Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Just in case teachers needed another reason to despise Governor Andrew Cuomo, it looks like the Governor is now trying to be the savior of mayoral dictatorship of New York City schools.

This is from the NY Times:

ALBANY — Acting to avert a leadership crisis in New York City’s schools amid a legislative stall in the Capitol, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo intends to call a special session of the State Legislature as early as Wednesday and introduce a bill that would extend mayoral control of the city’s educational system for one year.

The session would be focused on granting Mayor Bill de Blasio another year of control over the city’s schools and their 1.1 million students, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations. The law giving the mayor that power expires after Friday.

It is frustrating that the politicians are going out of their way to save something as unpopular and undemocratic as mayoral control.

Monday, June 26, 2017


One of the rewards for messing up the public schools in NYC is that new opportunities are always available.

This came from Jeff Kaufman this morning.


The America-Israel Friendship League announced on Sunday that Joel Klein will serve as its new president.

Klein replaces Kenneth J. Bialkin, who has served as both chairman and president of the organization since 2013. Bialkin will remain as AIFL chairman of the board, a position he has held since 1995. Klein is currently the chief policy and strategy officer at Oscar Health, and he previously served as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, where he oversaw more than 1,600 schools, with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees and a $22-billion budget.

“I am honored to join AIFL, an organization that does so much to broaden public knowledge of, and support for, Israel,” Klein said.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


One of the unwritten rules in the Unity Caucus (ruling political party of the UFT) "handbook" is to never ever admit an error in public unless it is a year or two or three after something happens and then only to prove that Unity has improved things because of a mistake they may have made a year or two or three ago which really wasn't a mistake.

Gene Mann is a retired teacher who is an organizer for the UFT. He is a decent guy but he touts the Unity line word for word. Gene writes an online piece called The Organizer which we have quoted on a number of occasions. It is one of the places where sometimes we can discover some Unity thinking. This week's version was astounding as Gene puts in writing that he didn't handle a situation well. He then publishes a letter from UFT Middle School Vice President Rich Mantell calling for real solidarity. In over two decades of activism, I have never seen two pieces like the ones below from anyone in Unity Caucus.

From the June 27, 2017 Organizer:

Be Sure To Read
I publish the letter below from Rich Mantell, UFT Vice President for Middle Schools partially to reproach myself.
         Specifically there was a disturbing incident recently at one of “my” schools.  A teacher received a vile and threatening, anti-semitic challenge from a student.  The school, instead of supporting the teacher and seeking appropriate discipline for the student, turned it all around.  The fault was all the teacher’s-poorly formatted lesson plans, no doubt.  The priority was keeping knowledge of the incident from coming to the District Representative.  The teacher was upbraided in front of the principal by some of her colleagues at an ad hoc department meeting.  They were no doubt scoring points with the principal while ganging up on their fellow.  Two teachers who refused to participate in this group assault passed the word on to me.  I took it up with the Chapter Leader alone.  I didn’t even talk to the affected teacher, who clearly didn’t want to. The day after my visit the good guys were questioned by the principal: How did Gene Mann find out what had occurred?
         Connect the dots.
         On my next and last visit to the school I should have ripped into the sycophants.  I demurred, telling myself I would only be causing more harm to the “upstanders,” as we call them in the anti-bullying work I do for Child Abuse Prevention Services on Long Island.  I have regretted my reticence.  Then, I was privileged to read this on FaceBook:
Dear Colleagues,
As professionals and union members, we must collectively fight these tactics but also seek to improve communication and relationships with supervisors. It’s not always possible, of course, because it takes two willing partners to form a healthy relationship.
Granted, teaching or working in a school is not a job for everyone. Every profession has those who, perhaps, are not suited for that particular career. However, no member deserves to be poorly treated at work, and, simply put, it should never happen nor should we accept it. We have protocols in place and a contract to help each other. An attack against one of us is an attack against all — that’s the basic premise of a union. By banding together, supporting each other, we can turn things around.
Unfortunately, some turn their heads.
Our members who have faced abusive work situations tell us that they didn’t start to panic until their colleagues ignored their plight or took the administrator’s side. That’s when they felt alone and isolated, began to hate going to work, became despairing and, sometimes, suffered physical illness. No one wants to be a pariah; it takes a terrible toll. I know of some who left a profession they loved rather than endure the situation.
Too often, administrators persuade other staff members to side with them, knowing full well the import of looking justified in their behavior. Too often, others want to curry favor with a superior. They kick someone who is down, instead of supporting them, to receive favor from a power-that-is.
Dr. Heinz Leymann, a Swedish psychologist, identified this concept as “mobbing,” or "psychological terror" by one or a few individuals toward another. Bad-mouthing, criticism, spreading rumors and ridicule are but a few examples of mobbing. Mobbing is led by an individual (a principal or other supervisor) who encourages others to abuse a victim. The target starts to question who he or she can and cannot trust — almost all relationships come into question.
Leymann concluded that, in many instances, mobbing victims are “damaged to such an extent that they can no longer accomplish their task ... at the end, they resign, are terminated or forced into early retirement.” Sound familiar?
It is bad enough to be the target of an administrator and, worse, to be mobbed as well. To help our colleagues survive these attacks, we must recognize this kind of bullying when we see it.
First, don’t take sides with your boss. Avoid gossiping with supervisors about colleagues. The only purpose is to manipulate you.
Second, if you see a colleague mistreated, stand up for him or her and push back. Don’t spread rumors or gossip. It’s just as easy to support your colleague as to attack him. Next time, you could be the subject of that nasty rumor.
Third, if you know a colleague is having a hard time, be a stand-up person. Let him or her know they are not alone. Help them fight back against that recalcitrant administrator. Remember the 1961 Ben E. King hit song, “Stand by Me”? Do just that — stand by your colleague.
If you need a better reason than compassion, unity and solidarity, remember this as well: Next time, it could be you who’s running scared, who needs a friend and who needs support. What goes around comes around: You’ll be glad to have the support of your colleagues just the way you supported them.
In solidarity,
Richard Mantell
UFT Vice President for Middle Schools

