Saturday, October 13, 2012

AA's Only Got 13 Steps But B-Lo's Getting 39 (with apologies to John Henry)

Well once again the Buffalo News is on its heels in shock, awe and horror over news that Mr. Ogilve from BOCES dredged up back when Jimmy Dubz was rolling around calling hisself the CEO of a multi billion dollar concern here in Buffalo.  The City Schools are run from an out of touch Central Office whose efforts run the gamut from bald faced incompetence to well meaning and fatally flawed. Principals don't get any support from City Hall or apparently from my favorite band of educationalists commonly known as The Community Superintendents. Under the James Williams regime they accounted for about half a million in salary spread out over 4 of them and a supervisor. Their community outreach was somewhat absent in the Jayvonnah Kincannon/James Daye debacles at McKinley, though Mark Frazier wrote up the counter spin report that endeavored to refute all of what everyone knew had transpired. The Community Superintendent in charge of Lafayette when the suspended student was killed at a bus stop by neighborhood thugs he'd had problems with previously, has been promoted to Chief Academic Officer and the Principal who had the young man suspended was transferred to another school, her fourth now.

The only real eyebrow raiser I could find in Judy Elliott's 39 Steps to a Fitter Buffalo Schools is the part about Principals picking their staff. If anyone thinks they don't all ready have some control over who they bring in and who they keep put I suggest you head down to Starbucks and order the largest cup they can pour you. Any Principal worth his nifty desktop nameplate O.k. I should say most Principals have figured out the tricks to holding positions for favorites and blocking undesirables from transferring into schools. Legally, this process, to my understanding, is determined by teacher seniority but try dropping into any of the showcase or upper tier schools without a letter from a friendly or someone putting in a good word and see if they don't have a way to give the job to a pal or nephew instead. Eliott's plan seeks to take all of these unspokens that Principals all ready use to manipulate their faculty and codify them into the contract. In essence Eliott is demanding changes to a teacher contract nobody has bothered to negotiate for the past 8 years. I wonder if now that THEY want something out of it if they will suddenly decide it's time to talk. I don't expect so though. More likely we'll get another unilateral request like the one from poor little rich guy chris jacobs who demanded teachers fork over their cosmetics rider as a show of good faith in a board who'd hired the Ebola Virus as Superintendent  and himself who'd done nothing but dis us, piss on our contract and posture that he was going to kick our union president's arse in an alley. Luckily Chris is directing the Auto Bureau now safe from the need to make outrageously stupid public remarks that did little to prove he had a lick of sense in his finely coiffed head.

What troubles me about this 39 steps to a newer you, aside from the litany of steps, (A.A. only has 12 fer chrissakes  to save drunks from self immolation but the BPS need 3 dozen and 3) is the way this report falls under the same old drumbeat of "bad public education" as described by people who have a charter school friendly history. Not that I think it will happen any time soon, mind you, but the appointment of an extinguished educator is one of the items on the list of must do's that must be crossed off before a state takeover can be launched. The fact that she's here at all should not be taken lightly or mistaken for any kind of good will gesture towards Buffalo Schools by NYSED and King. She is here to drive the charter school message that public schools are mismanaged, public schools are failing our kids and can't we all just step back and hand them over to people who have no experience in education, teaching, educational administration or counseling but in banking, lawyering and the market? Why would we hand schools over to people like that ? Well because they are good at making money and the federal government gives a lot of money to education that these people can get their hands on while delivering a crappy education, paying a crappy wage to shittily trained teachers who would sooner wear Depends to work than risk needing a bathroom break with their supervisors watching them. I have no misconception that King being handed this job has any other purpose than to promote the "failing public schools" meme that charteroids use to push their agenda on the unknowing public. Nor do i harbor any fanciful notions that Dr. Judy's victory lap around her "old home town" has any deeper purpose than to reinforce the message that public schools are bad and would be better off in the hands of corporate privatizers. 

Let's not get all wobbly and weak kneed here folks, how many of your teacher friends did Dr. Judy talk to ? Exactly. 


  1. Exactly. In this entire document, there is no mention of having spoken to a single teacher. But then again, neither did Pam Brown in her "summer of visiting everybody except teachers". It is as if teachers do not exist in the rarefied atmosphere of the data acolytes. The voice of teachers is the one voice that must never be heard in any of the public school bashing debates, according to these well paid Grand Poobahs.

