Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again

As I was writing my blog entry yesterday, I was overcome with a strange sense of deja vu. Has that ever happened to you?

It occurred when I heard the words "15,000 layoffs" from Mayor4Life's lips. I got the feeling that it wasn't the first time I'd heard them.

As it turns out, I was right. More right than even I bargained for. Mayor4Life and his stooge, Joel Klein, threatened to lay off 15,000 teachers once before. Check out this article from Gothamschools and see you notice anything creepy about it. Besides Klein's face, I mean.

Points for you if you noticed the date of the article. It was January 28, 2009--exactly two years to the day ago that the mayor last threatened to lay off exactly the same number of teachers.

What's going on here? Is this mere coincidence, or is the mayor calling plays from his old playbook? If you'll notice, Klein even used many of the same words that Bloomberg used yesterday:

“We don’t want to lose personnel,” he said later. “Particularly, we don’t want to lose young talented people that we’ve recruited in recent years.”

Clearly, Bloomberg is trying once again to force a change in seniority laws by threatening to axe new teachers. It didn't work last time, and it will fail again. State politicians must know that it's political suicide to change seniority--not because of the teacher's union, but because ALL unions would then be subject to the same threat. This is the third rail of state politics.

The mayor pulls out this threat annually, the way the mayor of Punxsutawney, PA pull out the groundhog every year. The only difference is that in PA, a mayor wearing a big hat pulls a rodent from the ground, whereas in NY, a rodent pulls a trick out of his hat.

As I was writing my blog entry yesterday, I was overcome with a strange sense of deja vu. Has that ever happened to you?


Friday, January 28, 2011

Bloomberg Outs Himself

I'm going to bypass comment on the "proposed" layoffs of 21,000 teacher threatened by Mayor4Life Bloomberg via the Wall Street Journal, a rag run by his billionaire pal Rupert Murdoch, who employs Joel Klein. There will never be so many layoffs, and this phony mayor knows it. He's trying to eviscerate seniority by claiming that layoffs should be done by "merit". But in the same discussion, he outed himself as a liar with the following statement (emphasis my own):

"By not allowing schools to take merit into account, the state would not only deprive our children across the city of great teachers, it would increase class size, because more teachers would need to be laid off, since the newest teachers get paid lower salaries," he said. "It's not right. It's not fair."

There you go. The 3 term billionaire mayor has just outed himself. It isn't about quality at all--it's about laying off senior teachers in order to keep the cheap labor of new teachers.

Remember, everyone, this is just a threat. There are lots of ways to avoid layoffs. Let's start with getting Bloomberg to pay his fair share of taxes by basing his charities in NY instead of in tax havens. Let's keep the millionaire tax that Cuomo wants to let lapse. Let's take the billion dollars slated for technology in the capital budget and use it to avert layoffs. Let's get rid of pork like the CityTime crooks who've taken this city for a very expensive ride. Let's get rid of ARIS, quality review, and other money pits. Let's have ONE qualified chancellor getting paid ONE salary instead of Bloomberg handing out jobs to boobs like Cathie Black. Let's put the ATRs to work where they belong.

But this isn't about saving jobs. This is about destroying the union by taking its members hostage and threatening to execute them if he doesn't get his way.

Never forget that this is about the money. Nothing else.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ruben Supports the Arts

Ruben, chief Fedora of the Asshats4Education crew, posted a new blog entry on GothamSchools asking whether he should expose his under-performing kids to the arts. My response is below, in the event Gotham decides to delete it:

  1. Michael, you will notice that Ruben has now placed his fingers firmly in his ears and is humming when asked questions.
    I, too, wonder why Ruben saw fit to hide his affiliation with Asshats4Education, and I question why GothamSchools allows him to be their most visible face considering his deception.
    And a question to Ruben: If you think layoffs should be determined by test scores, what makes you think teachers will ever want to share the arts with their children? If the choice comes down to your job or a trip to the museum, you’ll pick your job every time. Of course, A4E WANTS to make test scores the be all and end all of education; as such, Ruben, you’d better stop trying to make your students think and make sure they pass those tests you’re so enamored of.

I ask you all to drop by Ruben's lair and ask him the same things. If he wants to be the face of the Asshats, he's got some splainin' to do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dealing with the Asshat4Educator Scab Wannabes

Scab is a pretty strong word. I come from a union family, and being a scab ranked slightly above being a pedophile, but only slightly.

So the question is, are the asshats at E4E, such as Sydney Morris, Evan Stone, and Ruben Brosbe actually scabs, or are they some slightly higher life form?

