Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Union Dues No Longer Deductable - Ties to Janus Case

I hadn't heard much about this provision but when tied into Janus it is yet another dagger aimed at unions. Will not being able do deduct the $1400 a year for UFT dues, how many more will leave the union?

We talked about some of this yesterday when some MOREs and New Action people got together to stuff envelopes for something we are sending out. The feeling was that the UFT could address the dues structure - like going to a pro-rated system based on salary but probably won't because given the average salary, that would lower dues drastically. Good luck asking the newest and lowest paid members to opt in to paying such a big chunk of their salary.

Added: See Salon:

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

School Scope: It’s a Wonderful Life – Until it Isn’t: Is Pottersville Trumpville?

I submitted this for this week's publication but it probably didn't get there in time but I am posting it here the day after XMAS - we watched the entire movie once again even with all the commercial interruptions. There are a lot of possible messages in the movie but as I point out some are a bit fuzzy.

School Scope:  It’s a Wonderful Life – Until it Isn’t:  Is Pottersville Trumpville?
By Norm Scott

It’s that time of year again for one of my favorite movies, the Frank Capra Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ve seen it twenty times and not only do I not get tired of it, but every year I gain new insights. Some view the movie as a battle between good and evil, especially due to the religious overtones with angels coming down to help certain mortals out of their pickle.  Politically minded people, like me, see the underlying politics as a struggle between the Roosevelt New Deal, and its opponents, in some sense the very same type of Republicans who vehemently opposed FDR in the 30s, a battle we see being played out today as the current people in power attempt to dismantle the benefits accrued from the programs instituted by FDR and followed up on by LBJ. Yes, the movie plays out an age-old political struggle.

The competing philosophies of the bad guy, Mr. Potter and the heroes, George Bailey and his family, can be brought down to these ideas. Potter would have supported the Republican tax plan – in fact, Potter expresses the standard Republican point of view going back a hundred years, while George might be considered a New Dealer Roosevelt Democrat, though he was also a banker. It is not totally inconceivable that an aging George today might even back Trump. I’ve seen a lot of FDR supporters flip as they aged.

Capra was viewed for many years as a Roosevelt backer when in reality he was a conservative and even had some good things to say about Mussolini and Hitler while making movies that reflected the practical depression era politics of the time.

Potter reflects an Ayn Rand dog eat dog point of view and remember Rand is beloved by Paul Ryan as she was by Ronald Reagan. What is funny is that for a decades after the film’s 1946 release, the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover’s called the film “Communist propaganda” because it portrayed banker Potter as a greedy villain. An FBI memo suggested he “represented a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture.” Some people felt that Potter was correct in his criticism of the Baileys for not adhering to stricter banking rules.

In some ways Hoover was right, as some of the film’s writers were leftist and even connected to the Communist Party in the 1930s when it was at its height. The film can be interpreted as  demonizing capitalism in some ways but let’s not forget that the “working class” heroes besides George are restaurant owner Martini and cab driver and cop, Bert and Ernie.

The are a lot of memorable parts to the film – not the least being some of the racy scenes between Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart. I also noticed for the first time how younger brother Harry Bailey swats the black maid on the rear end as they horse around. But what everyone always talks about is the re-imagining Bedford Falls if George had never lived – the nightmare of seeing it devolved into Pottersville. That sequence, instead of a left view, actually affirms the power of the individual to influence people’s lives even if he still needed the help of an angel trying to get his wings.

Atta boy Clarence.

Norm has been working to get his wings at

Monday, December 25, 2017

Poet Luareate Real Reform Fred Smith: Dispirit of the Season

Dispirit of the Season

‘Tis now Christmas day and my heart is wheezing,
Bundled up in my bed, coughing and sneezing.

Santa stayed home on the eve befogged by the flu,
And Rudolph this year couldn’t lead his sled through.

And so my darlings, there’s not much to say
After last night descended and became the next day.

And Eva goes high-speed on with her wild shopping spree,
Buying pols as she needs them to get schools for free;
While Betsy converts the uneducated classes,
Vouching for private ways to teach the masses,
With both of them preaching in the same certain voice
Salvation as it is written in the Gospel of Choice.

As ever-sure Andrew decides on how he should go,
But always taking the time to stick deBlasio.

And the same is true for mayoral control Bill,
A no-contest election behind him with four years to fill.
He must pick a chancellor who wears progressive attire.
But won’t do much to lower class size, lead or inspire.

One thing, however, suspends their personal feud.
Both courageously agree that Trump’s a bad dude.

