Monday, December 27, 2010
Would there be a sound if a tree falls in the forest and Whitney Tilson is under that tree? In fact would anyone care? Every time I read Whitney's emails I can;t help but think of Tommy and "See Me, Feel Me." This caustic desperation for attention that Whitney is so desperately seeking, so desperately lacking.
In fact I hate to say it, in one of today's email from Whitney, I agree with him about something he wrote. Yes, a clock is always correct twice a day, and Ruben Brosbe can use the bathroom my himself.
In The New York Times of December 26, 2010, Sharon Otterman writes that it is far from an exact science of rating teachers using value added assessment. Whitney, in his email goes on to say, "That value-added systems are far from perfect and must be improved, and also need to be used with care when evaluating teachers." Hey, way to go Whitney. All right. I had a smile on my face. Perhaps he found religion. Or perhaps after years of searching interstate rest area rest rooms he came (pardon the pun) across that perfect companion and was in a joyous mood.
Unfortunately reality knocked came a knockin'. I read on, "But we mustn’t let perfection be the enemy of the good," Whitney blabbered. Perfection is the enemy of good? God is perfect, so can we therefore claim that God is the enemy of all that is good? But Whitney blustered more, "Even if the system can only correctly identify the very worst teachers, that’s REALLY (Whitney's emphasis) valuable given the damage such teachers do to children."
Smell that? I smell a contradiction. Whitney says, and I agree, that the value added system is far from perfect. But on the other hand, he is claiming that using this imperfect system it can correctly identify not bad, but the worst teachers.
Now, it is entirely possible that Whitney read only what he wanted to read. Perhaps he missed this from the Times, "The rankings are based on an algorithm that few other than statisticians can understand," so Whitney what enables you to understand these algorithms? Do you have some power we don't know of?
What about the teachers at PS 321 in Park Slope? "In three other classrooms at this highly ranked school, fourth-grade teachers were ranked among the worst in the city at teaching math, even though their students’ average score on the state math exam was close to four, the highest score." So are these the worst teachers? You yourself just said that imperfection in VAA is OK as long has it identified the worst teachers. Well these three teachers were identified as the worst. Do you think they should be terminated.
I'm not going to go into why VAA is wrong. I have done it enough in this blog to do so. The only other analogy I can think of right now is my opposition to capital punishment. I have many reasons, but one of them is as long as there can be one iota of a chance that the wrong person will be put to death, that is one person too many. Our justice system no matter how highly we think of it is imperfect. The same with VAA. It is imperfect, and as long as there can be one iota of a chance that a teacher will be wrongly judged or terminated, that is one teacher too many.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Many years ago I traveled to Albany to hand in paper work at the state ed. department. This was back in the day when the offices were in the same building as the New York State Museum. With such important paper work I felt that it was better to hand it off to a person and it also expedited the time it got filed. I still do it if I have to, and besides I look for any excuse to go to Albany.
So this one time, in fact my first time there, a gentleman came out to greet me. He was a grumpy, cranky man. In all probability he was sitting behind a desk for too many years with too big a case load and no appreciation. As I handed him my paperwork he noticed something amiss. He explained what I needed to do and I promptly rectified it. As I re-handed him back my paperwork he proclaimed, "Teachers are the stupidest people out there." Being that I wanted him on my side and to do what I needed of him I agreed with him.
Which brings me to 2010. I was having a conversation with a teacher last week inquiring if this teacher still reads my blog. The teacher told me that she no longer reads it because it has gone all "political." I guess the drama of when I was reporting about the goings on in my school was the only thing palatable to her, but to each their own.
I started to explain of the seismic shift going on, that she does need to keep up with the political stuff. If not here on my blog, but other blogs, the newspapers, or forms of media. "What is happening out there can happen to you," I told her. The answer I received from her was, "What do you mean?"
What do I mean? I explained that someone with bug up their ying yang can come in to our school one day and close it down, put in a charter school, do whatever. I explained to her that in an instant she, through no fault of her own can become an ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve). "Oh no way, it won't happen. I'm too good of a teacher." I explained that means jack diddly. I pointed out to her that she has almost fifteen years in the system and is approaching forty years of age. That her salary is reaching the upper echelons of the scale and that those three factors alone will hinder her, if God forbid, she was to be put into ATR status.
