Saturday, March 30, 2019


Need another reason to vote against anyone running on Unity slate, how about a sex scandal? This is just one symptom of Unity's arrogance of almost completely unaccountable power. At least there was some accountability here.

Here are some details from the Daily News:

A burly teachers’ union official with a taste for naughty behavior has been fired for carrying on messy sexual trysts with junior staffers, sources say.

Former United Federation of Teachers Political Director Paul Egan, a political powerbroker whose influence once extended from lower Manhattan to Albany, was let go from his high-flying post Feb. 15 amid jealous accusations hurled by one of his spurned paramours, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Egan, 52, who worked in city schools before joining the UFT more than a decade ago, first grabbed headlines after city officials accused him of encouraging his students to cheat on standardized exams in 2001.

In 2011, he made the news again for throwing a fit during a boozy lobbyist dinner in a swank Albany bistro, claiming the quail he was served — and finished — wasn’t a generous enough portion, sources said.

You get the idea. Only the "best" move up the Unity food chain.


This was in the Organizer and I have seen it at other places too.

Clarification on ATR Ratings

As a member of the ATR pool, you and many of your colleagues have had questions about how you are to be observed and rated over the remainder of this school year. I want to let you know that we have been in conversations with the Department of Education, and we have confirmed our understanding that you are not covered by Advance unless: 

1.    You are a full-time K-12 classroom teacher of record who maintains active status for at least six cumulative calendar months during the current school year; and

2.    You teach 40 percent or more of a full-time position.

If you have been covering classes without your own program, you will be rated Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory at the end of the school year. Additionally, you should not be observed according to the Danielson Rubric. You should be observed on an S/U basis. 

This guidance is different than guidance that went to principals a few weeks ago, but the DOE will be clarifying with principals in the coming days. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your UFT borough office.

So no Advance and Danielson unless you have a class for six cumulative calendar months during the current school year. Any violations?

Thursday, March 28, 2019


Thanks to Harry Lirtzman for sending me the latest Independent Budget Office report on New York City tax revenues called Tale of the Taxes. According to the IBO, New York had a banner tax collection year in fiscal year 2018 and should continue to collect increases in tax money but at a  slower rate of growth in the coming years. 

From the IBO Report:

Extraordinary circumstances over a year ago swelled personal income tax collections (PIT), boosting overall tax revenue growth in fiscal year 2018 to 8.5 percent. (For the rest of this report, years refer to city fiscal years.) For 2019, IBO forecasts much slower growth of 3.6 percent yielding $61.0 billion in total tax revenue. Slightly faster growth of 4.0 percent is expected in 2020. For the remaining three years of the financial plan we project growth in tax revenues will average 3.6 percent annually, with total tax revenue reaching nearly $70.6 billion in 2023. 

These are not whacky wide eyed optimists at the IBO. They tend to be cautious. This is what the report says about slowing economic growth:

Consistent with our expectation of slower near-term U.S. economic growth, IBO projected that local economic growth would also decelerate towards the end of this year and— especially—throughout 2020.

Let's review the overall picture. City tax revenue grew 8.5% for fiscal year 2018; 2019 should see a rise of another 3.6% in tax revenue; then the forecast is for 4% tax revenue increase in 2020 and for the next three years 3.6% increases. That's a lot of new money coming into the city coffers!

Question for UFT members: Aren't you ecstatic that your union negotiated salary increases of about 2% annually for you through most of 2022? Also, aren't you even more thrilled that you have to pay for part of those increases with healthcare savings? 

My wife's UFT election ballot came in the mail yesterday. I can't see how anyone votes for Mulgrew/Unity, the person and caucus who negotiated for paltry raises with healthcare givebacks in 2014 and 2018 while the city economy soared. Also, please don't forget we are still waiting for half of the backpay for raises we were entitled to from 2009-2011 that other city unions received back then but we won't be paid back in full for until 2020. 

When my ballot arrives, I'm voting for Lydia Howrilka/Solidarity. (That's me speaking, not ICEUFT which did not want to vote on endorsing candidates after dropping support for MORE, a caucus that does not believe in due process or New Action, a caucus that is not even running officer candidates.)

I know Mulgrew has name recognition and patronage goodies to give out so he will win easily but could readers please spread the word.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


I usually read The Organizer. It is an online publication written by retired Unity Caucus member Gene Mann who was a longtime chapter leader.

Gene has a feature called "The Grapevine" in which UFT members give information about their particular schools so others can make a little more or an informed decision on whether or not they want to attempt to transfer to a school (not that the transfer process is fair but that is another posting). Below is a Grapevine review of an anonymous Queens school. I'm making it anonymous as I have no idea if anyone there wants this on the general internet.

School: Queens School

Principal: Nameless

Principal’s School Survey Rating:  (below city average)

Resignations in past five years: 8

Discontinuances/Terminations (Firings): 0

Safety Reports last year: 1

Ineffective/U-ratings: 0

3020a Proceedings: 0 

The school is clean and well maintained.  It is centrally located near the bus and LIRR. There are a few places to eat plus delivery is available from many local eateries. The neighborhood is family oriented with many students living in apartments. Unfortunately, aside from the heavy involvement of the core PTA members, there is limited parent involvement.

There is very little support for behavioral issues and management skills are expected.  There are only a few severe behavioral issues and good management will work for you here. If you have difficulty you will not be welcomed in this school.

The A.P. is beyond harsh and once she decides you have weaknesses there is no coming back from it. Administration commits APPR complaint offenses on a regular basis but staff is afraid to file.
The principal will systematically observe you and break you down if she decides you should not be there. Difficult assignments are hand picked for you. Most people leave sometimes in the middle of the school year. 

I have never been very happy, comfortable, or welcome in this school.