My guess is there will be a comment or two on how Unity people have used "mobbing" on those of us who do not agree with them and how President Michael Mulgrew curries favor with administration or politicians at our expense so Unity does not practice what they preach. In my neighborhood we call that hypocrisy but I would rather focus on the substance here and try holding all of us to this standard as we move ahead. Rich Mantell provides very good advice. 

Friday, June 23, 2017


We not so boldly predicted yesterday that there would be a deal on mayoral control of NYC schools soon. The Assembly linking the issue to sales taxes for many counties makes it almost certain that the Legislature will be back in Albany within a short period of time. Mayoral control's renewal may be almost upon us as Republicans have new alternate certification requirements for charter schools they can point to in order to claim victory for the charter schools. They got something.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will gets school control; the counties across New York State get their sales taxes and the Republicans get a victory on charter schools.

The losers will be the students and teachers in NYC schools. So what else is new?

This information comes from Politico NY:

New York City’s charter school sector appears to have secured a significant victory in the 11th hour of the Legislative session Wednesday night, with a set of regulations that will make it much easier for large charter networks to hire more uncertified teachers.

The new rules fulfill a major legislative priority for the city’s most powerful charter leader, Eva Moskowitz, and Success Academy, her 41-school network.

The regulations may also clear a path to a deal on extending mayoral control of New York City’s schools, assuming the Legislature reconvenes later this week or next week, since support for charters proved to be the key sticking point between Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats as they wrestled with an extension of school control.

Thanks to reading Ed Notes on this topic, there is another fact we should consider: Mayoral control is not popular.

Read the result of these Quinnipiac polls via Ed Notes that asked this question:
"Do you think the mayor should retain complete control of the public schools or share control of the public schools with other elected leaders?" 
Those are pretty strong numbers against mayoral control but the politicians will continue to ignore the public. Again, so what else is new?

Thursday, June 22, 2017


The State Legislature left Albany last night "for good" for the year. Therefore, mayoral control of NYC schools is dead as of June 30 and we will go back to having some checks and balances in the school system on July 1, right? Well maybe not.

While this blog believes the end of mayoral control should be seen as a positive development because a Board of Education with one member appointed by each of the borough presidents and two appointed by the mayor might bring some desperately needed integrity back to the school system, we are still very skeptical that this will last.

More likely, mayoral dictatorship over the schools is kind of like Freddy Kreuger: dead but not really dead.
Freddy Krueger.JPG

From Wikipedia:
In 2003, Freddy battled fellow horror icon Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th film series in the theatrical release Freddy vs. Jason, a film which officially resurrected both characters from their respective deaths and subsequently sent them to Hell. The ending of the film is left ambiguous as to whether or not Freddy is actually dead; despite being decapitated, he winks at the viewers.

The State Legislature and Governor Cuomo are kind of winking at us this morning on mayoral control dying at the end of the month.

We have reported on some of the waste under mayoral control and how useless NYC's school governance system is. However, the politicians love it as Ed Notes pointed out on Monday. Ed Notes, aka Norm Scott, also spoke about the issue on the radio yesterday. Community school boards, with their power curtailed by the 1996 law the school system would revert to in July if the Legislature does nothing, are nothing to fear but I don't see them being reconstructed. Since the Assembly tied mayoral control to other local non-NYC issues, expect a mayoral control resurrection very soon in a special legislative session.

