Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Help Wanted At The DOE

I came across an classified ad the other day in a newspaper whose name I have forgotten. It was an ad recruiting for principals here in NYC, put out by the DOE. I would like to share it, however scanner is on the fritz so I will type it our verbatim

Help Wanted Principals for NYC Schools

Pay: 125K

Education Requirements:

High School Graduate, preferably a prep school
College Graduate, preferably an Ivy League school


Previous work in education is not required
Applicants must be between the ages of 26-29
Must be able to not get along with others
Applicant must have serious insecurity issues

Preferred that female applicants have major daddy issues
Preferred that male applicants have some sort of Freudian phallus issues
Chip on shoulder, preferred, but not needed
Management experience not required
Applicant will be disqualified if in past has been a manager in a fast food restaurant due to being overqualified

Ability not to be able to think for yourself
The applicant must be able to take reality and turn it into fiction
The applicant must have three recommendations that he/she can be verbally abusive

The applicant must show an ability to blame others for his/her own foibles

Those applicants showing an ability in the past to destroy a business will get preferred consideration

The applicant must have an self absorbed sense of self

The applicant must think that they alone can help children of color
The applicant must not have a life
The applicant must be know at all times he/she is above any laws and Chancellor Regs

If you feel you meet these criteria please call HR Connect at 718 935 4000. Come be part of the award winnning NYC DOE where you can think you are making a difference. Because in your own mind perception becomes your reality.

Wow, great to see the DOE at least being honest.

Very Interesting Look At Corporal Punishment

Ever done something voyeuristic? I have. It's neat. In fact the biggest thrill is voyeuring in on the world of the DOE.

I came across a corporal punishment report concerning an administrator. The report is several years old but what really struck me is how the system is rigged. But first some background.

This administrator, who shall remain nameless, was accused by a pedagogue of several acts of corporal punishment within a week of one another. The investigation was bounced from OSI to the principal. All was in the principal's hands. Both students were picked up by the shirts and dragged a good distance and slammed into seats.

The first thing that I noticed that in the worksheet the principal fills out there is a section to describe the student. Both students, third graders, were painted as troublemakers, difficult, anti-authority, etc...

I read the interviews of the students by the principal. In both interviews the students corroborated the account of the pedagogue that had reported each incident.

The statement by the administrator was two sentences denying the facts, and not having any recall. Funny how when the tide is turned an administrator shuts up. But this administrator also hid behind the CSA rep as well. Having CSA advise. But they hate when we want procedure followed, assert our rights, and want the UFT there in the same instances.

So basically it all boiled down to the word of the students and the pedagogue with the same stories vs. the administrator who feigned ignorance. Anyone care to guess the outcome?

The charges were unfounded. Believe that? What a waste of time and effort. I still don't get this thinking of putting administrators as deities. If Tweed wants to run the schools as a business run it as a true business and make the MANAGERS accountable. Name one other business in which a manager is a botard and keeps their job. Of course not counting Dunder Mifflin. Would McDonald's tolerate ineptitude from its managers? In fact would McDonald's hire someone to rum a store that has had no experience at all?

It is a sad day when we see that McDonald's is smarter than the DOE.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pedro Santana MS 391 Principal A Phony Baloney

You know when the New York Times is going downhill when they do a story, in fact a front page story on MS 391 Bronx Principal Pedro Santana. Yep, front page of today's Metro Section. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I couldn't believe my eyes because I had once worked about fifteen years ago with Pedro Santana and came away quite unimpressed. In fact we were all quite unimpressed with Pedro.

Pedro is what we like to call a rat. There are other things we like to call Pedro, but that is for another time, for a another post.

Pedro had his nose up the principal's colon at all times and thought he was it. That he invented teaching. There was a time during PD he was explaining to us how to quiet down the cafeteria. We were told to stand up in front and start counting down from five. As we counted down we also counted with our fingers as our voices were to go quieter the closer we got to zero. But at two we went silent and with hand just showed a one, then a closed fist for zero. Yeah, it worked. Right. We had many a laugh at Rory Dolan's recounting this.

So what are some things that came across to me about Pedro Santana? I didn't know that he was married. Congratulations. Just wonder if he hits the same interstate rest areas as Whitney Tilson.

The Times states that, "the school is not the same. Last year, 59 percent of its seventh graders passed the state math test — below the 81 percent who passed citywide, but enough of an improvement to help the school earn an A on its report card."

