Monday, April 27, 2015

Governor Andy Says It Just Doesn't Matter!!

So Governor Crazy (Andy) came out last week and shared his thoughts on the opt out conflagration that was thrust upon his education policies that occurred in New York State the last two weeks.

In essence what we got from Governor Andy's mouth was that the math and ELA tests that children across this state take so we can collect data and help the students was, "It just doesn't matter." Well, not really.

He did say that the the tests, "Don't count against the children." But what he didn't say and continues to believe is that the tests count against the teachers across New York.

We thank Governor Andy for letting us all see that his slip is showing and wonder of another time when someone came out and said, "It just doesn't matter," and if there are any parallels.

What came to the mind of The Crack Team was 1979's hit summer camp movie "Meatballs" starring Bill Murray. In a scene before the camp faces the children of the one percent from Camp Mohawk Murray's character John Tripp, implores the camp that they can beat Mohawk in the Olympics and that nothing matters. We here at SBSB believe that this scene was the impetus for Governor Andy's decree which he first presented to his hedge fund buddies.

Scene: Governor Andy back from his trip to Cuba meets with Chancellor Tisch, his hedge fund buddies, Lt Governor Hochul, and Senator Skelos in his Mount Kisco home. First Girlfriend Sandra Lee is in the kitchen baking brownies. All are dejected that the parents of New York have thus fare beaten this motley crew of parents and educators to beat back the tests.  

Eva Moskowitz runs into the meeting in a panic.

Eva: Hey, gang, come on. Look it, just 'cause we're losing, doesn't mean it's all over.

Tisch: Cut the crap, Eva. I mean, the parents have beaten us in the court of public opinion the last 12 months, they're gonna beat us again. 

Governor Andy: That's just the attitude we don't need, Meryl. Sure. The parents have beaten us Sure, they're terrific moms and dads. They've got the best integrity that money can buy. Hell, every Tweet they're sending over here to us does not have their own public relations person. Not PR, public relations. But it doesn't matter. Do you know that every parent has an tweet, FB post and blog posts every 48 hours, to ensure that their message gets across? Do you know that they use the least sophisticated social media methods from the Finland, Singapore, and the newest education power, Trinidad and Tobago? But it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!
And even... And even if we win, if we win! Even if we win, even if we somehow think so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days, even if God in heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the education debate, even if every man, woman, and child held hands together and for some reason prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter, because all the really good-looking girls would still never go out with me, 'cause they got all the money and they are not donating it to me!
It just doesn't matter
if the students of New York State take standardized tests!
It just doesn't matter. It just does for the teachers!

Thank you Govenor Andy for putting your foot so far in your mouth that there is no way to remove it.

Governor Andy said today he is running in 2018 and thinks he can win. Do the math.

In 2014 Cuomo received 2,069,480 votes. His opponents received 1,749,606 votes including my write in vote for Babaooey. He won by only 319,874 votes. Do the math.

With, I would say about 225,000 students opting out of math and ELA and let's use the math and say each kid has about 1.5 parents that comes to; 337,500 votes against Andy in 2018. Of course we know that most of these kids are siblings and the parents who opted out probably didn't vote for Andy in 2014, but... It is now a runaway train against Andy. All these people have friends, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. And we know Andy will screw up more between now and 2018 and hopefully get indicted before that.

So basically it is bye-bye Governor Andy in 2018.

Time to be an Amway salesman.

And don't forget to listen to me on WFAS tomorrow morning, April 28, at 6:30 AM. Find it at 1230 on your AM dial or listen on You can also download the WFAS app. The call in # is 914-693-5700.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jonathan Weinstein at High Achievement New York Exposed

After we posted our exposure of Jonathan Weinstein and his buddies at High Achievement New York word came into the SBSB newsroom that Jon is married to a NYCDOE teacher. We shan't say where, other than it is the Upper West Side in District 3, and we shan't say which grade and/or subject only that its special ed. in an ICT elementary class in a magnet school.

This school only has 4 percent of its students as ELL's and 18 percent with special needs. And get this. Only 8 percent of the students get a free lunch. Impressive numbers, huh?

And as one might imagine the test scores, for both general ed and special ed, are very impressive.

We do however applaud all the teachers, the staff, the parents, the community, and the principal on having such great outcomes. Of course one can ascertain that the low amount of ELL's, special ed., and students on free lunch have something to do with this.

Oh, lest we forget to mention the copious amounts of fundraising done by the parents of the school. Hey, we here at SBSB have no problem with it and believe that it is great. But does this not show the difference between the haves (This school sold its tickets for the fundraiser for $70 per person including dinner and open bar) and the have nots. Maybe the have nots can have their fundraisers and Jimbo's Hamburger Palace?

