Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Carl Rings the Bell, Sort Of...

Buffalo News Editorial Board Celebrates Making Sense for Once. No, Really!

You never know where you're going to find someone making sense.

The Buffalo News Editorial Outhouse actually agrees with Carl Paladino today that he's correct to hammer his fellow board members for failing to mine Kriner Cash's contract with Performance Objectives, you know like the ones they all think teacher contracts should be laced with. It's eerily similar to the point I made here the other day when I said there was never a better time or a better guy to  pay according to his success in the various critical improvements he MUST accomplish.

Carl goes on at length to say that's because they're idiots who have no idea how to negotiate a contract and of course, as is always the case with our friend Carl, his lucid moment quickly draws to a close and he is once again enveloped in the dark, invective laced maelstrom we've  all come to know -- the one his enablers and asskissers like to refer to as "Carl Being Carl." I really have to congratulate him this time though as he's managed to knock quite a few pins down in a relatively short rant  -- short for Carl anyway.

I am encouraged and amused to see he's blasted MaryEllen Elia as "a rookie Commissioner" which is very true but because she's gallumping around like Agatha Trunchbull with that playground sour puss making threats, everyone else is too terrified to question or challenge anything she says. She is a rookie same as King was when he stumbled and bumbled his way to an out of state transfer as he failed miserably in the job he was handed while lacking practically every single qualification. I don't see Elia doing much better either.

Where King tried to condescend and pretend he was taking some educational and intellectual high road as critics hammered him for his asinine test and punish regimen, Elia seems more inclined to play the role of the bully, the goon you'd better not cross or else. It's mentioned in several places she was known in Florida for creating a hostile work atmosphere fueled with fear and intimidation. While King made pronouncements and tried to bluff his way past the irate parents and teachers avoiding eye contact and unscripted appearances, Elia is going to try staring people down with the Manson lamps and using tough talk about tool kits and "the law."

I guess you've got to look into your own "tool kit" when you take a job like this and figure which pose is going to be your most convincing. John King knew he couldn't scare a first grader away from the cookie plate on his best day so he played the aloof card seasoned with a dash of irritated petulance. Elia, it appears is going to fall back on her Niagara Falls roots even if they're only by marriage, with some kind of a Maggadino styled tough gal pose.

There is nothing in her personal vibe to indicate an open willing partner and/or listener. She projects the leaden glare of the heavy, the enforcer who was hired to put the kibosh on this opt out crap and take some people down if that's what it's going to take. I would assume her "toolkit" for Superintendents is also an opening salvo across their collective bow to let them know she will tolerate no nonsense from them and she is here to put a stop to Administrators supporting the Opt Out movement.

Back to Planet Paladino I am also encouraged to see him throwing high and inside at Kriner Cash, who, from what he's told us, is in a similar situation as Carl, as they both sit atop a sizeable cache of what he likes to call F-U money. The time out of town has really topped off Carl's battery and he came in with one of his greatest hits of all time in my book when he said Cash needed to install his people in top deputy positions "or be fitted for his career ending casket." Carl characterizes Cash not doing as ordered and hiring Kevin Eberle as number two in command as "messing with me."

Imagine spending a day in that head. You're out of town for the vote and the guy is hired anyway. You come back to town and say he'd better hire this guy for his right hand man and if he doesn't HE'S messing with YOU. Carl doesn't use the ABC of Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence we learned as special educators. In Carl's mind the Antecedent of him saying you better hire my guy is not part of the equation. No, in Carlthink, the Behavior would be Cash saying No, I don't want to put your guy in as my Number 2. From there he goes to the Consequence of calling Reddington's to send him over a catalogue of their finest mahogany containers. 

While the three of them do their dance of egos, an untested rookie Commissioner on a mission, an unknown out of towner who refuses to buy a house or green bananas because he knows he's only going to be here for a minute and a loaded loose cannon who says and does whatever the hell he wants, I know a lot of B-Lo teachers have been setting up classrooms and buying school supplies this week. And in a few days they'll go to work without tweets or headlines or news cameras and they'll deal with whatever gets thrown at them professionally, passionately and without fanfare. The work that needs doing will be done by Buffalo teachers, not loudmouths or heavies. That's how it always gets done. I have never been more proud to be part of that effort. Here's to another great year. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ethics Expert Elia Enters Name Calling Phase

Ethics Expert 

Well parents, our new NYSED Commissioner has just announced that you are being unreasonable if you refuse to subject your kid to high stakes tests that are fraught with errors and questions from grade levels several above your kid's. Teachers, if you condone or promote Opting Out of high stakes tests that are useless to you as a prescriptive or diagnostic tool, chew up valuable hours of teaching time and cause your students unnecessary grief and angst, Commissioner Elia says you are unethical. 

