Sunday, March 21, 2010

Email 20 from JW


Some things to report, and some questions to ask if anyone knows the answers. Responses from a couple of people I've already heard from are included in blue.

Best regards,



IF ANYONE has some information on any of these questions, can you write back:

1. If you are part of a team doing the IEPs and you do not agree with the assessment, do you have to sign the IEP? I never did this before. Yes, I was once asked my opinion at a meeting, but I've never taken part in the final assessment. In fact, I may not have even known it was an "official" IEP meeting when I attended, it was so slip-shod.

"Page 2 of the IEP is for attendance at the IEP meeting. The rap usually given for signing this page is that it only means that these people attended the meeting. No changes in a students program can be made it it's an initial referral for sp ed services until the guardian signs another form. If it's a reevaluation, then some changes can be made without parental consent. The official line is that the IEP team collaborates together to come up with a recommendation for services at the IEP meeting. The team being everyone who knows the student. I don't think anyone is legally bound to sign page 2. Sometimes parents refuse. If you don't agree, you should try to have input before the actually meeting. Teacher reports should be given in writing prior to the meeting. If the case manager doesn't ask for it, just write something up and submit anyway."
[from Gloria Brandman – CL, former delegate, running with ICE-TJC for Elem. School seat on the Exec. Bd]

2. Let's say a lot of kids fail a particular class, like a Regents Prep class, and the school wants them to repeat it but they're prohibited by the code. I've heard that some schools actually change the class code and put the same kids into it, teaching them the same material. In some cases, the the code is entirely different from the subject the teacher has been told to teach. Has anyone heard of this before? I'm trying to figure out how widespread this is.
One teacher said in his large HS, the Regents prep class is not renamed or given a different code (except for semester 1 and 2) and kids can take it repeatedly when they need to, sometimes not for credit. (What a novel idea!)

3. Credit recovery. I know teachers are angry at this but was wondering if anyone out there in other boroughs is doing anything about fighting it. Someone has suggested that putting credit recovery as an After-School program (such as Sports and Arts) lowers the cost of teaching the kids and will naturally and subsequently lead toward the excessing of teachers. Does anyone have a take on this?

4. NYC School Survey. Does anyone have an opinion on whether we should be bothering with this? I am sure the serial no. ID they've sent us by mail is traceable (if they wanted to trace it), but for me that's no longer the issue. I no longer buy into any survey, report card, test result, or classroom observation done by any administrator, consultant, or staffer in the DoE, so I am wondering the value of bothering to take the survey.



A pretty succinct analysis of what's happening to us here in NYC came into our hands as a flyer at the Delegate Assembly (also available on line here). You may or may not agree with it's conclusion, which I'll say upfront is not mainstream: "A fight to defend public education requires a political break with the Democrats and Republicans and the bureaucratized unions that support them."

The first 75% of the article is nevertheless worth your solid attention, e.g.:
. . . Public education policy based on profit interests can be defended only by means of fraud. New York state test scores, which are used to determine which schools will close and which teachers will receive performance pay, have been deliberately inflated.

As a consequence of this Enron-style education accounting, students are pushed on without receiving a basic education, and a growing number of them leave the system entirely. The Community Service Society has estimated that there are as many as 200,000 New Yorkers between the ages of 16 and 24 who have both failed to graduate high school and are unable to find work.

The decimation of public education is a direct result of government policy designed by and for the corporate elite. The closing of comprehensive schools in favor of smaller schools was seeded by $51 million in funds donated in 2003 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During the 2008 presidential election, the foundations of Gates and fellow billionaire Eli Broad contributed $24 million to back candidates, including Obama, who favored charters, performance pay, and ending tenure for teachers.

This push for charter schools is not a matter of improving education, but rather reflects the drive by the financial elite to lay hold of the $500 billion in tax-derived education funding nationally, and $20 billion in New York City, for private profit. Ultimately, their goal is the destruction of public education through privatization. . . .