A review like this from a UFT member doesn't set the alarm bells ringing all over the UFT? We have a UFT member saying there is no support on behavioral issues; there is an AP who is beyond harsh; staff is afraid to file APPR complaints; teachers are quitting in the middle of the year. It looks like administration takes one or two teachers they want to get rid of and they just force them out to use as an example for everyone else. 
Teachers seem defenseless in this school. Is this the case of a disgruntled employee complaining or is teacher powerlessness in many schools a reality throughout the system?

Monday, March 25, 2019


There is interesting news from the 2020 campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for President. Seems Kamala Harris wants to raise teacher salaries.

From CNN:

"I'm declaring to you that by the end of my first term, we will have improved teachers' salaries so that we close the pay gap," the California Democrat said in Houston to a group of supporters. "Because right now, teachers are making over 10% less than other college educated graduates and that gap is about $13,000 a year, and I am pledging to you that through the federal resources that are available, we will close that gap."

There is support from Obama Secretary of education Arne Duncan on Twitter:

Radical idea: pay the professionals we entrust to teach, nurture and mentor our children a better salary! 

An enthusiastic response from AFT President Randi Weingarten's Twitter:

THIS is incredible!!  @KamalaHarris is putting attracting & retaining teachers front and center. This would make a huge difference in the lives of educators, our students and our communities. #AFTVotes #FundOurFuture

Some reaction to Randi from TrekkerTeach that our friend Reality Based Educator retweeted:

What we're seeing is AFT president Randi Weingarten and DFER Arne Duncan making a coordinated push of Kamala's sudden stated support for teachers & unions.

That's an alliance I do not trust.

Seems they've figured out how they're going to try to placate #RedForEd in 2020.


Further reaction from Christine Langhoff on Twitter in response to Randi's Tweet:

Yet another red flag.

Please go to the NPE site to see Kemala Harris getting a D grade for who her donors are. As they said during the Watergate era: Follow the money.

Saturday, March 23, 2019


This email came yesterday from the Executive Director of Class Size Matters, Leonie Haimson, asking us to  call legislators to get class size reductions from Contracts for Excellence in the state budget.


1. In 2018, nine parents, Class Size Matters and AQE sued the Department of Education to force them to lower class size and abide by the Contracts for Excellence (C4E)  law.   We are now preparing to file an appeal in the case. Yet the NY Senate and the NY Assembly in their deleted any mention of C4E or NYC’s obligation to lower class size from their one-house budgets. If this language is absent from the final budget, our lawsuit is dead.

On Monday we traveled to Albany along with NYC Kids PAC, urging key legislators to ensure that the C4E language is restored in the final budget where it belongs, along with more education funding.

Please call your legislators today and urge them to put C4E back into the budget. You can find your Assemblymember’s phone number here and your Senator’s phone number here.  But please do this today!

Here’s the script: “I urge you to restore the Contracts for Excellence language in the state budget, including NYC’s obligation to lower class size.”  A memo on our lawsuit is here.

After you call them, please fill out this 30-second form to let us know who you contacted so we can follow-up.I 

2.  On Saturday, I appeared at an Education Town hall in Jackson Heights Queens with assorted luminaries, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Diane Ravitch. Videos of this terrific event are here, including my five-minute presentation on how class size must be lowered to provide true equity for NYC students, and how you can help make sure this happens.

But please call your legislators today!

Thanks, Leonie

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Why isn't the UFT hitting us with texts, emails and phone calls urging us to bombard the State Legislature with phone calls to make sure the lower class size numbers from C4E are in the state budget? I have an answer.

I believe the UFT is really aligned with education reform with the exception of vouchers (public money to attend private schools). I recall AFT President Randi Weingarten back when she ran the UFT even said the union is open to any reform idea except vouchers.

Go down the list of  some of the education deform ideas and look at the UFT positions:

Rate teachers based on student assessments: ✔

Charter schools: ✔  (UFT even opened two of them.)

Common Core: ✔ (President Mulgrew once threatened to punch anyone who messed with Common Core.)

Standardized tests for students every year: ✔

Oppose or say nothing about parents opting students out from state testing: ✔ (If UFT supported and encouraged opt out in NYC, test and punish education reform would probably be dead in a year.)

Class size doesn't matter: UFT does give lip service to lower class sizes but when it comes to mobilizing members to actually fight for lower class sizes, it has been years and years since the Union has done anything.  NYC still has the highest class sizes in the state. I think we can give a ✔ here too based on lack of action. Wait, we did get labor-management committees on class size in the new contract. We shall see where that goes but they are trying to get maximum class sizes down to 34 in high schools and they are mostly dealing with schools that flagrantly defy the contact's already too high limits.

The evidence on education is there: The UFT is pretty much still aligned with the corporate wing of the Democratic party. We are the strongest union still clinging to major parts of the corporate reform agenda.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The contrast couldn't be more striking. Teachers in Louisville, Kentucky defying their union by calling out sick and shutting down the schools six times recently in order to protest a series of bills at the state capitol while New York City teachers orderly lobbied in Albany for more education dollars.

From the Courier Journal in Louisville:

Due to approximately a third of teachers being absent and the inability to safely cover a large number of classes with substitute teachers, all @JCPSKY schools will be closed Thurs., March 14, 2019. @YMCALouisville CEP “Snow Day” sites will be open:

Here is a summary of the Kentucky sickouts from World Socialist Website.

The work actions have been called in response to multiple anti-public-school legislative initiatives aimed at privatizing public education through vouchers, charter schools, and the funneling of tax money into homeschooling, private and religious operations. The legislation has been endorsed by US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council lobbying organization. Many teachers who called in sick have travelled to the state capitol in Frankfort to protest during the last days of the legislative session, which ends on March 28.

Are these teachers courageous? You better believe it.

Here is what their union told them and a reaction from a teacher:

The Kentucky Education Association issued an opinion to the Jefferson County Teachers Association that regardless of whether a school district cancels classes, teachers who call out sick to protest at the Capitol could face disciplinary action.