Win two round trip tickets on Jet Blue . Enjoy a 2 night stay in a luxury Oceanfront One bedroom Suite, including daily buffet breakfast for two at the Gansevoort Turks + Caicos. A sleek boutique property unlike any other on the island, Gansevoort Turks + Caicos marries Caribbean cool with urban chic in a way that only New York’ s hippest hotel mainstay can. Indulgence takes the front seat at this completely modern beachfront retreat where every room boasts stunning ocean views. Ride to the airport feeling good in a car from  Go Green Ride. $3,004
Be "On the Floor" with the Knicks! Two premium tickets to a game of your choice (list of 12 to choose from) during the 2014-15 season. These tickets go for $1000 through ticket brokers!! Before or after the game enjoy dinner for 2 at Lugo Caffe ($150 gift certificate), right by The Garden. Lugo Caffé captures the convivial charm of the Italian café culture. Lugo Caffé is the perfect place for socializing and sharing authentic Italian food and drink... and getting ready for the game.
(Just an aside, want real Italian food? Go to Dom and Vinnie's on Saw Mill River Rd in Yonkers. Great food, great atmosphere, great prices. Tell them Frank Sinatra Jr sent you and get a glass of wine on the house.)

These are just a few examples from the hundreds being sold and auctioned of that night last year.

Disgusting. Not that a school can do this. Rather no one can understand why there is such disparity in achievement between schools in NYC. Shouldn't a journalist such as Jon Weinstein once was know to collect all the facts before making assumptions? 

Do the teachers at this school know the background of HANY and that their colleague's husband is doing the best he can to separate them from their direct deposit? Heck, Jon is doing everything he can to destroy the career of his wife. But it won't matter. She'll get pregnant and never return back to the school.

Even more astonishing is that Jon's mommy was a school board member and then president of the school board at a swank school district on Long Island. Jon could have turned out like Jon Stewart or Matt Damon, both of who have parents that are educators. But he decided to sell his soul for the money coming from Bill Gates.

Does Jon Weinstein believe his wife would be the same teacher if she was in the South Bronx, Bed-Stuy, or Brownsville? Does he not think things would be different?

Why does Jon not lead the fight against poverty, lack of medical and dental attention, hunger, mental illness, destroyed families, abuse, alcohol and drug abuse in the South Bronx and other such areas?

Simple, there is no power and glamor involved. It ain't sexy. And it's not what poor little rich boys from Long Island and graduated from Cornell are supposed to do.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Truth About High Achievement New York

For those that have not been paying attention of late there is a new faux education advocacy group in town.

OK maybe not new but we here just found out about them last week just before the ELA exams began. This group, High Achievement New York, is one of those so-called, "Hey we are here for the kids and the families of NYC and we are just regular people and are down with everyone else," groups.

HANY has even being playing radio spots on WCBS-AM and WINS coercing and lying to those that do not have enough information that testing really is not a major disruption and...well you know what? Let's look at the script together;
I’m  Pat Sprinkle, and I am a  New York public school teacher. If your son or daughter is in the 3rd through  8th grade,  I  want  you to know this month’s state assessments are crucial for their future. Almost two - thirds of our students graduate from high school without being ready for college or a career.  These tests are designed to fix that  – they’re a check - up to make sure all our kids are getting the  problem - solving and critical thinking skills need ed to succeed . It’s a great investment for your children  – the rules guarantee they’ll spend less than 1% of the their time on  the tests each year. Let’s give all  our students a chance at a better life. Because they deserve it.
Where to start? We can start with the fact that Pat Sprinkle is a loyal, card carrying member, of Educators 4 Excellence.

These tests do not measure problem solving nor critical thinking skills. These tests are only measure how confused and stressed out our students get.

Maybe 1 percent of students time each year is spent on taking the tests, but how much time is spent each year preparing for the tests?

But what bothers us most is while the voice over at the end of the radio spot tells the listener that the spots were paid for by HANY nowhere do we hear a voice over that HANY is majorly financed by the Gates Foundation, the same financiers that breech birthed E4E.

Yes to a lay person it might seem cynical to imply that Gates monies are pulling the strings. We can give the benefit of the doubt and say that Gates donated to a true grass roots organization. We can. We shan't.

The Crack Team did a WhoIs search of HANY's url (Web address) and came up with bupkus. The information the WhoIs came up with showed many a layer hiding the true owners of the web address. Why?

We then googled the telephone # we found on the HANY blog, 212-681-1380 and found out that that is the main number for Mercury LLC a public affairs/lobbying firm in Manhattan.  Heck, Mercury LLC is the public affairs firm for Campbell Brown's Partnership for Educational Justice! Mercury is also a registered lobbyist in NYC.

It gets deeper.

