Wednesday, November 28, 2007



JOEL I. KLEIN, Chancellor


November 28, 2007


Broad Foundation and Starbucks Coffee Help to Recognize Contribution of New York City Teachers

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten today announced the City’s first-ever Thank a Teacher Campaign to give public school students and alumni a chance to thank their teachers for the impact they have had on their lives. The Department of Education (DOE) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) are asking current students and graduates to write up to 200 words about a special teacher. Submissions should be sent to If possible, a photograph, drawing, or painting of the teacher can be submitted along with the short essay. Responses will be posted on the DOE’s Web site at

“Teachers can have enormous influence on the lives of their students, immediately and long after the children grow up,” Chancellor Klein said. “I’ve said many times that I owe a great deal to Sidney Harris, my physics teacher at Bryant High School in Queens, who encouraged me not to set any limits when I thought about my future. There are so many powerful stories like mine. We want to recognize and honor New York City’s outstanding teachers for their important role in our schools and in our City.”

“Most people remember at least one teacher who touched their lives at a crucial turning point, sparked their interest in learning and inspired them to strive for excellence,” Randi Weingarten said. “For me, there are so many that I don’t want to single out one—Mr. Swift, Mrs. Seltzer, Mr. Dillon, Ms. Wilker, to name a few. Not surprisingly, parents concur, as 90 percent of those who responded to a survey this year said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their children’s teachers. It’s only fitting that we take a moment to say thanks for caring and making a difference.”

The deadline for New York City public school students and graduates to submit essays and pictures is December 21, 2007.

On January 10, 2008, some of the teachers who are recognized in the Thank a Teacher campaign will be honored at a celebration at Tweed Courthouse. The DOE will randomly select 200 of the teachers to attend a party with a guest. The event, funded by the Broad Foundation, will recognize the contribution teachers made to New York City winning the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education and to helping New York City schools and students succeed. The national award honors the school district that has made the most improvement in student performance while closing achievement gaps among ethnic and income groups. Starbucks Coffee is also supporting this event by donating Starbucks Cards to be dispersed to teachers. For more information on the Thank a Teacher Campaign, please visit


Contact: David Cantor / Debra Wexler (212) 374-5141

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Brizard readies for superintendent job

Gary McLendon
Staff writer

(November 24, 2007) — Jean-Claude Brizard will have a lot of moves to make when he becomes superintendent of the City School District in January. First he has to get here.

The transition from interim Superintendent William Cala to Brizard is a work in progress.

Brizard's contract negotiations are still under way. The school board must officially vote to name him superintendent Thursday. And his starting date, projected to be Jan. 2, is not yet final.

Weeks before that, he and Cala will publicly answer questions about the school district's leadership transition.

The forum is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 13.

About to embark on his first job as a superintendent, Brizard, 44, comes with ambitious goals and enthusiastic supporters — but also controversy and criticism.

Among his strongest supporters is Tim Quinn, managing director for The Broad Academy, a national superintendent training program.

Quinn said Brizard was easily in the top 10 percent of the academy's hundreds of graduates.

"He has a passion for this work and serving underserved kids," Quinn said. "He has a comprehensive understanding of not only what is important to do this work, but how to do it on the ground."

Brizard will need to.

In Rochester, which leads the state in poverty and violence rates, children dodge tragedy in the streets before and after school and live with it at home. The school district's 39 percent four-year graduation rate is the lowest in the state.

In a telephone interview this week, Brizard amplified points he made during a public forum last month about improving the academic outcomes of the district's nearly 34,000 students.

"When I look at Rochester, I see the biggest issues are in grades seven through 12. I see huge achievement loss in grades six and seven," Brizard said. "I know what works in terms of raising graduation rates."

Brizard said he intends to attack educational shortfalls at their roots; increase the number of children enrolled in prekindergarten; support children particularly in grades four through nine; hold principals accountable for meeting students' academic needs; and improve the graduation rate by focusing on technical career skills and helping students for whom English is not their first language.

Brizard also said he would bolster school security and encourage parents to become partners with schools.

Unpopular closure

Brizard is leaving the New York City Department of Education, where he has been the senior executive for policy and sustainability for less than a year; and before that was Region 6 superintendent, in charge of 100 K-12 schools with 100,000 students. That position was phased out by a district restructuring less than two years after Brizard began the job. While in that position, Brizard closed Samuel J. Tilden High School and phased in two smaller high schools within the same building.

Although Tilden's academic performance was mediocre, it had one of the few Haitian-Creole bilingual education programs in New York City. Community members and school staff said the school was not performing worse than some schools that were not being closed and asserted that district leaders weren't giving the school's new principal enough time to implement academic improvements.

Tilden bilingual education teacher John Lawhead said that closing the school would shift high-risk students, who were recent immigrants, to overcrowded Haitian-Creole bilingual programs at three other Brooklyn high schools.

Lawhead said Brizard represented ineffectual leadership in an "extremely top-down" operation. "He was kind of a front man for Superintendent Joel Klein."

"He came into our school saying the school was to close. It was obvious he didn't have a role in the decision at all," Lawhead said. "I can't describe how out of touch he was with people's feelings here, staff members, people who had gone to the school, people in the community."

Brizard said he played a large role in deciding to close Tilden. He said there was "absolutely no truth" to the charge that he, or the district, autocratically flipped the school upside down.

"I talked to teachers about how they felt about the school. We found hard-working teachers," he said, adding that he also found a number of apathetic people in a variety of roles who had given up.

"We saw the projections (for school academic performance). The trajectory did not show any substantial gains possible. It was slow incremental gains."

Brizard, who is a native of Haiti, said that as a teenager he pulled himself up through help from New York's bilingual public school program.

Brizard said he didn't close Tilden without first finding a way to bypass the practice of not providing English Language Learner programs in new high schools for the first two years.

One of the new schools "will replace the seats for the Haitian kids," said Brizard. "We did that at another school. At South Shore (high school) we made sure to replace what existed."

Lawhead said English Language Learner classes are continuing in the new schools and between 200 and 300 older students may graduate. However, he added that under the transition students won't have as many subject classes in their native language. He said the school has seen "a lot of kids transfer."

Qualms and praise

In Rochester, Brizard's bid for the superintendency hasn't been without political turbulence. And the school board's vote to officially name him on Thursday may not be unanimous.

Cynthia Elliott, the only school board member who chose not to attend the news conference announcing Brizard's selection, said she was not opposed to him but wanted to retain Cala for a few more months, perhaps as a deputy superintendent, so he could finish the cleanup job he's done in the district.

"I have until the 29th to change this," said Elliott, referring to her push to name Cala deputy superintendent.

Board Vice President Malik Evans said Elliott's request to keep Cala has not been discussed.

Two board members-elect, Melisza Campos and Allen Williams, said they were allowed to sit in on board discussions about superintendent candidates — and have nothing against Brizard — but would have liked to have had a vote.

