He added, “It seems like we’ve got the torches and the pitchforks and we’re coming after the teaching profession.”
Cuomo may have “no intention of revisiting the bill in six months or a year," but he's going to have to because the way the evaluations will now play out is exactly the way Mr. McLaughlin says they will.
Don't be surprised to see some astroturf "parent group" funded by the hedge fund managers/education reformers put up such a site and begin to collect "data" and names from all New York City schools, all in the interest of "public disclosure."
And don't be surprised to see some semblance of NY1, the Daily News, the Post, the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times publish the data with names attached as part of some story about the overall effectiveness of the teacher evaluation law and the existence of the "parent-created data sites."
As Mr. McLaughlin says, they've got it out for teachers and the teaching profession and the plan passed in Albany isn't going to stop Murdoch, Zuckerman, and the corporate education reform movement from demonizing as many teachers as they can next year.
But here's the crux of this issue - while the media fights for full disclosure of the names and data and Cuomo strikes his "balance" between disclosure and privacy, no one is looking at the integrity of the system itself.
The tests are a mess. The ones we've seen so far, developed by both the state and the city, have been error-riddled embarrassments.
Does anybody really think Dr. John King, who couldn't put out the 4th-8th grade math or ELA tests this year without major mistakes, or the city, which couldn't put out a few foreign language exams without major mistakes, are going to be able to put out all the state and local exams for all the subjects - ELA, math, social studies, science, art, music, foreign language and physical education - in all grades year after year without making a mess of it?
And does anybody think Dr. King, the same genius who first defended Pearson's Pineapple and Hare passage as excellent test material, can develop a value-added measurement of teachers that is fair and workable?
In the best of circumstances, value-added measurements of individuals have high margins of error and wide swings in stability.
Add error-riddled tests to the equation and a circus-like atmosphere around the disclosure of the evaluation data and names and you have a recipe for disaster.
I spoke to someone in a State Senator's office who told me that most Albany pols in both parties know that the teacher evaluation and state testing systems are unworkable and will have to be revised in coming years.
This person said she thought once parents saw the sheer insanity of a system that forces students to take 35+ tests a year to grade their teachers, they'll balk over it and force changes.
This person also said parents aren't go to like to find out that teachers now have to "compete" with each other on a state-developed value-added bell curve and will force changes to that too.
Now Governor Cuomo, who is of course infallible and the smartest person ever, who just capped this legislative session by saying “This bill is the metaphorical cherry on the cake to the end of what I believe is one of the most successful and broad- ranging legislative sessions in modern political history" is not going to want to revise this teacher evaluation system.
But the politicians in Albany of BOTH parties know what has been put into law is totally unworkable and once the consequences of the system become clear to their constituents - from the 35+ standardized tests a year students will take simply to grade their teachers to the terrible quality of the tests themselves to the insanity of making teachers compete against each other for their evaluations along the value-added bell curve - this system will be revised whether Governor Cuomo likes it or not.
Unfortunately there will be a lot of damage done to students, teachers, schools and public education before that happens.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Cuomo Declares Teacher Evaluation Bill "Cherry" On Top Of Best Legislative Session In Modern Political History
ALBANY — Siding with teachers’ unions over the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the state Legislature on Thursday approved a plan to limit the public disclosure of teacher evaluations.
Under the plan, unveiled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shortly before midnight on Monday, parents will be allowed to see the evaluations of their children’s current teachers, but the public will only be allowed to see evaluation data after the names of teachers are removed.
The approval of the measure, on the final scheduled day of this year’s legislative session, came three months after lawmakers approved a new statewide teacher evaluation system. School districts are required to put the evaluation system in place by January.
Mr. Cuomo released a statement saying that his proposal “strikes the right balance between protecting teacher privacy and a parent’s right to know.”
“This bill," he added, "is the metaphorical cherry on the cake to the end of what I believe is one of the most successful and broad- ranging legislative sessions in modern political history.”
Wow - what an arrogant, egotistical man Andrew Cuomo is.
Forget whether you think the evaluation bill is a good one or not.
For Cuomo to frame this thing as "the metaphorical cherry on the cake to the end of what I believe is one of the most successful and broad- ranging legislative sessions in modern political history” really says something about the delusion this guy exists in.
I'll deal with why I think this the evaluation law and disclosure agreement will be a nightmare in years to come, will do little to improve education quality but will help move tens of thousands of good teachers out of the system in a future post.
For now, I just want to bask in the all-encompassing ego that is Andrew Cuomo.
Mayor Bloomberg: Your Kids Will Take High Stakes Standardized Tests In 100 Degree Classrooms And Like It
As New Yorkers were urged to stay cool on a record-breaking day of intense heat and humidity, Mayor Bloomberg expressed little sympathy toward public school students taking exams in sweltering classrooms.
