Wall Street Occupation Gains Support: Join Transport Workers Today at 5:30

    Growing labor union support for  Occupy Wall Street. Let's have an Educators Contingent on Friday.
    Demonstration in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street

                                       Fri, September 30, 5:30pm – 7:00pm, One Police Plaza

    I hope you are rooting for the gang involved in the Wall St. occupation. Some are even comparing it to the Tea Party with a left twist. It is beginning to get mainstream media attention, a lot of due to FAIR - see the posting between the 2 events - one today and one Weds. - I can't go then because I'm going to the matinee of Spiderman.

    Also - tonight Patrick Walsh - a UFT Chapter Leader in Harlem is doing a talk on the lower easr side:

    Hello all,
    On September 30, 2011, I will be speaking again as part of the Friday Night Meeting series of  The Catholic Worker in the Lower East Side.   My talk is titled The Intellectual and Spiritual Price of Corporate Education Reform, a subject of tremendous import not only for the future of education in America but for the survival of our already enfeebled democracy.   
    Friday Night Meetings are held at Maryhouse located at 55 East Third Street between First and Second Ave very close to the 2nd Ave F subway stop. ( 212 777 9617) The meeting will begin at 7:45 and will be followed by a question and answer period in which all are encouraged to participate. Please try to attend.
    The corporate cancer that is devouring our country and insidiously extinguishing all forms of public life can only be stopped by the building of community, community awareness, community resilience and community resistance. 

    Here are 2 upcoming actions with a FAIR media watch posting in between. I'm heading to Wall St. to do some video.

    NYC Transit Union Joins Occupy Wall Street 

    New York City labor unions are preparing to back the unwieldy grassroots band occupying a park in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could mark a significant shift in the tenor of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests and send thousands more people into the streets.

    The Transit Workers Union Local 100's executive committee, which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously Wednesday night to support the protesters. The union claims 38,000 members. A union-backed organizing coalition, which orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street before the protests, is planning a rally on Oct. 5 in explicit support. And SEIU 32BJ, which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers, is using its Oct. 12 rally to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.
    "The call went out over a month ago, before actually the occupancy of Wall Street took place," said 32BJ spokesman Kwame Patterson. Now, he added, "we're all coming under one cause, even though we have our different initiatives."
    The protests found their genesis not in any of the established New York social action groups but with a call put out by a Canadian magazine. While other major unions beyond the TWU have yet to officially endorse Occupy Wall Street, more backing could come as early as this week. Both the New York Metro Area Postal Union and SEIU 1199 are considering such moves.
    Jackie DiSalvo, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, says a series of public actions aimed at expressing support for labor -- from disrupting a Sotheby's auction on Sept. 22 to attending a postal workers' rally on Tuesday -- have convinced unions that the two groups' struggles are one.
    "Labor is up against the wall and they're begging us to help them," said DiSalvo, a retired professor at Baruch College in her late 60s who has emerged as a driving force in the effort to link up labor and the protests. DiSalvo is herself a member of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents teachers at the City University of New York.
    Recent anti-labor actions like Scott Walker's in Wisconsin "really shocked the unions and moved them into militant action," DiSalvo said, and the inflammatory video of a NYPD deputy inspector pepper-spraying several protesters on Saturday also generated union sympathy.
    "There's a lot of good feeling. They've made a lot of friends," said Chuck Zlatkin of the postal union.
    When a band of about 100 protesters showed up at a postal workers' rally featuring Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, complete with purple hair and big drums, "they went a long way towards touching people and making connections," Zlatkin observed.
    If unions move to support the protests in a major way, that could mean thousands more people marching in Lower Manhattan. Thus far the protesters have not managed to come near the 10,000 or so who attended the unrelated May 12 march on Wall Street. The Strong Economy for All Coalition, which receives support from the United Federation of Teachers, the Working Families Party, plus SEIU 32BJ and 1199, previously helped put together that demonstration. Now they will be rallying for the grassroots group.
    "Their fight is our fight," director Michael Kink said. "They've chosen the right targets. We also want to see a society where folks other than the top 1 percent have a chance to say how things go."
    Asked if the union support could dilute the message of the Occupy Wall Street protesters -- which has itself been dismissed as incoherent -- organizer DiSalvo said the rag tag group's stance would remain unchanged.
    "Occupy Wall Street will not negotiate watering down its own message," she said, union support or not.

