Posts Tagged ‘Mike Bloomberg’

Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy Produces Yet Another Contemptuous Wretch

February 7, 2015

privategym0207

Any time a New York City teacher who has been working a few years hears or reads of some outrageous behavior by a principal, ten to one a single question wells up within his or her head: Is this person a product of the Leadership Academy?

There is excellent reason for this. They almost always are. I know. I had my own Leadership Academy monster to deal with. Mine thought it was a good idea to have the cops come into the school and arrest the PTA president and secretary in the middle of the school day for stealing funds that were never stolen. Drag out two innocent parents in handcuffs while their kids are in class? No problem. And somehow no charges are filed against the principal. She wound up U rating a fourth of the teaching staff, and causing untold and unjust damage to the lives of three fine untenured teachers by discontinuing them, before finally being removed and warehoused in school after school on what can be called the Leadership Academy dole. And who can forget the notorious Iris
Bilge, among many others in the Leadership Academy Hall of Shame. And the list goes on and one.

Yes, Leadership Academy grads have been degrading education, debasing the lives of students and teachers and finding creative ways to disgrace themselves for years now, and Principal Jazmine Santiago, who according to The New York Post “used school funds to install her own private gym with a bench press, pull-up bar, treadmill, elliptical machine and thigh exerciser on the third floor of PS 269 in Flatbush,” is no exception.
Kids have no pencils or paper ? A pity. But check out these abs!

Still, because The Post is The Post I wanted to reserve judgment on the woman until I heard confirmation from a credible source – which is to say, something other than The Post.
Sure and soon enough, I did. An old friend who has the misfortune of working for Santiago confirmed the account. I asked her if Santiago was Leadership Academy.

“Of course,” said she.

Tycoon-turned-mayor Mike Bloomberg and federal prosecutor-turned-chancellor of-education-turned education entrepreneur Joel Klein both thought the Leadership Academy was a swell idea. Why wouldn’t they? Neither had any idea what constitutes education nor any interest in finding out. Both of them thought that teaching was as easy as running a business. Take anyone, they reasoned, sausage them through nine months of ideological, union busting, “leadership building “ boot camp and presto! An instant principal!

New York City schools are still filled with these people, meaning in a very real sense that Bloomberg is still present, still poisoning, still here. I suspect we will be hearing stories of Leadership Academy principals degrading the sacred trust that is public education for years to come.

Addendum: Yesterday was a big news day for NYC principals. Could not find out for sure if Principal Annie Schmutz Seifullah was Leadership Academy as well, but I’d happily lay odds that she is. Note well that both of these persons were elevated to these positions during the ( endless ) reign of “reformer” M. Bloomberg. Note too that Seifullah is one of the very few principals that are actually fired, rather than hidden somewhere continuing to collect their substantial salaries. Message: Ruining schools and the lives of students and teachers is acceptable, but sex…

http://nypost.com/2014/05/06/second-principal-reassigned-amid-sex-in-school-probe/

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Expect No Change: King Will Be Replaced by a Facsimile Thereof

December 11, 2014
John King:  Builder of airplanes in mid air

John King: Builder of airplanes in mid air

So I woke up this morning to the news that New York State Education Commissioner John King, who never met a reformer he didn’t grovel to or a reform idea, tested or not, that he didn’t want to impose on an entire system, has been booted out or moved up or both, depending on how you look at it or who you read.

At any rate, King is soon to be gone.

Here and there bloggers have written of feelings of joy and the like at King’s departure. For myself, as much as I find the man a complete fraud and utterly reprehensible, King’s departure makes me feel, well… nothing much at all.
Yes, I’ll be glad not to see his can’t -you –see- how –sincere- I am face so much or to hear his whiny arrogant voice but it is near impossible for me to believe that King will be replaced by another better, or even different, than himself.
The news brings to my mind the changing chancellorships in New York City under the wretched reign of Mike Bloomberg: the prosecutional era of former prosecutor Joel Klein, followed by the ephemeral and clueless moment of the preposterous Cathy Black, followed, in turn, by the return of the steady, deadening hand of professional Yes Man Dennis Walcott. Through them all, the only thing that changed was the name of the chancellors and, as the reformers are constantly coming up with new terrible ideas, the methods of undermining the schools, busting the union and stripping the teachers of autonomy and morale.

