Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Attention Teachers: Winter Is Coming. But We're from Buffalo

Is anyone else thinking this is a real good time to get the so called national union leadership together and start working on a plan to deal with the next incarnation of the Friedrichs case? Not that I have one on my calendar or anything but do you really think the people that brought the last one along as far as they did have decided teacher's unions are simply too clever and well funded to be outmaneuvered? If Randi and Lily have sobered up from their Hillary binge yet I wonder who has the wherewithal to point them in the direction of being good scouts and getting prepared? Can Mikey Mulgrew do that for us? Can anyone? Do they do requests? It didn't impress me last time that either Randi or Lily had a fuck's clue what to do about the Supreme Court doing to public education what Citizens United did to campaign finance. Come to think of it the way they flung our endorsements at such a toxic and divisive candidate with little to no rank and file say so kind of showed me they don't have a fuck's clue about very much at all outside of their own little spheres of power. 

Fact is pedagogues we simply cannot afford to stand by and allow these 2 politicized insiders to keep picking losers with our money and our livelihood on the line. Did you read the email to Podesta where Weingarten called a nurse's union high and mighty and accused them of sanctimonious conduct? What did they do to earn such disdain from their fellow unionite? Oh they endorsed Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary for which Weingarten flexed her muscles and postured " We will go after them (NNU).  Just for kicks go take a look at their website. Then look at the AFT website and ask yourself who do you think are the cool kids and who are the weenies? Hint: the cool kids have zero pics of Randi Weingarten on theirs. 

About now whom you voted for and/or why you did as you did is pretty much last year's lesson plan book. You can relive the magic and recapture the rapture as they say in 12 step land or you can look ahead and get real about what we're in for. I will say -- and feel free to disagree here -- that I have less than zero tolerance for the gloom and doomers who seem to find some perverse thrill in spreading the message of hopelessness and despair about the coming months and years. Those faculty room shit fairies who find their G-Spot by trying to ruin everyone else's day with their dreary assed words of woe. We're screwed. We're effed. This is the worst of all possible worlds. Well thanks Scheissgloss but if you're done with your personal Orson Wells broadcast some of us have 10 or 20 years to go in this game and we are going to have to close ranks and get our collective act together in a hurry. The nattering nabobs of edu-negativity need not apply. 

I trust you've seen NYSED just did exactly what we knew they were going to do. They pretended to ask some questions then pretended to care about the answers they got. Then announced they were going to do exactly as they fucking well have been and thanks for playing, saps!  It's the same game as when they sent Lil John King out with Regentus Flatulentus Bennet and Dowager Empress Tisch to barnstorm the small folk in their wee burgs and hamlets. They even had the olympian sized metric balls to call it a "listening tour." And after a couple of nights of plugging their ears a la Pee Wee Herman saying I can't Heeeeaaaarrrrr youuuu! they finally got run in Poughkeepsie by pissed off parents and teachers who simply refused to give them any quarter. Remember King trying to shush the mob and being told to shut up and sit down? It was Theatre of the Nectarous. The degree of butthurt was so bad that Lil John King the current lame duck/pet lamb of D.C. cancelled the rest of the stops or tried to until Cuomo and Tisch took him out back of the woodshed and smacked the goatee off of him. Well the Q. and A. about high stakes testing and the "Listening Tour" put on by Kinger, Bennett and Tischy are isotopes of the same horseshit. We know the games NYSED plays and we've been able to play ours pretty damned effectively when you consider the funding and connections they have and we don't. 

