Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Return of the King? More Like Idiocracy.

                                       Here We Go Again!

The installment of John King in a pseudo-Secretary of Ed position tells us more about the sorry ass condition of the Obama Department of Education than it does about King rebounding from his disastrous tenure in New York State. In spite of what King and Obama's spinmeisters will try to tell us, Andrew Cuomo unloaded John King and disappeared him to D.C.  with a quickness. John King is a public relations nightmare. He was unqualified to serve as Commissioner of NYSED so his handlers and puppeteers changed the rules to give him the job. Usually when this happens it's expected that the beneficiary of said favors repays his benefactors with a stellar performance removing any doubt of his qualifications or his worthiness for the job. You can just imagine the backstage pep talk he must have been given: O.k. Johhny, we cut all the corners and worked all kinds of angles to get you this job. So get out there and try really hard not to suck.  But King's performance was awkward and unconvincing. His ineptitude in a leadership role was glaringly obvious from the very start.  He showed himself deficient in the most rudimentary of people skills and his flat affect projected more of a sociopath's demeanor than the cool intellectual dude he was trying to project. 

 In what was meant to be a flattering write up of King's persona, the kindest way a reporter could find to gloss King's social awkwardness was to say that he preferred eating lunch alone while looking at data. They might have congratulated him on his hygiene and said he loved his country too but it was a pretty strained attempt to paint this condescending twit as some kind of intellectual prophet in the wilderness. Nobody really knows what he's been doing in D.C. since Andrew Cuomo put him on the first flight to Anywhere. And you can be sure the only thing Cuomo cared about was getting King out the door. When pressed to say something nice about the guy on his departure for D.C. Andrew wound up with the Governor's Florsheim and planted it smack on King's ass. "His record speaks for itself," was all the charity Sheriff Andy could find in his dark little soul. And who could blame him really? When King and Dragon Empress Tisch and Wheezer Bennett took their imperious clownshow of a "Listening Tour" on the road they enraged parents and educators at every stop. If people weren't already in a boil over the sorry state of public education with New York's test and punish regimen they were when Kinger, Tischy and Regentus Flatulentus got through with them. New Yorkers wanted to keelhaul all three of them and Cuomo too. Guilt by association Governor. As Dad always told me, Water seeks its own level. And in the eyes of the state Cuomo was every bit as sodden and polluted as the 3 stooges who told us we should shut up and take the tests. 

We don't know if King found yet another private Montessori school for his own spawn or if he put them in some other cozy private affair like Sidwell Friends where the Obama girls go. You can bet the little Kings aren't being AimsWebbed and hectored with Dibls and Test Prep in between their art, French, phys. ed and music classes every day. No, that Common Core regimen is fine for the little people but somehow the Ed Reform caste doesn't believe it's good enough for their own little Ashleys and Trevors. And when people brought this to King's attention he declared his kids to be off limits in the discussion though he declared everyone else's to be lacking in excellence and rigor. 

John King's resume could hardly land him a top notch position anywhere else even in the revolving door world of school superintendents that we see in American schools especially urban ones. King instead landed in the great political scrapheap of Washington D.C. where his Dumbocrat enablers slid him into the Dept. of Ed alongside fellow patronage beneficiary Arne Duncan.  John King, in an eerily familiar scenario to the one we witnessed in New York State, is now being installed with sleight of hand and political gamesmanship as the de facto Sec. of Ed. Isn't it interesting how no matter where this guy goes he can't get the job on his own merits but has to rely on maneuvering and chicanery to sneak him in a side door somehow? Is anyone wondering why Obama didn't simply name him his choice to replace Arne as Secretary Of Education? Does anyone imagine this petulant pet lamb of the corporate ed reform movement getting through a confirmation process? He wouldn't make it until lunch time on the first day. I saved this for last because I sense that some of my colleagues are gripping and sweating King's latest installation. In case you forgot what this guy isn't made of, please allow Port Jefferson Station Teacher's Association President Beth Dimino refresh your memory of how to handle this pest:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cuomo Stacks His CCSS Task Farce with Ed Reformers Canada, Flanagan and Weingarten

Ed Reformers Eli Broad,  Joel Klein and Randi Weingarten

Two words: Randi Effing Weingarten.

The President for Life of the American Federation of Teachers -- maybe not life but until Hillary sets her up with a more advantageous position -- has been tapped to participate in Governor Andrew Cuomo's latest Task Farce. 