Technically speaking, we'd have to conclude that they are not scabs, because a scab is defined as someone who takes the job of a union member during a strike or lockout. However, the purpose of a scab is to bust the union and destroy the benefits of the union faithful, so Sydney, Evan, and Ruben certainly fit the bill on that account. I think we'd have to classify them as scab wannabes, which may, if you think about it, be worse that being an actual scab. Replacement workers are at least trying to put food on their own tables, whereas the E4E asshats generally dine at only the finest restaurants or have Mummy tell Cook to make them something.

So the question is, how do we deal with these scab wannabes?

My father was a union dock worker and, as a result, a pretty strong guy. If Sydney, Evan, and Ruben tried to take his job, he'd likely have crushed them into much smaller versions of themselves and shipped them off to Hong Kong in a steamer trunk.

Now, those were simpler times, when people weren't afraid of committing felonies against the scum of the earth. In these complex, fast-moving, Internet fueled times, violence is rarely the answer. We've all seen recently how loose talk of violence can get out of hand, so I'm not for a moment suggesting that we harm E4E scab wannabes. If you see one in your school, you should not spit in their hair, push them down a flight of stairs while laughing maniacally, or stuff them in a burlap bag while beating them with sticks. Those things would be wrong.

Besides, most teachers today aren't as rugged as the old dock workers. About the best we could hope for today is to beat those jackasses with stockings filled with chalk.

So what to do? At the very least, all right thinking teachers should shun these E4E scabs. After all, they are enjoying the benefits that the rest of us have spent decades fighting for, while simultaneously trying to take those rights away. They want to get you fired so they can have your job, destroy your pension, and collect the crumbs dropped by Bill Gates. If someone robbed your home, you'd feel justified in taking severe action against them. But you can replace items in your home--these E4Es want to take your license and profession away.

So if anyone in your school tells you they are a member of E4E, first try to reason with them. If that doesn't work, make sure to spread the word about their scabby behavior throughout the school, so they can be rightly shunned.

And then give me a call. I bet I can find that steamer trunk somewhere.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ruben Brosbe, The Face of Asshats4Educators

Asshats everywhere rejoice! Ruben Brosbe has come to lead you!

Yes, just when you thought there were no more ed deform toads left to crawl out of the woodwork, out slithers Ruben, ass backwards, to lead us to new heights of idiocy.

In case you don't know Ruben, he is the newbie teacher who, despite his limited teaching experience and writing skills, has managed to get himself a platform on GothamSchools. Not only that, he managed to stick a knife in the back of his colleagues by writing a column for the completely unbiased New York Post in which he advocates releasing the Teacher Data Reports based on flawed test scores and an unscientific value added metric. Ruben was even kind enough to tell us that his score sucked, but he's willing to work hard to make it better, unlike those nasty senior teachers who only come into the schools for all the neat office supplies.

The problem is, Ruben may not get a chance to improve. His score sucked, even though he was judged against other newbies on his TDR, and not against the senior teachers he rails against. And today, "Chancellor" Cathie Black stated that she wanted to end "last in, first out" seniority rules and lay off teachers based on merit. Poor Ruben! With his awful scores and his lack of seniority, he may soon find himself out of a job. And that would be a shame, because he's willing to try to be better!

I guess that's why Ruben joined "Educators"4"Excellence", a group led by a couple of people who have even less experience than he does. In fact, as far as anyone knows, the founders of E4E don't even teach anymore. They've moved on to take tons of money from ed deform groups in the hopes of changing the status quo and improving the socioeconomic lot of many New Yorkers. Especially themselves.

Perhaps Ruben wants a job with E4E, especially given his tenuous position with the DOE, what with his shitty scores and low seniority and all. That is problematic, however. Ruben doesn't like being part of a group he doesn't agree with, like the UFT. Fortunately, even though until recently outed, he hid his membership with E4E, he is now on their Teacher Evaluation Policy Team. Isn't that terrific? I didn't even know E4E had one of those! Thanks E4E! Just what teachers needed--more evaluations from totally unqualified newbie teachers! I can't wait for the recommendations of the TEPT to come out, although I'm fairly sure UFT scab teachers with crappy TDR ratings will be allowed to keep their jobs.

I still think Ruben's talents are wasted with E4E. Given the trend of giving totally unqualified people like "Chancellor" Cathie Black positions of unbridled power, I think Ruben should aim higher. He should form his own organization and get it funded by Gates or Bloomberg or Broad or one of the other billionaires willing to scatter largesse to educators who have no qualms with sticking shivs in the collarbones of their colleagues. Reality Based Educator had a great idea for a name--Asshats4Educators! Here, as I see it, is the A4E platform:

  • Teacher Data Reports shouldn't be counted for newer teachers, because they are really really trying.