I don't want to be Bluto giving the Deltas that famous speech about not giving up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor but if nobody else has it in them I will. There's talk of a Michelle Rhee Secretary of Education. There's more talk of Eva (Destruction) Moskowitz being installed. I thought I heard Ivanka had first dibs on the job unless maybe she's poised to make more selling her 60 Minutes appearance jewelry on E-bay than setting policy. Fact is this will not be a time for the faint or heart or the wobbly of spine. If the Buffalo News calls you to ask what you think about Phil Rumore's future please remind them they have worked against us at every turn and slanted their coverage to present BTF members and Phil in the worst possible light. Please tell them you have nothing to say to them and if they want to know about Phil's future plans maybe they should buy him a really expensive dinner and ask him their own damn selves. It's time to close ranks and demonstrate solidarity as a profession and a union. The people looking to end public education as we know it are certainly stepping up their game. We can do no less. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Let's Hope This "Nice Guy" Finishes Last

If you're not already voting for Amber you will be after this...

I keep hearing what a nice guy Chris Jacobs is. Oh it's a shame this campaign has gone negative, Chris Jacobs is such a nice guy... Well you know he's pretty popular in WNY, after all he's such a nice guy. The fact that his family has more money than god yet insisted on subsidies from the gubmint before they'd build their monstrosity HQ downtown with non union tradesmen notwithstanding, gosh darn it that Chris Jacobs is such a nice guy... Ninjas please.

I've never met the dude personally so I can only go on my observations of Chris Jacobs when he served as a member of the Board of Education in Buffalo. I often wondered how such a nice guy as Chris Jacobs was able to befriend an odious figure like James Williams whose legacy of bluster, bullshit and arrogance will likely stand until the next millenia as the worst Superintendent B-lo has ever hired. The alleged friendship between Jacbos and Williams was something of a standing joke among B-Lo's more streetwise eduplayers who saw it more as a case of the kitty trying to hang with the cat. It was rumored Jacobs picked up the tab on the many occasions the two were spotted strapping on the feedbag at the Chop House. Rumored yes but judging by the way the "friendship" played out on the public stage it wasn't hard to imagine Jacbos whipping out his Am Ex card saying you just get the tip ok, James? Omar Little of The Wire sagely advises us  "The game is out there and it's play or get played." James Williams played with the best of them and Chris Jacobs, hapless sod that he is couldn't help but get played.

Remember the Jacobs moment when Chris's bestie was caught trying to sneak out of town and land the Memphis Superintendent's gig without ever mentioning it to his BFF?

...Williams is a serial job-jump applicant, who has secretly applied or interviewed for jobs in Atlanta, Dallas, Hartford, Durham, and Memphis, startling his board each time, both in Dayton and Buffalo. “I was surprised and shocked he would even consider leaving at such a critical time,” a somewhat na├»ve-sounding Chris Jacobs told the Buffalo News. “I feel like I was kicked in the stomach.”

You were, Chris. Jacobs and board member Florence Johnson have been Williams’ strongest defenders. Jacobs even publicly lied for Williams, holding a news conference in May to insist Williams never suggested in executive session that McKinley High School volunteer basketball coach Michelle Stiles was a lesbian, only to have Williams later admit to special investigator David Edmunds that, in fact, he had...   from Artvoice

A "somewhat naive sounding Chris Jacobs" he's called. That was more than kind. He lied for the dude and JW coudn't even bother to clue his homie in that he was looking to break camp and bounce. Let's just stick with "naive" then as it's a lot kinder than calling our nice guy a dumbass. If Chris was only naive about his "friendship" with Jaws we could write it off to any number of things. But do you remember when Chris Jacobs got out his little notebook and drew up a plan to relocate the Police and Fire Departments and the string of blue chip non-profit service groups along Delaware Ave into quarters at The Broadway Market? I'd almost forgot about this but that's why blogging makes you smart, you find shit you weren't even smart enough to look for. Now remember Chris is a guy who loves the charter schools and the privatization movement and pretty much anyone with a snazzy zipcode and serious bank. You can't miss it when you read his urban planning manifesto. The following was a piece by Stephanie Perry published in Artvoice in 2014:

Private developers would make a killing on these new apartments and condos and return a bit under $800,000 annually to the city and county tax bases so that the city and county might provide services to the public, such as centrally located and publicly accessible police and fire departments, except not that anymore. Never mind that the city budget alone totals $1.4 billion. This is a plan to help the community help rich people help the community.

