Posts Tagged ‘Michael Mulgrew’

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.”

Danielson Condemns Using Test Scores to Assess Teachers: A Potential Chip in the Reformer Armor

August 26, 2013


Diane Ravitch posted a blog this morning stating that Charlotte Danielson, creator of the infamous Daniel Framework for teacher effectiveness that has been implemented into practice and written into law in New York, publicly condemned using standardized test scores to assess teachers in the strongest term possible. “Using standardized test scores to assess teachers is indefensible, ” said Danielson. This is not the first time I’ve heard Danielson make such a declaration – there is a clip of her saying something of the kind floating around You Tube – but it is the most forceful and unambiguous.
As such, it is also something that all teachers effected by Danielson’s system should know and make sure as many parents of school children as possible know. We would do well, too, to contact Danielson, thank her for her courageous statement and urge her to repeat it as publicly and widely as possible. Her statement is potentially a serious chip in the reformer armor but will only be if we make it so. If not it will die on the vine. Moreover, we need to bring Danielson’s statement to the attention of Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner John King, Meryl Tisch, Dennis Walcott, Michael Mulgrew, and ask them, in light of Danielson’s statement to defend the system they have all agreed upon. This need be public knowledge. Above all the parents must know. You can be sure the reformers are attempting damage control and to muzzle Danielson as I write. The importance of such action on our part cannot be overstated. The evaluation system as it stands is a monument to reckless and cavilier thinking and, in effects, is rolling dice with the livelihoods, reputations and lives of teachers. It is unconscionable. As written it will unquestionably lead to the unjust termination of countless fine teachers. The politicians do not care and have hid behind Danielson’s reputation. Her statement can be used as a spotlight and should be. The public, by and large, does not know and this is an opportunity to inform them.

There is contact information for Charlotte Danielson at her website at

Following is Dr. Ravitch’s entire post.

Charlotte Danielson speak about how to use her rubric: “At the
NJAFPA Conference on May 29, Charlotte Danielson (creator of the
Danielson Frameworks for Teaching evaluation system that so many
states and districts have adopted) said in her keynote: “Very
strong words, considering her audience included members of the
NJDOE. Danielson went on to say: “What counts as evidence? How will
we use it? People are calling me for information on this; I don’t
know; NO ONE KNOWS! Rather than standardized tests, we need to look
at classroom/teacher’s learning evidence.”

Awaiting the Word of the Corporate King

May 30, 2013

I have known the facts for weeks now but nonetheless there remains in my brain some voice that keeps telling me, this can’t really be true, my union, the once mighty United Federation of Teachers did not really sign off on an agreement allowing the cynically selected corporate crusader, New York State Education Commissioner John King, final say over the new teacher evaluation plan for all of New York City. Surely my union would never entrust this precious fan of Educators 4 Excellence (and other billionaire funded union busting lowlife organizations,) who taught a total of three years (one in a public school) and was just last week seen pathetically cheering on the corporate CEO’s he lined up to shill for Bill Gate’s Common Core. (‘cause, really, who knows more about education than CEO’s? ) to have the final say on the most radical change in teacher’s professional lives in decades.
Surely, this was some kind of bad dream or evil hallucination or elaborate cosmic joke that I’d, in time, awaken from, snap out of or catch on to.

John King who taught for three entire years.

John King who taught for three entire years.

But no. Like their signing on to Race to the Top, easily the most corrosive and insidious attack on American public education in its history ( of which Bill Gate’s Common Core and Commissioner King’s evaluation plan are part and parcel) the UFT, indeed, did sign on to this slow motion train wreck. Worse, my union wants me and my union brothers and sisters to believe that this is a moment for celebration, a victory of some kind.
Reading UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s letter on the matter made me cringe. (See below.) Several times. Then it did something worse. It lit in me the sensation I have known in certain dark hours in my life when I comforted myself with the thought, “it cannot get worse than this” until, a short time later, it was worse than that.

I suspect many teachers from coast to coast have felt something akin to that sickly sensation over the last decade of ceaseless attacks. I am tired of it. And more than tired of it. The corporate disease has over taken all including the only forces capable of withstanding it, namely unions and political parties. The choices of working people, never rosy, are now starker than they have been in a century and there seems there is nothing but darkness in the tunnel. We either find some way, as yet unimagined, to rebel against our own immiseration and degradation or we wind up with lives that are scarcely worthy of the word.