And the IDC and other deceivers are calling the tune
While the UFT helps the dish run away with the spoon.

Now I must cut this short. I have fever and chills.
Sniffling about so many societal ills.

And so my dear friends, have a pitcher of beer
As we brace ourselves for the same old new year.

UFT Plays Softball With IDC - Rogue Dems

Jia Lee: The IDC is the Independent Democratic Conference, which is basically a group of NYS “Democrats” who vote with Republicans. They’re the reason we lose to charters, privatization, you get the picture. Learn more here:  And understand that our union leadership is in support of and supported by the IDC. With Janus looming, we’re in a sorry state even if there is door knocking and cold calls for pledging to stay union.
Bianca Tanis:  "In 2016 NYSUT contributed $109,600 to the NYS Senate Republican Committee, a huge increase from NYSUT’s 2015 contribution of  $24,500 and zero contribution in 2014."
Below, another sordid story of the UFT putting a knife into our backs by working with people who have been so destructive. Given the Republican onslaught, Dems who play ball with them - and the UFT which plays ball with Dems who play ball with Republicans - should be held accountable -- and I hope at the next Ex bd meeting our people get up and make some of the points in the fragments below. We need some hard ball. 
Having the UFT in the corner of IDC members is no small thing, should the fragile deal to unify Democrats in the state Senate not hold up later next year. The primary challenges to IDC members are not being supported by the mainline conference’s campaign arm.... It seems Jeff Klein, head of the IDC,  put $1.5M into the UFT's favorite program, and they're collaborating on generating favorable publicity for him and the other IDC members by  targeting schools in their districts...... comments on listserve
Kudos to people (I've lost track of the thread and am not sure who said what at this point) for helping dig out this story after someone posted an email from IDC rogue State Senator Marisol Alcantara sent out a newsletter bragging about her partnership with the UFT and John Fager asked:
What is Michael Mulgrew doing with Marisol Alcantara who is a
member of the renegade Democrats who give control of the Senate to the Republicans?.... John F.

My female principal once used a term for the UFT leadership, then Randi -- well I won't beat around the bush even though I know I will get in trouble for saying this - she called Randi a "whore" and she wasn't talking about her in sexual terms. Mulgrew has continued the tradition.

The UFT has pushed community schools as the solution for all -- and we know that with the DOE implementing anything it will be screwed up. I tried to piece together a bunch of commentary, mostly from Leonie Haimson and John Fager, about the shameful actions of the UFT leadership in bucking up the slime IDC people who have allowed Republican control of the NY State Senate. Even Cuomo, who has used these people to his advantage, has challenged them. I think I heard Mulgrew at a DA or Ex Bd meeting being critical of IDC -- yet ---- but then again, are you surprised? Remember my mantra -- watch what they do, not what they say....
No one should be surprised.  Despite the IDC and GOP support for charter schools and vouchers, the  UFT/NYSUT has often endorsed John Flanagan, the GOP Senate majority leader.  See their 2008 endorsements here:
"UFT, educators herald Klein's $1.5M support for community schools," reads one front page headline.
The contribution from NYSUT comes after Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a former education committee chairman who is steeped in education policy, was seen chatting at the union’s conference in Albany earlier this summer.

They didn't endorse Flanagan this year but stayed neutral; and also stayed out of a bunch of very close races on Long Island where their help or money could have led to more Dems winning. 

See this:
"In 2016 NYSUT contributed $109,600 to the NYS Senate Republican Committee, a huge increase from NYSUT’s 2015 contribution of  $24,500 and zero contribution in 2014."... Bianca Tanis
The DOE hands out the money and selects the schools. The UFT has been pushing their model of community schools for years. Heavy on social services which is good but light on community and parent involvement. That’s not surprising with the UFT involvement. A principal Told me that the CBO’s have too much control over the budget for the community schools. Two other people very knowledgeable about community schools say that the DOE official in charge like to glide over serious problems and don’t seem to be that well informed about what are the elements that make community schools effective.

I still can’t believe that Michael Mulgrew the president of the UFT would attend a function at a school with Marisol Alcantara who is a member of the Independent Democratic caucus that organizes with the Republicans and gives them control of the state Senate....
-- a terrific summary of the UFT‘s deep uft support and involvement with the independent democratic conference. The UFT‘s support of IDC is tremendously damaging to a host of issues and the millions of New Yorkers harmed. Whereas The benefit, the Quid Pro quo, the support of the unions model of community schools is of questionable value to students, teachers, and schools. The union’s model has yet to be shown to be effective. Mulgrew is only interested in the narrow agenda of the union and the students, teachers, and schools be damned...

