Saturday, February 28, 2009
Closing the schools in a neighborhood completely changes everything for the people living there. Children must be registered with new schools, education is disrupted, bussing schedules changed, life must be completely reorganized. Parents and children must change everything to scramble to get their children into new schools and start over again.
NOT that these parents WANT ther children to be sent to a school where violence is strife, or the atmosphere does not contribute to learning. The BIG question is this: WHY can't the existing schools be made more productive, without closing them, and turning them into other schools?
It would seem to me with all of the geniuses that hold Harvard and Yale degrees in the offices of the DOE,that rather than blaming the teachers, there would be some studies made at the schools where there are problems to pinpoint precisely why schools fail. The simple fact is this- the school is an extension of the community- if the people that most have a vested interest in education of their children are kept out and excluded from the educational process (parents, teachers, school administrators), how could ANY school have the opportunity to turn itself around? Aren't those of us most directly involved more aware of what makes a school work than some bureaucrat sitting in Tweed?
Still, we let these bureaucrats close these schools, and we just let it happen. My opinion- it's time to put the word PUBLIC back in education and in service. Call me naive, but, aren't these PUBLIC servants like Bloomberg and Klein supposed to be answering to US?
It's time to grow a pair, people, and not only speak up, but GET the control back to where it belong- the people that pay the salaries of the Kleins and Cerfs- US!
Since 2004, under Arne Duncan, Chicago has been closing neighborhood schools in African American and Latino working class communities and turning them over to charter schools, selective enrollment schools for new gentrifiers, or to an outside “turnaround specialist.”
We have been fighting for quality neighborhood schools in every neighborhood and against these school closings every year. This year Duncan, before he became Sec. of Ed, recommended closing or turning around 22 schools on a few weeks notice. In the end the Board of Ed. voted to go ahead and close or "turn-around" 16 neighborhood schools, rocks of stability in their communities, each with a compelling story to tell. We saved 6.
We, a multiracial coalition of grass roots community organizations, teachers, parents, and students are angry but not surprised. They ignored research data (2 reports that disputed their reasons for closing the schools), the data from the parents and teachers and students who testified for hours and compiled elaborate piles of documents in their defense.
At the Board meeting, Board members admitted not one had read the testimony from these hearings -- the tears, anger, pleas, careful documentation and reasoned argumentation of hundreds and hundreds of African American and Latino working class parents and children and their teachers and administrators.
This travesty of democracy and disrespect, this crass closing of neighborhood schools for gentrification and charter school give aways, this "cost cutting" on the backs of Black and Brown communities is made possible in part because the mayor, who works in collaboration with the most powerful corporate and financial interests, runs the school system and appoints the Board of Education and CEO of CPS. They are completely unaccountable. Now Arne Duncan recommends Detroit (and what other cities?) follow Chicago’s lead with mayoral control.
After candlelight vigils in the cold, many many community meetings, 2 mass rallies and marches, a tent city sleep over in front of the Board of Ed in subfreezing temperatures, and many other kinds of protests, we are tired but unbowed.
We are pushing for a retroactive moratorium on school closings in the state legislature right now and regrouping for the next phase. It's the parents, especially women, and youth and community members who are the heart and soul of this fight.
Their courage and determination to fight, to picket and march and speak out day after day, to become media spokespeople overnight, and to rise up as grassroots leaders should inspire us all. It's a long fight because the stakes are high. People need to know. This is the national education agenda on the horizon. We have to stop it.
For good coverage of the recent phase of our struggle see http://www.substancenews.net/
Teachers for Social Justice, Chicago
Professor, Policy Studies
College of Education
University of Illinois-Chicago
1040 W. Harrison, MC 147
Chicago IL 60607-7133
So this teacher is removed from school for probably a year for supposedly being unfit to teach, but by paying extortion money to the DOE, it all goes away. They might as well send Vinny the Collector to the school in the first place and skip the rubber room and 3020-a hearing.
the 3020-a process is used not only to remove unwanted teachers from the school, but to extort them as well with fines up to $10K! The teacher in question was offered a deal before the hearing in which a $5K fine would be paid, a classroom management class attended, put into the ATR system, and signing the stipulation "with prejudice" which in legal terms means that there can be no further legal action. Now after Ramona Duran's alleged twisting of reality, the DOE's lawyer's upped the fine to $10K.
School: PS 157 Bronx
Lying supervisor: Ramona Duran
LIS at time: Donald Conyers- now Supt Dist 23
Donald Conyers was the former principal of PS 18X and know that the school was in complete chaos during his reign there. Mr. Conyers never left his office, because he spent more time on the internet instant messaging than educating.
Friday, February 27, 2009
...In Raking in the Big Bucks.
Thus spawneth the market-based ed reform movement.
A must read if you want to see what the evils of the ed "reform" movement bring forth. Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News reports on one of the more disgusting people in NYC education/politics. Charter schools have license to steal from the public coffers while private interests fuel a gravy train. What next, a Harlem Success corporate jet?
"Moskowitz, who makes no secret of her desire to create 40 charter schools across the city and run for mayor some day, raked in $371,000 in salaries in the 2006-2007 school year from organizations connected to her four schools," Gonzalez writes. "Charter schools are free to use the money they raise from outside sources any way they see fit - even if that means huge salaries for the chief executive. Given that Moskowitz routinely complains that the Department of Education has failed to provide a fair share of funding for her students, it's fair to ask why she's paying herself so much for educating so few. Charters get about 90% of what it costs to teach each child and raise funds for additional money."
That's all for about 1000 kids from grades K-3 who attend Harlem Success.
Let's see now. At this rate, if Moskowitz was the chancellor, this would come to around $1,200,000,000 based on the per child rate. Hey Joel, you're underpaid.
Photo credit: Costanza for Daily News
Thursday, February 26, 2009
By Malia Politzer
Since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, no-bid contracts have ballooned from roughly $700,000 per year to $40 million.
We are three graduate students at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University investigating why this jump in no-bid contracts within Department of Education took place.
