Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cuomo Will Win Working Families Party Ballot Line

Heard earlier from Kos that  

Cuomo having to kiss Bill de Blasio's butt in public, along that of the WFP. That base humiliation alone might be worth the price of admission.

Not much base humiliation in recording a video in his backyard and having it replayed at the WFP convention.

Of course Andy couldn't make it because Sandra Lee had just made dinner and I dunno if you've had her baked macaroni and cheese, the kind with the breadcrumbs on top, but it is just delicious and Andy didn't want to run up to Albany and miss all that yummy yummy dinner...

What a joke the Working Families Party is.

Should rename the party Whitney Tilson's Family's Party.

Say No To Cuomoccio

This sign held by somebody at the Working Families Party convention in Albany says it all:

Indeed, no one believes Cuomo intends to live up to whatever deal he is supposed to be making in order to get the Working Families Party line:

Why make a deal with a politician who has no intention of keeping it?

Just say no to Cuomoccio.

Consensus Is, Cuomo Has No Intention Of Fulfilling Any Deal With Working Families Party

From Times reporter Nick Confessore:

What it says is that the WFP officials, politicians and union leaders pushing this deal are corrupt and/or short-sighted, the WFP rank-and-file who accept it are naive, and Andrew Cuomo is once again exposed as a lying, finagling, backstabbing corporatist weasel.

Markos Moulitsas Says Working Families Party Could Win A "Stunning" Victory With Cuomo Endorsement Deal

Kos writes how much he likes the "deal" that is said to be in the offing for the Working Families Party endorsement of Andrew Cuomo:

This is all "insider" sources and all, so take with appropriate grain of salt. But the report says that the deal would include:

- Cuomo having to kiss Bill de Blasio's butt in public, along that of the WFP. That base humiliation alone might be worth the price of admission.

- Cuomo pledges support for state DREAM Act and minimum wage increase, both of which would dramatically improve the lives of people in the state.

- But how does he get that through the Senate? Well, he gives up his tacit support for the turncoat Democrats who have given control of the chamber to minority Republicans. He either tells them "rejoin the Democrats, or I'll back the primaries against you." Of course, we still back those primary challenges, but regardless the outcome, the GOP is left in the cold. Advantage the good guys, again.

- Public financing of elections is a big deal. The governor promised it, then he decided to only apply it to one of his political Democratic enemies, and only this election. A recommitment to real public financing would be fantastic.

All in all, this would be a stunning surrender by the governor, and a stunning victory by the Working Families Party. If these reports are true and that's what's on the table, take the deal.

A commenter on Kos' post named Darth Stateworker says there's nothing "stunning" about this alleged deal:



They're giving him the line because he agreed to be a Democrat.

There's nothing "stunning" about that.  Rather, it's pathetic.  You shouldn't have to get a Democratic governor in a very blue state to pledge to actually govern like a Democrat.

As a New Yorker, I'd rather they ran their own candidate.  This does deal does little to weaken Andrew Cuomo in the eyes of most state voters, so there's nothing to say this asshole won't simply go right back to his old bullshit as soon as the election is over.

He needed to be taught a lesson.  A real lesson.  And the only lesson he's being taught here is that he can run roughshod over the base and still get their votes if he does a big "Kumbaya!  Everybody loves everybody!" meeting with a few prominent liberals in public.

I am disgusted by this turn of events - not pleased.  I most certainly don't view it as a victory - and I live here.

I'm with Darth Stateworker here - Cuomo needed to be taught a lesson and you can bet having a third party candidate on the WFP ballot line running around the state campaigning on how much a corporatist Cuomo is would have gone a long way toward teaching him that lesson, as would a WFP candidate taking double digits in votes away from him.

Instead the lesson a corporatist Democrat has learned once again is that the unions will consistently sell out their members for political expediency, that it always pays to screw the little people in favor of the corporate/Wall Street interests and that, in the end, all it takes to smooth things over is a little carrot-and-stick diplomacy around convention time.

Some of the WFP/Cuomo melodrama remains to be played out here and there is still an outside chance this brokered deal falls apart.

But it looks like Sheriff Andy Cuomo is going to get his way with the Working Families Party and have the opportunity to run roughshod over GOP opponent Rob Astorino in November without having to worry about an opponent from the left taking 15%+ in support away from him.

Time to go Green.

Charter School Proponent Carl Icahn Probed For Insider Trading

Now for a charter school insider trading story.

No, this is not about Whitney Tilson and that funky little Barnes and Noble thing from 2012.

This is about Carl Icahn, some sports and gambling pals and Clorox:

The feds are investigating whether golf legend Phil Mickelson, billionaire investor Carl Icahn and Vegas gambling kingpin William “Billy” Walters took part in an insider-trading scheme, federal law-enforcement sources told The Post Friday.

The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission suspect that Mickelson and Walters illegally traded on nonpublic information from Icahn about his investments in public companies — specifically his attempted takeover of ­Clorox, the sources said.

The two-year investigation was launched after Icahn made a $10 billion offer for Clorox in July 2011, causing the stock to skyrocket amid a rash of suspicious trading, according to sources with knowledge of the probe.

The feds and Manhattan federal prosecutors are examining Mickelson’s and Walters’ trading patterns to determine whether they profited by trading Clorox as its stock price spiked.

Investigators believe that Icahn, 78, may have passed potentially profitable information to Walters — who is well-known in Las Vegas for his big bets on sports — and that the gambler may have passed some tips along to Mickelson, federal sources told The Post.

Both Mickelson and Walters made similar trades in Clorox stock at about the same time, the sources said.

The investigators also examined phone records for Icahn and Walters, 67, to see whether the two men spoke shortly before the trades.

Icahn is a proponent of charter schools and has helped fund seven charter schools through his philanthropic organization.

All seven charters are named for him.

The Wall Street Journal reports no case may ever be brought against Icahn, Mickelson, or Walters:

There is no indication the government will bring a case in the current investigation, the people briefed on the probe said. Indeed, publicity of the probe could jeopardize the government's ability to put together any potential case, they said, by limiting its ability to covertly gather evidence.

The investigation signals that the FBI and the SEC are concerned about a potential dark side of shareholder activism. Activist investors push for broad changes at companies or try to move stock prices with their arguments. Mr. Icahn, a 78-year-old billionaire, has come to epitomize such activism in U.S. boardrooms.

But the Journal also reports there was much funkiness around the Clorox deal:

The government investigation began three years ago after Mr. Icahn accumulated a 9.1% stake in Clorox Co. CLX +0.16% in February 2011, said the people briefed on the probe. On July 15, 2011, he made a $10.2 billion offer for Clorox that caused the stock to jump.

Well-timed trading around the time of his bid caught the attention of investigators, who began digging into the suspicious trading in Clorox stock, the people familiar with the probe said. 

On Wall Street, rumors had swirled that word leaked out ahead of Mr. Icahn's Clorox bid. Large, highly risky trades had been made in Clorox options four days before his bid. After his $76.50-a-share offer was announced, those options soared in value along with Clorox shares, which closed on July 15 up 8.9% at $74.55.

Investigators have examined trades in Clorox options, the people briefed on the probe said. 

Clorox rejected Mr. Icahn's overture. He launched a proxy battle in August 2011, proposing a slate to replace the company's board with 11 of his nominees. In September 2011, he dropped his proxy battle.
By December 2011, he had sold his entire 12 million shares in the company. Clorox shares, which reached a high in 2011 just after Mr. Icahn's bid, closed at around $66 at the end 2011. A Clorox spokeswoman declined to comment.

