Monday, November 23, 2015

Friedrichs is Coming. But You Wouldn't Know it Would You?

Call it Friedrich's Syndrome.

Anyone with a faded union sticker curling up from the edges on their windbreaker can probably tell you we're screwed when the same Supreme Court who thought Citizens United was a swell idea gets to decide if unions should be allowed to deduct money from rank and filers paychecks. As public sector unionists we are about to become citizens of a Right to Work Nation. Or as my union electrician friends in Florida call it a "Right to Work for Less State." There is understandably much angst and wringing of hands. Xanax and Ethanol intake is on the uptick. Surely our union leadership has a plan, they can't just be fiddling while the flames of ed reform begin to lick at the soles of our sensible shoes. 

Glad you asked. 

Unfortunately, R. Weingarten, Ed Reformer, is busier than a one armed paper hanger assembling a nifty new amalgam of her ed reform friends for Hillary. #TeachWrong is taking up most of her collaborative energies so we're not hearing a lot from her these days. But that's not to say the flow chart has been derailed, no, far from it. Here in the Empire State we saw just last week how Ed Reformer Weingarten's hand picked successor to UFT in NYC, one Punchy Mike Mulgrew is standing tall. As an ersatz Boy Friday Mike is covering the hot topics and burning issues our feckless President can't make the time to address. APPR? Receivership? Half of Buffalo Schools working with no labor agreement in place by way of NYSED Commissioner Elia's Imperial Edict? 

No, not that you ninnies. This! Beth friggin Dimino, President of PJSTA down Long Island way needed to be pushed in the dirt or have her standards taken away or something. It was with a heavy heart that Loyalty Oath Sworn Unity Caucasian Commodore Mike Mulgrew had to suggest Beth should go join forces with the Koch Brothers instead of representing teachers in fights Unity and AFT find beneath them or simply not worth the effort. Ms. Dimino committed the unpardonable sin of suggesting teachers rethink donating their hard earned dollars to VOTE COPE. Yes, she raised the pre-Friedrich's spectre of NYSUT hacks being separated from a comfortable flow of rank and file cash. Woe unto her who redirects funds from the geniuses who put out ads like these:

The top ad misspelled Ranzenhofer which is mildly overlookable but should an ad sponsored by teachers spell "lose" with to o's? This is what your donations are getting you folks.  

The one below caused an uproar here in Buffalo as it suggested Mark Grisanti was somehow cool with domestic violence and probably would step over a victim to get to his favorite slot machine. The local teacher hating Buffalo News had a field day with it and countless local political hacks got to play their "Well I've never been so offended" cards. It was a great moment for phony indignation and an easy cheapshot on teachers for being associated with such a foul ad. 

Not that Beth Dimino mentioned either of these ridiculous ads but did she have to? Do we really see anything coming out of the double pensioned braintrust of NYSUT that gives us hope, or makes us want to rally with drums, armbands and loudspeakers? So Punchy Mike of the UFT/Unity Caucus that wags the NYSUT dog has stepped up and attacked the very type of union leader the rest of the state admires and accuses her of being in league with billionaire ed reform sponsors. This is the caliber of leadership our dues are buying us?  

Not to be outwagged by UFT/Unity Caucus, Fearless Andrew Palotta has weighed in at the NYSUT meeting of Very Important NYSUT people to make his own shrill cry for justice. Is he railing against the Cuomo evaluations with 50% of it coming from standardized test scores? Is he speaking truth to power against the scourge of receivership in New York State? Mmmm nope, not that. Andrew Palotta, NYSUT's Executive Vice President took up a good chunk of the Very Important NYSUT People's meeting complaining about a teacher blogger's post that Andrew Palotta felt cast him unfairly in the role of a mobster. While no such claim was ever made nor was anyone ethnically stereotyped, the comparison was aptly drawn that handing over dues to NYSUT is akin to paying for mob protection. No matter how little return you see on your investment or what hardships you incur (hardships that NYSUT does nothing to mitigate) you are expected to shut up and pay up. Executive Pallotta thought this merited a call to the Attorney General. Executive VP Pallotta also thought filing a claim of discrimination against a teacher his union allegedly supports would be in order. Yes, he thought that. 

