Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bloomberg Bans A Couple Of More Things, Just For Old Time's Sake

If anybody thinks he's really going anywhere, I'd like to note that Bloomberg Philanthropy is open for business and all those aides he just walked out of City Hall with will continue to work for him in private life helping him to use his billions as bludsgeons to get what he wants and take away what he doesn't want people to have.

Quite frankly, we're stuck with Bloomberg long after he's out of office, long after he's off this mortal coil, for that matter.

Bloomberg Philanthropy will continue to be doing evil long after the little dictator is gone.

Seven Hours Left In Bloomberg's Reign Of Error

In honor of Bloomberg's 12 years of "service":


Carmen Farina And Bill de Blasio CAN Change Worst Excesses Of Ed Deform Movement

I keep seeing this kind of thing around:

To which I replied:

Added a couple more tweets to the twitterverse regarding the "De Blasio/Farina Can Do Little To Change Ed Deform Excesses/Testing" meme:

Students, parents and teachers are in revolt all over the state over the Endless Testing program, the APPR teacher evaluation system that mandates so much of this testing, the Common Core State Standards that provide the content for the overtesting program, and the inBloom data project that tracks the data from all the testing.

It's not like de Blasio and Farina would be swimming upstream against a pro-deform tidal wave if they were to push the state to make changes to the SED ed deform agenda.

If anything, the momentum is anti-deform these days and de Blasio and Farina can ride that wave - if they choose to do so.

Are We Sure Carmen Farina Is More "Pro-Teacher" Than Current DOE Leadership?

Jose Vilson responded:

80% is indeed a pretty high attrition rate.

One might even say it's exceedingly high and a worrisome sign of what's to come.

My sense is, she's a toe-the-line leader and will work to get anybody who doesn't buy into her vision out.

Dunno about you, but I'm not feeling too optimistic about that kind of leadership style.

She was probably the best we were going to do in the current political circumstances, but that doesn't mean I trust her.

Same goes for her boss, Bill de Blasio.

By all means, be happy Walcott is gone and a Barbara Byrd Bennett or Kaya Henderson didn't replace him.

But watch Carmen Farina very, very closely.

That 80% attrition rate she had as a principal is a red flag.

How You'll Know Things Are Really Different

Geo Karo - from a comment on this post:

1) How much day to day life in the school-building changes from the BloomCott era will be the ultimate measure of how much things change under BlasRina.

2) How much things change for the better depends on how much teachers and parents push back against the toxic status quo of corporate education "reform."

In New York City, the teachers' group pushing against the toxic winds of deform is the MORE caucus of the UFT‎

The parents' group is Change the Stakes‎


Unless I'm mistaken, I seem to remember that Farina was part of the BloomKlein mandated RAMP UP curricula gang back in the day.

Celebrate her appointment to Tweed - and watch what she does very, very closely.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Eric Nadelstern: Farina Had Better Have 100% Graduation Rate in Five Years Time

The ever youthful Eric Nadelstern, former deputy chancellor to Joel Klein and the architect of many a reform idea, showed up in both the Huff Post and Capital NY stories about Carmen Farina's appointment to chancellor.

In the Capital NY story, he has a particularly telling quote:

Eric Nadelstern, a former deputy chancellor under Joel Klein credited with helping to implement some of the Bloomberg administration’s biggest educational reforms, says the first months of FariƱa’s tenure should be marked by a clear commitment to raising the graduation rate, which is still below 70 percent.

“I don’t think the chancellor should come and nitpick their way through the system, saying ‘I like this’ or ‘I don’t like that,’” said Nadelstern.

“I think the first 100 days needs to be about putting together the most talented team they can possibly find and then working with that team to develop a long range plan on how to to go from a 66 percent graduation rate to a 100 percent rate in five years,” he said.

How's that for setting somebody up for failure?

100% graduation rate in five years.

That's kinda like No Child Left Behind's 100% proficiency in every demographic category by 2014 or a school gets declared "failing".

Be perfect or you're a failure.

Somehow reformers like Nadelstern never hold themselves to the same standards.

But they sure are laying down markers for de Blasio and Farina, aren't they?

NYSED Commissioner John King: Critics Of SED/Regents Reforms Are "Misinformed"

You thought the Gospel of the Common Core Tour starring Merryl Tisch and John King was over?

You thought wrong - the propaganda-fest continues:

ALBANY—State education commissioner John King argued in a letter to New York educators Monday that concerns raised by teachers and parents at a series of public hearings were based on “misinformation.”

Particularly, he refuted claims that students are facing an increase of standardized testing as a result of of the state's 2010 switch to the Common Core standards, controversial, rigorous curriculum guidelines that have been adopted by nearly every state.

King outlined a previously announced set of changes he and the Board of Regents are pursuing to reform and reduce testing.

“No one change is going to satisfy everyone, but the elements discussed in this document form a meaningful and comprehensive approach,” King wrote, referring to the six-page letter. “We’ll make more adjustments in the future as we learn more about your successes and challenges. We hope that parents, teachers, students, and administrators continue to be open about their concerns and partner with us to make Common Core a continuing success.”

Of course there is increased standardized testing in schools - the new teacher evaluation system that mandates 40% of a teacher's evaluation rating come from so-called "student performance" adds either new standardized tests or "performance assessments" in every grade in every subject so that teachers can be evaluated via APPR.

In addition, because there is much emphasis on test scores for both principals and teachers, many schools are engaging in way more test prep than in the past.

King, as usual, is full of crap as he slings the Gospel of the Common Core jive to the public.

So long as 40% of teacher ratings come from "student performance," there is going to be a ton of extra tests and endless test prep in schools.

Same goes for the school accountability measures that hold principals and schools themselves to the scores.

Hell, whole districts are being threatened with state takeover by John King himself in part because their test scores are so low.

John King is misinforming the public when he says criticism of Common Core and the SED reform agenda is based on "misinformation."

In short, he's full of shit.

Wait And See On Carmen Farina

There is much rejoicing in the twitterverse and on the edu-blogosphere over the announcement that Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio has finally appointed Carmen Farina to replace Dennis Walcott as NYC schools chancellor.

Farina has "progressive" educator credentials, spent decades working as a real educator, and has recently fought charter school land grabs in Brooklyn, so there is certainly some hope for optimism with the announcement.

That said, I have words of caution for both myself and everybody else today:

And this:

Until you see tangible changes to policy - especially around curriculum, testing, evaluations, and so-called school accountability measures - I say, hold the victory laps that de Blasio kept his promise to change the Bloomberg policies for students, teachers and schools.

In short, if the SED modules with the 17 day lesson unit on one short story are still around next school year and teachers are still be being rated "ineffective" or "developing" for not using a Danielson template for their lesson plans, then for my purposes, de Blasio did not change things.

Cuomo Attacks De Blasio Behind The Scenes (UPDATED)

Sheriff Andy looking to promote his own agenda and taking it out on anybody he thinks is in his way:

Gov. Cuomo, in his first major battle with Bill de Blasio, is engaged in a last-ditch effort to block leftist Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito from becoming council speaker, Democratic insiders have told The Post.

Cuomo has been working behind the scenes with city Democratic leaders, including Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the Bronx party chair, and US Rep. Joseph Crowley, the Queens chair, to line up support for Councilman Dan Garodnick, the other candidate in the race, the insiders said.

“It’s clear to many of us that Cuomo and his people are working to stop Melissa because it’s not in his interest to have her in there,” said a prominent Democrat involved in the speakership battle.