I'm sure Icahn will manage to extricate himself from any problems here, but this episode is just another example of some of the corruption that infects these charter school proponents and edu-entrepreneurs.

The UFT Sold You Out To Cuomo

The next time you hear any jive out of the UFT or AFT leaderships about holding Andrew Cuomo accountable for his policies, remember that the unions helped to engineer the Working Families Party endorsement of Andrew Cuomo by threatening the party with financial "collapse" if Cuomo wasn't given the nod.

The UFT wasn't the only union to pull the strings for Cuomo - other unions that threatened the WFP with destruction over the Cuomo endorsement included 1199 SEIU, HTC, the laborers, RWDSU, the Teamsters and TWU, the union that Cuomo just "negotiated" a contract agreement for.

And what did the unions get back in return for trying to ensure Cuomo doesn't have a third party candidate on his left calling him Republican-Lite all throughout the campaign and taking double digits in support from him come Election Day?

Empty promises, that's what:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Working Families Party’s leadership have reached a tentative agreement that could give the incumbent Democrat the labor-backed organization’s ballot line, according to sources familiar with the agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cuomo would support local control for a minimum wage increase — a proposal he has previously opposed — as well as back a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate.

An additional source on Friday evening added that the situation remains fluid, and Cuomo must convince the WFP’s state committee he is firmly behind a variety of issues, including fully funding the Campaign of Fiscal Equity agreement as well as other measures such as decriminalizing certain amounts of marijuana and backing the women’s agenda, a package of bills the governor first introduced in 2013.

Keep in mind Cuomo has wanted a Republican Senate throughout his tenure so he could push through his Wall Street-friendly policies, and while he may promise to back a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate as part of this deal, his priorities of having the Senate stay the place where he can push his Wall Street-friendly policies remain.

Don't be surprised if he doesn't work all that hard to knock off Republican State Senators or push the Independent Democratic Caucus Dems back into the full Democratic fold.

And if the Senate doesn't turn, then the rest of that agenda he promised to push goes nowhere and Cuomo blames it on the State Senate he didn't do much to push toward full Democratic control.

In short, the unions and WFP got nothing politically out of this deal with Cuomo, though I would expect each of the unions involved will get something contractually out of Cuomo as payback.

For teachers, that means some lame change to APPR that will be in the end meaningless because Cuomo doesn't really want to make any changes to the system and still intends to run for president in 2016 or 2020 touting his education record and his APPR teacher evaluation system.

The union leadership sold you out, folks, and they sold out the Working Families Party as well and exposed their true priorities in the deal - maintaining their own power, privilege and access.

There will be some talk from Weingrew later on about how they refused to have their unions endorse Cuomo and in that way showed how they were standing up to Cuomo over his education policies.

That talk will be a snow job because the real sellout was done this week when the UFT leadership (with the total okay of the AFT leadership, to be sure) helped to engineer the WFP endorsement of one Wall Street-friendly Andrew M. Cuomo for a second term as governor.

All I can say is, let's see if we can get the Howie Hawkins/Brian Jones ticket into double digits this November.

And in two years, let's mount a challenge to Michael Mulgrew and the UFT leadership and try and put in some people who have the interests of their members at heart and not their own power, privilege and access.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cuomo, WFP Reach Deal Over Ballot Line

Brokered by Bill de Blasio, of all people:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Working Families Party’s leadership have reached an agreement that could give the incumbent Democrat the labor-backed organization’s ballot line, according to sources familiar with the agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cuomo would support local control for a minimum wage increase — a proposal he has previously opposed — as well as back a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate.

Whether Cuomo can and will deliver on these items given his working relationship with Republicans in the state Senate remains to be seen.

The agreement comes as WFP activists appeared close to coalescing around the candidacy of Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor. The WFP plans to holds its own nominating convention on Saturday outside of Albany.

But negotiations between the WFP and Cuomo’s camp behind the scenes stretched throughout the day, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio playing a large role in the talks.

De Blasio, a liberal Democrat, had publicly and privately advocated on Cuomo’s behalf for the WFP to grant him the ballot line.

One source described de Blasio’s efforts as “super helpful.”

Is de Blasio suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or did he get something in return for mediating negotiations between Cuomo and WFP?

If you remember, it was just a short while ago that Cuomo took every opportunity to stick it to de Blasio over not just charter schools but issue after issue.

Anthony Weiner even noted how putzy Cuomo was to de Blasio in a DN piece.

Now de Blasio helps save the day for Sheriff Andy.

My guess is, seconds after the election is over, Cuomo starts sticking it to de Blasio and the unions again.

Hard to know if this is Stockholm Syndrome, stupidity or a sell-out, but whatever the hell it is, it sucks.

But again, not unexpected.

Salon Reports Deal For Cuomo Endorsement By Working Families Party Could Be "Imminent"

And so we come to the inevitable sellout:

As the Working Families Party prepares to meet in Albany on Saturday to select law professor Zephyr Teachout as its gubernatorial candidate, an 11th-hour deal is being hashed out between the party and governor Andrew Cuomo that could leave that plan in shambles. According to numerous sources, talks are heating up Friday evening and a deal “could be imminent” that results in Cuomo getting the party’s ballot line. The line is particularly important to Cuomo because it would mean eliminating a vocal critic on his left, and would mean avoiding splitting votes with a candidate who polls showed could split his margin of victory in half.

One source cautioned that any arrangement reached between the sides would still have to be approved by the WFP’s state committee tomorrow, which is composed of activists who are not fond of Cuomo.

As for the contours of the deal, they would appear to include a shift by the governor that would include declaring a new progressive agenda, expressing a newfound devotion to key planks of the party’s platform such as public financing of elections, a DREAM Act and a minimum wage increase. To overcome the problem of much of the party not trusting the governor’s word, the agenda would be unveiled at a big public event with WFP allies, perhaps as soon as this weekend, in which the governor would stand with key players of the state’s institutional left (including de Blasio) — and declare his support for it.

And as soon as the deal is announced, Cuomo will begin to look for ways to finagle out of it.

Again, not surprised that the Cuomo/WFP melodrama would end this way.

But it's disappointing nonetheless.

It looks like the UFT leadership was behind sticking the shiv into WFP rank-and-file earlier by threatening to pull back union funds for the party if Cuomo was not given the endorsement.

And out of the "move left" that WFP and the unions get for the endorsement?

No movement on education issues at all - at least not publicly.

I suspect we'll get some jive-ass change to APPR before the end of the legislative session next month, but the reality is, Cuomo gives up nothing tangible to get this endorsement.

Nonetheless, the showdown with WFP members will be remembered by liberals and progressives if he tries to run for president.

Cuomo Is A "Right-Wing Douchebag"

Andrew Cuomo and his courtiers at the unions have spent the past couple of days threatening Working Families Party members if the WFP convention does not give Cuomo their endorsement.

The union heads have threatened to pull back funds from the party and Buzzfeed reported that Cuomo is trying to convince other Democratic Party politicians from taking their endorsement to try and starve WFP of votes.

In that Buzzfeed article, one unnamed New York Dem puts the whole thing into perspective:

People close to the party say Cuomo may find it hard to win at the convention.

“They’ve actually built a part that is full of true believers — and nobody in the rank and file believes the government promises,” said one person close to the WFP.

“The core activists are asking, ‘How can we endorse this guy? He’s a right-wing douchebag,’” said a New York Democrat.

