Friday, October 25, 2013


Many of us who work in public education feel a strong sense of gloom and doom because of what is happening in the schools and in the country overall these days. The public, and the teachers in particular, have been completely shut out of so called school reform, which in reality is a corporate attempt to blame teachers for any educational failure.  The reformers want to privatize our schools.

Teachers go to work each day and live a nightmare of totally unrealistic demands being placed on us.  A great number of my colleagues have concluded that the situation is only going to get worse.

The big decisions on the direction of the school system for the next four years in New York City will be made very soon by a new mayor.  Unless something drastic happens in the next few days, that person will be Bill de Blasio, the current Public Advocate.

There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic.  Just look at some of the names being bandied about as the next potential Chancellor. Carmen Farina or Andres Alonzo are not names that are going to give beleaguered educators and activists much room for hope. However, maybe this letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposing some of Bloomberg's eleventh hour co-locations is cause for a little optimism. 

Letter From Public Advocate Bill de Blasio on Co-locations

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Chancellor Dennis Walcott Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott,

I am unsettled by your Administration's eleventh-hour efforts to push through significant changes to our City's schools that will result in negative consequences for some of our most vulnerable students.

As has been evident time and again, the Department of Education's co-location processes fall short of meeting the needs of parents and children.

The Department has repeatedly pushed through policies that carry significant impacts on communities across the city without sound educational plans for their long- term success. Many of the proposals being discussed at tonight's Panel for Educational Policy meeting regrettably continue that pattern, particularly in their failure to take into account overcrowding or loss of District 75 seats for our city's most vulnerable children.

While I write today to reiterate my call for a moratorium on co-locations and closures, I would like to draw attention to two proposals that exemplify the concerns of parents from around the five boroughs. By the Department's own calculations, the proposal to co-locate American Dream Charter School with P.S. 30 Wilton will cause the X030 building to reach 135 percent capacity when both schools are fully phased in during SY16/17. This will mean significant overcrowding for students. In a second proposal, the expansion of Success Academy Charter School (Harlem 4) with P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth and P.S. M811 Mickey Mantle School, a District 75 school will be forced to lower its enrollment.

Tonight the Panel for Educational Policy will review over 20 proposals, many of them which exemplify this type of poor educational planning. For that reason, I call on PEP members to vote against the proposals before them until we can put in place a more thorough and inclusive process.


Bill de Blasio

Public Advocate for the City of New York
CC: Members of the Panel for Educational Policy

There is a huge opening on the more progressive side of the political spectrum that de Blasio ran through to win the Democratic primary for mayor.  Is it possible he will govern that way? 

I would be much more hopeful if our union, the United Federation of Teachers, wasn't up to its neck in support for Common Core as well as rating teachers based on student test scores (junk science) and the Danielson Framework.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


In case you were wondering what I did after school on Friday, I raced on over to Martin Van Buren to attend their rally to stop the co-location of a new school in their building.  Co-location is the beginning of the end in many cases as space is lost, enrollments decline and the budget is cut which starts the death spiral. 

Hopefully the new mayor will have something to say about this in January.

Van Buren Chapter Leader on the left along with brothers Assemblyman David Weprin and Councilman Mark Weprin with Senator Tony Avella in the middle speaking

Students did a great job of mobilizing at Van Buren.  Great turnout particularly considering it was a Friday afternoon.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


The Annenberg Institute for Education Reform released a study last week showing that the New York City Department of Education disproportionately places Over the Counter students in what they call struggling schools.  This is about as surprising to people who work in high schools as saying that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Over the Counter students are those who register after the regular application and admission process has been completed.  These pupils tend to be, but are not always, more at risk of not completing a diploma in four years (for example: English Language Learners, Special Needs pupils, Students with Interrupted Formal Educations [they didn't attend school in their home countries], pupils who are overage and behind in credits, pupils living in poverty, young people who had been incarcerated, homeless, truants).

The report shows Columbus HS and Jamaica HS led the city's medium size high schools in Over the Counter Admissions from 2008-2011.  DUH!

I guess it's always nice to have some data to back up what everyone already knows: Our schools were set up to fail because we were given more at risk students to educate while at the same time supports were cut.

This is the unintended consequence of school choice.  When savvy students and parents select their schools, they fill up the prized schools quickly.  Everyone else is relegated to the schools that are left.

