Saturday, April 30, 2016


I've had this thought the last few days that maybe, just maybe, Governor Andrew Cuomo will allow the law that gives Mayor Bill de Blasio full control over the New York City schools to expire this June. As the feud between the Governor and Mayor deteriorates into dueling legal investigations over whether de Blasio violated arcane election financing laws or if Cuomo is guilty of conflict of interest/bid rigging in exchange for campaign contributions (old fashion corruption as RBE put it) around the Buffalo Billion project, there is a sleight, but real, possibility that Cuomo will humiliate de Blasio by taking away much of his power over New York City schools.

A more likely scenario is that the Governor along with the Republican and so called Independent Democratic Conference majority in the state Senate will grant de Blasio another one year extension of mayoral control of city schools and make him come begging to Albany every year to continue it. In exchange, there will be some horse trading where we can expect the well funded charter schools to receive some new favors.

But what if the feud becomes so bad that the mayor literally loses control in Albany? If the State Legislature and Governor do nothing (something they are very good at), mayoral control is over at the end of June. The State Legislature must pass an extension of the 2009 law that Cuomo needs to sign or my understanding is the schools would then revert to the education law that was in effect before the original 2002 mayoral control law was passed.

In those days there was a seven member New York City Board of Education. The mayor appointed two members of the Board and the borough presidents appointed one each. The Board picked the chancellor who answered to them.

Knowing how Andrew Cuomo plays politics, it would not surprise me if he was working behind the scenes to make a deal with four of the five borough presidents to outvote the Mayor and take over the city schools. It certainly would be an embarrassment for de Blasio to lose most of his power over education. He would still control much of the money but his authority over the day-to-day school operations would be gone. I doubt too many people on the left or even the right would shed a tear if this happened. They would all blame de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina for inept management of the school system.

Don't laugh as the mayoral control law actually expired in 2009 for a few weeks while a backroom deal was made in Albany to continue it. The feckless borough presidents back then actually voted to keep Joel Klein as Chancellor when they could have ousted him. There might be no deal this time. It is still against the odds that mayoral control ends in June but it is conceivable.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Two pieces in the not always reliable mainstream press are naming the UFT and the state union NYSUT as being involved in possibly making, or attempting to make, illegal campaign contributions to state Senate candidates in the unsuccessful 2014 attempt to retake the state Senate for the Democrats.

We know the mayor is in trouble over this but what is the teacher union involvement?

From the NY Post:

The United Federation of Teachers was slapped with a subpoena last week, sources said. A former UFT political strategist, Jason Goldman, was among the de Blasio associates named in a Board of Elections memo that suggested criminality in the state Senate fundraising efforts.

A union spokesman said, "The UFT will always cooperate with any state or federal inquiries that come its way."

Then we see this in Newsday:

The Suffolk Democratic Committee returned a $100,000 union campaign contribution from the New York State United Teachers during the 2014 election because the union sought to steer the money to Democratic State Senate candidate Adrienne Esposito in possible violation of state election law, according to documents and Suffolk Democratic officials.

I think everyone who reads this should look at the sources and be a little skeptical as this may be more political to destroy the mayor than anything. The fundraising laws are very difficult to understand and are easily violated. Reality Based Educator sent me this piece from Jeff Smith in Slant that shows how Governor Andrew Cuomo is behind the whole attack. Read it please. Smith went to prison for violating similar campaign finance laws. The advice he cites from former Louisiana Governor Earl Long on how to look clean is priceless.

“Don't write anything you can phone. Don't phone anything you can talk. Don't talk anything you can whisper. Don't whisper anything you can smile. Don't smile anything you can nod. Don't nod anything you can wink.” 

Long died in 1960 but his quote describes New York's "wink and nod pay to play politics" in 2016 quite well.

Since the UFT was a main player in the failed campaign to put the Senate back into Democratic control in 2014, it is no surprise that the union is being investigated. I didn't know anything about the NYSUT involvement until this morning. If anyone has further insight, we are listening as all of this should be watched closely. What is clear is that New York politics are quite dirty and the governor plays very well in the mud.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


ICE-UFT BLOG has done an official public service by helping to convince Reality Based Educator to post again. RBE sorts out the latest Cuomo-de Blasio mess over illegal campaign contributions and much more over at Perdido Street School, where the RBE name is renowned. Enjoy!

The conclusion:

So maybe Cuomo knows he's got no worries here, that his protectors in Washington will ensure he can act with impunity - take bribes from Kiryas Joel connections and give them a veto in return, for example, or conspire to use the BOE to destroy his enemy de Blasio - and nothing will befall him.

He may be right about that.

Given how Shelly Silver, Dean Skelos and now Bill de Blasio all got mired in corruption investigations (with Silver and Skelos getting convicted) while Cuomo rides high and clear from the mire, well, that is something isn't it?

Game of Thrones indeed.

You win or you die.

RBE posting on city and state politics part time is more powerful than most of the rest of us posting every two minutes on the subject. Glad to have RBE back at Perdido if even only for one piece. Hope we hear more as this story develops and of course RBE is welcome here.


For those who missed it or want to hear it again, here is a link to Monday's program where MORE-New Action candidates Jia Lee (President), Jonathan Halabi (High School Executive Board) and Camille Eterno (Secretary) speak with Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash on Building Bridges on WBAI.

Ballots will be mailed out next week. Look for them in your mail at home. Just place an X in the MORE-NEW ACTION box, put it inside the secret ballot envelope, then put that envelope inside the outer envelope and drop it in a mailbox.

The embattled Mayor Bill de Blasio has released the executive budget for next year. The city's financial picture is fairly strong again with record job creation but I doubt we will see much change in the schools.

The slide in the mayor's FY 2017 Executive Budget Summary covering education says this about funding: "Raise the Fair Student Funding average to 91% with NO school funded below 87% in FY 2017."