For Rovira, who is four years from retirement, potentially risking her job to be at the Capitol is worth it.

“I can’t retire until I’m 65 because of the insurance,” she said. “I’m risking more than most people here, but you know, people have died for issues like this. Nobody’s threatened my life. I’m sacrificing a lot less than a lot people have done.”
Now I would argue that Kentucky teachers' fundamental existence is being threated by these awful bills but teachers are risking everything for this fight.

Here in New York, where teachers are paid better than in the south, there is a sense of calm. Lobby day in Albany was business as usual with UFT reps going and performing their kabuki style play with the Legislature looking for more money.

Nothing yet on UFT website but I did see this from NYSUT:

With a dais busting with high-profile union presidents and officers, emcee Anthony Harmon turned the tables and introduced the audience, calling them “the biggest, baddest trade unionists this side of the Mississippi River!”
Harmon, staff director for the United Federation of Teachers, was talking about the hundreds of grassroots volunteer members of the UFT who came to Albany Monday to share their front-line stories of conditions in New York City classrooms with state lawmakers.

After a quick lunch and an uplifting briefing with leaders, the lobbyists-for-a-day set out to push for the state to fund what they know works — things like Teacher Centers and Community Learning Schools, which provide medical and social services in schools where they make a difference every day.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta reminded them that UFT, NYSUT, the Board of Regents and education groups across the state were united in calling for a $2.2 billion increase in education funding. Both the Senate and Assembly recommended nearly doubling the governor’s insufficient K-12 aid proposal, which shows “that united front is moving the debate.” But budget negotiations continue, with an April 1 deadline.

In meeting with lawmakers, give credit where it’s due, Pallotta said: “Thank them for restoring the funding for Teacher Centers, which the governor wants to eliminate... and thank them for passing APPR legislation to end the mandate that test scores be part of a teacher evaluation.”
The Empire State Plaza Convention Center was chock full of activists from every borough of New York City.

“God knows what we’re doing up here is his work … or her work,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “It is because of the people — including parents and lawmakers — in this room that the state has continued to invest in public education. The problem is, the need is great.”
American Federation of Teachers President Randy Weingarten introduced a social media campaign called #FundOurFuture. Saying the Trump/DeVos agenda in Washington, D.C., aims “to make the rich richer and the poor poorer,” she called on New York “to continue to put working- and middle-class people first.”

In NY, we have plenty of charter schools that suck resources from the public schools while not having the same accountability. Class sizes have not been lowered in half a century in NYC even though state law said they should be reduced over a decade back and the evaluation system is still a mess. In addition, in too many schools it is unsafe to teach and teacher autonomy is a dream from another universe. Test and punish is alive and well with terribly flawed state tests coming and the UFT doing absolutely nothing to starve the data beast by pushing opt out.

Maybe the UFT approach is the way to go. It is the corporate Democrat model. Who am I to say it does not work as I retired last year with a decent pension? However, a newer Tier VI teacher won't get that same pension and from from what I hear in the schools, we should be considering thinking about maybe contemplating talking about taking a more Kentucky style approach to lobbying in what is our deep blue state. Perhaps we could go on offense and stop performing the kabuki play.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Below is a piece that our union dues paid for in City and State penned by UFT President Michael Mulgrew on the Positive Learning Collaborative. Is this the cure for our school safety issues? Is it one possible solution of which there are multiple potential answers? I leave the editorializing to you.

Beyond Suspensions:
A Real Solution to Student Discipline

Discipline in our schools has been reduced to a simplistic question about the rise or fall in the number of student suspensions. But the real issue is much deeper -- how to change the overall climate in our schools to reduce the conflicts and occasions that make suspensions necessary.
In programs like the joint UFT-DOE Positive Learning Collaborative, all adults in a school building are trained to cultivate strong relationships with students, to recognize when students are facing crises that could lead to behavioral problems, and in techniques that help them defuse student conflicts. This is particularly important for children who face extraordinary challenges like homelessness or disability, and who are much more likely than their peers to be disciplined or suspended.

Effective programs also provide curriculum to help students learn constructive ways to deal with frustration, anger, and depression; behavior specialists who regularly visit classrooms to provide on-going support; and a data system to track progress so schools can adapt mid-stream if something is not working.

We need these changes because African-American and Latino students have borne the brunt of our failed discipline policies. They have been disproportionately suspended under "Zero Tolerance" plans. And equally troubling, they have been the first to have their education disrupted when other students act out and school communities are unprepared to tackle the problem - a reality that rarely becomes part of the public discussion.

In New York City, the six public schools with a total of 3,400 children in the first cohort of the Positive Learning Collaborative have seen an 82 percent drop in suspensions, and a drop in more than half in the kind of violent incidents that usually lead to suspensions.

At the same time, academic gains have either kept pace with or exceeded the citywide gains in standardized tests, while both staff and parents have reported increased levels of trust among all parties and a calmer and more nurturing school environment.

One such example is PS 42 in the Bronx, a school where large numbers of children grapple with traumas such as homelessness, and where discipline had been a problem.

To try to turn the school round, new principal Lucia Orduz brought in new resources and the Positive Learning Collaborative (PLC), which introduced programs to train teachers in a variety of restorative justice practices.

In the words of Ms. Orduz: "We're offering the staff a solution. We're saying, here is the equipment, here are ideas, here are tools. You're not in this alone."

The result: suspensions started to go down, not by pretending there were no problems, but by training the adults in the building in how to alter their own -- and students -- behavior.

According to Ms. Orduz, thanks to the Positive Learning Collaborative: "We stay abreast of new techniques that we can incorporate, new tools that we can give our teachers, so that we are not only addressing negative behavior, but we're preventing negative behavior."