These remaining schools have a difficult time coping with so many at risk kids and then word spreads to avoid the school which then leads fewer students admitted through the regular process and more Over the Counter Admissions with no extra supports. This starts the downward spiral until the schools are eventually deemed failures and closed.

New schools that replace the old schools tend to take fewer of the Over the Counter kids so they have an advantage.  Over the Counter students go en masse to the next school targeted for closure until finally there will be no place to hide them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


UFT President Michael Mulgrew constantly tells us we must be on the same side as the parents.  I agree but when it comes to Common Core, it looks as though the parents are in a different place than our president.

It is kind of sad that our President doesn't recognize people like me and other like minded Delegates much because if he opened up the forum a little, an exchange of ideas would be helpful for our union.

Robert's Rules say people have to rise to claim the floor in a parliamentary style meeting but UFT tradition has always been to raise one's voting card and wait to be recognized by the chair at Delegate Assembly meetings.  Former UFT President Randi Weingarten used to make a minor showing about democratic protocol but current President Michael Mulgrew generally believes in one sided debate, an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Since his proposal on Common Core testing last week was much more controversial than he expected, he couldn't get away with his usual routine of calling on one or two speakers in favor of his policy and then having someone ask that debate be closed.  The usual policy on debate is a total violation of Robert's Rules.

I will concede that he actually called on two speakers who opposed his resolution last Wednesday to call for a moratorium on the results of high stakes results being attached to Common Core tests. Those two speakers made excellent points on why we need more than just a delay in implementing high stakes results for Common Core tests.  

However, President Mulgrew never called on anyone at all on my side of the hall where most of the people who form the opposition to Unity Caucus sit.

I had my card raised at the DA.  I wanted to talk about on why Common Core needs to be thrown out now.  I attempted to speak as a parent of a four year old and as a teacher.  This is what I would have said.

I oppose this resolution because it treats a symptom of a disease that is using tests for high stakes decisions while the unproven Common Core and Danielson framework disease rage on.

The excellent journalist Valerie Strauss had a piece on Common Core and young children back in January on her blog in the Washington Post that was written by Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, two early childhood experts.  The frightening part stated that Common Core for young kids may truly be detrimental to child development. This is from the Strauss blog:
The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative was signed by educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers, including many of the most prominent members of those fields.
Their statement reads in part:
We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children...The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades....
No research to support the Common Core Standards for young children and plenty of leading pediatricians and human development experts against it. 

The Joint Statement further states, "There is little evidence that standards for young children lead to later success.  The research is inconclusive; many countries with top-performing high-school students provide rich play-based, nonacademic experiences, not standardized instruction-up to age six or seven.

There is a lack of research at the upper grade levels too but Common Core looks highly inappropriate for young kids. We need more than a delay on using the results of tests that shouldn't be administered at all.

Even if this resolution for a delay in using the results of Common Core tests for high stakes decisions carried and was turned into law, teachers would then be evaluated totally on the Danielson framework for teaching.
Where is the research showing that this is the best way to evaluate teachers?  If one goes to the Danielson website, there is one study in support of Danielson.  Guess who sponsored it? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  I would trust that study about as much as I trust Michael Bloomberg or Dennis Walcott to do the right thing for public schools.

Danielson and Common Core have thin research behind them at best and yet we are staking our careers and our children's futures on both so we can get some Race to the Top peanuts. We should be opposing any system imposed on our kids and ourselves that is not fully research based and field tested.

A moratorium on high stakes decisions being made on flawed high stakes tests does not go nearly far enough.

I never had the chance to make those points as the president will not even look in my direction at the DA.

Overall, this was a very tough week for supporters of the Common Core Standards such as State Education Commissioner John King and NEA as well as AFT-NYSUT-UFT.  Parents are in open rebellion as the now famous video in Poughkeepsie shows.

The Daily News even reported on the craziness of administering Common Core tests to very young children. 

While my card gently weeps at the DA (sorry Beatles fans), the public tide is turning against Common Core and Commissioner John King. 

Mulgrew says we have to stick with the parents but will he join their opposition to Common Core? 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


UFT President Michael Mulgrew and his ruling Unity-New Action majority tried to have it both ways at last night's UFT Delegate Assembly.  Mulgrew and Staff Director Leroy Barr pushed a resolution to call for a moratorium on attaching high stakes to Common Core tests until we have curriculum and other supports in all schools. However, Barr and Mulgrew repeatedly emphasized the UFT's support for the Common Core State Standards and the high stakes tests for teachers and students that are attached to the standards.

