Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, February 28, 2013

60% Of NYers Want Mayor To Share Control Of Schools

From the latest Quinnipiac poll:

The next mayor should share control of public schools with an independent board, 60 percent of voters say, while 17 percent say the next mayor should keep total control of public schools.

 Voters say 41 – 16 percent that they are less likely rather than more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who supports continuing mayoral control of the schools.

 60% want autocratic mayoral control ended.

That's a pretty big number.

Unfortunately for us, the UFT leadership are part of the 17% who say the mayor should keep sole control of the school system.

The Next UFT Contract

The Philadelphia school district's contract offer to teachers:

The School District wants teachers and other Philadelphia Federation of Teachers members to take pay cuts as high as 13 percent, work a day that is an hour longer, and then get no raises until 2017, according to documents that union officials have circulated to members and were obtained by the Notebook.

The documents are presented as summaries of the initial proposal the District has put on the table in contract negotiations, which began last week. The teachers’ contract expires this summer.

The summaries say that the District also wants union members to start contributing to their benefit costs. Both the pay cuts and the employee contributions for benefits would range from 5 percent for lower-paid employees to 13 percent for employees earning more than $55,000. In addition to the wage and benefit cuts, the District wants to eliminate the union-run Health & Welfare Fund that provides dental, prescription, and optical coverage, the documents say.

Also, schools will no longer have to have librarians or counselors, teachers lounges will be a thing of the past, there will be no more salary step increases, and future salary increases will be "performance-based" once they kick in 2017.

This is the kind of contract Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew love.

Randi loves this kind of contract because it allows her to jet in and get some of the most odious provisions off the table, leaving the performance-based pay measures, the longer school day, and the end to salary steps.

Those provisions are what Randi likes to call "solution-based unionism concessions."

As for Michael Mulgrew and the UFT leadership, they love this kind of contract too because it means whatever crap they get in NYC, they can point to a place like Philadelphia and say, "Sure what we negotiated sucks, but compared to Philadelphia it scrapes the skies..."

It's bad enough that the oligarchs are in the process of dismantling public education systems in urban areas all over the country.

What's worse is that the union leadership are not trying to stop them and in the case of Randi Weingarten, are actively collaborating with them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

PCB Leaks In 366 NYCDOE Schools

From Lindsey Crist at NY1:

Last March, NY1 reported that leaks had been found in 245 city schools that share 149 buildings. Eleven months later, 366 schools, in 207 buildings, have reported PCB leaks.

In addition, the leaks are happening much faster than the old fixtures are being replaced. While 20 school buildings have had all their light fixtures replaced since last March, 78 other buildings have reported their first leak.

 One parent, Suzy Constantine, is so worried about the effects of PCBs that she pulled her 7-year-old son out of P.S. 242 and is home schooling him. "I believe parents should be proactive with their children's lives," Constantine said.

 New York Lawyers for Public Interest are representing parents in an ongoing lawsuit against the city, challenging the speed that PCBs are being removed. They said that the 10-year plan is too long.

Across the city, 92 school buildings have had all of their PCB fixtures replaced since July 2011. That leaves 647 buildings still to go.

Children first.  Always.

Latest Mayoral Poll Numbers

Quinn at 37%, de Blasio at 14%, Thompson at 11% and Liu at 9%.

Quinn need only get 40% to avoid a runoff.

Look for the powers that be to try and move the primary to June from September to keep anybody from catching her (or at least gaining enough support to keep her under 40%.)

The NY Times and others have called for the primary to be moved up - something that would be really, really funky considering this is an election year and favors the candidate with the most name recognition and money.

Like Quinn.

Thompson, meanwhile, has not a chance in hell of getting elected mayor, but as Michael Fiorillo pointed out in an earlier comment, he is there to take away support from Liu and de Blasio and help Quinn win.

As Michael put it:

As in 2009, he is the Potemkin candidate, falsely appearing to be real candidate, but actually serving the needs of the city's power elite by misdirecting voters.

I think that's exactly right.

Ironically the Potemkin candidate almost bumbled into City Hall back in 2009, such was the unpopularity of Bloomberg and his maneuver to overturn term limits so that he (and only he) could win a third term to be mayor.

Thompson, so inept at running a campaign that he wasn't even polling the race, didn't know that he was 4% or so points away from Bloomberg in the closing weeks.

If Thompson had any shame, he's have crawled off after the ineptitude of the '09 campaign and joined the rest of the political corpses on NY1's Wise Guys panel.

But Thompson has no shame and so he is now out to once again ensure another four years of Bloomberg, albeit this time in the form of Christine "Little Bloomie" Quinn.

The ways the numbers look now, she is awfully close to getting over the 40% threshold and giving us another four years of Bloomberg.

Now that de Basio is much better than her, but he is better.

And Liu, as I have pointed out before, has been destroyed by the trumped out campaign finance fraud case against his bundler.

Liu was the one guy that actually scared the powers that be so they destroyed him.

Quinn they can live with, de Blasio they can work with and Thompson they control.

And of course Lhota they would love, but he ain't happening:

By margins of up to 3-1, voters back any of the leading Democrats over Lhota:
  • Quinn leads 63 - 19 percent;
  • de Blasio is up 58 - 18 percent.
  • Thompson is ahead 55 - 20 percent;
  • Liu leads 53 - 22 percent. 
So it goes...

Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson Call For Longer School Days

At yesterday's mayoral forum on education, both Bill Thompson and Christine Quinn called for longer school days.

The Post article does not give any details on how this time would be spent, but I have to say, if this means another hour and a half a day for test prep and Common Core work, good luck keeping kids in school.

Ever since we started moving toward the Common Core Federal Standards, with kids being forced to use MLA documentation, read complex informational texts and write argumentative essays in every class (including art and gym), I have seen a sharp increase in the number of kids who say "I hate this!" and "When can we do something that's fun and interesting!"

The answer is, so long as the Common Core is in place - never.

I can't wait to try and keep kids in school for 9 hours a day so they can use MLA documentation, read complex informational texts and write argumentative essays in every class (including art and gym).

I hope Thompson and Quinn know that adding time to school is no magic elixir and that using the adding time for more mandated test prep and academic work is a recipe to burnout for both students and teachers.

Public Advocate De Blasio and Comptroller Liu were the best on education at yesterday's forum:

De Blasio reiterated his plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund universal Pre-K and said teacher evaluations should rely less on standardized tests.

He made clear that he would oppose Bloomberg’s education track record and took a jab at Quinn and Thompson, saying:

“Where were you when teachers were being vilified? That will be a matter of public record as we all debate over the coming months.”

Liu and Lhota got into a fiery discussion of the co-location of charter schools — which have expanded under Bloomberg and become a source of dispute with the UFT.

Liu said it creates tension when charters share building space with traditional public schools.

Quinn, on the other hand, is exhibiting more and more evidence that she will be Bloomberg Jr. ( see here for an example from last week.)

Bloomberg Buys Himself A Congressional Seat

From The Guardian:

Robin Kelly, a Democrat who wants to ban assault weapons, has effectively become Jesse Jackson Jr's replacement in Congress for the Illinois second district after winning a primary for the party's nomination – all but ensuring she will win the 9 April special election in what is a heavily Democratic district.