The fact that she said all this while cloistering with an astroturf group of phonies bankrolled by -- who else -- Bill Fucking Gates tells us everything we need to know. My first encounter with Eedjits 4 Excrement was a video one of the NYC bloggers posted of an E4E rally where the assembled dolts clad in green winter hats were spouting off about the excellence of VAM in evaluations among other reformy topics. The blogger in question asked one of them to explain exactly his understanding of the VAM process and how it would benefit education. The response was staggering. It was akin to an old nature movie of the elderly zebra trying to negotiate its way out of the mudpit while the lioness circled and closed in for the kill. The poor dope had no idea what to say once he finished with his platitudes and chanting. He ended up turning away from the camera in shame and it appeared the guy filming him even felt a little bad for him on some human level. It was instructive though as it showed me the shallow, mindlessness behind this group. E4E appeared to be a gang of young idealistic and self righteous would be teachers bought off with some hats and banners and a handful of slick anti union operatives who could whip them up with nonsensical signs like "We Crave Feedback!" "Tell Us How We're Doing!" And of course said feedback would come in the reformy form of test scores and VAM scores that would surely tell you not how you're doing as a teacher but how close you are to one of the expedited 3020-A hearings we're hearing so much about. 

A local Superintendent asked me the other day how Buffalo was supposed to improve their scores to whatever level the state has pulled out of the wizard's hat when his own suburban district filled with 2 parent families and negligible poverty was scoring as low as they are.  I'm guessing Mary Ellen Elia would classify that kind of talk mutinous or at least unethical coming from someone engaged in the education of thousands of children. 

That's because she's on the wrong side of the fight. Education is under attack and has been for the past decade at least by people who have no interest in education or in improving the quality of it for public school kids in America. The main interest of those attacking public education is financial. They do enlist educational hangers on to do their dirty work and work to destroy public education from the inside. People like Mary Ellen Elia and Kriner Cash are exactly the type of pseudo educators the ed reform movement like to put into power to soften up the terrain for eventual privatization. If Elia had any ethics or standards or morals of her own she wouldn't be caught dead in the company of an astroturfing band of phonies like Eedjits 4 Excrement. Fact is she's here temporarily same as Kriner Cash. Everything she says and does goes towards her greater CV, the one that's kept by people like Bill Gates and Eli Broad. No surprise she's worked so well with another shape shifter and self promoting pile of shit, the President for Life of AFT, Randi Weingarten. They're both on the same trajectory and where they are today matters little to them. It's where they can get to by doing the dirty work of billionaires in handing public education over to privatizers that gets them out of bed in the morning. 

The message is clear. Elia is here to try to put a finger in the dike of the Opt Out gusher. She's made some threats and fades and is now entering the name calling phase of her pogrom against the Opt Outers. The fact that both Regents Chancellor Tisch and Gubner Andy have both said there won't be sanctions against opt out schools notwithstanding, MaryEllen Elia is not here to make nice and stand by nodding while Opt Out numbers soar. She's on a mission and she is obviously willing to get ugly about what she is willing to do to accomplish this mission and notch her ed reform belt so she can be promoted to the next outpost. Too bad her friends in UFT and NYSUT who all but rolled out the red carpet for her will not be able to protect her from the pissed off parents who told John King to STFU. If she thinks she's going to pick up in the same heavy handed and tone deaf manner where he left off I think she is in for a bumpy ride. It's always entertaining to see a bully get theirs. Mary Ellen Elia is a bully who doesn't seem to have really got hers yet. Here's to a great school year!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Didn't the Board Offer Merit Pay to Kriner Cash?

Kriner Cash the recently crowned Superintendent of Buffalo Schools is a huge fan of merit pay. In Memphis he beat the bushes for private donors and rustled up 1.4 million in practically no time that he earmarked as a merit pay fund for teachers. Memphis is a brief spot in time in Kriner Cash's history with merit pay though. It gets better.