This basically vacuous resolution to delay using tests to make high stakes decisions was motivated by President Mulgrew in his report and then by Staff Director Barr.  Their main argument is that we support Common Core and high stakes testing for students and teachers but there needs to be a moratorium in making the tests count for important decisions, such as rating teachers and students, until we have the proper materials in every school because it is unfair to students when some schools have new curriculum while others do not. 

These points in favor of a delay, while having some merit, were easily refuted by two opposition speakers because the resolution does not address the main disease, only one symptom.  First, Marjorie Stamberg tried to offer a substitute resolution but was denied by President Mulgrew, who repeatedly and rudely cut her off while she was speaking.  Marjorie persevered and the independent Delegate told the Delegates how poverty is the problem and the Common Core, as well as the tests attached to it, are the tools of corporations that are attempting to privatize education and break the unions.

Marjorie was followed by a Unity speaker who said something about how this resolution was part of solutions driven unionism and then Vincent Wojsnis from the Movement of Rank and File Educators rose from the room on the 19th floor (Delegate meetings are held on the 2nd floor of UFT HQ while overflow Delegates and visitors can watch on video from a room on the 19th floor) to shoot down the resolution.

Vincent's main argument is that the whole evaluation system is flawed.  He pointed out to "Brother Barr" that he taught for thirteen years without the Common Core and did just fine.  He then asked the UFT why their resolution did not go far enough to oppose the entire teacher evaluation system based on high stakes testing and Common Core.  He closed by stating that the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) had a petition for a moratorium on the whole evaluation system.  He received enthusiastic applause from more than a few Delegates.

His speech was followed by a Unity Delegate moving to close debate. The resolution carried in my opinion only because members of the ruling Unity Caucus sign a paper saying they will support the decisions of the caucus in union and public forums (the so called Unity loyalty oath).  However, there was little enthusiasm for the resolution and some real dissent in the hall.

The positions of the two parties within the UFT were crystal clear at the DA:  Unity-New Action support Common Core State Standards and the new teacher evaluation system so long as we have proper materials.  MORE and the vast majority of the UFT members oppose Common Core, high stakes testing, Danielson observations and the entire new evaluation system and want teachers to be evaluated  based on a solid research backed system that is voted on by teachers.

It is also worth noting that President Mulgrew didn't call on anyone in the section to his left during the discussion on evaluations, even though several Delegates wearing red MORE t-shirts were raising their cards to speak.  Since it was breast cancer awareness day and the UFT was encouraging people to wear pink, Mulgrew would only call on Delegates wearing pink.  Some MORE Delegates wore pink hats to get around his silly limit to democracy since MORE people were decked out in red to show solidarity and protest the entire high stakes testing based evaluation system before the DA. 

Unity-New Action may have won the vote but Unity needed their party discipline to have their way. On the other hand, MORE was organizing multiple Delegates who now want to distribute MORE literature to their schools.  MORE gained a great deal yesterday. 

Vincent Wojsnis, Mike Shirtzer and many MORE members and supporters protest against unfair teacher evaluation system at DA

The MORE sign 

(For an example on what the UFT should be doing, check out this link to an upstate forum where the movement against high stakes testing is growing among teachers, parents and administrators.)

Onward to the rest of the DA:

