Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Audit Analysis Finds New York Charter School Sector Rife With Fraud

Ben Chapman in today's Daily News:

New York State charter schools have made more than $28 million in questionable expenditures since 2002, according to a new review of previous audits of the publicly funded, privately run schools.

The Center for Popular Democracy’s analysis charter school audits found investigators uncovered probable financial mismanagement in 95% of the schools they examined.

Kyle Serrette, executive director of the progressive, Washington-based group, said the review of previously published audits showed the schools need greater oversight.

“We can’t afford to have a system that fails to cull the fraudulent charter operators from the honest ones,” said Serrette. “Establishing a charter school oversight system that prevents fraud, waste and mismanagement will attack the root cause of the problem.”

An oversight system for charter schools in New York State?

Ha, that's a laugh.

You can literally lie about everything other than your birth date on your application as head of a charter school and the New York State oversight entities (the Board of Regents and NYSED) won't catch you.

Even after your caught, no one at the oversight entities will take responsibility for giving charter approval to a fraudulent lead applicant - they'll instead try and pass the buck to one of the other entities.

The political establishment will make excuses for the fraudulent behavior, minimizing it is a "mistake" instead of the criminal behavior it is.

And the school will STILL open, despite it's birthing by a fraudster, so long as said fraudster "resigns" from the board of trustees.

Chapman's Daily News article comes at a sensitive time for charters because they are looking to increase or eliminate the charter cap in the spring but are having to live down the "Dr" Ted Morris Jr. fraud fiasco I referenced above as Exhibit A for why charters are a problem.

And now comes this:

The state controller’s office and state Education Department have audited 62 of New York’s 248 charter schools, according to Serrette’s report. All told, Serrette’s group estimates wasteful spending at charters could cost taxpayers more than $50 million per year.
Eighteen audits targeted charters in New York City, representing about 9% of the 197 charters in the five boroughs. Each audit found issues.
  • A 2012 audit found Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School was paying $800,000 in excess annual fees to the management company that holds its building’s lease.
  • A 2012 audit of Williamsburg Charter High School revealed school officials overbilled the city for operations and paid contractors for $200,800 in services that should have been provided by the school’s network.
  • A 2007 audit of the Carl C. Icahn Charter School determined the Bronx school spent more than $1,288 on alcohol for staff parties and failed to account for another $102,857 in expenses.

And that's just what's been found with financial audits.

Imagine top to bottom investigation of charter practices, including state test scores (which are self-graded at high school charters), attrition rates and special education services.

There's a reason Eva Moskowitz sued to keep audits from happening at her charter chain (and won that suit, though that victory came before changes to the auditing procedures in last spring's state budget agreement.)

There's a reason why the charter school sector is in the game to sue the city and state comptrollers to limit the audits that were decreed legal and necessary by last year's budget agreement.

They don't want anybody looking into them because they understand the charter sector is a Wild, Wild West industry where pretty much anything goes.

If that isn't obvious after the "Dr" Ted J Morris Jr fraud fiasco, I don't know what it is.

But it's even more true after these the Center For Popular Democracy's audit analysis.

The key takeaway from Ben Chapman's DN story is:

Eighteen audits targeted charters in New York City, representing about 9% of the 197 charters in the five boroughs. Each audit found issue...investigators uncovered probable financial mismanagement in 95% of the schools they examined.

Not every charter was audited but every charter that was audited had issues.

What that says to me is, it's time to target every charter school for auditing.

And since neither oversight body at the state level (the Regents or the NYSED) managed to catch the fraud of "Dr" Ted J Morris Jr, the con man who claimed to have a BA, an MA, a Ph.D, and an MSW (he may not even have a high school diploma), the state and city comptrollers need to be the leads on these audits.

When the oversight bodies that are supposed to hold charters accountable don't care to do their jobs and make excuses for a lack of oversight when fraud is exposed via the news or blogosphere, it means those oversight entities should no longer have oversight responsibilities.

The aggressively pro-charter Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and the former charter school founder NYSED Commissioner John King are part of the problem with charters, not part of the solution.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Daily News Praises Merryl Tisch For School Closure Threats Even As She Fails To Take Responsibility For Ted Morris Fiasco

Daily News today:

New York’s top education official has sent a timely shot across the city’s bow — warning that school renewal plans unveiled by Mayor de Blasio may well fall short of the genuine accountability the state has every right to demand.

Cheers to Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch for clarifying that kids will never be rescued from failing schools if the worst teachers remain in their classrooms.


 In stepped Tisch, saying bluntly that “if we do not see movement with these lowest-performing schools in terms of their ability to retool their workforces by the spring” — that’s this spring — “we will move to close them.”

These schools, Tisch said correctly, “have failed for generations now.”

“It’s not just saying, ‘We’re gonna fix these schools,’ ” she said. “You’ve got to give the new principals and assistant principals the ability to hire the teachers that they want and fire the teachers that they don’t want.”

Ah, yes - Tisch is happy to tell Mayor de Blasio to close public schools and fire the teachers in those schools or she'll step in as a state entity and do it for him.

Meanwhile, she shirks blame for the "Dr." Ted Morris Jr. mess, passing the buck onto the local Regents and NYSED for the state's approval of a charter school with a lead applicant who lied about having a BA, an MA, a Ph.D, an MSW and starting three non-profits since he was ten years old.

Mercedes Schneider wrote a scathing post last night that exposes the lack of due diligence that the state did on this charter application and notes that both the Regents Chancellor and the current lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, are making excuses for why Morris, the con man, got a charter.

She finishes her post with this:

For at least three years– 2012, 2013, and 2014– Morris has been misrepresenting himself to NYSED and, by extension, to Regents and the citizens of Rochester.

He clearly meant to do so.

Others found him out; otherwise, it is almost certain Morris would have continued in his lies.
Morris has been exposed– and with him both NYSED’s and Regents’ failure to properly investigate the charters they have approved.

Time to step up, Tisch:

At least ask to see evidence of NYSED’s having verified lead applicant credentials before stamping your “aggressive” approval.

The Daily News of course ignores the whole Morris fiasco because it doesn't play into their "Tisch is the adult in the room" frame for the closure threat story.

Tisch's refusal to take responsibility for the Morris fiasco, her passing the buck onto the local Regents and NYSED for handing a fraudster a charter school, shows she is NOT the adult in the room, that she only pushes her authority as chancellor when it suits her agenda.

As a pro-charter, anti-public school reformer, Tisch isn't interested in holding Ted Morris, Greater Works Charter School, NYSED, the local Regents, herself or the charter approval process accountable for the Morris mess.

She is, however, happy to hold Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Farina and the teachers in NYC schools accountable for "improvement" of performance by spring or she's going to step in and force closure of some schools.

Apparently only unionized teachers and their schools are to be held accountable in Merryl Tisch's New York.

Teacher Retirements Up 10% In New York

The "Burn and Churn" education policies of Barack Obama, Andrew Cuomo, et al. are succeeding at what they're meant to do - push teachers out:

Teacher retirements in New York have increased 10 percent since 2010, while active staff members have fallen 5.5 percent over the same time period, state records show.

The rise in retirements among the state’s teacher ranks is an ongoing trend as staff reaches retirement age, faces new testing standards and cashes out pensions.

The number of teachers in retirement jumped from 141,716 to 155,931 between the 2009-10 and 2013-14 school years, records from the state Teachers Retirement System show. At the same time, the number of active members in the system fell from 285,774 to 270,039.