    I also love the 10 or so mentions of the girlfriendy collaborationist spirit that now exists between Elliott and Brown in the rolling out of this document. Pam Brown has nothing to lose by throwing this district under the bus. In fact, selling us out to a State Ed takeover would actually propel her lackluster career much farther on a national level. She would become one of the Deform darlings. It is how the game is played these days. And the Buffalo Public Schools have handed her the first gameboard. And the teachers of Buffalo are her first playing pieces.

    If admins were scared under Oladele (and they were!) they better start dusting off their fitted jackets and pearls and get ready to march again on punitive school "walthroughs" designed to strike terror in the hearts of the teacher peasants.

    As Mr Crowley says, let's not get all wobbly and weak kneed like our administrators.

  2. I found an interesting little tidbit buried in that report. Apparently, we'll finally be giving our APPR pre-tests in know, the ones that were supposed to be given at the beginning of the year. The report admits this information hasn't been shared with the schools yet. It is sooooo comforting to read critical job information, info that affects my annual performance evaluation buried in obscure stories published by the local newspaper while everyone at my building is still scratching their heads.

  3. I noticed the same thing, Schoolteacher. Very interesting. This whole situation is beyond ridiculous. I totally agree with Comrade Crowley--NYSED is hell bent on prepping the district for a state takeover. They are so sneaky. Not! This is so obvious. I can't wait to see who Pam brings in to "clean up" the mess that jaws made in his effort to "clean up" the district and "raise graduation rates." What a big bunch of malarky.

    And, Mouse, I will never be wobbly and weak kneed like the jackasses in the administrators' union. Really. NYSED is going to screw us no matter what, so I'm going to take a page out of one of David Sedaris' books and apply the **** it bucket to my situation.

  4. I think the admins will march along on their walk-throughs (which now have some new name) and just look to hang all the problems / ills on the teachers. They will look to quickly deflect Dr. Judy's spotlight from themselves ASAP. They don't stand up to any of this nonsense, and never have. (It was the same thing back when the JIT teams were going through some schools and when JAWs and Oladele sent the old walk-throughs out to the field.) Some building admins even set teachers up, while central office admins happily ripped experienced educators apart based on their silly check lists and their snapshot visit. Is anyone fooled by them calling it support now and not evaluative? Do any of the admins really have any convictions about education? They speak in buzz words and sound bytes - the latest article / memo from the top becomes the latest and greatest. Shame on them for not defending their public schools, teachers and students while Drs King, Brown and Elliot warm the district to be served to the "reformists." As for the "community" sups - when was the last time any of them were actually in the communities? Ha, what a misnomer! (Sort of like "education reform" and "parent trigger.") Yet their office, as Sean points out "of school performance" maintains its staff, their salaries, and even promoted supervisor to director (created this new position which of course comes with nice pay increase.) And hello??? What is BPS getting clobbered on? School Performance!!!

  5. When I went to school 65 as a kid, Dr. Robert Bapst ( spelling?) was Superintendent. He had about 8 or 10 kids who also went to Buffalo Public Schools. When his wife died n her 60"s , Dr B. resigned, enrolled in the Seminary and become a priest.

    He was replaced by a Buffalo Teacher/principal, who later was replaced by another Superintendent who came up the ranks in Buffalo. per omnia saecula saeculorum. ( The only Latin I remember...)
    There were some problems, as in every place where human beings run the show. The problems only became bigger when the Board went "far and wide" and hired people from distant places where they were not really succeeding in their jobs.
    The Buffalo" guys and gal" did a fine or excellent jobs, and problems were taken care of in a collaborative manner.

    Dr.PamelaBrown has chosen to create "teams" to go out to schools to determine what teachers need. Decisions that simplistic are probably why they didn't care if she left her Philly position.

    The D.E. appointed by King John recommended that principals be given more autonomy. So why not ask them what they need in their schools? As Phil suggested "ask them and ask the teachers."

    The kids do not need strangers walking into their classrooms while they are prepping for the tests, taking the pre-tests,taking the final tests and piloting the test questions, or watching their teachers filling out all the paper work needed because of all the tests.( Just a dig at so much testing...)
    Everybody should "Just say NO!" to all thistesting crap too.)

    What teachers need is peace in their rooms ,proper materials, fewer "mandates", and freedom from interference,so they can do the jobs they were trained for, and hired to do. The last thing they need is more interuptions from people who have not been classroom teachers for the last twenty years...or have never been one. (Imagine a surgeon in the operating room putting up with that kind of crap!)There are too many interuptions already!

