Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pre-PEP Funeral for Closing Schools Pics

Our own Evil Eva dressed appropriately for Halloween with old nemesis Noah Gotbaum. Thanks to Pat Dobosz for the pics. A roll-call was read listing each of the over 160 schools that have been murdered by Bloomberg's hench-people at Tweed. After this people at the PEP buried the pathetic puppets of the PEP -- only 2 months left. Not that I trust de Blasio to do much given the charter lobby has such access to people who have access.

MOREistas gather

Evil and Fred Smith

My costume? Dressed as a bald guy.

Tish James @ the PEP: We Want Our Schools Back

Not up to the impact of James' galvanizing speech at the Oct. 15 PEP where she laid bare the DOE policy of inequality. Here she does some posturing and I hated her use of the charter standard use of "scholars" -- is she coopting them? But she rises to the occasion at the end with her call of "We want our schools back."


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Co-loco tonight off PEP agenda. Keep up the fight everyone.

Norm Scott

Twitter: normscott1

Education Notes

Grassroots Education Movement

Education columnist, The Wave

nycfirst robotics

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Video: PS 196K Rallies Against Co-Loco

Another unreported rally at a public school with an overflow crowd at the hearing following the rally - schools that can't close for half a day to march over a bridge to demonstrate their opposition to fundamental Bloomberg ed policies. Go add up all the people at all the local school-based rallies and see if that doesn't top the charter rally where parents were told they had to attend while their children were dragged out of their schools for the day.

I taped this Oct. 21. I assume PS 196 will be in the house tonight at the PEP.

Fred Smith On the Empress Tisch

What clear and astute observations... Loretta Prisco

Fred, thanks for this scathing and brilliant portrait. Helps me make sense of my visceral reaction of horror at her presentation. So much feigned reasonableness and caring. So little capacity for hearing the truth.... Jeff N
Yes, Fred- so right on! Let's not forget that the "flawed accountability system" she is replacing is one SHE is responsible for and defended.... Lisa D.
There are a lot of posts coming today(ala Ravitch) so duck. In the world of ed deform, there are not many people I despise more than Merryl Tisch. So how nice to see this.

Change the Stakes had a big crew testifying at the Flannigan hearings yesterday (details later).

Our man Fred Smith was there with some perfect comments on Merryl Antoinette.
Some observations about Chancellor Tisch's performance at the Education Committee hearing yesterday:

~ She thinks that being soft-spoken can disguise her haughtiness and pernicious policies. 

~ Tisch throws in a few spontaneous remarks that pass for wit to show that she's loose, the epitome of grace under fire and not totally rehearsed.  

~ Answers begin by identifying with the questioner ("Yes, I know because when I taught... I'm concerned about ELL kids. My family were immigrants too... Being poor is no fun.  I can remember a Tuesday when I forgot my wallet, my chauffeur had the day off and the maid was late....) Yes, I've walked many a mile in your Louboutains.

~ She has a fondness for setting up false choices in order to suggest bold leadership : We could have adopted the Common Core or remained with a system the failed to prepare our students for college.  (By the way, she apparently realized that graduates needed "remediating" at community colleges in 2010. Somehow the problem had eluded all the Regents and had even gone undiscovered by Her Regency for 14 years.) 

[Digression: Tisch's use of the word remediating smacked me between my ears. Sounded like irradiating.  Did someone say sterilizing?]

~ Anyway back to the dichotomies:  We could have taken the RTTT money or.... (fill in the blank).  We could have gone backward or forward, left or right, bad or worse and we chose knishes over cyanide.

~ When the Queen gets an unexpected question to which she cannot give a practiced response she will invariably begin her answer with the placeholder "So... followed by a repeat of the question.  So, you want to know why we didn't announce forums in New York City. In fact, that was part of our plan all along and we'll hold forums in all four or five boroughs.  If there were six boroughs, we'd schedule one there, too.)

~ Thank you for inviting me and giving me a chance to address these important concerns. There's no place I'd rather have been.

Such noblesse.  Thank you, Merryl Antoinette.

Fred Smith

The Daily Howler on Frank Bruni Piece on Colorado Ed Law, Supported by Sell-Out AFT and NEA

Can we talk? In our post-journalistic culture, everyone is an expert on schools! Everyone except the people who get assigned to be education reporters..... Columnists sometimes like to pretend that they know about public schools, though it rarely seems that they do. More horribly, education reporters often seem caught in the grip of the same affliction.... The Daily Howler on Frank Bruni ed piece

Is there a more perfect example of the NY Times position on education than having people without a clue writing on education while Michael Winerip, the only writer who has a clue ends up covering fluff?