When The Crack Team spoke with someone at Mercury LLC (More on this in a bit) we shared the address of the blog. Immediately this person read the blog. When The Crack Team checked on the blog's stat counter and the ISP comes from another public relations firm Porter Novelli which is part of the Omnicron Group.

When The Crack Team spoke with VP of Mercury LLC  Jon Weinstein the first question we asked him was who paid for the poll that is listed on HANY's blog that New Yorkers across the state are in favor of high stakes testing. Jon told The Crack Team that MercuryLLC "commissioned the survey." This is akin to McDonald's commissioning a poll to find out which fast food restaurant has better tasting burgers, McD's or Burger King only to find out McD's is the better tasting burger.

We thank Jon for his honesty but for some reason asked that the remind of question be written out in an email and he will respond. He did. But first the questions The Crack Team sent;

1. Is it possible to get a copy of the survey that is being touted by HANY?  

2. HANY appears to be coming off as a "grass roots" organization. Why hasn't HANY shared information that the Gates Foundation is it's main funder in the radio spots or the fact Mercury LLC is the force behind HANY?  

3. How many of the coalition members know that the Gates Foundation is your main funder?  

4. Is there any official relationship between HANY/Mercury and StudentsFirst, Educators 4 Excellence and Campbell Brown?  

5. When 212-630-1630 is googled why does Campbell Brown's "Partnership for Educational Justice" appear in the listings?  

6. Have any of the people who did the voice overs for the radio spots receive compensation and if so how much?  

7. Who other than the Gates Foundation has funded HANY? 

8. Has Mercury LLC done any lobbying in Albany, NYC, or Washington on behalf of Gates, StudentsFirst, DFER, PEJ, Campbell Brown, E4E, and other such organizations?

Jon replied promptly; 

High Achievement New York provides New York parents, teachers, business and community leaders with an organized platform to support the Common Core standards, which are essential for preparing our children for college and 21st century careers. 

We are transparent about where our funding comes from and who our coalition members are.

Our funders are listed in this press release, posted on our website:

Coalition members can be found listed at the bottom of each press release on this page:

We are proud of the work we are doing to make sure that all of New York’s children are advancing together and learning the critical thinking and reasoning skills they need for success.

Finally, no one in our radio ads was compensated for offering their viewpoints. We appreciate your interest in High Achievement New York.

Jon didn't really answer the question did he? We emailed him back several times and he has yet to respond to what we asked him. As a former reporter for NY1 surely Jon didn't like BS and obfuscation when it was done to him.

Is it just possible that part of reason thousands of students statewide have opted out is that we are sick and tired of astro-turf groups telling us parents how our kids should be educated? Interfering with our local school boards, our teachers, our politicians? 

Time to go away HANY and all the astro-turf groups out there. Leave our children's education be. WE THE PARENTS AND THE COMMUNITES know what is best. You don't. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Democrats for Education Reform's Nicole Brisbane Rips Scarsdale Parents

You know who are the biggest losers in this opt-out movement? The so-called "(de)reformers" and their faux grassroots organizations like StudentsFirst, Education Reform Now, Success Academy, Educators4Excellence and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).

The irrelevance and slow death spiral of DFER was seen by all last week when DFER New York director Nicole Brisbane was quoted in the Journal News as saying;
"Schools are one of the biggest differentiators of value in the suburbs. How valuable will a house be in Scarsdale when it isn't clear that Scarsdale schools are doing any better than the rest of Westchester or even the state? Opting out of tests only robs parents of that crucial data,"

It really is quite simple. Look at SAT scores. Number of students going on to 4 year colleges. Number of students going to Ivy League colleges. Visit the school. Ask neighbors. Graduation rates. Teacher turnover. Home values. Really, there are so many reasons. In fact Nicole fails to grasp what did Scarsdale do before there were high stakes exams?

But please, don't listen to Nicole. Nicole claims she was somewhat misquoted and only using Scarsdale as an example, that her real thoughts were in a blog post on DFER that she had written ;
"Part of the draw of the suburbs is the high performance of local schools. How will suburban communities maintain their draw if there isn’t a measure of how the schools are actually doing in comparison to those across the state?"

Nicole, see above. But we here at SBSB suggest to Nicole that if she is really concerned about how others can measure up to one another to take Chevy Chase's advice.

Nicole does decide to deride the parents of not only Scarsdale, but of all affluent communities as well when she says on the DFER blog;
"The same parents are opting-in for other standardized tests like the ACT (not mandatory), the SAT (also not mandatory) and the Specialized High School Admissions Test (also not mandatory but absolutely necessary if you want your kid to go to a “choice” high school in New York City). Affluent parents aren’t opting out of optional tests, so why opt out of the state exams? Maybe it’s because the results aren’t what they wanted to hear."