Similar successes have been found in similar programs in districts ranging from Schenectady to Philadelphia to Oakland, California.

We have been generally supportive of the city administration's reforms of school discipline, though we have insisted that student suspensions can sometimes be both necessary and appropriate. But in our discussions with the Department of Education, we have made it clear that focusing solely on suspensions treats a symptom rather than the underlying problem.

Teachers, students and families deserve schools with a safe, nurturing learning environment. It is the job of the adults -- particularly supervisors -- to create and maintain that environment for all children, a job that whole-school programs like the Positive Learning Collaborative can help accomplish.
To hear more about a Bronx school using PLC listen here:

Monday, March 18, 2019


It was a packed house with standing room only at the Queens Public Education Town Hall in Jackson Heights on Saturday. Diane Ravitch, Class Size Matters' Leonie Haimson, Network for Public Education leader Carol Burris, other education activists and some local politicians all made very good presentations on behalf of public schools. My wife and I were there in the audience along with a former and the current Chapter Leader from Bryant High School.

It is always exciting to hear Diane Ravitch talk about the failure of high stakes testing. Diane nailed it again on why the Democrats are so bad on the testing issue. We have to follow the money as the civil rights organizations that want to keep high stakes testing all receive funding from the Gates Foundation. Money talks. 

Ravitch and AOC

Everyone of course is talking about the appearance Saturday from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Judge it for yourself. I was quite impressed. Thanks to Class Size Matters for posting.

One of AOC's best lines was when she talked about how education is a structural and systemic problem, requiring a solution on the scale of the problem. She spoke on why we shouldn't  need charter schools. AOC even had to handle some hecklers from the back during the question and answer session that followed the presentations.

Her reaction on Twitter:
I LOVE how fired up our NY-14 town halls get. This is New York City!

Getting fired up means you care. I'd never discount the passion and courage it takes to stand up at a town hall.

So this was a great moment and awesome opportunity to have this honest conversation.

Diane Ravitch comments on Twitter: @AOC is very impressive. Honest, sincere. No pretension, no arrogance. Direct. Real. Empathetic.

It is interesting that after AOC spoke, she was writing detailed notes when Ravitch was answering questions. I hope she was learning about education and not writing her dinner order. 

From Leonie:
I was thrilled to be there and meet AOC, who spoke eloquently about how her family had moved out of the Bronx for good schools, and how no one should ever have to move from their home or to a charter school because the public schools aren't good enough.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


We have an update from our correspondent inside Forest Hills High School. It is interesting to note that the print edition of the NY Teacher arrived yesterday but there is no mention of Forest Hills. The Arthur Goldstein piece we wrote about the other day is online only. I was hoping it would be the front page story when I saw the paper was in my mailbox today.

The print edition did have space for such important union issues as "Putting a New Spin on Learning" about fostering team spirit in an elementary school and one on planning field trips. Nothing against any of the teachers or kids featured but don't the UFT members at Forest Hills High School deserve space in the Union's  print newspaper that goes out all over the place?

Why is Principal Sherman still walking the 
halls at the high school?


Why is Ben Sherman running UFT Consultative Council meetings?  Why is Ben Sherman still observing teachers?   Why is Ben Sherman still walking the halls at Forest Hills High School while being investigated by the DOE for lewd behavior in front of staff and students.  Ninety per cent of the teachers and a vast majority of the parents would like to know.   From what I hear, he intends on  coming back in September and moving on to business as usual.  Do those who were the recipients of these comments and acts need to be reminded of his deeds over and over again?  What kind of message does this send when we also give students pamphlets  encouraging respect for all?  Will one of you please acquaint him with one of these pamphlets.  If anyone else was accused of just one of the things he had done, they would be removed immediately while being investigated.
The rally we had last week was very encouraging, but I must tell you that morale at the school is getting pretty low as people are thinking that the DOE is all powerful and there is no way they can be made to rectify this situation.  Is concern over setting precedent more important than the welfare of the school and the kids?   Can you imagine what the senior graduation will be like (which happens to be scheduled the day after the last day of class)?  

This blog totally favors Mr. Sherman getting all of his due process rights.  He deserves a fair, impartial hearing on the allegations made against him. However, the DOE double standard is alive and well. If it is a teacher accused of  almost anything, the practice is to immediately remove the teacher from the school, usually never to return, and ask questions later. If it is a principal, the principal is innocent and stays in place until proven guilty, not beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt. 
Membership in the DOE principal club has many privileges.

More NY Post coverage on Forest Hills.

Friday, March 15, 2019


We have said for years that numerous safety incidents are swept under the rug in New York City schools and that Jamaica High School was penalized for reporting everything which led to us getting in trouble for being honest. At one of the schools that replaced Jamaica, one of our assistant principals, while we were phasing out, told me there was so much swept under the rug at the new school that it was like looking at a camel hump.

State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli has released an audit on bullying in NYC schools. Guess what? There are none reported in hundreds of  NYC schools.

From the press release on the audit:

For school year 2015-2016, DoE did not report any material incidents to SED for 670 of 1,600 schools and in 2016-2017, it did not report any material incidents for 570 schools. Moreover, in both years, DoE did not report any material incidents at 387 of those schools. Among the schools with no reported incidents for three years running are some of DoE’s largest.

The audit notes that the high number of schools reporting no material incidents, particularly middle schools (20 percent) and high schools (17 percent), is indicative of a risk of significant underreporting.

Well duh!

From the NY Post:

Hundreds of public schools never reported a single instance of bullying to the state, as required by law — including some of the largest in the city, according to a report Wednesday from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Leading the pack in the hard-to-believe statistic was Hillcrest High School in Queens, which has 3,354 students and claimed not one complained about bullying or harassment over a three-year period ending in June 2017.

At the same time, in a separate school survey, 18 percent of students confided that they were bullying victims.

City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Queens) accused the Department of Education of trying to camouflage a crisis.

