Parent Commission response to the sunset of mayoral control

    Mayoral control will sunset tonight at midnight. We predict that there will be no rioting in the streets, no chaos or confusion. Instead, many parents will celebrate the removal of an oppressive dictatorial system that has not served their children well. We look forward to working in the future with the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor, to install a new governance system, with adequate checks and balances and a real voice for parents, in which no one, no matter how wealthy and powerful, can make all the decisions when it comes to our children.The Parent Commission on School Governance and Mayoral Control

    Leonie Haimson

    Patricia Connelly

    Ed Note Comment on the Parent Commission Report
    (at great risk of life and limb)

    The Parent Commission statement contains levels of ambiguity. Underlying it still seems to be a question of what kind of governance system. Will the PC support a system of mayoral control with checks and balances? Or will the PC be willing to look at the current system of governance - as of 12 midnight - which is the past system of governance - remember we revert- and look at ways to put checks and balances on they old/new system of community control, which to me makes more sense than finding ways to leave the mayor in control but curb his power. Also, is there anyone who do
    esn't feel it's time for Joel Klein to go on to ruin some other institution?

    In case your feeling up about the sunset, read this in the Times:


    Man. borough Pres Scott Stringer did not appoint Patrick Sullivan as his rep on the Board of Education – and says that along w/ the SI president, he will continue to support the Bloomberg/Klein policies, disappointing Manhattan parents, who believed that he was on their side.

    Photo by David B: Stringer and Markowitz do Vichy

    Lisa Donlon replies:
    Moved to the other side? He was born and raised there!

    Stringer was an Assembly member who voted FOR Mayoral control and despite a number of critical reports on CEC effectiveness, overcrowding, the lousy capital planning process, etc. he has not recanted his pro Mayoral control position. Removing Patrick, the only reasoned and critical voice in the wilderness (of Tweed), is a real blow to the parents of Manhattan and the whole city. Patrick, I guess even in that powerless and lonely position, you were effective enough to warrant NOT being appointed.

    Wear that like a badge of honor and join your local school board instead- we need you for the long haul!

    Lisa Donlan
    CEC One

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Report From PS 15 in Battle With PAVE Charter School

    Ed Notes has been in touch with the PS 15 community over the issue of the PAVE charter school which was supposed to leave the school is not and is demanding more space.

    PAVE is another example of the child of a billionaire who contributed to Bloomberg getting a school to play with at public expense. We previously reported on the Michael Steinhardt's (donor to NYU and Brooklyn Botanic Garden) daughter's (Sara Berman) involvement in the Hebrew Language Academy, which resulted in massive protests by the IS 278 community in Marine Park.

    In this case it is the son of a billionaire, Spencer Robertson, who is behind PAVE in Red Hook.

    Our first report was on June 13. Here is a follow-up:

    There has been an article in the Daily News, which the CHARTER SCHOOL arranged for, so their side of the story could get out. In fact, they let the reporter in the building (which is a no-no, but since she was already there, our PTA president found her and spoke with her at length. We didn't realize the charter school directors were using the article to break the news about their request for an extension in our building. Furthermore, the article did NOT take our real concerns in consideration I guess we were lucky to get any quotes in, but it doesn't really help us. Here is a link:

    After our PTA meeting we held in the library, we got an article in a free paper, the Carroll Gardens Cobble Hill Courier, which was, like most are,full of mistakes and misquotes making us (teachers/staff/parents) look hysterical and making the charter school directors look like reasonable calm people. This one made my blood boil!
    (If is doesn't work, just go to and search this headline "A schoolhouse divided".)

    One of the directors of the charter school found out about the meeting and confronted our principal, (who did NOT know about it) and basically told her to bring it...not in those words, though. Then the charter school directors brought in NONUNION construction people to consult for work they want done on the new rooms they get for next year! Our custodial staff had to let them know that was NOT going to happen in a union building!

    Background articles from (read with a grain of salt)

    Charter eyes a fair share

    A Red Hook charter school that had agreed to limit its stay in a public school building to two years has kicked up more controversy by asking for additional time.

    Billionaire's son opens school, is he qualified?

    The son of a billionaire who contributed more than $10 million to Mayor Bloomberg's school projects opened a new charter school this year, despite questions about his qualifications. Spencer Robertson founded the PAVE Academy.

    PAL kayos Red Hook charter school bid

    A bid by Red Hook public school parents to keep a charter school out of Public School 15 has apparently failed.

    City charter school plan for PS 15 is put on hold

    City officials have agreed - at least until meeting with neighborhood leaders next week - to hold off on the plan to house the PAVE Academy in PS 15's Sullivan St. building for the next two years.

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Sunrise, Sunset...

    I was told by more than a few people that the only fair thing to do is extend mayoral control before midnight for a month or more so Bloomberg can maintain control of the schools while the state legislature disusses the issue further.

    The use of the term "fair" in relation to BloomKlein is meaningless. These guys have had 7 years to figure this crap out. Everyone knew the date of expiration. That we are down to the last hours is a sign that there are many people unhappy.

    Why are we leaving this decision in the hands of the dysfunctional legislature?

    Why not vote? Or draw lots? Or see who can piss further? Anything but the NY State legislature.

    Let it sunset!

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Debating the Parent Commission Position on Mayoral Control

    We are always for a healthy debate. And here is one on the approach to the mayoral control issue. My opinion is way too much time is spent on lobbying and addressing politicians. Scott Stinger so praised for his role in appointing Patrick Sullivan to the PEP was at the PS 57 press conference we were locked out of yesterday. I didn't see him demanding some of us be let in. His presence condoned the phony Learn NY manipulation of young people who were told what signs to hold and what to chant and ordered not to talk to any of us.

    I love these points in the letter below:

    We don't believe that letting the politicians direct our battle is the most effective way to make change, particularly if for over a year we have been the voice 100% against mayoral control.

    Being a critical mass on the outside pushing for what really needs to change can be much more effective even if you don't win the first time around.

    See Protesting BloomWeinKlein: GEM/ICE/NYCORE Show Some Muscle and Tweakers Take a Hit: Time Out From Testing Pulls Out of Parent Commission

    Leonie Haimson responds to TOFT

    The statement released from Time out from Testing regarding the Parent Commission is untrue.

    We remain committed to the end of Mayoral control and the creation a new system of partnership between the Mayor, parents and other elected officials, with sufficient checks and balances, and mechanisms for enhanced shared decision-making at the school, district and citywide levels.

    That is why the Parent Commission, along with other activist parents and teachers, helped organize a successful protest rally today in East Harlem, at the Mayor's press conference, where we made our position clear.

    A response to Leonie

    We are sorry to differ with Leonie; however, up in Albany the Parent Commission is not discussing the composition of the Board of Education (also called the Panel on Education Policy) where the real power shift needs to take place.