The state’s teachers union, New York State United Teachers, blamed new testing standards and tougher teacher evaluations are part of the reason why teachers are leaving the workforce. The union has blasted the new measures.


The union estimates that more retirements are ahead. Last school year, about 13 percent of teachers were aged 57 to 64, and 19 percent of teachers were aged 49 to 56. Korn said that about 1 in 7 teachers has more than 25 years of classroom experience.

Nearly every teacher I know in the last two years who retired blamed the insane compliance measures - the Endless Testing regime, the Endless Danielson observations, the gutting of work protections for teachers that has put more power into the hands of administrators, the lack of respect for teachers and teaching in society in general that has helped bring about these changes.

Education reform, at bottom, has always been about streamlining the labor force in order to make the privatization of the education system more profitable for the neo-liberals.

So far, the plan is going swimmingly.

Of course, so many retiring teachers means pension payouts, something else that saddens neoliberals.

You can bet that will be a "reform" we see pushed in New York State before too long.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Charter School Shills Pass The Buck

We hear so much about holding teachers accountable these days.

Business leaders, politicians, members of the media, celebrities who have nothing to do with education or schools - they all want to talk about how teachers need to be held accountable for their performance, for their students' performances, for the performance of their schools, even for the economic performance of the nation as a whole.

We're often told that charter schools are just the thing to hold teachers and public schools accountable - in fact, Governor Andrew Cuomo told us this right before the election and Regents Chancellor Tisch stated something similar on the radio a couple of weeks ago.

That's why it was so ironic when the story broke this week that the New York Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department signed off on a charter school with a lead applicant who lied about his credentials and his work experience.

22-year old "Dr." Ted Morris Jr.. the lead applicant for the Greater Works Charter School in Rochester, claimed to have a BA, an MA, a Ph.D and an MSW as well as experience starting three non-profits.

All those claims turned out to be lies.

We still don't know if Morris has even a high school diploma - the online school Morris admitted attending after another lie he told about graduating from Rochester's School Without Walls was exposed as fraudulent still hasn't acknowledged whether Morris actually graduated from it or not.

In any case, this was the perfect "accountability moment" for the charter school movement, a great opportunity for both charter backers and the politicians and political functionaries who support them to show the rest of us that accountability isn't just for public schools and public school teachers, it's for charter schools and charter school staff too.

Instead the politicians and the political functionaries fell all over themselves to pass the buck - Regents Chancellor Tisch blamed NYSED and the local Regents who signed off on Dr. Ted's school application (Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood), the local Regents Brown and Norwood said the paperwork was all fine so how were they to know Morris was a fraud and no one at NYSED could be reached for comment.

Later former Rochester Mayor and current Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy called Dr. Ted's misrepresentation of his credentials and work history a "mistake," minimizing a fraudulent act that, if it were perpetrated by a teacher on her/his teaching application, would subject her/him to loss of job, loss of teaching license and possible legal action by the state.

This was the perfect opportunity for the accountability-meisters to show that accountability is not just for the public schools and public school teachers by taking a strong stand on the Morris fraud, and pull the approval from his Greater Works Charter School, which will continue to open despite the fiasco involving "Dr." Ted and his ever-changing credentials and work history.

At least they could have said, "You know, we're concerned that a guy who lied about his credentials and his work experience somehow got approval for a charter school and we're going to review that application again, as well as the board of trustees Morris got to sign on to it, and we're going to review our charter approval process overall to make sure that every application truly gets a rigorous vetting by NYSED."

But they did neither of those things.

Instead we were told that the Greater Works Charter School will still open, though the lead applicant is now an education professor from Keuka College, not "Dr." Ted (who resigned from the board after the Democrat and Chronicle exposed his lies), nothing was said about the charter approval process overall and all the people responsible for this mess - the local Regents, Regents Chancellor Tisch, NYSED and the Cuomo administration (in the figure of the outgoing lieutenant governor) did their best to pass the buck and make excuses for it all.

None of this is a surprise, of course.

For a long time now, it's been obvious that the charter school shills at the Regents, SED and in the corridors of power are not interested in holding the charter school sector accountable for anything.

As my friend Fake Merryl Tisch said when it was revealed NYSED was using data with a margin of error as high as 27% to grade schools for "college readiness":

Lt Governor Duffy Makes Excuses For Charter School Con Man "Dr" Ted Morris

We've already seen how nobody at the Board of Regents or the New York State Education Department wants to take responsibility for giving a charter school to a con man who lied about having a BA, an MA, a Ph.D, a MSW (yeah, that's a new one) and maybe even his high school diploma.

Now we get this doozy from Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy:

Lying about credentials and work experience on a state application for a charter school is a "mistake"?

What exactly, under this definition of "mistake," entails "fraud"?

Is cheating okay?

How about stealing?

It is amazing how much these pro-charter people are willing to forgive when it comes to charter schools and charter school folks.

It seems accountability is only for public schools and public school staff.

Like so much around the charter school/public school divide, there are two sets of rules here and the one for the charters is awfully forgiving.

Why Is "Dr" Ted Morris Jr's Charter School Still Taking Applications, Opening In September?

"Dr" Ted Morris Jr might have been exposed as a fraud lacking the Ph.D, MA, BA and (perhaps high school) degrees he claimed to have, but his Greater Works Charter School is STILL opening.

If you're in the market for a charter school for your child up in Rochester, the application link for Greater Works is here, along with the rundown for what the school will provide:

Greater Works Charter School is currently accepting applications for 9th grade students for the 2015-16 school year. The deadline for the receipt of student applications is April 1, 2015. Parents/families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible!
The mission of Greater Works Charter School is to prepare students to be self-sufficient citizens. GWCS will accomplish this mission by providing a high-quality education in a safe and supportive environment that provides students with the academic and technical skills necessary to earn a NYS Regents diploma and to succeed in college and today's workforce.
*At this time, a location for the school has not been announced.* We are working to finalize the selection of a building as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, please contact the school by phone at (585) 568-7833 or by e-mail at

Now I don't know about you, but I have plenty of questions about the school, starting with how it is no one at the Regents or SED looked into the 22-year old "Dr" Ted and his credentials or the other board members he found on the Internet.

Next question I have is, why is this school STILL being opened after Morris was exposed as a fraud?

Justin Murphy at the Democrat and Chronicle reports no one in leadership is taking responsibility for giving a charter school to a con artist like "Dr" Ted.

Regents Chancellor Tisch deflected blame onto the local Regents and NYSED, NYSED couldn't be reached for comment because of a couple of inches of snow in Albany on Wednesday and the local Regents who gave the okay to Morris and his charter said "It's not our fault because Dr. Ted lied to us."

Ah, yes - accountability is for the little people.

In addition, NYSED said the charter school is going to open despite the Morris fiasco.

Another member of the board of trustees - which Morris reportedly found on Craigslist and LinkedIn - is going to take over as lead applicant for the charter school:

Peter Kozik, a Keuka College professor and fellow trustee will take over as lead applicant.


Kozik was circumspect about the situation and declined to say whether the revelations were new to the trustees but said they "took it under advisement" when they heard about them Tuesday.

The trustees still plan to open the school in fall 2015 as scheduled. Kozik said he discussed the issue with the state education department Tuesday and came away with the impression that the plan can go forward.