I came in a little late (I joined the MORE protest out front) but found that the attendance was a bit light for the first meeting of the year.  President Michael Mulgrew was talking about reorganization grievances and the importance of school safety committees when I arrived.
Mayor's Race 
Mulgrew said we can't get complacent when we look at the polls showing de Blasio way ahead.  A Lhota election would mean the continuation of Bloomberg's education policies.  Phone banks will be open starting on October 15.  We must elect de Blasio.
National Politics
A group in DC is now saying we want the government to default.  This will have a direct effect on us if we default and go into recession right when contract negotiations are starting. We need the economy not to crash. Mulgrew wants to see a face saving solution.
Referendum on Casino Gambling
There is a referendum on the November 8 to open up 7 new casinos in NYS (outside of NYC) that the UFT will urge members to support.  80% of the profits are supposed to go to education.
NYC Department of Education News
Parents are concerned about what it means to be a Level 1 or Level 2 student. The Chancellor said mailing out new curriculum to schools was the largest single mailing in DOE history.  DOE is getting worse by the day.
Lesson Plan Grievance
There is a Union Initiated grievance on lesson plans.  DOE is saying they are not mandating lesson plans but suggesting ideas.  Mulgrew asked for Delegates who were compelled to write lesson plans in a certain format to immediately get documentation to the Grievance Director. The President said that DOE is improperly using the Danielson Framework as the lesson plan can only be viewed in the context of the lesson. He also wants people to get information to the Grievance Director on curriculum maps, units of study and teachers being forced to design rubrics.
Evaluation System
We can't get two principals to agree on what the evaluation system should mean.  We need better working conditions and support.  Teachers are quitting at a faster rate than ever before.  Even after the mayor's election, it will take a couple of months to figure out which way the system will go. Mulgrew acknowledged the evaluation system is not going well now.  This is a pivotal time in our history.  He hopes the end of the Bloomberg era will be the time when we take back our school system.
Mulgrew's Trip to Ireland
The president reported that he was sent by the AFT to Ireland where some are blaming the depression over there on schools and discussions are going there like we had here five years ago with a non educator in charge of education.
Evaluation Resolution
Mulgrew improperly motivated the resolution on evaluations from the chair.  He said he was giving information and not motivating it.  We are only against tests when schools are not treated fairly.  The situation when some schools have curriculum aligned to the new standards but most do not is unfair so tests should not be attached to high stakes decisions for students and teachers at this time.
Panel for Educational Policy is trying to push through as many charter co-locations as they can before Bloomberg leaves at the end of the year.  We will have a new PEP in January.
Fact Finding
There will be one more hearing day in November.  DOE wants one more hearing after that.  The report will come back and then we will go into negotiations.  Mayor tried to change our health care but thanks to Arthur Pepper, he cannot touch our health care.
Leroy Barr reported that the Making Strides against Breast Cancer Walk will be on October 20.  Teacher Union Day will be on November 3 where we will celebrate the 1960 strike. Para Luncheon will be on March 15, 2014.
Question: Joe Lhota is attacking UFT.  What do we do?
Mulgrew Answer: Elect Bill de Blasio mayor.
Question: School already has no money in its budget so how can school function properly?
Answer: Principal needs to know how to manage budget.  The way the DOE allocates money by charging fees to use a public school while letting charter schools operate rent free is wrong. Work with the District Representative on this.
Answer even though there wasn't a question on special education: Principals and networks are calling UFT saying we are sending in too many special education complaints.  We will take them to court if they don't comply.
Question: How do we want to change the evaluation system in the next contract?
Answer: In negotiations, we want Measures of Student Learning that are project based like portfolios to show students are growing.  We will try to negotiate more options for MOSL into the next contract.
Question: Teachers being told to write goals for every student. What to do?
Answer: Get information to UFT Grievance Director.
A motion was raised by the UFT political director to support the casino referendum.  It carried and was added to the agenda where it carried.  Nobody spoke against although some Delegates voted against it.
Political endorsements: Letitia James for Public Advocate (finally), Melinda Katz for Queens Borough President, Eric Adams for Brooklyn borough President, and for City Council Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal and Paul Vallone.  All carried easily.
The other items were the casino resolution, the resolution on delaying the high stakes consequences for tests and finally there was another one on testing.  Time ran out after these resolutions passed and the meeting was adjourned.
For all of the Delegates who don't show up, MORE, particularly some of the younger people, were a real presence at the DA today.  Come out and show support.




Wednesday, October 09, 2013


The resolution below passed at the UFT Executive Board on Monday night.  To my eyes, it does not go nearly far enough to stop the madness that is occurring in our schools across the country, in general, and specifically in New York State and New York City. 

A moratorium on the high stakes test part of the new teacher evaluation system is a limited start but the UFT resolution says nothing about the punitive, required, multiple "gotcha" Danielson observations that are part of the new "Advance" teacher evaluation system and the UFT still praises the unproven Common Core Standards.

An immediate repeal of the whole evaluation system is what the UFT should be calling for along with further research to see if Common Core works.

Look at what is happening up in Syracuse where 40% of the teachers were rated developing or ineffective last year.  It could happen here in NYC too. The evaluation system called Advance must be put into full retreat and die if we are to start to win our professional dignity back. 