"I am somewhat disappointed I didn't have much of a role other than as an observer for the most part," Williams said. "I felt we should be casting our votes because we will be working with the new superintendent for the next four years and two of (the current board members) won't be working with him at all."

Campos said she wished "the decision could have been postponed until Allen and I were on the board."

Brizard has the support of most of the current board members as well as of Mayor Robert Duffy, Cala and state Education Department Commissioner Richard Mills.

"I'm going to welcome him as a partner. ... I would hope that myself and Mr. Brizard can form a very strong working relationship and again put kids first," Duffy said.

Mills said: "He's a very committed urban educator, very experienced in New York City. He had a good record in turning around a high school, one that was low-performance. Rochester had a choice of good leaders. Very often, people act as if leadership is scarce. It's not. I think they picked a good education leader."

Brizard, meanwhile, says, "we're very close on a contract" — and he is readying himself for Rochester.

He'll soon be house-hunting and plans to marry fiancée Katherine Brooke Stafford this summer. An education researcher, she currently is the director of strategy and evaluation for the New York City school district and plans to look for work here.

Brizard, a commercially licensed pilot, said he's also looking to join a flying club.

He'll have to make trips to Long Island to see his daughter, Nyah, 6, who will continue living with her mother.

Brizard said cruising at 5,000 to 10,000 feet in the sky is relaxing — but also relates to running a school district.

"When I was doing my instrument reading, my instructor told me: 'Before a crash, there's a previous sequence of events. You have to stay ahead of the airplane, always looking to see what is coming at you.'

"Very often, when we look a district that's been declining for years, it happened because you did not see the signs."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thousands rally in Tel Aviv in support of teachers’ strike

Jerusulem Post

100,000 gather in Tel Aviv to support teachers

The teachers' strike goes into its 39th day on Sunday, boosted by a massive solidarity rally held in Tel Aviv's Kikar Rabin on Saturday night. Organizers said at least 100,000 people participated in the demonstration.

As well-known performers sang in the background, thousands of teachers, students, parents and grandparents held signs baring slogans such as "No education, no future," and "Cheapening education will cost enormously."

The keynote speech was delivered by Secondary School Teachers Organization chairman Ran Erez, who issued a clarion call on behalf of the country's educational system.

"All these people who support the struggle are in favor of education," Erez said.

"With every social struggle in Israel, be it single-parent mothers, bread rallies, or others, people struggle alone and nobody succeeds," he continued. "We are together. We are struggling together for the welfare of the state!"

"Education is closing gaps, education is fighting violence, and staying away from alcoholism and all the bad things that are happening to the state," Erez declared. "That is our struggle. It's a shame that the government doesn't understand that. We are not against them, we are for them, and we want to tell them: The land is shaking. This volcano is erupting."

Protester Naomi Besser said her pupil organization in Jaffa had brought 15 busloads of pupils to the rally.

"We love our teachers, and we can make education work for all of Israel if all sides cooperate," Besser said.

The large show of support came as the standoff between the SSTO and the government enters its sixth week.

Before the rally began, Education Minister Yuli Tamir said that she stood firm on her determination to implement education reforms.

"If the process fails, it will be my failure and I will pay the price," Tamir said during an appearance in Holon. She added that it was important to focus on a change to the system, rather than just populistic steps.

"There are people who think that the value of a politician is in the power of their scream, but that's not me. I got the educational system more than any of those 'table turners' - more than 10 billion shekels."

Earlier on Saturday, MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) called on Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to impose parliamentary sanctions on the government for letting the strike last as long as it has.

According to a report on Army Radio, Paz-Pines suggested that Itzik delay discussions on new bills - including the 2008 budget and the Economic Arrangements Law - to pressure the government to intervene and end the strike.

Efforts to end the school shutdown produced no results last week as representatives from the SSTO, led by Erez, gathered at the Prime Minister's Office instead of attending a meeting with the Finance Ministry that was scheduled to take place in Airport City on Friday.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was not in the building, declined to meet with the teachers.

After waiting in vain for the teachers' representatives in Airport City, Finance Ministry Director-General Yarom Ariav said that the SSTO had turned the struggle itself into its primary goal.

"We have come today to conduct professional negotiations as we agreed yesterday but we didn't find our partners on the other side," added a disgruntled Ariav.

Referring to the planned rally, Ariav went on to say that the teachers were "busy arranging demonstrations instead of trying to resolve the crisis."

On Friday, Olmert urged the teachers to conclude negotiations with the Education and Finance ministries and end the strike.

In a letter published in Yediot Aharonot, Olmert pledged to respond to several of the requests made by teachers in recent weeks.

"I am committed to giving a dramatic pay rise of between 26 and 34 percent to SSTO members. I am committed to reducing class sizes. We will increase the number of hours in the school system and we will raise the standards for teachers and principals," he wrote.

The prime minister added: "If I could, I would come and speak to you at [Saturday's rally in] Kikar Rabin, but I wasn't invited to the demonstration and I don't want to turn your event into a taunting session."

Eva Cohen contributed to this report.

On November 17, an estimated 70,000 gathered at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in solidarity with the ongoing teachers’ strike that has entered its fifth week.

The secondary school teachers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. According to Ha’aretz, many of the demonstrators were children there to support their teachers.

During the rally, teachers waved signs reading, “The education system is bleeding, and the government is in a coma.”

The chairman of the Middle and High School Teachers’ Association, Ran Erez, said, “I did not believe the square would be filled with a 100,000 people. We are embarking on a social struggle for a welfare state.”

Histadrut declares official disputes in Israir and Haifa port

On November 18, the Histadrut Labour Federation declared a labour dispute in the Israir airline. The dispute results from flight attendants’ protests against their working conditions.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israir employees’ complaints include an alleged failure by the company to pay the minimum wage, being forced to sleep on the floor of the aircraft, and to pay the costs of their own training.

The flight attendants are demanding a collective employment contract in place of the current individual agreement on which they are signed.

Israir flight attendants are currently paid only for the hours they spend in the air and not those they spend preparing and cleaning the plane before and after flights. A statement by the workers’ committee said, “Our current contract as it exists does not define working hours or resting hours and it leads to situations where we are forced to work for 16 straight hours, given a four-hour break and then forced to work another transatlantic flight back to Israel.”

If no agreement is reached within 14 days, the airline workers could take industrial action.

The following day, Histadrut declared a labour dispute at Haifa port. If agreement cannot be reached, a strike will be staged at the port from November 29.

Workers strike in West Bank factory

Ninety Palestinian workers at the Sol-Or factory in the West Bank took unlimited strike action last week. The Sol-Or factory, which is located in the Nitzanei Oz industrial zone, near Tul Karm, manufactures and markets gas and petrol containers.