Cuomo's been damaged by this fight already by having to come out into the open and threaten WFP with destruction if they don't bow to him:

Cuomo is fighting for the endorsement — but the legendarily brass-knuckles governor’s new move is going further, and attempting to do deep damage to a party that has become one of the most powerful progressive institutions in the country.

Cuomo already has a reputation for being a "right-wing douchbag" among the Daily Kossack class.

After this showdown with the WFP rank-and-file, his chances of winning the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 or 2020 become as good as Scott Walker's.

I suspect in the end, the union leader threats and Cuomo's hardball tactics will win the day for him and he'll get the WFP nod.

But even if that happens, he comes out of that "victory" diminished and wounded.

And there's still a good chance that enough WFP rank-and-file get pissed off at the hardball tactics, say "Screw it!" and put Zephyr Teachout on the WFP line.

UFT, Other Union Leaders Threaten Working Families Party Over Cuomo Endorsement

You knew the union leaders wouldn't allow for Working Families Party to endorse anybody over Sheriff Andy Cuomo.

With the WFP convention this weekend and many rank-and-file calling for the party to endorse Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout over Andrew Cuomo, the union leaders made their move today and threatened the party with dissolution:

When Working Families Party state committee members gather at their convention tomorrow, far more than the endorsement for governor will be at stake.
The very future of the labor-backed party will be on the line, and according to one labor source, the damage done by the disagreement over whether or not to back Gov. Andrew Cuomo again may very well be irreparable.
“Regardless of what happens now, the way the party has conducted itself has done lasting damage to relationships with key (union) affiliates,” the source said. “It’s unclear if the party will ever be the same.”
Union leaders were burning up the phone lines this morning, discussing whether the time had finally come to pull their support of the party they helped create and have financially sustained since 1998.
According to another labor source involved in these talks, a number of the largest and most significant unions – including 1199 SEIU, HTC, the laborers, RWDSU, and the UFT – were prepared to call it quits with the WFP, knowing that their withdrawal could very well lead to the party’s “collapse.”
The Teamsters and TWU were also involved in these discussions, which were far enough along to warrant talk of drafting of a joint statement, although one was never actually released.

Just another example of union leadership looking to negotiate the terms of exploitation with the powers that be.

I'm surprised by none of this - these union leaders are all crooks and corporate cronies, and while they sometimes talk a good game for their members, mostly they care about maintaining their own power and privilege.

That means doing business with corporatists like Andrew M. Cuomo no matter the cost for the working people of New York State.

Get Ready For Some More Gates- And Helmsley-Funded Common Core Propaganda

Here's some "grassroots" support for the Common Core:

ALBANY—Critics of the Common Core in New York have been winning the debate about the controversial education standards, but now they'll face a counterattack backed by a considerable investment.

High Achievement New York, a nonprofit coalition of mostly business groups, plans to launch a roughly $500,000 phone and digital advertising campaign over the next several weeks in an attempt to promote the controversial curriculum standards.


While most of the coalition members are business groups, including several chambers of commerce, the membership also includes advocacy groups that have been vocal in supporting the Common Core and other education reforms, including Educators4Excellence and StudentsFirstNY. The latter has been a major supporter of charter schools.

A spokesman for High Achievement New York would not disclose information about the nonprofit's finances. The spokesman said the bulk of the funding will be grants from philanthropic organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The group has applied for grants and expects to receive them.

Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Gates Foundation and some astroturf education reform groups funded by Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Gates Foundation - you just can't get more grassroots than that, can you?

 Bakeman calls the $500,000 for the pro-CCSS campaign a "considerable investment,"  but given how much money these groups have and given how much they have spent in the past on other education reform efforts, I think that they're only spending $500K on this campaign is quite telling.

In the end, I don't think a half million dollars for pro-CCSS robocalls and a digital ad campaign is going to move the needle much on the opposition to Common Core.

If they really wanted to try and persuade people to their cause, they'd go up with a coordinated TV ad blitz the way Moskowitz did over the charter co-locations and put millions behind it.

Even then, I don't think they'd move too many people over to their side, given that the CCSS issue doesn't give ad makers the built-in melodrama the co-location issue gave the Moskowitz ad makers ("Why does Mayor de Blasio hate our children?")

That they're only ponying up $500,000 for the pro-CCSS phone and digital ad campaign tells you that even Gates and Helmsley are starting to lose faith in winning the CCSS propaganda battle.

They're making the effort, sure, but if they really wanted to win, they'd be throwing Moskowitz money into this propaganda war.

Working Families Party Co-Chair Warns Cuomo Is Unlikely To Get WFP Ballot Line

From the NY Times:

For weeks now, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat seeking re-election this year, has been working behind the scenes to soothe misgivings by the leadership of a small but influential political party made up of labor unions and liberal activists who believe his policies have veered too far to the right.

Late on Thursday, a co-chairwoman of that group, the Working Families Party, said Mr. Cuomo’s efforts were not likely to be successful.

“Unless there is a significant new development in the next 24 hours, I don’t expect the state committee to endorse the governor,” said the co-chairwoman, Karen Scharff, who as executive director of the liberal advocacy group Citizen Action of New York wields considerable influence in the party.

Instead, she said, the party expects to put its support behind an academic with scarcely any chance to defeat Mr. Cuomo: Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor who was the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential bid.

I'm still skeptical WFP leaders and the labor unions that provide much of the funding for the party allow anybody on the WFP line other than Cuomo.

But clearly this statement by the WFP co-chair is a warning to Cuomo that he has 24 more hours to come up with something tangible for liberal activists to rally around or he's got serious trouble.

What can happen if WFP nominates a candidate other than Cuomo?

A poll of state voters conducted this month by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Cuomo with the support of 57 percent of voters, compared with 28 percent who backed his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

But in a hypothetical matchup with an unnamed Working Families Party candidate, Mr. Cuomo’s share of the vote shrank to 37 percent, compared with 24 percent for Mr. Astorino and 22 percent for the unnamed candidate.

I think it would be hard for a WFP candidate to come near the 22%, but any double digit tally for a WFP candidate would be a serious dent into Cuomo's re-election totals and make the Election Day story that Governor Cuomo won re-election with less than 50% of the vote.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Scott Walker To Fund Raise For Rob Astorino

For teachers flirting with the idea of voting for Rob Astorino, the GOP candidate for governor, as a protest against Andrew Cuomo, take note of this:

Gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino is getting a boost from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at a fundraiser next month, the Republican candidate’s campaign confirmed.

Tickets for the June 9 event at Manhattan’s Union League Club start at $500 and run as high as $2,500.

The fundraiser with Walker is one of the more high-profile events for Astorino since he announced his candidacy this year.

And Walker, a potential Republican candidate for president, is one of the more prominent political figures to come to New York on Astorino’s behalf.

Walker has been blasted by the left for his policies toward unions in his state, but he survived a recall campaign in 2012.

If Working Families Party ends up endorsing Andrew Cuomo for governor, teachers looking to protest Cuomo's corporatist education policies can back Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins for governor.

If WFP nominates their own candidate to take on Cuomo, people can vote on the WFP line.

I don't care how much Astorino claims to be opposed to Common Core.

His stances on so many other issues are too right-wing - and Scott Walker's raising funds for Astorino puts an exclamation point on that.

Progressive should not vote for Astorino under any circumstances.

Andrew Cuomo's Tough 48 Hours Ahead

Blake Zeff lays out what is at stake for Andrew Cuomo in the next two days:

This is it, folks; years of sparring, speculation and scheming in New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s battle with the left is about to come to a head. Sometime in the next 48 hours, the fiscally conservative governor will learn whether the liberal Working Families Party (WFP) will choose him — or someone else — to run on its ballot line in his reelection this fall.