By eagerly agreeing to take part in yet another of Cuomo's desperate attempts to distance himself from the stupidity and obnoxiousness of his own education policies, Weingarten has given her tacit approval of King Andrew's anti public educator agenda. A real union leader would say something like "I'll be part of your panel Governor but you're not going to like what I have to say." But then again we're not talking about talking about Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill or Cesar Chavez here friends.We are talking about lawyer Randi Weingarten  who can dress up in sensible shoes and sport all the apple, pencil and school bus lapel pins she wants but she remains a lawyer, not a teacher. 

What makes Weingarten so insidious is the way she poses for mainstream media idiots as some sort of Chavez or Hill figure while surreptitiously working the agenda of public education's enemies on behalf of people like Andrew Cuomo, Bill Gates, Joel Klein and Eli Broad. There's an infamous video clip of Chris Christie mugging for the cameras saying something to the effect of "Who ever thought I'd be sitting here agreeing with the likes of Randi Weingarten?" Incidentally this was after she stepped into the Newark teacher's contract stalemate and settled it by agreeing to merit pay schemes along with other unspeakable concessions to the ed reformers. To answer Christie's somewhat rhetorical query I'd have to say "Anyone who knows Randi's track record Chris, that's who." 

Before this Confederacy of Dunces even convenes for the first time we all know Weingarten is fully on board with the Cuomo mythos and the mythos of so many other Common Core Deniers, namely that the CCSS are swell but their implementation was bungled and that's where all the confusion, chaos, failure and stupidity came from. It's the rollout's fault not the fault of David Shithead Coleman and his merry band of smartniks who glued together a developmentally inappropriate, tedious, stupid Frankenstein's monster of misguided educational malpractice. 

It's fine when your Standards ask 3rd graders to buzz through 5th and 6th grade tasks and concepts. It's totally cool when a guy with a PhD in English walks through a third grade writing task and asks what the hell are they even talking about? or when your CCSS Algebra exams leave gifted  and determined students palpitating and in tears with half an exam unanswered. Yeah that's just best practice for all of you stupid  cocky kids who thought you were smart because your lazy ass greedy teachers lacked rigor. This is what they are pushing on us: 

It's the way the turd sandwiches were sliced and handed out not the fact that they are turd sandwiches. And they really think we're dumb enough and passive enough to sit still and agree with it. 

Weingarten has done little to prove herself loyal to the constituents whose dues compensate her with a half million plus for her troubles. Like Cuomo -- and like this bullshit Task Farce -- Randi is a huge fan of the empty political gesture. She kibitzes with people like Broad, Gates and Klein then runs headlong into a picket somewhere in the hope of being arrested with real activists to boost her cred. I can't help but compare her to the phony white rapper J-Roc on Trailer Park Boys who gets himself pinched to build street cred but can't get bailed out and spends every waking minute trembling in terror locked up in a low level provincial clink. If Randi couldn't get bailed in 20 minutes you think she'd be wading into the protest to get herself cuffed with a plastic flex tie? Ninja please... 

When Tim Wu began closing the gap between himself and Kathy Hochul in the Democratic Primary, Weingarten committed what many of us viewed as the ultimate failed litmus test of her loyalties. NYSUT, under the influence of Weingarten and her handmaiden Punchy Mike Mulgrew refused to endorse Wu's running mate Zephyr Teachout in spite of the fact that she was talking our language and supporting teachers in the battle against Cuomo. And when the Lieutenant Governor's seat started to tip towards Wu Randi Weingarten jumped on the phones and robocalled her lawyer's heart out on behalf of Kathy Hochul, Andrew Cuomo's running mate.

How the president of a teacher's union could aid and abet the ticket mate of Andrew Cuomo is simply unthinkable to anyone with half the sense God gave a turnip. We were outraged and stunned. Stupefied and furious. But Randi shrugged it all off like she had no idea what we were talking about claiming Hochul had really shown herself in D.C. and she was a good person, loved her country and had a killer cookie recipe too. It was other worldly. People paying attention were so pissed they didn't know where to begin. Weingarten simply excused herself, wrote herself a note and was onto her next cause that had nothing whatsoever to do with the plight of public education or its practitioners. Al Sharpton's Birthday party, rescuing Nigerian school girls, ad nauseam. 

