Who is Killing Tenure, Klein or Weingarten?

    While Joel Klein has used sturm und drang in his attack on tenure, Randi Weingaten has actually gone out and done something about it by bargaining away tenure rights guaranteed by state law. Contracts supersede the law.

    Here is how tenure has been weakened

    1. 3020A hearings are now heard before a single arbitrator as opposed to a three person panel that is in state law. It is more difficult to get a three person panel and there is more hope of convincing two out of three arbitrators that a teacher is right as opposed to a single arbitrator.

    2. We can be suspended for up to three months and even longer without pay before a 3020A hearing based on an allegation. This provision began in the 2002 contract and was expanded in 2005.

    3. For time and attendance problems, there is an expedited process where they can give us any penalty short of termination without having to go through the 3020A process. Whatever is decided can be used against us in future 3020A cases. Teachers are being pressured to sign away their tenure rights in these time and attendance hearings. This was a 2005 provision.


    Once upon a time in the West ---
    Until UFT crack negotiators manage to overrule courts

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Who is Killing Tenure, Klein or Weingarten?


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Spitzer's Speech - Pataki Wannabe?

    The UFT has leaped to embrace Spitzer's speech with a self-congratulatory pat on the back — "Look, mommy, we endorsed him. He's our boy, etc." (Of course, they endorsed Pataki too.) I ran into a Unity Caucus chapter leader today who was spouting the line. He was so happy to say how brilliant Randi Weingarten is in her political strategy. Ooooh! Patak- er - Spitzer is calling for supervisors to be held accountable. Wow! I hated to bust his bubble to point out the rather obvious fact that they will just blame teachers and nothing will change.

    Take a look at what Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters has to say.

    Preview: Aside from the mention of preK, and the promise that more funds would be provided, the speech could have been given by Pataki, his predecessor.

    Sorry to bring you more bad news, but Gov. Spitzer’s education speech is posted here: http://www.ny.gov/governor/keydocs/0129071_speech.html

    Rather than requiring schools to provide smaller classes, this would only be one possibility in an extended menu of options that could be considered, along with a longer school day, a longer school year, after school programs, and various changes to teacher compensation, including more pay for teachers at schools whose test scores improve enough.

    This is because, he said, “No single investment works for every school district, and the state should not be in the practice of dictating to every district how to run their schools.”

    Interesting how smaller classes seem to “work” for all public schools in the suburbs, as well as every NYC private school -- including the one Spitzer sends his own kids to – but I guess we shouldn't assume that smaller classes would also benefit the children who attend our public schools.

    In contrast, he did say that Pre-K programs will be mandated for every child within the next four years – but that the most important role for the State in grades K-12 was “to maintain and increase standards for every grade and graduation. “

    He also said that he would recommend that the cap on charter schools be increased from 100 to 250.

    He mentioned that districts would have to “involve parents and other stakeholders” in their school improvement plans, though he didn’t specify how.

    Here is the sole grudging mention of class size in the speech:

    “For example, the impact of smaller class sizes is clear to every parent and teacher, and we know that, especially in the earlier grades, fewer children in a room can make a difference. In schools where classes have grown to unmanageable proportions, where teachers have lost the ability to keep contact with children, smaller classes even in later years may also be warranted. Class size reductions should be an element of the reform program that every district should consider.”

    This doesn’t sound anything like his ads – which highlighted the need for smaller classes as one of three central goals of his administration, along w/ preK and safer schools.

    It also doesn’t accord with his promise that from Day One, everything changes.

    Aside from the mention of preK, and the promise that more funds would be provided, the speech could have been given by Pataki, his predecessor.

    My press statement follows. If you’d like to send him an email; go to http://161.11.121.121/govemail

    The education proposals the Governor put forward today are an affront to all those parents who hoped he meant it that from Day One, everything changes.

    While his campaign ads highlighted smaller classes as one of only three educational goals of his administration, rather than require any school to actually provide smaller classes, this would only be one of a long menu of options districts could consider.

    His proposals are also contrary to the decision of NY State’s highest court -- that class sizes in our schools were too large to provide our students with their constitutional right to an adequate education.

    The Court of Appeals didn’t say that our school year or school day was too short; the Court didn’t say that we needed more charter schools.

    The Court said that the class sizes in NYC schools were excessive, and that there was “a meaningful correlation between the large classes in City schools and the outputs…of poor academic achievement and high dropout rates.”

    There is no research showing that extended day or a longer school year will provide our children with the attention they need to succeed – just more hours spent in overcrowded classrooms.

    There are also no studies indicating that increasing access to preK, without also providing acceptable class sizes and better classroom conditions in subsequent grades, will lead to higher student achievement, less teacher attrition, improved school discipline or better graduation rates.

    And though the Governor said that districts should involve parents and other stakeholders in the development of their improvement plans, he didn’t specify how. Right now, the Mayor and Chancellor have no intention to allow parents to have any voice as regards the plans for these funds – even though it is our children who will continue to suffer.

    If the Governor really believed that inequality in educational opportunity is “morally indefensible”, as he said today, I don’t know how he can justify the huge disparities in class size that NYC children continue to experience every day compared to students in the rest of the state.

    Leonie Haimson

    Class Size Matters
    www.classsizematters.org

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Spitzer's Speech - Pataki Wannabe?


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Bus Routes: Just Another Bump in the Road for Klein

    The bus route fiasco showed the effectiveness of the $15 million that went to the A&M consulting firm to save money on the backs of the kids. To the DOE the inconvenience is a temporary bump in the road. But to parents and kids waiting on cold streets, that is a mountain. Bloomberg said today the city had a limited amount of money. He said this just days after giving back 1 billion in taxes. He could have taken the measly $10 million out of that.

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Bus Routes: Just Another Bump in the Road for Klein


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Major New Contract Gain for UFT


    The DOE and the UFT have renegotiated Article Two (“Fair Practices”). All teachers who meet the following criteria will be covered under this addendum:

    Teachers who have been a lawyer AND are being groomed for the position of UFT President.

    Such teachers will be able to pick the school at which they choose to work and such school shall be mandated to be no more than 10 minutes travel from where they reside.

    The Chapter Leader of said school will completely insulate the teacher from reality. Said chapter leader shall be rewarded with a full-time union job upon the ascendancy to UFT President by said teacher.

    This Addendum will assure that all teachers transitioning from a legal career to the Presidency of the UFT, in order to ensure that said teachers can demonstrate at least some teaching time to the membership, will teach two classes a day, one of which shall be a law class for the best students in the school. Other classes will be the best said school has to offer. All special ed and ELA students will be banned from said classes.

    A compensatory time position will be available to the new teacher immediately, in lieu of further teaching, and said teacher will be given comp time for such activities as coaching the debate team.

    Every six months of teaching will be counted as six years for the purpose of public relations with the members and may be used to accumulate pension credit. The UFT will continue to reimburse the DOE for the full salary of said teacher so said teacher can accrue city pension time in addition to the double pension from the UFT.

    Furthermore, all teachers transitioning from a legal career to the Presidency of the UFT will be given special consideration towards accumulating the credits necessary to meet the criteria for maintaining a teaching certificate, including private special classes so said teacher does not have to face sitting through endless hours of boring ed courses elbow to elbow with said teacher's peers who are forced to attend grad school at exorbitant expense after a full day of working and might have a certain level of anger at their condition that may lead to detrimental contact with said teacher transitioning from a legal career to the Presidency of the UFT.

    The UFT will form a functional chapter for all teachers meeting the criteria.
    Modified from a post from the Unified Teachers Party

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Major New Contract Gain for UFT


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School Scope Column, The Wave - Jan. 26, 2007

    This column is a revision of a previous post on the Klein press conference of Jan. 19 with some analysis. It will be available at www.rockawave.com 2 weeks after publication. What this all shows is that given total control of the system Klein can't effect change without calling in outside provae troups who will also fail. Call it a surge.

    The Surreal World of Tweedledom and BloomKlein
    by Norman Scott
    Jan. 26, 2007 (revised Jan. 28 from print version)

    I dragged my way over to cover what was billed as Joel Klein's round table meeting with reporters on January 19th at 3:30 pm, just a short time after Mayor Bloomberg announced yet another restructuring of the school system. (The press conference was actually held on a rectangular table, but if Klein says it’s round, all the Tweedledee apparatchiks will tell you it’s round.)

    This is one weird scene with reporters sitting at the table and a gaggle of TV cameras set up. Most interesting is that the entire perimeter of the room is packed with Tweedledums who are dragged out of their offices to serve no purpose other than to be there for Joel while he faces the press. For what these people are being paid, one would at least expect them to be doing some real work. (Throughout the press conference, one could hear the buzzing of a hundred Blackberries.)