“It’s hard to believe,” Dromm told The Post. “We’ve seen this pattern over and over again. It’s a cover-up.”

You think?

Further down we learn:

Students at Hillcrest were perplexed by the absence of officially reported incidents.

Sameer Bhutta, 15, said immigrant kids are the primary victims of schoolyard torment.

“Bullying goes on in this school, definitely,” he told The Post. “Basically kids that come to this country get bullied by kids from here. They call them ‘FOBS’ — fresh off the boat.”

The recommendations in the audit are kind of comical. Read them for yourself. This is from page 16:


1. Institute proactive measures to identify schools at risk of underreporting bullying incidents and/or incorrectly categorizing incidents as “other” and take corrective actions. Such measures could include analyzing incident data, considering student population as well as school survey results.

2. Periodically share information on material incidents with the public to provide a more current picture of the school environment.

3. Align the Discipline Code definition of bullying with the NYCRR§100.2 definition.

4. Require more frequent mandatory RFA training and track whether such training took place.

5. Ensure all school employees responsible for entering incidents into OORS have had appropriate training to adequately and accurately document incidents.

6. Ensure that schools comply with timeliness requirements established by the Chancellor’s Regulations.

What we really need is a South African style truth commission where everyone can admit what they have been compelled to do by the DOE's Bloomberg era mandates that have been continued by Mayor de Blasio. The system rewards happy data and therefore penalize honesty because the reality is not so pretty in many schools.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


Mayor Bill de Blasio has delusions of grandeur apparently as he tours the early primary states to test the waters for a possible presidential run. Many of us are laughing as the thought of de Blasio winning the presidency is laughable. Two NY union heads are putting their money where their mouths are to make sure a de Blasio bid for the presidency never comes close to getting off the ground.

The Chief Leader civil service newspaper covered the story.

Even as Mayor de Blasio takes trips to New Hampshire and Iowa to burnish his national reputation as a progressive, city public-employee unions are spending nearly $1 million to offer voters a very different take on his job performance. 

For John Samuelsen, the international president of the Transport Workers Union, the local newspaper ads in early-voting states is a wise investment in helping to shape the 2020 Democratic field and to correct what he believes are misconceptions about Mr. de Blasio’s record. 

'He's a Fauxgressive'

“I think he is a fauxgressive, not a progressive,” Mr. Samuelsen said in a phone interview. “He’s the exact kind of Democrat that got Trump elected, and he’s exactly the kind of candidate that if he gets traction in the primary will get Trump re-elected.” 
He continued, “He’s in bed with non-union developers and the billionaire class. He’s an elitist that has this mix of the social liberal with the corporate Democrat, and that approach is a sure loser for us in states we need to win in, like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.”

In 2016, the TWU was one of a handful of labor unions to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. It has yet to make a 2020 endorsement, but Mr. Samuelsen thinks a Sanders-like message is  required to carry the states where Mr. Trump was able to make inroads in traditionally pro-union areas. “The working class is over and done with corporate Democrats,” he said.  “Sanders has that edgy class-oriented economic-security message for working people.”

In response to the TWU leader's critique, Raul Contreras, a spokesman for the Mayor, said he had a progressive track record of which the  city could be proud. “Pre-K and 3-K for all, mandatory paid personal leave, significant job growth, low crime and the lowest jail population since 1980. That’s a pretty good record they’re attacking,” he said. 

 EMS Unions Join Chorus 

The TWU is not the only union spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to share its take on Mr. de Blasio with an audience beyond the five boroughs. On Feb. 25, District Council 37’s Locals 2507 and 3627, which represent Emergency Medical Service workers, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times blasting the Mayor for comments he made justifying a $35,000 pay gap between Emergency Medical Technicians and Firefighters because their work was “different".

The piece goes on to quote a political science professor who says there is no risk to go after de Blasio for unions because he is a lame duck mayor who will be term limited out in 2021. I fully understand that Samuelson is an Andrew Cuomo ally so it is not unexpected for TWU to criticize the mayor.
What is very difficult to comprehend is why the UFT is so reluctant to be critical of the mayor. Has he been that good to the teachers?
Our raises under de Blasio have been anemic  and we are still waiting until 2020 to get back much of the money we worked for from 2009-11 that Mayor Bloomberg denied us. de Blasio could have afforded to pay us that money back in 2014. As for conditions in the schools, they are as bad as or even worse tthan ever for many teachers and students according to everyone I hear from.
Under these conditions, shouldn't the criticisms the UFT has for the mayor be more bold and not so tepid?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


I fully support the Network for Public Education. Any organization whose President is Diane Ravitch and Executive Director is Carol Burris is going to do some great work. Carol Burris is a principal who I am sure I could have worked for and Diane has carried the torch for public schools better than anyone over the years.

They have set up the NPE Action 2020 Candidates Project. NPE Action is attempting to make K-12 education an important issue in the presidential campaign. Great idea.

NPE Action has graded some of the Democratic presidential hopefuls in five areas: Donors, Charter Schools, Vouchers (government money to attend private schools), Testing and Affiliations.

It is no surprise that New Jersey Senator Corey Booker receives F grades across the board on public education. His record on public schools is abominable.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has three grades of A (Donors, Vouchers, Affiliations) and two B grades (Charters, Testing).

Bernie's record on charters and testing is certainly not perfect.

Elizabeth Warren scores an F on testing, two grades of B (Charters and Vouchers) and two A grades (Donors and Affiliations).

These are just some samples. Go to the site for more detailed information.

 On donors, here is the NPE Action explanation on why we should follow where the money these candidates receive comes from.