Nothing changed because, despite their titles, not one of these chancellors was actually in charge. (Under orders to destroy the teachers union by any means possible, Klein may have come up with a few of his own ideas, but Black and Walcott? No way. ) Principally they came from Bloomberg but also indirectly from people like Bill Gates and Eli Broad, to say nothing of the ever expanding Wall St and hedge contingent of education experts. All of these nominal chancellors were taking their orders from others in ways that mocked they very idea that these were civil servants, mocked even more the idea that they were beholden to the people they served.
Not one of those chancellors was in charge and neither was King.

King, who spent two or three years in a classroom before becoming a charter school entrepreneur, was catapulted to the status of state commissioner because those who catapulted him understood that herein was a man who could be trusted to obey orders.
And obey orders King did.
As far as I can see, no campaign ( it is NOT a movement ) has so cynically exploited the nightmare of America’s racism as has the billionaire based education reform campaign, so the fact that King was completely malleable and African American made him the perfect choice of the ed reformers who declared ( and declare and declare ) that “education is the civil rights issue of our time.” Accordingly, King was the perfect Manchurian Commissioner. Perfect, that is, for a year or two while King enjoyed the luxury of seldom having to actually face the public he ostensibly served and consistently betrayed.

All this changed in the wake of the Common Core debacle in which, as King predicted, some 70% of New York students failed the new whiz bang tests and parents were increasingly horrified and disgusted at what was happening to their kids and their kids’ teachers under the miraculous new Common Core regime.

Rebellion was in the air, and somebody somewhere thought it would be a good idea if the seemingly mild mannered King went to a few choice locations throughout the state to enlighten and lecture the huddled masses yearning to be free as to the miraculous powers of the Common Core, a power that King, like virtually all education reformers, mysteriously withholds from his own children.

But, to King’s surprise, the masses – which is to say, the parents of the children in King’ s charge and the teachers who were teaching them — were in no mood for a lecture. King’s towering arrogance and thinly disguised contempt toward both parents and teachers, his rote arguments based on nothing but stale crème puffs and his anger at being obliged to actually answer questions was not, as they say, well received.
The Traveling King show was abruptly cancelled to allow its star a prolonged pouting fit, only to be revived for two performances in New York City along with guest star Meryl Tisch. The Brooklyn show, disgracefully stage-managed by operatives of Michelle Rhee’s front StudentsFirst who were allowed into the venue an hour early, swined up all but a few speaking spots and, generally speaking, treated King’s appearance as if he was making a monumental sacrifice simply deigning to be there among them.

King’s act was wearing thin and King became a liability for the people who orchestrated his meteoric rise to power. Like Cathy Black, King’s problems were
not because of his policies which he steadfastly and robotically defended, but because of public relations, far and away the dominant force behind a decade of so called “education reform. ”

King never rebounded.

That may be one reason that King, whether through his own volition or not, is gone. Who knows?
To me, only three things are certain. The first is that, in return for his service to them, John King will continue to reside on Easy Street for the rest of his mortal life. His billionaire friends will see to that.
The second is that whoever is named to replace King will, in terms of policy, in no meaningful way differ from King. Like the chancellors under Bloomberg, only the face will change.

Such is the oligarchic way.

The third is that, barring a miracle or a catastrophe, the destruction of public education in the state of New York will continue unabated and, in light of Andrew Cuomo’s remarkable promise to “break the last monopoly,” likely even accelerate.

That too is the way of oligarchy.

A Busy Day for Billionaire Backed Front Groups

April 10, 2014

Yesterday was a busy beaver of a day for billionaire backed front Groups. Someone, somewhere, deep in the bowels of the New York wing of the billionaire based campaign to privatize the public school system, must have recently given the order: Get out the word. Now! Some people are beginning to understand what’s really going on.

How else can one explain not one but two volleys from two billionaire financed front groups ( and one newly minted at that ! ) on a single day ?
Early yesterday afternoon I received word of the advent of Higher Achievement New York, yet another deceitfully created billionaire backed front group passing itself off as “grass roots ” and roping in just enough innocent faces to fool those who don’t know any better.

“Higher Achievement New York described itself as “an organized platform” dedicated to higher standards that will explain what the new standards mean for children, and how they offer better preparation for college and careers, through social media advertising and lobbying.
“Our goal is to foster positive conversation that hasn’t existed around these standards,” said the group’s executive director Frank Thomas, who previously worked in communications for the city’s Department of Education and Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign.”