"The plan's outstanding; the board's outstanding," he said. ""Life can be difficult for sure. This is not the first parting I had. ... We need to move ahead and help educate the children of Rochester."

The board's outstanding?

These are the people Morris found on the Internet, so I'm sure they've all been held to the same rigorous examination of their credentials and appropriateness for the board as Morris was, which is to say no one's looked into them at all.

But even if all these people are on the up-and-up, what does it say about them that they all thought Morris was a swell guy to be the lead applicant for the charter?

These people either suspected (or knew) Morris was a huckster and didn't care enough to do anything about it or didn't know he was a fraud and huckster, in which case they don't have the judgment to be on the board of a school.

Either way, the board of trustees, including new lead applicant Kozik, are suspect at best.

As for the "outstanding plan" Kozik says is in place, it's full of the usual ed deform claptrap - extended time, emphasis on technology, endless professional development for teachers and other tenets of the 21st Century Ed Deform Movement.

Here is how the plan is described on the Greater Works Charter School website:

 A Focus on Self-Sufficiency – Preparing students to be self-sufficient citizens is at the core of GWCS’s mission. The founding group defines a self-sufficient citizen as an individual being college and career ready and needing no outside help in satisfying basic needs. It is our intent to create a safe and supportive atmosphere where students can earn a NYS Regents diploma, prepare for and succeed in college and today’s workforce, and thereby achieve self-sufficiency. Citizens that are self-sufficient are crucial to a thriving community. Being able to take care for one’s basic needs decreases unemployment rates, need for public assistance, and contributes to economic development. We believe that self-sufficiency also encompasses college and career readiness.

 Advisory - Each student will be assigned a teacher advisor who will work with them throughout their high school journey at GWCS. The teacher advisors will meet with their assigned students daily (Monday through Friday.) During the daily advisory period, students will work with their advisor to create goals, and review goals and progress made toward achieving those goals. Teacher advisors will be able to use the daily advisory period to offer motivation, feedback, and guidance to students.

Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) – Teacher advisors will work with each student to create an individual learning plan to guide instruction. This will allow teaching staff to build lessons that explore and strengthen each student’s skills, interests, and dreams. When students attend the summer bridge program (starting in Year 2, orientation will take place in Year 1 instead), they will take assessments and work with an advisor to create the ILP based on the number of credits needed for graduation, reading and math grade-level scores, and social/emotional needs. The ILPs will be living documents that students and teacher advisors refer to-, and update on a regular basis.

 Longer Instructional Time – GWCS will provide a longer school day (9:00am to 5:00pm) and school year (193 days, not including the summer bridge program for 9th and 10th grades which will be an additional 19 days) than traditional schools. 

Blended Learning – GWCS realizes that technology has the power to move education toward a student-centered model of learning where students can learn at their own pace to boost learning outcomes. A learning environment enhanced with technology allows for seamless targeted interventions and flexible groups, as well as real collaboration among students. Students at GWCS will take courses that are infused with technology and that are co-taught by our NYS certified and experienced teachers. Using the Odyssey Ware curriculum, which features an engaging, media-rich curriculum that sparks student interest with 3-D animation, video clips, audio files, and educational games; teachers will be able to provide a high-quality learning experience to students. As cited in the U.S. Department of Education’s recent “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies” (Revised September 2010), “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (p. xiv) and, notably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction” (p. xv). GWCS will incorporate blended learning as per the Commissioner’s policy on blended learning.

 Co-Teaching - Courses at GWCS will be co-taught by a content area teacher alongside a special education teacher or teaching assistant. Having two high-quality educators facilitate classroom instruction will allow them to connect with different student personalities. Co-teaching allows more opportunities for small group and one-to-one learning, and stronger modeling during lessons. The co-planning process encourages two teachers to bounce ideas off each other in order to deliver the strongest, most creative lessons. Co-taught courses are structured to meet the needs of all students and will allow an opportunity for reinforcing key points of a discussion through repetition or restatement. By employing this approach, students are able to benefit from the knowledge and skills of each professional as they master the key concepts (Robinson & Schaille 1995; Bess 2000).

Teaching Assistants (TAs) – GWCS will hire teaching assistants from local graduate colleges of education (such as Roberts Wesleyan College, University of Rochester, SUNY Brockport, Keuka College, St. John Fisher College, and Nazareth College, etc.) Teaching assistants will work with teachers to provide students with an engaging and supportive learning environment. Teaching assistants will support teachers in the Guided Learning Process and provide academic support to students as they progress through their coursework. Uncommon in high schools, teaching assistants at GWCS will provide students with additional academic support. TAs will provide instructional, behavioral, and organizational benefits to the GWCS model.

 Professional Learning Community (PLC) - GWCS will provide a professional learning community that supports GWCS’s instructional staff. In the first year, teachers will meet on a regular basis (8 a.m. – 9 a.m. daily on Monday-Friday and in the summer for two weeks) to receive teacher mentoring, professional development, and peer coaching. Teachers will also be able to use this time to create lesson plans with the support of other teachers, the Principal, and the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. A regular focus during these meeting times will be on the local and formative assessment of students as GWCS year progresses. GWCS will have strong instructional leadership which, though challenging, will advance teaching and learning for students and teachers alike. There will be weekly and quarterly professional development and yearly professional development (two weeks in August 2015 and for one week in July every year thereafter.) 

All that sounds swell, except that the school has raised little money of its own, so all of that is going to have to come off the public's dime - the building for the school (which they don't have yet), the staff willing to work the extended time and days and suffer the endless professional development, the TA's they say they want to hire from local colleges, the technology and the blended learning programs.

And of course it matters just who you hire to implement this stuff, which brings us back to the problem of the board and their judgment (or lack thereof) over Morris.

Who do they hire as school leader to get this thing going, particularly after the school has become tabloid fodder and will be Exhibit A in the battle in the spring when the charter school criminals look to have the charter cap eliminated completely?

I dunno about you, but I see nothing "outstanding" in that plan that isn't "outstanding" in a thousand other charter school "About Us" sections.

There's nothing unique about the plan other than it was partly put together by a con man who may be lacking his own high school diploma.

I get that Regents Chancellor Tisch, NYSED Commissioner King and their merry men and women in reform in Albany want to open lots of charters so that they can come up against the charter cap as soon as possible and get it increased or lifted completely.

What I don't get is, why are they so adamant about making sure Greater Works opens as planned?

Given that the lead applicant was a fraud, given that his "outstanding board" was found on Craigslist and LinkedIn, given that the "outstanding plan" is the same ed deform claptrap you see in thousands of other charter school plans, given that the school has raised only $10K and will have to rely completely on the public dime to run, given that the publicity around the school has been embarrassing to say the least and isn't going to get any better as charter opponents use Morris and his Greater Works Charter School fraud as a great reason why SED and the Regents shouldn't be given more charter slots, I'd think Tisch, King and the merry reformsters would just as soon want this story buried as soon as possible.

But it sounds like Greater Works Charter School is going forward and given what a sham it's been so far, it looks like it is going to continue to be the gift that keeps on giving for charter skeptics and opponents.