    The Parent Commission is not insisting that Sampson change in his bill support for the Mayor retaining control of the majority of seats and thereby votes of the Board. As long as the Mayor keeps control, the stakeholders, we the parents, will not have a REAL voice.

    Maybe the Parent Commission believes that they are against Mayoral Control but they are not actively fighting against it up in Albany. That is not to say that they have given up. However, their focus is on getting an Independent Parent Organization with funding and a Constitution Committee.

    Many may believe that you ask for what you think you can get in a compromise. We believe that fighting for this while giving the Mayor control over real decisions will not affect positive change for our children. There were different coalitions created around mayoral control--for mayoral control, for some changes to be made within mayoral control and then the PC against mayoral control.

    Sitting at the table up in Albany and making compromises with politicians often ends up with them directing the battle. It's so easy to think that sitting with those considered powerful means you will have an impact, but we believe that needs to be carefully evaluated to see if your goals are being furthered or hampered.

    Case in point, the Parent Commission decided to write a statement thanking the sponsors of our bill (Huntley and Sampson) for trying to incorporate some of our demands into the new Sampson bill but letting them know that the Parent Commission fundamentally did not agree with the revised Sampson bill because it did little to change the mayor's control of the Board. The politicians asked that the PC not put out this statement and so they did not. We don't believe that letting the politicians direct our battle is the most effective way to make change, particularly if for over a year we have been the voice 100% against mayoral control.

    Being a critical mass on the outside pushing for what really needs to change can be much more effective even if you don't win the first time around.

    After considerable thought and deliberation, Time Out From Testing believes that our organization has to continue fighting for an end to mayoral control. Partnership in our view, does mean a drastic change in the power structure of the PEP/Board.

    We would encourage all of you to call and fax Senator Sampson now and tell him that you want to see a true partnership on the Board where the Mayor will not have the majority of the appointments or votes.
    Senator Sampson Phone #: 518-455-2788 Fax #: 518-426-6806

    If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to get updates, please go to and give us your email address.

    Jane Hirschmann and Don Freeman for Time Out From Testing

    In the meantime

    End of Mayoral Control Celebration

    Teachers, Principals, Guidance Counselors, paraprofessionals, secretaries, parents, families and community members will be gathering to celebrate the end of Bloomberg and Klein’s control of the New York City Schools beginning at 4:30 P.M. Tuesday June 30, 2009 in the park on the east side of 52 Chambers Street in Manhattan. At the stroke of midnight, June 30, we will serve eviction papers on Joel Klein to remove himself and his cronies from 52 Chambers Street, The “Boss Tweed Courthouse” immediately.

    For more information of this celebration, call Nicola DeMarco at 917-374-5220 or 718-884-2069 or email at

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Tweakers Take a Hit: Time Out From Testing Pulls Out of Parent Commission

    My guess is that both ICE and GEM would line up with many of the points made by TOFT. My sentiment is to tweak the pre-mayoral control system of community school boards to make it work more effectively. "Horrors, horrors," people say when I utter these words as they hold up a cross. And all those people rioting in the streets over the prospect of a Soviet system without Bloomberg in charge.

    I predict that over the next Bloomberg term of office, as phony grad rates rise and almost all of these students entering college require remediation, the debate on mayoral control will shift to "how soon can we drive a stake through its heart?"

    Graphic by David Bellel. See Gary Babab satire. From Gary Babad at the nyc public school parents blog

    The TOFT statement:
    We are sad to report that the steering committee has decided that TOFT can no longer participate in the Parent Commission on NYC Governance (PC). We worked for a year in this coalition to come up with a proposal and then legislation to end mayoral control. We were looking to replace the current Panel on Education Policy with a Board where the Mayor does not control all decisions. The PC bill had many elements to it.

    At this point, members of the PC are more interested in seeing mayoral control with minor changes because they are pushing for items like a funded Independent Parent Organization and a constitution commission, but not fixing the major problem – public school education ruled over by an autocratic mayor who claims incredible improvements when all outside evidence indicates the total opposite.

    We cannot be part of this. Unless the Mayor's power over our schools and kids' lives changes, and unless we, stakeholders, are at the table, nothing will really change.

    Therefore, we hope you will continue to swamp Senator Sampson's office with faxes and phone calls and tell him we want a Board of Education which is a true partnership, not a dictatorship.

    Senator Sampson’s Phone (Albany): 518-455-2788
    Senator Sampson’s Fax (Albany) 518-426-6806

    The Board of Education or PEP must drastically change.
    The Mayor can not have the majority of the appointments and votes.

    Thanks so much and we will keep you posted,

    Jane and Don

    Ed NOTE
    Some people might say, "What a shame. Bloomberg's divide and conquer strategy." I take the opposite position. This debate is crucial over the long term. Seven years ago it seemed Ed Notes stood alone opposing mayoral control. Then ICE made the UFT's support for it a major plank in our platforms in 2004 and 2007. People like Diane Ravitch and Sol Stern have made major shifts in their position. All this takes time. I know, a generation of children and all that. But until the ravages of one person rule are experienced, the idea will be out there for people to try. We need four years of Arne Duncan and another four of Bloomberg to turn the worm. The vampire has to take a lot of victims before a mob gets out the stake.

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Protesting BloomWeinKlein: GEM/ICE/NYCORE Show Some Muscle

    Well, it was quite a day, as on less than 24 hours notice, GEM, ICE, the Parent Commission and others came out with a spirited crowd to PS 57 in East Harlem to protest at the Bloomberg/Klein/Weingarten/Patterson pro mayoral control.

    The turnout was a sign that the GEM organizing efforts are having an impact. A little more notice and we could easily have doubled the crowd. When the day comes that we can turn out hundreds and then a thousand, we will begin to force the powers that be to take notice.

    Not that they didn't take notice today. I confronted NYC Partnership's Kathryn Wilde (got her on video) and the LearnNY twinkies who wouldn't talk.

    I was amazed at the people who showed, some based on an email I sent out early this morning. If they find a way to get mayoral control renewed by Tues. night (my guess is they will at least get the Senate to pass an extension of some kind) we need to grow these events over the next 4 years so that the next time mayoral control comes up the tweakers will be in retreat.

    The biggest outrage was the exploitation of young people, almost all African-American, who were given signs and chants but were ordered not to comment when asked why they supported mayoral control.

    Philissa Cramer from Gotham Schools was there and nails it with this comment:
    "A smaller number of mayoral control supporters was organized by the lobbying group Learn NY, but most declined to provide their names or why they thought the issue was important."

    James Eterno, ICE/TJC UFT presidential candidate running against Michael Mulgrew, was there to lend support and was interviewed by some of the press. Look for a profile soon at Gotham.

    And of course Randi was there supporting BloomKlein with her personal PR person Maureen Salter. I got some video of them slinking away.

    I took lots more video and hope to get it up ASAP. Photo above by Philissa. Graphic by David Bellel. Marina Ortiz has a wonderful album

    Here is Leonie's preliminary report.