Ok fine. Fifty nine percent passed, but 41% didn't. And in 2007-2008, only forty percent passed. But how to account for the 19 percent increase? Is it valid? We all know that last year the were accusations that the tests were extremely dumbed down. So is this a true accounting of Pedro Santana's accomplishment? But these same seventh graders when they were in sixth grade the year before only 37% passed. So explain that big jump. But still only 38% of 8th graders were proven to be proficient in the ELA test and these are kids entering high school. Someone please explain the success here.

Here is what is scary according to the Times, "Ninety-five of the school’s 253 eighth graders did not graduate this month (summer school may save many)." NINETY-FIVE PERCENT DID NOT GRADUATE!!!!! Where is the scrutiny?

But now the nitty gritty, which makes one question the judgement of the Times. It seems that Pedro Santana has three open investigations against him. According to the Times, "In April 2009, he was removed from the school for several weeks, after allegations that he had failed to properly report an off-campus sexual assault involving two students. The investigation remains open, the most serious of three pending complaints against him."

Say what? Three pending complaints against him, removed for only several weeks for not reporting a sexual assault? The Times reported that, "the trouble started after a girl confided in a guidance counselor about a sexual episode with a male schoolmate after hours and off campus. Mr. Santana said he and the guidance counselor met separately with the boy and his family and with the girl and hers. The principal said that he had asked the guidance counselor to report it to the authorities, but that the last time he spoke with investigators from the Department of Education about the situation, about a year ago, he was told he would probably “be found guilty for lack of ensuring that it was reported.” Pedro Santana's glib response was, "if I was at I.B.M. and I tell someone to do something and they don’t do it, I could fire that person,” he said. “They said, ‘Procedure is, you needed to ensure that she reported it.’ ” WRONG! You report it. You follow up on it. You are the principal, the buck starts and ends with you. Why pass it along to an underling? Guess what? Who is talking the most heat for the oil spill in the Gulf? Yes, the head schmuck of BP.

Also Pedro Santan put the kabosh on an ACS report. A guidance counselor at the school reported that, "she said she saw the mother abusing her child and reported it to the authorities. Mr. Santana, citing other witnesses’ accounts and the counselor’s own comments, later called the child welfare agency to say the counselor’s report had been false." Whatcha talking about Willis? If was false then let the proper agency, ACS find it so. Why interfere with an official ACS investigation?

The third investigation "is over whether Mr. Santana inappropriately interfered with an ambulance crew that arrived at the school in April after a boy claimed he had been put in a headlock by a teacher. Mr. Santana, in an interview, said it was clear the boy had not been harmed, and he subsequently led an inquiry that found the headlock had not occurred." According to whom? And is Pedro Santana a licensed medical doctor? Or is he even a EMT and/or a paramedic? Why this need to interfere Pedro Santana?

At press time the crack team is hot on the trail of Pedro Santana. Stories and anecdotes of his days at PS/MS 279 are being gotten, as are his days at the Manhattan Charter School. Pedro Santana is a phony and an incompetent.

Three questions remain. Why did the the Times choose to do a story on him? If he did what he did in Scarsdale would he still have a job? And, if this were a teacher what would have happened?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whacking The Willie In Detroit

I do believe that Whitney Tilson will soon be flying to Detroit. Not to open a KIPP school, but rather to compare notes with disgraced former Detroit Public Schools president Otis Mathis.

In a meeting with school Superintendent Teresa Gueyser, Mathis, according to WJBK in Detroit, "unzipped his pants, then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and placed it 'in the zipper area of his pants, appearing to wipe himself,' according to the letter. He later began 'moving his hand as if to be masturbating,' said Gueyser wrote in her complaint.

We here at SBSB look down with disgrace at Otis Mathis, yet applaud him for proper masturbatory protocol for having an ubiquitous handkerchief at the ready. This shows that not only did he not want to leave a mess, but learned from Bill Clinton not to leave any tell tale signs behind. At press time the crack team here at SBSB as yet to ascertain if any hand creme or lubricant was used.

But all is not lost Mr Mathis. You wish to stay in education? Come to New York City and apply for a high powered and well paid position with the DOE. Yes, your masturbatory mishap qualifies you for a job at Tweed. Once there your past will be safely deleted from the memory banks and you can go about your masturbatory merry ways all you like. Once enconsed at Tweed you will find many like you who have left administrative jobs in shame on to find a special home. We here at SBSB look forward to future employment.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Joe Klein Of Time Exposes Himself

I really don't want to write this post. But I must. Joe Klein from Time magazine is, for lack of a better word, a dick. I feel bad for saying this. He played tennis with my dad for about a year or so. Was in the same group at some indoor club in Mamaroneck. I called him back in February or so after he had written this article. I gave him my dad's name and sadly he claimed not to recall my dad, but worse, he was a complete dick.