“It’s certainly not in Cuomo’s political interest to have another left-wing activist along with de Blasio running the city. The sense is that Cuomo wants to see de Blasio defeated on this one, so that he’ll start off as mayor weaker and not stronger, relative to the governor.”

Added a longtime political observer close to the speakership fight, “The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn’t want to see the city turned into a People’s Republic of New York at the same time he’s trying to make the state at least look like it’s business friendly.”

Fred Dicker goes on to write that Cuomo is worried that liberal Dems are going to take him on in 2014, forcing him to the left at a time when he wants to be tracking to the center for his 2014 re-election and potential 2016 White House run.

UPDATED - 9:45 AM. Politicker reports Cuomo, through a spokesperson, vehemently denied the Dicker column alleging Cuomo's meddling in the speaker's race:

Andrew Cuomo’s team is fully denying a New York Post report today alleging the governor is quietly working to thwart Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio by backing a rival candidate in the race for City Council speaker.

Mr. Dicker, citing unnamed “Democratic insiders,” said Mr. Cuomo was engaged in a “last-ditch effort” to block Melissa Mark-Viverito, a de Blasio ally, from attaining the post, because she is too liberal to fit into Mr. Cuomo’s more moderate agenda.

But Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa flatly rejected the report. “You can quote me on this – Completely false and ridiculous, even for Fred Dicker,” she wrote in an email.

That means it's true.

De Blasio To Appoint Carmen Farina As NYC Schools Chancellor

Given all the rumors around this selection, I'll believe this when I see it:

Carmen Farina, a Department of Education veteran and a longtime informal adviser to Bill de Blasio, will be named chancellor Monday after months of speculation about who would manage the city’s school system.

De Blasio will name Farina head of the nation's largest public school system at M.S. 51, the Park Slope middle school his children attended.

If true, this is the best choice that we are going to get following 12 years of Bloomberg:

Friends and colleagues of Farina and de Blasio say they share a single educational philosophy, with a focus on progressive education, a skepticism of standardized testing and charter schools, and a focus on racially and economically integrated public schools.

Alas, with the job starting on Thursday and the announcement not even made official yet, hard to see any changes to the system coming in the short term.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Hypocrisy Of Michael Bloomberg

Little send away tweet to Mike Bloomberg as he spends his last weekend in power, sunning himself at his Bermuda home:

Bloomberg pontificates about environment all the time, but few individuals in this world have as big a carbon footprint as the little mayor with the big name brand logo on everything he owns (BLOOMBERG!!!):

Mayor Michael Bloomberg now owns 13 properties around the world, including three pieces of property in Southampton.

In addition to the $20 million, 35-acre Ballyshear estate he bought in 2011, he has acquired an adjacent home and, separately, a neighboring 4.8 acre piece of "vacant unimproved land."

He acquired the additional properties last summer, and they each cost him at least $500,000.

That is in addition to his estate in North Salem, N.Y., which includes two houses and where his daughter Georgina rides horses; his home in Armonk; his condo in Vail, Colo.; his mansion in Bermuda; a condo in New York City that he acquired 13 years ago; a house in Wellington, Fla.; his London estate; his Upper East Side brownstone; and the Upper East Side headquarters of his philanthropic operations.

Bloomberg's property interests, and other details about his personal financial goings-on, are detailed (vaguely) in his Conflict of Interest Board financial disclosure report and a version of his 2012 tax returns, both of which were made available for review by reporters this afternoon in the offices of Bloomberg's longtime accountant, Geller & Company.

Is there anybody in the world more full of crap when it comes to environmentalism than Mike Bloomberg?

Bill De Blasio Vows To Have Chancellor In Place By 2015 - 2016 At The Latest

Citing concerns from students, parents, teachers, administrators and education bloggers over his failure to announce a chancellor to replace Dennis Walcott at the helm of the NYCDOE, Bill de Blasio stepped away from having brunch with family and friends at a diner in Park Slope to offer a brief statement.

De Blasio was 25 minutes late to his statement, getting caught up at the mint bowl by the cash register before finally making it to the assembled journalists waiting outside the restaurant for brief press conference without questions.

Here is De Blasio's statement in full:

I know some New Yorkers have expressed concern that I have made very few appointments to my administration as of yet.  By this time in their transition periods, Mayor Bloomberg had made 12 appointments, Mayor Giuliani 25 and Mayor Dinkins 17.  I, by contrast, have made just 9 appointments.  And only 6 of those are high level appointments.  I know that some have expressed concern that we are four days away from the resumption of school in New York City, but I have yet to announce a new chancellor to replace the outgoing Dennis Walcott.  I just want to assure all New Yorkers that I am carefully considering all options for chancellor, am still taking names for the short list and will continue to seriously interview serious candidates for a seriously hard job in the very near future. I can assure New Yorkers that I will be making a serious announcement about my chancellor pick in a very short period of time and I vow that this person will be up and running the New York City Department of Education by 2015 or 2016 at the latest.  And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back inside and finish off brunch.  God bless New York City.

Mayor-Elect De Blasio's spokesperson told reporters that Mayor-Elect De Blasio would have no other public appearances until January 1, the day he is to be inaugurated at City Hall, unless you count his yoga class at the Yoga Works on Seventh Avenue and his monthly shift stocking dried mango at the Park Slope Co-Op.

What's Wrong With Bill De Blasio?

One of the knocks in the primary against Bill de Blasio was that some of his campaign promises were not serious ones, that in the "real world" the NY Legislature and Governor Cuomo were not going to raise taxes on rich people in order to give de Blasio his universal pre-K proposal.

The De Blasio Campaign countered that de Blasio's campaign proposals were serious one's coming from a serious candidate with a serious shot to win the election.

Well, he won the election, but as we come close to the dawn of the De Blasio Era and you realize that he has picked almost nobody to run his administration yet, you start to wonder just how serious a man he is:

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is on track to make the fewest appointments entering City Hall of any mayor in decades — with just nine positions filled to date.

And only six of the nine are high-level appointments, such as deputy mayors or commissioners.
By contrast, Mayor Bloomberg had a dozen top officials in place at the same point in his run-up to taking office, while Rudy Giuliani had 25.

David Dinkins, for whom de Blasio worked as a low-level aide, had 17 top picks in place by Dec. 28.

“People do work at different paces, but it is very surprising that he has not named more people to date,” said Susan Del Percio, a GOP strategist who worked in the Giuliani administration.

De Blasio's transition team waved away criticism over the slow transition:

De Blasio’s transition team dismissed concerns, and said there are more announcements coming in the days preceding his inaugural.

“Regardless of the timing . . . we will ensure a smooth transition at all city agencies that delivers on Mayor-elect de Blasio’s promise of a diverse, competent and progressive government,” said spokesman Phil Walzak.

Speaking as a teacher who works for the NYCDOE where current Chancellor Dennis Walcott leaves office in two days and nobody has been named to replace him yet, I find the de Blasio spokesman's assurance that there will be a "smooth transition at all city agencies that delivers on Mayor-elect de Blasio’s promise of a diverse, competent and progressive government” laughable.

Two days before the new chancellor takes office, but no new chancellor has been named.

The piss-poor transition of the new de Blasio administration does NOT bode well for the next four years.

De Blasio has a well-earned reputation for being late to every event he attends.

That penchant for irresponsibility and tardiness apparently also inflicts his decision-making abilities.