So when this Task Farce releases its "report" or its "findings" -- which are probably already written as we speak-- just remember who Cuomo put on the panel. It's not by coincidence that Weingarten is sitting alongside Geoffrey Canada, Sam Radford, Nolan, Flanagan and Baby Daddy Dick Parsons. She is part of a stacked deck who will do as Andrew Cuomo says and tell Andrew Cuomo exactly what he wants to hear in a bogus report when the farce is concluded. Randi Weingarten can talk and talk and talk but we've seen her in action a few too many times to think she's on our side. We're not buying it Randi. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

When the 1% Hire Educrats It's No Background Checks Required

Meryl Tisch Thinks The Public Can Simply Mind Its Own Damned Business Thank You Very Much

What happens when the 1% installs its handpicked stooges in Public Education's big jobs?

In Buffalo we experienced the six year train wreck that was the James Williams era. He bristled and bullied and blustered and blundered. Meanwhile, M&T Bank's bluenose edu-buttinski extraordinaire Robert Wilmers took a comfortable seat behind the tall hedge to watch the destruction his hand picked Superintendent rained down on Buffalo students, parents and teachers. One imagines a twisted senior citizen voyeur got up in an ascot  and smoking robe clutching a shaken not stirred martini while peeking over the verge in an inappropriately excited condition as James Williams fires attendance teachers and threatens to kick Phil Rumore's ass after calling him a snake in the grass...

Wait. Why you ask was a bank CEO allowed anywhere near the process of hiring a public school Superintendent? Glad you asked. Buffalo being the third poorest city in the Milky Way was dutifully redeeming Genesee Cream Ale cans and selling plasma to raise money for a Superintendent search when old Bordeaux Bob popped up out of his grapevines offering to pay for the search. Wow, who could refuse the old bugger's high minded offer? Not the sad sack brokeass Buffalo Board of Ed, that's for sure. They pounced on his offer as if it was one of those subsidized Wegman's subs they were known for powering down at their board meetings. Buried in Bordeaux Bob's generous offer however was the stipulation that Wilmers would pick his search company Heinrich & Struggles and would also be given all but one short of the majority of the final votes on the candidate they selected. So all Wilmers really had to do was tell his plants how to vote and convince one of the others with a vote to go his way -- which in this town isn't exactly splitting the atom on a degree of difficulty scale. 

Long story made solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short, Wilmers installed his guy with the hopes of breaking the back of the teacher's union and bulldozing the landscape to create the type of Pan Charter dystopian nightmare that now exists in New Orleans and is about a bad sneeze away from happening in L.A. too.          J. Dubz landed some pretty good body blows, firing nearly the entire staff of attendance teachers and grinding teacher morale down to conditions one might have expected in Harlan County before the big coal strike. Williams' assorted rats slowly began to desert him. The Buffalo News, whose chief honcho at the time was an old Harvard squash pal of Wilmers, stood by him with blind and inexplicable loyalty right up until JW marched a gang of boys back into Performing Arts where they'd knocked out another kid and put a teacher in the hospital. They were each given Williams' cell phone number with instructions to call him if any of the adults in the school were mean to them. At this point even the Buffalo News had to bail. They then turned loose an education reporter whose sole aim seemed to be covering the foibles and missteps of James Williams. And before too much longer Williams was faced with his exit interview that came with a suitcase full of cash and a Size 12 Buffalo footprint on his ass on the way out the door. 

In the post mortem a few of us inquiring minds wanted to know how a guy who'd pretty much turned the Dayton Public Schools in Ohio upside down and inside out and hid a $20 million dollar deficit until he was safely gone was ever given an interview let alone the gig itself here in B-Lo. Oh and there was plenty more fire behind the smoke Williams raised in Dayton. He'd provoked a strike, opened and jettisoned charters like empty beer cans all over the city and somehow dodged a jail term in a no show teaching gig at Wayne State that one of his fellow conspirators was not able to avoid. This guy was Kryptonite yet Wilmers' hand picked search company somehow missed all of that nastiness in Ohio and presented him as though his hometown was Galilee and he'd walked across Lake Erie to get here. I think in the so called real world of the MBA types ( the one we teachers are always being told we don't understand) this is known as "oversight." The Oversight seems to come in large supply for classroom grunts in public schools but in Charterlandia and whenever these bluenose characters involve themselves in the Public Ed it just doesn't seem to trend very well. 

