Sunday, March 30, 2014

Call Albany and Tell Them NO!! On #NYBUDGET14

Janine Sopp and Change the Stakes hit another home run on Facebook with her latest posting.

The Crack Team has decided to make her an honorary member and extends all benefits and privileges that go with membership to her.

Basically, the FB post was a call to arms for everyone to contact their State Senator and Assembly member and implore them to vote no on tomorrow's vote on the 2014 NYS Budget.

But one might ask, how can I contact my Senator or Assembly member? Simple. Thank to the Stop Common Core in New York State website and Yvonne Gasperina, The Crack Team found lists with all members email addresses and Twitter handles (for those that have Twitter).

New York State Assembly Email and Twitter

New York State Senate Email

New York State Senate Twitter

The hashtag that Governor Andy is using to promote the state budget is #nybudget14

From Change the Stakes;

URGENT PLEASE call your legislators in Albany today and urge them to vote NO on the NY state budget bill! On Monday, they will be voting on a budget that favors charter schools over public schools, provides them considerably more funds per student , bans charging charters rent or facility fees, and will provide any new or expanding charter free space in NYC public school buildings – or the city has to build or rent them facilities, out of taxpayer funds. NYC will be the ONLY place in the country where the district will be obligated to provide free space for ANY new or expanded charter in the future. The bill also contains very weak provisions on protecting student privacy.

1. On charters: this bill will encourage the forced corporate takeover of NYC public schools, where we already have the most overcrowded schools in the state. It will cause even more overcrowding in our already crammed schools, and make the city pay millions to house all new and expanded charters in the future. Our elementary and high schools are already 95% utilized – according to the DOE’s own figures, which even the Chancellor has admitted underestimates the actual level of overcrowding. More than half of our students are already in severely overcrowded buildings. 

Enrollment projections call for an increase of 70,000 more students over the next decade -- and the only ones who will be guaranteed space going forward, to allow for smaller classes or to regain their art, music or science rooms, will be students enrolled in charters. This is the MOST onerous charter law in the nation and a huge unfunded mandate for NYC. For more on this see Diane Ravitch’s blog and the NYC public school parents blog.

2. On privacy: the bill is not much better. It appears to ban the state providing data to inBloom for the purposes of creating data dashboards, but not for any other purpose. And it has no mention of parental consent or opt out – except for requiring consent before vendors can give the information to other vendors, which they will still be allowed to do without consent via a huge loophole, if they call them their “authorized representatives.” It calls for a privacy officer, who will write a “parent bill of rights” under the direction of the Commissioner, who as far as we can tell, doesn’t believe that parents have any rights when it comes to protecting the privacy of their children. For a more detailed analysis, see our blog here.

The legislators are in Albany today, discussing this bill. Please call your Assembly
member (contact info here: and your Senator ( today in Albany, and urge them to tell their leadership NOT to allow this bill to go forward. If it does come to the floor, they should vote NO.

Thanks for your support for the rights of NY public schoolchildren!

Don't wait, don't think about it, do it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

New York State Senator Tony Avella Sells Out

Almost two years ago in 2012 I wrote a piece foreseeing that once the deform movement and its testing and other inanities hits the suburbs, Westchester County in this case, then all hell will break lose across the state.And so it has.

In that same piece I mentioned a (at the time) relative unknown advocate Janine Sopp and her organization, Change the Stakes. Since that time, Change the Stakes has grown in size along with its Facebook page and Twitter. 

Janine has become a loud and strong voice advocating the end of high stakes testing throughout New York and works tirelessly for what she, and a vastly increasing number of parents and communities, believes in. Without her leadership, we in New York would be facing an uphill fight. With her, our fight is so much easier and stronger.

I have had the pleasure of speaking to Janine on several occasions, but yet to have had the honor and privilege to meet her. I hope to one day, but I can say this. She is the real deal. Janine so easily can just be concerned for her own daughter's education but she shows what she is made of by taking this fight on for so many families and communities. Janine's intentions are pure and has sacrificed so much of herself for the greater good.

The complete opposite of Janine is New York State Senator Tony Avella. You remember Tony right? Tony was there helping us against deform movement even lending his name to the mess of what became PS 29 in College Point last year. However it seems that Senator Avella can't pass up an opportunity to take advantage of an opportunity, or rather pass up a chance to embellish himself and his cronies.

Senator Avella joined the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference that has caucused with the Senate Republicans to control the State Senate. The IDC has had on its roster some of the more notorious and crooked politicians in ranks. Senators such as Senator Klein who is beholden to DFER and Eva Moskowitz, Senators, and current convicts, Krueger and Espada who were the forefathers to IDC.

So we know where, and with whom, Avella butters his bread. But I think someone can explain this better than I can. For this I want to share what I saw on Change the Stakes Facebook page today.

We are in danger of New York State turning over the keys to our public school buildings to charter school corporations, like the one run by Eva Moskowitz. Senator Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat, used to be against turning more public school buildings over to charter schools through unlimited co-locations. But, he has changed his tune. He left the Democrats in the Senate and joined with the Independent Democrats who are part of a Republican-led coalition. He got more power in a committee chairmanship. But, now he is in danger of selling us out on the same co-locations he used to be against.