So just last week Klein decides to add his two cents in regard to teacher layoffs. And as usual with is sort, he is wrong and refuses to fact check. Just recall how I exposed Rich Lowry's lack of facts last week.

But one thing really boils my coffee in Klein's column. It is this sentence, "First, the unions should forego their raises for the next few years--Michael Bloomberg has already negotiated this sort of deal in New York." Excuse me? He negotiated this sort of deal? By saying negotiated Klein is giving the assumption that it is has been agreed upon. It is past tense. It has not been negotiated. Bloomberg has proposed this, but at no time has it been agreed upon. Why would Klein write such an out and out lie? I mean unless he was directed to.

Klein goes on to say that teachers should be laid off on merit, even going as far to say, "Older teachers are often priceless mentors, the glue that holds a school together--but they are, just as often, burnt out cases." Thanks burned out. Where do you get your facts from Joel Klein? But he saves is best for the younger teachers, "but the best of them bring energy and innovation to their work--and the need to prove themselves (a necessary requirement that tenure strips from older teachers)." Yeah, I once was a sycophantic young teacher. But I am not anymore. Mainly because I am smarter than almost every principal I have had, and for sure smarter than every AP I have come in contact with.

But the funniest thing he wrote was, "Yes, if teachers were sorted out by merit, decisions would sometimes be made on the basis of cronyism and sometimes creative troublemakers would be weeded out." Duh! Do you really think so? Sometimes? Try all the time. Those with suckling on the sphincter of their principal will be safe all the time. Those who are wonderful teachers and show independence will always be rid of.

So sad Joe. My dad really spoke highly of you. You are just a hack. Now please, crawl back into Michael Bloomberg's colon from whence you came.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Someone In Albany Thinks Thomas W Carroll Is A Putz

I ran across this blog, Albany Citizen One. I read just one post. But boy did she hit the nail on the head in regards to the charter school movement in Albany. So without further ado, sit back, grab a cold one and read on.

Brighter Choice: Good, Bad and Ugly

The building of another charter school on the end of a dead end street in the 12th ward has gotten quite a few folks riled. The riling seems to have worked. And while I’ve picked up the sword in defense of the citizen, many are confused with my criticisms. Many of my fellow citizens have questioned my criticisms of this project as being supportive of the teacher’s union and not in support of “freedom of choice.” This, seemingly, is in clear opposition to my standard criticisms.

Let me clarify for those who haven’t figured it out yet, ACO supports what is in the best interest of the citizens. I’m not against unions, I’m against the abusive “power” of a union. I’m not against charter schools, I’m against the citizens in the community having their taxes raised to insert an unwanted/unneeded charter school in a residential neighborhood. I’m against this eminent domain by the charter schools and I’m against bypassing proper procedure to insert said school before the citizens realize what’s happening.

Let me break this down for you…

Here’s the Good with Charter Schools:
Charters provide an alternative learning environment for those who may not be able to afford private school.
In New York, Charters provide a non-unionized work environment (for the most part)
Charters are not saddled with tenured teachers well beyond their prime
Here’s the Bad with Charter Schools:
Charters, though they don’t admit it, don't often accept students limited in learning capability, emotional well-being, physical development, language limitations.
Charters send their underperforming students back to public schools.
Now, here’s what’s wrong with Albany Charter Schools….errr…Brighter Choice.

Brighter Choice is a shining example of great capitalistic strategy…a strategy which has cost the citizens of Albany a whole lot of money while earning the BC elite a whole lot of money. Brighter Choice was begun by Thomas Carroll. Seems that Tom Carroll along with Brian Backstrom, Albany Prep's chairman, were president and vice-president of Change-NY, a conservative think tank that helped push Mario Cuomo out of office and brought us George Pataki. (Incidently, while they billed themselves as a taxpayer advocacy group they seem to have no problem going after government money when it is for their own projects. Like “Race to the Top.” )

Ya see, Carroll got a few of his guys together from the back chambers of the Capital building, Pataki’s boys…Brian Backstrom, Peter Murphy, John Carl…you know the folks. And they figured out how to make some bucks off the citizens and block criticism of the abuse by endearing themselves to the minority community with a brilliant public relations strategy.