See Nicole does not understand something here (And of course we can go into the the multitude of flaws with testing but we shan't tonight). These tests are a choice one makes for their child. These tests are not forced upon parents by a bully governor, a clueless chancellor of the Regents, or a faceless bureaucrat. The parents have ownership of their child's education. Such as my son made a choice to continue his Jewish education after his bar mitzvah after telling me and my wife for years he will stop once he became a bar mitzvah. HE HAD OWNERSHIP!

However after the missed opportunity at a testing analogy Nicole decided that it would be best to charm the parents of Scarsdale and all affluent communities by sharing;
"That their kids, or their kid’s teacher or their beloved (Emphasis by The Crack Team) neighborhood school isn’t performing as well as they expected."
What Nicole fails to realize, as the Journal News as reported, is that the vast majority of affluent communities (For this post will use Westchester County), Scarsdale, Chappaqua, Irvington, Bronxville, Ardsley, had quite low opt out numbers. WAY TO WIN OVER PARENTS NICOLE! KUDOS!

If you are left wondering who is this expert in education that is gracing the pages of this award winning blog we will share what The Crack Team has learned.

Nicole Brisbane is a former teacher, now a lawyer, and shared with The Crack Team that she was a reading specialist for 5 years at Allapattah Middle School in Miami.

Oddly, according to this link she only taught two years at Allapattah before entering law school. Only two years? Well, if you read the headline of that link she was with Teach for America.

So how can we believe anything she says, even when she told The Crack Team she won Rookie Teacher of the Year at Allapattah and in fact raised the grade level of her students (Who were 4 grades behind at the time of her ascension at Allapattah 2.5 grades in the very short time she was there?

We can't believe her even though we requested several times for some kind of verification or conformation to her outstanding teaching and her award. Is her story truth or fiction?

But according to Nicole, the affluent, or shall we stray into reality, the "regular people",  or strating from the test because,
"The people who are opting out of tests are largely those who already feel like their child has access to a high-quality education, and are doing so in a way that directly harms poor and minority students throughout New York. We should be supporting students and teachers throughout New York, whether they are in Scarsdale or the Bronx, and making sure all students have a fair shot at a quality education. Rather than maintain the status quo where wealth determines a quality education, data can and should highlight where the gaps are so we can invest in schools that need it the most. High property values shouldn't determine the quality of education for the neighborhood--and the way we are going to change that is through access to data that will allow us to make investments where they are needed"
 And she shares some links here, and here. Big deal. Hey Nicole, let's see how the students from Success flame out when they hit college, much the way they flamed out on tests for the NYC specialized high schools.

Nicole this is why the opt out movement is picking up steam. We are fed up. We are fed up with Albany and Washington DC deciding what is best for our children and our school districts. We are fed up with millions going to testing companies like Pearson. We are fed up seeing our babies go through 8 hours of testing when a bar exam is only 3 hours. We are fed up seeing our children stress out. We are fed up with the narrowed curriculum. We are fed up with teaching to the tests. We are fed up with our narrowed curriculum. We are fed up with Common Core. We are fed up with a governor that pockets $4.8 million from DFER and others like it instead of fixing our poverty and having the state pay its fair share to ALL school districts.

Mostly we are fed up with people of your ilk. You and yours are the modern day carpetbaggers, just this time it is education that you and yours needs to control. You truly believe that since you taught for two years this gives you some kind of street cred when it comes to education and the welfare of our children. You feel that you must share "stories" on how you raised students 2.5 grades and were Rookie of the Year. Guess what? Joe Charboneau was AL Rookie of the Year in 1980. What did it mean in the long run? Nothing. At least Charboneau can prove he was ROY.

Put your skills to good use. Sell Amway.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Eastchester NY Super Lays Guilt Trip on Parents

The latest numbers The Crack Team has gotten via the Journal News is that 155,000 students across New York State have opted out of the ELA exam. Many parents have been cajoled, bribed, pleaded with, and have had major guilt trips thrust upon them. No where as The Crack Team seen anything worse than those parents of the Greenvale Elementary School in Eastchester, NY.

Knowing of the strong surge of parents not wishing for their children to partake in such tests the Eastchester Schools Superintendent Dr Walter Moran III tried to lay on some Jewish guilt to the parents of Greenvale.

In a nutshell he warned parents that the New York State Education Department had notified him that because the amount of students taking the exams will fall below 95 percent that Greenvale's application to be a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence will be denied. Even though one would be hard pressed to find such a reason to disqualify Greenvale here. Having won this award in 2009 the parents of Greenvale are going boo-hoo-hoo.

This is akin to Dean Wormer punishing Delta House by not allowing them to have a float in Faber College's Homecoming Parade (About 39 seconds in).