The same scenario is playing itself out like an insidious repeating decimal here in the Empire State with the swift and irreversible coronation of MaryEllen Elia as the new Chief of NYSED. The general understanding of Elia's abrupt rise to power is that Meryl Tisch thought she was swell and believed she'd pick up right where Lil Jon King left off in tone deaf defense of and strident implementation of the Corporate Ed Privatization agenda. 

There will be no let up on high stakes testing or any question that Common Core is a gift of the gods that New Yorkers are simply too dumb and brainwashed by teacher's unions to appreciate. The Opt Out movement will meet its grisly fate in the Niagara Falls brawler's reptilian stare. MaryEllen Elia will not blink. And a quarter of a million kids' parents who refused last year's April Foolishness will be frogmarched into compliance this year if it takes a little carrot and a lot of stick or just a lot of stick. This lady has a history of blowing her top and unleashing streams of profanity on underlings dumb enough to stand in her way. And after all, who are these Opt Out parents to a Gargantuan ego like Elia but underlings who need to be squashed and put in line?

 Like the smoking crater Williams left behind in Dayton, Elia's Reform Dance with the Gates Foundation is racking up a huge tab that the district never saw coming down Hillsborough way. 

Ironically, the Gatesers are crawfishing on Teacher Merit Pay they'd originally promised to the district but are now withholding as they don't really think it ever worked. 

Did you hear that friends? Ed reformers-- when it's their money getting shelled out for a Merit Pay scheme--  are agreeing with the research and experience of the past 100 years in saying it doesn't work. The downside in Florida though is that Gates and Co. are screwing the schools out of money they promised them. They also cited a clause where their offer stated up to $100 million -- then said I imagine while looking at the ceiling -- that doesn't mean you're going to get the full $100 mil... We said Up to $100 mil. The Gates Foundation's renege on merit pay is only one of several that could put the district in even a deeper hole than Williams left for Dayton. It's just now starting to come under scrutiny and promises to produce some red faces, black clouds and possibly a few pink slips. Once again the 1%ers have managed to slam their person into place with virtually no accountability or oversight whatsoever. Whatever mess Elia left behind they can feed to the gators, cause Meryl Tisch isn't feeling their pain any more than Robert Wilmers felt Dayton's. Funny how neither of them seemed to give a damn about Buffalo's and New York State's pain either. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Parent Group Figure Links Child Sex Attacks to Lax Teacher Residency Policy

 People Just Aren't Grasping the Cause and Effect Thing

Sometimes a stupid statement should be ignored. But then there are other times. If you haven't figured it out by now this is one of the latter.

The Buffalo News in its interminable crusade to demonize and vilify Buffalo teachers has outdone itself in today's piece that discusses the sexual abuse of children -- black, urban children in particular. Sandra Tan's piece features gut wrenching testimony from two adult survivors of childhood sexual attacks. They share their harrowing experiences, one telling that they knew their attacker while the other didn't.  Both suffered years of post traumatic fallout from the ordeal they suffered as children.

The article seems to be going along with no particular subtext or editorial leanings, though one victim blames a Kindergarten teacher for releasing her to the attacker who shared her last name in spite of her telling the teacher the 15 year old rapist wasn't her uncle. If that's the case then I hope the teacher was sanctioned accordingly. I can't imagine ignoring a 5 year old telling me "He's not my uncle" and ignoring her. 

And then we hear from DPCC frontman and clinical strength Teacher hater Samuel Radford III of whom Tan writes:

Parent advocate Samuel L. Radford III said the families who live there (areas near schools) need the greatest support, but they don’t get it because many key school district stakeholders – teachers, administrators, police officers and counselors – don’t live in the city.       

...Wait, Whut?...

 Did he just say teachers living outside the city are essentially depriving students and their families of support that will keep them safe from child molesters? Can we see a cause and effect flow chart on how exactly that happens, Sam? Is there some data you can share that demonstrates how teachers choosing to live as I do in rural Eden, NY are responsible for facilitating and enabling children to be sexually assaulted by predators who live within a half a mile of a Buffalo Public School? 

You can't just say shit, Sam. You can't just spew out any old  nonsense that flutters into that thing between your ears just because you have a beef with teachers, especially teachers who've chosen to live somewhere without begging your permission. 