    There will now be four regions that will provide support services, each headed by a veteran of the old school system: Laura Rodriguez (Region 2, Bronx), Marsha Lyles (Region 8, Brooklyn), Judy Chin (Region 3, Queens), and our own Kathy Cashin (Region 5). Note the perfect ethnic balance — Hispanic, African-American, Asian and Caucasian. (But no men.) It is not clear how the city will be divided geographically, if at all. Reports are that these super-regions will each cover the entire city.

    The guts of the dis-er- reorganization is that all schools will be free — sort of — to make one of three choices. They could enter the Twilight – er -– Empowerment Zone, which frees them from all regional control and places them under the aegis of Eric Nadelstern, CEO of the Empowerment Schools Initiative (ESI). (Instead of CEO’ing, Nadelstern was forced to sit with his hands politely folded at the perimeter of the press conference.)

    The ESI is Klein’s baby and he glowed with reports from principals who praised the system to the sky, just loving the supposed relief of paperwork. They also told Klein how much they loved his set of new clothes. This is clearly one direction Klein wants schools to go. Around 350 schools made that choice this past year. An interesting sidelight is that the recent NY Times article on Kathy Cashin stressed how few schools in Region 5 had joined the ESI, a tribute to her leadership.

    A second choice schools have fits BloomKlein’s other strand — privatize everything that moves. External Partnership Support Organizations (PSO’s) will be bidding to support the schools and principals can make a choice of one of these private groups.

    Third (and least), the four "winning" regional superintendents will be the internal Learning Support Organization (LSO’s) with each designing their own unique offerings that schools can choose from. Will they be region-based or will they all have to compete with each other and with the other options? People in the know say the latter. Schools can have up to six choices or more when you add in the laundry list of PSO’s. Oy! “Mess” is not a messy enough word to describe it all. Try: muddle, disarray, chaos, confusion, bedlam, turmoil, pandemonium.

    Clearly, Klein wants schools to choose from Column A or B, but is offering Column C as a last remnant of the school system he destroyed. If I were Rodriguez, Cashin, Lyles and Chin, I wouldn’t spend too much time decorating an office.

    In a photo I took at the press conference, it appears as if Christopher Cerf, one of Klein’s newest appointees, might have been napping, or as the caption says on my blog, “Christopher Cerf dreams of ways to turn the NYC school system into a subsidiary of Edison.” Cerf was the CEO of Edison Schools, a fading for-profit corporation that looks to milk money out of public schools. Hey! The stock tanked and Cerf needed a job. Where else but in BloomKleindom?

    Edison was once in the forefront of the ideological struggles as the right wing attempt to dismantle public education. Under Cerf’s leadership, Edison once made a run at NYC schools but was beaten back by the UFT and parent groups. Now they have the chief Edison wolf in the henhouse. So, it was not surprising to read in the Daily News a day after the press conference:

    The world's largest for-profit school operator yesterday expressed interest in being a part of the massive school reforms laid out this week. While Chancellor Joel Klein pitched his sweeping school overhaul to business leaders and educators yesterday, he said that he expected mainly universities and nonprofits to apply for the private contracts available under the reforms. He acknowledged, though, that legally he can't exclude for-profits, adding that, "I don't expect the for-profits will apply, but that's up to them. But Edison Schools - the controversial for-profit group that attempted to take over five failing city schools in 2001 - would "certainly be interested" in reviewing opportunities and seeing "whether it would be a good fit," company spokeswoman Laura Eshbaugh said yesterday.

    Sure, after hiring Cerf, Klein never, ever thought of Edison applying for the PSO’s. Don’t we need to get Edison’s value up to prove the validation of the private model by having them feed at the public trough? You could actually see Klein’s nose grow as he spoke.

    One of the key supposed changes in the reorganization, that is not really a change, is a mandate to scrutinize new teachers before giving them tenure. One would think that was going on all along. Most onerous was Klein’s statement that they will be judged on the way their students perform. A gym teacher commented on a blog that this would get pretty interesting for him. “Can’t get 70% of your kids to run the 100-yard dash in 10 seconds? You’re fired!”

    I got to ask Klein questions about whether class size would be taken into account in all these equations. Klein preferred to put the cart before the horse and said that teacher quality came first. Hmmm, isn't it possible that a teacher who might struggle with 32 in a class could do much better with 22? Klein always talks about a data-driven system to evaluate students and teachers but always excludes the most important data of all.

    A question was asked about how the reorganization will affect school budgets, which under the new system looks to be based on the real salaries of teachers in the schools rather than the current system of charging schools based on the average teacher salary. Klein danced around on this one but I take it as another attack on higher-salaried teachers.

    What this is really about is to make it unappetizing for schools to keep senior teachers on the payroll. Klein claims there will be more equitability, since senior teachers tend to congregate in the better schools. Klein has always wanted to be able to move teachers around like chess pieces, early on claiming the teacher contract prevented him from putting the "better" senior teachers in the schools where they were most needed, but at the same time, his minions went on a witch-hunt to drive senior teachers out of the system. Klein often says it is better to have teacher turnover than keep senior teachers who supposedly are tired and unmotivated (and, by the way, insist on adhering to the union contract.)

    This is not about teacher quality, but about saving money by driving out senior, tenured teachers (anyone with over 4 years in the system). With the UFT crumbling in the face of the onslaught (what ever happened to those age discrimination suits?) there will be no need for those buyouts they gave in the 90's. Just put enormous pressures on senior teachers 'till they retire. Add closing schools that will turn many senior teachers into subs who might have to go from school to school and become so miserable they will run from the system and Klein has a slam-dunk. (Coming soon, the DOE will pay millions for software to determine the following: Are you an ATR? Live in Staten Island? What is the furthest point in the city we can send you to sub as an incentive to take whatever flimsy buyout we offer – one of the lovely new provisions of the 2006 contract.)

    The circle is complete. With this reorganization, the attack on senior and junior teachers is out in the open. While it is impossible to change the tenure law, BloomKlein aims to eliminate tenure simply by eliminating tenured teachers.

    To many reporters, the entire exercise left them scratching their heads, as no one seemed to know where high schools belonged - back to the old centralization before BloomKlein or just floating out there in space. District Superintendents will be back for grades K-8, just like in the days of yore. I jokingly predicted this in a post on my blog the night before BloomKlein’s announcement. But nothing is funny in Tweedledeeland.

    On my way into the press conference, I had to go through a gauntlet where my pitiful press pass from The Wave gets more scrutiny than Al Quada. I was told to wait off to the side until I could be escorted down to the pressroom. I had the honor of being attended to by a nice gentleman who turned out to be Klein's press spokesperson, David Cantor, who was interested to know what exactly it is I do. (Did my wife ask him to ask that question?) I wish I knew myself. He said he was told I have a blog and that I speak at PEP meetings - not the behavior of most reporters (thank goodness). Are they tailing me?

    I informed him I was the education editor of The Wave (thanks Howie for the promotion) and cover these events for them either as a reporter (fair and balanced) or as a columnist (ranting and raving.) I asked him if there was a problem. He said he had none. "Write whatever you want," he said. And so I did.





    Sweet Dreams, Chris

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School Scope Column, The Wave - Jan. 26, 2007


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The REAL story behind the "Open" Market Transfer List

    by a NYC teacher

    Last May, I was desperate to leave my school.

    I had responded to six schools that were on the "Open" Market Transfer list did not hear back from any of them.

    Through friends, I heard of four possible openings at schools. When I looked, NONE of them were on the "Open" Market Transfer list.



    I have been active in the system and have friends in many schools through curriculum projects that I have worked on and some email lists. This is how I found out about the openings (two via the mailing lists, one from a friend and one from an AP who is now a principal).

    I talked to one principal on the phone (I had worked in a school with him when he was an AP) and he said that he would get back to me. He said I should check the "Open" Market Transfer List and that if I saw my job posted it, that it was for me and I should apply.

    I talked to another principal (unfortunately at a school which involved a long commute). He said if I wanted a job, to call him and he would try to post a job for me on the OMTL.

    I interviewed at the two jobs I found out about on the mailing list. One said that they were considering it. It was a very small school and I wasn't sure if the job would last.

    The other school interviewed me twice. Then the principal offered me the job. He said that when I accepted he would post it.

    By now, I had applied to over 12 schools on the "Open" Market transfer list and gotten no replies. And talked to four schools with openings BUT nothing posted on the OMTL.

    When I accepted the offer, it was posted. I am now very happy at a new school.

    Nothing done by the principals who didn't post first violates the rules of the OMTL. There is no necessity to interview anybody for the people who posted on the OMTL. The other jobs that I inquired about through the OMTL never contacted me to submit my resume.

    So, do you need a new job? Call friends and contacts, send out your resume and then maybe you will get contacted!

    IN FACT: I do know a few people who got jobs that they applied for on the OMTL — but most of the people who changed jobs got them they way I did.

    First they applied, then they were accepted, then they accepted the job and THEN it was posted. Makes it easier for the principal — but means there is no longer system wide seniority which has led us into the ATR situation.

    The OMTL reflects the death of a basic principle of unionism: the ability to transfer within a system based on seniority rather than cronyism or nepotism.