    Activism Update

    Some Breaks in the Blackout of Wall Street Protests


    After a FAIR Action Alert (9/23/11) criticized the virtual media blackout of the Occupy Wall Street protests, corporate news coverage has increased--sparked largely by the escalating police brutality at the ongoing demonstration. (See FAIR Blog, 9/23/11, for a sample of the messages sent by FAIR activists to the network nightly news shows.)

    On ABC World News Sunday (9/25/11), anchor David Muir read this short item while playing footage of cops assaulting protesters:

    And here in New York, protests continued against the big banks and the bailout that helped the banks, Wall Street, they say, not Main Street. It turned ugly this weekend when protesters marching through Lower Manhattan clashed with police. One man right there brought down forcefully by an officer. About 80 people were arrested, in fact. The protesters posted this video on the Internet.
    NBC Nightly News aired a somewhat longer report the next day (9/26/11), with correspondent Ron Allen actually traveling downtown to the protest encampment in Liberty Plaza. His report included this "he said, she said": "The protesters charge that the police used excessive force. The police say that anyone who resists arrest can expect to encounter some level of force, but nothing excessive." The following morning's Today show (9/27/11) briefly aired footage of a police official pepper-spraying nonviolent demonstrators in the face, noting that "the NYPD calls the officer's actions appropriate."

    Some journalists seemed strikingly reluctant to take videotaped evidence of police violence at face value. CNN anchor Ali Velshi (9/26/11) introduced footage of a police assault by dismissively saying that protesters were "now screaming abuse after they were arrested over the weekend." After the footage of a cop violently subduing a protester, co-anchor Carol Costello noted, "Of course, what you can't see is what came before the fight"--a disclaimer that could be made of every single piece of videotape that CNN runs.

    A September 27 New York Times piece (FAIR Blog, 9/28/11) seemed to defend the police force's brutal response, with reporter Joseph Goldstein depicting a police department concerned about "terrorism" and the "destruction and violence" that supposedly accompany "anticapitalist demonstrations." Such police worries, according to Goldstein, "came up against a perhaps milder reality on Saturday, when their efforts to maintain crowd control suddenly escalated"--an oddly passive way to introduce the use of pepper spray and body slams against nonviolent demonstrators.

    "Even as the members of Occupy Wall Street seem unorganized and, at times, uninformed, their continued presence creates a vexing problem for the Police Department," Goldstein wrote--though his acceptance of media myths about violent demonstrators (Extra!, 1-2/00, 3-4/00; FAIR Action Alert, 7/25/00) makes the reporter seem less informed than the protesters he patronizes.

    Similar condescension was on display in another New York Times piece ("Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim," 9/25/11), with reporter Ginia Bellafonte deriding the "intellectual vacuum" of the protests, with "its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it." Bellafante described one protester as a "half-naked woman... with a marked likeness to Joni Mitchell and a seemingly even stronger wish to burrow through the space-time continuum and hunker down in 1968.
    The Times did, however, print a column by Jim Dwyer (9/28/11) that grappled seriously with the police brutality on display in the videos of the march. "If a nightstick were substituted for pepper spray, a conventional weapon instead of an exotic one, the events on 12th Street would bear a strong resemblance to simple assault," Dwyer noted straightforwardly.
    Perhaps the harshest critic of police violence in corporate media was MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, who devoted a remarkable segment to the issue on September 26. Pointing to footage of police tackling a person carrying a video camera, O'Donnell noted:

    The reason that man is being assaulted by the police is because of what he has in his hand. He's holding a professional grade video camera. Since the Rodney King beating was caught on an amateur video camera, American police officers have known video cameras are their worst enemy. They will do anything they can to stop you from legally videotaping how they handle their responsibility to serve and protect you.
    Another outstanding moment in corporate media coverage was filmmaker Michael Moore's appearance on CNN (9/26/11). Host Piers Morgan gave Moore a rare opportunity to actually articulate some of the grievances that have prompted the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the first place:

    The main thing is, number one, is that the rich are getting away with a huge crime. Nobody has been arrested on Wall Street for the crash of 2008. They're not paying their fair share of the taxes. And now with the Citizens United case of the Supreme Court, they get to buy politicians up out in the open....
    It all points to, are we going to live in a democracy that's run by the majority of the people, or are we going to be living in a kleptocracy, where the kleptomaniacs down on Wall Street, who have stolen people's pension funds, they've wrecked people's lives, millions have been thrown out of their homes, millions are without health insurance, millions have lost their jobs?
    Still, as late as this week, some in the media establishment were continuing to debate whether the Occupy Wall Street protests were worth covering at all. NPR ombud Edward Schumacher-Matos devoted a column (9/26/11) to the network's decision not to air any reports on the demonstration:

    We asked the newsroom to explain their editorial decision. Executive editor for news Dick Meyer came back: "The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective."