They created a “choice” mantra and reached out their hands to the public schools which, and the ASD must admit this, could have been providing a better product. That “choice” opened up an educational competition which, hopefully, increased the quality of education in Albany. With their first success, Brighter Choice filled their boards (Brighter Choice Schools, Brighter Choice Foundation and all their Schools) with political strategists (lobbyists), public relation firms (lobbyists) Budget Department Insiders (Executive/Legislative…lobbyists), Investors (political donors), financial insiders (political donors), and they dotted those boards with “community insiders.” You know, the type that BC (Brighter Choice) might think could convert an urban distrust of “the man.” Victor Collier, Ken Wilcox, Kelly Kimbrough. (I’ve mapped out the BC Board Web here for ya.)

Genious…pure genious.

(Note: Even though BC has checked the box stating they don’t lobby on their 990, they do have a contract in place ($37500 per filing) and they have several lobbyists (including Bender) on payroll…and several, I’m sure, that aren’t recorded anywhere.)

Like anything else that is Albany, this plot enriched the construction companies, greased the palms of the politicians, abused the very system put in place to prevent overdevelopment and it got out of control…it lost the balance between its feigned concern for the community and its true mission, financial enrichment. Of course, those BC financial wizards would have had to anticipate the “breaking point” in this economic climate…combined with the growing frustrations of the citizens.

While I’ve showcased Juan Gonzales’ article illustrating how Brighter Choice is benefiting from the New Market Tax Credit and several other credit schemes. I’ve looked beyond the scheme for money grubbing financial institutes nearly doubling their money within seven years of keeping a struggling Charter alive.

Now, one major concern I’ve encountered when examining the infrastructure of Carroll’s brainchild, are the Boards. The Boards are ingeniously constructed to not only benefit BC, but to benefit each board member. (I've put all board members into a spreadsheet including their daytime figure out the conflicts of interest...oh, and shoot me an email and I'll point that out in the speadsheet!) Contracts have gone to board member's companies without competing bids and they even voted to have BC enter into contracts with their own companies.

As you’ve probably guessed, not only do the contract winning companies benefit in this board relationship, so does BC. Ya see, several of those no-bid insider contracts are to School Performance, Inc. This company is charged with reporting “unbiased” data regarding the Charter students academic performance. Slight conflict…me thinks. Here’s a view inside the Charters offered from NYSUT and integrated with ACO (yeah, I know there’s motivation but it’s all backed up):

Charter schools in Albany’s Brighter Choice network have awarded contracts to a non-profit testing and data company operated by Albany charter board members. Four contracts obtained so far through the Freedom of Information Law indicate all four contracts were approved without competitive bidding. Contracts between Albany charters and the company, School Performance Inc., show that the company oversees the reporting of test score data which charters then submit to authorizers for their renewals. Other board members at Brighter Choice charter schools have benefited from contracts to provide software, advertising and public relations services for charter schools in the Brighter Choice network.

School Performance (SPNY) is a non-profit charter consulting, data and testing company providing standardized test support and other services to Albany charters. The initial board of directors of included, Thomas Carroll, Chris Bender, Bill Phillips and Peter Murphy (all Charterbots). As of June 2008, directors of School Performance, Inc. included other board members at Albany charter schools, including Brian Backstrom, vice president of the Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability and chair of the Albany Preparatory Charter School; John Carl, trustee of the Albany Preparatory Charter School; and SPNY’s president, Paul Thallner, trustee of the Albany Community Charter School.

Here’s another, at a meeting of the Henry Johnson Charter School on January 25, 2008, former SPNY founding director Peter Murphy moved to have the school enter into a $10,000 contract with SPNY. Board minutes from that meeting do not reflect any discussion of his past role in creating the company or any potential conflict of interest.

And another, on Sept. 26, 2007, the Albany Preparatory Charter School entered into a contract with SPNY based on a discussion led by board trustee John Carl and seconded by Brian Backstrom. There is no record of either Carl or Backstrom recusing themselves from the vote to avoid a conflict of interest. Both voted on the motion, even though School Performance’s IRS Forms for 2007-08 show both Backstrom and Carl served on SPNY’s board of directors that year.

As if this little bit of self-dealing weren’t enough of a concern to me, I had to look at BC’s 990 (IRS Information Form). (This data hasn’t been updated since 2008 online so I’m working with old data here). Seems that BC had, in 2008, 38 million in assets, and it felt that M. Christian Bender deserved over $192,000 in salary and, get this, over $18K for housing?