NYCDOE Investigator Demanded Sex From Teacher To Save Her Job

Here's Mayor Bloomberg's NYCDOE in action - the story is so horrifying via Susan Edelman at the NY Post, I repost it in full:

A Department of Education detective tried to have sex with a Brooklyn teacher he was probing in exchange for letting her keep her job, she charges.

Investigator Lawrence Scott, 40, allegedly sent scores of X-rated texts, a photo of his penis and explicit demands for sex to Natalya Sokolson Gordon, a computer and fifth-grade teacher at PS 329 in Coney Island.

“I like it dirty,” Scott text­ed the tall brunette soon after inviting her to call him when she got “the courage.”

Over 2¹/₂ months, he sent Gordon a barrage of pornographic messages and requests.

Gordon, 44, admits she sexted back — even sending him topless and bottomless photos of herself, which he requested. She claims it was a desperate bid to save her career from what she called false accusations.

“I feel so stupid for believing he would help me,” she told The Post, tears streaming down her face. “I was scared I was going to lose my job. I felt I had no choice. He had my life in his hands.”

In a meeting at his office on Nov. 14, 2012, Gordon said, Scott boasted that he could get teachers fired — or off the hook.

“I have the power to get rid of you just like that,” she said he told her, snapping his fingers, “or I can make everything go away.”

The scandal undermines the integrity of the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations, where Scott worked for three years. He resigned his $65,000-a-year post in October when confronted with the texts.

“It was the dumbest mistake I ever made,” Scott told The Post, but he denied he exploited his power to seduce Gordon. “She initiated it. I never forced anything on her. There was no quid pro quo.”

Gordon also has filed complaints that Scott groped her breasts and put his hand between her legs during a discussion of her case in a closed-door meeting at her school.

Scott denied assaulting Gordon. She secretly taped the meeting, which includes slapping sounds — she says she fought him off.

On Jan. 31, Gordon was charged with yelling at and grabbing several students the previous year, and of making an obscene gesture in reference to Principal Salema Marbury.

Gordon was yanked from her school and sent to a rubber room, then assigned clerical duties in the same Brooklyn building where Scott worked. Fearful, she said, she asked for a transfer.

Scott started sexting Gordon with banter about sex positions; “Some may force u to scream,” he wrote. The texts are rife with crude slang.

The married Scott, who lives near Gordon in Staten Island, texted: “We can just enjoy each other’s company . . . A lot if we’re naked lmao.”

Gordon turned over 275 pages of texts last October to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools Richard Condon. But after Scott quit, Condon’s office told Gordon that she, too, was under scrutiny “because I didn’t report him and I texted him back,” she said.

“They’re making the victim a culprit,” said Betsy Combier, a paralegal helping defend Gordon against her disciplinary charges.

Gordon’s lawyer, Peter Gleason, could find no written report by Scott.

“His interest was in gratifying his own deviant desires,” Gleason said.

DOE spokesman David Pena said Scott is still under investigation.

Question I have is, when does Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools Richard Condon get investigated for running the kind of department where someone like Lawrence Scott feels safe and secure enough to act the way he did?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Clinton To Administer Oath Of Office To De Blasio

The only oath Bill Clinton should be taking is raising his right hand in court and promising to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Former President Clinton will administer the oath of office for the mayor-elect at his Jan. 1 inauguration ceremony at City Hall, the transition team announced Saturday.

And former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who hired de Blasio as her campaign manager during her 2000 Senate campaign — will attend with her husband.

"Chirlane and I couldn't be more excited to have President Clinton and Secretary Clinton stand with us,” de Blasio said in a statement, which highlighted that he had worked for President Clinton as a regional director at HUD.


De Blasio will recite his official oath at midnight on Dec. 31. The de Blasio campaign would not say where the official swearing in would take place or who would administer that oath.
De Blasio's hour-long inauguration ceremony will take place at noon on Jan. 1, on the steps of City Hall.

 A commenter writes:

Recommended reading: No one left to lie to by Christopher Hitchens. Excellent study of the redoubtable Clinton, who, apart from needlessly sanctioning the capital punishment of the mentally retarded Ricky Rector, also bombed countries to deflect from his libidinous shenanigans. Clinton was an awful President, who is pimping his equally unethical, selfish wife for President. Don't buy it. As a Dem, no way I vote for Hillary. No way.

Politicians on average are selfish, self-centered narcissists who should be trusted slightly less than car salesmen.

Bill Clinton is more selfish, more self-centered, more narcissistic and less trustworthy than even the average politician.

Not surprised de Blasio, who made his bones in the Clinton administration, is having BC do the oath of office honors.

But frankly, it's just one more reason why I suggest a close eye should be kept on Mayor de Blasio.

NY State Politicians Are Doing Little To End The Ravages Of CCSS, APPR And InBloom

As the public protests over the Common Core State Standards, the APPR teacher evaluation testing that has added so much extra testing to schools and the inBloom data project that is forcing districts to hand over student information to Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch gain steam, some politicians in NY State have begun to talk about rolling back some of this education reform agenda being imposed by the NYSED and the Board of Regents.

But when you take a closer look at just what steps these NY State politicians are taking to roll back the reform agenda, you see that they're really not rolling anything back at all:

Lawmakers will introduce a package of bills during the 2014 Legislative Session that aim to address issues concerning the Common Core learning standards.

The four proposals include a piece of legislation being called the “Truth-In-Testing” bill. It would require the State Education Commissioner to report on the effectiveness of Common Core state tests and require an independent audit to review and evaluate the testing program.

The second is a law being called the “P-2” bill. If passed, it would ban standardized testing on students in Pre-K through 2nd grade. State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer is co-sponsoring the bills.
“The purpose was, at least for the younger students, take away some of that pressure that they experience in the very early stages of their learning career. Some will say that we should have gone further, others will say that we went too far, but I personally thought this was a very good start to try to scale back some of the testing that’s being done, that’s being required, by Common Core,” said Ranzenhofer.

Ranzenhofer says another proposal is being called the “Privacy” bill. It establishes civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized disclosure information stored on the statewide database “inBloom,” and creates independent oversight within the New York State Education Department on matters related to privacy.

“This was a universal concern. I think everybody agrees that this type of data really should not be released. This is private information to be used to make the student better, to make the teacher better, and it should be exclusive for that particular purpose,” said Ranzenhofer.

Ranzenhofer says the fourth piece of legislation called the “Unnecessary Testing” bill would require the State Education Commissioner to expedite a review of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plans to eliminate unnecessary testing on students.

“We didn’t try to solve all of the world’s problems with Common Core with these particular pieces of legislation. These pieces of legislation dealt with a very, very small segment of the education community,” said Ranzenhofer.

Ranzenhofer says he hopes the proposals open the door to other conversations about how to improve the Common Core learning standards.

NYSED and the Regents have already agreed that P-2 testing is not such a good idea and they want to eliminate it, so there's nothing extraordinary about passing a bill to do what SED and the Regents say they already want to do.

The other three bills do little to address concerns over privacy, overtesting and the damages the CCSS curriculum and tests are causing to students, children and schools because they simply put more power into the hands of the already-too powerful SED.

Parents want an opt-out option for inBloom, but the privacy bill simply creates an "independent oversight within the New York State Education Department on matters related to privacy."

Given how little transparency and honesty there is at SED, with the secret Regents Fellows hired by private interests running the department, I don't exactly trust the any "independent oversight" entity that is created "within the New York State Education Department on matters related to privacy."

That sounds simply like some rubber stamp committee that will agree that anything SED Commissioner King and his merry men and women in reform do is swell and parents and teachers can have no complaints about it.

