Friday, December 31, 2010
Watch the video below. Try to imagine this man supporting an extension of the Bush tax cuts. See if you can picture him cheering the firing of the staff of an entire school, appointing Wall Street bankers to his administration, or continuing the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are still some true progressives out there. Dennis is one.
Happy New Year, all.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
UFT president Michael Mulgrew responded angrily. "It's unbelievable that the city blames teachers for their fouls ups. Teachers are under no obligation to show up or shovel while on vacation. At least not until the new contract. Hey, did I say that out loud? I thought it was in my head!"
Meanwhile, after being cleared to become the chancellor in January, Cathie Black sought to quell rumors that she was the doppelganger of the Grinch. "It's utter nonsense," said Black, as she stood in the snow, tapping her pointy green shoe.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Asked whether she believes any students will actually show up, Cathie Black responded, "I certainly hope so. I'm looking at this blizzard as a teachable moment. Ooo...I love using education jargon! Anyway, you can bet the janitors at Hearst Publishing will be at work today or on the unemployment line tomorrow. Our students need to learn the harsh realities of the corporate world we are training them for."
To her credit, Ms. Black vowed not to repeat the mistake of her predecessor, Joel Klein, who bungled school bus routes so badly that many young children were stranded in the snow. "Rather than wait for buses that may never come, parents may call their child's school and request a piggy back ride to school for their children. Untenured teachers will be more than happy to oblige, unless they want to remain untenured, if you get my drift."
Michael Mulgrew initially expressed outrage at using new teachers as pack horses, but backed down when told that Ms. Black offered to increase next year's Teacher's Choice allocation by two dollars to a whopping $112 so that piggy backing teachers can buy an extra pair of wooly socks. "In these fiscal times, socks are nothing to sneeze at. This is a major win for the union!" Mulgrew announced.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
But the Klein, who worked in Tweed Courthouse, did not.
The Klein hated tenure! He thought it a cancer!
Now please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the answer.
It could be that a teacher once called HIM a dunce,
Or he got pelted with spitballs when he tried teaching once,
But I think the most likely reason of all,
May be that he knows nothing about teaching at all!
But whatever his reason for hating the teachers,
What he hated more, was one of the features,
Of the UFT contract that stood undiminished.
Despite 2005, he still wasn’t finished.
He knew the one hope, to which teachers could cling,
Could be dashed if he could destroy one more thing.
For every three years, despite all his jive,
Some teachers in Schoolville still managed to thrive.
And when they survived, it was tenure they got,
And this twisted the Klein’s BVDs in a knot!
“How COULD they get tenure?” Klein snarled with a sneer.
“After all I’ve thrown at them, why are they still here?
I don’t pay them enough and I make them feel small.
I’ve cut Teacher’s Choice down to nothing at all!
I give them lunch duty and potty patrol,
Sufficient to sear the hardiest soul!
And if that wasn’t enough to anger the staff,
I piled on thirty seven minutes—and a HALF!
They read to the children on germ-ridden rugs!
And share cafeterias with rodent-sized bugs!
Bulletin boards, walkthroughs, unsatisfactory ratings!
TAN notebooks, portfolios, PD unabating!
Acuity! ARIS! And monthly staff meetings!
Only a masochist smiles through such beatings!
Such horrible things! I don’t think I can top them!
Yet still they get tenure! Is there no way to stop them?”
And then he got an idea.
The Klein got a terrible, awful idea.
“I think,” the Klein chuckled, “I can end this whole mess,
If I can finagle support from the press!
But I’ll need an accomplice as heartless as me!”
So he called up his old bulldog pal from DC.
And together the Klein saddled up with the Rhee,
And declared war on tenure with malevolent glee.
Rhee’s taught for 2 years, and Klein less than one,
But has that stopped this duo? No, they’ve hardly begun!
Armed with three years of classroom experience between them.
They’ve set upon teachers, hell bent to demean them.
With data most spurious and a press most incurious,
The Klein and the Rhee hope to make parents furious,
So they’ll call for tenure to come to an end!
Are we going to allow this to happen, my friend?