The Howler, a former teacher -- and I mean a real teacher in the inner city for a long time -- does regular hit jobs on the NY Times. Also read about Tom Friedman's trip to Shanghai with Wendy Kopp: Tom Friedman, taking dictation from experts!
What is worth noting about the Colorado ed story and the Bruni article is that our pals Randi/AFT and Dennis/NEA are supporting the law which I consider ed deform with a twist -- basically bribing the unions to support more charter schools and other deforms for some up front money which I bet will be the last thing they will see - and the end game will be fewer public schools, if any. But those of us in NYC have seen the Randi game before.
Posted: 29 Oct 2013 12:48 PM PDT

Everyone knows about schools: Frank Bruni doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about public schools.

In fairness, Bruni has never covered schools. There’s no reason why he should know much about that important topic.

Bruni doesn’t seem to know much about schools, but when has that ever stopped anyone? In today’s New York Times, he evaluates, or pretends to evaluate, a ballot measure in Colorado which would increase the state’s education funding while raising the state income tax.

Is the ballot measure a good plan? We don’t know, and there’s little sign that Bruni knows either:
BRUNI (10/29/13): The state is on the precipice of something big. On Election Day next Tuesday, Coloradans will decide whether to ratify an ambitious statewide education overhaul that the Legislature already passed and that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed but that voters must now approve, because Colorado law gives them that right in regard to tax increases, which the overhaul entails. Arne Duncan, the nation’s education secretary, has said that the success of Amendment 66, which is what voters will weigh in on, would make Colorado “the educational model for every other state to follow.”

It’s significant in many regards, especially in its creation of utterly surprising political bedfellows. Amendment 66 has the support of many fervent advocates of charter schools, which the overhaul would fund at nearly the same level as other schools for the first time...

[The proposal involves an] infusion of an extra $950 million annually into public education through the 12th grade, a portion of which could go to rehiring teachers who lost jobs during the recession and to hiring new ones for broadly expanded preschool and kindergarten programs. That’s an increase of more than 15 percent over current funding levels, which put Colorado well behind most other states in per-pupil spending...
The proposed “overhaul” would increase the state’s funding of charter schools. It would permit some teachers to be rehired. It would expand preschool and kindergarten programs in unspecified ways and to an unspecified degree.

According to Bruni, Colorado spends much less money per pupil than most other states. This overhaul would raise per-pupil spending by 15 percent.

Would that create parity with other states? Bruni doesn’t say. Later, Bruni says the overhaul would “direct more money proportionally to poor schools and at-risk students.”

Is this proposal some sort of big deal? We have no idea. Almost surely, neither does Bruni, who wrote an extremely vague column.

Can we talk? There’s no sign that Bruni has any idea what he’s talking about in this column. That said, it’s fairly clear that he knows a few talking points:

At one point, Bruni says there’s “no magic bullet for student improvement;” Wendy Kopp recites that bromide in her sleep. As the column proceeds, Bruni shows facility with another mandated pundit point. We refer to the places where he discusses the role of those infernal teachers union.

Bruni plays this familiar card throughout his column. Snarking nicely, he mentions the unions in five successive paragraphs.

It never seems to occur to Bruni that many teachers in Colorado may know more about these proposals than he does. Judging from the column itself, we will venture a guess: it’s possible that everyone in Colorado knows more about this proposed overhaul than Bruni.

Bruni doesn’t seem to know much about this “overhaul,” but he managed to kill a column this way. Last Wednesday, Tom Friedman did a similar paint-by-the-numbers column about the Shanghai public schools.

Friedman didn’t say there’s no magic bullet. He said there’s no “secret.”

Can we talk? In our post-journalistic culture, everyone is an expert on schools! Everyone except the people who get assigned to be education reporters.

Last week, Motoko Rich did a news report in the Times about a somewhat recent set of international test scores. In the early 1990s, Rich graduated summa cum laude from Yale. That fact seems a bit surprising to us, because 1) she seems to know little about public schools, and 2) she seems to have a hard time composing coherent reports about even the most basic topics.

Her editor is part of this too! For our previous post on the topic, click here.