In plain English, Higher Achievement New York is a public relations project disguised as an education advocacy group.

As the standards belong to the Common Core and the Common Core is an untested experiment in progress, there is no legitimate way to explain how the Common Core can prepare anyone for anything at all. No one has any idea what, if any, effect it will have on students. And explain to whom, by the way ? The parents who have reacted to the experiment on their kids with volcanic rage at what it is doing to their children? To the teachers and administrators who have twisted themselves into pretzels attempting to implement the unholy mess ?

Perhaps they’ll find an audience in the fish and other sea creatures dwelling in New York Harbor. After all, they’re paid and doubtless paid well, to “ foster positive conversation” and they have a better chance these days with sea life than they do with most people not on their pay roll.

As Higher Achievement New York is comprised of more established and experienced fronts such as the Gates Foundation’s Educators4Excellence and Mike Bloomberg’s Students First NY, one should expect an extraordinarily high level of obfuscation, distortion, and shill like behavior.

Many have, in fact, seen a preview of their act. The two aforementioned fronts did their best to dominate the two New York City hearings of Commissioner John King, the first in Brooklyn where Students FirstNew York members were allowed to enter the hall early and hog up no less than 44 of the 45 speaker slots so as to create an impression of wild enthusiasm for the loathed Common Core utterly unrelated to reality outside the world of public relations. At the same time they shamelessly injected the issue of race into the mix, somehow insinuating that the privately owned, secretly created product of the Gates Foundation called Common Core was nothing less than a civil right. The following night when King appeared in lower Manhattan the two fronts showed up in tandem and one heard silly testimonial after silly testimonial from one 24 year old “ex teacher” (currently employed to “raise expectations” by StudentsFirstNY ) after another about how Common Core is the answer to just about every problem in the known universe, bizarre statements by E4E teachers of the almost supernatural power of the Common Core, and, most cynically, insinuations that rejection of the Common Core was merely disguised racism.

Well, with the coming of Higher Achievement New York, you can bet you’ll hear a whole lot more of that kind of stuff.
By the way, does the name Higher Achievement New York portend a Higher Achievement New Jersey? A Higher Achievement Connecticut, and on and on until all fifty states are achieving higher ?

A few hours after reading about Higher Achievement I arrived home to find a foot long glossy post card, not dissimilar in style from the one my then five-year-old daughter received in her name from Success Academy some years back, festooned with smiling and beautiful African American children, so beloved by the titans of Wall Street. Yesterday’s card bore my name and address and a dramatic shot of Andrew Cuomo giving a speech in front of a ChartersWork sign and came from something called Families For Excellent Schools.
The Families kindly sent the card to implore me to call up “education champion” Andrew Cuomo and thank him for the wondrous job he was doing with our schools. Part of Cuomo’s wonderful work was helping to pass laws that gave charter schools rights that public schools don’t have, such as the right for charter school entrepreneurs like Eva Moskowitz not merely not to pay rent, but to dictate the terms of whatever she wants when it comes to expanding her publically funded empire into already existing schools. In essence, what Cuomo did in terms of education was to give Mike Bloomberg a forth term as mayor. And then some.

CARD 1 G

The card made me sick just to look at it. And needless to say, it must have cost a fortune to create and another to do a mass mailing of the thing. This from the folks who can’t afford to pay rent.

CARD 2

As a teacher in PS 149, one of the schools that Cuomo essentially gave to Eva Moskowitz, the homage to the Tough Guy governor’s giveaway goes right to the gut. The giant post card seemed like a sick joke: a sick joke played on the neediest and most disadvantaged school kids in all of New York; a joke played on those who would be jettisoned for the comfort of Ms. Moskowitz’s charter children.

Moreover, how did these creepy people get my name and address ? Who gave it to them ? They got it the same way, I suspect, that other creepy people got my daughter’s name and address a few years back. And that way points to the public trust called the Department of Education and the manipulation thereof.

Disturbing stuff.

I decided to look up Families For Excellent Schools curious, when most families I know are scrapping to get by, as to what manner of families have this kind of money to spend on such gratuitous gestures to such odious figures as Andrew Cuomo. This is how they described themselves on their website: “Founded in 2011 by public school parents, Families for Excellent Schools is a community organization that fights for every child’s
right to an excellent education. Through organizing and political
work, we work to amplify the voices of families over the din of
electioneering and special interest campaigning. Rather than speak on
behalf of public school parents, Families for Excellent Schools
empowers parents to speak for themselves.”