In Martha's Vineyard Kriner Cash was allowed to write his own evaluation then granted merit pay bonuses for how well he thought he achieved a list of goals he set for himself at the start of the year. If you want to read that again go ahead but I'll repeat: He wrote his own evaluation then received merit pay bonuses depending on how great of a job he thought he'd done. Trust your instincts on whether he got the bonuses or not. For seven straight years the board in Martha's Vineyard paid Cash these bonuses plus an annual 5% pay increase.

It wasn't until 2003 when a scandal in the culinary arts program involving a teacher, Peter Koines, stealing students funds, kitchen gear and pie fixings -- yep, the dreaded pie fixings -- caused an unusual backlash against Cash and his bonuses. The board split on paying him his bonus for "outstanding service" and when the community meeting of about 100 souls was convened there was much empathy for the disgraced teacher who'd admitted his theft and no shortage of hostility for Cash whom many felt had bungled the investigation. When a board member questioned the automatic style of granting Cash merit pay bonuses every year pointing out that the system has only 2 scores an A+ or a failure, Cash suggested they could make gradations of his bonuses.  Using a page from the ed reform handbook where they "run it like a business" Cash added “I don’t think it should be taken off the table. “Other professions have it — what they call bonuses — a way of acknowledging fine work for a difficult job.”  

Paul Vanlandingham, a resident of West Tisbury and a culinary arts professor who blew the whistle on (pie fixings thief) Mr. Koines when he came to the high school as part of an accreditation team, suggested that the superintendent should not be writing his own evaluations. With the clock showing nearly half past ten, Mr. Cash tried putting a positive spin on a grueling evening. “This was a great meeting,” he said. “Evaluation, when thoughtful, is a good tool for improvement.”

So true, especially the "when thoughtful" part.  Full Story

Carl Paladino and Friends in their hallucinogenic teacher hit piece "Vision Statement of the Board Majority" include merit pay for teachers as a major plank in their platform. We all know merit pay doesn't work for teachers and hasn't over three decades and dozens of scholarly research studies. In fact it's led to some of the more scandalous cheating episodes of recent note, including the one in Atlanta where teachers were given jail time and the mess in D.C. where Michelle Rhee was never investigated and allowed to run away and sell fertilizer instead of going to prison. But the reformy class thinks it's swell to treat teachers the same as used car salesmen. Lacking any familiarity with concepts like team and collegiality, people like Paladino think it would be a great idea for teachers to withhold materials and information from each other and to actively work against each other and undermine the efforts of colleagues all for the sake of a cash bonus. 

We all realize merit pay is a dog that doesn't hunt in school buildings but just for the sake of accountability let's play along with Sampson, Quinn and Carl and put it on the table as if it were a viable component of the educational milieu.

My question to everyone with stars in their eyes over Kriner Cash as a Superintendent is why are you all in a rush to pay teachers based on "merit" -- which really means test scores -- yet here we are with a Superintendent who shouts merit pay from the mountain tops and none of you ever considered for a second that he should be paid according to the merits of his performance?  --aka test scores ?--

  • Why is it you want to pit Mrs. Wagner and Mr. Dombrowski who've taught 4th grade together for 12 years and have it humming like a swiss watch against each other?   Yet when Kriner Cash strolls into town in his shades and his ring around the rosy lapel pin you all go weak in the knees and throw a 27% pay increase from what Pamela Brown got at him? Is that because Dr. Brown was after all, just a girl? 
  • Is it because you're so bedazzled and intimidated and thanking your lucky stars as board member Sharon Belton Cottman said, "we're lucky he'd even consider coming here?" 
  • Why is it you are all so willing to play hardball and strut your tough guy strut against  22 year old first year teachers who bust their backs teaching tough kids in underfunded schools yet when this guy sails into town announcing he never even applied and you'd have to be crazy to want this job, you all go to mush and start throwing money and perks and a buyout package at him? 
  • Why exactly do you have such a clear double standard when it comes to the way you treat teachers and the way you're treating a man who lives and dies by the merit pay sword?

As fans of merit pay this was a clear opportunity to show us all how it works with a Superintendent who loves it even more than you do. There has never been a more critical moment in the history of the Buffalo Schools. It's clear that very specific goals MUST be met. Or else. There has never been a better test case for the merits of merit pay and the go big or go home philosophy it espouses than where Buffalo sits right here and right now. What better chance to run it like a business, say a Chevy dealership or an NFL franchise where you have to hit your numbers or you don't get the bonus?