    The next day, the previously unimportant non-news was worth covering after all, as Schumacher-Matos wrote (9/27/11):
    The Occupy Wall Street protests have persisted into this week, so the newsroom has decided to include a segment on tonight's All Things Considered.
    FAIR thanks all media activists who wrote to news outlets and helped to change their minds about the newsworthiness of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. There's still a long way to go. 
    What do we do? Stand up, fight back!
    & JOIN #OccupyWallSt !
    The wealthiest NY'ers are getting richer, while our schools are losing teachers, school employees, art, music, essential services, after-school programs, tutoring, guidance counselors...
    It's TIME parents, students, teachers and community stand up to the big banks, corporations and millionaires that crashed our economy.

    Join the Alliance for Quality Education, the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, community groups, and unions (sponsors below) to ask Wall St. and the wealthiest NY'ers to pay their fair share.

    => 233 Broadway, at 4:30pm<=
    Wednesday, October 5th
    4,5,6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, 2,3 to Park Place, A, C, E to Chambers, R to City Hall
    Others will meet at 250 Broadway & we will all march to Zuccotti Park

    Let's march down to Wall Street to join protesters who have been there for weeks and show the media the face of New Yorker's hardest hit by corporate greed.

    Sponsored by: United NY, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Working Families Party, VOCAL-NY, Community Voices Heard, Alliance for Quality Education, Coalition for Educational Justice, New York Communities for Change, Coalition for the Homeless, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, TWU Local 100, The Job Party
    Click HERE to tell your friends about the march to occupy Wall St.

    Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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Origins of the ATR Pool: A Short History

    Originally Posted 2:45, updated 1PM

    Look for an upcoming ATR flier for distribution and sharing. 

    Thanks to Teachers for a Just Contract for sending this clarifying information:
    The ATR pool is not, in fact, directly related to the right to seniority transfer.  It is related to what is mentioned in the small type:  the end of the practice of placing of excessed appointed teachers in nearby unencumbered vacancies (although that was not a seniority right, see below).    
    These are two entirely separate rights.  The seniority transfer required that schools post half their unencumbered vacancies in the early spring.  (This is a slight simplification, since there was also transfer for racial balance, but let's leave that aside)  Teachers then could apply and the most senior in the specific license applying for a position was hired.  
     Excessing would take place long after the deadline for the  seniority transfers,  at the very end of the school year.    Before the 2005 contract, the excessed teachers would be placed in nearby vacancies in their licenses.  This took place even in schools that had already opted out of the seniority transfer system by adopting the SBO transfer.  (This btw was not a seniority right. There was no bumping. They were placed in vacancies, or displaced only unappointed teachers.)  What changed to stop this was that principals got the power to decide who their school hired.  Even if the seniority transfer were to be restored, without the right of excessed teachers to be placed, there would still be ATRs, since teachers who already have positions could get the positions posted on the seniority list, and schools only had to post half their unencumbered vacancies. 
    I know this doesn't make much difference, we should have both rights.
    Next week the UFT is holding borough ATR meetings at the borough offices. We believe this is a response to the agitation around the ATR question. The ostensible purpose of these meetings is to reasure ATRs that they will not be laid off out of seniority but will not address the underlying issues that ATRs are bringing up regarding being moved from school to school.

    The flyer says they will answer questions and address your concerns. Bring your stories.

    Just last night I got an email from an ATR in south Staten Island who was assigned to a school in Bushwick. There is some physical handicap involved and the ATR has to use public transportation. On purpose? I bet it is.

    Thanks to ICE's  Jeff Kaufman for this related info:
    District 76 is BASIS which covers all of Staten Island and schools in South Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Bed Stuy among other neighborhoods. The rest of Brooklyn is Brooklyn HS which is district 73. It appears the ATR is being assigned within the district. While BASIS is terrible just think about my old district, 79, which has a city-wide reach.

    Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/.And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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Mis-Education Nation: Sending NBC's 'Education Nation' Back to School

    Standing Room Only Event wows attendees at alternative event showing real voices.

    They kept coming and coming - until just about every single seat was filled and people were standing along the walls of the auditorium at the School of the Future, and very apt name for the  location of an event co-sponsored by GEM that presages a re-balancing of the debates in the ed wars between the Goliath billionaire backed Ed Deformers and the David-like Real Reformers.