By filing a Freedom of Information Law request, we’ve acquired a list of every no-bid registered with the city comptroller’s office during the span of the Bloomberg administration. But sources tell us that there are even more no-bid contracts that are not filed with comptroller.
Here’s where you come in. We’ve been doing our homework—but there are hundreds of no-bid contracts, and only three of us. We need your help to narrow the scope of our investigation.
Linked here is a complete list of no-bid contracts filed with the City Comptroller’s office under mayoral control. This second list is narrowed down to no-bid contracts for technology, teacher trainings, testing, and data-collection.
We’re requesting that concerned teachers, parents, officials within the DOE—or anyone else with inside knowledge and an interest in improving education—take a look at this list and tell us if there are any contracts that they think ought to be further investigated.
Our focus is on data, testing, and teacher trainings. Who’s making money off of these contracts, and should they be? Are the contracts going to the right vendors? Are any companies getting the contracts because of insider-connections (a wife, friend, golfing-buddy etc.) Are testing, trainings or data-taking actually effective in public schools?
Are you an educator who is suspicious about a why your school is using a specific testing system or data collection method? Are there certain teacher trainings that feel like a waste of time, and that you think providers aren’t qualified to give? Or perhaps you are a vendor who lost a contract with the DOE you feel you should have gotten? Do you know people who used to work in contracting in the DOE? Email me.
You can reach me anytime at my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also want to talk to parents, teachers, students, and administrators about execution – are these no-bids getting the bang for their buck? Are the teacher trainings beneficial, or a waste of time? Are that data-taking initiatives helpful or hurtful? Testing?
If you have information, experience, or opinions on these issues – please take a look at these contracts, and contact me directly. Thank you for your help.
Complete no-bid contrast list: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=psLbSNUMNpHIwlHtKh77zYQ&hl=en
Narrowed-down by topic: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=psLbSNUMNpHJnEjTRevhYfg
Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
Check the list above of no bid contracts and see if your school used any of them. Let Malia know how the vendors did. Were there any signs they got the bid because they had naked pictures of Joel Klein?
Someone called the East New York Prep Charter School and asked " Are the teachers in your school in a union?" The answer was a definitive "No".
Why is this an interesting factoid? The UFT mouthpiece, the NY Teacher, ran an ad for the school.
Some Upper West Side Parents Fit to Be Tied Over Tweed Manipulation
It's not all about horror stories for NYC teachers.
Want to see how the Joel Klein team operates with parent communities?
Here are some excerpts from Bijou Miller, Co-President of District 3 President Council, followed by Leonie Haimson.
Click on the link below to read it all.
For those of you who did not make the joint Pres. Council/CEC meeting at PS 241, I wanted to post this because, in my opinion, what happened tonight was the DOE at its worst- In point of fact, I thought I had seen its worst, until tonight.Leonie Haimson:
this "hearing" was being held under the auspices of the Charter School Institute of the State University of New York. I also found out that someone had bused in a busload of children who were given caps blazoned with the Harlem Success Academy logo.
John White, the Office of Portfolio Development, who is running this show stated that the feeling was that 241 families would not put their kids into another public school-that the DOE felt a charter would attract more families. Let me also say that the DLT was told there were at least two viable options for 241, one a charter and one a public. The DLT was never ever given any information on the public option. We asked for info but he put it off or changed the subject at least twice. It was quite obvious that a charter was the DOE's choice and that Harlem Success was the specific choice. At the second meeting, White had even invited Harlem Success parents to come and "testify" about how great their school was. So the deck was definitely stacked
I agree with Bijou that this is one of the most outrageous things that the DOE has ever tried to do -- and they have done alot.The full posts at:
To close a zoned school w/out the CEC's approval -- essentially eliminating the zone -- and putting a charter school in its place is blatantly illegal: state law and chancellor's regs require that all changes in zoning must be approved by the CEC.
Privatizing the system and turning the best schools into charters, which then excluded the neediest students, is what they did in New Orleans but it took a nearly unprecedented national disaster to do it. here we only have Hurricane Bloomberg/Klein.
District 3 (Upper West Side) Meeting and Comments
More from Bijou on charters and PS 241 at the NYC Parent blog.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Diane Ravitch at Politico.com on Obama and charter schools
President Obama's enthusiasm for charter schools is baffling. Doesn't he realize that they are a deregulation strategy much beloved by Republicans? Deregulation works brilliantly for some schools as it does for some firms. But it produces many losers too. If he thinks that deregulation is the cure for American education, I have some AIG stock I'd like to sell him.
The Klonsky Brothers are all in a twit over Diane's critique of Obama's ed policy.
Mike writes: What a joke! Obama has done more to save public education in one month than the entire Bush regime did in 12 years.
Ravitch, who high stakes test resisters used to despise, has been one of the strongest voices in NYC on the impact of BloomKlein. We have also seen her in her debates with Debbie Meier seem to move beyond the narrow local issue to the wider view of the impact testing regimens have and how the scores can be misused. Some people on ICE mail who are, and continue to be, critical of Ravitch, have also wondered exactly where the Klonskys stood during all the years of the Chicago school reform model. But we'll leave some of those comments for another time.
Comment on Lorri Giovinco-Harte Examiner post on Charter Schools
I am a public school teacher who is now interviewing with charter schools. I am not impressed.
Susan Ohanian, arm in sling, goes slingin'
Read about the start- of-school hazing procedures enforced by this KIPP leader. And much child abuse. Fresno charter school in furor: Unusual punishments, testing violations alleged as principal resigns from the Fresno Bee posted by Susan:
More on charter schools at ed notes.
Randi Weingarten said she considers Michelle Rhee’s recent kind words “an apology.” (Washington Post)
Randi watchers know she is looking for a reason to make nice with Michelle. My view is this dance was all worked out in advance. Randi: Michelle, I can't sell out the DC teachers until you tone down the rhetoric.
Thanks to Gotham Schools for the lead.
On Obama's speech
Pissed off has words for Obama
I'm sitting here listening to Obama talking about education and I am thinking how totally clueless he is when it comes to this topic.