Here’s what’s at stake. If he gets WFP’s backing, Cuomo will neutralize what potentially could have been a loud and damaging critic from the left, and he’ll secure a much larger margin of victory by avoiding facing another opponent. (Polls show that the addition of a liberal third-party candidate to the race could put Cuomo’s vote total under 40 percent and reduce his margin of victory to the teens). If he doesn’t, there will be branding setbacks, national embarrassment and the possibility of finishing his reelection with a majority of voters choosing someone else. For a pol with national ambitions, these are more than mild irritants.

Zeff writes that if the WFP chooses not to endorse Cuomo, Zephyr Teachout is the leading candidate to get the nod, not Diane Ravitch - but that opposition to the Cuomo endorsement from within the WFP appears to have "softened" since a meeting with the governor and "key party officials" on Tuesday.

Still, Zeff says that there is enough opposition to the Cuomo endorsement remaining that for Sheriff Andy to get a WFP nod, there must be a come to Jesus moment for the governor:

As described in today’s Times, one scenario being considered is one in which the governor would hold a public event “express[ing] his intent to help the Democrats reclaim the [state] Senate” if Republicans fail to pass a public financing bill. But several insiders say that it will take much more than this to sell the party’s rank and file on a governor they see as the biggest enemy to their economic agenda. These sources say that to have a chance to get members to back Cuomo, it may require something along the lines of a big kumbaya-type press conference with all the major players of the state’s institutional left — the governor, Mayor Bill de Blasio (who is playing a real peace-making role behind the scenes), WFP, and major labor unions — coming together to declare several things.

First, the united groups — including unions like 1199 and the Hotel Trades Council, which backed a Republican state senate in recent years — would declare the need for a Democratic state senate. For WFP members to be interested, they’d like to see the governor say he will help fund primary challenges to the Independent Democratic Caucus — a band of breakaway Democrats now caucusing with Republicans — with millions of dollars if they don’t rejoin the party in earnest. Further, they’d want to see him put real money and energy behind an effort to peel off additional seats for Democrats, ensuring a lasting senate majority that has eluded Democrats — and real progressive governance in the state — for decades. Finally, party activists say they want to hear the governor declare his intent to deliver a progressive wish-list including not only public financing of elections, but other items like a minimum wage increase and DREAM Act.

While the party’s members do not trust the governor’s word — because he’s pledged fealty to progressive agenda items in the past, but declined to deliver — the thinking here is that if unions and the mayor are there to enforce this plan, it would assume greater legitimacy.

Earlier today I wondered why Bill de Blasio was promoting Andrew Cuomo so heavily to the Working Families Party.

The answer may be that some concessions have been extracted by de Blasio from Cuomo in return for this support.

But given how little Cuomo's word is worth, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to get Cuomo to deliver on whatever it is he has promised.

Or Cuomo may just be issuing threats to anybody who doesn't back him:

The governor, famous for his political acuity, could seek to punish the party if it does not endorse him. Private threats have ranged from the implicit — he controls many agenda items of interest to it — to an explicit scenario in which he persuades unions to leave WFP and starve it of needed resources. Pro-Cuomo party allies have urged its members to take the pragmatic course here, and endorse the governor, so as not to make life more complicated for itself, its unions and the governor.

In the end, I think Cuomo will emerge from his tough 48 hours with a WFP endorsement in hand and already be looking for ways to finagle out of whatever promises he made to win that endorsement.

But even so - that Cuomo and his people have been frantically scrambling behind the scenes to win this endorsement, to win the Independence Party endorsement while making it look like they don't want it, and courting political allies like de Blasio and John Liu to back him and tout him for re-election shows you just how weakened he is right now.

Pity that the Moskowitz budget wasn't up for a vote now, because I think the charter entrepreneurs might not have gotten so many goodies at this point in time with Cuomo getting squeezed from all ends.

Alas, the charter school entrepreneurs knew when to push their cause and I suspect that whatever concessions de Blasio and/or the WFP get out of Cuomo for their support this November, they'll be empty concessions that have little impact on pushing forward a progressive economic or education agenda.

I wish they would just say the hell with it and push a third party candidate against Cuomo, try and take double digits in votes and make the post-Election Day story that Cuomo barely won re-election and he now will have to govern in his second term with vote totals well under 50%.

The Plan To Force Charter Co-Locations

Hard to see Cuomo's forcing the city to pick up the tab for charter school rent as aimed at anything other than the eventual return of the charter co-location scheme Bloomberg operated:

New York City's move to oust three charter schools from district buildings appears to carry a hefty price tag.
The mayor's budget sets aside $5.4 million in the coming fiscal year to lease sites for three Success Academy charters—more than $11,000 in rent for each child expected to be enrolled.

The price tag comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio revoked space in district buildings for the three charters in February, leading to an outcry from supporters of the high-performing network, whose students are almost all poor and black or Hispanic. After a state budget deal in April gave charters broad new protections, the city scrambled to find spaces for the schools.

City officials are negotiating leases to house the charters in three Catholic schools that are empty or closing. The city's Office of Management and Budget shows an expected allocation of $5.4 million a year for four years. 

Success Academy said last month that in the coming year, the three charters plan to teach a total of 484 children in kindergarten through seventh grades. If they grow to include more than 1,200 children as planned, the rental cost would become less than $4,500 a child.

Expensive, right?

Ah, but magnanimous Eva Moskowitz has a solution:

Eva Moskowitz, founder of Success Academy, said via email: "We thought the original locations made sense but we are grateful to the mayor for having found us alternative sites."

And so does the WSJ:

Mr. de Blasio came into office promising to curb the expansion of charters under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but softened his tone this spring. Gov. Andrew Cuomo brokered a budget deal that requires the city to provide free space in education department buildings to charters that are new or phasing in, or chip in up to $2,755 a student in rental costs.

While co-locations are the cheapest option for siting charters, some parents complain about clashing schedules and unfair access to gyms, cafeterias and other resources. Chancellor Carmen Farina has dispatched "campus squads" to resolve these disputes.

In short, the city's picking up the tab for charter school rent is unsustainable and that means we'll eventually be back to the co-locations battles.

Bloomberg is gone but the charter school entrepreneurs will always find other champions for thier cause.

Now it's Andrew Cuomo.

In the future, it will be somebody else.

And the charter schools keep multiplying:

Now, 183 charters serve 70,918 students. In the fall, 15 new charters are slated to open, and the city projects enrollment will rise to 82,989. The New York City Charter School Center projects enrollment to top 95,000 in 2017, and now counts a wait list of more than 50,000 students.

The mayor's budget includes spending city funds of $13,527 a student in charter tuition, plus $250 a child in new state money, for a total of $13,777 a student. Rental costs come on top of that rate.

The mayor's budget anticipates spending $1.29 billion on charters in fiscal 2015, up $247 million from the current year. 

Tell me again why de Blasio is urging Working Families Party to endorse Andrew Cuomo for re-election?

The reason why the city will have to pick up charter rent in perpetuity, no matter how rich a charter school is, no matter how much money it can raise, is Andrew Cuomo.

I mean, I understand political expediency and all, but has anybody given de Blasio more headaches these first months in office than Andrew Cuomo?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Diane Ravitch To Run Against Andrew Cuomo In November?

This bit of political news surprises me:

The Working Families Party is eying education activist Diane Ravitch as its gubernatorial candidate should the liberal minor party decide to withhold its backing of Gov. Cuomo, a source told the Daily News Wednesday morning.