"Nobody is asking them to do something in 110-degree heat inside," Bloomberg said during a news conference at a senior center Wednesday afternoon. "I'm sure they're a lot more worried about passing their exams than the temperature."
The mayor made the remarks during a question-and-answer session after a news conference at the Bronx Works Senior Center, one of several designated cooling centers across the city. He was there with other officials to warn the public about the "dangerous" heat conditions and to urge vulnerable demographic groups to take proper precautions.
When a reporter pointed out the seemingly contradictory messages Bloomberg was sending about how the young and the old should be responding to hot conditions indoors, he became irritated.
"I don't know quite how to answer your question," he said. "Life is full of challenges, and we don't have everything we want. We can't afford everything we want. And I suspect if you talk to everyone in this room, not one of them went to a school where they had air conditioning."
When the reporter tried to follow up, Bloomberg interrupted, "Miss, I've answered your question. There's nothing unsafe about it."
He continued, "It may be a tiny bit uncomfortable, and these are young, strong people, and we're not going to ask anyone to stay in a building where we think it becomes dangerous, whether they are taking a test or not."
"Once their safety, their health is OK, yes, they have to take the test," he added. "That's what life is all about. If they can't pass these tests, they're not going to pass life's tests and then they are really going to be in trouble."
New York City's 1.1 million public school students are still in session for another week, and just 64 percent of classrooms are air-conditioned.
I proctored an exam in a room without air conditioning yesterday.
It was brutal.
I am sure students would have done better had they been in a room with air conditioning.
I am sure students who took the test in a room with air conditioning did perform better.
Certainly students who took the test in a room with air conditioning were given more advantageous circumstances in which to take their test.
But clearly Bloomberg doesn't care about this or even consider it a big deal.
The heat is "dangerous" for everyone else, but for kids and teachers in schools without air conditioning, it's just fine - shut up and take your test!
Now that the only thing that matters in Bloomberg's New York (indeed, in Obama's America!) is test scores, I wonder if a student cannot sue over these adverse conditions where they're forced to take a high stakes test in a room that is 100+ degrees when other students are allowed to take their tests in air conditioned rooms?
And now that teacher evaluations are based in part on student test scores and some students are forced to take tests under adverse circumstances (like a 100 degree heat), I wonder if a teacher whose students are forced to take a test in a room without air conditioning on a day declared a "heat emergency" cannot sue the city over the validity of his/her evaluation based upon those test scores?
Is it fair to compare teachers using test scores from students who took tests in differing conditions?
I dunno, but once the vaunted new Cuomo/Tisch/King teacher evaluation system comes into being, I am telling you, I intend to find out.
Finally, you'll note the lack of empathy Mayor Bloomberg shows for students and teachers in adverse conditions, indeed, you'll note the lack of rationality too.
He says "Nobody is asking them to do something in 110-degree heat inside" when indeed, that is exactly what he is asking them to do.
Or is trying to pass a high stakes geometry test on a 100 degree day when temperatures are closer to a 110 inside a hot building with windows that do not open not asking them to do something?
NYSED Commissioner King: "We Must Be Ambitious"
"The items are ambitious, but not unattainable...We must be ambitious."
I'd say it's quite ambitious to put out a new slate of state and local tests aligned to a new curriculum that is completely untested anywhere and not backed by any research and develop a whole new teacher evaluation system tied to those tests using an untested value-added measurement with an unknown margin of error and an unknown stability standard and fire teachers who come up short on that measurement.
That sure is "ambitious," all right.
Especially when Dr. King couldn't put out the 4th-8th ELA and math tests this year without a plethora (Common Core word!) of errors that undermined the validity of the testing system and the confidence students, parents and teachers have in the system.
Even more so when the NYCDOE couldn't put out a few foreign language exams without a bunch of embarrassing errors as well.
And the cherry on top comes with the development of the value-added measurement these geniuses at the NYSED plan to use on NY State teachers.
They haven't developed that measurement yet, but the VAM the city used on 4th-8th grade teachers had very large margins of error (maximum MOE of 87%) and wide swings in stability.
Since the tests and the VAM have yet to be developed fully and will not be piloted before a statewide roll-out, you can be sure there will be more than a few hiccups in this system.
Yes, these sure are ambitious plans Dr. King, Regents Chancellor Tisch and Governor Cuomo have in mind.
That's life in modern America these days - our corporate overlords and their functionaries like Dr. King are all about ambition and the rest of us - in this case the students, teachers, and schools on the front lines of the education reform battle - pay the price when they fail (as they mostly do.)