The workers cite dangerous working conditions and low wages as reasons for their strike. Muhammad Baladi, the acting head of the impromptu union formed by the striking employees, said, “The working conditions are unbearable. We earn between 60 and 150 shekels per day, and most of us earn less than 80 shekels per day. We have no insurance and are working in unsafe conditions. Up to now three employees died in work related accidents in the plant.” Workers at the factory are demanding the Israeli minimum wage—as required by law—improvements to working conditions and insurance. They claim that they wrote a letter to management, but rather than deal with the issues management chose to fire the worker who signed the letter. The factory is part of the Sol-Or group, a private holding company that owns additional factories and provides various services.

Rational Assessment in Nebraska

Update from Nebraska: Promises Worth Keeping

Posted by George Wood at 11/6/07 6:00 AM
Tags: Education Policy

Nebraska continues to be an island of sanity in the midst of the standards and testing movement that disguises itself as school improvement in America today. To remind you, Nebraska’s 517 school districts design their own assessment systems: a portfolio of teachers’ classroom assessments, district tests that measure how well children are meeting locally developed learning standards, a state writing test and at least one nationally standardized test to serve as a reality check. We have featured the work of Nebraskans before in this newsletter (Seeing STARS in Nebraska and Notes From Nebraska) and last month I traveled back to Nebraska for their state-wide assessment conference to see how things are going.

This year’s conference drew participants from not only from Nebraska but from Hawai’i, California, Colorado, and New England. Part of the interest was to see how the system continues to work. But many of us were also curious as to how the School-based, Teacher-led Assessment Reporting System (STARS) was faring given this past summer’s passage of Nebraska Senate Bill 653, a bill that requires for the first time a single statewide test in reading and math.

It is hard to imagine why the legislature would take this action. For the past five years, the STARS system in Nebraska has provided educators and communities with detailed information on how students are doing in their schools. It begins with teachers benefiting from extensive training in how to develop assessments that provide detailed information on how well their students are doing in school. These teachers prepare assessments, keyed to both the state or local standards and the curriculum they teach, administer and score them.

The scores are used not to drive teaching and learning as is the case in so many states where standardized tests drive the curriculum. Instead, Nebraska educators pour over the results and, as one teacher told me during a school visit, ‘if our kids don’t do well on an assessment first we look at our teaching, then we look at the curriculum, and finally we look at the assessment to see if we are doing the best job we can.’ Quite a different story than we hear from across the country where in many schools the school experience is being narrowed to make room for more test preparation.

And the results in Nebraska are all headed in the right way. Scores on the local assessments show students succeeding at rates many states only wish they had. On the one state-wide assessment, a writing test that teachers are involved in developing and scoring, student scores have been improving to the point where 89% of students are proficient and the achievement gap between groups of students is narrowing. If you need more evidence and you like tests you would be pleased to know that similar improvements have been seen on the ACT and the NAEP in Nebraska.

One more thing that should catch any legislator’s eye—the Nebraska system is incredibly cost effective. Since there is only one state-wide test, the amount of money that goes to testing contractors from Nebraska is, ready for this, only 3 cents per student or about $9,000! The rest of the state’s funds for assessment are spent on teacher professional development to enable teachers to have control of the assessment system as opposed to the assessment system controlling them.

This may be why, according to Nebraska Commissioner Doug Christiansen, some legislators and bureaucrats want to push a standardized, one-size-fits all approach to student assessment and school accountability. In his opening address, “Promises worth Keeping” (read the entire speech here) the Commissioner warned that “There are those who would steal our practice and its practice from us. I believe they are afraid of a profession that leads from the inside. I believe they fear what we bring to the conversation. And we bring a lot to the conversation…we bring the deep hearts like those of our mothers, the passion like that of a champion athlete, the relentlessness like that of the mountain climber, and the spirit like that of the artist. And, we bring the most important and precious piece of all to the table, the voices of our children…”

The standards and accountability movement in American education has a kernel of wisdom in it—we want high standards for all kids and we want to hold our system of education accountable for helping every child meet those standards. The problem is that this agenda has been hijacked by some who feel that the only way to improve schools is to standardized them and link accountability to a narrow band of test scores. This strategy takes control and authority away from those closest to children, teachers and their parents, and puts it in the hands of state and federal authorities.

What Nebraska has shown is that it does not have to be this way. As Doug Christiansen put it: “We (Nebraska’s educators) made a promise to be accountable not be held accountable. We made a promise to stand up for teaching all children and leaving no child behind. We made a promise that this work would be led from the local level and from classrooms. We promised that the design and practice of our work would come from the energy, creativity and knowledge of our educators…We promised our students our best instruction and that it would not be defined by the limits of what could be tested.”

Through investment in teachers, engagement of the public, and leadership with an eye toward what’s best for kids and not test or textbook companies our friends in America’s heartland have kept that promise. They have shown us community engagement and control of schools at its finest. The question is only whether policy makers around the country we are willing to learn from this successful lesson.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Destabilizing Large High Schools: The Beach Channel HS Story

Typical actions by DOE, diverting more “over the counter” students to Beach Channel HS, destabilizing the school and putting it on the impact list.

This was a school that was allocated over $1 million that it said would be used to reduce class size; and was expecting to lower class size, according to just-released DOE chart to lower class size to 27 from 29.5. Wonder if indeed that occurred, or if the additional students foiled those efforts.

SED took as a great advance, they told me, Tweed’s promise not to undermine any principal’s efforts to reduce class size by sending more OTC students.

Leonie Haimson

Executive Director

Class Size Matters

124 Waverly Pl.

New York, NY 10011


November 21, 2007

On Education NY Times

A High School Struggles With Surprise Students

Several weeks ago, Cristal Urena proposed what should have been the most prosaic of activities. As the student government president at Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Park, Queens, she asked the administration to allow an after-school dance in December to celebrate the coming holidays.

The answer was no. And this no, it appears from Cristal’s account, was not the autocratic no of unreason. It was the reluctant no of a principal, David Morris, whose school has been destabilized this fall by an unannounced influx of students from outside its attendance boundaries.

Some arrived with histories of disciplinary problems or even criminal activity, school records show, while others had been in full-day special education programs. Others brought volatile gang allegiances from their home neighborhoods, according to school personnel. And in no case did Beach Channel receive advance warning.

While Mr. Morris declined to be interviewed for this column, a detailed memo written by two of his assistant principals paints a vivid picture of an improving school rattled by the violent or criminal behavior of several dozen students that the memo says were foisted on Beach Channel.

Andrew Jacob, a deputy press secretary at the city Department of Education, said Beach Channel had not been singled out as a dumping ground for troubled students. “Based on our numbers,” he said, “I don’t see how anyone can make the argument that one school is being favored or disfavored over any other.”

But the department does not dispute that in the first month and a half of the academic year at Beach Channel, as the memo describes, there was a spike in disruptive incidents: drug possession, weapons possession, fighting, insubordination to school safety officers and an attack on a dean. The memo lays the responsibility for many of these episodes on the newly enrolled students. The net result, the memo said, was a “crisis situation.”