Kelly, a former member of the Illinois state legislature, was backed by the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, in a campaign dominated by a gun control debate that is burning strongly after the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

In the Democratic primary race Kelly emerged early as a leader on gun control issues, a central theme during the race that helped her win support from Independence US, Bloomberg's super political action committee (super-Pac). It poured more than $2m into the race by airing anti-gun ads supporting Kelly, who favours an assault weapons ban and other gun measures proposed by President Barack Obama.

The ads targeted another frontrunner, Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman who is against banning assault weapons. The result was a setback for the National Rifle Association, which backed Halvorson and campaigned against Kelly.

"We worked really really hard," Kelly, a former state representative from Matteson, a south Chicago suburb, told the Associated Press. "We were on the right side of the issue and our message resonated."

Oh sure - you worked really hard and you were on the right side of the issue and Bloomberg gave you $2 million dollars to savage your opponent with ads.

So far, Bloomerg's PAC has spent more than $12 million nationwide on races over the gun control issue, donating to candidates who back Bloomberg's policies.

Bloomberg plans to do the same on education reform as well.

Unless the Little Mayor inexplicably goes bankrupt, he's going to have an undue influence on politics for a long, long time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Many Students Misidentified And Put Into College Remedial Classes

From Gates Foundation Week:

At a time when more high schools are looking to their graduates' college-remediation rates as a clue to how well they prepare students for college and careers, new research findings suggest a significant portion of students who test into remedial classes don't actually need them.

Separate studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education come to the same conclusion: The way colleges are using standardized placement tests such as the College Board's Accuplacer, ACT's Compass, and others can misidentify students, and secondary schools and universities should work to develop a more comprehensive profile of students' strengths and weaknesses in performing college-level work.

The problem is coming to the fore as more states move to align their academic standards for college and career readiness with the Common Core State Standards and federal Race to the Top requirements and more high schools receive data on how their graduates are faring in colleges.

Thomas W. Brock, the new commissioner of the National Center for Education Research and a veteran higher education researcher, said improving remedial education has become a top research and policy concern. "It's a huge need," he said. "At many institutions, it's a majority of students coming in and being placed into developmental ed.—and this is where it starts to bleed into the financial-aid agenda, because they're using up valuable semesters of financial aid, which of course are not endless."

Gee, a College Board or ACT test can misidentify students and place them in course they don't actually need?

Who'd thunk that?

This not only has consequences for students and their financial aid, it also has consequences for the secondary schools they come from.

Here in NYC, the NYCDOE  uses college remediation as proof positive that high schools are not properly preparing students for college.

Except that three separate studies tell us that maybe the tests themselves are garbage or the colleges are misusing the tests.

As one of the researchers noted:

"If you're working in community colleges, especially urban community colleges, you get used to those numbers," said Judith Scott-Clayton, an assistant professor of economics and education at Teachers College and an author of one study, which was published under the auspices of the National Bureau of Economic Research and presented at last month's American Economics Association meeting in San Diego. "Remediation is the typical experience now."


 "It's being used in some places for high school accountability, so this certainly raises a word of caution," said Ms. Scott-Clayton. "We can't just take the remediation rate as purely objective and without problems. Is this accountability gone awry?"

How shocking  - College Board and ACT tests cannot be taken as objective truth and gospel.

So glad so many accountability measures are based on these things...

The Career Of An Education Reformer

Michael Dell is one of those American oligarchs trying to make a big impact on education reform.

Through his charitable contributions and his own education reform organization, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Dell promotes non-unionized charter schools, data-driven performance assessments of teachers and students, school choice, and other reformy education policies in order to help "transform the lives of children living in urban poverty through better health and education."

Just how did Michael Dell, who is trying to engineer a leveraged buyout of Dell Inc. to himself and a private equity consortium for $24.4 billion dollars, a deal that is being hammered by critics as a way to screw investors and dodge taxes, get to be so rich and powerful that can become a Big Time Education Reformer/Union Buster like Bill Gates, Eli Broad and the Walton Family?

As this Mother Jones piece shows here, pretty much by screwing investors, dodging taxes and exploiting and/or outsourcing labor to steal as much money as he can for himself:

Before he became the 15th-richest American, Michael Dell was hailed as a corporate wunderkind. His eponymous computer company's "dazzlingly efficient" factory in Austin, Texas, "may be the best hope of keeping blue-collar jobs in the United States," proclaimed [2] the New York Times in 2004. Recently, Dell Inc. has been better known for gobbling up federal contracts and pulling financial shenanigans to line its executives' pockets—all while exploiting tax loopholes, outsourcing production, and laying off American workers.
19-year-old Michael Dell builds and sells computers from his University of Texas-Austin dorm room. He drops out, and by 1987 Dell Computer's sales hit $60 million.
At 27, Dell becomes the youngest CEO to ever make the Fortune 500.
Dell Inc. builds its HQ in an Austin suburb, lured by [3] sales-tax rebates, property-tax cuts, and $50 million in tax-free financing. Austin's mayor calls [4] Dell, known for his "made in the USA" computers, "a model corporate citizen."
Dell and his wife, Susan, build a $30 million, 33,000- square-foot granite and stainless-steel mansion with 8 bedrooms, a gym, an indoor pool, and (reportedly) 21 bathrooms. Dubbed "the castle" for its elaborate security, it's appraised at $22 million; the Dells argue it's worth only $6.5 million [5], and the county eventually settles at $12 million.
Feds fine [6] (PDF) Dell Inc. $50,000 for selling computers in Iran in violation of sanctions.
Michael Dell forms a private-equity firm, MSD Capital [7], to manage his family's money. Today, their $12 billion in assets include a $100 million collection of Magnum photos; Dollar Rent-a-Car; real estate in Hawaii, Mexico, and California; and the companies that run Applebee's, IHOP, and Domino's.
Dell Inc. opens a production and sales center in China [8], overseen by a subsidiary. By 2010, it has subsidiaries in 77 countries, including holding companies in tax shelters such as Bermuda and the Caymans that allow it to avoid at least $3.7 billion in US taxes. In 2010, it paid an effective tax rate of 7.5% on its foreign income.
Dell Inc. gets an estimated $200 million [3] in city and state incentives to build a factory in Nashville, Tenn. Three years later, half of the plant's jobs are relocated to a nearby town, where Dell gets $6 million in tax breaks.
George W. Bush names [9] Michael Dell to head his campaign's information technology advisory council.
Dell Inc. becomes the country's top PC seller. Dell writes the bestselling Direct From Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry [10].
Dell Inc.'s stock price hits all-time high.
The New York Times declares [11] Michael Dell the richest Texan ever. (He's now No. 2.)
Dell buys two ranches outside Austin for an estimated $75 million. One gets its property taxes slashed 99.8% by claiming an agricultural exemption (proof: turkey feeders, birdhouses, and deer "habitat control"). Recently asked by Time [12] about reducing his carbon footprint, Dell answered, "I'm sequestering way, way more than I'm using. I have a lot of land and a lot of trees."
Dell and his wife give [13] $250,000 to the Republican National Committee.
Susan Dell's personal fashion label, Phi, makes [14] Jenna and Barbara Bush's inaugural gowns.
President Bush appoints Dell to his President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which warns [15] that outsourcing is destroying the US tech industry.
Dell builds a four-story villa [16] on the exclusive Caribbean island of Anguilla.
Dell Inc. replaces its call-center employees with part-time temps. Annual turnover soars to 300%.
The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation gives [17] $250,000 to a charity run by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who's later convicted [18] of illegally funneling corporate money to candidates.
The "Dell Dude" actor is busted [19] for pot possession.
Dell Inc. employs [20] more workers overseas (23,800) than it does in the US (22,200).
After heavy lobbying by Dell Inc., Congress passes the American Jobs Creation Act, which lets US companies "repatriate" overseas profits at a one-time tax rate of 5.25%, rather than the normal 35%. The company brings home $4 billion.
Michael and Susan Dell give [21] $250,000 for President Bush's second inaugural celebration.
President Bush [22]: "It's tough in a time of war, when people see carnage on their Dell television screens."
Dell Inc. recalls 4.1 million fire-prone laptop batteries.
Dell Inc. discloses that it's been audited by the SEC, says it won't reveal details of any "misconduct," but revises four years' worth of financials.
Dell Inc. says it's doubling its factory and call-center staff in India to 20,000.
Michael Dell returns as CEO after a three-year hiatus. Less than six months later, his compensation exceeds [23] $153 million, making him the sixth-highest-paid CEO in the US. His benefits include more than $1 million for security, second only to Oracle's Larry Ellison.
By year's end, Dell Inc. announces 8,800 layoffs, about 10 percent of its global workforce.
Investors sue Dell Inc.'s executives, alleging inflated profits and billions in secret kickbacks from chip maker Intel. The company will settle [24] for $40 million.
Customer service employees file [25] a class-action lawsuit claiming that Dell Inc. routinely underpaid them. The case also is settled out of court.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sues [26] Dell Inc. for luring customers into expensive finance plans. In 2009, Dell Inc. settles [27] another case with 34 state AGs and agrees to reform its marketing and financing practices.
Dell Inc. announces $3 billion in cuts, including the closure of an Austin plant, eliminating 900 jobs. It imposes a hiring freeze, offers buyouts, and asks workers to take unpaid days off.
Four former middle managers file [28] (PDF) a sex- and age-discrimination suit. None of Dell Inc.'s 14 top executives are women.
Dell Inc.'s quarterly profits fall by nearly half; its shares have lost 80% of their value since 2004. The company announces another $1 billion in cuts.
Opposition by Michael Dell helps defeat a proposal that would require federal stimulus money to be spent on American-made goods. Dell Inc., the 43rd-largest federal contractor [29], now makes most of its computers abroad.
Lebanon, Tenn., threatens to sue Dell Inc. for eliminating 700 of the 1,000 jobs it had offered as part of a tax deal. Dell Inc. then shutters [30] its last large US factory, in North Carolina, and sends its 900 jobs abroad.
Michael Dell's MSD Capital and other investors buy the remains of the failed IndyMac Bank from the FDIC, putting up $1.3 billion for a $158 billion mortgage-servicing portfolio. The FDIC, which expects to lose up to $9.4 billion on the deal, promises to reimburse the investors for their potential losses. By year's end, the new bank has made $700 million in profits and a New York judge excoriates [31] its "harsh, repugnant, shocking, and repulsive" practices.
Susan Dell closes Phi, citing the poor market for items such as $1,495 suede harem shorts.
Michael Dell's net worth hits $14.5 billion. He bills [32] his company $4 million for using his private jet, reportedly the priciest flying habit of any public company's CEO.
Since 2008, Dell Inc. has cut 7,300 jobs in the US while creating 4,300 jobs overseas.
Dell Inc. announces a "flagship" factory and customer center in China that will employ 3,000. It plans to spend $100 billion in China over the next decade. Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that makes many Dell PCs, erects [33] suicide nets around its dorms' roofs after 12 workers jump to their deaths.
White House seeks to end a tax loophole that has let Dell Inc. save $546 million in three years by transferring patents and other properties to foreign subsidiaries. According to Bloomberg Businessweek [34], Dell lobbyists targeted the plan; the company denies it.
Dell Inc. discloses [35] (PDF) that it's received nearly $1 billion in "tax holidays" from governments around the world in the past three years.
Dell Inc. and Michael Dell agree to pay [36] $100 million and $4 million, respectively, to settle SEC charges they improperly hid $6 billion in payments from Intel.
Michael Dell gives [37] $2,000 to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), bringing his family's total federal campaign contributions to more than $920,000—99% of which went to Republicans and GOP-leaning groups.
By the end of 2010, Dell Inc. shares have gained nearly 80% from February 2009's low. Michael Dell tells Reuters [38] that one of his biggest problems is finding skilled American workers: "I want to put a massive 'we're hiring' sign out."

What a guy! 

So glad he cares so much about helping kids in urban poverty that he's willing to screw so many people, dodge so many taxes and exploit so much of his labor and so many of his customers that he has the money to run his own education foundation.

Also, so glad that Dell worries so much about American workers not having the skill sets to work in Dell Inc and other high tech companies that he promotes all kinds of education reforms meant to increase those skill sets among Americans.

Too bad Michael Dell doesn't actually employ many people in America anymore, having outsourced almost the entire company infrastructure abroad where he can more easily dodge taxes and exploit labor.

This is the career of an education reformer, Michael Dell.

As you can see, he cares about the kids and his country.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cuomo Still Intends To Punish NYC Schools With $250 Million In Lost Aid

From the Daily News Politics blog:

Despite a call to do so by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. Cuomo today said he has no plans to pay the city $250 million it lost in additional school aid after not enacting a teacher evaluation plan by last month’s deadline.

Asked during an appearance in Staten Island if still planned to withhold the money, Cuomo answered with a simple, “yes.”

The Cuomo administration is actually fighting a lawsuit seeking to force the state to pay the money. A lower court ruled against the state, saying the students shouldn't be unduly punished because of a dispute between the mayor's office and the teavchers union. The state is appealing the ruling.
Silver told the New York Times in today’s editions that he will push to reinstate the funding to the city schools in the upcoming 2013-14 budget.

This is simply Cuomo playing hard ball and making a point - do what he says when he says or else.

We'll see if the courts and the legislature let him get away with it.

As I noted earlier today, there is blood in the water around Cuomo over the DOT employee firing and a few other issues and it looks like people are finally starting to stand up to him.

Silver Stands Up To Cuomo

Good to see Shelly take Cuomo on with this:

In a rebuke to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to withhold $260 million in school aid from New York City because it missed a deadline to finalize a system to evaluate teachers, the Legislature’s top Democrat said on Sunday that he would push to restore the money. 

The effort by the lawmaker, Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, the Assembly speaker, came days after a judge ruled that the state could not withhold any money from the city until a lawsuit challenging the legality of the penalty was decided in court. 

“No one wants to see our children’s education suffer because teachers and the city could not come to an agreement,” Mr. Silver said in a statement. 

The Assembly’s Democratic majority — which includes many lawmakers from New York City — plans to make restoring the school aid a top priority in the negotiations over the next state budget, which is supposed to be adopted by April 1. Mr. Silver’s proposal would put him at odds with Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat. 