Senator Avella’s majority coalition is pushing a plan that forces more co-locations onto our public schools and forces New York City to take money out of public school classrooms to pay for private space for charter schools that are not co-located. This is a disaster, but it would not be on the table if Senator Avella had not voted for it when the Republican led coalition included this plan in their budget bill. Now, Avella has to step up and stop it from happening.

Email Senator Avella right now, no matter what part of New York City you live in. Let him know that selling out our public schools is unacceptable.

Negotiations are intense, and the State Assembly leadership is fighting hard, but they need our help. It is difficult when the charter school lobbyists have spent more than $5 million on a TV and radio advertising campaign. These same lobbyist are funneling campaign money into the Senate leadership coalition that Senator Avella has joined. 

Let Senator Avella know that you are paying attention and that he needs to act now to stop this terrible plan.

In solidarity,

Zakiyah Ansari
Advocacy Director of the Alliance for Quality Education

Well said!  Don't forget to email Senator Avella and let him know we are on to him.

And don't forget to thank Janine every chance you get for all her hard work.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Governor Cuomo Puts The Needs of Eva Moskowitz First and Foremost

This looks like good news, but Newsday is reporting that; 
"A proposal to allow charter schools to receive state funds for building has been dropped."

The above was what I was in the process of writing until I saw what Reality-Based Educator wrote and what I read in the New York Rag, er, Post. 

I have had many a thought on all this shrillness brought on by Eva and her minions of the last few weeks. I just never could find the right words or right structure to share here on the blog. Still just can't, but will try using an old writer's trick. I'm just going to write whatever pops into my mind. Kind of like a stream of consciousness.

First, charters are not public schools. I don't care how you slice it, and you dice it, and what spin one puts on it, but charters in no way are public schools. A public school is accountable to the public. Charters are accountable only to their boards and their moneyed sugar daddy's.

Let's see a public school pull what Eva pulls. Let's see any public school in NYC ask parents to pull their children out of the school if they are a behavior problem. Let's see what happens with a NYC public school if their only way of discipline is to suspend or make a 5 year old march military style for 30 minutes through the building. Let's see a NYC school with the high turnover rate that reeks through Success Academy schools, both students and teachers.

So the above 3 paragraphs are what I wrote until I my jaw dropped. So let's move on from the stream of consciousness onto the stream of outrage.

So as the Post reported;
"Charter schools will get an increase in per student operating aid and for the first time will receive government facilities funding to cover rent or building costs.

The agreement also calls for Mayor de Blasio to find alternative space for all three of Eva Moskowitz Success Academy charter schools he booted from city facilities for the fall.

 Under the agreement, the city must offer new charter schools or those wishing to expand space in public school buildings — or reimburse them for rent in a private facility."

Who made these agreements? Were there hearings? Public comment? Were other legislators involved? No, just three men in a room. Cuomo, and the stooges Silver and whoever is Senate majority leader.

In the world I come from, the governor is the governor of all the people, not just a select few, especially those that whine and kvetch the loudest and have the biggest wallets. Cuomo is adding to the adage, "What Eva wants, Eva gets."

Cuomo is impressed that there were 11,000 people at the staged rally in front of the State Capital building 3 weeks ago? How many people would he think would be protesting in Albany if the NYC public schools were allowed to shut down for the day and bus the parents, the students, and the staff to Albany to protest closing of OUR SCHOOLS? Over 100,000?

But 100k people supporting public schools in Albany would not have mattered to Cuomo for if NYC public school community did assemble en masse in Albany they would be missing one important thing. Dollars to shower upon Governor Andy. The public school community is not funded and bought off as Cuomo and Eva are by DFER and Students First and astroturf groups like Families For Excellent Schools.

Eva and her ilk had the hundreds of thousands of dollars to bus their students and families to Albany and back and provided lunch. How difficult would it to be to take that money, and all the other monies that Eva tosses around, to pay a modicum of rent?

All we hear time after time about charters is choice, choice, choice. Obviously school choice adheres to the tenets of capitalism, no? But when De Blasio is trying to impart the lessons of Adam Smith on charters to pay rent and not to live off the government dole, what happens? Eva has a coniption fit and says, "I want, I want!! I take, I need, I want!!"

We know part of the reason Governor Andy is doing this. He wants to run for president in 2016. He wants to do what Daddy never did. He wants to make his Daddy proud. Well, his Daddy would never do what he has done to education in this state. Do we really need another president with daddy issues?

Here's news. Andy, you are never, ever going to be president. No way, no how. You're not even going to get the nomination. And there are several reasons.

You have the Cuomo name which is still deemed too liberal in the rest of the country. You are a putz. You're a phony. And most of all, Hilary is going to run in 2016 and she will get the nomination over you in a heartbeat. But there is one more reason I believe you won't even get the nomination.