The memo, which was sent to security officials at the Education Department, resulted in Beach Channel’s receiving more school safety officers, which in turn has reduced the number of incidents, department officials acknowledge. Teachers, students and administrators in the school have been torn between their desire to call attention to the problem and their fear of damaging the school’s reputation by pointing out the turbulence.

“There’s a lot of good students at Beach Channel, and they need it and deserve it,” Cristal, a 17-year-old senior, said of the dance she proposed. “But because of the bad students being put in our school, transferred into our school, we can’t have it. They’re messing it up for everyone.”

All the difficulty follows, and threatens to undo, progress that the Education Department acknowledges Beach Channel has been making. The school received a C in its first letter grade from the department, but a “quality performance review” conducted last year lauded the academic and pedagogical improvements that Mr. Morris, the principal, had made during his four years in the position. The review specifically noted that the school ran “smoothly.”

Or so it did until this fall. Last month, the Education Department placed Beach Channel on its list of “impact schools,” tacitly acknowledging the concerns about security expressed in the memo and entitling the school to more safety services.

“No matter what we do, when we meet one challenge, the Department of Education puts up another one for us to deal with,” said David Pecoraro, a math teacher who is the chapter leader for the teachers’ union at Beach Channel. “It’s Sisyphus pushing the stone up the hill. We just want an even break from the department, an even playing field.”

The Beach Channel memo, written by the administrators in charge of security and pupil personnel services, says that this year the school received 50 new students whose zoned school is Far Rockaway High School; 16 new students from alternative programs, including those for incarcerated teenagers; and 11 students from all-day special education programs.

All of these students were admitted “over the counter” — a bit of New York education lingo that means they just showed up at Beach Channel one day, with no planning, no advance warning. In a city constantly replenished by immigrants, there is usually nothing unusual about over-the-counter admissions. Beach Channel’s unanticipated newcomers, however, soon participated in a large amount of mayhem, according to the memo. It said 24 of them were involved in disciplinary incidents between Sept. 4 and Oct. 12.

Mr. Jacobs of the Education Department said Beach Channel’s tally of incoming students was fundamentally correct, if over-the-counter and out-of-zone admissions are counted together. While Beach Channel’s total number of special education students fell this year from last, the percentage of them increased slightly, because of a drop in the school’s overall enrollment.

“There was nothing out of the ordinary about the process of getting their transfers” at Beach Channel, Mr. Jacob said. “Any large high school in the city is going to be dealing with students from a wide variety of backgrounds.”

The entire system of reassigning students, however, has changed in recent years. Back when there were still borough superintendents of high schools, or even regional superintendents, principals at least had the opportunity to discuss who was being put into their schools. Guidance counselors and parents sometimes met to work out placement decisions.

That human touch can matter greatly when gang tensions in home neighborhoods can be inadvertently imported into the schools with transfer students. Indeed, in an October incident reported in The Wave, a weekly newspaper for the Rockaways, several students formerly from Far Rockaway High School attacked a Beach Channel student in the school cafeteria.

Under the Education Department’s new system, a computer program seeks open spaces in schools closest to a student’s home. While a human being maintains some oversight, Mr. Jacob said, “It’s true it’s mostly based on the available seats in a given school.” He added, “Beach Channel has more available seats.”

For now, some calm has returned to Beach Channel. A certain cynicism, though, accompanied it, given the Education Department’s penchant for closing large high schools that can be depicted as failures.

“I don’t know if the D.O.E. didn’t think about it,” Mr. Pecoraro, the math teacher, said about the effect of the involuntary transfers. “The worst thing is if they did think about it and they’re planning for the demise of Beach Channel.”


Tweed Subvert School Leadership Training

The entire thread of the SLT discussion so far on the NYCEducationNews Listserve from latest to earliest.

Let me tell you a story about SLT in training in D25 that precedes this OFEA training. From the beginning of the school year, we as parents have had no word ojn any training. As President of Presidents Council for D25 I worked with the UFT and set up a training in D25 that would be conducive for all teams. It would be held in our District from 4-6pm so teams could come together. The flyer was sent out to Principals by our Superintendent, parents through Presidents council and teachers by the UFT. Within a 2 weeks a "mandated" training flyer was sent out by the OFEA but don't ask to whom because most of us did not receive it until a few days before the actual training for our District. I called Martine Guerrier and asked her to please recognize the training we set in place by the UFT as this was meant for teams and was being held at a time that was convenient for most team members to attend. She flat out told me that I never discussed this with her to which I responded that it was she who never discussed any training with us. As President of the District I received the flyer from the Supt when I asked what was mandatory training some parents were asking about and never from the DOE or a DFA. On behalf of the DFA we do not have someone in that position at this time and have not been consistent with a DFA since the school year began. Martine also stated that the OFEA would have a better training and it was important to attend theirs becuase it would cover pertinent information that we all needed to know. After about 15 minutes and not getting anywhere I stated that I was beating a dead horse. Martine said do not put words in my mouth because I don't want to see that I said this to you in the press. Most of the SLT reps in D25 could not attend this training which was held on Monday 10-12:30PM as it was short notice, the week of Thanksgiving and PT conference for Middle Schools. Many do not want to travel to Sutphin, or go on a Saturday or even attend at night. As it is many teachers will not come back at night and I don't blame them. I will copy and paste the emails I had with the Chancellor about this situation and you can have more fun with that. I must say I usually get a decent response from the Chancellor and was shocked at this one.
"Not to be a pain but I was not thrilled with her attitude. She is quite condescending and from anyone I know who has had dealings with her she is not doing Parent Engagement a favor on your behalf. Just a little suggestion for your sake, talk to people who have to deal with her and find out what she is like to them and how they feel after working with her. Apparently she is getting a bad reputation which unfortunately passes on to the DOE.
-------Original Message-------
Date: 11/15/2007 2:37:36 PM
Subject: RE: SLT training
One of the reasons I hired Martine is to address the issue of SLTs -- ensuring their effectiveness -- and she is accountable for that.. That's why I've asked her to address your request. Thanks, Joel

From: Jane Reiff []
Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:54 PM
To: Klein Joel I.
Subject: RE: SLT training

I am not sure what that means but I would prefer if it would come from you. If you read the email I really wanted you alone to act on this. By your response I am wondering if you truly read what I wrote. Please reread and reconsider.
Thank you
Jane Reiff
-------Original Message-------
Date: 11/15/2007 9:01:00 AM
Subject: RE: SLT training
Jane, I have forwarded your email to Martine for proper consideration. Joel

From: Jane Reiff []
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 11:07 PM
To: Klein Joel I.
Subject: SLT training