It is not clear whether the State Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a small number of breakaway Democrats, will join the push to restore the aid. 

The evaluation debate escalated after the Obama administration began pushing for new methods to better identify good teachers and to rid schools of bad ones.

Couple of things to say here.

First, Shelly's standing up to Cuomo is a good sign that Little Andy won't get his way 100% in the future on policy the way he has so far.

This comes on the heels of a State Supreme Court judge also telling Cuomo he can't have his way on the lost school aid.

Unfortunately, there is this second point:

The evaluation system will now be imposed by the NYSED onto NYC by a man with little teaching experience who thinks the APPR system based upon test scores is so good, the whole country should use it.

Bruce Baker has pointed out already, as has Carol Burris (here and here), how badly designed the new APPR teacher evaluation system is.

I hope that Shelly Silver and the legislature will stand up to the governor when it becomes apparent in practice that this Cuomo APPR system is a travesty and it is making the education system in NY State worse, not better, in the future.

Cuomo Hammered In Editorials Over Secrecy And Abuses Of Power

The Times Union:


A DOT engineer is out of a job after he praised the Cuomo administration in a newspaper interview.


Talk about a chilling effect.

We would fully understand if Mike Fayette didn't care to work again, after being forced into retirement at age 55 by his heavy-handed bosses at the state Department of Transportation. But it wouldn't surprise us if he'd prefer an employer that places a higher value on loyalty and dedication.
Those ought to be invaluable qualities in any workplace. At the DOT, however, and elsewhere in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, a troubling preoccupation with controlling public information has turned dedication into its own perverse form of insubordination.

In Mr. Fayette's case, it's even cause for a top gubernatorial aide to drag out what really is the unrelated dirty laundry of his disciplinary record at DOT.

Mr. Fayette is out of the job he held for 30 years because he dared to speak. That's right; he had the temerity to tell a North Country newspaper what a good job the DOT did cleaning up the damage to the Adirondacks from Tropical Storm Irene.

"DOT engineer on Irene: 'We were up for it,'" read the headline in the Aug. 30 edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Mr. Fayette said he was motivated to talk to the paper on the one-year anniversary of that brutal storm to rebut criticism of the DOT for its job repaving Route 86 between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
"The DOT as a whole, and maintenance staff in particular, we like to think we can take care of everything, and you fight it as long as you can, saying, 'I can take care of this,' " he said. "For a while we were holding on, but it just turned into something we had never seen before."

Mr. Fayette went on to describe how the DOT was able to reopen Route 73, also in Essex County.
"I told the governor we could do it," he said. "He wanted it open, and that's what we do. We like challenges, and we were up for it."

Up for natural disasters, perhaps, but not an obstacle course of political protocol. Mr. Fayette's pride in his agency's work, expressed in appropriately deferential terms, ran afoul of the DOT's rigid rules requiring his bosses' permission to talk to the press.

They were all set to fire him. Instead, he chose to retire.

And now comes Howard Glaser, the director of operations for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, so eager to talk about how Mr. Fayette had an affair with a subordinate and how he used the state's computers to carry on with her.

Mr. Fayette's defense, in part, is that the warning not to talk to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise came a day after he did just that.

So, really, what's the scandal here? Doesn't an administration ostensibly so committed to making state government work again have much more vexing worries than retaliating against a career civil servant who seems to believe in that very mission?

You would think that Mr. Fayette was another Ward Stone, the now-retired state wildlife pathologist who repeatedly ran afoul of state officials, particularly when Mr. Cuomo's father was governor, for talking about things his bosses preferred to keep quiet, like harm to the environment.

"The end result is I got screwed," he told the Plattsburgh Press Republican. "Hugely screwed. At the end of the day the taxpayers of the state lose, too."

And the state's answer is to drag up his sexual history.

Mr. Fayette's fate is an injustice that can't be ignored and needs to be fixed. Unless of course, in promising to promote more transparency in state government, Mr. Cuomo actually meant fear and intimidation.
Talk to the press if you work for the state and you could get fired.

Protest your poor treatment, and the Cuomo administration will ransack your files for any black marks and try to wreck your life.

That is what happened to Mike Fayette, a Transportation Department engineer for Essex County, who made the mistake last summer of praising to a reporter the department’s response to Hurricane Irene.
The problem, according to a “notice of discipline” letter Fayette received, was the department’s commissioner, Joan McDonald, had wanted to do the interview herself.

Fayette explained he talked to the press because reporters had been trying for days to get comments from McDonald or other Transportation Department officials, with no luck. Fayette didn’t want the department to look bad, so when a reporter called with questions, he answered them.

It is right for public employees, paid by our tax dollars, to provide information to the public by answering questions from reporters. State employees can be held accountable and state operations opened to public scrutiny through the medium of the press.

Abuses flourish in a secretive environment, but that is unfortunately what the Cuomo administration is creating in Albany.

The state has long made it a practice to hire overpaid, uninformed public information officers to stand between state employees and the press. These mouthpieces are merely messengers; they do not know anything themselves. So reporters must engage in a game of telephone in their dealings with the state, asking questions of an information officer, then waiting for a return call while the information officer asks someone who knows.

Past administrations have left some flexibility in the system — places where trickles of truth could leak out. But the Cuomo administration is working to keep the public as ignorant about state operations as its own information officers are.

After Mr. Fayette talked to the press, he was told he was being demoted and would have to relocate to Albany. He retired instead.

Then, he committed the sin of talking to the press again, explaining to reporters why he was disciplined. In response, Cuomo consigliere Howard Glaser dug up an old disciplinary matter from Fayette’s file and set about destroying his reputation.

Mr. Fayette was disciplined previously for having an affair with a subordinate and using work email and telephones to communicate with her. That case was over, he was punished for it, and it had no connection to the discipline he received for talking to the press.

The details of Mr. Fayette’s earlier disciplinary case are the sort of private personnel information state officials would be unlikely to reveal, even if asked.

In this case, Mr. Glaser was not asked. He volunteered the information to besmirch and punish Mr. Fayette.

The paranoid persecution of Mr. Fayette, with the childish insistence by the commissioner she should have been the one who got to talk to the press, would be amusing if it weren’t so destructive. But this case demonstrates a penchant for secrecy and willingness to abuse power that has become a pattern with the Cuomo administration.

One manifestation of this pattern has been the governor’s reliance on messages of necessity to rush bills through the Legislature without giving political representatives or the public time to consider them.

One of those bills, NY Safe Act, included a provision that limits access to public records, in this case, handgun registrations.

Similarly, a recent court ruling limited public access to teachers’ pension records, which have for years been available on websites, such as Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY.

That court ruling grew out of an earlier, equally misguided one denying access to the names of New York City Police Pension Fund recipients. The public has an unequivocal right to know who is receiving public money, and how much they are getting. The Cuomo administration should be acting to reverse the effect of these court rulings, but unfortunately, the governor has instead been turning away from the traditions of open government.

The way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him, preferably with a crowd of allies behind you. We need to stand beside Mike Fayette now, before the bullying from the governor goes any further, and demand he get his job back, and an apology from Andrew Cuomo to go with it.
As I wrote yesterday, there is no way this guy is getting through a presidential primary season.