"Well, anyway, I know a lot of people. I can go out and get a position with them, at their schools," she explained to me. At that point I gave up trying to explain the realities of what is out there. Yes, it sure does help to know someone. But if the someone you know doesn't have a position, or the money to create a position what good does it do to know that person?
And this goes to what I discussed with Karen Lewis on my radio show back on November 23. It all begins at the school level. Yes, we can kvetch and whine all we want about the UFT, but why should the UFT fight when there are teachers who won't fight back and just lay down like lambs?
Apathy and ignorance of what is going on with education today will ultimately be our undoing. I understand that a teacher has a zillion things going on at once and it is difficult to add more things to worry about. But without knowledge, without caring, without being proactive we are just allowing the deformers, the billionaires, the hedge fund managers, and yes, the UFT to walk all over us, to take us for granted and be able to claim they don't hear us.
Any teacher out there can be the "next one" to be screwed. Apathy and ignorance are what is fueling the beasts. It is time to start starving the beast. It is time to look out and around and stop having our eyes wide shut.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
When last we left Ruben Brosbe in October, he had knifed 80,000 NYC teachers in the back in his own little sycophantic method. Ruben, somehow, someway through either his Ivy League connections, daddy's assistance, or a combination, wrote a guest column in The New York Post endorsing the release of teacher's value added assessment scores of the standardized tests. Not only did he do that, but one had to deal with his kvetching and whining about his own, and the crack team has since learned of more, many shortcomings as a teacher.
Not only is Ruben a kvetcher, but somewhat of a clueless savant. Yes, the crack team here is amazed that he is able to pull it together and actually hold a high pressured job due to his cluelessness at life around him.
Ruben also has a blog in which he goes through life and teaching wondering why and how things happen, never taking a stand, and just his shocked that there is a life beyond the ivory wall that he grew up behind, and still lives behind.
One our favorite posts from Ruben's blog cracked up the crack team (pardon the pun) here at SBSB last month. Entitled, "What's an Assistant Teacher?", Ruben theorized on what is an assistant teacher;
Assistant Teacher? You mean, like someone to help the teacher provide extra support and attention to the students in their classroom? But why would any effective teacher who has mastered differentiation need someone else to help them with their students? It's almost like this school thinks more individual attention is something valuable for their students. Weird.The crack team here at SBSB was able to get it hands on an unpublished blog post from Ruben. It goes;
My hand, I see I can move my fingers in unison, or as individual fingers. I also can move two fingers and they can touch each other. If I place my ring and pinkie together and my middle and index finger together I make the Vulcan salute. This is neat. I now go to my toy chest and take out my communicator, tricorder, and phaser an pretend I am Mr Spock.But we are not here to bash Ruben. Only to expose him for the hypocrite, two faced, wants to have his cake and eat it too person that he is.
In today's Gotham Schools, (the crack team is still wondering how he got that gig, but we have our theories.) Ruben lamented what has become of education with all its high stake testing. Ruben writes, "In many ways, and to varying degrees depending on a school’s approach to test prep, kids are deprived of meaningful, rich, effective instruction in the weeks or months leading up to the state exams." Very good Ruben, your savant side took over. Yes we are depriving them of instruction. Ruben then is able to figure out that, "First, when Kaplan or Pearson test-prep materials take the place of a well-planned read-aloud or time for guided reading, the kids don’t learn as well. Second, the pressure and dullness of test prep certainly takes most of the fun out of learning for the kids. So ultimately students are learning less, and they’re enjoying learning less. This is not a formula for long-term success." Bravo Ruben, bravo.
But one thing perplexes the crack team here at SBSB. If you are kvetching about this, why are you a member of Educators4Excellence? An organization that condones, if not supports, the policies of Bloomberg, Klein, and now Black? Why did you participate in the December 15 soirée sponsored by E4E for Michelle Rhee at a super duper secret location?
It gets worse. On the front page of MichelleRheefirst.org there is a video. In that video, which the crack team noticed at Gotham Schools, who do we see at 3:15? Yes, it's Ruben in a savant moment sharing all his knowledge, his understanding, himself. But Ruben, Michelle Rhee is the one of the, if not the exact, reasons why you are kvetching about testing today. How dare you play both sides of the fence. You just want to be all things to everybody. Why do you make this video? You are supporting poor educational choices made by those who are in it for themselves. Those who want to turn a profit. Those who don't truly care.
But that is what you are Ruben. You are in this for you, and only you. You want to impart your ways on students and families you feel are beneath you. You don't care. You are a phony and a fraud. You think that because you came from a life of luxury that you know what is best. You don't. You don't get it and you never will.