Governor Andy is going to be in the fight of his life this November. From what I see, this entire state, except the 2 of the 5 boroughs (Queens and Staten Island) and possibly Albany County (Just guessing) has had it with you and your education policies, among other ineptitude brought on by you.

Western New York, and what a great bunch of people they are (I lived in the Southern Tier for a year what a blast), are ready to riot. Long Island in my opinion is ready to secede, and Westchester, well Westchester likes Astorino and not you. You might win, but there will be no mandate. And after just reading where Astorino stands on charters, it looks like educators should get behind Howie Hawkins.

Cuomo and his enablers in the legislature could have at least have waited to see what the rents would be. I doubt it would have broken any charter schools bank and I am sure the rents would have been nominal. If anything to help with the upkeep of the plant.

Isn't it ironic? If Elliot Spitzer were able to show some self-restraint we might not be in this predicament?

Cuomo, he's got to go.

Where is the march on Albany by New York State teachers and parents? We can do better than 11,000 people!

OK, go back to what you were doing. The stream of outrage is over.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another Defender of Eva Shows His Ignorance and Bias

My mother used to tell me two things;
"Never argue with meshugah people and always wear clean underwear in case the New York Post drives a bus over you and all the lackeys that read that paper talk about what a poor mother I am for sending you out of the house in dirty underwear."
Unfortunately, I did not heed her advice for I got into a Twitter thingy with someone that just might be meshugah. The Twitter thingy was concerning Mayor De Blasio "claiming" that pre-K would curb students suicide as written by the Post. The meshugah person was Michael Benjamin a self appointed "corruption crusher"and inane mouthpiece of Eva Moskowitz and charters, and a sometimes columnist of the New York Post.

Mikey says about himself;
"corruption crusher & thought-leader giving voice to unplugged opinions and perspectives."
We here at SBSB are quite sure he looks the other way at the reams of students being creamed out of charters, the big bucks Eva is making, and the lack of any accountability that charters of fought for.

I should have foreseen the impending doom and my mother's prophecy when I received  this Tweet from Mikey confirming what he had tweeted me the night before;

OK, I felt I could not comment until I read the article thoroughly, even though the title from the Post was shrill and claimed that De Blasio said those very words. 

After reading the article in question I saw nothing of De Blasio ever saying those words.What he did say was;
“I really believe early childhood education is crucial to the whole equation because it is part of putting kids on a productive, positive path early and not letting them feel like they can’t make it,” 
Even though in the very same article the Post claimed;
" ...he believes his proposed pre-K program could help curb the trend (suicide).
Now, where did De Blasio claim pre-K was the elixir of teen suicide? Nowhere. But both the Post and Mikey claim this is what De Blasio said.

I shared with Mikey that De Blasio never uttered what he or the Post are claiming. Mikey would have none of that;

 It reads that way to him? So Mikey is creating his own truth? I guess if one believes they are Queen Elizabeth they then must be the queen. Mikey decides has the ability to get into someone's head and know what they're thinking? What powers Mikey has.

The way De Blasio's comments reads to The Crack Team is that 1) He was talking about any early childhood education which can go up to grades 2, but remember as of now Kindergarten is still not mandatory in New York State, and 2) Whatever we can do for these students because, and I hope Mikey is reading this, is that IF ONE TEEN SUICIDE CAN BE PREVENTED, or TEEN SUICIDE CAN BE REDUCED then whatever we can do to help keep that student from feeling so helpless that suicide seem that only way out, we must do it.

Of course, just pre-K will not prevent teen suicides. Because if a brain damaged monkey read the Post he would see that De Blasio said that early childhood education is;
 "is part of putting kids on a productive, positive path early and not letting them feel like they can’t make it,” 
See the word part? That means just one iota of the entire equation Mikey. Why not give a kid a leg up or does Mikey reserve all his love and lust for Eva?

Why is it that the Right Wing Wingnuts can't have empathy or even see nuance. What must everything be either this or that, black or white? Aren't their any shades of gray in the minds of the Right Wing Wingnuts?

There is no excuses, no explanations to not doing or trying everything humanly possible for a teen, or even a child, to commit suicide. Yes, pre-K in and of itself will not prevent suicide. But pre-K as part of a foundation in which a child can then build on and have self-esteem and feel good about themselves is worth it. Everything should be done to keep a child from contemplating or following through on suicide. Everything should be done to keep a parent from burying a child.

But not in Mikey's world. In Mikey's world how does he see students that are not part of charters?

 Nice generalization Mikey.

So what does Mikey think we should do with the ill prepared who bring down the economy, the justice system and society?


In Mikey's world if there are no studies of an issue than there is no basis to claim an issue. To him anecdotal evidence means jack, unless of course when one brings up that the book his still open on how Success Academy students will do in college and in life.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hey Harrison NY! I'm Opting Out My Son and So Can You!

This can be done. This should be done. Parents of Harrison NY, Westchester County, and NYC,
please read. This is important. You can take back control of your child's education.