Politico ran a story today saying Cuomo has become obsessed with the Clintons and everything he has been doing in recent months is meant to position him to an advantage in 2016.

As the Politico story notes, it's hard to see how the firing of Fayette and going nuclear on him by revealing his disciplinary record helps Cuomo in that.

It's also hard to see how someone as controlling, paranoid, and vindictive as Cuomo gets through the press scrutiny of a presidential campaign

"Won't Back Down" Wins An Award

What a shame.

It seems the pro-parent trigger law film "Won't Back Down" wasn't nominated in any Academy Award category.

Not even Best Propaganda film.

So Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal didn't get to walk down the aisle for an Oscar.

But the film did win an award from a right wing organization called the Moving Picture Institute: Liberty In Film, along with other films like Red Dawn and Atlas Shrugged: Part II.

Here were the award announcements:

  • Best explanation of what makes charity possible: The Dark Knight Rises. When Bruce Wayne asks Alfred why the Wayne Family Foundation is no longer contributing to the boys’ home, Alfred explains that contributions are made possible by the profits of their company.  ”No profits, no charity.”
  • Best adaptation of an impossible-to-adapt book: Atlas Shrugged: Part II. The rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor, Atlas Shrugged: Part II does an incredible job of showing both the terrible destruction of big government and the incredible power of the individual.
  • The DVD you need to rent TODAY: Won’t Back Down. Overlooked by some filmgoers, this powerful school choice story angered unions almost as much as it motivated audiences.
  • Best one-liner with a Sudanese diplomat: U.N. Me. When filmmaker Ami Horowitz asks a Sudanese diplomat what caused all the deaths in his country, the man tells him — with a straight face — that they were caused by global warming, rather than by genocide.  Horowitz then asks if the solution to the death in Sudan is…more hybrid cars!
  • Best performance as a publicist for Arab Oil: Matt Damon in Promised Land. Damon’s anti-fracking film was funded by the government of Abu Dhabi.
  • Best one-dimensional portrayal of wealth and poverty: Titanic 3D. Nearly every wealthy person in the film is one-dimensionally greedy, self-absorbed, and evil, and every poor person is kind-hearted and well-intentioned.
  • Best waste of a good idea: Red Dawn. For fear of offending the Chinese government (and losing the Chinese box office) the filmmakers used CGI to replace China with North Korea as the villain in this disappointing remake.
  • Best propaganda piece for toddlers: The Lorax. The writers of this film turned Dr. Suess’ story about conservation into blatant anti-capitalist propaganda aimed at children.
  • Fan Favorite: The Hunger Games. MPI supporters demanded an award for this dystopian tale of an evil centralized government that forces its teenaged citizens to kill each other for sport.

So those of you who think "Won't Back Down" got shut out of the awards season this year, with the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, the Screenwriters Guild ignoring the film as much as audiences did, you can see that it actually did win an award from some right wingers who also handed out a Liberty Award to Atlas Shrugged: Part II.

Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ayn Rand - on the next Oprah to discuss their Liberty in Film awards. the horrors of unionized teachers and why free market values are the only ones that matter...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vindictive Cuomo Never Going To Be President

Read the story of how the Cuomo people went "nuclear" on a former state employee by releasing as much damaging information as they could about him for his crime of talking to the press about the state's Sandy response without permission and then ask yourself, how is Andrew Cuomo going to handle a two year presidential campaign without having half a dozen "ferret moments" that expose him as the paranoid, vindictive Nixonian politician he is?

There is no way he or the paranoid, vindictive functionaries around him are going to be able to handle the scrutiny of a presidential campaign without major explosions.

Tax Cap Is Meant To Put Districts Into Crisis

From a commentary by Fred LeBrun in the Times-Union:

It is irrefutable that the effect of the incomplete tax cap passed in June 2011, while politically popular and a contributor to the governor's high standing, has been disastrous for school districts and local governments. School districts have two sources of revenue: state aid and local taxes. The share of school budgets that is state aid has declined nearly 10 percent over the last decade, and the tax cap makes it far more difficult, especially in poorer districts, for localities to make up the difference from property tax levies. One of the arguments in the lawsuit is that because 60 percent of voters are needed to override the tax cap in a local school budget election, 41 percent of the voters saying no have more power than 59 percent who want to spend more. That totally distorts local control.

Sadly, we are watching a catastrophe unfold that will deeply affect many of our children at their most vulnerable ages, and which will have consequences for the rest of their lives.

The State Education Department has warned that between 100 and 200 school districts will be insolvent within two years.

That's up to a quarter of the state's school districts, with more predicted to follow. That means those schools won't be able to meet their obligations and will very likely be broken as teaching institutions as well. The multi-year highway to insolvency for many of them will be already littered with discarded teachers and administrators, dropped programs and advanced placement courses required for college admission, and cuts, cuts and more cuts impacting the core teaching mission.

I think the tax cap has been devised, in part, not just to keep taxes down, but to bring about the destruction of many schools districts.

Even as Cuomo and the state (and the feds) are ratcheting up the mandates, the state is cutting the aid to districts and keeping localities from increasing funding by raising taxes.

In the end, once they go belly-up financially, some of these districts look ripe for the kinds of takeovers we've seen in Michigan, where entire districts are put into receivership and handed over to some state-appointed administrator who brings in the education management organization to run the thing.
Just another example of neo-liberalism at work from our Wall Street-funded governor - and just another example of disaster capitalism at work.

Create the disaster, declare the disaster, sell the pieces off.

The same thing is happening in city after city across this nation - from Detroit to Philadelphia.

And of course Barack Obama's former right hand man, Rahm Emanuel, is trying to pull the same thing off in Chicago.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Education Week Presents Education Lessons From Donald Rumsfeld

Seriously - they do.

Here's what Rummy has to offer us:

Shit happens - free markets are untidy and people make mistakes and sometimes that means selling off entire public school systems to private equity predators and letting them suck the money dry, leaving the children in classrooms of sixty kids with no heat, no desks, no books and no teachers because they all got fired.  That's just what needs to happen and there's nothing we can do about it.

Oh, wait - that's what he said about Baghdad after the invasion.

Well, it works for education reform too.

Gee, how exciting that Education Week is publishing all these insights from military leaders on how to reform the education system.

Next week Education Week is going to bring us the wit and wisdom of General William Westmoreland and the charterization of the public school system.

The article is entitled "In Order To Save The Public Education System, We Had To Destroy It."

After that, Kissinger on how to achieve "Education Reform With Honor."

What a great paper of record, this Education Week.

We can learn so much from it.

Like what not to do and who not to listen to.

UPDATE - 1:01 PM: More wisdom on leadership from Donald Rumsfeld:

Yeah, Rumsfeld has so much to teach us about leadership.

How many people died as a result of Donald Rumsfeld's arrogance, hubris, and incompetence?

Neo-Liberals At Daily News Hate Rule Of Law

The lead editorial from the Daily News argues that school budget issues do not belong in a court room and that judges should have no say in how the state awards school aid:

Rarely does a judge show the lack of perspective and judicial discretion that has just been displayed by the jurist who barred Gov. Cuomo from denying the city $250 million in school funding.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez obviously hasn’t a clue as to state and city budgets, the interplay between Albany and City Hall, or education outlays and policy. As for the law, with those blind spots, it doesn’t matter.