Whilst examining the qualifications for being a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence The Crack Team was unable to find nary a word that a school with less than 95 percent participation will lose out. In fact The Crack Team came across this little known codicil (With apologies to Dean Wormer).
The performance of all tested students in the school in the most recent year tested in both reading (English language arts) and mathematics must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state when schools are ranked based on the performance of all tested students. 
Seems they base the performance only on tested students. So who is fibbing? Who is truly doing the guilt trip? The SED or Dr Walter Moran III?

Anyway the letter from Dr Walter Moran III is just below and to the parents of Greenvale, you deserve a blue ribbon, but a different type of blue ribbon as you can see up in the right hand corner.

Keep up the struggle!

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:55:09 -0700
Subject: Greenvale Blue Ribbon Status - IMPORTANT UPDATE

Pasted below, and attached, please see important letter from Dr. Moran regarding the Blue Ribbon Award status for Greenvale.
April 15, 2015
Dear Greenvale Parents/Guardians,
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying this beautiful spring day. 
This morning I was informed by a New York State Education Department official that the Greenvale School’s Blue Ribbon Award application will be disqualified as a result of our not meeting the participation threshold on the New York State exams at Greenvale School.  As you may know, New York State requires schools to have 95% of their students take the state assessments, and the number of test refusals we received this year placed us below that threshold. 
I am writing this letter to simply share information.  Ultimately, I respect parents’ rights to advocate for what they believe in, and make decisions that they determine are in their child’s best interests.  I also recognize that the National Blue Ribbon Award is a significant acknowledgement of the extraordinary work of our children, teachers, administrators, and families.  The National Blue Ribbon Award is a source of great pride for our school district and community because it recognizes that Greenvale Elementary School is among the best schools in the nation.  
We were advised by an official at the State Education Department that parents could still have their children participate in the English Language Arts assessments that are taking place this week.  Book 3 is set to be administered tomorrow and the three-day make-up window (April 17-21) is an option for students to complete Books 1 and 2.  If any parent whose child did not take the ELA assessment over the past two days should wish to reconsider, please contact Mrs. Casey.
Clearly, this is a parent’s decision.  As superintendent, I felt it my responsibility to share the information we have received from NYSED in a timely manner. 
Walter R. Moran III

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Errol Louis of the Daily News Is Not a Real Journalist

Poor Errol Louis. He just seems to keep on stepping in it and his bereft of any independent thought.

The shame he must bring on his hometown of New Rochelle.

When we last left Errol Louis on these pages we had noticed that he had become the "Kool-Aid Man." Now, after reading his column in today's Daily News we know that the supply of Kool Aid packets worldwide will decrease for some time.

This is becoming too easy to take his "arguments" apart but The Crack Team wish to have some fun tonight so we are having a go of it.

Errol starts off of course without any usual when he puts all the onus on the unions. This year, that number is expected to soar, thanks in part to an organized campaign by the state teachers union and its political allies to persuade parents to have their children opt out.

Political allies? Like whom? If he means the grass roots parents, REAL grassroots, not like his pals at Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Educators4Excellence, and new kid on the block, High Achievement NY but advocates that started from a single person, a real life mommy, a smart person.

For instance New York State Allies for Public Education, Diane Ravitch, Stop Common Core in New York State, the plethora of personal blogs, and let's not forget the many, many Facebook pages in which so many are using their own time and their own monies to do a service for now monetary gain whatsoever. Why isn't "Journalist" Errol taking the time and speaking to these people? 

"Journalist" Errol prattles on; First and foremost, parents should guard against allowing their movement to get hijacked by the money and political clout of union officials, whose motivation and ultimate goals on this issue are very different from those of parents.

Actually NYSUT was late to the game, about a few years late. Yeah, parents should wonder what took them so long and why only now are they on the bandwagon but since they are we welcome them with open arms. But ultimately the goals are the same.

Heck, what about the millions of dollars that Governor Andy has pocketed for the benefit of 9 billionaires?

More bloviating from "Journalist" Errol;  a new law, passed by the Legislature and strongly backed by Gov. Cuomo, that makes test scores the basis of tougher evaluation standards intended to detect poorly performing teachers and steer them out of the classroom.

A new law yes. And also a bad law. Tougher evaluation standards? Has "Journalist" Errol seen what happened in Atlanta because of the reliance on the tests? Has "Journalist" Errol read the New York Times and their story of Eva? Michelle Rhee? The suicides? Can "Journalist" Errol explain the algorithm that is used to determine whether or not a teacher is effective? What about the outside evaluator? Who is paying this person? Who is training this person? Does this person know the intricacies of the teacher and the students he is to evaluate?

"Journalist" Errol digs himself deeper; “We have 20% right now. We’d be happy with zero, because it’s not a true indicator of what’s going on in the schools,” said Magee.
“Happy with zero” means the union would just as soon not have its members’ job security or prospects for promotion affected in any way by whether the students have actually learned reading, writing or math.