Donor Grade Explanation
Large donors give to candidates who support their point of view. Such donors receive special access to the candidate should they be elected. This rating measures the extent to which candidates have received large donations from so-called education reform supporters, PACs and 501 (c)(4) organizations.  We considered both the number of mega-donors, PACs and 501 (c)(4) organizations known to support charters, vouchers and “education reform” who gave to the candidate as well as the amount.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


The UFT has finally joined in with the press and bloggers in publishing an article on the UFT Chapter's  No Confidence vote against Forest Hills High School Principal Ben Sherman. The piece is written by Francis Lewis High School Chapter Leader, and former dissident, Arthur Goldstein.

We even have a quote from UFT President Michael Mulgrew who had been noticeably silent on the Forest Hills situation.

“Forest Hills educators are fighting for what’s best for their students and school community,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “They are not going to stand by and let a successful school be ruined. By coming together, they are making sure that their voices are heard.”
We have been urging the UFT to go public on incompetent/ abusive supervisors for years. We shall see if this is a one shot or a real change of direction at the Union. We are sure Sherman isn't the only supervisor who needs to be called out.

You won't see it mentioned in the article, or anywhere in the official UFT I'm sure, that the Forest Hills people got in touch with us to get the publicity ball rolling back in 2018.

Monday, March 11, 2019



Saturday, March 16, 2019      


Fiesta Hall 37-62 89th Street Jackson Heights 7 train to 90th Street

Education advocates, including noted historian Diane Ravitch and State Senator Robert Jackson, make the case for A BOLD NEW VISION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL JUSTICE & EQUITY
Sponsored by Jackson Heights People for Public Schools

With responses from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Senators Jessica Ramos
 & John Liu

Panel and discussion followed by audience Q&A

RSVP at: Entrance on a first-come, first-served basis

Participating Organizations:
Alliance for Quality Education
Class Size Matters
Network for Public Education
NYC Opt Out
NYS Association for Bilingual Education

You can't beat the presenters or the organizations sponsoring this one. I will do everything I can to be there. Hope some of you will be there too.

Saturday, March 09, 2019


The following  piece came to us from our Forest Hills High School insider.

For more, see the Queens Chronicle. 

There was a huge anti Ben Sherman rally in the cafeteria of Forest Hills HS Thursday afternoon.  Parents, politicians, and teachers all denounced Principal Sherman at this big UFT dinner party.

The headliners were Melinda Katz and Karen Koslowitz.  There was one other state legislator and two additional staffers from other politicians offices.  There must have been about 500 people there.

Politicians were very supportive.  The teachers made fiery speeches and parents also spoke.

Borough President Melinda Katz----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We know you've been fighting the fight, we know you've been bullied.

We didn't want you to think you were on your own.

I said to the Chancellor, "look," we've never had a problem with Forest Hills before.  "You have to wonder, 'why now,' what's the difference."

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've been a resident of Forest Hills for 56 years.  My two daughters went here.  ....I've been reading the paper. and I am heart sick (about what is happening.  We simply do not deserve what is happening now, over the last two years.

We're here to help you.

Are all the allegations we read in the paper true?

The crowd thunders back, YES!!!!!!

Then she said something barely audible that sounded like, that's all I need to hear.

Assemblyman Dan Rosenthal-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Forest Hills High School is one of the best and the largest and we want to keep it that way.

We are determined to make sure things get settled peacefully.

Friday, March 08, 2019


The normally happy talking UFT President Michael Mulgrew is admitting that there are major problems in the schools with discipline and order. He is quoted in what is now becoming the voice of the shell shocked NYC teachers, the NY Post. “Our current discipline system is broken,” Mulgrew said Wednesday evening. “It doesn’t work for students or staff.” 

Mulgrew's solution to the problem is as wishy-washy as we would expect.

“To make schools safe for everyone, we need the resources and training necessary to change school climate,” Mulgrew said Wednesday.

Blah, blah, blah.

Okay, I'm for more resources but training is a code word for more professional development.

We don't need more professional development on discipline. We must have teachers put back in charge of classrooms. That's simple. Administration needs to support teachers and stop looking to control us. It is also essential for teachers to have a meaningful role in school safety that is more than just having to have representation on the Safety Committee.

Who are the ones that lose the most from our broken disciplinary system?
1-The teachers who have to put up with schools where they are not permitted to have control over the classroom for sure.

2-The decent kids who want to learn who suffer when the out of control children with many needs that can't be handled in a regular classroom can easily take over.

The Post has a column from a Flushing Middle School Teacher on school discipline.

An excerpt:

If I tell a student to put away her phone, the conversation usually goes something like this:

Student: “Leave me the f–k alone.”

Me: “I’m going to call your parents.”

Student: “I don’t give a crap. My parents will just agree with me.”

Then maybe she’ll throw a desk across the room for good measure.

So now the trend is that the good kids, the kids who do their homework, who pay attention, are seeing this and asking themselves, “Why do I have to be good all the time?” And now they’re misbehaving, too — because, well, why not?

So what can we teachers do to lay down the law? Under the current system, nothing. The best we can do is meet with the troubled kids and try to explain that their actions have long-term consequences. Consequences that, as adults, could be fatal.

Every now and then, it works.

Our new friends at the Post went even further last night publishing numerous accounts from teachers at every level from all over the city on the lack of discipline.

A sampling:

This is way beyond talking out of turn — today’s public-school students are hellions who attack educators, shout X-rated bile and make bomb threats with impunity, teachers told The Post.
"If I had a dime for every time I was told to suck something, I’d be a millionaire,” said a female Jamaica, Queens, high-school teacher.

 “They know the system. They can say whatever they want to us and get away with it, but we can’t say a thing to them.”
When teachers use what little leverage they have, the kids do their best to get the educators in hot water.

"You can’t even tell a student that they aren’t going to pass a test or a class anymore because they will go to an administrator and complain that you made them feel uncomfortable and we’ll get written up,” she added.