It would be nearly impossible to propose a more transparently self-serving plan to redistribute real property wealth to developers while simultaneously displacing organizations that have tirelessly served the community and maintained the architectural heritage of the Delaware District for decades. Plus, the short-sighted proposal is stock full of faulty assumptions about urban planning, crime and private property rights. Furthermore, the author’s inappropriate use of first-person perspective, sentence fragments and the conspicuous absence of facts together evoked the tone of a hastily composed high school civics project. I wondered who produced such an implausible, socially irresponsible and poorly written report. Was this the homework of some Rich Kid of Instagram?

In a textbook example of the sheltered rich guy issuing his world view it's clear that the proles and plebians best hope is to stand clear while their social superiors decide their fate. Jacobs’s list of nonprofits ripe for relocation is glaringly classist in its aims. The awesome mansions occupied by various non profits along Delaware would be vacated for the good of the ruling class who really never should have allowed them to fall into unclean hands in the first place. Chris Jacobs doesn't think groups like The Red Cross, United Way, International Institute, Child and Family Services, Salvation Army, EPIC and the Catholic Center belong in mansions on Delware. Their clientele are kind of icky. On the other hand though, non-taxed entities with very fine real estate are omitted from his plan: Nardin Academy, Canisius High School, the Ronald McDonald House, the Jacobs Executive Development Center, Gilda’s Club, the County Clerk’s Office itself. Downtown, Elmwood and the Medical Corridor are too nice for poor people, according to Jacobs’s vision. This is your "nice guy's" idea of an urban plan. Still think he's swell?

And if Chris Jacobs getting played by James Williams then cooking up a redesign for Buffalo that would have Thorstein Veblen and F. Scott Fitzgerald both spinning in their graves, there's more where that came from folks. Consider Chris Jacobs' campaign promise to sail into Albany for his first term and convince the entrenched nest of vipers, thieves and cutthroats to go along with him on setting term limits that would put them all off the gravy train in the time it takes Bills fans to end up in a video on Deadspin Sunday morning. Hey welcome to Albany Chris Jacobs, your uncle is the 185th richest guy on earth and you want to impose term limits on the rest of us? Sure. Say, Chris, we're taking some guys out on a snipe hunt, do you have your hood and your net with you...?

If you care about public education you need to vote for Amber Small. While speaking at BTF's Council of Delegates meeting last month she said she thought teachers should be better paid and public education should be better funded. Small spoke of losing her mother at an early age and being driven to school events and activities in high school by her teachers. It was clear Amber Small has experienced first hand the positive effects of dedicated and caring teachers in her life. She is a friend of teachers and of public schools. We couldn't ask for a better ally in Albany.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Do Both Sides Feel Like They Got Screwed?

If you aren't happy with the new contract I think it's safe to say most of us get your point. 
If you whipped out your calculator at Kleinhans and did some nifty figuring then planted yourself in front of a mic to castigate Phil Rumore I think it's safe to say most of us get your point. 
If you don't like the language of the extra 25 minutes and you happen to work for one of our more famous control freak narcissist Principals who will monopolize the 25 minutes and force you into grieving it -- if your faculty isn't too scared of him to do so -- safe to say most us get your point. 
And if you are angry that you didn't get your steps back it's safe to say most of us get your point. 

To a point. 

It occurs to me that an alarming number of teachers didn't seem to realize the step recovery case went to court and the court ruled against us. Phil Rumore is not known for losing in court. This one didn't go his way or our way. We lost. It happens. It happens so rarely I have to wonder if that's why we seem to have so many colleagues living in a state of denial believing if they pound their podium hard enough the steps will materialize out of the ether. To show up at Kleinhans on a night when it's been all but guaranteed we are there to vote on a contract and throw a tantrum about steps we've known for a long time we weren't going to get is ridiculous. Sorry, I didn't get mine either but I kind of knew that. 