Go figure, is this nonprofit really worthy of a 501(C)(3) status? Perhaps the IRS exempt organizations department should take a look at this situation and that of School Performance Inc. seems they are doing pretty well on the citizen’s dime for nonprofits. (Oh yeah, Thallner makes over $125K…makes ya sick, huh?) Interesting also, looking at those who hold the notes on BC, the New Market Development Corp…where, I understand, Carroll is on the board, Broadway 915 (don’t look too closely…this is Omni) Oh shoot, I’ll just send this over to the IRS. Nice to have a strategic network in place!

Now, if there weren’t enough concerns with accurate academic reporting after we find out the “reporters” (School Performance) have ulterior motives, there remain more concerns. You remember me telling you how the Charters are, for the most part, grossly under-enrolled with SUNY making annual adjustments to better help them meet their goals. While the enrollment gaps are enough to call into question test-score comparisons between charter and regular public schools, charters and district schools also experience a “churn rate” that affects who gets taught and who gets tested.

Nearly 150 students have returned from Albany charter schools to the city school district during this current school year.The district began compiling data on students who returned in late November. The chart below, in which parents explain to the district why their students are returning from Albany charters, offers a glimpse at the turnover, or “churn.”

Of the 146 students who have transferred to Albany city schools from charter schools as of Febuary 1, 2010, the numbers include 48 from the New Covenant CS; 22 from Brighter Choice’s Achievement Academy CS and 16 from Brighter Choice’s Albany Preparatory CS. The city school district also reports 14 students each have left the Brighter Choice’s Green Tech and Brighter Choice’s KIPP Academy charter schools this year.

In 2008-09, 191 students transferred to district schools from Albany charter schools, about 9 percent of the city’s total charter enrollment. The largest number, 72, returned to city schools from the New Covenant Charter School that year, but 27 left Brighter Choice’s Achievement Academy; 24 returned from the Brighter Choice Girl’s and Boy’s charters; and 23 were discharged from the Albany Preparatory Charter School.

Albany and its charter schools illustrate the inherent unreliability of comparing student test results, given the lack of comparable student bodies and the “churn” or mobility rate among schools. For both the regular public schools and charters, how is it possible to determine whether the students being taught are the same ones being tested?

Exemplifying the problem of “churn” – and the unreliability of test score comparisons – is the KIPP Tech Valley Charter School, which is now up for renewal from the SUNY Charter School Institute. In 2009, KIPP Tech Valley Charter School graduated its first cohort of students to go through all four years of its program. The school reports that 100 percent of its eighth-graders scored level 3 or Level 4 on the 2009 state math test, and 92 percent met state standards on the ELA test.86 However, KIPP’s Class of 2009 also had a four-year graduation rate of 31 percent District records show only 27 of the 88 students who attended the charter school as fifth-graders in KIPP’s first year completed the charter program four years later. Fifty-five students left the school, and six remain enrolled in 2009-10 after being held back. In 2008-09 alone, 14 KIPP students returned – or were removed – to Albany city schools

Even more discouraging is the enrollment of the special education students….of course, I’m sure School Performance will find a “work around.” Despite a random lottery, the Brighter Choice Boy’s and Brighter Choice Girl’s charter schools in Albany enroll a combined 13 students with disabilities out of a total enrollment of 443, for a special education rate of 2.9 percent.67 Albany’s special education population is 14.6 percent.68 Brighter Choice Charter Schools were recently found not in compliance with their charter for inquiring about students’ special education needs on their application form. The State Education Department report instructed Brighter Choice, “As the child’s special education status is not relevant to admissions, please provide an updated lottery application.”

The New York State Charter School Association, the management and lobbying arm for many operators, went to court to block financial and operational audits by the Office of the State Comptroller. Brighter Choice appealed to the Court of Appeals two rulings forcing it to disclose the names and salaries of its teachers under the Freedom of Information Law, information that is a required part of the public record for regular public schools to protect against nepotism and fraud. The for-profit National Heritage Academies, with which the number two at BCF, Maureen Blum seems to be rather well acquainted, is seeking to block teacher efforts to unionize as public employees. NHA’s legal effort – in the face of 100 percent of teachers signing cards seeking union representation in March 2009 -- suggests charter management wants to avoid the natural checks-and-balances that occur when teachers have a voice through a union. Now see, this is a good place for a union.

You remember me mentioning Maureen Blum right above? She’s a staffer at Brighter Choice Foundation. Ever heard of her? I hadn’t either even though her apartment is directly across the street from me. She is, get this, the Brighter Choice Community Outreach Director. Now, I’ve been a Community Outreach Director…what might you think one of these might do? Right! (You musta gone to public school.) They reach out to the community. Well, this Albany based school has a Community Outreach Director who lives in Washington D.C. but stays in a BC owned apartment when she’s here….lobbying. Yup, that’s right, she’s a lobbyist…living in D.C.

