Posts Tagged ‘DOE’

A NYC Teacher Speaks of His Sabotaged School

January 31, 2017

The following is the transcript of an address given by NYC Public School teacher Jim Donohue on what has happened and is happening to his school:

Hello. My name is Jim Donohue.

I’d like to start by thanking you for allowing me a few minutes to speak tonight, and I’d also like to thank Carol Harrison and Mary Atkinson from the Bronx chapter for their support in what has been a very difficult couple of weeks.

I’m an English teacher at JHS 145, where I’ve worked for the past 17 years. JHS 145 is a renewal school, and we were told (through a leak to the New York Times) that a proposal has been made to close the school at the end of the school year.

I want to share a quote with you because it precisely defines the situation my colleagues, my students, and our school community find ourselves in today. It reads as follows:

“For the past 12 years, New York City’s ‘answer’ for struggling schools was simple: warehouse our neediest students, starve the schools of support, and then close their schools if they didn’t miraculously turn around. “

As you may have guessed, that was spoken by Mr. Michael Mulgrew back in 2014 in response to Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of the Renewal school plan.

Mr. Mulgrew used the term “warehouse our neediest students.” Well, I’ve come to you tonight directly from the warehouse. How else to describe a school whose students come NOT FROM ONE OR TWO zoned elementary schools in their district, but from 94 different schools located in EVERY BOROUGH of NYC? How else to describe a school with 140 students who arrived at its doors DIRECTLY from the Dominican Republic? How else to describe a school with 53 (20% of its population) shelter students, another 50 classified as Special Needs students, and another 20 with Interrupted Formal Education? We’ve done some research. NO OTHER MIDDLE SCHOOL IN THE BRONX has demographics to match this.

Mr. Mulgrew used the term “starve the school of resources”. Well, I come to you from a place of terrible starvation. How else to describe a situation in which 140 out of 298 students are English Language Learners but had NO ESL teacher for the entire 2014/2015 school year, and only 1 this year. How else to describe a situation in which 60% of a school’s population are English Language Learners, but have NO Bilingual math teacher, NO bilingual science teacher, NO bilingual English teacher and No Bilingual Social Studies teacher? How else to describe the following absurdity: One year into the renewal program, a program that promised ADDITIONAL RESOURCES to schools like ours, the DOE allowed the Success Academy to take 18 of our classrooms, which scattered our staff and students across 3 floors of a building occupied by 4 different schools, and forced us to dismantle our computer lab in order to convert it into classroom space?

Mr. Mulgrew mentioned the closing of schools, which brings me to my true purpose tonight. After attempting to systematically starve JHS 145 to death, the DOE now calls for the school to be closed. And I say “ATTEMPTING TO STARVE TO DEATH” because we are far from dead. Despite DOE claims that our students “FAIL” the state ELA and MATH assessments, we have data that shows otherwise.

Our students come to us reading at levels between Kindergarten and 4th grade. Do they miraculously (another term used by Mr. Mulgrew) achieve grade level scores on these tests at 145? No, they do not. What they do is move, consistently, from Kindergarten levels to 2nd grade, from 2nd to 3rd or 4th, from 3rd to 5th or 6th and so on.

Despite years of neglect, our students have won the Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Competition 8 times, more than any other school in the citywide tournament.

Our students have won the BronxWRITeS Poetry Slam more than any other school in the city, recently sharing the stage with Mayor De Blasio and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in an exhibition at Goldman Sachs.

The DOE’s 2014-2015 School Quality Snapshot tells us that “86% of this school’s former 8th graders earned enough high-school credit in 9th grade to be on track for graduation,” a number that is nearly identical to the citywide average of 87% and better than the district average of 81%.

Our kids are some of the most vulnerable in the city, living in the poorest congressional district in the country, but they are smart and capable and worthy of respect. They are not failures.