Let me see if I understand this: The city has record job creation and is receiving an increase in school aid from Albany but many schools will still be funded 13% below what the city considers full funding. The city certainly won't be going broke paying our paltry raises in May when we still will only have half the money that other unions received from 2008-2010 added to our paychecks and 87.5% of the arrears owed to us from those years still hasn't been paid back to us.

The UFT can't even successfully lobby for anything close to full funding for city schools when the city is once again rolling in cash. Please tell me why anyone is voting for Mulgrew.

Monday, April 25, 2016


This is straight from RBE.

When I saw that the BOE memo claiming de Blasio committed felonies in his fundraising came from a Cuomo appointee, I thought Cuomo was, at least in part, behind the attack on de Blasio.

It's looking a little more like that today:®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

The takeaway: You have a Cuomo appointee writing up a memo claiming felonies committed in de Blasio fundraising, then somebody leaking that memo to the press (as well the news of the Bharara and Vance investigations based upon the memo) so that the tabloids convict the mayor of criminality long before anybody knows if the claims in the memo are fair, accurate or legally sound.

Nice work from Cuomo.

Message: "Don't fuck with me, Billy Boy.  I'll destroy you."

I dunno if the lawyer defending de Blasio's fundraising is accurate or bullshitting, but I know one thing:

No matter how this turns out legally, the political damage to de Blasio is extraordinary.

Meanwhile Sheriff Andy, who vetoed a bill some politically connected people in Kiryas Joel wanted vetoed the same weekend those same politically connected people sent him $250,000 dollars in campaign contributions through 10 different LLC's, suffers no political damage for his own ethical lapses and/or criminal fundraising:

Nice work from Cuomo.

A refrain I'm sick of repeating.

Add Fred Dicker's column to your post, James - he writes that Dems and Republicans are saying Cuomo is behind the leak of the report (I would argue, as one of the commissioners from the BOE hints in the Times article I sent you, that Cuomo was BEHIND the report too!):

Cuomo is looking for either Diaz or Stringer to primary BdB.  Jeffries appears to want to stay in Congress (I would add, Dems have outside shot to take back the House, which might help keep Jeffries there as well), though that could change as this scandal progresses.

Diaz is a criminal himself from a criminal family, so it's beyond me how Cuomo would get him to run a "We need to clean up City Hall" campaign against BdB.  But Stringer is aching to run and has been sucking up to Cuomo for a couple of years now.  So that's a possibility.

If you read the NY Times piece, it's pretty clear that some of the commissioners on the BOE believe the board has been used as an attack vehicle in the past for Cuomo.  There's one current commissioner on record saying just that.

That makes me wonder, did Cuomo gin this up specifically to destroy BdB, have his hack at the BOE (who has a habit of including Cuomo aides in her email chain despite being "independent" of the Cuomo admin) write it up as a criminal referral, then leak the report exactly as the NYPD scandal was happening in order to do maximum damage to de Blasio.

Knowing what we know with previous interference with the BOE as well as every commission he's ever created (Moreland, LIPA, education, etc.), I would have to say that this is probably another Cuomo machination and so far, it's been pretty effective.

But Bharara is not unaware of Cuomo's games.  He warned him over Moreland.  So Cuomo plays a dangerous game here if he ginned this up and left any kind of trail that can connect back to him.

That's a big if, of course.

In the meantime, the tabloids have BdB convicted of felonies already and de Blasio's poll numbers are sure to plummet in the wake of the report leak. 

That should get Cuomo the challengers he wants to take on de Blasio - both a Dem for the primary and a reasonably strong Republican for the general.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Building Bridges is a radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM) that focuses on labor issues. This week's show will feature the upcoming May UFT election. It is scheduled to air on Monday at 7:00 p.m.

If you want to hear my better half, tune in as Camille Eterno who is running for UFT secretary will be on the radio along with MORE-NEW ACTION presidential candidate Jia Lee and New Action co-chair and MORE-NEW ACTION high school executive board candidate Jonathan Halabi.

Here is the promotional announcement for the show including information on how to stream it.

Building Bridges over WBAI Radio, 99.5FM
with Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash
Mon., April 25, 7 – 8 pm EST
streaming @                                                               
smartphone streaming @       
& to listen, or download archived shows
Why MORE/New Action Candidates Contest Unity Caucus Seats
for  UFT Leadership In Union Elections
Jia Lee, candidate for President
Jia is currently a 4th/5th grade special education teacher and is chapter
leader at the Earth School in District 1 and a public school parent. As
chapter leader, she supported staff consultation committees on issues from
micromanagement and professional conciliation and fostered mediation to
support a democratic culture. She testified before the U.S. HELP (Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions) Senate Committee, on the reauthorization of
ESEA. She is an opt out organizer with Change the Stakes and NYC Opt Out,
a member of the Stronger Together Caucus and a national network of social
justice caucuses.
Camille Eterno, candidate for Secretary
Camille has been an English teacher since 1996. She was elected to chapter
leader at the Queens Gateway to Health Sciences and won grievances that were
said to be unwinnable and organized her chapter into a force at many union rallies.
As a leader in the Independent Community of Educators, she was instrumental in
the battle against the giveback laden 2005 contract. She is now a delegate from
Humanities and the Arts High School in Queens.
Jonathan Halabi, High School Division Candidate for Executive Board
Jonathan is a UFT Chapter leader and a math teacher at the H.S. of American
Studies at Lehman College.  He’s been on the UFT Ex. Board 2009 to the
present. Jonathan has said “Teaching is an honorable career. We help kids
learn and grow. Their success is our reward. But not if we are mistreated. Not
if our voices are ignored. Not if decisions that affect our schools are made out
of incompetence and malice. We are running to ensure all our voices are heard
in our union”.