The party has spoken to Ravitch, 75, about possibly being its nominee and she has expressed interest, the source said.

"Either way, she'll have a role at Saturday's (WFP) convention," the source said.

It's still unclear in which direction the party will go.

If she runs, Ravitch's candidacy would put a spotlight on charter schools, one of the issues that appears to be a source of conflict between Cuomo and the Working Families Party.

Like the many of the party's leaders, Ravitch is an opponent of charter schools.

"Billionaires like privately managed schools. Parents are lured with glittering promises of getting their kids a sure ticket to college. Politicians want to appear to be champions of 'school reform' with charters," Ravitch wrote in the Los Angeles Times last year.

"But charters will not end the poverty at the root of low academic performance or transform our nation's schools into a high-performing system.

Working Families Party heads want nothing to do with nominating anybody on their ballot line who doesn't have the name Andrew M. Cuomo - that's quite clear.

It's also pretty obvious that many rank-and-file WFP members despise Andrew Cuomo and do not want the party to endorse Cuomo for re-election.

The problem WFP has with putting a candidate other than Andrew Cuomo on their ballot line is that if they garner less than 50,000 votes, they lose that line on the ballot next time around.

This is one of the reasons that some party leaders give for why WFP should not nominate anyone other than Andrew Cuomo - political expediency.

Putting a high profile candidate like Ravitch on the ballot line might solve that problem for WFP, as parents and teachers opposed to high stakes testing, Common Core, teacher evaluations tied to test scores and other corporate education reforms promoted by Andrew Cuomo and his corporate Democratic ilk could flock to support Ravitch in November.

It's an interesting idea, but I have a difficult time seeing the union heads who help fund the Working Families Party letting Ravitch grab the ballot slot when they have contract negotiations to do with Cuomo and they want to use the WFP endorsement as collateral.

Still, crazier things have happened in politics than WFP nominating an esteemed candidate like Diane Ravitch to run for governor.

After watching disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner jump into the 2013 NYC mayoral race, grab the lead in at least one poll, then suffer through a second scandal when it turned out he actually hadn't stopped sexting when he said he had, I'm ready to believe just about anything can happen in politics.

So Ravitch on the Working Families Party ballot line to take on Andrew Cuomo in November?

Let's do it!

Who Needs All That Technology?

Not school's in Finland:

HELSINKI — At the start of morning assembly in the state-of-the-art Viikki School here, students’ smartphones disappear. In math class, the teacher shuts off the Smartboard and begins drafting perfect circles on a chalkboard. The students — some of the highest-achieving in the world — cut up graphing paper while solving equations using their clunky plastic calculators.

Finnish students and teachers didn’t need laptops and iPads to get to the top of international education rankings, said Krista Kiuru, minister of education and science at the Finnish Parliament. And officials say they aren’t interested in using them to stay there.

That’s in stark contrast to what reformers in the U.S. say. From President Barack Obama on down, they have called education technology critical to improving schools. By shifting around $2 billion in existing funds and soliciting $2 billion in contributions from private companies, the Obama administration is pressing to expand schools’ access to broadband and the devices that thrive on it. 
School districts nationwide have loaded up students with billions of dollars’ worth of tablets, laptops, iPods and more on the theory that, as Obama said last year, preparing American kids to compete with students around the globe will require interactive, individualized learning experiences driven by new technology.

But with little education technology in the classroom, Finnish students have repeatedly outperformed American students on international tests. In 2001, Finland’s students were the highest-achieving in the world, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment test administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Nordic country uses innovative teaching strategies in the classroom, just generally without incorporating technology. Private schools and charter schools aren’t part of the mix, and all education is essentially free. Powerful teachers unions work hand in hand with the government, which went to great lengths to revamp teacher training. The profession is revered and respected, and government has no bearing on assessing a teacher’s performance in the classroom.

If technology was so necessary for an "excellent" education, many of the country's elite, including it's tech elite, wouldn't be sending their kids to low tech Waldorf schools.

The real goal behind this expanded technology spending in education is to pull money out of the public school classroom, away from individual schools and teachers' salaries, and hand it off to tech companies and the donor class.

Preet Bharara Appears To Have His Sights Set On Albany Pols And Cuomo Too

From Ken Lovett at the Daily News:

ALBANY - Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has asked the state Senate and Assembly to preserve all documents related to Gov. Cuomo's anti-corruption commission, the Daily News has learned.
It’s the latest sign of an investigation by Bharara’s office in the aftermath of Cuomo’s decision in March to disband the now-defunct Moreland Commission.
At the time it was terminated, the commission had been looking into the outside income of lawmakers and how legislators spent their campaign cash.
Bharara previously took control of the panel’s files and was said to be following up on its unresolved leads.
The prosecutor is also said to be looking into whether Cuomo interfered with the panel’s work and if an improper deal was cut in which the governor pulled the plug on the panel in exchange for the Legislature approving an ethics reform package.
In his new request, Bharara asked lawmakers and staff to save all documents and records relating to actual or potential investigations by the commission, Joanne Barker, a counsel to the Assembly majority, wrote in a memo obtained by The News.
Offering further proof that it is still looking into Cuomo's handling of the commission, the memo also asked that all records pertaining to the commission's funding, formation, operation, management and dissolution be retained.
Officials in both houses said they are cooperating.
A Cuomo spokesman wouldn't say if the administration received a document retention request, but added that the "the governor has previously said, any state agencies should be fully cooperative" with the investigation.
On Friday, the commission itself hired a criminal defense lawyer to handle inquiries by Bharara's office.

Two things to note here - the Moreland Commission announced they were lawyering up on a Friday right before a holiday weekend, always a great time to hide news you don't want noticed.

And Cuomo's office won't say if they have received a document retention request from Bharara.

Which means that they have.

Dunno if Bharara will find anything dirty on Cuomo over this or, if he does, if he'll use it on Sheriff Andy, but it seems pretty clear from the news we're getting that he means business.

This News Will Make Bloomberg Very, Very Sad

Bloomberg henchman Deputy Dan Doctoroff is still leading the charge to bring the Olympics to NYC and rectify one of Mayor Bloomberg's biggest setbacks - his failure to turn NYC into an Olympic Village.

Mayor de Blasio says he's not interested, however:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has ruled out any possibility that New York City will submit a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, a top member of his staff said Tuesday.

The administration decided not to pursue the Games after looking at the pros and cons of bidding for and hosting the event, said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development.

 Mr. de Blasio said he would consider the Olympics when news broke earlier this month that Dan Doctoroff, the driving force of the city's unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Games and a top official under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had broached the possibility of pursuing the 2024 Games with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration. At that time, however, Mr. de Blasio warned that the bar would be high.

Ms. Glen said Mr. de Blasio, with other top officials at City Hall, recently reviewed the possibility of a bid for 2024 and decided it "doesn't make sense."

Ms. Glen said many cities pursue the Games because it brings recognition, but "very few people would say that New York City is not quote on the map and is not a major global city."

Cities also have sought the Games to boost tourism. But Ms Glen said the city already was experiencing record-high tourism numbers, with more than 54 million visitors last year.
"Our feeling is that you could actually deter tourism to some extent by hosting an Olympic Games," she said.

Ms. Glen said top officials also feared an Olympic bid would distract from the mayor's economic-development agenda. If the city focused on particular sporting venues, or particular neighborhoods where events would be held, other parts of the city could be neglected, she said.

Cuomo may still push for the Olympics, given that Bloomberg still seems to want them and Bloomberg's got lots of cash to hand over to Sheriff Andy for future political runs.