Finally, I want to use a term that Mr. Mulgrew didn’t use. That term is DIRTY POOL. Because a full 3 weeks before the DOE’s closure proposal even becomes official, and 2 months before the PEP vote takes place, and despite the DOE’s claim that the closing has NOTHING to do with the charter school, Success Academy’s website has begun advertising for applicants to its new middle school, opening in 2017, at JHS 145. In recent weeks, Success Academy staff members have been measuring our classrooms, apparently 100% confident that the PEP will rubberstamp our demise in March.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here to ask you for 4 things:
We ask that the UFT publicly demand that the proposal for the closing of JHS 145 be pulled from the PEP agenda.
We ask that the UFT utilize its resources in the form of media, social media, twitter, etc. speak out against this proposal.
We ask the UFT to help us move the PEP from Manhattan to the school so that the community can attend, and if that proves impossible, to supply a bus for community members to travel to the PEP.
Finally, and perhaps mosti importantly, we ask that Mr. Mulgrew come to our school to witness or participate in the student march to the District Office that we are scheduling for next week.
Thank you.

Please Contact
Jim Donohue 917-318-8762 donohuenyc@gmail.com
Craig Moss 914-319-1227 poet145@gmail.com
Deidre Walker 347-869-4810 deidremw@gmail.com

Advertisements

The Daily News: Carmen Farina Loses Her Mind Under Mulgrew Voodoo

February 10, 2015
The Helplessly Seduced

The Helplessly Seduced

For the past decade American public school teachers have been attacked like no legal profession in our history. None. The attacks have been particularly prevalent of late in New York due to the extraordinary ultra right wing proposals of Governor Andrew Cuomo, he who has vowed to break “the last monopoly,” formally known as the public school system. Indeed, one can scarcely pick up a newspaper these days, especially in New York, and not find some ignorant editorial or columnist pontificating about the pernicious state of American public school education, the treachery of teacher unions and the wisdom of Cuomo’s proposals: this despite the fact that the latter is nothing more than a litany of repeatedly failed or wholly discredited whims and notions — on steroids.

No matter. None of this stuff has anything to do with education anyway so…

Central to them all is the myth of the un-fire-able bad teacher who, for the sake of the nation, must be fired but can’t be. ( For a truly insidious example of this see the November 2014 Time Magazine.)

Alas! Where is Ronald Reagan with his jet black hair on his bold white horse when we need him?

No need to despair: We now have Andrew Cuomo in Albany who has moved further to the right on this stuff than Reagan ever dared.

Firing teachers has become the idee fixe of both reformers and their pals in media who, through constantly echoing this idiocy, are doing their best to insure it seeps into the skulls of the overworked and exhausted masses in a process not unlike osmosis.
This is one of the ways in which perception management works.
It might be working.

If one is to remain relatively sane under such ceaseless attacks, it is by both fighting back and finding humor in them wherever one can, even of the dark variety which invariably it is. It was dark humor, I’ve been told by friends who have survived totalitarian regimes of both the left and right, that allowed them to persevere under the constant absurdity, cruelty and indignity of related propaganda campaigns. Sometimes it’s impossible to find such humor and sometimes it’s just there, like an unexpected gift at your door. Yesterday’s Daily News editorial attacking nothing less than the “impotence” of New York City Chancellor of Education Carmen Farina who, like all knowledgable and actual educators, is dead set against Cuomo’s proposals, was one such gift.

The editorial board of the News, not an educator among them, is or pretends to be both mystified and horrified by Farina’s complete rejection of Cuomo’s wisdom, a wisdom that centers on almost completely avoiding the realities of education and focusing almost entirely on creating reasons to fire teachers, while making the as-yet-to-be-fired teachers as miserable, demoralized and powerless as possible. In short, it is slightly veiled union busting. Very slightly. After all, the man did vow to “break the last monopoly.” Under the pretense of “reforming” the public school system, Cuomo is attempting to systemically degrade the profession of teaching beyond recognition, to the place where no sane person with any choice whatsoever would ever even consider entering it and most who foolishly do will soon enough be out of it. Farina, a life long educator — indeed, the only New York City chancellor to be an educator in 12 eternal years — knows this well and, more, knows how reckless if not outright insane Cuomo’s proposals are. More: she knows what they will do — what they must do — to the students and schools who are served by such a system. The News, alas, is clueless.

Or pretends to be.