Post Title

The REAL story behind the "Open" Market Transfer List


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Schools in Danger of Riot Over ICE Literature


    Just one of many schools in chaos after ICE literature is pulled from mail boxes for claiming Randi Weingarten doesn't look at her best when dressed in brown.

    The Unity faithful were given carte blanche at a recent Unity Caucus meeting to pull opposition literature that they consider likely to incite insurrections. Included in that would be any information about Randi Weingarten that they deem a lie. For instance, if the question is raised as to exactly how long she taught full-time at Clara Barton HS -- 6 months or the 6 years she claimed recently on NY 1 (5 periods a day for 6 years) --- that would constitute material likely to incite a riot and the Unity faithful are urged to go to the principal and complain.

    Speaking of riots, the New Action leaflet being circulated is inciting riotous laughter at the idea that a group claiming to be an opposition is running in the UFT elections and opposing nothing that Unity stands for -- oh, yes, they don't agree on democracy. But Randi has promised them to set up a committee. Sort of like the way the scarecrow got his brain. Or, maybe not.

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Schools in Danger of Riot Over ICE Literature


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Have a Sip Joel

    Joel Klein test the Cool-aid before passing it on to the Tweed staff.


    Most of the content originall in this post has been updated and moved to "The Surreal World of Tweedledom and BloomKlein" post of Jan. 28.

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Have a Sip Joel


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BloomKlein Inaction - Wed. Jan. 17, 2007

    A preview of today's activities reported the night before they happen:

    1pm at City Hall: Bloomberg announces sweeping changes in the very system he created without once saying there were any mistakes made that would require them to reorganize again. This time it will be boroughs. And when that fails -- hmmm. How about trying local districts?

    Your erstwhile Wave reporter will be at this one (maybe):
    3:30pm at Tweed: Klein holds press roundtable at a rectangular table, (but why quibble) as he explains the fantastic success of his reorganization of the schools has spawned a new reorganization, this time into even larger entities that will be guaranteed to deliver even less services than the old system. He will announce that he paid A&M consultants 200 million dollars to save a buck fifty. Having only 5 borough regions superintendents will save even more money, but of course their much larger staffs will balance that out. Every school will be forced into empowerment zones which will be monitored by DOE officials who will spend the day driving enormous distances from school to school. He will announce that A&M recommends the DOE hire chauffeur-driven cars for every LIS since that will save money. And since all schools will be empowerment schools, there will be no schools left in the boroughs for the new regions to manage. A&M recommended that with nothing else to do the boroughs invade parochial schools and try to mismanage them. Christopher Cerf will spearhead the movement to identify every school in an area of gentrification that can be sold off and turned into condos. A push will be made to get kids to stay home and be taught by private tutors. Klein will point to this plan from A&M as a brilliant way to reduce class size, which he will point out has no impact on learning, but at least this will shut Leonie Haimson up once and for all.

    Now that we know what will happen, do I really need to cover this event?

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BloomKlein Inaction - Wed. Jan. 17, 2007


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Alliance of Concerned Teachers Endorses ICE-TJC

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Alliance of Concerned Teachers Endorses ICE-TJC


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Tilden, Lafayette and South Shore: Don’t Close Schools, Fix Them

    The announced closings of 3 large Brooklyn schools in south Brooklyn has sent more shock waves through a system hit with Tsunami like effect from the changes wrought by BloomKlein. That the impact they have had is being mirrored all across the nation in urban school systems is part of the attack on public education is enough to make educators think twice about what education will look like. Or just plain get you nauseous.

    BloomKlein like to portray themselves as leaders but they are actually following models set up in Chicago and San Diego. Professionally trained educators are degraded and anything public is looked at as bad and all things private are good. When a privatization disaster, like the attempt to privatize NYC custodial services, giving all kinds of people access to young children, was abandoned after years of trying to force it down people's throats, that reversal was barely noticed. The disaster perpetrated on the St. Louis school system by A&M consulting is just coming out now. Of course, Klein gave them 15 million to find savings on the backs of teachers and students in NYC. But why quibble about money when we have 35 or more in some classes. BloomKlein refuse to recognize class size as being a factor in anything related to education.

    Here is The Wave column that appeared on Jan. 12 on closing schools.

    Tilden, Lafayette and South Shore: Don’t Close Schools, Fix Them
    by Norman Scott

    Fear and loathing among teachers and parent groups continues to grow as details emerge over the DOE’s decision to close more large high schools, three of them in south Brooklyn. While initial attention was focused on Lafayette HS because of the controversial principal Jolanta Rohloff, recently Tilden HS has come up for more scrutiny. South Shore is also on the list and can Canarsie HS, the school slated to get many of the students from these schools that no one wants, be far behind?

    A stir was caused when it was revealed that a Quality Review by another high-priced consultant group Klein has hired (from Britain) to make 3-day visits to most schools had given Tilden fairly high marks. Why would you expect the DOE’s right hand to know what its left hand is doing when both hands are busy picking your pockets?

    John Lawhead, an ESL teacher at Tilden who had gone through the trials of the closing of his previous school, Bushwick HS, has a unique perspective on school closings and has been an outspoken critic of the decision of the DOE and its often partner in crime, the UFT. Tilden’s principal found out the school was being closed from the school’s chapter leader who was informed by the union hierarchy. "No way," was her response. Sorry, “Way.”

    Principal Diane Varano, a graduate of Joel Klein’s horrendous Leadership Academy, has developed a good reputation with the entire Tilden educational community as someone who is willing to listen to people’s input, a “No-No” in the lexicon of Jack Welchian trained graduates.

    Lawhead likes teaching at Tilden and has written a wonderful analysis of how the DOE can manipulate a school’s closing. (I can’t say enough about John’s guts and smarts and leadership on this issue, considering the dogs of war at the DOE and the fact that eventually, he will most likely be thrown into the cauldron of the Open Market System trying to find a job.) I’ll include some excerpts here. You can read John's full piece on my blog, http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2007/01/tilden-teacher-john-lawhead.html

    “There were rumors and some ominous signs at the start of the school year, but the announcement of our closing still came as a big surprise. It's now clear at least to me that Tilden was selected as a “target” school for phase-out months before the actual announcement. There was a sudden drop in enrollment and that led to a budget reduction of several hundred thousand dollars. There were many cuts, including most of the after-school programs and the school is bracing for deep excessing of teachers in February.

    “A major factor in the decline in enrollment was the loss of new 9th graders. List notice transfers from the feeder schools fell by half. The principal explained to the UFT consultation committee in mid-October that she believed ninth graders had been steered away from the school. She said she had heard reports of students applying to Tilden as their first choice and being assigned elsewhere. I later confirmed this for myself by asking my students if they knew of anything similar. For instance, a girl in one of my classes mentioned to me that a cousin of hers had put Tilden as first choice but was sent to John Dewey. They both live on East 32nd Street in East Flatbush.

    “It also seemed apparent to the principal that the high school enrollment office was deliberately sending kids who were long-term absent or could not be tracked down. In October there were nearly 400 out of the building not accounted for. To make matters worse, in September all the families of Tilden's students were sent a letter declaring the school to be ‘persistently dangerous’ and giving them the opportunity to transfer their children. Of the responses sent back about 140 were granted. Families that were not happy with their transfer were told they had to wait until February to return to Tilden.

    “One doesn't have to dig very far to see that the decision to close Tilden is not well grounded in publicly available data. Results from New York State's 2001 cohort analysis showed Tilden to be in the middle of a pack of other schools with regard to graduation and dropout rates [by the time they were due to graduate in 2005.] Almost everything said by the DOE and Region 6 administrators about Tilden could also be said about a dozen or so and in some aspects several dozen city high schools. The closings create drama but what escapes notice by the major media is the stark similarity of a vast number of schools with similar demographic profiles.

    “The explanations from Region 6 were very vague. According to Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard in a letter to parents of December 12 the major problem was that Tilden was “not on track” to meet the city's goal of “raising the city-wide 4-year graduation rate to 70% and the 6-year graduation rate to 80%.” As you know, the claim that New York City is actual anywhere near these levels for graduation is far fetched. The city's graduation figures have been heavily padded (by counting GEDs and not counting an enormous contingent of mysterious transfers) and are way off from what the state's statistics show.

    “During the faculty meeting of December 11 where the closing was announced I was amazed at the detachment they expressed. Jean-Claude Brizard declared that he wouldn't want to have his daughter attending Tilden. We were supposed to think he would favor a school only because of its data and ignore that it was 96 percent black and 20 minutes from any subway line. I asked Brizard to name a school in NYC with a demographic similar to Tilden that was doing significantly better. He named Transit Tech as a positive comparison. I asked if he could name a school more similar to us than that one and he declined.

