Thursday, July 23, 2015

Just How Bad is Arne Duncan's Department of Ed Reform? Bad. Really, Really Bad.

A lot of Us Already Assumed this Arne, it's Pretty Obvious

As a public school teacher in Buffalo for nearly 3 decades now it's rare that I agree with Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch on anything related to education. You'll recall that Tisch toured the state with the petulant and tone deaf NYSED Commissioner John King attempting to shut parents and teachers up with their complaints about high stakes testing and other matters. When the parent and teacher mutiny reached its apogee King found himself being told to shut up and get off the stage. His fragile ego shattered, King tried to cancel the "Listening Tour" accusing parents and teachers of being Special Interests who disrupted his soliloquy. It was suggested the Governor or Tisch told him that wasn't going to work and he was forced to continue albeit in a highly protected and moderated variation of the earlier meetings which exposed his flank to heavy fire from actual citizens whose kids and livelihoods were suffering the effects of King's ridiculous testing regimen.

The point being of course that Tisch has always been a staunch and inflexible advocate of the Test and Punish paradigm put forth by the well funded corporate ed reform lobby and touted by minions like King as the only path to a public education in New York. So when I read the other day where Meryl Tisch admitted if she were the parent of a special needs child she'd think twice about allowing that child to submit to New York State Testing I had to look again. Here is what Tisch offered the other day:

Personally, I would say that if I was the mother of a student with a certain type of disability, I would think twice before I allowed my child to sit through an exam that was incomprehensible to them,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in Albany.

If you think this sounds a little like Saul on the Road to Damascus I'd have to agree. And I guess the larger question remaining is what on earth could ever push Meryl Tisch to encourage a parent to embrace the Opt Out Movement which has dogged her every step as Chancellor? What divine or diabolical power could possibly cause Chancellor Tisch to embrace the Opt Out movement? 

Enter Arne Duncan, Chief Executive Orifice and Non Educator entrusted with Barack Obama's Department of Education Reform:

Tisch’s remarks came after federal education officials rejected New York’s request to loosen testing requirements for some high-needs students in June. The waiver would have exempted English language learners who have attended U.S. schools for less than two years from taking the tests, and assessed students with severe disabilities based on their instructional level, rather than their age-based grade.

As RBE at Perdido St has duly noted, what on earth would make Madame Tisch think for a minute that the Fuds would ever cave an inch on their Test and Punish protocol? Maybe she thought coming from her station with her connections they'd throw her a bone with a wink and a nod and a Cape Codder at the Club next time the boys are in town. But New York got the same treatment Tennessee would get and Madame Tisch was reminded that at the Federal level as LBJ aptly stated there are only elephants and pissants. As unbearable as it may be for her, Tisch falls with the rest of us in the latter category.

It generally takes a person about 6 or 7 years to acquire the full grasp of a new language plus or minus a year or two depending who you're listening to. ESL folks feel free to jump in here. Along with  language acquisition many of the kids coming here from other places face cultural adjustments, housing issues and PTSD depending on their experiences. Yet in the face of all of these factors and the simple documented reality that it takes years to acquire sufficient facility in a new language to pass a test, President Obama and Arne Duncan insist that no kid will be allowed any more than two years before they are held accountable for, say, an Earth Science Regents or Global 10 which requires two full length essays. By Grade 11 they will be responsible for more essays on American History and still more on their English Regents. 

I know a fair handful of adults working and paying their bills who couldn't write any of these essays and these are people who've grown up speaking English. That the so called Department of Education could be so out of touch, so ridiculously inflexible and such complete assholes in their insistence that test taking is the ultimate culmination of the educational; experience should come as a surprise to nobody. I have to admit though, I am still amazed. Even Meryl Tisch is amazed.