Herein Mulgrew’s letter.

Dear colleagues,
Late on Saturday, June 1, State Education Commissioner John King is expected to release an evaluation plan for K-12 teachers in New York City. It will be done through a binding arbitration process and take effect in September.
The mayor and the DOE will no doubt try to spin Commissioner King’s decision to their advantage. The UFT staff will be working through Sunday to get accurate information about the new system out to you by Monday morning in a form that is both clear and concise.
The process to create a new evaluation system has been long and contentious. The final decision came to rest with the commissioner because the city Department of Education proved incapable of negotiating in good faith with us.
The UFT and the DOE each submitted lengthy proposals to the State Education Department on May 8. Arbitration hearings are taking place in Albany today and tomorrow. Commissioner King will consider the proposals and decide on the final evaluation system on June 1.
We have the opportunity to use our collective-bargaining rights to modify aspects of the evaluation plan during future contract negotiations. Practically speaking, since we are in fact-finding now, if any changes were negotiated, they would not take effect until the 2014-15 school year.
Because the commissioner’s plan must be in accordance with the 2010 state law on teacher evaluation that this union supported and helped shape, we expect it to be fair, professional and focused on teacher development to the benefit of our students. The new evaluation system as set out in state law is designed first and foremost to help teachers improve their skills throughout their careers. Teachers who are struggling will get support tailored to their individual needs.
We have our work cut out for us in September, given this DOE’s terrible track record of translating policy to practice compounded with the fact that they will probably be gone come Jan. 1. We have started working on a professional development plan and we will use our rights to make sure that the new system is implemented fairly. It is a big help that we already have an appeals process for New York City teachers nailed down that will give our members stronger due process rights than they have ever had.
I hope this email clarifies where we are and what we can expect. Working together, we will make this transition. You can count on your union to continue to fight to get you the support you deserve. Thank you for all that you do for our city’s schoolchildren.

Michael Mulgrew

The UFT and the DOE: Reflections On A Deal Gone Bust

January 17, 2013

When the email proclaiming no deal between the DOE and the UFT arrived at 2:00 in the afternoon or so I could scarcely believe my eyes.  I suspect that there were many teachers who felt the same  way.     For days I was expecting to arrive at tonight’s Delegate Assembly   to protest what many (myself included) had believed to be a long ago done deal, one inexplicably validating the pseudo science of Value Added Metrics, (VAM) and one rammed into reality without the consensus of the dues paying rank and file whose careers and lives would sure to be hugely affected by it.  My suspicions were made much greater after reading the repugnant post of one Peter Goodman, a retired teacher in no way affected by the evaluation plan, who nonetheless attempted to paint those who opposed the plan as nothing less than Tea Partiers whose small minds failed to realize that the UFT had to please not only the rank and file but Mike Bloomberg, the sleazebags of DFER, and even Michelle Rhee.

Goodman, it was said, was merely a mouthpiece for UFT leadership,

Good God, I thought, is this the true thinking of the UFT?  Needing to please the very forces that have made no secret of their desire to eradicate the very idea of union from human consciousness?  Can it really be this bad ?

With thoughts like this in mind the email at 2:00 came as a jolt —  a jolt that also came with a long over due and unfamiliar feeling of pride in the UFT.  Here they stood up to the venal little bastard in City Hall after all.   Yippie!  Michael Mulgrew even went so far as to publicly call Bloomberg a liar —  six times, he said.

About time, I thought.

When I arrived at UFT headquarters   I encountered something I never  imagined  possible:  a line to get in to the DA that snaked two blocks up Broadway.  Seemed like every chapter leader and delegate in the city had arrived  — but to do what?  There was a strange and almost giddy feel in the air when Mulgrew at last arrived (to great applause) to speak about what happened.

There was, apparently, a deal said Mulgrew,  but Bloomberg being Bloomberg imploded it at the 11th hour.   Mulgrew clearly lamented Bloomberg’s maneuver and spent a lot of time explaining what he felt was good about the plan.  The foolishness of the initial buying into Race To the Top and the presence  of the aforementioned error ridden Value Added Metrics (now apparently called “growth”) were never mentioned.