Building Bridges brings to the airwaves the voices of MORE/New Action
Caucus candidates for the UFT’s seats in the union’s upcoming election. 
MORE/New Action says “if you’re tired of the attacks against teachers and
public education; if you’re tired that our students’ education has been hijacked
by a “test” prep curriculum focusing our time on “data” instead of teaching then
we need something different. A union that fights for the rights of students,
teachers and communities. A union that fights for racial and economic justice
inside and outside our schools. “We help kids learn and grow. Their success is
our reward. But not if we are mistreated”.
Kathleen Foster, independent producer and director of cutting-edge films
about social justice.  Foster is the recipient of a number of awards. In 2006
Women in Islam presented her with a Compass Award for her film Point of
Attack. This award honors women whose work exemplifies the legacy of
Dr. Betty Shabazz.  Foster’s 2007 documentary Afghan Women: A History
of Struggle was sighted as a film that “challenges the dominant ideologies
found in contemporary mainstream American war films.” At the Workers
Unite Film Festival of 2013, 10 Years On: Afghanistan and Pakistan was
named Best Short Documentary.

Profiled knits the stories of mothers of Black and Latino youth murdered by the
NYPD into a powerful indictment of racial profiling and police brutality, and
places them within a historical context of the roots of racism in the U.S.  Ranging
from the routine harassment of minority students in an affluent Brooklyn
neighborhood to the killings and protests in Staten Island and Ferguson, Missouri,
Profiled bears witness to the racist violence that remains an everyday reality for
black and Latin people in this country and gives us a window on one of the burning
issues of our time.
Tune in at 6 - 8 am to Wednesday Edition hosted by Mimi Rosenberg
In addition to being broadcast over WBAI,  99.5 FM in NYC and the
tri-state area 7 - 8 pm EST Mondays, Building Bridges is syndicated
to 50  broadcast and internet  radio stations in the US, Canada and
the UK

Building Bridges National Edition is regularly broadcast over:

                          WZBC, Boston, Mass.
                          WDRT, Viroqua, WI
                          KYRS, Spokane, WA
                          Liberty and Justice1640, Shirley Mass
                          KWTF,Sonoma County CA
                          KNSJ, San Diego, CA
                          KRFY, Sandpoint, ID
                          KMUD, Redway, CA
                          WXOJ-LP, Florence, MA
                          KPOV, Bend, Oregon
                          KONR Ankorage, Alaska
                          WAPJ, Torrington, CT.
                          WOOL, Great Falls, Vermont and New Hampshire
                          KKRN Bella Vista, CA
                          KGHI, Westport, WA
                          KSVR, Mount Vernon, WA
                          WAZU, Peoria, Illinois
                          KMEC, Ukiah, CA
                          KOWA, Olympia Washington .
                          WWUH, West Hartford, CT
                          WMNF HD FM Tampa, Florida
                          WPVM - MAIN-FM  Asheville, NC
                          WERU Blue Hill and Bangor, Maine
                          WGOT -  Gainesville, Florida.
                          WUOW - Oneonta, N.Y.
                          WVJW- Benwood, WV
                          KRFP, Moscow, ID
                          KCSB, Santa Barbara, CA
                          KSOW,Cottage Grove, Oregon
                          WKNH ,Keene, NH
                          CKDU, Halifax, N.S., Canada
                          WRPI, Troy, New York
                          WNRB, Wausau, WI
                          KQRP Salida, California
                          East Hill Radio, Snoqualmie, WA
                          KSKQ, Ashland, Oregon
                          KWMD, Kasiloff-Anchorage, Alaska
                          WPRR, Grand Rapids, Michigan
                          KROV, Oroville, CA

                          as well as internet stations:

                         Geneva Radio, Geneva, N.Y.
                         WTF Radio, Bodega Bay CA
                         CPR Metro, NYC
                         Radio Free Radical
                         Radio Free Kansas
                         Radio Veronica, West Point, PA
               ,  U.K.
                         Seattle Radical Radio
                         Radio for Peace International
                         Grateful Dread Public Radio
                         Detour Network, Knoxville, TN
                         KDX Radio, Homeland, North American
                         Radio Ear Network, Sarasota, FL
                         Channel One Radio
            For  archived Building Bridges Programs go to
                                      our website:
       Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 


This week's Chapter Leader newsletter from the UFT provides details as to how teachers will be rated this year. Only teachers who had a Common Core grade 3-8 test as part of their Measures of Student Learning portion of their rating will see a change. For everyone else, it is the same split of 60% observations and 40% test scores as last year. Schools will also continue to be rated based on the Common Core grade 3-8 exams.

High school teachers will still be using the 60-40 split for this year that includes the Regents exams. This contradicts somewhat the NYSUT interpretation of the four year so called moratorium where they said the Regents exams based on growth models should not be used in our evaluations for four years.

Has the UFT quietly negotiated to put the Regents growth scores back in behind the scenes?

Some teachers will like this as it lessens the impact of the principal's observations on teacher ratings but some who work in challenging situations where the scores can sink us will not be happy. Anyone who believes using the Regents exams that were never designed for the purpose of judging teachers to rate us cannot be pleased.

Bottom line is that with the high school Regents still counting for high school teacher performance reviews as well as school ratings and scores on the Common Core grade 3-8 tests still being used for school accountability, test and punish education continues to flourish in New York State.

Here is a link to our analysis from January.

Below in its entirety is what the UFT says in the current weekly Chapter Leader Newsletter on ratings. Please note this is only for this school year. For 2016-17, the 50% test scores-50% observation evaluation system goes into effect.*

How teacher ratings will be calculated this school year

Acting on the recommendation of the governor’s Common Core Task Force, the Board of Regents earlier this year adopted a regulation that guarantees that the grade 3–8 English language arts and math state assessments will not be used as part of teachers’ evaluations this year and the next three school years. There is no change for high school teachers. Teachers who have grade 3–8 math or ELA assessments as part of their Measures of Student Learning will receive a Transition Rating that excludes grade 3–8 ELA and math state assessments for the 2015–16 school year. Where this rule results in a teacher having no remaining assessments to use in his or her Measures of Student Learning portion of the rating, the teacher’s Transition Rating will be based entirely on his or her observation scores. State-provided growth scores will continue to be computed for advisory purposes only, and an Overall Rating will continue to be provided to teachers based on such growth scores. Through 2019, however, only the Transition Rating will be used for purposes of employment decisions. Grade 3–8 test scores will still be used for schoolwide accountability measures, such as measuring progress in schools designated by the state as priority or focus schools. For more information on evaluation, see the teacher evaluation page of the UFT website.