You can't just make stuff up from the assorted bigotry you carry around in your head about suburban or rural dwelling pedagogues and tie it to anything Sandra Tan decides to write about. To do so is to trivialize and politicize these people's trauma and  marginalize their sufferings in an unrelated context you've introduced to serve your own agenda. It's low. 

And shame on Tan for allowing such nonsense to be introduced into a serious and poignant story of abuse, recovery and survival. Much is being made of Donald Trump allowing some idiot bigot to utter all kinds of hateful venom about muslims and a sitting President without stopping the guy in mid-spew. Sandra Tan is no better than the Donald in this regard for allowing it and failing to edit it out before posting her piece. 

And as if this isn't enough already, Sam Radford III goes on to say that school people should be calling him as a parent and stakeholder to report suspicious or documented predators around schools neatly implying that Buffalo teachers treat their students with less concern and compassion than they show for their own kids:

“If there is a sex offender in and around a school that my children walk to, or that my children go by, then I want to know about it,” he said. “Notify me, and use the same protocol that you would want for your own children.”

What teacher or parent wouldn't agree with that? Just one problem with this suggestion. I've conversed with several people who've taught in schools where Mr. Radford's kids were students. A teacher at one school informs me that teachers were discouraged from contacting him to discuss his kids' or their education. He did not want to hear from them and apparently the school honored his request as a matter of policy. 

So maybe World History teacher Mr. Green living in East Amherst really isn't the problem after all Sam.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Regents Cower and Tremble Before Andrew Cuomo

I confess I did not call or email one single New York State Regent and ask them to vote correctly on the APPR. It's not that I don't think they should vote to count test scores as 50% of a teacher's evaluation. It's not that I think we will be more accurately observed by an "outside observer." I know both of those things are such complete and utter bullshit that there's no way anyone with half the brains God gave them needs to do any deep thinking on either of them. As Carl likes to say of his Superintendent candidates "it's a no brainer."

Nor do I think any of the Regents rented out a hyperbaric chamber and gorged themselves on fish oil, walnuts, blueberries and other brain foods to give them the thinky edge they'd need to excogitate this one through and get it right "for the children." And I really doubt any of them laid in bed grimacing and checking the alarm clock hitting the reset on the Darren Marks sleep app over and over until their cock crowed. I really don't think there was much angst or self reflection involved in this one at all friends.

For all of his happy hot air and heartfelt horseshit Regent Tilles did exactly as I predicted he would and voted like a coward with corporate privatizers. So did all the rest of the gutless, nutless eunuchs from around the state. I'm not sure how this figures into the mix but not one of the male Regents had the stones to stand up to Gubner Andy. They all caved and did as they feared they'd better do. And I'm sure they were all ready to squeak their rationalizations just as the jelly belly heavy hearts legislators did after they were threatened with a Working Families Party styled date rape by Cuomo's goons if they failed to grovel and go along.

Once again the supposedly weakened Governor we keep hearing is just a bad haircut away from Preet Bharara's pin the tail on the donkey dart has managed to get every single outrageous demand from a body of supposed adults who were largely too afraid of him to tell him no. I laugh every time someone else tells me Cuomo's weeks away from an indictment. Or they're teaching Kathy Hochul the secret handshake and they gave her the key to the cookie cabinet in the big office. Whatever. I'll Preet-lieve it when it Preet-pens. In the meantime I'll continue to look on in stunned horror as hordes of public servants refuse to serve the public. I'll continue to shake my head and listen to the rattle as these bought off chickenshits who were supposed to represent New Yorkers and the children of our state continue to tremble and cower and hide from their duties because they are afraid doing their job might mean no limo ride or a seat in the overflow room at Andy's next birthday party. Their priorities are not our priorities. Not even close.

I didn't call or email any of them because I just don't think there's any chance hearing from me is going to change any of their minds. These people didn't decide how they'd vote with children or teachers or parents in mind. We are the furthest thing from any of their imaginations. Just like the trembling heavy hearts legislators who aww shucksed  and gee wizzed their vote as they licked Cuomo's boot --  the idea that any of them is in Albany to serve the unwashed public couldn't be any more ridiculous. The public can fuck off. That's the message they sent me when they passed their budget and it's the same one the Regents reiterated today. Fuck off, New York.