Little by little the air went out of the balloon.

I was happy to see the thing torpedoed but I have no illusions about the lousiness of the state of things as they are.  Wind up with a psycho principal (a reality I am all too familiar with even if I do not live with it now) and you can kiss your career goodbye and there is nothing the union can do about it.    Such is the reality after a decade of capitulations to those who live to destroy you.

I’m glad I was wrong about the UFT standing up to Bloomberg and his allies.  I’m glad to see it happen at the very moment the bus drivers have gone on strike and further expose this man Bloomberg for the union busting pathological monster that he is.  I was glad to see the smiles on the faces of my long-suffering colleagues.  But I have no illusions that what transpired in the past 24 hours is anything but a brief respite in a war of life or death.  I would like to think it could signal a new beginning but I can’t quite believe that.

I would love to be wrong about that as well.

The Math of A-Humanity : $900 Million For Technology, Zero for Teachers

June 19, 2011

Herein is additional evidence that Mayor Mike Bloomberg is morally, spiritually and intellectually unfit to be any where near children, never mind have de facto dictatorial powers over the largest school system in the United States.  The act of spending $900 million on technology when you are simultaneously attempting to throw 6000 teachers out of their classrooms   and into the streets (and the throes of the most brutal economy since the Great Depression ) is a barbaric act, a crime against our children and our parents and a grave insult and threat to all working people of New York City.

The idea that an education department  has money to spend for computers in classrooms  but not for teachers in classrooms reveals a view of  both education and humanity that is, in the words of Thomas Merton,  unspeakable.   It is an act of class war so insidious that it should chill the blood of all who read of it.

It is also a profound and horrifying  indication of how thoroughly   “corporate values”   —  ceaseless competition,  mindless efficiency, relentless attempts to gain power over others –
are  simultaneously mocking and destroying our very lives in the name of a psychotic a-human notion of progress and corporate order  that demands the absolute eradication of all human values, especially human dignity,  cannot possibly sustain for any length of time itself and cannot possibly maintain itself without  slipping into outright naked fascism.

That hour draws near.  The deeply cynical  maneuver  described below is one more step in that direction.

Like it or not,  we are in an undeclared  civil war.   In this struggle silence equals complicity.

06/17/2011 07:41 PM

Despite Cuts, Education Budget Calls For $900M On Tech

By: Lindsey Christ

Though New York City schools are being slammed with heavy budget cuts, a close look at the education budget reveals that close to $900 million will be spent on technology next fiscal year. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.Mayor Michael Bloomberg still calls himself the “education mayor,” but the shrinking budget can no longer support expanding reforms. Yet in one area, Bloomberg is still ramping up despite overall cutbacks.NY1’s analysis of the budget shows he wants to spend close to $900 million on education technology next fiscal year.

“The importance of technology is something that we believe in,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

However, to find extra funds for that belief this year required some creative budgeting.

For example, principals were notified this week that textbook funding can now be used to purchase computer hardware and software. That was $264 million last year.

The Department of Education also redefined classroom computers as part of school buildings. That allows them to use $350 million of capital funds over the next three years to purchase and install computers, smart boards and printers.

Plus, in the operating budget, the DOE wants $52 million for technology contractors, up 86 percent from last year.

“My son came home and said, ‘hey mom, we’re all getting laptops at school next year,’ and I said great, but what about your teachers?” said Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters.

City officials say their hands are tied. They need to get the school system prepared by 2014 for a national shift toward taking standardized tests online.

However, the reality is more complicated. The mayor wants the city on the forefront of developing the 21st century classroom.

The way technology is used in classrooms is constantly evolving. Two years after the city pronounced all schools wired and wireless, it now says every building needs an upgrade, which will cost the city another half a billion dollars next year alone.

“We have a responsibility on making sure that our students can compete in today’s society around technology,” said Walcott.

The mayor also plans to cut 6,000 teaching positions. Although most of the money directed toward technology can’t be spent on teacher salaries, many question whether this is the year to increase any spending.

“You don’t go out and buy a brand new car when you can’t pay for your mortgage,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the teachers union.

The DOE budget proposals still need City Council approval, and councilmembers are already questioning the amount of money earmarked for tech.–education-budget-calls-for–900m-on-tech