I think it's clear the board negotiated from a position of weakness with Dr. Cash. He held all the cards and both sides knew it. They were afraid to put him in a merit pay scenario because everyone including Cash knew it wasn't going to end with him getting the bonuses. How would it, unless he was going to be evaluating himself as he did in Martha's Vineyard. The reality is that none of the board really has any faith that merit pay improves education. They know it's a gimmick and a con that can be used against teachers to underpay them and shame them and blame them for test scores that are affected by so many things a teacher simply can't control. But they'll use it against teachers as a stick while pretending it's really a carrot to get better teaching out of them. 

They were afraid to use it on Kriner Cash because he too knows merit pay is a scheme and a scam and the only way you ever really ring the bell and go home with the cigar and the huge stuffed minion doll is when you can somehow rig the process. Say, by evaluating yourself, for example. If any of the Board Majority ever wanted to show their faith in merit pay as a legitimate educational policy this was their chance but they stepped back in sheer cowardice and allowed the opportunity to pass like a waist high fastball right over home plate. Because they know, like we know, that it never, ever works. Let's remember this when they try to stick it into our upcoming contract.

Sorry folks, but if it aint good enough for your lead geese then it aint good enough for us ganders neither.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Modest Proposal to Commissioner Elia and Kriner Cash

Pony Up Doc

It appears the Board of Education has made up its collective mind and plans to install Dr. Kriner Cash as the next Superintendent of Buffalo Schools. Dr. Cash never even applied for this position. He was recommended by Mary Ellen Elia, the Commissioner of New York State Education Department. As if by some executive order the process seems to have been put on the fast track to put Cash into position as quickly as possible. While they've held a meet the public night with some softball questions and allowed Cash to do a little bit of Vaudeville schtick for a few laughs, he hasn't been grilled or interrogated as much as feted and fawned over.

 Mrs. Elia, likewise, was recommended for her job by Regents Chancellor Tisch and also installed post haste with an unusual early morning meeting of the Board of Regents. This was done quickly before any of the state's other stakeholders -- teachers, parents, taxpayers, etc. had a chance to scrutinize Elia's previous job performances, her references and her history as a working partner within a school system. If it seems as if someone is following a script it's because they are. They are following the corporate ed reform script that hires its own with few to no questions asked and as little public input as possible. The hirees know what is expected and they know to whom they must answer. Hint: it's not to the public. 

If anyone had a chance to look into Elia's performance in Hillsborough County, Florida they might have asked about 2 student deaths that occurred on Elia's watch.

Isabella Herrera had a neuromuscular disease that made her neck muscles weak. She was supposed to have her head back as she sat in her wheelchair, but she tilted forward and it blocked her airway. When it was discovered, the driver called dispatch and the aide on board called Isabella's mother.
By the time Lisa Herrera arrived and dialed 911 herself, her daughter was blue and unresponsive. She was pronounced dead the next day. 

But Superintendent MaryEllen Elia didn't make the news public. 

She relied on a sheriff's office investigation that she said found no criminal wrongdoing, and appeared to let it go at that. During an interview last week, I asked why she didn't release the news. She fell back on the sheriff's report.

 If you're the parent of a special-needs student, though, you would have liked to know there was a problem. I should say, is a problem. There have been three other issues with special-needs kids just this year, including the recent death of a student with Down syndrome who wandered away unnoticed and drowned. The Herrera family filed its lawsuit a few days after that — about nine months after Isabella died. 

Now we have a task force, and a policy change allowing bus drivers to call 911 if the situation warrants. As school board Vice Chairwoman April Griffin told The Tampa Tribune though, "It goes way, way deeper than that. But I think it's a start." This would be a better start: Expand the task force to probe the circumstances of why it took a lawsuit to bring this to a head. This isn't a witch hunt, but there has to be accountability. What happened in the aftermath of this tragedy was at best a case of bureaucratic bungling. 

When a child dies, a leader doesn't fall back on official reports and policy excuses. 

A leader gets to the bottom of things and then lets everyone know what went wrong so it doesn't happen again. A leader asks uncomfortable questions about the culture in a school system that values policy and procedure over good judgment and common sense. That didn't happen here. And if not for a lawsuit, no one would have known.   Full Story Here.