Fairness and the standards of wise leadership say that Cuomo should send the money to the Department of Education. But what a governor ought to do and what a judge can compel a governor to do are vastly different things. Mendez doesn’t know the difference.

Ah yes - the courts have no power to force the governor to comply with state law or previous court decisions, like the 1995 decision that said students have a state constitutional right to a “sound, basic education” and ordered Albany to increase aid to NYC schools.

Since Albany never actually complied in full with the 1995 ruling, as Bruce Baker points out here, students are not getting the "sound, basic education" that law requires.

The Daily News neo-liberals argue that DOE spending is up 34% since 2002, going from $15,811 per pupil to $21,137 per pupil, but they never say how much of that spending actually reaches the classroom. 

Since Michael Bloomberg took over sole control of the NYC school system, he has added layer upon layer of bureaucracy to the system, wasted billions on outside consultants (many of who are robbing the city blind) and increasingly thrown money into technology boondoggles that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and yet never seem to give schools the bandwidth they actually need.

Given the chronic underfunding of the system by the state and the money Bloomberg wastes on bureaucracy, consultants and technology boondoggles, it is fair to say that the $250 million in lost aid does hurt students and the governor should not be able to tie state aid to schools to contractual matters like teacher evaluation systems.

The Daily News, of course, just wants an odious teacher evaluation system imposed, and so they don't particularly care how the governor goes about doing that - even if it means breaking the law and hurting children in the process.

That's what the rule of law is all about for neo-liberals.

They only like it when it can be used to bludgeon the peons.

When it can be used to hold the people in power accountable, then not so much.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cuomo Imposed System Will Result In Good Teachers Getting Fired

Bob McManus writes in the Post that the Cuomo imposed evaluation system, if it comes into being, will not result in the firing of many NYC teachers because it will have been developed by John King and Meryl Tisch, two officials who are beholden to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for their jobs:
It certainly takes a massive leap of faith to assume that anything meaningful will emerge from the legislation Cuomo has proposed.

This, again, is because Commissioner King doesn’t work for Cuomo. He works for the state Board of Regents and, specifically, for Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch.

And Tisch owes her position solely to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — plus to the state Constitution, which severely restricts the direct control governors have over education policy.
The Constitution requires that regents, and the chancellor, be elected by the entire Legislature — sitting as a single body. And since Silver’s Democratic conference outnumbers all other lawmakers combined, he has the whip hand.

Which he exercised with his elevation of Tisch to what is nominally one of the most powerful public-education jobs in America. But while puppet may be too strong a word to describe Tisch’s actual role, she’s not remotely likely to buck him on matters of this magnitude.

So what is Silver’s interest?

Well, let’s just say that the influence the public employee unions enjoy over the speaker and his Assembly Democrats is profound. And that none of those unions are more influential than the UFT and its parent organization, New York State United Teachers.

So it’s not hard to see where all this is heading.

Without reference to King’s good faith, Tisch’s independence or Cuomo’s sincerity, it remains that that the state Education Department itself has been in near-total thrall to Silver and the teachers for years — indeed, decades.

Thus it’s simply not reasonable to expect that the three could force the department to exercise real independence on teacher evaluations, even if they wanted to.

Not in the immediate case, and certainly not over time.

So much for Cuomo’s “perpetuity.”

So much, in fact, for the notion that there is anything fundamentally different in this approach than from what has come before.

The UFT has had an effective veto over meaningful evaluations all along. While it may allow Silver to engineer a fig-leaf accommodation this time around — the union, after all, stands to regain effective control of city schools once Bloomberg leaves office — there’s no reason to believe that significant numbers of bad teachers will wind up losing their jobs.


 I don't buy this.

Tisch and King have promoted deform policies since they took their positions of power in Albany - from promoting the Endless Testing regime to teacher evaluations tied to test scores.

In addition, the UFT and the NYSUT have promoted ed deform policies as well - from signing off on the original Race to the Top legislation which changed the evaluation systems around the state and tied them to test scores to dropping the lawsuit against the Tisch/King/Cuomo policy change around the 40% test score threshold (a lawsuit which they won, btw.)

The Regents Chancellor, the NYSED Commissioner and the NYSUT and UFT Presidents are all on board to push through the same kind of test score-based education deform policies - and those are the kinds of policies and "reforms" we have been getting out of Albany.

Perhaps these reforms do not go far enough for McManus and the Posties - that's a different issue.

But make no mistake, no one should take any solace that the UFT is allegedly going to have influence over the King/Tisch evaluation system that is imposed on us in June.

The UFT leadership have shown themselves to be in bed with the deform movement and the system we will get will be a deform system that turns schools into test prep factories where kids do nothing all day but practice for the high stakes tests and teachers do nothing all day but teach to the test.

And good teachers will lose their jobs over this - the APPR bell curve that mandates at least 10% of teachers get low ratings every year ensures this.

And the UFT leadership is okay with that.

As one of the Unity functionaries told Accountable Talk, they want more teachers fired because the current system, which leads to only about 1% of teachers being fired every year, isn't terminating enough teachers.

I can't imagine a member of MORE saying that kind of thing, can you?

But until we get a change in leadership at the UFT, you should know that your union is in the business of giving the education deform movement what it wants - and that includes on this evaluation issue.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cuomo Sad Over Injunction, Will Appeal Ruling On $250 Million

From Capital NY:

A judge today has temporarily blocked the state from cutting of more than $200 million in education aid to New York City after the Bloomberg adminsitration and the United Federation of Teachers failed to come to an agreement on the local criteria teacher evaluations.

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement this evening that, “This is a preliminary injunction and the state intends to appeal.”

The judge, Manuel Mendez, writes in the temporary injunction that the city’s students had no control over the legislative process or the evluation negotiations that produced the current impasse.

The lawsuit filed earlier this month came after the state halted the boost in state aid to the city when the Jan. 17 deadline to resolve the evaluations issue was blown.

The legal challenge was filed by Michael Rebell, the executive director of the Campaign for Education Equity and was one of the co-plaintiffs of the successful Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that claimed the state wasn’t successfully funding public schools.

It seems Andrew Cuomo, the self-appointed lobbyist for students, just cannot allow students to receive the $250 million in increased aid and so he will appeal to try and take that money away from them.

You see, Andy cares about the kids.

Oh, and he hates to lose.

Which is of course mostly what this is all about - the governor's power to exert control over everything and everybody.

He can't allow anybody - even a judge - to tell him he's wrong.

Nice guy this Andy.

Judge: Cuomo Can't Cut $250 Million From NYC Schools

From NY1:

A state supreme court judge issued a temporary injunction today preventing state officials from cutting $250 million from the city Department Of Education budget for the current school year as punishment for the lack of a teacher evaluation system.

Governor Andrew Cuomo originally said that the city DOE lost the funding for failing to reach an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers on evaluations by January 17.

City officials argued that removing the money would hurt students.

Civil Court Judge Miguel Mendez granted a preliminary injunction, saying the city has shown cause that students and vital programs will be harmed.