    Story at Bloomberg: If senate doesn’t extend mayoral control, lawyers will

    Also the following news media were there in force to interview protesters:

    NY1, Fox 5, Channel 4 News, ABC-TV, the Daily News, the NY Post and others.

    It was a great event; thanks to all who came. More later.

    Leonie Haimson

    David's raw video

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Are you a new Chapter Leader, Delegate OR someone who is interested in helping mobilize school staff?

    Rank-and-File Teachers Unite!

    Are you a new Chapter Leader, Delegate, OR someone who is interested in helping mobilize school staff?

    Join our first of monthly meetings where teachers share both their school stories and supportive strategies.

    1. Assess your school climate
    2. Meet with other teachers in similar situations to strategize
    3. Share your visions for building a rank-and-file movement

    Please let us know if you're coming:

    Teachers Unite!

    Wednesday, July 1st, 3-5pm
    Brecht Forum (library)
    451 West St. between Bank and Bethune Streets

    This meeting being organized by Teachers Unite is an extremely important event. While I also recommend the UFT's training for new CLs, it is very narrow. The UFT really doesn't provide support for CLs. The monthly Dist Rep meetings are geared to laying down what they union expects the CL to do for them. There is rarely a sharing of common problems and brainstorming solutions. Or even considering how schools can act together and support each other. To the UFT, each school is an island.

    The goal of TU in these and follow-ups is to fill this gap, while including the aspect of dealing with a UFT/Unity caucus that is more focused on maintaining control than on organizing an effective chapter. (An organized chapter is a threat to the Unity machine because then people start looking at their activities.)

    With so many teachers contacting us about the overwhelming power of principals, which the UFT/Unity Caucus has sat by and allowed to occur, there is a need to develop a clearer concept of leadership at the school level.

    I've learned a lot about these ideas this past year through activities with Teachers Unite, NYCORE, ICE and GEM.

    There seem to be three pillars: educate, organize, mobilize.

    The educate level is a crucial precursor to effective organizing and is something UFT/Unity doesn't do except on the narrowest grounds. What they do is propagandize. Thus, teachers at the school level are left isolated and without the kind of information they need to function effectively as a chapter. I learned this lesson as a chapter leader in the mid-90's when I put out the chapter newsletter (the precursor to Ed Notes) more and more often until I was doing one more than once a week. I could see the impact in the attendance at meetings (which used to be about giving them info, with little participation). Now they got that info from my newsletters and the meetings were able to focus on school issues. (This was occurring just as the internet was getting reved up and most teachers didn't have email yet so it was hard copy. Nowadays just hit the "send" button and its done, as long as people open the email and read it. I still think hard copy works and the tools should be used together.)

    Now, what info to provide? Do you reveal the activities of the union leadership or just feed colleagues the line being tossed out by Unity, which they can read in the NY Teacher or in the numerous propaganda sheets and through visits by union officials? Some people fear that they will be accused of being anti-union if they give their staffs the ICE or Ed Notes point of view.

    I disagree. How can they make an informed decision of they don't get various versions of events so they can make up their own minds? Take the recently restored 2 pre Labor Day days in exchange for a massive pension give-back and a Tier 5, which will further divide teachers at the school level and in fact become a hindrance to the ability to organize a chapter to fight back (imagine how newbies will feel about their colleagues who sold them out for these 2 days).

    More and more people,whether a chapter leader or not, seem to have taken it upon themselves to send out info they read at Ed Notes or other blogs to their personal lists. I urge people who read Ed Notes to start doing so. Just don't make the email too long. Use snippets and links so they can pick and choose.

    Once people are well-informed at the school level - and I mean informed on every aspect of school life that it is possible to share- the next level is organizing for certain actions. Like grievances. Instead of keeping them quiet like the UFT urges, as long as the person is willing to open up, make them a political fight for the staff instead of a battle of one teacher with the principal. Of course that depends on the grievance, but as a principle, I say fight it publicly.

    The next step would be mobilizing people when necessary. More on this another time.

    No one has the answers, but Teachers Unite has been exploring these ideas and this meeting is a follow-up to an earlier meeting for people interested in running for chapter leader or delegate where we talked about continuing these discussions even for people who didn't run or get elected. I mean you don't have to be a chapter leader or delegate to provide info to people. I have a friend who has been sharing Ed Notes info for years and talking about how the UFT/Unity machine was operating, or the impact of charter schools which his staff wasn't aware of. Finally, he took the plunge and ran for CL. He was opposed by the retiring CL and the principal. But he won overwhelmingly, partly I believe because he has been laying the groundwork for years.

    So, if you are free on July 1 from 3-5pm, and feel it is time to do some basic organizing, rsvp to (If you forget, still show up.) I will be posting an agenda soon.

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Protest Bloomberg/Weingarten Pro-Mayoral Control Sunday

    Weingarten, Patterson, Bloomberg and others will be holding a pro-mayoral control rally Sunday in Harlem.

    GEM, ICE, Parent Commission and others will be there to say:

    REAL CHANGE to Mayoral Dictatorship -- OR LET THE LAW SUNSET!

    Leonie Haimson to her list (this was also sent out to the Marine Park IS 278 list.)

    1. There will be a rally tomorrow morning, planned by the Mayor and his allies to try to force the Senate’s hand to accept Mayoral control unchanged. More info below.

    Please join members of the Parent Commission to have a dissenting voice. Bring your kids and signs.

    REAL CHANGE to Mayoral Dictatorship -- OR LET THE LAW SUNSET!

    If you can, please meet up with us at 10:30 AM Sunday June 28 (tomorrow) morning on the SW corner of 116 St. and Lexington Ave. And if you think you might be able to come, please RSVP at

    2. Two stories today – about how the Mayor and his supporters are fear-mongering, in an attempt to convince the public that “chaos” and “confusion” will reign supreme if the law is allowed to sunset Tuesday night. See today’s NY Times, and the Daily News – which make it clear that these predictions of disaster are to try to force the Senate’s hand into acceding into the Mayor’s demands and accept the Assembly bill unchanged.

    As Bloomberg has warned, if they try to change one word in the Silver/Padavan bill there will be riots in the street.

    Nonsense! Remember how chaotic all the changes the school system have been under this administration? The destruction of the districts to make regions, the elimination of the regions to make SSO’s, the chaos created when preK and G and T admissions processes were centralized, the Kindergarten waitlists, the increases in overcrowding and class size, the attempt to close zoned schools and put charters in their place?

    In fact, the philosophy of this administration has been to provoke as much “creative confusion” as possible, to enhance their lock on the system. Early on, Joel Klein told a reporter: “By doing the reorganization and actually causing some creative confusion in the system, it does make it harder for people to just rock back.”

    What they fear is not chaos but the loss of total power. Riots in the street? Only if Bloomberg personally pays the rioters will this occur.