    Flanders, Jones, Ravitch, Haimson, Noguera
    There was some irony on the choice of panelists.

    We knew three of the four panelists - Brian Jones (GEM), Diane Ravitch and Leonie Haimson (Class Size Mattera) - line up squarely on the Real Reform side of the line. Pedro Noguera, who is considered a fairly safe choice when Ed Deformers try to claim "balance" (he was on an Education Nation panel) found himself under attack for attempting to have one foot on both sides of the line. As GEM's Julie Cavanagh declared in a note attached to her report on the event posted at Labor Notes, "Brian, Leonie and Diane fabulous as always and wooohooo Michael Fiorillo going after Noguera something fierce!" Noguera who is often the star of events he is invited to looked uncomfortable throughout as Brian Jones with his insights and humor stole the show. (See my AFTER BURN comment for more on Noguera.)

    I taped the entire event and have put the hour and a half video up at http://vimeo.com/29735658. As the weekend progresses I will extract excerpts, in particular the Noguera/Fiorillo material. Michael who works with ICE and GEM has been a persistent critic of Noguera on the blogs.

    I should say a word and put in a plug for FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting - which sponsored the event (along with Class Size Matters. GEM was proud to be asked to join in as a co-sponsor.) In today's world of media domination by the wealthy, FAIR plays a crucial role which you can support with a donation.

    Here is Julie's report at Labor Notes:

    Sending NBC's 'Education Nation' Back to School

    With NBC airing a second “Education Nation” special that resembles an infomercial for charter schools and online learning, the media watchdog group FAIR held an event Tuesday to clear the air.

    The panelists at the MisEducation Nation forum in New York City said the coverage offered by NBC was, at best, misguided—a noble but seriously uninformed effort, said Leonie Haimson, a New York City public school parent and leader of Class Size Matters, which advocates for reducing the number of students per teacher.

    At worst, “Education Nation” is a sounding board for the corporate education “reform” movement driven by the billionaires’ agenda, said Brian Jones, a Brooklyn teacher.

    Jones is the co-narrator of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman,” a documentary that showed what the "Waiting for Superman" film left out. Davis Guggenheim’s “Superman,” a notably pro-charter and anti-teacher union documentary, was released last year.

    The goal of Tuesday’s event, according to FAIR, was to offer a more reasonable conversation about public education than the corporate-interest perspective featured in “Education Nation.” The event was moderated by Laura Flanders of GritTV.

    The central themes of the evening were anchored by the experiences of Diane Ravitch, an education historian and prominent critic of corporate education initiatives, in her recent trip to Finland.

    She noted that Finnish schools have small class sizes, teachers who are trusted and treated as professionals, and free education through college. Less than 4 percent of children live in poverty (compared to the United States’ 22 percent). No child is given a test, except for teacher-made assessments, until the senior year of high school. Most importantly, Ravitch said, the stated purpose of public school in Finland is “to develop the humanity of our students.”

    Brian Jones, an educator who began teaching in Brooklyn this year after more than six years in Harlem, spoke from his experience: Educational opportunities are diverging within the same public school system, let alone among different countries.

    Resources matter, Jones reaffirmed. Kids who are well-fed and have basic needs met fare better.

    Teacher union reformers have said part of the equation is turning teacher unions toward a social-justice model that understands building coalitions of parents, students, and community organizations to create high-quality schools is not only the right thing to do but also the best way to protect union members’ interests.

    Pedro Noguera highlighted the different treatment that children and families living in poverty experience in our schools. Noguera is chair of the board at the State University of New York that authorizes new charter schools through SUNY.

    The only contentious moment occurred when a teacher from the audience confronted Noguera about his role on the SUNY charter board. A parent, Karen Sprowal, whose son was kicked out of a SUNY charter school, asked how Noguera would hold the school accountable. Noguera responded that public schools push kids out, too, and that his board tracks their schools’ attrition rates.

    As the audience voiced its disagreement, Noguera said SUNY schools are the top-rated charters in the country. He neglected to recognize that charters schools also serve fewer children living in poverty and fewer students who receive special education and English-as-a-second-language services.

    Panelists noted that the corporate reform movement is undermined by its own failures. Several studies have shown that charter schools have not developed a magic formula. One-sixth do better than public schools, Ravitch said, but one-third do worse.

    Ravitch called for diverse and practical solutions for our schools which acknowledge that poverty must be addressed in tandem with education policy.

    The panelists agreed on the evening’s major theme: NBC’s “Education Nation” is misguided to focus almost exclusively on teacher quality.