I have been wanting to opt out my son of the NYS exams for a number of years. Actually every year since he started testing. He is in 7th grade now and I have finally decided that enough is enough. This year he is not wasting his time taking the state ELA and math exams.

The people it took the most convincing to opt him out have been my wife and my step-mother, a retired (13 years now) AP in the Bronx. For those who are of the Jewish persuasion you know with Jewish mothers you kinda don't have much of a say at times. But I digress.

After last years ELA debacle in which not one student in his class finished the exam on any of the 3 days testing a stand had to be made.

Both my wife and step-mother had serious preconceptions to what not taking the exams meant. One argument from both of them was that this would be a great way for him to learn and feel comfortable taking tests when he gets into high school.  Of course the NYS Regents exams and the SAT's are two totally different beasts compared to these so called tests. My wife and I, and certainly my step mother, never took high stakes tests such as these and we, well maybe I should say just they, did fine in high school exams. As for me, well, I took my PSAT's and then lost interest.

But of course my son over the years, and even now in 7th grade, has had to take tests in class. Wouldn't these tests which are teacher created better and more relevant to what he is actually learning? So I think he is pretty comfortable with test taking and at the age of nearly 13 (in June) I am confident that he can take a #2 pencil to a little circle and fill it in properly, which actually is the only skill one gets from standardized exams.

Another reason that my wife and step-mother gave for him taking the exams is that he not only would be ostracized by the other students and friends in his grade, but he will feel singled out being on the outside looking in.

On Thursday night I decided that a scientific experiment was in order to test the above hypotheses. I called him into the bedroom while my wife and I were watching the NCAA's. I asked him would he feel bad if he didn't take the exams and would the other kids make fun of him. His reaction was that he would not feel bad and that the other kids would want to know where they can sign up to miss the exams. In fact as this is being written he is texting his friends telling them he is not taking the exams. His friends are way jel.

My wife and step-mother also claimed that the tests are used to place my son in the proper classes next year in 8th grade. Immediately, I cried bullocks.

My son has consistently made honor roll (Not being a braggart here). Besides, if the teachers and guidance counselors in his middle school don't know where to place him next year, well, they ain't doing their jobs.

Now my wife brings up an interesting point. She (and remember the all encomposing Jewish neurosis) claims that the administration will seek revenge on my son and keep him from participating in school events or make him stay in at lunch and other kinds of punitive measures.

I can't believe for a second that any administrator in Harrison NY will ever stoop this low. Maybe in cities with over 1 million in population, but not Harrison.

And my wife is concerned with what the teachers will think. So am I. That's another reason why I am opting my son out. I will not allow my son to be used as a pawn to damage or end a teacher's career.

Think about it. Our children, the very same children that Governor Andy claims he is the chief lobbyist, are pawns used by politicians and the Corporatists, and the testing companies such as Pearson.Why? So someone can pocket some cash, make up for some Freudian physical shortcoming, and to screw and privatize a noble profession. That's it and nothing more.

It's time parents of New York State fight back against the Corporatists and their pawn Governor Andy and what has been done to education in this country.

For those that want more information, follow NYS Allies for Education for how the "How to Opt Out" primer. It can be done, it should be done!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Karma Smacks Los Angeles Times Reporter Jason Felch

Karma usually has a way of coming back and kicking you in the butt. This week Los Angeles Times reporter Jason Felch felt Karma's full wrath.

For those that do not recall, Jason spearheaded a Los Angeles Times report in August of 2010 using data of that funky science of value added measurements to determine who is and isn't an effective teacher. Jason took great pride in doing his part reporting what he saw out of context, but to destroy careers as well.

We here at SBSB soon took great pride in exposing, as well as mocking, Jason Felch and his sidekick, economist Richard Buddin in their use of the funky science as well as the smug glee shown by Jason.

But there was a dark side to all this gloating from Jason. A teacher in Los Angeles, Rigoberto Ruelas was determined by Jason Felch and Richard Buddin to be ineffective. A teacher that was loved and respected by his students, their parents, the community he taught in as well as colleagues, friends, and his family.

Due to the reporting of Jason Felch and the funky science provided by Richard Buddin, Rigoberto took his own life shortly after he was outed as determined by the Times and Felch. To this day, Felch has always refused any culpability in Rigoberto's death.

In fact as a source shared with The Crack Team here at SBSB, at a conference about VAM, Anthony Cody confronted Felch about Rigoberto's suicide, Jason as always showed just how classy he is by responding when no one was looking;
"You're  despicable!!! How dare you blame me for that???!!!"
Stay classy Jason.

More from Jason's reporting in 2010 as our source shared with The Crack Team;
Jason totally lied about the purpose of the visit to the school... both to him and to the administrators. They said that they had heard good things about their school and certain teachers, and wanted to see it and write about it.

THE TRUTH: the story and its conclusions were already written. They had identified an older teacher (Smith) with low VAM, and a young teacher with high VAM in the same grade. So they went in and cherry-picked observations that fit the "older teachers suck/younger teachers rule" narrative.