    “According to the schools' report cards (showing figures for 2004-05), at Transit Tech 15.5 percent of incoming 9th and 10th graders were over aged. For Tilden it was 50.5 percent. Three percent of Transit Tech's students were classified as recent immigrants compared with 22.9 for Tilden. In other words, the demographic similarities are rather elusive, aside from the bare fact that most of the students are minority. (And one should add it's not likely that Superintendent Brizard's daughter will be going to Transit Tech either.)

    “The detachment from our reality is no surprise. The attitude from the top administrators is one of blanket condemnation. Mayor Bloomberg has suggested large schools are inherently unmanageable. There's such an indifference toward the specific challenges that schools face and it amounts to disownership. Yet, this stands in sharp contrast to the close scrutiny, the walkthroughs and reviews which schools must devote extensive time to preparing for. The Quality School Review which required three days of visits created the illusion that the evaluation would mean something.

    “I think it's significant that the data was ignored but I wouldn't suggest that schools with worse evaluations should be closed instead of Tilden. Nothing good and a whole lot of damage have come from this targeting and condemnation of high schools. After the publicity of Tilden's positive rating on the School Quality Review, the UFT leadership appears to be coming around to a position that Tilden looks better on paper than they thought. If they decide to defend us that's fine but I'm afraid they will continue to take a 'devil take the hindmost' perspective without questioning why the wholesale closings are taking place and what the impact is.”

    Way to go John.

    Next: Randi visits Tilden – for a 15 minute photo op.
    Or, how the UFT gets crotch rot from trying to straddle the fence.

Post Title

Tilden, Lafayette and South Shore: Don’t Close Schools, Fix Them


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/tilden-lafayette-and-south-shore-dont.html


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Oh, Those UFT Commercials


    It is always nice to see our money being shovelled into the hands of high priced consultants (Howard Wolfson's Grover Park, Hillary Clinton's people) who design commercials that have zero impact on the public for the benefit of teachers.

    "Oh, please, please, please give teachers a voice. They (boo, hoo) work so hard. And by the way, reduce class size." That oughta do it. Convinced me. So why are we spending millions that could be used for things like, say, a dues rebate?

    You just don't get it. This is not about the teachers. It is about the future of our maximum leader, also known on some blogs as Le Gran Fromage. That this commercial just appeared (along with the $750) during a UFT election period is not surprising. But with Le Gran assured of winning by big numbers we hear from Unity insiders that she considers anything less than 90% a defeat ("90% or Bust"). What a relief to ICE-TJC to know that all they need is 11% of the vote to win. Most leaders seem to be happy with numbers over 60% but even the 6 (out of 89) ICE-TJC members of the Ex Bd must be stamped out by the Unity rubber stamp, New Action.

    I personally don't mind seeing all those millions being spent to promote the career of Le Gran Fromage. She has sacrificed so much for us all. Remember how BloomKlein supposedly sent people to look through her garbage? And all those supposed personal attacks by the likes of ---wait, that's me.

    The New York stage is no longer big enough to contain her and besides, she is sick of having to deal with the Kaufmans and Eternos of this world. Imagine, one minute consulting with Hillary and an hour later dealing with Kaufman. Ugh!

    We are paying teams of consultants to mull things over: run for office (first task-- learn Spanish -- bet we are paying for that too) or work for a future Democratic administration in Washington (even the Cabinet-- Labor Secty or Ed secty).

    But the betting is that the next move is to AFT President in the summer of '08 at the usual Unity junket where 800 of our favorite people get to eat, drink and be merry. The only problem is that AFT Pres. is a ceremonial position with no real power, which resides on the locals, the biggest enchilada of which is Local 2, ye ole UFT. Can LGF control the UFT while AFT Pres. as Shanker did? Why not just keep both positions and leave Michael Mendel to clean up the mess? There really is no obvious successor to LGF (Feldman hand-picked and groomed LGF many years before she left to take her place) who can so consistently pull the wool over the eyes of the members so slickly as LGF. That there is no clear successor is an important sign. A strong successor would in itself be a threat. (Bring back Alan Lubin from exhile upsate in NYSUT --- Alan, who had a good rep even with the opposition, was thought by many to be a potential threat to Feldman's plans.)

    And as LGF did to the old Shanker-Feldman machine, a strong successor might do unto LGF and undermine the UFT power base in the AFT. So it is not such a simple move to the AFT Presidency, which really requires a lot of schlepping around all over the country. Oh, the problems!

    Let's think bigger for our LGF. How about targeting Pres. of the AFL-CIO after John Sweeney leaves? Now that idea makes the AFT Pres. as a way station an attractive idea. Sweeney might want to look into hiring a food taster.

    Just don't count on LGF immediately disappearing from the NY UFT stage, too big a platform to just walk away from. Look to the Shanker model of control where the precedent of remaining Pres of both organizations will be used. Hey! Maybe we can pay for surveys of members to see how that will fly? Or better, let's pay to run commercials nationally so the entire country can get to know LGF.

    I've given lots of reason to vote ICE-TJC. Keeping Kaufman-Eterno, to be joined by Bryant HS CL Sam Lazarus, a former cab driver and organizer in the taxi union, on the Exec. Bd. will cause complications for LGF who would have to explain why she cannot get 100% control of the Ex. Bd. Right now she has to miss all too many meetings and all that good food because of these louts. And think of the repercussions if LGF should get less total votes than three years ago. Oh, da pain!

Post Title

Oh, Those UFT Commercials


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/oh-those-uft-commercials.html


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Vote the ICE-TJC Slate in the Upcoming UFT Elections

    This leaflet is available in pdf format for downloading and distribution to your school. Or if preferred, enough copies can be sent directly to you. Past rulings assure all UFT members access to mailboxes in their schools (at all times) and other schools during this election period as long as it is off working hours. Problems? Contact ICE.

    Independent Community of Educators
    www.ICE-UFT.org www.ICEUFTBlog.blogspot.com

    UFT Elections Are Coming:

    Why We Must Say NO to Weingarten/Unity Caucus-New Action

    The UFT has not stood up against the closing of schools
    The Department of Education can no longer be allowed to mismanage and inadequately fund schools and then close them, displacing students and staff, even when consultants hired by the DOE give schools like Tilden HS in Brooklyn proficient ratings in quality reviews. Randi Weingarten’s Unity Caucus (her political party) has put up no real opposition and has in fact cooperated with the DOE. ICE calls for a moratorium on closing schools were watered down by Unity. The giveback-laden 2005 contract gave away preferred placement rights for UFT members, eliminating Article 18G5 that gave members “the broadest possible placement choices available within the authority of the Board.” Hundreds of experienced teachers were forced to become day-to-day subs. UFT leaders actually branded this as an “improvement” along with the Open Market Plan (which leaves all choice in the hands of principals).

    Weingarten/Unity still refuse to oppose mayoral control of NYC schools
    ICE has called for the end of Mayoral Control when the law (giving the mayor full unchecked authority over the schools) sunsets in 2009. Weingarten backed the law change that allowed the Mayor to assume control of the schools and the UFT passively sat by as a system without checks and balances, ran amuck, ignoring views of both parents and educators. When Bloomberg needed a waiver to get a lawyer appointed as Chancellor, Weingarten was silent. When privateer Christopher Cerf was recently brought in to continue the attack on public education, again silence. We need to get politicians out of education and set up a new system that truly gives power to teachers at the school level. Weingarten/Unity rejected our position, instead, creating a committee that will examine all forms of school governance, including the possible renewal of Mayoral Control. An honest poll of members would show an overwhelming rejection of mayoral control.

    Lower class size must be priority contract demand
    Teachers list class size as a number one working condition priority. NYC has the highest class sizes in the state, if not the nation. The only protection teachers have had for 40 years has been the contracts negotiated in the early 1970’s, before the UFT changed its policy. Yet, Weingarten-Unity-New Action refuse to make this a contract negotiating demand, using the bogus excuse that money would be taken from salary increases (note how prep periods and other basics like health care are never tied to salary). Weingarten throws up smoke screens with petition drives (twice so far and more to come) for referendums to lower class sizes, knowing full well this tactic is subject to the mayor’s veto, with virtually no chance of reaching voters.

    New Action is a phony opposition group in bed with Unity
    New Action had been the oldest “opposition” group in the UFT until they began to give uncritical support for Weingarten, even endorsing her in this election. New Action is claiming their alliance with Weingarten allows them to influence UFT policies but they can’t cite a single gain other than for themselves in getting New Action’s entire leadership on the union payroll. Their latest leaflet proclaims, “President Weingarten changed a forty year policy of excluding opposition caucuses from having a voice in the UFT. She opened the door and New Action opted to enter.” How can New Action call itself an opposition when it no longer opposes Unity policy? And if they support Unity, why not just run on the Unity slate instead of as a separate entity? Weingarten cannot tolerate even a few critics on the Executive Board and is using New Action in an attempt to replace the only legitimate opposition voices from ICE-TJC. No party should be allowed to monopolize power for half a century. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely and the Unity/New Action alliance epitomizes a corrupt system.