The notes I take at these events never compare with the comprehensive transcripts produced by Marian Swerdlow, mainly because in trying to get it down word for word, I always end up losing the last third of the sentence. But it's easier with Mulgrew than Weingarten, because he not only finishes sentences, but actually pauses after a period or exclamation point. In UFT oratory, there's been a sea change.

At any rate, MM told us "We have a mayor that's not an educator. We have a chancellor that's not an educator. And they do not understand." To Joel Klein: " If you have 20 schools failing, you should be unemployed."

He continued something like this: The mayor is threatening 2% or layoffs, but the UFT's not interested and will not engage in this discussion. The rubber rooms don't work, but Klein loves RRs because he gets so much press out of them. The UFT has one simple message: Follow the law. It's working on a solution to the RR but MM can't talk about the details. (JW note: see how AFT prez Weingarten views tenure and RRs on this YouTube clip.)

Mulgrew says he's asking the Albany for consistent standards statewide. The tests don't work, and the issue is not going away. Students' lives should not be judged on 3 hours, but that argument is being lost across the country.

"If we keep sitting back waiting for them to tell us what's wrong with our schools, we're foolish." He says every school should do a quick analysis. "We need this, this, this. What're you going to do about it?" When he asked the delegates whether this is a strategy they want, it didn't look to me as if they were much interested in making extra work for themselves. The applause was anemic. Everyone's beginning to notice we only go through the motions of protesting anything......

MM insisted that the message to Albany would have to be Get the Budget Done. There's a projected 1.2 billion cut to education statewide, and we need a significant portion of that restored. On the Mayor's threat of 2% or layoffs, Mulgrew thinks Bloomberg was trying to talk tough but was actually worried about the Jan.26th PEP meeting, which turned into a lengthy community event pitting parents against each other over charter schools.

According to MM, the UFT issues are class size, charters, and closing schools. He continued: "So Klein went to RRs, changing 3020a rules, and seniority layoffs."

[JW comment: In early Feb., the UFT, NAACP and some govt officials filed a lawsuit against the DoE for shutting down schools without following legislated procedures for community input. See the Parents Blog for and Daily News for more on this.
The NAACP's need to jump in on this prompted this comment from Norm Scott in Ednotes to say: "So much for BloomKlein, those great civil rights activists ,when the NAACP jumps in. Where is Klein buddy Al Sharpton now?" He's referring to the Education Equality Project (EEP) created in June 2008 signed by a whole host of EdDeformers, including Klein, Broad, Bloomberg, Canada, Broad, Moskowitz, Rhee, and yes, Al Sharpton. (Bios of some of the puppet masters are supplied by Angel Gonzalez here.) As the great national ed activist Susan Ohanian says: "Lacking any shame, Klein claims they are building a civil rights movement. The co-founder is Al Sharpton." She then posted an email she received from Joel Klein asking her to sign up with EEP on Facebook. What a hoot.]

Mulgrew reported that local school systems across the country were taking big knocks from their politicians and were looking to him and the UFT for help. [Double hoot.] He actually had the gall to say "I don't see anyone out there trying to change the conversation" – which in my mind means that the union has turned a deaf ear to everything the oppositional caucuses have been saying for years now . We have been trying to change the conversation, and UFT management has successfully marginalized all of our efforts.

Mulgrew then took credit for changing the arguments, saying we need transparency of funding in charter schools, fairness for all students, we don't want people making profit. He said he knew his points were valid because a group of charter school teachers said the UFT was right. He said teachers unions across the country are on the defensive in a reactive way (e.g., in San Diego, 4000 layoffs, 7% cut in salary, HS classes to 40 on register). We need to wake our membership up, not just scream NO! but say: "This is where education goes." We're at a crossroads. By the end of the spring, the UFT has to have a vision. There are no other locals doing it." [JW: The "it" here is unclear: Having a vision, or plain collaborating.]

As far as the Delegate Assemblies go, I'm still upset that the UFT is holding them at 52 B'way, which doesn't have the room to house all the delegates. They are now putting part of the membership upstairs and tuning into them occasionally with interactive AV equipment. This is crazy. An assembly cannot act like an assembly when parts of it are dispersed. But then again, an assembly cannot act like an assembly when they do not have the free will to vote the way they might want.