Miss Eyre had a cogent comment on our post on the speech
Did Obama Fail His Ed Test?
Obama did say that "post-high-school education" includes community college, vocational training, and the military...I see nothing wrong with encouraging students to complete education beyond high school, as long as the "beyond high school" option is right for the student.
Bracey: On Education, Obama Blows It
Chapey finishes 3rd for City Council Seat in Queens (including Rockaway).
Too bad. We wanted her to get ZERO votes. I voted for my fellow Wave columnist Lew Simon, who at least would have brought an air of comedy (unintentional) to the Council. Still glad to see Lew more than doubled Chapey's vote. Read my WAVE column on how she pulled a Rudy B by trading her vote for a seat on the NYS Board of Regents for her mom. Ulrich, the winner, is about 12 years old, so they better have some video games at Council meetings. Who does he know?
32nd CD (Queens, with 82.73 percent of eds reporting):
1. Eric Ulrich: 2,820 2. Lew Simon: 1,368 3. Geraldine Chapey: 607 4. Mike Ricatto: 541
Thanks to David Quintana for the numbers.
Follow-up: Great meeting last night with the Justice Not Just Tests NYCORE group. Two soph college students studying to be teachers were sent by their instructor. With old retirees Angel G and myself and 2 teachers late in their first decade of teaching, it made for a great mix. Yesterday's ed notes post on the abuse of teacher data reports dovetailed with our petition campaign, which we will gear up. Focus on the March 25 Delegate Assembly. We need an army of people out there to get signatures. Join us. We're also working on an ICE/JNJT conference. Save the date: Saturday, March 28. We follow up tonight at the ASC-ICE meeting.
Trying to be a reporter and an organizer can interfere with the easy life style of a retiree.
More: reading great book by Iain Pears: The Dream of Scipio
There is a lot of discussion on the fall of civilization in 3 eras. And lots of Vichy stuff. I'm more convinced than ever that the actions of New Action vis a vis Unity and the actions of Unity/UFT vis a vis the ed reform movement are analagous to the rationales of Vichyites - we're just saving civilization from the Nazi barbarians by collaborating. This concept deserves a separate post.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
But as you drill down it gets worse. Shame on you if you don't graduate from not only high school, but college. Does he know that an overwhelming number of jobs over the next decade - if there are any – will not require a college education? I mean, he is telling us his stimulus plan will stimulate infrastructure jobs - mostly vocational-like skills that do not come from a college education. Then in the next breath he makes it look like you are a failure and unpatriotic if you don't go to college. If anything, he should have talked about NOT going to college and learning how to do the kinds of work with your hands that is so missing in this society.
Other than the education aspect, I like the speech. But then again, all I really have any understanding about is education. If I knew economics, I might be screaming bloody murder.
The Justice Not Just Tests group ICE has been working with has been asking teachers to petitions calling on the UFT to end its fateful agreement to issue teacher data reports based on their students' test scores. One of the members of the JNJT group sent us this story of the way one principal has used this test by handing out copies to the entire staff for comparison purposes. As far back as the early 80's my principal used to put up all the score over the time clock with the teachers' names and circle in red the names of those whose classes scored below what she expected, so I've seen this game before.
Click on the image to enlarge
I posted the text of the JNJT petition on Norms Notes and if this story doesn't get teachers to circulate it, nothing will. Copy and paste it or email me for the pdf. By the way, JNJT meets today at 5:30 at CUNY, 34th and 5th Ave, rm 5414. Come on down and join the struggle.
A teacher reports from MS 321M
I'm a teacher at MS 321, a grade 6-8 middle school in Washington Heights. My school is being "phased out" (read: closed down) over the next two years. The first discussion of these Teacher Data Reports came at the meeting when the announcement of our school closing was made. At this meeting, a DOE representative pointed out that the Teacher Data Reports "would be out there" when we apply for new jobs. As our school closes, we will become part of the teacher reserve and will have to apply for new jobs, so the implication is that principals will use these reports in the hiring process.
Our principal then "rolled out" the use of Teacher Data Reports at a recent faculty meeting. She explained that whether we like it or not, education is becoming a business and these data reports will hold us accountable according to a business model. It was pointed out by staff members that according to the UFT/DOE agreement: 1) the reports are supposed to be kept between you and your principal and 2) they cannot be used for the sake of evaluation. She did not contest these points, but also claimed that this data can be shared with other principals, so when we apply for new jobs principals will look at these reports while deciding whether to hire or not.
This was bad enough, but despite verbally agreeing that these reports were supposed to be private, she handed out all ELA and Math teachers’ data reports to every faculty member, stapled and compiled together, apparently for the sake of comparison. This is in clear violation of the UFT/DOE agreement that the reports were to be private.
Many people in the staff were outraged and several of us called the district representative from our union that night. The next day a union meeting was held with this representative. Everyone at the meeting (about 2/3 of the UFT chapter) signed a letter expressing our outrage, which was forwarded to the leaders of the UFT and the DOE.
After a couple of weeks, a superintendent from the DOE came in to apologize. Notably, our principal was absent and has yet to directly apologize to the staff. The superintendent said that all principals were given professional development outlining the use of data reports and that it was very clear that reports were to be handed out only in individual meetings.
She claimed to be considering disciplinary action against my principal, but refused to guarantee this or state exactly what that action would be. We must demand that swift and dramatic action be taken, lest other principals feel that they can get away with sharing the reports publicly or amongst themselves.
When questioned, she stated that administrators could not share these reports with other administrators. This new position is definitely a welcome development, as statements from the UFT and DOE have been unclear on this issue. Nonetheless, what is to stop principals from discretely sharing the data and this data informing hiring decisions?
The incident and discussion by my principal about these reports show that the notion that they are a tool for professional development is absurd. The effect of the reports can only further encourage teachers to spend weeks of teaching students how to take the test, poring through old exams and dumbing down instruction to only cover the types of problems on previous tests. And in practice, we can expect principals to threaten to use these reports as evaluative tools either explicitly or otherwise.