    Contract givebacks extended through 2009 while salary does not keep up with inflation
    Weingarten gave away many hard-fought rights (seniority, hall patrol, grievance procedures, etc.) in the 2005 contract for salary increases (much of which were time for money swaps) that didn’t even keep up with NY area inflation. In addition, NYC’s 190-day school year is the longest of any district in the Metropolitan area. A raise is when you get more money for doing the same job instead of accepting whatever DC 37 negotiates with the city and saying “me too.” We need to organize a strong militant membership aligned with other unions so we are the ones to set the pattern on our terms.

    Democratic reforms are needed to repair the UFT
    Unity Caucus has controlled our union since 1960. Absolute power breeds an unhealthy climate for the kinds of decisions needed by a dynamic union to fight the attacks on public education and unions. Unity’s major interest is in holding onto power so that they may augment their own salaries and privileges at the expense of the working conditions and salaries of working teachers. ICE supports: election of divisional vice presidents (academic high schools, vocational high schools, middle schools, elementary schools) by the teachers in that division instead of by all the members, including retirees (who make up over 1/3 of the members) and reinstitution of elections for District Representatives. Dues increases should be subject to vote by members.

    Weingarten/Unity Caucus/New Action have:
    • given away seniority rights and weakened tenure protections
    • not been able to stop the wave of micromanagement
    • allowed massive erosion of the contract
    • stood by while the ability of UFT members to fight harassment withers
    • allowed an emasculated grievance procedure
    • allowed a longer day/year (37.5 minute small group periods in most schools/ 2 days in August)
    • still not delivered on promised 55/25 retirement plan

    Vote the ICE-TJC Slate in the Upcoming UFT Elections

    ICE-TJC Officers (AdCom) (CL: Chapter Leader, D: Delegate)

    President Kit Wainer - Goldstein HS, (CL)
    Secretary Camille Johnson - Humanity & Arts (D)
    Ass’t Secty Ellen Schweitzer - Stuyvesant (CL)
    Treasurer Marilyn Beckford - Hillcrest HS (CL)
    Ass’t Treas. Yelena Siwinski - PS 193K (CL)
    VP Elem. Lisa North – PS 3K (CL)
    VP Middle Josh Kahn – MS 443 K (D)
    VP HS Arthur Colen – FDR HS (CL)
    VP Spec. Ed Joseph Wisniewski - PS 163 (D)
    Voc. HS Gerard Frohnhoefer - Aviation HS (CL)
    VP At-Large Ellen Fox – Ret.
    [Schweitzer and Colen are current Ex. Bd members and Fox served for yrs.]


    ICE: P.O. Box 1143, Jamaica, NY 11421 Phone: (917) 992-3734
    On the web: www.ICE-UFT.org www.ICEUFTBlog.blogspot.com
    I would like to:
    ____Contribute to the ICE (Make checks out to Independent Community of Educators) $_____
    ____Distribute election literature at my school # of copies________
    ____Run on the ICE-TJC slate in the election
    ____Contribute to the election campaign

    Name___________________________________ School__________________________
    Email___________________________________ Phone___________________________ HomeAddress____________________________________________________________________

Post Title

Vote the ICE-TJC Slate in the Upcoming UFT Elections


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/vote-ice-tjc-slate-in-upcoming-uft.html


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Petition Signing Parties

    The UFT election process requires an enormous effort to get petitions signed. (Unity does it at one of their meetings in one shot.)

    ICE is looking for people who are willing to sign many petitions and will be holding petition signing events every Friday starting on Jan. 19 until we are done. Petitions are due on Feb. 14.

    ICE needs to know in advance to save time by pre-printing your name, school and file number so all you have to do is sign - numerous times.

    Contact normsco@gmail.com if interested.

Post Title

Petition Signing Parties


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/petition-signing-parties.html


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ICE Platform: Union Democracy -Updated

    We need a union that is structured to insure that no matter who is elected to leadership they will be accountable to those of us who are working in the schools. An active, well-informed and honestly represented membership is the necessary backbone of a union that is capable of standing up to the attacks on teachers, children and the public schools.

    Instead, what we have is a union that has gotten progressively weaker, a teaching staff that is defenseless, demoralized, disengaged from unionism and resigned to tolerate all manner of abuse, and now fears that any change will be for the worse. A large part of the problem is the fact that our union is led by people who are removed from the reality of our schools.

    Since its inception in the early 1960s our union has been dominated by one group, Unity Caucus which constantly adjusts its methods to insure that it monopolizes decision-making. President Randi Weingarten knows how to portray herself as a concerned and responsible leader at union meetings and in the pages of the NY Teacher, but her number one concern is to manage the membership rather than advocate for us and represent our interests.

    The three levels of decision-making in our union are the ADCOM (citywide officers), the executive board, and the delegate assembly. All three are tightly controlled by the overwhelming presence of Unity Caucus members, who rubber-stamp all of President Weingarten’s policies, even when they themselves disagree.

    In order to make each one of these bodies more representative and democratic we propose the following:

    1. Divisional vice-presidents (high school, middle school, etc.) should be elected by those they serve, members in their respective divisions.
    2. The number of at-large members of the executive board should be reduced and a method of proportional representation should be used to elect them, with seats awarded to caucuses on the basis of their proportion of the vote.
    3. The number of retiree members of the delegate assembly should be reduced and their election should also be on the basis of proportional representation.
    4. District representatives (a full time UFT position to support the chapter leaders and members in a district) should be elected.
    5. Every issue of the NY Teacher should be opened to opposing viewpoints, with space available for the printing of statements both for and against ratification of proposed contracts.
    6. All caucuses (political parties) who have met requirements to run in an election should be able to mail at least one piece of literature to all the members at union expense during election time. All caucuses should have access to teacher mailboxes for distribution of union-related literature and each caucus should be able to email campaign literature during the election. (Rejected by Weingarten at the Jan. 9, 2007 Ex. Bd. meeting, ICE will continue the fight for this right throughout the elections and beyond.)
    7. There should be an open microphone at all union meetings.
    8. Retirees should not vote for UFT officers, who are responsible for negotiating the contract for active members. But they should vote for the three teacher members of the Teachers Retirement System Board, something they presently cannot do.

    Most important for democracy is an underpinning of active school chapters where meetings are held monthly and school issues are discussed openly. Chapter leaders are there to protect the interests of the members with respect to the administration and also to see that the flow of information between the chapters and the various levels of leadership of the union travels on a two-way street. This means that chapter leaders must do everything possible to encourage attendance at meetings and to carry out the wishes of the members, both within the school and as a representative to other union bodies. It is the concerns of chapter members, who are the best informed about the issues, that should be driving union policy.

Post Title

ICE Platform: Union Democracy -Updated


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/ice-platform-union-democracy-updated.html


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UFT Advice to Teachers at Closing Schools? How to Fill Out Your Resumes

    It has always been clear that the UFT will not take a position of support for teachers at large high schools that are being closed. That was most clear at Tilden HS when Randi Weingarten made an appearance, showing up 15 minutes late for a half hour meeting, leaving teachers little time to make their points.

    Instead of assisting the teachers, parents and community to fight for the school, the union ignored pleas for help. A teacher commented later that the UFT seems only interested in helping people fill out resumes. The fact that the UFT bargained away rights that would protect the teachers in the 2005 contract lies over the entire situation like dead fish.

    But what do we expect from the collaborationists at the UFT. Know how the principal found out the school was being closed? From the union rep. "No way," was her response. With their "I surrender" mentality, he union hierarchy should be taking French lessons (instead of the Spanish certain UFT leaders are studying.)

    Only after a favorable evaluation came out did Weingarten respond and offer to come to the school, in what amounts to a public relations move so she can say, "See, I am concerned."

    Read her lips: Phew! Got through that. Now we can help our pals at the DOE close that sucker down. Maybe even get some of my people like Peter Goodman work as consultants in setting up the small schools.

    When ICE Executive Board members with the support of TJC offered up a resolution at the Jan. 9 UFT Executive Board meeting that called for a moratorium on the closing of small schools, it was rushed to Weingarten who was not in attendance but in hiding behind the magic curtain. She quickly ordered the Unity hacks to put up a substitute that would make it appear the union was doing something, saying something along the usual lines of "We urge the DOE to... blah, blah, blah." UFT leaders are great Urgers.

    Not surprisngly, one Unity member rose to bow in thanks to Randi after having complained years ago how the union abandoned that member's school when it was closed years ago.

    Can't wait to see the New Action suck-ups, who often put Unity hacks to shame in their desire to heap praise on madam Weingarten on the Executive Board next year. The guaranteed 5 seats will be known as "The Gift of the Randi." Pucker up boys!

    Read more about Tilden from teacher John Lawhead posted on this blog a few days ago.

    A few more things happened at the Exec. Bd. (I skipped the dinner as I had to cook up all that dead fish you see above for the Delegate Assembly today.)

