Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hamburg Central and NYC Schools Call NYSED's Bluff

According to this  report from YNN it appears that the February ruling against Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo and Commissioner King conspiring to withhold millions from NYC Schools because they failed to submit an APPR on time is going to benefit Hamburg Central Schools too. If you recall, the union and district were close to an agreement when Hamburg's Superintendent went Bloomberg and quared the deal with some outrageously unacceptable nonsense that seems to be typical of the Superintendent class mentality these days. At this point the Super was told to go clap erasers with his zipper down and negotiations came to a screeching halt. From what's coming out of the Superintendent's blowhole now he is expecting the withheld funds to be included  in his March State Aid check.

Indulge me here friends but I spent the day a snowball's throw or so from my high school stomping grounds in South Buffalo. Father Joe Keeley had a Boston accent you could toss a keg of Genny Cream through and he was generally not the greatest teacher I recall from my 4 years at Bishop Timon. He did have a rule though in Geometry class that he made no exceptions to for anybody. If you screwed up the theorem quiz you could expect to be after school drilling it with him until 4:00 the following day. Some of us caught on fast and figured out how to "pre-write" the theorems and stash them slyly where they could be retrieved from a folder or under a desk with a quick cough or a dropped pen retrieval. Others weren't so sharp and for whatever reason must have thought the old chowderhead Franciscan was bluffing. He didn't bluff. And no matter how many aunt's wakes you claimed or special football practices, doctor's appointments or exorcisms anyone told Fr. Joe that really had to make, he never flinched. We'll be heah til fouah, he'd say with the stoic composure of a flaming Tibetan monk. If you screwed up the theorem quiz you were staying after boys. Period.

Enter NYSED Commissioner Lil John King, dewdrops dripping from behind both ears after a grueling 3 year stint in charter heaven where the bad kids go away and the special kids right along with them. The guy has no classroom chops, no street cred  and he has to have Grumpy Old Man Regent Bob Bennett hold his hand every time he shows his face in public, banging the podium a la Krushchev and insisting that we owe "The Little Charter Teacher Who Couldn't" our undying respect. And to that end Lil John decided he needed to make everyone do what he wanted the way a shitty teacher will, without explaining it or demonstrating the most infinitesimal scrap of respect in addressing professional teachers  who also happen to be adults. His message was YOU WILL DO THIS. Namely conspire against yourselves to create an unreliable and invalid assessment tool that can be used to fire you no matter how long you've been a great teacher. And when professionals and adults asked EXCUSE ME? Why would we do this? King's response was if you don't do it I am going to withhold education funds from your district and punish your students because you had the nerve to challenge the impetuous and unprofessional mandates the Governor, his "reformer" financiers and I are imposing on you. Naturally, teachers shook their heads in disbelief, grumbled as teachers do proficiently and went about trying to find a way to only hurt themselves marginally for fear that the Lil Commish Who Couldn't was going to screw their districts out of millions of dollars. Then he'd run to the embrace of the "reformer" fellating media and add yet another chapter to the Mainstream media's urban legend of Greedy Classroom Teachers vs Philanthropic Billionaires and their political minions who only want to help "the children." In short teachers had several reasons to hold their noses, dress themselves in raw garlic and crucifixes and try to find a solution. Because they thought, as we all did in Fr. Joe's Geometry class, that if we didn't we were screwed.

Well, well, well. I knew Fr Joe Keeley,  Fr. Joe Keeley was a teacher of mine.  (Swivel) Commissioner, You're no Father Joe Keeley. (Raucous Applause)

Now that all the shitty teacher's threats and bluster turns out to be just that, what is Commissioner King's standing among the thousands of New York State teachers he tried to browbeat extort, threaten and bully into submitting to his APPR scheme ?  Any charter school jackass can even tell you this scheme is nothing more than a small piece of the larger privatization strategy to break down the teacher's unions and convert public education to yet another next to minimum wage wasteland filled with terrified 20 somethings who will teach Chem, Russian and Phys Ed. before lunch and be on call til 11:00 pm in case a parent or administrator has a stupid question for them. Now that the bluffer's bluff appears to have been called raise your hand if you're going to bust ass and sweat bullets (no more than 7 per clip though)  next time Commissioner King waves his  little red cape in your face and squeaks Toro!  Like any other rookie teacher who who has no confidence in his ability to talk to underlings Commissioner King tried to brazen it out against New York's teachers using tough talk and condescension instead of respectful dialogue. Now that his threats appear to have blown up in his face nobody is bound to take anything he says seriously from here on in. He had a chance and he wasted it but showed us who he is and what he isn't. He's a political appointee with zero people skills. He's a bluffer who couldn't lead ants at a picnic.