The same can be said for the "Truth-In-Testing" and"Unnecessary Testing" bills, which again give SED the authority to audit their own policies.

Sorry, Albany politicians, but students, parents and teachers are this naive - we know that giving SED the authority to audit itself and make sure its policies aren't leading to overtesting isn't going to change anything about the way children are overtested.

These are small measures being introduced in Albany to make it look the SED/Regents/Cuomo education reform agenda is being modified and changed.

But it isn't.

These small measures do little to nothing to mitigate the ravages and damages of the SED/Regents/Cuomo reform agenda and they will NOT stem the rising protests from students, parents and teachers around the state.

It is imperative that you let these politicians who think they're fooling you with this jive know that you know how little will actually change as a result of these bills if they are passed and signed into law.

Friday, December 27, 2013

FLASHBACK: Governor Cuomo Issues Ultimatum To NYC Over APPR Teacher Evaluation System, Mulgrew Applauds

Sheriff Andy Cuomo makes believe like he never heard of the Common Core State Standards, inBloom or the SED Endless Testing regime that has been in part imposed by Cuomo's own APPR teacher evaluation system, but here was Sheriff Andy last January warning NYC they had better get a system in place soon or he would do it for them:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo warned the Bloomberg administration and the New York City teachers’ union on Wednesday that if they did not create a new teacher evaluation system quickly, he would move to impose one upon them. 

Speaking plainly, the governor said at a news conference in the State Capitol that his “strong hope” was for the two sides to hammer out a settlement. 

“If they don’t,” he said, “then let the state step in and let the state handle the evaluation process, determine an evaluation process, and impose it on the City of New York.” 

The city and the union missed the Jan. 17 deadline for reaching an agreement on a new system, costing the city at least $250 million in state aid and possibly hundreds of millions more. That would include some of the city’s portion of New York State’s $700 million Race to the Top award, granted by the Obama administration in 2010. The award was based, in part, on the presumption that the city would have a new teacher evaluation system in place. 

A 2010 state law created the outline for a new system, one based on students’ test scores, classroom observations by principals and other measures, with the details to be negotiated by each school district and its teachers’ union. Virtually all of the 691 districts reached an agreement, but New York City did not, mainly because of a dispute over whether the agreement should be allowed to expire in two years, as the union had wanted, or continue indefinitely, as the Bloomberg administration had desired. 


Seated next to the governor, Sheldon Silver, the Democratic speaker of the State Assembly, and Dean G. Skelos, the Republican leader of the State Senate, each expressed support for Mr. Cuomo’s idea, which would require a new law empowering the State Education Department to devise a system for the city. 

Not only did Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos applaud Cuomo's threat to impose a teacher evluation system on NYC (as ultimately happened last May) - so did the leadership of the UFT:

Mr. Cuomo’s warning was met with silence by City Hall, and the city later said it had no comment. The union, the United Federation of Teachers, embraced it. 

“I welcome Governor Cuomo’s involvement, and while we would prefer a negotiated settlement, it’s good to know that should the talks fail again, people who actually understand education will be part of the decision making process,” said Michael Mulgrew, the union’s president, in a statement. “Parents need to know that, thanks to the governor and the legislative leaders, there will be no further risk of the loss of state money for our schools.”

Now we have that very system - the one Cuomo had imposed, Silver and Skeloo went along with and Mulgrew applauded - and it's an absolute mess.

Administrators do nothing but observe teachers and write up reports, teachers have lost all of their autonomy to teach as they see fit and have to teach using the Danielson cookie cutter approach (ALWAYS BE ASSESSING!), and students do little in school other than prepare for tests and take tests.

That's Governor Cuomo's education reform agenda, the one applauded by Michael Mulgrew and the UFT.

Governor Cuomo owns this mess, even as he tries to run from it and make believe he had nothing to do with it.

But the geniuses at 52 Broadway, the one's with the double pensions and other yummy yummy perks, own it too.

No Chancellor Pick Announcement Again Today

From Daily Politics:

Mayor-Elect de Blasio is in Connecticut. There are no public events scheduled.

More and more it's looking like come January 2, some of the same demented people running the NYCDOE now will still be in charge.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Governor Cuomo Is Vulnerable Over CCSS, APPR and InBloom

A very interesting item in Fred Dicker's NY Post column:

Cuomo has privately told groups of “progressive’’ Assembly Democrats that despite his election-year plans to reduce some state taxes, he’s sure he can find funds to help soon-to-be-Mayor Bill de Blasio deliver on his pledge of universal pre-K throughout the city.

Cuomo, in recent meetings he initiated with black and Hispanic caucus members and others, appeared to fear that city Democrats sympathetic to de Blasio’s attacks on the wealthy and angry over his Moreland Act Commission probe of state lawmakers, might turn on him during the next legislative session, a source familiar with the meetings said.

“Many members like de Blasio’s proposals and blame Cuomo for demonizing the Legislature, for instance, putting out stories that members got a $500 contribution from someone or some group — when the governor has gotten $50,000 from the same person or group.

“The meetings show the governor realizes he’s going to have a problem next year when he’s running for reelection and that members aren’t going to be as responsive to his needs as they have been in the past,’’ said the source.

I've long said that the bully in charge can only continue to be in charge so long as people fear him - especially Democrats in the Legislature.

But the anger Dems in the Legislature feel toward him seems to be superseding any fear they have of retribution from him these days.

As Dicker says, that's as a result of Cuomo's hypocrisy over Moreland, calling out legislators over corruption that Cuomo himself is engaging in.

In the end, Moreland is going to come back and bite Cuomo, as many Dems in the Legislature are looking to stick the proverbial, metaphoric shiv into him.

What all this means for educators looking to get Cuomo to change his education reform agenda is that Andrew Cuomo is vulnerable to pressure, vulnerable to attacks, and he can be beaten over APPR, CCSS, and inBloom.

I'll have more on this later.

Suffice to say for now, start putting pressure on Cuomo publicly over CCSS, APPR, and inBloom.

He may look like he's ignoring it, but he's not.

Not with his re-election looming in 2014 and his White House fantasies still floating around his head for 2016.

No Chancellor Pick Announcement Coming Today

From Daily Politics:

While Chiara’s revelation is, by all means, a big story, attention still likely turns now, with the holiday over, to when the new Mayor will fill out his cabinet -- and with whom! With only six days remaining before de Blasio’s inauguration, he still hasn’t named a schools chancellor. The only thing we do know is that the announcement won’t come Thursday -- de Blasio’s public schedule is empty.

And so we wait, and the longer we wait, the more I wonder what is going on behind the scenes to delay the announcement.

Mark Naison has been tweeting all kinds of warnings about de Blasio picking a reformy chancellor, suggesting that is what may ultimately happen:

I would agree that the delay is unsettling.

We know that de Blasio has been getting pressure from the Obama administration to appoint a pro-test person.

I would say one thing - you can bet the reason for the delay in the chancellor announcement from de Blasio is not a good reason. 

As Naison says, given that she wants the job and de Blasio supposedly wants her, Farina should have been announced a week ago.

That she wasn't means there is something funky going on behind the scenes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chiara de Blasio, Bill de Blasio And The Politics Of Manipulation

I thought the video the de Blasio transition team released of Chiara de Blasio talking about her struggles with drugs, alcohol and depression was on one level an important one.

We live in a high stress society in which many people are suffering from depression or other emotional problems, in which many people are trying to numb out with drugs, alcohol or other harmful behaviors.

