The call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad.

Today we start a week of ISAT testing. I’m just sayin’.

In New York, Bloomberg is threatening to layoff thousands of teachers. Some schools would lose half their faculty.

Union leaders dismissed the layoff document as a scare tactic from Bloomberg, who last year called off planned teacher layoffs.

Teachers union President Michael Mulgrew – who supports the current seniority rules – rejected the projections as “fear-mongering from Mayor Bloomberg” and “irresponsible.”

“With a $3 billion budget surplus, he doesn’t need to do layoffs at all,” Mulgrew said about the unexpected boost in tax revenues.

Says JD2718:

He is trying to line up political support and public opinion against seniority. It is a fraud because layoffs are not necessary. The money is there. He wants this crisis.

Says NYC Educator:

This is a man who’s made his motto “Children First.” How does he put children first? Apparently, by letting them know precisely which of their teachers are to be fired. Likely he will explain how getting rid of an objective layoff system will reduce the layoffs–by targeting higher-paid teachers he will be able to retain a higher number of them.


Innaharda, ehna kullina Misryeen! “Egypt is NY!”

I was down on the floor doing my morning crunches. I don’t usually watch Morning Joe on MSNBC, but I was hoping to see some pictures from Cairo. Instead I heard Chris Matthews say he was ashamed to be an American because we are deserting our friend.

His friend is Hosni Mubarak.

Whether or not the US is deserting Mubarak remains to be seen. But I watch the Egyptians, maybe a million, in Liberation Square, and I know that they are my friends.

Not that old dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

Matthews can see young people in the streets, risking death for freedom on the one hand, and see an old tyrant of 30 years on the other?  And then identify with the tyrant and not the young people?

Innaharda, ehna kullina Misryeen!

Today, we are all Egyptians.

In Fort Greene, Brooklyn a crowd of several hundred students and families chanted and sang out in the cold as panel of Mayor Bloomberg’s friends voted to close 12 more schools.

The NY Times says that closing schools is the signature policy of the Bloomberg administration. What a legacy!

The seven-foot, blue-eyed beaver mascot in a red Jamaica High School sweatshirt bobbed his head above teachers and parents chanting, “Whose schools? Our schools!”

Many protesters said they knew that their shouting would not change how the panel voted.

Above them, a 12-foot-high JumboTron screen, set up outside Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, broadcast rock-music video montages of past protests to a crowd of hundreds. 

Students blew whistles, rang cowbells and shouted, “Save our schools.” Christopher Martinez, 16, held up a sign with the words “Egypt is N.Y.,” in a nod to the continuing pro-democracy protests there. “We want to show that our voices can be heard here, too,” he said.

What if the NYT printed the Pentagon Papers in 1980?

Monday’s NY Times printed a great expose on the ruinous Bloomberg and Klein testing scam.

Too bad they decided to put a reporter on it now.

It’s like putting Woodward and Bernstein on the Watergate break-in five years too late. Or printing the Pentagon Papers in 1980. Five years after the end of the Vietnam War.

What is troubling now is that in response to the criticisms of the way Bloomberg and Klein used inflated test scores to justify using inflated test scores to measure everything from kids to teachers and schools, they are now making it more difficult for critics to pursue the data.

Leonie Haimson in NY Public School Parent:

So in future, it will be impossible for another reporter like the intrepid Einhorn to test the same bunch of kids with exams from two separate years, to prove how much easier they have become. Or for any parent to examine how flawed the questions may be. (Remember Brownie the Cow, the absurd questions on the 2006 4th grade ELA exam?) As though keeping the questions secret is the only method that can be used to keep standardized exams stable over time!

Sorry, NY Times, this article is too little and too late. Years before, when Bloomberg was pushing to retain unilateral control over our schools based upon these inflated test scores, the paper of record owed it to its readers to inform them of these issues, and yet utterly failed.

Quote of the week.

Bloomberg and Klein.
Bloomberg and Klein.

Responding to reports that earlier test scores were inflated to demonstrate the success of mayoral control, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg said,

“This doesn’t mean the kids did any worse — quite the contrary. What this is simply saying is that we’ve redefined what our objectives are.”

“The public has turned on Bloomberg.”

NYC Educator links to this NY Daily News column by Juan Gonzalez:

Mayor Bloomberg has ignited a firestorm among parents and teachers with his latest move to shut down 19 more low-performing schools – including many of the city’s biggest high schools.

The hundreds who filled Brooklyn Technical High School Tuesday night to protest a vote on the closings by the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy sent a clear signal: The tide of public sentiment has turned against Bloomberg’s dictatorial school reforms.

Bloomberg gets what he wants. Vote at 3AM to shutter schools.