The other group who were told by Secretary Duncan and President Obama to toughen up, shut up and take their testing medicine are students with severe disabilities. When you hear that term it sounds serious. Severe Disabilities. Yeah, because it is. We're not talking about kids with hearing aids or orthotic shoes. Severely Disabled kids are likey non verbal. Some of them have to wear protective helmets because they experience seizures randomly and may fall and injure themselves. These are the kids with the language boards they use to communicate their needs to their caretakers and teachers. There's a good chance they are completely non ambulatory and they are likely to require special medical treatment and medications throughout the day. If you were born in 2003 but your instructional level is that of a 5 year old you are taking the state exams with all of the other kids your age and we don't care what your problems are. That's the loving response from our Department of Education. You don't wonder why a yahoo like Rick Perry gets a standing ovation when he suggests as President he'd do away with it when you hear things like this. 

Next time you hear and ed reformer blithely explaining how educational administrators really don't require an educational background to do the job remind them of the shitty job their boy Arne Duncan and his enabler Barack Obama are doing. They are so far out of bounds they made an Opt Out Mom out of Meryl Tisch. Maybe if Arne had ever spent a day with a kid who escaped Iraq or Somalia or a kid who has to be suctioned so he doesn't choke on his own fluids he might actually grasp that these kids don't need standardized testing. But this is what you end up with when politicians bring their basketball buddies with them on the road and hand them education jobs because after all, who can't do that right? 

Well, I can name one guy so far...

Monday, July 20, 2015

New NYSED Chief Does All the Talking on the "Listening Tour"

Another NYSED Not Listening Tour Ends in Characteristic NYSED Bluster

Things at NYSED never change do they? Looks like anyone who thought the new NYSED Commissioner, MaryAnn Elia, was going to be New York State's Daenerys Targaryen is going to have to settle for a combination of Brienne of Tarth and Cersei Lannister instead. No apologies for the Game of Thrones references, if you're not watching it you should be. 

NYSED Commissioner Elia told the media --just like the previous ineptocrat who held the NYSED sceptre-- she was on a "listening tour" of the state. In truth, Commissioner Elia wasn't listening to anyone. She was making statements. More to the point, she was making threats dolled up as promises. In Buffalo she continued to bang the ed reform drum about "failing schools" who'd better straighten up and fly right. 

The Buffalo News frames the palaver thusly quoting Phil Rumore's highly accurate assessment of the process:

 “That someone’s going to come in here and wave a magic wand, and all of these kids who have severe problems will start doing well, that’s just not going to happen,” Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore said.

And being the reformy Buffalo News, I am not sure these statements were part of an actual tete a tete exchange. I actually think they weren't but the News likes to frame it as though it were an actual conversation just so they can give the last word to their girl, Elia: 

Elia disagrees.

“It’s important for you to understand there will be consequences if you can’t move those schools forward,” she said. “It’s handing you a tool and giving you an option to use it. If you don’t use it, I will.”

If bluster and threats from out of touch bureaucrats could fix our struggling schools, New York's schools would be leading the nation. If it wasn't enough to hear Cuomo or Lil John King popping off at the mouth with misguided machismo and tough talk directed at teachers, now we've got this Sunshine State re-tread, her million dollar brown parachute from Florida not even unpacked yet, picking up the storyline exactly where King left off. 

The real message beneath all of the posturing and screwfacing is very simple: Teachers are to blame. 

People like Commissioner Doubtfire and our own Lars Effing Quinn love to wax indignant and leap to the defense of "the children" whom they perceive as victims of an incompetent, malingering, overpaid and under accountable mob of union- armored teachers. It's the biggest load of shit you've ever heard of especially if you've spent an hour in one of these schools where teachers are sneaking kids extra food, clothes and sneakers and buying half of their kids' school supplies out of their own pockets. My first five years in the district I taught at Burgard, a school that's been targeted in Elia's crosshairs. I can't imagine the place has changed too much but I remember a hard core, dedicated, kid friendly faculty that was rougher than most of the other places I've worked. Kids and teachers often called each other by last names, which took some getting used to. Burgard kids on average tended to be pretty tough kids but in the end they were kids and the faculty looked out for them in all the usual ways teachers do for kids who have less than idyllic home lives. And for people like Elia and Quinn to get up on their hind legs and howl about bad teachers hurting kids and all the rest of their reformy scripted hogwash is simply untrue, unfair and wrong.