I hope that Chiara de Blasio's struggles give the next mayor, her father, the understanding that schools are trying to help many students suffering from similar problems and need much more support in this area than was provided by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his test-centric NYCDOE.

That said, the carefully crafted and edited video itself left me feeling emotionally manipulated, like this was one of those Bill Clinton damage control specials, and makes me wonder what exactly the de Blasio transition team was trying to accomplish with it.

New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez felt the same way:

There was Chiara de Blasio, the 19-year-old daughter of New York’s next mayor, gently baring her battles with depression, alcohol and drugs in a day-before-Christmas YouTube video.

The sincerity and eloquence she showed were guaranteed to touch the hearts of many New Yorkers.
And her message could well inspire countless young people in similar situations to seek help, as she urged them to do at the end.

But Chiara’s startling video, coming eight days before the official start of the Bill de Blasio era, also left you with an eerie sense of being manipulated emotionally.

Those feeling began with the melancholy piano-and-string music that accompanied her every word. It continued with graphics that marked off each section with dramatic headlines like: “Chiara de Blasio tells her story.”

Then there were the statistics sprinkled throughout, such as: “About 28% of Americans drink at levels that put them at risk for alcohol dependence.”

Finally, there was the meticulous editing of her interview to evoke a sense of intimate conversation.
It amounted to a skillfully scripted Madison Avenue commercial that must have been in the planning for weeks — not some young woman’s spontaneous confession the day before Christmas.

It had all the earmarks of the damage-control tactics favored by Harold Ickes, the former Bill Clinton aide who is now a trusted adviser to de Blasio.

Gonzalez goes on to note how Christmas Eve is the perfect time for a politician to dump some information or story he/she would rather not divulge, so the Chiara de Blaiso video coming out yesterday also had that feel of a document dump kind of thing.

Then Gonzalez notes how Chiara reveals something very telling about Bill de Blasio himself:

It’s “the time of the year when these challenges are probably at their sharpest,” the mayor-elect added a short time later, in a brief appearance outside his home.

But Christmas Eve also happens to be the optimal moment for politicians to release potentially embarrassing information, because most people aren’t paying attention.

Even in this carefully choreographed video, however, hints of deeper strains in the de Blasio family surface.

“My mom was trying really hard to help me,” Chiara says at one point, “and my dad was doing the same, but obviously he was really busy.”

Bill, in other words, was spending so much time being a politician that Chiara’s mother was left to shoulder the burden of helping her.

In this, the de Blasios differed little from most American families. The fathers always have less time to deal with their children’s problems.

The average dad, though, doesn’t draft his children into television commercials aimed at winning votes, which is what de Blasio did with Chiara and her younger brother, Dante.

Mayor Bloomberg accused de Blasio of using his kids as political props during the campaign, and while at the time I thought that was an unfair charge, now that Chiara's video has been released, I am starting to walk that defense of the de Blasio campaign back.

They did use the kids in their ads, but only the parts of the story they wanted out there.

Go back and watch the de Blasio campaign videos after watching the Chiara's Story video and see if they resonate the same way with you that they did during the campaign.

Don't they start to feel a little more manipulative?

I come from a family rife with depression and substance abuse.

I wish I did not know the damage and heartbreak that depression and substance abuse bring, the suffering they cause, the strains they heap on the family.

Alas, I know all too well.

As someone with this family experience, I've gotten pretty good with sensing when one of my students is suffering similarly and have tried to be of service in the way I can to point them to places where they can get some help.

I hope that the de Blaiso family experience will give Mayor-Elect de Blasio the understanding that many other families suffer similarly and schools can be a place where they can find help and healing.

So in that way, I am glad the Chiara de Blasio video was released.

But the slickly-crafted Chiara de Blasio still makes me feel manipulated emotionally and gives me just another reason to feel there is something slimy and untrustworthy about her father, Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio made his bones in the Clinton administration and ran Hillary's senate campaign in 2000, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that de Blasio has learned the damage control public relations tactics of his old bosses quite well.

Hard to know if Chiara wanted to tell her story publicly or was forced to tell it by someone close to her, hard to know if they had this video in the pipeline a long time and were ready to go with it at a moment's notice or it just got made recently, but the use of this video in a very political way leaves me feeling like Bill de Blasio is one very manipulative politician willing to use his children in whatever way he needs to in order to advance his own career.

That doesn't take away from the power of Chiara's telling her story publicly or the empathy and identification I have with her, but it does make me wonder why the de Blasio transition team felt the need to get it out there right now and just what they're trying to do with it.

Finally it makes wonder about Bill de Blasio himself - just how much Bill Clinton does he have in him?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

De Blasio Releases Video Of Daughter Talking About Her Addiction, Depression Issues

Clearly somebody was about to run a story about de Blasio daughter Chiara having drug and alcohol problems because the de Blasio people just released this video:

It's an important video, no matter what the reason the de Blasio people had to go up with it now.

Wouldn't it be nice if Mayor Bill de Blasio used the experience his daughter has had with depression and alcohol/drug use to provide schools the supports they need to help other children who suffer from the same problems?

I have seen a sharp increase in kids suffering from cutting (as in self-harm), drug and/or alcohol use, depression, eating disorders and other emotional issues in these past few years.

Schools need the social and emotional supports to help students, not only the one's suffering from these issues, but for all students, so that they can learn healthy ways to deal with the stresses of modern life (especially in the Common Core Era.)

I'll have more on this later.

Mulgrew's Sister Hit With Conflict Of Interest Warning

From the NY Post:

The sister of teachers-union President Michael Mulgrew was wrist-slapped Monday for operating a booming tutoring company that was awarded $40 million in work from the city while she was employed as a public-school teacher.

The overlapping gigs got Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany a warning letter from the city Conflicts of Interest Board, after it determined that her work for Brienza’s Academic Advantage violated city conflict-of-interest rules.

While Mulgrew-Daretany was technically on an extended unpaid maternity leave from 2001 through 2012, she was still barred as a city employee from working at a firm that conducts business with the city.

Mulgrew-Daretany served as COO of the firm from 2008 to 2012, at which point she resigned from her teaching gig.

Officials launched a probe following inquiries by The Post about Mulgrew-Daretany’s employment.
Brienza, which also trains teachers, has raked in nearly $40 million from its work for the Department of Education since 2002.

A message left for Mulgrew-Daretany, who formerly taught at Lafayette HS in Brooklyn, wasn’t returned Monday. A UFT spokesman declined to comment.

Just how did a company that barely had any business with the city start to rake in millions of dollars after UFT President Mike Mulgrew's sister became it's COO while she was on leave from her teaching position with the DOE?

At the same time Mulgrew's sister's company is raking in the bucks, the UFT is caving left and right on teacher evaluations tied to test scores, Danielson, Common Core and all those other swell education reforms that have been used as bludgeons against teachers and schools.

Sure, maybe these two things are just coincidental, the UFT cave-in's would have happened without the Mulgrew-Daretany company raking in millions in DOE contracts.

But surely were you or I to become a COO of some tutoring company start-up, we would not rake in $40 million over our first ten years in the business.

The whole thing stinks and is just another example of how our political and union elites are nothing more than WWE wrestlers, putting on a show for us in the public ("Them's Fighting words!") while behind the scenes it's all one big pig trough of corruption and cronyism.