    This was sent out to the NYCORE Listserve:

    Hey NYCORE,

    A call is going out to bring people out as a dissenting voice against mayoral control at this pro mayoral control rally. There is still a chance to get law makers to change their votes on this. . .so please come if you can tomorrow and please spread the word. 11 am east harlem, see below for details. Hope to see you there,

    We should be there in force, with signs, to express a dissenting voice.
    Who can come?

    This Sunday Governor Patterson joined by Mayor Bloomberg, two Borough Presidents, AFT President Randi Weingarten and EVP of the CSA, Principals and APs union, Peter McNally along with local electeds will hold a press conference/rally at PS 57 in East Harlem (address below) at 11am to encourage the State Senate to vote on mayoral control and not allow the legislation to sunset.

    When: Sunday, June 28, 2009
    Where: P.S. 57
    176 E 115th St
    Between Third and Lexington Avenues

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Fiorillo Takes Weingarten to Task

    Michael punches holes in Randi's praise THANKING THE MAYOR for bringing “stability, accountability and cohesion” to the school system. Below is side one of the ICE leaflet handed out at the Delegate Assembly on June 24. The other side consisted of the Kaufman/Eterno blog posts on the pension give away in exchange for the 2 Labor Days (see below for links).

    As a Chapter Leader and member of the union’s School Governance Task Force, who proposed an alternative governance system and voted against the final report, I must nevertheless comment on President Weingarten’s contemptuous disregard for the committee’s work and the votes in favor of it.

    The Task Force, which met and worked diligently for almost a year-and-a half to fashion a report, came into existence because of the law’s sunset provision and widespread teacher dissatisfaction with mayoral control. It NEVER considered a citywide governance structure whereby the mayor would continue to have a majority of votes on the citywide board. In her op-ed piece in the May 21st issue of the New York Post, apparently written in an effort to impress Rupert Murdoch and other enemies of teachers and public education, Weingarten effectively spat in the faces of the members of the committee that worked on the report, the union’s Executive Board and the Delegate Assembly, which approved it, and the membership, which had some meager hopes of seeing their work lives improved by it.

    President Weingarten often speaks of how the Delegate Assembly is the highest policy-making body in the union; I guess it is, except when it isn’t.

    Incredibly, President Weingarten, in her defense of the indefensible, has been going around speaking and even THANKING THE MAYOR for bringing “stability, accountability and cohesion” to the school system. This not only rubs salt in the wounds, but adds Orwellian phrasing to the discussion:

    - What about the serial reorganizations?
    - What about the epidemic of school closings,certain to increase under a continued mayoral dictatorship?
    - What about the loss of seniority rights, the ever-expanding pool of ATRs and rubber room victims who are seeing there professional lives destroyed?
    - What about communities that are being pitted against each other by having charter schools placed in public school buildings and receiving preferential treatment and funding?

    - What about the “failing” and closed schools, each of which is a black mark against the competence of this regime? It seems only teachers are accountable for that.
    - What about the school bus fiasco? The no-bid contracts? The brazen law-breaking over Special Ed? The game playing over test scores? This regime has acted in total disregard for the rights of children, teachers and parents. And President Weingarten has acted unilaterally to insure its continuation.

    - Remember Balanced Literacy? Intimidation and micromanagement over blackboards? Revolving Deputy Chancellors for Instruction? The only cohesion has been in their unrelenting attacks on the working conditions and professionalism of teachers.

    By unilaterally turning her back in the wishes of the membership and the activist parents who placed their hope and faith in the UFT’s ability to do something about mayoral dictatorship, Randi Weingarten has insured the continuance of school overcrowding, testing mania, privatization, attacks on tenure and seniority, and the viability of public education in New York City and nationally.

    President Weingarten, by enabling Bloomberg and the other oligarchs who seek to profit from the destruction of the public schools, you may have insured another two-year contract and better treatment for yourself in the editorial pages and in corporate boardrooms, but you have in the immediate and long term undermined the Union, its members, students, parents and public schools. That is your legacy as president of the UFT.

    Michael Fiorillo
    Chapter Leader

    Related from the ICE blog



    What Else Did She Give Away?

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Students against Mrs. Reidy's mistreatment of teachers

    Special to Ed Notes from one of our student contacts at the Bronx High School of Science. I wish I could tell you this kid's story but there is some fear - legitimately as there have been threats and retaliation by the administration. So much for teaching kids values, democracy, etc. That the union allows this to go on is outrageous. How could they stop activities like this? Tell BloomKlein the store is closed as long as these horror story principals operate as they wish. In other words, tell them to take your plans to save pension money on our backs and shove it. How vicious can Reidy be to give this retiring teacher with an impeccable rep a U rating?

    Bronx High School of Science Students Support Teacher

    To put it lightly, Mrs. Reidy has been notorious for not getting along with the teaching staff of Bronx Science. It has been in the news on more than one occasion. This time, however, Mrs. Reidy made a personal attack on a veteran teacher who was retiring this year.

    Her inappropriate actions towards Mrs. Alexander and other teachers have resulted in students and teachers rallying against her administration of fear and disrespect. A large number of teachers are retiring/transferring out of Bronx Science this year, many in retaliation to this and similar events.

    In an email dated June 24, Mrs. Alexander sent the graduating officers of the S.O. this message:

    To the Student Organization:

    I just wanted to bring you up to date on Reidy's latest actions. As you know, I have been a dedicated teacher in the Math Department at Bronx High School of Science since September 1977. On June 24, 2009, a few days prior to retiring, I received a U rating on my annual professional performance review, the first U rating of my professional career. The reason cited for this U was “Absence and Punctuality”.

    On May 7, 2009, I had received a letter from Assistant Principal Phoebe Cooper stating that I had been absent 10 days for self-treated (sic) and 4 days for religious observance and that I had only provided medical documentation for one of those days. The letter concluded by stating, “Continued absences could lead to an unsatisfactory rating for attendance.” After receiving this note, I provided the payroll secretary with medical documentation for the other days I was absent. Unfortunately my health continued to be poor and I was out 5 more days for illness, for which I provided doctors’ notes.

    Each morning this year I arrived at school one hour before my classes started, to do school work, and I also worked during my lunch hour. Every night and weekend during the school year, I worked countless hours at home on behalf of my students. To be given the only U rating of my career a few days before my retirement, after teaching at Science for 32 years, was a personal insult, a stab in the back. At the same time it served to further shock and demoralize many of the equally hardworking faculty members at Bronx Science.

    In the Teacher’s Handbook that was given to me along with this U rating is a statement that 10 or more absences MAY result in a U rating, meaning that the decision to do so is at the discretion of the administration. Principal Valerie Reidy evidently decided to make my retirement more memorable, to kick me out the door as I was leaving.