"Accountability" is a favorite buzzword of the blame the teachers crowd. Ironic though how someone like Elia does not have her feet held to any fire. Instead she is given in excess of a million dollars to leave town and then is recruited by Meryl Tisch to come to New York where she will be rewarded with the top education job in the state. Is Mary Ellen Elia under any threat to improve anything in New York the way teachers in Buffalo are being threatened with school closings and job losses? No, I haven't heard anywhere that Elia has any deadlines hanging over her head. I haven't heard she will lose her job if Y,Y or Z schools don't improve. In fact she's making threats now to punish school districts with high test refusal numbers. With little to no accountability of her own to worry about she's already setting a course of coercion and bullying in New York. Teachers and parents in Florida accused her of creating an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion. Too bad nobody had a chance to look into that before she was installed. 

And what Sword of Damacles hovers over the neatly coiffed head of Dr. Cash? As the receiver of the schools in receivership are we to believe he too will have some skin in the game of chicken that NYSED and Elia are playing with Buffalo Schools, students, parents and teachers? I sure haven't heard he'll be docked if A,B or C school doesn't improve its test scores by X%. Not to open this can of worms right now but has NYSED even spelled out exactly how the improvement is going to be measured and what amount of growth will determine the school's fate, exactly? Last I heard they still had a set of portable goalposts they were going to move backwards at the last second.  As mentioned here the other day in all of the hooplah and corny jokes about doing laundry on Elmwood as Board member Belton Cottman eyed the heavens, wondering how we ever got so lucky to land this guy, a real basic question is being studiously avoided by everyone who's hellbent on signing Kriner Cash: How is he going to improve test scores and save the schools in receivership?

I also covered the glaringly unpleasant reality that Cash has no history of improved test scores anywhere he was put in charge. In fact, the Buffalo News of all sources even pointed out the fact that Kriner Cash has a history of "inconsistent academic achievement." Yet in spite of his actual track record Mary Ellen Elia tells the Board of Education here that they should hire him. 

Based on what? Wanna know what? Based on the fact that he has ties to the Broad Foundation, like Elia, he likes to accept money in the millions from Bill Gates, money with all kinds of ed reformy strings attached of course. He's one of the in crowd in the halls of ed reform. That's why Mary Ellen Elia thinks he'll be swell here in Buffalo. In looking out for Cash, she's looking out for Arne and Obama and Eli Broad and Bill Gates and The Waltons and every other billionaire who wants to see public education turned over to privateers who can make a hefty profit while their own kids are safe from testing and Common Core in places like Chicago Lab School and Sidwell Friends School. And in making the above mentioned happy by placing one of their guys, Mary Ellen Elia has advanced her own career and upped her value in the eyes of the above should she be out of work any time soon. I suspect too that she will be looking for work before too long as she has no experience manhandling the kind of affluent and pissed off Opt Out parents she's going to meet on Long Island. She won't do any better in West Seneca either come to think of it. 

Just to show us she's a mensch and that she stands by her man I think it's only fair that Mary Ellen Elia's position as Commissioner of NYSED should be contingent on Kriner Cash's evaluation here in Buffalo. Likewise, following the accountability flow chart we believe exists in the so-called "real world" it's only fair that Dr. Cash's contract should be tied to the fate of Buffalo's receivership schools. Unless she sent Cash here to fail purposely and throw open Buffalo Public Schools to a feast of crows for privatizers we must believe that Mary Ellen Elia has every faith that Kriner Cash is going to pull a rabbit out of his hat and save Buffalo Public Schools from extinction. I mean she must think that right? Why else would she recommend a guy with zero history of academic success and improved test scores to step in at such a critical time?  

It makes no sense for only the people of Buffalo, their kids and their teachers to have all the skin in this game. If we are going to welcome outsiders to give us advice then follow their advice and hire their friends it's only fair that they too are invested as we are. If Commissioner Elia wants us to hire her friends based on her recommendations she and Kriner Cash both need to pony up. Anything less than a pound of flesh from each of them is a sucker bet. 

Question to the Board of Education: Are you players or suckers? 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Can Kriner Cash Raise Test Scores? -- Why Doesn't Anyone Ask?

After All It's All About Test Scores, Right? 

In characteristic fashion the Buffalo News today features another hagiographic profile in ed reform listing all the things they find swell about Kriner Cash Buffalo's Superintendent of Schools in waiting. Nearby, another article quotes NYSED figurehead MaryAnn Elia saying Buffalo has work to do in improving it's test scores. Standardized Test Scores, according to oafs like Elia and the corporate sponsors of NYSED, are the ultimate expression of learning and the only true measure of George W Bush's timeless question "Is our children learning?" High stakes test scores are the only measure Elia and her ilk are really interested in.