There is no word on when a hearing on the matter will take.

It is also not known whether the state will appeal the ruling.

The State Education Department refused to comment on the ruling.

The UFT has not released a statement yet but is reviewing the ruling.

This ruling comes a day after the Cuomo administration announced that the state education commissioner will set a new teacher evaluation system for city public school educators by June 1, if city officials and the teachers union cannot reach an agreement by then.

Cuomo wants to introduce a state budget amendment bill that will give the state education commissioner the perpetual power to step in and impose a teacher evaluation system on the city.
The governor said the school could risk losing another $250 million if the city DOE does not have an evaluation system in place by September.

Cuomo doesn't like to lose to Bloomberg.

Also, this sets a legal precedent that aid increases cannot be tied to something like an evaluation agreement if losing that aid would punish students.

I'm going to wager that the state appeals this ruling.

As I said, Cuomo doesn't like to lose to Bloomberg and in this ruling, he lost to Bloomberg.

I am also going to wager that Cuomo's budget amendment bill that gives the NYSED the power to impose a teacher evaluation system onto NYC ad infinitum can be challenged in court too.

A one year budget amendment that puts in place a rule that allows the NYSED the power to impose an evaluation system onto NYC- and only NYC - should be challenged.

Here's The Strategy Going Forward

In case you haven't seen the news:

The Department of Education has reversed a decision to place a charter school in the same building as Brownsville Academy High School, the transfer school which fought the co-location with a student-led lawsuit.

D.O.E. officials said on Wednesday that they found an alternate site for the Success Academy elementary school. They would not say whether the lawsuit played a role in the change.

“While we believed co-locating the two schools was the best option at the time, another better option became available,” said Devon Puglia, a D.O.E. spokesman. “As a result, we decided to propose a new location.”

The D.O.E. is now proposing to locate the new charter school at P.S. 167 The Parkway in Crown Heights. 

Oh, sure - the lawsuit didn't play a role in the DOE backing down and putting the Success charter somewhere else.

The lawsuit - which was student-led - had everything to do with the DOE backing down and choosing another site.

The last thing Eva wanted to do was embroil the Success Charter brand in a fight against a student-led lawsuit at an A-rated transfer school with a population of special needs students.

I wouldn't be surprised if Eva herself asked for another site to replace this one.

And this shows us what the strategy against the deform movement going forward should be - student- and parent-led lawsuits against co-locations, closures, etc.

The DOE and Eva are happy to fight the UFT on this stuff.

They're not so happy to fight students on it.

Doesn't make for such nice headlines.

There's a lesson here.

Survey Shows - Educators Do Not Believe Common Core Will Be Successful

Met life survey of teachers and principals found the following:

*Nine in 10 principals (93%) and teachers (92%) say they are knowledgeable about the Common Core.

* Nine in 10 principals (90%) and teachers (93%) believe that teachers in their schools already have the academic skills and abilities to implement the Common Core in their classrooms.

*Teachers and principals are more likely to be very confident that teachers have the ability to implement the Common Core (53% of teachers; 38% of principals) than they are very confident that the Common Core will improve the achievement of students (17% of teachers; 22% of principals) or better prepare students for college and the workforce (20% of teachers; 24% of principals).

Only 17% of teachers believe the Common Core will improve "student achievement."

Only 20% of teachers believe the Common Core will better prepare students for college and work.

Instead of wondering if the standards might be problematic, the "education writer" at Huffington Post gets a quote from an ed deform non-profiteer that attacks teachers:

The survey's common core findings worry Stephanie Hirsh, director of Learning Forward, a non-profit teacher development group. "They think they know it, they view it as challenging, and maybe because they don't have confidence, they don't believe it's really going to get better results -- so perhaps they're not willing to accept the challenge of going about implementing it," Hirsh said of teachers. "More teachers need to get a deeper understanding of common core."

You see the deformer sleight of hand there - it's the teachers' fault for not having a "deeper understanding"of the Common Core Federal Standards for why they believe the new standards will not improve "student achievement" or better prepare students for college or work.

These ed deformers are incapable of self-reflection or self-criticism.  Their default mode is to blame teachers for all the problems - in schools, with students, with the Common Core.

It's a pattern that we've seen over and over from the Kleins and the Rhees and the Colemans and the rest - point the finger elsewhere, never wonder if their own performances, standards or policies are part of the problem.

And of course the ed deform-friendly writers - like the one from Huffington Post - help the deformers with the Blame Teachers First meme by framing their education stories this way.

You can already envision how this will come down in a few years.

The Common Core has already been problematic in the lower grades.

Raising the so-called standards three or four grade levels beyond the developmental abilities of students is setting those students up for failure, anxiety and stress, as we saw in this NY Post article.

In addition, the Common Core Federal Standards privilege academic learning over socio-emotional learning, another flaw in the standards that Americans are going to come to rue in the future.

Other problems with the Common Core Federal Standards are explored here by Susan Ohanian.

Why the Common Core developers and proponents cannot see the flaws in the standards or the implementation of those standards and instead need to blame teachers for both of those things is emblematic of how the Education Reform Movement handles their so-called reforms.

It's the fault of the teachers - always.

Teachers cannot be trusted to render any professional judgment.

The Ed Deformers - especially the ones without teaching experience (or with just a couple of years of it) - know best.

This is Common Core crap is doomed to failure, but I am pretty certain that in the end, with the deformers having all the money they need to to frame the stories the way they want, they will skirt blame for this mess and teachers will end up, once again, as the villains of the piece.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cuomo's Evaluation System - Forever Is A Long Time

So Cuomo said he will put through a budget amendment that gives the NYSED the right to impose a teacher evaluation system on NYC in perpetuity.

That's right - forever.

According to Gotham Schools, the governor said if the mayor and the UFT can come to an agreement before June 1 on an evaluation deal, then the NYSED will not impose a system.

If they cannot, then Commissioner John King will impose a system of his own design before the start of the 2013-14 school year.

And the governor says this right will be given to the NYSED forever.

I repeat - the governor says this right will be given to the NYSED forever.

If NYC is ever without an evaluation system in place, Cuomo says the NYSED will step in and impose one - just for NYC.

Couple of things here:

First, the Race to the Top law does not give the NYSED or the governor the power to impose a system.

I understand that an increase in state aid can be tied to an agreement, but does putting forth a budget amendment to a one year budget give Cuomo the power to take local negotiation between union and district away and give it to the NYSED in perpetuity?

I am not a lawyer and I could be off base here completely, but how does a one year budget amendment give the governor the right to supersede the Race to the Top law?

Second, Mulgrew hailed the news in a statement:

 “We’ve seen the kinds of plans the state has approved. We are comfortable with them because they are about helping teachers help kids, which is something that we don’t often hear from the city,” Mulgrew said. “So while I would prefer to get to a negotiated settlement, with this in place I know a deal will get done.”

So he's happy that King will get to impose whatever system he wants for as long as he wants and the NYSED will now have the power to impose an evaluation system onto NYC teachers forever.

I can't imagine the MORE people will feel that way about this new power being given to the NYSED.

But judging by the Mulgrew statement, I would assume that the UFT will not sue over this budget amendment.

Or even be unhappy about it.