    Joan Alexander

    From Bronx High Student Facebook page

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Manipulating the Masses

    Hi Norm,
    Why are they advertising for the hiring of teachers at Achievement First Charter School? That's the school that is encroaching on our building and forcing part of the mess we are in, making teachers move their classrooms. There have been other problems with this school in the building, but this is not the place for that.
    Today there were folks outside our school trying to get parents to sign individual forms advocating for mayoral control! My principal immediately asked them to move away from the building and then spoke to the parent coordinator. She wanted her to inform the parents NOT to sign this form. We were so busy watching children, saying our goodbyes and packing that I don't know how long they were around and how many parents, if any signed. The nerve of whoever they were. I wonder if this went on at other schools.

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Unity Hack Attack Part 2

    If you read part 1 (UFT Delegate Assembly, Democracy NOT) of Seung Ok's Delegate Assembly report on Weds, Randi's farewell performance, hold on to your hats as you see how the UFT hacks are coming down on Seung for daring to call out during Queen Victoria's speech. They are sending in the clowns - er union officials, most likely Unity hack supreme District rep Charlie Turner (who once had a teacher threatened with losing his job for inviting me to speak to teachers) and holding a special union meeting at 8 Am ON THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL to try to get Seung recalled as a delegate. Seung's part 3 report tomorrow ought to make interesting reading.

    Dear colleagues 6-25-09,

    Yet again, we see the ugly head of fiefdom rear its ugly form - aka Unity Caucus of the UFT. As a result of voicing my opinions at the DA, after essentially being denied a fair and equitable debate on Tier V, the all too comfy powers-that-be in our union have decided to do some Bloomberg/Kline-esque tactics of intimidation to rule out dissenting voices.

    Tomorrow they will be sending their foot soldiers (including Charlie Turner, who actually teaches at my school and is a District Rep) to Maxwell High to decide whether I, as a delegate should be barred from future DA meetings, or, that my delegate position be stripped. And on top of that, they want to speak to my principal, to add another layer of intimidation. Wow, who would have thought – Unity Caucus and principals – such strange bedfellows indeed arise in these times. I applaud our union in keeping up with the times, and learning from our beloved friend, the mayor. I’m learning so much about how things work in the union, and I just got elected. Lucky me – thank you Unity.

    So this is how I see them attacking me. They will say that I deliberately flaunted procedure by shouting out my opinions to Weingarten during her farewell speech. And that I’m even anti–union. And here is my response:

    1.- I didn’t see them being upset when members of their caucus shout out things like “We love you Randi!” “Thank you, Randi!”. I just wanted to join the group discussion, that’s all. Each of us has a different way of saying farewell.

    2 – If they at all cared about the democratic functioning of the Delegate Assembly, should they not have trained a new delegate such as I on the Robert’s Rule of Parliamentary Procedure? All those say AYE? Are they afraid that someone might actually learn to have a voice besides them?

    3. Unbeknownst to me, as a new delegate I was not even supposed to show up until September. The previous delegate should have finished her year by attending this DA. I guess they can blame their incompetence in not notifying me of anything. The similarities between Unity and the Mayor are startling, don’t ya think? Gee, I wonder what they actually do with millions of our hard earned money up there in 52 Broadway (I mean, besides cheese and wine parties - and believe you me, the cheese is already present and accounted for).

    4. But seriously, and this is the biggest charge I make upon the union leadership. If at any point in the past 3 months, someone, anyone returned my email or contacted me about the concerns of a paying member of OUR union – I would not have had to shout out my opinions like a fool. The following is a chronology of events (Flash back fade and music):

    a. In the April Assembly, I stood up from the guest section and called out a question at the very end of the meeting, when most people had enough of Weingarten’s soliloquies and filed out. When I asked about her support of charter schools and whether it would endanger the future of public education, she again hid behind the most sacred of all books, the Robert’s Rules of Order. Now I don’t know who this Robert guy is, but it seems he was pro Unity.

    b. But she asked me for my name, and promised to respond if I send an email to her. I did just that, and to this day, I still look longingly for her response. Any day now (tick – tock, birds chirping, grass growing, Unity actually defending its Rubber Room and ATR members).

    c. Now to yesterday’s assembly. Had she actually been fair again and given voice to an equal number of dissenters on the subject of Tier V – and of course, it didn’t have to be me - I would have sat quieter than a lamb unwittingly being put to sleep.

    And this is not just me, I know dozens of people who have emailed the union and have never gotten a response. This is inexcusable for OUR union, to whom we pay hefty salaries to ignore their own constituents’ concerns. Even politicians know enough to have a staff that handles calls and emails. But let’s even forget that for a second. Don’t ya think that for such a change as Tier V, the rank and file could be kept informed a lot earlier than a day before the actual vote? Again, the similarities to the Mayor’s office is remarkable.

    But insult to injury, I have to be concerned about watching my back from my own union? Folks, this whole experience has been an eye opener. We need to clean house in our union leadership, just as we need to clean house in the mayor’s office and in the NY senate. Fat cats that have been getting too comfortable, arrogant and undemocratic are stinking up their own litter box. Whatever happens, whether I remain a delegate or not, please vote for a change in the next union elections, and let’s get some of these cats teaching again – how about that for a humbling experience.


    Seung Ok

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If You Knew Mulgrew Like I Knew Mulgrew

    Hi Norm,

    Read your piece about Mulgrew. I know him a bit. He shouted me down at a meeting he held at my school to "discuss" the '07 contract extension. I asked why the "cost containment initiatives" phrase had been added to the extension. He called me a conspiratorialist and fear-mongerer (those probably weren't his words...I don't think he uses words containing more than 3 syllables), said I was spreading lies by asking my question and told me to shut my mouth when I continued to repeat the same question until I could get an answer.

    I don't bother with his union meetings anymore. I learned my lesson -the fix is in and I'm not going to get riled up over something completely out of my control.

    BTW, at the same meeting where I walked out, two more of my colleagues had run-ins with him and walked out publicly too.

    In my opinion, he's a creep and a goon and cut from the same crooked, corrupt cloth as Weingarten. I have seen his "heavy-handedness" if you will.

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UFT Delegate Assembly, Democracy NOT

    A New Star rises. No not Mulgrew.

    Gem's Seung Ok gives us this brillaint and scintillating DA report. I've only known Seung for a few months, but it is meeting people like him that keeps me in this business. I've always maintained that the opposition is too polite at DA's or unwilling to take the slings and arrows of Unity harassers. I didn't give a crap. Neither did Jeff Kaufman. Seung looks like a comer.

    UFT Delegate Assembly 6-24-09

    I’m sorry to inform my colleagues (although many of you have already suspected), that our UFT right now is as much an undemocratic and farcical scene as the NY Senate and the Mayor’s Office. The lack of transparency, the fa├žade of democratic input from its constituents, and the intolerance for opposing views shows us why our UFT, city, state, and country is in it’s dire situation today. The events of the meeting seem to be "par for the course" of how things run there.