You will complete your third year as a teacher and then apply to some law school. You won't be teaching in five years from now. You boosted your resume, you have that shining light behind your head, and somehow pulled the wool over the eyes of your students.
You keep on exposing yourself. Put a robe on.
Monday, December 20, 2010
As always, the call in # is 917 932 8721
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Sorry if I am late for the party. At least here on the blog. I think back in September I posted on Twitter about how Michelle Rhee mimicked and mocked the speech patterns of her African-American students when she was the greatest teacher ever in Baltimore. According to audio made by Rhee at the Columbia Heights Education Campus, and reported by Alexander Russo and the Washington Post, Rhee, "I took little pieces of masking tapes and put them on everybody's lips." At this point in her story the crowd laughs. She goes on to explain that, "their skin is coming off and that they are bleeding," and the crowd still is laughing. This is just demented.
So why after three months or so of this being reported am I finally sharing my two cents? I guess it is seeing the launching of MichelleRheefirst.org. Seeing how Oprah is scheming to replace Gayle with Rhee as her new best friend. Watching someone has intelligent as Steven Colbert inviting having Rhee as his guest. Or just knowing in my heart of hearts that I need to do what is right in my corner of thew world to stop this evil, nasty, mean spirited woman.
But what has gotten me most riled up, gotten my gander up, has bunched up my Froot of the Looms is that a close, close person to me in another state has been reassigned because he dared to joke about taping students mouths. Now don't get me wrong, it was stupid to joke in this way. No doubt about it. But it should not involve a police investigation.
I decided to google past transgressions of teachers taping students mouths and wondered if these teachers were able to skate by as did Michelle Rhee. The names are not meant to "out" these teachers in no shape or form. These names, the accusations are widely available. It is only meant to "out" Michelle Rhee for what she truly is.
In 2008, Pamela Dahnke was terminated for taping a student's mouth shut. She was an eighth-grade health and nutrition teacher at Battle Ground Middle School in West Lafayette, IN. Did she get the same treatment as Michelle Rhee?
In 2009, Laura Gatlin a 1st grade teacher in Cleveland County, Arkansas was accused of taping students mouth and to the chair. Her lawyer's comment is here. Has she been afforded the same accolades and laughter as Michelle Rhee?
In 2006, in Katy, Texas, Jennifer Silva reportedly taped some the mouths of several students. When the superintendent got wind, he notified her he would recommend she was terminated. Why was she recommended for termination yet, Michelle Rhee is seen as the savior of education?
Just earlier this year, a teacher was accused of duct taping a student's mouth in Mishawaka, IN. This student has Asperger's syndrome. The website, care2.com said, "There are certainly many creative things that people do with duct tape. But using it on a child's mouth, and on the mouth of a child on the autism spectrum, is (serious understatement) not one of them." Does this website feel has vehement about what Michelle Rhee did and will care2.com lead the charge to make sure that Michelle Rhee is no longer near students?
And in January 2008, a well-liked Driscoll School, Brookline, MA, science teacher, Christopher Huggins , is out of a job last week after allegedly duct-taping a 12-year-old girl’s mouth during class. Michelle Rhee is not well liked. Why isn't she removed from the entire scene?
In 2009, a first grade teacher at Spaulding Elementary School, Emily Metcalfe, in Townsend, MA, used duct tape on several students' mouths. The principal was quoted as, "The superintendent went on to say that the teacher may have thought at first this was a joke, but that there was a lack of professional judgment." Didn't Michelle Rhee show poor judgment?
I am in no way condoning, nor condemning what these teachers had done. They have every single right to be proven guilty, not to prove their innocence. That is how the American system works. But, does the punishment fit the crime? Especially in light of Michelle Rhee's acknowledgment of what she has done and the education deformers sweeping it under the rug? Do these teachers not deserve the same benefit of the doubt and second chance that Michelle Rhee has received?
Friday, December 17, 2010
Several weeks ago, Michelle Rhee launched her RheeFirst, oops, I mean Studentsfirst website. Like at the end of a long day when I need a good laugh or distraction and listen to Sean Hannity, studentsfirst serves the same purpose.
I came across a propaganda film in which a under thirty somethings (yes, there were a few teachers over forty) espoused how they put students first. Two of the hypnotized that never lies stood out to me. One was Jane, a statistics and economics teacher at some school who said, "So for me it is not about 3 o'clock and the bell rings and it's time to go home. It's about did everyone learn today."