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Words Of Wisdom From Arne Duncan
Duncan panned the ongoing city-union conflict. ”I’ll say when adults fight, quite frankly, kids lose,” he said.
There you have it.
Doesn't matter if there are legitimate differences between parties, doesn't matter if there are differing views of how to proceed with the process.
All that matters is that we all get along - and give President Obama, Secretary of Education Privatization Duncan and Mayor Bloomberg 100% of what they want in the teacher evaluation agreement.
It's for the kids.
Daily News Covers Foreign Language Exam Debacle
The DOE's response to the mistakes?
City officials said the exams were not high-stakes and not required for minimum graduation requirements.
In any case, this is not the response you would want from an agency that is now going to issue tests twice a year in every subject - from ELA to math to science to social studies to music to art to physical education to foreign language - so that teachers can be evaluated on the local part of Governor Cuomo's vaunted new teacher evaluation system.
The response you would want is, "Oh, no! We don't know how this happened and we will work very hard to make sure it doesn't happen again!"
But that's apparently not how the Tweedies feel about these mistakes.
So much for taking responsibility for one's mistakes.
So much for accountability for NYCDOE officials.
You see, accountability is only for the little people.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
NYCDOE Made Mistakes On The Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese Language Exams (UPDATED)
As I noted earlier, the NYCDOE issued a Spanish exam that was missing the last page of the booklet.
That page contained the third prompt to an essay question as well as a rubric for students to use to check over their essay writing before handing in the test.
Midway through the exam, the DOE informed schools they should make copies of the rubric and hand them out to all students taking the exam.
Most schools undoubtedly were unable to get the copies made and distributed in time before the test ended or students completed the exam and left the testing room.
After all, they didn't inform schools of the mistakes until well after the Spanish test started.
In addition, there was a scoring key error on the Italian exam.
Now the NYCDOE is acknowledging there are more problems with the foreign language exams.
The Chinese language exam has a question with two correct answers and another question that has a scoring key error.
And the Japanese language exam has a question that is so ambiguous that all four answer choices are considered correct.
The NYCDOE has made mistakes on at least four of the foreign language exams they have given this June, one of which was a major screw-up that compromises the legitimacy of the Spanish exam.
And yet, as of 5:25 PM this evening, a full day after the foreign language exams were given by the city, I have still not seen any media coverage of these testing miscues and errors.
There has been plenty of coverage of the lack of an agreement on teacher evaluation disclosures, however.
Apparently the disclosure of teacher evaluations based upon test scores is a much more important news story than the fact that the NYCDOE can't put out error-free high stakes standardized tests any more than the geniuses at the Regents, the NYSED or Pearson can.
Oh, and one more thing:
The same geniuses who forgot the last page of the Spanish exam booklet, the same ones who added a question on the Chinese language exam with two correct answers and a question on the Japanese exam that is so ambiguous that every answer choice is correct, are the same people in charge of the "local assessments" we're going to see as part of Governor Cuomo's vaunted new teacher evaluation system next year.
Since they can't handle putting out a few foreign language exams once a year, you can imagine the bang-up job these people are going to do putting out tests twice a year in every subject - from math to ELA to science to social studies to art to music to physical education to health to foreign language.
But so long as the news media ignores the problems, I guess it doesn't really matter how many mistakes the NYCDOE makes, does it?
UPDATE - 8:08 PM: Gotham Schools covers the DOE foreign language test mess.
Why No Coverage Of The City's Foreign Language Exam Screw-Ups?
Students were supposed to complete their exams by choosing two out of three essay prompts to write about, one of which would have been a cartoon.
Because the last page of the booklet was missing, students could only choose the first two essay prompts.
It was also missing the rubric they were supposed to use to check their work.
The Spanish test given by the city yesterday was an important one, replacing the old New York State Spanish Regents exam.
The NYCDOE sent these flawed testing materials all over the city, then apparently emailed schools right during the middle of the test to acknowledge the screw-up and suggest ways to mitigate the damage.
Those notices are located on the NYCDOE website page for the LOTE foreign language exams.
Here's what they wrote regarding the Spanish exam:
This notice pertains to Question 33 and the Part 4 Writing Rubric in the Comprehensive Examination in Spanish.
Due to a printing error, question 33 and the Part 4 Writing Rubric were not included in the Test Booklet.
Directions for questions 31-33 indicate that the students must choose two of the three writing tasks provided. Since only two writing tasks are included, the students must respond to both questions 31 and 32.
The Part 4 Writing Rubric will be disseminated in a separate notice. Please distribute to the students.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and we thank you for your hard work on behalf of the students in New York City.
Gee, how nice - they apologize for any inconvenience these mistakes caused anybody.
And how do they try and mitigate the damage from these mistakes?