Last week’s news report struck us as especially incompetent. That said, you live in a post-journalistic world. In the next few days, we’ll look at the way this New York Times education reporter covered a very basic topic, the kind of topic which is being discussed pretty much all the time.

Columnists sometimes like to pretend that they know about public schools, though it rarely seems that they do. More horribly, education reporters often seem caught in the grip of the same affliction.

We thought Rich’s report was especially weak. Tomorrow: Back to the future!

MORE Weekly Update #73: Protest Colocations at the PEP on October 30th!

Protest Colocations at the PEP on October 30th! 

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Weekly Update #73
October 30, 2013

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Print a copy here.   Sign and share the electronic version of the petition, as well.

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Education News Roundup

Obama's P-Tech Visits Highlights NYC School Closure Fight

"...But inside the building that houses P-Tech is what's left of Paul Robeson High School -- as many as 50 students, three teachers, and a couple of administrators who also work in the classroom. Robeson is being phased out."

King's Scarlet Letter (by Opine I Will)

"Over the last several weeks the call for [NYS Education Commissioner] King’s resignation has increased exponentially...King must go."

NY Principal: These "Reforms" Destroy Love of Learning (Diane Ravitch Blog)

Tim Farley ("tired dad, educator, administrator") writes an open letter reflecting on the ways in which the "reform" movement is damaging K-12 education.

Cuomo Loves His Teacher Evaluation System Even If He Can't Vouch For Its Accuracy (Perdido Street School)

Unfortunately, Commissioner King isn't the only one touting flawed education "reform" policies...

MORE's Paul Hogan in The Riverdale Press: Common Sense, Not Common Core (EdNotes)

"Common Core is an added distraction and superfluous obstacle for those professionals in the trenches who are serious about bettering the lives of the young people in their charge."

Teachers Suffer, UFT Leadership Spins (NYC Educator)

"I pity the chapter leader who has to tell members facing high-stakes evaluation, 'Take a deep breath, the guys and gals at UFT did a swell job.'"

Process Matters in a Democracy: Common Core Fails the Test (Education Week)

"Democratic process is important not just so that people feel better about what happens. It yields much better decisions" (Anthony Cody)
Outraged that teachers are evaluated on tests for subjects they don't even teach?
City-wide Chapter Organizing Happy Hour!
The MORE Chapter Organizing Committee invites everyone to our city-wide Happy Hour.

Share reports about how the new teacher evaluation system is being implemented and plan resistance to this unfair and fraudulent method of evaluating teachers.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct. 30 PEP: Parents, Teachers, Clergy and Students to Rally for End To School Closures and Co-Locations

Gotta switch mind-sets after the last post and focus on the PEP at Prospect Hts HS. I will be there to get what footage I can. First a rally, then let's go in a sign up for 2 minutes of speaking time and support the schools under assault.

From MORE:
Attached is the final flier for Wednesday's PEP in Brooklyn at Prospect Heights HS. Print some copies and bring them at 5:30 for the Funeral Procession of Schools that have been closed! Then come into the PEP horror show. Wear your MORE T-shirt. Wear a costume. Wear a Mask. Bring instruments. Be there. 

From Save Our Schools:

Parents, Teachers, Clergy and Students to Rally for End To School Closures and Co-Locations

Will hold Funeral of Schools before NYCDOE Panel for Education Policy meeting to remember 168 schools closed under Bloomberg and look forward to a new era of equitable public education policy

New York, NY - On Wed., Oct. 30th at 5:15 community supporters of public education will gather outside of the Prospect Heights Campus at 883 Classon Ave in Brooklyn to hold a funeral for all the schools shuttered under the Bloomberg administration. Fathers Michael Sniffen and Chris Ballard of the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew will officiate the festive Dia de Los Muertos-style ceremony.  

Participants include the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) Caucus of the UFT, Change the Stakes, Class Size Matters, the Paul Robeson Freedom School, and allied groups. 


Not 'till the fat lady sings

Six of us piled into a van today to go down to Philadelphia to say goodbye to a dear friend and political pal of over 40 years. Our friend had decided to enter hospice care just 2 days ago at his daughter's home after months in the hospital. I expected the worst but got the best. Our friend though weak, was as eloquent and lucid as he always has been at political events, often dominating the room. How often new people would come over to me and say, "That guy was wonderful - funny and smart and making sense." And he made sense today, casting these words of wisdom (I'm paraphrasing).
"I am so happy to be here and out of that place (the hospital). If you ever have the opportunity like I have -- to end your life in a place you want to be, with people who love and support you, grab it, hold on to it and don't let it go."
Words to live by.