Dear Chancellor Klein,
I am writing to you hoping I can make sense of something. Because the DOE was very vague about any training for PTA/PAs, Presidents Council and the UFT teamed up to present an SLT training for our District. The only news we had of any training for parents at all was just that training would be available and the DOE was setting up workshops. We did not know when, on what or anything else. Apparently they threw together training that is MANDATORY for SLT as fast as possible with no regard to the holidays, parents schedules, teachers schedules or anything else for that matter. The training D25 and the UFT came up with was to be held in D25, after school hours so entire teams could do the training together but not too late so there was no issue about coming back to Queens for the training as many teachers have this problem. The MANDATORY training first of all should not be mandatory until the acceptance of the new regs is passed. I realize you are expecting the regs to be passed which was another reason we set the training up as well as helping new members. For D25 it is this Monday from 10-12:30PM when most teachers are teaching and parents are preparing for Thanksgiving and PT conference day in middle school. Many of the schools are busy during PT times creating special events for the parents as they plan on visiting the schools in higher numbers. While other Districts may seem easy to get to it is not a fair assumption that they will travel to Sutphin or any other District for that matter. It is also not fair to assume that SLT teams will go on a Saturday when many parents have plans with their families or other obligations as do teachers and Administrators.
We would like to forge ahead with the training we have planned as time and money has been invested in it and let it count as valid training by the DOE. I spoke to Martine who is what I would not consider very parent friendly or understanding in the least. You have known me for several years and while I may not agree with some of the decisions made by you I have been open and honest with you and what I consider fair and level minded. I know that the DOE would not create policies that would be a detriment for our children and schools on purpose and you have led me to many other people who work for you and I must say that Martine surprises me as someone you would have on your cabinet and this saddens me. No-one else I have spoken with has left with such a cold and thoughtless manner.
District 25 has been shaken and stirred since the beginning of this school year in regards to support and although it is unfair it is part of life. Presidents Council would like to remain a source of stability and the parents reaction to the sudden training has confused them and many for a variety of reasons, some of which I stated already, cannot do the training that has been thwarted on them. I am asking YOU, and noone else to please accept the training we have set up for D25 as a valid training and of course we would look forward to more training as the year progresses and is better suited or should I say situated for our teams.
Thank you for taking your time as you always do and I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Jane Reiff D25
I am also copying and pasting some of the remarks of others about the training along with my email to both the Chancellor and Martine.
Dear Chancellor Klein and Ms. Guerrier,
Well what can you say now? I am appalled and disgusted at what was relayed to me about the supposed SLT training. You, Ms. Guerrier. Personally told me that the training was set up for teams when I argued that holding a training from 10-12:30PM on a school day was not conducive for teachers and administrators and obviously the OFEA training was not meant for teams. Why on earth and how disrespectful can the DOE be to turn around and say that the teachers who were present were not supposed to be sent to this training. First of all your notice that you sent to Principals clearly stated mandated training for all teams. You expected the schools to pay for subs for a 2 and a half hour training minimum ( this does not include travel time back and forth) and the people were thrown out after 45 minutes after enduring a worthless training. The DOE staff then proceeded to say that remuneration would be for the full time of 2 and 1/2 hours. If you did not want the Principals to comply with your notice you were not clear and then of course that would also mean you lied to me.
How on earth can one make sense of this? I clearly stated and requested that the training Presidents council of D25 set up with the UFT be counted as valid training and you clearly told me it would not be as thorough as the OFEA training. By thorough do you mean incompetent because I cannot think of another word that comes to mind to describe what was told to me. Not only have you not reached out to the parents to find out what time would be good for them you apparently have a lack of content to your training. I am copying and pasting some of the comments forwarded to me by the variety of people who attended and other comments about your training in other Districts. Martine, although you basically accused me of trying to put words in your mouth about beating a dead horse and how you do not want to see that in the press (another insult as you have no idea who I am and the extent of my involvement in the schools but Chancellor Klein does), I do not have to make up any of this information.
Jane Reiff President of Presidents Council D25
Well I found out that there was "training" in District 22. It lasted about 15 minutes, they were read to and "the highlight was they got to take home a pamphlet." "The whole thing was a joke". And this was the district that was a trail blazer in School Leadership. One of the districts that Harry Spence used to model the plan.
Once again, the DOE took something that was a real concern to parent leaders, with the possibility of allowing real participation and made a farce out of it. Now they can say they offered training. A far cry from the 2 - 3 hours sessions we use to hold.
Dorothy Giglio
Dear OFEA,
>> I wish to provide some honest feedback on the SLT training. Today I attended the "Mandatory" SLT training offered to the SLT members
>> with a notice of 2 days for our district and the location close to our school. I have some issues I'd like addressed by someone who is responsible for
>> making these decisions.
>> 1. In District 25, we heard the training would be mandatory when the new reg was approved but have had no further communications
>> from the responsible office/DOE Rep. We scheduled SLT Training via the UFT that would accommodate our teachers and parents by
>> being held from 4-6 p.m. Our Presidents Council leader was told that our training "wouldn't count" and the DOE would schedule training. I ask "Why would our training be discredited when no attempt was made as to the content". After attending the DOE training today I must say I was disappointed and rather
>> insulted. The training was scheduled without any regard for parents because we have teacher conferences
>> scheduled tomorrow (this holiday week) and only 2 days notice was given. Also, the presenter did not seem knowledgeable on the material but "read"
>> the slides to a fairly educated audience.
>> 2. Since the DOE is mandating this training, our school, who already has a significant NEGATIVE budget should not have to pay for the substitute teachers
>> who attended. Since the training was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 2.5 hours by my count, the training lasted about 45 minutes. That is 105 minutes of wasted money spent on substitute teachers. We were told that we would receive enumeration for the training. Well, I cannot accept money for time I didn't give and am appalled that this was "acceptable".
>> 3. While I am a relatively new SLT member, I have taken this responsibility seriously and read and studied the regulations to learn how to be an
>> effective team member. I feel that training is a great thing and would serve the members well but find it hard to believe the material couldn't of been delivered by someone knowledgeable of the function and able to provide some guidance for those in attendance. I suggest you look at the SLT training given by the Region 3 ROC last year. I was given a copy and it is a gem of a document. I wish I could of attended that training.
>> Regards,
>> Dave
>> SLT @ I.S. 25
I went to an official SLT "training" this morning. It was something
of a fiasco.
Scheduled from 10 am to 12:30, it began at 10:15 and ended at 10:55.
Almost all that happened was that there was an outline handout that
was also flashed on a screen. A lady read it, slowly, and it was
almost over. I'm certain almost everyone in the audience knew this oh
so basic material of the outline before going to this "training".
After the reading there were to be questions and an Asst. Principal
from a middle school rose as if to ask a question. But what she said
was that all the teachers from her team, as well as herself were
there, and the school went to the expense of hiring substitutes for
them so that they could attend. Her point was that for the
considerable expense and effort the "training" was ridiculous--only 40
minutes and the reading of a rather elementary outline.
I guess she expected to get some sympathy from a DoE attorney who was
there as a back-up knowledgeable resource. Instead she got the bad
news that it was a violation of State law for principals and teachers
to be attending that meeting during the official school day.
Well, there must have been many others, for the room broke out in
uncontrolled and furiously noisy argument all over the place and the
meeting was, effectively, over.
I suggest that if you have to go to the training, bring something to
Melvyn Meer
Queens Community Board 11 Education Committee
No one on our SLT got advanced notice of this required
SLT training.
One of the parents on our team who is also on the CEC
got the flier at the CEC meeting. They did not give
her the flier, she had to insist that she get it.
Of course, all but 1 of the traing sessions had past.
And the 1 remaining session was the next day.