By disseminating the Part 4 Writing Rubric - which students needed to check over their Part 4 essay work - right in the middle of the exam so that most students wouldn't actually get the rubric and couldn't actually use that rubric to, you know, check over their work.
Gee, that mitigates the damage from the mistakes all right.
But the Spanish exam wasn't the only test they screwed up.
They also screwed up the Italian test too.
Two major screw-ups by the NYCDOE on the high stakes foreign language exams - one of which seriously comprises the Spanish exam - and yet there is no coverage of this today in the news.
You can see the lack of coverage here at Gotham Schools' morning round-up.
There are lots of stories in the newspapers today about the lack of a teacher evaluation disclosure agreement - but not one about the NYCDOE sending out two flawed foreign language exams which will, in part, help decide evaluations of foreign language teachers.
So the lack of a teacher evaluation disclosure agreement is news but the city sending out a Spanish exam missing the last page of the booklet and screwing up the Italian test isn't?
No wonder so many teachers feel like the corporate media and the corporate media wanna be's have an agenda when it comes to reporting the education news.
What gets reported as news seems awfully selective.
And once again, we see another moment where accountability is only for teachers and never for the people running the school systems.
Monday, June 18, 2012
City Screws Up Spanish Test
That last page included the last part of an essay question plus the rubric for students to use to check over their work.
But we'll still use this test for high stakes results, including judging students, teachers and schools.
Because as Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said, anybody who's against using these tests for high stakes decisions despite their flaws is just against accountability.
Even when the high stakes tests are as badly designed, badly written and badly proofread as the ones that the NYSED, the Regents and the NYCDOE are giving.
You know, we don't even have the new "local assessments" that are supposed to be part of the vaunted new Cuomo teacher evaluation plan in place yet, and there have already been a multitude of screw-ups by both the state and the city in their testing regimes.
First we had Pearson's infamous "Pineapple and the Hare" section on an ELA exam, then we had the NYSED pulling a total of 30 questions from various 4th-8th grade math and ELA exams because they had too many correct answers or no correct answers or the passages didn't make sense or the questions didn't make sense or the translations didn't make sense.
Now we have the NYCDOE forgetting the final part of a major essay on the 2012 Spanish exam.
Will anybody at the NYCDOE be held accountable for this mess?
No one at the NYSED or the Regents has been held accountable for the Pearson mess.
In fact, NYSED Commissioner King tried to pawn all the errors in the tests off on the panel of teachers that rubberstamp the exams for the NYSED.
Nice try, John - those screw-ups were yours, baby, just like this one today is Chancellor Walcott's and Mayor Bloomberg's.
If you're going to use high stakes standardized tests to hold back students, fire teachers and close schools, the least you could do is, you know, proofread them and make sure they're correct.
But that's asking too much.
Let's face it, the people in power don't really care if these tests are any good or not.
They simply want to use them as political tools to promote their political agenda, which happens to be closing schools and firing teachers.
And so we get tests that are missing the last page of an essay or questions that have too many correct answers or no correct answers or a passage that doesn't make sense or a question that doesn't make sense or a translation that doesn't make sense and in the end, when you point out that these high stakes standardized tests are compromised and shouldn't be used for the vaunted new Cuomo teacher evaluation plan, you're attacked by the Regents Chancellor or the NYSED Commissioner as someone who is "against accountability."
But enough is enough.
It is time to hold the people in power accountable for these testing debacles.
I'm not against accountability.
Let's start by holding NYSED Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch, Chancellor Walcott, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo accountable for all of the testing errors this year.
In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest—and there will be one—will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City’s Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.
Those who have the largest megaphones in our corporate state serve the very systems of power we are seeking to topple. They encourage us, whether on Fox or MSNBC, to debate inanities, trivia, gossip or the personal narratives of candidates. They seek to channel legitimate outrage and direct it into the black hole of corporate politics. They spin these silly, useless stories from the “left” or the “right” while ignoring the egregious assault by corporate power on the citizenry, an assault enabled by the Democrats and the Republicans. Don’t waste time watching or listening. They exist to confuse and demoralize you.
The engine of all protest movements rests, finally, not in the hands of the protesters but the ruling class. If the ruling class responds rationally to the grievances and injustices that drive people into the streets, as it did during the New Deal, if it institutes jobs programs for the poor and the young, a prolongation of unemployment benefits (which hundreds of thousands of Americans have just lost), improved Medicare for all, infrastructure projects, a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions, and a forgiveness of student debt, then a mass movement can be diluted. Under a rational ruling class, one that responds to the demands of the citizenry, the energy in the street can be channeled back into the mainstream. But once the system calcifies as a servant of the interests of the corporate elites, as has happened in the United States, formal political power thwarts justice rather than advances it.