I am loath to connect the dots here friends but it doesn't take proficiency in Common Core Calculus to connect them. The Commissioner of NYSED has postured, flexed and flinched in B-Lo's direction now on several occasions. She's on record with repeated threats that Buffalo better improve or else. And by that she means test scores better go up. She has also recommended her old Florida pal KC for the Superintendent's gig saying he'd be sure to fix the mess we've all made of things here in B-Lo.

If you read the News article today you'll notice right away where these dots are I'm talking about and it shouldn't take a NASA ID tag or a Nobel Prize winner to connect them. One of the shortcomings the News article mentions of Kriner Cash's past employment is described as "inconsistent academic achievement."  Now wait. Doesn't this imply that as a Superintendent in past employment Kriner Cash was not able to deliver the type of solid and sustained improvement NYSED is demanding from "struggling schools?"

Here's the section that deals with Cash's weak spots :

Academic achievement in Memphis was inconsistent under his tenure. Board members acknowledged both academic gains and setbacks on standardized tests, which lagged behind the state average. Graduation rates rose considerably but then regressed. In 2008, the year Cash started as superintendent, Memphis had a graduation rate of 66.9 percent. That grew to a historic high of 72.6 percent in 2011, but fell back to 67.6 percent by 2013, the year Cash left the district. A net gain overall of .7% in graduation rate isn't going to get any schools in Buffalo off the schnide. Yet this is the guy the State Commissioner all but ordered the Board to hire.

To be more specific then, the single most important item the state will be looking at to decide the fate of dozens of Buffalo schools -- standardized test scores -- is an area Kriner Cash has had mediocre to lousy results in as a Superintendent elsewhere. Yet here he stands on the brink of being installed as Superintendent with nobody to say him nay.

It's clear why Quinn, Sampson and even Carl the Churl would support this candidate. He's cracked from the same mold as all the other Broad Academy, Gates indoctrinated ed reform players and shares their privatization agenda. It will be win/win for this crew as Cash can use an iron fist and a ham hand against the union under receivership with Kriner Cash as the receiver. He'll be granted extraordinary powers to cut and paste the teacher's contract and hire and fire at will. And when the scores don't improve sufficiently for NYSED and the privatizing buzzards swoop down we can be sure Quinn and Sampson and Paladino will have plenty of friends among them. Just the kind of scenario that makes two developers and a prison warden turned privatizer's mouths water. We won't bother to speculate on how Pierce and McCarthy will respond. We have seen through observation they will vote as they are told by the 3 stooges.

I can't help but wonder though why Tigg-Harris, Nevergold and Kapsiak, all of whom have actually spent careers in education, would be on board with such a candidate whose agenda is clearly antithetical to the one they've espoused since taking their seats on the board. Sharon Belton Cottman, a banker, has expressed her happiness that Kriner Cash would even consider coming to Buffalo. This statement baffled me as she paints Buffalo as some backwater hillbilly hell nobody of any refinement would come to on a dare. If it's good enough for us and for her and her Board mates, why is she so giddy that  Kriner Cash might find it good enough for him? Is he lofty or something? And why are she and her board minority voting block so eager to embrace a candidate who espouses the philosophy of corporate education reform that Sampson, Paladino and Quinn also embrace? I don't get that either.

So the Commissioner recommends a guy with virtually no record of success in improving standardized test scores when test score improvement more than any other factor will determine whether dozens of schools are closed and/or turned over to privatizers. None of the board of education members seem to make this connection even though the privatization newsletter aka Buffalo News somehow even seems to have noticed. His supporters make a lot of fluff generalizations about him: He's an idea man. He has passion. He's a fighter. He wears nice lapel pins. But the one thing nobody can say about him is the one thing we need to say about the incoming Super: This guy knows how to improve test scores. He has a record of bringing up test scores everywhere he goes. Because like it or not friends, that's what our schools are going to be judged by, not Passion or ideas or fighting. None of that stuff is going to make a damned bit of difference to NYSED when they come with their bean counters and number 2 pencils.

I'm finding it a little weird that I'm seeing this as a classroom grunt but none of the people in a position to make decisions seem to have noticed. Or are they looking at something I'm not seeing? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

NYSUT Fakes the High Road. Again.