Monday, December 23, 2013

NYCDOE Chancellor Announcement Not Coming This Week - But De Blasio Did Appoint Former Goldman Sachs Employee To Administration Post

No chancellor announcement, but de Blasio did appoint a former employee of Goldman Sachs, the Vampire Squid of Wall Street, as a deputy mayor for urban affairs:
For all his campaign bluster against the two cities New York has become, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio isn't exactly shying away from some of the people who helped make it that way. This morning, the mayor-elect announced that Alicia Glen will serve as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, a newly created position that will aim to make housing more affordable, as well create living-wage jobs for New Yorkers.

"We need to invest in key emerging industries and affordable housing so New Yorkers have a better shot at working their way into the middle class. Alicia has the record, fresh ideas and bold outlook to make that vision a reality,” said de Blasio at this morning's press conference.

De Blasio discussed Glen's vast experience, but mostly skirted the topic of Glen's last position, as the head of Goldman Sachs's Urban Investment Group.

While at Goldman, Glen worked with the Bloomberg administration on the public-private partnerships that Bloomberg championed throughout his reign. In her speech this morning, Glen told the crowd that "we can’t remain the greatest city in the world when half of New Yorkers are living in or near poverty. We can do so much more to lift people up by investing in our neighborhoods—especially in the outer boroughs."

Here is a description of one high profile piece of Alicia Glen's previous work at Goldman:

Goldman Sachs is making its second foray into an experimental method of financing social services, lending up to $4.6 million for a childhood education program in Salt Lake City.

This “social impact bond,” in which Goldman stands to make money if the program is successful but will lose its investment if it fails, will support a preschool program intended to reduce the need for special education and remedial services. The upshot, in theory, is that taxpayers will not have to bear the upfront cost of the program.

Goldman is being joined in this effort by the Chicago investor J.B. Pritzker, who is providing a subordinate loan of up to $2.4 million, bringing the total financing to $7 million. The loans will be announced at an event in Chicago on Thursday.

“Social impact bonds are an entirely new way of financing things that have traditionally been paid for either through philanthropy or by taxpayer dollars,” said Alicia Glen, head of Goldman’s urban investment group.

Though the effectiveness of this type of financing remains unproved, it has gained a prominent adherent in New York City, which allowed Goldman to invest nearly $10 million in a jail program last year. The city was the first in the United States to test social impact bonds.

For Goldman, which could gain a public-relations benefit from the investment, Salt Lake City has become an important business center. The city is home to Goldman’s second-largest office in the United States, and the Wall Street firm held its annual meeting there in May.

The loans are going to the United Way of Salt Lake, which oversees the Utah High Quality Preschool Program. The investment’s success will be measured by the level of cost savings when children do not need to use special education services, which are financed by the state.

The loans carry an interest rate of 5 percent, which is paid along with the principal if the program is successful. In the best case, Goldman and Mr. Pritzker would make additional “success fees.”

“We’re creating something sustainable that has a focus on returns,” Mr. Pritzker said. “This titillates my interest in business and engages me.”

This type of financing, which was first used in Britain in 2010, has raised eyebrows. Data on the New York investment, focused on men incarcerated at Rikers Island, is not yet available.

“I think it’s distressing the degree to which a new industry has been built around social impact bonds before it’s ever been proven viable,” said Mark Rosenman, a professor emeritus at Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. “We ought to work it to fruition in a couple places before we start promoting it.”

Ah yes - creating financial instruments so that Goldman can makes bets on students who need support services, giving the program the incentive to find ways to "demonstrate" the children do not need these services.

Boy, that sounds like there could be no down side there.

And who helped come up with this new scheme but Alicia Glen, Bill de Blasio's new Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.

Maybe I'm just cynical, but it sounds to me like de Blasio just appointed the scum of the earth to be a deputy mayor.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

NY Times: APPR Teacher Evaluation System Complete Mess In NYC

Left another tweet for Sheriff Andy, this time with a link to a NY Times story chronicling the mess that it is his APPR teacher evaluation system:

A Christmas Wish

It's a traveling day for me, won't be back on the Internets until later this afternoon, but I wanted to leave this Christmas wish, via Leonie Haimson, before I head out on the road:

Andrew Cuomo: APPR Teacher Evaluation System "Costless Way To Improve Schools"

Responding to the Newsday article that reported Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told a middle school principal from Brooklyn that Andrew Cuomo screamed at her over the state's education reform agenda implementation, saying if she didn't get it done he'd get some guys to make sure she got it done (a story that Tisch denied happened), Carol Burris tweeted the following:

In response to Burris' tweet, Chris Cerrone tweeted this:

I have been posting the past few months how it is far past the time that we make Andrew Cuomo pay a political price for his education reform agenda.

There was a time when Cuomo bragged that this agenda was his, but ever since the parent revolt over Common Core, Endless Testing and inBloom, Cuomo has done his best to distance himself from the SED/Regents reforms.

But we know this is his reform agenda, we know he still wants it implemented, we know that the moneyed interests he serves want it implemented and we know that Cuomo will only walk back this reform agenda when he is made to pay a major political price for it.

And so, let's start making him pay that price.

We can begin by putting public pressure on him to take a stand on Common Core, inBloom, APPR, and the Endless Testing regime of SED and the Regents.

Here's a small beginning:

Give the governor a holler, either through email, phone call or tweet, and ask him if he continues to support his own education reform agenda. 

He's been weirdly silent over the whole thing, even going so far as to refer to the Common Core State Standards as a "national curriculum" in order to take some pressure off the state implementation of the standards.

Governor Cuomo must not be allowed to get away with staying silent on these matters.

If he wants to continue to support inBloom, Common Core, APPR and Endless testing as he has in the past, that's fine.

But he should say that rather than hide in the shadows and have Tisch and King do his dirty work for him.

And then, once parents and teachers see where Cuomo stands publicly on these matters that mean very much to them, they can take the appropriate political actions to make Andrew Cuomo pay a major political price for his selling out of students, teachers and schools to the privatizers and edu-entrepreneurs.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Calling Randi Weingarten Out On Her Bloomberg Criticism

Randi Weingarten on Twitter:

My response:

Here was Bloomberg back in 2008 on the help Randi Weingarten gave him for his education reforms:

“Chuck, thank you and good morning to everyone. I’m delighted to see such a big turnout. Usually, Randi is a proponent of no more than 20 listeners to every speaker. She even tries to write that into our contracts. But now that she is here in Washington, she’s adopted the policy of our senior Senator from New York – ‘Leave no microphone behind.’”
“So if you think that this is the last time you’re going to hear from her, I’m sorry, I’ve got news for you, we in New York don’t have to listen but you here in Washington do. Anyway, we are here to discuss the outcome of this year’s historic election, one that Washington is still buzzing about and the transition teams are working so hard on. It really is bringing ‘change that we can believe in.’ So Randi: Congratulations on your election.”

“I really am happy for you, all kidding aside. It’s the perfect job. It calls on all of your amazing talents and your wide experience. It also means that I won’t have to negotiate directly with you anymore. At least once you stop being both AFT president and head of the UFT. Isn’t there some kind of violation of holding two jobs at the same time? I mean, after all, I’m just trying to hold on to one job.

“The truth is that Randi can be a really tough negotiator. For example, about a year ago, when New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and I put our proposal for school-based bonuses on the bargaining table with the UFT, Randi told me, ‘Well, in New York City we’ve already got performance pay and that’s why the Mayor makes a dollar a year.'

“The fact is, we did come to an agreement on that bonus plan and it’s one, I think, that really does set a precedent for school systems across the country for rewarding good teachers for working in high-needs schools. And I think it is an example of how, by labor and management working together in New York, we’ve not only increased teachers’ salaries by 43 percent since 2002, we’ve also charted a course for giving our students the best big-city schools in the nation. And in my opinion, the relationship between our City government and the UFT – press coverage notwithstanding – shows just what can be achieved by working together.