  • Senior teacher suck and should be fired.

  • The UFT isn't doing everything we want in terms of helping its members get laid off, so we must make sure it dies.

  • We should go around talking about how education is the civil rights issue of our time, especially when a billionaire is nearby.

  • Committees are needed for everything, including the Teacher Evaluation Committee, the Using the Media as a Front for Hedge Fund Managers Committee, and the Committee to Wear Stupid Beards to Look as if We're Grown-up Enough to be Teachers Committee.

Yes, Ruben, the billionaires would love you even more then. You're just the kind of toad they want to help them take public education private.

I've mostly tried to avoid writing about Ruben, but he launched an attack on Ms. Eyre, one of my favorite bloggers and someone I can tell is an outstanding teacher. I've even had Ms. Eyre chastise me a few times here for being mean to ed deformers, like when I compared Joel Klein's head to a bowling ball. And she may have had a point. So I apologize in advance for my tone, but remember, Ruben is an asshat.

When dealing with an asshat, you can't turn the other cheek.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blog Post of the Year

I'm nominating Ms. Eyre's observations on "Educators" 4 Excellence as Blog Post of the Year. Please read it.

On a related note, an honorable mention goes to Reality Based Educator for Best Blog Post Title for his Asshats4Educators.


Friday, January 14, 2011

The Great Black Out of 2011

I'm taking bets, starting now. How long before "Chancellor" Cathie Black is out on her behind? I'm betting on April 1, as this April Fool's Day prank of a "chancellor" surely can't last much longer than that.

Today, she once again had a "Let them eat cake" moment when asked her solution to school overcrowding. Her response? "Could we just have some birth control?"

Let's think for a moment what would happen if a parent came in to complain about overcrowding and you "joked" that they should have considered birth control. How long before you'd be hauled from your classroom and brought up on charges?

Of course, perhaps we're expecting too much of the "chancellor". How could she be expected to know not to insult parents and students, especially when she has no education experience at all? Given that her children went to a ritzy private school that costs as much per year as a new teacher's salary, and where the class sizes are smaller than the average softball team, Black can hardly be expected to empathize with the common folk like us who insist on having children despite not having trust funds for them.

This isn't the first time she's stuck her foot in her mouth, and if she does it one more time, her only supporter in NYC may be Rex Ryan. She may not even make it to Valentine's Day.

And as much as I hate to pick on her appearance, especially after we just got rid of the Nosferatu doppelganger Joel Klein, I really think the tabloids should stop printing pictures of Ms. Black that make her look as if she's just risen from a rip-snorting week-long bender and subsequent black out.

And speaking of Black outs, what's your take on how long she'll last?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Verify?

We now have a golden "opportunity" to verify the information in our Teacher Data Reports, or TDRs, that a judge ruled may now be released to the public. My question is, why verify?

The judge clearly said that it doesn't really matter whether the data is valid or not: “...there is no requirement that data be reliable for it to be disclosed.". Data is king, and must be released even if it's known to be garbage. And garbage it is--it is based on the flawed value added system, which has been fed the garbage test scores on the NYS ELA and math tests, which were so flawed that the grades had to be reconfigured.

In my own case, there are a number of errors in the classes I taught and the students who were in them. I have already blogged about how CTT teachers have been hammered by this data, and how I will refuse to teach that again until something is fixed. I'm sure I'm not the only victim of bogus information heaped upon flawed test scores.

The only effect that verifying the data will have is to give the DOE the opportunity to claim that teachers have fixed errors and all is fine and dandy with the numbers now. But that just isn't so. The formula used--value-added--stinks. The data drawn from the dumbed down tests stinks. And no matter what you "verify" it is highly unlikely that the DOE will recalibrate the scores based on the new information. They'll just release the same old information they had before, but claim that it is now "teacher verified". Remember, the judge in this case flat out told the DOE that the accuracy of their data doesn't matter. They can release whatever scores they like, based on any information they like.

So why is the UFT telling us to verify this information? Isn't it bad enough that the myopic UFT went along with this scheme and accepted the "word" of the city that the scores wouldn't be released? Now they want us to give the city more ammo by verifying class lists without any acknowledgment that the data underlying those lists is fundamentally, and fatally, flawed?

It reminds me of schools 200 years ago, where recalcitrant students were told to go break a branch off a tree so they could be beaten with it. Except now, teachers are the victims, TDRs are the weapons, and the UFT is urging us to hold our ankles.

Next, Mulgrew will be telling us to respond "Thank you, Ms. Black. May I have another?"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Special Comment

I haven't been 100% on board with KO since the election, but his comments on the Tuscon tragedy were right on.

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