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.


Pogue said...

Optimism can also be provided by the fact that Letitia James will be part of a new administration. She has provided great inspiration and fight back at many PEP meetings and should be a wonderful "real public school" advocate.

reality-based educator said...

Also, the names being bandied about for chancellor were posted at Gotham Schools - where all the corporate-reform ready news that's fit to post gets an airing. When I saw that chancellor story, I wasn't sure how much of that was real and how much was some reformers trying to spin some of their candidates into contention.

ed notes online said...

I agree with RBE that those names are a plant. State Regent Cathie Cashin's recent attack is her way of officially throwing her hat into the ring. She got out of Klein's admin long enough ago and then became a critic. I think she is the most likely as people on our side support her but given her pro test prep history I don't trust her turn around. Yet she will be hard to oppose in these times. No matter what, we don't end up with a progressive chancellor so even though groups are organizing to make demands on who/what the chancellor should be the result will not make anyone happy. And even Tish James, who I love, has a spotty history on charters a few years ago but maybe she saw the winds of change coming and is leading the charge.

Unitymustgo! said...

It's hard not to be a pessimist about most things these days, especially education. I find it hard to believe that in the world we live in, that any newly elected mayor, no matter what the margin of victory might be would be willing to push back against the machine in any significant way. He would be beaten up in the very biased mainstream press to no end. Whatever changes he may bring will (in my opinion), be minor and more lip service than actual change. You'll get your moratorium on opening some new Charters, but by a year later some minor revisions in the process will be rolled out and more Charters will be opened inside public school buildings same as usual. Some sort of token lease payment deal will be brokered, but it will be minor and very quietly something will be changed somewhere else that compensates for that. Teachers will get a contract, but no significant or meaningful changes will occur to Advance, just some minor tweaking on things that are trivial, but test scores will remain. There is too much to change and no where near the political capital or will to do it.

Anonymous said...

After what Obama did throwing Linda Darling Hammond to the curve and bringing in Duncan. Now Duncan's number 2 is a big charter guy, But the icing on the cake came when they used the Shutdown to approve legislation granting TFAs highly qualified status while real teachers are judged by Pearson.

So I am neither an optimist or pessimist these days, just someone who crosses their fingers and hopes for the best.

btw, I have seen little outrage by ICE and Unity over this new law that Obama quietly signed. What are our Cope dollars doing for us? They seem to be helping TFA.

Why aren't NYC teachers protesting in front of their schools about this??? When sites like this are silent, I have to wonder,

Anonymous said...

I whole heartidly agree with unity must go, as I have no reason for optimism as long as mulgrew is around

Anonymous said...

Do you really think DeBlasio can stand up to King and Obama? Last I saw was DeBlasio feeding cheese cake to Obama. Just wait for what Obama and Duncan to dish out next year.

Anonymous said...

The Department is supplementing its model for supervision of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR). You are receiving this email because you may be included under this initiative.

Under this initiative you will be supervised by a licensed administrator (Field Supervisor), who will periodically observe your practice and provide you with feedback to support your professional development. The Field Supervisors are aware that as a teacher, in the Absent Teacher Reserve you do not have a regular program and that you rotate school assignments and they will take this context into account in their work with you.

Sometime in the next few weeks, you should expect your Field Supervisor to visit your assignment site to meet with you in person. At this initial meeting, the Field Supervisor will discuss expectations and how to support you in your professional growth and job search process.” The Field Supervisor will make an effort to contact you in advance of the initial meeting to give you a sense of when you can expect him/her, although know that they may not always be able to provide advance notification.


Anonymous said...

Ask for a pre-observation conference.

Anonymous said...

Unity Must Go has seen the future. Does he have pyschic ability? It is so clear and so likely.

Anonymous said...

If he continues to have traveling APs judging ATRs in one time appearances with kids they've never seen, rooms they've never been in, attempting to give lessons to kids that full well know they "won't count" de Blasio will be no better than Bloomberg.

If he allows ATRs to be humiliated by admins that withhold bathroom keys, by admins that countenance student harassment of ATRs, that say that ATRs brought the harassment (the dirty secret is that women are getting harassed and assaulted and the union is not defending teachers strongly enough) upon them selves de Blasio will be no better than Bloomberg.

And where has the union been, the union that is deadset against elected representatives for ATRs? (Did Amy Arundell stand for election as rep of ATRs?) Actually defending observations, which have led to end of year U's. Here's Michael Mendel on the introduction of the observations:

The UFT's Michael Mendell issued a letter on the UFT's position on the ATR teacher evaluations. Shockingly, the area that visiting teachers routinely have the most trouble with, classroom management, is an area that Mendell thinks is fair game for evaluating teachers.

"We are committed to ensuring that ATRs are treated like professionals . . ." Yeah? Well, why are you letting us get evaluated on handling kids who we've just met minutes ago? School tone, set by administration, as to whether they discipline students in a timely fashion or whether they coddle them, is the greatest factor (aside from home upbringing) in how kids will react to even the sternest and most confident Classroom-Management-minded teacher.

"They have done this because state law requires that all teachers must be evaluated and rated." State law requires a lot of stuff that isn't being done in the schools. Why not go after over-sized classrooms, one teacher in inclusion classes, teaching out of certification, no PE, and on and on. The DOE really wants us to leave...that's why....the UFT gets slapped down again.

State law? hahahahahahaahhahahahahhahahahah.

I can think of how these schools violate state law on an minute by minute basis:
1). More than one AP per 500 students.
2). Not telling ATRs about medical issues students have.
3). Telling us to not let kids use the bathroom.
4). Not removing disruptive students
5). Giving principals bonuses for harassment of teachers.

I'd write 500000 more, but i'm tired

Are these long term ATRs or week to week ATRs that will be observed. If it's the latter how the *z*#xo!!! are we supposed to identify the students. You must call a student by name to be successful in Classroom Management(CM).

ATRs, taxation without representation

James Eterno said...

Now that he met with Emanuel we have to be a little pessimistic. See Reality Based Educator post at Perdido.