Despite the implications of the superintendent, I doubt that my principal was really acting as a “lone wolf”. More likely she got the idea that these reports are a “tool for accountability” from somewhere up the chain. It is only because we came together as a united staff that the DOE felt the need to change the tone of the conversation with our staff.
Finally, we need to argue that the Teacher Data Reports should be abolished immediately. It serves no useful purpose for professional development. There can be no effective mechanism to prevent the data’s misuse amongst administrators, either through sharing it with staff or other administrators or using it, in practice, as a tool for teacher evaluation.
Just an isolated case? We know full well that if there had not been concerted response on the part of the chapter, the UFT would have done little. With so many chapters loaded with young teachers without tenure, fear reigns and most would have done nothing. For 2/3 of the teachers to sign a petition shows a higher degree of union consciousness at MS 321. That is not due to the UFT as much as to the political activity of some of the teachers, some of it connected to groups opposed to the Unity Caucus leadership.
The UFT will now try to claim "victory." But the victory belongs to the staff of MS 321. Below, our teacher reporter does some broader analysis, placing the larger role of the UFT in context, some of which may appear in a publication.
Neoliberalism, privatization, charter schools, merit pay, data reports
- and the UFT
by Anonymous teacher at IS 321M
Across the country, the neoliberal educational model continues to be pushed. Privately managed and publicly funded charter schools are multiplying. In public schools, teachers are being forced to teach narrowly to standardized tests and there is a push to deny union rights like seniority and tenure in favor of standardized test-driven evaluation and merit pay.
The examples of such moves abound. All union teachers were fired and more than half of New Orleans schools became charter schools following Hurricane Katrina. In Washington, D.C., hundreds of teachers have been fired and at least 21 schools have been closed, and Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of DC schools proposed ending teacher tenure and seniority for a performance-based system, though this proposal has since been withdrawn. Dozens of other examples could be cited.
New York City is no exception. Advertisements for charter schools are being sent out in mass to residents of Harlem and placed in subway cars. Each year the push to tailor instruction to fit standardized tests is stronger, complete with breakdowns and analyses of previous years' tests, so as better to teach to the test.. The number of periodic assessments, which eat into instructional time and cause immense amount of stress on students, continues to rise.
Shockingly, some of the most dramatic moves toward a neoliberal educational model have been agreed to by the leadership of my union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and even proclaimed as victories! The oft-stated justification by union leadership for these concessions is that accepting neoliberal-lite proposals will allow for the union to have a say and head off the more draconian versions.
The UFT opened its own charter school in the fall of 2005, which is proudly proclaimed by the union as the “first union-operated charter school in the country”. In the fall of 2007, the UFT agreed to a “pilot”, “voluntary” school-wide merit pay scheme, which my school has been chosen for.
The justification from our union leadership is that if we are going to have charter schools anyway, let them be union-run. If merit pay is coming anyway, let it be group merit pay instead of individual merit pay. But this gets it backwards. The privatizers see such examples as victories! Charter schools are a step away from public control, and for that reason are mostly non-union. We should be fighting to keep public schools public, not jumping on the charter school bandwagon. Where there was no merit pay scheme, there is one now.
The logical conclusion of all of this is that more of our educational funding will go towards these schemes, which will undermine public education and union rights. For example, while the stimulus bill includes a welcome $54 billion for education, the New York Times reports that, “Programs that tie teacher pay to performance will most likely receive money…” in the bill. In fact, a February 19 NYC Department of Education announcement states that, “New York City can also apply for grants to expand its Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program, which rewards educators for improving student achievement, from the $200 million Teacher Incentive Funds.” This money could be better used to prevent budget cuts, lower existing class sizes or to increase teacher salaries across the board.
Most recently, this fall, the UFT agreed to “Teacher Data Reports” for grade 4-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math teachers. They break down the performance of each teacher's students on the New York State Math or ELA test in grades 4-8. Chancellor Joel Klein and UFT President Randi Weingarten jointly announced these reports as, “a "new tool to help teachers learn about their own strengths and opportunities for development". They even had the audacity to claim that the idea came from teachers themselves! The letter states, “…many of you have told us how useful it would be to better understand how your efforts are influencing student progress.”
I have heard of teachers complain of lack of mentoring, support and materials (including basics like books and copies), but never of not knowing or having a breakdown of our students’ scores on standardized tests. We are already subjected to countless breakdowns of such “data”, and most teachers would agree that none of this data analysis improves our pedagogy.
At the same time, the letter spells out clearly that, “the Teacher Data Reports are not to be used for evaluation purposes” and in another UFT statement it is made clear that the reports are a private document to be shared with each teacher and their principal. Again, our union leadership proclaimed a victory in keeping the data private and fending off attempts to use such data for evaluation.
But if the reports are not useful in teacher training and development, what are they useful for? Especially given the context of this push towards performance-based evaluation and merit pay, it is impossible to see these reports as anything but a foot in the door towards teacher evaluation on the basis of test scores, and ultimately publicly releasing this data.
Leonie Haimson sent this comment on the story:
Given the tremendous errors in the class size data, the reports may have incorrect evaluations of a teacher’s effectiveness – even assuming the formula is correct (which I’m sure its not.) Every teacher should demand the class size data being used for his or her data report to check it for accuracy.
The teachers should demand that the formula used in the report be disclosed, as well as the research study mentioned below and the identity of the independent panel of experts that supposedly approved it.
THE DOE CLAIMS BUT WON'T REVEAL NAMES:
A panel of technical experts has approved the DOE’s value-added methodology. The DOE’s model has met recognized standards for demonstrating validity and reliability. Teachers’ value-added scores from the model are positively correlated with both School Progress Report scores and principals’ perceptions of teachers’ effectiveness, as measured by a research study conducted during the pilot of this initiative.
Growing the bureaucracy: but guess which office at Tweed has actually shrunk?
NYC PS Parent Blog
Is Arne Duncan Really Margaret Spellings in Drag?