That is really nice. Super. I recall when I was first hired I was asked if I was willing to stay late. I said sure, why not? For a month I stayed late. For the sake of staying late. There were no students to see since they had all left. I was a cluster and did not have a classroom to keep up. It was all appearance and it soon ended.
Then right after Jane there is Steve, a fifth grade teacher. Steve is young, and he has that sexy five day growth type of beard. Steve says, "It's not all about me. It's about all 26 kids, or the year before that, 27. Or the year before that, 28. Whether or not I wasn't feeling well, or wasn't particularly excited about what I needed to teach, it wasn't about me it was about them."
Steve, you make me feel so guilty. When I had strep throat with 104 degree fever I should have come into to work that day. I was so selfish. Even after the fever broke over the weekend and I had an allergic reaction to the Ceftin I still should have come into work. Several years ago my wife made Hamburger Helper for dinner and the next morning I just leaned over the bed and deposited it on the floor, I should have come in to work.
I really hate this students first mantra. Yes, students should come first. But when you are at school. When you are doing school stuff. Please, I want to be spared this liberal, empty catch phrase. It means nothing and when said I do not believe it.
What comes first for me? My son and wife. Plain and simple. I know if given the choice to rescue my wife or my son my wife would insist I rescue my son. I have given up a lot of chances for per session money because I want to be with my son in the afternoon. For many years my wife worked in the city and did not come home until late. Or I coached all his sports teams and that was quite time consuming. Or I just wanted to be with him. My son, my family comes first, yesterday, now and forever.
Second, God. I have a lot of issues with this guy. I wonder if he is there, I wonder if he exists. But God comes in second. The type of person I need to be in his eyes (if he does exist) guides me.
The USA is third. We live in one fucked up country right now, and Obama is a waste as are all politicians, but this is my country and I want to do something to leave it a better place for my son.
The students, my job comes in fourth. Sorry, that is just the way it is. Doesn't mean I don't care about the students, or don't care about my job. It doesn't mean I don't want to try to improve. It just means that I have my priorities straight. I know what I have done for students. I don't have to list them here. I will mention one, **cough cough** Numb Nuts **cough cough**. I know my heart is in the right place everyday I walk into my building. But there is more to staying late, coming in when you are sick, or just too beat to show that you care about your students.
One thing that would have impressed me in that video is if one teacher, just one said that when students are being wronged by higher ups they go and fight for those students to the decision makers. That they will risk their jobs for what should be right and what is right. Unfortunately I doubt either of them have ever done it.
Just stop this students first or children first crap. It is empty and hollow. It like when I ballplayer signs with a team and claims it "isn't about the money." Road apples.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Call in # as always is 917 932 8721
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
After the success of Whitney Tilson blessing us here at SBSB sharing the email to principals from Cathie Black, the crack team decided to put on its Buddhist hats and try a little "nam hyo renge kyo." The crack team was hoping for some kind of information into the Cathie Black fiasco. After five non stop hours of chanting an email came in. We immediately deciphered it to be the petition of Alex Koss and Karen Plummer, both parents with students in the DOE, against a litany of plaintiffs. What is this the third law suit in relation to the The Talking Cathie Doll? Michael Best must be one busy beaver of late.
Some interesting stuff was read. Amongst what was read:
In facts 31 and 32 it was argued that;
30.Faced with this rejection by his own hand-picked Advisory Panel, Respondent Steiner, in an attempt, on information and belief, to: i) placate Respondent Bloomberg, and ii) salvage Ms. Black’s nomination, suggested an alternative plan, i.e. that he would consider granting the waiver if Respondent Bloomberg were willing to appoint an assistant, who actually had a legally and educationally acceptable background in education, to Ms. Black.But if we go down a bit we see in fact 39;
31.This novel proposal by Respondent Steiner on its face would create a two-headed Chancellor, one, whose only claim on the job was her friendship with the Mayor and her expertise in the private corporate world, the other, someone with the credentials which a qualified Chancellor should have.
39........Mayor Bloomberg, in response to a question about the authority of the newly created position of Chief Academic Officer, told reporters “There will be one person in charge. Make no mistake about that.”And just one more thing stand out at to the crack team, which is quite disturbing.