Last night, in the early hours of the morning actually, NY’s Mayor Bloomberg had his minions vote to close 19 public schools. Thousands had shown up at the meeting where the vote was to be taken, but only a hundred or so were left when the vote actually took place at 3AM. This, of course, was the plan.

JD comments:

So today or tomorrow our union will haul them into court. Is the UFT seeking an injunction?  To nullify the vote? Sometimes I know this sort of stuff in advance. Today, I don’t. Maybe there are details of the law that will help us.

And none of this is really a surprise. Except maybe winning the SI vote on the procedural delay (didn’t matter) and all four major boroughs on the big vote (last month I was sure about only Manhattan and the Bronx).

But at 3 in the morning it was mayoral dictatorship, and this morning’s sun is not (yet?) the dawn of a new day.

Bloomberg declares war on tenure and teachers’ union.

On Tuesday it is expected that President Obama will dramatically escalate the war in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 more troops “to finish the job” most Americans don’t believe can be finished.

Yesterday, NY’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, standing alonside Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, dramatically escalated the war on teacher unions. Ignoring the collective bargaining process and the laws of the state of New York, Bloomberg declared that he would act to make test scores the basis for New York public school teachers’ tenure and employment rights.

The NY Times reports:

The Bloomberg administration contends that it already has the power to use test scores in tenure decisions. But, he said that the Legislature should require all districts in the state to evaluate teachers and principals with “data-driven systems,” one of the factors Mr. Duncan will use in deciding which states will receive Race to the Top grants.

The mayor also said the state should allow teacher layoffs based on performance rather than seniority, as they are now. It is a particularly crucial topic now, because the city may face large budget cuts and potential layoffs.

How obvious that even the pro-Bloomberg Times knows that this action by the New York mayor of laying off more experienced and therefore more expensive teachers has more to do with budgets than it does with quality education. Only the union stands in the way of the Bloomberg/Duncan agenda.

And what will the union do?

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city’s teacher union, said he was “very, very disappointed” in the tone of the mayor’s speech.

He did not rule out filing a lawsuit once the details of the mayor’s plan have been fleshed out.

He said that using the test scores was a poor way to measure teachers, citing criticism that the tests have become too easy, with so many students showing large improvement that they have lost their meaning as gauges of learning.

“How do we constructively fix that instead of saying let’s play political agenda and propaganda?” Mr. Mulgrew asked.

There is a lot more wrong here than just “tone,” and it will take more than a lawsuit to fight this battle. And believe me, this is not just New York’s battle to fight.

Back to school. It’s getting close.

2322980809_f32fd7fd9bSummer break is heading for a close. It’s less than two weeks away for me.

Saturday morning we head back to the city.

The following week I meet the new teachers at an orientation session. We have another negotiating meeting on our contract. And then the following Monday we are back in the classroom. Kids on Tuesday.

I’m at that odd moment when I wish summer would go on forever on the one hand, and a sense of anticipation on the other.

Two NY Times stories caught my eye this morning.

One is on a report that over 200,000 public school students were the victims of corporal punishment. That means that kids were hit by adults. The main victims of the violence were special needs kids.

More than a few wonder if this is a benchmark number in the Race to the Top.

The other NY Times story of education interest is that Mayor Bloomberg wants to expand his policy of ending so-called social promotions to “make it harder this year for fourth and sixth graders who score poorly on standardized tests to move on to the next grade.”

The get-tough on social promotions experiment has failed everywhere it has been tried. But even the Times explains that it is just a cynical re-election ploy by Bloomberg.

The crassness of Bloomberg’s cynicism get worse says NYC Educator:

In addition, tests will be revised so that no one can possibly fail, since failing tests has been proven to damage self-esteem in children. More importantly, failing tests has been proven to upset the statistics Mayor Bloomberg sends to Arne Duncan, the ones that conclusively demonstrate that mayoral control is indispensable and must be replicated nationwide.

Bloomberg: Kish mier en toochis. The people need mayoral control like a lochinkopf.

20control.xlarge1The NY Times this morning reports that a war of Yiddish has broken out between Mayor Bloomberg and a group of NY state senators over mayoral control of the schools.

The law allowing the mayor direct control of the NY city schools lapsed in the state legislature. That followed several days of Mayor Bloomberg predicting disasters of biblical scale if he wasn’t given god-like powers to run the NY city school system.

On Friday, Bloomberg called the legislators who disagreed with him meshugenah. That’s Yiddish for crazy.

Sunday, a dozen state legislators held a press conference. “We would also say we don’t need a yenta on the other side of this argument and this debate,” they said. Yenta is Yiddish for a busybody.

They added, “We believe it would be meshugenah not to include parents in the education of our children,”