    Of most interest, the election committe made its election announcement tonight. ICE tried to amend it by asking for the UFT to get an announcement in the Principal's Weakly from Klein telling principals about the rights to use mailboxes during the election campaign. Guess what? Randi is afraid of asking big, bad Joel to do this because he might interefere in the election. Har, Har, Har. How would he be able to close down so many schools so easily if he lose his best buddies in Unity? Parlez-vous franaise, anyone?

    ICE asked for the UFT to send out literature from the caucuses to their email list. They adamantly resisted, pointing to the ads in the NY Teacher, which just happen to come out as ballots are being mailed out. Gee, are you surprised?

    When ICE Ex. Bd. member James Eterno thanked Randi for ignoring a calling of the question to allow him time to make an amendment, her comment was, "I won't be reading that on the blog tonight." Well, here it is. Hope she can sleep well now. (Note: is it possible the president of the largest union local in the world has nothing better to do?)

Post Title

UFT Advice to Teachers at Closing Schools? How to Fill Out Your Resumes


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/uft-advice-to-teachers-at-closing.html


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FIRST LEGO League Robotics at PS 261 Brooklyn

    Last Wed. after school I stopped by for what I thought was a few minutes (that turned into an hour and a half) to visit the 4th/5th grade robotics teams (called "Nanorama I and II") at PS 261K in downtown Brooklyn in Region 8. They are preparing for the FIRST LEGO League tournament to be held at Riverbank State Park in upper Manhattan on Jan. 27/28 where 155 teams from NYC area schools (both public and private) and community centers will compete by building robots out of LEGO blocks that must complete a number of tasks (in 2 1/2 minutes in each round) related to Nanotechnology, this year's theme (Nanoquest).

    The teams are coached by teachers Maureen Reilly, Allisyn Levy, and Jennifer Lindauer-Thompson. I was still there an hour an a half later observing the incredibly well organized operation as the 22 children accomplished an amazing amount of work with the guidance of their teachers.

    After an opening warm-up session they broke into distinct groups – research, programming, building – and ended with a whole group sharing session.

    Maureen, a 2nd year teacher, began the program last year and recruited Alyson and Jennifer this year after getting support from Brain Pop. Maureen is not your average robotics coach as she worked for LEGO for 7 years and is still a consultant, even getting to go to Denmark every summer to visit the Mecca of LEGO.


    Jennifer meets with the group preparing a research report on Nanotechnology, which will be presented to a panel of judges at Riverbank



    Allisyn works with the programmers





    A pep rally send-off was held for the robotics teams at the school the Friday before the Brooklyn tournament. A Daily News reporter was in the building for another reason and, looking in, asked what the rally was for. She was incredulous when told it was for the robotics team. Another pep rally will be held on Jan. 26th the day before the massive citywide event.

    Teaching Nanotechnology as it relates to one of the FLL challenges


    How she stores all the stuff - this is just a small section as Maureen's classroom is the Brooklyn version of LEGOLAND.


    Maureen and I discussed the idea of getting Region 8 coaches and may be some other Brooklyn teams together post tournament to plan a follow-up robotics event in the spring.

    Nanomaniacs gather around the competition table at the Brooklyn borough FLL tournament at Brooklyn Tech HS on Dec. 9




    Maureen prays for a good score







    FIRST, the organization behind all the excitement, bills these tournaments as sporting events for the mind. We expect well over 1000 people at the Riverbank gymnasium each day as teams come with cheerleaders, colorful banners and tee-shirts. The excitement is pumped up by a d-jay, a jumbo TV screen and all sorts of other activities. The first time I saw one of these events 5 years ago when they had only 35 teams, I was hooked and have been a volunteer registration and team recruitment coordinator for NYCFIRST.

    No matter how much I tell people how great an event this is, they are still overwhelmed when they actually see this in person. FLL is for ages 9-14 and we have elementary, middle and a number of high schools with 9th graders all taking part in the same event. AND THEY ALL HAVE SO MUCH FUN. And their teachers too, who often tell me this is one of the most enjoyable things they have ever done as a teacher, despite all the incredible work involved.

    The NYC event is special because it is so massive and is one place where children from the poorest schools mingle with and compete with children from the most exclusive private schools. A teacher from PS 193 in Brooklyn, a rookie school that has jumped in with both feet, sent an email after the Brooklyn tournament (with 27 teams) with a quote from a child who said that was the best day of her life. She ain't seen nothin' yet.

    Volunteers are needed as:
    Team Quers
    Crowd Control
    Research/Tech Schedulers
    Referees
    Field Re-setters

    Contact Elizabeth Almonte at: nycfllvolunteer@yahoo.com

Post Title

FIRST LEGO League Robotics at PS 261 Brooklyn


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/first-lego-league-robotics-at-ps-261.html


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FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff


    by Norm Scott

    Over 230 students and their teachers and mentors from 24 New York City high schools gathered at Polytechnic University in downtown Brooklyn on Saturday Jan. 6 for the annual kickoff of the FIRST Robotics Competition.

    They watched a live NASA feed sent all over North America from FIRST headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire as this year's game, Rack 'n Roll, was unveiled to the oohs and aahs of the excited kids. They wasted no time as they immediately began discussing strategies for robot building that would attack the problem as they waited on line for lunch, which was followed by afternoon workshops on Sensors, Pneumatics, and C Programming. At the end of the day, they took home their robotics kits to begin the 6 week window they had to complete the complex project before regionals to be held all over the nation begin. The New York area FRC regional will be held at the Javits Convention Center from March 16-18 (free and all are invited to see a wonderful event that will restore some of your faith if you have any doubts about the kids today.) 32,000 students from 1300 teams from every state and many nations take part, with a World Festival to be held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in mid-April. (Every year quite a few NYC area teams attend.)

    Is it remarkable to see so many students and teachers giving up a Saturday for a robotics event? Not if you've been involved as I have as a volunteer with the New York area NYC/NJFIRST organization since I retired over 4 years ago. The teams do not only represent the area tech schools like Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Staten Island Tech, but many teams from neighborhood schools that have often been looked as "failing" by the DOE. Region 2 robotics consultant even led the Morris HS (a school being closed down) team up to Manchester to meet the FIRST team led by well-known inventor Dean Kamen (the Segway). Last year I even met some robotics students from my alma mater Thomas Jefferson which has been closed down, (sort of sad since the class of 1962 met kids from the last Jefferson class ever.)

    Right now we are working on the FIRST LEGO League middle/elementary school robotics tournament to be held at Riverbank State Park (145th St, and Riverside Drive) on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28, as 160 teams from NYC schools and community centers will take part. More details in another post.

Post Title

FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/first-robotics-competition-kickoff.html


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SHAME


    I received this about a month ago but it got lost on my desktop. It is still very relevant despite the overwhelming passage of the contract and indicates that a lot of people voted "yes" while holding their noses.

    Notes to myself on the way home from the OCTOBER (‘06) UFT DELEGATE ASSEMBLY

    by an elementary school chapter leader, unaffiliated with any caucus

    I am ashamed I did not speak out publicly that there was a grave wrongdoing at this evening’s Delegate Assembly.

    Regardless of the fact that agendas for tonight’s October Delegate Assembly were mailed to the delegates’ homes just the night before last, as Chapter Leaders and Delegates arrived at Union Headquarters they received an amended agenda.

    On this new agenda were the bargaining coalition demands. The assembly was told that the first bargaining session was to be held tomorrow therefore it was imperative the assembly decide by vote tonight whether they wanted to accept these demands or reject them. It was explained that if the vote carried to table the demands we would lose the opportunity to bargain with the coalition.

    Then, an outspoken chapter leader named Dave made a very valid complaint when a few members began to question the lack of sufficient notice and asked to table the decision.

    To paraphrase Dave, he argued: Three hundred people worked diligently and gave of their time over the summer to hash out these demands and it is unfair to disregard their work.

    That is very noble - perhaps the gravity of the problem is escaping Dave’s overworked consciousness. When the membership or any people are kept in the dark it weakens us all. In these difficult times when workers’ rights are being eroded away it is especially important to fuel and foster openness - the sharing of information is key to building strong organizations.

    Why had we heard nothing ALL SUMMER from this negotiating committee? Nothing on the results of the survey? Which can also be argued against as a very narrow focus for NEW contract demands. The members I have personally spoken with since the ratification of the last contract had many issues they would like addressed the next time around.

    For example: A YEARLY CALENDAR on a PAR WITH OTHER NEW YORK STATE SCHOOL DISTRICTS -the state minimum is 180 days.

    Why do we have a variable number of work days/year unlike any other unionized school system?

    SET HOLIDAYS (this year they took Veterans Day-What next?)

    LOSS OF SENIORITY RIGHTS: ALL those members who were told by their seniors: “YOUR DAY WILL COME - you’ll get your chance- you just have to work long enough.
    NOW that they have put in the time-their time has come but there is little to no rights left.
    Check out the new contracts article 15E.
    DESCRIPTIONS for NEW PER SESSION jobs- talk about leaving loopholes!