I'd love to tell you about the silver lining I've discovered. I'd love to tell you Hey, but here's the good news... Maybe if you've done too much acid or haven't done quite enough you can take heart in NYSUT's baffling post about this being a good beginning or whatever the hell they're calling it. I anticipate Punchy Mike Mulgrew will be calling on Karen McWho to join him in yet another victory lap if he hasn't done so already. I'm never sure exactly what Mulgrew runs his victory laps around but in this case it's fairly safe to say he can run it around the profession of teaching in New York State.

Thanks to @lacetothetop I stole their graphic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Elia Says Test Scores Tell Us All We Need to Know About Teachers

Feel the Warmth...

Dr. Barbara Nevergold's latest blogpost offers a ringside glimpse into the flinty reptilian eyes of  newly crowned NYSED chief, MaryEllen Elia. Commissioner Elia has shed her faux skin of "concern" and her pose as a "listener" which we all knew she would before too long. So I guess it's kind of like looking at the crime scene photos to hear a first hand account of Elia in fully weaponized ed reform mode bristling and bullying educated adults as we knew she would. Dr. Nevergold here describes Elia's exchange with South Park High and Burgard Vocational personnel, who, from what I am told, were administrators not teachers:

... She said that while the majority of teachers, in both schools, were evaluated as effective or highly effective, student achievement was not correspondingly ranked.  In other words, students with effective teachers are expected to receive test scores that mirror their teachers’ ratings. How did they explain this discrepancy, she queried?  The staff members were hard pressed to respond. Her assertion about this disconnect and her question left no doubt that the Commissioner believes that there is a “connect” between these two measures.  

So MaryEllen Elia wants to talk about educational "disconnects" does she? The glaring fatal flaw in her corporate ed reform logic is the reformer fallacy that a standardized test score will tell you how good a teacher is. The disconnect she is operating under -- the twisted belief that an invalid test score can evaluate teaching ability -- has been debunked by The American Statistical Association and Educational Historian Diane Ravitch. But Elia has drunk deep from the flask of ed reform and is tipsy in her conviction that a great or even good teacher who's been  observed and evaluated by a qualified professional is only as good as some test scores on a Pearson product. Observations be damned. Test Scores Ubber Alles. She has her script and she is sticking to it just as she was hired to do. 

 Mary Ellen Elia believes that an invalid and unreliable Pearson test is the truest measure of good teaching. And when you look at her ed reformy career path and her dalliances with Eli Broad and Bill Gates you understand why she utters such asinine statements. She might have been a teacher in Sweet Home back in the days of the Dewey Decimal System. She may even have some soapy story to share about a Christmas present a student gave her wrapped with Courier Express newsprint and band aids. But her career as a teacher might just as well have never happened for all of the relevance her current mindset has to what actually transpires in a Buffalo Public School classroom in 2015.  She has no idea what teachers face on a daily basis in places like Burgard and South Park  -- or even at DaVinci for that matter.

What's really maddening is Elia doesn't even think she has to know. Her contempt for the dedicated teachers at South Park and Burgard couldn't be any more obvious. I spent my first 5 years teaching at Burgard and the day I broke up a knife fight in a hallway during lunchtime I went home and wrote out my request for a transfer. The knife wielder has since been incarcerated for a fatal knife attack during a home invasion. He stands a chance of being paroled next month too by the way. I accepted a position for the following year at South Park the school where a security guard had been shot by a student in a hallway a few months earlier. I guess I was using the lightning can't strike twice in the same spot logic. MaryEllen Elia's fuzzy homecoming stories about Sweet Home don't cut it when you talk about the environment of these two schools. And what's really amazing about them both is the number of hard core dedicated teachers you'll find at Burgard and South Park shaking off the adversity coming to work, handling everything that gets thrown at them. And yes things like staplers, chairs and books are among the items thrown at them. 

MaryEllen Elia has Buffalo in her sights. She has no time for the realities of the communities that produce so many kids who don't do well on standardized tests. She has no insight or compassion or respect for the teachers who spend their days with kids from unbearably adversarial homes and neighborhoods. She doesn't want to hear it. She has no place in her head or her heart for this data. In Elia's head these teachers don't deserve to be rated anything above ineffective if their students don't score well on tests that are purposely created to be too difficult in order to create the illusion of bad teaching and failure. She is sticking to her script. We all know the endgame of her script is to fire as many teachers as possible and weaken teacher's unions enough that the forces of privatization can be sent in to "save the day." They won't of course but that's not really the objective here anyway. 