“All this isn’t just deeply depressing, it’s especially ironic,” they write. “As a principal and district superintendent, Farina became famous for turning around schools by giving bad teachers walking papers.”

What happened, they wonder, to make this former teacher-firing dynamo so wimpy and irresponsible that, in no time at all, she has degenerated “apparently to the poisonous point of giving failing educators a pass?”

What happened, The News insinuates, can be discerned in a profile in Sunday’s New York Times which ” reveals how cozy Mayor de Blasio’s Department of Education, led by Fariña, is getting with teachers union boss Michael Mulgrew.”

Hmmmmmmm. “Cozy.”

What happened, we are left to deduce, is that Farina, a 70 year old grandmother, was evidently the victim of some kind of mystical Irish super whammy voodoo by evil Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT, and under his diabolical spell the woman has completely lost her values, her ethics, indeed, her entire sense of reality. In the process she has completely sold out the children of New York City whom she vowed to educate. How else to explain how this once child protecting educator has become little more than an adult protecting Mulgrew zombie ?

The Vile Seducer

The Vile Seducer

How else to explain her bizarre and “dumb” rejection of Cuomo’s “smart” proposals?

Further evidence of Farina’s descent into Mulgrew- induced madness is cited in the letter signed by Mulgrew and Farina and sent out to the 1200 NYC school principals obliging them to cease harassing teachers by collecting their lesson plans. Of this the News writes thunderously: “Two unnamed high school principals “chafed” upon reading the directive.

That’s right, two principals. Of 18,31. So what if that’s even less than 1% of the 1% who own 40% of the nations’ wealth, many of who have bankrolling “education reformers” like Cuomo for years. So what if they were unnamed. So are the editors who wrote the editorial. That alone doesn’t make them wrong. And, like Campbell Brown, don’t they need to protect themselves against the wrath of uber-violent teachers? And you better believe those two principals were seriously chafing.
And why wouldn’t the two principals chafe, coming to terms with the chilling realization that it is perhaps only the editorial board of the News, Governor Cuomo, Meryl Tish, Wall Street, President Obama, the richest people and the most powerful politicians on earth and themselves who are trying so desperately to hold adults accountable and stand up for the kids against the ungodly and evidently irresistible maneuvers of Michael Mulgrew and the teachers’ union ?

Thus Spake The Daily News: “Over to you, Governor.”

We Need to Shed Light on the “Discontinued”

March 26, 2014

jafar

I am heartened to see the beginning of a campaign for justice for those teachers who have been unfairly “discontinued” from the Department of Education. It is important for all to understand what it means to be “discontinued. ” It means that your years of education are now rendered professionally useless because you will never work as a teacher again in New York City nor, likely, elsewhere. It is, in effect, a blacklist. Here. In America. In 2014. This extraordinary situation is the result of the decision of but one person, a person who is not even obliged to give a reason for your professional destruction. I do not know the numbers of the “discontinued “ teachers during the Bloomberg reign, but I’d be willing to bet they skyrocketed for the following two reasons: a) the proliferation of ridiculous and incompetent principals who were encouraged to fire as many teachers as possible for any reason or no reason b) the fact that there was little or no effort from the United Federation of Teachers to stop them from doing so.

The scandal of “discontinued “ teachers is no abstraction to me. Indeed, it is extremely painful. Three years ago this June, in the school where I am chapter leader, no fewer than three fine teachers were discontinued in one year, the same year almost one fourth of the staff was U rated. The administrator responsible for this outright butchery — Kayrol Burgess Harper, lionized in Steven Brill’s preposterous but revealing Class Warfare – was, like so many horrendous principals, a graduate of Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy. Less than two months after Harper’s massacre, she was removed from her position and sent packing — an extraordinary turn of events under a regime in which teachers were considered guilty until proven very, very innocent and principals were deemed all but infallible. I understand that she has since been warehoused in another school. Incredibly, the fact that she was removed had no bearing whatsoever on her savage judgment on so many of my colleagues and myself. I know of no other profession in which the judgment of a supervisor remains credible after said supervisor is deemed incompetent or worse.

Do you ?