Here is the original post:

With Mulgrew, Alcantara Touts Community Schools

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and lawmakers from the Independent Democratic Conference on Thursday to boost support for community schools in New York City. 

The event included Sen. Marisol Alcantara, one of the newer members of the IDC who faces a competitive primary challenge from former City Councilman Robert Jackson next year. 

“Community schools recognize the basic reality that poverty deeply affects the ability of our children to learn. It’s hard to concentrate on your classes if your stomach is grumbling or you can’t afford your mental health medication, and so the services provided at community learning schools can be transformative in the life of students and their families,” Alcantara said.
“I am overjoyed that the United Federation of Teachers will be implementing a community learning school program in my district at PS 192, and I look forward to our continued work together in the future.”
She is credited in a news released by the UFT with pushing for community school funding. 

Mulgrew, for what is worth, has stood with IDC lawmakers, including its leader Jeff Klein, at times before, sending a message that they’re allies on key education issues. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Success Academy Invasion: DOE Closes Rockaway School (IS 53) To Open Way for Eva Takeover

Rockaway Parent Mariya Ultsh said she believes that DOE plays politics when it comes to school closures. "My money is that charter schools will sweep in and once again [special] interest groups will get a payday at the expense of our children... The WAVE, Dec. 22, 20017
Since Success Academy already has space in MS 53, we can pin the decision to close it as tied to the general pattern we have seen about Success occupation and the ultimate closing of one or more schools in a building. Ultimately Eva and Success will control a massive amount of real estate -- and don't you foresee the day when they will generously offer to take those buildings off the hands of the city to save us money?

Are there any other closings tied to Eva's schools either current or planned?

Note the comment by Councilman Donovan Richards whose office donated nearly a million dollars to the school, the benefits of which will accrue to the already rolling in dough Success charter chain.
PS 42 is also being closed and Richards will be holding a rally on Jan. 10 before and maybe at the closing hearing at PS 42 - at 6:30. The MS 53 hearing will be held Jan. 11 at the school, also at 6:30. PS 42's PTA president, Kevin Morgan, is organizing a bus trip to Albany on Jan. 9 -- call him for more info at 347-410-3061.

Last year many of us fought (unsuccessfully) against the closing of JHS 145 in the Bronx, claiming it was closed to make way for  Eva Moskowitz, already in the building, to ultimately take over the building even though there are still schools housed in the building.

See videos here:

Ed Notes Online: Videos JHS 145 Hearing: Farina Closing 145

Note this point made by teacher Jim Donohue:
Is Attempt to Close JHS 145, a Political Giveaway to Eva Moskowitz? ...a full 3 weeks before the DOE’s closure proposal even becomes official, and 2 months before the PEP vote takes place, and despite the DOE’s claim that the closing has NOTHING to do with the charter school, Success Academy’s website has begun advertising for applicants to its new middle school, opening in 2017, at JHS 145. In recent weeks, Success Academy staff members have been measuring our classrooms, apparently 100% confident that the PEP will rubber stamp our demise in March.... JHS 145 teacher Jim Donohue
The recent list of closing schools includes IS 53 in Rockaway, where Eva planted her flag in Rockaway a year ago despite there being 3 other schools in the building.

See Alan Singer on the failure of de Blasio/Farina renewal program.

Here is a DNA piece on the original Eva invasion:

Success Academy Moving Into Far Rockaway School After City Approves It
By Katie Honan | November 25, 2015 5:23pm

FAR ROCKAWAY —The city approved the co-location of a Success Academy school inside a local middle school building that currently houses three schools, despite concerns from the community over space issues.
The Success Academy Charter School, run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, plans to open inside the building at 10-45 Nameoke St. for the 2016-2017 school year, the DOE said.
The charter will start with kindergarten and first grades, then add a grade each year until it hits the fourth grade.
They estimate they'll reach approximately 500-600 students by the 2019-2020 school year, and also expressed an interest in universal pre-k, according to the DOE. 
They'll share space in the building with M.S. 53 and Village Academy Middle School, as well as a special school for students serving long-term suspensions that exceed five days, officials said. 
The move — which will be the charter school group's third in Queens — has been criticized by parents and elected officials, who say the building is already overcrowded and isn't a good fit for younger students. 
Councilman Donovan Richards said in a statement that the Panel for Educational Policy ignored the community's concerns, which were shared throughout the process, most recently at a hearing on Nov. 17.
"While I am not opposed to welcoming charter schools, such as Success Academy, into the Rockaways, it is unfair to the students and educators who already deal with inadequate resources to have another school come into the building causing division within the hallways," he said in a statement after the deal was approved.
He added that charter schools should be in their own buildings, a thought shared by many who spoke at the Nov. 17 hearing, according to the DOE.
One person worried the new charter school wouldn't be able to serve the district's special education students. 
Another commenter asked where there was room in the building for Success Academy "if students were being taught in closets," according to a summary of the hearing.
According to the DOE, though, the building is under-utilized, with only 45 percent of the building currently in use.
The school's move into the building won't impact any classes or extracurricular activities, the DOE said, or M.S. 53's participation in the "School Renewal Program," which provides extra help to students and teachers.
The Success Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Eric Grannis (Eva Hubby) Charter Failure - Two Citizens of the World charter schools will close