Read between the lines of this Albany Times Union piece which includes Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's statement on the end of the legislative session. Sales taxes in more than 50 New York State counties will expire later in the year because they were tied to the mayoral control bill the Assembly passed. The State Senate wants more charter schools in exchange for a renewal of mayoral control. This is a game of chicken. I can't see counties being denied their money. The ICEUFT Blog makes these not so bold predictions:

Mayoral control will only expire temporarily, if at all, as it did in 2009. Lawmakers will return to Albany in the near future for a special session. Taxes will be passed for localities; mayoral control will be renewed; the Republicans will get a tiny face saver on charter schools and/or some minor tweaks in the mayoral control law.

As usual when it comes to the government and many union leadership issues, I hope I am wrong and that Freddy Krueger, I mean mayoral control of the schools, is dead for good come July 1.

P.S., Talking Points:
When some ignorant supporter of mayoral control points out the increase in the high school graduation rate under mayoral control, simply point out that creating diploma factory high schools in NYC where teachers are pressured to pass everyone is not cause for celebration. Then, direct them to this piece that shows the ultra low CUNY community college graduation rates to prove how unprepared many of our graduates are for college.

If they are still not convinced, send them to the ICEUFT Blog June 20, 2016 post that sums up the results of mayoral control in a paragraph:

Is a suspect graduation rate worth all of the negatives that have come with mayoral control? What I see is higher class sizes, depleted school budgets, overemphasis on testing, the destruction of so many neighborhood schools, Absent Teacher Reserves shuffled throughout their boroughs, out of control patronage hiring, no bid contracts, a constantly reshuffled bureaucracy, lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers, scripted curriculum, one crazy teacher evaluation system after another and more.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


My friend and fellow blogger Chaz had a piece on Monday exposing Townsend Harris High School for putting an advertisement for a new teacher on Indeed.com. Clearly, Townsend Harris wants someone from outside the New York City public school system. Well, this is not unique.

Here is an advertisement for another Queens High School looking for two teachers from outside the system. This school doesn't even imply that they want someone from inside. They are direct.

This came on email.

"The High School for Something or Other" is seeking a 9th and 10th grade Social Studies teacher and a 9th and 10th grade ESL teacher for one year positions. Candidates should be new to the DOE, as these are one year positions. (bold added by me)

Interested applicants should be flexible, empathetic, collaborative and enthusiastic about teaching a project-based curriculum. The ideal candidates will be able to design curriculum that enables students with a broad range of abilities to succeed, learn, and sustain motivation.Bilingualism is a plus.

I won't expose the actual school to protect the innocent and not so innocent but you get the idea. Experienced teachers need not apply. Absent Teacher Reserves would seem like good candidates for these positions but instead they will hire new people and excess them after a year to add to the ATR pool. Is anyone minding the store?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Mayor Bill de Blasio and other politicians yesterday held what amounted to a desperate rally with union supporters in defense of mayoral control of the New York City schools. De Blasio's main argument is that costs would rise if we go back to districts. He neglects to mention that central Department of Education administration spending has skyrocketed during his tenure as mayor with mayoral control. Some central savings could go a long way toward lowering costs. Just finding some lost money might help too.

The mayor and Chancellor Carmen Farina were surrounded by union supporters at their rally. Noticibly absent was UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Mulgrew did make the following statement as reported by NY 1:

"Mayoral control should not be a matter for debate and doesn't need the UFT to defend it. We applaud the State Assembly for standing up for the city and its schools against the Senate’s attempt to politicize this issue."

UFT does not show up at the rally. That's good. However, the UFT is the one organization that could kill mayoral control but refuses to come out against it.

I think most of us who work in the schools (not our union's leadership) are hoping that the Republicans and their allies in the Independent Democratic Conference hang tough on inisiting on more charter schools in exchange for continuing mayoral control which would lead the Democrats in the Assembly to not make a deal because to their credit they don't want more charters.

If mayoral control ends and there are some real checks and balances in school governance, the winners will be the students and teachers in New York City schools. If there was real oversight from the borough presidents, who would control 5 of the seven seats on the Board of Education if mayoral control dies, integrity has a chance of being restored in our schools. I'm pulling for a stalemate in Albany.

As for the community school districts, don't fear them. The 1996 law on school governance curtailed the power of the local school boards. It seems only this blog is reporting this fact.

If I was the president of the UFT, I would ask the Executive Board and Delegate Assembly to empower the Union to expose the real corruption in the schools and urge our friends in the Assembly to let mayoral control expire for good.