Do these people ever talk to each other? Did anyone say, you know A.P. with half the frigging state in receivership, teachers under attack from every conceivable angle including the media, contracts suspended, a Commissioner who's declared war on the Opt Out parents.... You know? Maybe this isn't really the thing we ought to be spending our time on just now... Did anyone run that scenario by this guy? I guess nobody did or if they did he refused to listen. I have to wonder too if anyone had the stones to tell Punchy Mike, "...You know Mikey, Beth Dimino is big in France, they love her in Buffalo too, maybe she's not the one you should be poking with the stick right now huh? Maybe that could backfire in a really weird  unpredictable way." I suspect nobody made that appeal or again if someone of that perspicacity does exist in either of these "union" enclaves they were summarily ignored by "leadership." 

What gets me is the other shoe hasn't even dropped yet. We are still laboring under the sword of Friedrichs so to speak. And from where I'm standing I see no sign of NYSUT organizing, strategizing, nut hoarding or gathering supplies for the coming winter. I see nothing but highly placed and well paid so called "union leadership" men lashing out at rank and file teachers who've shown the temerity to question the direction and merits of union leadership. Edward Abbey said "Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best." I'll let you decide friends who was attracted and who was corrupted. It's a coin toss from where I'm sitting. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Memo to New York Teachers: F*ck You, Pay Me.

My colleague and blogging brother Sullio posted this the other day and word has it Grand Imperial Do Nothing Andy Pallotta decided he'd been besmirched or pantsed or called a spaghetti twirler or something, even though Pallotta's name never comes up. Lil Andy was so upset he wanted to file a discrimination claim, a Notice of Feelings Hurt, an Insensitivity Injunction or some such legal bullshit. Guess What Andy, if you put up with the ed reformy nonsense we put up with in the classroom every day maybe you'd have a pair and a thicker skin. Maybe you should give up noodling around Latham with your feelings hurt and undies bunched and hop back into the fray with the rest of us. From here  you sound like a third rate drama queen and a thin skinned one at that.

Friends, if you haven't read Sullio's post it's short and sweet and dead on point. Enjoy:

Lost seniority rights? Fuck you pay me.

Lost due process rights? Fuck you pay me. 

Lost your pension? Fuck you pay me.

Just keep paying and absolutely nothing will change—that's a promise.

It's a proud New York tradition:


NYSUT Unity Caucus

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Buffalo Board of Ed Sends Teachers a Personal Message: YOU SUCK.

Attention BTF Members, The Board of Education Has a Message for You

Well friends and colleagues if you didn't get your own copy of the Board of Ed's email to the Teachers -- and a lot of us didn't get it, why is anyone's guess -- let me sum it up for you as succinctly as I can.

You Suck. 

As one who likewise sucks allow me to tip my hat to the Bard in counting the ways you all suck:

  • You don't work a long enough day, thus the largest number of struggling schools

  • You work the shortest year of anyone on earth

  • You get waaaaaaaaay too many personal days. Have you ever seen Larry Quinn take one? 

  • Your class sizes are waaaaaaaay too high. Lowering class sizes costs MONEY! Not that you care. 

  • You get cancer and have heart attacks and use sick leave time. You even have a bank for it! Outrageous, needs to be stopped. 

  • You slackers who get assaulted at work take waaaaaaay too much time to return with your broken bones and dental work, your fractured skulls and neurological damage, your PTSD, cry us a river you wusses. You need to suck it up buttercups. We are going to shorten your return time by nearly half. Get over it. 

  • Some of you simply can't go another day and retire in January! Screw your mental and physical state, do you know how destructive that can be to the testing schedule? 

  • You deserve a lot less insurance and you should all be paying a lot more for it. What do we look like freaking GEICO or something? 

  • Previous Boards screwed up and failed to remove the cosmetic rider which many of you have used in lieu of a respectful work place and a fair wage. You need to hand it over, NOW! We've allowed it for years as it's a great way to show the public how greedy and selfish you all are. 

  • We plan to pay you a meager "increase" which is not really an increase when you consider it's spread out over the 4 years in which it will take effect plus the past 12 in which you've missed all kinds of pay increases and had your wages frozen by a control board. But we'll frame it in a way that the average dope will slide off his barstool and declare Maybe I shudda been a teacher...