Wouldn't it be interesting if Cuomo pulls a "Moskowitz" here and forces the city to submit a bid for the Olympics even though the mayor says he doesn't want to?

I mean, if the governor can force the city to pony up millions of dollars for Eva Moskowitz's rent, I suppose it's also conceivable that he can force the city to submit a bid for an Olympics games it doesn't really want.

I'm kidding, of course.

Sort of.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Looking Forward To Daily News Investigation Of In-House Grading Of Regents Exams At Charter Schools

There was a Daily News story this morning that alleged grade inflation on ELA Regents exams, reporting that scores "plummeted" in 2013 when the exams were no longer graded by teachers in-house but were instead sent to centralized locations where they were graded by other teachers.

I posted about that story this morning in a piece entitled Daily News Misses A Big Part Of ELA Regents Score Plummet Story, raising two points that were ignored in the News story:

1. The Regents/SED changed the grading charts from 2012 to 2013, raising the number of correct responses required on the multiple choice component as well as the scores needed on the writing components in order for students to pass the exam. The difficulty of the reading passages and vocabulary used in the multiple choice questions were also increased. These changes to the test contributed in part to the drop in scores.

2. Regents exams are still graded in-house at charter schools. If there was grade inflation at traditional public schools as the DN reported, it behooves them to now take a look at charters where they are still grading their own exams.

There was undoubtedly grade inflation at some schools, including the ones named in the DN article like the School For Excellence where scores fell 50 percentage points when exams went from being graded in-house to a centralized location. 

That's an outrageous drop and is pretty clearly a sign of a massaging of stats - something that is not isolated to schools, btw, as crime stats, emergency response times, fire stats and jobs programs numbers were also manipulated during the Bloomberg Era as City Hall put a lot of pressure on those below to consistently get "better" stats.

Nonetheless it's wrong, it shouldn't have been done and kudos to the Daily News for pointing it out and naming some names of schools with big drops in scores.

I now look forward to the Daily News doing a big expose on charter schools where the Regents exams are still graded in-house.

Considering the emphasis the charter industry puts on test scores and making comparisons via those scores to traditional public schools, they might want to take a look to see how many charter schools are massaging their statistics during in-house grading sessions.

You can bet there's some.

I won't hold my breath waiting for that charter school/Regents exam grade inflation story however.

Because the Daily News has an agenda when it comes to education issues and that agenda is almost always pro-charter/anti-traditional public school.

And you can see that in just how this grade inflation story was framed, both by what they put into it and what they left out.

A fair story would have noted that charters still grade Regents exam in-house and reported on the changes to the grading chart by SED.

The DN story didn't do either and that's why it feels like another hammer job in a long line of DN hammer jobs on traditional public schools and traditional public school teachers.

Will The Working Families Party Endorse Cuomo?

Cuomo is the official nominee of the Democratic Party, even garnering support from "progressives" like Bill de Blasio and John Liu.

The criminals at the Independence Party are also looking for Cuomo to be on their ballot line, though Cuomo said he hasn't made up his mind about that (the paperwork he filled out says otherwise.)

Now it's the Working Families Party's turn to decide what to do with Cuomo.

There seems to be a split between the leadership of the party, which looks to back Cuomo, and the rank-and-file, which seems less inclined to back him:

“The people I've spoken with, there isn't anybody supporting Cuomo,” Dorothy Siegel, the party treasurer and chair of the W.F.P.'s South Brooklyn chapter, told Capital. "Something could happen, but I don't know what it would be."


"The state committee members can't endorse Cuomo, because he goes against what we stand for," she said. "Whoever is endorsed will be articulating our views. They won't be Republican views, or Democratic views. We believe now, more than four years ago, that our views are mainstream; they're popular. But you can't win at the state level with a third-party candidate. Our interest is not in teaching him a lesson, or denying him the endorsement—this is what we believe in.”

I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to politics, so I suspect the WFP leadership will prevail and give Cuomo his coveted WFP ballot line.

What do you think?

Does WFP endorse Cuomo?

Daily News Misses A Big Part Of ELA Regents Score Plummet Story

The Daily News claims cheating teachers were the main reason scores on the 2013 ELA Regents exam fell:

Scores on English Regents exams for high schoolers plummeted when the city cracked down on grade-fudging teachers, a Daily News analysis shows.

Thousands of public school students failed the high-stakes state tests in 2013 after the city instituted new grading rules to prevent score inflation.

A stunning 373 schools out of 490 saw their passing rates drop after new guidelines barred teachers from grading tests administered at their own school.

Students must pass the test with a 65 or higher to graduate.

Overall, the number of students who failed English exams jumped from 27% in 2012 to 35% in 2013, a statistical leap not reflected in the other nine Regents subjects. At 73 schools the passing rate plummeted by more than 20 percentage points.

City Education Department spokeswoman Devora Kaye said that she didn’t believe the grading crackdown was responsible for the drop in scores. Algebra and History tests also used open-ended questions, she said, yet scores didn’t decline in those subjects .

David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Grad Center, was willing to take a stab at identifying the cause of the drop.

“It appears that more objective scoring resulted in a higher failure rate,” he said.

A reason why the grades fell that never gets mentioned in the Daily News article?

The Regents changed the grading chart so that students needed to get more multiple choice questions right and score higher on the three written components in order to pass.

Brutal ELA Regents Exam Grading Chart From NYSED

Okay, they're looking for a high failure rate at SED on the ELA Regents exam, that's for sure.

Students need to get 20 out of 25 multiple choice questions right in order to get only a 6 on their writing component.

Given how hard the passages were, I suspect we are going to see lots of 6's on the writing components.

That means we're going to get lots of failures.

The chart is even harder than last August's when students had to get 19 out of 25 multiple choice right in order to pass with a 6 out of 10 on their writing components.

That was a brutal test too.

But IMO the Regents and the SED saved the best for the latest - a truly brutal test with a brutal scoring chart.

It's not an accident that as teacher evals have been tied to Regents scores, the charts and tests have gotten harder each time.

Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch and Governor Cuomo have a political agenda here - to prove that public schools are failing and public school teachers are failures.

The children of the state just happen to be collateral damage in all of this.

I have some students from a remedial class who have failed the exam three or four times, depending on whether they took it over the summer or not.

It is really difficult to see any of them passing today's exam with the scoring chart handed down from King and Tisch.

I don't know what to say to them when they say "You mean I have to spend another five months preparing for this exam I can't pass?" 

And I covered this back in June 2013 as well:

The ELA Regents Exam: Set Up By The Regents And The NYSED To Fail Both Students And Teachers

There are two good pieces on the brutal scoring chart that the NYSED and Regents are using for the 2013 June ELA Regents exam.

Gotham Schools covered the story yesterday:

Bronx Center for Science and Math Assistant Principal Stephen Seltzer sent a letter to State Education Commissioner John King expressing frustration about the new conversion chart that has made it more difficult for students to pass the English Regents exam.

Seltzer writes that “the rubrics and conversion charts must be aligned and consistent, and both should be made available when teachers are preparing students, not at the time of the exam.”

In the letter, sent Thursday, Seltzer writes that there is a four-point difference in the June 2011 and June 2013 conversion charts. He gives the following example to illustrate his point:

A student who scored a 23 in the multiple-choice and a 7 in the writing received a 79 in 2011 but a 75 in 2013; a student who scored a 21 on the multiple-choice and a 5 on the writing passed with a 65 in 2011 but failed with a 60 in 2013.