For those parents who were scammed and are now crying about the school's closing -- I hear some of them talking choice, choice, choice -- there are many choices in District 14 --- we were all warning everyone about citizens of the world.


WSJ Reports on Citizens of the World Charter Underenrollment

The school's experience demonstrates that charter schools, which often say parents need more choices, can be stung when parents' decisions don't fall their way. It also bolsters opponents who say that, despite claims of long wait lists and tales of parents craving alternatives, there isn't as much demand for charter schools as supporters say... Lisa Fleisher, WSJ.
Lisa Fleisher often writes pieces that are fairly reported. This is another one. I can't think of another ed reporter who has brought up the point we often make about phony demand. Now if the ed press would do a FOIL on those supposed signatures charters use to claim demand.

[I was also pleased to see Lisa tweet some points of contention over the awful NY Times education editorial  - I'll try to recover them and add them to a follow-up piece later.]

One interesting point that Lisa doesn't mention is how few of the kids enrolled come from the neighborhood the school is located in -- I believe less than 5%. She does point out that kids come from as far away as Rockaway -- truly astounding when you think of the commute for little kids. I love that she gives recognition to Brooke Parker and WAGPOPS for the work they do in defending the local public schools in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Given that by hook or crook, Citizens of the World has managed to get close to their target, don't be surprised to see kids being dragged off the street -- and I bet there are some hidden incentives involved somewhere since so much is at stake.
Reported on ed notes:
Dec 2, 2013 -
I remember very well the outrage when this charter came into town. Ed Notes covered the school extensively - see more links below. Eva Moskowitz' was involved in the scheme early on, as Brooke Parker from WAGPOPS reports:
Eric Grannis didn’t start it, but he created an organization, Tapestry, that made introductions between the “community,” the charter network that already existed in California, and SUNY. Tapestry was designed to help open charters in North Brooklyn, a district where we already had the most charters outside of Harlem. Tapestry’s marketing led many of us to believe that they were particularly interested in getting white gentrifying families invested in opening charters for their kids.

- Brooke Parker
Here are some ed notes links for background:

Search Results

Ed Notes Online: Trashing Citizens of the World Scam Charter ...

Trashing Citizens of the World Scam Charter Scheme. As registration is happening for citizens of the world (part of Eva Moskowitz empire), if you could circulate these negative articles and have everyone click on them, it would be very helpful. We need to let everyone know that there is significant opposition.

Ed Notes Online: Parents Opposed to Citizens of the World Charter ...

Dec 5, 2012 - Parents Opposed to Citizens of the World Charter: Hundreds, Parents in Favor: 4. The NY State Dept. would allow the Hitler Youth Charter to breeze through and not only would they authorize the Ku Klux Klan Charter School for Racial Harmony but they would wash the sheets. -- Norm at charter hearing.

WAGPOPS Brilliant Expose of Citizens of the World Charter Ponzi ...

We believe that there is a place in public education for charter schools, but Citizens of the World is bastardizing the original intent of charter schools. ... The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint ...
Sandie Noyola, principal of my old school, invited the refugees:
PS147 Brooklyn is happy to welcome the students and their families. Thank you for your advocacy in the name of public education WAGPOPS.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents for Our Public Schools (WAGPOPS)
Here's an article on the closing of the two Citizens of the World Charter Schools. There are some links to remind everyone the various ways that we tried to close the school before families became invested and children would be hurt.

This is deja vu for our community. We already witnessed the closing of Beginning with Children Charter School and Ethical Community Charter School. Hopefully, SUNY (the charter school authorizers) will learn their lesson and stop forcing charters on communities.