    The vast majority of us were surprised to hear when we came into work this morning that there was a new agreement on Tier V in which Weingarten basically sold off wholesale some of our pension benefits for future teachers. And what did our master negotiator get in return for this – two non- teaching days back before Labor Day.

    Now one would think that a decision as important as changing our profession’s pension benefits requires input from us as a whole - perhaps a referendum, or survey to get the thoughts from the rank and file. If there had been transparency, Weingarten would not have sold us off so cheaply with a mere two days. In her own words at the meeting, she saw the two days before Labor Day as,” ….the most important issue that she has heard coming from the delegates affecting our teachers.” Really? I guess the fact that seasoned ATR’s in our schools cannot find positions, in spite of the DOE hiring freeze and budgetary concessions, is not as important as two extra days of summer vacation.

    Let’s not forget to mention the detrimental effects of Mayoral control on our professional autonomy, parental input, and student learning. Had such a prize for Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg not been given so cheaply, in the least, the alteration of future pensions could have been used as leverage to add more checks and balances in mayoral control rather than the dictatorship that seems destined to be renewed.

    Also, how much weaker are we know, as we head into contract negotiations in October. Had we not given up our hand so quickly and easily, we would have had something the Mayor and Albany would want. But now, thanks to the wonders of “Democracy Lite” that is the UFT, we are now left holding a weak hand yet again.

    The meeting went as follows. First, Weingarten frightens all the delegates (Ala George Bush post 9/11) by playing off their worst fears in what may happen: working till 62, the loss of our pension plans, etc. Now once everyone is good and scared, she comes to the rescue and pats herself on the back about how she saved our benefits. Gee, all by yourself Randi? (Add applause and glee by the union faithful) Then she congratulates herself by adding that she saw an opportunity to get back our two days before Labor Day and she took it! Quick thinking sport!

    Of course she then asks for input from the delegates. Somehow she manages to “randomly” choose 4 delegates in a row who gushingly admire her great efforts in securing this wonderful new deal. Then, to highlight how contrived this debate was, she graciously noted that it would be remiss on her part if she didn’t allow the opposition view to be held. So she called on those with opposing views to raise their hands. One delegate noted that we indeed were “giving back” yet again, which a few delegates from past meetings decried. Of course, the shouting down of this delegate ensued by the rest of the delegates – at which point Weingarten, in her graciousness, asked for calm. Then magically, two more people were called on, that were in favor of Tier V. So, the viewing audience can scratch their heads now in bewilderment – I thought this was the dissenting voice’s turn. Finally, Weingarten suggests that one more person speak up for the dissenting view. A delegate suggests that such an important matter as this should be given as a vote for all union members in the schools, which was of course, ignored by Weingarten in her response.

    As she began to start the vote, I and a few other delegates shouted out that the debate was not fair. The opposing view did not get equal time to state its case (2 versus 6 speakers) At this point, Weingarten spewed off some Robert’s Rules of Order process rule - that she had asked for one more dissenting view, and that there was no objection. Again, note how parliamentary procedures are used to discourage rather than encourage true democratic vote (can anyone say the state senate?).

    Now during this whole fiasco, I was raising my hands and my voice, - sometimes standing to get her attention. Interestingly her body and face slowly started to face the opposite way. Interesting, considering that her UNITY caucus usually sits on the end where I was. But alas, I was never called. Okay, that’s understandable – I mean, there are many delegates and there is such precious few moments together.

    Then the vote happens. Many voices boomed “Aye!” And it seemed only a few of us yelled “Nay!” Then there was much rejoicing and hoop and hollering.

    Then the question portion of the pageant commenced. There were several questions about the Tuesday we get back from Labor Day and how some principals are threatening to give letters if their classrooms are not set up and ready by the end of this school year. Much booing and “that’s intolerable!” was heard. Weingarten, on cue, decried how many evil and treacherous characters were allowed to become principals. Much cheering and clapping followed. She suggested, and it seems the crowd knew what she was going to say, cause they mouthed it too – “get it on paper”.

    One delegate asked about the handout that lists all the local politicians that the UFT endorses. She wondered whether it was appropriate for us to endorse many of the politicians on that page that voted FOR mayoral control. At this point, since Weingarten, didn’t want to do her own dirty work, referred the question to suit B. He managed to fumble through the response by noting that these politicians voted for key issues that affected the union. I guess mayoral control doesn’t count in the Union’s mind, but okay.

    Then Weingarten, in an earnest and reflective repose, asked the delegates if she can let the media in, so she can avoid announcing her retirement twice. The delegates deeply moved, voted a unanimous “Aye!” and “Hear! Hear!” Apparently everyone turns into a 17th century Britain at such moments. The media came in and then the show started.

    She began by noting that her mother was a teacher, and she remembered how after striking all day, her mother would come home tired yet vigilant. Wow, too bad the daughter didn’t become an educator herself. Then she humbly stated how she is leaving the Union stronger and healthier than how she found it. I at this point I couldn’t contain myself. Let’s just put it this way. Just imagine how men act watching the super bowl, and they see a ridiculous fumble – “What?! Are you kidding me?!” I basically turned into John McEnroe. I looked around the room in amazement, and all I could see was shimmering eyes, welling up with deep gratitude. The tissues were definitely out.

    Then she began listing all her accomplishments, stating that when she first began working for the UFT, the starting salary was 14,000. Wow, can anyone get her on a stamp please – I mean really. At this point, the Johnny Mac in me took possession, and I screamed out,” Don’t forget Mayoral Control!” Now, I’ve never been tarred and feathered before, but let’s just say that the Brits at this point were getting the cauldron heated up. Several of the mob called me a jerk, and the several men in front and to the side of me looked like I just stole their baby’s pacifier. The latter glared,” You better stop shouting in my ear.” I suspected that this unfortunate man had hearing only in this ear, because he had not been agitated by the shouts of “Hear! Hear!” coming from the other end the whole meeting up to that point.

    The momentous and tearful scene was capped off by flowers being brought forth to a teary Weingarten. Then unknown suit C got up and asked for a tribute to her highness Weingarten the I. This included a long litany of whereas and whereforths too long to list here, but I’ll give you a tasting of the deliciousness of this treat:

    Whereas as the tribune of the New York City public school educators, Randi Weingarten has successfully led us through many perils and challenges, and now leaves our profession and our union stronger than ever.

    Wow! Tribune. I almost wanted to cry out, "Hail Ceasar!"

    Of course, I had to shout out a whereas myself, “ Sell OUT!” But with the graciousness befitting the queen, she nobly and befitting her aristocratic stature ignored me with impunity.

    After the pageant winner left her stage, suit D – went on to announce that volunteers who wanted to be on the committee for contract negotiation should fill out a card. He was about to close the meeting, and asked if there were any further questions. I raised my hand and shouted,” I do.” If you could see the begrudging look he gave me, it would make your toes curl. At this point, Randi was taking pictures with her adoring fans, as she was making her way out of the pageant with her flowers in hand. I was actually given the mic, and I quickly noted,” Will Randi actually listen to her own committee this time (alluding to the fact that she went against her own year long committee and flip flopped in favor of mayoral control).