 It's also extremely hypocritical. On Elia's watch in Florida two students died. One choked on a school bus and the other, a special needs child, wandered out of a gym class and drowned in a pond. While it's a stretch to say Elia was responsible for these tragedies, her response in both cases drew heavy criticism. The NAACP filed a class action complaint against Elia and Hillsborough Schools in 2008:  

This 2008 complaint included both disciplinary discrimination against African Americans and discrimination against special needs students. MaryEllen Elia, the Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools, may have failed in both areas, when you consider the January 2012 death of Bella Herrera that went unreported to the School Board for nine months. The silence conceivably required untold numbers of staff, who knew about the death, to sit in front of the board for nine months and not address what happened or recommend policy to prevent future incidents. An administration that had a duty to act and a silence that arguably led to the drowning death of a second ESE student Jenny Caballero nine months later, potentially for lack of training and updated procedures that should have taken place during those silent nine months.

Does a person with this kind of stains on her CV have any business riding into Buffalo making threats, pointing fingers and implying that teachers are to blame? Yeah I didn't think so either. But in the wacky universe of the Ed Reform Class, people like MaryAnn Elia are always the stooges  enlisted by people like Regent Tisch to go out and wage war on parents and teachers and anyone else who speaks truth to their Test and Punish regime. It's been said that MaryAnn Elia has no idea what she 's got herself into and she is going to be tested in places she's never imagined. I look forward to the impending public meltdown when a few hundred thousand Opt Out parents draw a bead on her in the coming school year. We'll see then who's making idle threats and who's making good on them. In honor of the late Van Miller I'd suggest the Commissioner fasten her seatbelt. She's hasn't seen anything yet. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Larry Quinn Declares The Eagle Has Landed. Well, Sort of...

I happened to catch Larry Quinn on tv today applauding the receivership of four so called "low performing" Buffalo Public Schoools. The fact that's he's Lars Quinn is problematic enough. But the malarkey issuing from his gob in a cavalcade of ed reform cliches was simply infuriating. Standard response from a Buffalo News comment troll would be : Truth Hurts huh?  And if it did I'd admit it. But none of what this aloof clodabout with a fetish for teacher sick days had to say was even remotely accurate let alone truthful. 

In his best impression of The Patrician whose patience has been strained to its limits by the hobgobbling little teacher minds he's been charged to whip into shape, Quinn explained that now the schools were being given all the resources they would need to be successful and improve themselves. I am paraphrasing but he continued to say that all these schools needed to do was improve and nobody would be bothering them. But if they didn't improve the state would sweep in essentially to rescue the children Lars cares so deeply about from the clutches of dumb, lazy, shiftless and cosmetic ridered teachers. 

For openers, there is a tacit admission whether Quinn accepts it or not that these schools have been operating with something less than the resources you'd find in a school not deemed "failing." We all know the sociopath in Albany has been starving Buffalo Schools for millions and millions and if you can't see that underfunding hurting kids in places like Bennett, MLK or Burgard you're not looking very hard. 

While Quinn paused for a sober breath, Board Member Nevergold managed to squeeze in the point that nobody in State Ed or the Board or anywhere else appears to have any idea how the growth, improvement, success or non-failure of these schools will be measured. The schools only have a year to get everything back up to snuff but the ones holding the sword over their heads don't exactly know what snuff looks like just now. 

I think the Principals of these schools need to memo the Board and State Ed with a timeline of their own. Give them until the middle of August to specify exactly what the school has to do to keep from being engulfed by the shock troops of privatization. Deadlines are good for everyone I think. And if they can't come up with a clear and concise and realistic goal for each school then it is going to add another 6 months to the school's grace period if you can call it that. 