*For the person who always comments on whether the observation from outside the school will be part of next year's system and if the minimum number of observations will be 2 in future, I don't know. As soon as there is information, I will pass it along. However, I would not bet on the UFT and Carmen Farina negotiating a system with fewer observations if it is left up to local districts.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


It is generally accepted as a given that city and state political corruption runs deep in New York. Few people know the extent to which the system is dirty. This morning I woke up to find so much in Ken Lovett's front page Daily News article that will leave most readers at the very least wondering how deep the corruption goes and whether or not our union is involved.

First there is the title of the piece: De Blasio team skirted campaign donation limits; investigators found 'willful and flagrant' violations 'warranting prosecution'

Now the basics:

ALBANY-- The head investigator for the state Board of Elections probed the 2014 fundraising efforts by Mayor de Blasio and his team on behalf of the Senate Democrats and found enough "willful and flagrant" violations to warrant a criminal referral to the Manhattan DA's office.

The Daily News obtained a bombshell memo state Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugerman sent to the board's four commissioners on Jan. 4 recommending the referral.

"I have determined that reasonable cause exists to believe a violation warranting criminal prosecution has taken place," Sugarman wrote. "The violations discovered by this investigation can only be described as willful and flagrant."

The commissioners, during a closed-door vote, made the referral on Jan. 11, sources said, which is now part of a broader probe by the DA and Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office.

Sugerman's memo paints a picture of a coordinated effort by the mayor and his allies - dubbed interchangeably as "Team de blasio" and "Team Coordinated" - to deliberately circumvent legal campaign donation limits in three upstate races in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to help Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2014.

The memo did not spell out exactly who could be charged. Deliberately evading campaign donation limits would constitute a felony.

I know the next thought that will come to mind is whether the UFT, a close ally of de Blasio, is on this so called team.

Way down at the bottom of the lengthy piece is this:

Others said to be on the team included Jason Goldman, the United Federation of Teachers assistant director legislation and political action...

UFT spokeswoman Alison Gendar said the union "will always fully cooperate with any state or federal inquiry if and when one is made."

This does not look very promising for the mayor or for the UFT.

Reality Based Educator checked in this morning with a reaction before I posted. Here it is in its entirety.

This was a Cuomo appointee behind the January 4th memo that says felonies were committed by the De Blasio team in their fundraising, so of course it's a political attack from Cuomo, but the fact is, with Bharara and Vance now opening multiple investigations into de Blasio's fundraising that reach as high as two of his top people - Emma Wolfe and Ross Offinger - de Blasio's in serious trouble. 

Even if he manages to avoid prosecution, the political fallout from this will be stark. The front cover of the Daily News today is the kind of thing he's looking at for the foreseeable future.  His poll numbers have already dropped 10 points as a result of the initial corruption allegations - I would expect his numbers to plummet after this and you will begin to see challengers making moves to take him on both within the Democratic Party and from the Republican side.

De Blasio sucks and not much has changed for us in the system post-Bloomberg, but some of the Republicans angling to run, and Jeffries and Diaz on the Dem side, will destroy the public school system.  That is the plan from their end - to charterize most of the system like D.C.  De Blasio, at least, didn't have that on his agenda.

I suspect, barring some very astute maneuvering and luck from de Blasio, that he's going to struggle to survive this politically.

That assumes he doesn't get arrested a la Skelos and Silver, of course, which is starting to look like a possibility.

Friday, April 22, 2016


At Wednesday's April Delegate Assembly, UFT President Michael Mulgrew painted an overall rosy picture of the state of public education here in New York City. Is he right?

Mulgrew described a school system that we should celebrate and show off to the world. Mulgrew's Unity Caucus majority did concede there are a few issues; they even passed a resolution to take up the cause of discontinued probationary teachers in a small way. Other than that, Mulgrew basically called New York schools a model for the country to emulate. Here is my account of Mulgrew's reporting of the state of the schools here in NYC:

May 4 national day for teachers. NYC using day to celebrate how we are moving public education ahead here. NYC leading the way in how you make public education work.

Maybe I didn't hear right. I checked with the NYC Educator minutes of the DA and here is how he described the same part of the meeting:

May 4th--Wants parents and teachers to simultaneously do events nationwide. Says we've already done this in NYC, and that we meet with many varied groups. Says while LA is ground zero for charters, but in NYC we will move public education by being respectful and working together: says there are 100 schools now cooperating.

The overall picture I get month-after-month from President Mulgrew is that the New York City schools are generally in much better shape under Bill de Blasio and Carmen Farina compared to the Michael Bloomberg-Joel Klein-Kathy Black-Dennis Walcott days.

Yet when I leave the meetings and go home, my inbox and voicemail are usually filled with teachers and other UFT members desperately seeking help. At best teachers are overwhelmed with paperwork mandates. Many are forced to spend an average of two to three hours an evening working on daily lesson plans because they are worried about when the administrator with the computer is next going to appear at the classroom door to write them up using the Danielson rubric which makes it simple to give out developing or ineffective ratings. Others are spending multiple hours a day working on IEP's or other mandates and still others are being forced to do multiple professional assignments. Absent Teacher Reserves are being harassed on a daily basis with ridiculous observations for classes they are just covering.

In addition, the DOE admits there are credit recovery programs that are out of control. Student discipline in many places is an out of date concept, class sizes are as high as ever and abusive/incompetent principal power is basically unchecked by the UFT. There are reports of teachers leaving in the middle of the year rather than face another day of this.

As for charter schools, I saw Ed Notes reporting on a public school being closed in New York City this week and it will be replaced by a charter school. MORE was there at the Panel for Education Policy meeting to stand up for the public school but I don't see any official UFT presence in Norm's account.

I could go on-and-on but you get the picture.

So who is right?