I learned how our national union affiliates operate during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was decided a long time ago that NEA and AFT were both going to endorse Hillary Clinton. The only question was how to manipulate the votes and skew the assembled souls to get the numbers they needed to create the illusion that union people supported Clinton. I see a small handful of default Johnny Come Lately Hillary shills among the teacher ranks mostly because the alternative amounts to electing a human tire fire. There never was any fire for Hillary and truth be told there still isn't. The union power brokers felt no Bern. The candidate most of my teacher friends and acquaintances supported was never given a thought. They went out of their way to outmaneuver a contingent of Bernie supporters in their crusade to anoint HRC. You can read about it in Podesta's emails and those of that bald faced rank and file betrayer Randi Weingarten. I must have been naive at the time but I was infuriated that the rank and file were excluded from the process. And now that some of these same rank and filers are feeling screwed, disenfranchised and kept at arm's length from the workings of their union I have to ask in all honesty Why did you expect anything else? Weren't you paying attention to the way Hillary got those endorsements?  

Before I get too carried away on this theme though I think anyone who has an axe to grind with BTF, NYSUT and their various players needs give some thought to last May's Board of Education election that essentially gift wrapped a contract for Buffalo teachers. If you think the current Board majority simply fell down out of the sky because the 9% of Buffalo who vote in Board elections suddenly realized they'd had enough of Jay McCarthy and Jim Sampson, you need to look a little closer. For all of my grumbling and bitching about NYSUT and their inscrutable ways I am here to give the devil his Deely. They said they were going to use an organizational strategy to bring out the voters we'd need to vote in our people and vote out the Friends of Carl and Lars. It involved banging on doors and talking to people. Certain people. You can't argue with the results. It worked. Scoreboard. 

While there was more to the strategy I can only say for sure that I know that their guys got the boot and our guys (gals?) took their seats on the Board. Sampson and McCarthy almost failed to make it onto the ballot if you recall. They limped into the election bruised and battered -- a day late and a dollar short. And all of the drinks Carl bought at Docs were barely enough for him to squeak out a win over a teen ager still in high school. Think that happened in a vacuum? Like it or not, agree with NYSUT or not, if we didn't have a board to vote yes on that deal we'd be talking about 13 years. And if not for the efforts of this non representative, top down, undemocratic union affiliate there'd be no talk of what bonus we were getting or how we're going to use those 25 minutes. We'd be reading about the cosmetic rider in the Buffalo News and listening to Larry Quinn complain that teachers injured by students are taking too long to return to work. 

Like the contract I'm sure this post isn't perfect. It's an attempt to take a fair long view through my Step 27 eyes that should have picked up a few things by now. We got something. Be nice if we got more but we got a step in the right direction. The fact that the Board's two union hating millionaires pouted and went home in protest tells me we made out even if it could've been and should've been better. If you're still pissed off run for delegate. If you're really pissed run for Executive Committee. I did. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Strangely Selective Poverty in BPS

Remember when the former Board Majority -- who? -- voted to fire Rashondra M. Martin as General Counsel and bring in Edward A. Betz to replace her? Yeah you know, the guy who managed Larry Quinn's campaign when Lars ran for the Board of Education. He's also the guy fresh outta law school who was appointed as a "receiver" by disgraced State Supreme Court Judge John Michalek at the prodding of disgraced political bagman Steve Pidgeon who then turned around and demanded a $5000 baksheesh from Barrister Betz.  Michalek admitted in court that the attorney Pigeon advocated for was a recent law school graduate who had not been approved by the state courts as a qualified receiver. Nonetheless, Michalek gave him the assignment. Lacking experience and required credentials as Betz was, Michalek told Pidgeon : “We pushed it through anyway … have to give them a spec reason etc. … will figure it out … John,” Michalek emailed to Pigeon in May 2012. (Bflo News) 