Here is the Chalkbeat article -- don't you wish they actually linked to some background stuff from WAGPOPS 4 years ago?

Eva/Success Academy Breaks the Rules (Once Again)- CEC2 OBJECTS

This obtuse, opaque process of making enrollment changes and then requesting feedback after the fact demonstrates one of the major reasons for the skepticism about charter schools...
Community Education Council, Dist 2 (Manhattan). 
Success Academy's authorizer is holding hearings for feedback on changes already in affect... Success making changes to enrollment figures before authorized to do so. Ignoring law as usual.

We have maintained that most communities do not want charters, but improved public schools. District 2 is one of the highest performing districts in the public school system. The CEC points out:
Charter applications in D2 to date have not convincingly demonstrated a need, and we know from research that charter schools do not necessarily perform better than district schools.
District 2 does not have any elementary or middle schools that are considered struggling or in need of improvement according to the NYS Education Department’s accountability system. Our community has not demanded alternatives to public school; rather the demand is for more traditional public schools to relieve overcrowding.
CEC2 sent this to the community:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

RussiaGate Media Frenzy Exposed

The left-leaning media has been skeptical of the Democratic Party and media attempt to blame the election defeat on Russia. Glenn Greenwald has been in the lead. This is what helps Trumpism. We have always seen so much of the mainstream news as being semi-fake or outright tainted especially in education. (Note how Chalkbeat chief Elizabeth Grren fawns over Eva and Success Charter as she did over Doug Lemov, despised by so many serious teachers. Green has been taking a pounding for her recent piece on Eva in the Atlantic.)

The U.S. Media Suffered Its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened

Saturday, December 16, 2017

School Scope: How Do You Spell “Success”? – Part 2

Continuing my series in The WAVE. Part 1 from last week is here.

School Scope:  How Do You Spell “Success”? – Part 2
By Norm Scott

Last week I began a series on the 46 NYC Success Academy schools run by Eva Moskowitz and focused on a New Yorker article written by Rebecca Meade ( which tried to reconcile the harsh discipline at Success with its aim to have a progressive curriculum. Many maintain that the very idea of a child- centered, nurturing progressive curriculum and harsh discipline in schools with very high suspension rates is contradictory. I agree.

In Part 2, I want to draw attention to the Dec. 11 NY Times Sunday book review of the memoir recently written by Eva Moskowitz (The Education of Eva Moskowitz).  Reviewer Lisa Miller opens by asking a question:

“How would Eva Moskowitz have fared as an impudent young girl in one of her own charter schools? This is just one of the many unplumbed questions prompted by her new memoir. Founder of the extensive Success Academy charter-school chain, former New York City councilwoman, mother of three, Moskowitz has famously made a virtue — one might even say a brand — of her defiance. New York City’s public-school system has been her proving ground, and she has devoted herself to reforming what she sees as its bureaucratic idiocies and its codified inefficiencies, refusing to submit to any authority that she deems insufficiently worthy (except in those instances it serves her to do so).”

Now I and many others have been frustrated by DOE idiocies. But every bureaucracy has them and the battle should be a public one with allies, and for all students, not just a little niche.

Miller goes on to list the defiance Moskowitz writes about, some pretty outrageous. Like the fact that every pre-k being run under the de Blasio initiative and using tax payer money, public and charters, come under some rules of behavior. Eva refused to accept any rules and went to court and actually won the right to set up her pre-k without any oversight. There are a lot more – and I know a lot more from people who work in the same buildings.

Miller points to the essential contradiction between Eva’s moxie and her schools damping down the moxie of the students: Her “impulsive display of hostility would not, presumably, be tolerated at any of her Success Academy schools, where discipline and conformity are values of the highest order.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t have taught and survived in some very tough elementary schools without having discipline. But in all that time I never had a student suspended, something that happens so often at Success Academy for even minor infractions, even down to kindergarten kids. I actually heard Eva defend this policy because “kids can kill each other” – not an exact quote. The purpose of the suspension is to pressure some parents to pull their kids from the school so as to wean out poor test takers. As I reported last week, of a 73 member cohort (I erred in reporting 72) that began kindergarten only 17 were left to graduate high school.

From the earliest days of Success a decade ago, I was one of the fiercest opponents, especially after seeing how Eva operated. She was out to use our money to build her own political empire, with the intention of using her schools as a political base to run for mayor. I may not be Nostradamus but I was right on that one.

