Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fact Checking is Kryptonite to the Ed Privatizer's Lies

An out of town  Eduformer shill group called  published a "study" the other day handing it off to their co-conspirators at the Bufflo Snooze as well as the local news channels. Their so-called "concern for the taxpayers" came in the "discovery" that Buffalo Schools laid out $197K for travel expenses to conferences last year. What nobody at this Breitbartean freakshow remembered to check though was the previous years' spending. At the nadir of the Jimmy Dubz regime's influence the sisters et al racked up a bill close to $500,000. So in the reality world, the one with gravity, earth, air, fire and water, where most of us actually live, travel  spending is way way down from where it's been. And what these shameless shitheads also know but neglected to put into their story is the reality that a percentage of this travel is state mandated by their brother in school privatization Ommissioner John King of Albany. 

And speaking of which, I fear for his tenure in said position after reading the weighty c.v.'s of all staffers over at AEG Inc. Have a look at this wizened veteran of 2 harrowing years spent in a classroom -- or so he says anyway, but more on that later... What hasn't this guy done? He's the prototypical Teach for A Little dilettante who dipped his pinkie toe in the edu current for a bit, realized he was in waaaay over his pointed head and bailed to hire on with an outfit staffed by nobody who knows anything about education but they all have plenty to say about it. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet your next Commissioner of the New York State Ed Department, Ben Velderman, Communications Expert. 

Future NYSED Commissioner

Here is the Curriculum Vitae of Ben the Ex-Educator, Look on His Works Ye Mighty and Despair! with Apologies to P.B. Shelley

Ben Velderman, Communication Specialist. Even though Ben's teaching career lasted a brief two years, he accumulated a storehouse of experiences as the 7th and 8th grade classroom teacher for Zeeland Public Schools' alternative program. Working with fellow teachers and classroom aides, Ben sought to help at-risk students achieve academic success as well as develop the individual life skills needed for success outside the classroom. Though not always an easy assignment, the day to day development of many students proved to be very rewarding. 

Wow. I am still trying to slow my breathing folks. Is this cat dynamite or what? And among his other accomplishments Ben is also a former member of the Michigan Education Association. Now why would I go after a fine fellow like Mr. V. when it's obvious that he loves his country as well as "The Children?" Good question, but I think I can answer it without reservation. Maybe I take exception to some schmuck who obviously couldn't hack life in the classroom and runs away to join the privatization circus where they make him comb the bearded lady's back and hang around the breakroom telling both of his classroom tales to give them teacher "cred".  One small problem with Ben's C.V. appears to be that the school district he claims to have taught in a 7th and 8th grade alternative ed program has no such program. They do have a high school alternative school called Summit with a total of 2 teachers, a social worker and 2 paraprofessionals but there is no such junior high alternative class listed on the website. (A follow up call to Summit confirms they did have a 7th and 8th grade class there about 10 years ago.) So Big Ben's whopping 2 years in the classroom has been eclipsed somewhat by the past ten years of him NOT being in a classroom while most of us WERE.  To the shock and surprise of Nobody, this is the entire company's only staffer who has ever, I repeat ever, taught in a classroom. Period. 

This would include the rest of their staff as well as their Board of Directors which includes Fox News sellout Juan Williams (?!!).  To swell their progress, (apologies to Prufrock and Polonius) they include Ben V. in their staff photo along with someone who has the same last name as their CEO but in typical disingenuous privatizer style they fail to say if it's his wife, daughter, sister or cousin. And when you cruise through the rest of this shite spreading crew you learn that one of their heavy hitters is an Andrew Breitbart acolyte and apparently served as his stooge for a spell and made a documentary about the experience. The rest of the site is jammed with slanted "news" articles, many of which they've manufactured from their own manifest grievances against unions, teachers, white chalk and God knows what all else.  Props to Channel Two who followed up on the specious claims made by these hacks and found the following : 2 On Your Side examined 5 of EAG's recent reports on school spending in different districts. Of the 5, Buffalo actually had the 4th lowest per-pupil cost for hotels. Richmond, Va.'s school district actually spent more than 5 times what Buffalo spent, when adjusted for the number of students. 