Parents speaking for themselves! How touching!

I looked a little further still and found one of the families for excellent schools was none other than Walton family of Wal-Mart fame, not widely known for being particularly fond of people speaking for themselves.

I looked further and found out that Families for Excellent Schools shares an address with the New York division of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst.

A question: Weren’t front groups, for excellent reasons, once generally regarded as sleazy, unethical and even sinister enterprises?

What has been left almost entirely unexamined in the privatization campaign is, not only the extreme proliferation of billionaire-backed fronts, but their strange, silent metamorphosis from something to be shunned to something to be accepted and even celebrated.
Is not the purpose of a front to deceive? To trick? To pass yourself off as something you are not so as to scam credulous people of good will ? Are fronts not a con job?

Of course, they are. Fronts are bad faith incorporated.

And yet, multiplying like malignant cells, the massive money behind “education reform” has produced more fronts than one can keep up with. Higher Achievement New York is merely the latest. And none seem to betray their utter amorality.

There will be more, to be sure. We are dealing with souls to whom millions are meaningless and whose ruthlessness, sense of entitlement, and narcissism knows no bounds. The only thing they know how to do is to dominate by any means they can. And they believe it is their right to do so.

They are, after all, unimaginably rich and like the charter schools they hold so dear, they have rights that people like you and I do not.

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.

Duncan To Marry Common Core Standards

March 13, 2014
Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

Secretary of Education and Civil Rights Leader Arne Duncan to Marry

United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stunned much of official Washington today when he announced that he plans to legally marry the Common Core State Standards “sometime in the very near future.” Mr. Duncan made his announcement at a press conference in the Rose Garden, surrounded by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, former CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund.

Reporters appeared to be momentarily silenced by what many considered the strangeness of the statement but quickly recovered and questioned both the timing of Duncan’s announcement and the authenticity of Duncan’s motives, as well as the legality of the act itself.
Duncan denied that the wedding was a symbolic gesture or a publicity stunt designed
to draw attention away from the volcanic parental rejection of the CCSS across
the country, especially in New York State.

“This is about love, said Duncan, his voice at times cracking with emotion and his eyes appearing to tear. “True and abiding love. And there’s no doubt in my
mind that the love I feel for the Core, the Core
feels for all the children of America, every last one of
them and especially those we want to help close the achievement gap.”

Duncan acknowledged that there are legal challenges in the unprecedented mating of man and document but, with Attorney General Eric Holder’s blessing, is determined to “ break new ground in the civil rights issue of our time.” Duncan links the proposed union to the larger struggle. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times,
education is the civil rights issue of our age. Our marriage is just another Rosa Parks’ moment on our way to helping all of our children become college and career ready.” Duncan, still legally married to Karen Luann Duncan, acknowledged that before the marriage to the Common Core could take place he had to first divorce his current wife. Holder is said to be personally involved in this process which he is prepared to expedite.

Duncan would neither deny nor confirm the rumor that Andrew Cuomo offered the use of the Governors mansion in Albany New York for the ceremony but did acknowledge that Cuomo would be a guest at the wedding.
A press release from the Department of Education revealed that the ceremony would be a gala and star-studded event with guests including Mark Zuckerberg, Wendy Kopp, Randi Weingarten, Oprah Winfrey, Mike Bloomberg, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Bill and Melinda Gates, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Bono, Eli Broad, David Coleman, Rupert Murdoch, John Legend, Jeb Bush, Thomas Friedman, Kid Rock, Bill Keller, Corey Booker, Whitney Tilson, Caroline Kennedy, as well as President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The ceremony will be presided over by President Obama. David Coleman, the “architect” of the Common Core Standards, will give away the bride. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Educators Association will serve as best man while American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten has agreed to be the maid of honor.

The event will take place in an undisclosed location and will be funded in its entirety by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

—————–

Note: This post is dedicated to the pea-heads in both the DOE and the NYPD who thought it a good idea to throw my courageous friend and colleague Francesco Portelos in jail for 33 hours for writing a piece as silly as this. Good thinking fellas! These are strange and terrifying times in which we dwell and we need more than ever to look after each other.