NY school accountability officer flees from accountability.


There’s no accounting for Jim Liebman, NY school’s Chief Accountability Officer.

Jim Liebman is NY school’s Chief Accountability Officer and creator of the system that grades NY schools. He fled a meeting last night as parents tried to present him with 7,000 signatures on a petition opposing the grading program.

The NY Times

For three hours, council members sharply questioned the official who designed the system, James Liebman. His testimony was repeatedly interrupted by boos and hisses from dozens of parents in the packed room. Many of them held up fliers with the letter F printed in thick black ink, a sign of their displeasure that they aimed at the television cameras.

And more:

Councilman John C. Liu pressed Mr. Liebman about whether the grades were based primarily on a one-time test. Mr. Liebman emphasized that for elementary school students, there were two tests: one in math and one in reading. And he said that each test was drawn out over three days. But the lengthy explanation left Mr. Liu exasperated: “Is it or is it not one test?”

Without missing a beat, Mr. Liebman responded, “Life is one test!”

The room exploded with boos and hisses, while several council members tried to suppress their laughter.

And then he fled:

After Mr. Liebman finished speaking, several parents gathered outside of the council chambers with boxes filled with protest petitions containing nearly 7,000 signatures, hoping to present them to Mr. Liebman in front of the television cameras. But Mr. Liebman, whose title is chief accountability officer of the Education Department, ducked out a side door, leaving parents to chase him out the back of City Hall to behind the Education Department’s headquarters at Tweed Courthouse.

There, several education officials ran in circles for several minutes to avoid Jane Hirschmann, the director of Time Out From Testing, an advocacy group, as well as parents and reporters.

Job actions.


Nobody likes to walk a picket line in December.

The Elgin Teachers Association could take a strike vote next week if no agreement is reached between the teachers’ union and Elgin School District U46 at the next scheduled bargaining session, according to union leadership. Sun-Times

Teachers and educational support personnel with the Washington Education Association in Washington District 52 have been working without a contract since July 1st. With negotiations now in the hands of a federal mediator, members have gone public with their concerns.

Wearing black clothing and badges that read “Strength of the School – WEA,” about 100 union members attended the monthly meeting of the District 52 School Board on Monday night in the Lincoln Grade School gym. PJStar

YORKVILLE — The School Board Monday approved a 19 percent increase in teacher salaries over three years, ending months of negotiations that nearly led to a strike.

“We’re happy that we were able to continue the educational process without interruption,” said School Board President Dr. Robert Brenart. “That was to everyone’s benefit, especially the children.”

The district’s 309 teachers supported the contract almost unanimously, said Michele Michele Breyne. Sun-Times

Andy knows pathology.


Rotherham goes off on NYC Educator for raising questions about KIPP charter school junkets to the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

There’s so much you could say about KIPP schools (and we have) that have nothing to do with these beach parties management throws for selected staff. But it’s still worth pointing out, as several bloggers did, that the practice is questionable since the source money for these beach parties is not altogether clear given the lack of an audit (even their defenders are no longer claiming they were staff development opportunities as they originally did), that these schools are not private but run with public funds, that the founders claim to have some higher moral purpose than typical public schools, blah, blah, blah.

Andy is calling NYC Educator destructively pathological for raising questions.

I thought teachers wanted to be treated like professionals, says Andy.

This is the definition of what Rotherham considers professional. Certainly not professional compensation. Not professional voice in goals, process and expected outcomes. Not professional time for thinking, planning and collaboration.

But corporate style professional perks like swimming, golfing, boozing and Bahamian vacations. As if public schools were some before-the-dot-com-crash corporate start-ups.

If teachers want to work for KIPP, that’s their choice. But characters like Rotherham raise KIPP as a model to be replicated and to become what schools ought to look like.

That’s the pathology

UPDATE: NYC Educator responds to Andy’s “low-rent swift-boating” here.

Sunday links.


Fordham Foundation’s Mike Petrilli, a powerful policy wonk in neocon circles, thinks he’s figured out a way to further privatize the management of D.C. public schools, get around the separation of church and state, and bail out the multi-billionaire Catholic Archdiocese using public education funds–all in one shot. Small Talk

Think of all the computing devices available these days and all places you can buy them. Every shopping center has at least one “computer store”. And how many of those computing devices are we using to enhance teaching and learning? Just a question. Assorted Stuff

I see national testing as another nail in the coffin of a nation prized for being creative and innovative. – Debbie Meier Bridging Differences

Mike Winerip, one of our favorite commentators on education, is back in the NY Times today laying waste to the No Excuses argument, something anyone who spends 10 minutes in the classroom understands. Ed Notes Online.