Funny how easy it is when someone on your staff actually challenges bullshit handed to it by a bunch of crackpots. It's all any of us ever needs to do with anything put out by the privatizers. All it took to bring down the Wicked Witch of the West was a good splash of water and in the case of the privatizers, a good fact check always reduces them to a warbling puddle of  gooey prevarication. Peace, friends. 


  1. I love how the "media" just go right ahead and put these characters (assassins) on the news, no matter what their credentials, as long as they are denigrating teachers, all is OK! All is OK as long as it is not a TEACHER talking and maybe telling some truth with insight. The ONLY people we never hear from publicly are teachers. Why is that?
    -let the union handle it?

    Whatever. Sean, you have produced a cunning piece of research. Thank you for taking the time to do this type of investigating. When I saw these guys on the news that first night I thought "Who are these clowns?" Thanks to you, I now know. Can't wait to take a look at these guys myself. Who "funds" them? And who urged them to focus on Buffalo at this point in time?

  2. Mouse as always glad to hear from you. These groups like all of the rockstar privatizers never hold up to the most rudimentary scrutiny. They really remind me of the Romney campaign and the Bush regime before that, they lie and lie and lie and hope nobody checks on their lies, But even if they are caught they just continue lying. We can never match their money or political clout but they forget little brother is watching and that they have positioned themselves as the Goliaths in this battle, It only takes one good shot with a small stone. Feeling a little energized these days. When in doubt go read Diane Ravitch's blog, she is always positive.

  3. 3rd grade in the burbsDecember 2, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Accuracy, fact checking, and ultimately integrity seem to be skills and a character trait from the past. Each of us can think of examples that support the lack of all of the above yet the public shows no outrage (Enron, Fannie Mae and tanking of the housing market, for example). Why should any journalists, politicians, privatizers, or the public let something as pesky as lack of facts get in the way of their beliefs. They all know "us teachers are greedy, self-motivated, and lazy". That is the line that has been fed to them for a long time. If a lie or inaccuracy is repeated enough times it must be true, after all. Another article in the News today about the impending insolvency of many local school districts. Of course, teachers were to blame and the only two people who seem to be able to post comments got their licks in against us. I couldn't help but think that the public will be in for the shock of their lives when public monies are taken for the charter schools, results are not any better, and there is no accountability for how the money was spent. (of course, a little fact checking on the part of the News could expose this but why let the truth get in the way of its ongoing witch hunt against the teachers). It won't be spent on the teachers' salaries nor the students. We know it will line the pockets of the CEOs, etc. and all the education companies they own (and purchase materials from). By the way, I loved a posting on Diane Ravitch's blog: Rick Hess's Startling Analysis of the Common Core. I have repeatedly told my colleagues that we are not that different from Buffalo and we need to support Buffalo teachers and be aware of what they are dealing with. Basically, he said the same thing: reformers will be coming after suburban districts as they are counting on the CCLS showing the suburbs that their schools are just as bad as the urban schools. I have copies of the article ready to share tomorrow but I know they will still not believe it. People are still telling me to relax about APPR, that the DOE will not be able to sustain it and will change and lighten up the requirements. Unfortunately I don't believe that.

  4. Third, I saw that News article where they only mention rising pension costs. As usual the concept of a pension being pay we agree to accept at a later date is lost on the babbling idiots. They act like a pension is something teachers thought up to rob the taxpayers from beyond the classroom. It's our goddamned wage, geniuses. And somehow the News forgets to factor in federal and state mandates neither of which are funded, The News somehow forgot to account for the costs of standardized testing, tracking student data, etc. etc. It's so much easier to just keep blaming teachers for everything. Wait til they get their way and everything gets significant;y worse fast. By then they'll be off trying to privatize water or air.

    1. Old RepresentativeDecember 3, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      I love how we are held up as greedy beeyatches and the embarrassment of the world. How about the HUGE bonuses the CEOs of these testing companies will get this year? All on the public tit!

    2. Yeah and apparently now we need to extend our "failing" school year to include more calendar days if you listen to that flatulent old NYSED rubber stamp Bennett. Funny, if you ask me, the best thing a "failing:" school can do for a kid is shorten the time the kid spends in "failure" not extend it. Which is it geniuses, are we failing or are we so good the kids need more of us? You can't hate us both ways and if your goal is to make teachers work more for no extra pay because you don't like teachers please have the courage of your convictions and say so. Otherwise please STFU.