An anti Cuomo demonstration scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled by the beatific souls of NYSUT on the pretext that it might be bad form for teachers to be seen hectoring Gubner Andy while his significant other was undergoing "serious cancer surgery." All things being equal, I'd take my hat off to such a high minded gesture. But things are far from equal in NYSUTlandia. Remember these are some of the same compassionate slobs who willingly signed off on a campaign poster that came within a bad haircut of claiming Mark Grisanti supported domestic violence.

Remember this one?

I think we all know even the most invertebrate scumbag politician we can imagine -- with the possible exception of Scot Walker -- couldn't be accused of standing up for domestic abuse. Yet somehow the forbearing pneuma of NYSUT saw fit to create this impression of a guy whose biggest sin among his formerly conservative base was voting in favor of same sex marriage. 

And as long as we're just a couple of friends having a chaw and a cuss out on the back porch let's also assume that someone had probably figgered out the Gubner wasn't even coming to B-Lo anyway but his toothy stand in, his charter school loving Lieutenant would be making the trip in his stead. 

Don't Steal Possible, Just Privatize It! 

Oh you remember Kathy Hochul don't you? She's the one  on whose behalf Randi Weingarten was making robocalls when it appeard Zephyr Teachout and running mate Tim Wu were gaining ground in the primary race. Kathy has soooo many friends. Here's another one a lot of us are familiar with and in spite of the fact that Hochul's running mate has savaged teachers and the profession worse than any other single person in New York State, this NYSUT guy just couldn't bring himself to go against her. 

He just wishes Cuomo would listen to educators. But we know he doesn't. Instead he listens to his wealthy donors who are heavily invested in the privatization of public schools. If wishes were ponies we'd all have a ride wouldn't we now Mick????? So let's just can the high road bluster and the high minded rhetoric and be honest for once in our lives shall we. I'm leaning strongly toward the notion that someone from our the party great friends the Democrats made a quick phonecall or fired off a text and said you're not protesting in Buffalo today. To which our tremulous allies in NYSUT responded with a courageous acquiescent squeak of ascent.  As The Dude says to his bartender friend at the Bowling Alley in The Big Lebowski, Friends like these huh, Gary? Right Dude. 

Do we look as dumb as you think we are NYSUT? 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

How Carl Brought Kriner Ca$h to B-Lo Without Even Trying

Isn't irony ironic? Who'd have ever imagined that Carl Paladino's ceaseless bullying and strong arm tactics could ever blow up in his face with such spectacle as it appears they are doing now in B-Lo? Three times now Carl has been behind a run up the gut attempt to install the Superintendent. His first attempt was only successful inasmuch as he had the votes to put Donald Ogilve in office. Ogie then crawfished and betrayed Carl by insisting on making some of his own decisions apart from the scripted ones Carl believed Ogilve owed him in exchange for getting him hired. We all know this ended with more whimper than bang as Ogie used his option and slid out the side door on the last day of June after withstanding Carl's calls for his head, attacks on his character the rest of the usual "Carl as Victim" schtick.

Next it was James Weimer, Principal of Emerson High whom Carl had unilaterally decided should be put in charge of the schools. Among other issues that came out in this wash was the fact that Weimer's wife had once been employed by Paladino as a lawyer. Conflict of interest questions were raised and Weimer decided he might be willing to take a punch or two but he was not going to hang around waiting to see if Carl could pull the trigger on the deal while people continued to ask about his wife's work relationship in a Paladino owned business. Weimer removed his name from consideration with a thanks but no thanks. Which I imagine was followed by a "what the hell was I thinking?" 

Carl was pissed. Again he was the victim of all the usual nefarious forces, mostly in his view it was union henchmen operating under the cover of activist parents who'd been forced to start an actual parent teacher group since Sam's Club is not open to people not on Sam's short list of approved people. Some of us saw it as an actual democratic moment where a public outcry made it as far as one of the parties involved and that party said listen folks, I was willing to take the job but I'm not having my wife dragged through any of this. In my calls and one on ones with various other old timers I'd never really heard anything hard against Weimer and I think I heard the word "decent" more than once. It was likely his decency that caused him to run not walk away from Carl's scheme to install him. An administrator friend of many years who is also cool with Weimer told me philosophically "Jim probably would have done a pretty good job. The problem was Paladino being so heavily involved. It became about Paladino, not Weimer."