36.The billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the former employer of Ms. Black and future employer of Chancellor Joel Klein is quoted thusly, “education in the U.S. is a $500 billion sector ‘waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching.’” He has just purchased 90% of Wireless Generation, one of whose clients is the New York City School system. (Staci D. Kramer, “News Corp Shells Out $360 Million for Ed Tech Company Wireless Generation,” paidContent.org, 22 November 2010.) [Exhibit 9]So thanks to the crack team here at SBSB we share with you the petition of Alex Koss and Karen Plummer.
Petition Article 78 Coss v Board of Regents
Monday, December 6, 2010
Back in 1984 I was a counselor a very well known sleep away camp in the wilds of rural Connecticut. It was a heady time. The summer of the Los Angeles Olympics, the summer of the Detroit Tigers, Bobby Meacham was the starting shortstop for the Yankees, and Reagan was up for re-election.
I'll never forget visiting day. Some parents wanted to take a photo of their son with his counselor Chuck. Chuck wasn't the handsomest counselor in camp. Like Stork, he had a face like a pepperoni pizza. His hair, swimming in too many dabs of Brylcreem. And to be honest, Chuck wasn't the brightest bulb in the bunch. But that is not was special about Chuck that day.
As the parents were taking their photo with their son and Chuck sitting on the steps of the nature lodge, something was amiss. Now remember, back in those days of the tube socks, shorts were actually shorts. As dad prepared to take the photo Chuck's franks and beans were hanging out through the leggings of the shorts. Of course Chuck was oblivious to it all. Not I, as I watched the photo being taken. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. Dad snapped the shutter on his Instamatic and I am sure when mom and dad got home they raced to the drugstore to develop the photos. I have always wondered what their reaction was when they saw Chuck's junk.
Why do I bring this up? A little over a year ago at Mark Twain IS 239 in Brooklyn there was a rabbi who happened to be a teacher there. He was kind of like Chuck. Socially dim bulbed, and not the most hygienic person in the world. he was not the type to buy his clothes at Men's Warehouse, or even Sears. His clothes were old and tattered, but he was comfortable I guess.
One day this rabbi and teacher was with students. The inseam on his pants leg was torn apart and apparently his underwear was not the correct size. It just so happened that unbeknownst to him he had a Chuck moment. Yes, the Kosher frank and beans were out in all their glory. How much, I do not know. The crack team here at the SBSB have tried beyond all hope to ascertain if the helmet was seen. But that is beside the point. Subsequently, the principal, Carol Moore, screamed holy hell and the rabbi after being questioned by her was off to Auschwitz, er I meant, the Rubber Room.
So after spending sometime there last week he finally gets furloughed. The crack team at OSI or CSI didn't charge him. Everything was dropped. It was a grievous mistake on his part.
So the rabbi goes back to IS 239 and Principal Moore like Mussolini from the balcony refuses to let him back in the school. Phone calls were made, chits were called in, tantrums thrown. The rabbi was sent back to where he was reassigned.
While not condoning the rabbi's lack of self-awareness in his guys hanging out, as well as the lack of hygiene, and proper dress I do have some issue at how this was handled. Firstly, there is no reason for this have taken as long as it did. Please explain why this matter could not have been over in a week? Why couldn't someone take him aside and explain to him that perhaps he should see a tailor? Secondly, in the years I have been teaching I wish I had a dime for every cleavage, bra strap, spandexed booty, cameltoe, nipples when it is cold, too short skirts, jiggling boobs, etc... I would be able to retire. But, I am sure these female teachers are just taken aside and talk to respectfully to change their style of dress.
This was a complete waste of money, and yet shows again the inability for principals and the DOE to see things in shades of gray.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
In the December 6, 2010 issue of Newsweek, the seemingly and suddenly expert on education Little Bill Gates wowed us with his convoluted expertise on education. Little Bill in an article written by “journalist” Jonathan Alter lamented that teacher tenure is a “quality killer.” Quality how so Little Bill? I think it is time that Little Bill, and others of his ilk get, pardon the pun, schooled on tenure.
Tenure is no way, no how, guarantees a job for life. Only justices on the Supreme Court are guaranteed such a service. What tenure does guarantee is that a teacher, is protected against the whims of a principal, and the promise of due processes. I would hazard to guess that as an upstanding American and a supporter of the United States Constitution, Little Bill would be at the forefront of protecting the rights of not only teachers, but also all hard working Americans.