The situation is no better in elementary schools, a teacher at Staten Island’s PS 44 said.
“In the lunchroom, there are constant fights . . . I had to go to urgent care. I was kicked in the knee [by a student]. I was limping for a week. I had blocks thrown at me,” she said.

Here is what the Post said was Mayor Bill de Blasio's reaction to the lack of order in the schools.

But de Blasio on Thursday doubled down on his claims about the effectiveness and fairness of restorative justice, crowing that schools are safer now than ever.
“Just look at the statistics,” the mayor told reporters.

“I think they have been very clear and consistent,” he said.
“A lot of the problems we experienced in the past have been reduced greatly in our schools. Crime has gone down, violence has gone down, our schools are safer than ever before,” he said.

“We had to address the overuse of suspensions,” he added.
“We had to address the discriminatory use of suspensions.”

What is the old saying about statistics Mr. Mayor?
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
What did Mark Twain officially say?
"Facts are stubborn but statistics are more pliable."
The facts are it is the wild west show with out of control students in way too many of our schools and the statistics are there for the gullible and politically motivated to quote.

The Post is not making these things up or just getting some small scale anecdotal evidence. The system is broken. Don't get me wrong, I'm no NY Post shill. While the Post's reporting on the schools has been on the money, the Post editorial board thinks the answer is more charter schools. That is not the solution.

More charter schools would make the problems in the schools worse as it would keep going a two tiered system of haves and have-nots. Lifting the cap on charters would deplete the public schools of resources but public schools would have to continue to compete on a non-level playing field for students since public schools must take all kids, including those with the most academic and emotional needs and English Language Learners. Charters can be selective, counsel out problem kids and not backfill their seats when students leave .

We must restore integrity to the system. The first step is to empower teachers to have control over their classrooms again. The culture in schools must make teachers feel respected by students, parents and administrators. 

Thursday, March 07, 2019


We have been sent an insider's account on Sean Davenport. He is the supervising superintendent sent to oversee Forest Hills High School Principal Ben Sherman, who is having difficulty in running the school. 90% of the staff voted no confidence in Sherman. This is from one of our regular readers.

I worked for Sean Davenport, the person tasked to supervise Ben Sherman.  During Davenport's final year as principal at Thurgood Marshall Academy last year, a technology teacher left in October.  The vacancy was not filled until March.  During this time, students were assigned to be in a science laboratory classroom.  Students reported that more often than not, the school didn't bother getting a sub for the class.  The door to the classroom was left open in case the noise level required dean intervention.  You can imagine what unsupervised children will do with a room full of beakers, triple balance beams, and microscopes left out in the open.  Furthermore, when it was time to give grades for these students, Davenport passed all of the students since not having a teacher wasn't their fault.  The teacher that ultimately took over the vacancy in March was tasked to teach computer programming to a class of 30 students with approximately 20 working laptops.
At TMA, student discipline was lax.  Students could curse at teachers directly to their face or they could be on their phones constantly with no consequences.  As long as students stayed inside the classroom and did not cause a scene when the superintendent/higher ups came by, you were left alone.  There was a math teacher that was known by the administration to be close to his students and gave everyone passing grades with little or no academic proficiency necessary.  The teacher was also known to be unusually close to his female students.  This teacher was ultimately removed from the classroom last February for allegedly buying 7 pounds of a date rape drug:

Tuesday, March 05, 2019


I don't often use this space to fight New York's internal political battles outside of education, particularly when there is so much that is going on in the schools that union officials and dissidents alike should be concerned about. The issue of bringing Amazon's second headquarters to Long Island City, New York is very controversial. I'm fairly certain UFT members are split on the Amazon deal and pullout.

So why then did President Michael Mulgrew sign onto a letter pleading with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to reconsider Amazon's decision to abandon the deal he made with the Mayor and Governor to open a second HQ in Queens? Anti-public school teacher stalwarts such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg's third Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Kathryn Wylde signed. David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs and other New York's business A-Listers are also on board. That's some pretty questionable company for a labor leader to be with. To be fair, there were some community groups and other labor leaders who signed as well.

Meanwhile, the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) has signed onto a letter opposing Governor Andrew Cuomo's attempt to woo Amazon's Jeff Bezos back to NY. Community groups one would think a union would be linked to were many of the other signatories here.

I'm not writing here to endorse either Mulgrew or MORE's position on Amazon coming to LIC. I don't support MORE or Mulgrew's Unity Caucus overall. MORE does not give due process to its members and Unity doesn't run the UFT as a labor union generally so I'm not a fan of either group.

On Amazon, I have heard teachers all over the place. Therefore, is it not possible that the wise course of action is to just not take a position one way or the other?

I recall many of my UFT friends being very upset because Mulgrew supported an Al Sharpton sponsored event a few years back. I also remember other friends being very angry because Mulgrew would not back a Black Lives Matter week of action because the UFT felt it would be a splitter issue, meaning the membership would be split so there would have been no benefit for the UFT to be weighing in where the membership is so divided.

Couldn't that same logic be used on the Bezos letter? Considering Amazon's anti-union record and anti-mom record too, I wonder why any union leader would go anywhere near Bezos.

It would seem to me that a better use of time for the UFT's President would be to visit beleaguered Forest Hills High School, where the teachers are fighting back against the principal.

The NY Post in an editorial on Forest Hills rightfully claimed credit for exposing the situation there.

The Department of Education should have acted long ago, after the school’s teachers-union chapter passed a rare vote of no confidence in Ben Sherman, the principal. Or earlier, when faculty informally sent word of trouble up the chain via the United Federation of Teachers.

Heck, responsible educrats would’ve been asking questions after last year’s “school climate survey” revealed that only 55 percent of Forest Hills teachers agreed that order and discipline are maintained at the school, well below the citywide average of 77 percent — at what’s long been an excellent school.