Essentially, you'll be paying more into health care, losing personal days, working longer hours and a longer work year and as Phil Rumore pointed out when the Buffalo News printed this "generous" offer months ago, teachers will be working more and earning less than they are right now.

But you suck.

So deal with it. You're lucky you're getting anything. 

Carl, Larry, Jim, Sharon, Theresa, Patti, Barbara and Jay

Board lawyer Terry O'Neil tells Tiffy the Ed Reform reporter from Nooze that he fears BTF rank and filers aren't really getting the truth from their union leadership so he's taking it right to the members in this poignant and heartfelt missive. Folks, the next time I trust a $300.00 per/minute NYC ambulance chaser to tell me the truth cause he's more reputable than my union President will be the first time I've ever done that. We suck. We're dregs. And we've seen this game before Terry. I know you planned to roll into B-Lo and dazzle the roobs same as Kriner Ca$h did. You've probably got a few Board members kissing your diamond pinkie and offering to buy you drinks. But we're dregs dude, we don't blink. So toddle off and write us another letter. We'll wait. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hey Ref You're Missing a Good Game!

Sam Radford Thinks the Zebras Are Racists

Common Core Task Force front man Sam Radford III is currently touring the state as a member of yet another Andrew Cuomo Coalition of the Clueless. Yes, you can see Sam browbeating parents and student advocates in a few of the videos that have leaked out of these intentionally hard to attend sessions. Sam does his best to smack down anyone who speaks against Common Core and the corporate ed reform agenda. There are pics of Sam posing with ed reform advocate R. Weingarten and another with  Albany slimeball Sammy the Rodent Hoyt. If you're lucky you can find one with John King trying not to look like he's wishing he could run for the door and there's even a snappy pic taken with Reformer in Chief Obama. Yes folks Sam looks as though poised to go places in the zany universe of ed reform. From everything we're seeing, the ed reform elites are looking to slide Sam into the next tier of reforminess. But is the face of the DPCC, the anti teacher parent group leader and one time riot starter at ECC City Campus really ready for prime time?

If you've seen the local media you'll know why I asked. Now we all know it's one thing as a local joker and B-Lo gadfly  to pop off on different subjects that appeal to your base and give your pals something to hoot and holler about. But when you're parading yourself around the state addressing parents and educators and politicians and presenting yourself as some kind of edustatesman, it seems you should probably try to distance yourself from causes that might shine you in the light of the local quack. In the case of the Bennett Tigers losing a Section VI Class C final game to Maple Grove/Chatauqua Lake due to racist refereeing Sam Radford not only fails to leap clear of the looney spotlight but takes his place center stage and lets it wash over him. 

My older sons have played football here in the cornbelt for the past 6 years with Section VI referees. I'd like to say they never blow a call but they do. I've been to a few games where they seemingly blew every call they made. My 10 year old son plays in a little loop league and in one of his games a ref high fived every kid on the other team's line with minutes to go in a one score game. We were stunned to put it mildly but our kids carried the day and came up with the W. Truth be told there were no questionable calls after the high 5 thing but it sure upset some fans (me). That's what refs do. They piss parents off. They piss players and coaches off. They blow some calls. They get some right. They catch a lot of hell for the low paying job they do too. But I don't think I ever saw one putting on his Klan hood after the final whistle. 

But for this supposedly emerging player in the state or national ed reform scene to hitch his wagon to a claim that the refs purposely threw a Class C final to a team because it had mostly white kids on it is so ridiculous and so demeaning to people who are truly suffering discrimination I am frankly stupefied that Sam Radford expects anyone to buy his nonsense. It's especially striking that Bennett Coach, Steven McDuffie who voiced some remarks critical of the refs in the post game pressure cooker, has since backed away from these comments and wants nothing to do with Sam Radford's inquiry, protest and complaint. He told the Buffalo News “I have no comment to make on that, I’m moving on to next year. I have no involvement in this.” Likewise, the Athletic Director of Buffalo Schools, Aubrey Lloyd told the News “I know firsthand the character of the people that serve Section VI,”  “Our district has always been accepted as equal partners at the section level. I have full confidence in the people and that the concerns brought up will be discussed.” In other words, we're not on board with this accusation either. 