    Get a grip Dr. P. B. ! Your "future friends" are right here in Buffalo...You can't trust the politicians either! They don't care about you ...or us. They care about their campaign war chests and their futures in D.C. and Albany... Pity! because we are all "scrod" .(past pluperfect subjunctive :)...more latin .

    I hope she reconsiders this grabbing at straws, and really gives the people in the schools a lot more autonomy. ( sort of like those in charter schools get...).

    Let the Mayor stay the hell out of things. It is bad enough as it is when all these non-educators get to make and enforce their stupid, expensive and harmful descisions for our students, teachers and administrators.

    The charter schools movement has one create a market for private entreprenurial investments in charter schools. Wouldn't you think that the really rich guys would have enough money by now? If they really want to help our kids, they should support the public schools instead of closing and turning them over to private businessmen for whom the bottom line is their chief priority.

  6. Sean... another great post... and many thanks to you bloggers for your wonderful posts too! I'm learning a lot>

  7. 3rd grade in the burbsOctober 14, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Sorry to post this under this entry but I just finished reading an interesting entry on Diane Ravitch's blog. I have forwarded two articles to Mary Pasciak from the Buffalo News asking her to read them, investigate, and publish some truly investigative reporting on the education privitizers and the efforts of the government to eliminate public schools, public school teachers, and break their unions. The first article was an article I read on edushyster about sharing best practices (the best practices that only charter schools get to use) and the second is from Diane Ravitch's blog about the parent group in NYC joining forces with a lawyer in order to block the release of student data to Rupert Murdoch's Shared Learning Collaborative by the SED. A link to the letter is available on Ravitch's blog. I won't hold my breath that anything will come of this (the Buffalo News will actually investigate and publish an unbiased piece that exposes what is going on in public education) but I can dream. Maybe if we inundated her with truthful articles/links she would listen and actually start to investigate. Now that would be a great article!

  8. 3rd grade in the burbs:
    I enjoy reading your posts. I fear that Mary Pasciak is no friend to teachers. She supports the Deform agenda and gives lots of creedance to the non-educators at BuffaloReformEd. She will champion any charter initiative and a lot of her investigating is done to prove that public schools are bad, teachers are greedy and the union is evil. I agree that she has good investigative skills but I doubt that she would ever use those skills to write the unbiased piece that you are hoping for. Look at the newspaper that pays Mary's salary! They take every opportunity to denigrate Buffalo schools and teachers. To this day, the only local newspaper that has even attempted to portray the truth about charter schools and edDeform is Artvoice.
    Thankfully, we have this blog that expresses opinion that is truly grassroots. Thank you, Sean.
    Keep posting, 3rd grade in the burbs. We are all in this together.

  9. I love the fact that Debra Sykes immediately responded to Phil's long list of questions regarding SLO's by sending everyone and their mother a notice on Lotus Notes. Looks like City Hall is almost frantic to accommodate Dr. Elliott's suggestions regarding communication from City Hall. Kind of funny. Normally, Phil would send a letter requesting information or clarification and the lack of response from downtown was deafening. I just have a vision of everyone at City Hall running around like Keystone Cops in an attempt to be the first one to publicly act on the "communication suggestion".
    Just for fun:
    Phil's letter to Brown was dated Oct 5.
    Response: nothing.
    Judy Elliott's missive dated Oct 10.
    Response: headscratching at City Hall
    Debra Sykes emails the world Oct 12.

    PS: I hope you are all enjoying the "plethora" of information that can be found on the District's RttT portion of the website. After all, a large chunk of change has been spent to beef up that RttT department. In fact, it would be interesting to know exactly how much that department cost to be created. It's good to know that our RttT funds are being put to such good use! Again, not a penny spent on students. I am waiting for each building to get an RttT "coach" on top of all the myriad coaches that are already in place.

  10. Third,
    I really enjoy your posts too. It is great that you are spending time sticking up for Buffalo teachers out in the burbs.
    We really are in "it" together.
    Mouse is right about Mary P. ,but maybe she will really do some research, and Diane Ravitch's blog is a good place to start. See you there as well as here. :)
    Mouse ...You too .
    Thank You to All of you who are really catching me up to date...being retired has its drawbacks on the information beat.