Commissioner Elia is nothing more than a useful idiot, another pawn like John King hired by the forces of corporate education reform and privatization to do their bidding and stick to her script. If you look at the mess she left behind in Florida it's clear she wasn't selected for her excellence in managing a school district. She is a steadfast soldier who will follow orders. Qualities like insight, compassion and integrity are not required to do what she was hired to do. Good thing too as she lacks all three.  We shouldn't take her personally but it's hard not to when she struts in here like John Wayne at high noon throwing down on people whose shoes she's not fit to polish. 

Before Commissioner Elia utters the word "disconnect" again in reference to test scores and teacher evaluations, she really ought to examine the total disconnect Pearson and Co. have demonstrated between their shitty, terribly written tests and the dedicated teachers who are being flogged with them. Only in the upside down world of ed reform would you ever find such a powerful figure as NYSED Commissioner Elia laboring to make the glaringly stupid connection between an invalid test score and a teacher's abilities to teach kids. As she doesn't appear to have much in the way of intellectual curiosity I think she'd do well to look into the history of her predecessor, Mr. King. When he became too much of a liability for Andrew Cuomo he went bye-bye. And when Elia finds herself faced with hundreds of thousands of pissed off Opt Out parents Cuomo won't hesitate to make roadkill of her too. I look forward to the coming year. It's sure to be filled with surprises. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quinn, Board Majority Try to Muzzle the Unwashed Masses

To the surprise of nobody, the Board Majority players have introduced a motion that aims to curtail the public input portion of Board meetings. The Gang of Five -- we all know it's really a Gang of Three with bobbleheads Pierce and McCarthy providing two dummy votes -- claim they are seeking efficiency for their meetings. Well that's a nice sentiment but we all know it's also bullshit. Lars Quinn is famously on record as describing the public input piece of Board meetings as " a huge waste of time." 

The outrageous wording of their motion includes this gem: 

 “The public speaking portion of our meetings, which includes many of the same speakers week after week, consumed almost 40 percent of our meeting time last year; and … Board of Education meetings should be reserved for conducting the actual business of the board.”

Funny that they even noticed who the speakers are or that some of them are repeat offenders. Quinn was famously blasted for amusing himself with his cell phone as a student addressed the Board last year. Clarification:  As the kid was describing the bored and aloof body language and actions of Board members Quinn was twiddling with his iPhone. Is there a word for doing what someone is accusing you of doing as he is accusing you of doing it? Let's call it "Larsopathy." Paladino actually told a union rep/teacher activist a while back "You know we don't listen to anything you say when you're up there talking, right?

 When a speaker questioned Sampson's living large on the public dime as CEO of Gateway, Diamond Jim had the guy thrown out by security claiming the guy was out of line and not discussing Board business. Some of us might consider a Board President's shameless abuse of taxpayer funds in a previous position to be quite relevant. Sampson found no nexus between past wrongdoings and his current position of power enabling him to commit more of the same. At a subsequent meeting Gateway Jim tried to shut down a speaker from PUSH who mentioned Paladino's penchant for racist remarks. The guy refused to cease and desist. He finished what he had to say and led the audience in a raucous call and response chant of "Whose Schools?" -- "Our Schools!" before returning to his seat. 

It's pretty clear what this motion is all about friends and it's less abut efficiency than it is muzzling the unpleasant murmurings of the unwashed masses who dare to think they are owed any say in the running of their public schools. The Board Majority, though they have behaved like The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight on more occasions than not, are on a mission. I'm not convinced McCarthy and Pierce even understand their quest completely and I can't help but make the comparison to Bin Laden laughing when he learned that some of the 9-11 hijackers didn't even know what they were doing the day they boarded the planes. While nobody is saying these 2 are looking to do in Americans through mayhem, I see them in much the same role as stridently uninformed with a dew eyed zeal to do their masters' bidding in the war against public education. Make no mistake, the endgame of all this Board Majority's antics is the corporate privatization of public schools. And once they get their hooks into the schools you can rest assured public input at Board meetings and Board meetings themselves will take their place among other quaint vestigial items like the payphones and smoking lounges the Buffalo News likes to bring up in its remarks about BTF contracts.

You know it's serious when I agree with and quote Sam Radford who said quite correctly : “Part of getting better is hearing stuff you don’t like."  Amen to that.