Mulgrew's speech involved how much we were there that day "for the children," "to give the children the education they need." I'm into that, but I'd wish we were lobbying for our profession as well. We're getting the life kicked out of us as educators, and the UFT is saying it's there for the children.

Mulgrew introduced Majority Conference Leader of the Senate John Sampson, saying that Sampson was the one that made the lawsuit possible. He remarked: "Aren't we lucky to have such good people?" My answer to his rhetorical question is that Sampson was not for ending mayoral control, which has got us where we are.

This in the Daily News:
"Under Bloomberg's leadership we have made strides," Sampson said. "But we want to enhance those strides. That’s all we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to prevent the mayor from having control of the Department of Education, because, as anyone else, if I was the mayor of the City of New York, and I’m responsible for educating 1.1 million children, I too would want to have control over that."

So as we watch MM making up there making nice to Sampson and singing his praises, we might well re-read TOFT's comment back in July in Ednotes:
"Sitting at the table up in Albany and making compromises with politicians often ends up with them directing the battle. It's so easy to think that sitting with those considered powerful means you will have an impact, but we believe that needs to be carefully evaluated to see if your goals are being furthered or hampered."

Mulgrew also told us: "We need to tell the lawmakers 'We'll be there for you. You don't do the right thing, we'll run the bus right over you.'"
Really? You mean like the way UFT acted when it decided not to back either candidate in the mayoral race? That helped the city a whole lot, and gave us a whole lot more of the torturous same.

I wrote down other quotes, but honestly, you could google "politicians" and "platitudes" and come up with the same remarks.



"The UFT has fought for and won a waiver giving teachers of Advanced Placement courses permission to apply for positions grading AP exams and for related positions. . . .
With approval from their principal upon completion of an OP-201 form, teachers will now be allowed days of non-attendance with pay as AP readers and will also receive a stipend for their work. AP readers from secondary schools must currently teach that specific AP course in a face-to-face classroom setting and have at least three years’ experience teaching it, with certain exceptions. Applications are available on the DOE’s Web site.



I threw out the envelope this came in, but the two items have the Green Dot and the UFT logo in the heading. Perhaps someone can explain to me why if Green Dot is allowed to advertise its openings through the UFT, then why not Bronx Science and Stuyvesant, among the other 1,600 separate schools in the city?

The union can't fight successfully against school closings when they openly favor charter schools.


Dear colleagues,

I’m running with ICE/TJC for the UFT High School Executive Board, and I’m asking for your vote.Given events of the last few years, like the disastrous 2005 contract, the union’s support of mayoral control, the erosion of seniority rights, the advent of perpetual lunch duty and hall patrol, and the inability to grieve letters in a file simply for their being incorrect, I’ve determined there’s a need for a new voice in the UFT.

I’d like to be that voice.

Unity is an invitation-only caucus that’s controlled the UFT since its inception. When people join, they agree not to vary from Unity positions in public. Whatever Unity tells them to say, they say. Essentially, it’s a loyalty oath. In recent times, many of Unity’s decisions, like those listed above, have not benefitted working teachers.

There is another caucus called New Action. It supports the top of the Unity ticket, pretty much guaranteeing more of the same. It was once an opposition party, but in 2003 Randi Weingarten bought them off with patronage jobs and a few seats on the UFT Executive Board. With your help ICE/ TJC can claim those seats and bring real independent voices and thoughts to our union leadership.

If elected, I will be your voice not only here, but also on the UFT. I will not support measures that hurt working teachers, or any UFT members. I will vigorously oppose measures that appease Bloomberg and Klein with vague promises of benefits to come. Such measures have not served us well.

I will fight for a fair contract, for professional treatment, the retention of tenure, and the concept that a raise means more pay for doing the same job—not for extra time, extra duties, and fewer benefits and privileges.

Please check ICE/TJC on your ballot. Vote for a change in the UFT.

After 50 years, it’s time.

Best regards,

Arthur Goldstein, UFT Chapter Leader

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