Remember "Dr" Ted and Greater Works!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch Refuses To Be Held Accountable For Giving Con Artist Dr. Ted Morris Jr. A Charter School

As my friend on Twitter, Fake Merryl Tisch, likes to say in between swigs of Grey Goose, "Accountability is for the little people":

A day after 22-year-old charter school founder Ted Morris Jr. resigned precipitously after lies were discovered on his résumé, state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch deflected blame for the charter's approval and said the school, without its founder, should still open next fall.

Morris was the lead applicant for Greater Works Charter School, which got approval from the Board of Regents to open in 2015 as a high school with a particular reliance on technology.

He claimed to have accumulated a wall full of degrees, mostly from online schools, and served in leadership roles for various local organizations. One of those schools, Western Governors University, said he did not in fact get the bachelor's degree he claimed to have.

Another lie became apparent Wednesday: Morris also claimed to have master's and doctoral degrees from Concordia University Chicago, but a representative from that school said it had no record of him ever attending.

Those revelations led to an obvious question: why didn't the state Education Department and the Board of Regents catch the deception?

Tisch said the board only sees applications after they've been recommended by the state Education Department, suggesting it wasn't the members' normal responsibility to vet them for errors.

"When it comes to the board, it comes with an endorsement from (NYSED) and the local regents," she said. "What we hear is whether ... they've put together a sound application. There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, and I think people in (NYSED) need to address that with you."

Bill Clarke, the director of the NYSED charter school office, was not available for comment. A NYSED spokesman said no one else would be available either because of the snow descending on Albany.

Two of the state Regents are based in Rochester, Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood. In a statement released Tuesday before Morris' resignation, Brown said: "We rely on a considerable amount of data and information provided by applicants, along with conducting many in-person interviews before reaching a decision. If it were to turn out that we were deliberately provided misleading information by an applicant, that would of course call for further review of the issuance of the charter."

You're not surprised, right?

Tisch "deflects" blame onto the local Regents and NYSED, NYSED can't be reached for comment because of a couple of inches of snow and the local Regents who gave the okay say "It's not our fault because Dr. Ted lied to us."

In short, no one's at fault except Dr. Ted.

Let's imagine what these clowns would say if a public school hired a con man like Dr Ted to run the show.

A Bloomberg DOE Scandal Still Haunts The City

Do you remember the Willard Lanham/Project Cougar NYCDOE scandal from back in 2011?

If you don't, you can look up some posts I wrote about it here, here and here.

The basic overview was a DOE tech consultant stole a bunch of money from the DOE with the help of IBM and Verizon, who helped him cover the trail.

The consultant, Willard "Ross" Lanham, stole $1.7 million from the DOE from 2002-2008 on top of the six figure salary the Bloomberg DOE was already paying him as a consultant.

The scandal got the tabloid treatment when it was discovered that Lanham had an estranged wife (who you can see below) still living in his house (which you can see above) he had built in his own little real estate development and running a "Cougar" dating service for herself out of it.

She billed herself as "yummy mommy" on her blog and lived the high life meeting 20-somethings in the Long Island club scene:

Lanham had even named the street where his house was after his wife, Laura.                     

It was a sweet story of crime, betrayal and fiscal ineptitude from Bloomberg and his minions.

News of the story came around the same time we were beginning to understand just how much got stolen in the CityTime scandal.

The $1.7 million Lanham stole with the help of IBM and Verizon was a pittance compared to the $600 million the CityTime crooks stole, but it still pointed to an underlying rot in the way Bloomberg and his government outsourced work, hired consultants and did little-to-no oversight on the projects.

Now we learn via a Scott Stringer report that the city is STILL paying the piper for the Lanham scandal, two years after Lanham went to jail and almost a year after "fiscal genius" Bloomberg flew off to Bermuda:

New York City has been missing out on tens of millions of dollars a year in technology funding for schools from the federal government because of a continuing investigation into the Education Department, the city comptroller said this week.


The money comes from a program called E-Rate. It charges an average fee of about 25 cents per month to landline and cellphone bills and then uses that money for services like broadband technology in schools and libraries, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the program.

Since 1998, the city has pulled in more than $3 billion in E-Rate financing, the comptroller said, and while New Yorkers have continued to pay into that system, they have been barred from the receiving end since 2011 because of a federal investigation.

The F.C.C. declined to confirm or deny any investigation, but a city official said the inquiry was prompted by a scandal involving Willard Lanham, a former technology consultant for the city. He was accused of stealing money from the Education Department and using it to satisfy his and his wife’s expensive tastes, including for cars like a Corvette and a Porsche and to finance the construction of luxury homes on Long Island.

Mr. Lanham was sentenced to 37 months in prison in 2012 for stealing $1.7 million that was supposed to pay for Internet access at the city’s public schools.

In the letter, Mr. Stringer requested an update on the proceedings and asked when the city would be reinstated to the program. The comptroller said that while the Education Department had retained experts in E-Rate compliance as consultants, and paid them more than $670,000, “apparently those contracts ended without resolution to the city’s E-Rate problem.”

A spokesman for the department said that applications had already been submitted for the current E-Rate funding year, and that the program’s administrators were reviewing that application as well as those from the previous three years.

Last week, the F.C.C. chairman, Tom Wheeler, proposed raising the annual spending cap on the E-Rate program, which has not changed substantially since it began in 1997, to $3.9 billion, in an effort to increase Internet connectivity in schools. The F.C.C. said the increase would cost consumers a few cents more per line each month.

Mr. Stringer said this potential increase in spending could mean the city would miss out on more than $350 million by the 2018 fiscal year. He said he did not know if the city would eventually receive the E-Rate money at the end of the investigation.

I've said this before, I'll say it again today:

Why does Bloomberg still have the reputation for being a fiscal genius and responsible manager of the city?

When you add up the consultant scandals and tech boondoggery during the Bloomberg Years, you see that billions were either stolen or wasted.

And as you can see from the Stringer report, the city STILL continues to pay for Bloomberg's criminal malfeasance.

Let's imagine this was de Blasio screwing all this stuff up for years and years.

Can you imagine the treatment it would receive in the papers?

And yet, we see time and time again these stories of consultant criminality and tech boondoggery during the Bloomberg Years get reported with nary a negative word about our former billionaire mayor.

Reminds me a little of this, without the guillotine part at the end:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Cuomo/Tisch/King Plan To "Strengthen" The APPR Teacher Evaluation System By Putting Even More Emphasis On Test Scores

Some details emerge on how Governor Cuomo, Regents Chancellor Tisch and NYSED Commissioner King will look to "strengthen" their APPR teacher evaluation system:

ALBANY—New York’s education leaders say they would support amending the state-mandated teacher evaluation system in order to address anomalies and inconsistencies that have emerged during the first two years of its implementation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he intends to strengthen the rating system, which he has touted as a signature accomplishment of his first term. Accordingly, education leaders say they expect the governor and lawmakers to make changes during the upcoming legislative session.


In September, Cuomo told the Buffalo News the system needs “refinement.”

“I’m excited that we started,” he told the newspaper. “And I think once we start to study it and learn it and refine it—because there’s no doubt it needs refinement, not everybody can get an ‘A,’ it can’t be—I think it’s going to be a very valuable tool.”

He suggested that changes might need to be made on the local level in some districts where most teachers were rated “highly effective.”

“The way [districts] negotiated it may be too loose because everyone’s doing well, and I think that’s a valid question,” he told the Buffalo newspaper.

Later, right before his re-election, Cuomo told the Daily News editorial board that he wants to “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.” The paper reported he said he wanted to tie incentives and sanctions to the ratings.