The young Hispanic teacher was the second coming of Jaime Escalante, with descriptions of his dynamic teaching, and enganged students. Smith was describled as having unengaged, apathetic students. Smith said that they were in his room for five minutes tops. The truth was that because Smith was ex-military, he was assigned a tougher group of kids, and Superboy was given the easiest-to-educated kids because he was only in his second of third year. Smith also told me the story his principal had told him about the principal's encounter with the Jason's on their way out. They asked her loaded questions that were designed to get the response, "The young teacher is so great, so much better than the older teacher Smith... " She told Smith that she refused to take the bait, and clarifiied that the makeup of the classes was totally different, for the reasons described above,and it was unfair to compare them. Thus, she was left out of the article. There you have it? "The Anatomy of a Smear."

So why are we discussing Jason Felch today, in 2014? Seems that Jason is in a bit of ethical doo-doo.

In December of 2013, Jason Felch bylined a story about Occidental College and how it failed to report 27 sexual assaults from 2012. Occidental College refuted Felch's story and shared with the Times;
Some were not sexual assaults as defined by the Clery Act. Rather, they involved sexual harassment, inappropriate text messages or other conduct not covered by the act. Other alleged incidents were not reported because they occurred off-campus, beyond the boundaries that Occidental determined were covered by the act. Some occurred in 2011, and the college accounted for them that year.  
As the Times investigated the complaint it found out, through Felch himself, that he was shagging a source that he had been using in this story and others concerning Occidental College. This behavior is unethical and unbecoming a reporter and should bring into question other sources he has used for stories in the past as well as anything he has reported on as well. We here at SBSB call for the Los Angeles Times ombudsman to do a thorough investigation post haste. 

But Karma reared its head and this past Friday, March 14, 2014, Jason Felch was terminated by the Los Angeles Times. Times Editor Davan Maharaj said;
 "the inappropriate relationship with a source and the failure to disclose it earlier constituted "a professional lapse of the kind that no news organization can tolerate."
Good for the Times and GREAT for Jason Felch.

Yes, this is a Los Angeles centered story and those teachers in New York wonder, "Why should I be concerned?" We all should. If a reporter had an agenda, used questionable and unethical means to source a story in LA it can happen here. We already see reporters that we believe are biased, or at the very least start a story with an agenda. We know who they are, reporters such as XXXX XXXXX, and XXXX XXXXX, and XXXX XXXXX, and especially XXXX XXXXXX, and the entire crew at the New XXXX XXXX.

But let's not take our word or the Los Angeles Times word on the lack of ethics shown by Jason Felch. Let's ask him ourselves. I am sure he would like to hear from as many teachers as possible.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Plight of Lydia Howrilka

Chaz the Blogger had an interesting piece yesterday about how new chancellor Carmen Farina must clean house of the approximately 700 attorneys and 300 accountability "experts" that permeate and suck money out of the DOE. But Chaz stated the obvious;
...presently, the DOE acts as a "bully" when it comes to the teaching staff.  Carmen Farina can't simply"rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic"and expect that the very same people who treated the schools and the teachers with disrespect and as disposable cogs and the students as widgets in a perverse business model to earn the trust of parents, students, or teachers.   Only a complete "spring cleaning" by the Chancellor is necessary and instead of a staff of non-educators, only long-term successful educators should be at the highest levels at the DOE.  

This leads into the plight of Lydia Howrilka, former teacher at the Academy for Language and Technology in the Bronx. Wait! You say that school sounds familiar? It should. The principal, Arisleyda Ureña, was featured in a New York Post article just last month in which she allegedly went against chancellor's regulations and had students participate in raffles for wonderful prizes such as iPads, mini-laptops, sporting goods, and various other prizes. Principal Ureña and ALT were also mentioned in the Post in September of 2013 for as the Post claims, "dubious make-up work."

Lydia wrote a letter to Chancellor Farina which fell into the hands of the Queens Time Ledger on March 11, 2014. It is a moving and stirring letter written by a young lady that really wants to give of herself to the students and communities of New York City. I have met Lydia and in my opinion any school, any student, any parent, and any community that comes into contact with her will benefit from her involvement in their lives.

Lydia's open letter to Chancellor Farina; 

This letter is in regard to my investigations with the Office of Special Investigations in the city Department of Education and my still pending investigation and charges from a school-based investigation.

I was a teacher for the DOE. Teaching had been my passion since I was a young girl, and I am a proud graduate of Hunter College’s School of Education. I worked in District 9, at the Academy for Language and Technology in the Bronx.

Principal Arisleyda Ureña hired me in August 2012 to teach social studies. I stayed late almost every day crafting rigorous and engaging lessons, working with my colleagues to improve the outcomes for our English language learners and organizing school-wide events in my role as student government faculty adviser.

On June 17, 2013, I received a letter from Cristina Jimenez stating that I had been reassigned from my position. I spent the final eight school days of the academic year sitting in a reassignment center at 1 Fordham Plaza. Neither Ureña, any staff member from ALT’s Children First Network, any investigator from the Office of Special Investigations, nor any lawyer from DOE told me why I was reassigned. I did not speak with an investigator upon arrival or during my stay there.