I wish I could tell you the Klein’s heart has grown,
Or the Rhee’s tiny ticker was not made of stone,
Or the laughter of children would melt their exteriors,
Or the voters would finally boot their posteriors.
But unless the teachers in Schoolville take action,
And finally begin voicing their dissatisfaction,
The Kleins and the Rhees will most surely banish
Our tenure, and the last of our rights will just vanish.
Friday, December 10, 2010
I'm more skeptical. Until you've worked in a dangerous school, you don't really know how difficult it is to teach in one. That's how I came up with the Bergtraum Solution as a way of settling, once and for all, whether those Teacher Data Reports should be released.
You see, Bergtraum is a high school for business careers. As such, handling the students there should be a piece of cake for someone as forceful as former business maven Cathie Black. So I propose that we ask Cathie to stand in the middle of the main floor of Bergtraum while the principal announces that they have decided to close the bathrooms permanently. She'll only have to stand there long enough for one change of classes to occur. She doesn't even have to teach anything. If she can do that, then we should stop opposing the release of the TDRs.
If, as I suspect, she runs out screaming as if her hair were on fire, or she's carried out on a stretcher, then she has to drop the TDR matter immediately and admit that there's more to teaching in NYC than any statistician could ever account for.
I suspect the "Chancellor" will find the Bergtraum Solution less than appealing. She doesn't even have the courage to face real reporters, much less the adolescents of the schools she'd like to shutter. I'm sure she'll stick to well managed elementary schools where she can comment on the cute "little people" there.
She'll never go a dangerous NYC school, lest she become the punchline to the joke, "What's Black, and white, and black and blue, and red all over?"
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Patron: It's not much of a cheese shop, is it?
Mr. Wensleydale: Finest in the district, sir.
Patron: And what leads you to that conlusion?
Mr. Wensleydale: Well, it's so clean.
Patron: Well, it's certainly uncontaminated by cheese.
The joke, of course, is that the shop owner is covering up how worthless his store is by pointing out its cleanliness rather than its utility.
"Chancellor" Cathie Black is the Mr. Wensleydale of education. In an interview with the Daily News, "Chancellor" Black said she was "bowled over" by the cleanliness of the schools she visited. She is demonstrating, in no uncertain terms, how worthless her chancellorship will be. She could have talked about any one of the dozens of things that a person with a background in education would notice. Instead, here's how the interview with the "Chancellor" probably went:
Interviewer: Did you notice anything about curriculum?
Interviewer: Did you notice anything about learning environments?
Interviewer: Did you notice anything about the quality of instruction?
Black: Huh? Uh...no.
Interviewer: These school visits didn't teach you anything, did they?
Black: They were all wonderful schools!
Interviewer: And what leads you to that conclusion?
Black: Well, they're all so clean!
I don't know about clean, but they're certainly uncontaminated by chancellors who know what they hell they're doing.
And I won't even go into the incredibly condescending nature of her comments. What did Ms. Black think she was going to find in public schools? Landfills? Cooties?
Perhaps we should excuse her there. After all, she sent her own children to swanky private schools which were probably scrubbed clean by the kind of low wage workers she'd like to make out of the children of NYC. By firing experienced teachers, increasing class sizes, and doubling down on the failed Klein experiment, she'll have a virtually inexhaustible supply of menial workers for her rich friends.
But she still won't have any cheese.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Never fear. Even if you lost your job because of your indiscretion, you'd be able to apply to be the Chancellor of the NYC public schools. Yes, Cathie Black made the above hooker comment with regard to the Cosmopolitan Sex Position of the Day App.
Now, there's nothing wrong with what she did if she wants to continue being the editor of Cosmo. But if she wants to lead 1.1 million schoolchildren, these things matter. When students Google her, they'll find that she supports an app that shows you how to do the "G-Spot Jiggy" and "Rock-a-Bye Booty."
I launched my own personal investigation into this app, and all I can tell you is that it isn't befitting a chancellor of the public schools. Although Mrs. Talk kind of liked the "Flip Side Boogie".