The physical eradication of the encampments and efforts by the corporate state to disrupt the movement through surveillance, entrapment, intimidation and infiltration have knocked many off balance. That was the intent. But there continue to be important pockets of resistance. These enclaves will provide fertile ground and direction once mass protests return. It is imperative that, no matter how dispirited we may become, we resist being lured into the dead game of electoral politics.
The Wisconsin recall debacle is the final stamp on the "dead game of electoral politics."
Sunday, June 17, 2012
AFT, NEA Need To Pressure Obama To Stop Teacher Bashing And Race to the Top
Throughout the Obama presidency, one of the most vocal and demanding factions in the Democratic Party base has been activists for gay and lesbian equality. They repeatedly protested at Obama events and even at the White House, complained loudly about Obama’s broken promises, and even threatened to boycott Obama’s re-election campaign by withholding donations. In light of that ongoing confrontationalism, as well as the importance of gay voters (and especially gay donors) to the Democratic Party, it’s no surprise that their agenda has been repeatedly attended to by Obama, as he engineered the successful repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, ordered his DOJ to stop defending the constitutionality of DOMA, and then finally “evolved” to an Election-Year endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Latino activists have been as confrontational and unwilling to fall into line as good, compliant partisan soldiers. They publicly protested Obama’s record number of deportation, complained about his immigration policies, loudly accused him of “betrayal,” and expressed subsstantial disapproval for him in polls.
Like gay voters (and donors), Latinos are vital to the President’s re-election bid. Had they simply stayed quiet and cheered blindly for Obama and the Democrats, they would have had no leverage: politicians, rationally, will reflexively ignore those who pledge unconditional fealty to them. Because their devotion to the Obama re-election campaign was not unconditional — it was very much conditioned on having their political priorities attended to rather than ignored — they have now received a valuable and important (and plainly just) policy change.
Meanwhile the unions endorse the teacher-bashing, Fire to the Bottom President Obama two years before the election, roll over and defend many of his teacher-bashing initiatives (Sure Race to the Top sucks as a program, but at least he's funding education!), and play the loyal co-dependent to the abusive Obama, who clearly never met a teacher he doesn't despise (except for the charter teachers, of course!)
I have seen some teacher bloggers on the Internets play the same game with Obama - complain about the president, complain about the policies, complain about Arne Duncan and and call for Duncan to be fired - as if Arne Duncan is the architect of Obama's education policies. And yet, they still say, in the end, they will vote for Obama no matter what because the alternative is untenable.
Oh, yeah - that'll get you the policy changes you want.
I've said this before, I will say this again:
Arne Duncan serves at the pleasure of the president and Obama doesn't keep him around simply because he's his basketball buddy. He keeps him around because Duncan agrees with Obama on the substance of education policy - more testing, more charters, more privatization of public schools, teacher evaluations based upon test scores, and teacher bashing.
Obama IS the problem, not Duncan.
If you have a problem with the education policies the Obama administration pursues, take it up with the big guy, just the way the LGBT and Latino activists have done.
Put pressure on Obama to stop the teacher bashing, stop the testing mania, stop the selling out to the privatization interests.
Clearly the White House is feeling desperate as the economy goes into the toilet once again, with unemployment rising, GDP falling and the Eurozone looking like it could drive the world into another recession.
They NEED their "loyal" constituencies to come out for them, to raise money for them, to get out the vote for them, and they're willing to horsetrade to get that.
There's a reason Obama came out in public supporting gay marriage and changed the deportation policy in an election year - he's desperate for LGBT and Latino votes, money and support.
And yet, the teachers unions refuse to use the leverage they have to get concessions from him - instead we have UFT President Mulgrew declaring we have to work extra hard to GOTV for Obama in swing states to ensure Romney is not elected president.
The hell we do.
As I wrote in a comment at ICEUFTblog:
Toil in swing states to help re-elect the architect of Race to the Top, the president who put into place the policies that encouraged the firing of teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island and then cheered publicly when that happened, the man who thanked charter school teachers on Teacher Appreciation Day but forgot about unionized teachers, the man most responsible for the testing/VAM mania now sweeping most states?And that's part of what the teachers unions should be telling Obama.
Not bloody likely.
Here's the rest of what the unions should be telling him:
The only way we vote for Obama is if we get concrete pre-election changes to federal education policy that end the testing mania Obama has promoted via Race to the Top, as well as many of the other damaging policies, like teacher evaluations tied to VAM's.
And he has to stop the teacher bashing - now.
No concrete pre-election concessions from Obama, no votes, no money, no GOTV effort, no support from teachers and teachers unions.
That's the deal.
And you know what would happen if the unions told the Obama people this?
They'd get concessions. They'd get what they want - just the way LGBT and Latino activists did.