Is Mulgrew correct that teaching in NYC is a very challenging job but the school system is moving ahead and is a model for the nation to follow so let's celebrate our schools on May 4?


Are the pro-public school critics right that nothing much has improved since de Blasio-Farina replaced Bloomberg-Klein-Black-Walcott and the school system is still in very poor shape with most teachers under siege?

Have a wonderful holiday everyone! The nine week stretch between midwinter recess and spring break this year has been a grind for sure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


President's Report
Michael Mulgrew thanked everyone who worked for Hillary. We're worried about Republicans. Must win election in fall.

4-4 Supreme Court tie goes to workers but 27 other cases are in courts that use the same free speech argument against us.

Tenure decision overturned in California so tenure is restored in California. NY anti-tenure case is largely dependent on California which we have told court.

Funding up for schools by second greatest percentage increase ever from state. Principals lying if they say there is no money next year. Money for community learning schools. Senate Republicans brought up charter schools on 14 issues but we won. Charters got new money from Republican discretionary funds, not from CFE money.

We got involved in Todd Kaminsky Senate race on Long Island after charter school group pumped major money in. UFT got in late. We have told people in Albany we will get involved when people go against us. Todd Kaminsky won last night. Kaminsky thanked teachers and parents.

Board of Regents
We met with 5 or 6 Regents on ESL issues. Regents shocked that NYSLAT test is still in teacher evaluations. Regents want package of changes in evaluation. We need to get in 5 authentic student learning measures.

City Council
Great legislative breakfast. Danny Dromm here as was speaker and many others. Moving forward with city council issues. We want $250 for teacher's choice. We want money for community schools. Bloomberg didn't want incidents reported but wanted zero tolerance. Many suspensions. Now Students First group saying schools are unsafe.

We need team approach on student. Positive learning collaborative for 15 schools that had trouble. We want to push this as restorative justice has its place but won't solve everything.

Evaluation System
UFT does not want to go back to principal being in total control of ratings. High school teacher ratings same as last year. Other schools different.

Family Leave
We say cost is $20 million. City says it is higher. We are working on it with city.

Next month's DA moved to May 18th to accommodate middle schools open school night.

Test scores still in school accountability.

Paras who are arrested are no longer automatically suspended without pay because of arbitration.

May 7 is spring conference.

May 4 national day for teachers. NYC using day to celebrate how we are moving public education ahead here. NYC leading the way in how you make public education work.

Staff Director's Report
Ballots mailed out May 5 for UFT election. Members need to look for them in mail at home. Ballots counted May 26th. We want a high turnout. Leroy Barr reported on other dates too.

Question Period
Question-People with permanent certification having to re-certify?

Mulgrew Answer- 100 hours of professional development not in for this year. Some have to do 175 hours of PD. You know who you are if you have to do the PD. Talking to state about next year.

Q Teacher retention.  Half at Math Science High School nontenured. What are we doing to keep people?
A We need administrators to understand teaching. We want to keep 65% of those hired last September. Teaching is tough; teaching in NYC is very challenging.
Teacher leadership in contract. Meeting with new teachers. It is a long, difficult road. In the end, we must take care of each other.

Q What is a focus school?
A It is based on test scores. School must be looked at in terms of climate and support. Overall, it is a category of schools that need improvement. We have a program that helped get many renewal schools off the list.

Q How will state parental leave law affect us?
A It works for us politically but people have to pay into it and it won't take effect for 3 years. Political changes have moved in our direction.

Motion Period
A motion for next month to protect immigrant students.  Home raids up, many facing deportation so UFT should have a petition to de Blasio and Farina on behalf of immigrants. Mulgrew wants to take question to immigrant groups to see what they think. Point of information if Mayor has authority to keep immigration control agents out? Answer is they don't have authority. Nobody spoke against so it was placed on agenda.

Special Orders of Business
Resolution to support Los Angeles schools where charter people are trying to take over. It carried unanimously.

Resolution to stand in Solidarity with people of Michigan and to hold officials accountable for Flynt water crisis and Detroit public school issues. Need to
make governor held accountable. Resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution to support discontinued teachers. Recommit to getting a fair and just system where people get a second chance in other districts. It carried unanimously.

Resolution to support Verizon workers on strike.
It carried unanimously.

Resolution on supporting healthy workplace bill.  Stop work place bullying.  Amendment to add a Memorandum of Support on healthy workplace bill.
Unity says amendment not needed as NYSUT already supports this. Amendment failed but resolution passed.

Mulgrew closed by saying May 1 salary increase will be in May 15 check.


RBE sent this to me this morning.

This quote is from NY State of Politics; the commentary that follows is all from RBE.

"An independent expenditure committee backed by the United Federation of Teachers is making a last-minute push for Democrat Todd Kaminsky in the special election to replace Republican former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. The group Teachers For Todd reported spending $27,794 on mail in the 9th Senate district ahead of Tuesday’s vote. The group also reported spending $14,908 on a radio ad purchase and $27,720 on phone banking for a race in which voter turnout is expected to especially key.

The race itself appears to become something of a proxy war for the battle over education policy in the state. The political action committee supported by the education reform and pro-charter group StudentsFirstNY, has spent heavily in the race backing Republican Chris McGrath, with records showing the group has spent more than $1 million the Nassau County district. Meanwhile, records show on Friday the Republican State Leadership Committee spent $15,000 on digital advertising critical of Kaminsky, a freshman member of the Assembly. Kaminsky has in recent weeks been archly critical of the controversial Common Core standards and raised questions after Republicans successfully pushed for a boost in charter school aid the budget and then received campaign support from the pro-charter organization."

So UFT spends about $71,000 in the race, the ed deform criminals spend $1,015,000. Gee, don't you love when the ed deform criminals play it like they're the underdogs?

Kaminsky is said to be up by about 750 votes - that's a 53%-45% spread, but the Republican candidate (a shyster personal injury attorney) says it's "too close to call" (i.e., Repubs can't believe they're going to lose this state Senate seat.)