"I am sorely disappointed in Arne Duncan. I don't see any change from the mean, punitive version of accountability that the Bush administration foisted on the nation's schools."
Diane has been attacked from the left for daring to criticize Obama. As a test-resister who once looked at her very skeptically, my love for her for her honesty is growing by leaps and bounds. Even some of my fellow ICE'ers have come to see her in new ways, remarkable considering her ties to Shanker and his policies.
Ms. Weingarten Holds a Rally
Another ho-hum moment?
Alexander Russo at TWIE: A great interview by Russo with a teacher at the KIPP Brooklyn the UFT is attempting to unionize. One thing is clear. They don't expect much of a contract but do want some basic rights. The question they will face: can the UFT do much when their rights even with a contract are ignored? They should check with NYC public school teachers first.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Ed Notes reported on the situation at PS 154X in in District 7 the Bronx on Jan. 22. Principal Linda-Amil Irizzary was Supt. of District 8 last year. She was asked to leave. Yolanda Torres, her good friend, is currently the Supt of District 7. They are rumored to be well-connected to certain political entities.
With reports surfacing with increasing frequency of some administrators at the school using more force than necessary one must wonder how it is possible for a teacher to end up in the rubber room after sneazing near a kid while adminsitrators can face serious charges, yet be allowed to, not only continue on the job, but be allowed to conduct the investigation into their own behavior.
The Rubber Room Reporter blog had a follow-up on Monday Feb. 24th,
Disarray at PS 154X in the South Bronx, Teachers There Report, asking:
What is going on at PS 154X in the South Bronx? And what is Joel Klein doing about it?
Is the question NY Magazine's Intelligencer asks. There is an attempt at analysis in terms of the UFT:
....the problem for Klein is not so much in the data (though critics have accused him of juicing the numbers) but himself. This is a big problem for Bloomberg’s dreams of a third term as “education mayor.” He can’t pay off the United Federation of Teachers, which sat on the sidelines last election, with a better contract this time. “If the UFT decides, based on Klein, to oppose Bloomberg, you’re talking about a lot of troops on the ground,” says labor activist Jonathan Tasini. Knowing this, the union is said to be pushing the mayor to sacrifice Klein. While lawmakers have piled on the chancellor, UFT head Randi Weingarten has restrained her attacks in recent weeks, stirring speculation of a pact with Bloomberg. Weingarten answers gamely: “I’ve found the mayor easier to deal with and more responsive than the chancellor.”
Walcott says, “The mayor is not one to make deals for anything that sacrifices individuals.” But on the question of Klein’s fate,
There's a lot of meat in this section to analyze. The UFT tries to separate Klein and Bloomberg in teachers' minds. This is a political ploy designed to make it seem this struggle is just about individuals and not a massive corporate attack on schools. Why? Because the UFT is aligned with the corporations and does anything it can to divert the members into focusing on Klein as the problem, as if Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and New Orleans didn't exist as part of the fabric of the reform movement. Remember, Randi gave her blessing to Arne Duncan as Ed Secretary when he is, supposedly, just a more likeable version of Klein. And a better rebounder.
Klein is irrelevant and all attempt to talk about how he is disliked is a smoke screen. So if Klein does go they can use it to claim victory and slide by their tacit support of Bloomberg's third term - see we supported Bloomberg 3rd term, a fait accompli – and got this massive victory in getting rid of Klein.
Total distractive bullcrap.
Michael Fiorillo added this comment on ICE-mail:
Somewhat interesting to see, although one reaction of mine is,
"(If we) Meet the new boss,
(He'll be) Same as the old boss."
Two other reactions:
- Everyone, Randi included, continues with this good cop/bad cop thing with Klein and Bloomberg, when the transparent reality is that Klein is Bloomberg. They may disagree on tactics, and Bloomberg may throw Klein overboard in his own political self-interest, but they share the same worldview about education, as will Klein's (hypothetical) successor.
- On a deeper level, the piece shows the willful naivete/stupidity of the mainstream press with a statement such as, "Both he (Klein) and Bloomberg are... corporate minded,and distrustful of ideology." That's a hot one, since to be "corporate-minded" is by definition ideological: axiomatically anti-labor, obsessed with control over "production" and the pursuit of narrow interests.
How much more ideological can you get?
Hey, I was one of these heroic teachers in my early years, devoting my entire life to the classroom. Then came the realization that there was a lot of socio-economic stuff going on - which led to the idea that becoming politically active was as important as the work I was doing in the classroom. But that's a story for another time.
In The myth of the great teacher, hopefully euthanized once and for all on the NYC Public School Parent blog, Leonie credits recent writings by Diane Ravitch and Skoolboy (Aaron Pallas) for taking apart those ridiculous Nicholas Kristof education columns.
Leonie sums up with
In fact, one study from
cited by the report shows that “35 percent of teachers initially ranked in the top quintile remain there in the second year while 30 percent fall into the first or second quintiles of the quality distribution in year two. Apparently, even using different tests can affect the stability of estimated teacher effects. San Diego
Of course all the phony ed reform crowd cares about what can be measured like test scores. Read any teacher blog and you will see the ability to deal with kids' behavior effectively – and I mean going beyond simply controlling a class (some teachers I saw used to do it brutally) but with some level of humanity – is often considered by other teachers one of the highest levels of skills and probably a key indicator of teacher quality. But there is no way to measure this skill, so out the window it goes.
Now, this high level teaching skill is most affected by class size.
In the fall of 1979 we had three 6th grade classes, all with fairly low class sizes. As usual, they were grouped homogeneously. In my school traditionally, the administration (old hand teachers who rose through the ranks) made a conscious effort to keep class size in the more difficult classes to a lower number, enough of an incentive for some people to volunteer to take the position every year just for the low class size.
This policy changed in 1979 with a new test-driven politically appointed administrator with no teaching experience who ignored these finer points. But this was her first full year and she hadn't gotten total control yet.