While I’m outraged at the violation of the rights of those citizens down on Bradford Street being targeted for yet another Charter School on their serene dead end street, I’m even more outraged at outright unlawful activity which has become acceptable within this nonprofit system. This continued abuse is the reason this system has thrived…it is not because of academic achievement, it’s not because there aren’t enough slots for all of our students to have a “choice,” it’s because everyone is getting rich and living the high life on the backs of Albany citizens!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mistress Eva And Slave Rich Lowry

Richard Lowry of the National Review wrote a column in today's Post decrying the the union contracts of teachers, custodians, and principals.

I wrote this letter to him:
Some of your comments in your column in today's Post were not only specious but disingenuous.

Your comment that "the union approves all the arbitrators" is an out and out lie. The UFT and the DOE jointly choose the arbitrators and BOTH have fired arbitrators. In fact NY State education law provides for three arbitrators in incompetence cases, but only in NYC is there one. This has been collectively bargained.

As far as custodians not being required to change the ballast this can, should, and must be done by someone with either electrical training or having an electrician's license.

Your claim that custodians are not required to paint a wall over ten feet leaves out facts again. The painters union made sure that clause is there. Why? Because they want to make money off the DOE.
I suggest you desist being Eva Moskowitz's mouthpiece and not rely on her or her ilk for facts

Again, another deformer or supporter of deformers has it all wrong and refuses to do any rudimentary fact checking.

One more thing that irks me about what Lowry wrote, "For Moskowitz, it’s the result of “high behavioral and high academic expectations.” For her critics, it’s another reason to hate her"

Yes, Rich. Only Eva cares about the children. Only Eva has high expectations. Only Eva cares about Eva. And Rich, I think you let the little head do the thinking for the big head. I mean, this is not the first time you got all ga-ga over a high powered woman, with a big mouth, that is good at self promotion, and that is all style and no substance. What was that you said in October 2008 about Sarah Palin? Hmmmmm.......
"I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, 'Hey, I think she just winked at me.' And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America."
Hey Rich, I am sure more than one thing sat up a little straighter. Much as I am sure it does for Eva.

How Does Michelle Rhee Raise Money?

Every wonder how Michelle Rhee raises money? Wondering why the money people will leave DC schools if Rhee leaves? We here at SBSB have gained exclusive video of Michelle soliciting funds for the Washington DC schools. We here applaud her for her initiative and taking one, if not many, for the team.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Leonie Haimson Is Hot

I once claimed Patrick Sullivan as the hottest man in the DOE. And he still is. But we now have a champion as the hottest woman involved in education. That goes to Leonie Haimson.

I don't read her blog as often as I should, but something written about The Extended Day today has finally kicked me in the head to share my two cents about Extended Day.

It is the ultimate waste of time. Thirty seven and a half minutes of waste. Why? Let's say your school dismisses at 2 50 PM. You have to take your entire class with you for dismissal. Dismiss the students and wait for the parents. We are now up to say, 2 55 PM. Gather up the students who stay, take them to the cafeteria (if applicable) to get their snacks. This can be about 3 PM. Of course depending upon the size of the school and the location of the cafeteria. By the time (dependent on size of school. See, size does matter!) the students are back in the classroom it will be about 3 05 PM, maybe 3 08PM. The kids eat their snacks, which will bring us to about 3 15 PM. Instruction starts at 3 16 PM. This leaves on 11.5 minutes left. Now in the warm weather in which there are know coats to zip, gloves and hats to apply instruction can last until 3 23 PM, giving four minutes, wait, four minutes and thirty seconds to get the students dismissed. If it is winter then the students start getting packed up at 3 20 PM.

So where is the instruction? None. It is all a sham. But someone must benefit from this. Maybe it is Voyager Expanded Learning in which Sen. Mary Landrieu and Whitney Tilson have a hand in? Or any of the numerous vendors, publishers, etc... that suckle mightily on the teet of the DOE?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Humphrey Bogart Runs A School

Shocking! That is what I thought when I read the New York Times article on June 10 that there is actually cheating by administrators and teachers when it comes to standardized tests. Really? I mean, really?

Of course this is going to happen and as the pressure mounts on teachers, and administrators job security vis a vis testing the occurrences to cheat and the scandals will increase.

But yesterday as I was sipping a mint julep I wondered something. One, I think there will be a major cheating scandal hitting the charter school industry soon, and secondly, what would it be like if Rick Blaine ran a school.