    This list is by no means exhaustive. It is merely a brief beginning to stress my point.

    The ONE CRUCIAL question is: Why isn’t Dave along with the rest of the DA asking:

    Why NOT table it until we can disseminate this IMPORTANT information to the membership for discussion and debate?

    The membership needs to be well informed in a timely manner not rushed and forced into making decisions that offer only one choice, which is in effect NO CHOICE AT ALL.

    This agenda item #1 was presented to the membership to vote on.

    Without question, to engage in this type of practice is not simply unfair, it is far worse - it is disgraceful. Those who bear the title of EDUCATOR MUST ASSUME the responsibility that goes along with that title.

    These coalition demands that were the new item on the amended agenda needed serious and thought-provoking discussion among EDUCATORS - the membership - the very people who – we, as delegates, ALL represent - this is probably the most disturbing fact - that we were asked to vote on something without input of any kind from the membership.

    I am most ashamed for NOT speaking out in the face of this type of disregard.

    Educators share a set of values where integrity and the promotion of healthy and lively debate are held in the highest regard. To refrain from acting and speaking out on this is MORE THAN disregard for A PROFESSIONAL responsibility. It is a shunning of A MORAL obligation.

    I now seek repentance and hope my fellow colleagues will join me.

    First and foremost, we must engage among ourselves to speak and act in accordance with our moral responsibility as educators.

Post Title

SHAME


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Teacher Union Actions in LA and Boston

    Union calls for action by its teachers

    Members urged to boycott meetings, activities

    BY NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN, Staff Writer

    Article Last Updated: 01/05/2007 09:19:16 PM PST

    In its first major job action amid ongoing contract negotiations, Los Angeles Unified's teachers union on Friday called for its 48,000 members to boycott faculty meetings and unpaid after-school activities.

    The boycotts are scheduled to begin at Tuesday's faculty meeting, roughly one month before United Teachers Los Angeles has scheduled a strike-authorization vote.

    Union officials said the moves will not affect educational programs or children but are designed to step up pressure on the district to lower class size; give teachers, parents and others more control; and give teachers and health and human service professionals a raise.

    Teachers union threatens 1-day strike

    Seeks progress in contract talks

    By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff | January 7, 2007

    The Boston Teachers Union yesterday threatened a one-day strike as early as Feb. 15 to protest a lack of progress in contract negotiations.

    In an e-mail sent to the union's 8,000 members, Union president Richard Stutman said it will hold a meeting on Feb. 14 for teachers and others to consider a strike the following day or an alternate day.

Post Title

Teacher Union Actions in LA and Boston


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Tilden Teacher John Lawhead

    Here is a posting from Leonie Haimson’s list followed by Tilden teacher John Lawhead’s excellent analysis.

    “See message from John Lawhead of Tilden HS below; John makes lots of excellent observations, among them the generally good performance of the principal (a Leadership Academy graduate!) and the unique nature of this school for ELL students and esp. Haitian Creole students.

    “Tilden's recent quality review points out that at the school, for "English language learners...[their] 2005 Regents passing rate was 25.3 percentage points above similar schools and 16.8 percentage points above schools across the City."

    “These results, if accurate, are nothing to sneeze at; moreover this quality review had many other positive things to say about the school, and though the Chancellor cited its low graduation rate, there are many high schools in the city have similar rates, according to SED – and the principal never got a real chance to turn this around.

    The quality review report is posted here: http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolQuality/Reports/QRR/18K415.pdf

    “One potential danger that John and others might try to keep their eyes on, if the school is indeed phased out, is what will happen to the students still enrolled -- w/ no one taking responsibility for them, there is a real threat that many of them will be discharged and/or drop out, as many of the credits they need to graduate may no longer be offered and they will be barred from taking courses at whatever small schools open up in the building. This apparently has happened before at many of the so-called failing schools that are "restructured" or phased out, and may be one of the reasons that the no. of discharged students have risen over the last few years.

    “Also, whether the ELL students will be excluded from the new smaller schools that open up in its place, as has happened elsewhere as well.

    “The way the administration manipulates enrollment at schools to make some look good and others bad -- while claiming that principals completely control and are thus accountable for the outcomes at their schools -- is another subject ripe for further investigation.”

    Leonie Haimson
    Class Size Matters
    www.classsizematters.org




    Here is some background and observations from inside the school
    by John Lawhead

    There were rumors and some ominous signs at the start of the school year, but the announcement of our closing still came as a big surprise. It's now clear at least to me that Tilden was selected as a “target” school for phase-out months before the actual announcement. There was a sudden drop in enrollment and that led to a budget reduction of several hundred thousand dollars. There were many cuts, including most of the after-school programs and the school is bracing for deep excessing of teachers in February.

    A major factor in the decline in enrollment was the loss of new 9th graders. List notice transfers from the feeder schools fell by half. The principal explained to the UFT consultation committee in mid-October that she believed ninth graders had been steered away from the school. She said she had heard reports of students applying to Tilden as their first choice and being assigned elsewhere. I later confirmed this for myself by asking my students if they knew of anything similar. For instance, a girl in one of my classes mentioned to me that a cousin of hers had put Tilden as first choice but was sent to John Dewey. They both live on East 32nd Street in East Flatbush.

    It also seemed apparent to the principal that the high school enrollment office was deliberately sending kids who were long-term absent or could not be tracked down. In October there were nearly 400 out of the building not accounted for. To make matters worse, in September all the families of Tilden's students were sent a letter declaring the school to be “persistently dangerous” and giving them the opportunity to transfer their children. Of the responses sent back about 140 were granted. Families that were not happy with their transfer were told they had to wait until February to return to Tilden.

    It would be interesting and useful to have more information about the enrollment process and other schools' experiences. I think the sudden decline in list notice transfers was engineered, not simply a matter of students' preferences, even given the bad publicity Tilden has had because
    of gun incidents and its being on the list of Impact schools. Such a drop was much too sudden.

    Joel Klein likes to say that students' preferences expressed on high school applications are a sign that the zoned schools are failing. However, this is not public data and so anyone can say anything they want. The fact that 8th graders -- or the counselors who typically complete the form for them -- must name twelve schools before the applications are complete makes a
    mockery of the claim that students really get to exercise choice. As the “push-back” against closing Tilden continues to gather steam it's likely that the enrollment drop may become more prominent as an official “explanation.”

    And there's obviously a need to have more convincing reasons. One doesn't have to dig very far to see that the decision to close Tilden is not well grounded in publicly available data. You posted results from New York State's 2001 cohort analysis showing Tilden to be in the middle of a pack of other schools with regard to graduation and dropout rates. Almost everything said by the DOE and Region 6 administrators about Tilden could also be said about a dozen or so and in some aspects several dozen city high schools. The closings create drama but what escapes notice by the major media is the stark similarity of a vast number of schools with similar demographic profiles.

    The explanations from Region 6 were very vague. According to Superintendent
    Jean-Claude Brizard in a letter to parents of December 12 the major problem was that Tilden was “not on track” to meet the city's goal of “raising the city-wide 4-year graduation rate to 70% and the 6-year graduation rate to 80%.” As you know, the claim that New York City is actual anywhere near these levels for graduation is far fetched. The city's graduation figures have been heavily padded (by counting GEDs and not counting an enormous contingent of mysterious transfers) and are way off from what the state's statistics show.

    During the faculty meeting of December 11 where the closing was announced I was amazed at the detachment they expressed. Jean-Claude Brizard declared that he wouldn't want to have his daughter attending Tilden. We were supposed to think he would favor a school only because its data and ignore that it was 96 percent black and 20 minutes from any subway line. I asked
    Brizard to name a school in NYC with a demographic similar to Tilden that was doing significantly better. He named Transit Tech as a positive comparison. I asked if he could name a school more similiar to us than that one and he declined. According to the schools' report cards (showing figures for 2004-05) , at Transit Tech 15.5 percent of incoming 9th and 10th
    graders were overaged. For Tilden it was 50.5 percent. Three percent of Transit Tech's student were classified as recent immigrants compared with 22.9 for Tilden. In other words, the demographic similarities are rather elusive, aside from the bare fact that most of the students are minority. (And one should add it's not likely that Superintendent Brizard's daughter will be going to Transit Tech either.)

    The detachment from our reality is no surprise. The attitude from the top administrators is one of blanket condemnation. Mayor Bloomberg has suggested large schools are inherently unmanageable. There's such a indifference toward the specific challenges that schools face and it amounts to disownership. Yet this stands in sharp contrast to the close scrutinity, the walkthroughs and reviews which schools must devote extensive time to preparing for. The Quality School Review which required three days of visits created the illusion that the evaluation would mean something.