Obama likes to swagger like Bush when he deals with teachers and unions in general, but he's not dealing from strength anymore, he's dealing from weakness.
There's nothing behind that swagger.
He's hanging by a thread and he knows it.
The AFT, the NEA and teacher activists and bloggers should be telling this administration the deal - give us what we want or we help send you to Carter and Bush 41 one term territory.
Have fun enjoying your early retirement back in Chicago, Barack.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Education Reformers Look To Remove The Most Talented Teachers
I suppose the leaders of D.C. Public Schools want me to be happy that social studies teacher Kerry Sylvia won’t be coming back to Cardozo Senior High next year. The sound bite sounded appealing when DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced recently in her new strategic plan that one way to improve graduation rates is to focus on teacher talent — to remove bad teachers and replace them with better ones. But what if, however well intentioned, the reforms are actually leaving uninspired teachers in place and getting rid of some of the best talent?
When I heard that Sylvia had received a notice last month that she was being “excessed” from Cardozo after 13 years, it didn’t add up. I know good teaching, having taught high school for 16 years myself and helped to design the celebrated teacher evaluation system in Montgomery County. My daughter is about to graduate from DCPS, and I have been an engaged parent and a close DCPS observer for 14 years.
Sylvia is clearly a brilliant teacher, committed to her students, her school and its community. She is not only an award-winning teacher but also a leader and student advocate. I’ve talked with her students, several of whom told me that Sylvia’s class was the reason they come to school. If the District’s new plan is eliminating teachers like Sylvia, it’s on the wrong track.
In March, Post reporter Bill Turque penned an insightful profile of another demonstrably terrific teacher, Sarah Wysocki from MacFarland Middle School, who was fired from DCPS after getting low scores in her IMPACT evaluation. The mechanical process of IMPACT insults good teachers and doesn’t do justice to the complexities of good teaching.
If the reform strategies in place in DCPS were working, then perhaps a resolute and unsympathetic response to so-called “soft issues” of staff morale and workforce culture would be understandable. But gains in student achievement in DCPS have stalled. The dropout crisis continues. It’s not that reform isn’t a good idea, but these modest results call for some humility. They might even call for listening to the wisdom of accomplished teachers we can’t afford to lose.
And next year, this kind of teacher evaluation system comes to New York State, thanks to Governor Cuomo, NYSED Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch.
Should go swimmingly.
And when it doesn't, the people in charge will blame the teachers, as Bill Gates did when his "small schools initiative" failed.
Hell, it couldn't be his fault the program was a bust.
Must be the teachers.
Let's put some galvanic skin bracelets on them, put some cameras in the classroom, add 35+ high stakes standardized tests a year and tie teacher evaluations to the scores.
That should improve things!
And when it doesn't, we'll blame it on the teachers and the policymakers and the edu-entrpreneurs like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee will continue to cash in for millions.
Friday, June 15, 2012
McCain Makes Sense
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson "is indirectly injecting millions of dollar in Chinese foreign money into Mitt Romney's presidential election effort," Josh Rogin reports.
Said McCain: "Much of Mr. Adelson's casino profits that go to him come from his casino in Macau, which says that obviously, maybe in a roundabout way foreign money is coming into an American political campaign... That is a great deal of money, and we need a level playing field and we need to go back to the realization... that we have to have a limit on the flow of money and corporations are not people."
The same could be said for some of the money our good Governor Cuomo is receiving, via his overseas gambling consortium allies pumping millions into the Committee To Save New York.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Bloomberg To Buy New York Times, Use It As Platform To Run For President In 2016?
On Wednesday, the Morning Joe panel turned its attention to writer Gabe Sherman‘s new New York Magazine article looking at New York mayor Mike Bloomberg‘s goal of ultimately becoming “mayor of the world,” overseeing and deciding issues such as, as Sherman listed, where people can smoke, what they should eat and drink, how much companies can pollute, and how schools educate their children.
“How badly does he want to be president of the United States?” asked host Joe Scarborough.
“I mean you see it,” said Sherman. “There is no love loss between the Mayor and the White House and, you know, they try to set up meetings. The golf game, you know, meetings back channel. Bill Daley reached out to the Mayor to see if he wanted to be president of the World Bank. I mean, there have been efforts to kind of bridge these camps. Mike Bloomberg has the ambition and believes he has the skill to be president of the United States. ”
“And the other side of that is, he just doesn’t think Barack Obama has the skill to be president of the United States,” Scarborough added.
“It’s the experience question,” said Sherman. “This goes back to people who look at the President, people in Mike Bloomberg’s circle who say Mike Bloomberg has much more business experience, he has more political experience than this President.”