Even though all three discontinued teachers were a loss to our school, one in particular proved a loss for the entire community that is felt to this day. This was my friend and partner ESL teacher, Jafar Smith. In the three years that he worked at PS 149, quite outside of his excellent work as a teacher, Smith forged relationships within the school community and the community at large the likes of which I have never seen before or since. (For the record, Smith received satisfactory ratings the first two of his three years teaching.) An African American convert to Islam, Smith proved a perfect fit for a Harlem school in which there is not only a significant African Muslim population but a painful shortage of African American male teachers. On his own time and his own dime Smith made countless home visits to speak to parents of troubled students, volunteered to coach softball when the school ran out of money to pay per session, served as the ever available ambassador to the Harlem community and God knows what else to help the children in his charge. The man was tireless, his empathy boundless. His firing stunned and horrified colleagues and students alike. Indeed, this act of madness and malice reverberates still in the school where teacher and student alike universally remember Smith with something akin to reverence.

Worse was to come. Slowly. Smith, a devoted father of five, was told by the UFT that the discontinuation had merit only in District Three where we were employed. Smith set out to other districts and met with principal after principal who, after speaking with the man for five minutes, hired him on the spot. Or thought they did. Again and again all were soon to discover that, despite Bloomberg’s blather about “empowering” principals, discontinued teachers were blacklisted across the city and perhaps beyond. There was nothing a principal could do. Under Bloomberg principals seemed to be empowered only to destroy people ‘s lives and do so with absolute impunity. Unable to find teaching work in the land of his birth and the home of his family, Jaffer Smith now teaches in Saudi Arabia while his family of six lives in North Carolina.

This is wrong. And worse than wrong. And what has happened to my friend has happened to many. We, who were fortunate enough to survive the Bloomberg years, would do well to do all we can do to bring justice to those who were not so fortunate, those who were tossed away as if they were human trash.
This petition is a good start. But it is only a start. I’m more than willing to spend every moment I can to do more. I do not know what can be done but I know that something must be done, for Jafar and all the others. This blacklist must be exposed and lifted.

Please sign the petition found here and pass it along.

Addendum: Received this in the mail: Patrick this blog just made me very sad, as I left an immensely satisfying life in Key West to return to NYC to get my Masters and teach in my hometown. I taught at a Catholic School in Queens for 5 years but left a job where I was appreciated and sought after to go to the NYC DOE for money…and scorn…and contempt. To be dumped on my ear as you well know, I was unable to win my hearing and every where I interviewed they contacted NYC and informed me they decided to go in a different direction. I could get no work in a field in which I have a Masters Degree and ended up selling cars to earn money. The DOE sold us out and then black-balled us so thoroughly that we became the American version of the “Untouchables”, no one wants us.

Educators 4 Excellence: Brought to You by the Insidious Arm of the Disgustingly Rich

January 29, 2011
Brought to you by Bill Gates and and a whole host of hedge fund managers !

Brought to you by Bill Gates and and a whole host of hedge fund managers !

After a bit of pondering, I’ve concluded that from the list of cynical, disingenuous, insidious and astoundingly arrogant characters that make up the relentless billionaire backed hydra-headed campaign to privatize American public education, few are more cynical, disingenuous, insidious and astoundingly arrogant than Mr. Evan Stone and Ms. Sydney Morris, the two 25 year old teachers who founded and front Educators 4 Excellence (or E4E), a recent recipient of a $160,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and so much more. Gates, as anyone paying attention to the issue can attest, is the self-appointed de facto national education policy maker and as such he would top the list referred to above.

On Wednesday, January 25, 2011 Stone and Morris and their eight month old organization were the subject of not merely a luminous article but also a positively worshipful editorial (“ Teachers For Excellence” ) in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

All that was missing was an audio of heavy breathing. But who knows what next week will bring.

The Post was only the latest in a long line of major media attention this bold young lion and lioness have garnered. They’ve been praised in The Wall Street Journal and all but genuflected to on Fox’s Varney and Company. This virtual shill convention must be seen to be believed. On it Stone not only compares himself to the founders of the United Federation of Teachers who risked their jobs and pensions to build the union this man is being paid to discredit but Varney and another talking head go much further: they liken Stone to the founders of American unionism itself, repeatedly referring to him and his front group as “ revolutionary.” The entire preposterous dialogue is entirely scripted and vehemently anti union.