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Thanks to the indefatigable Leonie Haimson for the link.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
DIRECTIONS: Print a copy of the quiz below so that you can easily circle your answers. For each question, choose only the best answer. Circle the letter A, B, or C as appropriate, using only a #2 pencil. Do NOT use a pen. You have ten minutes to finish. The answers appear below the quiz. You may NOT look at the answers beforehand. Let’s begin! Good luck!
Question One. In your own school career, you mostly got:
- Placed on the Honor Roll
- Good grades
Question Two. What’s your primary motivation for wanting to be a teacher?
- I enjoy working with children.
- I want to share my love of learning.
- I was kicked out of Charm School.
Question Three. Of these educational giants, who best represents your own philosophy towards teaching?
- John Dewey.
- Mr. Kotter.
Question Four. What quality best describes your personality?
Question Five. A child begins projectile vomiting in the middle of your lesson. You immediately:
- Clear the area, open the windows, and notify the school nurse.
- Call the custodian to clean up the area so others won’t be infected.
- Join him.
Question Six. If you do opt for a career in teaching, where do you see yourself in ten years?
- Still in the classroom, reveling in the joys of my chosen profession
- In an administrative role, helping new teachers acquire the skills they need to succeed
- In a straitjacket, tearing at the straps with my teeth
SCORING THE QUIZ: Look at the answer sheet you printed when you began this quiz. If you bothered to print it, you are teacher material. You obviously enjoy doing pointless tasks at the behest of others. Your unquestioning nature makes you an ideal teaching candidate in today’s hostile educational environment. If you did not print the answer sheet, you clearly value your independence and would be better suited toward a career with fewer actual requirements, such as Secretary of Education or Senator.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
I'm proposing that Obama's DoE (Department of Education) mandate a similar caste system for all school systems across the nation, including the NYC (New York City) DoE (Department of Education, no relation). We need to give our top students only the very best teachers, who can catapult them (the students), figuratively we hope, into the educational stratosphere with countries like Finland, which has produced almost two Nobel Prize winners this century, compared with the dismal American education system that has produced just seventy-three.
Of course, some will say this system is unfair, as it will most likely result in a disproportionate number of minority students getting the worst teachers. To which I can only respond--so what? Chile isn't the only country that has coal mines, you know. These kids may end up with lung cancer, but at least a mistress will be awaiting them as they emerge from their collapsed mines.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I guess I wrote that rant after all.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
It seems to me the bar has been set pretty low for pundits these days. If you have a little celebrity or a lot of cash, you can be an instant pundit, especially on education. Unfortunately, you also end up sounding like an idiot, but that doesn't faze most of them.
To be a real pundit, you used to have to actually have experience in a subject. For example, John Legend would have been an excellent pundit on how to look ridiculous in a cowboy hat.
In that spirit, I'd like to offer a few helpful suggestions to today's ed deformers as to what field of punditry they might enter based on their actual life experience and expertise:
- being a dweeb
- "borrowing" ideas from Steve Jobs
- forming monopolies and crushing competition
- getting engaged to an alleged pedophile
- alienating entire communities
- marrying guys named Kevin
- surviving on thigh fat alone for months at a stretch
- pimping mostly crappy books
- making middle class women squeal at the thought of maybe winning a toaster
- inflating things, such as test scores and his own ego
- scalp waxing
- being a toadie for a billionaire
- controlling the lives of others, especially those on food stamps
- settling harassment cases out of court
- overturning laws he doesn't like, such as term limits
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
But most of the seventh graders, now starting their third year in the school, are still struggling. Just 15 percent passed the 2010 state English test, a number that Mr. Canada said was “unacceptably low” but not out of line with the school’s experience in lifting student performance over time. Several teachers have been fired as a result of the low scores, and others were reassigned, he said.
Even more shocking than these pitiful results is the fact that these schools are blessed with advantages that city public school teachers can only dream of, to wit:
In the tiny high school of the zone’s Promise Academy I, which teaches 66 sophomores and 65 juniors (it grows by one grade per year), the average class size is under 15, generally with two licensed teachers in every room. There are three student advocates to provide guidance and advice, as well as a social worker, a guidance counselor and a college counselor, and one-on-one tutoring after school.