WHEREAS the United Federation of Teachers has since its founding been dedicated to creating
conditions in New York City pubic schools that enhance learning and help every child to achieve; and 

WHEREAS the UFT strongly supports the Common Core Learning Standards as a means toward 
ensuring that children in the city and across the country learn the critical thinking skills necessary for success in today’s competitive world; and ' 

WHEREAS the UFT has always held that teachers must be given adequate resources and professional development for the transition to the Common Core standards to succeed; and 

WHEREAS New York in the spring of 2013 administered new tests based on the Common Core before teachers and schools had even received currìcula aligned to the new standards, with the result that student scores plunged in New York City and across the state; and 

WHEREAS five weeks into the 2013-14 school year, many schools across New York City had still not received their new curricula aligned to the Common Core or had received them late, which is particularly problematic considering that the next round of state tests is to occur within a matter of months, in spring 2014; and 

WHEREAS it is harmful and unfair to children to give them high-stakes tests on material and skills which their schools have not had adequate time or resources to teach; and 

WHEREAS in New York City in particular a students scores on these tests can have life-changing
consequences, including possibly determining whether the student is promoted to the next grade; and 

WHEREAS in addition to the consequences for students, state tests count for 20 percent of a teacher's year-end performance rating under the new teacher evaluation and development system that was established by order of the state education commissioner this year; and 

WHEREAS the UFT continues to support having an evaluation system that bases a teacher's rating on multiple measures, rather than solely on a principals opinion; and that gives teachers a professional voice in their schools; and 

WHEREAS the UFT nevertheless holds that attaching high-stakes consequences to the new state exams at this time would be reckless and damaging to our public schools in light of the failure of the city to ensure that schools and teachers received adequate resources and professional development prior to the start of this school year; and 

WHEREAS, the UFT recognizes that the high stakes attached to New York State tests are a result of 
federal and state education laws as well as New York City Department of Education policy; therefore be it 

RESOLVED, that the UFT calls for a moratorium on attaching high-stakes consequences to state tests until representatives of all interested parties - including parents and educators - have worked with members of Congress, the state Legislature, the state Commissioner of Education, the Board of Regents and the New York City Panel for Educational Policy to carefully examine how well the new curricula, professional development and tests align to the Common Core standards; and be it further 

RESOLVED, that this moratorium will allow the state to continue administering the tests but will require that both the state and city pause in attaching to the test results any high-stakes consequences for students, teachers or schools until all stakeholders are assured that the system for implementing 
Common Core standards is working as it should to give our children the world-class education they deserve.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


Reality Based Educator is reporting that Bill de Blasio, the overwhelming favorite to be the next mayor of New York City, has been meeting with the business and media titans of the city.  Should we be alarmed that de Blasio is just another Democratic politician who leans to the left during an election campaign and then leaves working people behind after winning?

The amazing Diane Ravitch, leader of the fight for public education and a de Blasio supporter, doesn't seem to think we should be that concerned.  She published on her blog de Blasio's speech to the business elite.

I understand the skepticism of many teachers and other supporters of public education.  Public school teachers have been beaten down for a long time and haven't had too many victories in the last twenty years. 

We've heard the politicians talk and talk about supporting the public schools but our working conditions (student learning conditions) have deteriorated steadily. We want to think de Blasio will turn the situation around but we have been fooled in the past.

The most extreme example is Vincent Gray.  Gray ran for mayor of Washington DC against Adrian Fenty in 2010.  Gray defeated Fenty.  One of the major issues in that campaign was Fenty's schools chancellor,  Michelle Rhee, the most high profile public school teacher basher in the country.  Rhee came out during the campaign and actually said that Gray wasn't committed to school reform like Fenty was

She even took the blame for Fenty's loss in this interview published at the Huffington Post.  "O'DONNELL: Let me ask you personally because a lot of people say that Mayor Fenty who took on the -- along with you took on -- along with you -- some of the teachers and the union in this that you were part of the reason he lost. What do you think about that?
RHEE: Well, I think without a doubt.
O'DONNELL: right.
RHEE: I just want to be real about this."

What did Gray do when elected? He hired Rhee's deputy Kaya Henderson to basically continue Rhee's policies in DC.

One could argue convincingly that Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton by running to the left of Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008. Obama opposed the war in Iraq while Hillary voted for it. On the issue of education, supporters of the public schools were all excited after the 2008 election when educator Linda Darling-Hammond was chosen to lead the education transition team. However that elation was short-lived as Obama named Chicago teacher basher extraordinaire Arne Duncan to be Secretary of Education and it has been five more years of terrible times for the public schools.