The change to the conversion tables was made without corresponding changes in rubrics, which makes it more difficult for teachers to identify where students’ must improve if they have to take the test again, Seltzer writes in the letter.

“A child can receive a higher raw score, meaning they’ve answered more questions correct, but receive a lower actual grade,” said Bronx Center Principal Ed Tom. “You’ve technically done better on the exam, but the score will reflect a lower grade.”


Tom said his school usually has about a 90 percent passing rate on the ELA Regents exams. But this year the school is at a 75 percent passing rate. Tom said he looked at individual student grades and the numbers don’t seem to make sense.

He said a number of students scored well on the multiple choice section, but they struggled to received credit on the short answer and essay sections, which require human grading.

“As we’re looking child by child, we’re noticing that it simply doesn’t make sense that a kid would know so much information to score almost perfectly on the multiple choice and not be able to write a short response or essay to get any points,” Tom said.

My Life As A NYC Teacher posted about the same issue:

As an ELA teacher, I have a stake in the results of these tests - stake through the heart that is.  Since teachers are now going to be evaluated based on student performance on these tests, we can be fired as a result of these results.  For this reason, we English teachers here at Jonathan Levin H.S. in the Bronx just took a look at the scoring charts for the June 2013 English exam and the January 2013 exam.  What we found is interesting indeed.  Here they are.

June 2013 ELA Scoring Chart

January 2013 ELA Scoring Chart

In June 2013 if a student scored 16 on the multiple choice section and 7 on the writing sections, the student failed with a 61.  However if that same student had been lucky enough to take the test last January 2013, scoring 16 on the multiple choice and 7 on the writing would have yielded a passing score of 65.

DOE formula #1: Fewer students passing = more teachers fired.

Going back to Aug. 2012, June 2012 and Jan. 2012, we find the following:

                        Multiple Choice          Writing           Score
Aug. 2012:               16                          7                     65
June 2012                 16                          7                     65
Jan. 2012                  16                          7                     68

In other words, the June 2013 ELA Regents exam is set up to fail more students than in the past.  Coincidentally, New York State has just "adopted" - read: had shoved down our throats - a new evaluation system that the UFT, rather than condemning, seems to be endorsing.  See Chapter 52: Open Season on Teachers.  Under this system, the "value" of a teacher is tied directly to student performance.

DOE formula #2: more failing students =  more fired teachers.

And that really is what all this is about - firing more teachers and being able to use the scores in the news media to "prove" that there are many "failing" schools and "bad" teachers as a reason for why we need more corporate education reformers like charter schools and online schools.

It is not a mistake that the chart has gotten so harsh in the year that accountability has been moved from the school district and the school to the individual teacher via the Cuomo/Tisch/King APPR teacher evaluation system.

Unless the NYSED and the Regents get hammered in the press by parents for the rig job they've pulled with this scoring chart, you can expect the August ELA Regents scoring chart to be as bad.

The fix is in with this scoring chart and the scores are going to plummet accordingly.

Expect King and Tisch to wring their hands in the media about all the bad teachers and failing schools and the need for more reforminess as a result of the Regents scores - even though they're the ones who ensured the scores would plummet by rigging the scoring chart.

It's a shame the journalists at the Daily News focus on grade inflation as the sole reason for falling scores.

But if you're a teacher in the NYC school system and you pay even a little attention to the press coverage, you know the DN always has a "Blame Teachers" first mentality.

Was there some grade inflation when teachers graded tests in-house?

Sure, there was some.

Were there some schools where grade inflation was the name of the game during Regents time?

During the high stakes Bloomberg Era where schools got closed based almost solely on test scores, you bet.

The Daily News manages to find many of those schools and name them.

The same thing happened with the fire stats, the emergency response times and the crime stats under Bloomberg, btw - fudging on the numbers because of the pressure from above for constant improvement.

With all of that said, scores on the ELA Regents exam at many NYC schools didn't "plummet" when the in-house grading was ended.

They went down slightly.

And keep in mind that at the same time they were changing the in-house grading, the state was making the exam more difficult., including raising the reading difficulty and complexity on the passages, the vocabulary needed to get the multiple choice questions right, and, as I posted above, the number of correct multiple choice answers as well as scores on the writing components.

Those changes had something to do with the scores falling as well.

Too bad the Daily News journalists either didn't know about that part of the story or didn't care about it because it didn't fit their story frame.

Oh, and one more thing:

You know where they still do in-house grading of Regents exams?

At charter schools, that's where.

Somehow the traditional public school-hating Daily News couldn't bring itself to take on that part of the grade inflation story.

The DN is certain grade inflation took place in traditional public schools, but as usual with the DN, the charters get a free pass.

Classic "Blame Teachers" journalism from the Daily News - but only teachers at traditional public schools.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Murdoch Company Pays Andrew Cuomo At Least $700,000 For His Memoir

Okay, this is absurd:

ALBANY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book deal with HarperCollins is worth at least $700,000, according to a disclosure form Cuomo filed last week.

The publishing house is planning to release Cuomo's autobiography, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” in August. Cuomo's 2013 tax returns showed $188,333 in income from the book, but the governor's aides said $35,127 of that advance was spent on “representation and legal fees associated with the book.”

A disclosure form filed last week with the state's Joint Commission on Public Ethics reflects that payment, and shows Cuomo is due between $550,000 to $650,000 in additional, deferred compensation. A Cuomo spokesman would not immediately say if the governor would also receive additional royalties linked to book sales.

The book contract, signed after his first full year in office, was responsible for nearly doubling Cuomo's income between 2012 and 2013, tax returns show.

How many copies of this book do you think Harper Collins sells?

Do they think there's a readership out there for Andrew Cuomo's memoir?

Or maybe they think fans of Chris Cuomo will buy it?

Andrew Cuomo has the reputation for being one of the biggest asses in politics.

I can't imagine the book sells more than a few thousand copies at best.

So why did Murdoch give Cuomo at least $700,000 in compensation for this memoir?

Notice when the contract with Harper Collins was signed - right after his first year in office.

That was when Cuomo and Harper Collins Rupert Murdoch were still best buds (as demonstrated by how Murdoch flack Fred Dicker treated Cuomo in the NY Post.)

Even then, Murdoch had to know that few copies of this book would be sold.

This was a bribe from Murdoch to Cuomo in the form of a book contract.

I can't wait for the book to come out and see how many copies get sold.

I suspect this Cuomo memoir will be up there as a loss-leader, along with Murdoch's other great loss leader, the NY Post.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cuomo Caught In Lie Over Independence Party Nomination

Governor Cuomo is famous for avoiding on the record interviews and Q&A's with reporters because this is the kind of thing that can happen with a shifty politician like Sheriff Andy - they can catch him in a lie:

Gov. Cuomo appears to have misled reporters Thursday when he said a decision on whether to seek the Independence Party nomination would be made “down the road.”

Documents submitted by the party to the State Board of Elections indicate that Cuomo signed an official acceptance form Thursday in Suffolk County – site of the state Democratic Party nomination. Cuomo traveled from Suffolk to Cooperstown, where he spoke to reporters at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“Clearly, the governor lied to reporters when he was asked about it last night, which is extremely troubling” charged Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

“Sadly this is what we have come to expect from him, protecting his political allies over every day New Yorkers,” Proud continued. “He’s got to come clean about why he lied about it.”

Requests for comment sent to Cuomo’s press office, his campaign and state Democratic Party officials have so far not been returned.

During his Q&A in Cooperstown, Cuomo was asked whether he would seek the Independence Party’s line.

“Those are decisions that we’re going to be making down the road,” Cuomo replied before moving on to talk about the state Democratic Party’s nomination earlier that day.