--- wrote:

> Re Required SLT Training...I got a flyer in my
> district for Mandatory
> Training between 5-7 PM.
> First, I wrote back to this person in my district
> and told them according to
> chacs regs
> posted
> on the internet dated 2 /3/04 nothing is Mandatory.
> Second, it also says in Chancellors Regs that
> meeting dates are to be
> convenient to the parent population.
> I got no response back from them, Ha!
> Regards, Linda
Dear Chancellor Klein and Ms. Guerrier,
I am a parent member on the SLT at PS 79 Q. I attended the "mandatory training" for District 25 this morning offered by Cheryl Goode. I wrote to you last week commending your efforts for providing teams with training and offering suggestions. I am very disappointed to report that this morning was the worst meeting I ever attended hosted by the DOE.
The meeting scheduled at 10 am did not begin until 10:20, a disregard for people's valuable time. It was not training in the loosest application of the word by any means. The overview packet handed out was read aloud by Ms. Goode over an inaudible PA system. None of the terms were explained to brand new members and there were only three questions -- none of which were about the information handed out. The session ended within 35 minutes and your representatives stated we should appreciate that we were extended a 2 hour credit toward our required 30 hours as members of the SLT team. We had 10 out of 12 of our SLT members present at this "mandatory" training meeting on 2 days advance notice to your RSVP date. Each person blocked out 2 1/2 hours of our valuable time and were literally READ information held in our hands for 1/2 hour and sent out. We were even told to use the email address to send questions to and get information. HOW are you justifying that as training? All the written information could have been easily mailed to individual SLTs for review at regularly scheduled meetings. There was nothing in the packet that was new and there was no detailed explanations provided whatsoever.
What's more appalling is that although only one date was provided in your memo for District 25 and your memo encouraged whole teams to attend together, we were chastised for allowing the teacher members to come to this training. We were told that teachers knew when they signed on that it meant extra hours and that they should have gone on Saturdays or in the evening. Teachers in the audience were told that they shouldn't have even been released to attend. The UFT did organize training sessions prior to the DOE scheduled training, yet it was announced that only DOE training counts. How are you fostering partnerships by this treatment? Literally half of the audience got up and left the room at hearing such insulting treatment. It systematically ended the meeting.
Not only was it a disrespectful way to treat people and a disregard for their time; unfortunately this effort to train SLT's did little more than provide information already available and being utilized and offered nothing in the way of guidance and direction.
Dina Ingram
PS 79Q
Hey Jane
I just went to a SLT training this morning....almost silly, or even stupid..they gave out a hand out, read it to us and we were done. The info really could have just been emailed to the member. Thought I'd let you know.
I know this is long but a pretty complete story of the event of the training.
Jane Reiff D25

---Original Message-------
From: Jim Devor
Date: 11/19/2007 4:07:48 PM
Subject: [nyceducationnews] Re: Required SLT Training

As someone who pushed VERY hard at the "parent engagement" task force
for mandatory training (indeed, it was MY idea to condition receipt of
the stipend on attendance at such training), I am very distraught (but
not altogether surprised) at your report.

Please give me more details as to what transpired (e.g., who was the DOE
attorney & the length and contents of the handout). With your
permission, I want to forward your report as well as your reply to

This is not what I spent spring and summer afternoons working for. If
Tweed can't or won't do adequate training, I would very much like to see
it done by parents, teachers and administrators who have the capacity
and motivation to get the job done.
Jim Devor, Acting President ANYCEC

George Schmidt on Shankerism, Standards and Accountability

In the face of "standards based instruction" we have the alternative of establishing humane and democratic goals and objectives for public schooling (I'd suggest the primary ones being equity in access for all through at least college) or some kind of "data driven" numerical point to establish an "accountability" standard. Ravitch, Feldman, Shanker, and William Bennett (to name just a few) all agree with the Business Roundtable and everyone else in the ruling
class (and their enablers) that we have to have a single numerical way to measure the "success" or "failure" of a school, a student, a teacher, or (as we're seeing in Illinois and Chicago) an entire school system.

Since the ultimate goal of one wing of the "standards based instruction" crowd has long been the replacement of public schooling through a voucher system (or the massive establishment of charter schools) under a dictatorial governance model like the one that destroyed public education in Chile, this has to be done stealthily.

If Ravitch and her colleagues don't know that any numerical control system over schools -- whether NAEP, the New York State systems, or the Illinois IGAP and Prairie State exams -- is going to correlate with poverty top to bottom, we can't even have the debate. Ultimately, what they achieve is to identify "failing" schools as those which are deprived of social and economic resources and almost exclusively serve the poorest children (usually, but not exclusively,
children of color) in the poorest communities (usually, but not exclusively, in urban areas).

Their two decades long demand for "standards and accountability" has thus been a diversion from a campaign for economic and social justice for the children of the poor.

That has been an incredible achievement, from a policy perspective, and on the road to establishing that replacement agenda, they required a lot of collaboration from the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers. In fact, I'd say that without Shanker and his successors both in New York and in Washington, D.C., the destruction of the equity agenda would have been impossible. That's one of the most significant legacies of Shankerism both for public education and for the American union movement. The damage to the working class (and the
poor beyond the working class) cannot be estimated. As we all know, "spontaneous" acts of resistance can either be ignored or crushed by the ruling class, at will or whim. If they are sadists, they crush. If they are trying to be liberal, they just ignore. Either way, what they fear is organized power, and once Shanker began the retreat of the unions into complete collaboration, everything else we've suffered throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s flowed
"naturally" in the direction of Jack Welch's models of "accountability" and management, internally, and the fascist "Mayor Control" model (only for cities with large black or other minority populations and unions with something of a militant
history) of school governance.

I'd love to continue this debate with Ravitch and anyone else, based on the flaws in her NAEP and other "Model" tests, on the one hand, and a very detailed social and political history of corporate "school reform" on the other.

I'm beginning to blog on these things in Chicago by referring to corporate school reform as "corporate Stalinism" for want of a better label. I began using it yesterday responding to a fatuous story in the Northwestern University newspaper touting John Ayers's comments on charter schools and "choice." John Ayers is brother of Bill Ayers, about whose corporate reform work people need to know more.

For the present moment (and also in a tribute to Naomi Klein's insights into what's been done to New Orleans public schools), we can follow the career of John Ayers (and the boys' father, who, as you may know, was president of Commonwealth Edison -- the electric company -- here in Chicago for a decade and one of the major architects of the "Chicago 21" plan, the predecessor of "Renaissance 2010"). John Ayers is now working for the "Charter Authorizers" group which includes many of the Chicago Boys and Girls (it's headed by Gred Richmond,
who worked inside the Chicago hierarchy pushing charter schools into the "accountability" and "choice" mixes).