“Unions have to be willing to be flexible and cities have to be willing to treat teachers like the professionals that they are – including paying them well. And I think that is the key to making progress; both things have to be true. In 2002, Randi provided critical support for our efforts to achieve mayoral responsibility for the City’s schools. And what we’ve accomplished in our schools since then: from work rule reforms to lengthening the school day for students who need it; to, for the first time, giving all our schools a fair budget deal to launching the school-based bonus plan that I mentioned earlier. All these measures show that, while the interests of school management and teachers’ unions aren’t always the same, and we won’t always agree on everything, we can find ways to work together and that includes our ability to find common ground on matters that have long been considered so-called ‘third rail’ issues.

“Schools everywhere need a big infusion of that kind of cooperation. This morning Randi is going to discuss ‘making the right choices about education and the economy.’ These choices really are critical to our nation’s future. Our schools are the engines that drive our economy but for too long, that engine, I think, has been stuck in neutral. And that’s why we’re losing high-skill jobs to nations that are more aggressively sharpening their competitive advantages through education.

“If we’re going to change that, we must have the courage to take a bold new approach to reforming education – a willingness to take good ideas from every part of the political spectrum, to address such issues as fundamentally improving the attractiveness – and the accountability – of the teaching profession. And I believe that the kind of innovative changes that we’ve achieved in New York City can be a model for the new Congress and for President-elect Obama – and such changes have to be a top priority.

“There’s a compact between teachers and government and that is the public has to be willing to reach into their pocket and tax themselves to pay our teachers fairly. We want the best and the brightest and I’ve never been ashamed about saying people that work hard and really make a difference deserve to be compensated, and I think compensated better than those who don’t. We all want the better things in life. None of us go into education, or into public service, to get rich; they are two professions where you cannot do that. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted the person at the front of the classroom to be worried about how to improve the educational experience for the students in front of him or her and not worried about how they’re going to pay their mortgage or whether they can afford a vacation this year.

“So this morning, I am pleased to introduce someone who really is ready, I think, to put educational reform on the front burner. She and I have worked together. We share breakfast every couple of weeks at the same Greek diner, although I will say she reached into her pocketbook to pick up the tab once. And she does make an awful lot more than I do. She’s someone who has already shown the vision and the willingness to help lead our nation’s schools in new directions; she’s done it in New York City.

Weingarten is so full of crap every time she opens her mouth in criticism of Bloomberg.

She was integral to the Bloomberg Reform Agenda when she was leading the UFT and later when she moved over to the AFT.

She's not the only labor leader to "collaborate" in the destruction of schools or the teaching profession.

The heads of the NEA and the NYSUT come to mind too, as do various locals around the country, from Baltimore to New Haven to Newark.

But Weingarten is by far the most prominent and attention-hungry of the labor leader sell-outs.

Weingarten MUST not be allowed to rewrite the history of the Bloomberg Era.

The destruction of the Bloomberg Years could NOT have played out the way they did with Randi Weingarten's and the UFT's complicity.

Sure, she got teacher raises for her "collaboration" with Bloomberg.

But the salary increases teachers received for conceding on seniority and other givebacks has in the end turned into blood money.

Class Size Up, Teacher Numbers Down While Edu-Entrepreneurs Get Fat Off Reform

From the NY Times:

COATESVILLE, Pa. — The recession may have ended, but many of the nation’s school districts that laid off teachers and other employees to cut payrolls in leaner times have not yet replenished their ranks. Now, despite the recovery, many schools face unwieldy class sizes and a lack of specialists to help those students who struggle academically, are learning English as a second language or need extra emotional support.

There's no money for small class sizes, more teachers or specialists to help students who struggle academically, are learning English as a second language or need emotional supports.

There is only money for the Endless Testing regime, the technology and curriculum consultants that come along with that regime, and the data collection projects and accountability systems that will be used to make sure the Endless testing regime remains unchallenged.

Time To Make Andrew Cuomo Pay Politically For His Teacher Evaluation Reforms

Carol Burris in the Times Union on how to reduce the damage over-testing is doing to students, teachers and schools:

The real solutions are simple but courageous. First, follow the lead of California and do not engage in grade 3-8 testing this year. Have early childhood experts review the standards and curriculum to determine whether they are indeed appropriate for young children, and fix what is not. Then roll back testing time to 2010 levels.

Second, admit the hastily enacted teacher evaluation plan is a root cause of both overtesting and teaching to the test. After the first year of the evaluations, 92 percent New York State teachers were found to be effective or high effective. Is this worth the cost?

Third, stop the contract with InBloom. The parent portals to their children's data that the firm was to develop should be kept within the districts.

It is obvious that the state Education Department leadership has badly botched these reforms. Shortly, the terms of four Regents are up. The Legislature must choose candidates who will responsibly set reform and manage change.

If the Legislature is serious about the concerns they heard, this may be the most effective "fix" of all.

As I wrote yesterday, Governor Cuomo is heavily invested in this APPR teacher evaluation system because it is his teacher evaluation system.

This system is not going anywhere so long as Sheriff Andy Cuomo isn't made to pay a political price for his APPR teacher evaluations.

It is time to make him pay for his education reform agenda.

Cuomo is running for re-election in 2014, he wants to run for president in 2016.

If every parent and teacher who is alarmed by the overtesting in NY State, by the teacher evaluation system that mandates so much of that overtesting, by the Common Core that imposes Endless Assessing as part of the deal, and by the inBloom data project that is going to track much of this data and hand it over to edu-entrepreneurs lets Andrew Cuomo know that they will NOT vote for him in 2014, indeed, will actively work against him because of his destructive education policies, you can bet those policies will change.

Cuomo is a bully who wants his own way on everything and has no problem threatening people to make that happen.

But like most bullies, he is also a coward and when confronted by large numbers of people opposing his policies, he will fold like his pal Billy Joel at a DWI checkpoint.

Let's make 2014 the year that Andrew Cuomo finally faces political realities - if he continues to impose his education reform agenda, even in secret using Tisch and King as his front people for it, he will pay a dear political price.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

There Is Money For Municipal Worker Raises In NYC

Every time the subject of all those expired municipal union contracts comes up at the NY Post and other right wing media outlets, we hear how the city is broke, the city cannot afford raises for workers, employee benefit packages are turning NYC into Detroit blah blah blah.

But the reality is this:

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio may be inheriting a city in better financial shape than he had expected.
New York will end the current fiscal year with a surplus of $2.4 billion — “$581 million more than projected by the Bloomberg administration,” according to a new fiscal forecast from the city Independent Budget Office released Thursday.

The budget office also projects a surplus of $1.9 billion for fiscal year 2015.

The extra money should ease the financial pressures faced by de Blasio, including a demand by the city’s unions — which have been working without contracts for as long as four years — for $7 billion in retroactive pay.

In addition, we learned the following about the national economy this week:

Boosting optimism for the new year ahead, the government announced Friday that the economy in the third quarter grew at its fastest rate in nearly two years and much better than previously estimated.
Higher consumer spending was largely responsible for the economy's annual growth rate of 4.1% from July through September, the Commerce Department said. Last month, it estimated a 3.6% rate.

In the second quarter the economy grew at a 2.5% annual pace.

The latest estimate of last quarter's gross domestic product — that's the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S. -- marked the first time since late 2011 that quarterly GDP growth exceeded 4%.