The school would be called, PS 456 Rick's School Bronx. Rick Blaine is the principal there. Captain Renault is the chancellor of the DOE replacing Joel Klein who was sent away to a state run institution after a scandal involving several farm animals.

The scene. Captain Renault comes to shut down Rick's school. Rick had been making progress with his students. However, his LIS having sold his soul for higher pay based on scores doctored the tests without Rick's knowledge. C'mon, do you think Humphrey Bogart would ever cheat children? Anyway Rick is about to go to the authorities when Renault comes barging in.

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Chancellor Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that test cheating is going on in here! [a secretary hands Renault a printout of the ELA and Math test results]
Your high test scores, sir.
Chancellor Renault:
[sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much. [aloud]
Renault: Everybody out of the school at once!

Now sit back, grab a Coke and some popcorn and await the major cheating scandal coming.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rush Is The Greatest Band Ever

Just got back from seeing the Rush documentary, "Beyond The Lighted Stage," at the Clearview Chelsea on 23rd St. For those who are interested, it runs there through Saturday night.

If you are a Rush fan you will love it. If you aren't you will learn more about Rush and finally come to appreciate Rush. It covers Rush very thoroughly through Moving Pictures, touches on their keyboard phase and does an excellent job at their rebirth after the tragedies in Neil Peart's life.

Gene Simmons of Kiss gives the best answer as to what Rush is by just saying, "What kind of band is Rush.....It'sRush." Seeing Geddy Lee's bar mitzvah photos and how he pursued music to escape a world of death (Both his parent's were Holocaust survivors and his father dies when he was 12) juxtaposed with Alex Lifeson's almost similar life story, parents fled Yugoslavia to Canada at the end of the war, both went to the same middle school was great.

What one actually gets out of this is that Rush did it their way, without any interference from the record companies. 2112 being such a success is what got them this kind of cred. This is how they wanted to do it, and always have, and always will. Conformity sucks. There are wonderful lessons to be taught through Rush.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Of Whitney Tilson's Ignorance

Whitney has yet another issue with Diane Ravitch. He quotes Diane from an interview in which commenting on good schools said,
"I'd say that for a school to be good, it must have a full and balanced curriculum. It must have a full program in the arts. . . . I half-jokingly say that the one federal mandate I'd like to see would be for every child to have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument. The reason I say this is because I think that's the perfect antidote to almost everything. When you play a musical instrument, you have to learn the value of practice, practice, practice. Nobody else can do it for you. You can't download it from the Internet. You learn self-discipline. You have to do it alone. You have to do it in groups."
Whitney's reaction is typical:
"How, exactly, does Ravitch plan to introduce a full and balanced curriculum? Is she in favor of extending the school day to accommodate an extra period for the arts or learning an instrument (like KIPP and similar schools), or does she want to cut back on time children are spending learning math or reading?" And this little diddy, "In short, for all of her degrees and books, Diane Ravitch has NO USEFUL IDEAS for how to address the vexing, chronic problems of our educational system."
So shall we show the holes in your argument Whitney? I find this very unfair. I compare it to shooting fish in a barrel.

You will notice that Diane said, "I half-jokingly say that the one federal mandate I'd like to see would be for every child to have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument." See the key word? "Half-jokingly." Yes this is a stretch, but if you bothered to read further on you will see her point. That playing an instrument, or in your case Whitney, playing with someone else's instrument, can teach you discipline, how to work in a group, hard work, etc...

Which brings me to this. This past Sunday myself, and several teachers from my school took students to play in a soccer tournament. Before April 29th none of these students had ever played soccer. Our school was runner-up in the tournament only losing in a 0-0 draw decided on penalties.

Never before in all my years of teaching have I seen students so excited. These students learned to work as a team, to support one another, to learn from one another, to learn something new, to accomplish something. In our semi-final game, which also ended in a 0-0 draw, we won in penalties. The kid who kicked the winning goal was mobbed. The parents want to get their kids in soccer programs. What happened will carry over. I know it.

Therein lies the problem. If we had your way, students will be in school everyday until 6 PM and half the day Saturdays. Yes, I can see the point in wanting to keep them off the streets, but where is the time for athletics?

Why can't the hedgefund managers, bankers, politicians invest their money in building baseball fields, soccer fields, hockey rinks, football fields? Of course the answer is they won't make money on such endeavors. Come on Whitney, do the right thing.

But you won't. You are not a team player. Never were. You are about yourself. Besides, I doubt you ever played or coached.