Eva wants to run a 100 schools in NYC  using our tax money to do whatever she wants. And she has an even bigger aim. Miller says, “What, then, is the true aim of this book? A clue is buried in its final chapters. “Part of me would love to be mayor for the simple reason that I love my city.”

Oy Vey! Eva doesn’t get just how much of the city doesn’t love her.

Norm  loves everyone except Eva Moskowitz at

The American Conservative: How U.S.-Saudi Marriage Gave Birth to Jihad

..the great Wahhabist offensive of the last 30 or 40 years is best understood as a joint venture between oil imperialism and neo-medieval Islamic revivalism. On its own, such an austere doctrine would never have made it out of the badlands of central Arabia. Only in conjunction with outside powers, first Britain and then the United States, did it turn into a world-altering force. ...
a famous 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, as Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, did as much as anyone to invent the modern phenomenon of jihad. Asked if he had any regrets, Brzezinski was unabashed:
Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap, and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war….What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?
....American Conservative
Dems and Republicans. And this is from the conservative view.

Daily Howler Questions Assumptions on Black Turnout in Alabama

Percentage of black vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 98 percent
Obama 2012: 95 percent
Jones 2017: 96 percent

Percentage of white vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 10 percent
Obama 2012: 15 percent
Jones 2017: 30 percent
I've been seeing how some on the left have been vilifying whites in Alabama and praising black voters for the Jones victory. But the Howler points to the doubling of the white vote as the key.
Posted: 15 Dec 2017 10:56 AM PST

Times hails "black voter surge:"
Anthropologically speaking, where do Official Group Stories come from?

They come from the internal hard-wiring of a profoundly faulty species. That said, to watch on Official Group Story spread, consider this news report in today's New York Times.

John Eligon's report advances a current Standard Story. In hard copy, the report appears beneath his pleasing headline:
Win in Alabama Shows Muscle of Minority Voters
Is that what Doug Jones' win over Roy Moore shows? Maybe yes, maybe no; we'll offer some data below. But here's the passage where Eligon recites the Official Story—where he pleasingly says we saw a "black voter surge" this week, reciting script as he goes:
ELIGON (12/15/17): Many people have long felt that Democrats come around during election time asking for their votes, but then do not fight for the issues that matter most to them, several political operatives said. They have also expressed concern that Democratic spending on minority communities was not commensurate with the loyalty that they show to the party. An analysis three years ago found that 98 percent of the money the major Democratic committees spent on consultants went to those who were white.

The eight Democratic organizations with budgets of at least $30 million last year all had white leaders, according to Steve Phillips, an activist and fund-raiser. Mr. Phillips also found that of the first $200 million that independent Democratic groups allocated during last year’s presidential election, none of it went to mobilizing black voters.

Some say they are seeing the beginnings of a shift, after black voter surges in Virginia and Alabama.

About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black, according to CNN exit polls,
making the black share of the vote in that election higher than it was in both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories. Mr. Jones won 98 percent of the votes among black women and 93 percent among black men.
Is that accurate? Was there a "black voter surge" in Alabama this week?

Anthropologically speaking, let's note the way Eligon toys with elementary facts to tell us The Current Official Group Story:

In support of his pleasing claim, Eligon starts by saying this: "About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black, according to CNN exit polls."

Inevitably, Eligon has rounded up. CNN's actual number is 29 percent.

After turning 29 into 30, Eligon makes another pleasing claim. He says this "mak[es] the black share of the vote in {Tuesday's] election higher than it was in both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories."

That simply isn't true. According to the exit polls from those prior elections, the black share of the Alabama vote was 29 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2012. This year's number matches 2008, beats 2012 by one point.

Already, Eligon has made a flatly inaccurate statement. In the larger sense, by withholding the previous exit poll data, he produces a grossly inaccurate picture of the overall reality.

In fact, black turnout as a percentage of the overall vote was almost exactly the same in those three elections. Eligon goes on to say this:

"Mr. Jones won 98 percent of the votes among black women and 93 percent among black men."

That's true, though exit poll data are drawn from samples and are therefore subject to error. That said, Jones' share of the black vote is very similar to the percentages Obama received. Here are the numbers from each year's exit poll:
Percentage of black vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 98 percent
Obama 2012: 95 percent
Jones 2017: 96 percent
There's little to choose among those three numbers. Black turnout was roughly the same each year as a percentage of the state. So was the percentage of the black vote received by the Democrat.