In the end, Ms. Martin, who was hired by then-Superintendent Pamela C. Brown, was fired effective immediately and Cash was given the green light to negotiate a contract with Betz to take over the position at an annual salary of $160,000, which is $33,000 more than Martin was making. For those of you scoring at home, that's African American female fired by 5 white Board members 4 of them males and a politically well connected white green horn hired and handed a raise of $33,000.00 simply for showing up. I don't want to get too far off on a tangent with the racial breakdowns here but it's a bit puzzling that the African American Superintendent was in such a hurry to tuck an extra $33,000.00 into the shirt pocket of an inexperienced white guy hired to replace an experienced black female. Can you say the Good Old Boy Network is alive and well as long as you are a boy not a girl? I wonder too if this is why Board member Patti Pierce inexplicably asked if men and women were paid differently...Based on what she's seen around City Hall I can see why she'd be asking. Add to this the outrageous 4% ($11,000 or so minimum) pay bump tucked inside Kriner Cash's shirt pocket after one year and virtually nothing to brag about accomplishment wise. Consider the revelation that minority female Board members gave Cash much lower scores in private than what they'd admit to publicly and you have another case of an anti-meritocracy seemingly flinging significant amounts of cash at people who've done nothing to deserve a dime of it -- then turning their empty pockets out and making a sad clown face when it's time to pay teachers.  

Behold the flaccid rhetoric from certain "stakeholders" about teachers needing to increase test scores and get every B-Lo kid into the Ivy Leagues before they'll ever be worthy of a pay raise and you've got  enough public hypocrisy and good old fashioned political bullshit to gag an ox. Eddie Betz Esq. gets $33K for being the right guy with the right friends and Kriner Cash gets a 4% raise after ONE YEAR when he's already the highest paid urban Superintendent in New York State. Allow me to digress... When Kriner Cash was foisted on the Board by his old Ed Reform cronie Mary Ellen Elia, the minority women, the majority men and Patti Pierce all thought Dr Cash'd be swell. It was unanimous though I think Carl might have been tea partying in Paris for the vote but he was with his brothers and sisters in spirit since his attempts to run Mr. Weimer and Dr. Eberle up the middle had both been stuffed at the goal line. The magnanimity and largesse of such bon vivants as Buffalo Sabre deconstructionist Lars Quinn and Diamond Jim Sampson Presiding CEO of scandalous Gateway Longview State Audit notoriety flung an extra $60 thousand at Kriner Cash pushing his salary to $275. Former Superintendent Pamela Brown was only offered $217 but as we've seen she was just a girl so that's the way things go. Ogie Oglive was only supposed to hang around long enough to rubber stamp the rough shoddery of Carl, Lars and Diamond Jim so he got what the girl got but nothing more. Good call by the boys too cause Ogie ended up crawfishing on them. He had some wacky notion of autonomy or integrity or some such fluff they teach these saps who go to school for Education. Wise of the boys to keep his salary low since he ended up reneging on the deal they thought they'd struck when they hired him. 

If you don't see a pattern here you probably think Donald Trump respects women and Hillary is going to crack down on the House of Saud too. I see men getting unmerited pay raises when they take on jobs formerly held by women. But I guess on an up note we could say there's a tinge of color blindness in the feckless generosity of City Hallers shoving thousands of dollars in each other's pockets. In spite of many claims that Buffalo is a segregated and racist little place Kriner Cash's salary increases seemed to be A-Ok with everyone on the Board of Education. Ebony and Ivory and perfect harmony all up in here. 