Tenure was enacted to prevent a teacher from being terminated for being pregnant (in fact I knew of a principal who bemoaned a female colleague once with the comment, “why didn’t you use a condom?), to living out of wedlock with a partner, to belonging to the wrong organizations, or something just as mundane as that the principal does not like the teacher. In fact in The Sunday New York Daily News of December 5, 2010, a reader left a comment, “Tenure acts as protection against insecure administrators and financial crises but that is all.”
And please stop blaming the unions for protecting bad teachers. The onus is on the principal, and subordinates to effectively observe and leave a paper trail to remove an ineffective teacher. Where is the outcry against these administrators for failing to do their job?
Which brings us to what an effective teacher is. Certainly it can’t mean a “boring” teacher. In “Board of Education of the City of New York vs. Arrak, 28 Educ. Dept. Rep. 302 (1988) (page 24)” that being boring was not being incompetent, that the teacher showed a “minimal level of knowledge.” That is what the law states. That is what the law is. Learn it. Deal with it. Oh and please don’t give us the value added assessment ideal that has already been widely scorned and ridiculed by true educators.
The teacher that killed himself in Los Angeles, Rigoberto Ruelas, will all due thanks to the Los Angeles Times deeming him ineffective, always reached out to the toughest kids. He would tutor them on weekends and after school, visit their homes, encourage them to aim high and go to college. A former student of his said she used, “to struggle at math, but he taught her to succeed and not to give up,” and, "He told me it is not about where you are from but if you don't go to school you are nothing in this world," she said with tears in her eyes. "Now I am doing real good because of him." Did he not earn tenure? Was he not effective? I would have been proud to have this man, a man I had never met to be my child’s teacher. But, Little Bill, in your eyes he would be shown the door.
Little Bill, as you and your ilk lament the union protection and tenure, actually due process rights of “bad” teachers, why not do the same for the protection of criminals? Seems that all defense lawyers want to do is to protect criminals, keep them out of jail. Why not use the same argument? Why isn’t the Gates Foundation spearheading a drive to whine about how defense lawyers protect criminals as you do unions protecting “bad” teachers and tenure?
You see Little Bill just as criminals have rights, so to do teachers, civil service workers, anyone who works for a government entity. This pesky, annoying thing protects all. It is known as the 14th Amendment, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. What’s that? Yes, Little Bill. It is Due Process. Just to remind you, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” To reiterate; that is what the law is. Learn it. Deal with it.
So Little Bill, it is time to stop attacking teachers. Because when you do, you wind up attacking true Americans who believe in our American way of life and the words, the meaning, of the greatest parchment know to man, the United States Constitution.
Leave us be.
On the next show, December 7 at 9 PM, famed educator Mike Klonsky joins us from the Windy City of Chicago. Mike has written such books as ,"Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society (Positions: Education, Politics, and Culture)" and "A Simple Justice: The Challenge of Small Schools (Teaching for Social Justice Series)." Klonsky, an advocate of small schools consults for Small Schools Workshop; http://smallschoolsworkshop.wordpress.com/ and blogs at; http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/ You can also find him on Twitter @mikeklonsky
Mike is a professor of education at DePaul University and University of Illinois-Chicago.
Mike is a professor of education at DePaul University and University of Illinois-Chicago.
As always the call in # is (917) 932-8721
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I don't know about others, but I have had a tough time getting my hands on a copy of The Talking Cathie Doll's mass email to principals (teachers for some reason were exempt) that she had sent out this past Tuesday, November 30. Last night on Twitter, @QueensTeacher1 mentioned that she heard it was not well written. This made me want to get my hands on it even more. The crack team here at SBSB place many calls, called in many chits to get a copy of this email all to no avail. A miracle was needed. Some on the team went to shul this morning to pray and put a good word in to God for guidance on how to get this email. Others on the team were planning to go to Mass for the first time in years tomorrow morning. This email was coveted and needed.
Our prayers were answered this morning as we opened up an email. Our pal, our friend, Whitney Tilson couldn't help but spill the beans. He somehow got a copy and decided, probably unauthorized, to share it in one of his mass emailings. We thank him for answering our prayers.
So with all the kudos Whitney rightly deserves, we here at SBSB present The Talking Cathie Doll's email. Comments from the SBSB team are added after the email.
From: Black Cathie
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5:47 PM
Subject: Hello from Cathie Black
I am reaching out to you to introduce myself and thank you for welcoming me to the Department of Education. Now that the State has officially approved the waiver, I am eager to become fully immersed in the exciting work ahead.