    Instead, they emphasized the need for more parent and community engagement. As Haimson said, we know very well what a good school looks like: small classes, rich curriculum, respected and trusted teachers. You know, the sort of place Bill Gates would send his kids.

    One of the most important points made by Leonie was about how gentrifying schools in certain neighborhoods are amongst the most integrated in the city yet their use of space to install enrichment programs that keep this balance intact goes challenged by the DOE and they are declared underutilized, followed by a co-location of another public school or in most cases a charter which undermines the schools and results in making it less integrated because the programs that attract parents get destroyed. Many of us think that is the intention - to actually undermine successful schools - call me a conspiracy nut but it happens too often.

    Now Noguera who is a champion of these type of schools - in theory - in essence help assist the DOE by authorizing the very charters that end up undermining these public schools. I've actually heard him - I believe I have it on tape from another event - sort of throw up his hands and say, "We don't know where they will be placed when we authorize them," one of the most disingenuous comments I've heard him make - the classic "who me?"
    I'm going to extract Leonie's points from the video and put them up later.
    Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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What Goes On in Vegas Doesn't Stay in Vegas - "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman"

    We send this out with every copy (7000 we've had made so far - but apparently way beyond that).
    Please share the film with your friends, family members, and colleagues and feel free to duplicate your DVD! If you do duplicate or distribute the film, please let us know. We'd love to keep track of who our film is reaching. Email: gemnyc@gmail.com
    Why isn't this happening in NYC?
    I am a teacher who saw "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" at a summer screening in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    I was moved and inspired by the film enough to request a copy and then make a sizable donation. Combining my enthusiasm with the permission of the film makers to share copies, I put together a cover letter and shared eighteen copies with each member of my school's PTA board.

    Additionally, I put together a write-up and made copies available to my school's staff. Twenty-five copies were shared in this manner. Beyond this, I gave a glowing review and offered copies to teachers and support staff around the Valley. In this way, I sent out thirty-eight copies to other campuses.

    In addition to home watchings, I know that there have been "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" viewing parties. Once viewed, I encourage people to pass their discs onto new potential viewers. My hope is that a large enough number of people watching the film here will either be inspired to resist the current reform movement or better yet, spark a real reform awakening. I've done what I can to pay honor to the film and spread the message to this corner of the country. I appreciate the efforts of Real Reform Studios for creating such a long overdue and well-done film! Thanks for the film and your permissions, Ryan D.

    Come to our next screening:
    Oct. 14 (Friday) at Community Church, 40 East 35 St., 6PM

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Tonight: MisEducation Nation/ Oct. 12 - It's Time to Change the Stakes

    I'm posting this email from parent activist Janine Sopp to her listserve. If you can make it to the School of the Future at 7PM tonight you will get the alternative view from Education Nation - see my upcoming post on my adverntures there yesterday.

    And on October 12, we kick off our "Change the Stakes" campaign to reverse the impact of high stakes testing, which has affected - and infected- almost every child, parent and teacher in America - except for those involved with private schools. Yong Zhao is honoring us as the guest speaker.

    Both events are co-sponsored by the Grassroots Education Movement.

    Dear Parents, Teachers, Administrators and Friends,

    If you are reading and listening to the media of late, you will find that issues around "Education" have been making the headlines.  In President Obama's State of the Union Speech the other night, he spoke firmly about his vision of what our Education System should be.  This article speaks to his points and clarifies some of the facts behind the talk. 

    Below are two very important and informative events that will help to shape your understanding of the path our current administration, from the Federal Government down to the State and City level are taking.  Should you find the laws and policies being implemented in your child's school confusing at best and potentially destructive rather than instructive, please consider attending one or both of these events and engaging in the process of educating yourself on the current climate of Education. 

    There are many policies in the works that will effect our students, our teachers and our schools, most of which will be put in place without our consent.  If you want to know what to expect beyond what has already happened, these panel discussions will help you gain some perspective.  If you feel this is not the path you would like to see for our children and our schools, now is the time to get informed and involved.

    I hope to see some of you there......


    FAIR New York City Event

    September 27, 2011

    MisEducation Nation:
    Corporate Media and Corporate Education Reform

    NBC is staging its second annual "Education Nation" summit at the end of September--a series of events and broadcasts bankrolled by the corporate interests and foundations aligned with the so-called "education reform" movement.

    Corporate media coverage of education policy tends to hew closely to the "reform" agenda: promoting charter schools and vouchers, embracing relentless testing and other "accountability" measures, and attacking teachers' unions for standing in the way of progress.