I'm a glass half full guy. Our friend to me looked better than I had seen him since he went into the hospital almost 3 months ago. I expect to go back and say goodbye again. And maybe again. I don't believe in miracles. But I do believe in the concept that someone at total peace like our friend seems to be will get some kind of rebound - most likely temporary, but who knows? I'm a guy who thinks that one day we can take the UFT from below by winning over a majority of schools. Some people would give our friend better odds.

I will write further about the almost incomprehensible  medical story we've witnessed over the past 8 months. But not 'till the fat lady sings. And here's to the fat lady coming down with a very sore throat.

Speakers to testify at NYC's Senate hearing on school issues

I was going to go to the Portelos hearing today but I'm in a car heading to Philly - don't worry, I'm not driving. My alternate was to go to the Flanagan hearings today where many of our allies from Change the Stakes and Class Size Matters are testifying today.

The unholy trio - Tisch, Mulgrew and Walcott, all pushing the same drug in different doses lead off. There's even an E4E slug listed. (Did he get a day off from school?) This is a Gotham schools report.

Speakers to testify release for NYC&#8217;s Senate hearing on school issues <>
Senator John Flanagan's office released a final roster of speakers <> who will testify tomorrow today at a New York State Senate hearing in New York City.

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch will be on the hot seat to start off the hearing, the fourth — and final — event that Flanagan convened this fall to probe the merits of sweeping policies ushered by Tisch and the State Education Department in recent years. Tisch will be joined by SED Legislative Director Nicolas Storelli-Castro.
The next two spots go to United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
In all, 27 speakers are scheduled to testify. They include parents, advocates, researchers and teachers. The hearing is expected to cover a variety of issues facing schools, from state testing policies, to teacher evaluations, to privacy issues around student data.
Tomorrow's hearing will take place tomorrow in the Senate Hearing Room at 250 Broadway in downtown Manhattan. It's expected
Two rival advocacy groups are planning simultaneous rallies before the hearing gets started at 10:00 a.m. The first is being organized by New York City-based parent groups Class Size Matters and Change the Stakes, which have been critical of the state's reforms. Starting at around the same time — and not too far away — will be advocates and parents from StudentsFirstNY, which lobbied for tougher state teacher evaluations, and Families for Excellent Schools, which organized a pro-charter school march across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month.
Here is the list of those expected to testify tomorrow, according to Sen. Flanagan's office:
New York State Education Department/New York State Board of Regents
        Chancellor Merryl Tisch, New York State Board of Regents
        Nicholas – Storelli-Castro, Governmental Affairs, NYSED
United Federation of Teachers
        Michael Mulgrew, President
NYC Board of Education
      Chancellor Dennis Walcott
        Lisa Shaw
        Nancy Cauthen
        Karen Sprowal
        Jan Johnson
      Deborah Rayow, Vice-President, Core Curriculum and Credit Recovery <> ,
        Ms. Nathalie Elivert, StudentsFirstNY
        Ms. Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY
        Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
        Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education
        Dr. Monty Neill, Ed.D., Executive Director, FairTest
        Marco Battistella, Member of the Steering Committee of Time Out FromTesting
NYC Charter Schools James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center
Student Privacy
        Sheila Kaplan
Council of School Administrators
        Ernest Logan, President
        Mark Cannizzaro, Executive Vice-President
NY Alliance for Public Education/Save Our Schools
        Tracy Pyper, Co-Chair, NY Alliance for Public Education
        Rosalie Friend, NYS Information Coordinator, Save Our Schools
        John Owens, Teacher and Author
        Fred Smith, Retired Member of NYC Department of Education, Testing
        Nicholas Lawrence, 8th Grade Teacher and Educators 4 ExcellenceMember
Special Education
        Stephen Boese, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Associationmof NYS
        Ellen McHugh, Citywide Council on Special Education Higher Education
      Dr. Ruth Powers Silverberg, Ed.D Associate Professor, Coordinator,
      Post Master's Advanced Certificate Program <> for Leadership in Education, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Sandy Redux: Norm in The Wave

I've been a little too busy to do regular blogging the past few days and I am not reporting on lots of stuff going on. Tomorrow (weds) night is the 2nd of the Bloomberg forced co-loco PEP meetings. I'll report on that tonight as there are some interesting events going on before the meeting.