    I think it's significant that the data was ignored but I wouldn't suggest that schools with worse evaluations should be closed instead of Tilden. Nothing good and a whole lot of damage has come from this targeting and condemnation of high schools. After the publicity of Tilden's positive rating on the School Quality Review, the UFT leadership appears to be coming around to a position that Tilden looks better on paper than they thought. If they decide to defend us that's fine but I'm afraid they will continue to take a 'devil take the hindmost' perspective without
    questioning why the wholesale closings are taking place and what the impact is.

    As an ESL teacher I see it as mainly an effort to slash educational services that the neediest kids require. There won't be any replacement of the Haitian Creole bilingual program which students travel from other parts of Brooklyn for. Recently arriving immigrants benefit by learning new subject content and skills in their native language while also learning English for a substantial part of the day. It's also crucial that they have the opportunity to socialize and participate in activities like sports and clubs with "mainstream" students. I'd hate to see them further segregated in a small school only for English Language Learners.

    I just want to also mention a couple other reasons why the closing of Tilden was surprising. First, the timing of the announcement and then our new principal. The announcement of which five schools would begin phasing out in September 2007 came on December 11. By this time the deadline for proposals for the new schools to replace the phasing out schools had already passed on December 1. The New Century Initiative for new high schools was once touted as a way to create “community partnerships” for the schools. While New Vision declares that such partnerships are “essential” for effective schools, it's fairly apparent that local partnerships are not being anticipated.

    The lack of notice was an outrage for the local politicians, especially the state officeholders like Kevin Parker and Nick Perry. I know Parker has been in the building often and is familiar with the school. I would hope to see the issue of Tilden framed as an indictment of mayor control and the exclusion of community imput from the decisionmaking.

    Joel Klein has really offered the big schools only one thing for improvement: newly trained principals (with enhanced powers). That raises the issue of closing a school when a new principal had arrived only the year before and was just beginning to make changes.

    Diana Varano is generally well respected, and I find her much more honest and approachable than the typical high school principal. She made efforts to solicit teachers' views about the school and act on them. Some of her initiatives such as expanding elective classes to encompass teachers' suggestions fell by the wayside. But she succeeded in addressing other major concerns, notably the programming of students' schedules which was horrendous in the years before she came.

    Naturally, I don't think she's done everything right. I have still have an oversized size that's been grieved for several weeks. But the school is in a budget crisis and it's important that she thinks it's worth saving.

    John Lawhead
    ESL Teacher
    Tilden HS

Post Title

Tilden Teacher John Lawhead


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The Battle of Lafayette - see It's da Norm at the UTP website

    Teachers at Lafayette HS, in open revolt over the proposed closing of the school, were joined by parents, students, community members, politicians, and alumni at the barricades. But not the UFT, which was waiting to see which way the wind blew before taking a stand.

    Beleaguered principal Jolanta Rohloff and the rest of the administration barricaded themselves in her office..... Go to: http://www.theutp.com/on_the_inside.htm

Post Title

The Battle of Lafayette - see It's da Norm at the UTP website


Post URL

http://kingsavenuetattoo.blogspot.com/2007/01/battle-of-lafayette-see-it-da-norm-at.html


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Inside the UFT Negotiating Committee

    From the very beginning we have maintained the 350 member UFT negotiation committee was basically bogus -- the usual gimmick by Unity Caucus to give the appearance of democracy. I met a former chapter leader at recent robotics tournament who is not affiliated with any opposition group and she concurred, saying from the first meeting it was clear Randi Weingarten was manipulating things. She said if there had never been a committee the recent contract would have been no different. Even Jonathan, one of the New Action people said basically the same thing on his blog ("I don’t think we got a better contract because of this mode of negotiating, but I don’t think we did any worse, and the involvement of teachers is a big positive.") He got the first part right.


    The following was posted as a comment on the ICE blog and is well worth reading. Would you be shocked to see Unity attack TJC for breaking "non-disclosure" after Weingarten did just that by announcing to the DA how Jeff Kaufman voted.
    I bolded the damning statement:
    "When the Unity position won, Weingarten suggested TJC should no longer be on the Negotiating Committee."


    Inside the UFT Negotiating Committee

    by Megan Behrent, Peter Lamphere, Kit Wainer

    We are three members of Teachers for a Just Contract, who were part of the 300 -member Negotiating Committee. We took part in order to take advantage of whatever opportunities it presented to assure UFT members a “just contract.”

    President Randi Weingarten and the UFT leadership have been trying to establish the legitimacy of this new proposed contract by presenting the negotiating process as “more democratic and inclusive than ever,” and the negotiating committee as “mostly rank-and-file members” with “representatives from all school levels, the functional chapters and every union caucus.”

    While technically accurate, the picture it suggests of open, democratic discussion with input coming from the grassroots and free give and take among the caucuses, is false.

    From the very first meeting, President Weingarten and her ruling Unity caucus absolutely dominated the proceedings. It was not unusual for Weingarten to talk for hours, and to speak at length after each and every person had spoken from the floor. No idea except those that came from members of the dominant Unity caucus was allowed to be given serious consideration.

    Here are just two examples of how proposals that came from outside Unity were handled. The first proposal was even adopted later when it was proposed by the Unity leadership.

    At the first meeting of the Negotiating Committee in April, Marian Swerdlow of TJC made a motion to reject “any and all givebacks.” Representatives from both New Action and Weingarten’s Unity caucus spoke against this. It was said that this would be “refusing to negotiate” and would violate the Taylor Law. The ludicrousness of this criticism was exposed during the summer when DC 37 negotiated a no givebacks contract and at that point, the UFT negotiating committee did adopt this “illegal” position. However, in April, the threat that this was illegal frightened the independents on the committee into defeating the “no givebacks” resolution. The majority of the Negotiating Committee, as members of the Unity caucus, were required to vote against the resolution, since Weingarten opposed it.

    In the fall, Kit Wainer of TJC proposed that the UFT adopt the position that the Department of Education could not dictate educational methods to teachers. President Weingarten prejudiced the discussion by claiming this was an “ideological position,” as if it were any more or less ideological position than any other bargaining demand. As if that were not enough, she again played the “fear card,” claiming illogically that this position could lead to teachers getting disciplined. Again, the independents were frightened and manipulated into voting against a position that was clearly in the interests of UFT members, and of course the Unity majority automatically supported Weingarten’s position.

    What is perhaps the UFT leadership’s most outrageous claim about the Negotiating Committee is that no one on the Committee raised the proposal to “win back what we gave back.” Although it has not so far appeared in print, this is being used by Unity members all over the city in what are clearly coordinated “talking points” to discredit TJC’s position that the contract should have restored at least some of what we lost in 2005. Many of the Unity members making this criticism were not even members of the Negotiating Committee.

    This Unity criticism of TJC is totally false. At the September 13 meeting of the Negotiating Committee, Peter Lamphere of TJC called for a campaign to restore the givebacks, and argued that this goal would energize and mobilize the union’s membership. Weingarten and other Unity leaders reacted with great hostility. At the October 25 Negotiating Committee meeting, he repeated this call, focusing on eliminating the requirement that teachers work the two days before Labor Day. Weingarten recognized that Lamphere was calling for nothing less than a completely different strategy for the contract campaign, a strategy of mobilizing the membership to fight to restore givebacks and to make gains. She called for an immediate vote by the members of the Negotiating Committee on whether to “stay the course,” or to adopt Lamphere’s strategy. When the Unity position won, Weingarten suggested TJC should no longer be on the Negotiating Committee. In the light of how strongly Weingarten and Unity reacted, it is ludicrous for them now to claim that no one on the Negotiating Committee suggested we should be fighting to restore the givebacks.

    One of the reasons that we joined the negotiating committee was out of the hope that it would be a tool for mobilizing our members in a fight for a better contract. The reverse turned out to be the case: this contract has come with even less mobilization than the last one. This is a fact that Mayor Bloomberg even bragged about at the Nov 6th press conference, when he argued that this contract shows how it “doesn’t work to yell and scream.” We in TJC feel the exactly the opposite: that we must organize our members for action to present the credible threat of a strike if we ever want to win a contract that goes beyond the low expectiations of recent concessionary deals. Our members volunteered on two separate occasions for an “action committee,” that was supposed to coordinate mobilization efforts, but after a brief initial meeting in the spring, this committee never convened.

    There is one last point we want to make. We participated in the Negotiating Committee despite our reservations over the “secrecy provision” in the “Negotiating Committee Membership Agreement” we had to sign. We had to promise information would “not be disclosed during negotiations.” Since negotiations are now concluded, this part of the agreement is no longer in effect. We also agreed to a “confidential relationship” with other members of the committee. Having watched President Weingarten and other Unity leaders reveal in public meetings (most conspicuously Weingarten at the November 8 Delegate Assembly) how various opposition members of the Negotiating Committee spoke and voted in its meetings, we must conclude that this confidentiality agreement is likewise no longer in effect. Nevertheless, the only names we have used are our own and President Weingarten’s.

Post Title

Inside the UFT Negotiating Committee


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