The past few weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind for all of us, but like you, I am fully committed to our mission to provide every child in New York City with a high-quality education. That’s why I took this job—to build on the unprecedented progress that our public schools have made under the watch of Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and all of you.
You might have heard or read a little about me in the past few weeks, but I would like the opportunity to tell you in my own words who I am and why I am excited about this job.
For four decades I devoted my professional life to blazing trails in the magazine and publishing industry. I got where I am today by working hard, making bold decisions, and listening closely to the strong teams I’ve had around me. I intend to proceed in the same way during my upcoming tenure at the DOE. I know that this is my most important mission yet, which is why I will need all of you with me over the next three years as we continue to transform the system to put children first.
As you know, I will appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky as Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Achievement Officer. In this new role, Shael will be responsible for the administration and supervision of all instructional initiatives and will serve as my counselor on all matters related to teaching and learning. Shael has more than fifteen years of experience in New York City’s public schools in nearly every capacity. I am thrilled that he has agreed to take on this critical position. I also look forward to working closely with Sharon Greenberger as my Chief Operating Officer. Sharon will continue to be responsible for managing operations and will also serve as my key advisor on critical policy, governance, strategy, and communications issues.
Over the next few weeks, I will be working with Joel, the Deputy Chancellors, and all of you to make sure this is a seamless transition. I am especially excited about getting involved in the innovative work happening throughout the Department and beginning to identify areas for improvement and new opportunities. I know that I have a lot to learn about the inner workings of the system, but I am also confident that my fresh perspective, combined with your deep experience, will help us rise to the challenge of preparing all NYC public school students for college and careers.
Thank you for your support. I look forward to getting to know you.
AND NOW FOR THE RETORT
1. thank you for welcoming me to the Department of Education.
Who has welcomed here? All there has been is sucking of teeth and rolling of the eyes.
2. Now that the State has officially approved the waiver,
You mean now that Steiner has caved and been bought off, had future promises made, and his cat was released your waiver has been approved.
3. but like you, I am fully committed to our mission to provide every child in New York City with a high-quality education.
But Mayor Bloomberg said said you were the closer. The right closer for what? To lay off over 6,000 teachers? To implement cuts in the DOE? To throw more money at charter schools? How then do you claim to provide every child with a high quality education?
4. For four decades I devoted my professional life to blazing trails in the magazine and publishing industry.
How have you done this? I hate to say this, but Rupert Murdoch has been more trailblazing than you have. So has Stan Lee. So has Charles Townsend. And let's not forget Hugh Heffner.
5. I got where I am today by working hard, making bold decisions, and listening closely to the strong teams I’ve had around me. I intend to proceed in the same way during my upcoming tenure at the DOE.
So have teachers gotten to where they are by working hard. Please don't try to make yourself special. Is one to assume that with this statement you will make your decisions independent of Mayor Bloomberg's wishes?
6. need all of you with me over the next three years as we continue to transform the system to put children first.
You know what? Get off the "Children First" crap. It is empty. Please.
7. I will appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky as Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Achievement Officer.
You yourself appointed Suransky? Please share how you came to this decision. Or was he thrust upon you?
8. Shael will be responsible for the administration and supervision of all instructional initiatives and will serve as my counselor on all matters related to teaching and learning.
Translated: Shael will explain to me very slowly in words I can understand how to do my job. I will learn from Shael the difference between guided reading and hands on mathematics. Shael will also explain to The Talking Cathie Doll that it is wrong to think of Mexicans and African-Americans as servants.
9. Shael has more than fifteen years of experience in New York City’s public schools in nearly every capacity. I am thrilled that he has agreed to take on this critical position.
You are thrilled he is there as your beard.
10. I will be working with Joel, the Deputy Chancellors, and all of you to make sure this is a seamless transition.
Why aren't the teachers and parents mentioned here? Don't you want to work with them? Hey instead of visiting schools, visit the neighborhoods. Come down to 149th St. Come hang out on 153rd and Melrose Ave. Visit Brownsville. See these neighborhoods from something other than your limo and from the interstate.
11. but I am also confident that my fresh perspective, combined with your deep experience, will help us rise to the challenge of preparing all NYC public school students for college and careers.
You have no perspective, you have no clue. You will fail. You will have a complete fail by the summer of 2011. How is this known? Your mouth. You just can't keep stupid things coming out of the hole under your nose.
Please Cathie, go find another line of work.