Back to the Ellicott Development drawing board again but not for long before Carl emerged with yet another slam dunk, can't miss, no brainer of a Super. This time it was Kevin Eberle who, even moreso than Weimer, came with the approval of a certain body of people including an energized group of teachers who went as far as buying and posting election signs on his behalf. And again, instead of presenting the guy in an even handed fashion saying I'd like you to consider this guy I think he's got a lot to offer, Carl went for the jugular and turned it into another power play that he planned to ram down everyone's throat whether they liked it or not. Just like last time, people balked, including one Board President Gateway Jim Sampson of the recently shaggy visage. Eberle's supporters in my experience took much the same angle as Carl calling anyone out who didn't go along with them and getting rather nasty about it. The mentality seemed to be Kevin is the man for the job. I worked with him. I know. You don't so you should just shut up. One Eberlean went so far as to announce his willingness to "take a bullet" for the guy. I really wanted to follow up and ask what size bullet, would it include those armor piercing rounds and where exactly would you welcome this bullet into your person? Gutshot? Wingshot? One to the dome? C'mon people, we all have our friends we'd stand with through thick and thin but this kind of bullshit rhetoric among teachers, most of whom have never been within 500 feet of a bullet unless they were deer hunting with their brother in law, does us no good. 

Carl's resolution to install Dr. Eberle was sent to the circular file when he didn't even show up at the meeting to introduce it. A lot of sound and fury and another failed coup put Carl right back to square one or actually somewhere behind it since he's now lost Sampson's allegiance and they have degenerated into public and open sparring. This included calling for Sampson's removal as President and the installation of Lars Quinn in his stead. Now that another of Carl's palace shakeups has gone the way of The Bay of Pigs it's safe to assume his board mates aside from Sampson and the minority block are growing weary of his nonsense. Just when the fumes of the most recent Paladino power play have subsided or are at least dissipating, we get word from MaryAnn Doubtfire that she has a great idea for B-Lo in the form of a fellow carpetbagger who spent some time in Miami Dade so why don't we just hire Kriner Ca$h to save the city? 

Think of the dynamics in play here: people are Carl-wearied up to their eyeballs. Mott and Kereztes are looking about like the girls you took to the prom after all the girls you wanted to take turned you down. Eberle has a big Carl stain on his CV. The process drags and it begins to feel like a cross between the Ancient Mariner and Life of Pi as the board drifts and starts feeling thirsty, starts feeling hunger pangs, they start imagining each other smothered in onions and butter when BOOM! Out of the clear oceanic sky comes a new name, an other, a someone from somewhere else -- which in this city is always the first sign of the Second Coming. Mayor Brown faxxes T.O. to ask for that key to the city back only to learn that it went for a case of Genny Cream on EBay. The minority block women sit up straight and check their makeup. Larry Quinn imagines stepping into Chris Jacobs' role as the new white privileged BFF of this southern black man who's come to break the back of the union. McCarthy looks up a new word -- parochial --  in his phone app and uses it correctly in a Buffalo News story. Suddenly everyone has something to live for again. Sampson can't say enough about the guy, turning the knife in Carl's back with every approbation he spews for the Ca$h man.

Where does this put Carl right now? Well he's made himself the odd man out with all of his carrying on and now all he can is try to save face and claim that he likes Ca$h's abrasive manner that it speaks well of him. I think he called him a fighter. Or Carl can always stick to plan A and remain the prophet in the wilderness, the poor little rich guy who shoots straight and tells it like it is as all of his ass kissing free drinking constituents claim he does. Carl has said that he wants to see if Ca$h is going to go along with his Board Vision statement.  But that really doesn't matter now. Carl's vote will be nullified by the yes votes of the Board Minority who are busily primping and picking out new outfits for the occasion. The fact that Kriner Ca$h stands for most of what this minority block has been fighting since they became the minority does not seem to have occurred to any of them. I think Sharon Belton Cottman summed up their collective giddiness when she told the Buffalo News "We are lucky he'd even consider coming to Buffalo..." Quinn and Sampson get something they want, minority block sure seems tickled to be getting what they want, whatever the hell it is I can't say and Pierce and McCarthy are standing by waiting to be told what to do as usual. Kriner Ca$h should send Carl a big thank you card for doing more than anyone else to get him the job. 

In one of the most textbook displays you'll ever see of a bully who's bullying comes back to bite him in the ass, Carl Paladino is now a backseat driver whose 2 cents are probably not worth even that when the votes are counted. I wonder what Carl and his Majority members would say about a teacher who chalked up as many failures as Carl the Developer. Ironic too, isn't it, that a shit score on the rubric leads to you being rated as "developing." Ironic and apropos in this case.