Are you kidding me? Two teachers in a class? Class sizes of 15? And you get those dismal results? This is a disgrace. THIS is the solution to all our educational problems? This is the model the entire nation is supposed to follow? And let's not forget that in order to get even these awful results, Canada dismissed an entire grade that wasn't meeting his "standards".
In my school, we have class sizes that range from 28 to 35, with just one teacher per room. We don't have any huge grants from billionaires or backing from Oprah, but our passing percentage was over four times higher than the results posted by the Times. And yes--we are those dreaded public school teachers who must be gotten rid of in favor of the charter school teachers that Mr. Canada prefers.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
The only tangible result of all fanfare is that Michelle Rhee got her ass voted off Survivor: DC.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Except it isn't. Most charter schools fare about the same as public schools, and 37 percent of them are worse. Klein and Bloomberg have always wriggled around this statistic (didn't these guys used to love data?) by claiming that charters in NYC were a different story. When the revised test scores came out a while back, NYC charters dropped more than public schools. And now, charter schools have fared worse than public schools on the city's very own measure of quality--progress reports. It seems charters scored ten points lower than public schools on a scale of 100 points. It's going to be awfully hard for BloomKlein to put a positive spin on these numbers, considering they created the system themselves.
But surely there were bright lights among the charters, weren't there? Perhaps, but I decided to take a look at the Harlem Children's Zone schools, run by Geoffrey Canada, hero of the film Waiting for Superman. Surely these schools escaped the carnage, with their smaller class sizes and multi-million dollar facilities?
The Promise Academy Charter School got a B.
The Promise Academy II got a C.
My school got a A. And we're one of those nasty "traditional" public schools.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Let's get it right. Charter schools are NOT public in any real sense. About the only way in which they could be considered public is the fact that they drain public money with their construction and lavish salaries for the likes of Eva Moskowitz.
Libraries are true public institutions. They are paid for by public monies, like charters, but that's where the similarities end. To get into a public library, you don't have to be selected in a lottery. Your mother doesn't have to apply. You don't even have to know how to read. Compare that to the Harlem Children's Zone, where you not only have to apply, but if you can't read well enough, they can kick out an entire grade.
Public buildings, like the stadiums Mayor4Life spent billions on (except not his billions) are more like charters. Take Citifield. It was paid for largely with public money. And while you have to win a lottery to get into a charter, you may need to win the lottery to afford a ticket to see the Mets. Yet, despite charging exorbitant rates, it is true that when you buy a ticket to see a ballgame, you are entitled to get in. It matters not whether you speak English, or whether you are considered disabled. That ticket guarantees you a spot.
Now for charters. They are paid for by public money, true, but most students can't get in. You can't buy a ticket to gain entrance. If you can't speak English or you have some learning disability, they rarely will take you. Imagine the lawsuit if the New York Public Library or Citifield refused entrance to non-English speakers or the learning disabled. People would be outraged if such a thing happened in a taxpayer supported institution. Nevertheless, charters manage to get away with such blatant discrimination.
I teach in a real public school. Students from everywhere are welcome regardless of what language they speak or what obstacles they face. No ticket needed. Not even a lottery ticket.
Perhaps it's time we started looking at charters as the "special" aunt of public education. But let's not tell them that they're not goats. We could use the milk.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Most of us find prostitution morally wrong, and it certainly is illegal in New York. Still, here we have the case of a woman who climbed out of that sordid life and earned her way into the teaching profession. Nevertheless, Mayor4Life would seemingly prefer to fire her and perhaps cause her to return to that profession rather than starve. I'm sure the mayor feels she deserves it; after all, he himself has never done anything wrong. For example, when he was accused of sexual remarks toward a co-worker, he settled the suit without having to admit guilt, so we know his hands were clean even if his mouth may have needed washing out with soap. And of course, Bloomberg's company was accused of discriminating against 80 women as well, but none of that is his fault, either. Accountability is for the little folk.