Quinn misleads the unwary when he tries to say these schools will be getting all of the resources they need to get the school back on track. They may get some money but it won't go to the classrooms. It will go to administrative "costs" and travel and consultants and a new air conditioner for the office. If you haven't heard about School #6 they have their own Superintendent, Omar Tabb who lives in Phoenix. When it was brought to Superintendent Omar Tabb's attention that primary grades classes were bursting at the seams with 38 at risk students he refused to redirect any of the school's funds toward hiring the appropriate number of teachers. Instead, he rolled out a spitball from the Ed Reform 101 handbook, saying "A great teacher can teach a class of any size."

 While the resources may very well be on site, teachers and students are in a similar situation as people in places like Somalia: Aid is arriving -- and there's plenty of it--  but it's being hijacked by profiteering warlords whose own personal gain comes before all else. The school was handed a budget windfall, or so they like to imply anyway, but that doesn't mean the school has any chance of getting off the schnide if the guy in charge of the financial decisions is going to pay himself for travel and spout ed reform cliches at teachers whose classes are packed with more than 3 dozen kids.  Have a look at where School #6's money is going. And where it isn't. Then ask yourself if Larry Quinn has any idea what the hell he's talking about . 

I trust you see what I'm talking about when you look at the  diversion of funds away from kids and into all kinds of pockets whose mission is suspect and whose urgency appears lacking. Lars can spout off all he wants about the resources being in place and now it's time to "put up or shut up" but what he's claiming and what's really happening in places like the ones he mentioned is disingenuous at best. He's perpetuating the Poppa Knows Best mentality of the fed up businessman who's at the end of his rope with these namby pamby teachers and all of their petty gripes. He acts like he opened up his own wallet, tossed a couple of million dollar bills on the table and said "you've got one year now get to work or I am going to shut you down." That would be such a gratifying narrative and a validation of the Paladino/Sampson/Quinn's Old White Male Gestalt. The only problem with it though is that it's complete bullshit. The money is not finding its way into classrooms. It rarely does especially when there's a middleman involved whose priorities lean more toward his own enrichment than improving some poor kid's education. 

The goal here folks for NYSED and the Larry Quinns involved is to close and privatize as may public schools as possible. It's not the goal of teachers or even Principals for that matter. But you have to wonder how hard some of these other players are really going to try to save these schools. Especially when closing them can make some already rich people richer. Next time Larry Quinn explains the bountiful resources being flung at these "failing schools" maybe we can ask him for a printout that shows exactly where all of these resources are going. Better yet, let's just show him our printout. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Birds of a Feather Weingarten and Elia Mistake Teachers For Statues

To the outrage and disgust of many but the surprise of very few, Randi Weingarten has unilaterally  awarded the AFT's endorsement to Hillary Clinton for President in 2016. Frankly, I couldn't be happier. I'm thrilled that Weingarten has miscalculated on such a Pearsonian scale that any stragglers left in the rank and file who still believed her when she opened her mouth are going to be hard pressed to swallow any of her malarkey after this gaffe.

Here in New York State, our latest reformy State Ed Comissoner MaryAnn Elia has come to us with a million dollar plus brown parachute stuffed into her valise from her last gig in the educational cesspool we call Florida. And with Randi like disingenuousness, Mrs. Elia claims she wants to talk with the parents and the teachers and the stakeholders and get to the bottom of all this nonsense about testing and angst and Common Core. Why, Comissioner Elia has even declared her intention to set up some panels of teachers who will be charged with looking at Common Core. And as the Duke said to the Dauphin as they posted their handbills for The Royal Nonesuch, "If that don't fetch em, I don't know Arkansas." In a word folks, MaryAnn Elia, like Randi Weingarten, is full of shit. Elia didn't come here by invite from Meryl Tisch and her ilk to abandon the test and punish regimen of her predecessor Little John King. She wasn't hand picked and snuck into Albany under cover of dark for an early morning installment before anyone could protest or vet her previous activities because she was going to make sweeping changes. MaryAnn Elia is John King with an estrogen pump. And hold onto your hats folks but Weingarten to the shock of nobody colluded with Elia in Florida in the creation of merit pay schemes for teachers which anyone who can open a google window knows Don't Work. 