The Independence Party is a bogus party with a lot of controversy surrounding it, so Cuomo didn't want to go on record saying he was going to take the Independence Party ballot line.

But given that the Independence Party line helped Bloomberg win City hall three times (people often vote on the line thinking it means "Independent") and given that there is an outside chance the Working Families Party doesn't nominate Cuomo and puts somebody else on their ballot line, I think it makes sense politically that Cuomo would seek the ballot line of the bogus (and kinda criminal) Independence Party.

Too bad he didn't have the guts to admit it to the press when he was asked about it.

Now they have caught him in a lie.

Will they pursue it and get him on record explaining why he lied directly to their faces?

Or will he go back into hiding now that the Democratic Party convention is done and only surface for non-Q & A events and motorcycle rides with Billy Joel?

How To Make Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Very Unhappy This Election Day

Shelly Silver at the State Democratic Conention, making nice with and for Governor Cuomo, responded this way to a statement about how many New York teachers are not happy with the governor:

“Teachers should be very happy with him,” Silver said of a group that has been protesting Cuomo.

Silver's either high or full of shit - there can be no third choice here.

Governor Cuomo has pushed an education reform agenda that is slowly but surely destroying the public school system.

He has pushed a teacher evaluation system that is unfair, convoluted and forces districts to test students not for true assessment purposes but simply to "grade" the teachers.

He has cut aid to districts even as he has increased the state mandates on them.

He has forced a tax cap onto districts that eventually is going to bankrupt many of them - and continues to add more mandates to ensure that they indeed go bnakrupt.

He has promoted the Common Core and a corporate education reform agenda, then when that agenda became unpopular with parents, he hid behind the skirts of Merryl Tisch and John King as the architects of that agenda but nonetheless continued to push for it behind the scenes.

He has demonized teachers and traditional public schools, he has handed over millions of dollars to his campaign donors in the charter school world and forced New York City to pony up for free rent for charter entrepreneurs so wealthy they can raise millions of dollars in one nightly fund raiser.

Teachers are not happy with Cuomo and neither are parents or students.

Now I know Silver is just making nice at the convention with Cuomo, as were de Blasio and other Democratic Party figures like Schneiderman, DiNapoli, and even John Liu.

They're all making believe like Cuomo is the great progressive governor he says he is and they're doing it for politically expedient reasons.

Cuomo is surely weakened these days by news of the Moreland Commission investigation by the US attorney and by the dissatisfaction with him from activists on the left.

But that doesn't mean he isn't going to win re-election and these politicians know that Cuomo has two options for politicians who work with him in NY State - do what he wants or you're road kill.

So I don't really think Silver's on drugs, and while I do think he's full of shit over that statement, I think he knows he's full of shit over that statement too.

There is no greater enemy to the public school system or the teaching profession in NY State than Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and while I think he'll get re-elected this November, given the amount of war cash he has on hand from his corporate donors and Wall Street friends ($33 million and counting), I do want to see him win with the the smallest victory margin we can muster.

So if you're a conservative Republican who voted Cuomo last time around because Crazy Carl scared you and you thought you could live with Cuomo's "liberal social policies" because he was so conservative on fiscal matters, you should make sure you vote for the conservative Rob Astorino this time around.

And if you're a liberal or progressive who voted Cuomo last time around and you're horrified by his betrayal of progressive values as governor, you should vote Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins this time around.

I'm a realist, sometimes a pessimist, and while I understand many readers out there want to see Cuomo lose his re-election, I don't think the numbers are there yet for that to happen - and probably won't ever be, without a major scandal breaking that does major damage to Cuomo.

That could happen, of course.

We know Preet Bharara chastised the governor for closing down Moreland and we know he has said he is going to take a look into the governor's staff's interference into the Commission's workings.

We know that Cuomo has some exposure to the Christie Bridgegate scandal as well and that his top pick at the Port Authority just testified under oath about the matter.

But barring either of those scandals doing major damage to Cuomo, I think he wins re-election - but you out there can make sure his victory totals are held down so that on Election Night 2014 the media starts talking about how Astorino mounted a better campaign on Cuomo than anyone ever thought he would and the Green Party took a substantial number of votes from Cuomo and gee, doesn't the governor look so sad that he won re-election with under 50% of the vote?

Cuomo's Common Core Panel May Skip Writing A Final Report

When Governor Cuomo first announced his Common Core panel, many of us thought it was a jive move to make it look like he was doing something about all the parent and educator complaints about Common Core and the state's education reform agenda while really doing nothing at all about them

This news seems to confirm just that:

ALBANY—I.B.M. executive Stanley Litow, who chaired Governor Andrew Cuomo's panel on Common Core implementation, said Wednesday he hasn't met with the other panel members since releasing the preliminary report in March, and isn't sure whether the panel will issue a final report.

“We issued a preliminary report, and I think we're going to talk to the State Education Department and the governor about further work,” he said after a conference about early-college high schools.

Litow said “there might be” a final report, and he's “had a lot of contact” with other group members, “but we haven't had a formal meeting.”

Teacher Todd Hathaway already exposed the shamery around the panel when he reported that panel heads were not interested in any dissenting views from what they had already decided would be in the preliminary report:

Todd Hathaway, a teacher at East Aora High School and a member of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Common Core panel, ripped the process today after the panel released its report last night.

The recommendations include what Cuomo wanted: holding students harmless for the tougher exams, but not a three-year moratorium on using the tests to evaluate teachers.


Hathaway said, “The report – and the process that produced it—is incomplete. the report was released suddenly, even as final comments were still being solicited. I had indicated the likelihood I would dissent and not allow the report to be spun as ‘consensus.’” Nevertheless, the report was issued with my name attached. I am very concerned that the report tries to make it seem like all the discussion had been completed.”

Here’s the rest of his statement:

“In fact, the Executive Office repeatedly ignored my concerns and the legitimate concerns of others about inappropriate state testing, the misuse of invalid tests for evaluations and the lack of transparency in state testing. The result is that some of the report’s conclusions and suggestions do not hold up to scrutiny. I wouldn’t accept this kind of work from my students and I don’t accept it here.”

“The failure to address testing and evaluation issues in a comprehensive way suggests the dynamics of the classroom will not change. The report seems to blame everybody else for the problems of the Common Core learning standards without adequately addressing the appropriateness of some of the standards and the testing that goes with it. This report should have addressed serious deficiencies in state testing. It should have discussed the lack of transparency in tests; the lack of diagnostic and prescriptive worth to teachers; the unacceptable delays in returning scores to school districts and the insanity of pretending there is validity to teacher ratings that are derived from student scores widely acknowledged to be invalid.”

“Finally, this panel should have recognized the need to pause in the use of assessments for high-stakes decisions for students and teachers. This would have allowed the State Education Department, as well as school districts, to refine the tests and testing materials; teachers to engage in the standards and develop a variety of lessons to meet them instead of just relying on modules; parents to understand the role and utility of data in education; and for teachers to receive the necessary professional development. Implementing massive curriculum changes do not just happen overnight. They take time. I fully support a delay in the use of tests in high-stakes decisions for students and teachers, but that issue was never fully explored. You can’t put students first if you put their teachers last.”

Litow's stating that the panel hasn't done any work since the preliminary report was issued and pretty much doesn't plan to do any more just reinforces what Todd Hathaway exposed back in March:

The Common Core panel was a sham, a jive move to make it look like Cuomo was addressing concerns over the Common Core, testing, evaluations and the like when he had no intention to do so at all.