In the book he released in late October outlining his second-term priorities, Cuomo wrote: “New York now has the opportunity to … [continue] to strengthen teacher and principal evaluations.”

Like Cuomo, King is concerned too many teachers and principals were rated “highly effective,” particularly on the component of the evaluations based on observations. He said he’d like to see “a higher level of differentiation” in that area.

King also said he’d like to see educators’ overall ratings be more consistent with student performance on standardized tests. The evaluation system does not rate teachers based on students’ absolute performance—only about a third of students in grades three through eight passed Common Core-aligned state exams in each of the last two years—but rather on how much students improve from year to year.
“You’d worry if a district has very poor student growth, or their students are losing ground, but their evaluation ratings are very high,” King said.

So even as Cuomo says he's concerned about "over-testing," he and his corporate reform cronies at SED and the Regents look like they will put even more emphasis on test scores in whatever revision of APPR they try and ram through.

Because those vaunted New York State tests are so "objective" that if teacher evaluations don't track how students do on the state tests, then something must be wrong with the evaluation system.

So much for Cuomo's being concerned with "over-testing."

If he gets to revise APPR so that the test components weigh more (and gets to add "sanctions" for teachers who don't "measure up"), you can bet the already test prep-heavy New York State school system is going to go into overdrive on doing nothing but test prep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dr. Ted Has Left The Building

It took a little more than a day for Dr. Ted Morris Jr., charter school prodigy, to go to former charter school prodigy/current fraud:
Now comes the work of holding the Board of Regents accountable for giving approval to this fraud's charter school and using this fiasco as Exhibit A when Cuomo, King and Tisch look to raise or eliminate the charter cap in New York State.

If Dr Ted Morris Jr, huckster extraordinaire, could get a charter in New York State now before the cap is lifted or eliminated, just wait and see what happens after the cap is increased or ended completely.

The Dr. Ted Morris Greater Works Charter School Edifice Comes Crashing Down

If you've been following the story of 22 year old Dr. Ted Morris, the proud owner of a Regents-approved charter school in Rochester, you know that Diane Ravitch, Peter Greene and Merecedes Schneider all raised questions about Dr. Morris' background and qualifications in the last 24 hours.

The Democrat and Chronicle published a puff piece about Morris yesterday, but the same writer came back with a piece tonight that confirms Dr. Ted isn't all he was cracked up to be in the D&C piece yesterday.

It is now confirmed that Morris didn't graduate from School Without Walls in Rochester as he first told the Democrat and Chronicle he did:

He said Sunday that he graduated from School Without Walls in Rochester, but clarified Monday that he withdrew from that school in 2008 and graduated later that year from Penn Foster High School, a private online high school based in Pennsylvania.

Former School Without Walls principal Dan Drmacich and the Rochester School District both verified that Morris left the district in 2008.

"From what I remember, he was very articulate, a great conversationalist, but ... he didn't go to many of his classes," Drmacich said. "We constantly worked with him through his teacher adviser and the school counselor, to no avail — to the point he realized and we realized he was just coming to school and hanging out versus attending classes on a regular basis."

Morris denied not attending class regularly but said he did not feel challenged at School Without Walls, part of the reason he left for an online school.

It had been reported that Dr. Morris had a BA from an online college, but it turns out that he may not actually have a BA at all.  In addition, his MA and Ph.D claims are also in dispute (which makes sense since it doesn't seem like he actually has a BA):

Morris said in interviews and in paperwork submitted to the state that he got a bachelor's degree from Western Governors University, an online college based in Salt Lake City. But a school spokesman said he attended classes there but did not graduate and is not currently enrolled.

From 2008 on, Morris' education included little time in a traditional classroom. He also took classes at the online Grand Canyon University and eventually got a master's and doctoral degrees from Concordia University Chicago through a program that required him to be on campus for one weekend a month, he said Tuesday.

Representatives from Penn Foster, Grand Canyon and Concordia could not be reached to verify those claims.

The D & C reported that Dr. Morris didn't give a resume with the 2014 application for his Greater Works Charter School, but the resume Morris handed in with a 2013 application for the charter had several "misrepresentations" (i.e., "lies") on it (UPDATE - Mercedes Scheider writes that he did give in a resume with the 2014 application and that it contains many of the same items from the 2013 version.)

Morris wrote he was the assistant chief executive officer for the Hickok Center for Brain Injury, with duties including "developed and implemented all program policies and procedures" and "served as acting CEO in the absence of the CEO."

Elaine Comarella, the center's CEO, said his title was actually administrative assistant, and that the responsibilities he listed in the resume were "a little overshot."

"He worked on all those things, but he didn't actually do all that stuff himself," she said.


 Another of the jobs listed on his resume was director of Church Women United's Task Force on Courts. That was accurate, but in the resume he submitted to get that position, obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle, he claimed he had bachelor's and master's degrees from Almeda University, an unaccredited online school in Idaho.

That apparently isn't true. He said Tuesday he'd never heard of that school and didn't know why it was on his resume.


A third job listing was senior administrator for Victory Living Christian Faith Centers from 2003 — when he was a few months shy of his 11th birthday — to 2010. The resume said he "hired, trained and supervised a staff of seven administrators ... (for) a national Christian organization)."

Morris reiterated Tuesday that he did in fact start serving as an administrator at age 10, "as little as I was," and "did all the official paperwork" in those seven years. His hiring and supervisory responsibilities started when he was around 15 or 16 years old and were done together with other leaders, he said.

Victory Living didn't return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

And so Dr. Ted Morris' Greater Works Charter School dream comes crashing down in a clatter of lies, half-truths, misrepresentations and delusions.

That the New York Board of Regents approved this dude for a charter school gives you a glimpse of what the future is going to bring after they raise the charter cap or eliminate it completely.

Regents Chancellor Tisch said the following to the Daily News post-election:

“As we look to this legislative season, people are going to say we need to raise the charter cap. I personally am a great believer in charter schools ... I believe in opening them aggressively” Chancellor Merryl Tisch said on the John Catsimatidis radio show. “I’d like to push more charter schools.”

If Dr. Ted Morris, the 22 year old with the unconfirmed online high school diploma (who lied about graduating from School Without Walls), the disputed online BA, a disputed MA and Ph.D and a phonied up resume could get a charter school in New York State before they eliminate the charter cap, just imagine what's going to happen after the cap is eliminated.

This is an embarrassment for the Board of Regents and I don't think it's going too far to say that the individuals who approved Dr. Ted and his Greater Works Charter School need to be forced out immediately.

In addition, the Regents Chancellor herself needs to be called to account for this mess.

I am under no illusion either of those things will happen.

But if there were any justice in this world, they certainly would.

Democrat And Chronicle Takes Down Story About Dr. Ted Morris And His Greater Works Charter School (SECOND UPDATE - 10:40 AM)

The Democrat and Chronicle article about Dr. Ted Morris and his Greater Works Charter School is now offline.

Yesterday Diane Ravitch posted the D and C story about the miraculous Dr. Ted Morris, the 22-year old with the online BA and (perhaps) online MA and Ph.D as well who was granted approval for a charter school in Rochester by the New York Board of Regents.

Ravitch received an email from the principal of the school Morris claimed to have graduated from, School Without Walls, saying that Morris had only attended the school one year and not graduated from SWW.