Last quarter's better-than-expected performance was spurred by consumers spending more over the summer on health care, recreation and other services.

The government says consumer spending grew at an annual rate of 2.0%, up from 1.6% in its previous estimate last month.

"The consumer is back in the game," exulted Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, in a client note Friday. "Is this economic growth fast enough to put America back to work? The answer is, yes. The wheels of the economy are turning fast enough to bring down the unemployment rate further. "

Business investment also increased, growing at a 4.8% annual rate, 1.3 percentage points better than the government's earlier estimate.

The report sparked a rally on Wall Street, driving the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.3% and the Standard & Poor's 500 index 0.5% to new records.

Many economists predict fourth-quarter growth will not match last quarter's because the third quarter's large increase in business stockpiles won't be repeated in this period. But they're also optimistic about next year.

Friday's GDP report suggests that the U.S. economy entered the fourth quarter "with more momentum than had previously been thought to be the case," said Richard Moody, chief economist of Regions Financial Corp. "And we expect that momentum to build further in 2014."

A larger than expected budget surplus for NYC in 2014, a budget surplus for 2015 as well and the economy looking like it finally has started to turn around, with consumers and businesses both spending (which may mean even higher revenues than forecast)  - these are good signs for NYC, for the de Blasio administration and for municipal workers.

The Posties and other benefits scolds may say NYC is heading the way of Detroit because of municipal worker contracts and benefits, but it's just not true.

And if the economy continues at a 3%-4% growth pace for the next few quarters, as some analysts say it might, there will be money for workers' raises, no matter how sad that will make Bloomberg or Murdoch or the pension trolls at Gotham Schools.

Taking Back Newark From The Privatizers

In case you missed this:

Electing a pro-public school mayor to Newark would be a big thing, a really big thing.

Hedge fund crony Cory Booker has gone on to do bigger and more damaging things at the federal level now, but maybe, just maybe, somebody can come in after him in Newark and clean up the privatized mess he left there.

Carol Burris: Tisch Did Blame Cuomo, But It Was Over APPR Teacher Evaluations

I managed to miss this tweet when I was writing up this morning's post about Andrew Cuomo going Corleone on Merryl Tisch over Common Core.

First, let's recap the story:

Newsday reported that a principal from a middle school in Red Hook said the following:

Karyann (Katie) Zahedi, principal of Linden Middle School in Red Hook, told the panel of Assembly members Wednesday night that she and other educators strongly expressed their concerns to Tisch about the Common Core, which has generated controversy around the state.

  “She was frustrated that we were so critical,” Zahedi, speaking of Tisch, told an audience that included parents and educators.

  “She said to me: ‘How would you like to be in my position?’” Zahedi continued. “This is what she says: ‘I’m at the governor’s mansion and he shouts at me that if you don’t get this done, if you don’t get this through, I’ll put three geniuses in a room and I’ll force it down your throats.’”

Tisch told Newsday the conversation never happened and Cuomo's office "deferred" to Tisch on the matter.

Leonie Haimson tweeted the following yesterday:

Carol Burris responded with this:

Now that makes so much more sense than the original story that came out about Cuomo getting Tony Soprano on Tisch over Common Core.

As I wrote earlier, I have little doubt that Andrew Cuomo wants Common Core implemented - after all, he has taken an awful lot of campaign cash from the moneyed interests who are pushing Common Core -  but he's even more invested in getting APPR shoved down the throats of the people in the state because that is his program.

Cuomo pushed APPR, Cuomo stuck a mandate into the budget that districts had to have an APPR evaluation system in place for teachers last year or lose an increase in state aid, Cuomo touted APPR in his State of the State addresses, Cuomo is APPR for all practical purposes.

APPR becomes a problem for Cuomo now because it is one of the main reasons why there is so much testing in schools.

It is Cuomo's APPR evaluation system that mandates 40% of a teacher's rating comes from "objective" measures like "performance assessments" (ie., education geekspeak for "tests") and "state assessments."

As students, parents and teachers across the state have risen up in revolt against the Endless Testing regime imposed by SED and the Regents, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and SED Commissioner King have claimed that the state is not imposing all these tests, that it's the local districts that are doing this.

In part, that's true - but they're doing it because of Andrew Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation system, which mandates teachers be rated using both the state tests and performance assessments at the local level.

In addition, even if the local assessments are done away with, the emphasis on testing remains in APPR because it mandates 40% of a teacher's rating come from "objective measures" (i.e., test scores.)

Whether the 40% of the rating comes from two sets of tests or one big state test, the FEAR that overwhelms students, teachers, and administrators over all of this testing remains.

So I can believe that Cuomo told Tisch to get APPR shoved down people's throats or he would send in some people to do it for her - this is Cuomo's baby, and if it the rebellion over APPR continues to spread, he just might be forced to have to back down on these evaluation systems he imposed on districts and bragged about as being "state of the art."

As I noted in my earlier piece, we'll put him on the record over this in 2014 as he runs for re-election.

He wants to run for president in 2016, so he wants to run up the score in 2014 to make like he's a viable candidate.

He does not want a rebellion brewing over APPR, Common Core, inBloom or anything else that might take away 5%-10% points from his re-election totals.

And given the anger over APPR, Common Core, testing and inBloom, Cuomo's education reform agenda could do just that.

Andrew Cuomo Allegedly Goes Corleone On Merryl Tisch

Newsday has a very interesting story out tonight about something Merryl Tisch allegedly told to a middle school principal from Red Hook:

A Long Island Republican has posted on the Internet video from a forum this week on the Common Core academic standards where a Hudson Valley middle school principal relayed a conversation she said she had with state Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch, touching on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

  In it, the principal says Tisch told her the governor pressured the chancellor, in no uncertain terms, to make the Common Core rollout work. A spokesman for Tisch says the story isn’t true.

  Here’s how it unfolded:

   Karyann (Katie) Zahedi, principal of Linden Middle School in Red Hook, told the panel of Assembly members Wednesday night that she and other educators strongly expressed their concerns to Tisch about the Common Core, which has generated controversy around the state.

  “She was frustrated that we were so critical,” Zahedi, speaking of Tisch, told an audience that included parents and educators.

  “She said to me: ‘How would you like to be in my position?’” Zahedi continued. “This is what she says: ‘I’m at the governor’s mansion and he shouts at me that if you don’t get this done, if you don’t get this through, I’ll put three geniuses in a room and I’ll force it down your throats.’”

It's possible Tisch is just putting the blame on Sheriff Andy, but knowing how Cuomo operates, Tisch's story is believable too.

I'm sure Cuomo wants Common Core implemented because he took a bunch of DFER money and hedge fundie cash to get it implemented (along with the charter school cap lifted, teacher evaluations tied to test scores, and the testing regime in the state "strengthened.")

I can believe Cuomo got in her face when the pushback against the Core, the Endless Testing, the APPR teacher evaluation system and inBloom intensified and started making the papers.
I can believe he is totally on board the Ed Deform Express behind the scenes and still pushing this stuff, even as students, parents and teachers around the state turn against it.

And I can believe he got totally tough behind the scenes, telling her this shit better get done or Luca Brasi's ghost is going to visit SED and the Board of Regents and get make them an offer they can't refuse.

It's completely in Cuomo's character to take no responsibility for the ed deform agenda in public anymore, to actually run from questions and make like he's never heard of this Common Core thing before, while pushing behind the scenes to get it done.

He's a bully and a coward, but in 2014 we're going to get him on the public record over this stuff, starting with his State of the State speech.