Throughout it all, Stone humbly accepts this absurd comparisons and praise, oblivious to the fact that real fathers of unionism — men such as the Molly Maguires — would have hung the likes of corporate shills like Evan Stone from the nearest and highest tree.

It gets weirder: Despite the fact that he’s been teaching for three years (and has a completely unremarkable record at that) Mr. Stone was invited to sit on an education policy panel featuring the brilliant Diane Ravitch and then-Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky (currently employed as Cathy Black’s brain.) Then there’s the elevated crowd they’re suddenly hob-knobbing with, not to mention and the A List funding their work has inspired.

Helping Gates help E4E is a Who’s Who of the corporate education reform campaign, which, like the Tea Party, is a billionaire backed media effort passing itself off as a “grassroots” “movement. ” Among the prime movers of the E4E arm of the movement are John Sabat of mega hedge fund, SAC Capital, John Petry of Gotham Capital, and Whitney Tilson’s omnipresent front group, Education Reform Now and Democrats For Education Reform

And these are the only one’s I’ve been able to find out about.

And just who are this wunderkind who have created ex nihilo “a powerful group of teachers more concerned with kid’s futures than the fine print of their labor contract? ” Who are these youngsters “ giving parents new hope and making leaders of their union sweat. “? What exactly are they doing that’s causing all this excitement and raising all this money – not mention the sweat?

Fearless Leaders

Fearless Leaders

Have they created some wonderful new pedagogic method that will help our children grasp the fundamentals of math and science?

Are they proposing some revolutionary teaching method that will explain to students why the USA has the greatest disparity of wealth and poverty in the Western World?

Are they teaching their charges how to feed themselves in a world without work?

Are they for standing up to the billion dollar corporate scam that is the standardized test industry?

Are they horrified at an education so impoverished that is renders our children culturally illiterate?

Are they incensed at the state of an education policy that leaves our children virtually defenseless against an increasingly predatory pop culture?

Are they bucking the ever-metastasizing corporate hijacking of every aspect of reality including our schools systems?

No, no, no.

Nothing like that for these mavericks. Like the motto of Bloomberg’s DOE, the concern of E4E is
“ putting children first.”

Oh.

In fact, that collection of words somewhat approximating a thought is all over E4E’s website, a website bearing the greatest collection of platitudes I’ve seen in a long, long time. Check it out for your self ! It’s a scream!

E4E are also deeply concerned about the prestige of the teaching profession and, while they don’t come right out and say it, more than a little embarrassed by some of the union protected scumbags they work with who very clearly do not put children first. Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris want these parasites out and “good teachers” in. And who can blame them? And after teaching for a full three years who can possibly question their judgment? Who dare?

Revealing the same totalitarian impulse shared by some of their backers and many cults, the site also implores you to sign a pledge that you agree to E4E’s “principles. “

The major principle of E4E upon which all other principles rest, of course, is putting the children first. The insinuation, of course, (their only identifiable talent appears to be insinuating) is that that everyone who is not in E4E is putting kids somewhere else. Again, who can question their judgment?

E4E also wants to “ have a voice in the creation of polices that affect their profession and affect their students.”

Well, who doesn’t?

But wouldn’t that mean you actually knew something about the field you wish to affect?
And wouldn’t such knowledge take time and experience to accrue? And don’t you already have a union representing these very things? A union, like all unions in the USA that is being attacked from all side and at times?

I’d like to believe that anyone entering a field as complex, as nuanced, and as unpredictable as education would have at least a little humility – at least until you have some idea of what you’re doing. Humility, after all, is what allows you to learn.

Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris, mind you, have both been unremarkable teachers for three years. This last year they have apparently worked but one day a week.

Yet, somehow they know all the answers. They don’t actually say they have all the answers. As I stated above, like everything else they do, they insinuate that they have all the answers.

Allow me to repeat something: Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris have been full time teachers for three years.

I may be wrong but they seem to be demanding the right to negotiate their contract and to do so not through the UFT but somehow around the UFT — the same UFT that provides them with every protection and benefit they have. They seem to be demanding nothing short of a seat at the table.