Peter Greene and Mercedes Schneider further looked into Morris and found strange details about Morris that make him look less like a child prodigy and more like a con man.

And now, without ceremony, the Democrat and Chronicle has taken the Morris story down.

It will be interesting to see if they make an announcement for why the story is now offline.

The article read like a PR puff piece for Morris.

Perhaps they're embarrassed now that a couple of bloggers like Greene and Schenider, along with education historian Diane Ravitch, were able to expose him in less than 24 hours for being something he isn't.

It will be interesting to see how Regents Chancellor Tisch defends the Regents approving Morris for a charter school.

Tisch has said she wants an "aggressive" expansion of the charter sector in New York in the next few years.

Apparently that means giving just about anybody - including a con man like Morris - a charter school.

UPDATE - 8:18 AM. The D and C story on Morris is back online, though it says it was updated at 8:02 a.m. EST November 25, 2014.

No immediate changes to the story call out to me.

Looks like the Democrat and Chronicle does indeed stand by its puff piece on Morris.

We'll see if it - and Dr Ted - stand up to further scrutiny.

SECOND UPDATE - 10:40 AM: Leonie Haimson left the following comment:

The story now says he graduated from on online HS instead of School w/o Walls: "It was only six years ago that he graduated from an online high school at age 16. He had previously attended School Without Walls." so this 22 yr old has online degrees from HS, College and grad school, w/out any teaching experience or even evidence he can interact with human beings in a classroom.

Indeed, I went back to the story and it looks like the update to it seems to be changing the details around School Without Walls, to note that Morris attended the school but didn't graduate from it and graduated instead from an online high school.

Still seems like just about anybody can get a charter school these days.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why Not Make The 22 Year Old Charter School Guy Who Lied About His Diploma A Member Of The Board Of Regents?

Earlier today Diane Ravitch posted that the Board of Regents in New York gave a charter school slot to a 22 year old with an online BA and (perhaps) an online MA and Ph.D as well.

The fellow, who has never taught school, will be opening his charter in Rochester and "preparing the next generation to do better, and be better, than we've done..." even though he hasn't actually lived much himself yet.

Funny that.

But it gets better.

Ravitch updated that she received an email from the former principal of School Without Walls, the high school the 22 year old charter school fellow claimed to have graduated from, informing her that said fellow actually did not graduate from SWW:

I was the principal of Rochester, New York’s School Without Walls from 1987 to 2010. Ted Morris, the young man awarded permission to open a charter school in Rochester, NY, and claiming to be a graduate of School Without Walls in 2008, attended SWW for less than a year and then voluntarily left to be home schooled. He never graduated nor received a diploma from School Without Walls.
Dan Drmacich

Now before you get all upset and say, "How can the Board of Regents in New York give a fellow who has lied about his high school diploma and received at least one online degree a charter school, especially when he is only 22 years old and has never taught a day in his life?", let's remember who actually sits on the Board of Regents.

Here, for example, is the last appointee to the Board of Regents:

With 20-20 hindsight, lawmakers are asking themselves what happened during their vote to elect members to the state Board of Regents, which sets education policy.

During a rare joint session of the Legislature, Assembly members and senators on Tuesday re-elected three incumbent Regents. For the fourth seat, which had just been vacated, they chose a seeming long-shot: Sullivan County lawyer, activist, former community college instructor and website entrepreneur Josephine Victoria Finn.

Appearing before lawmakers just 24 hours earlier, Finn said she hadn't really been following the raging controversy surrounding the implementation of the new Common Core learning standards that has built unusual interest in the Regents vote.

In the hours after the vote, reports circulated that Finn operated several web ventures devoted to spirituality and weight loss, including a program in which clients could be coached by her at a cost of up to $3,600 per year.

The sites, which were marred by numerous spelling errors, were soon taken down and are now listed as being "under constructions."

Finn, whose nomination was formally introduced late last week, had prevailed over another candidate, veteran Albany school principal Maxine Fantroy Ford. And her election came as her predecessor unexpectedly resigned at the last minute.

You can see Ms. Finn's spiritual weight loss sites here and here.

I dunno, we're getting all up in arms over the 22 year old kid with the online BA and what appears to be at least one lie on his resume getting a charter school from the Regents.

But given the quality of some of the people on the Board of Regents, this kid might be selling himself short by just looking to run a charter school.

Why not aim higher and get on the Board of Regents?

He'd fit right in with the last personage elevated to the Board of Regents - they both seem to know something about trying to make a quick buck.

It Seems Merryl Tisch Will Give Just About Anybody A Charter School In New York State

Via Diane Ravitch comes this news:

Unlike most school leaders, Ted Morris' days in a high school classroom are still very fresh in his memory. 
It was only six years ago that he graduated from School Without Walls at age 16. Now, at 22, he's armed with a freshly minted doctorate degree in education and permission from the state Board of Regents to open a charter high school in Rochester in 2015.
It will be called Greater Works Charter School, accepting about 100 ninth-graders in its first year and eventually expanding to about 400 students in grades 9-12.
After graduating from School Without Walls in 2008, Morris got a bachelor's degree at age 18 from Western Governors University, an online college based in Salt Lake City. He then received master's and doctoral degrees from Concordia University near Chicago.

Morris has an educational consulting firm and said he has worked with the Rochester Prep schools, among others. He also helped start three non-profit organizations, he said: Sparq Rochester, a youth arts outfit; Greater Works Education Network, a fledgling statewide charter advocacy group; and Victory Living Christian Faith Center.

Wow - so a guy who got his BA, MA and Ph.D from online schools is going to run his own charter school at the age of 22.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told us she wants to see an "aggressive" expansion of the charter sector across the state in the near term.

Giving a 22 year old with a BA, an MA and a Ph.D from online schools who has no teaching experience but a little consulting experience sure does count as "aggressive expansion" to me.

I'm sure this couldn't go wrong at all, right?

And of course most of the learning at this charter will take place online.

Sure it will

Charter Schools Started As Quid Pro Quo Deal In New York In 1998

Charter schools literally started with a payoff here in New York State:

ALBANY — A specter is haunting talks about the first legislative pay raise since 1999 — the specter of Preet Bharara.
Manhattan’s powerful federal prosecutor has multiple probes stemming from the unfinished work of Gov. Cuomo’s now-defunct Moreland anti-corruption commission — and sources said his investigations could hurt the chances of an agreement between the governor and legislative leaders.
“As soon as a deal is reached, Preet could let loose 10 new legislative indictments making everybody look bad,” said one skeptical state government insider.

Many in Albany are openly talking about concessions the Legislature might give Cuomo to entice him to support raising the current $79,500 base legislative salary, but other insiders warn that legislators should be careful given Bharara’s increased focus on Albany.

The last time a legislative pay raise was authorized, in 1998, the Legislature gave then-Gov. George Pataki several items he wanted, including the law that created charter schools in New York.

But times have changed. Bharara rocked Albany earlier this year when his office began investigating the deal that called for Cuomo to pull the plug on the Moreland Commission in exchange for some ethics reforms.

But if Bharara is investigating that deal, insiders worry that he could open probes into the usual political horse-trading involving the legislative pay raise. Any lawmaker still in office come January would benefit directly from the deal.

There you have it - the law that created charter schools in New York State came in return for a legislative pay raise.

Charter schools in New York started with a quid pro quo.