If those facts are true, why did Jones win this year, while Obama never came close? Answer:

Mainly because of a change in the way white Alabamians voted. Here are the relevant numbers from the three elections to which Eligon referred:
Percentage of white vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 10 percent
Obama 2012: 15 percent
Jones 2017: 30 percent
The biggest difference in this year's election involved the way white voters voted. Jones swept the black vote, as Obama did before him. But he did substantially better among the (much larger) white vote.

Where do Official Standard Group Stories come from? In this particular case, we can't answer that question. (As a general matter, they come from our deeply flawed human desire to dream up the stories we like.)

We can answer these questions:

Was there a "huge black turnout" this year, as a Washington Post headline said? Was there a "black voter surge," as Eligon has claimed?

It's hard to know why you'd want to say such things except from a desire to push an Official Preferred Group Story. Concerning that huge voter surge, the number of black voters in these four elections looks like this:
Total black turnout, Alabama
2008: roughly 609,000
2012: roughly 581,000
2016: roughly 595,000
2017: roughly 390,000
We're not sure why you'd want to call this year's turnout "huge," given those previous turnouts.

In fact, many fewer black Alabamians voted this year, as compared to the numbers who voted in those previous elections. What makes this year's turnout "huge?"

We're also not sure why you'd want to say that this year's turnout constituted a "surge." Again, this is the percentage of the statewide vote cast by black Alabamians:
Black vote as a percentage of total vote, Alabama
2008: 29 percent
2012: 28 percent
2016: 28 percent
2017: 29 percent
Why would you say that a "surge" occurred this year?

In fact, black turnout was way down this year; white turnout was down a bit more. To the extent that there was a "surge," it occurred among the (sharply reduced) number of white voters who did turn out. They gave Jones 30 percent of the white vote, two to three times as much as Obama got.

(There were no Alabama exit polls in 2016. There is no number for Candidate Clinton's percentage of the white vote.)

Anthropologically speaking, Homo sapiens is the species which like to make stupid sh*t up. Once somebody makes some story up, tribal minions all stampede off to repeat it.

Eligon is one of those hacks. As liberals, do you ever get tired of being talked down to like this by a bunch of silly people on "cable news" and at the New York Times?

Was there anything "wrong" with black turnout this year? Well actually, yes, there maybe was, unless you think that 40 percent, give or take a few points, is a sensible turnout rate when your state is about to send a total crackpot lunatic to the United States Senate.

Overall turnout was 40 percent! Black turnout was sad; white turnout was worse.

Afterwards, somebody dreamed up a story. We're really "defining democracy down" when we brag about this year's turnout.

At any rate, we liberals all began to recite. Anthropologically speaking, we're wired to do sh*t like this.

We've behaved this way for many years. Today, we have Donald J. Trump in the White House. Are you happy with how this has worked?

Alabama exit polls: To access the exit polls, click as shown. There were no Alabama exit polls in last year's Trump-Clinton election:
2008 exit polls

2012 exit polls

2017 exit polls

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Andrea Gabor Drills Down Into Success Academy Charter School Network

A must read analysis by Andrea Gabor. One of the best in depth articles - and she also exposes the failed journalism of Chalkbeat's Elizabeth Green.

Much-Hyped Success Academy Charter School Network Is Perfectly in Sync With Trumpian Times | Alternet

Success Academy is at the forefront of an anti-democratic movement to replace public schools with charters, while curtailing government oversight.

Video - Superintendent John Kuhn - From Michael Elliot

What’s wrong with the way we fund our schools? Superintendent John Kuhn gives a powerful explanation.
Moved? WE NEED FOLKS to take part in the Action Campaign to try to prevent the defunding of public ed in the tax bill. Please use this link!
#8Voices4PublicEd #edchat

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


THURSDAY AT 5:30 PM, JOIN NYPAN and a broad coalition of environmental, housing,
social justice, educational and voting rights groups, at Governor Cuomo's $50,000 per
head birthday party on Wall Street (Cipriani's, 55 Wall) of all places! Less than 2% of Cuomo's re-election contributors have given less than $1000. Guess whose tune he jumps too, despite his "progressive" rhetoric.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

UFT Official Asks: Why Don't They (Teachers) Fight Back?

  • The DOE has set up DOE legal to advise principals on how to chop up their teaching corps.
  • The UFT has set up gotz.
  • Teachers full well know that the union doesn't have their backs if they stick their necks out.
  • 75% of NYC teachers are women and many are victims of abuse by principals - I'm not talking sexual, but bullying, though I bet a lot more sexual harassment goes on than is recognized.
There is a disconnect between people at the top of the UFT and people who work in the schools. 