The big, big table.

And they seem to be demanding it for no other reason than to surrender everything the good and brave men and women fought for, everything good and brave men and women risked creating a union so that fools such as themselves might be treated as professionals and have some dignity.

Wow.

Even in an age as demented as is ours, does something about these two people and this organization strike you as insane? Does anything about these two mediocrities and their absurd, insidious organization merit the amount of media attention they’ve received? Does anyone doubt that the huge amounts of cash dropped at their feet is in direct proportion to the degree their masters believe they’ll succeed in undermining the UFT?

Allow me to state the obvious: to believe you can speak with authority about teaching, about contracts, about what is means to “put students first ” after three years experience is beyond arrogance.

It is beyond foolishness.

It is hubris.

And the idea that, after three years you should
“ have a voice in the creation of polices that affect their profession and affect their students” is mind-boggling.

Indeed, everything about these two people and E4E is simultaneously ridicules and disturbing. Outside of their preposterous (or super-natural) conceit of knowledge, Stone and Morris make several claims that display a staggering lack of integrity. They claim, for example, that they are not anti union.

This is a lie. A hideous, insidious lie.

Consider E4E positions on everything — particularly tenure and seniority — two subjects they display no understanding of whatsoever. Contrary to Mike Bloomberg and his pals at the New York Post– conscious liars all — tenure does not mean and has never meant ” a job for life,” a phrase they repeat as often as they can for no other reason than to stroke the blind rage of a citizenry increasingly jobless and terrified.

Tenure means due process. Nothing more and nothing less. It means a teacher cannot be fired on the whim of a crazy principal or because he or she has a nephew who needs a job. It is difficult to understand what Stone and Morris are talking about when they talk about tenure. They seem to want tenure to be something that is earned on an annual basis, meaning whatever it is they are asking for, is not tenure in any recognizable sense of the word.

This change, they claim, is necessary to keep teachers from becoming complacent and thus failing to keep the students first. Tenure, according to the Stone, does nothing less than encourage complacency. A complacent teacher, by definition, does not put students first. Stone knows. He’s been a full time teacher for three years.

Hmmm.

Can you imagine any real teacher espousing this condescending, toadying idiocy? Can you imagine any teacher with any understanding of the arbitrary viciousness of the DOE under Bloomberg even considering this lunacy? More to the point, can you imagine any one who is not a paid and protected agent of union busting billionaires even suggesting this stuff with a straight face?

Seniority, on the other hand, E4E wishes to abolish altogether. Again, they wish to do this not for reasons of selfishness, mind you, nor to please their pay masters but for the kids who deserve the best teachers.

And E4E, saintly and wise beyond their years, knows exactly who they are and how to identify them.

As Gates and Broad and Bloomberg know, even if the idiots running E4E do not, the abolition of either of tenure or seniority would spell the death of the union. That same union that, somehow, E4E is not against.

It would also instantly usher in an era in which teachers would be virtually defenseless against a growing army of vindictive and clueless administrators, already growing like a cancer due to absurd institutions such as Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s similar “academy” for instant superintendents. Both, needless to say, have been created exclusively to stock as many schools and school systems as possible with the monstrosities that are the logical result of the insane idea of the principal as a CEO.

Somehow, according to E4E, teachers stripped of rights and due process would create a world that would be better for kids, a world where teachers could be free to put students first. Somehow this world would then attract and retain dedicated professionals such as themselves. Just as importantly, such a world would repulse and reveal all those clock-watching scumbags who seem to surround them and make them so sad.

They know. They have been full time teaching for three years.

Is it merely a coincidence that the policies lusted after by Gates, the Wal-Mart family, Democrats for Education Reform, Eli Broad and Mike Bloomberg’s DOE and every other union busting organization in the nation and the polices sought by E4E are exactly the same?

Not similar, here and there, mind you, but exactly the same?

Consider too E4E’s desire for the scam called “merit pay.” Forget for a moment that ample evidence shows that merit pay makes no difference whatsoever in what is chillingly called “student achievement.”