In a less conciliatory tone, Section VI sent their legal representative Robert Schreck to Sam's presser outside Bennett. Schreck told The News that no formal complaint has been filed against the association. He was there mostly to hear the news conference. “It’s one thing to disagree with an official’s call,” said Schreck. “It’s another thing to allege that call was made intentionally for some other reason. That crosses the line in my opinion.” 

Maybe Sam Radford thinks this will boost his cred and rocket him to greater heights in his newfound milieu among the ed reform's smart set. It could also backfire and show him as a guy who doesn't know when not to pick a fight. Worse yet it could show him as a guy who picks bad fights that are better left alone. Accusing a crew of middle aged high school refs of throwing a game to make the black kids lose is something you'd better be able to prove once you make the claim. The political reality of concussions and head injuries and calls that appear over protective to "defenseless" players is a reality Sam doesn't seem to know very much about. I wonder where he was sitting at the game when the hit took place. Or was he even there? How many other games has he been to this year and how many times has he seen penalties called out of caution to prevent a head injury? I went to a high school game every Friday and a little loop game every Saturday this season and I saw quite a few of these calls. They're part of the game now. 

The question we should be asking now is what game exactly is Sam Radford playing? Where was all this fierce loyalty to Bennett High when Sam's friends from ReformEd and Tapestry Charter were trying to steal Bennett and privatize it? It took BTF members and am empirical study done by a local professor to take the bloom off the moldy Tapestry rose. I don't recall Mr. Radford or the DPCC involving themselves in any meaningful way to help Bennett kids keep their school. BTF members were quite vocal but DPCC had nothing to say on the subject.  

The News says Sam Radford plans to bring his "Bad Zebra" accusation up again at the upcoming Board of Education meeting. His partners in Ed Reform, Carl Paladino and Larry Quinn have made it known they think public commentary at board meetings is a waste of time. I'll be interested to see if they listen to Sam or go to their iphones. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Weingarten, Eskelson-Garcia Fiddle With Ed Reformers While B-Lo Burns

New NEA/AFT Motto

While Buffalo Public Schools are burning in a fire of ed reform and receivership we get the message that Randi Weingarten of AFT President for Life notoriety and her spineless partner in betrayal, Lily Eskelson Garcia of NEA, have signed on with some of the most wretched and obnoxious elements of Corporate Ed Reform's anti union phalangists. Weingarten likes to resort to 1984ish "newspeak"when she explains her endless betrayals of the rank and file. She calls it "solution driven unionism." Her solution unfortunately is always the same: betray the teachers and make friends with the forces attacking public education and unionized teachers. 

Yes friends, while Commissioner MaryEllenElia, the hand picked stooge of  Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch, was giving her own hand picked stooge Kriner Cash, the Superintendent of Buffalo Schools, permission to trample and ignore the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement in place, Randi Weingarten and Lily had nothing to say. They apparently aren't concerned with this precedent setting attack on labor. You'd never even know it occurred if you asked either of them. Maybe they are too preoccupied with trying to newspeak their latest demonstration of  fecklessness in leadership positions. Their boldfaced betrayal of their constituency begs the question Is Friedrich's a done deal? Are they simply trying to position themselves strategically for the Post-Friedrichs landscape? 

Otherwise how do you explain the Presidents of 2 teacher's unions embedding themselves within this group of ed reform bottom feeders? Off the top of my head I can name Bill Gates' funded Educators for Excellence, (Eedjits4Excrement) Jonah Edelman's Stand for (On) Children, elistist Wendy Kopp's Teach for (a Bit) America, The Neo Liberal Center for American Progress and the list goes on. Here it is in all of its Vichy Quisling glory: 

The organizational partners in TeachStrong are: Alliance for Excellent Education, America Achieves, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of Teachers, ASCD, Center for American Progress, Council of Chief State School Officers, Deans for Impact, Digital Promise, Education Post, The Education Trust, the Education Policy Program at New America, Educators 4 Excellence, Educators Rising, Emerson Collective, Hope Street Group, Knowledge Alliance, Leading Educators, Learning Forward, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Teacher Residencies, National Center on Time and Learning, National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, National Council on Teacher Quality, National Education Association, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, National Women’s Law Center, New Leaders, New Teacher Center, Public Impact, Relay Graduate School of Education, Stand for Children, Teach For America, Teach Plus, Third Way, TNTP, Urban Teachers, and The VIVA Project.