Well, it all goes back to whether we hold an unjust society accountable for depriving the poorest children of equity at the starting gate, not just in education but in welfare, housing, and health care. Or we focus the attention on corporate "school reform" and attack children, parents, teachers, and even ("first they came for...") principals once the rigged number are in to "prove" we've all failed at what we're doing.

Jack Welch, in this context, is even a bit player, and so are Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten. The class issues are so important that we can't let personalities divert us for long, tempting as the targets may be because of the odious fruit their various plantings have borne.

Solidarity forever,

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance

Tweedle Dum vs Tweedle Dee. A plague on both their data pools!

by Sean Ahern

Critics of the Bloomklein 'reform' use the NAEP results to refute the 'success' of Mayoral control but I think this sort of 'critique' leaves us chasing our tails and leads to no positive alternative model of accountability.

Those of us in the schools would do well to change the channel and create new bottom up systems and ethics of accountability. I think that would be "important".

This conversation is going on in many parts of the country but I fear the incessant chatter and noise from the pundits, union leadership and professional advocates that proliferate here in NYC and Washington DC in particular may be a distraction.

Diane Ravitch and the AFT/UFT are part of the testocracy regime. They harp on the discrepancy between federal and state scores but to what end? To advocate for additional Federal controls over curriculum, certification and accountability through testing? To secure their own special place as gatekeepers in a second Clinton administration? Would the tests be more valid if they designed and administered them?

There is a shibboleth much esteemed by the Shankerites, that public schools create the national identity and should be uniform, ignoring the fact that our "nation" is an internal empire under a white male supremacist oligarchy. Education here is hierarchical, segregated by race and class, unavoidably a battleground and rightfully so. Uniformity and standards is the language of social control, vastly overrated as beneficial to all by the managerial classes.

Top down accountability systems, be they Fed or SED, Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum, need to be replaced by a bottom up version of accountability where managers serve the people not vice versa.

Sean Ahern

Monday, November 19, 2007


Small schools graduate students w/ disproportional no. of lower grade diplomas – that will be ruled out next year.


November 19, 2007 -- New, smaller high schools graduated 20 percent more students than the citywide average last year, but a report charges that a majority of the grads earned low-standard diplomas that are headed the way of the dinosaur.

A comparison found that 10 New Century High Schools, managed by the reform group New Visions for Public Schools, graduated 78.2 percent of their students in 2006 while 10 similar public high schools graduated 60.6 percent of theirs.

But the D.C.-based Policy Studies Associates' report notes that more than half of New Century's grads earned local diplomas, which require a score of 55, rather than 65, on five Regents exams - and which the state is scrapping starting next year. Only about 30 percent of the traditional-school grads earned local diplomas, the report says.

New Century supporters acknowledge the need to prepare more students to graduate with Regents diplomas, but they note that their schools are saving kids who would otherwise drop out.

Indeed, the report says 17 percent of the traditional schools' Class of 2006 left without graduating, compared to just 3 percent at New Century schools.

Eighty-three New Century High Schools have opened in the city since 2002, many of them on the campuses of large high schools dismantled after years of abysmal graduation rates.


UFT CANDLELIGHT VIGIL : Monday 5 PM : TWEED COURTHOUSE 52 Chambers St. ____________________________________________________________________________



