No. Not just on ridiculous tests created by a company that only is in it for a profit and pushed by politicians getting paid off. 

But "Journalist" Errol rails against bad cops. How would "Journalist" Errol make sure we get rid of bad cops? 

The blabbering goes on; the union’s strategy — backed by groups including the Working Families Party — is to cripple the evaluation system by encouraging so many kids to opt out that the tests won’t represent a reliable sample.

The kids are not making the decisions the parents are. And is "Journalist" Errol saying the parents are too stupid to think on their own, to make an informed decision? 

That’s not the same agenda as parents, who simply dislike the stress and lost classroom hours that inevitably come with prepping for a high-stakes standardized test.

"Journalist" Errol just contradicted himself. But the NYSUT and the educators of this state have the same agenda as the parents. The parents also know the tests are not the way to evaluate the teachers of THEIR children!

The blithering is ceaseless; Cuomo vowed to revamp teacher evaluation systems that he dismissed as “baloney” because nearly every teacher gets rated as effective...

So what will Governor Andy do next year if the same happens? 

Now, for a minutes it seems that "Journalist" Errol gets it; Magee’s response? “The truth is, there’s no epidemic of failing schools or bad teachers,” she said in a statement responding to Cuomo. “There is an epidemic of poverty and underfunding that Albany has failed to adequately address for decades.”

Let's look and compare in "Journalist" Errol's hometown of New Rochelle, NY. Former home of Bob Petrie, former head write of the "Alan Brady Show," and former home of Yankee legend Lou Gehrig. 

The North End of New Rochelle has some of the richest real estate in Westchester County.  Now let's compare it to the Washington Ave and 5th Ave areas of the city. Lots of poverty. Lots immigrants. Lots of ELL's.

The two middle schools, Albert Leonard and Isaac Young are not zoned. But at the north end Albert Leonard in which 376 students who are economically disadvantaged took the the ELA exam only 21% were proficient. So is it poverty, second language learners or teachers? Same teachers, same schools. 

IT'S POVERTY! And lack of English. And so much much more.

"Journalist" Errol ignorantly claims that people must...realize that high-stakes testing is, for better or worse, the norm in our complex modern society. Universities base admissions decisions on SAT and ACT scores; graduate schools do the same with LSATs, GREs, MCATs and more.

And virtually all Civil Service employees, be they firefighters, bus drivers or entry-level sanitation workers, must pass a high-stakes standardized test to get the job. The legal and medical professions famously require exams of punishing difficulty, as do architecture and aviation

Please, don't compare. These tests are not used to destroy someone's career. These tests are not out to trick you and they test questions make sense. 

Students have plenty of tests in school do know how to get ready for grown up tests. But they can worry about getting this practice in high school and college, not THIRD GRADE!!!

These tests are not about helping students are evaluating where a students in academically. The tests the way they are being used now is basically twofold. One, to jam teachers and the other is for Pearson to make s***loads of money. Nothing more, nothing less. 

The assessment of a student starts and ends at home. Want to know how and what your child is doing in school? Ask him or her. Ask their teacher. Discuss with your child what their school work is and what they are learning. Do the same with the teacher. Show up in school when you should. Speak to other parents. Go to PTA meetings, come to open school night, volunteer. Doing all these things will get you the lay of the land of your child's school and knowing what your child is doing in school. 

Wouldn't this be easier, get teachers back to educating our students full time, and be a heck of a lot less expensive? 

One wonders if "Journalist" Errol really has any journalistic chops or curiosity left in him and whether he fancies himself a journo-celeb nowadays or just a talking head.

One can wonder what "Journalist" Errol might be getting under the table to write such drivel.

One can also wonder if "Journalist" Errol puts his money where is mouth is and why he won't answer in regard to this tweet;

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Yesterday afternoon I received a robocall from Superintendent Dr Louis Wool of  the Harrison
Central School District instructing myself and of course others to go to the HCSD website to find out information about the effects of opting out. Nowhere in the message did Dr Wool say anything about whether one should or the consequences of opting out. His robocall was quite ambiguous. It only asked the listener to go to this page on the HCSD website (Strange now how The Crack Team has noticed there is no link on the front page of the website to the Testing FAQ as there was yesterday).

One would notice whilst perusing that page this;
 School district officials are bound by an oath of office to comply with all NYS regulations, including testing requirements. Neither the law nor the State commissioner's regulations provide any legal right or method for students to “opt-out “of the mandated assessments. New York State does not have a statutory opt-out provision and the State commissioner's regulations do not permit opting out except under specific exceptions, such as those involving students with disabilities.

Lots of scary words.  Yes, we understand that district officials are bound by oath (Is there really an oath?), but are parents.