Never mind that (Sean) Taylor was the son of a police chief who attended the same private schools as the Florida wing of the Bush family. The narrative of a young Black athlete dying by gunfire was too succulent to resist. The callous copy ran rampant, and this time went beyond Fox Sports Jason Whitlock’s easily dismissible, painfully predictable hot air. Dave Zirin

“J.F.K.’s speech was to reassure Americans that he wasn’t a religious fanatic,” Mr. Krakauer agreed. “Mitt’s was to tell evangelical Christians, ‘I’m a religious fanatic just like you.’” Maureen Dowd

“He told me my son has autism,” Alice recalled. “And I’m like, ‘What is autism?’ I hadn’t ever heard of that.”
The Chicago Tribune.

Three over coffee.


Chicago got hit by its first big snow storm this week. Three inches on the ground. Today started out sunny and cold. I started with a latte and a bagel at Peets.

The news of the split in Washington between the generals and the intelligence community on the one side who are not anxious for a war with Iran, and the Cheney-cons on the other, who are itching for WW3, dominates the morning’s political talk.

  • The KIPP apologists start lining up.

When the story broke in the NY Post about KIPP charter schools sending their staff people to (air quote) staff development in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, I just figured it was a bad PR mistake and they would back off of it quickly. And they have.

Eduwonkette makes a similar point.

But the KIPP apologists have decided this practice is actually worth defending. For example Joanne Jacobs:

I agree with Alexander Russo and Inside Schools: KIPP teachers work very long hours during the school year. If the school chooses to reward them with a trip to the Bahamas or the Dominican Republic, what’s the harm? It probably creates more teacher bonding than handing them a bonus check at the end of the year.

Work long hours (who doesn’t?). Rewards (you mean material rewards?). Bonus checks at the end of the year (you’ve got to be kidding!)? When was the last time you people were in a regular public school?

UPDATE: The claim by these apologists that the trips were paid for by private donations is challenged by a state audit that could find no documentation for where the money came from.

According to NYC Educator (although I wish he would have used a different graphic. The one of the Mexican from Treasure of Sierra Madre is offensive, at least to me):

KIPPsters claim donated private funds were used for the overseas staff development trips but according to the report “auditors could not determine if this was the case because donated funds were not accounted for separately from state aid.”

UPDATE: KIPP-Gate. The blog San Francisco Schools reports that the boozing staff development trips to exotic foreign locations are not isolated to NY. In SF, they went to Cancun. Ah yes. And all they wanted was to start some charter schools that will help make a better world.

My butt.

  • DFER brings back E.D. Hirsch. Why?

E.D. Hirsch is the man who in the 80’s popularized the dead, white, male canon. He provided us with what every so-called educated person needed to know in his massively publicized books. Now he has been brought back by your friends atDFER.

  • The storm ain’t over.

A NY Times article this week provides one more story about how Katrina still destroys lives on the Gulf Coast.

At least 46,600 children along the Gulf Coast are still struggling with mental health problems and other serious aftereffects of 2005 hurricanes, according to a new study by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the Children’s Health Fund.Many of these children are performing poorly in school and have limited access to medical care, according to the study, which combines government statistics with data collected by a group of researchers that has been closely following about 1,250 families displaced by the storm.

Tzimmes and borscht.


Minnesota Republican Senators say, “Throw out NCLB.”

Minnesota Senate Republicans said today they want the state out of the controversial No Child Left Behind law. They will take action even if it means the loss of $150 million in federal aid. Pioneer Press

Send a tax-deductible check to FairTest.

Brother Mike on Small Talk received a request from Debbie Meier to make a contribution to FairTest, one of the leading voices against the misuse of testing and the emphasis on high stakes testing.

Anne and I make our list of organizations we send money to in December before the tax deadline. FairTest is on our list. Yours too?

The KIPP version of staff development: A couple of days in the Bahamas.

My last staff development had us sitting in the south gym listening to some consultant talking about “difficult conversations.” Of course, the actual difficult conversation was the one where we would have asked what the hell he was talking about.

KIPP charter schools have a better idea. Send the staff to the Bahamas!

The NY Post reports:

KIPP, one of 52 schools nationwide run by the Knowledge Is Power Program, sent 49 staffers on a five-day trip to the Dominican Republic in June 2005 and 21 staffers on a five-day trip to the Bahamas in June 2006.
The school serves about 250 kids in the fifth through eighth grades.
The all-inclusive trips – covering airfare, hotel, food and booze – ran as high as $1,119 per person, the report said.

