Archive for December, 2012

Under Our Insane Gun Laws No School is Safe From A Newtown-like Massacre

December 17, 2012
No Words

No Words

Even if the odds of it happening are miniscule, it is a chilling fact that because of our insane gun laws no school in America is safe from a Newtown–like massacre.  Not today. Not tomorrow.  Not anytime at all until such laws are at last changed.  A school can have the most fearless teachers and security officers   in the world.    A school can have the most comprehensive safety plans on earth. A school can place airport-quality metal detectors in all of its entrances and have surveillance video cameras covering every square inch of its campus.  A school can create Building Response Teams to handle just about any crisis that comes up as NYC schools have done in the wake of 9/11.  A school can run lockdown drills till all are blue in the face. A school can have highly trained and sophisticated SWAT teams mere minutes away and, as has been proven in Columbine and Newtown and elsewhere, none of this will matter much at all in the face of a person or persons with guns intending to use them.  The SWAT teams arrive too late. The metal detectors can be shot out   and the security officers manning them shot down in the same manner as the fearless teachers. And the video cameras can only record the slaughter, not stop it.

In the face of guns all of these things can prevent nothing.  Nothing at all.

These thoughts ran through my head this morning as, in a process that was surely enacted the nation over, my fellow teachers and Safety Committee members and I went through our protocols – the school safety plan, the Building response team, the lockdown procedure.   All this was in an effort, suddenly given great urgency, to be as prepared as possible for an attack of the nature of Newtown or Columbine or any other of the major school shootings that have occurred in the past few years: Chardon, Ohio, February 27, 2012,  Port Orchard, Washington, February 23, 2012, 
 Murfreesboro, Tennessee, February 21, 2012
 Brownsville, Texas, January 4, 2012, Berkeley, CA, November 15, 2011, 
 Fayetteville, NC, October, 25 2011,  Harper Woods, Michigan, August 26, 2011, 
 Mandeville, Louisiana, August 8, 2011 and on and on.


In the midst of all this a strange and terrible thought occurred to me: the only school in the entirety of New York City that was invulnerable to a Newtown–like attack is the fortress like school in the prison on Riker’s Island.

And how sick is that ?

Yes, the odds that your child’s school or my child’s school will be attacked by a gunman are miniscule but that is brutally icy comfort to the people of Newtown.

The odds need  to be zero. They must be zero. And they can be zero. And there is only one way that that can occur.

There is only one question: How many more children must die before we make this happen ?


Michelle Rhee Exploits Sandy Hook Slaughter to Plug Studentsfirst Organization

December 16, 2012

“Following today’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the entire StudentsFirst family is mourning with the victims, their families, and the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut. We have offered our colleagues in the state any assistance they may need.

There are no adequate words to express the horror and senseless nature of violence in our schools. It happens far too often in our country.  As a mother myself, I understand the hesitation every parent will feel in the coming days when they kiss their children and send them off to school — to a place of learning and growth that ought to be a safe haven from violence.

Our children are our most valuable assets, and we lost too many of them today. Today’s event forces us to ask ourselves: how are we expected to foster an environment in which students can learn, grow, thrive, and set off on positive life-paths when we cannot guarantee basic needs such as their safety?

But events like these also strengthen our resolve to do exactly that — improve schools for children and thereby improve entire communities. The entire StudentsFirst organization — including the members of our team in Connecticut — recommit ourselves to that mission today, as we pause to send our thoughts and prayers to those affected in Newtown.”

The Ignorant and the Egregious: Educators 4 Excellence Hold a Rally

December 3, 2012
The egregious Evan Stone declares "I am not satisfactory!  I am excellent."

The egregious non teacher E4E leader Evan Stone declares  insanely, “I am not satisfactory! I am excellent!”


Educators 4 Excellence is nothing if not an extraordinary organization.  It is so because it is simultaneously astoundingly arrogant, totally devious and utterly pathetic.  But what else, really, can you expect from a organization that pretends to be a grassroots collection of teachers but whose real reason for existence is to insidiously further the will of their sugar daddy, private citizen Bill Gates and his hedge fund pals in their relentless campaign to privatize the public school system?  What else can you say about a group of teachers whose leaders taught for two or three years (now living quite cozily on Gates Foundation welfare) and believe they have figured out how best to teach and run entire school systems? How else can you define a group of teachers who blather on about desiring “excellence” but whose every policy is a shameless echo of every education hustle and fad in the land?  How can you possibly respect a group of teachers who are so empty and lacking in self awareness that they believe the only way they can improve as teachers is to have principals, an increasing percentage of whom have little or no educational experience at all, provide them with constant “feed back? “


How can you take seriously a group of teachers who are so ignorant  (or pretend to be so ignorant) that they look stunned when you inform them that every  dime of the $30 million Race to the Top extortion money will be spent, not on teachers and schools, but on consultants and corporations and other lucky players in the Corporate Education Industrial Complex.   How can you not find reprehensible a group of teachers who rally, not for their fellow teachers who are being hounded and demoralized and degraded by an increasingly insane system, nor for their beloved students whose schools are being shut down and communities disrupted, but for the teacher’s union to immediately agree to an evaluation system riddled with mechanisms designed to destroy the careers of their fellow teachers?

What really can you say about people who, in the face of the greatest assault on public education in American history, gather in a park on a Sunday afternoon to bellow idiocies such as    “We want a deal! “ and ‘ I am not satisfactory! I am excellent!”  And “ We crave feedback” , in  a desperate  attempt to please those committing  said  assault who are simultaneously their financial backers ?

What can one conclude about the authenticity of any organization whose membership is   infinitesimal and whose every policy is a crude re-writing of union busting corporate education reform policies yet it granted instant credibility and glowing press reports and editorials in the New York Post and Fox News right out of the egg?

What can you possibly say about the integrity of a teacher who claims he left teaching and joined the leadership of the E4E, not because it infinitely easier and more lucrative than teaching,  but because he just couldn’t bear to work under the present evaluation system any longer ?

How can you not find despicable an organization of teachers who would if they could leave teachers with as many rights as an employee of McDonald’s while feeding their students a steady diet of test prep because this is what their hidden backers, billionaires and hedge fund managers, have required them to do ?

Such is the farce, the disgusting and devious  farce,  called Educators 4 Excellence.

Addendum: What follows is a post containing the ridiculous pretense for the ridiculous rally.  Like the statements on the signs shown above, it speaks for itself.

My name is Kate Schuster, and I am an elementary ESL teacher at PS 38. Last Tuesday I attended an E4E event with over 150 teachers and Chancellor Walcott, to discuss evaluation. As a result of the event, and the urgency of the issue, I will be rallying tomorrow and I want YOU to join me. 
Here is a quote from my recent blog post about the event that explains why I am rallying:“We are the change makers. We are the ones that turn non-readers into lovers of books, a writer of simple sentences into an essayist. We can use those same skills to be a part of this conversation and policy-making. This is why I am attending E4E’s “Move Beyond Satisfactory” rally this Sunday at City Hall. The rally is our chance to tell the DOE and the UFT that teachers want a better evaluation system administered by school leaders who are well trained to support our teaching.
Please stand with me on Sunday. The rally will be a ton of fun and it’s incredibly easy to get to. Plus you’ll get one of the sweet beanies I’m wearing in the picture above!
You’ll find a map, including all nearby subways, and the details below.
Sunday, December 2nd at 2PM
City Hall Park
Swag and coffee: 2PM
Start: 2:30PM
Finished: 3:00PM
Hope to see you there,
 Lastly,  there is the truth.