If there's a common thread between these two characters -- the ousted and bought out sunbelt Superintendent and the lawyer who ties to parlay some subbing time into a claim that she was once a teacher -- I think they both gamble on a deeply cynical and  shared belief that teachers are, in essence, gullible and passive dopes who will sit quietly by while the floor is sold out from under them and their possessions are placed in a box by the door with a card that says "Sorry, best of luck in your career, thanks for your service." Nobody believed John King and Meryl Tisch and Old Bob Bennett's "listening tour" was anything more than a stunt meant to shut everyone the hell up, which it was and it failed on a Hindenburg level. Instead of muzzling the proles they inflamed the entire state to the extent that by the time their medicine show limped into B-Lo they were pre-selecting the attendees and demanding questions be written out for screening ahead of time. So then why after seeing this trick once before would we fall for it coming from the same office a year or so later? When the woman says kids need to take tests, after all, "Life is a test." which part of that makes anyone think she's hear to listen, innovate or change anything?

And when Weingarten conducts her clever polls like the one she claims showed overwhelming teacher support for her pal Hill, we experience the same sense of Nausea-Vu that we felt when she rolled out her bogus poll results indicating that scads of pedagogues are just crazy for Common Core.  Randi's corporate collaborators need to foment the lie that teachers love Common Core and they know they can count on her to do their dirty work. Likewise, the corporate ed reform movement needs Hillary in place to carry on where the last fake Democrat, Neo-Liberal left off so there's a seamless passing of the flamethrower against public education and unions. Randi couldn't be happier to oblige with some more fraudulent data and a big wet sloppy endorsement of the pant suited Clinton. Both of these women answer to the same dark lords of Corporate Ed Reform. Neither of them seek to improve education for our kids or the professional lives of teachers.

Both Weingarten and Elia are deeply entrenched in the test and punish for profit paradigm and neither has demonstrated the slightest awareness that any of us are onto them. They really believe they can get away with phoney listening tours, empty promises of looking into Common Core -- which, to my understanding is copyrighted so look all you want but you're not going to change any of it -- and shady push polls that create consensus out of busy signals and dropped calls. Elia is going to have her mettle tested in ways that will make her pine for John King's simpler headaches.  Weingarten I am fairly certain has overplayed her hand one time too many. The AFT for Bernie Sanders Facebook page is the tip of  Randi's iceberg. The comments on Randi's friend and defender Diane Ravitch's  blog are further evidence that our lawyer "friend" has finally stepped in something she can't just wipe on the rug and scurry off to an Al Sharpton party or a Clinton Foundation fundraiser with no backlash or fallout. I think Randi's friend Hillary said it best when she offered the following gem to Americans:

The American people are tired of liars and people who pretend to be something they're not.

Hear that ladies? 

Monday, July 6, 2015

BTF Membership Update : It's Flying!