If you're waiting for the punchline, as well you should be, it's this: I've heard Board members fretting about bankrupting the city and saying teachers aren't doing a very good job so why should they get a raise? Please remember the way guys like Cash and Betz were showered with benefits completely out of proportion to their contribution to children's education simply for showing up with a pulse at the interview. 
Then ask yourselves how is it we are able to open up the vault and toss stacks at these guys simply for being marked "Present" yet we cry poverty when it comes time to ante up and pay the people 
who get MF'd by teen angry agers, who buy boots and hats and notebooks for little kids, 
who bust their asses every day in a siege environment in some buildings,
who correctly pronounce the names of and celebrate the lives of the child refugees of the global village 
and quietly teach hungry overtired and angry disadvantaged kids every damned with half the materials they really need.

Remember who's doing the exhausting and endless work of teaching all of Buffalo's kids before you use words like "Bankrupt the City" and "Need to Improve before they deserve a raise..."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Nobody Asked Me Up til Now

The other night before the Council of Delegates meeting Executive Committee members gathered toward the front table to run through a few last minute endorsements. The guy running against Ranzenhofer, Brian Higgins and someone else whose name I can't recall were unanimously agreed upon. When the Presidential ticket came up I waited my turn and voted a loud nasal Nae to the surprise of nobody who's heard one thing I've said or written since this freakshow of a campaign rolled out from under whatever rock it was hatched beneath. I did note a raised eyebrow or two and one member asked me to explain in private why I voted that way, solidarity during contract talks being paramount and all.

Truth is I've been saying it since Bernie Sanders threw his hat into the ring and up until now nobody affiliated with union leadership has ever asked me what I thought. So I guess I voted against Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelson's Machiavellian machinations as much as I voted against the beneficiary of their skullduggery. I did not vote in favor of a tax deadbeat who thinks he can grab women's crotches. Nor did I vote for a Mexican subsidized wall, charter schools, Common Core and more tax breaks for people who need them least.

I voted for Bernie Sanders.

Sadly, the only way the current system allows for a guy like me to vote for the guy I drove to Cleveland to see on a school night with my wife and kids and the guy I stood outside of Alumni Arena in the rain for nearly 3 hours with my family and our dear friend Julie -- I repeat the only way this system allows me to vote for the guy I believed in and still believe in -- is to vote nae in an Executive Committee endorsement less than a month away from election night. If anyone's concerned about me disrupting solidarity you can rest easy since Phil Rumore his own self laughed and said something to the effect of I know why you did that. To which I said I did it for Bernie and Phil answered Aren't you glad he ran? I am but I only wish he'd have had at least a fighting chance. If you haven't seen the wikki dump emails illustrating NEA President Lily and AFT President Weingarten treating all of us as dummies to be out maneuvered I suggest you google them and see for yourself. I believe my local is working hard and looking out to get us a fair contract. I only wish I could say the same for the national affiliates. Start here on Norm's blog  to see how unions were punished for endorsing Bernie and how Weingarten said she was going after NNU a nurse's union that actually believes in democracy for endorsing Bernie. If you're not pissed off I really can't help you. If your biggest professional concern is a lack of paper towels in the faculty lounge you are making it verrry easy for the Randis and Lilys to screw you over before you even know what hit you. Read the link above to Norm's blog and get a look at who doesn't give a shit what you think. Hint, it's not David Coleman this time.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Friends Who Aren't Really Your Friends Closer.

Sometimes the sheer volume of bullshit is enough to jostle a bloggist out of semi-retirement. I am not saying this is one of those times. But in the inimitable words of Preet Bharra. Stay Tuned. 

“It’s a fair proposal because what the district is attempting to do is to provide the teachers with excellent compensation for the hard work they do without bankrupting the district, because there’s a really delicate balance,” Hope Jay said. “The teachers need to be fairly compensated, but we can’t bankrupt the district because it’ll hurt the children.

Anyone else not buying this for one second? 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

No Time Like the Present

It's time for a new adventure. I flipped a coin between this clip and one of Forrest Gump announcing his long run was over. Hard to go against Peter Jackson. Until we meet again.