If Kaminksy wins, it helps us in Albany but does not return the State Senate to Dems because of the breakaway IDC. However, it does help send a message that the charter school/ed deform criminals can't just expect to win by outspending the unions 14 to 1 or go with the default attack ad that every Dem is a commie pinko tax lover who vacations with de Blasio in Cuba (which had been the GOP strategy against Kaminsky.)

 Let's see if after the rest of the votes are counted, Kaminsky is still up. If so, it's a bit of good news.


I purposely did not watch election results last evening because I knew with the closed primary that Bernie had little chance of victory here in New York. Teachers at school were asking me if they could vote and I had to tell them no they could not if they weren't already a registered Democrat or Republican. There are many independents out there which I understand.

When I woke up this morning and checked the results, I was not at all surprised to see Hillary easily winning the state. However, examining the neighborhood results at the NY Times website, there was something very interesting. I looked for my street in my neighborhood and behold:

Sanders 89
Clinton 88

Camille and I made a difference!

Take a look at the map for yourself to see how your neighborhood voted. Sanders did very well around Middle College High School where he campaigned. Remember the three basic rules of politics:

1- Do they know you?
2-Do they like you?
3-Do they trust you?

That counts for union elections too so I'm running around trying to get the MORE-NEW ACTION brand known.

As for the general U.S. election in the fall, Hillary v. Trump seems like a very depressing prospect for most Americans.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


On Sunday we examined the minutes of the April 4 UFT Executive Board meeting to find the UFT claiming a big victory on charter school funding increasing in the state budget. This seemed strange; in the same summary of President Michael Mulgrew's report there is something else of note:

Now that we have funding we need to move the school system.  The funding is supposed to get to the school.  They got a much bigger budget than last year.  The money is for the schools and it should be utilized in a way that moves our school system forward.  

I see this story in light of the big picture of the corruption in New York City Schools that Chaz covered Sunday. He cited the situation at John Dewey that Sue Edelman of the Post has been on for a while as has Ed Notes. A principal had a bogus credit recovery program going and was mistreating staff. She was exonerated.The DOE has conceded  that 36 schools had improper credit recovery going on. Can we trust these principals to spend additional funds properly?

Does anyone think that the power obsessed principals who run too many of our schools will use extra funding as Mugrew wants "in a way that moves our school system forward?"

There are a great number of decent principals out there who want to do what is best for their schools, their students and staff. I work for one now and have worked for some others in the past. They will spend extra funding properly I am confident.

However, there are too many others that see their schools as fiefdoms where they have been given license to do what they want virtually unchecked. 

The best way to reign them in is to restore power to UFT Chapters to provide a real check on principal authority as it was before former President Weingarten bargained away many of our rights in 2002 and 2005. I don't see that happening in the near future so expect millions of dollars of the new state funding to be thrown away in a way that does not move the school system forward.

As for the Central Department of Education, I have very little confidence that they will do right by our schools and our kids. As this piece on the New York City Public School Contracts blog shows, the DOE is not overly concerned with even tax evasion when doling out money. Our old friend former Panel for Education Policy maverick Patrick Sullivan reports:

The biggest concern revealed in the document may be found in the Addenda (page 132). A provider of pre-K services, Church Avenue Day Care, did not file NYC corporate taxes for 2010-2014. While this transgression would normally disqualify a vendor (categorize them as"non-responsible"), the DOE didn't detect the issue because pre-K providers were put in place for 2014-15 academic year before background checks were completed.  The DOE didn't pay the firm, instead the Fund for Public Schools, the DOE's private fundraising arm did. The documents now make clear the firm hasn't corrected the issue: "Unfortunately, the vendor did not resolve it's tax issues". But inexplicably, the DOE wants to reimburse the Fund for Public Schools anyway.

The beat goes on; not much changes at the DOE.

On a somewhat unrelated note, it's primary day. Don't forget to vote if you are a Democrat or Republican. The closed New York system (independents and new voters not welcome) makes a Hillary win likely. However, many of the kids I teach (diverse with a Latino majority) are feeling the Bern as are most of my friends. I'll be voting for Bernie if anyone cares to know. Hillary might win but the vast enthusiasm gap shows that it is not politics as usual.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


This is directly from the Minutes of the last UFT Executive Board meeting held on April 4, 2016. This section of President Michael Mulgrew's report concerns an increase in funding for charter schools in the NYS budget. According to the President, charter schools getting more funding was a huge win for the UFT.

The only increase for charter schools came directly from the pot of money Senate Republicans are allowed to spend.   It did not come out of the city’s funding or education.  That was a huge victory for us.  Initially the charter schools were declaring victory until they realized that all they got was money from the pocket of Senate Republicans to pay for their increase.  We represent close to over 2 dozen unionized charter schools that get caught in the middle of all of this.  There was actually a proposal that said these chains can take over the schools we have unionized.  Some of the charter schools have become more and more outspoken against these chains.  In terms of the Republicans we will make sure all their constituents know that they took their own money and gave it to charter schools they don’t represent and didn’t give it to children in their own districts.

Am I to understand that if charter schools get more funding and it comes at the expense of public schools outside of New York City then it is a big victory for the UFT? Maybe I am missing something here.

No mention from our leader that in the state budget funding for NYC public schools came in about $3 billion short of what the state owes us for about a decade. Here is the last paragraph of our state budget report from April 2:

On funding, Chalkbeat NY says schools will get around a $1.5 billion increase from Albany but they also point out that the state owes $4.4 billion according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit settlement. By my math they are roughly $3 billion short. The Gap Elimination Adjustment is gone but should have gone years ago.  In addition, at the last minute a huge increase in charter school funding was inserted in the budget. Even Cuomo apologist Andy Pallotta from NYSUT was unhappy calling it a "radical last-minute change" according to Chalkbeat.

Add to the funding shortage that there were no changes to Cuomo's abominable Education Transformation Act of 2015 so test and punish education is alive and well in New York State. Teachers will still be rated on student test scores and schools will be placed into receivership where they can be taken over by the state and teachers dismissed based on the results on tests not designed to rate teachers or schools. The State Education Department is now trying to figure out which different unreliable tests to use to rate teachers if they can't use the Common Core tests for three more years. AP and SAT exams were not constructed for teacher evaluations as far as I know but they are being considered.