    What would a more reasonable conversation about public education look like?

    On September 27, join FAIR and four of the most dynamic and thoughtful education experts and activists in the country for a FREE discussion about how the media mangle the debate over public schools.

    The panelists:
    -Diane Ravitch
    Author, NYU Research Professor of Education
    -Pedro Noguera
    NYU Professor of Education
    -Brian Jones
    -Leonie Haimson
    Executive Director, Class Size Matters
    Moderator: Laura Flanders

    September 27, 2011
    7:00 PM
    School of the Future Auditorium
    127 East 22nd Street
    between Park and Lexington)
    New York, NY 10010

    Free of charge.

    CO-SPONSORS: Class Size Matters, WBAI 99.5 FM, Parents Across America, Grassroots Education Movement, Rethinking Schools, NYCoRE, Coalition for Public Education, Teachers Unite
    For More information:   http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=102


    It is Time to Change the Stakes!
    Join us for an evening with Yong Zhao...

    “American education is at a crossroads.  Two paths lie in front of us:  one in which we destroy our strengths in order to catch up with others on test scores and one in which we build on our strengths so we can keep the lead in innovation and creativity.  The current push for more standardization, centralization, high-stakes testing, and test-based accountability is rushing us down the first path, while what will truly keep America strong and Americans prosperous should be the latter, the one that cherishes individual talents, cultivates creativity, celebrates diversity, and inspires curiosity.  –Yong Zhao

    Yong Zhao is one of the most eloquent critics of the high cost of high-stakes testing and an expert on the Chinese educational system, which is attempting to move away from the ridgid accountability system that Arne Duncan and other corporate reformers are pushing our country towards.  
    He is the Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education at the University of Oregon, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE)..  For more information visit:  http://zhaolearning.com
    October 12, 2011
    Location:  I.S. 89 201 Warren Street   New York, NY  10282
    Time:  6:30-8:30 PM
    Sponsored by:  Class Size Matters, Grassroots Education Movement, I.S. 89 PTA, Parents Across America, and Time-Out From Testing
    See Attachment

    Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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Report from the Field: Race to the Bottom

    Stand and Deliver
    by Anon.

    So this week’s Inquiry Team task is a doozy. We are supposedto go into ARIS, list all kids by proficiency level AND by proficiency rating,cross reference on NYSSTART to find trends, identify kids that are in more thanone category (for example, a young, African American male who has an IEP, hasbeen held back, and who qualifies for free lunch counts for 4 points because heis a member of 4 subgroups) for school report card purposes and identify twotarget groups with proficiency ranged from high-1 – mid-2 and high-2 to mid-3.There are other little data tricks we need to do, but I think you get the idea.

    So my co-teacher and I settle down with the directions andstart to work on this. As I read the directions, I notice at the end that thefinal SMART goal on the sheet reads something to the effect of “By September27, 2011, 100% of teachers will have MEMORIZED the names and proficiency scoresof ALL students within the target proficiency ranges, along with each studentsproficiency score.”

    There were other memory requirements. I have to memorize thenames and proficiency ratings of all the students I have that fall into one ormore subgroups (they are worth extra points on the school report card). I haveto memorize who my level 1s are and who are my “push/slip” kids – the oneswhose scores are JUST under or over the threshold for another level, thereforeat risk of “slipping” back or worthy of trying to “push” for the next level togain points.  I must also memorizethe number of students I have in each level and the range of scores within thelevel.

    Apparently, just having the information available in a filefor planning purposes is not enough. I must have it all committed to memory,along with the school-wide SMART goals (verbatim, btw).  I have visions of being stopped in thehallway by an administrator and being told “Recite all students who are youngblack males with IEPs and free lunch, in ascending order, GO!!”  Or even, “All your level 1s who arewithin .03 points of making level 2, alphabetically! GO!!” It’s a scary thoughtand I am already lying awake at night stressing out over what is going tohappen to me if I can’t alphabetically recite, on demand, the names of all myLevel 2s who qualify for free lunch and have trouble with inferences as I amwalking to the ladies’ room.

    And I fail to see the point of this.  I understand needing to know where theareas of most need are within my students and needing to know who is at whichproficiency level (I do this anyway and use the information to informinstruction), but to require me to memorize this data for some kind of “Standand Deliver” encounter in the hallway strikes me as degrading. I am I reallysimply a seal performing tricks for administration in the hopes of being throwna herring?  Must I take time awayfrom planning lessons and creating strategies to meet the needs of these kidsto study a stack of flash cards filled with sterile data about them?  Somehow we all become less than humanin this situation.