    I could not get out the rest, since the parliament started to Whig out, and the tar was hot and ready by this point. I then made the mistake of asking if I can finish my statement – which was a crucial error, since unbeknownst to me, suit D was Alex Trebeck, who immediately informed me that a statement is not in the form of a question, so I was,” Out of Order!”. Then with 2 seconds left on the clock, the man in front of me snatched the microphone from my hand (not a joke, true democracy at work). Then the crowd cheered with frenzy as the home team counted down the seconds to victory.

    I will leave you with some immortal words by an unknown ancient sage:

    “Don’t eat yellow snow.”

    Your colleague:

    Seung Ok

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It Really Wasn't Personal, Randi

    Reminder: GEM Happy Hour today from 5 to 7 PM.
    at Jimmy's no. 43: 43 E. 7th (downstairs), between 2nd Av. and 3rd Av.
    We will have an area in the back near their kitchen. Jimmy's serves food.

    On The Two Labor Day Days, Mulgrew and Randi

    I was asked by people at the DA yesterday about my report regarding the 2 restored days being only for 2009. While I'm still getting some mixed signals about exactly what has to be renegotiated in the next contract (expiring in Oct.) it appears (for now) this is permanent.

    What tickled me at the DA was how many people genuflected to Randi for getting back the two days she herself agreed to take away in the first place. Of course she made it seem the UFT had nothing to do with it. Sort of like having someone take money out of your pocket and you thank them for putting it back.

    Naturally, the mass of delegates were overwhelmingly in favor. But there was one hell of a gutsy speech from Jonathan Halabi, who strongly raised the issue of union solidarity with future teachers and the creation of divisions between people. Because he is a member of New A
    ction, I sometimes tweak him. But people in the besieged math department at Bronx High School of Science praise him to the sky for being the most supportive voice out there. And his blog is the place to go to find out schools you should not apply to because of vicious principals.

    The attitude he expressed yesterday about union solidarity on a general basis and regularly on his blog is a sorely missed component from this union.

    On Mulgrew

    One point on the article on Michael Mulgrew at Gotham, in which I was quoted. It was basically half of what either I said or wanted to say.

    “He comes across as a non-waffler,” said union activist Norm Scott. “For people who despise Weingarten, there’s already a sense of, ‘Oh, maybe Mulgrew will be better.’

    Add this part: "But while this change in style will work for him for a while, it is a change in style not substance and ultimately will make little difference in the UFT's inability to make a stand against all the anti-teacher and anti-union attacks going on."
    I don't know Mulgrew at all, having almost no direct contact, so all information I have is second hand. Many people I know like him. Others say he is the ultimate Unity hack. Some say
    he runs Executive Board meetings when Randi is not there with a heavy hand. I know of one incident at Grady in relation to union elections where he showed a heavy hand. Other than that, he will be a breath of fresh air in terms of style, at least for a while.

    On Randi
    Some people consider me a leading Randiologist. Education Notes has spanned her entire career and I believe is a chronicle of her tenure. So if anyone is thinking of writing a book on Randi (Randi Weingarten, Semi-Tough Liberal), Ed Notes is the place to go. One day I'll get them all online.

    I'll do a more in depth piece on her legacy when I get a chance, but here are a few quick thoughts.

    Randi took disagreements personally. In our years of email correspondence, I kept trying to tell her it was not personal and we functioned in the same manner with Al Shanker, who never whined about personal attacks and brushed us off like the fleas we basically were.

    Not Randi. She raised every single issue, no matter how minor, into a hysterical pitch. We all used to look at each other at Ex bd and DA meetings as she would contend on points that were laughable.
    I hope that Mulgrew will not view criticism in that way and take more of Shanker's approach.

    She helped make Education Notes the thing to read at the DA by saying, "I love to read Ed. Notes." That was in the early years when she was real insecure and not sure of the full support in Unity, where a number of old-line Shanker people resented a lawyer being in charge. In her first year or two she was also unsure in running the DA and I managed to establish my ground early on and began to play a role. After a while she learned the tactics that ended up making her more undemocratic than Shanker or Feldman, who at least followed some basic rules. Randi started making them up as she went along. Today, the UFT is at its lowest state of democracy I've seen in the almost 40 years I've been involved. Her true legacy.

    Her ruthlessness and demagoguery evolved as her power grew. In the early years it was different. She once did an unprecedented thing (in Oct 2000, I think, possibly at the same meeting that Hillary Clinton appeared) when I raised a resolution calling on the NY Teacher to print every over-the-limit class size every year. She called me up to the front and gave me her microphone, giving me the opportunity to address the Delegate Assembly from a unique position. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, though the NY Teacher only printed the data for only two years, and only after I reminded them. So much for DA resolutions.

    That was the height of our relationship and it went down hill in the months that followed over her push for merit pay (she avoided calling on me for months when I wanted to make an anti merit pay resolution and my early warning system went up) and mayoral control in the spring of 2001.

    Ed Notes turned extremely critical in the 2001/2002 school year. After I retired in 2002, Ed Notes went city wide in an attempt to reach out to people who would be willing to fight her and Unity. Out of that effort, ICE was born. Thus, Randi's actions spawned ICE. We call her "Mom."

    In one of my last emails to Randi years ago I told her about how my principal also used to say my activities as chapter leader were personal. After I left the school to take a district job (when my new boss told her he was hiring me, she said, "My car was stolen today, but this makes up for it") I returned once a week as a computer support person. My principal started greeting me with hugs and kisses and even gave me money for Ed Notes. Our relationship was fine once we were out of each other's faces.

    I told Randi that when she left to run the AFT this too would happen and she would come to see there would be little change in our approach to her successor. But somehow I do not expect her to change her mind about it being personal instead of political.

    So I won't expect
    Randi to follow my principal's example and give money to Ed Notes. Or hugs and kisses to me. Besides, when Randi gave me her microphone at that DA back in 2000, she had a vicious cold – which I caught. I'd take the money, but I'll pass on the hugs and kisses.

    Accountable Talk has some thoughts on Mulgrew and Randi

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It Really Wasn't Personal, Randi

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ICE/TJC Announce Presidential Candidate for UFT Elections in 2010


    ICE/TJC Announce Presidential Candidate for UFT Elections in 2010

    The Independent Community of Educators (ICE) and Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) have chosen James Eterno, chapter leader of Jamaica HS in Queens, as their candidate for president of the UFT in the elections to take place in 2010. He will oppose the Unity Caucus candidate, expected to be Michael Mulgrew, who will be taking over for Randi Weingarten.

    Eterno has been a Social Studies Teacher Jamaica High School for 23 years. For the past 13 years he has been the Chapter Leader at Jamaica High School.