David Pakter, M.A., M.F.A.
Decorated by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in City Hall
I wish to speak today about an issue that affects the most valuable resource this great City of ours possesses- that is to say, the education of our children.
Almost two score years ago I entered the honorable field of Education because it was my conviction that all children, whether children of the rich or of the poor, and regardless of the color of their skin, are created equal and are entitled, not as a privilege, but as a fundamental human right, to be educated as equals.
And clearly for that high aim to be accomplished, teachers, who are entrusted with that noble mission, must be allowed and empowered to carry it out, free of any pressure from outside forces or groups. Free from political or any other special interest organizations which might harbor an agenda that is antithetical to the success of the above named mission.
Now we are engaged today, at a pivotal moment in the history of New York City, which will test whether those who love this great City will show the leadership, wisdom and yes- courage, to rise up as one and call a halt to the attacks upon, and scapegoating of, the tens of thousands of dedicated teachers of this City who have given their all to the children of New York and especially those countless numbers of teachers who have suffered grievous reprisals because they had the courage to speak out and report practices that were not in the best interest of New York City's children.
I am one of many such teachers, sometimes referred to as Whistle-blowers, if such a term is what people should apply to a person who simply takes upon himself or herself, the responsibility of recognizing his or her fiduciary responsibility of protecting our children. For that is the responsibility of every teacher in this great city.
Because I reported unethical, discriminatory, and yes- even illegal practices in the school where I had created a Medical program for highly gifted Minority students, I was viciously attacked, removed from my position of over twenty five years, and was banished to what have come to be known as the NYC Dept of Education's infamous "Rubber Rooms". I was exiled to a Rubber Room for documenting, on film, Federal Civil Rights violations and for refusing to surrender that filmed evidence.
And let us call these Rubber Rooms what they are- political gulags. Not that different from the political gulags that existed under Stalin, where people are sent who are perceived to be a threat to those who govern and control the system.
Thus, most of the innocent teachers Railroaded into the Rubber Rooms on trumped up charges, outright lies and perjurious statements that in a fair world would merit jail time, are not a threat to the children they teach. But on the contrary, rather a threat to the brute, naked, bullying power of those who consign those countless innocent teachers to the infamous, often dark, windowless Rubber Rooms that have been set up all over New York City to warehouse teachers that stand up and speak out in defense of the children they are duly sworn to protect.
The Rubber Room gulags of the NYC DOE, are set up as a cautionary warning to other teachers everywhere to keep in line, eyes front, lips kept tightly closed, never volunteering an independent thought or creative idea, never saying anything that might be construed as a criticism or even a suggestion that something might be done differently- or done better.
Welcome to the dark world of George Orwell. Welcome to the modern version of Dante's Inferno. Welcome to the Rubber Room gulags of the NYC Dept of Education, where teachers, removed from their schools, report and sit each day, sometimes for years, awaiting their teacher trials that can end their career.
The message of the Rubber Rooms is that no teacher should have the audacity to
question the authority of their so-called "supervisors", principals and assistant principals, who over time, have aggrandized such unlimited power in their hands, that they can destroy even a highly decorated teacher's whole career, virtually with complete impunity. Even a "Teacher of the Year", even an educator honored in New York's City Hall by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a candidate now running for President of the United States, is no longer safe from attack.
All the safeguards, both engendered in common labor law practice and even the rights and safeguards contained in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights no longer seem to apply to New York City's teachers once they pass through the school house door. This is the state of affairs that exists under the current NYC Dept of Education as controlled by Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq.
Who is this Chancellor? A former Washington, DC, Federal Prosecutor who never spent a full year in a classroom in his entire life. How is it possible, that in a City and in nation that contains so many celebrated career Education Experts, that a mayor would appoint such a person to head the nation's largest school system. A person so ill prepared to be a school's Chancellor, that the mayor had to seek and obtain a Special Waiver from the Commissioner of Education in Albany, so that he could be appointed to an office for which he possessed zero credentials.
And this schools Chancellor, named Joel Klein, Esq. has decided that what is needed to improve the school system of New York City is his own personal brand of what in essence is a "Reign of Terror" approach lifted directly from the guide book of the former President of a giant US corporation.
That is to say: 1) Eliminate all dissenters or anyone who questions anything. 2) Create a general ongoing climate of fear in the workplace and 3) Continuously keep removing/eliminating/firing large numbers of employees to keep the rest terrorized.
Now, we meet here today to condemn the final and most incredible outrage of all.
The final insult that has been perpetrated on the long suffering teachers of New York City, forced to work under an incompetent and dysfunctional Dept of Education that has gone to immense lengths to create, to manufacture, a climate of fear, a climate of intimidation, to silence dissent in the schools and ensure that teachers believe they are only safe if they pretend to be walking zombies that see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.
In a cynical attempt to further shift the blame for any failings in the NYC school system, away from Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq.'s incompetent administration, bursting at the seams with clubhouse hacks, political cronies, assorted stooges, expensive "consultants", and countless lackeys and hatchet men and women at the school level, the NYC Dept of Education has now hired a team of lawyers and former principals to help "build" cases against tenured teachers who they will attempt to portray as incompetent for the purpose of firing them from the school system.
It is the oldest political con game in political con game history. When things are not going well or going right, find the nearest available scapegoats at hand and shift all the blame and responsibilty upon that group. Who better to blame for all the failings of his current policies and administration, than the almost 100,000 dedicated educators of New York City?
In fact, Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq. initiated his war against the hard-working teachers and loyal members of the United Federation of Teachers from his first day in office.
For Mr. Klein, Esq., the very idea of organized labor is repugnant. Perhaps, he imagines that in the back of every teacher's weekly plan book, is a communist manifesto, that speaks of worker rights. And/or, God forbid, a copy of the United States Constitution and The Bill of Rights that speak of inalienable rights and due process.
No one could ever doubt for a moment that Mr. Klein's concept of "due process" is a blindfolded teacher standing at the end of a ship's plank and being asked by one of his countless lackeys: "Do you prefer to jump or be pushed- the choice is yours ?"
Mr. Klein, Esq. identified who would serve as his convenient scapegoats early on. New York City's dedicated teachers.
The story of the world, the long history of people on this earth, has been the history of what may be called "Tipping Points". Points where the delicate balance of human events makes it clear that things will go one way or the other.
After years of teacher bashing and teacher blaming, after years of Whistle-blower retaliation and the consigning to Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq.'s Rubber Room gulags of any and every teacher on some incompetent administrator's shortlist of convenient teacher scapegoats, we say now finally today- in a loud and clear voice- "enough".
We say "enough" to the bullying, "enough" to the retaliation, "enough" to the shredding by Mr. Klein's countless lackeys, of the simple human dignity of tens of thousands of hard-working UFT members. We say "enough" to Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq.'s Reign of Terror perpetrated over the tens of thousands of selfless educators who have devoted their lives to the children of this great city of New York.
We say "enough" to the madness of having to be bossed and berated by a Chancellor who has not a single credential, legal, moral, experiential, or otherwise, to be the head of the nation's largest school system of over a million children,- a million children Chancellor Klein did not want his own children to share a lunch table with or drink at the same school water fountain.
We hard-working teachers of New York City, we loyal UFT members, will no longer suffer the indignity of being used as the scapegoats for the abysmal failure of Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq. and the NYC Dept of Education to address and confront the real issues and the real problems that exist in the Public Schools of New York City.
Shall we start with the inhumanly over-crowded classrooms that are both underfunded and under supplied as just one of the thousands of real impediments to New York City's children getting anywhere near the type of quality education Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq.'s own children enjoyed via their elite private school education.
We say to you Mr. non-credentialed Chancellor Joel Klein, Esq. the following:
Stop making thousands of dedicated NYC teachers the Scapegoats for your own failures.
Cease the obscene and illegal war against New York City's most senior, experienced teachers.
Halt your obscene Gestapo scare tactics intended to intimidate, harass and retaliate against Whistle-blower NYC teachers who report wrongdoing and corruption in your NYC Dept of Education.
Stop passing the buck and lower class sizes so NYC children have the same fighting chance to learn, -as your own children had, attending elite NYC private schools.
Stop squandering millions of tax payer dollars on yet more schemes to deflect the public's attention away from your own incompetent failures.
Be a Legend in your own mind, somewhere else, so that a real education expert Chancellor can come in and begin to clean up the mess you have made of the NYC Public Schools system.
Nearly one hundred thousand hard-working, dedicated NYC educators are mad as Hell and we are not going to take it anymore. Our patience with your unbounded Ego and Hubris grew thin quite some time ago
The people of New York City can spot a phony a mile away. And you do not need to create another $ 1,000,000.00 Search Committee, made up of lawyers and former Federal Prosecutors to find out who is incompetent on the job. A seventy nine cent mirror from Duane Reade, will more than do the job, Mr. Klein.
Will people be able to say you left an indelible "mark" on The New York City Dept of Education, when you are gone, Chancellor Klein ?
I believe we all know the answer to that question already, right now.
But is not a grade anyone would wish to take home and show to his Mother.
We are professional teachers who have given our all to the children of this great city.
You will not make us the scapegoats for your own failures Mr. Klein. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
Unlike your administration lackeys and thugs, we build people up. We do not tear them down.
We are New York City's dedicated teachers.
Our mission in life is to create hope where there was hopelessness. Not kick people when they are down.
We are New York City's dedicated teachers.
Our mission in life is to build healthy, suuccessful and productive futures for New York's children. Not terminate people from their jobs, make them lose their homes and livelihoods and throw them in the street.
If the Police Officers of this great city represent " NEW YORK'S FINEST "
And if the Firemen represent " NEW YORK'S BRAVEST "
Then the Teachers of this city represent " NEW YORK'S MOST DEDICATED "
We UFT Members are New York City's proud and dedicated teachers.
Our mission in life is the most important and far reaching mission anyone could ever have on God's earth and under God's Heaven. We are dedicated to improving and positively affecting the future. Not destroying the futures of New York City's most dedicated servants.
We are New York City's teachers.
We know who we are Mr. Joel Klein, Esq. We are the proud teachers of New York City. We are the UFT. We were here long before you. And we will still be educating, nurturing and protecting the more than one million children of New York City, long after you are gone.
David Pakter, M.A., M.F.A.