On July 15, 2013, I was discontinued from probationary service. Prior to this discontinuance, I had received a job offer from a secondary school outside District 9 in early July 2013. The new principal’s CFN human resources manager was unable to attach me to the job and informed me that I had been “red flagged” in the system.

I went to OSI July 25, 2013, and spoke to Henry Gomez as a walk-in when Gomez was doing intake. I wanted to know whether I was under investigation. Gomez was professional and looked up the case to see which OSI investigator was handling my case. Gomez informed me that OSI had no information as to what is going on with my case because it had been downgraded to a local, school-based investigation.

It has been more than seven months since an investigation was first opened on me. I have not received any charges to date. I have neither spoken to Ureña, interim acting Principal Jose Viñales, Superintendent Carron Staple, any DOE investigator regarding my case, nor Senior Field Counsel Gillian Kost. On Nov. 1, 2013, Ureña resigned from her position as principal of the Academy for Language and Technology.

How does this affect my case? Is it still open? Were my “charges” found to be unsubstantiated or not?

On Nov. 8, 2013, Katherine Rodi sent me an e-mail explaining to me that my termination from the DOE will “trigger” a review if I have a “valid job offer.” A copy of Rodi’s e-mail reads as follows:

“Ms. Howrilka,

“Mr. Hearn and Mr. Condon are not involved with the clearance process within the DOE.
“As I have told you and your representatives before, your termination from the DOE will trigger a review if you have a valid job offer. Until you have a valid job offer, your file will not be reviewed. There is no “flag” on your record beyond your termination.


“Katherine Rodi

“Director of Employee Relations


Rodi; Lawrence Becker, the chief executive officer of the Division of Human Resources and Talent; and the Office of Personnel Investigation are unwilling to respond to my questions regarding my school-based investigation, but during an interview with OPI Investigator Laurie Vazquez, she informed me that the reason why I had been unable to accept a job with another DOE school in early July was because of the OSI/school-based investigation which had placed a “block” on my record and prevented the second principal from hiring me.

This “block” made it impossible for the principal to enter my credentials through Galaxy and trigger OPI to re-open and re-evaluate my case.

I am requesting a meeting with you and other appropriate school officials regarding my OSI and school-based investigations. What charges had I been accused of that warranted my removal from ALT June 17, 2013, in the middle of proctoring a Regents exam?

Since I have neither met with an investigator, an administrator, nor another DOE official regarding my charges in seven months, this removal and subsequent silence are violations of my constitutional right to due process.

Lydia Howrilka

What an amazing letter from an amazing person. The Crack Team hopes that things work out for Lydia. This looks like a problem where if the people involved just sit down and talk they can find a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Communication can stop so many problems.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting a Pay Raise From the DOE Through Time Travel

Francesco Portelos' blog post on how to give yourself a raise was quite thought provoking. In fact it gave The Crack Team quite a bit to think about. The Crack Team wanted to investigate  other methods to give oneself a raise without anyone, especially the DOE, ever knowing about it?

The Crack Team has spent the day locked away with top scientist from across the nation today debating and discussing the best methods to give teachers of New York City a well deserved pay raise without anyone really knowing. At about 6:30 PM EDT on March 13, 2014 a light bulb appeared above the heads of The Crack Team and the scientists. Getting a raise for teachers can be done through time travel. But how?

There are several options The Crack Team discussed for time travel.

The Crack Team thought of the whip around the sun method used in Star Trek, but it is impractical due to needing a star ship, the need for dilithium crystals, and a Vulcan to make the proper calculations. But it seems impractical. Or a rift in the space time continuum can be used. But again, there is that need for a star ship. Or that planet with the "Guardian of Forever?" But how do we get to that planet? And if we do, how can we be certain that we jump through at the right time?

One can develop a WABAC machine, but one would need to find Mr Peabody and he suddenly has grown a huge head from his new found found role as a Hollywood leading man, has blown off Sherman and hanging out at Hef's.

That left The Crack Team with the Flux Capacitor. The instructions to build one are all over the internet, but The Crack Team has decided instead to save time and spend a few bucks and buy one. Now to power it.

Do we go with the plutonium or a lightning strike? Since purchasing and owning plutonium is illegal and might incur the wrath of SCI, we decided to go with a lighting strike.

What will our time delivery system be? The cost of a De Lorean is prohibitive for The Crack Team are just teachers and the De Lorean is a little out of their price range. Bob suggested we go with a 1977 Chevy Caprice Classic which is a solid automobile and has a bit of style.

To get up to 88 miles per hour we will use the Cross Westchester Expressway during a lighting storm starting at Exit 10 in Rye Brook and by the time The Crack Team gets to the Tappan Zee Bridge the Caprice will be hit by lighting and it will be 1927.

The Crack Team chose that year for that is the year that Uncle Mike Bloomberg's parents met in high school and kissed for the for the first time at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.