“He has an infrastructure in place as well,” added host Mika Brzezinski. “And, I mean, a staff and political experts.”
Sherman also made note that “the big unanswered question” is that of whether Bloomberg will purchase the New York Times, referring to it as “a trophy that Mike Bloomberg wants that would give him instant credibility and cache on the global stage.”
You can see more analysis of the potential Bloomberg buy of the Times here.
If Bloomberg gets to buy the Times, you have three union-busting oligarchs owning pretty much all of the print media in town.
Murdoch owns the Post and the WSJ, as well as FOX 5, FOX News, FOX Business, and whatever the hell they're calling Channel 9 these days.
Zuckerman owns the News (which is fast becoming an even bigger embarrassment than it already was as new editor/hacking criminal Colin Myler turns it into a British tabloid like the Daily Mirror) and US News.
Bloomberg owns Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Views, and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Add the Times to that stable and that leaves NY1, the NBC, CBS, ABC affiliates, and Channel 11 as the only major print/TV media outlets not owned by Murdoch, Zuckerman or Bloomberg.
Welcome to the Neo-Feudal 21st Century.
All the news the oligarchs want you to read and see.
Bloomberg To Sell Off NYC Parking Meters - Looking To Lose 75 Years Of Revenue For A One-Time Cash Deal
Readers of my last book, Griftopia, might recall a chapter about the city of Chicago leasing 75 years of its parking meter revenue to a coterie of private investors, some of them from the Middle East. The end result was and is a political obscenity: Native Chicagoans are now completely at the mercy of private interests when it comes to parking rates, collections, even holidays. When elected officials in Illinois can’t shut off the parking meters on Abe Lincoln’s birthday because a bunch of sheiks in Dubai don’t want the revenue stream turned off even for a day, you know something has gone seriously sideways in the national body politic.
Well, Chicago isn’t alone anymore. Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg in New York has decided to do his own version of the Chicago infrastructure bake sale; the city announced that it is putting up nearly 90,000 parking meters for lease. They’re expecting to get over $11 billion in upfront money from the deal, which is great news if you’re Mike Bloomberg, who gets to use that money to patch current budget holes instead of making tough cuts or raising taxes. The news is less awesome for the next half-dozen New York City mayors, or for the citizens of New York, who now will get to spend most of the 21st century grappling with its increasingly monstrous deficits with a major tributary from the city’s revenue stream shut off.
A New York parking meter deal, like the Chicago deal, would be a perfect example of the deeply cynical short-term thinking of many American politicians these days. These deals involve a sitting executive selling off a valuable piece of city property at a steep discount to private financial interests (often, to friends or campaign contributors), in order to solve a current cash flow problem that, surprise, surprise, will still be there the year after you finish spending the proceeds of your sale.
The fiscal genius that is Mike Bloomberg - selling New York City out to his Wall Street cronies.
I'm sure it's just coincidence that the sell off happens to plug up a budget hole in his last year in office.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Bloomberg Declares Himself The "Mayor Of The World"
Not content with an unprecedented three-term stint at the helm of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is preparing to judge his peers from around the United States by his own exacting standards.
Launching a $9m competition to find the best new ideas for how to improve American cities, Bloomberg declared he wanted to share his talents with other municipal administrations he when leaves his City Hall eyrie for the last time in January 2014.
The "mayor's challenge" appears to be the latest step in what has been dubbed Bloomberg's plan to be "mayor of the world", in which would bring the experience gained at the head of New York City to bear on other administrations facing similar problems.
Like other initiatives that Bloomberg has championed in cities around the world, this latest one will be funded from his own ample pockets. Asked by Charlie Rose on CBS television about his motivations for launching the competition, Bloomberg replied: "I don't know what I'm going to do when I finish this job at the end of 2013, but I could do a lot worse than trying to help other cities. Everybody said I should worry about New York, but I'm part of America and the world, and I want all cities to do well."
The contest provides for a prize of $5m for the winning city, and additional awards of $1m for four runners-up. Any city in the US with more than 30,000 residents can enter, with the idea being for them to share their insights and actions so that other cities can benefit from them.
He really thinks he's the most awesomest thing since sliced white bread with non-transfat topping on it.
Never mind that crooks stole $700 million from the City Time project on his watch, the largest theft perpetrated against the City of New York ever.
Never mind that his 911 overhaul is $1 billion overbudget and costing people's lives because of delays.
Never mind that people died, including a baby, during the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2010 when Bloomberg flew to Bermuda and left a guy in charge of the city's emergency response who was actually in Washington D.C. at the time.