    He spent 10 years on the UFT Executive Board as one of the few members of the opposition caucuses.

    He was one of the leaders in the fight against the draconian givebacks in the 2005 Contract.

    James organized a successful rally in 2008 at the Panel for Educational Policy where 89 people from the Jamaica High School family went to the PEP to advocate for Jamaica High School, pointing out that the school was suffering from academic apartheid due to the unequal treatment Jamaica was getting in comparison to the small schools being installed. His blog piece on the subject (Stop Academic Apartheid) received wide notice.

    He authored a resolution to the State Education Commissioner calling for the empowerment of teachers, parents and students on School Leadership Teams and wrote many other resolutions, including one calling for more protections for teachers accused of corporal punishment.

    He led the Jamaica High School Chapter in a 50-person grievance at the Region 3 office to have the time schedule changed in 2003 and was a winner of the UFT’s Trachtenberg Award in 2000.

    James, along with ICE’s Jeff Kaufman, has co-authored the influential ICE blog, which analyzes on the activities of the UFT leadership. James has become one of the leading experts on the UFT contract and has assisted numerous teachers throughout the city who have not been ably assisted by the UFT.

    He is married to Camille Eterno, a former chapter leader currently a teacher at Humanities and the Arts High School in Queens. The Eternos are expecting their first child in early July.

    James will be attending the UFT Delegate Assembly today at 52 Broadway from 4:30-6:30.

    James Eterno on the BILLION DOLLAR DAYS OFF at the ICE blog
    June 24, 2009

    Close analysis of the agreement between the city and the UFT creating a new pension tier shows that the city has once again taken the UFT to the cleaners. While this is nothing new, it is still depressing when it happens over and over again.

    The sad details show that we are giving the city back $2 billion over twenty years. My source for this is the Mayor's office. On top of this, add the health care savings that the Municipal Labor Committee just gave back that amounted to $550 million over the next few years. What do we win in exchange for billions in savings for the city? The two weekdays before Labor Day will be added to summer vacation.

    These professional development days were useless and it's fine to get them added back to our summer break. The agreement also says we may return to work in September the same day that the kids come back which is ridiculous. By working it in this way, the city can correctly say we haven't shortened the school year. However, this potentially absurd situation is not the worst part of this deal.

    The two added vacation days won't cost the city a dime as they are not giving us any additional money. However, in yet another indignity, we will be forced to pay for our two days off at a rate of 1.08% in additional funding according to the agreement. .5% will come from lowering the interest rate on the fixed TDA from 8.25% to 7% and raising the amount of years someone must work before they can retire with health benefits from ten to fifteen. The other .58%, according to the agreement, will "be addressed in the upcoming round of collective bargaining for the successor agreement to the current agreement which expires October 31, 2009." Translation, our raise will be lowered. What about the new pension tier savings? Won't that money be applied to pay for the added vacation days? The answer is no.

    The new Tier V, where yet to be hired teachers will have to pay 4.85% in pension contributions for 27 years, is a free gift to the city from the UFT that we get nothing back for accepting.

    When you are enjoying those extra days off on September 3 and 4, just call them the billion dollar days. That's roughly the amount that each day will end up costing us in the long run. For that kind of gift, couldn't we get back just a little bit more of our professional dignity?

    Contact: Norm Scott

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IS 218 Protests Budget Cuts; UFT Doesn't

    Newly elected IS 218K Chapter Leader Tom Crean sends this along. Too late for publication in the NY Teacher? Did the UFT consider Edwize or the UFT web site? Really fighting budget cuts, not their thing - the only way they know how to cut the cuts is by selling off future teacher pensions.

    Letter to chancellor. Click to enlarge

    Below is a brief report meant originally for the New York Teacher about a June 12 protest held outside my school, IS218 in
    East New York against the savage cut in our budget. Ap
    parently it was too late for publication.

    I also attach several photos and a letter the school’s UFT chapter sent to Joel Klein. Now that the budget has been passed by the City Council and the huge cuts to the schools which were spread so unevenly have been left intact it is necessary to ask: why did the UFT leadership do so little to publicize the plight of schools like 218?

    When the full scale of the cuts for the school year 2009-10 became clear a few weeks ago, the union should have been organizing protests outside every school in the city building up to an emergency rally outside City Hall. After initiating the 50,000 strong rally on March 5, they restricted themselves to writing letters to the newspapers and urging teachers to fax their public representatives.

    The real position was revealed in a press statement by Randi Weingarten dated May 19:

    “Although the school budgets issued by the school system today do not, by any means, amount to a full restoration of items and services on the chopping block, getting the cuts down to the 3-to-4 percent range in this tough economy is a huge improvement over the prospective budgets that amounted to a 7 percent cut for schools. We at the United Federation of Teachers and other advocates who worked tirelessly and fought so hard in Washington and Albany for funding to minimize the brunt of expected city cuts will continue to seek budget restorations from the City Council in the weeks ahead. But we are still pleased to see that the Mayor and the Department of Education have gone a long way to protect the classroom and maintain services for students in these difficult times.”

    This is the logical conclusion of “shared sacrifice”; so much for opposing cuts to the most vulnerable!

    Tom Crean, newly-elected chapter leader at IS 218

    Teachers at IS 218, East New York Protest Cuts

    On Friday June 12, between 7:45 and 8:30 am, over 50 teachers, parents and students rallied outside Sinnott Magnet School (IS 218) in East New York against the vicious $1.4 million cut in their school’s budget by the DoE. Despite the rainy weather it was a high energy protest. Teachers held signs that read “No More Budget Cuts” and chanted “They say cut back, we say fight back!” The protest was also attended by City Councilor Charles Barron.

    Even taking into account declining enrollment at IS 218, $1.4 million represents a 10% cut to the school’s budget, far in excess of the 4.9% announced citywide. Twenty teachers, nearly a third of teaching staff are being excessed. The cut is so deep that it compromises the school’s instructional integrity with potentially grave consequences for student achievement. There is no money for after school programs, intervention for at-risk students or even basic school supplies. As the teachers said in a letter to Joel Klein, “This will literally rip the heart out of our school.”

    It is a cruel irony that IS218 is being targeted for such a deep cut when it has shown enormous improvement on the state’s standardized tests Between 2006 and 2009, on the state ELA test, the proportion of IS 218 students who scored level 3 or 4 rose from 32.1% to 54.4% On the state math those scoring level 3 and 4 rose from 43.2% to 71.0% during the same three year period. During the 2006-7 school year the school received an A grade from the city which went down to a B last year. So if IS 218 is doing so well according to official criteria why is the DOE gutting it? Some teachers are concerned that this is possibly a step towards closing the school altogether.

    It was pointed out by a speaker at the protest that some other schools faced massive cuts, such as the Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant which faces a 16% cut or over $3.1 million. These attacks on education, are nothing short of criminal. The speaker went on to ask, “There are billions for the banks, why can't they bail out the schools?”

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