The plan is to keep them from kissing at the dance. If they never kiss, they never fall in love. If they never fall in love, they never marry. If they never marry, Uncle Mike never exists. And if Uncle Mike never exists, Uncle Mike never becomes mayor. And if Uncle Mike never becomes mayor, we get a contract in 2009 with pay raises. And if we get a contract in 2009, we probably get a contract in 2012 with even more raises!!

It can work. It can be done. But, wait. Could it be that someone will take this seriously and sick the Timecop on The Crack Team?

Just one more thing. Let's call it a disclaimer.

This is not real! If anyone thinks time anything written on these pages is actually a plan you must be dumber than a brain damaged monkey!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Jailing of Francesco Portelos

Nelson Mandela. Eugene Debs. Mahatma Gandhi. Andrei Sakharov. Ho Chi Minh. Bobby Sands.
Pussy Riot. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

These political prisoners are now joined by a new name. Francesco Portelos.

On February 25, 2014, Francesco wrote a post on his blog; "How to 'Hack' the DOE Payroll Portal and Give Yourself a Raise." When you read this, and you will be laughing your tushy off,  you will come to the realization that a brain damaged monkey would come to the conclusion that Francesco's post was tongue in cheek, sarcastic, and satirical.

Sadly, the folks at the DOE and the NYPD are not as smart as the aforementioned brain damaged monkey.

On Monday, March 10, 2014, at 10 AM EDT Francesco was forced to turn himself in to the detectives at the 84th precinct in Brooklyn which so happens to be the local precinct for our friends at 65 Court St. Thus begun Francesco's odyssey.

Francesco spent the next 13 hours in the holding cell in the precinct with having nothing but a bag of Doritios (Dependable sources have shared with The Crack Team it was nacho cheese flavor) for sustenance. He was then shackled with other prisoners and bussed to Central Booking on Schermerhorn Street and spent the next 20 hours locked up in a cell.

A cell in which he was put was filled with crack addicts, child molesters, and mean people. Twenty hours of just cheese sandwiches. Twenty hours before he saw a judge. Thirty hours of holding it in.

When he went before the judge, Francesco came across the first adult in almost 2 days; the assistant district attorney, who saw it was all bullshit and dropped the charges.

Is this what has become of the DOE? It now imprisons teachers who speak their minds? We expected something like this under Uncle Mike and Sock Puppet Klein, but now?

The Crack Team has come up with a theory. It could be that the 7,000,000,908,000,344 lawyers know that their days, and their hold on power, are coming to an end with the millions of dollars spent soon diverted to the students. Can this be an example of their last hurrah?

When The Crack Team reads and hears about what legal at the DOE is capable of, what they do, they think of The Rainmaker. To paraphrase Rudy Baylor;
 We're just wonderin'... do they even remember when they first sold out? 
Whatever became of the rule of law? Upholding the United States Constitution?  The Bill of Rights?
Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press
 This is not open to debate. There are no gray areas.  Francesco had his right abrogated. Worse, he was violated.

And not just with his rights being stripped away. He was charged with a misdemeanor;
S 195.00  Official misconduct.   A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with intent to obtain a benefit or deprive another person of a benefit:   1. He commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized; or   2. He knowingly refrains from performing a duty which is imposed upon him by law or is clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
Why did Francesco spend 33 hours away from his family? Why could he have not received a desk appearance ticket at the precinct?  The only reason one can assume is that someone wanted to send a message and intimidate him.

Francesco has two little boys and they were without their daddy for almost 2 days. Was this fair to them? Was it fair for the angst his wife had to go through? God forbid, what if Francesco was violently assaulted? Does anyone in the DOE have a conscience anymore?

Two things have been on The Crack Team's mind. Why did the NYPD so easily do the bidding of the DOE, and who out there actually thought they could intimidate Francesco?

The persecution of teachers must end.

Oh, and be sure to read Francesco's more detailed account of his 33 hours on his blog!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Common Core© Denial of Little Evan Stone

Little Evan Stone from Educators 4 Excellence has a new mouth piece. He is Josh Goodman of the SKDKnickerbocker. Josh wrote a press release with the usual E4E propaganda deriding the New York State legislature from putting the brakes on the Common Core©.
communications firm,

So much wrong with this statement The Crack Team was roiling on the floor laughing that EMS came and carted them away.

The Assembly bill introduced late last night would unnecessarily delay the complete implementation of the Common Core©, undermining the teaching standards supported by the vast majority of teachers. 

Who are these vast majority of teachers out there? To paraphrase General Zod from Superman II; 
"Who are these teachers? Where are they?" 
Teachers also support a multi-measure evaluation system, but this bill would effectively eliminate the ‘multi-measure’ component of such a system.

Again, where and who are these teachers?  But elimination is a must.

Educators would be subject to evaluation and termination almost entirely on the basis of their principals’ evaluation.

So teachers want the junk science that according to Newsday is FUBAR? Teachers, art teachers, gym teachers, etc... wish to be evaluated based on test scores of students they taught and in subjects in which they do not teach? Well I'll be darned!

Students, teachers, and principals have enough on their plates this year.