    The other disturbing aspect of this Inquiry meeting was thetreatment the lowest and highest students are slated to receive this year.  As we focus on the kids who are “worth”more points on the school report card and the kids who fall into the“push/slip” categories, the students who are at the high and low end of therange will be ignored. To quote my AP this week, “The kids who are at a 3.4 orhigher, even into level 4, well, we’re not going to worry about them. They willpass the test and we get no points from moving a 3 to the 4, so we don’t wantto waste our instructional time on them since there is little return in it.”

    Yes, she said that.

    Regarding the really low kids – the level 1s and holdovers,she said, “It’s the same with the really low kids. You know you can’t make alevel 1.2 into a level 2 by the end of the year, so you don’t  need to waste time on those studentswho will not be able to help move the school’s data forward. We need to bepragmatic and use our limited time and resources on the kids that can get uppoints."


    She wrapped up with a reminder to focus on the kids who are“worth” more because they fall into more than one subgroup and therefore countmore than once on the report card. To wit, “Let’s say you have a student who isa young African-American male, who has an IEP, qualifies for free lunch AND isan ELL student. THAT student needs to get LOTS of attention because my movingthat ONE student, his points are multiplied by FOUR, whereas a student who issimply an African-American male will be worth only one point and therefore isnot as valuable on the report card.”

    I find this profoundly disturbing, and it’s making me feeldirty.

    Race to the Bottom, indeed.

    Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/.And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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Report from the Field: Race to the Bottom

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Chicago Teachers Fight Back

    SaveOurSchools: Chicago Presents

    Teach-Ins in Public Spaces of Chicago
    Thursdays in September

    Teachers: come show Chicago how much work you really do!

    Bring Lessons to PlanEssays to Grade, Teams to Coach, Students to Tutor, Clubs to Sponsor, and Parents to Conference.  

    Thurs., September 29th: Millennium Park @The Cloud Gate (Bean)

    Before you go 
    Call a colleague, 
    Text a teacher, 
    Fwd this email,
    Print and Post in Public
    Status your Facebook, and 
    Retweet your followers

    See you at the SOS Thursday Teach-Ins!

    Find us on facebookSOS Thursday Teach-Ins

    Contact emailaheenan@gmail.com

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Chicago Teachers Fight Back

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Rocking the House at Education Nation: JA-MIE FID-LER, JA-MIE FID-LER, JA-MIE FID-LER

    Last Updated: Monday, Sept. 26, 8AM
    [See my live tweets below the fold]

    A new star rose in the firmament tonight last night at Education Nation as PS 261K teacher Jamie Fidler, one of the stars of the film "American Teacher" which premiered tonight, went head to head with major ed deformer Jonathan Alter on the post screening panel. She was joined on the panel, moderated by Al Roker, by the three other teachers from the movie and Parents Across America parent leader Helen Gym from Philly.

    The only logic for having Alter on this panel was that NBC had to make its sponsors happy by having a voice for ed deform to counter what real teachers who are not ed deformers but real reformers might say. Tonight, the sponsors didn't get their monies' worth. Jenna Bush (yes, THAT BUSH) had to rescue him from the audience by finding a TFAer who defended the org vehemently, followed by an ed deform Supt from Idaho who bragged about getting rid of tenure and putting in merit pay. But what would you expect from Bush's daughter?

    The word was that NBC was totally embarrassed by the criticism last year over their one-sided case for ed deform - they are partners with Gates at MSNBC - and tried to get better balance.

    Jamie Fidler has been co-chapter leader at her school and is now working with the Real Reformers in the progressive activist groups in NYC, especially with Teachers Unite. Thus she was perfect to be on the panel. She also lights up the screen whenever she is on. Look for her to emerge this year as a new voice in the ed wars on the Real Reformer side.

    At the end of the event I told Alter what I thought about him. Hope I ruined his karma. I also ran into E4E's Sydney Morris (who I waved to when she went in) on the way out. Sydney always says hello. But then I noticed a sour looking Evan, who glared at me, walking the obligatory 2 steps behind his leader. Guess he didn't care for my comment calling Sydney the brains of the outfit. At least she recognizes that I know what I'm talking about. [BTW South Bronx School takes a big shot at E4E today.] I heard from a teacher in Kansas City today that E4E had packed the teacher forum during the day - where is GEM she asked? GEMers do have better things to do than waste time at these events on a Sunday.