You want public money for private schools?

Pay us and we'll give it to you.

Now of course the charter operators themselves do the quid pro quos, throwing huge amounts of cash at the politicians in both parties in order to get their agenda passed.

But it's interesting to note that from the start, charter schools were rotten through with corruption.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Governor Cuomo Says He Will Institute An APPR Evaluation System For Meteorologists

Governor Cuomo is very mad at the meteorologists at the National Weather Service.

He claims they got the lake effect snow forecast for Buffalo wrong last week:

ALDEN, N.Y.- During a press conference Saturday afternoon Governor Cuomo had some criticism for the National Weather Service and its forecast of the storm.

Cuomo said the Weather Service did not indicate that the heavy snow bands would remain stationary and blast South Buffalo and the Southtowns with the incredible rate of snowfall.

Cuomo said that's part of the reason why New York State is building its own linked weather forecasting system that will be superior to any other state system in the country.

"No one had an idea that it was gonna be that much snow that fast. Snow coming down at the rate of about five inches an hour. No one had an idea. The weather service was off. By the way, I said this in my state of the state last year we're putting in our own weather detection system," said Cuomo.

Cuomo says he will be breaking the "monopoly" that the National Weather Service has by creating his own New York Weather Service.

He says high quality charter weather stations will be funded all over the state in order to give the NWS some much-needed competition in the meteorology business.

"I believe in competition and I believe in charter weather stations," Cuomo told reporters at a briefing in South Buffalo. "There's nothing like some hungry forecasters working at Weather Success Stations to make those lazy slugs at the National Weather Service get off their fat asses and do their jobs right."

In addition, Cuomo says he will institute a new evaluation system for all meteorologists who make forecasts on New York weather to ensure that only the highest quality and most accurate forecasters keep their jobs.

Cuomo says the evaluation system will mimic his APPR teacher evaluation system, with meteorologists rated as "Highly Effective," "Effective" "Developing," and "Ineffective."

Meteorologists will be rated after every weather forecast.

Meteorologists who are rated "developing" or "ineffective" two weather systems in a row will be publicly shamed by the governor - Cuomo will send out a list of "Bad Meteorologists" in order to make the public aware of this much needed information.

Meteorologists who receive "Highly Effective" ratings two systems in a row will be eligible for meteorology merit pay courtesy of New York State.

Cuomo says if the meteorologists at the NWS don't shape up, he will add more "sanctions" to the APPR meteorology system, though he won't say what those "sanctions" are.

As for the pushback Cuomo has received from the NWS and other meteorologists who point out that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about when he says the NWS didn't forecast the lake effect snow last week, Cuomo says "I'll deal with those guys later.  I've been making a list of people I plan on getting even with in the next term - you can bet some of these guys are going to get a visit from Joe Percoco to set things right."

Governor Cuomo Blames National Weather Service For Slowness Of State Response To Buffalo Storm

It's never Il Duce's fault, is it?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Dozens of western New Yorkers are complaining about the conditions in their communities. Viewers are asking, “Why is help taking so long and why wasn’t my community more prepared?” Saturday night in Lackawanna, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it’s because the National Weather Service got it wrong.

4 Warn Weather meteorologists predicted the lake effect storm well in advance, but Cuomo said he is not satisfied with how it was forecasted, so the state is getting its own equipment to provide more data.

“Apparently they’ve been doing some of the main streets but none of the side streets, you’ve got cars in front of you stuck, cars in back stuck, nothing’s going on,” said Tony Darmstedter, of Lackawanna.

During a tour of Lackawanna on Satruday, Cuomo said there’s a reason the city is still snowed in.
Cuomo said, “I think Lackawanna by design was probably hit harder than any other community compounded by narrow streets, compounded by abandoned cars in those narrow streets.”

As far as why they weren’t prepared, the governor says the National Weather Service is to blame. He said, “It came down earlier than forecasted and it came at a higher volume than they forecasted.”
His solution? The state is getting its own weather system and each county will soon be able to monitor its own weather. The state is using $15 million of federal funding granted after Superstorm Sandy.

“I went through this with Storm Irene, Storm Lee, Hurricane Sandy, none of them were predicted where they were predicted and how they actually happened.  Accurate weather prediction is a big deal now, it’s taken on a new context now with this extreme weather,” said Cuomo.

A commenter on the WIVB story notes:

Umm... it was predicted well ahead of time that this snow was going to produce a lot of lake effect in a short period. I don't know where Cuomo has his head, but all news forecasts predicted snow in the feet, not inches.

I should probably stop comparing Andrew Cuomo to Benito Mussolini by calling him Il Duce.

To be fair to Mussolini, he did get the trains to run on time.

Cuomo can't get anything in the state to run right.

Is Bill Cosby Still On The StudentsFirst Board? (UPDATED - 10:40 AM)

StudentsFirst seems to have scrubbed their website a bit.

When I put in a Google search for Bill Cosby + Board of Directors + StudentsFirst, here's what comes up:

StudentsFirst Board of Directors |
One of America's most beloved comedians of all time, Bill Cosby has captivated generations of fans with his comedy routines, iconic albums and best-selling ...

And yet, when you click on that link, you don't find the page with the Board of Directors listed or the page with Cosby listed as sitting on the board.

Instead, you just get the StudentsFirst.Org page.

I looked around the StudentsFirst website, including under the "Who We Are" tab.

The Board of Directors page seems to have disappeared from the site.

Now I see plenty of stories about Cosby joining StudentsFirst back in September 2012.

I even see a video of him talking about StudentsFirst and education reform.

But I don't see any stories about him stepping down.

Strange that has lots of information about "Meeting Their Team" - including Michelle Rhee - and learning about their "Mission," but alas, no information about their board.

You'd think they want to publicize information about their board, especially since there are some real luminaries sitting on it, including Roland Martin, Joel Klein, Connie Chung and Bill Cosby.

It's as if something happened recently that made them decide to scrub their Board of Directors page, but rather than own up to it, they did it in the dark and hoped nobody noticed.

Now it's possible I've gotten this all wrong here and I'm just missing the information about the Board of Directors at StudentsFirst and all the wonderful members on it.

It's possible that I'm just missing the information about Cosby and his commitment to education reform and children on the Studentsfirst website.

Or it's possible that Cosby stepped down and I'm missing the notice for that on the World Wide Web.

Though I don't think this is the case - Valerie Strauss has a Washington Post piece dated August 13, 2014 about Michelle Rhee stepping down from StudentsFirst and joining Miracle Gro and Cosby is said to still be a member of the StudentsFirst board as of that date.

So it seems likely Cosby was still a member of the StudentsFirst Board of Directors when the sexual assault allegations against Cosby that have long been in the public domain went viral the past few weeks.

It seems that StudentsFirst wanted to distance themselves from the sexual assault (including statutory rape) allegations against Cosby as quickly and as quietly as they could.

If they did want to distance themselves from Cosby and the growing scandal around him, it's a shame they didn't go public and explain EXACTLY why they wanted to do that.

Berklee College of Music did just that with a scholarship Cosby sponsored at the school.

Alas, it seems the "students first" people at StudentsFirst haven't take that same route.

That's a shame - this could have been a teachable moment for us all, as the "Blame Teachers First" crowd turned on one of their own who looks to be a serial sexual assaulter.