After being elected, Gray and Obama stepped on the faces an important part of the Democratic base: public educators.  We never made them pay the political price for dismissing our needs. Democratic politicians have correctly figured out that, practically speaking, we have no place to go so they take us for granted. (Sorry but the Green Party and the socialist alternatives are not currently large enough to scare anyone. The Democrats are emulating Republican education policy so going right is not the answer either.)

Will de Blasio turn into another Gray or Obama after election day?

The odds of a sell out will increase significantly if we do nothing and just sit back and wait for de Blasio to do right by the public schools.

His platform calls for universal pre-k and after school programs for all middle school students.  These sound like fantastic ideas as does his plan to charge rent for charter schools using city buildings.  However, more fundamentally, the school system needs to reverse the nightmarish Bloomberg, Obama, Cuomo, etc... teacher bashing, closing schools agenda. Having us work in a climate of fear where we have to watch our backs consistently does not make us better educators and does nothing for children.

Educational activists need to be proactive in demanding a revamped school system that starts to value educators and views students and schools as more than data points.

Now is the time to attempt to convince de Blasio to appoint a chancellor who supports public education.  We need a clean  break from the Bloomberg years and the three disastrous chancellors (Klein, Black and Walcott). 

The new mayor should hire someone who can put Humpty Dumpty back together again as the system is now almost completely dysfunctional.  I would conservatively estimate that the education budget contains billions of dollars of wasteful items that do nothing to improve student outcomes.

The system before Bloomberg was certainly no educational paradise but parts of it actually worked.  A new chancellor could build off of that as we move forward.  First, he or she needs to clean house at Tweed by moving out the bulk of the lawyers, public relations people and numbers crunchers while moving in some professional educators.

De Blasio is a supporter of mayoral control.  He will have eight votes out of thirteen total on the Board of Education, now known as the Panel for Educational Policy.  Will he appoint a panel that respects the public or are we going to have to deal with a different group of eight people who come in with rubber stamps and ignore virtually everything the public asks for? 

Let's recommend strong public education activists for the PEP.  I would start with Class Size Matters leader Leonie Haimson.  Mayor de Blasio should also retain Manhattan PEP representative Patrick Sullivan.  Mr. Sullivan might actually have an opportunity to shape some policy under a de Blasio mayoralty.  I also believe NAACP's Ken Cohen, an education leader from Queens, would make an excellent PEP representative. In addition, the new mayor should seek out for the panel parents who currently have kids in the schools and are independent minded.

These are just a few suggestions.  I'm sure people much more knowledgeable than me can come up with others.  The point is we cannot sit back and expect the public schools, nearly destroyed under Bloomberg, to magically improve under de Blasio.  It's up to us to actively push to make positive change a reality.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Letitia James easily beat Dan Squadron tonight. Tallies show James garnered 59.4% of the vote while Squadron received 40.6%, with 100% of precincts reporting.

When elected in November (a forgone conclusion since there is no Republican opposition), James will be the first African American woman to hold citywide office in NYC.

Who knows if it will make any difference in our lives, but candidates who took progressive positions on major issues, including education, have now emerged victorious in all three citywide races in the Democratic primaries.

The reactionary NY Post and Daily News along with the elitist NY Times lost with their endorsements for Public Advocate tonight as well as Mayor last month when Bill de Blasio won the Democratic primary outright. 

The UFT lost on Mayor and stayed out of the Public Advocate race. They quickly endorsed de Blasio after the primary.  Endorsing James now would be kind of meaningless since she has no Republican opponent but hey why not do it anyway.

Many unions including the large and influential 1199 along with groups like NYC Kids PAC, and bloggers such as Reality Based Educator and yes this blog too supported wining candidates for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate.  If only we could take all the credit and have some of our policies enacted, that would be really cool. 

However, reality will strike in the morning and it will be back to my closing school for yet another difficult day. 

We should not take anything for granted in the mayor's race, as the general election is still ahead of us, but it looks like the voters are calling for a completely new direction in city government.

Conservative Democrats took a pounding in the Democratic primaries.  We have to do what it takes to make sure the candidates oriented toward change chart a more progressive course in governing if they win in November, particularly when it comes to public education.