Yet teachers had to come to The Post to get action. (Should we send UFT chief Mike Mulgrew an invoice for having the Post do his job?)
It looks as though Mulgrew is too busy working with the elites of the city pleading with Jeff Bezos to reconsider LIC to have any time to defend his members.

When the NY Post is doing more in public  on behalf of teachers at Forest Hills than the President of the UFT, then these are strange days indeed.

Sunday, March 03, 2019


The press and bloggers continue to cover the situation at Forest Hills High School with Principal Ben Sherman. The NY Post has an update detailing some of the allegations against Sherman that are in the No Confidence Resolution.

From Sue Edelman's article that she cowrote with Melissa Klein:

Maybe he’s the one who’s smoking something!

Forest Hills HS Principal Ben Sherman, whose stewardship of the once prestigious school has led to a teacher mutiny over issues such as rampant pot smoking by students, was accused last month of a litany of strange behavior in a faculty no-confidence vote.

Teachers presented a detailed list of concerns last week to Queens high school Superintendent Juan Mendez, asking that Sherman, who came to the school in 2017, be removed.

Now Sherman is under investigation, and Chancellor Richard Carranza has appointed a top official to come to the school every day to closely supervise Sherman, city Department of Education officials told The Post on Saturday.

Sherman’s alleged antics include leaving both the door to his office and to his bathroom “completely open” so his secretaries could see him urinating, according to the no-confidence document.

When confronted four months later and asked to shut the door, he replied, “Did they not like what they saw?” the document says.
The complaints accuse Sherman of making inappropriate comments to both teachers and students. He allegedly said to two girls wearing large earrings: “The bigger the hoop, the bigger the ho!”

He asked another female student, who was selling snacks and water for a fundraiser, “Are you selling handguns? I’d like to buy a Glock,” the document says.
He told a teacher “Hubba, hubba, I like what I see through the holes of that sweater,” it says.

On one occasion, the school’s crowded hallways became a virtual three-ring circus when Sherman juggled and rode a unicycle, it added.

“These actions and behaviors are ideal if you are hanging out with friends or … your children,” the complaint says.

“However, these hijinks should not transpire in a school hallway, especially one in an overcrowded building that is at 198 percent capacity.”

Sherman admitted in a letter to staff that he sometimes slept in his car overnight to see what time teachers arrived to snag parking spots in front of the school.

The teachers contend Sherman’s tenure has led to an increase in not only drug use but vandalism and larcenies, with student lockers regularly being burgled.

The school’s parents association also wrote to Mendez warning “the safety issues at FHHS have reached a point where they are beyond Principal Sherman’s ability to control and correct.”

 So what is the DOE response to all of these allegations?

They referred everything to the Special Commissioner of Investigations while keeping Sherman in place.

Could you imagine what would have happened had a teacher been accused of these wrongdoings, particularly the open door policy in the principal's restroom? He or she would have been removed from the school immediately. Blogger South Bronx School is all over the DOE double standard.

Let's play make believe. Regular guy teacher at Forest Hills High Aaron Rabinowitz is quoted in the Post saying the same exact words (on marijuana soon being legal) with the same flippant attitude .

Yep, you are right. Aaron would be exiled to the Rubber Room posthaste, have 20 stipulations in his 3020-a and risk his 23 year career go down the drain.
Ed Notes covers the UFT higherups' involvement at Forest Hills.

He quotes a Forest Hills insider:

"Why hasn't the UFT President commented or visited the school? Interesting, the lack of concern. He has been invited three times since April. He had promised to come last May, then cancelled. "
We do know from Norm (EdNotes) that Staff Director Leroy Barr, District Rep James Vasquez, Special Rep Washington Sanchez and Borough Rep Amy Arundel have all visited. 
From a Forest Hills staff member, ICEblog was sent Principal Sherman's apology.

"I know you have been reading a lot about me recently.  I recognize there are many concerns.  I am against students using drugs, vaping, or smoking in our school.  I am against students loitering in the hallways, staircases, or other places.  I am not a perfect person.  I have many faults, just ask my wife.  I apologize for statements which have offended you, including saying 'because I am the Principal.'   I need to listen better to you.  If I have given anyone the impression that I am soft on crime or that I am permissive about drug use I apologize." 

Our Forest Hills contact tells us that Superintendent Mendez and the DOE are trying to blame teachers for the safety issues.

From a Friday email:
Yesterday, the DOE sent inspectors to find at the school what they sent them to find.  This is namely anything that might pin the school's lack of discipline on the teachers.  One example is them asking students why they are sitting in the hallways while classes are going on.  Instead of actually finding out that the Administrators let them sit there, they look to pin it on the teachers by asking them "if any  teachers asked them to move."    You know things like that.  The students were really active while they were there,  so they got an eyeful of the Wild West Show.

 Last night Superintendent Mendez met with some select members of the Parent Association.  They demanded he come to answer questions that they had about how the building was being run.  From what I heard, he did his best to try to spin it into a teacher slamming session.

 Today, Mendez came in and did some surprise mini observations on a number of staff along with Sherman.
From the local Queens press QNS, we have Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz' statement defending the school and not rushing to judgment on the principal.

“Parents moved in to the neighborhood so their children could attend FHHS. I have been in the school countless times and I can tell you that what I read in the newspaper is nothing like the fine school that I experienced in those visits,” Koslowitz said, referring to the story’s first appearance in the Queens Chronicle.
She adds:

“I am asking that the DOE immediately intervene at FHHS to insure that all laws, rules, regulations and policies are being adhered to,” Koslowitz said, then referenced the New York Post article that put FHHS under the spotlight. “With respect to the principal, I am not rushing to a judgment based on a newspaper article. Those disciplinary matters will take their due course. But, the health and safety of the students must be guaranteed and guaranteed without delay.” 

I also saw the story covered on FOX 5 news on Thursday evening but I can't find it at their cite so if anyone can  locate a link, please help and we will add it on.