Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Yesterday was a big news day for public education.  The Board of Regents has finally replaced John King as State Education Commissioner.  The new Commissioner is Mary Ellen Elia who was recently fired in Hillsdale, Florida.

Reality Based Educator is pointing out how Elia has full deformer credentials including taking Gates money for a plan to fire teachers. While in Florida, Elia was in charge when staff didn't call 911 in a timely manner to get sick students help.  Here is the story from Reality Based Educator via the Buffalo News:

One school board member criticized the accidental deaths of three students, saying that alone was grounds for her dismissal.  In two of those cases, the students died after school staffers did not immediately call 911 when the children experienced medical problems. The third drowned in a nearby pond after walking away from gym class.

This will sound familiar to Jamaica High School staff where a principal and assistant principal were reassigned because there was a similar incident back in 2007.

Reaction to Elia's appointment is coming in. NYSUT President Karen Magee and Randi Weingarten from the AFT are of course welcoming.  Mark Naison is reporting that the UFT and Chancellor Carmen Farina pushed for Elia.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, writing in The Albany Times Union, says the Regents have finally jumped the shark (reference to Happy Days TV show going too far with the Fonzie character) by hiring Elia because of her management style of using intimidation.

Beth Dimino, leader of the Stronger Together caucus in NYSUT, had this to say on Facebook:
    REALLY!?! There wasn't any other person in the world they could have chosen to do this gig?!? And NYSUT Leadership is looking forward to working with her!?!
    I'm living in the twilight zone!!!

Meanwhile in New York City, we finally have a politician who I am not regretting voting for as Letitia James released a report calling for major reforms to mayoral control of NYC schools.

While I don't agree with every suggestion right down the line, her recommendation for a Board of Education with 17 members where the Mayor only appoints 7 would be a good starting point for change.  At least the mayor would have to convince two non mayoral appointees that something is right before going ahead with it.

Empowering Community Education Councils and School Leadership Teams are excellent suggestions.  Here is a link to the report.  It is good reading.


Anonymous said...

I am wondering if her association with Gates, (Elia received MILLIONS to use testing as a weapon against teachers) and Randi's association with Gates and other Reformers is why Randi and NYSUT are so welcoming. Even Andy Ford from Florida who I am not a fan of, defended her while teachers there couldn't stand her.

We have a leadership that represents the Reformers while taking money from teachers.

Anonymous said...

Methinks randi, mulgrew and Magee have been brought on to bring union down from within

Anonymous said...

We got a seat at the table. Oh boy!

Anonymous said...

From Mark Naison's FB:
A Confession

Some of you may be wondering why, on the most glorious of days, when I was getting birthday greetings from all over the nation and all over the world, did I fly into action as soon as I heard of Mary Elia's appointment of NYS Education Commissioner at a secret "emergnecy"(sic) meeting. Why couldn't I have waited a day and just enjoyed all the wonderful messages? To answer that question, I have to get very personal. It was not until I started working for justice and standing in solidarity with people under duress that I became a person anyone could love.

I grew up under circumstances-both family and neighborhood- which gave me a huge chip on my shoulder. During my childhood and adolsecence,(sic) all I wanted to do was beat everyone in everything. And because I was big and strong and book smart, I pretty much could pull that off. I was extremely successful- successful enough to be one of the few people in my working class Brooklyn neighborhood to attend and play ball at an Ivy League school-, but not well liked. Other kids thought I was arrogant and "conceited" and they were right. I had acquaintances, but very few friends, And what romantic encounters I had were few and unsatisfying.

Then, when in college, I found myself completely immersed in the civil rights movement. I followed it on television, read about it, started doing research on African American history in my classes, and joined the campus civil rights group, where I got involved in tutoring and tenant organizing in East Harlem. And lo and behold, when I became as passionate or more passionate about helping others as I was in winning tennis matches and getting high grades, something happened. People started liking me more. I started making real friends. And by the time I was a senior, one of the romantic relationships I was engaged in turned into something I never thought I would find-- love.

To summarize, I only experienced the deepest levels of emotional connection with people when I redefined myself as a justice fighter. I was still competitive. I still wanted to be first. . But to quote from one of Dr King's greatest speeches, the one entitled "The Drum Major Instinct"- life opened up when I tried to become "A Drum Major for Justice" and a "Drum Major For Love"

So friends, when people are being hurt by the actions of those in power, and I think my voice will help, I will always heed the call. Because that is the person i want to be. As long as I have a breath to take."

Dr. Naison has helped in the movement against the deformers.

Anonymous said...

"AFT/UFT Leaders and NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina Pushed Elia's Appointment

According to my sources, Elia got the position as School Commissioner- with a unanimous vote- because she was the preferred candidate of the AFT, the UFT and NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina. All of the above are strong supporters of the Common Core Standards and national testing. They are all more than willing to divide the anti testing movement along political lines to help Democratic candidates and to isolate and discipline suburban and rural districts with high Opt Out numbers. In short, the anti-testing struggle in New York State is entering a very dangerous phase, with the UFT/AFT leadership once again playing an extremely destructive role. Expect the state to double down on Common Core tests and take a hard line on test resistors."

I feel that the operative words here for the all the rank-and-file members should heed as the sign to the union's intention is "extremely destructive role".

The time has come to change the leadership and it's start with voting out Mulgrew in May 2016. Once he's removed then change can happen at the NYSUT level and hopefully onto a new leadership at the AFT level. But the members have to get involved in the leadership change movement.

Anonymous said...

Nearly impossible to remove Mulgrew.

Paula Washington said...

Why is it that people spreading disinformation are always signed "anonymous"? Anyone who has actually taken part in a NYSUT RA or AFT Convention knows full well that our union is not for high stakes standardized testing and actively works against Pearson and its ilk. We are all educators. We should all understand the difference between tests that are valid and reliable and tests that serve no educational purpose. As teachers we are not against standards. We are against the arbitrary CCSS put together by people with dubious educational expertise and rolled out without input from us or even training for us.

Let's hold forth against our real enemies and stop fighting among ourselves. The strength of a union is its collective and unified action. Remember that the founders of our union continue to support and advise the current leadership. They are among the best informed and bravest of unionists the country has.

Dr. John Marvul said...

Whether we like it or not, education has become a political theater. In politics as in war, everything imaginable goes. Today you are our friend, but tomorrow you are our enemy , and accepting money from everyone is only political prostitution and does not mean that your vote will make your sponsors happy. The new NYS Education Commissioner may become a devil, but for now, we need to see if we can influence her and get our agenda moving. It was our power that got rid of the last Ed leader because his dogma was disturbing. That said, it will not take long for a discovery of the path that the NEW ONE wants to travel. Do not allow those who wish to destroy us ( indigenous folks/unions) start by dividing us. Thank you, Dr. John Marvul.

John Kamps said...

Brothers and Sisters we must continue to stand together cause our strength is in working with all. We have a new Ed commissioner who in the past had issues people change and we should give her a chance to see if she has changed. If not then we do what we do and turn the pressure up. Fighting is easy but we are trying to change the system for the better and that takes time but we will get there together!!

James Eterno said...

Unity troll invasion. I looked for anti Unity stuff in this posting and really could not find much. You guys were welcoming of the new Commissioner. Some others are not so welcoming.