The E4E's and the ed deformers are happy tonight that Cuomo is going to give the NYSED the power to impose a system.

That the UFT President is as happy as they are really tells you how out of touch the UFT leadership is.

Explain This

New DOE policy:

The Department of Education plans to change the policy requiring students who fail state tests to pass summer school or repeat a grade level.

Officials expect a lot more students will fail the state standardized tests this year, and so to keep the summer school numbers and retention numbers from skyrocketing, they are changing the rules.
The city will only require elementary and middle school students whose scores are in the bottom 10 percent go to summer school and pass, meaning some students may fail the high stakes exams and get to move on anyway.

The state tests, which are brand-new this year, are supposed to be a better measure of what students should actually know at each grade level in order to be ready for college-level work when they graduate from high school.. and officials say they will be much more difficult to pass.

Starting in 2004, Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted a strict policy that all students who fail must attend summer school and pass in order to be promoted, calling anything else "social promotion."

If the APPR teacher evaluation system were in place this current year, you could have students scoring very low on these vaunted new Common Core tests (which, since they're developed by Pearson, will probably suck as badly as last year's Pearson and the Hare tests), be passed along for the next grade despite Bloomberg's Social Promotion Ban, but have their teachers declared "ineffective" for not "adding value" to their test scores.

Despite the best efforts of the Asshats4Educators and other ed deformers, APPR is not in place yet, so fortunately no teacher will be held accountable for these test scores.

But make no mistake - had APPR been in place, you would have had Walcott, Tisch and King call for mass firings of teachers who hadn't "added value" to their students scores on these Common Core tests, which, if the media reports are to be believed, the education brain trust at the NYSED, the Regents and Tweed believe will fall at least 30%.

Daily News Editorial Says Cuomo Evaluation System Will Give Most Power To The Mayor

Here's what the Daily News editorial writers think the new evaluation system will look like:

Cuomo envisions giving state Education Commissioner John King the power to design an evaluation program for the city’s teachers. He must draft legislation that would:

l Explicitly bar King from giving teachers the right to file grievances about this, that or the other aspect of how principals judge their performance.

l Prohibit King from restricting the ability of principals to formally or informally observe teachers at work in the classroom, as well as from setting onerous rules for the paperwork that must precede and follow observations.

l Order King to enact a system no later than June 1 in the event that Mulgrew and Bloomberg are still at loggerheads then. Waiting until Sept. 17, the date that’s been floating about, would delay the start of evaluations for yet another year.

l Specify that King’s system would stay in effect indefinitely unless the union and this mayor or the next one come to terms on acceptable amendments.

l Make the city’s children and taxpayers whole by delivering the $250 million in aid that’s now counted as lost.

The word from Albany is that Cuomo has bought into all these principles, with the exceptions of the lifespan of King’s scheme and, critically, forking over the $250 million.

Whether they are right that Cuomo has bought into these provisions or not, clearly they want these provisions in place - especially the part about not being able to grieve an unfair or unjust evaluation by a principal.

In addition to the details above, the system also has the following:

- Teachers would be evaluated on the basis of classroom observations by principals and student performance on state tests.

- Teachers would be ranked using a four-tier rating system: ineffective, developing, effective or highly effective. Those who earn a rating of ineffective two years in a row would be targeted for termination.

- Teachers would have limited opportunities to appeal their ratings. Neutral parties would be brought in to settle disputed ratings and aid with classroom observations.

- The new system would be put in place in time for the city to qualify for an increase in state aid for the 2013-14 school year.

- State officials are not yet sure whether the new system will include a sunset clause to limit how long the scheme remains in place.

I love how they use the word "scheme" to describe the new evaluation system, because that is certainly what it is.

The use of student test scores to make high stakes decisions on teachers is going to cause a lot of damage to children and schools.

The value-added measurements they are going to use for the test scores have high margins of error and the Pearson tests are error-riddled, but they're going to use those scores and that VAM to evaluate "effective" teachers anyway.

In addition, evaluating teachers using test scores is going to result in the narrowing of the curriculum to only what is tested and make FEAR the overwhelming theme in NYC schools for both students and teachers, but perhaps that's exactly what the neo-liberals running the state as well as the neo-liberals writing for the Daily News want.

Everybody in FEAR that they're going to be fired based on crap tests and a crap VAM and a crap growth model and a 57 page observation rubric that nobody could be rated "effective" on and a system that no longer allows teachers to challenge unfair or unjust ratings.

Welcome to 21st century America, - Obama's America, Cuomo's America, Bloomberg's America - where the oligarchs put into place whatever employee evaluation system they want, place all the onus of the education system onto the teachers (but not, of course, on themselves) and railroad as many teachers out of the system as they can and replace them either with younger, cheaper teachers (who themselves will be railroaded out in a few years) or computer programs hawked by the edu-entrepreneur class.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Complex Vocabulary And Informational Text Everywhere!

Thanks to the Common Core Federal Standards, students are reading and playing hockey at the same time now.

There's no more time to simply work on your athletic skills or run or play or work out.

Oh, no - we have to multi-task complex text and informational reading and other so-called 21st century Common Core Federal Standards skills along with art, music, gym and recess.

I have noticed that students no longer work on art in art class anymore.

Nope - they write argumentative essays, just like they do in English class, science class, history class and health class.

It's all argumentation all the time in every class.

That's all kids learn now - informational text, complex vocabulary and argumentative essay writing.

And these one size fits all Common Core Federal Standards are going to help students become more creative and entrepreneurial?


The damage these standards are causing is showing up already in children.

Just wait until they're fully implemented, along with the high stakes "assessments" (i.e., standardized multiple choice tests and essay exams graded by computer programs to those of you not part of the corrupt education/industrial complex.)

A lost generation, that's what we're going to have.

Heckuva job, Barack.

It's hard to believe, but he's been worse than Bush.

Cuomo Hands Out 0% Salary Increase, Furlough Days To SUNY Union

Why would any union agree to this contract?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached a contract deal with the one of last major public unions.
The 35,000 State University of New York employees represented by United University Professions have worked without a contract since 2011. The tentative agreement calls for a zero percent wage increase from 2011 to 2013. It also calls for nine furlough days, which are referred to as a “Deficit Reduction Program.”

“This contract agreement continues the state’s commitment to fiscal discipline while recognizing the vital role our university employees play in a strong SUNY system,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “I am pleased that through collaboration and working together the state has been able to reach a fair agreement with United University Professions.”

United University Professions President Phillip H. Smith said, “This contract meets the unique needs of our members and meets the state’s need to achieve savings in these difficult economic times. It’s a fair contract for our union and the state.”

Sure Cuomo threatened layoffs, but a 0% salary increase and 9 furlough days is a brutal contract agreement.

If I were a member of that union, I would vote against that contract and work against that union president.

I don't give care how bad the economic times are supposed to be - that's a garbage contract agreement.

Especially when the money just went to lower the taxes of the hedge fund managers and Wall Street criminals.

I can't wait to see how Cuomo independently arbitrates the evaluation dispute between the UFT and Bloomberg.

If the outcome is anything like the contracts he's forced onto the state unions, it's going to suck wind bigger than the blasts that come out of Cuomo's mouth and Twitter account.