You can bet if this was a teacher alleged to have committed these egregious acts, the StudentsFirst crowd wouldn't have gone quietly.

But they seem to have taken the coward's route out instead and scrubbed him away in the middle of the night.

If I've gotten any of this wrong, I will publicly apologize to StudentsFirst and Michelle Rhee herself  for vilifying them for secretly scrubbing their ties away to a man alleged to have committed at least 18 acts of sexual assault and more coming out every day.

Just let me know, StudentsFirst folks.

Is Bill Cosby still a member of your board or not?

UPDATED - 10:40 AM: Patrick Sullivan left the following comment on the post:

 Looks like they took their board page down. Google has a cached copy as of 10/31 that includes Cosby. This link should bring it up:

It seems Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst did not have the guts to go public with their cutting Cosby loose.

Too bad, but not unexpected.

After all, Rhee helped sexual misconduct allegations against her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, go away.

It seems Ms. Rhee and her fellow ed deformers are only looking for accountability against people who are accused of sexual misconduct when they're teachers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NYSED Commissioner King Issues College Readiness Data With Margins Of Error As Large As 27%

How does one account for the fact that if the data's coming from NYSED Commissioner John King's Department of Education, it's inevitably error-riddled?

Here's the latest King/NYSED data fiasco:

Local school superintendents are livid over what they say is massively inaccurate data about how many of their high school graduates go on to and graduate from college.

"We have a sense of how our students are doing and if they're succeeding in college," said South Orangetown schools Superintendent Ken Mitchell, immediate past president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents.

His district was reported as having 62 percent of 2012 high school graduates still in college in 2014 when he said the real number is 89 percent.

"The report is called 'Where are They Now?' We know where these kids are," he said. "This is a huge discrepancy. That's why we're so angry."

The data, presented to the state Board of Regents on Monday, was compiled from information provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that provides services to about 98 percent of the country's colleges and universities.

There were some inaccuracies, a state education official acknowledged.

Not all colleges and universities send data; some is incomplete; some students opt out of having their data included; and some schools did not provide information for students who don't receive financial aid, said Ken Wagner, deputy commissioner for curriculum, assessment and education technology.
He said the state felt that at most 3 percent of the numbers were inaccurate; the Clearinghouse's website says its number are 95 percent accurate. New York City, which contracted with the Clearinghouse privately, found a 3 percent error rate, Wagner said.

3% margin of error rate?

Here's a sampling of the MOE on SED's college readiness numbers in the Lower Hudson Valley:

Some discrepancies between the state's and local districts' data on students still in college

Pearl River HS: state: 82%, district-provided: 97%

Rye Neck HS: state: 80%, district-provided: 98%

Tappan Zee HS: state: 62%, district-provided: 89%

Valhalla HS: state: 79%,district-provided: 97%

 Carol Burris found a large MOE for her school as well:

In its zest to prove there is a crisis of college readiness, combined with a sweetheart infatuation with big data, NYSED produced reports (SIRS 601-604) to track New York high school graduates’ college enrollment. A few days before the public release of the reports, Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner sent a memo to districts. He explained that the department had combined school data with that of the National Student Clearinghouse to document which former high school students were enrolled in college and whether they persisted in their studies.

The memo informed superintendents that after the Regents discussed the data, it would be publicly released because it would be of interest to communities.

Our district data coordinator, who is my assistant principal, brought me the SIRS report. It claimed that only 80 percent of our students from the cohort of 2008 (Class of 2012) were enrolled in college.   As soon as I saw the number, I knew it was not correct. Ninety-eight percent of the 2012 Class told us they were going to college and gave us the name of the college they would attend. Might some have left after one semester, or changed their minds? It’s possible. But I found it difficult to believe that 18 percent had either not enrolled or quickly dropped out.

I asked my assistant principal to drill down to the names in the SIRS report. Not only were the names given, the report included which colleges and universities the students attended, their race, special education status, whether or not they received free or reduced priced lunch, and in many cases, their college major. This massive collection of data on graduates made my jaw drop.

And then I looked at the names. The 2012 salutatorian wasn’t on the list. I began a name by name comparison of the cohort against the report. The list did not include the names of many former students who were attending private and public colleges and universities, both in and out of state.

I began calling families to verify the report. There were 53 names that did not have a college listing.
 By 5 p.m. that day, I had spoken with 27 families. In 25 of the 27 cases, the students were thriving in their third year of college. They were at Brown, Bard, Cornell, Bentley, Notre Dame and Wesleyan. One student was in the Naval Academy (which smartly and ironically is one of the few schools that does not share data), and another at Tufts. One was at the University of Florida and another at the University of Charleston. What was even more bizarre was that some were in New York State public colleges governed by NYSED—SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stony Brook and Queensborough Community College. One student had already graduated from a technical school with a 3.84 GPA. Eighty percent had now become over 90 percent, and over the course of the next few days the percentage would continue to climb. This was no small error.

When calling, I asked parents whether they had “opted out” of having their son’s or daughter’s college enrollment data collected. They had not. One mom said: “Honestly, if I knew about it, I would have opted out. It is not John King’s[1] business where my son goes to college or what his major is.”

Burris notes that the college readiness numbers are not the first data errors to come from King or NYSED - there was also the APPR numbers for teacher evaluations.

There is something outrageous about a political functionary like King - an anti-public school/pro-charter functionary who is part of the movement to destroy public schools and promote charter schools - using data with such large margins of error to promote his anti-public school agenda.

But that's what's happening.

As I see this, he's either incompetent or deliberately using distorted and error-riddled data.

Which is it, Dr. King?

Are you incompetent or fraudulent?

It's one or the other.


13 Rape Allegations (Including One Statutory) Against Bill Cosby, But Whoopi Goldberg Still Defends Him

From the Daily News:

A shrill, backstage brawl at “The View” Wednesday left co-host Rosie Perez in tears while panelists Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell battled over how to cover the latest allegations against Bill Cosby and the racially charged upheaval in Ferguson, Mo., sources said.

O’Donnell believed the show — now overseen by ABC News — needed to delve deeper into both controversial subjects, while Goldberg wanted to steer clear of the topics altogether.

Ultimately, both news stories were discussed at length on the air by the panel.

“There’s terrible frustration and there are problems,” a source close to the show told the Daily News. “Whoopi didn’t want to talk about Cosby and Ferguson, Rosie (O’Donnell) did — how could you not? These are topics that are uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s ‘The View’ and it’s their job to talk about topics that might make some people tense.”

Whoopi was happy to bash "bad teachers" not once but twice over the summer, claiming teacher tenure protects them.

Yet she defends her pal Cosby - now with 13 public rape allegations against him including one with an underage girl of 15 - by trying to ensure "The View" steers clear of the topic.

This comes after she defended him earlier in the week and attacked one of his accusers, saying she had "lots of questions" for her.

Apparently Whoopi doesn't want to address any of those questions publicly on "The View" anymore.

Another teacher-basher exposed as a hypocrite and a phony.

Hey, Whoopi - if you have such concern for the kids, why not let "The View" cover the Cosby story, including the allegation that your friend Bill Cosby repeatedly had sex with an underage girl?

Good God - the show is supposed to cover the news.

The public implosion of the iconic Bill Cosby into sexual predator and statutory rapist certainly is news.

And like I said in an earlier post - you can bet if this was a teacher accused of these crimes, you'd be one of the first throwing stones.