The UFT/Unity Caucus leadership just can't understand why so many teachers are too fearful to stand up to their all-powerful principals - an expansion of power granted to them under Bloomberg unopposed by the union leadership.

In the article I wrote for Another View in the UFT , I compared these put downs of the real fear so many teachers feel every day to the putdowns of women who feared to come forward for so many years. The same mechanism of the effect of so much power in the hands of bosses and people in control of one's career is operating. And let's not forget that 75% of NYC teachers are women, thus doubling the stakes for them, though of course men are also affected.

So for the leadership to take the attitude that they not take the lead in opposing principal power openly, but only work behind the scenes using the excuse that teachers must act and organize in the school first is not only lame but inexcusable in these times.

It doesn't seem to occur to them that their job is to take the lead when chapters are disorganized and under assault.

Principal Sexually Harasses Teacher - Where is CSA, UFT and DOE?

“This guy’s using the school as his own personal dating service,” said Barnett’s lawyer Jonathan Tand. “He harassed her, and when she finally had the courage to leave him, he retaliated.”... NY Daily News
In every other industry, even Congress, action is taken. Women are being believed. Not in the world of the CSA, DOE. I think that in some cases we may be going overboard and also due process counts. But at the very least this principal should be under investigation over the charges if not outright removal pending the outcome.

Not the first time this principal has been in the news or on blogs:
  1. School leaders allow cheating ‘to boost the numbers ...
    At Urban Action Academy in Canarsie, an 18-year-old girl with the reading skills of a kindergartner had a passing grade of 65 on the ... Principal Steve Dorcely, ...
  2. Steve Dorcely, Principal. Urban Action Academy. 1600 ROCKAWAY PARKWAY BROOKLYN NY 11236
Now comes another story that dovetails into today's news: Sexual harassment of an employees. While women are believed now - when it comes to the DOE and teachers, not so much.

Hey, we know it is alleged but given the climate of seeing so many people suspended or losing their jobs based on alleged, we do see a double standard when it comes to NYC principals. A teacher is rubber roomed based on slivers of charges.

NYC principal allegedly harassed colleague after being dumped - NY Daily News

He loved her. She loved him not. And now a spurned Brooklyn principal stands accused of harassing a colleague for two ugly years after she ended their affair.
Teacher Jordan Barnett, in an 18-page court filing, recounted the vile and vengeful antics of unrelenting Urban Action Academy Principal Steve Dorcely once she dumped him for cheating.
“Despite plaintiff’s exemplary job performance, (Dorcely) targeted and callously discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and sexually harassed her relentlessly in the workplace,” the November lawsuit charged.
The oversexed Dorcely turned alternately vindictive and creepy, propositioning Barnett at time while also accusing her of bogus disciplinary violations, the court papers charged.
Queens principal accused of 'retaliatory harassment,' suit says
In Nov. 2016, the 36-year-old Barnett recounted Dorcely sneaking up behind her as she bent over to plug her cell phone into an outlet during a meeting.
“Put your butt on me,” she recounted the grinning principal whispering in her ear.
About a month later, Barnett was talking with another colleague about a breast cancer scare that left her with painful cysts due to stress.
“That’s because no one is sucking on your (breasts),” Barnett allegedly said after overhearing their chat.

Queens principal allegedly retaliated after behavior report: suit
Rumors abounded about the $161,871-a-year principal sleeping with “various staff members,” and Barnett alleged that Dorcely was sexually involved with another academy staffer.

The 17-year principal, who boasts a clean disciplinary record, made another unwanted advance on Barnett during a Dec. 12, 2016, lunch at a Brooklyn burger joint.
When Barnett turned Dorcely down, the principal snapped, “You’re going to regret the decision you made. Watch, you’ll see.”
“This guy’s using the school as his own personal dating service,” said Barnett’s lawyer Jonathan Tand. “He harassed her, and when she finally had the courage to leave him, he retaliated.”
  Dorcely arranged for four investigations of Barnett in the last six months, his latest bits of payback against his ex-lover, the suit says. He embarrassed her in public, and gave Barnett unwarranted negative performance reviews.
She was “constantly targeted, ridiculed and criticized by Dorcely at every turn” during the spring 2017 semester — eventually landing Barnett in therapy, the court papers alleged.

The city Education Department declined comment on the suit, and would not say if an internal investigation was underway.
The city Law Department will review the complaint and “respond accordingly,” according to spokesman Nick Paolucci.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money, and names the city Department of Education as a co-defendant.