Funny, E4E never ever mentions the other stake holders in education, the parents. How about talking to Yvonne Gasperino of Westchester County? Good luck!

When E4E convened a group of teachers lackeys, sycophants, the ignorant to discuss this issue


This Teacher Action Team will release a set of recommendations shortly that will detail how to support the implementation of the Common Core© without gutting it.

The team is awaiting to hear from it's lord and savior Bill Gates. Wants Bill speaks from the burning bush to direct his minions then the team shall release his words-on two tablets.

We are hopeful that the legislature and the Governor will continue to move forward on these needed changes

Nah. The assembly and senate are scared right now. They are looking to save their political butts. Governor Andy's approval rating is down to 42% and in all probability will get destroyed in Western New York, Upstate, and Long Island...where it just so happens the fight against the Common Core© is fiercest. Westchester might just go for Rob Astorino. What does Governor Andy have left? New York City. Why do you think he put on that shameless display Tuesday? 

Come to Westchester County. Travel to Buffalo. To Patchouge. To Saratoga. The parents do not want anything to do with the Common Core©! It is time to wake up and see and smell reality.

E4E, Little Evan Stone and his babe Princess Sydney Morris are addicts. They can't see what this addiction to Common Core© and the junk evaluation system is doing to them. As everything implodes around them all they can do is think that just one more hit, one more score, one more explanation will fix everything and all will be better. Bill Gates is their dealer and Governor Andy is their co-dependent.

It's time those that care for them have an intervention and send Little Evan and his babe Princess Sydney spend time at Dr Drew's for a very long time.

As Dr McCoy would say about the state of the Common Core©, "It's dead, Jim!"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

It's All About Eva Moskowitz

OK, time to get things straight about all this charter school hullabaloo.

Yes, Uncle Mike pushed through co-locations and approval of charter schools at the October PEP. Nineteen of these co-locations were charter schools. As reported; 

De Blasio axed Moskowitz's plan to move into the August Martin High School complex in Jamaica, Queens, and Murry Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan, sources said. He also froze a plan to expand Success Academy Middle School to P.S. 149 in Harlem, officials said.
That's three schools out of seven that were reversed leaving Eva with 4 schools along with 8 other charters that are being co-located throughout the city. So Eva is batting .571. How many Yankee fans would have accepted that average for A-Rod in any post season series? Even Thurman Munson batted only .529 in the 1976 World Series!

But while we are on the Yankees, let's not forget that a new mayor overturning agreements made by the previous mayor is not unprecedented.

In the fall of 2001 Rudy Giuliani promised both the Yankees and the Mets brand new stadiums built partly at the city's expense totaling  $800 million, plus interest in bonds. Uncle Mike then became mayor and put the kibosh on it, as it was his prerogative.

Did the George Steinbrenner and Fred Wilpon throw hissy fits? Did Steinbrenner and Wilpon protest, get busloads of fans to protest? No. What did they do? They eventually financed their own stadiums, built with their money (Yes, the city threw some cash in and we see the disaster that has become the parking garages at Yankee Stadium with the city backed bonds) and sucked it up and acted like men. It is time Eva acts like a mensch.

We here at SBSB have nothing against charter schools. Open all the charter schools they want. Where we draw the line is at charter schools receiving public monies and free space, especially at the expense of traditional public schools they are co-located with.

How much money cash on hand does Eva have? Somehow one can assume a lot. She can't afford rent? Her schools need to be co-located? Why not pump the money cash she has on hand and pump it back into the communities she claims she cares about? Put Success Academy in store fronts or office buildings. Why must the co-located traditional public schools suffer, and they do, at the expense of what Eva wants?

Yes, Eva must be very proud of herself and her protest yesterday in Albany. Taking the Success students out of school for a day and schlepping them to Albany along with are other charter school buddies.

She must have been beaming that 11,000 students, parents, and teachers were there are the capital steps along with new BFF Governor Andy while only about 1,500 unionists showed up for their rally, according to the New York Post. But funny, FoxNews reports there were only 3,000 charter supporters in Albany yesterday.

But can NYC public school teachers just take the day off to protest in Albany? Can busloads of NYC public school students be bussed to Albany? Doubtful.

But what about this number? Mayor De Blasio ran on the fact that he would charge rent and put a moratorium in new charters. He just didn't squeak by in the election, it was a landslide, a MANDATE. So why the shock when De Blasio is doing what he promised and the voters OK'd it?

As for Governor Andy. So he can just decide to use our taxes to benefit his new BFF? Is this OK with the taxpayers of Columbia County? Of White Plains? Of Monsey? Corning? Elmira?

He claims that there are 200 failing schools throughout the state. He has been Governor for  over 3 years. Why then are they still failing if he claims to be the "lobbyist for children"? Haven't we had enough of his incompetent meddling in education?

But we know who Governor Andy serves. Whitney Tilson knows the truth;
 "...a HUGE shout-out to Gov. Cuomo, a great friend of Democrats for Education Reform." 

Yep, that just sums up Governor Andy, Eva, Whitney, and all the deformers.