Of course 30 years of fog clogs the brain but the numbers were from around 20 in the 6-3 class to about 27 in the 6-1. I had the 6-2 with around 22. The bottom class with the neediest kids was below 20. For all of us the situation was a unique opportunity and I would guess by any measure of Teacher Quality we were better than ever.
But being a doom and gloom guy, from the first day, I expected them to not allow this to continue and that they would cut one class. I had the lowest seniority, so I knew it would be mine.
The district made the decision to cut a position in December, of all times. The 3 classes were cut to 2 with each class having 35-37. (I had one student who 15 years later when she was a parent herself, used to complain about what happened - why did you get rid of me she used to cry?)
They took the top half reading scores and folded them into the top class, which turned heaven to purgatory. But for the teacher with the more difficult class, going from 19 kids to 35 was hell. But both of the teachers were extremely skilled in dealing with kids and they persevered.
I was placed in a special ed cluster position teaching 4 emotionally handicapped and one CRMD (mentally retarded class) a day. The class sizes were 10 with a para. It was my first experience with kids who could be so irrational or such slow learners, that someone like me with no training didn't have a clue how to teach. In the interest of full disclosure, I ended up there because the teacher with least seniority was bumped. (I know, I know, the attacks on union rules will be forthcoming but that I was an experienced teacher vs. a newbie even with training - I call it more than a wash.)
If someone checked my TQ factor they would have seen a serious drop from just a few weeks before. But being a prep coverage position, I was able to recoup after each class without too much damage and began to figure things out. The experience taught me that many of the techniques I had learned in over a decade of teaching needed modification.
Which goes to show that Teacher Quality is not an absolute, but a moving target that can change by the year, the month, the day, the hour. And in the 1979-80 school year, for me, by the minute.
I went racing back to regular ed the next year. It wasn't until the crack babies started filtering into regular ed a few years later that we all began to see that same irrationality of the kids. My 79-80 experience did make a difference.
Why Are People So Gullible About Miracle Cures in Education?The Miracle Teacher, Revisited
Nicholas Kristof column in the New York Times.
My last post NY Times Ends Black Out on Class Size - Sort Of
David Pakter left a comment with a list of private school tuition in NYC where parents pay all that money for low class sizes. He also sent it to the NY Times.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Accountable Talk blog, run by an actual NYC middle school teacher, takes Bloomberg to task in this post: Accountable Talk: Spot That Fallacy
the mayor presents the situation as an either/or, when it is nothing of the sort. Most Long Island districts, as well as many districts upstate and in Connecticut, have shown that you can have both low class size and pay teachers well. What makes Mr. Bloomberg's utterance a particularly good example is that he has utterly failed to do either one.Yes, where are the calls in Long Island and Connecticut and Westchester for reduction in union influence and an end to seniority? Where are the calls for asking parents, who actually seem to have a say in who runs their schools, to make a choice between class size and so-called quality teachers?
Class Size Matters' Leonie Haimson's analysis on the NYC PS Parent blog is so cogent, it deserves to be re-posted far and wide. If there's a song to sing, it is "No Body Does It Better" than Leonie. Here's her post from her blog:
Bloomberg administration blames parents for larger classes
See the article in today’s NY Times, Class Size in New York City Schools Rises, but the Impact is Debated, a follow up to the article on Wednesday, Class Size Makes Biggest Jump of Bloomberg Tenure.
Though it is one of those typical “on the one hand this, on the other hand that” pieces– citing research that is either outmoded or easily refuted -- it is important because it is the first in-depth article in our paper of record to have dealt with the issue of class size in at least five years.
Indeed, the Times has had a “black out” on class size through most of the Bloomberg administration – as the former education editor admitted in June of 2006 – though at that point, she promised “to explore the class size issue” soon after -- which has not occurred until now, almost three years later.
This omission has persisted, despite the fact that our public school students continue to suffer from the largest class sizes in the state, smaller classes have consistently been the top priority of NYC parents, and in subway and TV ads, the administration has claimed to be reducing class size while being repeatedly cited for misusing hundreds of millions of dollars of state aid meant for this purpose.
In today’s article, the administration once again tries to evade its own responsibility for failing to reduce class size, despite a state mandate passed in 2007. In the previous Times article, Garth Harries of DOE attempted to blame the economy– even though the state provided an additional $400 million this fall, with $150 million of that targeted for class size reduction. He also attempted to shift the blame onto principals, which Chris Cerf tries again in today’s article, without acknowledging that it is the DOE’s duty to see that these funds are spent appropriately.
But now, even more outrageously, they are trying to blame parents – with Harries actually arguing that large classes are the result of popular schools where parents insist on sending their kids.
As I pointed out to the reporter, the vast majority of children attend their neighborhood zoned elementary and middle schools– and DOE entirely controls the admissions for high schools, so blaming parents for the systemic problem of large classes is entirely unwarranted. Who will they blame next – our kids?
Indeed, at the same time that the administration goes around claiming that mayoral control means accountability, they are quick to shift the blame on everyone else when they fail to create more adequate and equitable learning conditions for our children.
The article also repeats the administration’s canard that there is a trade-off between teacher quality and class size, when the two factors are actually complimentary. Indeed, the main reason we have such a high teacher turnover rate here in NYC is that our teachers so often leave for a new profession or to work in suburban or private schools -- because their excessive class sizes do not provide them with a fair chance to succeed.
In a recent national poll, 97% of teachers responded that reducing class size would be an effective way to improve teacher quality – far above any other strategy, including raising salaries, instituting teacher performance pay, or providing more professional development. Indeed, the only way we will ever obtain a more experienced and effective teaching force here in NYC is by reducing class size.
But the most ridiculous part of the article is the “evidence” offered by the administration that smaller classes don’t matter, by referring to an unpublished (and probably unpublishable) internal DOE study that purported to show that the grades schools received on the “Progress reports” weren’t correlated with smaller classes. No mention is made of the fact that most experts have found that the grades schools receive are mostly random – with almost no correlation from one year to the next -- as an article by the same reporter in the Times pointed out last year.