Consider too that if there is a way to distribute merit pay fairly it has yet to be discovered. Consider then that merit pay gives teachers every incentive to game the system, garner the best students, avoid those most in need, and destroy the collaboration necessary for any decent school environment to function, never mind flourish.

In short, the desires of E4E – which are the desires of every privatizer in the US of A – are fundamentally and profoundly opposed to the ethos of solidarity and fraternity that is at the core of any true union. And anyone who has any knowledge or understanding of what a union is — or for that matter of basic history — would find these positions and these people repulsive.

They would also find the attempt to pass them off as anything but repulsive as contemptuous.

The Post’s love letter to E4E centered on a “conversation” between the followers of E4E and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, whom the paper slanders as often as possible. I must admit that I was mystified why a man of Mulgrew’s statute and intelligence would dignify this ridicules and miniscule group with a meeting. Still, I must assume he had his reasons. From all accounts, the meeting was unremarkable – except for something former Chancellor Joel Klein said to Mulgrew before his the Klein’s departure: “Chancellor Klein told me before he left: ‘I’m going to pit new teachers against older teachers and I’m going to do it by trying to make it look like we’re doing layoffs.’”

Despite the fact that city officials immediately denied that Klein ever said this, the statement rings true to me. Very true.

In fact, after I read it the idea came to me that Klein may well have been referring to Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris. How else to explain the fact that two teachers three years into the job are allowed to work one day a week in a public school system? How is that possible? Who is permitting it? On what grounds? Who is protecting these horrible people?

One hint can be found in a Gotham Schools post of last year, which tells of E4E throwing a party to celebrate the DOE’s announcement that there would be no teacher lay offs. And who was their guest of honor? Why none other than that friend of teachers everywhere — party animal Joel Klein!

Can you imagine any self-respecting teacher in all of NYC inviting this loathsome person to your party? Can you imagine Joel Klein showing up at a party held by any other group of teachers besides these champion ass kissers? Klein, mind you, is the man who needed police protection at PEP hearings.

The more you look at E4E the sleazier it gets. Nothing makes sense with these people or this organization. Nothing, that is, except that in exchange for being shameless shills for their billionaire backers and conscious operatives hired to undermine the UFT as much as possible, they will be given extraordinary privileges, protections and recompense.

Their work situation with the DOE should be investigated forthwith. It stinks to high heaven and points to collusion with the DOE.

Creatures of zero imagination, creativity and integrity, Mr. Stone and Ms Morris are of no importance in themselves for in themselves they are but ciphers and nothings who can only echo the weasel words of their masters and employers. What importance they and E4E does have is in what they reveal. What they reveal is the fragmentation of this nation. What they reveal is the logic of so many dwelling in perpetual survival mode where empathy is not and life is “an endless war of one man against all others.” What they reveal is a moral and spiritual void where only power over others is honored. What they reveal is the alignment of much of the media with the most anti democratic forces and individuals in the nation.

Above all these two fools reveal the ruthlessness of the dangerously rich who believe it is their right to strip us of our rights and to impose their will upon all they can, however they can. Mr. Stone and Ms. Morris are merely two willing and utterly shameless collaborators in that process. And rest assured, neither one of these “revolutionaries” have any intention whatsoever of working under the conditions they are demanding for others. Their job now is to tell others how to do their job — and how to put children first, of course.

They need to be exposed, all of them, as people who loathe democracy and the freedom of anyone other than themselves.

Fear and Loathing and the Sickness We Have Become

September 5, 2009

Fear and Loathing and the Sickness We Have Become

So here we are a couple of days or so before the start of a new school year, an hour when once upon a time dedicated teachers would be filled with trepidation, yes, but also with joy and expectation. Alas, alas, these days under the relentless “ reform”   (read “revolution”) championed when not rammed down the throats of municipalities across the land   by a handful of various billionaires and their stooges in Washington, in the press and in capitals across the nation, every teacher I’ve spoken to is  instead experiencing something very, very different indeed than those sentiments and emotions.

They are experiencing something much closer to depression or demoralization or even dread at what new schemes await them and their charges.