    I was there with a press pass along with Brian Jones who teaches at Jamie's school and we passed out some copies of The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman to some press people and to Dave Eggers who made "American Teacher." Brian and I sat in the special blogging section in the back and ate popcorn and other goodies they gave us.

    I actually like the movie better the 2nd time. When I saw it in May I reacted to the overwhelming money theme which I think distorted some of the message. But this time the other positive issues like the work teachers really do came through. That is why I like the Chicago Teacher Union people who go to malls and other public spaces and do Maulins - where teachers gather on Sundays or in the evenings to work on lesson plans and mark papers in public to show people what they really do.

    I have a pass for tomorrow afternoon where I may get to tape a press conference of parents who Dennis Walcott is trying to ban from a panel he is on. Negotiations are going on to balance that panel or there will be more embarrassment for NBC.

    I copied and pasted my tweets - you have to read them in reverse order. It was the first event I tweeted at - not my fave way of reporting. See below the fold:

    Norm Scott
    PAA Helen Gym challenges merit pay and charter schl. Still no democratic ed in philly.
    Norm Scott
    Alter pushes merit pay. Jenna finds Seth Andrew w yellow hat. Pushes charter schools. Another plant. Jenna has her targets.
    Norm Scott
    Jamie tries to fight him off. What a star.
    Norm Scott
    Now Jenna finds ed deform supt fr Idaho. Brags about getting rid of tenure.
    Norm Scott
    Jenna bush puts out fire by finding TFAer in aud w 5 yrs in classroom. TFA training wonderful. A plant.
    Norm Scott
    Alter and TFA taking beating PAA parent Helen also talks about need for stability in schools w tchrs staying.
    Norm Scott
    Jamie challenges Alter on unsustainability of TFA and value of teachers remaining. Rhena also chal TFA on low level train.
    leonie haimson
    by NormScott1
    Finland turned around ed system when reduced class size; also eliminated standardized testing
    Norm Scott
    Jamie- teachers not decision makers. She is member of Real Reform NYC crew vs faux E4E. Surp Gates didn't by them a seat
    Norm Scott
    Alter again. Has been one of worst deform promoters. Brought up Rhambo longer day assault in chicago which we know will be test prep.
    Norm Scott
    95% unionized. Jamie challenges him on longer day and eval by high stakes tests. So does Par Acr Am Helen fr Philly.
    Norm Scott
    Ed deform freak Jon Alter talks Finland but leaves off 95$
    Norm Scott
    Weingarten tweeted 90% tchrs pay for supplies. Oops. Uft agreed to end tchr choice money for this year
    Norm Scott
    Film comparing succ nations to US. Finland YES. Talk about conditions but in terms of money for supplies not cl size#educationnation
    Norm Scott
    Weinarten tweeted surveys show merit pay not motivator. So why did she agree to it in nyc? She should add apology#educationnation
    Norm Scott
    Jamie had baby back in 6 wks. Realizes as parent what a resp tchrs have to take care of others' children. Grt pt.
    NYC Parents Union
    by NormScott1
    We will not allow E4E to use our kids as vehicles to push their agenda.
    Norm Scott
    Jamie back on. Screen lights up. What a star. Tries to call re maternity lv during lunch. Takes 18 minutes out of lunch hr
    Norm Scott
    Poor tchr in Denver - had to be her own filmmaker. No slickness here. Raw and depressing.
    Norm Scott
    Hanushek repeats lies about effect tchr study. Eric looks like he should be working in a morgue#educationnation
    Norm Scott
    NJ tchr-good tchrs reach kids who don't get it. Doesn't say thats depend on number of kids in class -taboo in eddeform#educationnation
    Norm Scott
    Movie starting. Gates/Duncan make early appear. Ahhh, Darling-Hammond. See my review of Am Tch on ed notes posted this AM.
    Norm Scott
    Roker tosses "ed imp cause we have to compete in global econ" line. Like due to glob econ no jobs even for college grads
    Norm Scott
    . Film producer was teacher. Tchrs disrespec in other circles. Not my exp. Others seemed fasc I taught in tough inner city
    Norm Scott
    Jenna Bush, proud daughter of nclb. 5yrs as teacher? Well, daddy looking better than Obama. Al Roker on. Love him. Really grt sense of humor
    Norm Scott
    Randi on stage. How much will she give up to ed deformers in next few minutes? Likes Am Tch- of course. Movie mostly about money.
    Norm Scott

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Rocking the House at Education Nation: JA-MIE FID-LER, JA-MIE FID-LER, JA-MIE FID-LER

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