I just finished my column which will be published Friday, Nov. 1. Last week The Wave published a spectacular reprise of the Sandy experience. Here is what I just wrote.

The Ebb and the Flow
By Norm Scott

October 29, 2013, 9AM

Kudos to all at The Wave for the spectacular special edition last week. Let’s see, what was I doing at this time a year ago today? Watching water from the morning tide come up my street, which is on the bay side. Upon seeing that some people on my block grabbed some things and left. How much worse can it get, I thought, especially when we took a walk down to the beach at noon and all the water had receded?  “It doesn’t look that bad, “ I said to my companion. I went home and blogged “The Real Perfect Storm” ( which included a piece of video I shot that afternoon ( I ended the piece with, “Next high tide is 8PM tonight, the big one where we expect to take in some water. The idea is to turn my basement into a swimming pool.” Little did I know that with water up to the basement ceiling swimming was not an option. Writing that sometime around 3PM on October 29 shows just how arrogant and insular I was about the dangers.

The effects of the storm go deep and trigger many memories. On August 1, 1979 we took title to our house. Our next door neighbors came over to introduce themselves. Born and bred in Rockaway, where they had a business, they had raised three children. Over the years we became friends  despite the differences in our ages  – they are now in their 80s – a very robust 80s I dare to say. As newcomers to Rockaway, refugees from East New York and Flatbush in Brooklyn, their visit, along with others on the block, made us feel welcome.

They left the day before Sandy to stay with friends and over the next few days we were their only source of information, mostly bad news ­– “don’t even think about saving your car.” They were not able to move back into the house they had lived in for almost 50 years  until the spring and went to Florida. When they returned in April to a house restored they had made their decision. A few weeks ago they moved out, headed for Florida for the season with no plans to come back to Rockaway. While this move was probably inevitable, the Sandy experience was the decision-maker.

Sometime this week new neighbors will be moving in, not newcomers but leaving one Rockaway house for another – a young couple with deep Rockaway roots and three very young children. On that August day in 1979 when we took title, one of the people down the block who came by to say hello was the aunt of one of our new neighbors. The ebb and the flow.

A Tale of One City?
Returning to my theme of the past few columns about inequities in Rockaway. I had written about the new “Doctors of the World” free clinic that is opening two days a week: Rockaway health, where over 20% of the population has no health insurance,  being equated health-wise with the poorest areas of the world. Last week WNYC continued their Life After Sandy series with a piece titled, In Public Housing, Temporary Boilers Are Here To Stay (For A While).  The story focused on the situation facing some residents of the Hammel Houses.
Catherine Darby, an elderly resident of the Hammel Houses in the Rockaways, said when she turns on the “warm” tap in her bathroom, cold water comes out about half the time. To draw a bath, she has to boil water on her stove. The next step is particularly tricky, because Darby uses a walker. She places the pot of hot water on the seat of the walker, then maneuvers it from the kitchen, down the hall, to the bathroom. “That’s what I do," Darby said. "It’s a lot, but if you want to wash up, you don’t want to be smelling. You got to wash.” Like many residents, Darby believes the temporary mobile boiler that now serves Hammel is unreliable. The structure looks jerry-rigged, consisting of a large plywood house and a truck with Texas plates, which emits clouds of steam. Weeds are growing beneath the wheels.

With so many Rockaway residents living in public housing damaged by Sandy, that is a story that must be told. Rockaway post-Sandy problems are not all about how high we need to raise our houses. The little potshots at de Blasio who actually at least talks about addressing these problems (I’ll believe it when I see it) show a Rockaway insularity that does not benefit us in the long run. Let’s not just tell a tale of only one city.

Rockaway Theatre Company
The reopening of Fort Tilden gave the RTC an opportunity to put on “Boeing Boeing” for the final 3 performances that were postponed due to the shutdown. (Video highlights, The day after the final performance, Tony Homsey led a crew to take down the old set and start putting up the new one for a reprise of “Inspecting Carol” one of the funniest shows the RTC has done. Look for details in The Wave.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ravitch on MSNBC

I haven't seen this yet but am reposting from the Ravitch blog for the Ed Notes archives. The discussion about charter schools has been changing - just see this:

Top 16 NYC charter school executives earn more than Chancellor Dennis Walcott - Daily News

The interview and panel discussion were broken into three segments which do not follow one another sequentially online for some reason, so here are the direct links to all three parts.