    3. Old RepresentativeDecember 4, 2012 at 5:54 PM

      I just watched the WGRZ story about this and the flatulent old fart referenced above says that the school "work day" is not long enough. A slip? I think not. This is all about getting teachers to work longer hours for no extra pay. I wonder how those teachers in that Rochester school are feeling right about now...

  5. I would like to get the facts on how much the Buffalo School District has paid to infuse the RttT mandates. An entire new department had been formed. Tons of stuff from Pearson has been purchased. Data coaches are being paid with these monies as well as literacy coaches, math coaches, ESL coaches,etc. All of them are in place simply to create data. Then, of course, we have Data Department to help tell the Superintendent what the data means. LOTS of people working with data, mandates, "infusing" CCLS, (another new department).
    The News article that you are referring to today jumps directly to the conclusion that teacher salaries, pensions and health care are to blame for the financial problems. NOT TRUE!
    On a lighter note, as we all know that the negotiations on the APPR have stopped, with good reason, there is some talk on the blogs about the "Evaluation Cliff". Let's just go over! The money is nothing but crap that is creating useless data. The very data that will be used against you in your APPR! Again, let's just go right over the APPR Cliff! There is nothing to lose but wasted money. Not ONE penny goes to students. NOT ONE!

  6. 3rd grade in the burbsDecember 2, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Has anyone tried to access engageny to look at growth scores? I got in to the website Friday (while still at school) but couldn't open my roster. When I got home I tried again and kept getting an error message. I tried calling the help desk (4:15) because it said it was open until 4:30. No answer. I finally got a message notifying me that my password needed to be reset. (I didn't understand this since it worked earlier in the day.) I reset it but had trouble opening the zip file so I gave up and tried again just now. Now it says the site is down for maintenance! I don't think they ever intended to let us access our info. Yikes!

    60 Minutes just had a tease showing some outraged man stating that doctors are being pressured by Health Management Associates (a conglomerate that owns tons of hospitals) to admit patients even if unnecessary and tells doctors how to treat their patients all in the name of big money. "Can you imagine?" he asked, "Non doctors telling doctors how to take care of patients." As a matter of fact I can, just like hedge fund managers are telling teachers how to teach! Doctors were fired for not meeting admission targets! Pretty analogous to our experience. Students don't show growth and teachers get let go. I have to watch this story.

  7. I wonder who is paying this motely crew of "Know very little" but who pass their opinions off as "research". Not an educator among them anywhere. ALEC maybe?
    Ben does have more of some kind of classroom time than Arne Duncan. Perhaps that does qualify him to be the next State Commish of Ed.... great picture of him. Really inspires confidence in his opinions. Are any privatizers really experienced educators?

    I hope you guys and gals don't get tired of the constant malarky being printed everyday day in the News and places like Keep protesting and writing from your knowledge and experience.
    Maybe we should invent a prestigious name, get photos taken and form our own group of real experts.(I think Dr. King's Mom wrote his bio on the State ed site. )

    Sean, Thanks for the new do you find them? ( besides the odor ...that is) Thanks for spending you limited free time keeping us up to date on who the privatizers are and what they are up to now.

    1. I suspect our dear friends over at Chameleon and DeformEdBflo would be able to tell us who invited these hacks from Michigan to breeze into Buffalo and set us straight. I can only imagine what it must be like to approach an entire profession you know jack shit about and tell them what they need to do differently so that someone can make a profit. The sheer arrogance alone is mind boggling and the only way they are able to do it anywhere is because the majority of teachers have never learned how to kick someone in the nuts instead of boxing with them. We stand around like redcoats adhering to some bygone sense of fair play and honor while they stab us ion the back and scratch our eyes out. Teachers need to learn how to fight DIRTY. Once the "reformers" figure out they can get their own balls kicked in these "reformers" and their capitalist backers won't have such an easy go of it. But as long as we have people thinking they can remain above the fray and "CLOSE MY DOOR AND TEACH MY CLASS" this shit will continue. I am really burned out on the idea that anyone can close their door and teach their class and the boogie man will pass over them. It won't happen that way and they don't care if your door is closed or open or what the hell you're doing in there, They want you out so they can cut costs with non union help. Education is our concern not theirs, They could give a shit who learns anything as long as someone makes a profit.