These inconvenient little facts are not part of Mulgrew's report because remember the UFT never loses. Only the members suffer defeat after defeat after defeat under Mulgrew/Unity. Ask anyone who works in a school and isn't on the UFT gravy train if conditions in the schools are improving. The best way to respond right now is to spread the word and then vote for MORE-NEW ACTION in the UFT election in May.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Teacher unions won an important victory yesterday as an appellate court in Los Angeles unanimously overturned a lower court decision that found teacher tenure in California violates the state constitution. The case is Vergara vs. California.

AFT President Randi Weingarten reacted to the victory by as usual calling for concessions. Here is Randi's portion of the L.A. Times original article:

Weingarten acknowledges that the current tenure laws are problematic, and said that the state of California should "work together" to improve them. But, she added, "You can't fire your way to a teaching force.

In a later edition of the same article, Randi's portion changes but is still essentially the same.
At least one union leader, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, has said that some employment rules are “problematic” and should be improved. But she too hailed the reversal: “You can’t fire your way to a teaching force.”

Compare Randi's reaction to the California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins' comment:
“I think it’s a win certainly for educators, but also a win for students,” California Teachers Assn. President Eric C. Heins said of the ruling. “The trial never made the connection between the harms [the plaintiffs] were alleging and the statutes they were challenging. I think the laws have been working.”

Weingarten calls employment rules problematic and says we all need to work together to improve them (a seat at the table) while the California Teachers Association says "the laws have been working."

I always acknowledge that I like Randi Weingarten personally but does she ever just advocate for teachers without wavering? Or as a number of us have asked many times: Has she ever met a giveback she didn't like?

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Verizon workers went out on strike yesterday. We recommend everyone go to the AFL-CIO page and support the Verizon strikers.

Interesting take on the two Democrats running for President from which shows how Bernie walked with the Verizon workers on the picket line Wednesday and spoke passionately on their behalf. To be fair, Hillary joined the strikers too along with Randi Weingarten but Hillary also took a $225,000 fee to speak to Verizon in the past. Not bad work if you can get it and it is kind of symbolic of why many do not trust Ms. Clinton.

Bernie also won the TWU Local 100 endorsement yesterday.

I wouldn't miss the Clinton-Sanders debate tonight for just about anything. I only wish there was a Jia Lee-Michael Mulgrew debate for UFT presidential candidates. Wouldn't that be fun?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


More from Reality Based Educator.

And just like that, we get more Bharara/de Blasio news:

This will weaken de Blasio, both politically and financially:

Bharara took a shot at Cuomo in his talk to Common Cause last night too over Moreland and his failure to get ethics reform done in the budget:

Takeaway from all this?

De Blasio's in trouble.  Maybe not criminal yet (though that depends greatly on whether he's telling the truth over the Rivington deal), but certainly political.  He needs to be raising funds to stave off a primary challenger - but his fund raising will dry up for a bit while this thing goes on.  Does that ensure he gets a primary challenger or a strong general election candidate?

As for Cuomo, Andy does seem to lead a charmed life.  Despite all his shenanigans in Moreland, the Buffalo Billion Project and his ethics reform sham, he's still skating free and (seemingly) clear - at least so far.  Bharara talks a good game on Cuomo but that's all it's been so far - talk.


This came in an email from Tim Farley via twitter yesterday.

This is from the US Senate. It appears John King is up to his old tricks in DC. King is the guy who Michael Mulgrew trusted to write the New York City teacher evaluation system. That judgment alone renders Mulgrew unfit for reelection as UFT President.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Below is a reaction piece to what we posted yesterday on U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's latest investigation straight from the famous blogger Reality Based Educator who we all miss. Arthur Goldstein authenticated in case you think this is a fraud RBE. 

It's great to have RBE back blogging for a day.

Saw your post from this morning.  My sense of the story is this:

1. The story is partly political, coming as it does just as BdB was putting a rough stretch behind him, solidifying his poll numbers, and scaring off potential opponents for 2017 in both the Democratic primary and the general election.  The Post has gleefully jumped on the news and will run with it, as will the other Murdoch outlets, trying to pull down BdB's numbers and help recruit some opponents in both the primary and the general because they really want to see him knocked off. 

2. So too does Cuomo -  he was supposed to be trying to actively recruit Hakeem Jeffries or Ruben Diaz Jr to run against BdB. That seemed unlikely to happen given BdB's strong polling in the last round, but with this going on, I would expect Cuomo to start pushing again for someone to primary BdB.  Doubtful that Cuomo is behind the leaks (especially given how it reminds one of Cuomo's own Glenwood mess and the Buffalo Billion subpoenas), but it certainly is making him happy since it weakens his "good friend" Bill de Blasio.  Especially since he just lost his state police chief over the "feud" he's got going with BdB:

3. Given the amount of money Cuomo took from Glenwood Management and the companies subpoenaed in the Buffalo Billion investigation, the de Blasio rake in from the two guys at the center of this mess isn't that much - nonetheless, it's a problem that could widen if the feds find more good stuff there after they started looking.  And given the rumors around de Blasio's fundraising, that's certainly a possibility. It would be ironic to see BdB go down for the chump change involved here (less than $100,000 total) given how Cuomo lapped up millions from his donors in direct quid pro quos (see Kiryas Joel, for example, on top of the Glenwood/421a and Buffalo Billion thing), but it could happen.

4. Rumors have swirled around Norman Seabrook for a long time - the powers that be want to break that union and "corruption" will be the excuse to do it.  "Reform" will come to Rikers even if they need to cart Seabrook off in order to get it (See the NY Times from 2014 for how Seabrook "stands in the way" of that reform):

Overall, I am lukewarm to de Blasio but am concerned about what will follow him.  I'd rather six more years of someone who isn't actively out to get teachers (like Bdb) than two more years of BdB and eight years of a charter-friendly replacement like Jeffries or Diaz following him.  That's what Cuomo is pushing for, that is certainly what Eva and her charter cohorts want, and that definitely could happen, depending upon where this goes from here. 