What we have here is the case of a woman who had a sketchy past, but who managed to get her life together and turn in at least three satisfactory years for the DOE. As such, she earned tenure. Now Bloomberg wants to take it away. Let's imagine what will happen if he succeeds.
Have you ever smoked pot in the past? Had a beer while underage? Those things are just as illegal as prostitution, and if Bloomberg somehow gets the right to pull tenure from teachers who may have engaged in some illegal activity in the past, then the floodgates are open.
Where does it stop? Can you lose tenure because you once got a speeding ticket? How about if you got arrested at a peaceful protest of the Iraq war? Failed to curb your dog? Smoked a cigarette in a public place? Worn too short a skirt? Cheated on your third grade spelling test?
Without tenure, the mayor, chancellor, or your principal would be able to fire you for any of those reasons, or for no reason at all. That is why tenure is needed.
Ms. Petro was certainly unwise for letting her past become public. But if her tenure is taken away for her past behavior--if she is denied due process--then everyone becomes a target. Except the mayor, of course. He has the money to bury his past.
Let he who is without sin, or sexual harassment lawsuits, cast the first stone.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Barack Obama announced his desire to extend the school year by a month. Then Mayor4Life Bloomberg, who doesn't believe in lifetime jobs except for himself, announced that he wants an end to seniority based layoffs and to make getting tenure tougher.
I have a few questions. First, for Obama: Extending the school year immediately adds an extra ten percent to the work year. Does you expect us to work for free, or will you take the money from food stamps like you did when funding Race to the Top?
Now for Bloomberg: You failed miserably last time when trying to change seniority rules, so what makes you think you'll succeed this time? And why all the posturing on tenure when you know damn well that untenured teachers can be fired for any reason as the system now stands?
Obama and Mayor4Life are trotting out the old shock doctrine again. They're trying to manufacture a crisis in education and then propose the "solutions" that they wanted in the first place. Bush used the shock doctrine after 9-11 to invade Iraq despite the fact that they had no WMDs. Now the president and the job-for-life mayor are using a phony educational crisis to implement the "reforms" they wanted all along.
This was predictable. They've used the shock doctrine against us before. See here, here, and here. Fortunately, it has been a failure in the case of seniority, and I think it will fail again.
But that's not enough. It's time to make politicians pay when they try to ruin careers. That includes any politician who would even consider a change to last in first out, as well as Obama himself when 2012 rolls around. We've seen what happens when the union stands on the sidelines as in the last mayoral election. The UFT should urge all teachers to stay home from the polls in 2012 if Obama doesn't change his tune pronto, and to actively oppose state legislators who support a change in either tenure or seniority.
Friday, September 24, 2010
- Total number of teachers on the panel: 0
- Total number of public school parents on the panel: 0
- Total number of billionaires on the panel: 3
- Total number of billions of the panelists: 60
- Total years of teaching experience of all the "experts": 2
- Total minutes devoted to defending unions: 1
- Total minutes devoted to humping charter schools: 119
Sunday, September 19, 2010
As you know, this blog and others have been urging you to boycott DonorsChoose for their shameless support of the film Waiting for Superman. They offered a five dollar bribe to anyone who pledged to see that POS movie, which could be donated to a teacher project of your choosing.
Now they've upped the ante. They are offering $15 for a ticket stub to WFS up to a maximum of four per person. Think about that a minute. The movie is donating more per ticket than the tickets themselves cost! Either they should be Waiting for an Accountant, or some big hedge fund people are dropping big bucks in the hopes that people will see this film.
So here's what you can do. Organize your own SuperStub party. Find out when WFS is playing at your local theater, and get all your friends and family members to show up at the theater when the movie lets out. Then ask people to donate their stubs to help support your local school (i.e., you). If you bring 20 people and each collects 4 stubs, you can earn $1200 in one fell swoop by having them donate all that swag to you! And the best part of it is that you don't even have to see the movie!