So we got in touch with Lisa Rudley from (New York State Allies for Public Education) We asked her about these so called scare tactics and among the items she emailed The Crack Team is the  School Administrator's Guide Manual for the exams it says;
Except as noted below (Which is basically about ELL's-The Crack Team's added this), all public and charter school students in Grades 3–8 must take all State tests administered for their grade level.

See this bothers me. Stuff like this will have me having a coffee klatsch for Ted Cruz very soon. I am not anti-government and believe that government can do good, but come on! I am not as liberal or progressive as I used to be, I like to call myself a left of center libertarian, but if this state mandating my child and others continues I will donate to Ted Cruz!

But there is more!

According to this memo (Thanks to Lisa again!) Steven E Katz, the Director of Assessment for the SED which was sent to all superintendents  statewide;
 Tests are considered part of a “course of study” under a board’s authority and, as noted above, are included as part of the program requirements for students in Grades 3–8 under Sections 100.3 and 100.4 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
How are tests a course of study? The "Board" has more authority over my kid than do I? 

Who is telling the truth here? The State or the parents who wish to opt out their children? Will the officers from the Harrison Police Department come to my house Tuesday morning to arrest me and my wife? Will my son be arrested or taken from us? What is a parent to do?

A parent should read this letter sent to the community of Saugerties NY by NYSAPE p3wning the argument of  Saugerties Central School District Superintendent Seth Turner as to why students must take the exam.

Isn't it time we as parents, community members, educators call Cuomo's bluff (In 2016) and Uncle Arne's bluff and just turn down the monies that we are being blackmailed with? Yea, it will be tough at first but the Legislature will soon grow a set.

Parents are the #1 source of a child's education. We know, along with local control of school districts, what is best for our children. Only we can decide, not a mean, angry man in Albany along with his donor buddies and lackies in the Legislature. This foolishness ends this year.

There is still time to opt out of the exams. Go over to NYSAPE, get the sample letter and email it post-haste to your child's principal! Only in numbers are we a force. Only in numbers do we weaken Governor Andy.

And don't forget to listen to me on the Bob Marrone Morning Show this Tuesday morning at 6:30AM EDT on WFAS-AM 1230 as I will discuss testing and opting out. You can call in at 914-693-5700.

Also listen for NYSAPE public service announcement on WCBS-AM 880 and WINS 1010.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Assemblyman David Buchwald Voted Yes on the Budget

On February 23 of this year I attended a meeting of of parents, board members, teachers and
administrators at Harrison High School in Westchester County. This meeting was not held just those of Harrison but for all throughout the Sound Shore and Central Westchester. The meeting was facilitated by Dra Louis Wool, Superintendent of the Harrison Central School District and several local politicians were there as guests.

Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco), State Senator George Latimer (D-Port Chester), and Assemblyman Steven Otis (D-Rye) were in attendance. I was quite impressed. In fact I am quite impressed with Senator Latimer who I have met and commiserated with on several occasions on the state of education in New York. Even better, I live in Senator Latimer's district as well as Assemblyman Buchwald's district. I felt as if Albany came to the masses that night and there was true concern among the three. Well among the two, for I knew Senator Latimer's positions well.

But I was even more impressed by Assemblyman Buchwald. I have had no interaction with him in the past only when he called me from the floor of the Assembly last year to explain to me why he was voting for the budget in which Eva was given everything but the kitchen sink. I disagreed with him but respected his candor and the fact that he called me back. And where he called me back from.

As reported by the Harrison Review on February 26, 2015 Assemblyman Buchwald shared to the crowd assembled in the Harrison High School cafeteria that evening that he had an issue with why there would be diminished evaluation weight on local school administrators and why so much emphasis on the evaluations of outside administrators who are unfamiliar with the community in teacher evaluation.

But more amazingly Buchwald said;
“None of these percentages seems to be based on an investigation of what’s actually best for our school districts.”

He heard how with in Harrison how we are suffering under the draconian cap and holding back of monies from Governor Andy. How the student population is rising and ten teachers are needed but we only have enough to hire one.

Assemblyman Buchwald was good enough to speak to a member of The Crack Team yesterday and shared why he voted yes on the budget. The jist of the theme that we got in our analysis of the Assemblyman's words that it would have been a lot worse.

The Assemblyman shared how the budget negotiations in this state are difficult because the governor holds that cards and with a Senate that is not on board with the Assembly compromise must be made.

He said that he did try to "push back, and was seeking the "best arrangement possible," and how he helped "push to let the Board of Regents" make the final determination in the new and draconian bill passed last week.

While we thank the Assemblyman for his candor and taking the time to speak we must fully disagree with him.

No matter how you slice the new evaluation system it is still 50% based on tests. This is not to help pedagogy or learning but only a way to best jam teachers.  The outside evaluator which the Assemblyman lauded is a problem waiting to happen much as we mocked it yesterday on these pages.