Erin Go Brawl friends and Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone who's not afraid of a good fight.


  1. Old RepresentativeMarch 17, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    So, the BTF delegates vote on the APPR this Wednesday. Why should we vote yes? I'm voting against this document myself because I don't believe in it. And I don't vote for anything or anyone I don't believe in.

    If just 20% of the districts in NYS had given the governor and lil commish a big middle finger over all of this, they would back down.

    1. Take a wild look into my tea leaves and see if you can guess my vote...

    2. Well, the "Just Say No" ship to APPRland tooted it's little horn and sailed away a few years ago. You guys are a bit late to the game. I say this as one of the teachers in the 6 PLA schools who HAD to endure an APPR of this type last year.
      THAT was the time to "Just Say No".
      Where were the "Just Say No" folks when one PLA school had an entire staff designated "ineffective". I did not hear the outcry over that one form the "just Say No"ers.
      No one really gave a care about it last year when it only affected a small percentage of the BTF membership.
      There is only strength in numbers. If the "numbers" don't know nothing or care about what is happening to fellow members, or don't bother to speak up, they remain weak and intimidated.
      Two years ago, the BTF membership was asleep at the wheel. Not Phil, the MEMBERSHIP.
      The membership is asleep at the wheel on other issues, also.
      -Teach For America
      -Wilmer's Charter District 14215 area code
      -per-pupil budgeting which will begin to close our smaller schools and will be the nail in the coffin for the already weak seniority.
      -DPCC infiltrating the Board of Ed.. Parent Trigger, anyone?
      -Chameleons converting our schools to charters?
      -Acuity testing. Anyone want to "Just Say No"? to that piece of garbage?
      -Teachers being told not to teach Social Studies and Science but rather test, test, test to the test?
      -Teachers stuffing useless data binders during Common Planning Time and Grade Level Meetings.
      The list goes on............ I don't hear no one "just sayin' no". It's easy to "Just Say No" on a quiet little secret ballot tucked away in the faculty room. Just tiptoe in, tick off the little "no", and go back to test prepping.
      Shhh. Nobody will ever even know......

    3. I heard recent;y that everyone at South Park HS was deemed ineffective except the Principal. From a staff that size, it was between 70 and 100 when I taught there are we to believe that not one of the teachers there is worth a shit ? And in whose world does this system make one atom of sense? Oh I know it's the privatizer's world because if they can work the same voodoo next year that will give the entire faculty of the place the 2 years of ineffective ratings necessary for termination. Think of the money saved there friends when Bordeaux Bob Wilmers and the Chameleons bring TFA to town and buy up SPHS for their own little money making project. effing Kafkaesque.

  2. So now that you have prepared me to brawl, Mr. Crowley, here is one "take". Phil has commandeered a plan to have teachers evaluated that will go a long way toward leveling the playing field by including ELL's, SWD's, poverty and absenteeism into the equation. We all got the document. It is difficult to understand, weighs more than we want to drag around in our wheelie bags that contain our multiple 20lb "data binders", and gives every possible advantage to teachers. It is nowhere perfect and Phil himself hates the fact that we have to do it.
    Given all that, I plan to vote in favor. I am passive aggressive enough to want to see the administrators in this district actually "walk the walk" on this. If passed by the union, the burden will then be on our admins to accomplish the bulk of the BS that the evaluation requires.
    I will enjoy watching administrators try to filch some adderall from the kids as they are going to be up all night for the rest of the year, first, trying to figure it out and, second, trying to accomplish it.
    It will really be "game on", then. Until the administrators yell "foul" on this whole system, nothing will change. (Crystal Boling Barton, are you reading?) Teachers have accomplished the work required to write and submit the darn APPR. Now let's see it in action.
    I almost cannot wait. It would be worth every teacher's while to get up to speed on some of the niceties contained in the APPR. As for writing SLO's, just do it and do it in your best interest. It is, after all, YOUR evaluation. Now here is the tricky part.
    We are all part of a union and, as such, have the power to stand strong in the face of our administrators. The SLO is for teachers, not administrators. You know your kids, the admins DO NOT.
    SOOOO, everyone needs to grow a spine, take union representation in with you when you sign your SLO (if you must) but do not back down when Principal Dr. Snarlie flares his or her nostrils at you!
    THIS is a chance to stand strong.
    Let's let the administrators see what they have allowed Commissioner King and his band of idiot have wrought upon the State of New York's public schools.
    Oh, and remember this. Our more delicate and refined charter school teachers do not have to go through this process. Maybe it's just a bit too "rough and tumble" for them?
    I will welcome and enjoy any dissent, comments etc. on this issue.