Of course, all this assumes that 80 people will show up to see this drek film at a single showing, which is unlikely. Still, whatever you may earn from this, you'll have the pleasure of knowing that you picked the pocket of an ed deformer, and you can't get that kind of satisfaction at your local teacher supply store.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
So why the lack of posts? I started this blog almost two years ago as a way to stick it to Klein and the ed deformers who pretty much ran me out of my former school and damn near got me fired despite an exemplary record as a teacher. I made a very soft landing at a great school, unlike many of my now unemployed colleagues who went through the same hell I'd been through. After a few years at my school (I no longer refer to it as my "new" school), I finally feel like I belong. The administration likes and respects me and the feeling is mutual. I get a decent amount of leeway in creating the curriculum and in how I run my own classroom. My experience is valued and I am called upon to help new teachers get up to speed.
In short, I'm happy. I love my school and my job.
This is a great position for me personally as a teacher. However, for me as a blogger, the pickins are slim. I do my best writing here when I am pissed off about something, and I have nothing to be pissed off about at the moment.
Despite all my joy, I have not lost hope. This is, after all, the BloomKlein regime, and Mulgarten is still in firm control of the UFT. Surely something they do will set me off before long and I'll be back to my cranky, acerbic self.
So if you came here looking for a rant, I apologize, but I promise I will be with you shortly. After all, Waiting for Superman is about to be released.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation. Students, after all, have to do the work. If they aren't motivated, even capable teachers may fail.
Definitely worth a read.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Tip #1: Make sure you work at a great school. I can't tell you how many "newbies" overlook this one. I made the mistake of working at a crappy school for most of my teaching career, and boy, was it the wrong thing to do! The students were disrespectful and rarely worked hard. Then, after a couple of decades of teaching the toughest kids, I decided to "shift gears" and work at a great school! I can't tell you the difference it made in my professional career! Not only do the students learn more, but I no longer have to carry my wallet in my shoes!
Tip #2: Make sure you have a great principal. Now you might think this goes along with the first tip, but it doesn't always. There are a few great schools where the principals are horror shows, but not many. So how do you know whether the great school you've chosen to work at has a great leader? Simple! On the first day of school, walk right into the teachers' cafeteria and say in your cheeriest voice, "Hey, our principal is the greatest guy ever!" (If the principal is female, you may want to adapt the above). If you walk out of the cafeteria unscathed, you'll know your principal is a winner. If you walk out festooned in rancid cole slaw, you'll know a change is needed.
Tip #3: Made sure you have the best students. This is crucial. Just because you're in a great school with great leadership doesn't mean you have the best kids. You're going to be evaluated on the performance of your students, so you need to make sure you have only the best. Hop on over to ARIS and check to see how your prospective students did on the ELA and math exams last year. If their scores don't meet your expectations, be sure to speak up! March into your principal's office and say in a calm but assertive voice, "Hey, Mr. Principal! (Again, adjust for female principals). (Don't say what's in the parentheses). Did you even look at the drek rosters you gave me? How's about some smart kids? I mean, this is my career we're talking about here!" Your principal is sure to admire your initiative and reward you with the best program the school has to offer.
Tip #4: Use your preps wisely. You only have so much prep time per day, so you need to maximize its value. Lesson planning is a bore and will rarely help you advance, so make up your mind to spend those precious periods acting as a liaison for your principal. To do this, spend as much time as you can with your peers and listen to what they say. You'll be amazed at the things you'll hear. Then bring those tidbits to your principal. He (or she) will surely appreciate it, and reward you next year with the best classes (see Tip #3).
Tip #5: Ignore the latest trends. Trends can kill you! Some recent teacher books give you exactly the wrong advice! For example, the bestseller "Teach Like an Olympic Javelin Thrower" tells you to "stand next to students who are talking inappropriately and they will soon get the message." Yes, they sure will--the message that you're the enemy! Inner city teachers can be shot for breaking up conversations. That's why you should look for your teaching tips from a reliable source, such as yours truly. If you followed Tip #1, for example, your chances of getting shot for any reason are greatly reduced.
That's all you need to get started. Just follow my advice for a happy, productive, and relatively bullet-free school year!