None of us is enjoying the way things are unraveling here in Buffalo or the reality that this is simply the template the corporate ed reform caste is going to try to use everywhere else if they succeed in eviscerating the BTF. But I think we are still willing to stand in there and fight with whatever we have at our disposal. Naturally the few tools we have available to us are going to hurt us as much as they do the other side but I don't believe that's any reason not to use them. 

It would be such a game changer to have national muscle flexing on our behalf, to know that whatever happens we have support and cover fire from above. Instead we have these two collaborating jackasses running around making googley eyes and playing footsie with the very people who stand to gain from BTF's untimely demise -- people who've dedicated millions of dollars and untold human capital, to use their words, towards destroying teacher unions. 

Spin it any way you like Randi and Lily but you're dancing with the devil. Your solution is to help drive unions into the ground. We will do this without you just as we have been doing it for years. But we will not forget where you were and what you were doing when the wolf broke down the door in B-Lo. The Brits might have burned us the ground in 1812. It's not going to happen again. 

Executive Committee meets this afternoon. 
Council of Delegates Tonight. 
Be There or Forever Hold Your Peace. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NYSED Commissoner Elia Fires a Shot Heard Round the World. And B-Lo Will Answer.

You Tell Me

Well it didn't take long for the forces of corporate ed reform to fire their first volley at B-Lo Public Schools. Fresh from burying Hillsborough County Florida's school system in a $20-$40 million dollar hole after a Faustian deal with Bill Gates, MaryEllen Elia has been subcontracted to do more damage on a much wider scale here in the Empire State. Isn't it interesting the way the ed reform class shuffles its muscle from place to place until they end up beetling over their base as Barbara Byrd Bennett did in Chicago. Looks like B3 is headed to the Stoney Lonesome. Curious to see if she gets paroled before Elia gets yet another brown parachute, this time from New York State. 

And here in B-Lo we are under fire from another carpetbagger in the form of one Kriner Ca$h, a guy who publicly bragged that he has a stash of F.U. money, that he never even asked for the job, said you'd have to be crazy to want the job. He shamelessly refused to even buy a house here claiming essentially that everyone knows he'll only be here for a minute so why bother investing in anything like pretending to be a part of the community. That Elia recommended this fool and that the so-called "teacher friendly" Board Minority voting block welcomed him with batted lashes and flushed cheeks, knowing full well what he's all about, pretty much condemned us to the fate Elia has delivered. So please remember to keep them at arm's length and ignore any of their hogwash to the contrary, they welcomed this and approved it whole heartedly. 

Again it's not so much our enemies in education that we need to keep on eye on as much as the shape shifters who pretend to be our friends. When I heard the Board Minority members gushing and giggling over how fortunate we were to have this jackass with the Rhett Butler moustache deign to pay us a visit I knew we were toast. And if you just unravel things a little further you have our dear Democrats in Albany whom NYC blogger Arthur Goldstein has indelibly dubbed "The Heavy Hearts Club." They all wept into their hankies just a little then voted for sociopath Andrew Cuomo's anti teacher pogrom laced budget saying things like It really hurt me to vote for it so I voted for it. 

And once upon a time the sad sacks of Working Families Party got this wild hair up their arse that they might just grow a set and throw in with renegade candidate Zephyr Teachout for Governor. Well we all know how that ended, with UFT/Unity UberSlug Mulgrew among others actively working against WFP and colluding with other  "labor" goon squads to date rape WFP into submission and capitulation ending in a disingenuous and hollow endorsement of Cuomo. High on our list of backstabbing "friends" there's AFT Empress for Life Randi Weingarten who glibly robocalled on behalf of Kathy Hochul and Cuomo doing her best lawyerly parsing of the betrayal claiming that she wasn't calling on behalf of Cuomo but just for Hochul. I am reminded of Bill Clinton in Lewinskean disgrace saying something to the effect of "define is." It didn't fly then and it didn't fly when Weingarten did it either. You robocalled for the Cuomo ticket Randi. Take Dr. Phil's advice and "own it." Lest we forget our cautious, trembling duelling retirement do nothings of NYSUT. While Rome burns they videotape each other doing the Nae Nae. They send bold e-blasts around the state. They make strongly worded calls to The White House. They are a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