Never mind all the other scandals that have plagued the Bloomberg Regime - from the Seedco scandal to the Medicaid reimbursement mess to the faulty GPS systems he bought for the FDNY and Sanitation Departments to the DOE crony consultant scandals (see here, here, and here) to the phonied up crime NYPD crime stats to the faulty NYCHA computer system that he spent $36 million on to the, well, you get the idea.
Never mind all of that.
Mike Bloomberg is the bestest mayor ever and he's going to throw his stinking money around until you just can't help but believe it.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Bloomberg Wants To Ban Soda But Doesn't Care About PCB's In Schools
Parents at a Brooklyn elementary school are calling on the Department of Education to move faster to remove toxic PCBs from lighting fixtures in school buildings around the city.
At a rally on Monday outside P.S. 146 Brooklyn New School in Carroll Gardens, Alexis Quy said she and other parents had sent the Education Department photographs of likely leaks of the chemical compound.
“To know that there’s a toxic substance in this school that is leaking into the air, that is actually leaking onto surfaces where they can ingest and inhale, seems unbelievable,” she said.
Ms. Quy said parents had also sent letters and petitions, and they were not happy with the response from education officials.
“They say that it poses no immediate health risk,” she said. “O.K. So, our children aren’t going to come into the school and start coughing and wheezing. However, what will happen in 10 years?”
Ten years, that's how long it's going to take Bloomberg and Walcott to remove the cancer-causing toxins from the school.
Clearly Bloomberg doesn't care if kids come down with cancer in 10 or 20 years as a result of exposure to PCB's and other toxins in his schools.
He just wants to make sure they can't have a 24 ounce soda at the movies.
The next time Bloomberg talks about how only he cares about looking out for the city's kids, that the teachers and the union doesn't care, somebody in the press who isn't on his payroll needs to to tell him to his face he's full of soda.
Or toxic PCB's.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Gordon Brown Says Rupert Murdoch Lied Under Oath
Gordon Brown has mounted an impassioned and emotional attack on the Murdoch family and News International at the Leveson inquiry, accusing Rupert Murdoch of lying on oath, criticising James Murdoch for "breathtaking arrogance" and the Sun for obtaining unauthorised information about his son's medical condition.
A clearly emotional Brown insisted he did not make "unbalanced" and threatening remarks in a phone call to Rupert Murdoch in late September or early October 2009 – directly contradicting evidence given by the media mogul to the Leveson inquiry in April.
Rupert Murdoch had told the inquiry under oath on two successive occasions that the phone call had taken place on or shortly after the Sun newspaper announced it was switching its support to the Tories, which happened on 30 September of that year. The News Corporation boss said that Brown had pledged to "declare war" on his company.
Relying on No 10 call records, Brown said that "News International have produced not one shred of evidence that a call took place, not one date for the call or time for the call".
But despite Brown's statements, a News Corp spokesman said: "Rupert Murdoch stands behind his testimony."
Brown did say that he had a separate conversation with Rupert Murdoch on 10 November. That conversation came shortly after the Sun attacked Brown for sending a hard-to-read handwritten note of condolence to the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Brown said there was a discussion in which he argued that the Sun's hostile coverage was undermining the military's efforts in the country.
Brown also revealed that Fife's NHS board had written to him to say it was "highly likely" that a member of its staff told the Sun that his son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in November 2006.
The newspaper's front-page splash that month pictured Brown under the headline "Four-and-a-half years after daughter's death, docs find cystic fibrosis in baby Fraser".
He told the inquiry that he had submitted a letter from Fife health board "which makes it clear that they have apologised to us because they now believe it highly likely that there was unauthorised information given by a medical or working member of the NHS staff that allowed the Sun in the end through this middleman to publish this story". Brown said his family only agreed to co-operate with the Sun after it was made clear that an article about Fraser's health would be published in any event by the newspaper.
Wait - it gets worse:
Brown's claims – a development of those first aired in parliament last July – set him on another collision course with the Sun, which has insisted it did not access Fraser's medical records and that the 2006 story came from another source – a member of the public "whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis".
A News International spokesperson said: "We welcome the fact that NHS Fife have today said that they believe there was 'no inappropriate access' to the medical records of Gordon Brown's son. The Sun stands by previous statements issued on the matter."
However, former Sun editor David Yelland, who edited the title between 1998 and 2003, said on Twitter that he believed that Brown and his wife, Sarah, were "bullied" by the tabloid and that: "I'm afraid that my old paper behaved awfully in his last year or so. It was brutal stuff."The statement from NHS Fife suggests it felt under intense pressure to establish how details of Fraser Brown's medical condition were leaked to the Sun, but then carried out an exhaustive investigation.
Two points here:
First, these are evil, disgusting people at the Murdoch papers.
And second, did Murdoch lie under oath about the (supposed) conversation with Brown?
And if so, when will he be prosecuted for his crime?