In contrast, the
In fact, the DOE has devised another formula – a “value added” model to evaluate teacher effectiveness, in which class size is included as a “predictor”, the ONLY factor included in the model under the school system’s control. This is an admission that the larger the class, the less a teacher is expected to raise student achievement. All the other factors in the model pertain to characteristics of the students themselves, such as economic status, prior test scores, absences, etc.
See the model here – which includes average class size at both the classroom and school level, showing that both should be taken into account when assessing a teacher’s performance. The DOE also states that the model used “draws on 10 years of city-wide data (test scores, student, teacher, and school characteristics) to predict individual student gains.”
Check out the accompanying FAQ:
Is the DOE’s Value-Added model reliable and valid?
A: A panel of technical experts has approved the DOE’s value-added methodology. The DOE’s model has met recognized standards for demonstrating validity and reliability. Teachers’ value-added scores from the model are positively correlated with both School Progress Report scores and principals’ perceptions of teachers’ effectiveness, as measured by a research study conducted during the pilot of this initiative.
Anyway, please send a letter to the Times at email@example.com with your name, address and phone number. Let them know what you think – and whether it’s fair to blame parents for the fact that NYC classes have remained the largest in the state, with no significant improvement under this administration.
Based on Elizabeth Benjamin's post on the Daily News Politics blog (Feb. 18, 2009) in a piece titled Bloomberg: No Connection Between Me and Chavez the Economist Democracy - -heh- heh -- in America blog posted this:
ERIN EINHORN of the New York Daily News deserves some sort of award for this question. Last year Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, got the city council to repeal the law that prevented him from seeking a third term. This week, Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, won a vote (insofar as the polls there can be trusted) allowing him to run for as many terms in office as he likes. Cue Ms Einhorn:
Q: Mayor, it’s hard to compare New York City to Venezuela but as you know, Hugo Chavez did his second effort - this time sucessful - to extend term limits. You chose to go through City Council. Do you have any second thoughts about this? Do you wish you should have had a chance to take to the...
A: I don’t understand your question. What on Earth do we have to do with Hugo Chavez?
Q: Well, like you, he wanted to extend his term.
A: If you wanted to ask Hugo Chavez, call him up! Maybe he’ll take your call. My suspicion is he doesn’t have press conferences and let people ask questions or if they ask questions, he probably throws them, I don’t know what he does with them...Who knows? (Laughs). I still fail to see a connection.
Mr Chavez doesn't throw too many press conferences, but he does host hours-long radio shows and TV shows where citizens can toss questions at him. No one's suggesting that Mr Bloomberg should do that.
More from Benjamin
Mayor Bloomberg did not take kindly today to a question from the DN's Erin Einhorn about whether he wished he had followed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's lead and allowed a public term limits vote.
As Erin noted, this was Chavez's second attempt to scrap term limits. After Venezuelans voted down a similar proposal in December 2007, Chavez, who was facing ouster from office in 2012, spent considerable government resources on this second - ultimately successful - effort.
Unlike the first proposal, which would have only applied to the president, the one that passed earlier this week applies to all elected officials (sound familiar?).
Here in New York, opponents of extending term limits are still holding out a slim hope that the courts will force a third public referendum on the subject. But so far, the legal challenge hasn't been going so well.
Despite the efforts of Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Sen. Kevin Parker, it doesn't appear a bill that would require a public referendum for any term limits change - even the one Bloomberg signed into law last November - will be brought to the floor in either house in Albany.
This isn't the first time the mayor has been unfavorably compared to Chavez. During the City Council's term limits debate, Councilman Charles Barron urged Bloomberg to "be like Hugo, and let the people decide."
Saturday, February 21, 2009
by Sarah Knopp, teacher in Los Angeles (morph Knopp just a bit and we end up with you know who - Sarah Knopp as the anti Wendy Kopp.)
From: ISR Issue 62, November–December 2008
...because the noble intentions of some of the pioneers of the charter school movement (to create laboratories that prove what all educators know: that creativity, individual attention, and curricular relevance are the roots of good education) took shape so recently, and because there are some good charter schools, many progressives are disoriented in the current climate. Teachers who support the idea of public education, while recognizing the horrible state of some of our schools, aren’t sure what to do or what position to take when their unions fail to oppose charters, or worse, even endorse them...
A long article, but with a strong analysis of charter schools with some attention to Green Dot. "Many suspect Green Dot of signing somewhat toothless union contracts as a way of keeping more combative unions out." While talking about SEIU in LA, it might as well apply to the non-combative "we've laid down our arms" UFT, which also is chasing the Green Dot charter school blues - or dues.
Here is s short excerpt from Sarah Knopp:
The slow destruction of union power that occurs when subcontracting creates lots of small workplaces—in place of large, highly unionized ones—has been a fact across many industries. “Whipsawing” is a term used to describe the effect on unions like the UAW when workers in smaller, spun-off shops get inferior contracts, and those contracts are used to pressure workers in bigger plants to accept similar concessions. The same could apply to the effect of charter schools in education.
Some suggest, then, that we have to seek out “pro-union” charter operators and make deals with them. But if we are speaking of privately run CMOs, then genuine power for their teachers would threaten the board’s hegemony in the schools. Some, like Green Dot, are willing to allow teachers a contract, and claim to be pro-union. But in their contract with the AMU/CTA/NEA teachers’ union, one can find few guarantees of any kind of real teacher voice (in the form of voting). According to the contract between Green Dot and the “union,” in effect until 2010,
It is understood and agreed that the Board retains all of its powers and authority to direct, manage and control to the full extent of the charter school law and the regulations of a 501.C3 California corporation. Input from the staff will be considered and decisions will be derived in a collaborative model; final decisions will rest with the Board. Included in, but not limited to, those duties are the right to: ...establish educational policies with regard to admitting students; ...determine the number of personnel and types of personnel needed; ...establish budget procedures and determine budgetary allocations; contract out work and take action on any matter in the event of an emergency.51
The Board will make all staffing decisions. By contrast, the United Teachers of Los Angeles contract with Los Angeles Unified District requires faculty votes on key aspects of running the school, like the schedule and certain discretionary budget items, and guarantees that class assignments will be chosen by the teachers, through seniority, and not arbitrarily by the administration.52 This vision of unionism, typified by SEIU (a representative of which sits on Green Dot’s board) is antithetical to real power or democracy for teachers. A large union cuts a deal with the employer, quickly begins to collect dues from members, and in exchange for “neutrality” on the part of the boss gives away key workplace rights. Green Dot specifically aims to hire younger, more inexperienced teachers and gives incentives for senior teachers to leave.