The Interview on WBEN Went Beautifully

This morning I happened to hear Interim Superintendent Darren Brown spreading a wagonload on WBEN radio. Not a surprise by any means to hear administration and/or the favorite radio station of bowel obstructed tea-tirees trying to create their own version of reality. To wit, Mr. Brown, when asked about contract negotiations was quick to mention Terry O'Neil's hiring and insisted that negotiations are a high priority. So far no foul. Pressed to predict how the district's offers are being received I believe Brownie tried to pull a fast one. Well it's hard to say, says he, we hear different things from the teachers than we hear from the union... And unless you're a goddamned idiot you just heard management trying to drive a wedge and create the illusion that the union is not looking out for the teachers. Take it a step further and you can pretend the teachers would surely settle and be glad for their bushel of apples, half a cord of firewood and a left hook they've been offered but you know that old snake in the grass Rumore, always crying foul, crying poverty, acting insulted at the Board's magnanimous and benevolent offers. Straight talk: I voted for Pat Foster not Phil. But Phil won and I guess if I'm any kind of a silver lining guy I'm not really feeling too bad about now that Phil is handling the situation. If you read any of the hallucinatory miasma wafting out of the Buffalo News editorial outhouse -- yes folks, go figure, another major local media outlet who has major wood for Buffalo teachers -- you know they tried desperately to spin the district's punch in the  crotch offer into some kind of high minded cosmetic shiatsu. Phil Rumore sat down and took the News to school for their lame attempt to paint us once again as the overstuffed, underworked, pampered ingrates that they insist we are. In a word he pantsed them as only an old union warhorse can do. I mentioned the other day that we might consider once again putting aside our notions about which teachers know who the best Superintendent should be and remember we are on the same team. This team is being offered an insulting contract. If you are among those who say things like Well, you know, in the private sector... I kindly request you resign your position and go find one in the private sector where you won't mind being bitchslapped and outsourced by your employer. If on the other hand though, you understand the Herculean task Buffalo teachers face and embrace every day, I ask that you stand firm and stand together until we get to where we need to be. In the meantime read Phil's piece and see for yourself why it's important that we avoid caving into outside agitators: 

Again, The News misrepresents the facts.

Under the current Board proposal, some teachers would actually earn less salary after they pay for their healthcare.

The average base salary increase for 2015-2018 is 3.5% minus the 20% teachers must pay for their healthcare.

The Board’s salary offer is an average of only nine-tenths of a percent (.9%) per year when you include the 11 years that Buffalo teachers have been without a new contract and they will now have to pay 20% of their healthcare amounting to approximately $3,600 per year for some..

If that isn’t bad enough, the Board further decreases its  salary proposal by increasing the school year by 2.2% plus the school day by 12.2% (14.4% total increase) putting the Board’s proposal  below a 0% increase.

Also, not mentioned by The News were the 17%  reduction of sick days (usually at least one of your 30 or 150 students has a cold); mandating seeing a doctor on the day you are ill; increasing prescription co-pays from $5/$10 to $10/$25/$40; increasing teaching periods from 5 to 6 periods (20% increase); and the withdrawal of arbitrations and other BTF legal victories that would cost the District over $20,000,000.

As a further insult to Buffalo Teachers, this Board’s offer is $16,000,000 less than the Board’s last offer.  A subsequent offer was withdrawn as a result of an Improper Practice Charge filed by the BTF.

Yes, this, plus other detrimental proposals, is what the Board is demanding of Buffalo teachers who work under some of the most difficult conditions and who are already $20,000, yes, $20,000 behind their colleagues in surrounding and other city school districts.

Yet, The News characterizes the District’s offer “as the starting point for serious negotiations”.

In an incredible statement, The News first refers to “work rules that have prevented significant progress in improving educational outcomes”.  Then, in the next sentence The News states “Some of those antiquated requirements are almost laughable, including a smoking room in each school, a vending machine for each school’s staff use only, access to outside telephones and a requirement that notices be posted on a bulletin board”!

Besides the fact that with our agreement there haven’t been pay phones or smoking rooms in schools for years, that The News makes a statement linking these obsolete items to educational outcomes is bizarre.

While Buffalo teachers have come to expect these distortions, we hope the public will also see through them.

                    Philip Rumore, President
                    Buffalo Teachers Federation, Inc.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Memo to BTF Members: There Are More Things in Heaven and Hell, Horatio...