  3. Due to the unusual nature of my particular educational milieu it was decided with the input of a very supportive dare I say Tuned In and On the Case Principal that we target two students for the SLO. As I said, the milieu in which I practice is unusual and includes a medium to high degree of lability both in student achievement and in their tendency to be hospitalized or discharged back to a day school or RTF program. Well one of my two was returned to her district school a few weeks back and another spent the past 2 months plus living in a halfway house due to domestic violence and other issues at her familial abode. I want Lil John King his own self to explain to me how either of these documents are remotely fucking valid or reliable. I think the problem Phil faces now is that nobody is going to realize what he's created. Even if it is a maze to ensnare the minotaur, too many people have karate, home instruction, dance and swim lessons after school to really take the time to attend any of the information sessions. If it's as Byzantine as you suggest and who better than the master himself to tangle these fools up in their own tails, fear it will not be explained adequately to the rank and filers and they will either vote what someone in the lunch room told them to or whichever is at the top of the ballot. Hare if you found it harrowing how do you think a 24 yr old phys ed teacher with traffic court after school is going to read it? The reality of our dilemma is again that far too many of our colleagues think we're good and there is no wolf at the door. If anyone tells you I am just going to close my door and teach, punch them in the fucking mouth -- metaphorically of course. I am glad to hear that the devil is in the details and I suspect it will pass because I am sorry to say but teachers are generally wimps who act out of fear not conviction. Sadly this is also why we are in this mess to begin with as nobody threw a punch back at the reform crowd until the late 8th round. I will count myself among the rope a dopers who didn't even get it until we needed to see out cut man in the corner. If this thing is as you describe it I am going to celebrate my patron saint's day with a sober head and happy heart as I believe it appears Buffalo teachers find themselves in that rarest of situations also known as a Win/Win. Slainte my friends.

  4. Nitpicky point on the SLO for your student being returned to the classroom. If the student did not take the effing PRE test with that teacher, then that teacher does not need to count that student at all in the APPR.
    At the delegate meeting, one teacher stood up and said that for some reason (which I cannot remember 'cause there are SO many various situations to account for), the majority of her students did not take the effing PRE test. "So", said Phil and others, "they DO NOT COUNT". At that point, one of the delegates shouted out "and you are, then, a highly effective teacher!" Laughter ensued.

    And I guess maybe one of my inane points is that City Hall, State Ed, Obama ,Duncan, the dopey Commissioner, etc. want to paint all students and teachers with one broad (APPR) stroke.

    It ain't gonna work. It can't be done.

    I think they will be 'hoist by their own petard' with the APPR. They have not listened to teachers, they know nothing about public education, (remember, even Obama went to an exclusive private school from 4th grade on, funded by Grandma), in fact, they do not even consider teachers "stakeholders" in the grand scheme.

    Oh, and a mighty FU to the News for the insulting "survey" today. More clueless data skewed to show whatever the survey takers want it to show.
    Why do you think so many local"movers and shakers" (hah, that), the local "visionaries", the one's with the "juice" (sheesh) are afraid of Phil?

  5. WOW!!!
    Sean, Hare and Old are all wonderful!!
    Happy St. Pat's Feast day.

  6. Hare do you recall the little fellow in Albany using the phrase cookie cutter and saying that he wouldn't accept cookie cutter solutions accusing BTF and us of trying to imply that all kids were the same. Well lookie lookie who has somehow forgotten one of his own bitchy little put downs and now thinks the cookie cutter is the rephormy cat's ass? One problem with stupid and arrogant people in leadership positions is they can't lead and they because always forget the last bit of gibberish that escaped their lips they think nobody else remembers it either. I am sick of reformers who don't reform, commissioners who don't know squat and politicians whose only interests are their own. I am looking forward to the day when they all realize education isn't worth the headaches of colonizing it and they all move on the fix medicine or meteorology or maybe even astrology for shite's sake. Until then we continue to make their miserable little lives even more miserable.

  7. Thanks to all of you who provide much needed insight to this awful mess that we are all part of. I still love my job, I just hate what they are doing to public education.