I read on the internets the other day that CTU in Chicago has taken a little survey of its teachers and they have concluded that 97% of them are ready to strike. When Karen Lewis says we are going to strike everyone knows what that means. It's not idle chatter and it's not a ploy. It's for real. I wonder if BTF can put down the NYUST Lilliputians of Labor handbook long enough to borrow a page from Karen Lewis. 

The longer we act powerless, the longer we allow these carpetbaggers and hacks to call the tune and we dance the Nae Nae to it, the longer we remain powerless dancing to their tune. I think I've had about enough of it being Kriner Cash's and MaryEllen Elia's and Carl and Larry's way. If not now, When? If not us Who? Buffalo is currently at Ground Zero of the Ed Reform war on public education. 

What are we going to do about it? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Peanuts Smacks Down the Testocracy

Peppermint Patty - Test Taker Extraordinaire 

When Charlie Brown scored a perfect 100% on the Standardized Test and the entire school planned an assembly to celebrate him for his achievement I couldn't believe what I was watching. I groaned into my popcorn and shook my head in disgust. The entire school is assembling to celebrate a kid's score on a standardized test? Are you effing kidding me? A shout out to the testocracy's nonsense embedded in a Charlie Brown movie ? Say it aint so...

My 2 youngest boys ages 8 and 10 didn't seem to notice my horror or disgust which is good since I didn't want to burden their enjoyment of a fun Saturday night at The Palace with my miserable Dad the teacher narrative. They are also beneficiaries of the Test Refusal movement so maybe this test score hoopla simply didn't connect with them. I couldn't see how such a seeming pro- testing statement had any place in a Charlie Brown flick though. Yes we've already seen a few D-Grade Hollywood swipes at the teaching profession and its unions. "Won't Flush Down" was an unmitigated box office disaster funded by certain people who stand to benefit from busting teacher's unions. I knew about that and another earlier one and I was as pleased as anyone else when the thing died like Dangerfield on stage and disappeared from view in what seemed like about a weekend. 

Imagine my relief and surprise when the whole school came together to worship a suddenly popular, quotable and celebrified Charlie Brown -- baby sister Sally selling Charlie Brown mugs and paraphernalia in the vestibule of the aud -- only to learn that the test paper in question wasn't his but Peppermint Patty's. When Charlie Brown was presented with his historic 100% answer sheet as a memento of his grit, excellence and rigor, he realized it wasn't his but that he must have somehow signed his name to the wrong sheet. How this might have occurred and how he knew the true identity of the perfect scorer we will have to leave ST Coleridge and the gods of suspended disbelief. The kid who scored the 100% did so by creating a huge smiley face across the entire scantron as I'm sure many a thoughtful child has surely done more than once or twice. As fortune and irony would have it, probably the most academically disinclined kid in the entire Peanuts umvelt, one Peppermint Patty, who's more famous for snoring in class than scoring 100% turns out to be the real genius. 

Rather than taxing herself with reading and analyzing anything as moronic as New York's "Pineapple and the Hare" debacle, P.P. simply devoted herself instead to creating a giant smiley face using the bubbles on the sheet as a connect the dots template.  It's probably one of the most brilliant responses to the tedium and stupidity of a Pearson Product to date. While I didn't much care for what I believed to be a terrible message of the entire school celebrating one kid's score on a standardized product I was duly impressed with the real message even if I imagined it myself which I don't think I did.

 The true message is that even the least gifted of test takers can ace one of these ridiculous instruments using its own randomness and a go to hell spirit against it. The fact that non studious rough and tumble hockey star Peppermint Patty scored a perfect score by drawing pictures on her answer sheet says about what needs to be said for the merits of these time wasting exercises in mis-education whose scores are being used to fire quality teachers in far too many places.  If the Peanuts gang has figured out the farce and fallacy of standardized testing can the rest of the country be far behind?