That's my take until the next slate of leaks...

Monday, April 11, 2016


With all apologies to Paul Simon for the ICEUFTBlog stealing and paraphrasing his line from Mrs. Robinson:

Where have you gone Reality Based Educator? We bloggers turn a lonely eye to you.

RBE would be the best source, particularly in the blogosphere, to figure out what U.S. attorney Preet Bharara's investigation of Mayor Bill de Blasio's fundraising means. RBE was on the corruption in Albany story just about every day before he retired from blogging in January. I'm sure he could sink his teeth into a New York City corruption scandal pretty well also.

We touched on the mayor's fundraising last month when we noted a story about the AFT contributing to de Blasio's Campaign for One New York following a meeting between the Mayor, AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Soon thereafter we received our lousy contract with its paltry raises, healthcare givebacks, insane teacher evaluation system, weakened due process for Absent Teacher Reserves and interest free loan to the city that they won't pay us back in full until 2020. This prompted one of my all-time favorite comments from Mike Fiorillo:

And the pathetic Mulgrew needed Mommy to come with him when meeting with the Mayor... In order to pay tribute and get a lousy contract...

Fast forward a few weeks where now there is a corruption scandal among the top brass at the NYPD that the feds have exposed. CBS 2 broke the news last Friday that the investigation has expanded to de Blasio.

Now, sources told (reporter Marcia Kramer the feds are questioning people in the real estate industry about how the mayor raises money.

What does this mean for the city/UFT?

I am not accusing Mulgrew or Randi of any corruption here. I kind of agree with Norm Scott who thinks they are too smart for this. Skirting the rules in the UFT, or rather making up the rules to tilt the playing field in their favor, is far more subtle and sophisticated.

This blog would like to know where people who follow these things closely feel Bharara's investigation is going.

RBE could analyze this situation beautifully. If you are out there reading, please chime in any time you like.

Speculation from any of our readers is of course welcome.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


The defenders of the "testocracy" within the UFT-NYSUT-AFT went the amendment route to get their way at the NYSUT Representative Assembly this weekend. As the Facebook post below from Marla Kilfoyle shows, it looks like it was the Unity people who amended an anti-testing resolution to render it lame, just as they do in NYC at UFT Delegate Assemblies.

Those 750 Unity-UFT Delegates up at the NYSUT RA all have taken loyalty oaths to do as they are told. It seems they still control NYSUT. Their free trip to the next convention and/union jobs depend on them saying yes to anything UFT President Michael Mulgrew tells them to do.

From Marla;

My special order of business at NYSUT RA was amended with what I feel was an "unfriendly" amendment. This Special Order of Business was inspired by NYSAPE and sought to demand that NY Commissioner Elia immediately end the "untimed" testing agenda that she established. This "untimed"testing agenda, as seen in the ELA exams had our most vulnerable children testing for 5+ hours. (One special education student tested for 12 hours!!). The Special Order of Business also sought to invalidate the 3-8 ELA exams due to errors in the student directions and a lack of a planning page for children to plan out their essays (many principals received word this page was missing in a 9:09-9:12 email sent out the morning of the test). Many principals either did not see the email or saw it one hour into the test. The Special Order of Busniness was amended to read that "be it resolved that NYSUT will research "untimed"testing, allow the Governors CC Task Force (akaFarce) to implement its work..." and would just admit errors on the test but not do anything to stop them being used against children or teachers. Color me a tad pissed off!

Unity will do anything to water down or kill anything that doesn't keep the basics of test and punish education intact. Unity is the status quo in education.

Some of the comments to Marla's post are very encouraging and should be read by all who oppose Unity and are hoping for a real teacher union in the future.

Kristen Konrad Mendoza It pissed me off too. I was so proud of you, Marla. I knew I made the right choice to join ST and saw first hand the involvement of the UFT and the Unity Caucus in the sham that is the task force. The involvement of our NYSUT leaders as well was made quite clear. We will keep questioning and working on behalf of our students and schools.
22 hrs
John Mannion Keep fighting Marla Kilfoyle! Unfortunately we just endorsed APPR with the other amended resolution and that is very disappointing.
22 hrs
Kevin Glynn You are a hero. As a dad and teacher- thank you! The buffoons running the UFT should understand that we work inside of these things called classrooms. We are tasked with educating the people in these classrooms known as students. The leadership has made a decision to play no role in the problem and in doing so have become part of the problem.
41 hrEdited
Cheryl Smith Absurd to recommend to sham task force. Writer of insulting anti opt out Newsday Op Ed is task force member! ST caucus stands for education & educators and is growing. This is the last year unity will be modifying these important resolutions. Snowball is building!!

Some more comments:
Brian O'Sullivan Mulgrew trusts junk science more than principals to properly evaluate teachers, and somehow sees Cuomo's latest law as an improvement.
43 hrs
Debbie Cottrell Dermady No one ever admits the wrongdoing. Just like now w the standards review committee, watch how many get nominated to review that are against COMMON CORE. None of us. I wanted to say it all was garbage and you were right when they called it to order.
12 hrs
Christine DiBartolo Pellegrino Who stands against resolutions like this???? Do they see with their eyes a student who sits ALL DAY for 3 days straight? Do they see the defeat in them when they have to write something they aren't confident in - finally - with 10 minutes left in their day - who know they must come back to the horror again and again? Do they see those children cry? Shake? Rock in their chairs and talk out loud to themselves? Lose 3 WHOLE DAYS of instructional time - time with their teacher, time with their friends in class and at PLAY TIME, Fun activity time, learning something that really matters time? WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO WON'T STAND UP FOR KIDS?

In NYC, we can help build that snowball that Cheryl Smith wrote about by voting for MORE-NEW ACTION in the upcoming UFT election.