Math teacher Frank Corcoran, who attended a foray this year to the Dominican Republic, said formal meetings made up about 40 percent of the trip, but informal school-related chats dominated the spare time.
“So it feels like work even though people are walking around in swim trunks,” he said. “Everyone comes out feeling motivated and pumped up, whereas at the end of the school year you’re just burned out.”

Yes. I know the feeling. Well at least the part about ending the year feeling burned out.

I’m not familiar with the $1100 trip to the Bahamas, the meetings in bathing suits, the booze, the hotel room and the airfare. These must be the “make the world a better place” charters that Kevin Carey was talking about in the previous post. That’s “make the world a better place,” one junket at a time.

Tip of the hat to NYC Educator.

UPDATE: Russo doesn’t see what the problem is unless it gets “crazy out of hand.” When would that be, exactly? When the hotel rooms hit $2K? When public school teachers have to buy their own toilet paper, but public funded charters like KIPP are sending some staff members on junkets to the Bahamas, I’d say it’s out of hand.

With friends like this.


Creepy George Will.

I can’t really sympathize too much with The Quick and the Ed’s Kevin Carey. He complains in this post that anti-union wing-nuts like the creepy George Will make the charter movement look bad.

Says Carey,

(Will’s) kind of reflexive anti-teachers union commentary make things more difficult for everyone.

It’s true that there are places, like Los Angeles and Detroit, where teachers unions are actively on the wrong side of the charter school issue. But how do you write about charters, unions, and New York City without noting that the United Federation of Teachers has opened its own charter school?

Moreover, it’s simply not the case that a desire to evade dealing with unions is the principal force, or even a significant factor, driving people to open charter schools. A lot of the “burdens” they’re trying avoid come from adminisration (sic), not teachers. Mostly they’re just really motivated to create and run a public school, because they see it as a way to make the world a better place.

Oh please.

On the one hand it is absolutely true that there are charter schools that are good places for teachers and kids. But to make it appear, as Carey tries to do here, that charter schools with an anti-union, profit centered orientation are just an anomaly and don’t characterize a big part of the charter movement ignore the experiences of Ohio, Florida, California and Texas where these kind of charters run rampant.

Carey is quick to call out the LA and Detroit unions, but is full of excuses for the mess inside his own movement.

No surprise. IEA endorses Obama.

obamabarack.jpgIllinois senator, Barack Obama.

Coming as a surprise to absolutely nobody, IPACE, the political action committee of the IEA recommended an Obama endorsement, and the IEA Board followed the recommendation. While there appears slim difference in the Dem candidates on education issues, Obama is from Illinois and has, along with Senator Richard Durbin, close ties to the state leadership of the union.

The IEA has long argued for a two-party approach to local elections such as those for state legislators. They frequently endorse incumbent Republicans. But like the NEA, they support Democrats at the federal level almost exclusively.

The IEA has 128 thousand members statewide. For the first time ever, they refused to endorse a candidate in the governor’s race last time.

He thinks “choice schools” are like “getting laid.”

I haven’t blogged about Democratic Party Centrist Andy Rotherham that much lately. Frankly his stuff has been boring. But now Eduwonk has moved from boring to offensive.

I teach kids. I ponder and blog about education policy and practice. In all the world it would never occur to me to compare the issues I think about and the world in which I work as being similar to being at a bar trying to get laid. It just wouldn’t occur to me.

And yet.

At Eduwonk, Andy Rotherham hands his blog over to a guest blogger, Mike Goldstein (Goldstein has been a guest blogger for Rotherham before. Rotherham apparently approves of this sort of stuff). And Goldstein writes a post that compares different groups of charters operators, “Catholic schools. METCO. Pilot schools. Exam schools.” He says that in Boston, together they have a “30% market share.”

You might think it was the “market share” talk that I found offensive. But it gets worse than that. Much worse.

Complains Goldstein, this is like a bunch of guys at a bar “all going for the blonde.” The charter guys should cooperate more, says Goldstein (who, by the way, signs his posts “GGW,” which in true frat boy style stands for “Goldstein Gone Wild).

Quoting Russell Crowe from the movie, A Beautiful Mind, “That’s the only way we’re going to get laid.”

Cooperate more so you can get laid? That’s “Goldstein Gone Wild’s” plan for expanding charter schools?

Sounds like a gang rape.