Well it certainly has been a zany week or so. Carl Paladino has effectively sown division among the rank and file of BTF by announcing his pick as the next Superintendent of BPS. The usual suspects, myself included, voiced our reluctance to accept yet another of Carl's top down edicts not because anyone has a huge beef with Carl's guy, Kevin Eberle, but because he's being presented as "Carl's guy." And if you're a Buffalo teacher who hasn't been in a coma for the past 5 or 10 years, it strains credulity that you'd need any explanation as to why fellow Buffalo teachers are wary and suspicious of anyone trotted out by Carl Paladino as "a no-brainer" for the job.  Same as Ogilve was last year and same as Weimer was a few weeks back. Maybe it's because no teachers massed to support Mr. Weimer that they are massing to support Dr. Eberle, it's hard to say. One could say if Weimer'd had an energized band of BTF members buying campaign signs and vocally making his case on social media and elsewhere, things could have gone differently. Idle speculation of course but I'd say it's also valid. 

 It's hard not to speculate that there was some prep work and  blueprints laid out beforehand to steer this thing a little better than Weimer's candidacy was steered. Following that logic it would make sense that someone from the BTF ranks has been working behind the scenes with Paladino all along to make sure this rollout didn't meet the same fate as the Weimer project. And you know what? That's fine. Go right ahead. I can't think of a single member of that board I'd want to collude with let alone take a bullet for, but if you, as a dues paying BTF member, think Carl Paladino really has your best interests at heart then go with your gut by all means. Maybe you know something the rest of us don't. 

I return to the phrase "dues paying member" as it's about to take on some major significance in days to come. While we argue back and forth about the merits and demerits of a Paladino endorsed Superintendent, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought buy some non union teachers in California who claim that their first amendment rights are being infringed upon. The case is Friedrichs et al, v. California Teachers Association, et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-915. With Justice Alito foaming at the mouth to put the smackdown on public sector unions and idiotboy Koch Bros. stooge Scot Walker of Wisconsin effectively ending collective bargaining for public sector unions in Wisco, this ruling could easily render dustups as we're having here in Buffalo moot. How many teachers are going to voluntarily hand over union dues when the Supreme Court rules that it's now voluntary. And if you're one of these anti union teachers, and I know they're out there, I've met some and been amazed by their eagerness to commit professional Seppuku out of sheer spite for someone in union leadership they perceive to be taking advantage of them. 

I am no fan of Randi Weingarten, Lily Eskelson Garcia, Karen Magee, Any Palotta, Marty Messner or any of the other parasites who occupy union leadership spots seemingly to work against me not for me. But it's a far cry from voicing my dissatisfaction with union slugs and working with groups like StrongerTogether Caucus of NYSUT to oust them and agreeing that we should just defund our unions as Cuomo and Co. have defunded schools. As things stand it's not clear who the next Superintendent is going to be. What is clear though is that we as Buffalo teachers are a fractious, irritable and balkanized body of professionals who seem to be choosing dissolution instead of unity.

If you worked with Kevin Eberle and you think he's a great guy who will do well in the job I can understand your excitement. I'm asking the Eberle camp to please extend me and those who think as I do the same courtesy. After years of Carl Paladino's outbursts, outrageous remarks, insults to teachers, his promise to dissemble the City Schools and his claim that Eberle supports his Vision Statement, a claim nobody yet has been able to put to rest, see if you can understand why so many of us are lukewarm on the idea. 

In the end. I've heard nothing more substantial from Team Eberle than "Eberle for Superintendent because we said so" which is eerily similar to the rationale Paladino offers. Remember friends,  outside of Buffalo there are well funded forces at work that would really love to see this kind of division, infighting and bickering among a profession they are working hard to demonize and de-professionalize on a daily basis.  As I've noted elsewhere on many occasions, it's no mystery how ed reformers have succeeded in undermining teachers as they have when you look at how teachers respond when they are faced with even the smallest crisis. We're not hanging together. Are we hellbent on hanging separately?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Speaker Quotes Dylan Roof at a Board of Ed Meeting in Buffalo? Seriously?