The Assemblyman told us that anything is possible. The evaluator can be another principal from a school within the district or even a neighboring school district. But stop, think, how can this work. Don't these administrators have schools to run themselves? Shouldn't someone doing an evaluation on a teacher know that teacher? Know the students that teacher is working with? What if it is a small school district with only three schools--Elementary, Middle, and High--would a elementary principal be best to evaluate a high school teacher and vice versa?  This is akin to asking a art critic who specializes in Modernism to evaluate the art of someone who was trained and paints in the mode of the Hudson River School.

Basing evaluation on junk science, Value Added Measurements, has been shown not to work and the +/- scale far exceeds what truly happens in the classroom. How can anyone using high stakes tests not consider the multitude of variables that occur in a child? How can a Governor who claims he is for the kids not see and do something about the multitude of children living in poverty across the state and not see how that can affect their learning? He can't, he is beholden to the hedge funders and his own hatred towards teachers.

Assemblyman Buchwald, I thought you were different. You could have done the noble thing and voted no. You knew it was going to pass but you had a chance to safe yourself. Getting back to your quote from above, know who knows best about what is actually best for school districts? The stakeholders of said school districts. Not Albany, not a governor with issues, not hedge funders, and certainly not politicians.

My advice, come and listen to the teachers and the parents. We are fed up. Come and talk to me informally. Come on WFAS next Tuesday morning with me.

On a personal note, I am still awaiting a response from the Assemblyman of emails I had sent on April 28 and May 12 of last year. Maybe he could see why teacher tenure and other protections are so important.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Pearson Future?

We here at SBSB are still analyzing the "victory" and smackdown we as teachers scored over
Governor Andy. Stay tuned on a post on how Assemblyman David Buchwald fibbed to a packed cafeteria of parents, teachers, and administrators in Harrison High School back in February and ideas on hide your address from the state ed department.

One thing The Crack Team has had on it's mind is this special "teacher evaluator" that is part of the new law. Yes, Governor Andy had wanted it to be 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation yet it was punted to the board of regents for final say.

Trial balloons have been floated that these special, independent evaluators can be teachers from the same school who are highly effective, principals from other school within the district or from neighboring districts or even retired principals. No one knows for sure and no one knows where the money will come from for such an endeavor.

One idea The Crack Team has been kicking around (Don't forget, The Crack Team can peer into the future) is that these so called evaluators were put into the bill not because Governor Andy does not trust local administrators but rather to line the pockets of campaign contributors who will be able to make big bucks (Because isn't that what it is really all  about??) from this legislation.

Think about it.Who stands to profit the most from having outside, independent evaluators come in to classroom and evaluate the teachers?

**Cough cough** Pearson? **Cough cough**

So The Crack Team got to thinking and wondered what would it be like if Pearson truly, and quite possibly, gets involved in the future?

We decided to convene a meeting of the social sciences committee of The Crack Team. Actually, it was just a bunch of us eating Chinese food and Carvel milk shakes, but that is neither here nor there. The committee wanted to see how Pearson would go about recruiting evaluators and what type of people would it employ. After the last spare rib and fortune cookie we came up with a working hypothesis.

The committee placed a faux ad on Craigslist which read;

Teacher Evaluators Needed (Midtown)

Pearson PLC is looking to hire new teacher evaluators starting in September 2015. The details of these evaluators is still being worked out in Albany but if you are looking to for part time or full time work this is the place for you!


A high school diploma
A working knowledge of English
A bubbly personality
The ability to follow directions
The ability to make checks in boxes
The ability to use a pencil
A working command of English
The willingness to travel throughout the 5 boroughs
The ability to read a subway map 

A background in education is not needed. You will be trained for 5 hours in identifying good pedagogy.
What would happen next? Believe it or not The Crack Team got some responses! Seriously, we can not make this sh** up! Let's read together (Names, phone numbers, and email addresses have been changed). 

Henry Blake<>

Apr 6 (1 day ago)

to abcdef-1234567.
Hello my name is Henry Blake I'm an experienced school auditor and I'm interested in helping you out if there is still availability. Please feel free to email me back or you can call or text me at 347-555-1212...thanks!


Steve Urkel>

Apr 6 (1 day ago)

to abcdef-1234567.
Hi, my name is Steve Urkel, i would love to be an evaluator, i am a college grad, my number is 900-555-1212.

Alfalfa Switzer <>

5:17 PM (6 hours ago)

to abcdef-1234567.

Alfalfa Switzer

888 888-8888

I am a youth baseball coach and a neighborhood cleaner. I also bike ride. I am a 55 year old divorced man who recently counted traffic for an engineer hired by the Dept. of Transportation.

This stuff just can't be made up. Don't be surprised if make believe becomes reality. 

Education is turning into McDonald's.