And why is this ?  Many reasons —  but here’s one. Imagine a world in which people who have never done your job, who know nothing of your work, who will never be required to do your work or any thing remotely like your work are somehow allowed to make the rules and requirements for those who do. Better still, these very same people —  almost all of them whose  sole  qualification for remaking the entire education system in their images is that they have made an enormous  amount of  money somehow, somewhere —   are allowed to establish the criteria that measures how well or poorly you do your job.  Even better,   these same people are trying desperately to find ways to strip you of your job if you do not fulfill their absurd, cynical and ignorant demands.   And what are their demands?   That  every child in America learn the same way at the same pace till “proficiency” rules the  land.  And how  will you  know the day of glory has  come ?   You will know by the scores of  endless and endlessly dumbed down standardized tests.

This is  not the Simpsons but it could  pass for the Simpsons.  Except the Simpsons is  funny.

Many in New York, myself included, were hopeful that some measure of sanity — or at the very least some checks and balances — would be brought to bear on what is virtually the Bloomberg/ Klein dictatorship of the past eight years.  Many, including myself were hopeful that  some in the public sphere, some in the New York  State Senate and Assembly would  come to the unremarkable conclusion that it is  not  a  sound idea to  allow the largest public  school system in the  nation to  be run by  two amateurs whose  collective pedagogical  experience amounts to  zero —   that much the more when the duos open contempt for educators across the board is Napoleonic in scope.   Many including myself were hopeful that parents would at last   see through the testing mania that has turned teachers into low level bureaucrats and trainers and their children into human test takers if not lab rats… but no.  Those parents who did rally were simply ignored. Wholesale.  Teachers, as a  matter of course with this  gang,  were not even part of the discussion.  Most of all many were  hopeful that with the election of Barack Obama, he of the hope and change mantras, the moronic policies  of the Bush administration – in this case  the absurd and grossly irresponsible No Child Left Behind act — would be seen for what it is  and be properly gotten rid of or at least dramatically reformed.

Surprise, surprise!  No  less a figure than Diane Ravich has  stated  publicly and  repeatedly that in terms of  education, Obama is nothing  less than Bush’s  third term. I would go much further.  I  would say that  in terms of education Obama is  Bush’s third term on steroids. The  man is  attempting things  that   Ronald Reagan (  Blessed be His  name )  never dreamed of:  systemically undermining the teacher unions the better and the  quicker to privatize (  read “corporatize”) what  we now know as  public education.  And note this well:  Obama has the advantage of having something Bush possessed for a very short period of time: credibility and good will.    People want to believe Obama.  Talk about his education polices   with most people and they stare in disbelief,  change the subject, search for rationalizations or just walk away. They don’t want to know.  They can’t know.  They invested too much in this man for him to be what he is revealing himself to be.    Look at his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, demanding that states surrender all principals and rights to Washington and remake them in Arne and Obama’s  image to even be considered eligible for some of the billions in the economic stimulus money.  “ Just to be eligible, “ states the August 17 New York Times, “ a state must have no   barriers to linking data on student achievement or student growth   to teachers   and principals for the purpose of teacher and principal evaluation,” the rules say.

Arne’s other condition is there be no limit to charter schools, a Trojan horse for union busting if there ever was one.

What to make of this?   Here we have a nominally Democratic administration openly union busting, openly treating its own constituents, its own people, in the same manner that the World Bank and the IMF treat the third world:  do exactly what we say or we will starve you to death.   Not surprising, states are surrendering all over the nation. What choice do they have?

But that’s really not the question.    The real question is how did we get here why are we accepting this ?  What does this  disgraceful coercion reveal about where we are as a nation ?  What does it say about us that we are allowing a handful of amateurs —  very rich amateurs to be sure but nonetheless amateurs —  to completely  re-write educational policy in this  nation   at the same time they are doing all  they can to privatize it ?  Where are we ?  What happened to us ?  Why do we allow this ?

The greatest argument I will make for profound and true educational reform in this country  is this:   only a nation in extreme intellectual, cultural and spiritual poverty  could have  allowed this handful of  monstrously arrogant jackasses and ignoramuses  to  do what they are doing as we do  nothing, nothing at all to  stop it  or even call  attention to what it is.