In Mean Girls, the audience had Damian to interrupt the dithering stranger at the microphone and rescue them from an insufferable litany of gibberish. Anyone unfortunate enough to get pinned down in Kathy Weppner's semi-automatic hail of stupid at a recent board meeting would have exulted in such an intervention. Likewise, the board meeting attendees who got caught in Mrs. Russ Thompson's drive-by fusillade of teabaggery -- where she actually quoted Charleston serial killer and braindead racist asshole D-bag Roof -- would likely have welcomed Damian from The Omen -- if only to shut her the fuck up. 

Wait a minute here folks. Kathy Weppner? Jul Thompson? I thought we were talking about a Buffalo Board of Education meeting. And we were. Well why in seven holy hells are Weppner and Russ Thompson's Old Lady haunting such an event?  Do they have kids in the schools? Are they part of a parent group? Are they education people? Do they live in Buffalo? Well according to TeaPartyCheer, Weppner lives in Williamsville and her children are raised. As for Jul Thompson? Her husband is mentioned in several places as Grand Island Activist Russ Thompson. So they aren't from Buffalo nor do either of them have any kids in the schools so I guess we can only conclude that their attendance at Buffalo board of Ed meetings must be some kind of a show of solidarity with "Damn Asians" Board member, Carl Paladino. 

Weppner and Paladino have something of a sibling from another mother thing going when it comes to making outrageously offensive and inexcusable remarks in public. Where Carl wrongly accuses "damn Asians" of stealing all the good college spots at UB, Weppner refers to Guatemalans as blackmailing "infected poors" coming here to do us harm and take away our jobs picking beans and lettuce for 12 hours a day 6 days a week for $8 something an hour like the guys I see out there at the end of my rural road every day and every night. 

Now Mrs. Thompson is something of a dark horse working in the shadow of her tri-corner hatted, musket toting husband who likes to get himself up in colonial garb and explain how he's got no time for anyone's shit. He was Carl's "driver" during the horse-porn Campaign for Governor and was lurking in the wings trading barbs with a local veteran's group guy the day Carl committed his infamous "Damn Asians" gaffe. The following is taken from the original Olean Times Herald: 

Russ Thompson of Tea New York, warmed the crowd up for Paladino, outlining how six Upstate Republican senators including Young, “threw us under the bus” by naming Flanagan majority leader to succeed Skelos.
Thompson got into a verbal scuffle with Mark Williams, the county American Legion commander, who was carrying a sign supporting Young.
Thompson made reference to Williams circling the park with the Young sign, at which time Williams, the county’s public defender, walked toward the gazebo waving his sign and saying he was a veteran.
Thompson thanked Williams for his service and asked him to keep walking.

Classy stuff that, showing up in Olean to protest Kathy Young and telling a local guy who supports her to keep walking. That this is his town and he's the American Legion Commander apparently don't count for much in Planet Teabag. The convoluted and outrageously patronizing screed unleashed upon the unwary attendees of the Board meeting is so obnoxious and just plain fucking dumb I won't even reprint it. I won't even link to it but I'll repeat that she quoted Dylan Roof the Charleston shooter and actually tried to paint him in a reasonable light. She concluded by enjoining black people to be forgiving any time a white person takes a shot at them or a shit on them. You know, like those great ladies in Charleston did...

I don't get to enough Board Meetings. And unless your name is Myke, Kristen, Mel, Eve, Larry, Dino or Pat, chances are you don't either. Promise me you'll go and promise me you'll keep and eye out for these two Wyrd Sisters when it's time for the public comments. A steady stream of "She Doesn't Even Go Heres" from the rest of the house is the least we can do for these party crashers who think they can show up anywhere saying and doing any damned thing they please. They represent the worst of Western New York and the worst of the Buffalo Board of Education. They need to know we noticed and that they're not welcome.