Many suspect Green Dot of signing somewhat toothless union contracts as a way of keeping more combative unions out. This wouldn’t be surprising given the presence of SEIU on their board of directors. SEIU is currently engaged in undermining the legitimate teachers’ union of Puerto Rico (the FMPR) in the wake of the strike that the FMPR led last spring. After the strike, the Puerto Rican government decertified the FMPR. SEIU helped the Asociacion de Maestros (coincidentally, the same name as the teachers’ union at Green Dot schools) to try to win representation of the Puerto Rican teachers. The FMPR was not allowed to contest them.
by Diane Ravitch, Historian of education, NYU, Hoover and Brookings
Friday, February 20, 2009
Teach for America Trolls Pay A Visit
Ever wonder how people who work Teach for America spend their days?
Their trolls search the web for negative publicity.
Thus, not long after posting Studies Show Teach for America Teachers Are... , Ed Notes got these visits from TFA offices in 2 cities:
Organization TEACH FOR AMERICA/ MCGRAW COMM , Washington
Organization TEACH FOR AMERICA, Chicago
Must be a light week at TFA.
Teacher Quality and the New Teacher Project
There are other trolls out there who tell us about "studies" and "research" with vague references. often by biased self-interest groups. Joel Klein and his minions do this all the time. As does the press. Eduwonkette and Skoolboy have pretty well demolished the "teacher quality studies show" line of bullshit.
This post Skoolboy Savages Kristof was visited by "Jacob" a Socrates-like clone (Socrates posts responses to attacks on the phony ed reformers all over the web under various aliases and pretenses and clearly shows signs of being a paid responder) who disingenuously wrote:
There is actually ample evidence, see any report by the new teacher project, the national counsel on teacher quality, or the national governors association. For information regarding the effects of effective teachers see the work of Sanders or Goldhaber among others.
To use research by the New Teachers Project is akin to accepting a North Korean study showing the high level of democracy in that nation.
The "teacher quality" debate is about classism-pure and simple.
Have you ever noticed that the debate rarely centers around middle class suburban students and their relationship to their teachers? Why do you suppose that is?
It's because most middle class suburban children arrive at school with their needs already met. Their teachers simply teach and miraculously the children learn.
The debate is an attempt to draw attention away from the vast inequities in lifestyle, health care, nutrition and wages which exist in high-needs schools.
It is an abomination that private interests push the teacher debate as a way to avoid the horrendous class divisions which they have helped to create.
It is laughable that the above comment directs attention to the New Teacher Project for evidence.
The same organization that consistently short changes high-need children by sending in poorly trained teachers?
When the truth comes out about what these private interests have been doing, the public will be outraged.
Make no mistake about it-it will come out.
More importantly, however, how do these individuals live with themselves?
NYC Educator followed up:
The New Teacher Project takes millions from NYC, then writes reports suggesting we fire TPD teachers, twisting and manipulating statistics so outrageously that a layman like myself can detect it on one cursory reading. I wouldn't trust Tim Daly as far as I could throw him.
Incredible he can take all that money from Klein and have the audacity to present himself as an objective observer.
....Ten thousand times more effective than other teachers.
The hype grows and grows and grows. The Detroit News editorial today says:
Bring 'Marine Corps' of teachers to Detroit schools
Guess who they are talking about?
A growing [like a fungus] body of [uncited] research shows Teach for America instructors' impact on student academic achievement is two to three times that of teachers who have three years of experience.
Wow! The factor of effectiveness keeps growing - like Pinocchio's nose.
Last week we read this:
What's the Best Way to Make Teachers?
A new federal study on teacher quality has found that teachers who enter teaching through an alternative route have roughly the same impact on student achievement as teachers who come from regular teacher education programs.
As we all know from these growing studies, TFA first year teachers are at least thousands of times more effective than any other teachers that ever lived. That ought to raise Socrates from the dead. Of course all these "studies" are based on test results and no other factors. I knew every trick in the book on getting good results, tricks that I used sparingly because they cheated the kids of real teaching time. If I were still teaching, I could be the most effective teacher ever and qualify for all sorts of bonuses. Darn!
You can read both articles at Norms Notes:
Studies Show Teach for America Teachers Are...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
NYC Educator points out in his inimical way
Mr. Gates Unleashes the Parasites
It's nice to have billionaires, whose kids wouldn't attend public schools on a bet, running around stating what they think should be done about public education. Gates, of course, has no idea why the Nassau schools five minutes away from NYC do as well as KIPP without union-busting, or kids and teachers working preposterously long weeks. I could tell him, if he weren't already so in love with Jay Matthews. In fact, he thrilled the audience by giving them free copies of Matthews' book about KIPP.
Personally, I heard nothing new or surprising from Gates. His description of the KIPP classroom sounded like no big deal at all. I've watched his "reforms" in action, and aside from much-enhanced PR and larger-scale rigging of stats, there's just not a whole lot to jump up and down about. We can do better for our kids, and it's unfortunate that their futures are, to whatever extent, in the hands of ignorant galoots like Bill Gates.
If Microsoft and its lousy multiple try software with all the glitches were tested the way Gates wants to test kids and rate teachers, we would have a much more virus free world and no blue screens of death (you've got to see this video of the BSoD with Gates standing there and a great Sun commercial).
This Gates guy really has some nerve. Yet money talks and he now controls a serious number of schools. I bet there is some quid quo pro on using Microsoft products in many systems. Someone should start scratching around Gates supported schools in NYC and checked just how much money flowed to Microsoft products from these schools.