Team sports is what is missing from these kids lives. With team sports they will learn what isn't or can't be taught in a classroom. In sports students will learn to improvise, adapt and overcome (apologies to the USMC), which will transfer readily into life skills and academic skills.

Want to incentivize? What better way for a student to stay on a team than to have to keep grades, attendance, and behavior up? Read this article about the recently deceased John Wooden and see the impact he had on Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Bill Walton. Not to mention all his players.

Whitney, get off your high horse. Look around. There is no I in team.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Princess Sydney And Little Evan News

This just in to the SBSB newsroom regarding Princess Sydney Morris and Little Evan Stone.....

News flash! Princess Sydney and Little Evan are leaving teaching. Good riddance!!!!!! He is going to Law school and she is leaving to work on her website full time. Unfortunately, we haven't heard the last from them yet. Rumor is she wants to go into politics.

Does this mean no more man-boy vacations for Little Evan?

Remember, do share and feel free to, any information on these two.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Princess Sydney And Little Evan Have A Party

I am hurt. In fact I have been hysterically crying since this afternoon after finding out that Little Evan Stone and Princess Sydney Morris threw a party and didn't invite me.

I spend the time following Educators4Excellence on Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet. I even subscribe to their newsletter, email, whatever the call it. And what happens? Nary an invite. Nothing. And how is it I find out? Through Gotham Schools. And worse, our dear beloved Chancellor was there photographed drinking something that appears to be Coca-Cola. Though we don't know what what he mixed it with. However, we here at SBSB did our due diligence and obtained a photo of Klein from after the party.

So what did I miss? Seems that Educators4Excellence has been newly incorporated as a non-profit. But as you can see, Little Evan and Princess Sydney have left their name off. Instead, an Eli D. Greenberg is listed. Who Eli D. Greenberg? Eli is a partner in Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz. How can Princess Sydney and Little Evan afford such an attorney? Especially an attorney with the ties that Eli D Greenberg has.

Eli D Greenberg is the counsel to the Clarion Fund, which happens to have the same address as Mr Greenberg's law firm. What is the Clarion Fund? The Clarion Fund purports "to educate Americans about issues of national security," with its main focus on what it calls "the most urgent threat of radical Islam." So much so a leading Israeli newspaper wrote of its radicalism here. I guess when you get in bed with John McCain and send out 28 million copies of the "Obsession" DVD in people's Sunday newspapers, one questions things. But don't just take my word for it, read more here. Worse, check out their website,!!

Hey, I am as against anything radical as much as the next person. But, it seems yet again Little Evan and Princess Sydney have made a poor choice of whom to associate with. Such as the admittance that they are funded by Education Reform Now, which is one of Whitney Tilson's front groups. Thanks Gotham for confirming this, but I had that hunch a while ago. See here, here, and here.

But one needs to wonder about this association of Princess Sydney and Little Evan. As an American citizen and a Jew, I am wary of the radicalization of Islam. But as much as radicalism in any religion, or any idea. But what I have read of the Clarion Fund gives me the shivers. Why doesn't it bother Princess Sydney and Little Evan? There are many Muslim students in the NYC DOE. Do Princess Sydney and Little Evan treat them differently? Does Little Evan refuse to take Muslim students on his vacations? How does Little Evan and Princess Sydney feel being around Muslim teachers? I think these are some issue that need explaining. Especially their relationship with such a radical as Eli D Greenberg.

In fact, one should figure that maybe Joel Klein should re-examine is close relationship with these two. Joel Klein should also come to the SBSB BYOB and BBQ this summer as well.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Raises No Layoffs

So I heard today that His Mayoraliness, Mike Bloomberg is has rescinded his offer of 2% raises offered earlier and now has offered 0% raises in exchange for not laying off teachers. As always the devil is in the details.

When I started teaching in 1995 the city was in dire straits. The contract agreed upon that year was a five year contract with no raises for the first two years of its effect. I can live with this if it means to save jobs of teachers. But.

There must be something in return. We can begin with the extended day. Remove the 150 minutes a week. It is a waste of time for both staff and students.

Second, the right to grieve letters put in teacher's files must be restored. It has become all to easy for a administrator to just jam whatever into a teacher's file. Since we gave up that right, letters of the most mundane infractions, like carrying a can of Coke, or eating a french fry are more common place than one would think.

And lastly, an end to the ATR system. No, not laying these teachers off, but a truly concerted effort into placing these teachers in positions in schools and not just paying lip service.

Now let's see if Mulgrew can lead.